My Favorite Plastic Toys from Green Toys

I have been buying plastic toys from Green Toys since 2016, and I am so excited to share some of my favorite products from this company. I absolutely love that these toys are made from non toxic plastic! My current favorites are:

Dump Truck

School Bus

Fire Truck

Ferry Boat

Play-Doh Set

Jet Plane

Submarine

Car Transporter

Shape Sorter

Tool Kit

Why I Choose Green Toys for Plastic Toys

Why I Choose Green Toys for Plastic Toys

Green toys is a company that creates plastic toys out of recycled milk jugs. There are seven types of plastic; and milk jugs are made from type 2 plastic. Type 2 plastic is made from high density polyurethane, which is considered safe because it does not contain bisphenol A nor phthalates. Polyurethane is considered toxic only when inhalation occurs due to off gassing–usually from products containing Polyurethane foam (such as sofas and mattresses); but off gassing does not occur with polyurethane plastic. Not only does this company use a safe type of plastic to create their toys, the functionality of the toys are incredible. I choose to buy plastic toys from Green Toys because I love that the toys are made from a non toxic plastic, 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 affordable non toxic plastic toys, I would highly recommend purchasing them from Green Toys.

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:

Sandra,

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. https://www.maplelandmark.com/infocenter/responsibility/foresthealth.lasso

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 https://www.maplelandmark.com/schoolhousenaturals/sn.lasso 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
www.maplelandmark.com

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:

Sandra,

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.

Thanks,
Mike

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.

What Every Woman Should Know About Her Postpartum Body

What Every Woman Should Know About Her Postpartum Body

During pregnancy, a woman’s body drastically changes in a very short period of time. It is important for women to be aware of these changes so that they are better prepared to address them. Women should prepare for the following changes to occur:

Pelvic Muscles: It is important that women who want to become pregnant, are pregnant, or are postpartum understand the importance of strengthening their pelvic floor muscles. The weight from carrying a baby for 9 months places a lot of stress on a these muscles, causing them to become weak. Weakness in the pelvic floor muscles causes women to be at risk for experiencing incontinence while pregnant and postpartum; which is a sign of a much more serious problem called a vaginal prolapse. The only way to prevent incontinence and a vaginal prolapse is to exercise the pelvic floor muscles. It is never too late to start pelvic floor exercises. The most commonly known exercise that targets the pelvic floor muscles are kegals; but there are many more exercises that a woman can do prior to pregnancy, while pregnant, and postpartum to strengthen her pelvic floor muscles.

Diastasis Recti (split abs): Women who are interested in exercising postpartum should be aware of diastasis recti. Some women, including myself, experience a split in their abs while pregnant. To reconnect them, women need to do very gentle core workouts. Post delivery, I asked the nurse to check my abs and she confirmed that my abs were split three fingers wide. She then taught me how to measure my abs and explained that prior to engaging in ab toning exercises, my abs could not be any wider than one finger width apart. Women are not allowed to engage in any toning exercises until six weeks postpartum; so when I reached six weeks, I saw a physical therapist who taught me the exercises that I needed to do to strengthen my abs. I highly recommend going to see a physical therapist six weeks postpartum prior to exercising.

Vagina: Any change to your vagina will depend on the trauma it endures during delivery. Trauma includes first degree, second degree, third degree, or fourth degree tears or episiotomies; as well as tools used for assisted birth. Women who experience no tears or episiotomies; first degree tears or episiotomies; and who give birth without assistive birthing tools will most likely notice very little change about their vagina both aesthetically and sensationally.

Muscle LossMuscle loss is inevitable during pregnancy due to many factors. The experience of pregnancy is beautiful, but it is physically difficult. There are approved pregnancy workout programs that women can do; but even these workouts may be too strenuous for many women. If you are unable to workout during pregnancy, do not worry, any muscle loss during pregnancy can be rebuilt postpartum.

Breasts: If you produce milk, your breasts will change drastically; and they will change whether or not you choose to breastfeed. I exclusively breastfeed (meaning that all sucking needs, both for nutrition and comfort, are met at my breasts); and exclusive breastfeeding has not only impacted the physical appearance of my breasts, but my weight loss and fertility as well.

