Wednesday, December 15, 2010

How A Toy Company Can Teach Life Lessons (B.)

As a Mommy there are a few things that I want to teach my children and I have dedicated my life to passing on to them as well as others I've met along the way.
  •  Faith and Hope (in God, community, and in positive change)
  • Compassion, Philanthropy, Sympathy
  • Social & Environmental Responsibility
  • Creativity, Color, & Imagination
  • Don't share bodily bi-products (aka boogies), impress others with your flatulence skills, or burp your ABC's in public (oh yes, my kids have skills :) & :\  <~~ Okay, I added this for fun but really..
 I feel that these things are necessary, beautiful, and that leaving a legacy of this is my life's work (or a goal that I truly want to achieve).  I do fail, sometimes I say or do things that aren't perfect, because believe me, I'm not. When I find something, anything that aligns, parallels, or speaks this message I immediately love it, cherish it, and most of all want to share it.  That being said, you know that I have mentioned the B. brand to you guys before and today, I wanted to ask you to share a cup of coffee with me

(oh yea! Home brewed Starbucks Latin America Breakfast blend w Mint Truffle cream and yes, I already drank most of it in this picture <3)
and get to know B. toys (B.) the way I do. This is not a promotion to get you to buy these toys and I haven't been bribed or compensated into writing this, I want you to really just sit a spell and think with me about what I'm going to share with you. I feel compelled to tell you this on a deeper level, Mommy to mommy, gf to gf, basically, one person to another.  I will continue over the lifespan of this blog to tell you about companies, products, etc that radiate these values in order to provide you with resources if this is also a priority in your life.(**NOTE: I did contact B. in order to obtain the images used in this review and for permission to speak about them, you could never meet kinder people! Really!)

If you are like me you both love & dread Christmas time because of gift giving. Before you get frazzled on that comment, I LOVE giving gifts and I tend to lean towards handmade because so few commercial companies seem to be producing thoughtful & thought provoking, imaginative gifts that are environmentally responsible, give back to society, and are interesting.  I hate just buying a toy to have a box under the tree that is probably going to be abandoned or donated to Goodwill in a month or so (Don't get me wrong, I love donating & shopping at Goodwill).  We are a one income (which is a low one) family of 5 and I need every cent to count.  I want things to be loved, carried around, shared, and most of all to contribute to their lives in a positive way. I want things to last because I believe in passing things down both to my other children and other families (only if they're in great shape).

When I discovered B. I was just window shopping the toy aisles of Target to kill some time between appointments. I was first drawn to the colors because I absolutely love rich, vibrant, bright & bold colors (lead free by the way!!). So I picked up the box of the Hellophone and checked it out. I was immediately impressed for a few reasons (To get the "hard facts" on all of these, I've included links, please check them out <3):


  1. The packaging easily folded out to an adorable gift box with mod/retro type printing in gorgeous colors  that you can purchase and immediately "wrap" on the way out of the store to the car (saved me buying those bags I just can't get into and the tissue paper I have 17 packs of but can never find!)
  2. All of the packaging is printed with soy based inks and 100% recycled & recyclable. Some of the toys even come in pretty reusable bags that are compostable.
  3. The phone itself was attractive, had fun buttons and sounds and I could record personal messages on it.
  4. Each purchase of a B. product donates 10 cents of every toy purchased to Free The Children. These days I know ten cents seems like a ridiculous amount to make a change, but dimes add up quickly and with dedication and resourcefulness, dimes become opportunities, dreams, & miracles.  
  5. The B. company itself believes highly in creativity and individuality, encouraging anyone reading packaging to B. generous, B. powerful, B. curious, B. poetic, B. open, B. free, B. you (What more could you wish for your child?!)
 That day, I walked out of Target with a You Hue Desk, a Fish & Splish, two Hellophones (upcoming birthday party gifts), and a Times Square.  Remember how I said we have to stretch every penny? I didn't feel one bit wasteful. Instead, felt justified in all of my purchases because I had donated 50 cents to Free The Children, taken care of birthday gifts I needed to buy, bought an art desk perfect for homeschooling and traveling that came with markers, color pencils, a sketchbook with colorful paper, and crayons that also had excellent storage, and I had things that I knew that all of my children would use and love. They just about exploded on the 45 minute drive home waiting to bust them out.  I know this post is getting long, but please bear with me and allow me to explain further. I'll break it up by toy to make it more organized.

You Hue: Not only was the desk perfect for any size lap (my big ol' hips fit it too!) it has a three deep storage "nooks" perfect for art supplies, wrapped snacks, a small book, even a sippy cup fit in.  Being a military family that travels 2,800 miles across country just to visit family, this was invaluable.  It was also the perfect desk to make homeschooling that much more fun. B. never ceases to amaze me with their creativity. The art supplies were all packaged nicely in recyclable boxes with the same gorgeous internationally inspired prints and the non-toxic markers thrilled me beyond all reason with the colors being named things like B. sunny, B. fiery, B. rosy, B. bright, B. deep, and B. sublime.

