RARE Poofy Organics 15% off sale is ON!

All details, including the code, how to save on shipping, how to enter to win $50 in free Poofy products are all here: https://ecofriendlyusa.poofyorganics.com/parties/3780-poofy-organics-by-jess-earth-day-sale.aspx

 

ANY QUESTIONS, email me: ecofriendlymamausa@gmail.com

If you dislike the party catalog & want to use my regular link, you can still enter the code before checking out here, and you can still take advantage of my shipping offer, you just wouldn’t be entered to win the host rewards: https://ecofriendlyusa.poofyorganics.com/

Jolene’s My Green Mattress Review

MY GREEN MATTRESS REVIEW – PART I by Jolene Marty
(coming soon is Part II: Why I Tossed My Tempurpedic Mattress!)

VIDEO REVIEW: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mv_P8Bh9SyU&feature=youtu.be

Hey everyone! Thank you so much for taking the time to watch my video review of the 9” latex mattress I purchased from My Green Mattress! I wanted to share the details with you so they are easy to read and go through, so you can see for yourself what a great company they are!

First some top points:

My Green Mattress –

  • Made in the USA
  • Family owned and operated
  • GREENGUARD Gold, eco-INSTITUT, Oeko-Tex Certified, GOLS Certified, and their encasements (cotton) are GOTS Certified.
  • Reasonably priced (and also offer financing options)
  • Offer latex pillows, latex mattresses, spring system mattresses, bedding, frames
  • Offer crib sizes through California king sizes
  • Have amazing customer service!

I wanted to give you some information on their materials…more in depth from what I discussed in the video.

WOOL:

Their wool is sourced from a supplier out of Montague, CA who ethically sources their wool from sheep that are raised humanely in northern California and southern Oregon. MGM uses their (Woolgatherer Carding Mill) Eco Wool. While this is not a certified organic wool, they do use organic farming and sheering practices. When I asked what the difference is between the wool they buy (which is not certified organic) and the certified organic wool, MGM said this This wool is certified organically processed as Eco Wool, however cannot be considered “certified organic”. For Eco Wool farmers to be granted this certification they would be required to feed their sheep a strict organic feed diet from the 3rd month of gestation. Woolgather’s farms allow their sheep to graze naturally in lush, open pastures which does not allow for a strict diet to be followed. We believe that this provides for a much happier life for the sheep and therefore stand by their practices” They went on to assure me that they are in fact 3rd party tested from the Animal Toxicology Lab out of UC Davis. They are tested for herbicides, pesticides, and naturally occurring heavy metals such as lead and arsenic. Doing this additional testing ensures that the wool is in fact pure and free of contaminants that are not good for both the sheep nor the consumer. Due to these practices, I feel 100% confident in their wool product and am happy they are so strict with the process and offer their transparency. I did ask if they thought they would ever switch to certified organic wool in the future, and they answered “no”. When I asked them why, they told me if they did that, the prices of their mattress would go up significantly and they want good, clean, safe mattresses available to as many people as possible! If you would like to go check out the Woolgatherers Carding Mill and the Eco Wool they use, please click around in the website here: http://www.thewoolgatherer.com/index.php

LATEX:

The latex that is used in their mattress is a Dunlop latex. It is a very firm latex that offers a great amount of support. The latex is a 100% natural latex from ARPICO. It is made from latex foam developed on the ARPICO rubber-tree plantation. This plantation is home to 5.5 million rubber trees and is GOLS certified by the Control Union, the largest organic regulator in Europe. This is their one items that is imported from outside of the United States. The great thing about this natural latex is that because it is pure and regulated, it is free from fillers, dyes, chemicals, adhesives, and pesticides. It is just that – 100% natural latex and nothing else! If you would like to look into the ARPICO latex click around here: http://www.arpicolatexfoam.com/

COTTON:

The cotton that they use is GOTS Certified Organic cotton. You can view their certificate (along with answers to other great FAQ’s) here: https://mygreenmattress.com/pages/faqs

THREAD:

Yes, I even asked about the thread they use! They used poly-cotton blend and also a (non-coated) Kevlar thread. For me as a novice sewer, I like to hear they are using a very strong thread for the mattresses to help keep the integrity of their sewing strong.

Ok guys, so there you have all the little details about what makes up the mattress. As I stated above, and in my video, the one extra thing that I absolutely love about My Green Mattress is that they have wonderful customer service. I spoke with two sales reps and the owner himself and I have absolutely zero negative things to say. They all knew a lot about their product and they worked hard to make sure that every single one of my questions was answered. It is just another reason why I love Made in the USA and FAMILY owned and operated businesses. You get to know the people and see their true passion for their product.

The latex mattress that I got was their “Simple Sleep Latex” mattress. I purchased the 9” King size mattress from them. They had it ready for me in just a couple of days and sent me confirmation via email. Below I am enclosing few photos of the mattress!

MGM5

By the way, I have loved my mattress and my experience so much, that I decided to become an affiliate for them! I would love to have you support this stay at home mama by purchasing through this link: http://ss1.us/a/X8Nm5hRJ

Also, for our readers, they gave us a discount code. You can save 5% by putting in the code ECOSAVE5. If you are military, they offer an 8% discount (just let them know when you order). Codes cannot be combined but, they offer free shipping! Even better news is they are having an Earth Day sale that is even better than that and on everything!

MGM6

~ Jolene Marty

AGAIN, HERE’S THE VIDEO REVIEW LINK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mv_P8Bh9SyU&feature=youtu.be

FEB BUYING CLUB EXTRAS

TO ORDER: Email ecofriendlymamausa@gmail.com with your list of items from what’s available below. I pull & update the list after each order.

I will pull your order & send you an invoice with exact USPS regional or flat rate shipping.

You pay via PayPal or check, I ship.

For details on ingredients, etc, visit the website of the vendor, or ask me any questions!

POOFY ORGANICS: (EXCLUDED FROM 1/2 OFF)

Blush Samples @$4ea: 1X blushing, 4X blushful, 4X blushingly

Foundation samples @$3: 2X Serenity, 4X Hope, 4X Harmony

Catalogs, free with an order!

