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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Colin and I are engaged!

Colin and I were friends for most of our four years in college. Freshman year went so fast, sophomore year zoomed by and my first semester passed like a blink of the eye when I ‘studied abroad’ in Hawaii…I got back to Merrimack for our second semester and we lived in Santagati, right next door to Colin and our other guy friends. That’s when my big, fat crush started! I thought Colin was the most handsome guy ever, and I always gushed over him to the girls (and they made fun of me, because I’m a huge nerd!) The rest of junior year passed and I didn’t think it would ever happen…

Then, senior year came. We became better friends, and by January he finally came around — I knew he had a crush on me too! By March, we were dating and we’ve been inseparable ever since.

After graduation we both had big plans — Colin was off to a one-year graduate school program at Lehigh in PA and I was off to volunteer for a year in Chicago. There I was, finally in love with such an amazing guy, and we had spend the year very far apart. It was really hard — every time we visited each other and then had to go back to our respective states, I lost it! To this day airports can still make me weepy-eyed (again…huge nerd!) But I knew if we could make it through a full year apart that we were good to go.

And now here we are…engaged!

This past Thursday – during the day – Colin asked me if I wanted to go to dinner after work. I thought, ummmm yes! After a long, busy day of work  I was totally game. I got home to my apartment and Colin showed up just a few minutes later. I was going to change for dinner and before I did Colin told me he had something I could “accessorize with” and started laughing. I was confused, but intrigued. Then, all of the sudden, he was on his knee telling me he asked my father, got my families’ blessing and wanted to know if I would marry him.

I feel like I totally blacked out after that, but I do remember running around the room like a fool and then, obviously saying yes! It was such an amazing, special moment. After Colin slipped the (beautiful, if I do say so myself!) ring on my finger, we popped open the bottle of champagne my best friend Mary gave me a couple years ago (she told me to save it for the day I got engaged) and made all the fun phone calls to tell our friends and family. Everyone knew and kept the secret from me! Such sneaks!

Afterward, we had a fabulous dinner at Salvatore’s and Meg stopped by for a bit to celebrate with us – she even treated us to dinner!

This past weekend I went out with my girlfriends Friday night to share the excitement with them, and then Saturday Colin, Meg, Matt and I headed up to Vermont to celebrate with Colin’s family. I was sitting on the couch enjoying the appetizers Saturday evening gearing up for the delicious meal Mrs. T was cooking up, when BAM! My Mom, Dad and Grandfather appeared out of nowhere! They drove all the way from Long Island up to Vermont to surprise me! I was ecstatic! It was the best weekend ever. :)

I could really babble on and on about Colin and how much I love him, but I won’t do that to you all. I will tell you though, that he is my best friend and I am currently the happiest girl in the world. I am so ready and so excited to embark on this journey with him. I am also so lucky because I love the Temple’s like my own family, and my family loves Colin like he’s one of us. It’s a wonderful match all around!

Engaged for about 3 minutes!

Our champage courtesy of Mary, one of my best buds!

Look what they did for me at work on Friday (the day after we got engaged)...SO nice!

Hanging at the Temple's in VT!

So fun!!!

Obsessed with this now!!! Deeeelicious!

The amazing bottle of wine my pops brought!

The ring! Woohoooo

Mrs. T's FAB cooking!

Skip's wonderful salad :)

Some of the fam <3

Skip serving everyone their dinner :)

SO Good!

I LOVE THESE SOOO MUCH

"Papachodies" as my Grandpa was calling them! hahah

Tasty treat

Love birds xoxo

So happy!

Showing off the bling!

Yay presents!

Mom and Skip!

A lovely breakfast on Sunday at Sugar and Spice

Sugar and Spice

YUM

Some fab pictures from Mrs. T:

Martha, Skip, Colin and I :)

Having a grand 'ol time!

Col and Coll

Par!

Par in VT!

Still can't believe you guys came all the way up to VT! I LOVE YOU!

Love this pic! hahah

Stay tuned for the wedding plans…..

