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.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Why Remain Catholic: 7(+1) Reasons There is Only One Church for Me

I feel like over the course of the last week I've been inundated with so much information. That's a funny thing for someone like me to say. I'm a librarian (otherwise known as an "information specialist") and I do a little writing on the side, which often prompts me to stay up-to-date on current events. So information is kind of all around me, all of the time, even when I try to escape it.

There is no escape. That's the conclusion I've reached.

But this last week, oh boy! It's grown exponentially. The number of articles and opinion pieces, the Facebook posts and ensuing discussions, it seems endless. The legalization of same-sex marriage, the hold placed on the TX pro-life laws, thank you SCOTUS for bringing the culture war even more to the forefront of our lives. 

Thinking about recent events it occurred to me how different my perspective is now than it would have been had I not returned to the Catholic Church about 13-14 years ago. There was a time when I would have rejoiced in some of these recent events. Now, however, not so much. That being said, I decided that now more than ever, I should add my voice to the #WhyRemainCatholic posts from the past month. Yep, that's me, always late to the game. But at least I'm here now.

So, what are seven reasons that I remain Catholic? Let's get started!

#1 The Eucharist
No where else do you find Jesus Christ, body, blood, soul, and divinity, than in the Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist. This is a reality I was not at all familiar with while growing up Catholic. It was a stunning surprise when I learned this as an adult. This one revelation made me sink my feet in for good even while I struggled with other teachings. I knew that I would have to learn to accept everything else because I couldn't leave the Eucharist. 

#2 Humane Vitae
Wow did I ever struggle with this one. Contraception was a given in my world. I had never had reason to use it, but I had never thought twice about the fact that I would if I were to get married. I argued against this (with others and in my own head) quite a bit. Luckily for me, I also listened, even when I didn't want to. I finally looked up Humane Vitae and read it. I expected it to be long, I had never read an encyclical before and assumed it was like a book. I looked it up online one day at work, figured I'd get some info and maybe just read a bit and figure out where to buy it. I was surprised to find that it wasn't that long and I ended up reading it over my lunch break that one day. Oh. My. Word!! I never argued the point again.

#3 Confession
I received the sacrament of reconciliation for the first time in the 2nd grade. I never went again as a kid and I have no recollection of anyone in my family going beyond my younger siblings also receiving their first reconciliation. I returned to the Church in my mid-twenties and it soon became evident that I needed to make a confession. I happened to do it on a young adult retreat. I remember being nervous going in, as well as starving. It was dinner time and I hadn't eaten since lunch. When I finally went in and told the priest that it had probably been over 20 years, he was really nice and helped me along. I walked out of their feeling like a new person. The hunger was even gone, which turned out to be a blessing since we then found out that the dining hall at the camp ground had closed. Oh well!! Regardless, that feeling of being completely in God's grace, wiped clean, was amazing. I'm still not great about regular confession, but I manage it at least once a year. I still have a bit of a hang up about it, but intellectually, I know it is an amazing gift! I remain Catholic because of this gift God has given to His people in the Church.

#4 Art
Historically speaking, the Catholic Church has a treasure trove of art throughout the world. The Church was the largest patron of art for centuries, maybe the largest patron of art throughout history. I have had the opportunity to go to Rome and to see the Sistine Chapel, the Pieta, the amazing architecture of St. Peter's, and so much more. Even here in the U.S. we have amazing art in our churches, from stained glass windows and statues to beautiful architecture (arguably there are a few exceptions, but overall many traditional, beautiful examples exist). Just realizing the beauty that imperfect humans have been able to create when inspired by the beauty of God in Heaven is amazing. I appreciate art so much more now than I ever did before.
"Michelangelo-pieta". Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons -

#5 History
Before my return to the Church, I loved my college classes in music history and in European history. Music was my major (and later I did a master's in musicology, which is very history-based) and I minored in European history. I also took one art history class as an undergrad. It was in a music history class, studying the medieval times and early music, that I recognized the Church of my childhood in the Mass. Memorizing the Mass parts of a music major, I had a sudden revelation that this was the Mass. (Duh!) All those parts we were memorizing had a real meaning! It was shocking and confusing all at the same time. Then I took a survey class on early Europe while simultaneously taking an upper division class called "The Birth of Europe." The Protestant Reformation was discussed in both classes and, although I had taken classes in high school that covered the same topic, it was more revealing this time around. I remember a few things coming up about the Catholic Church and thinking, "we believe what?" The Eucharist in particular. There were several little things like that between a number of music history and European history classes stuck with me. When I did return to the Church, they all made sense. It was like carrying around a whole bunch of puzzle pieces for years and not knowing how they fit together. Then one day you walk into a building and the people there start showing you how they fit together. Before long, it all starts to make sense.

#6 Pro-Life stance
I already mentioned Humane Vitae, but I do feel it is important to mention the pro-life message separately from that. Despite growing up Catholic, I did not understand that the Church was pro-life. I was actually once very much in favor of a woman's "right to choose." This was another area that I had difficulty accepting but knew I had to learn to accept. I couldn't just accept it and move on, though. I needed to understand what I was accepting and why. I had to do a lot of reading, a lot of listening, and a lot of praying. Once I accepted the contraception teaching, it got easier to accept this one too. Once I also discovered that the science is there to support the Church's stance, I was converted fully.  I've never looked back. The fact that the Church is consistent in her teaching from the beginning is huge for me! Thank goodness for consistency!!

#7 Mary and the Communion of Saints
I love that the Church acknowledges our brothers and sisters who have gone to Heaven before us. And not just recognizes that they are there, but encourages us to ask them to pray for us. I love this idea so much that I have had a very difficult time really connecting to any one saint as a personal patron. I flit between several constantly and I'm always finding others that inspire me, so much that I never really remain connected to any one for very long. It's like ADD with the saints. Regardless, I love knowing that when we pray, we can not only place our intentions before God, not only can we ask our friends and neighbors to pray for us, but we can also ask Mary and the Communion of Saints to pray for us too. Can you imagine the number of people, both alive on earth and those alive in Heaven, that could be praying for your intentions before God at any given time?

One quick story. I had read about the Mass as being like a little glimpse of Heaven here on earth. I loved that image. Then one time, about 6 years ago, I was at Mass, trying to fully participate, but was having difficulties engaging. Just a few months previously my son Zachary had died at 22 weeks gestation. Since his death I had difficulties singing at Mass and was always on the verge of tears. At this particular Mass, I was trying to focus during the Eucharistic prayers. At one point, when the priest holds up the body and blood after the consecration, I had this immense feeling surrounding me as if the place had gotten incredibly crowded. Our altar is surrounded by quite a bit of open space and, although I couldn't see anything different, it felt different, a claustrophobic feeling with people adoring Jesus in the blessed Sacrament. At the same time I felt an extra presence right near me as well, it felt peaceful and intimate, and I felt a slight weight in my arms. It was only a split second, but in that second I felt as if my son and his sibling that was miscarried prior to him were there with me. It was an extraordinary feeling.

Bonus: I can't end this without also mentioning the amazing men who serve the Church as deacons, priests, and bishops. I have been fortunate to know many wonderful, holy priests and they make the Church better for answering God's call to devote their lives to serving His people. I'm grateful to the remarkable priests who helped me find my way back home, talked me through awkward confessions, took time to comfort my family during times of suffering, rejoiced with us, and so much more. To those many priests, thank you!

And so we have it. Seven (+1) Quick Takes for #WhyRemainCatholic. I could probably have added many more, but then it wouldn't be "quick." Since I did this post as a 7 Quick Takes, I am also linking up to Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum. So please go check out her blog and enjoy the #7QT fun.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

7 Reasons for My Blogging Absence, aka Small Success Thursday

I think one of the best ways to come back from an unintentional blog break is with a list of small successes. Start on a positive note, right? So here we go.

1. Gardening: We have quite the garden going his year. We had spinach in April and May, a bit of lettuce in early June but the rabbits got most of that, and we ended up with quite a few sugar snap peas that we are eating now. Hubby has planted our tomatoes where the spinach was, added the zucchini in next to the dying lettuce, and planted a section of string beans. I'm starting to see a few tiny green tomatoes out there and the other plants are all getting huge. I should have taken a picture today, but didn't. Sorry. Just take my word for it, the leaves on those zucchini plants are ginormous! 

2. Adoration: I officially have an adoration hour again. Every Monday night I get to spend an hour with Jesus in the Eucharist. Love it!

3. Sorting and Organizing Kids' Clothes: Plastic bins have been sorted, winter clothes put away, bins of clothes 9 month size and smaller are all in the basement, and all other bins are in one of two closets. Summer clothes in the right sizes are in the appropriate children's dresser drawers. Doing all this is very time consuming! But oh so glad to have it done!

The guest room closet, clothes from 24 months up to 5T

4. YMCA: We joined the Y in our little city. And then I started working out. I've only just started, met with a wellness coach last week and have been to work out on my own twice this week. Goal is 3 times a week, in the evenings after the kids are all in bed. Seriously cuts into my writing time, but it must be done.

5. Swim Lessons: Now that we have joined the Y, we registered the twins for swimming lessons. The next small success will be getting them into the water. No, scratch that. If we get them in the water that will be a BIG success.

6. Catholic Sistas blog series: I'm working on two series of posts for Catholic Sistas right now. One is mostly me coordinating the volunteers who are writing each post (and I have one to do as well) and one that I am doing entirely on my own. I like doing big series like these and I always think that it'll be easy. But they always turn out more time consuming than I expected. Regardless, I still like doing them. The first is our "You Did it to Me" series on the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy and the second is a series of interviews in honor of the Year of Consecrated Life (next post is scheduled for tomorrow). Go check them out, share them with others, and leave comments for our fabulous writers!

7. Work: I submitted my annual column to my new editor for our professional journal; I finally got moving again on a project that is massive and will takes years to complete but is always nagging at me; and I had my last big event to be in charge of for the faculty committee I've been chairing this year, which means my chairmanship will end on June 30 with all the boxes checked and someone else gets to take over. Very excited about that. And then I went and volunteered for something else. 

Lastly, I've been missing my blog. I keep thinking about things I want to write, but with everything I have going on right now, including a biggish project with Catholic Sistas, I have been trying to resign myself to the fact that writing here is going to be a very occasional thing. At least for the near future. For those who have been hanging with me for a while, keep checking back. I'm still here, even if just occasionally.

Linking this post up with Small Success Thursday at Come share in the fun!!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Teaching Manners

My kids actually listen to me!

This was my realization this morning when I finally figured out what my children were trying to tell me while we listened to their Veggie Tales CD on the way to work and school (for the gazillionth time). Last week they were trying to tell me something about the Veggie Tales not saying please. And they were very adamant about it. I wasn't sure what they were referring to and they eventually dropped it.

Then this morning they started telling me again about how someone wasn't saying please. From their seats in the back row of my van I usually can't hear their tiny voices while this CD is playing. So they'er trying to tell me something, I keep shutting the CD off, I don't understand what they are talking about, I turn it back on, and the cycle starts again.

But I got it today! The CD finally hit on the song "Give me oil in my lamp" and they started yelling from the back, "The Veggie Tales not saying please, they not saying please!"

Ah, Veggie Tales, my almost 4 year old twins think you need a lesson in manners, apparently.

Despite how many times I remind my kids to say please instead of "I want" or "give me," it's good to know that they are listening. Hopefully they will put it into practice more eventually, too.

Listen to "Give me oil in my lamp" by the Veggie Tales HERE.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Seven Toddler Quick Takes #7QT

Happy Easter Friday!!

My toddlers just crack me up. If you're a parent of a toddler or have been a parent of a toddler, you know what I'm talking about. I have twin toddlers that are 3. Between them and the 15 month old, who runs after them any chance he gets, our house can be quite entertaining (and loud). I thought it'd be fun to share some of the entertainment with you all.

