Sunday, May 29, 2011

Back in the USA!

I'm just got home and it is HOT in Boston.  I big difference from when I left 10 days ago.  I had an AWESOME vacation in England.  I can't wait to share lots of pictures in my blog posts.  Make sure to check out my blog all week to read all about my vacation.  Hopefully I can get all my pictures uploaded and organized tonight and write several blog posts tomorrow. 

Oh and on my 7 hour flight home I watched 3 movies - The Tourist, How Do You Know and Country Strong (and I liked all of them).  I would never spend a day at home watching movies all day so it was fun to be able to do it on my flight home.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Thirsty Thursday

Someone once pointed out that I'm often holding a drink in pictures.  I guess these pictures gave this {very special} person the wrong idea about me. . . to be honest I'm not a regular drinker.  I do enjoys drinks especially when on vacation or out with friends but I don't drink that often.  I think when I do drink I am more "camera happy" and the result is a lot of pictures of me with drink in hand!  Ha!  So here's what I like to drink. . .

 Martinis. . .
I love martinis - the fruitier and the sweeter the better!  

Cider. . .
Especially Bulmers (known as Magners in the USA).  I love the pear flavor and apple is good too.
Strawberry was so so (they were test marketing it last year when I was in Ireland). 

Champagne. . .  
Champagne is such a fun drink - a drink for celebrations or for scrapbooking! Ha!  I love the bubbles! 
 
 Margaritas. . . 
Frozen, on the rocks, flavored, traditional, whatever!  I'm not picky but no salt please!

Wine. . . 
Yes please!  I especially like Pinot Grigio.  I love going wine tasting and had a blast in wine country last year!
 
Beer. . .  
Sure especially if it is free or someone is offering to buy me one!  My two faves right now are Sam Summer and Blue Moon (no Bud Light, Miller Light, Coors Light, etc for this girl - I've grown up)!
 
So as you can see I have a wide variety of things I like.  Not pictured but a long time favorite is Raspberry Stoli and Ginger Ale or Sprite!  That has been my go to drink for many years now and I'm still not tired of it.  
 
So if you happen to see a lot of pics of me with drinks please do not be concerned.  I am a responsible drinker who likes to have fun with the camera after a drink or two!  Don't be surprised to see plenty of pics of me in London drinking pints!!
 
What are your favorite drinks?  
Do you take more pictures of yourself when you have a drink in hand?
 
CHEERS!  DRINK SAFELY!!! 



 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

"Well You Look Good"

May 25th is World MS Day!




In honor of World MS Day I thought  I would write a post to raise awareness about what MS is or maybe more accurately what MS is not.  After telling people I have MS I often hear "well you look great" or "oh you don't look sick" and "I couldn't even tell."  People with MS don't look "bad" or "sick" and you can't "tell" that they have MS.  People with MS are regular people who are all different with varying hobbies, interests and abilities just like everyone else! 

This is me.  The "sick" girl.  The one with MS.  I'm about to show you that all the myths are just that. . .

 I have MS and I can ride a bike. . .

 I have MS and I can organize and host an outstanding fundraiser. . .

 I have MS and I can keep up with my very active niece in the pool. . .

 I have MS and I can canoe across a lake and back. . .

 I have MS and I can climb a climbing wall. . .

 I have MS and I can go snow tubing for hours. . .

 I have MS and I can {hardly} keep up with my drunk brother on the dance floor. . .
 I have MS and I can ride a horse. . .

 I have MS and I can scrapbook and craft for hours. . .

 I have MS and I can bowl. . .

 I have MS and I can kayak. . .

I have MS and I can make jewelry. . .

So I hope you can see that yes I have MS but I have a lot of other things that make me ME!  There make come a day that I can't do everything that I am able to do now but until that day I'll keep on doing it all!  

So next time you meet someone who has MS please don't tell them "but you look so good" just ask them how they are doing like you would anyone else! ;)

I'll close with a favorite sang in the MS community - 

I have MS but MS does not have me!!!!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Mentoring

May is National Foster Care Month, a time to raise awareness of the immediate needs of youth living in care and to celebrate the people and organizations supporting them.  Most of you know that I was an adoption social worker for five years at a private, domestic agency that placed newborns.  Additionally we had a contract with the Dept of Children and Families so some of my work included doing assessments on waiting children and perspective families.  I am very passionate about adoption and think it is such a special and amazing to build or expand a family.  Since right now I am not in a position to adopt of foster a child I mentor.  I've been a mentor for four years now to the same young lady and it has been an awesome experience.

