Month: December 2014

Interview with Working Mother Barb Szyszkiewicz

Here at Tomato Pie, we’re celebrating the release of my biblical historical fiction ebook “Working Mother” by celebrating the working mothers among us. Today we’re interviewing Franciscan Mom Barb Szyszkiewicz!

 

What’s your name?

Barb Szyszkiewicz. You pronounce it just like it’s spelled.Displaying barb at conshy bakery.jpg

Tell us a little bit about your family. 

My husband and I have been married 24 years. We have 3 children, ages 12, 19 and 23 (one in middle school, one in college and one working and living on his own).

 

Imagine you’re at a dinner party.  Someone asks the question, “So, what do you do?”  What’s your answer?

I just finished a long-term substitute job at my younger son’s Catholic school. I taught second grade for two months. Now I’m back to subbing on an as-needed basis.

[Erin here.  In addition to this work, Barb also blogs about being a Franciscan Mom, about cooking, especially cooking for a Type 1 Diabetic, aaaand contributes to Catholic Mom, Real Housekeeping, and Dynamic Women of Faith.]

How do you think God uses your job to help shape you into all He made you to be? 

Substitute-teaching definitely stretches me in a number of ways. It requires what I think of as “tap-dancing skills”–the ability to think on your feet ALL THE TIME. I’m following someone else’s lesson plan, carrying out someone else’s routines, working in someone else’s space. Improv is not my strong suit, but I’ve gotten better at it. I have observed that my parenting experience has made me a better teacher. I’m still not sure what God has made me to be–He has surprised me in many ways where that’s concerned. With this job, He’s working on my flexibility.
What benefits (besides the economical) have you seen to your family that are a direct result of your work away from home? 

One thing that surprised me was that my seventh-grader seemed to really love having me at his school all day, every day. He would stop by my classroom and visit with the kids, or leave them notes on the board in the morning before homeroom. Because of my son’s illness (he’s Type 1 diabetic), my husband also loves that I’m at school. It’s an extra level of security for my husband, who works 50 miles away, to know that I’m in the same building. Right now, I only work at my son’s school, and the administration has been wonderfully accommodating of his needs.
How do you balance any guilty feelings you might have in the tension between your workplace and your homespace? 

I don’t have an expert answer on that. I had to let a lot of things go this fall when I was working full time. I hadn’t worked full time since before my oldest was born! My husband wouldn’t care if I gave up on cooking, but that’s something I enjoy. I managed to (mostly) stay caught up on the laundry and the cooking. The other housework, not so much. The hardest thing for me was that teachers are never finished when they clock out at 3:30. There is still so much to do, and it was always in the back of my head. It was hard to turn that off so I could attend to the needs of my family. This is less of an issue when I’m subbing on a drop-in basis, because I actually AM done at the end of the day in that situation.

What is one thing that you would ask the people in your life to do to support you more? 

Help around the house–without being asked/told/threatened.

 

Thank you, Barb!  

Are you a working mother?  So was (and is) the Blessed Mother!  If you enjoyed this interview and would like to celebrate working motherhood some more, please consider getting a copy of my $.99 historical fiction ebook, “Working Mother.”  

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We interrupt this ebook launch…

… as I work on the sequel to Don’t You Forget About Meto bring you another silky smooth line from our love interest, Dr. Gene Marcasian.

“Yes, I want you safe,” he murmured against my ear, “but not at the cost of your trust.”

I dropped my hands from my face and hugged Gene as tightly as I could.  How could I let go of this man?  But, with his mind so different from mine, how on earth was I going to keep holding on?

Meanwhile, back at Amazon:

Working Mother” is just one rank under something from the Divergent series by Veronica Roth.

Forgive me for saying it, but it needs to be said.

I.  Can’t.  Even.  

Thanks to all of you who’ve supported the launch of “Working Mother.”  I hope it’s touched your heart even half as much as it touched–and healed–mine to write it.  This has been a much-needed shot in the arm.

