Categories
DIY Life

Habitat for Humanity: Learning and Giving Back

I am concrete, detailed learner, so playing around and figuring things out on my own does NOT work for me. I need a lot of hand-holding and specific step-by-step instructions. Naturally, I am drawn to classes, manuals, and the “watch others and imitate” method.

One day when I was researching local classes online, I browsed the Habitat for Humanity site and clicked on “Volunteer”. There under the list of events was a special day designated as “Women Build.” This seemed like a great opportunity to pick up some handy-woman skills, at the same time do something nice for others. Win-win!

I was a bit naive about what Habitat for Humanity was all about. I thought it was something that you did on a church mission trip, driving to the Appalachians for a month and building one house in the middle of nowhere. In reality, there are Habitat homes and developments almost everywhere, often in the middle of developed cities and neighborhoods. Chances are there is one within 30 minutes of you.

It was an interesting day and I met a lot of really nice people. However, there was a lot of standing around. I’m sure the site managers are used to their regular volunteers coming in, picking up their tools, and getting to work without needing many directions. We, on the other hand, were a room full of women – many first-timers – who had no idea what to do or how to do it. I learned that to fit in at this particular site, you need the confidence to step right in and not wait to be told what to do (definitely not my strong point).

But there were a lot of things I did learn on my first day of volunteering for Habitat:

  • Drilling a concrete drill bit with an impact driver into the concrete foundation of a house makes your entire body shake for 15 minutes afterward.
  • Carrying insulation in shorts and a t-shirt makes you itch. A lot.
  • Snakes can pop out of dirt piles at very inopportune moments. There are no pictures of this because I was too busy running away and screaming like a 6-year-old girl.

Most of all I learned that Habitat does not give their homes away, but sells them to hard-working and deserving families who, for one reason or another, have fallen on hard times and truly want the opportunity to turn their lives around. They have proven employment, attend classes on financial management, and are required to log hundreds of hours volunteering with the construction of their own home and others. On the day I volunteered, there was a Habitat couple there who are homeowners in the community. They met their hourly requirement MONTHS ago, but still show up every weekend to build because, according to the husband, “I can’t sit on my couch looking out my window at other people helping when so much has been given to us.”

Wow.

I also learned that giving back is about so much more than showing up on a worksite for a few hours one day and hammering a couple of nails. I’ve got a long way to go before I can say that I’m a committed volunteer, but I’m looking forward to going back.

And next time, NO SNAKES.

Categories
Life

“Swimwear for moms”?

I got a press release today from the folks at Lynnina, a new swimwear manufacturer founded by Lynn Werner, who is described in the release as “a California-based mom who wanted to create a chic swimsuit alternative that delivered style, coverage, and comfort”. Lynnie’s debut swimwear line “features boardshorts in a variety of colors and prints, with complementary mix and match tops…that ensure that unsuitable suits never get in the way of a cool dip on a hot day or splashing around with your kids at the pool.”

I sooooo want to support Lynn and momtrepreneurs in general, but oh sweet Lord, these suits are FUG. Check them out:

If Mom’s Jeans were swimsuits, I’m afraid these would be them. Even these cute, skinny models look dumpy in them. Bleech. No. Freaking. Way.

Even though I do it all the time, it makes me sad that the word “mom” is so often associated with the pejorative. Ugly jeans are “mom jeans”, big ‘ol, unsexy minivans are too “mom”, etc. I know there’s this whole “hot moms” movement, complete with books and television pilots and skinny celebs who grace the covers of Us Weekly looking Victoria’s Secret runway-ready an hour after giving birth, but you know the female image that comes to mind when “mom” is uttered isn’t JLo. More like Patricia Heaton’s character on “Everybody Loves Raymond”.