While reading about Easter from a great book I found: {opening the door on the scene of the Last Supper} "That Judas, he bad!"

During the very beginning of Good Friday service (we were sitting in the front row) and seeing the priest and deacon prostrate in front of the altar: "Mommy, he sleeping?"

I had emphasized the veneration of the cross prior to the Good Friday service, but we had gone over the whole story beforehand, multiple times (see #1 above). So at one point Peter leans over to me and asks, "Where the tomb?"

On laundry: "We wear the clothes, we wash the clothes, we put them away, and we wear them again!" {Imagine toddler with his hands out, palms up, as he explains this to me. I'd like to know more about the "we" part of this process because right now it seems to be mostly me.}

On why we are still talking an hour after we were told to go to sleep: "We not talking, Baby [or Monkey or Puppy or Snoopy or whatever animal they happen to have in their hands] talking."

Okay, whatever kid. Tell the stuffed animal to go to sleep.

Most of time Silas doesn't get to play with his older brothers. He either wants to be with mom or dad or plays on his own. But he definitely doesn't like playing on his own. He tries to play with the twins, but they often won't play with him, which ends in some crying, usually Silas. Every once and a while though, the twins make a game out of Silas chasing them around the house. At those times I hear, "The ladybug, the ladybug coming!" "Watch out, ladybug coming." "There's the ladybug!!"

Don't ask me how Silas became "the ladybug" and why a ladybug is scary. I have no clue.

Our night time prayers consist of the Guardian Angel prayer followed by asking Jesus to bless a list of family and friends. We list our priests at the end and a few months back we added an intention for our diocese to get a new bishop. We've been sede vacante since February 2014, but hadn't thought to add this intention until recently. Then of course we got word the very next week of who our new bishop would be. Funny how that happens! Anyway, so we added his name to the end of our prayers. Ethan has this funny way of adding extra syllables to what we say and neither child same initial "S" sounds very well yet. So we end up getting something like "... and for our new Bishop-elected 'Tow." {Should be Bishop-elect Stowe} Hubby and I have stopped trying to correct him.

Have a great weekend all!! And don't forget to check out more 7 Quick Takes posts over at Kelly's page, This Ain't the Lyceum.

Friday, March 27, 2015

{7QT} On Parenthood, Writing, and Adoration

Hello! Anyone out there? If you are, I just want you to know that I have not forgotten this dear little blog of mine. I may have a trillion things going through my brain at any given time, but thoughts of this blog and what I might want to write about are often at the forefront. You wouldn't know it right now since things seem so neglected over here, but I promise that the wheels are spinning.

One day, more will happen. Just in one of those seasons of my life right now. BUT!! I come here today to share a little bit of what our life looks like right now in the form of a Quick Takes post. Thanks to Kelly at This Ain't The Lyceum for hosting!

Potty training. I told some coworkers (who both have grown kids now) that potty training has got to be the hardest part of parenthood. And if it's not, please don't tell me otherwise right now. I don't want to know. Maybe it's because I'm doing two at once and they've been pretty resistant to the idea for a long time. Man oh man, this has been difficult. But there is good news!!

We had major breakthrough last weekend. They started cooperating more last week and we started putting them in underwear. No more protection! By Saturday they were having lots of accidents but some successes, too. Sunday they started telling us when they needed to go (or thought they needed to go). We've now been doing this a full week, I can't believe it. They are almost completely accident-free as well. It's like night and day. I think I even hear angels singing.

I promise this is not a post just about potty training. As proof: I had a book review published yesterday at Catholic Sistas (see it HERE) and I think everyone needs to go check it out and then go buy the book.

While I'm pointing you to my review at Catholic Sistas, have you also seen my series over there for the Year of Consecrated Life? If not, you should go check it out. I've done three posts so far, one as an intro and the other two are interviews. You can get to all three posts at this link HERE. I am hoping to do one interview a month through January 2016. I have one for April but could use some more. If you know someone in religious life, have them contact me to be included in this series. My email: kasclar [at] gmail [dot] com. Thanks, friends!

The weather in our area finally started to warm up. We're still wearing long sleeves and jackets in the morning, but afternoons are nice and we have had the opportunity to take a walk after dinner on a few occasions. It got cool again Thursday and will be on the cooler side for a couple days, but spring is definitely in the air. Even if we have a bit of snow on Friday, it won't stick around. I love knowing that!!

Guess what?! I finally have an Adoration hour again!! So, sometime around 2005 or 2006 I signed up to take an hour in my parish's Eucharistic Adoration Chapel. I held that spot until February of 2011 when I ended up in the hospital to have an emergency cerclage put in to keep my twins from coming early (I was almost 22 weeks at the time). I was put on bedrest and told my coordinator to just take me off the schedule. It was a 6am hour and even after the babies came I didn't know how my life would change and if doing an hour at 6am would even work. So I had to end it a bit earlier than I had planned. Since then, I've been so busy with twins and then eventually a third child got added, that I never considered finding a way to work in adoration again. But I had been feeling a nudge over the last few months and so I started looking to see where they needed people. I think I found the perfect time slot and I have now gone two weeks in a row! I'm now an evening person (9pm) and that works so much better with three small children. They are all in bed before I have to leave. It's actually quite perfect. And I love being back in there on a regular basis!! So peaceful, so amazing, one-on-one time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. We are so blessed to have such a beautiful chapel!

Okay, so I'm going back to the topic I kicked this post off with: potty training. Hey, it's a big deal. Anyway, very, very early Thursday morning (3 AM) I was awoken by a tiny voice right next to me. In the dark I could see one of my children standing there, but since they look identical I had no idea which one had woken me. It was 3 AM!! Turns out he needed to go potty!! I woke up so fast and practically leaped out of bed. I was so proud of him!! Woke himself up, came and got me, sat and actually went, and then went back to bed. Can night training be a possibility already???

