In the wise words of Billy Madison, I’m going “Back to school, back to school, to prove to Dad that I’m not a fool.”

We all make choices on a daily basis — big ones, small ones, bad ones, good ones. I’ve recently made an important one (for me) — to go back to school this fall.

I studied Communication at Merrimack and always thought that I would end up in public relations or marketing. However, since I knew I wanted to give back to the community, I decided to join the Augustinian Volunteer Program after graduation. I was placed in a happy and vibrant Pre-K classroom on the south side of Chicago as a teacher’s aide for a year. This experience — and the children in my class — taught me more than I ever imagined. Most importantly, they opened my eyes to what teaching really is.

My Chicago buddies

My Chicago buddies

On the day of my Pre-K class’ graduation, I received the best gift I could have ever asked for — a beautiful and encouraging letter from one of my student’s mothers.

In a section of the letter it said,

“I have met a lot of teachers since I have four children, but you broke the mold and set the bar. This is definitely your calling. This one year has changed my household. I take more joy in my children. It’s sad and great to say — it’s because my daughter met a teacher who inspired her, and she came home to inspire us. She’s five — more confident, much more verbal, and a heck of a lot wiser!”

I will be forever grateful to this student’s mother and for my experience in Chicago. Even after three years when I think about happiness, I think back to my time in that special Pre-K classroom and these touching words.

What took me so long to figure all of this out?

For one — what the heck did I know when I was going into college? It’s kind of crazy to me that people expect you to choose your major in college — basically ask you what you want to do with the rest of your life — at the ripe old age of 18! When I was in college I was probably more concerned with friends and fun, rather than papers and projects. Don’t get me wrong, I was definitely worried about choosing a major and doing well in class. But I really don’t think I was mature enough to take any of it as seriously as it should have been taken (given how much my parents helped me, and how much I pay in loans each month).

That being said, I always knew that if I was going to go back to school one day I wanted to be pretty damn close to 100% sure of what I was going back for — and it takes time to figure this out. I envy people who knew what they wanted to do as soon as they popped out of the womb, but for most people this isn’t the case. I wanted to make sure I put a lot of thought into my next step in life. Maybe I’ve matured a little…

To be honest, I don’t think I was ready to teach right after my volunteer year; I needed to give marketing a chance. I knew if I didn’t I’d probably always wonder “what if?“. I never did an internship in college (probably should have), so I truly didn’t know whether I would like it or not. And it’s not even that I just didn’t ‘like’ it, (I liked some aspects of it — for example, I will always love social media!) it just hasn’t been fulfilling for me, and I crave that I guess.

Even though I’ve realized that marketing doesn’t seem to be the right fit for me, I’m happy for the time I’ve spent in the field. I’m more organized, detail-oriented, confident, and maybe a little more analytical (key word, maybe). I’ve met some amazing people along the way, and have truly gained an immeasurable amount of experience.

This year I am participating in the Fellowship grad program at Merrimack College — going back to my undergrad roots! I will be teaching in a school during the day, and taking classes after school a couple of evenings a week. In May, I will (hopefully!) be graduating with my masters in Early Childhood Education / Special Education.

Funny thing is, this May my sister Molly will be graduating from Merrimack (undergrad) as well! And that’s not all — so will our cousin, and Molly’s boyfriend. We will have to have quite the celebration. :)

It may have taken me a few years, but I finally trust and believe the words my student’s mother wrote me. I’m ready for my next adventure!

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We all got a hillbilly bone down deep inside

Country fest was this past Saturday atΒ  Gillette – it was both my first time at Gillette and my first MA Country fest (I’ve been to one in Philly a while ago.) It was a great time – I saw a ton of friends from college that I haven’t seen in a while, it was a beautiful day, and Brad Paisley was amazing (not to mention, Darius Rucker! And even though he’s a country singer now, he sang Hootie songs! We were pumped to say the least.)

Lookin' good!

Small dog

Big dog

Ashley, Liz and Matt

My girlfrands

Just lifting some weights

Pissed he got caught on the blog

Piggy back rides?

