Friday, March 25, 2011

Spring Break happenings!

So sorry for the delay in this post - I had written the entire thing, but failed to post it, earlier this week! It's been a very busy first week back, and I have to admit that I kind of wish break had lasted a little longer. However, with so many exciting events coming up, I suppose staying busy, working my way through heaping to-do piles, will help suppress the excitement and make the time go a little faster, while still enjoying the time in between! So, before I tell you all about my busy spring break, here are some upcoming events in my life that I am really looking forward to:

April 1 & 2: Lyme Central School's Musical Production of Grease - my little brother Sky is starring as Danny Zuko! After bribing him to help out in the chorus last summer in Cinderella, he is back on stage and pretty soon I can say, "told ya so!"

April 2: Crescent Yacht Club Junior Division Chili Cook-Off - to benefit the Junior Division Swim & Sail program where I work in the summer - come taste my "Staff Chili"!

April 3: Zumba for Baby Kate with Holly & Dani, and Morgan & Ashley! In my last post I asked that you all send prayers for Baby Kate who is currently in critical condition after a tragic incident. To help out this loving family, several Zumba instructors, including myself, will be hosting this benefit to raise funds and celebrate Kate's life! Everyone is invited to this 1st Birthday Zumba benefit for Kate - details here :

April 3: LA on Broadway at Lafargeville Central School - In high school, my mom and I performed in this community production for two years, and following my graduation I was unable to continue. However, I always try to make it back for the performances! La on Broadway is an annual fundraiser musical revue that changes up each year, so the songs are always a surprise!

April 9: MISS NEW YORK STATE WORKSHOP!!! I am SO looking forward to this. I am really eager to meet all of the girls, and learn more about the entire experience! Only 14 more days!

Just a little busy over the next few weeks...

Now to tell you all about my exciting spring break! Being home for a week was so great not only to catch up with friends and family, but also because I had more time to dedicate to representing the Thousand Islands at local events and speaking engagements.

In addition to the Miss Ireland pageant, mock interview session, and dress hunting that I already posted about, I spoke at two local schools and also helped out at an event hosted by Highway Legends. Highway Legends is a classic vehicle club that raises money for Children's Miracle Network and Wounded Warriors. When I was asked to attend this event, I couldn't say no!

My long weekend of appearances started out on Thursday when I visited a senior psychology class at Immaculate Heart Central to speak about my platform, community service, and bullying. Seniors can definitely prove difficult to speak to, especially in the morning, but I felt that out conversation was engaging and effective. Thanks to Mrs. Brady for inviting me to visit her classroom!

On Friday, I spent the whole day at my mom's school, LaFargeville Central. My morning started out with some observations for a research project I am working on this semester. After I got my homework out of the way, I visited a kindergarten and second grade class to read some of my favorite childhood stories, and talk about their character education theme, Forgiveness. I always really enjoy my time spent in the classroom! That afternoon I had been asked to speak at the character education assemblies on the same topic, Forgiveness. I must admit, it was challenging to come up with a way to express the importance of forgiveness in a way that children can relate to. Luckily, my mom was able to share a story about a time in my childhood when I had to learn the meaning of forgiveness which really helped me to focus my speeches. I spoke to groups of K - 3 and 4 - 6, and after finishing my speech each time, I was able to help hand out awards to students, and at the end, I was so honored to also be awarded with a medal and certificate presented to me by the Elementary Principal, Mrs. Anita James. I would like to thank all of the teacher, students, and especially Mrs. James, and Superintendent Whitney for welcoming me into their school and giving me the opportunity to speak on this important topic!

Lastly, on Saturday I attended the Highway Legends fundraiser dinner held at Bistro 108 in Watertown. The benefit raised funds for Children's Miracle Network and Wounded Warriors. After a lovely dinner of crab cakes, followed by I delicious mint-chocolate treat, I had the chance to thank the guests for their support, and then help draw raffle tickets! At one point, I think some people thought I might have rigged it after pulling my mom, dad, Sue, AND Gary consecutively! Thanks to the Highway Legends for inviting me to this event, and I look forward to helping out at their Thousand Islands Extravaganza May 20, 21, and 22, when I will have the opportunity to award a car the Miss Thousand Islands Award, and help with several other events! Keep your eye out for information on this event, and join Kaili & I for a great time!

That's all for now!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Pray for Kate!

Friends and Family: I am writing this post to ask you all to pray for Baby Kate. Kate is a one-year old from the Town of Lyme in the Thousand Islands Region who has suffered injuries and is now in the hospital fighting to recover. As advocates of Children's Miracle Network, we as titleholders understand the importance of coming together, and rallying for children who are inflicted by sickness or injury. I ask that you all take the time today to say a prayer for Baby Kate and her family, and think positive thoughts for her! It is in times of strife that it is so important for communities to show love and support for one another. Thank you all!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

So many new sisters!

As I anxiously await the results of the Miss Greater Rochester pageant, I thought that I would tell you all about my exciting weekend, and congratulate some new pageant sisters, hopefully including Miss Greater Rochester 2011!

