One of my favorite women in the world is on her way to being a mama — twice over, in fact — she’s carrying twins.  Ever the pragmatist, she sent out an e-mail seeking advice in navigating the world of prenatal shopping.  She wrote:

Dear Mommies I Know,

I would love to know what 5-10 items of clothing, furniture, accessories, toys, etc. you most valued during your baby’s first year of life. There is just so much crap out there, and I want to rifle through your brains to avoid getting the crap!

Now, that’s a demand for a blog contest if ever I’ve heard one!  Check out my top 5 list, and then submit your own in the comments. One lucky commenter will win $5 in Goose cash just for contributing, and the rest of you can remain satisfied that you’ve helped a soon-to-be mama avoid the pitfalls of capitalism.  Everybody wins.

Without further adieu, here are my favorite five:

1)  Cloth diapers.

The cloth diaper decision and discussion is an involved one.  We’ve devoted several blog posts to the subject, and there are entire websites out there as well.  I personally was a fan of the pocket diaper, like the red one pictured above — an adjustable outer shell used in conjunction with a removable inner pad.  For me, these seemed to provide the best leak protection. were manageable to launder, and looked super cute on my summer baby when worn with just a t-shirt and the occasional pair of leg warmers (see #5.)

2) The Moby Wrap

If the search for the perfect diaper doesn’t kill you, the search for the perfect baby carrier will.  The secret to both of these searches is trial and error — what works for your best friend may not work for you, and that’s okay.  I loved my Moby Wrap (actually, the Moby D) for the first 10 months of Corrina’s life. She tagged along to my third year of law school, which would have been much harder had I not been able to strap her to my body with this incredible piece of fabric.  (Also invaluable was an awesome team of classmate babysitters who came to my rescue all year.  Thanks, ladies!) 

3)  Robeez

There’s a reason these soft soled shoes are everywhere babies want to be — they’re perfect for a baby’s perfect little feet.  The elastic keeps the slipper secure without pinching while the leather keeps baby’s feet warm without overheating.  Plus, they come in an insane variety of adorable styles — Corrina came home from the hospital in a pair of pink ones with brown guitars, like the little rock star that she is.

4)  Swaddling

This is a word I’d never given a second thought until I was the parent of a newborn, and then all of a sudden it became absolutely essential.  The Happiest Baby On the Block was my go-to swaddling guide, and we could not have survived without Kiddpotamous swaddlers.  On more than one occasion, I found myself awake at 3 in the morning, giving Rina a bottle with one hand and ordering extra swaddlers from Amazon.com with the other.  That was before I was a Goose aficionado, of course.  Had I know then what I know now, I would have just gone to the Goose swaddler bin, where many of my fave brand of these magical tools currently reside.  Ahh, the naivete of first time mothers.

5)  Legwarmers

That’s right, baby legwarmers are a real thing, and they’re fantastic.  When I bought the first pair, I stashed them secretly in the diaper bag, ashamed to tell my husband that I’d bought our child such a frivolous, ridiculous accessory.  But then one day in late August, we found ourselves at an outdoor wedding with an ever-so-slight chill in the air.  I whipped out those bad boys, tossed them on my baby’s chubby legs, and voila!  Adorable AND practical.

I could probably go on and on, but I’m going to stop at my fave five and give you all a chance to weigh in.  Get listing!

-Meryl at the Goose

Brothers Cristian and Kasieum after some outdoor play has gone horribly wrong

This past Saturday, my two smallest ones had a loud, volatile argument in the middle of the Commons (silly mama, attempting to take them out in public!) and they attracted a fair amount of attention. Much of it came from the swarms of college students out brunching and shopping, as young, foolish, childless people tend to find my children amusing, but it was also the nature of the argument itself that drew crowds.

Corrina, as a result of her speech delays, speaks mainly in jargon, especially if she has a lot to say, yet somehow this does not serve as a deterrent to her slightly older brother’s willingness to converse with her.  I think  it’s because he’s no stranger to speech delay himself — between the two of them, they’ve got speech therapy five times a week.  It’s like foreigners traveling abroad– it doesn’t matter if one’s from Belgium and the other from Norway, they’re both strangers in a strange land and so they stick together.  Anyway, the argument sounded something like this:

The 4-year-old brother (clutching the car in question, and occasionally waving it tauntingly):  No! It’s my yellow car!