Just the other day, I was in the workout wear store Lucy with Momtourage member Dana, and she was encouraging me to try on a pair of Lucy pants that she loves. They were cute and quite comfortable. However, they gave off a “this is as put together as I could get today – some workout wear/exercise clothes” vibe to me that I immediately associated with “mom” – and not in a good way. When I asked Dana if they were too “mom” she was like, “Um, I’ve got news for you, Chels – we are.” True, but does that mean we have to sacrifice attractiveness/style because we have kids? I refuse.

I know my body’s not the same as it was before I had kids, and thankfully, there are some pretty hot-looking Miraclesuits and Spanx swimwear options out there. But this crap? Kinda feeling like it’s an insult to moms everywhere. Lynn, honey, give us a little more credit! Or at least some better colors and patterns.

Categories
Life

My Perfect Mother’s Day Menu

So Mother’s Day is a whopping 2 days away, and other than a family BBQ in the afternoon (no different than any other Sunday, really), we have no plans. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Why? Because I’m in charge, of course, and it’s been the last thing on my mind. I plan my birthdays and those of everyone else in this household, so I shouldn’t be surprised — but I’m drawing a blank. I have no idea what I want to do, although I could list upwards of 10 things I don’t want to do, like laundry, dishes, nap time, and bath time.

Categories
Food review Life Recipe

A Great Sauerkraut

With St. Patricks Day around the corner, I thought I’d share with you an awesome Sauerkraut my husband discovered. It’s very delicious and yes, a bit more expensive, but ever so worth it.

Categories
Life

International Women’s Day

So today is International Women’s Day. It is celebrated all over the world and has been observed since the early 1900′s. There have been many struggles and achievements reached by all different women in our past. Clara Zetkin, who was a leader of the Women’s Office for the Social Democratic Party in Germany, came up with the idea of an International Women’s Day. In 1910, she proposed that every year there should be a celebration on the same day in every country to press for women’s demands. This idea sprung from the oppression and inequality women were feeling in the early 1900′s because of hours they worked, the pay they received, and voting rights.

Categories
Life

Obesity is on the Rise — But So is Meditation

I love Deepak Chopra. I mean, how could you not? Just listening to the sound of his voice is so soothing, calming, and grounding — not to mention what comes out of his mouth. His “spiritual solutions,” meditations, and even just basic responses to interview questions all seem so simple, and yet he is where he is because his musings are, arguably, genius.

Categories
Life

Responsible Entertaining — Ways to Show You Care

There’s always room to improve — I would still make a few tweaks for next year — but overall the party was a great success, people raved about the food and there were very few leftovers (although we did enjoy them and I polished off the last bit of cake just yesterday). All the guests but 1 were able to make it, and I think also because of all the planning we did cleanup was a cinch. When you plan and execute from a thoughtful place, it shows in many ways.

Categories
Life

French Me, Baby — My Long-Time Obsession

While some of you may know that I am a fluent Spanish speaker (I often get mistaken for a native Argentinean), my interest in languages goes way past Castilian Spanish — I’ve also studied French quite extensively, dabbled in a little Portuguese, can throw out a few random words in German and once decided that Russian would be my next venture. With Spanish under my belt for years now, however, the French language has always sort of been that beautiful dress in the window for me, so delicate and stunning, yet where would I wear it? How can it be of use to me? Can I be the woman in that dress? I don’t have anyone with who I can practice my French; there are no French bakeries in my neighborhood (probably a good thing) and with all the other things going on in my life studying the philosophy that The French Do Everything Better isn’t always at the top of my priorities list.

Categories
Life Thoughts

Happy Easter

It’s Saturday, today we have one of my son’s little buddy’s birthday parties, Sunday is Easter and a big family dinner also means leftovers. (Not to mention I’m pregnant, emotional, hormonal, and exhausted.)

Categories
Life Thoughts

A poor reflection

Ah, how times have changed.

Are you a museum-goer? Do you appreciate the finer things in life, like old oil paintings, black and white photography, American history? I’ve never been too big of an art buff, but one thing is clear and often cited when looking back over the life works of portrait artists from around the globe: