The Reward System That Has Helped Our Kids’ Behavior This Summer!

Around the middle of May, I began to get concerned about the boys' behavior.  I was looking at a summer with all three kids after the Captain ended his year in half day pre-k.  He is 5 1/2 and definitely acting like a 5 year old boy who has been surrounded by other 5 year old boys for months!  Thankfully no bad words have come up, but the potty talk and laughing incessantly at "poop" and other words were common, and he was teaching D, who is 3 1/2, just how hilarious they are.  There was also the disobeying, defiance, and being mean to each other that was driving me crazy.  Something had to be done.

Daddy is gone a lot during the summer because he is a youth minister.  Camps, trips, and other work engagements keep him busy and so I knew I had to do something to stop the negative behavior and get us all working together so we could have a great summer.  I began to think of what I should do…and then I remembered something that works brilliantly with all kids:  rewarding positive behavior.

When I was a teacher, I tried many things – treats, treasure box, encouraging words, and more.  But the one thing that got the best response from my class was when I gave them a sticker for any outstanding positive behaviors.  Soon, the whole class was trying to earn a sticker with their positive behavior that, while the negative behaviors didn't go away completely, they definitely decreased!  I saw this same phenomenon a couple of years ago when the Captain brought home a "Shine God's Light" sticker chart from VBS.  He was supposed to earn stickers by doing positive things for others, like praying for them, giving them something nice, or just doing something thoughtful for another person.  He was so excited about this chart, but for a (then) 3 year old, there were a LOT of spaces to fill.  You can't tell from this picture, but this was about half full:

Shine God's Light!

It took him about two years to fill up this chart, but when he did, we rewarded him with something he wanted:  a new basketball.  He didn't know he was working towards a basketball, but when the chart was full, he happened to want a basketball, so that's what we gave to him for his positive behavior.  I always prefer to get the kids something as a reward, not "just because," so I go that route whenever possible.  $15 for something he wanted, to reward him for two years of doing great things.  Pretty good deal, if you ask me!

So back to our current situation.  We needed to do something!  I was pretty much done with sticker charts, but I remembered that we had some aquarium stones and of course, lots of different sized jars!  I worked with the boys to make up a list of ways they could earn stones and informed them that they would be working TOGETHER to accomplish one goal.  Here are the four ways we came up with to "Shine God's Light" and earn a stone for the jar:

Ways to Shine God's Light

 They had to come up with what they wanted to work towards together, and when the jar was full, they would both get to enjoy the reward.  This has helped with the competitiveness and while it is sometimes hard to agree on something they both want, they really do work together!  The first goal they wanted to work for was to get the "Frozen" DVD.  Once I handed out the first stone, they were on a roll.  Their behavior really changed almost instantaneously.  Now, of course, they're still humans and we all make mistakes.  I just focused on correcting their negative behaviors but really rewarding their positive behaviors.  The boys were telling each other to "please move" and "thank you!"  They were obeying the first time (this one is the hardest and will continue to be the hardest because no one really likes to stop what we are doing and do something someone asks of us.)  It took about three weeks for the boys to fill the jar and when they did, we went out and bought the "Frozen" DVD the same day.  

reward jar

When that goal was met, the boys talked together about what they wanted to do next.  Another movie?  no.  A toy?  no.  They had been asking to do something special as a family, particularly asking to go to iT'Z, which is like a nicer, more pleasant experience than Chuck E. Cheese's and has a rock climbing wall, bowling, and more.  I'm not a huge fan of either place, but hey, if they want to work for a trip to go there, I'll be happy to reward their positive behavior.  So, I told them that the little short jar wouldn't really work because a trip to iT'Z is more expensive than a DVD.  I took a taller jar out of the cabinet and showed them and they agreed that they could work towards filling up that jar and earn the trip they had been wanting.  

(This also is a great way to delay an allowance in our house.  The Captain, especially, gets money and it burns a hole in his pocket.  He will waste it on anything and everything he sees if he doesn't have some guidance.  The stones in the jar have some "value" to them, but they're not monetary.  They can see that the jar for the DVD was shorter than the jar for the trip to iT'Z, so they can grasp the concept that some things cost more than others, but there is no handing out money.  There is no "you do this chore, I pay you $$."  An allowance will come in the future, but for now, this is a great intro to an allowance.  It's a reward for good behavior, not payment for a task.

