RSS Feed

Tag Archives: Chicago

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!

About these ads

I love concerts

I’ve been to lots of concerts – everything from Liza Minnelli (seriously) to Talib Kweli, N*Sync, Destiny’s Child and everything in between – mainly because I love music (especially a good live show) and simply because they’re a really fun activity to do with your boyfriend, friends, family, etc. Some of my favorite memories in the world are enjoying a concert at Jones Beach on a warm summer evening. Do you love going to concerts?

Some of my favorite concerts:

Jack Johnson (Comcast Center, MA) – because he’s my favorite

Pearl Jam and U2 (Aloha Stadium, HI) – great combo/it was in Hawaii/I met Jack Johnson at the concert. Life in Hawaii is good!

Nelly (Nassau Coliseum, NY) – because I was a sophomore in high school and thought I was thebomb.com, plus Kelly Rowland came on stage and sang ‘Dilemma

The Doobie Brothers (Westbury Music Fair, NY) – because I was about 15 years old and went to a Doobie Brothers concert with my parents. So fun!

Britney Spears (Nassau Coliseum, NY) – one of my first concerts I ever went to – I’ve always been a big Britney fan and I’m not ashamed of it!

James Taylor (Jones Beach, NY) – because he is absolutely perfect live. I’ve grown up listening to him and we always go as a family which is very nice. His music always reminds me of happy times with my family

The Sprite Liquid Mix Tour featuring Jay-Z, NERD, 311, Nappy Roots, and more (Jones Beach, NY) – Jay-Z is my all time favorite rapper. Great show

Brad Paisley (Gillette Stadium, MA) – One word for you = Countryfest. Friends, grilling, drinks, warm weather, good music…doesn’t get much better than that

Sara Bareilles (House of Blues, Boston) – I love her. Was my first time at HOB Boston, great place, great show!

Billy Joel and Elton John (Nassau Coliseum, NY) – The Piano Man, Crocodile Rock, Downeaster Alexa, Benny and the Jets? Dueling pianos? Yes please!

John Mayer (Central Park, NYC) – Summer. Light rain. Central Park. John Mayer. Pretty romantic. Loved every minute of it

Josh Turner (The South Shore Music Circus, Hingham MA) – Colin and I had such a romantic little date at the Josh Turner concert last summer

George Strait and Blake Shelton (Tinley Park, IL) – My girlfriends from Boston were visiting me in Chicago. I was elated!

Saw Doctors (Nokia Theatre, NYC) – New York, St. Patrick’s Day weekend and a band from Ireland? Guaranteed good time

Dave Matthews Band (Randall’s Island, NY) – Come on! Everybody has to go to a DMB concert at some point in their lives

Green Day (Giants Stadium) – Mary and I met tons of randos at this concert, made up a few fake names, and rocked out. I still chuckle when I think of this night. Plus, Dookie? Amazing album. My mom took that away from us when we were little! teehee

The Counting Crows (Grant Park, Chicago) – A free concert in the middle of a beautiful park? Singing Mr. Jones? Sign me up!

100 Days of Kindness, Days 46, 47, 48 and 49

I’ve missed a few days again – oops! The holiday season is a busy one that’s for sure.

Thursday was our office party at the BC Club in the Bank of America building downtown. It was a gorgeous place with delicious food. It was so fun having Colin there with me, getting the chance to meet everyone I work with.

My kindness for Thursday – following my friend Jess back to her apartment so we could then drive into the city together so she didn’t have to worry about driving. Luckily Colin drove me home so I didn’t have to worry about driving either! Good times all around. ;)

My kindness for Friday – I had to get the inspection sticker replaced on my car (thank goodness that’s over with for now) and then gave Colin a ride into work. After I dropped him off and  was headed to 93 N – I was stopped at a light where a man was asking for money. He was holding a cardboard sign and looked like he was freezing – it was so cold on Friday. I actually had cash on me (which is extremely rare) so I decided to give him a few bucks. Regardless of what this money went to, I’m happy I made this man smile. He was freezing his butt off and I was sitting in my warm car on my way to the job I truly enjoy. I had just dropped off my amazing boyfriend who I’m very much in love with and I was about to give my mom a call on my drive to say hi and chat. I had exciting plans after work and a fun weekend ahead. He was begging for money in the chilly Boston air at a stop light where most people were pretending he was invisible. He deserved that money and I hope he got a lot more.