Group photo!

Hi friends!

Po Po being sneaky

Tailgating

Next up – Josh Turner! Colin surprised me with tickets, he’s the best!!!

What else makes Colin the best? A – He’s been a huge help with moving and B – He made the most delicious pasta dish (including the sauce!) for my mom, Meg and myself when my mom was up visiting! woopwoop

YUMMM

The proud cook!

PS - Don’t forget to enter the Jimmy Fund Fantasy Day at Fenway giveaway!

My first dinner party

While in Ireland I missed one of my best buddies, Christine’s birthday. So, when I got back I figured it might be nice to have all the girls over for a dinner party in honor of the birthday girl herself.

Belated, Happy Birthday X!!

Senior formal

Twinsies

80's Prom senior year

As you can see from the above photos, we know how to have fun together. Christine makes for an excellent partner in crime!

Back to the dinner party…

This was my first dinner party ever and I was pumped about it. I decided to grill some chicken, steak, shrimp and veggies paired with a big salad and got plenty of wine from Trader Joes. I marinated the chicken and steak all day, in some Sweet Baby Rays, then I marinated the shrimp in some EVOO, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper and basil (I copied Mrs. Temple on that one :).) Along with the fact that this was my first official dinner party, it was also my first time grilling all this food at once. Luckily I didn’t set anyone on fire (with the help of my sous chefs: Alana, Murph and Red) and everything tasted pretty good, if I do say so myself. Lauren (Red, LVP, etc.) made some appetizers, Nuge and Christine made desserts – s’mores and angel food cake (both amazing.) Nuge also made some martinis which were delicious! I think it was a success!

If you can't take the heat...

Umm we don't have a light out back, so Alana was my flashlight helper. Thanks Lady!

The "Grill Masters"

Shrimp and veggies

Chiiiicken

Steak

The spread

The drink station

Nuge the bahtendah extraordinaire :)

YUM

YUM again

Thanks for the help with the photos Alana!

Like I said, the night was a lot of fun – it’s always so good to get a bunch of us together to chat and catch up. It’s not as easy as it used to be when we all lived about 10 foot steps from one another in college. Thanks for coming everyone! :)

What’s your favorite dish to make for a dinner party?

The countdown is on…

It is officially 3 weeks from today till Meg and Matt’s wedding in Ireland! I can’t believe it’s coming SO soon now – it’s gonna be a blast!!! On that note, I went to the gym tonight because I truly need to be good these last few weeks – it’s crunch time baby. I’m wearing a strapless dress and my guns gotta look good you feel me?

Quick post tonight, because I am exhausted due to the Celtics

The weekend was great – Friday night a bunch of us went to Sissy K’s after work to enjoy some classy $1.50 drafts along with a dance party, felt like I was in college again. It was fun and I was even in bed by midnight, gotta love it. Saturday Colin’s parents were down helping Colin’s sister Liz move into her new apartment, so Colin and I went over to help. What a beautiful place it is! She is going to have a great time!

Afterward, we went to dinner downtown to Grill 23. It was beautiful and delicious! I ordered the Prime Flatiron steak au poivre which came with potato, cheddar & saucisson gratin – YUM. We also got mac n’ cheese, broccoli gratin, pomme frites and mashed potatoes as sides along with some red wine. We were all so full when we left! Such a lovely evening.

Sunday we went to mass and then I headed up to Andover to help Meg with some final wedding things. I literally can not believe it’s so close now! We had a nice afternoon/evening. Meg even fed me dinner and dessert, such a good big sister! I was so hungry I didn’t catch a picture of my dinner, but here is the amazing dessert Meg whipped up.

mmm mmm good

Lady was so excited to see me, and vice versa – I miss that little bugger! She recently got shaved (because she basically had dreadlocks…) so I have included ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures – just like when I got my hair done a few weeks ago. I think she might look a little funnier than me?! Maybe not…. haha :)

Before -

Shaggy and dreadlocked

After -

Hahaha poor Lady!

Little ratdog

I still love you Lady <3

Goodnight!

