My Favorite Toys from Maple Landmark

I have been buying wooden toys from Maple Landmark since 2016, and I am so excited to share some of my favorite products from this company. I absolutely love the quality and educational value of these toys! My current favorites are:

Shape Sorter Bench

Leaf Puzzle

Building Blocks

Oval Train Track

Name Train Letters, Caboose, and Engine

Monster Car


Pick Up Truck


Made By Me Train

Wooden Railroad Village

School Bus Puzzle


Why I Choose Maple Landmark’s Schoolhouse Naturals Line for Wooden Toys

Why I Choose Maple Landmark’s Schoolhouse Naturals Line for Wooden Toys

As a mother who has researched the toxicity found in wooden baby products, I was so happy when I discovered Maple Landmark. I reached out to the company and asked them my typical questions; and I was so pleased with the honest, detailed and prompt email responses that I received in return. This is a company that genuinely cares about the quality of the products that they sell and provides an honest explanation about any possible toxicity that may be present in their wood. Here is my initial email to the company:

Good afternoon,

I am interested in your sorting bench and block sets. I would appreciate if you could answer the following questions:

  1. Are the products made from certified sustainable wood or hardwood; or pressed or engineered wood?
  2. Does it come unfinished?
  3. Is it completely lead and phthalate free?  or does it contain little amounts?
  4. Is this toy binded with adhesive that contains formaldehyde; what type of glue is used?

Thank you so much and I appreciate your response!

I received this detailed email in response:


Jill passed your email on to me to respond. We thank you for your interest in our products. Any answers we supply are written in an attempt to give you the full, honest case as we know it.

So, for example, we do not claim that our wood is “lead-free”, which you would interpret to mean it has zero lead. We do not guarantee that since wood is a natural substance and lead is a naturally occurring background element. We have never had lead detected in our wood (and yes it has been tested for lead), but there are also limits to what can be detected. In this respect you will find that our wood is no different than any other domestic supplier.

You do have to know that virtually all Asian logs are chemically treated with insecticides and fungicides. They generally are not on the list of reportable chemicals at the consumer level. We recently had problems shipping our product into Asia because it was not chemically treated.

We source our wood locally and it is not chemically treated at any stage in the process. It is not sustainably certified, which doesn’t mean it is harvested with a lack of concern for sustainability. Our local / regional mills have been in business for generations and there is more forest land in Vermont than 100 years ago.

In our area, there is a lack of certified material readily available, the cost of certification is too great for smaller companies. I would rather deal locally than haul in lumber from hundreds of miles away.

We do use some plywood in our puzzles and other products that require wide, thin, flat pieces. It comes from the Baltic region of Europe and meets CARB II (California) standards, including no formaldehyde glue, etc.

There are no phthalates in our raw material. We have worked with our finish suppliers to reduce / eliminate phthalates in the rare cases where they might have been used. For the most, they are not part of our product. There are some chemicals that we buy where we have little or no control over the chemical makeup and there are no alternatives. In those cases we make sure the chemical levels are under federal and state standards.

As Jill mentioned, we developed our Schoolhouse Naturals line to offer options for people who have the greatest chemical concerns. However, all of our children’s products meet federal standards and are regularly tested for compliance.

I hope this helps.

Mike Rainville
Maple Landmark Woodcraft
1297 Exchange St.
Middlebury, VT  05753
(802)388-0627 / Fax (802)388-0761

I then responded with this email:

Thank you so much for the very detailed message; it was very helpful and I look forward to supporting your business! I am also interested in your puzzles.

  1. Are these puzzles made with hardwood, plywood, or fiberboard? Does it contain formaldehyde?
  2. What are the puzzles colored with? Does it have any VOC’s?
  3. I am also very interested in your Name Train products. What are you trains and tracks made from? (hardwood, plywood, fiberwood)
  4. What are the trains colored with? Does it have any VOC’s?
Thank you so much!

I received this email in response:


The puzzles are made from plywood. We do not use fiberboard for any product. As I said before, the plywood meets the CARB II standard regarding formaldehyde.

Our finishes are low or no VOCs. VOCs are how solvent based chemicals dry. There are exempt VOCs, which are not anthropogenic and non-exempt VCOs which are. Generally, where necessary, our finishes use exempt VOCs.

The water-borne dye stains on the NameTrain letters do contain some VOCs. The clear top-coat does not.