My kindness for Saturday - I went to the Christmas Reflections show at Boston College with Colin’s sister Liz. I thought it was so nice that she asked me to go, plus her friend Julie was dancing in it so I wanted to see her perform. It was a great show!

My kindness for Sunday – Last year I got the Elf on the Shelf and some other goodies to send to the Preschool class I worked at the year I volunteered in Chicago. This year I wanted to do it again, so I headed to Target and bought a really cute Doctor’s set, a Diego puzzle, a Disney princess memory card game, playdoh and a Christmas book. I wrapped it up nice and will send it off to Chi-town (with love) tomorrow!

Christmas!

Meg and I have been busy watching Elf and making Christmas treats. Time for bed soon. I hope everyone had a great weekend!

*PS – Stay tuned for the kindness half way mark, a fabulous Somerville gem, an amazing event with the Celtics and more coming up this week!

 

The small things (100 Days of Kindness, Day 14)

With kindness on the brain, I feel like I’ve been noticing ‘normal’ ‘nice’ things all the time. I try to acknowledge them and tuck them away so I can remember them.

Today, Molly and I were at Target. The man behind me in line – the very large man behind me (he reminded me of Hurley from Lost) – was buying one thing: tampons. This big, burly man was buying tampons for his wife, girlfriend, sister – whoever. Very nice of him. A man on my plane tonight offered me help with my bag. Molly asked me about something she thought was bothering me. She listened to my babble. Kelly went to dinner with our Grandfather. My mother called Molly and I from London to say hi and check in. Colin picked me up – at a very late hour – from the airport. My post is a few minutes late tonight because of kindness. Colin and I gave a friend from college (who was surprisingly on the same flight from Chicago to Boston as me – was so nice to see her!) a ride home from the airport. All nice things. All small things that made a difference to someone – made them smile, helped them out, made them feel loved, appreciated, made their lives a little easier, brighter.

With kindness on the brain, I’ve been noticing these things, and I like it.

What did I do today? I took my fabulous sister Molly to the movies. We saw Morning Glory with Rachel McAdams, Diane Keaton and Harrison Ford. Very cute, witty, light. I liked it. :)

I hope everyone had a great weekend. Onto a new week – hope it’s a good one!

“I love you Miss. Colleen!”

If you’d ask me what I’m most proud of in my life thus far, I’d have to say my volunteer year in Chicago (as a part of the Augustinian Volunteer Program which my older sister Megan also did.) My one year anniversary since finishing the program just passed and lately I find myself thinking about my time there. I can’t believe it’s been a year!

While in Chicago, I volunteered at St. Margaret of Scotland grammar school on the south side of town. I was in the Pre-K with 3, 4 and 5 year old’s. I worked closely with a woman named Ms. Gunn, who is absolutely amazing with children and who taught me so much. She is one of the most hard-working women I’ve ever met. I admire her very much and thoughts of her will always bring a smile to my face. :)

Our Pre-K classroom truly  emitted rays of love and affection from all four corners; laughter and chattering of small voices constantly filled the space. Seventeen young children came every day to stimulate their minds and to practice friendship with one another in a comfortable, safe environment. The children in my class were the most fun ever. I loved every single one of those little guys.

Each hug, and ‘I love you Miss. Colleen,’ each and every craft and discovery made together showed me the potential these children hold. Each parent who made the effort to get to know me during my time at St. Margaret’s’ showed progress. Being the minority in school yet feeling as though people saw who I was, not just the color of my skin showed me acceptance.

I lived with three amazing people in Chicago (one worked at school with me and the two others worked at a nearby High School.) We didn’t always get along perfectly, but we were like a family. We worked well together, and I learned so much from them. Like Ms. Gunn, thoughts of my roommates still bring a smile to my face.