JOSIAH’S OILS (ALL 1/2 OFF)

1X Ultra Pure Pup Wash @$11.50

2X 2.2 oz lavender head to toe wash @$3.89

1X Small After Shave/toner @$11.99

EARTH PAINTS: https://www.naturalearthpaint.com/ (EXCLUDED FROM 1/2 OFF)

2X petite paint kits @$19.95

MAMASUDS: (ALL 1/2 OFF PRICES LISTED BELOW)

2X 8oz w/ pump top body cream w/ zinc @$

2X 4 oz bug spray @$9ea

2X 16 oz bug spray (4X 4 oz refills) @$25 ea

PRESERVE PRODUCTS: (excluded from 1/2 off)

5X 3 blade replacement cartridges ( 4 cartridges/pack) @8.50ea on sale for $6.50 each

3X tongue cleaners@ $2.75

Kids toothbrushes @$3.30ea: 6

Adult brushes @$3ea, medium: 2

MOUNTAIN ROSE HERBS (EXCLUDED FROM 1/2 OFF)

8oz dried elderberries @$8.50

GLASS DHARMA: http://www.glassdharma.com/ (EXCLUDED FROM 1/2 OFF)

1X 9.5X9 Beautiful Bends @$10ea

URBAN BABY BONNETS (1/2 off PRICES LISTED BELOW

1X Jewelia Modbonnet in XL @$40: https://urbanbabybonnets.com/modbonnet-in-jewelia.html

1X Field Map ModCap in medium (12-24m),  $38: https://urbanbabybonnets.com/modcap-in-field-map.html

1X paradise SolBonnet in Large (2-3T), normally $24.50: https://urbanbabybonnets.com/solbonnet-in-paradise.html

REDMOND TRADING COMPANY: (1/2 OFF PRICES LISTED BELOW)

Earthpaste @$6/tube: 1X peppermint, 5X lemon, 3X spearmint (xylitol-free)

Earthcure foaming hand soap @$7.99ea: 1X citrus, 2X peppermint

1X 8.25oz season salt @$9.95ea

3X Toothpaste Tube Squeezers @$.99ea

 

HIDE & SEEK BOUTIQUE (made by Jolene Marty) NOW $2 OFF, SO $12 EACH

2X hand kites @$14 https://www.facebook.com/397517646930548/photos/a.1636191103063190.1073741875.397517646930548/1636191119729855/?type=3&theater

JESS HOMEMADE TOOTHPASTE: (EXCLUDED FROM 1/2 OFF)

Please read this notes as there are 2 formulas currently: https://ecofriendlymamausa.com/buying-clubdeomy-poofy-organics/eco-friendly-usa-homemade-toothpaste/

And my deodorant: https://ecofriendlymamausa.com/buying-clubdeomy-poofy-organics/homemade-deodorant-body-scrub-info/

MISC ITEMS JESS HAS FOR SALE:

https://www.facebook.com/pg/Eco-friendly-babyfamily-products-MADE-in-the-USA-397517646930548/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1489593477722954

Adventures in traveling south of the border with my family!

I’m fresh back from almost 2 weeks in Mexico! Some of you travel a lot, so this is no big deal. My Hubby & I traveled quite a bit before having children, and I’ve really, really missed it. I flew with my Son a few times while he was under 2 still, to visit family here in the US, but have not flown since. My daughter who is 3.5 has never been on a plane. So I was more than ready, but quite nervous. There are so many things that could go wrong. All the what if’s kept rattling around in my brain. Traveling from WI in January is always a risk. But, I decided to trust the Universe that everything would work out, and it DID. It went better than I ever could’ve imagined, and I’m so, so glad we went!

My main goal was to get somewhere warm to make ½ of January disappear quickly. It’s a long, cold, boring month here in WI. I was tempted to go to FL as there are plenty of nice beaches & warmth to be had. But I really wanted to get us out of our comfort zone a bit more. I wanted to expand my kiddos world view beyond the horizons of rural WI. We have very little diversity here in terms of different skin colors, languages, etc. and therefore I need to make efforts to expose them to the larger world around us. Some of you know, but many aren’t aware of my background: my degree is in Spanish Education. As I said I enjoy traveling & I really loved learning Spanish in college and knew I would have a chance to study abroad if I majored in it. I was fortunate to be able to spend 10 weeks in Costa Rica living in an apartment & studying advanced Spanish 4 hrs/day as part of my degree. I finished 6m of student teaching in 2 local schools, received my degree to teach K-12 Spanish in public schools, and then immediately learned I was pregnant with my Son. I still planned to get into the workforce, and applied for many jobs, but didn’t land any that coming school year. My Son was born in March & I still thought I’d get into teaching that next Fall. But, once I had my Son I realized I did not want to leave him. I had always felt that if I had kids, I wanted to be the one to stay home & raise them, not have someone else do it while I worked. So I stayed home, turned down several jobs that they were calling & begging me to fill. My Son is about to turn 6 years now & I have not used my degree in a public school setting at least (have done some tutoring), and I do not intend to.

Living in rural WI, I have very little opportunity to use my Spanish, and as they say if you don’t use it you lose it. So I really wanted to throw myself into situations where I could use it. I knew traveling to FL would not give me those opportunities. I’m happy to report it came back quickly & I received compliments over & over on my ability to speak which made me very happy. My kids loved hearing me speak & my daughter soon started speaking gibberish & saying: Mom, that was Spanish. Now that they’ve had the tiny bit of exposure I plan to keep with it. I had been regretting not teaching them from day 1, something I had intended to do but completely failed at. My Mom was born in Germany & although she has lived in the US for 40 years now, is still a fluent speaker. She never taught us a word in German & I told myself I would be different, but I had failed. Those of you who speak other languages, please pass it on, it’s a great gift!

I know a lot of people dis Cancun as being way too touristy, but there is a reason people from all over the world flock there. The beaches are AMAZING. The water is gorgeous. It is not far from anywhere in the US: it only took a little over 4 hrs in the air from Milwaukee, WI (on 2 different flights). And there are many very culturally significant Mayan ruins in the area. Chichen Itza is one of the 7 wonders of the world, and for very good reason.  There are palm trees, coral, shells, iguanas, it’s another world compared to WI, and that’s what I wanted. I was there ~10 years ago with my Mom & Sis. I was in my 3rd semester of college at the time & it helped cement my love for the Latin world & propelled me to decide on my Spanish major. On this trip, I waited too long to book our day trip to Tulum, and it was all full so we didn’t visit any ruins this time. I know we’ll be back, and that the kids will appreciate them more in a couple years, although I know they would’ve left quite the impression on them, they are remarkable!

We were definitely the minority being from the US. We met a LOT of Canadians, they really like to travel! And they’re very friendly. We were having lunch at a small luncheria one day & the place was pretty full but we had 2 empty chairs at our table. A middle-aged Canadian couple approached & asked if we minded if they sat down for a cup of tea with us. Of course we couldn’t say no & we chatted over lunch. One thing I found out about traveling with kids is we had a lot of empathy from others. I heard over & over: ahhhh, I remember when our kids were that age, now they’re grown, cherish this time, etc….. We had many helping hands along the way, many kind & understanding gestures, it was refreshing. And one of the things that warmed my heart the most was my kids made friends with non-English speakers. At the 1st place we stayed at for 4 nights, my Son befriended a Czech boy. His Dad worked for a major bank so traveled all over the world, but they chose Cancun for vacation. The Dad spoke some English, but the boy & his younger brother spoke very, very little. Yet the kids played for hours each day.  They swam together, built sand castles together, laughed, and I thought they were both going to cry when they gave their goodbye hug the day we left. Yet very few words were spoken. And to me there is something so powerful in that. Same with a Japanese girl they met on the beach. She was there with her parents, I saw her eyeing up my kids who were digging in the sand & building castles. I held out an extra shovel they weren’t using & she shyly accepted it & came & started digging with us. An hour went by and we built a super great creation together & again, very few words exchanged.