This was our "Shine God's Light" jar a few days ago:

The positive behavior reward system that really and truly worked for our kids and really made them think and be aware of their actions.

Rewarding positive behaviors definitely takes effort on my part, and it's not fail proof, for sure.  They still act up and are still naughty at times, but their behavior is light years better than it was just two months ago.

Rules for earning a stone:

1.  You can't ask for a stone.  example:  "I cleaned my room, can I get a stone?"

2.  You can't get a stone for yourself.  Our cup of stones sits on top of the fridge so they aren't tempted.  (This is when the noise of a stone in a glass jars comes in handy….Mommy hears all!)

3.  You can suggest that your brother gets a stone if you see him doing something good.

4.  We can't take stones out.  I have been guilty of threatening them with this on bad days, but it's just not a good idea.  They earned them and they shouldn't be taken out.  Discipline and rewards for positive behavior should be two separate things.

5.  Stones aren't used for bribes or making deals.  No "clean your room and I'll give you a stone!"  Nope, it's "Wow!  You cleaned your room the first time I asked without complaining, thank you, you get a stone!"  Likewise, they can't say "Hey Mom, I'll pick up my toys if you give me a stone."  Scheming doesn't work for stones!

6.  All stones are of equal value.  Share a bite of your cookie with your brother?  One stone.  Spend an hour working with Mommy in the garden to keep her company?  One stone.  Get a diaper for Mommy because you knew she needed help, even though she didn't ask?  One stone.  Simple!

Some people will argue with this whole idea and say that kids should do what parents tell them "just because."  I've heard people say that kids should mind their parents all of the time and if they don't, they (get a spanking, get time out, etc.)  I DO believe that negative behaviors need consequences, but I'm telling you….kids aren't born with the ability to obey and need to be taught.  I prefer to teach them in a positive way because it gets better results.  Sure we discipline when needed, but for us, an appropriate mix of the two works really well.

This is a great way to help the kids learn about how others feel.  The boys have both gotten stones for helping other people and not even doing it just to get a stone.  Once they got used to helping others, it becomes more natural.  

If you want to go beyond showing your kids how to "Shine God's Light," and teach your kids about God's love, check out "Simple Ways to Bring Jesus into Your Child's Daily Routine."



*contains affiliate link*

Use Your Smart Phone to Take, Track, and Monitor Your Whole Family’s Temperatures with the Kinsa Smart Thermometer

This smart thermometer post was brought to you by Kinsa.  All opinions are mine.

kinsa Smart Thermometer

I have struggled with finding the perfect thermometer since we first had the Captain.  We have tried every kind of thermometer there is and have been disappointed with every single one besides the cheap one they gave to us in the hospital when he was born.  The only complaint I had with that one was that it took foreeeever!  It was accurate, but waiting and keeping a baby still was absolutely torture on all of us.  Well, I am happy to report that we have finally found the perfect solution, and it's a smart thermometer!

The Kinsa smart thermometer is MORE than just a thermometer.  It's easy to set up with the black connector that comes with the Kinsa and a quick app download.  Soon you're good to go and ready to start taking and tracking the temperatures of everyone in your family.  You can create a profile for every family member and save data so you will know what's a normal temperature, symptoms, if someone is getting sick, etc.  And when you show up to the doctor, you can give accurate temperatures and times instead of just guessing like we have been known to do.  (oops!)  No more "he felt warm when he woke up and I think his temperature was 101, but I can't really remember…"  All the readouts are right there and you can access it with just a few taps.

Something else I love about the Kinsa is that you can use just the thermometer inserted into the smart phone OR make it longer with the cord.  

kinsa Smart Thermometer

The thermometer can be used orally, under the arm, or rectally, just like any other thermometer, and the Kinsa app specifically asks which method you are using.  