Corrina:  Fark  shhcmmu eenyeney rarara!

4yo:  Stop saying that! It’s my car, it was in my backpack!

Corrina:  Hargharg ay!  Mateeena warmamoo. EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.

4yo:  Nu-uh!  It’s MY CAR!  MINE!

And so on and so forth, accompanied by wild gesturing, since both of my littles use their hands extensively while speaking, and I was too entertained to bother interfering.  Plus, I had an iced coffee to drink, so I just followed behind, content to watch the debate unfold, prepared to step in if any physical violence ensued.

With an atypical family like mine, I often have atypical reactions to common family problems, and sibling rivalry is one of those issues.  My wee ones spent that entire day bickering, but because I’m so grateful when the genetic strangers growing up in my household behave like actual siblings, I don’t get past my relief to think about the conflict.  Someday, though, it’s going to be something I should probably deal with head on, and I’m going to need some help.

Sibling rivalry can be serious stuff — my friend Martha readily admits to having tried to kill her baby sister during her toddlerhood, once by strangulation and once with a dowel rod.  (The first incident was apparently revealed with the following dialogue:  “Martha, why  is the baby crying?”   “Oh, probably because I squeezed her neck too hard.”)   My husband’s older sister once tricked him into swallowing  a quarter, and he in turn made it his life’s mission to exclude their youngest brother from any activity that even had the slightest potential of being fun.  (“Hey guys, let’s do [fill in the blank.]  BUT NOT GEORGIE.”)  Even on a playground yesterday, when I apologized for my child accidentally knocking down two siblings standing close together, the mom responded, “Oh, don’t worry.  It’s a nice change from watching them clobber each other. ”

How did you relate to your siblings a child?  How do you get along as adults?  How do you handle intersibling conflict as a parent?  Tell me about it in the comments below.  The best/worst/funniest anecdote will win $5 in Goose cash, so put your shame aside.  This is a judgment-free zone.

-Meryl at the Goose

Olivia and Baby Geneva aren't so sure about this sisterhood thing

Who’s Your Mama?

May 8, 2010

From left to right, my mom, her mom, and me: three little girls in three favorite dresses

Let’s play a Mother’s Day game!  Pictured below are several of your favorite Mama Goose staffers in some of their favorite childhood outfits.  Can you pick out who’s who?   After you give it a shot, tell us about your favorite togs from toddlerhood (or later — I was just aching for some alliteration.)  

#1:  

#2: 

  

#3:   

  

#4:  

  

#5:  

The gosling you know is on the right

 #6:  

The little girl in this picture is also the baby in picture #4

Get guessing… I’ll reveal the correct answers in the comments sometime tomorrow.   Happy Mother’s Day! 

-Meryl at the Goose

Congratulations, Sueinithaca.  You are the winner of $5 in Goose cash!  Your potty training advice was both insightful and entertaining, but truly, you won me over with your willingness to admit to the entire blogosphere that your car smells like pee.  For that reason, and because I really appreciate when other mamas are willing to cop to the use of a well-thought-out bribe (it’s looking like my daughter’s secret desire is a grown-up pen and spiral notebook to use while sitting on the potty — very Harriet the Spy, toddler edition), I declare you, Sueinithaca, the winner of this challenge, and I credit you with the following picture:

Corrina's very first successful pee-in-the-potty. Anybody want to place bets on how mad she's going to be when she discovers this blog in her teen years?

Congratulations once again, Sueinithaca … please e-mail me at meryl@mamagooseithaca.com to make arrangements to collect your prize.  Thank you to everyone for your willingness to weigh in, and stay tuned.  I’m sure I’ll need more parenting advice any day now — it’s not like I have any idea what I’m doing.

