Friday, April 21, 2017

Ten Months of Silence is Too Long

Hello blogging world!! With the exception of my recent Easter post, it's been a while. Like, ten months! You wouldn't know it, but I do think about this little blog of mine quite regularly. I keep wanting to write, keep getting distracted, and then nothing happens.

Quite a while ago I even questioned why I keep this blog going at all. Blogging certainly isn't what it used to be. With so many different social media outlets available now that allow everyone to create short content and get maximum exposure, I know many bloggers are no longer blogging as much and instead are making use of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (and whatever else is popular these days) to interact with readers and create communities.

As for me, I really do prefer this platform. So I want to continue this little bitty blog of mine and I do hope to be a bit more regular. Hopefully more than every ten months! Let's definitely hope for a bit more there.

So here we go!!

First, after looking over the last couple posts I did do (wow, those are old!!), a bit of an update is in order. [And I promise to stop using the word "bit" now.]

In one of my previous posts from spring 2016 I announced that I had submitted my resignation at my job of almost 16 years. In August I had my last day and I left with many wonderful memories and promises that I'd be back to visit (and I have). It was bittersweet. I loved that job for a long time; the last few years were starting to feel hard. I still liked aspects of it but my desire to be there had definitely started to fade. I miss the people, but I was definitely ready for something new.

Once I was no longer working, the boys and I had about 4 weeks at home together before they started school. We didn't do as much as I had hoped in that time period, but we got them set for school (uniforms, supplies, etc.) and we rested and had lazy days. We all just really needed some lazy days.

Since September we entered the world of school. But only partly. I am planning on blogging about this more so you'll have to wait for the details. But, we've really enjoyed this year! Homeschooling in a hybrid or collaborative environment is interesting and it really does feel like the best of both worlds. Like I said, more soon.

We had an unexpected development in our family early this year. Hubby hadn't been feeling well for over a year and had almost no energy most days. Finally in February he got a diagnosis of Celiac Disease. It hasn't been too difficult to transition to a gluten-free diet, but it does have it's challenges. I'll likely share more about this, too. The kids and I are not completely gluten-free, though more so than we were. I am considering going 100% along with Hubby for my own health too, I just haven't bit the bullet yet.

I have plenty of ideas in my head for upcoming blog posts. Let's hope I actually make them a reality. Hope you'll stick with me (whomever is still reading). I'll share more about what school things we're doing at home, other activities, homeschooling pre-school next year, and just whatever random things pop into my head. Oh, and I hope to also blog some on Benedictine Spirituality. If nothing else, it'll benefit me to write about the things that I should be living as a Benedictine oblate.

Blessings for this Easter season to you and yours!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Easter Greetings!!

I know I've been silent on the blog for way too long (more on that in an upcoming post) but wanted to quickly pop in to say, "Happy Easter!"



Here's a picture of the twins after the early morning Mass at our parish on Easter Sunday. The twins are now 5 (almost 6) and Little Guy is 3. 

Hope Easter was a joyous celebration for everyone! Keep the Easter joy going for the next 50 days. I have another post in the works which I hope to have up soon plus a book review planned for Friday at Catholic Sistas. 

Many Easter blessings to everyone!!

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Small Success: Work, Walking, Wunderlist, and Working out, with a Dose of {Blogging} Discernment

It's Thursday and I'm jumping on the Small Success wagon over at Doesn't matter how big or small your accomplishments are, they all matter. Come on over and join the fun!!

My small successes this week are pretty darn small in my opinion. But here's goes nothing.

1. In anticipation of my upcoming resignation from my job, I have started moving files from my computer to our intranet. I had to call someone to find out how to move files within an intranet page, but once I got that figured out I was able to move things and then also add things. This is giving me a chance to clean up some too. Still a lot of clean up to do in the next two months.

2. I have been wearing a Fitbit for a while now and recently joined a challenge through my place of employment. There are prizes involved too!! I've been doing really well, getting at least 10,000 steps most days. This week has been especially good with step counts close to 13,000 on Sunday, over 11,000 Monday, and over 14,000 on Wednesday. Walking for the win!!