Adam + Rihanna = BFF

This past weekend blurred from business trip in Philly into beach, friends, heat, and the Atlantic Beer Garden. I got back from Philly on Saturday morning around 10am then went right down the street to the beach with Colin, Phil, and Reid. Then Liz and Kelly met up with us! And then we saw some friends from Merrimack who I haven’t seen since graduation, which was so nice! Busy day at the beach. :)

Ze beach

Attention ladies...if interested in a date with Phil, I am now accepting applications

Same goes for Reid…


Saturday was beautiful out, not a cloud in the sky. Luckily there was even a breeze, thank the dear Lord. After a while we were getting ancy (and hungry!) so we went back to my apartment and grilled up some delicious burgers and had a few beers. After eating I was full from Colin’s grilling goodness plus I was burnt and wiped out from the sun so I took a wonderful, glorious, refreshing nap.

When I finally crawled out of bed we got ready and headed to the Atlantic Beer Garden. What a fun place! There were a ton of people lined up outside when we got there and lucky for us Colin spotted DJ Wyatt who we all went to Merrimack with. He brought us in with him so we skipped out on the line – and believe you me, we all felt pretty cool doing it.

We sipped, we danced, we laughed, Kelly met a few potential suitors, we danced some more, and then it was time to go home! This place is a good time, the rooftop is perfection fyi.

Siblings!

Lots of people lined up

Kelly's friend!

Yay for friends!

Tearin it up

Phil's bustin moves

Sunday was deathly hot. Seriously. Colin and I were sitting in my apartment with no AC about to kill each other because the heat was making both of us extra irritable. It wasn’t pretty. We fled to his apartment for shelter and AC. We both cheered up immediately.

Another lucky thing happened – Sunday night, Colin made me a delicious steak dinner with baked sweet potatoes and green beans. It was amazing, he did such a great job!

My baby steak, Colin's big boy steak

Nice pose! haha, look at those baby blues!

One arm picture taking style

YUM

mmmm mmmm mmm

Last night Megan, Lisa and I went up to NH to meet Mrs. O and her friends MaryJo and Fran to help with the wedding programs for the church as well as the table numbers, etc. I can’t post the pictures I took of those (because they’re a surprise!) but I do have a few other photos from the night. We had such a great time! :)

The magic machine!

We had amazing white chocolate cheesecake with caramel for dessert

We’re leaving for the wedding exactly one week from today. I COULD NOT BE MORE EXCITED!

Last but not least – Rihanna was spotted at the Red Sox/Dodger game in Boston over the weekend (she is said to be dating Matt Kemp, outfielder for the Dodgers.) My friend Adam was at the game and caught this pic -

Rihanna and Adam BFFL

Night!

The ‘Best Effort’ Award

I gave myself an award this weekend. In the ‘Running Category’ I received the ‘Best Effort’ award (hey, you gotta do what you gotta do to stay motivated…)

Wow, I am shocked! What an honor this is! I never thought I would be accepting the ‘Best Effort’ award. Jeekers, I didn’t even prepare a speech or anything. Well, I couldn’t have done this on my own that is for damn sure. I have so many people to thank. I’d like to thank God along with the Academy. First, I’d like to thank Colin for always giving me great pep talks and for showing me some good stretches this weekend. I’d like to thank Matthew for giving me advice (he is a pro at running), my fabulous parents, my siblings, Meg, Mary, Heather, Nuge, Christine, LVP, the Temples for the extra encouragement, Lady (the dog) for licking me while I was stretching, the people who honked and waved at me while I was running and the cool breeze for keeping me from keeling over. Thanks to Fitness Magazine for their amazing half marathon training schedule! Also, let’s not forget those people who were following me my whole run – Fatman Scoop, Rihanna, The Black Eyed Peas, Miranda Lambert, Timbaland, Ke$ha, LMFAO, Stevie Wonder, Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, y’all my peeps. This was a team effort, so THANK YOU ALL!

I ran 11 miles yesterday, with no walking, and under 9 minute miles. I am so happy with my run yesterday, I can’t even fully explain. I didn’t want to run AT ALL, it was rainy and gross which made me just want to sit on the warm, comfy couch and catch up on the DVR. But, I knew if I did not run the 11 miles, that I would have a real tough time at the half marathon next weekend. I kept delaying all day yesterday. Colin motivated me by asking, ‘You know what the difference between good and great is?’ No, what? ‘Doing something when you don’t want to do it. Anyone can do something when they want to do it.’ Very true. I’m going to keep those words with me this week.

This is how I felt:

Lady

Anyway, Matt showed me a great loop to do, so I had half of an avocado + a Kashi Go Lean crunchy chocolate and caramel bar, drank some water, put on my gear, downloaded some new tunes, stretched it out with Colin, and got on the road.