-Meryl at the Goose

The potty place in our upstairs bathroom -- pretty, right? But is it pretty enough to put an end to our relationship with diapers FOREVER?

I am so over diapers.  I mean, it’s not like I imagine that many parents actually rejoice in the whole diapering process – being responsible for another person’s elimination of bodily waste isn’t exactly one of the top ten joys of parenting, but this isn’t that.  My mild distaste for the diapering process has recently spiked to a complete and utter disgust.  It could be that my daughter is now refusing to lie down to have her diaper changed, instead standing atop her changing table with her bottom facing me, her hands pressed against the wall as though I’ m about to pat her down and perform an illegal search.  It could also be that I’ve had to ask aloud more than once in the past several days, “Um, guys?  Does my hair smell like poop?”  Whatever it was, diapers and me – we’re breaking up. 

Now, someone has to tell my 21-month-old daughter about it, and I’d like that person to be you.  All kidding aside, this is one of those child-rearing tasks for which the available information is too overwhelming to begin to process.  It seems like there are thousands of potty training books, magazines, and websites, each with a panel of experts who have elaborate, brilliant thoughts on the matter.  I just don’t have the energy to sort through all that information.  Plus, as my grandma would say, “Who are they to me?”  What do I care what they think?  I want to know what you, beloved readers, think I should do.

Please, use the comments to give me your very best potty training advice.  I’ll take anything, no matter how wacky, except if you toilet trained your five children using only a bit of pixie dust and the motivational glow of your motherly love.  (I’m talkin’ to you, Sandy Sorensen.)  Other than that, anything goes.

To make it extra fun, and show you just how desperate for your help I am, get this:  there’s a prize!   The reader who offers my favorite piece of advice will win $5.00 in Goose cash, just for being willing to help out.  Remember, this is me we’re talking about, so the winning piece of advice doesn’t necessarily have to be the one I think has the best chance of success — it might just be the one that makes me laugh the hardest.  You never know.  I’m a loose cannon.  

-Meryl at the Goose

 

Mama Goose is teaming up with the Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport for the “Buy Local, Fly Local” Contest.  To enter, become a fan of the Ithaca Airport on Facebook and write “Mama sent me!” on their wall.  You’ll be entered to win one of the Goose’s fabulous Cooperative Games by Family Pastimes.    

The beautiful entranceway to the Ithaca Airport... my kids could tear that place apart.

With Spring Break approaching, there’s been lots of buzz around the Goose about upcoming travel plans, and I’ve enviously listened in on several customer conversations about furture sojourns to warmer pastures.  Aside from the complete impracticality of taking a major trip at this point in our family’s financial life, there’s an additional barrier to my imaginary vacation plans – fear of flying … with children. That’s right, I have absolutely no issue with the whole mechanical box suspended in the sky thing, but when I think about taking my children on an airplane, I break out into a cold sweat.   (I’m not alone – Alyssa from Keep it Real has avoided flying for the same reason!)  Wondering if my fears were founded, I surveyed some of my more flight-savvy mama friends.  Here are some things I learned: 

Do not fear flying with a baby.

Gosling Gina estimates that she and son Drew have flown together an astounding eighteen times over the past five years, so she’s got lots to say on the subject.  One thing she pointed out is that many new parents fear taking an infant on a plane, anticipating that their wee ones will scream the entire time, inciting the wrath of every other passenger and subjecting them to the death-stares of others for the duration of the flight.  It turns out, this is not the case.  Gina reports that, when this happened to her, the stares she received were actually sympathetic ones, and that most of her fellow passengers were overwhelmingly kind, and tried to help Gina in cheering and comforting baby Drew. 

Amanda, from Parents for a Peaceful Planet, had an even better, and common, experience – her six-month-old just slept and ate all the way to Wisconsin!  Especially for little ones, constant feeding is your friend.

The FAA doesn’t care how cute your kid is.