    Fish & Splish: Hands down, the most creative and practical bath toy I have ever saw.  The boat with a fisherman acts as a storage for all the goodies inside. This toy is sooooo good for helping little ones develop motor skills because it comes with a little fishing pole that helps catch fish (great when you're distracting them from the fact that you are washing their hair) and the toys have purposes like the Octopus nail brush and the nesting cups that can be used to rinse hair and just have bath time fun.
      Hellophone: I purchased this toy for my friend's baby's 1st birthday but also for the baby girl 2,800 miles away that we were going through the process to adopt (more on that story later). I wanted her to recognize my & my husband's voice from the recordable feature on the phone I knew that if she played with it, it would become familiar to her and we would bond in that way. Unfortunately, after I recorded messages and packaged it to send, it never reached her, the post office informed me later they lost my package and never recovered it. All in all, we chose to let her remain with her Foster family, the ones who had her since birth and the family we had grown to love as our own, so I know now the phone was never meant to reach her, because she was already home. (I love you guys!) Later, I realized that on my husband's next deployment, this will be used as a way for the kids to always carry Daddy's words with them.

        Times Square
        Times Square: This toy I bought because the kids had a fit over it immediately grasping the beads on top and sliding them around the beautiful plastic tubes that lit up, but also because I had a sneaky ulterior motive, this toy is an excellent homeschooling tool.  Having two young boys (4 & 19 months) I saw the way I could use this for Letter & Number recognition and motor skills as well as entertainment.  This toy is a serious multitasker with a phone that makes noises, a mini keyboard, twisty wheel, a clock (YES! A fun way to teach my 1st grader to tell time on standard clocks!), and all of the pieces store inside.
          Yes, I was in love and feeling excellent. These toys are constantly played with and every time there is a playmate over, they are a topic of discussion and a favorite.  Since then, I have purchased the Pop-Arty for the kids and I (Yes, I do wear the jewelry out that we've made with it, it's totalllllllly incredible and trendy!) and I can honestly say that every cent I've spent with B. has been rewarded back to me more than once.

          See what I mean?! Don't you want to be trending Pop-Arty too?

          My daughter has saved every little "pretty" she saw on the packaging and they still play with it. What they allowed me to recycle, I threw in the recyclables bin feeling awesome that it wasn't ending up in the landfill.  I got the chance to talk to my kids about Free The Children and compassion for others, about how God has blessed us and why every day, I pray that He will continue to bless us so that we may in turn, bless others, not for self-gain.  We talked about how we have responsibilities to recycle and be good to our planet so that those after us can enjoy a healthier, cleaner life and how by purchasing things from places and companies with the philosophies of B. and sharing that with others that we are making a positive change, planting seeds of purpose within those we meet who hopefully, will also plant seeds within others they meet branching into a beautiful chain reaction. I always, always say, it only takes one person to start a revolution, one kindness, one understanding at a time, an action that is like a pebble in the water, makes a splash and ripples out to the world, sharing with all it reaches. Be that person, take responsibility for that random kindness, you are more powerful than you realize.

          Don't get me wrong here, my kids are 7, 4, & 21 months now.  I didn't explain these things in the exact words that I am using with you, but in ways that they could understand and they did.  When they get birthday gifts or have a little spending money, they often want to donate it to a mission and buy something small for themselves. They ask if every scrap of everything is recyclable and if it isn't, they want to make something interesting out of it to prolong it's lifespan.

          They understand that there are children out there who were not born with the same opportunities, the same situation, and my 7 y/o daughter wants to do mission work and uplift these children, showing them love.  I could go on forever (bless your hearts LOL I bet some of you feel I have already!) about B. and everything they are and stand for. I plan on sharing more about them routinely in the future because this company is constantly doing something beautiful, producing more interesting toys, and making waves.

          Whacky Ball

          Please stop by their website and spend time on their Toys page, the B.log, the Quotes page (you can design & make your own but you will LOVE reading them! It's one of my favorite parts of the packaging and the website), and the Story of how it all began. I promise you, you will close out the page feeling inspired, ready to make the world a more colorful, positive, and creative place.  Want to know more? Drop by the FAQ page where everything is readily available and written out, or even contact them.  B. also have a Facebook and a Twitter. No robotic machines or form letters with this company.

          Parum Pum Pum (Look familiar? B. used to produce toys licensed by Parents magazine,)
          Thank you so much for sitting with me and reading this mile long post, I hope that you walk away from it with something deeper, richer, and intoxicating: a sense of Faith and Hope, Compassion and Social/Environmental Responsibility, Creativity, Color and Imagination because these things are what legacies are made of. Of joy, purpose, and beauty, all of which can be taught with a few words or even a toy purchased or received because sometimes, even tangible items may possess the most valuable intangible gifts.

          1 comment:

          1. I just bought that whacky ball thing the other day for my niece for Christmas, I agree, very cool stuff.


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