I felt good the whole run, which kept me feeling pumped up. Everytime that devil appeared on my shoulder urging me to walk, I checked in with myself, ‘Does anything hurt?’ ‘No’, ‘Are you still breathing okay?’ ‘Yes’, ok then – shut up devil, I’m running.

When I was done I felt like this:

But, my foot felt like this:

Because of this:

Sorry, I realize that picture is both TMI as well as relatively disturbing, but it is necessary to show in order to prove my commitment to running. I got the blister half way through my run which kind stunk but it kept my legs from feeling completely numb which I think is a good thing…. Colin and I are going to go to New Balance after church to look into new sneakers. I really should have thought about getting new sneakers when I first started training but I’m a fool and didn’t. I’m not sure if it is the best idea to get new sneakers with only a week till the half marathon but I guess I’ll ask the people at New Balance… If you have any thoughts/suggestions on this I welcome them.

The other day I was talking to someone about the New Balance ‘love/hate relationship with running’ commercials. I think almost every runner can identify with this. I know I can!!!

So, the race is next weekend and I’m getting more excited rather than nervous! My mom is coming up to Boston on Friday to ride up to VT with Colin and I, my dad will be in England this week for work (as long as he gets on a flight!) so he will fly into Boston next weekend, then up to Burlington. Meg and Matt, along with his parents will be coming up to VT on Saturday and Colin’s parents will already be there of course! It’s going to be a lot of fun and I am so thankful that Matt will be running the race as well and that all our family will be there cheering us on. :)

Other than running yesterday, we also went to Merrimack last night to hang out with Colin’s sister Liz and her friends. We kept saying we will definitely come hang out/drink with them before they graduate and it’s already halfway through April! They’re graduating in a month! So we decided last night was the perfect night to make good on our promise. We headed over there around 8, Liz had made sauce and Colin made the dough + pizzas. We ate, drank, played games and had fun! It’s always funny to be back on campus and I think that was our last time ever! Once Liz graduates I just don’t think it will be acceptable for Colin and I to go back. Miiiight be a little creepy….

Friday night I went out with some co-workers after work for some drinks. We decided to go over to Faneuil Hall. First try was McCormicks and Schmicks – too crowded, next stop Kitty O’Sheas – dead, third stop McFaddens – decent amount of people, plus Nicole scored a table = win for McFaddens (even though I truly, truly dislike McFaddens. Sorry if I’m offending anyone.) We had a such a great time at McFaddens that we decided to continue on to Hennessy’s around 9:15ish to see Fast Times, the best 80’s cover band ever. My friends and I used to pretty much stalk them in college and had way too much fun doing it. It was great to see them but a little weird without my girls!

Overall, a very good Friday night.

We’re heading to church in a little bit, then New Balance. Later, I’m meeting up with Nuge and Christine for dinner. I can’t wait to see them and catch up!

Hope you have a wonderful Sunday :)

I’ll leave you with a few little tid bits -

  • Twitter is awesome:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/16/technology/16twitter.html?hpw

  • Unemployment rate falling in MA:
  • The Material Girl herself approves of the all Madonna episode of Glee:

http://www.usmagazine.com/moviestvmusic/news/madonna-rates-glees-all-madonna-episode-brilliant-2010164

To all those running the Boston Marathon tomorrow: you are extremely impressive, I admire you, you should be proud of yourselves and I wish you all the best of luck! I give you my ‘Best Effort’ award!

 

Congratulations Ricky!

We just got back from a Merrimack Sports Medicine fundraiser at a restaurant in North Andover. Colin’s sister Elizabeth is a Sports Med major so we were going to support the fam. It was pretty crowded –  I saw some people we graduated with which was really nice. Highlight of the evening – Colin’s mother won a helicopter ride along the coast of MA, their neighbor/family BFF won two bottles of wine, and Liz won a lovely gift certificate to Harrison’s (the roast beef place.) Liz obviously cheated, which is wrong.

In other news, Vampire Weekend will be in Boston this Thursday April 1st at the Orpheum Theatre, Tremont Street. Tickets are still available (pretty expensive though. They’re a great band, but I don’t know if they’re that great…)

More information here – http://ticketstumbler.com/vampire-weekend/2010-4-1/vampire-weekend-272650/

Some good ‘running for beginners’ questions answered here from Women’s Healthhttp://ow.ly/1sk20

Also, download some free (and amazing) workouts here from Women’s Healthhttp://ow.ly/1sjXy

Congratulations to Ricky Martin! Sorry to burst your bubble buddy, but we knew you were gay even before the video for ‘Livin’ la Vida Loca’ came out. Hey, Congratulations anyway! http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20355546,00.html

Some tips on sleeping soundly from Self Magazine – http://www.self.com/magazine/tips/tip-of-the-day_20090727

Luckily I don’t need any tips to help me sleep soundly. I’m so exhausted, once my head hits the pillow I’ll be snoring.