Our print inks (like the puzzles) are UV cured which, I believe, is non VOC.

Our track is solid hard maple.


I purchased some toys following these email exchanges and I am so pleased to say that my experiences with the products from Maple Landmark’s Schoolhouse Natural’s line have been exceptional. I have been buying wooden toys exclusively from Maple Landmark Schoolhouse Natural’s line because I love the quality of their products, the toys are affordable, and my son absolutely loves every item that I have ever purchased from there! If you are looking for a company that sells high quality wooden toys, I would highly recommend purchasing them from Maple Landmark.

My Career and Educational Choices since Becoming Pregnant with my First Child

My Career and Educational Choices since Becoming Pregnant with my First Child

Happy Monday! When I found out that I was pregnant with Paul, I immediately knew that working full time was not something that I was interested in doing for the foreseeable future; however, I still needed to make an income. I found out that I was pregnant in July of 2015, and a special education service provider who worked with a student in my classroom told me about her position. After learning about the pay rate and flexibility of being a SEIT, I immediately pursued positions at agencies that she referred to me. I interviewed and signed with four agencies that are located in New York City and Brooklyn, and started working in October of 2015 as a SEIT for the remainder of my pregnancy. It was the best career choice that I have ever made. I loved everything about this position and knew that it would be the perfect job to go back to as soon as I felt Paul was ready for me to leave him for a few hours a week.

Right before I gave birth, I decided to enroll in an online post graduate certificate program to work towards earning 30 credits post masters because I knew that I would be taking at least a year off from work. I made the choice to return to school because as a teacher in New York City, the additional 30 credits drastically increases one’s salary as a full time public school teacher (which is something that I may choose to go back to when all of my children are in school full time) and because financial aid would provide us with an income. I started the program one week after giving birth to Paul in February of 2016 and stopped working as a SEIT for the remainder of the year.

When Paul turned 14 months old (in September of 2017), I decided to go back to work as a SEIT for two days a week for a total of six hours a week in addition to taking courses at school. Just as I had thought, working as a SEIT was the perfect career choice for me to pursue as a mother. When I returned to work, I was unknowingly pregnant with baby girl. In January, I increased working to three days a week for a total of nine hours a week still in addition to taking courses at school. I will work as a SEIT through May and I will complete my 30 post masters credits in May as well. Baby Girl is due in June of 2018 and I will take at least one year off from work.

Thank you so much for reading! I hope you have a happy Monday! =)

Paul’s Second Birthday Celebration

Paul’s Second Birthday Celebration

Happy Saturday! I am so excited to share pictures from Paulie’s second birthday celebration! It was so wonderful spending time with people that we love so much <3 There is nothing more important to us than spending quality time with people that we love; and that quality time is exactly what made his birthday so special! Everyone who couldn’t make it due to illness or distance was wholeheartedly missed and present in our hearts. Paul had such a fantastic time and he was so happy to play with his cousins =) We are so lucky to have such a big family; and I am so happy that Paul Bear has so many wonderful cousins that are around his age that he can grow close to =D He absolutely loves them! It was so awesome to see how outgoing, friendly, and happy he was to spend time with them; and today will forever be such a special memory in my heart.

Everything about this celebration was super exciting for Paul. Paul had such a blast going food shopping with Matt and I to get everything we needed for his special dinner; he had fun helping Matt cook the morning before the party; he had a blast blowing up balloons; he had fun making the goodie bags and handing them to his cousins; and a smile did not come off of his face throughout the entire duration of the celebration =) Thank you for everyone who was able to come and celebrate with us to make his birthday so very special! <3

On the Celebration Menu:

  1. Sweet Sausage, Peppers, and Onions
  2. Meatballs
  3. Pasta
  4. Sauce
  5. Salad
  6. Birthday Cake

Here are some pictures:


Thank you for reading! I hope you have a happy Sunday! =D

Hello Wisconsin!

Hello Wisconsin!

I am so excited to announce that, after so much hard work and determination, my husband was accepted into an exceptional Masters degree program in Wisconsin for this upcoming September. Words can not express how proud I am of him for seeking out this incredible opportunity =) My family will be relocating to Wisconsin at the end of June for the next two years; and our plans thereafter will depend on opportunities that come our way. I am so excited to experience this new adventure and the next chapter of our lives together. Thank you for reading, I hope you have a happy Saturday!