Feels good to be adding something to the blog again! Hope you enjoyed and I hope to be back sooner rather than later. And don't forget, go check out This Ain't The Lyceum for more #7QT posts.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Desert, Water, and Prayer

In my studies as a novice for the Benedictine Oblates I receive monthly lessons to read with questions to reflect on. There was one in the first 4-5 months that gave a little history of hermits and monks in the Christian tradition. It was interesting to read, but one particular part stuck out.

I learned in my reading that the first Christian hermits went out into the desert to battle evil spirits and to encounter the devil. In early Christian times the desert was thought of as the place where the devil lived. These hermits were not trying to escape the evils of the world (as if often thought, even today, of people who join a cloistered monastery or convent), but to pray for the world to be rid of evil spirits. They were doing the battles against evil so that others didn't have to.

It was a noble thing which took much perseverance and, let's face it, a lot of guts!

Eventually, hermits gathered followers and they were no longer as alone as they would have wanted. Thus monasteries started forming and we had the beginnings of Christian monks living in community.

[I am qualifying "monks" because the idea of monks is even more ancient than Christianity. I do not know the history of Buddhist monks or any other religious monks, I'm only speaking of monks in Christian terms.]

Yesterday I was thinking about this a lot. I decided for Lent this year to participate in the Lenten Photo Challenge hosted by Catholic Sistas. I am not a photographer and I am not super creative in the visual arts. So this has truly been a challenge for me. Tuesday's word was "desert." I was at a total loss, but I kept thinking about the early hermits and why they sought out the desert as the place to live their lives for God.

After dinner, a thought struck me as I was trying to guzzle down more water. Water!! Yes, the exact opposite of the desert is water.

As it turns out, I am currently in Denver, CO for a week-long conference. I learned, just before coming here, that due to the altitude, it is very important to drink lots of water. Altitude sickness is a real thing. So I bought some six packs of water at a local convenience store and will likely be getting more in another day or two.

I reflected on this tonight and thought about the need the body has for water, not just here in the Mile High City, but also in places like the desert. It occurred to me that water is necessary for the physical body in the desert, so the hermits of the early Church needed water just as much as they needed God. They needed to not only strengthen their spirit through prayer and a relationship with God, but they also needed water for their physical strength.

So, yes, I took a picture of water for today's desert theme, but it still works. For me, I see water as a symbol of life and you cannot survive in the desert without it. In the same way, we cannot survive spiritually without prayer, which leads us to a more intimate relationship with God.

Without water we would die physically, without prayer we would die spiritually. So drink up and don't forget to hydrate as well.

Friday, February 20, 2015

{7QT} Snow, Snow, Snow, and Fun Links

We've been cooped up all week due to the weather. No school, no work. We've had some days when we've all stayed in PJs and others where we all get ready with nowhere to go. We've watched a lot of TV, shoveled a lot of snow, and read a lot of books. A snowfall like this one (about 10" on Monday and another 2-3" on Wednesday) is very unusual for our area of Kentucky. My husband tells me it has been about 20 years since the last time KY had snow like this. So this Quick Takes is all about our week being cooped up together because of the weather.

We knew the snow was going to start before we woke up Monday. We knew it was predicted to be a big one (anywhere from 8-14"). We knew, too, that our garbage collection was Monday and they usually came early. So Sunday night, Hubby gathered the trash and got it all out to the curb before it got too cold (we were getting pretty cold temps, too). We hoped that maybe they would start earlier than normal to try to get routes done before the snow got too bad. No such luck. Our trash is still sitting by the curb.

So when your trash cans are down on the curb and you have about 10" of snow on the ground that is taking forever to clear off the wrap-around-to-the-back-of-the-house driveway and the diaper pail is starting to fill up again, what do you do??

I had to be a little discriminating on which diapers went into the pail and which had to wait. That's all I'm saying.

In anticipation of the snow, Hubby picked up some sweetened condensed milk at the store on his last run on Sunday and then put a large bowl out on our back porch Monday morning. Later in the day we gathered some snow from the large bowl and made snow cream. He put it all together but from what I understand it was basically the sweetened condensed milk, some vanilla, a little bit of maraschino cherry juice all mixed together and then mixed into some snow. It was actually pretty good.

Hubby got outside and shoveled a few times on Monday just in an attempt to keep up with it. He was able to do about 7 or 8 feet in front of our garage, plus the walkway between the driveway and the back porch, and cleared out the snow from in front of the drier vent. Each time he went out to shovel he was basically shoveling a few more inches from that same area. Just enough to get the small car out of the garage, but not quite enough to get the van out. As a result we had a mountain of snow sitting about 8 feet from the back of the garage.
You can see the pile starting to mount in the middle of our driveway.
The garage is actually just out of view to the right of the photo.

Tuesday I went out and helped. I'm completely out of shape, haven't exercised in forever, and I was out there chipping away at the layers and layers of snow. It was a great workout. One of the boys didn't want me to leave them in the house, so he told me I had 6 minutes only (why 6 minutes I have no idea). The two of them (baby was napping) sat by the large kitchen windows watching us for a while. At one point, I heard knocking on the glass, turned around, and through the glass one of the twins reminded me that it had been 6 minutes (in reality it had probably been 15 by then). I told him I still had five more. Eventually they both got bored and went back to watching TV.

I have not been good about actually showering every day this week. What's the point, really? I know I did one morning, another I skipped completely, and on Wednesday I showered and dressed while the baby took his afternoon nap. I didn't bother drying my hair after that Wednesday afternoon shower since I wasn't planning on going anywhere. So I walked downstairs with wet hair and Peter sees me and starts trying to ask about my hair. He kept pointing and saying, "Your hair it's, it's ..." I waited for him to find the right word. I was just about to say "wet" when he said. "it's not pretty."

Awwwww! Kids say the cutest things!

Okay, let's get away from the snow for at least one of these takes. Two quick links to share with you. First, my little blog here was featured on Wednesday in a new series on Catholic Sistas. You can check out the "Fabulously Featured" post HERE and be sure to follow Catholic Sistas to get all the great posts in addition to the "Fabulously Featured" posts to feature various Catholic bloggers on Wednesdays. Second, my post on Catholic Sistas today is the first interview I did for the Year of Consecrated Life series I started this year. Please go visit the post HERE and leave a comment for Sr. Anne Joan and share the post with others. I think this is a great way to honor this Year of Consecrated Life.

