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



Does it seem to anyone else that spring brings with it an unusually large number of celebratory gatherings —  birthday parties, baby showers, and the like?  It’s not that the number of new babies and old babies aging is actually greater in this season (in fact, August is typically the month in which the most babies are born, let no one say this blog never taught you anything.)  Maye it’s just that winter makes it hard to gather together to be festive, what with everyone stuck indoors, and so it’s only when spring comes around that people are really in the partying mood.

Whatever the reason for the season, this is the time of year when customer after customer comes running into the Goose looking for a gift.  Just in case you wanted to do a little prep work in advance, may I present the Complete Goose Gift Giving Guide.

For the New Mama & Baby: The Baby Shower Gift

There are two general options for gift giving at the Goose.  You can either select one big item as a present, or put together an assortment of smaller items.  If you want to go (really) big, may we suggest our cloth diapering sample pack.  Perfect for the mama-to-be planning to try cloth diapering for the first time, our sampler package ($130) includes 6 Chinese prefold diapers, 2 Bummis covers, 1 Motherease diaper cover, 1 6-pack of wipes or 1 package of flushable liners, 1 colored Motherease fitted diaper, 2 Motherease unbleached cotton fitted diapers, 1 Made@Home fleece diaper cover, and 2 Motherease all-in-one diapers.  Or, there’s always the Ergo.

If you’re not looking to go quite as big, we suggest assembling a few of the items below in one of our complimentary gift bags or a Shagbark Studio fabric basket (pictured above, mama vendor profile to come later this week.)

*Bamboo washcloths by Punkinbutt, the softest things ever made in the history of the world.  They’re so wonderful that we buy a batch every time a new kid comes to stay.  Plus, as I discovered last summer, they are excellent for soaking up all kinds of bodily fluids (not only the diaper-changing variety, but the my-toddler-split-her-head-open-and-is-gushing-blood variety.)  They’re at the Goose in packages of 3 for $7.98.

*Organic cotton toys by Under the Nile. These are great shower gifts because they’re adorable in the way that new babies are adorable, eliciting automatic gushes and exclamations of “awww!”  Also, they are perfect for wee ones as they start grasping and then teething since they can go from baby’s mouth to the washing machine and then right back to baby.  My littlest  spent much of her first year grasping an Under the Nile banana, but my new favorites are the Harmony Dolls, pictured at right.

*Nuzzle Me Strap Covers. Locally made by papa vendor Tim, these strap covers come in bright and engaging prints to fit a variety of baby carriers and give baby something to chew on that can be easily removed and then cleaned before baby’s next outing.  Are we detecting a washable theme here?  At the Goose, we believe that easy to clean is a new mama’s dream.  (At least, I do.  I just made that up.  I’ll have to poll the rest of the goslings to see if they’re on board with the mantra.)

*Charlie’s Soap. Although at first pass laundry soap may seem too dull for a baby shower gift, I can guarantee you that the recipient will thank you several months down the road, when it’s three in the morning and he or she is completely out of burp cloths or blankets or diapers and hasn’t had time or ener gy to leave the house in two days and finally discovers the bag of Charlie’s Soap that you included with your shower gift.

*Cloth Wipes. These are a fun and colorful addition to any gift basket.  Locally made and environmentally friendly, the Goose sells these wipes in packs of 12 for $12.98.

*Naaci Cloth Diapers. Our newest made at home cloth diaper, these are each one-of-a-kind and made from reclaimed fabrics.  One of these makes a great gift even if you don’t know the new mama’s diapering plans.

For Big (and Not so Big) Kids: The Birthday Party Gift

I’m rarely at the Goose pre-party with enough time to spare to assemble a gift bag, so I’ve become a one-piece-gift kind of girl.   My personal favorites are locally made capes by Made@home mama or SewingMommy, or aprons by Sparks (aka our amazing manager Larkin.)  Cooperative games by Family Pastimes, Elaine Griffin tutus, and Barbara Engstrom dance skirts are also huge hits.  Someday, though, when I magically get my life together and am not running around like a mama chicken missing her proverbial head, I’ll put together a thoughtful gift bag with some of the items below, just like this amazing customer:

Mama Moreen, giver of gifts extraordinaire

Moreen began with a Shagbark Studios basket and filled it with:

*North Star Toys. Moreen selected a wooden rattle, car, and the popular “3 Men in a Tub” by this New Mexico-based company.  We also carry North Star magic wands and helicopters and some other fun things.

Some other great options for a birthday basket:

*Country Kids socks. Although socks are not ordinarily an exciting birthday gift, these are not your ordinary socks.  With great designs from stripes to rocket ships, these are exactly the kind of socks kids like to see on their feet.