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 –  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!  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.

C is for Camo, Coors and Classiness

Did you step foot outside over the weekend? If so, I think it’s safe to assume your shoes are probably still wet (unless they’re Gore-tex boots. Mine are not.) and you might possibly have a broken umbrella now in the trash. It was crazy out there!

Unfortunately we didn’t get to run in our race this weekend due to the rain, so that was a bummer. We were planning on it even if it were raining lightly, but it was really coming down so we decided it just wasn’t worth getting ourselves sick over. So Colin and I went to 9:30 mass (we were a few minutes late because of Daylight Savings – it’ll getcha.) Then we rushed over to Newton to drop off Colin’s car then headed to the Southie parade. The rain might stop you from running, but it doesn’t stop you from having fun.

We took the Green line from Newton to Park St., we then took the Red line from Park to Broadway. We figured we would probably be able to grab a cab to get to our friends party. We figured wrong. We decided to just go for it – couldn’t do much else. We power walked a nice little 2 mile walk in the teeming rain. And not to brag or anything – but I’m gonna brag – we didn’t even utter one complaint to each other while trekking! We had our game faces on and nothing was stopping us.

Camo + moustache + 30 of Coors = Colin keepin’ it classy

The party we went to was so much fun – always good to see our friends from Merrimack. It’s so hard getting together now, everyone is so busy being ‘grown-ups’. You have to plan so far in advance to see each other. What happened to living in the same building, just down the hall from one another?

The trek back to Newton wasn’t as joyful as our earlier trek. I was tired, cold, wet, hungry… the list could go on…. Luckily we found a bus took it to our friends Christine and Meaghan’s (aka The Nuge) place, got some food, hung out, then found a cab back to Newton.

Overall the day was boatloads of fun! (and rain!)

Check out some of these pictures from TheBostonChannel.com of flooding around MA. Tomorrow’s supposed to be sunny with a high of 51. I’ll believe it when I see it.

http://www.thebostonchannel.com/weather/19995625/detail.html?treets=bos&tid=26511418836813&tml=bos_12pm&tmi=bos_12pm_1_11000103152010&ts=H

On a rainy day such as today what would be better than a movie? The Coolidge Corner Theatre is showing Best in Show at 7pm tonight, tickets are $9.75.

*I wrote about Stoddards Fine Food & Ale the other day. Quick correction… It is not yet opened. They are hoping to have their official opening Thursday, March 18th.*

Restaurant Week in Boston is March 14-19 and March 21-26. A TON of GREAT restaurants are participating – for a full list see here: http://ow.ly/1l5KZ. For a 3-course dinner you pay $33.10, some restaurants are even offering 2-course lunches for $15.10 or 3-course lunches for $20.10! It’ll be busy so save yourself some time by making reservations online through OpenTable.com. We are trying to decide which restaurants we’re going to go to – our top choices are Flemings, Capitol Grille, Strega, Tresca, Smith & Wollenskys. Wish we could go to all of them!

Other exciting food news, Finale is doing a chocolate/wine tasting tomorrow from 6:30pm-8pm at 1306 Beacon Street, Coolidge Corner (617) 232-3233, reservations required. More info here: http://www.finaledesserts.com/events.php

Colin sent me an interesting quiz today, http://kiplinger.com/quiz/financial_fluency/index.html?qid=24 to test your financial fluency. I got a 50 – terrible! Looks like I have to brush up on my stocks/bonds/savings/retirement knowledge. Luckily I’m taking a 2 week course all about the stock market in April, so that should help a little. :) Also, here is an interesting article about the vital years for retirement planning:

http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1930805_1931673_1931666,00.html 

With that, I’ll leave you with this: Lady Gaga has said ‘yes’ to ‘Glee’

http://www.gossipcop.com/big-glee-for-lady-gaga-and-none-for-coldplay-and-bryan-adams/

I can only imagine what this will bring! Can’t wait for Glee to come back in April!