As we all know: there is no place like home. And traveling out of country or to less developed areas of our country even, definitely gives a greater appreciation for what we have. My family lives quite simply & modestly. We have a 1400 sq. ft home, only buy things we can pay for, etc. Going to a place in which many people live in extreme poverty, in which you cannot drink the water or even brush your teeth with it gives me such extreme gratitude for my safe well water. Except for the super fancy resorts, you generally never flush your toilet paper in Mexico. There are garbage cans next to the toilets & you’re supposed to put your paper there, their septic systems cannot handle it. My kids easily adapted to this, but again, it gave me a great appreciation for flushing paper again. There are vast, significant differences between the lives of us here and there, but at the same time, when it comes down to it, we have more in common than not!

On packing: I felt I did a really good job. We have 1 huge suitcase that is at the max specs for not being charged for oversize, and it weighed in right at 50# so we didn’t have to pay more than $25 to check it. I felt I was packing really lightly for each of us, and I was, but X4 it adds up quickly. But still, we had plenty of clothes & not any that we didn’t need. My daughter brought 1 doll, my Son 2 of his transformers & his stuffed rooster that he takes everywhere, but other than that we had 1 small backpack with art supplies, maze & other activity books. One small backpack with snacks & water, my purse, my Hubby’s manpurse with his tablet, and that was it! The 1st aid essentials I chose to bring were: Josiah’s Oils Germ Fight Blend which I applied to all of us several times/day, Bach’s Rescue Remedy, Nux Vomica (not sure the brand, I get it at my co-op, but I SWEAR by this for upset bellies), Poofy’s Everything Salve & After Sun Spray, Traditional Medicinals Elderberry/Echinacea tea, and that’s it really. I used everything I brought.  We all stayed remarkably healthy the entire time. In the beginning my Hubby had a bit of a belly ache, nothing major just was feeling bloated & not so great. Me: here, take some of these nux vomica tabs, they’re amazing. Him: no, no, I’m fine (as he rolls around in bed trying to sleep). Finally I hear him take a couple of them & drift into sleep shortly afterwards. The next morning: wow, shortly after I took those I felt much better…. Classic! So the entire time we were in Mexico that was really the worst of any belly aches any of us had, we truly stayed healthy. On the way home we flew from Cancun to Denver, and although we had a 2 hr layover which I thought would give us plenty of time to get through customs, etc, we barely made our connecting flight. We had all of 10 min before our next flight was leaving by the time we got to the gate, and the kids were starving. The only food in sight was McDonald’s right next to the gate. My kids have never, ever eaten McDonald’s in their life, they don’t know what it is. But we went for it, the next flight was 2 hrs long & didn’t get to our destination until 9pm, and we were out of snacks. We got a chicken nuggets meal & a cheeseburger meal for them, cheeseburgers for Hubby & I & ran on the plane, sat down exhausted & chowed down. I’m not joking that within ½ hr of eating that crap food, we all had our 1st upset stomachs of the entire 12 days we’d been traveling. My Son suddenly said: Mom, I have to go to the bathroom reallllly bad, and there was someone in both of them on the plane, and I truly thought he was going to soil his pants. All of us were running to the bathrooms. I’m sharing this because I think it provides great insight as to why so many Americans are so sick, it’s the food, I will never eat there again, nor will my kids as long as I have a say.

My thoughts on all-inclusive vs not:

All inclusive (El Cid for 4 nights)- The things I liked about it: it was at the end of a dead end road about ½ hr south of Cancun. It was very quiet, there was no street noise, no barking dogs. A bit of hooting & hollering here & there but mainly all I heard every night was the sound of the wind through the palms & the waves crashing! I liked that there was a huge, very nice pool with a small water slide & a bigger one for older kids including a cliff jumping area, my kids were still too young for those activities.  At their age the ocean is a bit much for them, and being winter in Cancun means a lot of wind, so the ocean was not calm at all. I liked that I didn’t have to cook a single thing for 4 days! There were 4 restaurants as well as a huge buffet that was constantly changing. What I disliked: We over ate. I saw sooooo much wasted food & I’m very sensitive to that, I absolutely hate it. But we’d go to breakfast, then a few hours later it was like: let’s go see what’s for lunch. Even though we weren’t really hungry we’d try a dab of this & that & have a plate full before long. And I just saw so much wasted food. My hope is that they do something with some of the waste…  And it was quite expensive, but considering we didn’t have to spend any money the entire time we were there other than a tip here & there, it didn’t seem so bad in the end.

View from the balcony of our all-inclusive:

balcony

Non-all-inclusive: We spent 7 nights at a quaint, very traditionally decorated, lovely villa on Isla Mujeres, just north of Cancun. It was 1/3 of the price/night of the all-inclusive, but suddenly I was responsible for all meals again which I hadn’t really missed. My Dad & Step Mom joined us for an overlapping 5 nights, and had their own room near us which was nice. Grocery shopping in a foreign country is always an interesting experience. Our 1st day there we went out for lunch then I asked where the supermercado  was & got pointed in the right direction. We found a corner convenience store & I was a bit worried that was the place. Nope, there was still somewhere bigger a few blocks down, phew. I got the basics there: coffee, fruit & some veggies, 1st night’s dinner & next morning’s breakfast. Then the next day someone pointed me to the SUPERmercado. I took a taxi without the family & spent a good hour+ cruising the aisles for our week worth of groceries. There were familiar names like Johnsonville, Sargento, many organic offerings, and even canned cranberries from WI! The island is only 5 miles long by ½ mile wide, so very small. The natives all use mopeds or bikes to get around, the tourists rent golf carts or take taxis which there are tonnnns of. There is a constant whir of golf carts, long into the night, and this actually was a downfall in my opinion. Back home we live on a very quiet back road that gets hardly any traffic, so the street noise really bothered me while in our room, especially at night, that and barking dogs.  The place we stayed at was a marina as well, and it was fascinating to hear the stories of those docked there. We met people from all over the world. My kids befriended a 7 year old Australian boy who had the most amazing accent, I wanted to listed to him talk all day long! He lived in Australia until he was 5, and they’ve been docked there on Isla Mujeres living on the boat for 2 years now! The kids played so well together and again, I thought they were going to cry when saying goodbye, he asked if we could please stay longer. Other than being too noisy for me,  it was a nice home base for the week, and our days were mainly spent at the gorgeous beaches on the north side of the island, building castles, collecting shells, relaxing.

