Monday, December 10, 2012

Another Shopping Update

While still frustrating, finding American-made Christmas presents gets slightly easier when I branch out from children's clothes to children's toys. Slightly.

Turns out classic toys like the Slinky and Silly Putty are still made in America. America still makes your basic deck of cards. Certain I Spy and Doctor Suess books were produced here. And organic Play Clay and assorted activity kits can be found here.

For a list that includes wooden blocks, plastic trucks, fairy costumes, stuffed toys etc, check this out: http://toysmadeinamerica.com/

I can afford to spend weeks searching for a single gift for a child that was produced in America. Somehow, I doubt that many middle/working class parents have the time, energy, or extra cash. I suppose that's why the Walmart parking lot is always full.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Shopping Update

My made-in-America Christmas shopping is half over. I just ordered two children's outfits at CWDKids. Not all of their products are American made; there's a specific searchable section.

I am finding it so difficult to find children's clothes that I may stray to other sorts of gifts for the rest of my list. It's disappointing that it could be this hard to find Christmas presents that are made in America.

My search continues. Suggestions are welcome.

A suggestion to share: http://www.toysmadeinamerica.com/clothes.html

Friday, December 7, 2012

Politically Correct Christmas Shopping

Well, I have painted myself into a corner this year. Having slept through the first two weeks of the shopping season following some minor surgery and major painkillers (I'm doing fine now), I am behind in my Christmas shopping.

As of last year, I've been committed to buying American. As I only shop for children, this generally means kids clothing which is nearly impossible to find. America seems to make socks, underwear, scarves and t-shirts. Last year, I was rescued by Etsy.com, a site where you can find hand made gifts by artisans in this country.

I am not sure I have time to sort through the site's inventory or to make a purchase with enough lead time for it to be hand-made and ship by Christmas. I do still recommend the site - but I am looking elsewhere.

And in some of my searches for American-made products, I have found sites that brag of an incarcerated work force, right here on our shores! Even if I was okay with getting cheap labor from prison inmates, this is definitely a bad trend for the American worker. Forcing them to compete with cheap labor from American prisons is no better than forcing them to compete with cheap labor overseas.

So. I found this website that rates companies based on, in part, it's treatment of workers. I'm hoping to find what I'm looking for here. Until I do, I thought I'd share: http://www.free2work.org/

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Book Review: The Condition

I took this book with me to Hawaii even though the hard cover version took up most of my carry-on space. Luckily, I was not disappointed. This is the best book I've read all year.

Jennifer Haigh's novel is a family saga that reads like a post-mortem. With alternating narration, each of the five family members give their perspective on what led to the family's demise and current state. The novel's title, The Condition, seems to refer specifically to one child in the family who has been diagnosed with a rare medical condition called Turner's Syndrome. But throughout the book, it becomes clear that each family member has developed their own "condition" or way of existing that is just as much a part of their identity.

One of the most remarkable things about this book is how completely I fell in love with each character. In fact, while reading a chapter from the daughter's perspective, I could see her mother as a villain and still fall in love with the mother in the following chapter from her perspective. Somehow, I was able to see both sides without feeling inconsistent.

This was exactly the kind of book I like to read and it managed to be very easy to relate to in spite of what may seem like a too-specific story-line. The weird thing is that I sometimes felt like I was reading about my own family, even though absolutely none of the external details are the same. It's the feeling she captures so brilliantly.

I am especially excited that I found a new (to me) author whose books I can now devour!