3. I started using the app Wunderlist to keep track of my to-do list. I have several similar apps on my iPod Touch, but this is the first one I have kept up with for more than a few days. Hoping to keep it up!!

4. I'm starting a workout challenge next week. Ack!! I sent in my measurements and pictures this week. That's the first step. Let's hope I can follow through with the next step!

5. Finally, I'm still discerning creating a new blog. The name of it has been a very long discernment process. Something finally hit me this evening on the drive home from work. Need to spend some time mulling it over, but I kind of like it. And actually, part of this discernment was whether to keep this blog going at the same time or not. I think I'll keep both because I'm seeing these two blogs being quite different from each other. Maybe there will be a bit of overlap, but for the most part they will have different focuses. We'll see where my continued discernment leads me. I'm not planning on diving in until after I'm home full-time, anyway.

That's about it for this week. Not a bad week thus far. How has your week been?? Come on over to Small Success Thursday at Catholic Mom and join the conversation there (you don't need a blog to participate, just leave a comment there).

Friday, May 27, 2016

{7QT} Final Oblation and Other Exciting News

It's been a long, long, long long time since I've done a 7QT post. As a matter of fact, I believe it's been a long time since I've done a post at all. I'm not even going to go look and see when the last post was. I'm just hoping my readers are still around. Yes??

If you are, I thought it was high time I posted again and let you know about the big things going on in our lives over here in the Bluegrass state. So let's get started!!

Back in August of 2014, myself and 8 others were invested as Benedictine novice oblates for the Archabbey of St. Meinrad. I'm pleased to report that three of us made our final oblation on Saturday April 2. It was a very special day! We all headed up to Indiana that morning with five kids in tow. The kids got a chance to run around outside the guest house for a bit, I was finally able to go to confession (after a failed attempt on Good Friday), we had the oblation ceremony in the chapel of the guest house, and then lunch with the Oblate Director. A few pictures for you:

Oblation ceremony starts

Reading my promises, Silas supervises

Signing my promises
As part of final oblation, we all also took on a new religious name. I thought very carefully about this decision because I have always felt like I did not choose my confirmation name very carefully (it's Mary, so really, it's an excellent choice). For this I really wanted to make sure I chose a patron saint who would be a good guide for me as a Benedictine. I ended up choosing St. Gertrude the Great. Read more about St. Gertrude here. I think she was a wise choice for me. So now I have three incredible patron saints: St. Ann, Mama Mary, and St. Gertrude. Interestingly, my grandmothers' names were Mary and Gertrude.

More pictures!!

Fr. Meinrad, Oblate Director, and the three newest Oblates with our families

Three new Oblates with our Oblate Director
One last word on Benedictine Oblates. We are similar to those who are part of a third order associated with the Dominicans or Carmelites or Franciscans. From what I understand of third orders, they are a part of that order as a lay person and can join a local third order group wherever they happen to live. Benedictine Oblates are actually associated with a specific monastery. So St. Meinrad's will always be my home monastery. That doesn't mean I can't attend a retreat at any other Benedictine monastery, I certainly can. But I'll always be considered a part of the St. Meinrad's community. Stability is one of the major components of Benedictine life and I believe this association with one monastery is a part of living out the virtue of stability as a lay member of the Benedictines.

So, more exciting news!! Many people have already seen this news, but many probably don't know what this means for my future. For those that don't know, on April 1, 2016 I submitted my resignation to the University of Kentucky Libraries. The following Friday, April 8, my dean made it public on his blog. This came as quite a surprise to many, but I've gotten some very positive support ever since I've been able to speak more openly about it.

So what does this mean?? That's been the most asked question I've gotten over the last month and a half. Well ... it means I'll be home with my boys. It's something I never thought I'd do, but started feeling a tug toward it about 3 years ago, and the time was finally right. It took a long time for us to get here and I'm sure I'll have moments of doubt, but overall I know this is what I am supposed to do next. I love my job, I think I'm pretty good at my job, and I've been doing it for 16 years (almost). I think sixteen years a nice long career. I've done a lot in those 16 years, so I have no regrets.