This year was tough – I was away from my family, friends and Colin. We all just graduated from college and all my friends were moving into Boston together, getting jobs. I was out in Chicago living with people I was assigned to live with, at a job I was assigned to, making $25 a week. I doubted why I was there many times. Why was I doing this? Because I knew I was supposed to and I knew I needed to. Why didn’t I give up and leave when it was tough (even if I really wanted to)? Because I made a commitment to my volunteer program, my roommates and most of all my students. I wanted to give up, but I didn’t; this is why I’m proud of myself.

At the end of the school year I received the most awesome gift; one of my students mother’s wrote me a letter. Part of the letter read:

“In just a few months with you, Ms. Colleen I saw a change in Milan’s attitude toward learning… 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. Thank you for coming here for a spell.”

Volunteer work is not an easy task; but it is a gift unlike any other. I learned more than I ever could have in college; gained more life experience than I ever imagined could fit into a year. This note was the reassurance I was waiting for since the day my application was sent to the volunteer program.

Some photos from my year!:

Chicago!

The "Bean"

Happy Graduationbirthday!

Last weekend Colin’s wonderfully impressive sister Liz graduated from Merrimack and celebrated her 22nd birthday on the same day, so congratulations and HAPPY BIRTHDAY! She’s off to start a new chapter in her life – such an exciting/nerve-wracking time. I remember when my college chapter was coming to a close… I was ready to move on  but I definitely had feelings of anxiety towards the future. I was all signed up for my volunteer year (and very excited!) but sad to leave my friends, apprehensive to be living all the way in Chicago (so far from home) and nervous about being away from my family as well as Colin – I didn’t know how I would deal. Luckily, I survived. Then after my volunteer year I didn’t know where I was going to live – New York or Boston? I didn’t have a job lined up and it wasn’t necessarily the best time to be looking for a job (last July.) What the hell was I going to do? I had a big plan to move up to Boston, get an apartment, live near Colin and get a great job. I had my doubts about making my whole plan happen, but deep down I always knew I could do it, I could make it happen. And you know what? I did. I’ve been up in Boston for about a year now and I’m at my second apartment and onto my second job. I really love where I’m living so far (and I’m finally unpacked – such a great feeling!) and I’m loving my new job. I feel as though I’m going to be a good addition to the team and I also feel like I want to be here. I’ve realized I’m happy. And let me tell you, it’s a nice feeling.

Even though growing up seems to be filled with anxiety and  uncertainty, it’s also filled with excitement and adventure. You might find yourself feeling overwhelmed, often thinking, ‘is this really going to work out?‘ You can plan all you want, but know now that nothing ever goes according to plan (for the most part!) I haven’t figured it all out just yet, but I’ve learned a thing or two. The best advice I can give is this: if you’re proactively working towards reaching your goals and fulfilling your dreams (whatever they may be) you need to trust that you’re doing your best and the path you’re on is meant for you. Prayers couldn’t hurt either. And remember what Garth Brooks once said (that wise country man), ‘sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers’ – because just cause you pray for something and wish really hard for something to happen, doesn’t mean it always should.

Anyway – last weekend in pictures -

Graduation!

The proud graduate!

Liz and Mr. Whelly (Colin's awesome grandpa)

The Temp's with Fr. Jim

MSJ-ers to Merrimack-ers

Liz and James!

Old babysitter, current/graduating babysitter...

Old babysitter, AMAZING employer, current/graduating babysitter. How will you ever find replacements Kathleen?!

Not a great picture, but... this is the beautiful labyrinth Fr. Jim put in on campus

Liz and I

Kelly, Liz and Casey!

After graduation on Sunday we all went out to a lovely lunch. Colin and I were stuffed, tired and in Andover so we headed over to my old stomping grounds to visit the ol’ roomies.

Not very clear, but Lady and I in front of my old apartment!

Lady exploring on our walk

Well, I have an exciting night tonight – a floral arrangement class at our friend Lisa’s house! I’m headed over now and am REALLY EXCITED! I’ll take lots of pictures and will report back.
*Also, FYI, the daily craic will be doing an exciting giveaway at the end of the week! Stay tuned…

Who YOU callin’ immature?

Got home, parked my car. Opened up the driver’s side door – which squeaks so bad/sounds like its going to fall right off its hinges – to get out. I get out only to hear laughing on the otherwise quiet street. Look to see who is laughing and it’s a group of four Andover Prep kids staring at me and my precious car, making fun of us. I wanted to yell something so bad, I wanted to make fun - but I figured that is relatively immature. They are in high school and I am a ‘working professional,’ big difference I guess?… Anyway, this incident was a major blow to both our egos so I think I’ll bring ‘ol Betsy to get a good wash over the weekend. At least that’ll make one of us feel better about ourselves!

On the other hand, something nice that happened to me yesterday…

Went to Starbucks to satisfy my caffeine addiction, paid for my drink with my gift card, then owed .18 cents because I didn’t have enough on my card. My only other option was my debit card and using your debit card for .18 cents is lame and the lady behind me knew it, so she gave me a quarter! So nice :)

On a sad note, four people were murdered in Chicago. WHY is this happening? When I lived in Chicago last year a young man from the high school two of my roommates worked at was killed. The teacher I worked with had a niece who was shot coming out of her house (luckily she survived.) People who worked in local hospitals on the south side of Chicago said it looked like a war zone in there at times due to all the gun shot wounds. This is terrible, and deeply troubling. Something needs to be done. Please keep these people in your thoughts and prayers.

http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2010/04/14/wgn-six-shot-four-killed-in-chicago-neighborhood/ 

Tomorrow, Thursday April 15th at the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston (ICA) is holding a talk all about tattooing in MA at 7pm. Admission $10.

More info here – http://www.icaboston.org/programs/talks/pins-needles/

Eversave has extended their G’Vanni Ristorante Save into today. Pay $25 for $60 worth of food and drinks – not too shabby. Hurry up!

http://www.eversave.com/boston/gvannis-ristorante?sourceid=56024

Take advantage of these great Spring recipes from Fitness Magazine, yummm.

http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/recipes/quick-recipes/dinner/seasonal-spring-recipes/

You know you want a shirt that says ‘Massachusetts runs on Dustin’ (Pedroia) for Sox season. Personally I want the YOUK shirt! (He’s my boy.)

http://www.thrillist.com/links/123835

Sarah Palin and the Tea Party from Boston.com -

http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/editorials/articles/2010/04/14/welcoming_palin_to_boston/

This new ‘sexual misconduct’ policy at Duke is outrageous. Don’t you think they are taking it a little too far?

http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2010/04/14/dukes_sexist_sexual_misconduct_policy/

9 Fun things to do in order to welcome Spring in the Boston area from Boston.com -

http://www.boston.com/thingstodo/gallery/springhassprung/

*Some great ideas in there!

Glee is back and was better than ever last night! Need to catch up? I’d suggest either going on www.Hulu.com and watching, or reading all the juicy details from the Vulture blog, because they did an amazing job summarizing every detail!

http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2010/04/glee_recap_greetings.html#comments

Tonight I’m going to make Colin a nice dinner – Rigatoni with chicken, fresh mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, onion, etc. Hopefully it comes out good!

We’re also finishing up the first season of ‘How to Make It in America’ on HBO. It’s really good so far – Colin and I watched the first five episodes the other night and I’ve been excited all day to watch the rest. If you have HBO on demand I suggest you spend some time watching. It’s sort of like ‘Entourage’ in NYC, more involved with the fashion/music scene rather than acting…. Let me know what you think :)

We are inching closer to the weekend people, such a nice feeling…

Wine Chicken – [wahyn chik un n] noun – A chicken which produces wine

A few things tonight…

I haven’t been able to blog all day – it’s been a crazy one! THANK THE DEAR LORD it’s Friday. This week was long – it felt like a few weeks squished into one. And not only that, but today was a very terrible day at work. They have decided to move my work BFF, Nicole along with my college/work BFF Adam upstairs to the 6th floor while I stay downstairs on the 5th floor! This is a very big deal. Nicole and I walk over to the coffee machine about fifty times a day with each other. Who will I walk with now? Just me? All alone? No one to chat with?