*Magic Shoe laces. On sale for $.98, these brightly-colored shoe laces will jazz up any old pair of shoes.  They also go great with the socks mentioned above.

*Ouchie Sacks and Pillows by Sparks. These rice-filled bags (handmade with love by our lovely Larkin) are designed to soothe the boo-boos of birthday boys and girls all year round.  A big step up from your regular old ice pack.

*Twig Crayons. People love our twig crayons (2 for $1.98) as a last minute addition to an everyday purchase, and they’re just that much better when thrown in with a gift.

*Wild Apple Toys. Locally made in Trumansburg, these wooden toys range from snakes on wheels to whale piggy banks and pull-string winged dragons.

Pick up a handmade card (we carry designs by two local mamas) at the register, and your gift is ready to go.  Shopping season made easy, just for you!  Now let’s all  go have some cake.

-Meryl at the Goose

Johanna van der Sterre, children's book illustrator and Mama Goose customer

You know how sometimes kids tell you what they want to be when they grow up, and then they name something so clearly out of reach that you just want to gently pat their hands and say, “Oh, honey, let’s maybe think about a back up plan.”  Or maybe you don’t react like that —- maybe I’m just naturally a pessimistic crusher of dreams, but that’s how I respond whenever a kid wants to be a professional basketball player, or a ballerina, or a rapper.  Until recently, children’s book illustrator was on that list too — the kind of job that some people somewhere get to do, but nobody you actually know, so it doesn’t seem like a realistic option.

Johanna van der Sterre, real live children’s book illustrator, has changed that for me.  Johanna went from a kid who liked to draw to a student of fine art to a grown-up honest-t0-goodness published children’s book illustrator.  Her work includes Mendel’s Accordion by Heidi Smith Hyde, The First Christmas Present by Marilyn Sommerer, Fievel’s Flying Horses by Heidi Smith Hyde, and, most recently, Why Do I Have to Make My Bed? by Wade Bradford (due to be released next month!)  When she’s not working on a book, Johanna spends time with her husband and two children, and fits in some shopping at Mama Goose whenever she can!

Johanna’s illustrations are whimsical and engaging — grown-up art for a child-friendly environment, and are currently on display as framed prints for sale in the back hallway Goose Gallery.  If you’re interested in purchasing one of Johanna’s original pieces,visit her Etsy shop. Check out some of her illustrations below, and then stop by the Goose to see our entire selection.  (Look for “The Goddess” — it’s my favorite.)

"Little Flower"

From "Fievel's Flying Horses"

From "Why Do I Have to Make My Bed?"

-Meryl at the Goose

The holiday shopping season may have come to a close, but there’s no end in sight to the awesome deals at the Goose.  In fact, some of the most exciting items we’ve had all year are on the floor right now, just waiting for their new owners to claim them.

Pictured above, from left to right, are:

A Childcraft convertible crib and dresser set, and when I say convertible, I mean CONVERTIBLE.  This thing goes way beyond the crib-to-todder-bed thing; it can become a twin, full, or even queen-sized bed.  And perhaps even more unbelievably, the two pieces together are priced at $250.97 … a total steal.

A Bumbleride Queen B Stroller (originally $650!!!!) in phenomenal shape, for sale at the Goose for only $300.97.   We’re talking about the Aston Martin of strollers here, folks.  Come in.  Take it for a test spin.  You know you want to.

A real mahogany wooden cradle for $100.97. This would be a really special baby gift if you’re making a play early on for the coveted role as favorite uncle or aunt.

Click on the pictures above to get a closer look at each of these great deals, or stop by the Goose to see them yourself.  With bargains like this coming in every day (except Monday! we still don’t buy on Monday!), who knows what you’ll find?!?

-Meryl at the Goose

The Winter of My Discontent

December 21, 2010

New York-made Newberry mittens will keep little hands warm all winter long

I’m not one to knock the mental health profession.  My therapist is one of my favorite people in the whole world, and our family is at Family & Children’s Services so frequently that I’ve gone so far as to request a stamp card — 9 therapy sessions and your 10th is free, or something like that.

Still, there’s one particular diagnosis that always brings out the skeptic in me:  Seasonal Affective Disorder.  Now, I hate winter.  I mean, I really, really, really hate winter. When we first moved to Ithaca, I spent our entire first winter passive aggressively reminding my husband that had it been up to me and me alone, we would be living in Los Angeles.  I set his desktop weather program to display the current temperature in LA, and would often greet him in the morning with things liks, “Good morning, dear. It’s 72 degrees in Los Angeles.  That’s 52 more than here, in case it’s too early for you to do math.”