  • Exclusive Breastfeeding and Weight Loss: I dropped my pregnancy weight at an accelerated rate. It is recommended that women consume an additional 500 calories a day if they are breastfeeding because women burn approximately 20 calories per one ounce of milk.
  • Exclusive Breastfeeding and Fertility: Women who exclusively breastfeed may experience natural child spacing. For this to be effective, women need to be breastfeeding approximately every 3 hours to maintain the hormone prolactin; which is the hormone responsible for milk production. Natural child spacing is 98 percent effective for the first six months postpartum.

With the knowledge of these postpartum body changes along with setting goals, hard work, patience, realistic expectations, accepting and overcoming setbacks, being in tune with my body, embracing a positive mindset, accepting the permanent changes to my postpartum body and desiring to be the happiest me; my pelvic floor muscles are once again strong, I no longer have diastasis recti, and I have gained my muscle mass back. The female body is strong; and being informed about postpartum changes will allow women to overcome these temporary changes.

Poor Latch, Bloody Nipples, and Insufficient Milk Supply? This May Be the Resolvable Reason Why.

Poor Latch, Bloody Nipples, and Insufficient Milk Supply? This May Be the Resolvable Reason Why.

The first three weeks of breastfeeding were completely disheartening and discouraging. Breastfeeding is something that I thought would come naturally to me, but at that time, it was for me the most difficult part of being a new mother. I find that there are two components to breastfeeding, the emotional and the physical. Emotionally, I have an innate desire to nourish my baby with my milk from my breast, so when I was faced with the necessity to both supplement with formula and pump my milk and feed him with a bottle, I felt like a complete failure. Then, there is the physical component where I just want my baby to be nourished, even if the nourishment does not come from me. I just want what is best for my son.

My husband and I met with two lactation specialists during the two days that we spent at the hospital after the birth of my son. We had issues with latching from the beginning, which caused my baby to lose 10 ounces during our hospital stay. It was devastating to us. Both specialists said that he had a posterior tongue tie as well as a lip tie. The lip tie was preventing him from opening his mouth wide enough to latch on correctly and the posterior tongue tie was preventing him from maneuvering his tongue correctly to efficiently remove milk from me. The poor latch caused breastfeeding to be painful and he would try to drink for up to four hours at a time every 30 to 60 minutes because of his inability to remove milk from me.

The two lactation specialists presented me with three options: to continue trying to breastfeed with the lip and posterior tongue tie, to get the tongue tie and lip tie released with a laser by going to see a dentist, or to get the lip tie and posterior tongue tie released with surgical scissors by an ears, nose, and throat doctor. I tried to continue breastfeeding with the ties for three weeks, but I felt defeated. He was constantly hungry, I was in pain, my nipples were bleeding and my ducts were always clogged which as a result prevented my milk supply from increasing. We found ourselves supplementing with one to two bottles a day and I had to pump directly after breastfeeding to unclog my ducts. Since his appetite was increasing and I was already unable to satisfy his hunger, I decided to make an appointment with the ears, nose, and throat doctor.

Going into the office, I was very hesitant about the procedure. The doctor spent a lot of time with us during the consultation explaining everything we would need to know and answering our questions. We felt comfortable with her, so we decided to get the procedure done. She did not use any anesthetics. The procedure lasted about three minutes. She cut the lip tie, and she made four cuts underneath his tongue. To me, there was a lot of blood, but he stopped crying almost instantly. The doctor then spent time with us working on his latch, and there was an immediate noticable difference. For the first time, breastfeeding was painless. He chugged until he was satisfied and he passed out for the first time after 30 minutes of nursing. I cried with delight–this was the first time I was able to satisfy my son’s hunger; it was the first time my milk ducts were not clogged; and to my delight–no more bloody nipples! 

For seven days following the procedure we had to massage the area to ensure that it did not heal back into the tongue tie. If you are having difficulty with breastfeeding; if its painful, if your bleeding, if your ducts are clogging, if your baby is never satisfied, he may have a tongue and/or lip tie. There are different types of ties, but they all impact a baby’s ability to eat efficiently. I highly recommend taking him to an ears, nose, and throat doctor who can perform a frenulectomy.

Three and a half months following the procedure, my breasts were producing enough milk that I was able to discontinue supplementing with formula and solely exclusively breastfeed. My son cluster fed for hours each day which increased my body’s supply. Now, my son is twenty months old and we are enjoying every minute of extended breastfeeding. Our journey with breastfeeding has been incredible. 

