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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

On Birthdays

February 8, 2011

Most of the time, here on the blog, I pretend that I have a somewhat normal family, that the issues we face day to day are the issues we all face, that I’m just your run-of-the-mill mama trying to hold it together, and it’s true, to an extent.

It is also true that in the hospital room where my daughter was born, her birth mother had a psychotic break so severe that six social workers came rushing in, a nurse wheeled the infant out of the room to safety, and my husband vomited from the stress.   It is also true that my four-year-old’s PTSD that has caused him, on many occasions, to rip chunks of my hair from my head and draw blood from my arms with his teeth.  It is is also true that when my oldest* child was born, I was 10 years old, and that by the time he reached that same age, he had already committed his first Class B felony.

These are just some of the ways that my family may be different than most, and they rarely make for good blog material, given that many of my children’s truths are simply too tragic for public consumption.  However, there is also this:  though there are many things that set us apart, I love my children in the universal way that all good mothers do, and that love can underlie an infinite number of blog posts.

This is all by way of saying that today is my oldest* child’s eighteenth birthday, and that emotions are running high.  For much of our society, eighteen is a landmark milestone, marking the (in my opinion, arbitrary) legal transition into adulthood that strikes fear in the heart of parents and glee in the spirits of teenagers.  The wrinkle in our house is that turning eighteen in foster care bestows upon you a decision that no adolescent should be expected to make: at eighteen, a child can choose to walk out of foster care and into whatever he or she wants — a dysfunctional birth home, a shelter, a life of crime that initially entices but eventually destroys.  It is a different break for independence than a typical child could make — it is the choice to say “You may no longer parent me” in a way that no birth child, whether four or forty-four, would ever be able to say.

Around the time that my big boy was born, I went on a school field trip about which I remember nothing but sitting in a large room with an outdoorsy, nature-loving-type group leader ripping up pieces of paper and encouraging us to do the same.  I don’t remember the order or script of the exercise, but the point was that when you lead a full life, you spend your days ripping out pieces of your heart to give to other people, and, if you’re lucky, receiving pieces back from your loved ones.

One of my favorite things ever said here on the blog was a quote shared by mama Kristina Thelen in her customer profile, from a book I’ve never read by a man of whom I’ve never heard.  “The decision to have a child is momentous because it is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”

As my boy hits this tremendous milestone, I celebrate with him, and think of all of the regrets I have:  that I wasn’t there to teach him to ride a bike, to take him to the dentist, to keep him safe.  And then I think of my misshapen paper collage of a heart walking around outside of my body, I take a deep breath, and, with every bit of hope and faith I can muster, I go out to buy cake.

Happy birthday, my darling boy.

-Meryl at the Goose

*Actually, my “oldest” child is no longer my oldest, though I have become accustomed to calling him that in the blogosphere.  We’ve had some new additions lately, about whom I’ll share soon, but today is all about the birthday boy.

Tubesday

January 15, 2011

"So what if I can't hear? As long as my Toy Story 3 tattoo's still here, I'm all good."

Corrina, my two-year-old daughter, stopped meeting normal speech milestones around her first birthday.   She got to “mama” and “dada” and then just quit.   At first, we weren’t too concerned — Bailey and I actually met while teaching in the same preschool classroom, and we had a grand old time mocking all of the helicopter moms who enrolled their six-months-old in French classes and rushed off to a specialist with every sneeze.  We were perfectly content to wait it out, letting Corrina talk in her own time, pretty sure that eventually, like her mother before her, she’d find herself unable to shut up.

Then, all of a sudden, I got nervous … about the New York state budget.  I’d just figured that we’d wait for Corrina to come around, word-wise, and then if at some point there was clearly a problem, we’d get her some help.  But last spring and summer, when the New York state government couldn’t get a budget together to save its life, I got worried.  What if, when we needed it, help for Corrina wasn’t there?  I panicked, and called for an Early Intervention referral.  When the woman who conducted the initial assessment suggested there might be a problem with Rina’s hearing, we were skeptical.  We were certain that she was ignoring us out of pure spite.  But, lo and behold and an audiological evaluation later, it turned out that abnormal amount of fluid in her ears was reducing Corrina’s hearing by 40%.

Corrina's doctor labeled her earlobes with his initials, 'cause apparently, that's how it's done.