Sixth Month Pregnancy Update

Sixth Month Pregnancy Update

Good morning and happy Wednesday! It is hard to believe that I have already experienced 6 beautiful months of this pregnancy and that I am only one month away from the third trimester =) Baby girl has very powerful movements and she is very active. Her kicks are able to be seen on the outside of my belly now =) I have gained 9 pounds so far and my belly button has popped out. I still do not have any pelvic pressure, and I have been able to keep up with my workouts; which makes me feel so good. I workout four times a week; two days weightlifting for arms, back, and shoulders and two days a week for legs and glutes. I also walk as much as possible and my job keeps me physically active. Cellulite and loss of muscle mass is unavoidable during pregnancy; I am just trying to maintain as much muscle mass as possible for when I begin weight training my legs and glutes again and I know most of the cellulite will go away post pregnancy. Sleeping has become a little more difficult over the last few weeks. I am waking up to use the bathroom more often, from heartburn, and I wake up when baby angel is really active. Over the last month, I have been struggling with dizziness; I am still waiting to see if there is a source to the dizziness or if it is just a pregnancy symptom that I am experiencing. Feeling my baby move in my body is such a beautiful experience and I treasure every moment I have feeling these strong kicks. I love experiencing pregnancy and everything that comes with it! Thank you for reading! I hope you have a happy Wednesday!

Happy Second Birthday Baby Angel

Happy Second Birthday Baby Angel

Good evening and Happy Monday! I can’t believe my Paul Bear is going to be 2 years old on Wednesday. Over the last month, his language and vocabulary have drastically developed. He has acquired so much vocabulary. He asks questions like ” where is mama?” By asking “mama is?” He can say five word sentences and is really great with his manners, for example, “I want more water please” and “I need a diaper change please” and “I love you mama.” His manners are incredible. He says “thank you” every time we give him something. He also calls us “Cutie Pie” and “Sweetie Pie” which melts my heart. He really copies the way I speak to him; including my tone, mannerisms, and vocabulary. His sentences are really descriptive, for example, “open the yellow play doh please.” He loves dressing up in mama and dada’s clothes and shoes, and walking around the apartment in them. He absolutely loves singing songs, such as ABCs, jingle bells, down by the bay, five little monkeys, open shut them, skidamarink a dink, and wheels and the bus. He can sing the ABC’s in it’s entirety. He can sing the majority of five little monkeys and wheels on the bus with omitting some words. He sings all of these songs and does the hand movements. Saying it’s adorable is an understatement. He loves looking at himself in the mirror and making funny faces. He loves watching videos of himself and of his family. He knows his name, mama and dadas name, and his cousins names. He can recite his favorite books such as Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and Peekaboo Elmo. He loves reading, playing with play doh, figuring out puzzles, playing with cars, pretending to be cookie monster, and hiding and popping out and scaring us. He carries around this little Elmo doll his grandma gave to him and he just doesn’t let it go. He also loves wearing these adorable Elmo slippers that his Nana got for him. His play has become much more sophisticated. His problem solving skills are incredible. He loves being active, running, jumping, climbing, etc. He loves being tickled and chased. He is my little playful jokester. He likes bumping into walls and pretending he is hurt. He says “sorry,sorry,sorry” when he wants to do something independently and someone tried to help him. In general, he is just really independent. He knows how to wash, rinse and dry his hands thoroughly. We are teaching him to clean his own body in the bath and can latter the soap up on his body parts. He can put on his own pants; and is working on pulling them up over his diaper. He is definitely ready to be potty trained. He will go into a separate room and insist on privacy while he is pooping. It’s so cute! He likes to help mama and dada with chores; and when it is time to clean up his toys, he will put everything back in it’s designated area and sing the clean up song. Paul is really good at feeding himself, and most of the time can keep making a mess to a minimum. Paul’s last four molars have been growing in for what seems like forever. The bottom 2 are finally cutting!

Paul had strep throat and a stuffy nose for 10 days this month, and this was a catalyst for him becoming extremely disinterested in breastfeeding. While he was sick, he went to sleep in his crib on his own for nap a few times, but now that he is better, he is trying to skip nap altogether; but I am enforcing it because he is exhausted after lunch and sleep is so important. We have a new routine for nap. He eats lunch at 11:30. He is usually finished with lunch around 12:00. I tell him that it is time to rest our bodies by having quiet time or a nap. We change him and brush his teeth. Then we go read books together in his room. We read books until 12:45. I give him a bottle of water, kiss him, and tuck him in. I give him 15 minutes to try to fall asleep on his own just to get him comfortable with the idea that he will be napping in his crib. After 15 minutes, I offer him to come into the bed with me and give him the option to nurse; which he usually does and then falls asleep immediately.