Thanks for stopping by and please go visit Kelly for more Quick Takes posts. I hope everyone has a good weekend. Stay warm!!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Snow Small Successes

It's been a whole lot of snow this week. The university I work for was closed Monday and Tuesday, open Wednesday (though they probably shouldn't have been) and Wednesday night they cancelled classes and called a "Plan B" for essential employees for Thursday and Friday. My kids' daycare has been closed all week so far and I expect them to be closed Friday as well. So I've been home all week. And the roads are terrible, so Hubby has been home too.

So far, I believe we've had 12 inches of snow. Ten of which all came on Monday, starting around 2 am and not ending until around dinner time or so. That's a lot of snow for one day. Heck, that's a lot of snow for Kentucky! Then we got two more inches between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning plus it snowed off and on (light snow showers) during the day Wednesday.

Now, I'm not one who gets cabin fever much at all. Maybe it's because I'm often away from home, so when I get a chance to spend a few days at home, I don't mind it. But it's been so cold and all this snow has made it hard, no, impossible to get out that I think I may be starting to feel the effects of a tad bit of cabin fever. Hopefully I'll get a chance to get out soon. Probably not today, hopefully by Friday.

How, you are probably asking yourself, does this have anything to do with my week's small successes? Well, I'm making it work. Here we go.

Saturday it snowed quite a lot in the morning. We were planning on family coming in from about an hour away for dinner that night and I really started wondering if we should cancel. I hate the idea of people putting in a long drive and then getting stuck somewhere. But we waited it out and I kept checking my messages for a cancellation on their part. Right about 3pm, the snow started to lighten up and the sun came out enough to melt things. It was actually quite impressive. By the time out guests arrived you wouldn't have known it had snowed much more than just a dusting. Anyway, the whole point here though was that I did some nice cleaning around the house for once. The nice thing was that Hubby occupied the children for an hour or so while I made beds and vacuumed our entire upstairs (two tasks that were long overdue). But it felt great to have those things done!

Tuesday's mound of shoveled snow,
almost as tall as me.
After our big snow fall on Monday, I got out on Tuesday and helped Hubby shovel the driveway. I haven't done anything physical in a very long time. It felt good, actually, to put in some physical labor. We didn't clear off our entire driveway, but we got enough to get the cars out of the garage (eventually).

Also on Tuesday, we helped a neighbor from up the street get his car moving. He had gotten stuck in the snow in front of our next door neighbor's house. So Hubby and I and the next door neighbor all helped push him out (after a lot of back and forth) and got him moving up the hill. He then got stuck at the top of the hill trying to turn the corner. Hubby and I walked up the hill to try again, but didn't have as much luck that time. Eventually some other neighbors came out and someone else got in the driver's seat and got the car moving. Lesson of the day: Don't leave the house!

What are your week's small successes? Come join the fun at

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Small Successes Again!

I don't know how Thursday always comes up so quickly each week. One minute I'm thinking it's the slowest week ever {It's Tuesday? Darn, I thought tomorrow was Friday.} and the next thing I know it's Thursday and it's time for Small Successes at Catholic Mom.

So here we go ...

I unpacked a box that has been sitting under the desk in our kitchen since we moved into the house in August 2013. I can push the chair in now! I tell you what, I am the queen of clutter. I'm trying to decrease it, but it is so hard. I was in pillage mood Wednesday night, though. One box done, 397827303 more to go.

I mopped the floor in my kitchen, specifically under the kitchen table. Sweeping and/or vacuuming are normal activities and Hubby usually handles steam cleaning the horrible, awful tile in the kitchen, but it had gotten really bad and I had had enough. I still don't know how the steam cleaner works, but I still have my old spray mop with some cleaning liquid still in it. So I grabbed that for a quick once over. It's not perfect, but at least it looks better.

I don't know how it happened but my writing list for February is kind of long. I also have a trip coming up for work at the end of the month, so not only is it a short month to begin with but my trip makes it even shorter (unless I bring the laptop with me, which I am trying NOT to do). And then, driving to work one morning this week I was thinking about how I've always wanted to write fiction but I'm my own worst enemy when it comes to ideas. I told myself I needed to stop thinking about it so much and let the Holy Spirit guide me. Two seconds later I was hit on the head with an idea that I know I could not have come up with on my own! I was actually seeing scenes play out in my head and I got chocked up, even. That's all I need is more writing on my to-do list. I managed to write out a 1400 word synopsis and brief character descriptions within a few hours, but now I'm letting it percolate.

So, where is the success here? Despite adding to my writing list (long-term anyway, not just February), I did manage to finish two items from the list. You can see one HERE. I have one week to finish up the rest of the list! And a related success (at least in my mind), I managed to listen to the Holy Spirit and not myself. Amen!

Join the small success fun at Catholic Mom today!

Friday, February 06, 2015

Seven Quick Takes: In Which I Finally Make an Appearance #7QT

I haven't participated in 7 Quick Takes in a long time, so this is my first one to link up with new host Kelly Mantoan at This Ain't The Lyceum. Hello Kelly and all of Kelly's readers!!

Check out Kelly's blog as well as all the link-ups to all the 7 Quick takes posts. Lots of Friday Fun!

QT 1
I have decided: the worst part of parenthood is potty training. We started out trying to work with both twins at once, which was a nightmare. A little over a week into it we had a brief sickness hit almost everyone in the house (thankfully it was brief for each person and mostly a minor bug). I went back to diapers temporarily because we weren't making any progress anyway and everyone already felt bad. Why make things worse. When all was better I started back in with only one twin. The other is happily in diapers for now. The one who is potty training is making very, verrrrrry, verrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry slow progress. But it's getting better. {That's what I keep telling myself, anyway.}

If you see me around and I look defeated, this is why. I think it's going to take from now until the boys start kindergarten to get them both trained. {Words of encouragement are most welcome.}

QT 2
One of my coworkers retired this week. It was kind of sad to think that she wouldn't be around the office any longer. I know we'll still see her, I expect she'll be back to check out books and to say hi, but it won't be quite the same. She and I had adjoining office spaces for the first several years we worked together and would often be able to push our chairs back to the edge of the barrier to chat. She also helped me get involved in my parish when I was new to town and I'm incredibly grateful for that (met my husband there!). She will be missed, but I'm sure she is going to enjoy retirement!