The beach we spent a lot of time on in Isla Mujeres:

playa

Shopping in Mexico: I’m not a shopper. I prefer online shopping vs malls, get most of our clothing handed down or via garage sales/thrift stores. Shopping in Mexico is overwhelming. At 1st, haggling for deals can be fun, seem rewarding & be a bit of a thrill. But for me, it quickly got very old. Example: I pick up a gorgeous dress for my daughter at the 1st stop, ask how much it is & am told $35. Ok, see ya I say. Wait, Wait, how much you want to pay? I never pay more than $20 for any kids clothes I say, which is true, they outgrow them so fast, and I am used to hand-me-downs as I said. Him: how about $21, a small tip for me on top of your $20. Me: pulling out $14 worth of pesos, this is all I have. Him: Ok, deal. Seriously, you wanted $35 but will take $14 (the dress is SUPER cute by the way, so I was happy). But this gets repeated over & over, for every item, and I got super burnt out on it quickly. Speaking Spanish gets you even better deals for sure, and I loved the practice & compliments I received on my speaking skills. I watched people paying full price for t-shirts, $35 or so, when they likely could’ve gotten it for $10. I didn’t do much shopping, but did get 2 adorable dresses for my daughter, a couple of shirts for my Son, 2 dresses & a couple pairs of cute & comfy pants for me, some vanilla, a sea shell wind chime, a couple magnets & that’s it! My Hubby & Dad went fishing & their catches were made into fresh ceviche as well as grilled up for us for that nights dinner which we ate under the stars, it was a real treat!

Many of you have asked about my experience “unplugging”. It was easy for me! I do not own a smart phone as 99% of you likely do. I do most of my work from my lap top or our home PC. So when I’m out of the house, I’m truly away from technology. We did not activate international functions for our phones, so turned them off in Atlanta & didn’t turn them back on until we got to Denver 12 days later. I didn’t bring my laptop on vacation but my Hubby did bring his tablet as it’s our camera/video camera as well, and he installed a couple super basic kids games on it as well which kept them entertained on the planes when needed. So it came in handy, and we did have internet at the 2nd place we stayed so I did update my personal Fb page a couple times to let friends & family know we were safe & having a great time. But other than that, with all my groups shut down, I spent no time browsing Facebook, and didn’t miss reading daily news updates, etc. It truly felt good to just focus on my family, how we were going to spend our day, and not think about the rest of the world for a bit. I lost an entire week of productivity between Christmas & New Year due to a terrible toothache. I had a lot of projects planned & got very little done… I urge everyone to try to unplug a little more. Give it a shot! I know many people who have a tough time balancing their online time with the rest of their life. I know people who suddenly feel the need to pull the plug completely, deleting their Fb account entirely. Then a month or 2 or 6 later they’ll pop back up. I really do like & value Facebook & with all things in life: balance is key. Ying & Yang. Speaking of Facebook, here’s a fabulous page that has many great posts & inspiring messages, it’s one of my favorites: https://www.facebook.com/TheHandsFreeRevolution/

We squeaked home between some wicked ice storms that hit the Midwest. My Dad, who had joined us for a week down there, got stuck in Chicago for an extra day & a half, but luckily his Sis who lives there was able to come & get him & he had a great, extended vacation. Had we gotten stuck in Denver with the kids, it would’ve put a sour note on the end of the trip. But everything, seriously everything, went as it needed to go to make it a happy, successful trip & I know my kiddos will be thinking & talking about it for a long time to come. It gives me the motivation to work hard and continue to live modestly so I can save the money needed to fund an annual adventure. I don’t know that we’ll go back to the spots we visited this time, as I like exploring new spots, but I do know we’ll be heading south of the border again for sure!

So, that’s my vacation in a nut-shell, I enjoyed writing about it, I hope you enjoyed reading about it! It was not cheap, but it was priceless family time that I would not trade for anything in the world ♥

Toys by Category Recommendations

Finding fun, safe, made in USA toys was what started me on my mission almost 5 years ago now! I was shopping for my Son’s 1st B-day & picked up a Melissa & Doug toy after seeing them recommended over & over in the “crunchy” Mom groups I was in on Facebook. I saw that Made in China sticker & it just didn’t sit well with me. I was in a store FULL of Melissa & Doug stuff. I thought: there has got to be great toys made in the USA still, right? And the great news is YES THERE ARE! My Son is going to be turning 6 soon, my daughter is 3, and I can say that it has not been difficult at all to find plenty of fabulous made in USA options for every Holiday & celebration along the way. I wanted to break my Safe Toys Master List down a bit (found here: https://ecofriendlymamausa.com/made-in-usa-2/toy-list/) and share some of my specific favorites, including popular categories such as art, dollhouse & kitchen play.

A general note: My 2 all-time favorite toy vendors are Smiling Tree Toys (STT) & Pure Play Kids (PPK). As you’ll see below we own a lot of toys from them. They’re my 1st stop, and I often accomplish most of my toy shopping through them. My kids are starting to outgrow STT, I love that PPK has a shop by age function, ends at 6+. It helps narrow it down, as they have so much to choose from. PURE PLAY KIDS HAS GENEROUSLY EXTENDED THEIR 15% OFF COUPON CODE TO THIS GROUP FOR ANOTHER YEAR: ECO2017 FOR 15% OFF YOUR ORDER TOTAL!

Personalization- My advice is to avoid it in general. One benefit to investing in great quality, made in the USA toys is that you can pass them along to other friends/family or sell when your family is done with them. I’ve not had any trouble recovering ½ of my cost on items I’ve sold after we’re done with them. But, if they have a name on them, that limits your market a lot, especially since a lot of us have pretty unique names for our kids. My kids both have a few personalized items, but generally I do avoid it.

I was going to organize my list by age, but it really varies so much by kid. What one 2 year old loves, the next 4 year old may love. I tend to buy things for my kids a bit earlier than they’re ready for it, but I’d rather have it for them sooner than later & they can grow into it (as long as it’s safe with no small parts). TAG Toys also has a shop by age function that goes up to 6, I don’t own much from them but they have a lot of fun stuff & I need to remember to check them out more! https://store.tagtoys.com/age-c5.aspx. Of course Etsy has a TON of options too. I’ve just come around to shopping on Etsy recently. A separate project I’m working on is an Etsy favorites list that’ll I’ll be asking for recommendations from y’all for. With so many vendors available, it’s nice to have personal recommendations.

I wanted to share some of the toys I’ve grown to love. These are all things we own or if it’s something I’m aware of as it’s been a FAQ I’ve added it. This includes popular categories such as pull toys, etc, that we don’t necessarily own items in. If you’re looking for something in particular, never hesitate to ask, even if I don’t own it, I’m likely able to point you in the right direction as I’ve clicked around a lot in many of these sites.

Recommendations for babies:

Keepsake Block: (these make a great gift!)