The Kinsa app is smart, also, because it has an interactive screen to keep toddlers engaged while they are having their temperature taken.  The fun bubbles calm your child and the numbers are large enough for them to see.  

photo 1 (3)

We tested the Kinsa smart thermometer and app one night when D had a fever.  It was quick, painless, and even exciting for him to have his temperature taken on Mommy's iPhone.  After it read his temperature at 100.3°, it asked if he had any symptoms.  The graphics were fun for him to look at and answer if he felt any certain way.  

photo 2 (2)

A few great things about the Kinsa:

  • gives you a fast and accurate temperature reading
  • free app for iOS and Android
  • meets ASTM standards for professional accuracy
  • use orally, under the arm, or rectally
  • displays in °F or °C
  • flexible design for comfort
  • water resistant for safe cleaning
  • optional extension cord
  • perfect for travel because it's compact and you will have your phone with you anyway!

​Do you want a Kinsa smart thermometer for your family or someone you know?  Visit Kinsa or Amazon to purchase one for only $24.99.

Kinsa is also giving away one smart thermometer to one Life With Captain Fussybuckets reader.  Just enter in the Rafflecopter form below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Feel Good About the Juice Your Children Drink!

Our boys are huge drinkers. While they love water, they – of course – love juice and beverages with sugar. The Captain is very picky with his juice and many times I have introduced a drink to him and he just turns his nose up and refuses to drink it. I was afraid that would happen when I gave him a Mott’s for Tots juice box, but to my surprise, he L-O-V-E-S it!

I am not one to restrict my kids of the sweet things, but I do have my reservations about a lot of things – candy, sodas, and junk food. I don’t like the feeling of having to feel bad about something like juice. And sometimes there are so many additives and extra sugar in juice that it really does become unhealthy. But I am thrilled with Mott’s for Tots and their juice, which contains 40% less sugar than 100% apple juice*. It also contains vitamins A, C, & E so it provides all the nutrition and goodness of apple juice without sacrificing flavor. Mott’s for Tots was developed with toddlers and preschoolers’ unique nutritional needs in mind.

The Captain really enjoyed his “juice break” while helping me take out the recycling one evening:

Both the Captain and D couldn’t get enough of the Mott’s for Tots fruit punch juice boxes. They are the perfect size for taking on backyard adventures, trips in the car, lunch boxes, soccer games, or even just as a simple, delicious drink with a snack at home. The juice boxes are also great for portion control, so I can regulate how much they have had and help them realize when they have had plenty of juice for the day. Their dentist told them to only have one juice per day and they are good about following his rule. But, you can bet they ask for their “juice of the day” soon after they wake up!

The Mott’s for Tots is also their favorite brand of apple juice. It’s a great treat for them and I’m happy because it has 40% less sugar than 100% apple juice*!

Learn more about Mott’s for Tots on their website, Facebook, and Twitter. Check out all of the delicious, low sugar flavor options available, and feel better about the juice your children are drinking!

*Mott’s Fruit Punch Rush and Wild Grape Surge have 15g sugar and the market average of 100% fruit juices and blends have 25g sugar.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Motts for Tots via Burst Media. The opinions and text are all mine.

Keep Your Children Motivated this Summer with Learning Toys

This post about learning toys was brought to you by The Learning Journey International.  All opinions are mine.

Summer is here and school is out.  Hooray!  Well, it was "hooray" for a day or two and then what?  Boredom.  The Captain is busy, busy, busy and loves to learn, but if I don't make learning toys and educational items available for him, he tends to want to sit in front of the TV or play games on the iPad.  

We received the Touch & Learn Mathematics Bot to try out and he has really enjoyed playing with it.  The Captain LOVES math and Math Bot is perfect for him to play with.  Math Bot has helped the Captain with his math skills and kept him entertained already.  Math Bot features a colorful touch pad sensor panel, interactive LED face, and four game modes.  The different modes are different levels of difficulty.  "Learn the Numbers" is good for D, who is still working on learning what the numbers look like and what their names are.  "Find It" is challenging to D, because it encourages him to find the number that Math Bot says.  "Mathematics Quiz" and "Calculator Fun" are more on the Captain's level and really challenge him to sharpen his math skills!  Bot requires three "AA" batteries and sells for $29.99.

Touch & Learn Mathematics Bot

The other learning toy we were sent is the Go Green Recycle Truck Remote Control Shape Sorter.  Both of the boys really love this super cute and fun recycle truck.  What kid doesn't love a remote control toy?  The boys have driven this toy all over the house (and entertained Baby Brother with it, too!)  