QT 3
I updated the appearance of my blog. Do you like it? I wanted something a little cleaner looking and wanted to go back to a white background. I also no longer liked the look of having both a right and left sidebar, so I trimmed the sidebar content and moved it all to the right side. There is still a ton of stuff I want to do to clean things up, just have to find the time to do it. Haha!

QT 4
I have been so discouraged lately by the vitriol I see on social media regarding vaccines. I see so many people just downright attacking people on the other side of the issue and belittling and demeaning people. It's not right and it's certainly not Christian. I don't care what "side" you are on, be respectful. Just because someone chooses not to vaccinate or selectively vaccinate doesn't mean they just read an article or two through Google and/or are following the advise of some nobody Hollywood personality. Don't assume that those who make different choices than you are irrational idiots and certainly don't call them that. If you wouldn't say it to their face, don't say it to them on social media (or a radio program or whatever platform you are able to use to get on your soapbox). It's not nice, it's not Christian, and it's not the way to have a rational discussion on an important issue.

QT 5
And to add to the above, regardless of which side you advocate, I hope everyone will recognize that one of the biggest objectives many people have to some vaccines is that aborted fetal tissues make some of them unethical. Yes, we as Catholics can still use them, but if we do, we need to make our objections known to the manufacturer. That being said, there is a petition currently up on to ask Merck to bring back the single dose measles and mumps vaccines (i.e., not combined together along with rubella (MMR)) that were ethical alternatives to the combined vaccine (currently the only one available in the U.S.). If you want more people to receive the vaccine, sign the petition!! And also, write a letter to Merck expressing your concern for ethical vaccines to be made available so that more people will be open to receiving the vaccines (I plan on doing it this weekend). Pro-vaccines, anti-vaccines, selective vaccines, whichever side you fit into, IT DOES NOT MATTER! Go sign the petition and let Merck know you want them to offer ethical alternatives.

QT 6
Lately, each night when we put the kids to bed I give them one last kiss once they are tucked into bed and tell them I love them. I also then ask them, "Who else loves you?" And they answer back, "God loves me." It's so cute! They occasionally add other names too, like St. Teresa or St. Joseph. I really don't know where they picked up the saint names, but I love that they have remembered them from somewhere.

QT 7
We haven't gotten nearly the amount of snow as places like Chicago and Boston have the last couple weeks. But when we do get some, the boys love looking at it and touching it. Then I have cute conversations like this:

Ethan: "Who drops the snow?"

Me: "Who drops it?"

Ethan: "Who drops snow from the sky?"

Me: "You tell me, who drops the snow?"

Ethan: "God drops snow. And Jesus!"


Go check out more #7 QT posts over at This Ain't The Lyceum!

Thursday, February 05, 2015

The Week's Successes: Shoes, Cleaning, Prayer

Happy Thursday! The great part of "Small Success Thursday" is that it's almost the end of the week, but not yet THE end of the week. So you're still in the drudges, trying to make it to the weekend, but it is just out of grasp. What a great time to think about the things we have accomplished so far. Even if they are minuscule. Doesn't matter how big or how small, a success is a success.

There's your pep talk for the week. You're welcome.

For weeks I've been saying that we need to get new shoes for the boys. All three of them! This past Saturday we finally did just that (after a stop to get haircuts for all four boys, which was the first haircut for Silas). Even with both Hubby and I there, three small boys in a shoe store is quite the challenge. Especially with a new walker who wanted nothing else but to play on the stairs and ramp that led down to the children's section of the store. But in the end, all three boys got shoes. 

Silas was not sure what to think at first. Hubby described his attempts to walk in shoes for the first time as like a cat with duct tape on its paws.

I did some vacuuming. That's it. Success enough for me!

After weeks of thinking about it (or maybe the Holy Spirit was just bugging me about it) I finally went to church one night and spent an hour with Jesus in the Adoration Chapel. I need to make this a weekly thing, but for now it was nice to just get there and remember what it is like to spend a peaceful hour before the Blessed Sacrament. It also gave me a chance to do Evening Prayer without any interruptions. I do plan on getting on the schedule permanently, but since I'm going out of town in a few short weeks, I figure I'll wait till after that to make it a permanent commitment.

What are your small successes this week? Join the fun at

Friday, January 23, 2015

Better Late Than Never

For most of Silas' first year I managed to get a picture up at least once a month to track the many changes that happen over the course of a year. But after month 11 I fell silent. But if you've been reading for some time you may have noticed that I wasn't blogging on much of anything the past month or so.

So this is rather late, but ...

Happy Birthday, Silas!!!

He's so stinking cute!!

We had a birthday party planned for him for the Saturday just after his birthday, but ended up canceling it after sickness started going through our house. I was so glad we canceled! Silas wasn't feeling well, Hubby was on and off not feeling good, and then Sunday I caught a bug and was totally out of it that whole day. So this was better. The day the party should have been (which is when the above picture was actually taken), everyone was doing pretty okay. Silas wasn't the happiest, but he wasn't yet at the worst of what he would end up dealing with over the next week-plus.

Regardless, his Godmother came to see us anyway and she brought cupcakes. So we had a mini-celebration, Silas for a cupcake sans frosting, and we opened a couple gifts.

I can't believe my baby is 1. He's now walking, wearing 9 month size clothes, is getting close to 18 pounds, and knows how to stand up for himself when big brothers try to take toys out of his hands. The walking thing is hilarious. It is slowly becoming his favored method of mobility, but it's so funny to see this teeny tiny baby walking so well. He doesn't look big enough to walk!