So, what is next? Good question! The twins will be starting Kindergarten this coming fall. They will be attending a classical education school that also happens to be part-time. Not half-day Kindergarten, but a part-time school from Pre-K all the way through High School. They will attend 2 days a week through the 4th grade and 3 days from 5th through 12th grades. So it's a hybrid approach: part-time in school, part-time at home. The best of both worlds, really. While they are in school Silas and I can run errands, go the gym, and have some one-on-one time.

One thing I most enjoy about my job is mentoring staff and students, teaching and training new concepts, new ideas, and helping expand people's thought processes in solving problems. I taught a class in the Library and Information Science School for several semesters a few years back which I also really enjoyed. So I'll still be getting to do some of that with my own children. I've always preferred teaching college/graduate level students and older, and I always said I'd never want to teach anything younger than college. Haha!! God definitely has a sense of humor. I'm confident I'll do fine. We're starting with Kindergarten after all.

Wow!! This is quite the post! I had intended to make this two separate posts, but as I sat down to finally do this and realized that it was Thursday night I figured it would work for a #7QT post for Friday. Looking over this I realize that there is a theme to this post: vocation. Taking on the promises of an oblate is now part of my vocation as a Christian now tied to the Benedictines. My job has felt like a vocation at times (and maybe it has been) but my more important vocation is that of wife and mother. And now I'm finally getting the opportunity to make that my focus full-time. It's scary and exciting all at the same time.

The lesson here, though, is to always be open to God's will for your vocation. You never know where it'll take you! I certainly didn't.

Many thanks to Kelly for hosting the weekly 7QTs over at This Ain't The Lyceum. Go check out her post for many more 7QT posts.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Belated 2015 Retrospective: What we've been up to

Hello 2016!! [Yes, I know, I'm a little behind.] Hello friends who might still be reading my blog!! I've gone a long time with very intermittent posts. It's been kind of a long blogging break. I'm ready to come back, but don't expect frequent posts. I'm taking my time, and heck, life is busy as a working mom of three small children who still wants to "do all the things."

But let's start this year off with a nice big update with lots of pictures. I'm killing two birds with one stone here. I never got around to doing Christmas cards this year (something that hasn't happened in forever--I even managed to do them the year Silas was born) and I haven't been sharing much on this blog for many moons, so a big update is in order.

So here's a 2015 recap:


We always celebrate birthdays, but each year is different. For the twins' fourth birthday we decided to have a party for them with friends who had similar aged kiddos. We made it extra fun by having a bubble party. Lots and lots and lots of bubbles. The weather cooperated (thank goodness because no plan B) and everyone had a great time in our backyard. Bubbles, the water table, pizza, and cake; lots of friends, great weather, no gifts. Simple and fun. The boys loved it!

Ethan with little bro Silas checking out the various bubble wands.
We had some interesting bubble wands. I think Ethan was
the only one to figure out how this one worked.
Peter and Ethan spending time at the water table.
The dads were in charge of the bubble machine.
Silas turned 2 this year!! It's so hard to believe my baby is 2 already. He has changed so much in the last year and his language has just been exploding since his birthday. My philosophy on birthday parties is to do a party for birthday #1 and then keep it small until they are old enough to start asking or noticing that other kids have birthday parties. But, we had to cancel Silas' first birthday party due to sickness, so we made up for it this year. My parents came, his godparents were both able to make it, and a few others friends as well. We still kept it simple (because that's how we roll) and I think a good time was had by all.
Opening a few gifts
Silas loves babies!! Here he is with Baby Mikey.
Birthday cupcake!! 


A bit of travel again this year. I had the usual professional conferences this year which took me to Denver in February and then a little closer to home in October for a regional meeting in Louisville.

The boys and I took a long weekend in late May to go to Atlanta to visit family. In addition, I took Silas one day and ventured up to Greenville, SC to visit college friends and celebrate my godson's First Holy Communion. Peter and Ethan enjoyed spending a day with Nanny and Papa.