The Recycle Truck encourages kids to learn their shapes and colors with three fun play modes.  The truck can be moved forward and backward with the remote control.  It also plays melodies and the lights blink, too!  I love how the back opens up, making it more realistic and fun.  The Recycle Truck also has an automatic shut-off feature that preserves the battery life of the three "AA" batteries for the main unit and two "AA" batteries for the remote.

Learn to Sort with the Go Green Recycle Truck Shape Sorter

The fun, educational toys are endless at The Learning Journey International.  Check them out, and make sure to follow them on Facebook and Twitter, too!

Don't forget to enter to win your very own Math Bot!


Yummy Ways to Add Protein to your Preschooler’s Diet

I participated in a Blogger Activation on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Stonyfield. I received coupons to facilitate my shopping trip and a promotional item to thank me for participating.

D is our three year old and he has always loved to eat.  He is our child who loves peas, carrots, and broccoli, but turns his nose up at meat and beans.  He usually likes chicken, but other than that, it is hard to get him to eat protein.  He will eat fruit and vegetables all day, but I know he needs whole protein foods, too, so I'm always searching for ways to add protein to his diet.

The Captain, on the other hand, is a meat eater, through and through.  He struggles with getting enough calcium because he does not like milk or cheese.  I worry about him getting enough calcium just like I worry about D getting enough protein.  They both need calcium for strong bones and protein for energy to go, go, go!  Luckily, they both love yogurt so I was thrilled to find the Stonyfield Organic refrigerated yogurt pouches.  

squeeze yogurt


I love the convenience of the YoKids pouches.  You don't know how many times we are out the door and I realize the boys need a snack (or breakfast sometimes…oops!) and these pouches rescue me….just grab and go!  The boys love the strawberry flavor.  I love that the ingredients are always organic and never contain high fructose corn syrup or artificial flavors.

So whether we are going to school, a soccer game, shopping, or something as simple as talking a "drive" to the local recycling bin, the boys can have a quick snack that provides them with calcium and protein!  Plus, Stonyfield Organic yogurt has live and active cultures to keep the boys' tummies and immune systems in tip top shape.


Yummy Ways to Add Protein to your Preschooler's Diet

Here are some yummy snacks for sneaking protein in your preschooler's diet:

I'm also excited that Stonyfield will be there for Baby Brother when he's ready to start eating yogurt.  The YoBaby and YoToddler refrigerated organic yogurt pouches are formulated for little ones and their special needs.

YoKids flavors:  Blueberry, Strawberry, Strawberry-Banana

YoToddler flavors:  Pear-Spinach-Mango, Strawberry-Beet-Raspberry

YoBaby flavors:  Blueberry, Mango, Sweet Potato, Vanilla

Stonyfield organic yogurt pouches are available in the dairy aisle, along with all the other Stonyfield products that we love!  They come in four packs or individual pouches.  Read more about these delicious yogurt pouches on the Stonyfield website.  Check the store locator to see if these pouches are sold near you!

Connect with Stonyfield:

Soothe Dry, Itchy Skin with This Great Eczema Remedy! {WW giveaway, too}

This eczema remedy post was brought to you by the Eczema Company.  All thoughts and opinions are mine.

Eczema Remedy - Life With Captain Fussybuckets

I have written about eczema many times.  The Captain has suffered with dry, itchy skin since he was just a baby.  We have been through so many creams, lotions, medications, bath treatments, allergy medicines, and even allergy testing.  Some things worked for a while, then stopped, and there were times when nothing worked.  He has never been a good sleeper and eczema might very well be a big reason for that.  I remember when he was one year old, he would wake up crying because he made himself bleed in his sleep because he was scratching his legs so hard.  It was awful.  Through trial and error, I realized that I should never put any kind of cream or lotion with any type of alcohol in it.  Sounds obvious, right, but try finding a lotion or cream that doesn't contain any alcohol, even the ones specifically for eczema!  

We thought it could be a dairy allergy, because he had a milk protein allergy as a baby that caused tummy troubles, but he has since grown out of them.  Now he very rarely has any dairy and still has eczema flare ups.  His seasonal allergies are bad, so I know that his skin allergies and eczema are probably related to environmental allergens, but cannot be certain.  We have eliminated all fragrances and toxins from our laundry and bath products, which has helped some, but the eczema continues to come back.