Interview with Working Mother Laura Nelson

Here at Tomato Pie, we’re celebrating the release of my biblical historical fiction ebook “Working Mother” by celebrating the working mothers among us.  Let’s meet working mother, Laura Nelson​!

 

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Laura Nelson

Tell us a little bit about your family. 

M​​other of three, ages ranging from 11-18 plus one small but mighty dog.

Imagine you’re at a dinner party.  Someone asks the question, “So, what do you do?”  What’s your answer?

I’m a preschool music and movement teacher but I’m also a blogger and speaker.

How do you think God uses your job to help shape you into all He made you to be? 

I believe that God gave me the gift for teaching others and that I can use those gifts with my preschoolers as well as with my readers and those that I speak to. By actively using those gifts, I think I become more of the person that God intended when He created me.

What benefits (besides the economical) have you seen to your family that are a direct result of your work away from home? 

Teaching has definitely made me a better parent.  I see examples of great parenting all the time through the parents at my school.  That coupled with the continuing education I complete yearly gived me a better understanding of the developing person at different stages of life.  Don’t tell my teens but preschoolers and teens aren’t very different.

My writing and speaking has deepened my spiritual life and made it more present in every part of my life.  As a mother, my attitudes and behaviors regarding my spiritual really affect my family.  It keeps the conversation going about our faith and how we live it.

How do you balance any guilty feelings you might have in the tension between your workplace and your homespace? 

​This is something that every mother struggles with-even those who don’t work outside of the home.  As my children (and I) have gotten older, I’ve learned to make choices and be at peace with them. The most important thing is to recognize and accept the fact that you can’t do everything.  Once you do that, it’s a lot easier to prioritize your time.

What is one thing that you would ask the people in your life to do to support you more? 

​ Be enthusiastic about what I do.  That enthusiasm shows me that you care about me beyond my role as “Mom” and that what I’m doing matters.

Thank you, Laura!   Readers, be sure to visit Laura at BOTH of her blogs: www.suburbansainthood.com and www.greenforgod.blogspot.com

Are you a working mother?  So was (and is) the Blessed Mother!  If you enjoyed this interview and would like to celebrate working motherhood some more, please consider getting a copy of my $.99 historical fiction ebook, “Working Mother.”  

Interview with Working Mother Ellen Gable Hrkach

Here at Tomato Pie, we’re celebrating the release of my biblical historical fiction ebook “Working Mother” by celebrating the working mothers among us. Today is the Feast of the Holy Family.  What better day for a book release and to meet my editor, working mother Ellen Gable Hrkach!

 

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Ellen Gable Hrkach

Tell us a little bit about your family. 

I’ve been married to James for 32 years and now work alongside him in our publishing company. We have five sons ages 15 to 27 (three sons are still at home) and we live in rural Pakenham, Ontario Canada.

 

Imagine you’re at a dinner party.  Someone asks the question, “So, what do you do?”  What’s your answer?

I’m an author of five books and President of the Catholic Writers Guild.  That usually starts an interesting conversation either about what sort of books I write and/or the Guild.

How do you think God uses your job to help shape you into all He made you to be? 

The writing life is full of deadlines.  This helps me to get things done in a timely manner and forces me to prioritize.

 

What benefits (besides the economical) have you seen to your family that are a direct result of your work away from home? 

This is a hard question to answer since I don’t work away from home. However, having a full-time writing job at home means that I have more freedom to plan my own schedule.
How do you balance any guilty feelings you might have in the tension between your workplace and your homespace? 

I do have occasional guilt sometimes when I have to finish a deadline because “housework” usually does not get done…or I don’t have as much time to help my teens with their homework.

What is one thing that you would ask the people in your life to do to support you more? 

Help with housework.

 

Thank you, Ellen!  