Even in mid-July, the thought of winter makes me shudder.  I enter fall willfully blind, refusing to acknowledge the inevitable, hoping that by some miracle, this time, winter won’t come.  Yet, it always does, and my insides turn as cold and dark as an Ithaca winter’s night.  All winter long, there is gloom, despair and agony on me.  But how can this be a disorder?  How can anyone actually enjoy freezing temperatures for months at at time?   Aren’t they the crazy ones, or is this just my SAD talking?

Legit diagnosis or not, my anti-winter sentiment creeps into my mothering.  I resent having to spend time and money ensuring that my children don’t freeze.  Parenting shouldn’t be harder in New York than it is in Florida, but you can’t tell me that putting a kid on the bus in a windbreaker isn’t significantly less stressful than the daily snowsuitpalooza going on here in upstate New York.  Plus, I cannot keep a pair of mittens or gloves together to save my life.  (I know, sew them/string them/velcro them to the coat, blah blah blah.  It’s too hard!  I’m cold!  And SAD!)

Luckily, Mama Goose is all about the winter accessories, so I can drown my seasonal sorrows in shopping.  Check out our winter wonderland of products below, and let me know if you’ve got any leads on a mama hibernation program.  I’m totally down.


Hats, and gloves, and scarves -- oh my!

We stockpile socks for the winter!

We've got Wigwam wool socks for kids...

and for moms!

Country kids tights work with holiday dresses, or as an extra layer under pants.

Satch and Sol slippers are as cute as they are warm!

Wool mittens --- strings already included!


-Meryl at the Goose

The Sugar Shack -- how did we ever get through Ithaca summer without it?

You may have noticed the tiny yellow wooden hut that popped up on E. State Street this summer — it’s right up the hill from the old Challenge building, and right across the street from the Gateway Commons, and it’s probably the best thing that’s happened to me all year.  It’s called The Sugar Shack, and it is the place where snow cones are made and dreams come true.

Actually, at the Sugar Shack they’re called snowballs or shaved ice, but it doesn’t matter.  This is a small establishment that serves nothing but my very favorite year-round delectable treat.  (Seriously, I LOVE snow cones. I love them so much that sometimes when I’m sitting on the couch with my husband and we’re talking about something relevant to our current lives, I find myself staring off into space, dreamily muttering things like, “Hey … remember that snow cone I had that time four years ago in Port Isabel, Texas?  That was a really good snow cone.  I miss that snow cone.”)

Turns out, the apple doesn’t fall far from the not-at-all-genetically-connected tree, and my sweet-toothed kids have also become fast Sugar Shack devotees.  (I’m sure no one is shocked to hear that we’re not very careful about refined sugar in my house.  We’re fighting other battles at the moment. )  Some combination of people in our family visit the Sugar Shack at least a couple times a week, and thusfar from these frequent stops, I’ve learned the following things:

1)  My love for the snow cone is true, and not just a fly-by-night whim.  Whereas I once wondered if I overestimated the goodness of the snow cone because of my infrequency of access to the delicacy, I know now that I could eat a snow cone every day and still come back for more.  In fact, that’s exactly what I’m doing.

2) The owner/proprietor/snow ball maker of the Sugar Shack, Danielle, has a degree from the Savannah College of Art and Design, which she put to use when she designed and built the Shack herself.  Crazy talent, right?

3)  Even with twenty-something flavors available, cherry will always be my favorite.  If it ain’t broke… (don’t fix it. That’s the end of that saying.)

If you haven’t stumbled across the Sugar Shack yet, I highly recommend you get stumbling — not on Mondays, though.  The Shack is closed on Mondays — the sign says “gone swimmin’.”  I suppose even an unlimited supply of snow cones can’t negate the need for other kinds of summertime fun — although, for me, it would certainly come close.  Tuesdays through Saturdays, though, you can get your snow cone on between 12pm and 9pm, and on Sundays, from 12pm to 7pm.

Welcome to the world of Ithaca small business, Sugar Shack!  I am SOOOO glad you’re here.

-Meryl at the Goose

Did you know that we’re coming to the end of National Children’s Book Week?  Did you even know that there was a National Children’s Book Week?  We didn’t, until Bob from Buffalo Street Books kindly passed along the information.  Now that we’re in the loop, though, we’re going to celebrate two ways!  First, we’re having a sale:  Today and tomorrow, all kids’ books at the Goose will be Buy 2, Get 1 (of Equal or Lesser Value).  Second, I’m going to rhapsodize about my favorite children’s books, and invite you to do the same.