Many mamas pointed out that flying with kids has become increasingly more complicated with the more stringent regulations that have been put in place over the past couple years.  All of the liquids the children require have to conform to the under-three-ounce rule, with exceptions for formula, juice and breast milk, and even those have to go through a screening process.   And, as Amanda points out, if you somehow manage to fail to follow the rules, no matter how reasonable or innocent your mistake, airport security personnel have no problem tossing your things in the trash.  Luckily, there’s no shortage of public information about the rules out there, so you can study up in advance.  The Ithaca Airport has a great collection of links available here

Choose your partner carefully.

Gwynne, our gorgeous young gosling who is still in the pre-kid phase of life, has become an expert at learning from her fellow goslings’ mama mistakes.  As a girl with an actual fear of flying, Gwynne’s solution is to supplement flying with children with an extremely patient husband and father, so that she can zone out in her Dramamine coma and still emerge from the flight intact.  Gosling Sandy has a story involving a flight to Taiwan with two children and a lot of confusion over trying to place said children various kinds of airplane adaptive equipment, none of which seemed to do the trick,  the postscript to which is “Oh, and Mike (Sandy’s husband) slept the whole time.”  After hearing this tale of woe, and one in which Gina’s partner Pat leaves all the luggage on the airport curb….twice,  I can’t help but think that Gwynne hit the nail right on the head.

Prepare and pack perfectly.

The general consensus seems to be that the portable DVD player is the best thing that ever happened when it comes to flying with children of any age.  Customer and mama Diane Goodman-Daniel also suggests snacks (so k ids don’t have to wait for meals to be served), magnetic paper dolls, Magic Treehouse books for kids ages 4-7, and really anything else that can keep your children entertained.  Gina has one brilliant caveat – don’t ever pack anything expecting that your child will be the one carrying it… even the most diligent kids have a tendency to accidentally leave the portable DVD player in the airplane bathroom on the connecting flight.

Even with all that extra wisdom, I’m still a wuss when it’s comes to flying, certain that my kids would be the very first toddlers ever detained for questioning as potential terrorists (or that I myself would be detained for questioning for making such a joke at a security checkpoint.)  Still, someday I will brave it, and one thing will ease my suffering … the ability to leave from the Ithaca Airport, which is a mere ten minutes from my house.  As a NYC girl at heart, I spent my pre-upstate life flying in and out of LaGuardia and JFK airports, which means adding at least two extra hours to your trip even before you check in at the airport, even if your apartment is right across the highway in Queens.  (I don’t know how it happens – it’s like those airports have a supernatural zone of slowness cast around them.  Everything moves at a snail’s pace, night or day, holiday or not. It’s one of life’s great mysteries.) 

By comparison, and in its own right, our lovely accessible regional airport seems like an excellent place to start a trip.  So, we’ve partnered with the folks at the Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport to launch our Buy Local, Fly Local contest.  Become a fan of the Airport on FB, and write on their wall, “Mama sent me!”   You’ll be entered in a drawing to win one of our fabulous Cooperative Games, pictured below, a surefire way to keep kids entertained while in flight.  Earn an extra entry for commenting on this blog post with your own story or tips about flying with kids, and if you’re about to take flight for Spring Break, our thoughts are with you! 

The Co-operative Games display at the Goose. Visit us on Facebook to see more!

-Meryl at the Goose

Thanks to everyone who submitted pictures in our Head-to-Toe contest!  We loved seeing them, and think you will too.  Check out the entries here.  Though the contest is officially over, we’ll continue accepting pictures from now until forever, so e-mail me at meryl@mamagooseithaca.com to have your little one’s photo added to our Flickr gallery.

And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for, the winner of the Mama Goose Head-to-Toe contest, and the soon to be proud owner of a Cozy and $10 MG gift certificate…

Ara, whose photo was submitted by mom Kimberly Furry, is pictured above in a Hartstrings pullover and Children’s Place pants.  Ara captured our hearts with the look of exuberance she wears on her face as the perfect accessory to her head-to-toe ensemble.  Plus, we appeciate a girl who can lovingly wear her Mama Goose clothes and still keep them in hand-me-down condition, allowing little sister Nora to rock the Absorba romper and Baby Gap tee pictured below.

Congratulations, Ara, and thanks again to everyone who entered! 

-Meryl at the Goose