Overall, not the best of birthday celebrations, but that's okay. He'll have plenty more in the future.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Small Success Thursday: Interviews and Blogging

Another week has gone by and I'm struggling to figure out where my successes are (which is also why I'm doing this so late in the day, too). I'm reminded each week when I do this that because I struggle is exactly the reason I need to do this. So here we go.

I wrote a blog post for Catholic Sistas last Friday. I wasn't sure I was going to get that one off the ground, but it is an introduction to a series of posts I'll be doing over the next year. It is in honor of the Year of Consecrated Life that Pope Francis declared. I'll be interviewing (hopefully) people in consecrated/religious life and sharing those on the blog from now until next January. Hopefully we can also do something on February 2, 2016 for the World Day of Consecrated Life, but I haven't thought that far ahead yet. Anyway, if you want to see my first post it is here: Pope Francis Declares a Year of Consecrated Life. You'll be able to see the interviews on Catholic Sistas as well, just check in on the 3rd Friday of each month, or better yet, subscribe to the CS feed! We'll have a category in the pull down menus at the top for "Year of Consecrated Life" that will get you to all the posts as well.

I'm very excited about this, I have two interviews in hand, one other that I'm expecting to come back to me soon, and the possibility of at least one more plus a few lead for others. I don't know of any other big efforts this year for this Year of Consecrated Life, so I'm excited to be doing this one at CS.

For my novice year as a Benedictine Oblate I have monthly lessons to read and reflection questions to answer. I don't have to submit answers to the Oblate director, but I feel like I should so he knows that I am actually reading them. I had fallen behind, hadn't submitted anything, but had scratched a few notes in the margins next to the questions. I finally went back and reread the five months of lessons and typed up some replies to the reflection questions. Just yesterday I finally sent him my answers/reflections to the first 3 lessons. Only 2 more to go! (Although, I'm expecting to find Lesson #6 in the mail any day now.)

I completed a "featured bloggers" interview for Catholic Sistas. That sounds weird, since I write for CS, but I'm also a blogger on my own (obviously) and when our fearless CS leader said she wanted to do a series of posts with different Catholic bloggers (including any of us) I decided I should. So I managed to fill out the interview and submit it yesterday. It was kind of nice to do because it actually got me thinking more about my blog and what I do (and don't do) here. Plus I've been considering some changes so it offered my the opportunity to do some reflecting on the whole purpose and future direction of my teeny tiny corner of the blogosphere.

Speaking of interviews, I also participated in the "Working Mother" interviews that Erin McCole-Cupp conducted as a promotion for her novella Working Mother. My interview went up today, so go check it out HERE.

For more Small Success Thursday posts, go check out It's always a fun time!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Giveaway at a Favorite Website!

One of my favorite websites is And not because they do weekly giveaways, because they do, but that's not my reasoning.

Though it helps. I won't deny that.

And I've actually won an item or two here and there as well.

So okay, that is one of my big reasons for following them. But really, they have a lot of great content too. And you don't have to be a Catholic Mom to enjoy it.

This week's giveaway looks awesome. A beautiful rosary! Gorgeous! Tiny Saints. I love Tiny Saints! I have a St. Anne from Tiny Saints. They make great gifts to children, Godchildren, and anyone else who likes cute saints. And several books that all look perfect for my reading list.

So go check it out HERE. And then spread the love. :)

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Small Success Thursday: Blogging, Feedly, Cataloging

The weeks keep zooming by! I keep promising myself that I will blog more, even just one post a week (that is, one in addition to this one) and then all of the sudden it is Thursday again. How does that keep happening? In all my 30-something years ... oh wait. Nope, that's not right. I'm 40 now.

So maybe it's just an age thing. Remember those days when you thought you'd never be a teenager or an adult or ... you get the idea. Now it just all speeds by. But in the midst of this whirlwind we call life, I still manage to get a few things done here and there. This week it was:

I got my Friday article (as in tomorrow) for Catholic Sistas completed, finished, and scheduled on Sunday evening. That never happens! Not only that, but I may soon be done with my February article too.

For a brief time on Tuesday afternoon my Feedly account was empty. Yep, I caught up on all my blog reading. What the what?!?!

Seriously, it's like the twilight zone over here.

At work I have a goal of cataloging 40 scores a month. Thing is, I have so many that need to be done that I really need to be doing more than 40. Much more! So 40 is still the goal, but in reality I'm hoping to be a lot more. As of now, I've exceeded my January goal. 58 scores so far! I have to focus on doing staff evaluations now, but hoping to get that number even higher before the end of the month. So far so good, though!

Check out more Small Successes today at

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Small Success Thursday, No. 16

I unpacked one box sitting in my basement.

Part of my effort to get better organized this year. It was mostly candles of all shapes and sizes and other things that produce scents. I never use any of that stuff, ever. And now with a kid with asthma, I have a good excuse to get rid of it all. I already have several friends wanting to take some off my hands. Yay!

I've gotten a ton of laundry done this week. And all folded too. Most put away, but not all.

I wrote thank you notes from Christmas. Quite an accomplishment since I was pretty slack about doing so since Silas was born. Three kids and working full time finally pushed me into a place where sending any sort of birthday cards or thank you notes just didn't happen. Hopefully I'm now coming out of that place and will be better about this in the future. Hopefully!

No success is to small. Join in on the fun over at!!

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Looking back on 2014, Forward to 2015

Hello again, dear readers!! It's been a long time. The end of the year got crazy and blogging fell to the wayside. I'm back and hope to be a bit more regular, we'll see if it works out or not. Ha! If you've followed this blog for a long time you know how it goes. I'll be here for a while and then I'll disappear for a time. Hopefully this is one of those times when I am back. #crossingfingers

So, since I've been MIA for a time, I thought I'd give some highlights from the previous year. I'll be as quick as possible.

January 2014: newborn baby, twins got RSV, continued struggles with nursing

February 2014: I attended a conference for my profession in Atlanta and took the two-month old with me. Thankfully he was great, slept a lot, and nursing felt better (though it never felt "natural").