I think this is both uncool and rude. How can you take my buddies away from me? They make sitting in a cube all day a little more cheerful. I don’t know what I’ll do! This is like when you were in fifth grade and the teacher decides the classroom needs to do a little switcheroo. Everyone gets a new seating assignment and you’re pissed because you had the best seat in the whole classroom. It’s devastating! I hope I can bounce back from this…

Then after hearing this news I got reprimanded at the printer by a woman because I printed too many pages out. Oh, I’m sorry! I didn’t realize their was a printer monitor. This was just flat-out embarrassing – I don’t even know what I said to her. I do know that I was as red as a tomato. Love when that happens.

Anyway – Colin picked me up early from work then we picked up his sister Elizabeth and got on the road, headed to Vermont.This is my first holiday away from my family – we decided we just couldn’t take another holiday with one another, so I’m in Vermont, Meg is in New Hampshire, Patrick, Kelly and Pa are in California and Mom, Dad and Molly are in Chicago, IL. We figured spreading the Mescall bunch across the United States would help eliminate fighting over the holiday (just kidding – I miss you guys!)

Luckily the Temple’s allowed me in their beautiful home for Easter. Tonight was a great night, we went to the Stations of the Cross for Good Friday and then out to a nice dinner.

We had a lovely chicken at dinner.

No, not that kind of chicken! It’s Good Friday and we’re good Catholics! We had a chicken with wine in it (that’s my kinda chicken.)

Wine Chicken - a chicken which produces wine

I love Vermont – and I’m not even a hippie, too much of a Liberal, or looking to get married to a woman, I don’t drive a truck and I don’t hunt. It is funny because I’m from Long Island (which I love as well) and LI is so different from VT. I guess it’s nice to experience something different from what you’ve known all you’re life – refreshing, if you will. One big reason why I love Vermont is, the Vermont Country Store. You haven’t lived until you’ve visited the VCS. They sell anything you could ever think of – everything from muumuus, to lingerie, to toys, food, toaster ovens, vacuums, etc. etc. etc.

Check it out here – http://www.vermontcountrystore.com/Shop?

Now, Jean, the Temple’s next door neighbor and dear friend works here. Since Jean is an employee she is eligible for the $5 mystery box special. You pay $5 for a box (you have no idea whats in it) and let me tell you – the surprises in there are worth it! Last box I got everything from tablecloths to flannel PJ’s to XXXL woman’s underwear. This time, Mrs. Temple gave me a beautiful bedspread from their mystery box which I am thrilled with! It reminds me of my Nana and Pa’s house because they always had blankets like this, so I really think it’s special :)

2 good deals for the day (which even though its late right now, it’s not too late to purchase these gift certificates!)

$10 for $20 at the Upper Crust’s Watertown location:

http://www.buywithme.com/boston/deals/501-upper-crust-pizza?utm_source=the+BuyWithMe+Mailing+List&utm_campaign=32d55c6f50-BOSTON_The_Upper_Crust_watertown_4_2_104_1_2010&utm_medium=email

$30 for 6-8 yoga classes at Real Life Yoga Studio:

http://livingsocial.com/deals/1091?ref=BOSDeal040210email&utm_source=bronto&utm_medium=email&utm_term=buy+now&utm_content=cmescall%40gmail.com&utm_campaign=BOSDeal040210

Who knew kids that went to Middlebury College were so damn funny?

(thanks Liz!)

Lastly, here are some excellent tips on the importance of sleep from Women’s Health Magazine (as I’m falling asleep while typing this… must.go.to.bed.)

http://www.womenshealthmag.com/health/sleep-myths?cat=11296&tip=11297

Goodnight!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 40 other followers