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The Long Goodbye

June 21, 2011

We do this terrible thing in my house called sneakin’.  It started innocently enough — before we had kids, we’d go over to our friends’ house after their kids went to bed to play board games and have child-free fun.  We knew the little ones would be heartbroken to know that the grown-ups were having fun without them, so we kept our fun quiet — there it began,  the idea of sneakin’.

Somehow, this action  seems to be permeating our own  lives as parents as well.  Sneakin’ is what we call it when one parent has to leave the house, but does it without calling attention to him or herself or saying goodbye to the kidlets.  While this used to be an occasional practice, this tactic is coming into play more and more frequently.  We use it on all of the kids…even the teenagers (sometimes I just want to go to the grocery store without three hungry adolescent boys throwing packages of cookies into the cart!).  Primarily though, we use it because goodbyes involving our small fries are totally painful.  It doesn’t matter who is leaving, or where he or she is going, or for how long.  I can be going off to work for the day or around the corner for juice.  Either way, there’s a good chance that one of my toddlers will totally flip out as soon as the door opens and it is hard on everyone.  Shrieking, crying, wailing, clinging to me for dear life … it’s just unbearable, and so we sneak.

I have the impulse to sneak now.  The time has come for me to say goodbye to this blog, and while I don’t flatter myself to the point of thinking that you, dear readers, will throw a tantrum, I’m still tempted to try and flee unnoticed.  I just don’t know what to say — an incredibly uncomfortable feeling for a writer.

I suppose I could say that though I have loved chronicling my journey through motherhood with the support and encouragement of my favorite community of mamas, I’ve found myself too deep in the journey to step outside of it to write.  I suppose I could also say that though I would love nothing more than to spend my mornings and/or afternoons perusing the racks of the Goose and obsessing over new products, instead I’m working full time (and then some) at the school my big kids attend, throwing myself wholly into the task of getting them to graduate from high school.  I suppose I could say that though I’m sure I still have lots to write, it has just become impossible for me to write it.

I will always be grateful to the Mama Goose team for cushioning the various blows that young motherhood dealt me.  I cannot imagine life without the amazing mamas I’ve met because of the Goose.  I might be working at the shop on some summer Sundays, and I definitely will continue to pop by to visit my lovely fellow goslings (once a gosling, always a gosling!) and, of course, do a little shopping on the side.  I will also probably continue to write blog posts in my head, wishing I had a moment to put a parenting question to a poll, or share a great picture with the Goose community at large, and I will most definitely miss you all.

From Kelly:

Boo hoo! We love Meryl! As an employer, I know that most Mama Goose Goslings will fly away eventually.  In fact, Casey the Assistant Manager for the Goose also had to spread her wings  and fly from our nest (another big boo!).  It has always been important to me that our goslings  feel that being here works for them and their families.   The tight-knit fold of Mama Goose is not easy to leave, but sometimes it is just necessary.   I certainly respect those decisions when they are made, and I wish Meryl (and Casey!) all the best.  And of course, I do hope to see them here “picking up a few things”  regularly because they will just miss us so much!

When Meryl said that she is “too deep in the journey of parenting/working” that she couldn’t step back and write about it, I found that really resonated with me. I have had so many things I have wanted to do with this blog, but with two businesses, two kids and so much more on my plate, I just haven’t been able to find the time.  I have definitely found that my creative juices flow when I do have time to step back.  I have probably driven Meryl crazy with numerous emails from me on my days off. “I just cooked a great dish –here’s a picture!”.  “You know what we should do next? …”.  But, alas, this isn’t the way I should spend my few days off and we all know, Meryl doesn’t take any days off!

This is all a long-winded way of saying that I am going to put the blog on hiatus.  As we travel on, I would love to consider the feasibility of a small team of Mamas/Papas writing about different stages of parenting. I also feel like some of you may be interested in hearing more about the nuts and bolts of running a business.  In the short-term, I’d like to play around with more Mimi’s Attic posts which will be brief and focused on the home.  If you are a writer and would like to be involved in Mama Goose or Mimi’s Attic blogging sometime in the future  please feel free to email me. I will tuck away your contact information to contemplate later when that magical day off happens and inspiration finds me

Until then, see you in person at Mimi’s and The Goose!

-Meryl and Kelly at the Goose

Mama Goose customers are an incredible bunch.  When they’re not combing our racks for awesome deals, they’re off in the community doing interesting and amazing work.  This week, a particular customer project came to our attention.

Mamas for Peace is an organization committed to making Mother’s Day about something more than cards and flowers.  By going back to the original roots of the holiday, these mamas are declaring today a time to celebrate the political engagement of women with society.

What a thing to celebrate  — as women, we’ve all been part of conversations in which, flippantly or not, someone remarked on how much better the world would run if controlled by our gender.  Just this week, after averting a crisis together with two of my favorite mamas (Happy Mother’s Day, Dawn & Heather!)  one of them declared, “That’s right!  With us around, stuff [she may have used a more colorful word with one less letter] gets DONE!”