A few months ago, I was asked by the Eczema Company to review some items for the Captain.  Admittedly, I was skeptical.  I felt like eczema was just something we would have to "deal with" for the rest of his life.  I have eczema and I have always just dealt with it in any way I knew how to.  If countless doctors and a dermatologist couldn't do more, I wasn't sure that anyone else could.  But you know, moms are pretty persistent and lucky for us, Jennifer Roberge created the Eczema Company to help people like us.  She has found what works best for her son and created a store for eczema sufferers.  It's refreshing to know that she knows what she's talking about and has researched and even has a blog created for her son's journey with eczema – It's An Itchy Little World.

After talking with me about the Captain's eczema, she recommended that we we try wet wrap therapy with the WrapESoothe shirt and pants:


Wet wrap therapy is easy.  I was worried that it would be hard but the hardest part was finding a time when the Captain was willing to try it.  Here are the simple steps:

  1. Soak in lukewarm bath for 10-20 minutes.
  2. Seal the skin with moisturizer.  We used the Manuka Honey Skin Cream.  This cream is amazing!  It is soft and made with Manuka honey, which is known for it's healing properties.  It contains only honey, oils, water, and Manuka honey.manuka_honey_skin_cream__96651.1353083190.380.380
  3. Wet the wraps or the WrapESoothe clothes and lightly wring out.  You want them to be wet, but not dripping wet.
  4. Cover skin with wet wraps or the WrapESoothe clothes for a minimum of two hours.

For a complete how-to, check out this article about wet wrap therapy and this video:

We followed the steps and even though he was reluctant at first, the Captain tried it and lo and behold, it really worked.  Wet wrap therapy is meant for a short term fix for bad eczema flare ups, and it really was a miracle fix.  His skin was so smooth when we took the WrapESoothe clothes off.  I am beyond thrilled that we have this option for when his skin flares up!!

The Captain didn't want me to take pictures of him, so I didn't get his head in the shots, but I wanted to show how easy it was to put on and wear the shirt and pants.  He wore regular clothes over these and they did get damp, but not uncomfortably damp.  He thought these clothes were kind of cool.  He wears a lot of tight athletic clothes, so he really did like them.

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Enjoy Natural, Organic Candy this Easter! {giveaway, too!}

This organic candy post was brought to you by YumEarth.  All opinions are mine.

yumearth organic candy

I always have issues with the holidays.  Candy and treats are the center of holidays for kids, and the majority of the candy they get is full of weird, man-made ingredients.  This Easter, the boys will be getting YumEarth Organics candy and fruit snacks in their baskets!  The Captain's favorite YumEarth candy are the gummy bears, while D prefers gummy worms.  Daddy is a fan of sour candy, so I would have to say his favorite are the sour beans.  

YumEarth candies and fruit snacks are always made with high quality, all natural ingredients.  This chart from the YumEarth website sums up the high quality of their awesomely delicious lollipops, drops, gummy bears, gummy worms, fruit snacks, and sour beans!

YumEarth Organics

Pick up some natural Easter treats for your little ones at Walgreens, Amazon, or the YumEarth website!  Check out other retailers that sell YumEarth, too.

Enter to win an assortment of YumEarth candy in the Rafflecopter form below and then hop out to the store to pick up some better-for-you candy to enjoy this Easter!


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Celebrate Earth Day and Learn All About the Earth!

This Earth Day post was brought to you by Oriental Trading.  All opinions are mine.  This post contains affiliate links.

Earth Day Education

Earth Day is April 22nd and we are prepared to learn!  Oriental Trading provided us with complimentary educational materials to facilitate plenty of lessons about the Earth, how to take care of it, and the fabulous things the Earth does.  The boys have really enjoyed using this awesome stuff to have fun and learn.

I always thought that Oriental Trading Company was just for parties and Vacational Bible School, but it's so, so much more.  I went to check out their recommended products for Earth Day and came up with so much stuff.

We started our Earth Day fun by planting DIY seed pots and the Watch It Grow Plant Viewer:

Earth Day Grow

The boys and I loved watching the seeds sprout and roots go down into the soil.  We love our garden, and this brought so many more teachable moments concerning the life cycle of a plant!