Brotherly love in Hilton Head, SC
As a family we ventured down to Hilton Head Island once again to meet up with my family for a vacation. It was a bit dreary for most of the week, but we still managed to have fun on the beach one day, the pool another, took a long walk and collected sea shells, visited the Children's Museum, and took the twins to play their first ever round of miniature golf.

Chris had the opportunity in November to go on a retreat. He didn't have to go too far (our diocesan retreat center near Danville, KY), but I'm sure the break was nice for him.


Peter and Ethan started in the Pre-K class at their daycare this past August. They both have been doing great. The daycare has been great from very early on teaching letters and numbers, days of the week, calendar months, and a few other things, all in a very fun and natural way. So it has been an easy transition to starting to learn in a slightly (they are only 4 after all) more formal way. The school is using "Handwriting without Tears" and the boys have learned so much. They weren't writing much of anything prior to August. Now they can write their names and all the letters in the first half of the alphabet. They are writing numbers and practicing different writing strokes. It's been a really great program so far.

Silas is in the same school, but not doing any formal learning yet. His classes this year do calendar stuff and draw and color and do fun crafts, but it's all very organic, just as when the older boys were in those classes. He has had great teachers who love him which makes it so much easier to leave him (and his brothers) there each day.
Peter, Silas, and Ethan in December following
their Christmas Concert at the daycare


Chris and I now both have commitments at our church's Adoration Chapel. He's had his for many years now (every Tuesday at 6 AM). I used to have an hour but had to give it up during my pregnancy with the twins. This year I jumped back in and have the privilege of spending an hour with Jesus every Monday night.

Chris also took a leap of faith this year and went on the Men's Cursillo weekend in November. I wasn't sure if he would enjoy it or not, but he seemed to. I was so glad to have been able to get a sitter for the last day of his retreat so that I could attend the Closing Ceremony. 

I haven't been on a retreat in a long while but I have been working through my novice lessons for the Benedictine Oblates this past year. I've been rather slow going through them and I don't always fulfill all the obligations of an Oblate, but I'm trying. It's a work in progress. The Novice Director has been great and I love getting his feedback on the lesson answers I send him. I'm almost done, have decided on my patron saint (I'll save that for another blog post), and I think we have a date set for Final Oblation. We're all going to take a day trip up to St. Meinrad's for it in April. It should be fun!

Sometime in the past year or more I agreed to co-chair the Vocations Committee at our parish. The main thing I've been working on with that is a Vocations Crucifix Program where different families host the crucifix each week and pray for vocations. It's been a great experience and the committee and I are hoping to expand our work over the coming year.


Well, as you know I haven't been writing much on this blog this year. Most of my writing here was in January and February and then my posting took a serious nose dive for the rest of the year. But that's okay, breaks are good. Besides some "7 Quick Takes" posts and "Small Success Thursdays" I did manage to do two reviews this year. One was for Catholic Sistas on the planner being sold there (check it out HERE) and the other on a new e-Book on the Jesse Tree (check it out HERE). The Jesse Tree book was fun to review and then I used it with the kids this year. Here are a few quick pictures:

Boys hard at work coloring their ornaments

The boys' Jesse tree ornaments: three sets, different ribbons for each kid.

Our Jesse Tree with some of the ornaments

At Catholic Sistas I still maintain a once-a-month spot and I spent 2015 putting together interviews with religious men and women as part of the Year of Consecrated Life. If you're interested in seeing what I've been doing over at CS:

A book review of Soul of Christ: Meditations on a Timeless Prayer by Sr. Marie Paul Curley.

A book review of Life from our Land by Marcus Grodi.

By the way, I highly recommend both of the books listed above.

I also volunteered this year to be a part of the Gospel Reflection Team for 2016 at I was given one date to write a reflection for and submitted that back in September. I'm excited to have this tiny opportunity to branch out a bit more, especially for such a big, well-known website!