Fast forward to early this Tuesday morning, when I woke up my child before dawn, deprived her of liquid, juice and trekked up to Surgicare for a bilateral myringontomy, more commonly known as tubes in the ears.  This procedure is incredible simple, common and quick — so quick, in fact, that you can watch it on YouTube. But it was still my baby, in a hospital gown,  under anesthesia, on an operating table, without me.  And that’s scary, right?

Corrina took Ugly Doll into surgery with her. Also, a purple flashlight. You never know when you might need one of those.

Amazingly, it wasn’t.  The entire experience was incredible — from the pre-admission phone interview (thanks, Nurse Mark!) to post-operative care and discharge (you’re the best, Nurses Cindy and Erica!) every single person involved in caring for Corrina made me feel calm and confident, simultaneously assuring me that there was absolutely no reason to freak out but that I absolutely had permission to freak if I felt the need.  And, in the end, THEY thanked US for coming!  (Seriously.  They sent us home with a personalized thank-you note.)  Unbelievably amazing.  So amazing that I desperately missed the nursing staff when we returned home and I, who had been counting on some post-surgery grogginess leading to a mommy/daughter nap, was rudely confronted with my every day high energy toddler dancing on tables.  (Literally — her new favorite thing to do is to climb up and dance on the dining room table, which I suppose is fine.  It’s not like I ever serve gourmet meals there or anything.  Chicken nuggets are best enjoyed on the couch.  I digress…)

The whole thing was so pleasant, so unremarkable in terms of stress level, that it could have sunk back into my slew of run-of-the-mill-medical-appointments memory bank, except for one thing: on Tubesday night, Corrina was heading upstairs to where her biggest brother and friends were jamming out on our ridiculous assortment of musical equipment, and she covered her ears, looked at me, and said, “NOISE!”

Thank you, bilateral myringotomy w/ tubes, for enabling my daughter to appreciate how truly loud and obnoxious her family actually is.

-Meryl at the Goose

The End. Heehee.

I admit, I’ve been a bit of a grinch this holiday season.  (Whoa, WordPress spellcheck doesn’t understand “grinch”  — what’s up with that?)  Please believe me, it has absolutely nothing to do with my Jewishness and everything to do with my hatred of winter.  This year, my Scrooge quotient has been unusually high, which I realized when I walked into Mimi’s Attic last week and involuntarily uttered a groan upon hearing Christmas music playing.

“What’s your problem?” asked darling Theresa, Mimi’s staffer extraordinaire (affectionately, of course.  Theresa and I share the love.)

I don’t really have a problem, Theresa, I promise.  I don’t even hate all Christmas music, like some people we know.  To prove it to you, here are a couple of Christmas songs I adore, and the reasons why.

#1:  Little Drummer Boy

Let me specify that my love is specific to this version and only this version.  A certain very important person in our extended family cannot stand this particular carol as a general rule, and I respect that.  But I first heard this version on the radio as a little girl, driving home from a huge Christmas Eve party to which we were invited every year.  We’d get dressed up and drive to the side of town with all the big houses and the prettiest Christmas lights, and I’d spend a couple of hours watching all the other kids run around, flitting in and out of the grown-up room to peek at the humongous tree, barely able to contain their excitement about the next day.  On the drive home, my annual melancholy would set in, and I’d succumb to the loneliness that comes when the entire world shuts down for something that doesn’t belong to you.  (Side note:  I totally had a version of this feeling this evening,when I irrationally panicked about the closing of Wegman’s for a day.  Despite a conversation with my husband in which we decided we did not need anything, I rushed to the store and spent $30 on groceries, JUST IN CASE.  This may not have anything to do with Christmas, actually — it might just be straight-up Wegman’s addiction.)  Upon reflection, I suppose it’s odd to embrace a musical memory that’s not exactly happy, but I like to connect with the little girl I used to be, and this song facilitates that.  Plus, this version was used in what is possibly the best episode of television ever, so that’s something.

#2: God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings

Come on, how cute are the Barenaked Ladies?  Cute, and Christmasy, and Canadian  — who knew they even had Christmas in Canada?  (That’s a joke.  I know they have Christmas in Canada.  It’s just that making fun of  Canada is funny.)  Plus, they do that cute little shout out to Sarah McLachlan, who was featured on the album version of that song?  Seriously. Cute.

#3:  River

So, this isn’t exactly your typical Christmas carol, and under normal circumstances, I would reference the original Joni Mitchell version over a cover any day, but James Taylor’s take on this classic song makes it seem holiday-esque to me.  I love that it evokes a kind of holiday spirit that is emotional, rather than festive, yet Christmasy nonetheless.