STT: http://smilingtreetoys.com/collections/decor-accessories/blocks

Rattles:

Smiling Tree Toys: http://smilingtreetoys.com/collections/rattles

Pure Play Kids: http://www.pureplaykids.com/search.php?mode=search&page=1

Bannor Toys: https://bannortoys.com/collections/rattles

girafferattle

Giraffe Rattle from Smiling Tree Toys

Teethers-

Smiling Tree Toys: http://smilingtreetoys.com/search?type=product&q=teethers

Pure Play Kids: http://www.pureplaykids.com/search.php?mode=search&page=1

Bannor Toys: https://bannortoys.com/collections/teethers

Natulo (organic fabric with pocket for ice) : http://www.natulo.com/Natulo-Natural-Teething/Natulo-Ice-Teether-Organic

natuloteethers

Cloth toys:

Organic ball: http://www.pureplaykids.com/colorful-organic-baby-ball/

Organic cotton snuggle star: http://www.pureplaykids.com/organic-cotton-stuffed-star-USA/

Stuffington Bear Factory: http://www.stuffingtonbear.com/

stuffington

Organic polar bear from Stuffington Bear Factory

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Older Kids: I’m going to call this the 2-6 year old recommendations. These are things that we own/have owned to date.

Activity Cube- we have this one from Anatex: http://amzn.to/2iUKxPB. It is not solid wood, the walls of the cube are plywood, but that doesn’t concern me. I consider this to be a safe & great option for this category. My daughter got this for her 2nd B-day & is still playing with it at 3.5. They have many different options, this is one of the cheapest ones, they get pricy. They state this, so I’d double check what you’re purchasing is made in the USA: We manufacture almost all of our items in the USA! Here’s their website: http://anatex.com/

Art & projects- My kids are SO into fun projects & arts/crafts. Below are some of the things we enjoy:

Starter crayons:

Eco-Kids: http://shop.ecokidsusa.com/product/eco-crayons

Wee Can Too: https://weecantooart.com/product/natural-and-organic-veggie-crayons/

Paint: Earth Paints are our favorite- my kids love that they mix them up themselves: http://www.naturalearthpaint.com/

earthpaints

Play Dough, Blue Egg Farmstore is our favorite: http://www.blueeggfarmstore.com/product-page/becef3cc-5cdc-6ace-1a59-b1d09e53df00

Pure Play Kids: I’ll just link to their category for this, so much fun stuff. The Sand Art Kits are super fun! http://www.pureplaykids.com/arts-crafts/

These are a lot of fun, from Pure Play Kids: http://www.pureplaykids.com/wax-fun-sticks-5-pack/

Art easel: beka http://www.bekainc.com/buy/01102-01110/bekas-deluxe-childs-easel This is all I own from them, but they have many great items!

beka

On the Beka Easel, we did get the big roll of paper with it when we received it as a gift for Christmas 2015 (pictured above). But I’ve not replaced it since we used it up, as I am as conservative as possible with paper usage. I’ve grown to love Crayola’s dry erase crayons & colored pencils instead of markers, they don’t stink. I believe both are made in Mexico. I’ve not found a better option for the dry erase category.

Colored Pencils: http://amzn.to/2iJuyUc

Crayons: http://amzn.to/2jodLaX, also available in neon: http://amzn.to/2jzEIuy

Chalk: My Mom, who bought the kids the Beka easel, gifted some large chalk sticks that came in a plastic holder kinda thing with the easel. They lasted a really long time  & I liked that they were big & fat as it made them easy to grip & they didn’t break right away like the small chalk can. But I’m not sure which brand they were, she likely got them at Wal-Mart, I’ve not seen them since. I’ve been meaning to buy more chalk from here: https://www.palumba.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=chalk

BATH:

Green Toys is a safe plastic option, in my opinion. It’s BPA, PVC & Phthalate-free. We have the submarine, tugboat, stacking cups, and watering can. Available through them here: http://www.greentoys.com/green-toys-bath-and-water

And on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2iJGYf7

North Star has this wooden boat: http://www.northstartoys.com/products/busy-boat

Ducky: http://shop.celebriducks.com/category_s/37.htm

1002-2t

Board Games: Hasboro makes many games here, some may say with foreign & domestic parts. We played a ton of Candyland & have now graduated to Chutes & Ladders/

We own these 2 from Briarpatch:

Goodnight Moon matching- http://amzn.to/2iX6DVY

I Spy Matching Game- http://amzn.to/1Gqar3F

Doc McStuffins Operation Game (yes, it is annoying….): http://amzn.to/1F50oUp

ispy&operation.jpg

BOOKS: We have a ridiculous amount of books, mainly I pick them up at garage sales. I LOVE the Lost my Name books, they are printed in the US although the company is based in the UK I believe. I’m not sure all their books are printed here though: https://www.lostmy.name/

Little Golden books are still printed in WI! And a friend’s Uncle works for them & has gifted us a ton of them. Otherwise, we have a total hodge podge & they are all well loved!

Building Blocks:

Smiling Tree Toys: http://smilingtreetoys.com/collections/block-sets

Bannor: https://bannortoys.com/collections/wooden-blocks

Bricks: http://amzn.to/2iJLz0L

Doll house: Here’s a photo album of what we have: https://www.facebook.com/397517646930548/photos/?tab=album&album_id=868582543157387

Furniture, TAG Toys: https://store.tagtoys.com/dollhouse-furniture-set-p58.aspx

We have this one from Elves & Angels, other options available through them as well: http://elvesandangels.com/collections/dollhouses/products/new-natural-wooden-our-maine-dollhouse-by-elves-and-angels

Dolls, we have several from here. The family, the royal family, kindness elves, birthday month dolls. I LOVE everything she makes & had to cut myself off https://www.wildflowertoys.com/

wildflowerdollslineup

DOLLS:

We have this one & the Ziggy zaggy one from Pure Play Kids. I asked them why they didn’t have a boy doll & they did make one & name it after my son: Orion. But it was only available a short time & the lady who sewed them was no longer able to. Ziggy Zaggy & Flower Girl (as my kids have named them, are still available)http://www.pureplaykids.com/handmade-organic-doll-happy-hexagons/

oriondoll

I let my Mom buy my daughter a Baby Alive doll for Christmas. Yes, I know… Her cousin has one & she really, really wanted one. All her other dolls are random grabs from garage sales, Good Will, etc. I was OK with her receiving this as a gift, and picked out some fun accessories to go along with it:

I got her this adorable doll carrier from Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/listing/475582576/little-mama-baby-doll-carrier-doll?ref=hp_rv

And a Mama in the group made a set of 3 cloth diapers & a pack of cloth wipes for her doll (the disposable diapers used on Baby Alive’s drive me bonkers!). I do believe in moderation, and variety, and my kids are quite rough with their toys as many end up outdoors in the mud pit with them. So spending a couple hundred bucks on a Waldorf cloth doll just isn’t feasible for us.

