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.