March 2014: went back to work, had to settle into a pattern of nursing, pumping, daycare drop off and pick ups, and getting to work close to on-time.

April 2014: Another trip to Atlanta, this time the whole family went. We celebrated my brother's wedding from the previous fall (they got married in San Francisco). It was a fun party.

May 2014: Birthdays! Hubby turned 43 and the boys turned 3. Hubby built our garden boxes.

June 2014: Gardening and new windows (18!!) for our house.

July 2014: Peter got sick, difficulty breathing, ended up at the doctor office for several hours then the emergency room, and finally an overnight hospital stay. Diagnosis: pneumonia. Also, failed attempt at potty training.

August 2014: Peter gets sick again, exactly a month later. Another trip to the emergency room, no overnight stay this time, but a different diagnosis. More doctor appointments over the next week, diagnosis: asthma. Also this month, I was invested as a Benedictine Oblate Novice.

September 2014: Trip to the beach! Family vacation in Hilton Head. Fun times! Boys still hate the water (although Ethan did get in the pool twice over the course of the week). Silas (now 8/9 months old) seemed to enjoy the water. Maybe I'll get one water kid out of this bunch.

October 2014: normal life, all kind of a blur.

November 2014: I turned 40. My birthday gift to myself was to stop pumping. Silas started on whole milk. (And the heaven's sang with joy!)

December 2014: Silas turned 1, the daycare did their Christmas program, and we had a quiet family Christmas at home, just the 5 of us. Oh, and Christmas miracle!! I planned our Christmas dinner AND did all the cooking. Yes, me! I know, crazy, right?!

With 2014 over I can look back in awe at what all was accomplished. How we managed to do the things we do with two toddlers/preschoolers and a baby ... I have no idea. When you're in the thick of it you just do it. Then you look back later and think, "How in the world??" I'm still kind of in the thick of it but feeling a bit more capable with each passing day. This is probably why blogging had to take a back seat recently, just too tired of the day-to-day stuff to fit in the time for blogging.

Onward ho to 2015!!

This year I am working on making myself a better person and, hopefully, in the process, my family will become better and stronger as well. I don't like "resolutions" but prefer to think of these as personal goals. (Yes, yes, no real difference, but it makes me feel better, let me have this one.)

First of all, I've heard a lot of people choosing a word to focus on each new year. This year I am focusing on the word industrious. I have a big reason why this word is my focus this year, but I can't share that quite yet. However, it fits well because this is the kind of thing that I know I need to work on right now, for a variety of reasons involving both my home and my work.

My other personal goals for this year (many fit in with the idea of being more industrious) are:

To become better organized
I need (NEED!!) to be better organized in many areas of my life. Just before Thanksgiving I completely organized my desk at work: cleaned out files, cleaned off my desk, dusted my desk, found old buried (literally) problems and fixed those, rearranged my organizational system (well, okay, basically created one out of the chaos), and set up a whole series of folders and accessible files, etc. I feel better about getting things done at work because I can see everything. In the last month of work before the winter break I got a ton of stuff done. I want the same thing at home.

I need to be better organized in so many ways. I want to organize the mess that is our basement, I want more shelving in our storage area and better/more shelving in the toy room, I need to declutter, declutter, declutter, and I need to organize my desk space and other working space. There is so much that needs to be done in this area. I probably have rich fodder here for future blog posts.

Eat Healthier/Get Exercise
The perpetual goal. One thing I realized recently though is I can't take everything on at once. That's how I end up failing. I can work on eating healthier along with the organizational thing, but I think I need to put the exercising off a month or two. I just need time to get other things in order first. It's not procrastinating, it's keeping my sanity. So I have some plans of attack in my mind and hope to institute those in the coming months.

Daily Family Prayer Time
#1 We've been slackers here with the exception of before meals and before bed with the kids. I want something more now and I think the boys (the twins, anyway) are old enough to at least listen while Hubby and I pray and eventually join in here and there. I know ti won't be perfect, but we have to start something.

#2 We need a prayer space in our home. I think this will help with some focus and helps to set the mood. This also fits in with the organizing aspect of my year. I have plans for rearranging some furniture and taking some tips from The Little Oratory for giving us a small space in our home as a prayer corner.

TV Time and Bedtime
I'm making a conscious effort this year to turn off the TV by 10 PM each night and I plan on eliminating TV during Lent this year. I am also planning on being in bed by 11 or 11:30. I've been terrible at getting myself to bed at a decent time for a few months now and the TV was a big part of the problem.

Gee, I wonder why I have a hard time adding exercise into my day. #duh

(Shhhh, I'm breaking this rule tonight just to write this post ... and to bake brownies for a work function tomorrow. << That's a good excuse for being up late, right? Oh wait, I'm supposed to be eating healthier, too. #DietAlwaysStartsOnMondays)

Read More
It makes me sad that I used to be such an avid reader and now can barely make it through 2-3 books a year. But I seriously want to make reading more of a priority this year. I remember reading in one of Matthew Kelly's books how by reading just 5 pages of a good spiritual book each day we can get through several books in a year and thus grow immeasurably in our faith (I don't remember the exact stats, but they were impressive). This extends to several things for me:

  1. Reading the Gospel reading for each day (and I found a great app to help me with that)
  2. Always working on reading a good spiritual book, even just a few pages a day (I have plenty of unread books on my shelves, plus I'm open to doing book reviews either here or at Catholic Sistas)
  3. Reading the Rule of Saint Benedict each day (I have a schedule to make it easy, can read it three times through in a year by only reading a paragraph or two a day)
That's it. Easy peasy, right. Haha! No, I'll admit, it is a lot. But like I said above, I don't plan on doing this all at once. This whole year will be a work in progress and by the end of the year I hope to be at a place where I can feel accomplished in some areas or that I'm making progress in others. The one thing I don't want is to feel like I did none of these things. 

And now I'm done. Enough talk from me tonight, this post is already crazy long. So with that, I bid you good night (or good morning?).