Sunday, November 24, 2013

Keep Those Toes Toasty with Merryweather Outdoors

Merryweather Outdoors, an Ithaca based business run by Susan Mann has mission to make children’s outdoor wear that keeps kids WARM and DRY and FOCUSED ON FUN. We love spending time outdoors, but come the cold weather, it’s always a challenge to think of how to dress toddlers and preschoolers so that they stay warm. Its not a lot of fun playing outside with cold hands or cold feet. And winter boots for this age group can be particularly intimidating – heavy, hard-soled, stiff and uncomfortable. Sue says “As a South African I grew up outside – we had to be cajoled inside for meals.” That love of the outdoors is something that she wanted to pass along to her son. “I’ve come to love winter – it can be so magical – but that first winter with Luke, we couldn’t find appropriate footwear that would actually keep him warm. Everything we could find was just your standard winter boot downsized to a baby – that didn’t work for us”. The Merryweather infant winter boot system is the product of Susan's first winter as a mother. It is an adaption of the Inuit mukluk concept, which Sue’s outdoor-educator, Canadian, winter-loving husband had introduced her too. “Once we had some footwear we felt actually worked, we went skiing, sledding, snow-shoeing, ice-skating, snow-man building and yes – even overnight winter camping in a snow cave – and baby and all had warm and toasty feet all the time."

Merryluks, Cabin Booties and Super Socks can be worn separately or layered to create the perfect protection for indoors or outdoors. Merryluks are flexible, adjustable and waterproof, not to mention CUTE!

You can learn more about this fabulous local company at and check out the Merryluk boot system in person at Jillian's Drawers, Bloom or Mama Goose.

Monday, November 18, 2013

How can I tell if a movie, TV show, book or game is appropriate for my child?

Every parent makes choices about how their child consumes media, and what they are allowed to watch or read. But how can you learn what is appropriate for your child without having to watch or read everything in advance? Common Sense Media to the rescue!

I discovered this website when I was looking for a longer movie to watch with my daughter. A couple of friends had recommended Finding Nemo, a perfectly appropriate movie for some 4-year-olds to watch with their parents, but we quickly discovered that it was not right for OUR 4-year-old. Our daughter was extremely sensitive to tense situations in movies and TV shows, and she was terrified for the poor little fish who seemed to get into one harrowing situation after another. Hoping to find something longer than 22 minutes that we could enjoy together, I Googled "age appropriate movies" and came up.

This website is run by a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization, providing trustworthy information and tools as well as an independent forum, so that families can have a choice and a voice about the media they consume. Common Sense Media rates movies, TV shows, books, music and apps. An expert reviewer gives their opinion on the content and gives the media a sliding scale rating of how appropriate it is for what ages and why. Content is rated using criteria including educational value positive messages, positive role models, violence & scariness, sexy stuff, language, consumerism and drinking, drugs, & smoking.

On top of the expert opinion, parents can give their opinions as well. While these user opinions are not always helpful, they are sometimes very insightful. I've chosen to skip certain shows that the expert mentioned would be fine because of parent comments along these lines, "While I see how this movie can be fine for some kids of this age, my sensitive child was very scared of the witch that appears half way into the movie."

I have not used the website for media other than TV or movies, and not all shows are represented on the site, but in short, Common Sense Media can be a very useful tool for parents and caregivers.


Friday, November 8, 2013

Beautiful, affordable portraits...for a good cause

Looking for a beautiful but affordable portrait drawing? LACS student Aylin Erkan is offering drawings on a Sliding donation scale $15-$30 with the proceeds going to her class's French trip. Wouldn't this make a great gift for grandma? Or yourself? Make an appointment with Aylin at