Teaching an Appreciation for Failure and Encouraging a Growth Mindset

Teaching an Appreciation for Failure and Encouraging a Growth Mindset

From the viewpoint of an educator, I have witnessed how a child’s fixed mindset and fear of failure can hinder his desire to fully immerse himself in learning experiences. When a child has a fixed mindset, he believes that his intelligence is limited; he does not respond well to failure and associates failure with being unintelligent and unsuccessful; and he will seek out activities that are not challenging to validate his intelligence rather than work through an activity that he struggles with because of his fear of failure. This fixed mindset will negatively impact this child throughout his entire life if it is not changed. So how can we help change this mindset in children that already have a fixed mindset? Furthermore, how can we help prevent this mindset from developing at all? The two following approaches will help to change and prevent a fixed mindset; and instead promote a growth mindset.

Praise Effort, Not Intelligence: Research has demonstrated that praising intelligence (i.e. “I knew that you could do it because you’re so smart.”) places children at high risk for developing a fixed mindset. While the intentions of praising intelligence are to enhance confidence, motivation, and determination; children instead experience a short lived positive reaction to this praise followed by an immense fear of becoming or appearing unintelligent, thus causing them to avoid challenging tasks, resist learning, and negatively respond to failure. Children who are praised for their efforts (i.e. “You put so much effort into that task by trying new strategies and through trial and error you’ve succeeded!”) understand exactly what steps they took to succeed as well as learn that through hard work, much effort, and determination; their skills and knowledge will change and develop, allowing them to achieve a task that was once new, challenging and confusing. This perseverance, resilience, determination, and motivation along with the understanding that skills and knowledge are acquired are the qualities found in children who have a growth-mindset. Praising effort rather than intelligence encourages children to develop these qualities.

Teach An Appreciation for and the Importance of Struggling and Failure: Children with a fixed mindset and a growth mindset approach struggling and failure very differently. Research has shown that children with a fixed mindset experience poor self concept, negative thoughts, and helplessness in response to struggle, setbacks and failure. Teaching that struggling and failure are essential to learning, gaining knowledge and developing new skills will encourage children to take risks when presented with new learning opportunities. Children will learn to appreciate struggling and failure when they no longer associate struggling and failure with being unintelligent or unsuccessful. Those who understand the importance of failure will become even more determined to problem solve to overcome a challenging task because they know that they will acquire new knowledge and skills; thus boosting long term confidence. Understanding the importance of struggling and failure is a characteristic of children with a growth mindset.

Praising effort and teaching the importance of failing helps children develop the qualities essential for achieving a growth mindset. Developing these qualities are crucial because a child with a fixed mindset will become an adult with a fixed mindset if it remains unaddressed. A fixed mindset can prevent people of all ages from reaching their full potential and achieving consistent happiness because of their strong fear of failure. Adapting a growth mindset equips people with the qualities that allow them to become resilient, determined, and positive.

What You Could Do Immediately:

The next time an opportunity arises to encourage a child’s growth mindset, keep these questions in mind before providing a response:

  • Will my response praise effort, determination, perseverance, resilience, motivation and confidence?
  • Will my response encourage working through failure so that new knowledge and skills are gained?
  • Will my response support the importance of problem solving to overcome challenging tasks?

My Recommendation:

Achieving a growth mindset is an ongoing process that requires daily reflection. With daily reflection, one will be able to determine if one’s responses, qualities, and outlook are contingent with a growth mindset or a fixed mindset. A parent is a child’s role model, so adapting a lifestyle that reflects a growth mindset will teach a child to adapt a growth mindset himself. Modeling the qualities of a growth mindset every day is the best way to teach and encourage it.

Our Bittersweet New Nighttime Routine

Our Bittersweet New Nighttime Routine

Until four days ago, nursing has been such a prominent part of our nighttime routine. Paulie loves to nurse, and I love to nurse him; and he shows no interest in weaning–which is perfectly fine by me. I absolutely love every moment of extended nursing. However, because Paul has been exhibiting tooth decay on his top front four baby teeth for months with no signs of improvement; we decided it was best to wean Paul off of his bedtime nursing. Nursing is not causing his teeth to decay, but my inability to clean his teeth properly after he falls asleep is causing the sugar from the milk to harm his teeth. In addition, Paul did not start taking any fluoride supplements to help strengthen his teeth until he was 16 months old.

