So for all my whining in an earlier post about my wedding not reflecting my core values blah blah blah (if you haven’t noticed yet I tend towards hyperbole), it was actually not a complete wash. There were still many simple components strewn amidst the non-simple (read: pricey) parts. One was that I did manage to do my wedding registry through this great site started by some college acquaintances of mine. Their premise was hey, there are VAST, UNKNOWABLE quantities of cash being thrown around at these events–maybe we can find a way to painlessly capture a bit of it for some good, lasting causes rather than having it all sunk into a cake that doesn’t even taste that good in the end (and anyway by the time it gets cut everyone is way too drunk to remember to eat it, or to remember eating it).

If you register for your wedding gifts through the I Do Foundation’s partner stores (and they have many of the biggies like Macy’s, Target, etc.), a certain percentage of the purchases go to a charity of your choice. They already have a lot of the most common/popular causes in their system, but you can also get any smaller organization you’d like approved, as long as it’s a 501(c)(3) non-profit. (For example, I raised money for the school I was working for at the time.)

You can decide if you want just the sales percentages to be donated or if you also want to “register” to allow people to give donations as gifts straight to the charity. We offered that option, too, and were thrilled that some people took that route. You can also donate yourself in lieu of favors (which I realize many people do anyway without the website, but I like the way that using I Do Foundation tied it all together for guests as one cohesive start-to-finish approach).

In the end I think we raised about $1800 for our “cause”–a completely respectable chunk of change that would otherwise have just sort of “vanished” into big box stores and shopping malls. Woot!

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Keep it simple, stupid!

March 21, 2009

I am a simple lady. Although in recent years I have given in and started paying more than $10 for my haircuts, and I have tried to invest more time in accessorizing according to the Friday night admonishments I receive from Stacy and Clinton (my kicky Kate Spade purse has pink lining, people!), I still can be found without makeup many days of the week and I can’t ever seem to keep more than one pair of jeans in the house that I actually feel comfortable wearing in public.

I tell you this so that you have some context when I try to explain how woefully unprepared I was three years ago when I passed from the uncomplicated, carefree bliss of single womanhood into the mystical, surprisingly intractable social construct that is WEDDING PLANNING. When I had bothered to envision this momentous step of my life at all, I assumed it would go like most things in my world. My husband-to-be and I would keep it simple, map out some general plans, make a few phone calls, and make it happen. Little did I know that weddings are this living, breathing entity with a mind of their own, and that if you are ill-prepared or not paying attention (or are an overwhelmed and exhausted inner-city teacher), your low-key celebration can turn into a recipe for bridezilla mania!

This is not to say that I don’t now appreciate having a Kitchen-Aid handy and all, it’s just that if I could have a do-over, I would have invested more time and vigilance into ensuring that the festivities bucked more of the typical “wedding” stereotypes and reflected more clearly a few of my own core values. But you can’t have a do-over (well, not if you’re really into your current husband, which I am). What I realized I DID have, however, was another chance with the next BIG event in the average woman’s life—the arrival of the first baby.

This time I would be prepared! I would take charge and preemptively simplify at every step possible. I started by trading my high-stress 60-hour-per-week teaching job for some low-stress part-time desk-work (like, is this even WORK?). Then I decided the next step would be avoiding at all costs having a baby shower that would drown me and my growing belly in the tell-tale piles of boxes, bows and ribbons that to me scream, “AMERICAN BABIES MUST HAVE ONE OF EVERYTHING IN THE BABIES-R-US STORE IF THEY ARE TO SURVIVE IN A WORLD OF UNCERTAINTY! WE WILL SHIELD THEM FROM THE CHAOS BY MAKING SURE THEY ARE SURROUNDED BY AS MANY TOP-OF-THE-LINE PLASTIC PRODUCTS AS POSSIBLE!”

Thus it was that when I became pregnant, I began announcing EARLY and OFTEN to anyone who was listening or just had the unfortunate luck to be within earshot that I would only be accepting reused and recycled items as baby gifts. To ensure that my wishes were actually followed and that my friends and family didn’t think I was just making idle threats, I made a website explaining as much that could also double as a bootleg “registry” for said used items.

Nearly ten months later, and with everything ready for the new baby, I can proudly say the sum total of “brand new” supplies in my house would probably fit inside two grocery bags. Absolutely everything else has been handed-down, re-gifted, bought at a thrift or consignment store, or lent to us by friends who jumped at the chance to free up storage in their house until their next newborn comes along.

But gathering supplies was just the beginning! Now I’ve got a living, breathing, pooping-machine whose sole purpose on this earth right now seems to be generating dirty clothes and diapers faster than I can even get them off her little body. (Question: how can something so tiny emit so many fluids simultaneously out of so many orifices?!)

So, welcome to my blog, a chronicle of a first-time mom’s part-time pursuit to find cheap, simple ways to lighten her adorable offspring’s imprint on the world.