There are many organizations where you can volunteer to be a mentor but I chose an organization in Boston called Adoption and Fostercare Mentoring or AFC Mentoring.  I chose this organization because all of the children in the program are currently or have been in DCF custody which means they likely have lived in a foster home (or many) or have been adopted.  These kids NEED mentors.  They need positive role models.  They need friends.  Did you know that often these kids have only ever interacted with adults who are being paid to be with them (think about it  - their social worker, their teacher, their therapist, their foster parent(s) and the list could go on and on).  But a mentor is a VOLUNTEER.  They do it b/c they want to.  I decided to be a mentor b/c I had some free time on my hands (haha I hardly ever have free time) and I wanted to give back.  I knew I had the skills to be a mentor (I have a Master's in Social Work that has to make me qualified right?) and I knew how to be fun and friendly so why not!

I love being a mentor.  My mentee and I have been through a lot together.  I won't go into specifics due to her privacy but let's just say it hasn't always been easy - but what is?  We have learned a lot about each other and she has taught me many things.  I hope I have taught her things too.  I have seen her confidence grow by leaps and bounds and I have seen her try new things that she never would have tried a few years ago.  She is brave and strong and funny and kind.  She is my friend and I'm so happy we were brought together through mentoring.  I hope that someday she will look back at these years and know that I was here for her b/c I wanted to be.  I hope the consistency I have provided has taught her about healthy friendships and long term relationships.  I hope that my friendship has helped the bad days be even a little bit better.

So maybe you aren't in a position to adopt a child or even foster a child but there are other ways to be involved.  You too can be a mentor.  You can make a difference in a child's life who needs a caring and consistent adult.  So what do you say?  Will you make a difference?  I promise you won't regret it and it will change your life!

MENTORING RESOURCES:

MENTOR

Big Brother Big Sister

 Mass Mentoring

ADOPTION AND FOSTERCARE RESOURCES:

MARE

Adopt Us Kids

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What I'm Loving Wednesday!


I'M LOVING THAT ON FRIDAY I FLY TO LONDON FOR A V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N!


I'M LOVING THAT I GET TO SPEND 9 DAYS WITH MY BFF STACY!


I'M LOVING THAT WE WILL BE HAVING AFTERNOON TEA AT BROWNS HOTEL!


I'M LOVING THAT WE WILL BE SEEING BILLY ELLIOT!

 
I'M LOVING THAT WE WILL BE DOING AN OVERNIGHT IN BURTON-on-the-WATER!

 
AND I'M LOVING THAT THE WEATHER FORECAST LOOKS GOOD!



















Tuesday, May 17, 2011

MAAV Events

Ok so this post is long overdue but better late than never right!  As most of you know by now I'm on the Board of Directors for MAAV.  MAAV is an awesome organization that focuses on education and prevention of teen dating violence, bullying and domestic violence.  I think everyone can relate to at least one of these topics.  It is so important that we all help to end all types of violence and I'm helping through MAAV.

So a couple of weeks ago I went to the Massachusetts State House for the 2011 Victim Rights Event called "Shaping the Future, Honoring the Past: Seeking Healing Through Justice.  It was sponsored by the Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance (MOVA). 

There were many exhibits set up in one area and organizations had the opportunity to share their mission and distribute information.  Myself and Rebecca Mooney, Executive Director "worked" the table.  We were please that State Rep Paul Brodeurfor stopped by to show his support!