Previously, the bedtime routine was as follows:

1. Brushing his teeth with all natural fluoride free toothpaste after dinner.

2. Taking a bath.

3. Putting on PJs.

4. Preparing his room for bedtime; covering the window, turning on his noise dome and air purifier; and bringing the fan into his room.

5. Mama and dada reading bedtime stories while he sits on our laps until Paul was ready to nurse.

6. Paul says goodnight to dada and nurses with mama until he falls asleep.

7. Paul slept from 8pm to 6am.

 

Now, steps 5 – 8 have changed:

5. Mama puts Paul in the crib with his bedtime bottle full of purified water.

6. Mama and dada read stories to Paul while he is in his crib.

7. Mama says goodnight and dada lays next to the crib either reading or singing songs until Paul falls asleep.

8. Paul currently sleeps from 8pm to 4 am and nurses from 4am to 6pm.

On the first night, I tried to put him in his crib and give him the opportunity to fall asleep on his own without me in the room. He ended up calling for me for a half hour until he fell asleep; but then slept awfully for the rest of the night. He woke up with a night terror an hour after falling asleep; which I attribute to him knowing he was alone when he fell asleep.

For the last three nights, I put him in his crib and papa reassured him he was going to stay. Paul didn’t cry but he kept calling out for me. On nights two and three, he rejected the water, but accepted and drank the water tonight. Under this new routine, he has been sleeping from 8pm to 4am and then nursing from 4am to 6am. Since he drank his bottle of water tonight, i’m expecting him to sleep through to 6am tonight.

The change in the nighttime routine has caused him to nurse more frequently during the day. We were only nursing three times a day; morning, before nap, and before bed. Over the last four days, he has been nursing frequently and for longer durations; so we have been having lots of daytime cuddles =)

I knew for some time (about a month) from the Individualized Nighttime Parenting Sleep Training Program that Paul was ready to sleep in his crib; but he preferred to nurse to sleep. While I am happy his teeth will improve, I wanted Paul to wean himself off of bedtime nursing. The abrupt change has also been difficult for me, since I loved spending these last wonderful minutes of his day watching him relax while gazing into my eyes until he drifted off into a comfortable sleep.

This change is bittersweet; and while it happened prematurely and I am sad about it– I have 18 beautiful months of bedtime nursing memories to treasure =)

UPDATE: On the fourth night, after drinking his bottle of water, he slept from 8pm to 6am. =)

Homemade Applesauce

Homemade Applesauce

Applesauce is another one of my favorites to make for my son to eat for breakfast or a snack because of how nutritious, delicious, and filling it is. It is also easy, quick, and cost effective!

Ingredients

  1. Two (organic) Apples
  2. (Purified) Water

Optional Ingredients

  1.  Rolled Oats
  2. Chia Seeds or Hemp Seeds

Step 1:

Peel and chop two apples of your choice.


Step 2:

Boil (purified) water for a few minutes. Then pour boiled water into a bowl and add chopped apples. Let soak for five minutes.

Step 3:

Scoop all of the apples out of the water and into the blender. Then add some of the water that the apples soaked in and pulse until it’s a consistency of your liking. 



Step 4 (optional):

Add toasted Rolled Oats, Chia Seeds, or Hemp Seeds for additional nutrition. 

I hope you enjoy this homemade applesauce recipe! 

Recipe for Healthy and Nutritious Scrambled Eggs

Recipe for Healthy and Nutritious Scrambled Eggs

Good afternoon and happy Thursday! This is one of my favorite recipes to cook for a quick healthy, nutritious, and delicious breakfast for Paul. Click on the ingredient whose nutrition you wish to explore further: 

Recipe

Ingredients

  1. [Organic] Eggs
  2. [Organic] Avocado
  3. [Organic] Butter 
  4. [Organic] Tomatoes
  5. [Organic] Mushrooms
  6. [Organic] Fresh Spinach or [Organic] Frozen Spinach 
  7. Scallions
  8. Hemp Seeds

Part 1:

    Sautée spinach and mushrooms in a pan with butter. 

    Part 2: 

    Add chopped tomatoes when mushrooms and spinach are sautéed to your liking. 

    Part 3:

    Add eggs and scramble until they are cooked to your liking. 

    Part 4:

    Sprinkle hemp seeds on top of your eggs. Serve with avocado for your little darling to enjoy =)

    Thank you for reading! I hope your little one enjoys this recipe! =D

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