Tantrums have decreased drastically now that he is using his words, and when he starts to cry, we encourage him to tell us whats wrong and he uses his words instead of crying. If he does have a tantrum, we talk him through it, explain to him how he is feeling and why he is feeling such intense emotions, and help him work through it. If the tantrum started because he wanted something and we said no, we make it clear that even if he tantrums he still will not get whatever it was that he wanted; and offer him different options that he could chose from. Tantrums usually occur when he is tired or overtired.

Paul is just such a happy, funny, fun and thoughtful boy. He makes me so proud to be his mama. I just love him so much; and these last two years have been the best years of my life. Happy second birthday baby angel.

Here are some pictures:

Thank you for reading! I hope you have a happy Monday! <333

Pregnancy Update: 21 Weeks

Good morning and happy Saturday! I am 21 weeks pregnant, and halfway through this beautiful pregnancy. This pregnancy is flying by. I feel baby girl’s movements very strongly all day (and night) long; I absolutely love how active she is–same as Paul was in my belly. Matt is able to feel her movements as well =)I have gained 8 pounds so far; I started gaining 1 pound a week as of week 13. Here is a picture of me at 21 weeks with baby girl:

I am a person who loves growing a baby. I think it is incredible what a woman’s body can do to accomodate pregnancy; and I feel so incredibly lucky to be carrying another baby angel. With this pregnancy, I have been significantly more lenient with myself when it comes to nutrition. I find myself drinking more caffeine (I just love iced tea this pregnancy), eating more store bought candy, and eating lots of bagels (those carbs really help me have enough energy to get through work)–these are things I completely avoided with my first pregnancy. While I am more lenient with myself, I still eat very nutritiously. With my pregnancy with Paul, I had to stop working out because of severe pelvic pressure; but I have not experienced that with this pregnancy (yay!), so I am still working out 3 days a week.

Paul and the Pregnancy

Paul is very excited about his baby sister. He was the first one to know (even before Matt and I) that I was pregnant. Paul started nursing more frequently in September, and he would point at my belly and say “baby.” That prompted me to take a pregnancy test and, I was pregnant! Matt and I had been talking with Paul for some time before I became pregnant about having a baby brother or sister and that a baby would grow in my belly like he did–so it could have just been a coincidence that he actually pointed to my belly and said “baby.” He did, however, increase his nursing for the entire month of September, which was my first month of pregnancy. Paul says good morning and good night to his baby sister every night and always kisses my belly. It is the sweetest thing to see how happy he becomes when we talk about the baby with him. I am so happy that these two baby angels will be two years and four months apart. I think it was perfect timing. And this month, Paul started sleeping in his crib for nap time =) He no longer needs to nurse before nap, and we just follow the night time routine before we place him in his crib to nap. I am so proud of my big boy.

Thank you so much for reading! I hope you have a happy day! =D

Happy 23 Months Baby

Happy 23 Months Baby

Happy happy happy Sunday!! My baby turned 23 months old, and I am so excited to share some developmental updates.

Language Development

Paul now speaks using four word sentences. He tries very hard to make sentences when requesting and conversing. He uses please and thanks you independently, and we are working on you’re welcome. He also says sorry, but when he wants someone to say sorry to him; which is awesome. He now says water and instead of ahwah and grandma instead of gamma; in general is saying words much more accurately. He identifies every letter in his name, as well as the letter S,O,Y, and Z. He knows the sound that the letter P,A,U, and S make. If Paul is asked: What is your name? What is your last name? What is Dada’s name? What is Mama’s name? What are the names of your cats?; he can answer all of these questions accurately. He can identify most items and objects, and if he doesn’t know the name he grunts until we say the name of it. He uses the descriptive words sticky and wet. He identifies and tells us if the weather is windy, cold, rainy, and snowy.

He really enjoys singing songs. He will sing baa baa black sheep, ABC, and the wheels on the  bus independently. He also really enjoys open shut them, down by the bay, and skidamarink.

Paul is ready to be potty trained. He poops in privacy and asks to be changed as soon as he is done.