After a crazy and hectic midterm week, I drove home Friday afternoon, to start my spring break off by attending the Miss Ireland Pageant, an annual event that has become a tradition for my mom and I. This year was extra special because I was able to attend as Miss Thousand Islands! Of course, Sue, Gary, and Shelby joined my family and I for the scholarship pageant, my personal favorite event at the North Country Goes Green Irish Festival, held annually to raise funds for Project Children, as well as many other charitable organizations. We also were joined by Kristan and Kathy Letteire! As Miss Ireland is a festival pageant, the phases of competition are a little different than those of Miss American Organization pageants. The contestants are introduced in evening gown, they then express their Irish Heritage, which is done in various ways - music, storytelling, speeches, etc.. The girls are not judged on talent but on the way they express themselves. Last, they answer an on stage question. I began watching the Miss Ireland pageant after I started competing in pageants, and a friend of mine, Bridgette Sharlow, was competing in the Miss Ireland pageant, 3 years ago. That year, she was crowned and awarded a scholarship. Last year, she was able to crown one of her sisters as the new Miss Ireland, Brittany Sharlow. This year, the third sister in the line of Sharlow sisters decided to compete, and sure enough, was crowned Miss Irish Princess, and awarded a scholarship! Congratulations, Brianna Sharlow! And, to Miss Ireland 2011, Kristina Blackstock!

Irish Princess 2011, Brianna Sharlow, Miss Ireland 2011, Kristina Blackstock, and Brittany Sharlow, Miss Ireland 2010!

Brianna, Kristina, and I!

Kristan, Miss TI 2009, and I after the pageant!

Saturday morning, I was up bright and early for breakfast at the Clubhouse, and my first mock interview! Shelby, Sue, Corri, and Deltra Willis did a fantastic job compiling challenging and insightful questions and I so appreciate their help as I prepare for the Miss New York State pageant. I certainly learned a lot about myself, and am thankful for the advice these wonderful ladies provided me with. A few rounds of interview questions, and they had worn me out, so we moved on to A Touch of Grace to try on more gowns! If I could, I would just try on gowns all day long! Thanks to Kathy and her awesome staff for always being so accommodating to us!

And now, I can finally congratulate some new pageant sisters who I will be competing with this June! Here are the results from today's pageants:

Miss Greater Rochester 2011 - Chelsea Prophet
Miss Southeast New York 2011 - Amanda Mason
Miss Manhattan 2011 - Mallory Hagan
Miss New York City 2011 - Hannah Wright
Miss Greater Gotham 2011 - Nardeen Bilan
Miss Liberty 2011 - Kimberly Cantoni
Miss Metropolitan 2011 - Tara Szcezpanski

Also a huge congratulations to all of the contestants who competed in these pageants today, and to all of the runners-up! At Miss Greater Rochester, 2nd runner up is Heather Knowles, and 1st runner up is Lorna Rose! If anyone can fill me in on any other award winners or runners-up from the other pageants, please let me know so that I can update here! Congratulations ladies! And to the new titleholders, welcome to the Miss New York Class of 2011! Looking forward to seeing you all at workshop in April!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ash Wednesday

I have a million things I need to be doing right now, including working out, studying for tonight's test, writing a paper or two, and cleaning, but I just had an experience that I felt I simply must share. Today, as many of you know, is Ash Wednesday. For Christians around the world, today marks the beginning of Lent, and an opportunity to renew our relationship with God, and today, with ashes on our foreheads, we take this opportunity for grace and repentance. In the middle of midterm week, as I anxiously await spring break, I knew that it was important that I make it to Ash Wednesday Mass, not just because the church tells us to, but because it is important to take this time to step back from things like school and work to cherish our faith, what truly gets me through the stresses of college. So, I found an early mass, and went. As I went through the day, taking time off of work to complete schoolwork and studying, I had several mental lists going in my head, trying to figure out how I could fit everything I needed to into my busy day. Finally, as I finished classes, I walked to my car and as I backed out, I, of course, got stuck! For those of you reading in Ithaca and other parts of upstate and Northern New York, you can understand my frustration with the massive amounts of snow in parking lots! Anyway, as I was alone, I tried rocking my car back and forth to get out, and after several minutes of failure, a student who was walking by noticed my distress, and came to the front of my car and motioned for me to reverse as he pushed. We tried several times and when that did not work, he stuck around to see if we could kick some of the snow out from under the car (because we had no shovel). Soon after, another student walked over and tried to help. He then offered to get a shovel and ran all the way to his dorm to get a shovel. The first student finally left when I suggested calling a tow truck to pull my car out, and I continued to try on my own in hopes of a miracle. After a few more minutes, the second student came back with a shovel and immediately began shoveling my car out. A few minutes later, the first student returned, saying "I don't have anything better to do, and I feel really bad that you are still stuck here." So with a few more pushes, and some excellent shovelry (get it, like chivalry), my car was out! I couldn't thank them enough for helping me. And on top of their help, they were happy to do it! As I drove away, I watched these two strangers walk back to their dorms, and couldn't be more thankful. My faith tells me that these two young men were sent by God to help me.