In addition to the exhibits there were some amazing speakers including First Lady Diane Patrick (wife to MA Governor Deval Patrick) who is an advocate against domestic violence and a survivor, Janet Connors.  I really wish I had written this right after I heard Janet spoke b/c she was amazing - one of the best speakers I've ever heard!  Her message was so powerful and I can't do it justice now but basically to make a long story short - her 19 year old son was murdered by four other young men.  Instead of seeking revenge, or living the rest of her life filled w/ anger, or curling up in a ball and doing nothing Janet has and still is making a difference.  She is an activist and is responsible for bringing change to the MA legal system.  Janet wanted the chance to talk to her son's murders but was told that had never been done. . .  so she changed it!  There is now a program called "Victim-Offender Dialogue" where the victim can talk to the offender in a very structured, supervised fashion (along w/ a lot of counseling and support).  Janet shared her experiences of meeting w/ two of the offenders and her stories amazed me.  The way she has "handled" this is truly remarkable to me.  Janet asked the crowd, "What does justice mean to you?"  This question really got me thinking.  Justice to me means fair, right, reasonable. . . but who decides what is fair, right and reasonable?  Complicated right!?  Janet does not feel that her son received justice and I think she is right - the man responsible for actually murdering her son was found not guilty and never served a day in prison for what he did.  Was justice served?  Janet talked about "restorative justice" and how she feels that Victim-Offender Dialogue can play a role in restorative justice.  She was able to find some peace by meeting w/ two of her son's murderers.  Lastly, the message that has stuck w/ me from her is "NO MORE HARM."  Janet stated this over and over again.  She told her other two children this after their brother was killed, she told his friends this, her neighbors this.  . . she told them that she did not want more harm to come b/c of what had happen to her son.  Later she told the two offenders that she met w/ the same message, "NO MORE HARM."  She hopes that they could go on to lead a better life and not cause harm on any other human being.  I hope her message resonated w/ them. . . People like Janet inspire me.  They turn something bad into something good by making a difference in their community.  I hope that Janet keeps on fighting for victim rights and keeps on raising awareness b/c she certainly is making a difference.

The other event I recently helped out w/ was the "Melrose Run for Women" which was on Mother's Day.  The Melrose Running Club organizes this event and the money raised by race participants is donated to MAAV.  The cool thing about this event is that it is held on Mother's Day and is a women only event.  Mothers, daughters and even grandmothers do this race together!  What an awesome way to celebrate Mother's Day and to honor and remember the women who are no longer w/ us due to domestic violence.

Over 1,000 women participated in the race/walk.  That is the most ever!  The weather was great for the runners and warm enough for those of us standing around!  Ha!  So thankful the rain held off too.

My job was to "man" the MAAV table which had a few raffles, face painting for the kids and info about the organization.  I think I did a pretty good job but had to take a quick break to visit w/ 2 huge Great Danes!  They were so sweet!

The run is an annual event so if you live in MA I encourage you to consider participating next year.  It was a fun morning and we were done early enough that people could still take their moms out for lunch! 

So now the board and the staff is focusing on the training components of MAAV especially the anti-bullying trainings for the schools (staff, students and parents).  MAAV does excellent trainings so if you would like one for your school or organization and live in MA let me know!!



Monday, May 16, 2011

Weekend Recap

My grandfather, Paul and his wife, Lee (they have been married for a long time now but I've never referred to her as my grandmother and we actually call my grandfather Paul) drove from Michigan to Massachusetts to visit us/take a vacation. The last time they were here was two years ago for Ella's baptism so it was nice to have them back!

On Friday night we have a really nice dinner.  We were at the restaurant for about 4 hours!  We enjoyed a lot of good food and conversation.  I got home later that night then I do on nights I go out w/ my friends.  Paul and Lee know how to party! 

My grandfather is a hero.  He is a veteran of the Korean War, WWII and Vietnam.  He was a POW and it is amazing to me that he survived so much during the wars!  He is a great guy and still living life to the fullest.  He came to Ireland w/ us several years ago and travels w/ Lee regularly.  Hopefully it won't be another 2 years before we are all together again.

My mom is an only child so it was just her and her parents when she was growing up!  Now her dad lives in MI and her mom lives in FL!   Several years ago my parents, my brothers and I all went to MI for my grandfather's surprise 75th birthday party and to see Notre Dame play MI in football.  It was a really fun weekend. 

On Saturday my mom was babysitting the girls so Paul and Lee came over to her house to see them.  I went too b/c I wanted to see the girls one more time before I leave for London.  Paul and Lee couldn't wait to see the girls since the last time they saw them Peyton was 1 and Ella was a newborn.  The girls were a little shy at first but warmed up after getting presents!  Trying to get a picture of the 4 of them was not easy b/c the girls were tired and hungry.  We had a lot of fun hanging out.