Earth Day pots

There is just SO much STUFF that parents and teachers can use to teach.  Educational products are always so expensive, but I was impressed with the cost at Oriental Trading.  A four pack of life cycle posters was only $5.99.  Huge, full color posters like this one:

life cycle butterflyWe used each of the posters and created a fun lesson about the life cycles of the butterfly, frog, chicken, and plants!  The visual really helped the boys understand it all.

Then we began talking about how it is our responsibility to take care of this Earth that God gave us.  The Captain loved coloring these Earth Day magnets for our fridge, to help remind us to recycle and go green!

magnetsGlobes are cool.  Every kid loves globes.  But an inflatable globe?  SO MUCH FUN!  We can search for countries and continents on the globe and talk about the oceans, then take a break to toss it in the air.  This was the boys' favorite part of our Earth Day study:

inflatable globe

We also found an awesome sorting game that really got us thinking about recycling.  The Learn to Recycle Activity Boxes was tricky, but so much fun.  We divided up the items to be recycled and talked about each piece and what it was made of.  

recycling game

Lightbulbs, cans, and even worms were part of this fun game!

recycling game

Each box has a "Fun Fact" on the side to help you decide what to put where:

Earth Day recycling

I am so thrilled that I discovered all the great, well priced teaching tools at Oriental Trading.  Check it out for all of your supplies needed for teaching, homeschooling, Sunday school, holidays, VBS, and more!

Happy Earth Day!

Earth Day bible verse




Engage and Educate Your Preschoolers with EmbarK¹² Online Programs

This post brought to you by K12, the leader in online education. All opinions are 100% mine.

Having two preschoolers at home with a newborn is hard.  Trying to keep both of the boys entertained and still learning is quite the challenge.  I don't want them sitting in front of the TV all day, but Baby Brother always gets first dibs on Mommy.  I like the idea of having a ready-made, go-to program that the boys can turn to for educational learning.  There is a great online company that is here to help me and millions of other parents of kids who are eager to learn:  EmbarK12 Online – Over 830 interactive activities to engage your preschooler. and EmbarK12 Comprehensive- Online and hands-on preschool program for your early learner.  EmbarK¹² preschool online programs provide a fun, interactive way of learning to prepare your kids for school and to develop a lifelong love of learning.  

There are two choices when deciding what program would be best suited for your little ones, EmbarK¹² Online and EmbarK¹² Comprehensive.

Features of EmbarK¹² Online include:

  • age-appropriate online activities
  • a variety of educational interactive multimedia and games
  • 12 units of activities, covering Math, Language and Literacy, and topics from the world around them
  • music, songs, videos, and friendly engaging activities
  • geared for kids ages 3-6
  • $59 for a 12 month subscription  (see discount code at bottom)

Features of EmbarK¹² Comprehensive: 

  • Over 1,200 age-appropriate activities
  • 18 thematic units covering Math, Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, Music, and Art
  • Over 450 online multimedia rich activities
  • Over 750 hands-on activities
  • 18 digital guides that outline the objectives and activities of each unit 
  • winner of five distinguished awards
  • based on National Research Council, American Psychological Association, National Reading Panel, National Math Panel, and American Educational Research
  • $286 a year and all of the upgrade kits, including hands-on manipulatives

Kindergarten readiness programs by K12. Try a sample activity today.  Give it a try and let me know what you think!

From now until March 6, 2013, you can receive a 50% off discount on EmbarK¹² Online.  Just use promo code:  EmbarkSpecial.  ($29.50 after discount is applied.)

Visit Sponsor's Site

Finally! Sunglasses for Kids that are Durable and Stylish {giveway, too}

This sunglasses for kids post was brought to you by Paxley.  All opinions are mine.

Eyes are valuable, we all know that.  Kids' eyes are so delicate and they need to be protected.  When we introduced him to his first pair of sunglasses at the age of 1, they weren't comfortable and he hated them.  Well, sometimes he would wear them, but they were off soon, and likely thrown on the floor.  Most kids' sunglasses aren't constructed well and break easily.  We've been through countless pairs of sunglasses.

The folks at Paxley understand kids and the need for quality glasses and sunglasses.  They have conducted extensive research and come up with safe, health concious, and chic eyewear for our kids.  Paxley eyewear has age-appropriate dimensions and the most quality, child-safe materials.  

  • pinchless hinges
  • adjustable temples
  • BPA free
  • lead free



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