I relish the chance to celebrate the positive impact women have on our community and society at large, and I urge you to do the same.  While words like “political engagement” and “activism” may feel like terms that don’t apply to the day-to-day business of maintaining a family, I believe that mothering well IS activism.  Nurturing is activism.  Raising a generation of people who are going to treat each other and our planet with respect is activism of the highest order, and I’d like to thank Mamas for Peace for reminding us to embrace that.

Happy Mother’s Day.

-Meryl at the Goose

I’ve had a long day.  A long day, after a long week, after a long winter, and I am bone-shatteringly tired.  I barely survived the half mile drive to buy Ibuprofen at Wegman’s, and once I arrived, I plunked the kiddo down at WKids and hid myself away in the upstairs cafe section until I could handle the idea of traversing the aisles.  By the time we finally pulled up in front of our house, the thought of cooking dinner was more than I could bear, and then I remembered these:

Mmm..mmm... good?

Purchased in a fit of nostalgia (my mom used to keep a stack of these in the freezer) with a bit of prescience mixed in, I tossed these frozen dinners into my shopping cart ages ago for just this very kind of evening.  After 8 minutes of microwaving, my children sat happily on the couch, in front of the television, eating preservative-laden food on a stick.  Definitely not my finest parenting moment.

My mom always calls events like this red ribbons on the bad mommy hanger.  I have no idea where it came from, though I’m sure Bubbe Margie will be happy to tell us all in the comments.  (Ever the supportive mama, she’s an avid reader of this blog.)  Whatever the origin, I like the image.  Perfect parenting is unattainable, and we’re all bound to make mildly shameful moves from time to time.  The bad mommy hanger gives us a place to put all of these little bits of shame.  Fed your kids crap for dinner?  There’s one red ribbon.  Lost your temper when they were arguing in the car?  Another neat little bow.  Sent your preschooler off to school wearing mismatched socks for the fourth day in a row?  Tie one more on.  Then you get to put the hanger away, in the back of the closet, give yourself a break, and move on with your day.

Anyone else out there starting a nice red ribbon collection?  Tell me all about it in the comments.

-Meryl at the Goose


April 18, 2011

Cute and comfy Teva flip flops for women help your feet say, "Hello, summer!"

Many moons ago, before my husband was my husband, we were co-teachers in the toddler room of a summer preschool program, and the youngest of our teeny weeny campers was a not-yet-two-year-old named Dominique who only said one word:  “Shoes.”  We thought this was hilarious, and unique, and then promptly forgot all about it.  It only came up again this year, when we had a speech-delayed almost-two-year-old of our own whose limited vocabulary also managed to include the “s-h” word.

I’ve mentioned Corrina’s love of shoes before, but I’m not sure I’ve told you that it’s actually a family-wide infatuation.  Back in the many moons ago story setting of the paragraph above, I claimed that leaving 20 pairs of shoes scattered across our apartment living room was my way of neutralizing the masculine decor.  Now, my shoe collection is completely shamed by the one belonging to my sneakerhead teenager — the boy loves to spend an evening explaining to you exactly why he needs four different pairs of navy blue and white Nikes.  And since little brothers love everything their big brothers do, we’ve now got a four-year-old with a burgeoning obsession of his own.  In fact, we were at the Goose last week, picking up some new Livie & Lucas for Rina (the cream peacock mary janes — beyond cute), and the following conversation occurred:

Ray:  But I need new shoes!

Me:  But we just got you new shoes yesterday. (We had, indeed, purchased new shoes for him at the Goose the day before.  The return trip was because I ran out of time to select spring shoes for the other small one.)

Ray:  But now I need NEW new shoes, today.

Me:  No, you do not.

Ray: Right.  New shoes tomorrow?

And on and on we went, giving me ample time to peruse the incredible shoe selection at the Goose, which leads me (finally) to the point of this post:

It’s Teva time again!  With the weather finally warming up and months of fantastic Ithacan summer fun ahead of us, it’s time to start thinking about proper footwear for you and yours.  I myself am all set — I’ve got two pairs of Teva flip flops purchased from the Goose last year that are totally ready for a second season (except for some small puppy bites on the brown pair, but we’re just going to ignore those.)  These flip flops strike the exact right balance between sporty and stylish — great with a sundress, and great when you’re running in that sundress through goose poop in Stewart Park trying to prevent your fearless (and non-swimming) toddler from diving headfirst into the lake.

The kids’ styles are just as versatile — from the traditional sandals my dad wears with knee socks (the Hurricane) to the more full-coverage Omnium, this line of adorable footwear will last your kids the whole season through, from creek walking to camping or canoeing or whatever activity the warm weather brings.  Plus, if you can somehow magically your child’s pedestrial growth, these shoes could definitely take you into a second summer.  At the very least, they’ll make great hand-me-downs OR resale nicely back at the Goose once the first wearer moves on.