We’re all in this together

Today Megan and I worked on her wedding to-do list. The wedding is July 5th in Ireland. Because the wedding is in another country, you would think this would make planning for the event a major pain in the arse. However, because we have amazingly helpful cousins over there and because of the wonders of technology – we are able to get so much done, relatively stress free (key word – *relatively.)

Today on the agenda – conference call with Ireland. We Skyped with our cousins, Aisling and Fiona in Tipperary as well as our mother and father in Babylon, New York. Like we do at work – we signed into the conference call and everyone had their agenda with certain points they needed to go over. We accomplished quite a bit! Besides for Kev and Michelle chatting in the background (Mom saying, “Kevvviin, come chaat!” and Dad saying [when we were talking about getting our dresses over to Ireland] “I have to get mine there too!!”) and besides for the ambulance/police sirens coming from Ireland (my baby cousin, James’ toys) the meeting went smoothly.

Weddings boggle my mind. There are so many little details that go into planning! After going to some weddings here and there, I knew this was the case, but now actually being the maid of honor along with the sister living with the bride, I actually see how much needs to get done –Β  how much needs to be planned, to be paid for, to be picked out, etc etc etc. With everything from the cocktail hour, to the time the mass starts, to taking pictures of the bridal party – from the ‘welcome bags’, to what time people are flying in, who is picking up who, etc etc. there are millions of things to take care of. You would think you were planning and plotting to take over the world.

But honestly, I love feeling important and I love helping so what can I say? I make a damn good maid of honor.

Since the wedding is in Ireland and summer flights to Europe are INSANELY expensive, Colin and I are waiting for the magical flight gods to lower the airfare. I’ve been checking flights obsessively. It’s a gamble, we know, but we like to live our lives on the edge. We’ll let you know how that goes. Might have to rent a boat to row over to Ireland…

In workout news, today I had to drag my ass to the gym (in preparation for the 1/2 marathon. Still haven’t signed up… Need to get on that…) Once again I didn’t wanna go, and once again when I got there it wasn’t bad and when I was done I was proud of myself. Why is getting the motivation to go work out so tough? It is so easy to talk yourself out of going to the gym sometimes; ‘Hmmm looks like the refrigerator needs to be cleaned. I better do that. Can’t leave it dirty…’

After working out Colin and I went over to Kathleen and Jim’s house, the people I used to babysit for in college (they were so good to me – let me do my laundry there so I didn’t have to do it in the college laundry machines where people stole your clothes if you didn’t get there in time…They also gave me beer for my 21st birthday, they were/still are, awesome) It was great to see them and the kids – I love those kids. I’ve known the oldest since she was about two or something, and the other two kids since they were born!Β  They are getting so big, its crazy. The youngest just started potty training today, which was awesome. He went to the bathroom about 39 times – I’m pretttty sure he’s figured out the fact that if he goes to the bathroom, he’ll get candy. Also, we brought Lady – and she pooped in the house. Nice, Lady, nice.

After their house we met Colin’s sister and some of her friends out for drinks, then we went back to Merrimack with them for a little bit to hang out. It was so weird being back at the college we went to, watching the girls getting ready to go out – the whole process. That used to be us! We used to be cool! Now I work in a cube! What’s happened?? We successfully depressed every single person we came across, with our tales of the ‘real world’ – it was awesome. I think we scared some of them pretty good. Hey, everyone needs a wake up call at some point. We gave it to them early! They don’t even graduate till May!

No really – it was great seeing all them and for the two hours we were there, pretending we were in college again. Oh, the glory days…

Ok, back to wedding stuff… Colin and I are going to one of my co-workers wedding in April. Since I just joined http://renttherunway.com/, I decided I’m going to rent a dress for the wedding. It’ll save me the hassle of going out and searching for one. I need some help picking one out though! Please vote for whichever dress you like best!

So let me know which one you like the best, and I’ll wear it! Thanks in advance for the help! :)

Anyway, it’s about that time. I’m tired and gotta rest up for Palm Sunday mass – it’s a loong one.

I’m gonna leave you with this, because it makes me happy.