Meryl’s Top 10 Kids’ Books, as of 8:44 PM on May 13th, and Subject to Change at Any Moment, because New Books Are Being Published Every Day, and Meryl is Just Generally Kinda Flaky


Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

“Goodnight stars, goodnight air, goodnight noises everywhere.”

Really, I just had to get this one on the list right away, because it’s probably the best children’s book ever written, and if it’s not on your top 10 list, you’re probably a sociopath, and I’m sort of curious how you wound up reading this blog.


Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

“And Max, the king of all wild things, was lonely, and wanted to be where someone loved him best of all.”

This is a really important book in our family, which I’ve probably mentioned one or two times before.  Quite possibly one of the most heartfelt moments in my entire life happened when older foster son was reading this book to younger foster son, got to the line above and said, “Hey, you know what?  In our house, we love you best of all.”   


If You’re Afraid of the Dark, Remember the Night Rainbow/Add One More Star to the Night by Cooper Edens

“If you’re at the end of your rope, untie the knot in your heart.”

This is technically two books in one, and therefore takes up two spots on the list.   I was introduced to the book(s) in college by my friend Martha, who makes a point of buying them as gifts for people she believes will truly appreciate their worth.  (Incidentally, Martha also frequently gives me the gift of editing my blog posts, out of the sheer goodness of her heart.)  If You’re Afraid of the Dark.. pairs whimsical illustrations with nonsensical yet beautiful modern proverbs.  The poignancy-per-page ratio in this text is higher than in any other book I’ve ever read, and even the youngest of listeners can appreciate that.


The Family Book or We Belong Together or really any book  by Todd Parr

“There are lots of different ways to be a family.  Your family is special, no matter what kind it is.”

Sometimes, when your family looks different from other families, and is different from lots of other families, your kids stop listening to you when you tell them for the eightieth time that different is okay.  They never stop listening to Todd, though, who conveys the message through perfectly chosen wording and engaging and vibrant pictures.


Someday by Alison McGhee & Peter H. Reynolds

“Someday, I will stand on this porch and watch your arms waving to me until I no longer see you.  Someday you will look at this house and wonder how something that feels so big can look so small.”

The Pia-Miller Family gave us (Corrina & myself) this book just a couple of weeks after she was born.  I read it to Rina when I put her to bed, and cry at the exact same page, every time, even when I read the book three times in a row.  For anyone who has a daughter, and who hasn’t read it yet, drop what you’re doing this very moment and go find a copy.  E-mail me.  I’ll lend you mine.  There’s a copy at the public library, under E McGhee, in the picture book section.  GO. 


The Sneetches and Other Stories by Dr. Seuss

“I’ve heard of your troubles. I’ve heard you’re unhappy.  But I can fix that.  I’m the Fix-it-Up Chappie.”

I’m a fan of the entire Seuss oeuvre, but in recent years, The Sneetches has emerged as my favorite.  (That slot was previously held by The Lorax, but a girl’s gotta move on.)   This book actually contains three stories in addition to the title story:  “The Zax,” “Too Many Daves,” and “What Was I Scared Of?” As is to be expected from Seuss, the rhyme is awesome, the underlying political commentary biting, and the overall reading experience, excellent. 


Today I Feel Silly by Jamie Lee Curtis

“Today I am quiet, my mom understands. She gave me two ice creams and then we held hands.  We went to a movie and then had a bite.  I cried just a little, and then felt all right.” 

Turns out that Jamie Lee Curtis is one of those actress-turned-something-elses who is actually really awesome at the something else.  This book in particular is very popular around our house, where mood swinging is practically  a competitive sport.  Plus, there’s a super fun wheel at the back that changes the main character’s facial features to match her moods.  Girl’s got some crazy eyes. 


I Like It When by Mary Murphy

This is just a cuter-than-average, run-of-the-mill board book.  We got it from our pediatrician, through the Family Reading Partnership, I think?  The way it wound up on this list is that it’s the first book that our little pre-reader learned to “read” out loud, using the picture cues to get the words exactly right.  There’s nothing like toddler pride splashed all over that dimpled face to endear a book to me forever.


The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams                   

“Once you are real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

The extended version of the above quote was one of the readings at our wedding.  Plus, when I was a little girl, my copy of this book came with a recording of Meryl Streep narrating the story.  (It came on a record.  I’d listen to it on my Fisher-Price record player in the basement, and follow along.)  Meryl Streep has an awesome story-telling voice, in addition to her awesome name.   


What are your top ten children’s books?  Or top twenty, or top two?  I don’t care how many you’ve got, I just want to know — and a happy National Children’s Book Week to you. 

-Meryl at the Goose