Felt & magnetic boards:

Pure Play Kids: felt http://www.pureplaykids.com/search.php?mode=search&page=1

Magnetic: http://www.pureplaykids.com/search.php?mode=search&page=1

We also have Pure Plays magnetic fishing set, and the extra fish & numbers: http://www.pureplaykids.com/magnetic-wooden-fishing-rod-with-5-magnetic-fish/

Kitchen stuff:

If I were purchasing new I’d go with Elves & Angels: http://elvesandangels.com/collections/wooden-kitchens

I was so lucky to score this used set locally for only $200:

woodenkitchen

Wooden eggs: http://www.pureplaykids.com/wooden-toy-play-eggs/

We have several things from Green Toys: sandwich & pizza shop, just added the cupcake set for Christmas this year, the tea, dish & chef set as well! In the summer my kids set up an outdoor kitchen & I love how durable & washable Green Toys items are! Here’s a link to them directly: http://www.greentoys.com/green-toys-kitchen-play

All items available on Amazon too, and many have seen sales in their local TJ Maxx, etc. Here’s an Amazon link to get you started there: http://amzn.to/2iJzVD3

We added some felt food this X-mas, and I will definitely be getting more from here. Etsy is FULL of felt kitchen food. As I mentioned above though, it is one area I don’t mind having some safe plastic in our otherwise all wooden kitchen set-up, as it is so durable. We have the breakfast platter so far: https://www.etsy.com/people/KidsKitchenKreations

We have oven mitts from here, I got my niece a personalized chef hat for her B-day, lots of cute & fun stuff including aprons: http://growingcooks.com/

For accessories they have a hodge podge. Some Green Toys as I listed above, an unused stainless fondue pot of mine, misc stainless whisks, etc.

Lacing toys-

Smiling Tree Toys: http://smilingtreetoys.com/products/wooden-lacing-tracing-toy-set

Holgate: http://www.holgatetoy.com/Lacing-Products_c_12.html

TAG: https://store.tagtoys.com/lace-and-learn-p90.aspx

lacingpuzzle

Make-up:

Blue Egg Farmstore: http://www.blueeggfarmstore.com/play

Marble run:

Tedco, I love the creativity this inspires, we play with this a lot! http://amzn.to/2ims4Pa

Memory matching tiles:

http://smilingtreetoys.com/products/memory-matching-tile-game

https://bannortoys.com/search?q=memory

Misc:

Smiling Tree Toys Misc toys (we have several items, the moon balancer, camera, penguin bowling, wands, tops, lacing puzzle): http://smilingtreetoys.com/collections/toys

Bannor Toys Misc Toys: https://bannortoys.com/collections/wooden-toys

Green Toys, we own many items from them:

greentoys

Dressup- we have superhero capes & crowns from here: http://www.pureplaykids.com/search.php?mode=search&page=1

Building logs- Roys toys, they come in different sets, here’s one: http://amzn.to/2ihb1O2

Music:

Drums: Remo Djembe and Doumbek are manufactured in the US: http://www.remo.com/portal/products/5/505/remokids.html

Xylophone, Smiling Tree (we have this): http://smilingtreetoys.com/collections/toys/products/wooden-xylophone

Xylophone, Pure Play: http://www.pureplaykids.com/metal-wood-xylophone-for-kids/

Ukulele, Pure Play Kids (we have this): http://www.pureplaykids.com/wooden-ukulele-for-kids/

Palumba has a variety of items, I don’t own any but they have a LOT of cool stuff in general! https://www.palumba.com/books-music/music-instruments/instruments.html

Piggy Banks- I got my kids both one from here, the same lady that makes the plug-in wax warmers I sell via the buying club. I don’t see any listed currently but you could write her to ask for one: http://www.dcstoneware.com/

piggy bank.jpg

Someone in the group let me know they got their kids one from here, a vendor on my Safe Toys List that I’ve not shopped from yet: http://www.wildapples.com/piggybanks.htm

Pounding table:

Holgate: http://www.holgatetoy.com/Classic-Bingo-Bed_p_41.html

Pull/push toys:

Hogate: http://www.holgatetoy.com/Ducking-Duck_p_171.html

Pure Play: http://www.pureplaykids.com/spinning-blocks-wooden-pull-toy/

Pure Play: http://www.pureplaykids.com/wooden-mower-vacuum-push-toy-rainbow/

Smiling Tree: http://smilingtreetoys.com/products/animal-puzzle-pull-toy

Puzzles- huge category of course! Puzzles are favorites in our house!

Smiling Tree now has name puzzles: http://smilingtreetoys.com/products/wooden-name-puzzle

The Puzzle People: http://www.puzzlepeople.com/  (we have several, I LOVE them!)

turtlepuzzlepeople

Portrait Puzzles: https://www.portraitpuzzles.com/home.php (they make great gifts!)

TAG: https://store.tagtoys.com/i-can-spell-alphabet-puzzle-p87.aspx

Shape Sorter:

Smiling Tree Toys: http://smilingtreetoys.com/products/shape-sorter

Train tracks: Bought for Son’s 3rd B-day, almost 6 now & both play with it often. I love that you can add on to. I’ve given add-on’s for recent B-days.

Maple Landmark: https://www.maplelandmark.com/detail.lasso?sku=11240

It’s currently available cheaper via Pure Play Kids actually, and sometimes it’s on Amazon for cheaper: http://www.pureplaykids.com/complete-train-track-and-town/

Name train: https://www.maplelandmark.com/nametrains/brightcolornames.lasso

traintracks

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Summer fun:

Pure Play Kids has several great things for this category, we have their shell collecting bags, beach stamps, butterfly nets & bug house: http://www.pureplaykids.com/all-outdoor-fun/

Green Toys sand castle set (very durable plastic!): http://amzn.to/2icvBzd

Green Toys Watering can: http://amzn.to/2hRty0q

Water Table: We have a Little Tikes one. It’s made in the USA of foreign & domestic parts. I know the accessories are definitely made in China, I did send one in to MisLead in a package of random things I sent her & it came back free of lead & other heavy metals which was good news. We improvised our own accessories, peg people & random things. My kids have enjoyed this a couple of summers now. Yes, it’s plastic but short of making something yourself, there aren’t many other viable options for this category. Step2 also has similar options. http://amzn.to/2iJRdjk

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Easter: This is an older note of mine with some good suggestions: https://ecofriendlymamausa.com/2013/03/05/made-in-usa-easter-basket-ideas/

easter16

Easter 2016 consisted of:  Hand kites made by former page co-admin Jolene, wooden egg paint kit from Earth Paints (where we got our egg dye kit also), Easter matching tiles, and 2 other word/picture matching games from Bannor Toys, and they each got a personalized bunny wand from Bannor also, Repositionable Stickers from Pure Play Kids (made by Mrs. Grossman’s), foaming bath paints & scented play dough from Blue Egg Farmstore, Bunny teethers from Smiling Tree Toys (they each received their 1st Easter, now I make them part of their annual basket as I will the bunny wands). They got NO candy from me, we went to a fabulous egg hunt yesterday hosted by my friend who had 300 eggs for 15 kids to find, filled with almost exclusively organic candy. Fun, fun, and more fun!