Are you a working mother?  So was (and is) the Blessed Mother!  If you enjoyed this interview and would like to celebrate working motherhood some more, please consider getting a copy of my $.99 historical fiction ebook, “Working Mother.”  

WORKING MOTHER AVAILABLE TOMORROW!

Please join me in celebrating Holy Family Sunday with the release of my 99 cent ebook, “Working Mother.”

Working Mother Final-1Holy Family of Nazareth, pray for us! 

Many, many thanks to Ellen & James and all the team over at Full Quiver Publishing for all their hard work that went into this project.

7QT: It’s Never Too Late for a Hastily Written Post

7 Quick Takes Friday.  Write ’em. Post ’em.  Link ’em up and read ’em at This Ain’t the Lyceum.

… who is actually taking Friday in the Octave of Christmas off, but I’m here in spite of that.

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Merry Christmas!  Santa came!  Only to get torn limb from limb.

Poor Santa.

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My husband and I were reflecting on how smoothly Thanksgiving-to-Christmas seems to have gone, for the first time in years. Inwardly, I’d been congratulating myself for keeping my pledge (also inward) not to go crazy with getting junk for the kids to unwrap, with cookies to bake, with dishes to concoct, etc.  Then hubby pointed out that this was the first fall-to-winter in yeeeeeeeeeaaaaaars when I wasn’t down for 2-3 months with a viral-triggered asthma episode.  I’ve had cold after cold, but thankfully they’ve not required heavy doses of Prednisone, nebulized albuterol, and/or antibiotics that may or may not make things worse.  Was it the olive leaf extract, the kinder/gentler viruses that made the rounds this season, or just the way God is working things so completely out of my control?  I don’t know.  I am, however, grateful.

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Speaking of Christmas, I have a post up on Catholic Mom today, “Christmas is Not Supposed to Be Like This.”

Weihnachtskrippe in der Sanoker Minoritenkirche courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

I originally wrote it for this blog last year for Christmas Eve.  It all started because, as hinted at before, Christmas came and I hadn’t been able to mop the floor or bake a single cookie. This is perhaps one of my favorite things I’ve ever blogged, and the feedback I’ve gotten on how it’s helped people put things in perspective… anyway, I hope you like it and that God is pleased by the whole mess.  I’m grateful He came down into our mess and still does.  I’ll see you at the manger.

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Could you please pray for a special intention?  It was an intention I prayed for during this year’s St. Andrew Christmas Novena.  For last year’s, too, but last year’s answer was a BFN.  I’ll have God’s answer to this year’s in a few days.

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While we’re at it, could you also pray for the other intention I included in this year’s novena: for the success of the launch of “Working Mother,” my short fiction ebook piece about the Holy Family.

Working Mother Final-1

“What if Mary had to get a job outside the home?”  Read to imagine one possibility.  It’s available for preorder now, if you’d like.  It should show up on your Kindle on Holy Family Sunday.

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Sigh.  Both intentions are related to doing everything possible to contribute to a desired outcome.  Over and over again.  And then getting disappointed.  Over and over again.  And it’s not like the desired outcomes are things that couldn’t possibly be within the realm of God’s will. That I could help support my family financially by writing stories that get people to consider our Heavenly Father in a more positive light then they may have done previously? To my feeble human brain, it doesn’t really seem like such a bad combo.  And the other thing… well, not sure if I feel comfortable going into all that again, not in public anyway.

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Either way, I know that God can do all things, and that no purpose of His can be hindered.  I know, too, he hears the cry of the woman who believed that just a touch of His garment can make a difference.

In hindsight, it looks like the 2004 Tsunami may have ended 30 years of armed conflict.  Analysis of the Columbine Massacre says of one of the shooters, “If he had lived to adulthood and developed his murderous skills for many more years, there is no telling what he could have done. His death at Columbine may have stopped him from doing something even worse.”