Saturday night when I got home I had no electricity so no tv, internet or anything fun for me.  I went to bed early!  Today I took my friend Joana's son, Carter to have professional photos taken.  He turned 2 last week and this was my gift to him.  He was so good and the pictures came out so cute!  We had too many good ones to choose from.  Tonight I actually did some packing - well not actually packing but organizing which is leading to packing.  Suitcase is out and a few things are near it.  Talked to Stacy on Skype today and we planned most of the week.  I'm really excited b/c we have some great things planned including tea at the Savoy, an overnight in the Cotswolds, seeing Billy Elliot the musical, eating, pubs, visiting my old neighborhood and pub, shopping and so much more.  Can't wait. . . .

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Weather


Who would have guessed it?  More rain in Boston this week than in London!  I hope the weather forecast for London next week will continue to be sunny and warm!

"Two Kisses for Maddy" {and some other stuff}

Finally I can write a blog post! This week has been crazy. I finally had time to write on Thursday night and blogger was down. Then Friday it was still down! When it finally started working again I was out for the night. Then my plan was to blog on Sat night when I got home and I get home and the electricity is out in my building and the whole neighborhood. So blogging has not been on my side this week. Haha! But finally today I can catch up so here goes. . .

Thursday night I went to hear Matt Logelin read from his book "Two Kisses for Maddy." If you don't know who Matt is I strongly recommend you check out his blog. Matt's wife, Liz died 27 hours after their daughter Maddy was born. Matt's blog chronicles his life with Maddy and is the most honest blog I've read. He is a traveling fool which I love and he has taken Maddy to so many amazing places.

Matt read from his book and answered questions.  He is a really cool guy.  He seems very humbled by the attention he has received and still seems in shock that people would want to come and meet him.  He is very down to earth and has not let the "fame" change him.  I love that.

When Maddy gets older and it will be really amazing for her to be able to read the blog and the book.  She will learn so much about her mother and her father's love for both of them.  What an awesome gift!

I love when people take something bad that has happen in their life and make something good of it.  Matt started a foundation called the Liz Logelin Foundation which gives grants to young widows and widowers.

Very fun night.  So glad Matt came to Boston and that I had the chance to meet him.  I REALLY can't wait to read the book (even though I'm sure I'll cry through the whole thing).  I'll be sure to tell you how it is but if it is anything like the blog then I know it will be incredible.

P.S.  On Friday I had a "comp day" from work and thought it would be a relaxing day at home with time for a pedicure.  That was not to be.  I hadn't been feeling well but figured it was just due to work stress and being exhausted.  But I also felt like someone had punched my in the chest and thought I better see the doctor before the weekend.  So went to my doctor who thought it was viral and likely pleurisy.  He sent me for a chest x-ray to make sure nothing else was going on.  X-ray was negative which is good.  So he told me to take anti-inflammatory meds (aka Advil) to help the pain from the pleurisy.  So trying to take it easy so that I can get better before London.  Weird thing is that I've only had pleurisy one other time in my life and it was when I came home from my semester in London (I literally went from airport to doctor b/c I was so sick).  Now I'm going to London on Friday and I get pleurisy again?  Strange!!!!  Pleurisy is not invited to London and I am on a mission to be healthy by Friday.  Trying not to laugh, sneeze, cough or do anything else which causes pain!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Another Monday

You know it has been another one of those days when you go to Target after work (despite being exhausted) to pick up some much need toiletries and you also buy this thinking it will make for a delicious appetizer and dinner. . . .


I'm on the BIG countdown to my LONDON VACATION.  I leave May 20th after work.  I'm SO excited but with working being as crazy as it has been and with all the other things I have on my schedule I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed with how I will get it all done and pack!  Anyone who knows me knows that I am a MAJOR procrastinator and this is especially true when it comes to packing.  But I'm going to try to get organized this weekend so that I won't be doing it all at the last minute.  Already got my suitcase out and bought some travel toiletries tonight. . .

WEEKEND RECAP

Friday night I went to the Red Sox game which was a lot of fun despite forgetting to bring my ID and the fact that they lost!