Teal Teva Hurricanes... here I am, rock me like one of those.

If you’re like me, this back and forth spring weather is painful.  I need a visual reminder that eventually, even somewhat soon, summer will indeed arrive.  A box of Tevas in a child’s closet does wonders as a visual aid.  Stop by the Goose and pick yours up today.

-Meryl at the Goose

Name: Amber Alley Siepel

Featured Product at the Goose: Fabric Baskets and Beanbag Sets by Shagbark Studio

The Family: Husband Adam, Kids Ella, 8 and Charlie, 5

On Herself as an Artist:

“You know, I never really identified as an artist. That was my mom’s thing-she was the artist. But growing up surrounded by artistic people and handmade things, I acquired a love for art and a sense of importance about it. I just love fabric and fibers so much and as I’ve begun and continued my work with them, I’ve found myself wondering, “What am I, besides mommy?” I finally decided, “Ok, I’m an artist.”

All about the Products: “I really started out making handmade birthday gifts. I’d have my kids pick out a fabric they liked, and then do a pencil roll with a matching drawstring bag. They have gone over really well with the recipients. Then I started making the beanbags, and needed something to put them in. I remembered that when my little girl was about two she loved carrying things around, bringing them from room to room and picking things up and taking them out and putting them back in, and that’s how the baskets came to be. I was originally inspired by this tutorial on Maya*made, which I’ve now made my own. The baskets are great to make because they’re fun and quick and crafty but when I’m in the mood they can become a bit more artistic by using multiple fabrics and fancy stitching. I also do wine bags, pillows, sachets and pencil rolls, which are for sale at Terra Rosa. Another thing I love to do is fabric canvases, which I think of as sort of a moveable quilt. So far they are very simple, but I’d like to start doing some applique and fiber collage on the canvases. Currently I have canvases on display at Bev & Co. in Community Corners.  I also sell a few things at French Lavender flower shop.”

About the Materials: “I use a Babylock Grace sewing machine, which I bought from Quilter’sCorner, which is also where I get a lot of my fabric. They have an incredible selection, and provide terrific support for anyone who purchases one of their machines. I also buy fabric from Homespun, which has really good stuff, and although I usually prefer to support local businesses, I do find the occasional lovely fabric at JoAnn’s. I also love to repurpose vintage linens (they make great sachets and pillow covers). I can’t stay away from the gorgeous new fabrics that are available, but there are so many reasons to recycle, repurpose, reinvent, etc., and I need to do more of this.”

On Being a WAHM (Work-at-Home-Mama): I have a studio in our home, but I do much of my work there while the kids are at school … I’m the kind of person who needs to have a certain amount of uninterrupted work time. Unfortunately, I get pretty crabby when I’m really in creative mode. Once I’ve got a project planned out and pieces cut, pressed, pinned, etc., I do sometimes let one of the kids work quietly in my studio while I put it all together, but mostly, if my children are home, I’m spending time with them or doing things that don’t require as much concentration. Ella and I have done a few sewing projects together, including a quilt that began as a fabric collage she made at art camp, lavender sachets we made for her teachers as holiday gifts, and felt brooches for party favors. Charlie has also shown some interest and one of my goals is to get him stitching with us more often.”

How do you balance art and parenting? Honestly, I don’t, really! I’m always striving for balance-it’s so hard! I usually feel like I’m neglecting something (doesn’t everyone?). I do have a nice community of women with whom I can talk about juggling art and parenting, both in the real world and online through Etsy and Facebook. Check out the online homes of some of my favorite ladies: Dee Hay Designs, Mrs. McPuppet, Quince and Quire, Chickadee Shop and ZenCrafting.

Some Shagbark Studio goodies all ready for delivery.


Amber's daughter Ella (dressed head-to-toe in Goose wear!) shows off the quilt that she and her mother from a fabric collage begun at art camp.


Ella and Amber made these brooches as favors for Ella's last birthday party. Best goodie bag ever!


You can learn more about Amber and her work at or on her Etsy site, or you can stop by the Goose to check it out in person.  Amber also accepts custom orders, so feel free to contact her with fabric requests!

-Meryl at the Goose

I feel like my household brings home a disproportionate amount of illness.  It comes with the territory of having four kids at three different schools and three different age groups — we’re jumping into the germ pool from all sides.  Why I didn’t write this blog appeal for help ages ago is anybody’s guess.  Seriously, check out the pathetic faces of sickness that have shown up over the past few cold and flu seasons:

Right now in my house, I can count one sinus infection, three runny noses, two fevers (one low-grade, one high) and one soul-shaking cough.  Nothing I do seems to help … we get by on baby Tylenol and fluids, but neither seems to make a dent in the giant pile of agony that builds up in the den of sickness.

What do you do for your sick kids when they’re stricken by the dreaded cough and cold?  How do you keep the mucus monster at bay?  I’m desperate for your suggestions … this family may not make it through another snot-infested day.

-Meryl at the Goose