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Conclusion: Do we own some things made outside of the USA? Yes, we do. I mentioned the Baby Alive doll above. I’m not 100% hardcore on not allowing anything not made here into my house. For example, my Son really, really wanted some transformers for Christmas & I did buy him some, he loves them, and I’m fine with it. For the 1st few years, I absolutely recommend sticking with safe, minimal, wooden toys, and it’s easily doable. Now, at 6 I’m more lenient with what he plays with as it’s not going in his mouth. At 6 he’s really into mazes, connect dots, art projects, making stews & potions in his kitchen & transformers. I can say, when I look around my house, there are very few items not made in the USA, and that makes me very happy! I hope you’ve found this list helpful & I will continue to add to it as my kids grow!

Aquasana: finally a water filter living up its claims!

From Jess/Eco-friendly Mama/page owner here: as most of you know, Berkey is THE name if water filters amongst the “green” community. Many well-known natural Mama bloggers endorse them. My page took part in a few Berkey group buys, trying to help save money on these expensive systems. When I started looking for 3rd party test results to show that they lived up to their claims, I had a very hard time finding much at all! So I reached out to the group to ask: has anyone tested their Berkey water? Interestingly enough, no one had at the time. I decided to help raise some funds to sponsor a couple of tests, and was definitely not impressed. I’m blessed to have safe water from my private well, and we do test annually to make sure nothing changes.

You can read the 1st results of a few tests here: https://ecofriendlymamausa.com/2015/09/29/berkey-fluoride-filter-test-results/

Then Catherine, a Mama in the group did a very thorough test on her own, and shared her very detailed write-up here: https://ecofriendlymamausa.com/2016/06/17/very-thorough-disappointing-berkey-test-results/

She is the same Mama who is sharing the below report on putting her new Aquasana system to the test. FINALLY, SOME GOOD NEWS!

Important note from Catherine:

No group sponsored this testing. It was all coordinated and paid for by myself. Also, there was nothing received in exchange for this review and I paid normal price for my system. I am solely sharing this to help others, as I’ve been surprised and disappointed in other water filtration systems in the past and I know not everyone has time and money to research, buy, and test multiple kinds of systems.

 

 

I’m so excited to share POSITIVE news about my search for great drinking water!

 

In September, a member of this Eco-friendly USA group (Jelena) shared that Aquasana was having a 60% off sale and the a BOGO code worked in addition to that, so I decided to purchase the OPTIMH2O™ REVERSE OSMOSIS + CLARYUM drinking water filtration system (Jess’ Amazon affiliate link: http://amzn.to/2h5IbAZ)

 

Many of you know my Berkey experience (linked here) and know I’ve been looking for something with better fluoride reduction that is more reliable and a better fit regardless of your pH… and that because of that, I was very skeptical of any system and determined to test it.

 

I had it installed in mid-October and did testing that first week. This was my first update posted 11/7 in the group “It was a 87% reduction in fluoride.  They claim 95% reduction, but honestly it is so small (.07 mg/L), I’m not too worried. It’s only half remaining of what it was with the Berkey and it’s slightly greater reduction than the in-line filter that was posted about last month. They are sending a new stage 2, RO filter though just in case. – Though they are sending a new one, if it wasn’t filtering optimally – I wonder if the first plumber we used might have damaged it somehow (vs. it coming defective to start)? He is a certified plumber but from the neighborhood. He just did the first half and then my husband drilled the hole in our countertop and we had a plumber from a different company come finish it. Who knows…

 

The pH of the treated water increased and I would not want it too high long-term but I wish I would have tested the Berkey water pH (I only did before), because I know that increases it too. Typically RO water is lower pH (~6, which is acidic, 6.5-8.5 is typical for regular drinking water), unless a remineralizer is used. They told me that it can take some time to balance out though, so he suggested I re-test in 1 month and the pH might be lower. (We had only purged the system for 24 hours prior to testing. I did try those at home test strips before taking the sample to my county health department but they are so subjective.)

 

There was significantly less magnesium, calcium, and chloride. That’s to be expected, though I thought it might be a bit higher with the remineralizer. So I bought [trace minerals] to ensure we are getting enough minerals. I know this is a concern people have about RO filters, and I understand there are pros and cons with every system. Obviously the best option is if our cities stopped adding fluoride to our water.

 

The company has been absolutely GREAT to work with (plus it’s a 90-day return policy) – I am very pleased so far! Once it’s been longer for us to switch the RO filter and use the water, I will re-test fluoride and pH. Also, since I still have the Berkey, I may even test the post filtration pH of that just to compare… though I won’t be using it myself. I’ll share another update once I have more results to share and I’ll include all the #s with that update!”

 

Here is my latest update:

 

The pH is right in normal range and fluoride isn’t found at all 0.0!!!!!!!!!!!! The only thing is I didn’t test my tap this time because I have tested it 3 times this year and I realized it isn’t fully apples to apples comparing tap to the RO water because it’s been sitting in the RO tank for a little bit (a couple days)? I wish I had, but the testing adds up. I feel confident with it. (I had also mentioned that I might test Berkey pH compared to tap as another comparison since their FAQs say it raises pH too but then I heard if you don’t store your filters properly they can dry out so I thought that may not be accurate at this point, plus more money on a product I am not personally interested in, so I didn’t.) Whenever I change filters in ~5 months, maybe I will retest tap vs. filtered just to have another data point and share. I am SO happy to have found a water filtration system that works for me. Plus, it was BOGO so my mom will have the other one. (I have been waiting to take it to her/ get it installed until my testing.) It was $222 for two systems, so only $111/ system plus installation, which is at least comparable to Berkey if not less up front. It even included 2 glass water bottles.

 

Also, some people say that they wouldn’t want an RO system because they don’t want to waste water, which I understand but I wanted to share that so far, I have seen less water consumption than a year ago. I know there are many factors in that, but I think we don’t (couldn’t possibly) drink enough for it to make a big difference. I think that is more valid for a whole home system like when you filter shower/ bath, toilets, and sink water. Those are the main places you use a lot of water.

 

Lastly, I know some people say that they don’t want minerals stripped of their water, but at what point is it worth it? That’s a personal choice for everyone to make and our reasons for choosing any type of water can vary and that’s okay. Since I stopped using fluoride toothpaste, I decided I don’t want fluoride in my water either. As I’ve said before (specific to fluoride), the best thing is if your city would stop adding it to your water! The main thing is that you should know the honest and full pros and cons of each system and be able to decide for yourself up front what you prefer and then if there’s anything you don’t want in your water – be sure to test your tap and filtered water so you can ensure you are drinking what you think you are drinking. Good water is out there; I hope everyone can find some that they love!

