Sunday, September 25, 2011

Farewell, Sweet Cupcake...For Now

     For those of you who do not know this, I love cupcakes.  L-O-V-E them.  Tasty, miniature cakes with gobs of frosting and sprinkles that can be eaten in just a few bites.  Really, who couldn't love them?  And with the latest cupcakery craze sweeping through the D.C. area, I'm in heaven. 

     So you can imagine my surprise when I discovered that the geology workshop I had signed up for yesterday was being held a block away from Red Velvet Cupcakery.  Late Friday night I perused the menu online, trying to decide what flavors of cupcakes I would try.  Hazelnut Cafe was high on the list as was the Southern Belle. 

     Alas, not only did the workshop satisfy my inner science-nerd with a day of hands-on rocks and minerals activities, but it also satisfied my appetite with a huge lunch spread from a nearby Potbelly sandwich shop.  As I walked over to Red Velvet Cupcakery, I knew that I couldn't eat the cupcake.  Moreover, it suddenly seemed silly to pay $20 (plus tax) for 5 cupcakes.  Not counting a bag filled with feldspare and calcite, I went home empty handed.

     And this made me think....How much do I spend on fun but unnecessary purchases?  I've done a bit of research today, mostly on the Department of Labor's website, and here's what I've discovered:

The average American spends  $170 on soda (or pop for all of us Montanans) each year,


 an average of $165 on coffee per year,


     an average of $588 on pedicures, salon visits and the like each year,

     an average of $80 on chocolate each year,

     an average of $1349 on movies and entertainment each year,

     an average of $1332 on food outside the home each year,

     an average of $118 on books each year,

     and an average of $330 on Black Friday.


     Perhaps it's because my build in Haiti is just over a month away, but I'm feeling a bit gluttonous.  So I've decided to focus a bit more on needs rather than wants.  Cupcakes, I'm taking a sabbatical from you. 
     I encourage you to do the same.  Drink a glass of water instead of coffee or soda a couple of times a week.  Nosh on a banana instead of a chocolate bar sometimes (and it hurts me to even write those words!)  Rediscover the excitement of cooking something new at home rather than grabbing some quick take-out.  Invite some friends over for an at-home pedi party.  Visit the local library and read the book that inspired the latest movie...I think that the novel of The Help was so much more powerful than the movie.  Start making personal Christmas gifts this month.  And with the money you will save, think about donating to Habitat for Humanity Haiti (link to the right).  The need is certainly there!


Monday, September 5, 2011

I've Got a Feeling, Woo Hoo!

     My classroom library is organized, pencils are sharpened, and I just packed my lunch.  I'm ready for tomorrow!  Although I'm sad to see summer come to an end, there is something magical about the first day of school.  Children burst through the doors, brimming with excitement and hope, new beginnings and endless possibilities.  It's impossible not to get caught up. 

     As many of you already know, I've traveled to different places around the world with Habitat for Humanity.  Working on a HFH build is like the first day of school....Everyone is filled with excitement and hope, aware of new beginnings and possibilities.  And we're usually surrounded by neighborhood kids when they're not in school :)

     For those of you who aren't teachers or who haven't worked on a HFH site, I'd like to share some of this magic with you through a few photos I've taken on past builds.

Giggling boys in Guatemala

Learning Spanish playground songs in Guatemala

More giggles in Guatemala

Girl Power in Jordan

Supervisors on the Cinderblock in Jordan

My Arabic grammar teacher in Jordan

A young Hmong girl in Thailand

Future HFH homeowners in Thailand

A photo taken by a friend just returned from Haiti

     And since I'm in teacher mode again, I've got a little homework for you:  Go to the links below and learn about some children in Haiti.  Then, if you are able to do so, please donate to HFH Haiti and help bring some hope and a new beginning to a family in need.  And have a great school year!

A Haitian Dream:  I Want More For My Kids (short video clip)

Hopes of a Teenage School Girl in Port-Au-Prince (article and short video clip)