Today, for some, is just another day. For me, I celebrated a Holy Day, but did not take much time to really think about it in that way until these two young men came along and truly showed me the meaning of almsgiving. I am so thankful for these two students, and wish that I had asked them for their names so that I could thank them again. I thought as I drove back home about how truly good people can be, and that "we are all but dust and will return to dust..."

I wasn't sure what I wanted to "give up" for Lent this year, and I don't think that I will give anything up, but I now have an idea about what I would like to DO and work on this Lenten season. I hope that everyone is able to gain something from this post, and for those of you celebrating Lent this season, I hope that you will all consider this while you do...

Thanks again to the people who helped me today!

Monday, March 7, 2011

What a busy, busy weekend!

Happy Monday, everyone! I hope that you all enjoyed this weekend as much as I did! It was on Friday that I traveled home for the first time in a month, and I was really looking forward to all that was planned. Friday evening, I met my family for dinner at my grandmother's house - Jean's Beans, yum! For those of you who don't know about Jean's Beans, I am so sorry - while it is definitely a "once-in-a-while" treat, it is quite popular among the residents of the Thousand Island's region, especially during Lent because its specialty is Fish Fry! My mom, who is just as busy as I am, thought that Lent had already begun and planned the Fish Fry dinner a littler early - nonetheless, it was great to spend time with family, and stuff ourselves with delicious Watertown treats! After dinner, I spent time with my boyfriend, Tony, and his sister and brother-in-law. It is always so nice to spend time with my friends and family when I get the chance to come home, even though it can be hard to fit everything in to just a few days!

The weekend really started to get busy as soon as I woke up, bright and early, on Saturday morning when my mom and I went to our friend Allison's Zumba class, at LaFargeville Central where they both work. Even though I'm not always happy to wake up early, it really is great to start the day with a work out! Saturday afternoon I met up with Jessica Renzi, Miss New York 2003, at her house in Watertown for a modeling lesson. Jess has been so supportive of me in my year as Miss Thousand Islands, and is always willing to help! I so appreciate her and her valuable insight. We worked on "the walk" and of course, afterwards, we had a little pageant talk! Thanks for everything, Jess!

Sunday was the 4th Annual Teens for Miracles Fashion Show held by A Touch of Grace to raise money for our local Children's Miracle Network Hospital at Samaritan Medical Center. I was so honored to be the hostess of this amazing event, especially after having been a volunteer model for two years. The event is really fun for everyone - the models AND the audience. Those who watch the fashion show get to see all of the most popular prom styles of the season, and the models get to dress up and get their 5 minutes of fame, almost like a second prom! And there were male models, too! They borrowed tuxes from Nelson's Formal Wear and really did a great job! Ticia Marra's Stage Notes was there to provide entertainment, along with For Pete's Sake Entertainment and Production. It was so wonderful to see so many people come out to support the Children's Miracle Network, and I really had a blast! A huge thanks to Kathy & Kristan Letteire for inviting me to host the event and for all of their hard work in planning the event AND for the beautiful dress I wore, as well as all of the sponsors and other volunteers who were there to help out! To all my pageant sisters, I highly recommend A Touch of Grace for all of your pageant wardrobe needs!

With Madison Draper, one of our Miracle Children, who performed yesterday with Ticia Marra's Stage Notes!

With one of the models, Miracle Child Kaitlyn!

With friends & my brother! From left to right: Alex Weston (former soccer teammate), Tommy Barber (co-worker & neighbor), Skyler (my brother!), Olivia Speno (best friend!), Jake Speno (Liv's brother), and Lindsey Barber (neighbor)! It was great to see them all come out and donate their time to this cause!

With surrogate little brother, Zach Lanzar, and real little brother, Sky!

My dad and I! :-)

Mom & I! :-)

My pageant family, Gary and Sue, and I, minus Shelbs!

With my mom's best friend, Yasmin, and nanny Ruth!

Upcoming Events:

Friday, March 11 - North Country Goes Green Irish Festival and the Miss Ireland Pageant!
I am so excited to watch the Miss Ireland pageant this year! It has become tradition for my mom and I to go and watch the pageant at one of the North Country's most popular events, the Irish Fest! Last year, one of my good friends, Bridgette Sharlow (Miss Ireland 2009) was able to crown one of her sisters, Brittany Sharlow, as her successor. I'm looking forward to see who Brittany will pass her crown onto this year!

Sunday, March 13 - Irish Fest Parade!

Before I go, I also want to congratulate two new members of the Miss New York Class of 2011! Colleen Gagne was crowned Miss Empire Rose 2011, and Jennifer Pollard was crowned Miss Empire Star 2011 at the two-title pageant on Saturday! I am looking forward to meeting my new sisters! Congratulations, girls!

Also, I would like to wish all of the ladies competing in the upcoming pageants good luck! I wish that I could be there to root you all on in the coming weeks!