On Saturday I spent the day with my mentee/friend Taylor.  We made last minute plans to hang out (she had a bad week at school and I had a bad week at work so it was nice to just get together to do something fun).  I picked her up (she lives a little over an hour away right now) and we had plenty of time to chat and catch up while driving to the mall.  We had lunch at Cheesecake Factory then went to see the movie Something Borrowed.  I really wanted to see this movie and it was fun to be able to see a more "mature" movie with Taylor.  In the past we've only see G or PG movies but now that Taylor is 14 it has opened so many more movie options.  We both really liked it!  I definitely liked the book more (which is usually the case with me) but I still enjoyed the movie.  My biggest complaint would have to be regarding the Marcus character.  Not sure why they chanced his character to be so gross and obnoxious but didn't like that at all.  I loved Ginnifer Goodwin and think she was a perfect chose for Rachel and of course Kate Hudson was pretty good at playing the Darcy role.  If you haven't seen it I would recommend it (don't listen to the movie critics it wasn't bad)!

On Sunday morning I worked/volunteer at the Melrose Run for Women since the money benefits MAAV and I am on the Board of Directors.  I'm planning to write a post this week about that event and another event I went to for my role in MAAV.

Sunday afternoon I went to my parents' house along with my siblings to celebrate Mother's Day with my mother.  We had a fun evening.  We enjoyed tacos and chicken fajitas for dinner and ice cream sundaes for dessert.  Peyton and Ella especially enjoyed dessert!

I gave my mom all 3 of the Pioneer Woman's books (cookbook, novel and new Charlie book).  I also gave her a gift certificate to The Paint Bar and we are going to go with my sister-in-law, her mom and her sister for a Ladies Night Out in June.  (I'll share what my mom and dad gave Jenn very soon - it involves adorable pictures of my nieces!)

So that is that.  A nice weekend and then back to work.  Hoping to find some extra energy or "spoons" to make it through this week.  I'm looking forward to meeting Matt Logelin at a book signing in Boston on Thursday night and then having a family dinner with my grandparents who are visiting from MI on Fri night.

Hope everyone had a great weekend and Mother's Day!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mothers

"Children are the sum of what mothers contribute to their lives."
{unknown}


Happy Mother's Day to all of my friends and family who are amazing mothers!!!!!
I hope someday I will also be able to add "Mother" to my list of titles.

Happy Mother's Day to my wonderful mother and my grandmother too!  I feel so lucky to have both of you in my life! 

"Death leaves a heartache no one can heal,
Love leaves a memory no one can steal."
{Unknown}

Thinking of my dear friend Stacy today as she spends her first Mother's Day with her mom in heaven. 


Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Night At Fenway Park

It was one of those weeks.  Nothing major just a lot of little things.  I've been working on a very complicated case at work (wish I could explain but due to confidentiality I really can't say much).  Wed was an emotionally draining day.  I got home and was so exhausted I couldn't even stay awake to watch American Idol.  I went to bed at 8 PM!!!!  Thur was another long and draining day and it was also my intern's last day.  Fri I was just trying to make it through the day and looking forward to going to the Red Sox.  Then right at the end of the day something very good happen at work (with a different case) which was a nice way to end the week.

I was in a better mood but then it took me over an hour to get home (hate Fri night traffic), then I missed the bus to Fenway by seconds and had to wait 15 min for the next one and then I get to Fenway and realize I had forgetting my ID!  Ugh!  Fortunately I was able to sweet talk my way into the bar.  I really needed a beer after the week I had!


Emily and I were going to the game with the tickets from our 4 pack.  Some of our friends were also going to the game and sitting a couple of sections away from us.


From our seats we have a great view.  But getting in and out of our seats in an adventure. . .


Such a nice night at Fenway!  Too bad the Red Sox lost.


Ok so notice the green wall next to me. . . yes we are seats 1 and 2 in section 36 a.k.a. the seats against the brick wall with only one way in and out.  So we had to walk by 25 people to get to our seats.  Good times!  The nice thing is once we were in there we had a great view and didn't have to get up for anyone else.  After a while we went and sat w/ our friends b/c there were some extra seats.

After the game I went home b/c I didn't have my ID and knew I wouldn't be able to get into the bars.  Emily and I have two more games in Sept.  We were not able to go to our first game and sold the tix.  Hopefully I'll be able to catch a couple summer games at Fenway!

Here's hoping for a good weekend - hanging w/ my mentee Taylor, Kentucky Derby, MAAV Road Race (volunteering not running) and Mother's Day. . . .