He is able to put on and take off his own pants.

Literacy Development

Paul has mastered book handling; he holds the book correctly, points to the title, points the the author and illustrator, repeats the title on the the title page, turns one page at a time, and says the end” when he finishes reading. His favorite book of all time is Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and reads by memorization. He will say some words that he remembers, points at words while he reads, and then points to the pictures. When reading other books, he reads the store by looking at the pictures. He really enjoys reading independently. He also loves reading Go Dog Go, Dear Zoo, Pete the Cat, Nursery Rhymes, and Christmas Stories.

Cognitive Development

Paul is able to count to 10, and is learning to count you 20. He counts everything. If he picks up 2 cars, he will say “two cars.” He can now tell you the colors of objects that are “red, blue, orange, green, and yellow.” He is still learning other colors. He can identify circles, half circles, squares, triangles, diamonds, hearts, and stars; and can verbally tell you when objects are circles, hearts, diamonds, and stars. His favorite shape is a heart and his favorite color is blue. He is really interested in puzzles and sorting.

Fine motor development

A few weeks ago, I introduced Paul to art and fine motor activities. He really enjoys gluing, cutting with scissors, and glitter. He also enjoys coloring. He has not yet been introduced to paint. He really enjoys playing with playdoh. He could be engaged with play doh for an hour at a time.

Social Emotional Development

Paul loves social games, making funny faces, and laughing. He says the words laughing, funny, and happy when we are all laughing together. He tries-and succeeds-at making us laugh.

Up until this week, Paul was having 2 or 3 tantrums a day. Tantrums started regularly 6 weeks ago; and are exacerbated if he is tired or cooped up in the apartment for too long. When he has tantrums, we tell him that he is feeling sad, frustrated, and angry so that he can learn to identify these emotions; which are all difficult emotions to control. We proceed to give him choices of things he can do; or tell him to come to us when he is ready so that he can work out his emotions. As of this week, he has not had any tantrums. I am in the process of teaching him breathing techniques, and I really want to start him on children’s yoga classes.

He recognizes when he doesn’t like something done to him, and asks people to say sorry. For example, if I brush his ear accidentally while brushing his hair, he will look at me sadly and say sorry. This month, he started setting personal boundaries, and I am very proud of him for creating personal boundaries and expectations.


His sleep is amazing! Typically, he sleeps from 7pm to 7am; and if he wakes up, Dada soothes him to sleep. After story time, both dada and I kiss him goodnight and he goes to sleep on his own without anyone in the room. He takes one nap a day, ranging from 45 minutes to 2 hours. He still nurses to sleep for nap.

Paulie is so much fun. He is interested in everything, he is hilarious, loves to roughhouse, is super energetic, and he is the most perfect little baby angel in the world. We are all so lucky and I am really looking forward to his birthday! Thank you for reading, I hope you have a happy Sunday!

Here are some pictures of baby angel:

First Haircut =D


Christmas Pictures =D

We’re Expecting Another Baby Angel!

We’re Expecting Another Baby Angel!

Good afternoon and happy Thursday! I am so excited to announce that we are expecting our second baby angel–our first daughter! I am 19 weeks pregnant, and almost halfway through the pregnancy. We are so excited to be expanding our family.

The First Trimester

I found out I was pregnant when I was 7 weeks; though, both Matt and I had our suspisions earlier. For the first 8 weeks, I was extremely fatigued and weak all the time; and thirsty! Around week 8, I started vomiting 2 or 3 times a day–and this lasted until 13 weeks. I dropped a lot of weight, and even though my belly is big, I finally reached my pre first trimester weight at week 18. I started showing really early–at 13 weeks! With Paul, I didn’t show until week 17.

When I started experiencing extreme fatigue during the first trimester, I discontinued weight training and started focusing on yoga. I did this twice a day every day until week 8; when I started vomiting multiple times a day. I completely stopped working out until week 14. I resumed exercising at week 14 and plan to exercise for the remainder of my pregnancy. 

The Second Trimester

The second trimester has been enjoyable since my first trimester symptoms subsided. I’ve been eating more nutritiously, exercising regularly, and enjoying pregnancy. I first felt baby girl’s movement at week 15, and as of week 18, I feel them every day. It is the most beautiful feeling in the world.

I am so excited to share this journey with you. Thank you for reading, I hope you have a happy day!

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