During this year long blogging break, I have been considering starting a new blog and leaving this one up as an archive. For the moment I have discerned to keep this one going, but a part of me wants a fresh start. That being said, God has made it clear that now's not the right time, so I'll wait. I anticipate there could be a change here sometime in the next year or so. We'll see what God has in store.


Something I can't really do in a Christmas letter is include a bunch of pictures. But I can here!! So here's some other highlights of the year in pictures. 
A trip to the local children's museum early in the year.
The boys LOVE helping with the laundry.
And fighting over the small vacuum to clean under the kitchen table.

A visit to a local orchard and pumpkin patch in the fall.
Halloween superheros and a tiger.
All Saints Day party, Peter as St. George, Ethan as St. Michael.
Costumes made by me, something I've NEVER done before.
Silas attended the All Saints Day festivities as St. Isidore the Farmer.
This is how some people "help" mom out.
The Birthday Boy (Dec. 2015)
Christmas Eve, everyone in Christmas jammies!

Merry Christmas!!
Christmas Day Mass, 2015
Cheating a little with this one: Jan. 2, 2016,
my very first 5K!!
From our family to yours, we wish you many blessings in 2016. 

Monday, November 09, 2015

Our Family's Jesse Tree: A Review

I am back again with another review. Because right now this is all I am able to manage on the blogging front. And I'm sure any faithful readers here (all 3 or 4 of you?) forgive me for that.

But, but, but ...

I am so excited to share something new with you! Don't be fooled by the post title, I'm not sharing MY family's Jesse Tree, but a review of a new ebook called Our Family's Jesse Tree by Jen Frost with Melinda Murphy. We have never done a Jesse Tree in my family, but with the help of this cool little book, I believe we will be diving in this year.

Just look at that cute tree on the cover of the book! I'm not sure mine is going to be as cute, but I feel like I can't go wrong following Jen's directions. It'll at least look decent. Let me explain why.

First of all, just recently in one of my Facebook groups someone asked about what sort of trees people use for their Jesse Tree ornaments. She complained that she sees all these different activities for making cute little ornaments but no where has she found anyone who made their own tree. Well ... this is the book! That tree you see on the cover of the book, you can make one just like it. Guess what is under all that cute felt. You'll never guess ... it's a traffic cone! Now, I have no idea where you get a traffic cone, but if you have access to one, more points for you. I was brainstorming and I think I may look for one of those white Styrofoam cones (I think they're Styrofoam, but even if not, I'm 99% sure I've seen something like that in a craft store) would work just as well. Anyway, my point, this book helps you make your own tree, complete with little buttons to hang your ornaments on.

I tell you what, that is one of the main reasons why I can envision using this book this year. Or at least sometime in the near future (if not this year, maybe next year ... for making the tree).

Regardless of whether we do the tree or not, we will definitely do the ornaments. [For a tree, we still have the small tree I had from my single days living in an apartment and later a townhouse, so I could use that for the time being.] The ornaments are cute as a button! And the best part is that Jen gives you 6 different ways for making them. Since my kids are little (4 year old twins and an almost 2 year old) I may print out the black and white coloring versions for the kids to color, cut them out, paste on card stock, and hang them up. Because this is an ebook, next year we can print them out and do the same thing or try something new (depending on how brave this non-crafty mom gets).

Here are four possibilities for making the ornaments
So, #1, this book helps you to make your own Jesse Tree. #2, you have a ton of flexibility on how to make the ornaments. (And did you also notice my subtle hint that even non-crafty people (Yoohoo!) can use this, too?) But wait, there's more ...

The third cool thing about this book is that the Bible readings and prayers are all included as well. Jen and her co-writer Melinda have provided an activity, Scripture reference, summary, a Jesus connection, and a prayer for each day. Since Jen and Melinda come from different faith backgrounds they also worked to make the stories and connections relevant to all Christian believers. In the intro pages she recommends that parents review the materials ahead of time and should feel free to diverge from the printed text as is appropriate for your family's faith background. I read through a few of the days and found them to be good information and very Biblical. I plan on going through it more, but from what I see so far, it all looks great and very flexible depending on the ages of your children.