 

My results

aquasana

UPDATE 8/01/17: “As promised, once I changed my filters I would test fluoride one more time. I took in a sample from my tap and RO water 10 days ago and got the results in the mail today. I’m definitely pleased and wanted to share in case you want to add it to the blog. This is a 98.4% reduction!”

aquasana

Jess is unplugging!

th

Jess is unplugging from Fb for a month! It has been an amazing year for me, one that is going to be hard to top but I sure will try! I’m a low tech Blogger Mama, I do not have a smart phone, have not had cable TV my adult life (I’m 37), no ipad.. So when I decide to unplug, I truly do unplug. I hope many of you will do the same, even if just for a day or 2! It has been an amazing year, here are a few top highlights:

At the end of Jan I blew the whistle on Ava Anderson, the worst greenwasher in the history of greenwashing, in my opinion. I heard from a college professor who was teaching a lesson on greenwashing, and was using this as an example! It was something that was not just months in the making, but years in the making and was a huge weight to get lifted off my chest, even though there was a bit, Ok a lot, of drama surrounding the event. You can read a summary here:  http://www.swnews4u.com/archives/30214/

In May I was blessed to be able to fly to NJ & attend the Poofy Organics Annual Conference- As most of you know, I’ve been a Poofy Organics Guide for 2.5 years now. I 1st fell in love with the line 3.5 years ago, so it was amazing to be able to meet the founder & owner of the company,  her family, and many of my fellow Poofy Guides. I was honored to speak at the conference on the topic of Be the Change, something near & dear to my heart.

May was a huge month as I was also followed around by a producer from WI Public TV. A week after they contacted me to let me know they wanted to feature me on their WI Life show, they were here to film.  They followed me around for 5 hrs, and in Nov. this 5 min episode came out J It is truly one of the greatest honors of my life to be featured on WI Public TV. http://www.wisconsinlife.org/story/natural-and-organic-product-blogger-exposes-greenwashing

Summer was amazing, with late nights catching fireflies with my kiddos, lots of swimming, camping trips…. I hated to see it end & am eagerly awaiting this coming summer!

Annnnnnnd: we’re going to Mexico in 2 weeks! We do not live on credit, we only charge what we can pay off that month (and take advantage of the points earned for charging!), so we’ve been saving for some time to make this happen. I will be away for 2 weeks in January which is very exciting as Jan is a long, cold month here in WI. I flew 3 times with my Son when he was under 2. He’s now 5.5 & has not been on a plane since. My daughter who is 3.5 has never flown. So this is a big deal. Wish me luck J  We’re spending 4 nights in a super fancy all-inclusive outside of Cancun, then a week on more laid back Isla Mujeres. I majored in Spanish education, but haven’t used my Spanish much since finishing up my student teaching then having my Son & deciding to not pursue teaching. I’m in love with the language & the culture (I know, Cancun isn’t a highlight of Latino culture) & am looking forward to exploring the grand ruins & soaking up some sun, sand & lots & lots of family time. My Dad & StepMom will be joining us for our week on Isla, in their own room in the villa we’re staying at. So Hubby & I may even get a date night ♥

 

Projects I’ll be working on during my non-Facebook time:

Toys by age list—I have my Safe Toys master list, but I’ve been meaning to break it down a bit more with my favorites by age & by vendor. My kiddos are now 3 & almost 6, I have a 1 & 4 year old nephew & niece, so I have lots of great ideas & I know it’ll be helpful to those not sure where to start. Here’s the Master list at this time: https://ecofriendlymamausa.com/made-in-usa-2/toy-list/

Companies to look into—I have a To Do list of companies to look into, company X comes up & I don’t always have time to look on the spot so I’ve been making a list & will be updating that Master list.

BUYING CLUB:  It is a ton of work but I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t love it. While they just take place quarterly, they end up stretching 2 months from the time I start taking orders, to the time I send out the last items from that order. I take orders for 2 weeks, spend days consolidating orders to then submit to the vendors. I have a few days of down time, then shipments start arriving daily. I start packing orders once I have all items needed from 25+ vendors. I spend days packing, invoicing, printing shipping labels, making trips to my post office. Then the paperwork, filing insurance claims for the few products that didn’t make it, having new product sent out… But the THANK YOU’S I start receiving when people get their box.  Being surrounded by all that great product & packing each individual box full of what I consider to be the safest products on the market. THAT is why I do it. And I look forward to 4 more orders in 2017! They happen in Feb, May, Aug, Nov, with delivery the beginning of the following month.

I’ve already secured 3 brand new, exciting vendors & am working on at least 1 more!

–Salonsolids, you can read my recent review here: https://ecofriendlymamausa.com/2016/12/10/salonsolids-review/

–Urban Baby Bonnets: http://urbanbabybonnets.com/

–Starlight Amber— She will offer a selection of her gorgeous jewelry to us, here’s an example of her work: https://www.etsy.com/shop/StarlightAmber

Also, I’m going to be looking into FedEx as well as other ways I can save money on shipping for the buying club. USPS rates are going up yet AGAIN in January (by some percentage, probably small but still, it is already quite expensive). I’ll be investigating Stamps.com & other programs out there that can hopefully save y’all some money getting your buying club box. I charge you exactly what it costs me to ship, and am hoping to bring that cost down.

I know this is a tough time of year for many. It’s not all cheer & joy. Families are struggling for a variety of reasons. Those who’ve lost loved ones can find this time of year especially difficult to cope with. My 1st cousins just lost their 1st cousin on the other side of the family who they were very close with due to a car accident. Syria and Standing Rock are both weighing heavy on my heart. While this has been an amazing year for me & my family on a personal, local level, there is a lot going on in the world that brings me great sorrow. I’m looking forward to down time. Yes, total down time. Completely unplugging for days at a time. Sled riding, hot cocoa, Chutes & Ladders, Candyland, train tracks, sheet fort building, new Christmas toys to play with… These are things I’m looking forward to very much. As well as many Birthday celebrations: My Hubby’s is on the 23rd, his Mom’s is the 25th, 2 good friends on the 26th, a few in early January. So many blessings!

I thank you all for taking the time to read this. For being involved in this wonderful online community we’ve built. At the end of February, on 2/22/17, my original page (the non-closed group), will be 5 years old! I’m approaching ½ a decade as a blogger, and that wouldn’t be the case if no one cared what I had to say. I truly believe it does take a village to raise a child, and for many of us, we’ve found our tribe online in addition to locally. My breast-feeding, baby-wearing days are over. Current topics I’m immersing myself in are treating Lyme’s naturally (after my Son was diagnosed and we’re on round 2 of antibiotics), homeschooling, safe toys for the 6+ crowd. There’s always something that needs more research, no matter how old our kiddos. I have no co-admins, it’s just me. If anyone out there who has young kids & has time (I know, doesn’t seem possible, but it is) to submit some of the hot, new products on the market, I’d sure appreciate it. There are so many topics of interest out there & just not enough hours in the day for me to cover them myself. I’d love for contributing authors to share what you’ve spent hours researching. Have a topic you’re passionate about? Put what you know into words & share it!   In the spirit of collaboration, community, peace & love, I look forward to all that 2017 has in store for us!

There is a TON of info on my blog: https://ecofriendlymamausa.com/

My original Fb page, which they finally added a search bar to, yay! Or you can scan the timeline, going way back to my 1st ever posts if you want: https://www.facebook.com/Eco-friendly-babyfamily-products-MADE-in-the-USA-397517646930548/

I will be checking my email occasionally, except for while in Mexico, so if you NEED to get in touch, do so here: ecofriendlymamausa@gmail.com

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