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

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World on Fire

March 13, 2011

Where it all began...

Sometimes being a grown-up, pardon the expression, just sucks.  For Mr. Blogling and myself,  this weekend was one of those sucky times.  Friday afternoon found us with four firetrucks in front of our house and our own little act of God in the basement (a fire and a flood! how does that even happen?)  The culprit was a busted water heater, and it led to one unexpected night in a hotel, 8 hours of husband-labor installing a new water heater, 55 hours and counting without heat, spotty electricity, and the expenditure of many, many, many dollars.  Overall:  SUCKY.

Plus, my little family disaster interrupted my regularly scheduled blog programming by forcing me to flake on a long-overdue interview with mama vendor Amber Siepel.  (I’m so sorry, Amber!  I’ll make it up to you.)  But, it does give me the opportunity to encourage some whining from you, dear readers.  I want to hear about things that burst, broke, bled … anything.  Misery loves company, so please — tell me about your own natural family disasters.  Stories of your suffering will keep me warm at night.  Goodness knows these space heaters aren’t doing the trick.

-Meryl at the Goose

P.S.  There is a picture floating around somewhere of a night last winter when the entire Moreland family slept at The Goose to monitor some frozen sprinkler pipes.  As soon as Kelly and I locate this photographic evidence, it will be yours for the viewing.

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

It’s Friday night, and the mood is right.  Gonna have some fun, show you how it’s done, TGIF.

Actually, it’s Friday night and the mood is grim.  It’s been a long day and an even longer week and I’m trying to get myself off the couch and out the door to a game night with friends.  This shouldn’t be that much of a challenge — one of my favorite girlfriends is coming to pick me up, we’re going all of 5 minutes away, and I get to bring Apples to Apples.  But ever since I became a mom, and especially since I became the mom of many, it has been practically impossible for me to keep up anything resembling a social life.  It’s not that I don’t have super awesome amazing hilarious ridiculously great friends, or that they don’t do super great fantastic things… I think it’s just that I’m so damn tired.

What about you?  Are you better at striking a parent/person balance than I am?  Tell me about it in the poll below:

-Meryl at the Goose

P.S.  Don’t feel bad if you chose the third answer — that just means you get to spend your evenings reading this blog, and really, what could be more fun that that?

In honor of last night’s Academy Awards show, we present a very special formalwear edition of the Look of the Week, starring three-year-old Felix.

With his twinkling eyes and tousled hair, Felix arrived at our shoot with a roguish grin and an unimpressed attitude — the same one we’ve seen from the likes of Hugh Grant and Russell Crowe for years of red carpets.  Even when presented with his Mama Goose Oscar (Three Men in a Tub by Northstar Toys), Felix maintained a breezy air, as though completely unable to fathom what all the fuss was about.

Of course, we know the fuss was about his size 2 Janie & Jack dress pants ($6.95), Old Navy button down (size 2, $1.95) and navy Gap blazer (size 2, $7.95), not to mention Felix’s timeless good looks (and Stride Rite dress shoes — size 8w, $9.95.)  Check out the pics below, and you’ll know why Felix is my pick for this year’s Future Heartthrob statuette.

That boy’s got to thank the academy of cuteness when he accepts his award… and his mama.   I always love when they thank their mamas.

-Meryl at the Goose

Road Trippin’

February 28, 2011

Road trips are fun, but fun is exhausting

Ahh, the school vacation road trip:  this poor mom’s attempt at evading the winter break blues even though she can’t pack up her family and jet off to Fiji, like she wishes she could.  So, I packed three boys and two suitcases into my pick-up truck, and we hit I-81.

Now, I love a road trip.  Instead of a traditional honeymoon, Bailey (Mr. Blogling) and I packed all of our necessary worldly possessions into a Honda Element and drove around the country for four months.  Life is a highway; I want to drive it all night long.  But this road trip was a first: I was the only parent present and outnumbered by kids 3:1, and that off-kilter ratio led to a bunch of rookie road trip mistakes:

1)  Poorly-timed Potty Breaks.

As someone who has spent the lifetime with a love of water and a tiny bladder, I refuse to deny anyone the chance to visit a restroom.  However, after forgetting to monitor the liquid intake of my passengers, I found myself stopping at almost every rest stop we passed.  With so many stops, it took an extra hour to get to and from our destination, providing extra time for:

2) Serious Sibling Spats

Nothing like the close quarters of a car for your kids to start driving each other (and you) totally nuts.  The particular trouble in my vehicle was an inability to get on the same page:  the big boys tease the little one, rile him up, and then decide they don’t want to play anymore, leaving me with a hyper hyperactive 4-year-old strapped into his car seat wondering why no one will tickle him back like they would three minutes ago and then wondering leads to shrieking and then I want to pull my hair out.  Awesome.

3)  Sad food choices.

Ideally, I like to load up the car with a wide variety of healthy snacks designed to last the entire ride and packed neatly in a cooler. This satisfies dual aims:  it eliminates the need to address hunger with fast food or convenience store fare, and it ensures that all parties involved will travel in nutritional comfort rather than swollen with sodium.  Unfortunately, this was a hasty departure led to a failure to pack anything edible, and the collection of empty potato chip bags and Oreo packages on the floor of my truck is a shameful reminder of that failure.

That’s just the shortlist of my most recent traveling trials, and while there were tribulations as well, I want to hear about you.  Where have you been this week?  How’d it go?  How many miles did you end up out of the way when you missed your exit and realized there wasn’t another one for what seemed like hours and it was snowing and you ended up crying to a toll booth operator because you didn’t have 35 cents?  (Or was that just me?)

-Meryl at the Goose

Four amazing local teachers, clockwise from top-left: Chris Bell of Fall Creek Elementary, Becca Rodomsky-Bish of New Roots, Kathleen Holton of Fall Creek and Anne Modlin of South Hill

It’s the week of February vacation, and that means different things for different folks.  Some jet off to warmer climates, others hunker down and try to make some creative childcare arrangements for the week.  Thanks to the Ithaca/Tompkins County Convention & Visitors Bureau, though, everyone can use this school vacation as an opportunity to think about the people taking a hard-earned break this week: our teachers.

With the members of my brood distributed among three different schools, we have wonderful educators touching our lives on a daily basis, and I know we’re not alone.  The teachers pictured above are just a few of the many doing incredible things for children.  Geneva Moreland, daughter of Kelly Goose, recently participated in the School of Rock band led by Chris Bell, pictured above. Becca Rodomsky-Bish, having recently completed a unit on composting, has my eighteen-year-old convinced that he’s going to be a millionaire worm farmer.

Teachers can make a difference in ways no one else can, and that’s the motivation behind Ithaca Loves Teachers week.  Teachers and other school personnel can register for a V.I.T.  (Very Important Teacher) pass to display at local businesses and events throughout the week to obtain special teacher-only deals and promotions.

At Mimi’s Attic, a V.I.T. pass will get you a handmade piece of chocolate from Life’s So Sweet.

At Mama Goose, V.I.T. pass-holders who spend $15 will receive a free children’s book of his or her choice.

Those are just two of the many, many, many extra special things available to teachers this week.   I, for one, am grateful that the entire town is taking this week to say thank you all together.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

In the midst of this official Teacher Appreciation event, is there a specific teacher you’d like to thank?  Please do so in the comments below.

-Meryl at the Goose