All that being said, I know you all want to know the details. How can you get your hands on this nifty book? I'm glad you asked. You can get the book for $7.50 as a downloadable PDF. Now, I'm the first person to tell you that I'm not super crazy about ebooks. I like them for quick fiction reads, but not usually for much else. However, I love that this is an ebook, because you can print certain pages and have kids color these each year. Or do the ornaments one way one year and another way the next. So it works great as an ebook. Head on over to the Faith and Fabric Etsy shop HERE to get your copy today. Or, you can get it on the Faith and Fabric Craftsy shop HERE.

Look for more from me on this product soon. I am planning a second review for Catholic Sistas later in the month plus at some point you'll hopefully see an "action shot" of my kids working on their Jesse Tree ornaments. Stay tuned!

Disclaimer: I was sent a free copy of this book for review and no other compensation. My opinions are entirely my own.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Meet My Planner And Get Your Own Just Like It

Here I am back from my blogging break (for good? momentarily? we'll see) to share with you my planner. So exciting, right? Right?

I know you're super excited. You saw this blog post pop up in your blog reader or on Facebook or Twitter or wherever and I know you just thought, "Yay, Kerri is back and she is going to talk about her planner! This is the best thing ever!"

Okay, seriously, I realize you likely had none of those thoughts. That's okay, it won't hurt my feelings. But stick with me here. Because if you are in need of a new planner, especially if you tend to favor academic calendars (August to August), you will want to pay attention.

I became reliant on a planner in college and continued to use that same kind through college and grad school and into my professional career. These days I use a paper planner at work in conjunction with an electronic calendar. But that electronic calendar has some serious faults to it. So I use it, but it's mainly for work. At home, though? Not so much.

Enter the Catholic Sistas Through the Year Weekly/Monthly Planner. This is now my planner at home. And I love it!! Here's why I love mine:

The month at a glance
It has a two page monthly spread that I love for getting a quick glimpse of commitments for the month. It also has a two-page weekly spread with each day laid out in columns from left to write. This column layout works really well compared to any other calendar I've ever seen. Why? Because each column is divided into four boxes that you can label however you want. Talk about flexibility!! The top box is already filled in for you with all the Church things you need to know: saints' feast days, liturgical color, daily readings, the Rosary mysteries for the day, and more. The next three are up to you. And you can label them one way one week and another way another week. Do it by categories (Home, Work, Kids, House, Homeschooling, Blogging, etc.) or do it by time frames (morning, afternoon, night). Totally up to you.

The front of the planner also has basic prayers, a short description about prayer, pages for notes, pages for contacts, and a page describing the Proverbs 31 Catholic Women. This planner can certainly be used as much more than a planner.
My week

It also has quotes from saints scattered through the planner. On each monthly spread there is a section for notes and on each weekly spread there is a notes section and a checklist section off to the side. I have to say, the checklist section is one of my favorites. Sometimes you have a list of things you want to get done, but it doesn't matter when that week it gets done, just that it does.

To see more of this calendar for yourself, check out the Sample Pages that are up on the blog.

Other things to note: affordable price at $7.50 (plus I believe it might be half off now, so an even better deal!). You get a link to a pdf and you can print it however you want. Some people spend the money to print it up at a print shop and get it spiral bound or something. For me, I printed it at home and put it in a three-ring binder that I already had. Again, flexibility!

I printed the cover on pink card stock and put
the whole thing in a purple binder.
In addition to the calendar itself, there are bundles. I will confess that I have yet to actually use a bundle, but I love the idea of the bundles. There are three: Blogging, Homeschool, and Household. I encourage you to go look at the CS Store to learn more about the bundles (all the details there).

So are you ready to get your own now?? Currently on sale is the Academic Calendar which starts on July 27, 2015 and will go through the end of July, 2016. Perfect if you have kids in school and/or are homeschooling or maybe you are in school yourself.

This review is part of the Catholic Through the Year Planner blog tour. Follow the link HERE to see the other posts in the series.