I’ve also loved “I Wonder as I Wander” since I first read Jacob Have I Loved as a preteen, and my mom dug out the Barbra Streisand Christmas album on vinyl for me to play over and over.  I’d probably prefer a more minimalist rendition of the song, but as a fellow member of the tribe, my loyalty is always to Barbra.  Plus, this video is pretty hilarious.

Last but not least, there’s the Dave Matthews song featured in the video at the top of the post.  This is actually one of my favorite songs all year round.  “Why in all this hatred do you fill me up with love?”  Sigh.

I wish you a merry Christmas Eve.  If you need to take a break from the wassailing at any point, I encourage you to do so by leaving your favorite Christmas songs in the comments below.

-Meryl at the Goose

Black Friday Blast

November 25, 2010

Get a $25 gift certificate to our West End neighbor, The Jewelbox, when you spend $100 at Mimi's or Mama Goose on Black Friday.

Now that your tummies are filled with turkey and you have nothing to do but laze about, dreamily pondering your Black Friday plans, I thought I’d share some fun facts with you.

Apparently, there are two alternative explanations for the origins of the term Black Friday.  First, in the 1960s, the Philadelphia police department began using the term to refer to this day because the shopping-related traffic was so abysmal.  Around the same time, many retail insiders began to use the term to refer to the day on which all retailers could expect to make a profit, or go “into the black.”

Frankly, I find both explanations rather dull, though my research also turned up a little tidbit about a couple of years during FDR’s presidency during which Thanksgiving was celebrated on different days in different states.  That’s sort of fun, and made the five minutes I spent researching on Wikipedia seem worth it.  Plus, I love me some FDR.

Trivia aside, here are some fun facts about Goose-related Black Friday events.

Mama Goose and Mimi’s Attic, in addition to serving cider and cookies all day, are also offering a special West End promotion.  Spend $100 at either store, and receive a $25 gift certificate to The Jewelbox.  That’s right — you can stock up on clothes for the kids or things for the house and then go down the street to buy yourself something shiny.  Sounds festive to me!  We’re also doing double stamps at the Goose.

Some of our favorite mamas are up to exciting things as well:

Mama Diana is doing a fundraiser at the SPCA Annex at the Shops at Ithaca Mall.  Read more about it here, and stop by between 10am and 4pm.

If venturing out into the world in the midst of this shopping bonanza is too scary, you can stay safely in cyberspace and visit mama vendor Mama Marsh’s newly reopened online store. She’s expanding beyond the great cloth diapers we sell at the Goose to include crocheted items and hair bows.

How ever you choose to mark the occasion, we at the Goose wish you a very merry beginning of the holiday shopping season, and look forward to seeing you soon!

-Meryl at the Goose

I spent this afternoon working the floor at the Goose for the first time since summer, ostensibly to cover for gosling Hilary, who needed a last-minute replacement, but I actually had a secondary motive.  I wanted to spend some quality time at the Goose uncovering everything I’ve missed over the past couple months.  Here’s what I dug up,  from the minute to the momentous:

1)  See above: Charlie’s Soap no longer comes in bags!  Maybe this doesn’t seem like that big a deal, but I’m a girl who is very into packaging, and a change of this magnitude seems earth-shattering.

2)  New buying guidelines!  Now, we’re looking at the best-of-all-seasons in sizes 2 and up, instead of sizes 5 and up.  As the mom of a 2 and 4 year old with a serious shortage of storage space, I’m pumped.

3) New goslings!   That’s right — over the past couple months, we’ve added three more goslings to the flock — Casey Lees (back  for her second Goose  run!),  Meghan Mapes (sister of Gwynne!),  and Grace Ritter (brand-new to the Goose, no sisters on staff, as far as I know.)   Stay tuned for a chance to get to know these girls better — profiles are forthcoming.

4)  Other than that, things are generally the same — time away from the Goose is like never, and like always.  (Bet Pablo Neruda loves being plagiarized in the blogosphere.)  Lots of little things change at the Goose, and even some big things, and yet it’s still the same great place — the customers are wonderful, the co-workers are delightful, and the clothes are the best deals around.  (Speaking of clothes, get excited about my upcoming blog feature, Things I’ve Bought My Kids That I Love, inspired by The Office writer/actress Mindy Kaling’s blog that I used to love that she apparently no longer writes, because she’s too busy winning Emmys or something.)

Have I mentioned it’s good to be back?

-Meryl at the Goose