I've Got Friends in Low Places

I'd love to be able to say that I'm scraping Christmas, that we're donating all our toys to charity and planting trees on Christmas day, but yeah.  We're not doing that.  We're totally having presents this year.  I didn't go 21 years with no Christmas to start bailing on it now.  What I am doing is re-thinking my approach to it.  I'm re-evaluating what I give, the message I'm sending to my kids, my perspective if you will.

My first shift is a pledge I'm making to shop friendly.  Community-friendly.  I do not normally fuck around at all with Christmas shopping.  I have a spreadsheet for Christ's sake.  People, gifts, locations and dollar amounts are all carefully charted.  I stick to that list.  I try to create to a theme within that list.  I more or less make damn sure that list can be totally crossed off in no more than 3 stops.  You should see me grocery shop.  Efficient is the understatement of the year, yo.

This pretty much guarantees that Sears loves me come December 10th.  This year, I want to do better.  This year, I want what small amount I do end up buying make some sort of impact on my friends, my city, my community.  So I went digging.  I sat down and thought, I searched my blogroll, and you know what I realized?

My friends are pretty fucking talented people, yo.  My city is pretty freaking cool.  I can totally do this.  Here's how I plan to:

Matt, who comments here as Matt@RedSparks, and his wife Aline own a kids clothing boutique online.  They specialize in preemie clothes, but carry up to size 4.  They also carry toys, nusery decor, books, shoes, and lots more.  And they happen to be bloggers.  They started their blog and boutique after their daughter was born at 32 weeks, weighing in at 3 pounds.  They are great people to do business with, members of our blogging community, and they have excellent taste in models.

Yep, that's my kid, and this year, her big present from Santa is going to be this:

The big one is 28" long.  She is going to L.O.V.E. it, and I love that I *ahem* Santa can support my friends and thrill her all at the same time.

My god-sister Nicole also owns her own business, but hers is not so much baby oriented.  She's a jeweler, and not just any jeweler, either.  She's the kind of jeweler that once you find her, once you wear something of hers, you will start walking around saying you have a jeweler and you will never wear anyone else's jewelry ever again ever.  She's un.be.lievable.  She and her husband make every piece, start to finish, in their basement.  Everything is one of a kind, hand made, unique and original.  They tumble their own rocks, yo.

Every piece of jewelry you have ever seen on me in this blog, in real life, has been made by her.  She makes necklaces, cuff bracelets, jingly jeweled bracelet, rings, earrings, and more.  My favorite thing she makes, honestly, is her baby stuff.  3of3 has 2 bracelets made by her, one that has beads and bangles coming off of it and one a lot like this:

She'll make them customized for your kid, with whatever message you want on or in it (that one says Little Devil on the inside) and since they're about to leave for Vietnam to pick up their second daughter in a few weeks, everything she has in her Etsy shop is 40% off right now.  Believe me when I tell you that this is an amazing deal.  I'm pretty sure The Donor's assistant is getting this beauty as her gift:

Tell me that's not gorgeous.  Santa might have to bring me one, too.

Angie who keeps a blog at A Whole Lot of Nothing also has an online boutique called Good For The Kids.

Angie is a stay home mom with a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education.  Her site is all about stuff that is actually GOOD for your kids.  Amongst her weaponry are such diverse elements as toys, feeding supplies, clothes, the world's best binkie (which, in my binkie days, could ONLY be bought at hospital, you lucky dogs, you) and staged learning gear.

My daughter, who needs more stuffies like I need another hole in my head, is getting these under the tree.  And some puzzles.  Because I'm going to burn all the dolls soon, and she'll need something to fall back on.

PS: Free Shipping. Check it out.

My old neighbor Aimee who writes Greeblemonkey.com also happens to be a kick-ass photographer.  Lots of my friends are, actually, but Aimee had this great idea to make a calender of all of her best nature photos.  Ever been to Colorado?  It doesn't get much prettier than that, just sayin'.

She's selling that one her Etsy site, and what is it?  $13?  That's totally going to my mother in law.

My other old neighbor Mark Stevens (different house) went and wrote himself a little book.  That book is called Antler Dust, and it's a who-dunnit set in the Colorado high country mid winter.

The main character is actually a woman, who he loosed based off his wife, Jodi (who is shockingly radical, and I totally want to be her when I grow up.)  I have his book, I've read his book, I love his book.  It's a guy's book, told by a woman.  It's got murder, sex, intrigue, and suspense.  I had no idea some dude who served on the PTA with me had that much in him.  You can buy his book at The Tattered Cover, Amazon, and a bunch of other places.  And it totally fits in your husband's stocking.

The Olympics are coming to Vancouver in just about a year now, and don't think that the economy isn't crushing the VanOC planning committees right now.  Now, god knows I will never ever be able to afford to buy tickets to any one of the events, and no matter how much that kills me, I'm still super excited to live in an Olympic city.  My husband, he's an athlete.  The Olympics are our crack around here.  And I want to do something to support the games, so I'm getting my kids new backpacks for Christmas.

I'm buying them from the Olympic website, not the souvenir vendor in Gastown.  I'm going to pay $10 more or so a bag, but I'm going to write that $10 each off to doing what little I can do to support the games.  The kids are also getting Olympic Mascot collectors coins in their stockings, and hopefully new hoodies since they've so totally outgrown their old ones, but we'll have to wait and see on those.

I could do this all day.  Everywhere around me are these talented, inspired people and these amazing things happening in my corner of the world, and I am determined to spread a little Christmas spirit around to as many of them as I can.

Tomorrow, I'm taking the handmade challenge.  You know, if you're into that sort of thing.