“God, why am I failing at doing good for you on earth?” is about as useful a question to ask as if Mary had said, “Why would You choose to be born in a stable?” God’s sight includes hindsight.  As much as we might want to know the “why” behind God’s “No,” it’s.  Just.  Not.  Our. Business.  Not right now, anyway.  Hindsight, I now see, does not have to be a painful curse.  It’s a gift–a gift of seeing, as God sees, outside of the nownownownowNOW!

Through whatever inscrutable pain the now might bring, it will pass away.  His Word, however, does not.  Cling to it.  I know I will need to in the coming days.

7 Quick Takes Friday, the Accidental Writing Prompt Edition

Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!  I am so excited that Kelly of This Ain’t the Lyceum is the new hostess-with-the-mostess for 7QT!  She’s one of those folks whose blog I follow and who makes me feel like she’s my smarter-and-funnier-than-me little sister, only she doesn’t know that we’re related, and if I were to fangirl on her in person, it would be one of those awkward things where the police might get involved, and so on and so on.

I am grateful to Jennifer F. for hosting 7QT for so many moons, and I wish her much continued success in the world of memoir-writing and radio-hosting-in-her-living-room and otherwise becoming a real live celebrity.  Though I’m sure she’ll miss us now that she’s broken it off with us…

… but somehow I’m sure the ONEHUNDREDMEEELIONDOLLARS that she’s undoubtedly making in the world of Catholic culture will be a balm to her heartbroken soul over losing us to Kelly.

Ahem.  And now, back to my 7QT.  Things are a kind of busy around here that we don’t often suffer.  Pft.  Who am I kidding?  We’re usually this kind of busy.  But I have an ebook coming out on Holy Family Sunday and am doing a reverse-blog tour (interviewing people here at my place) to share the joy of “Working Mother,” and we’re still homeschooling and trying to Advent and thinking about Christmas… you know how it goes.  Anyway.  Anyway.  What was I saying?  Oh, yes.  7QT.  I’m about to put the Quick in that Q there.

On my personal FB page, I often, sometimes several times a day, post the funny, awkward, and COMPLETELY BIZARRE things that come out of the mouth of Second Shift of Kid, age 4.  The fabulous Amy M. Bennett commented on one, “You never run out of story prompts, do you?” I responded, “Second Shift of Kid is a walking, squawking story prompt.”  And to put that to the test, I bring you a 7QT made up entirely of Second Shift Story Prompt Lines.

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“Raccoons have terrible ideas.”

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“Can you watch my baby while I’m gone?  If she starts crying, don’t call me, okay?”

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“Christmas is even the worst time to go butterfly-catching.”

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“I don’t think spiders have necks, but cats definitely do.”

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“Mommy, I’m writing a book that you can read!”

How exciting! What’s it about?

“I don’t know. I can’t read yet. You’ll have to read it to me.”

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“Cats don’t get sunburn.”

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“You can’t be real if you never go to the bathroom.”  

Feeling inspired?  You should be.  I know I am.  Feel free to comment with your responses to said story prompts.

ETA: BONUS!

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I wish we were bears.  Then no bears would eat us.  

Gooooooo TEAM! As Morning Breaks

Congratulations to the Catholic Mom Gospel Reflections team!  Their new ebook, As Morning Breaks, is burning up the Amazon charts.

I’m not on that particular sub-team, but I am a proud member of the CatholicMom.com family, and I am very excited for all my fellow contributors who have worked so hard on this project.  Proceeds from the sales will go to support the ever-growing hosting needs of CatholicMom.com.  Help keep the CatholicMom.com team writing the good fight for you and all of us who are looking for quality, down-to-earth content that has meaning and brings joy to our lives.  Download your copy of As Morning Breaks today!

From the Sacred to the Profane, Books!

I get to make pear jam AND see Don’t You Forget About Me on someone’s year-end list? All in one day? Oh, it’s CHRISTMAS! Except not yet, but you get the idea. Thank you, Cristina!

Filling My Prayer Closet

As I was getting ready this morning, I thought of you. Yes. You staring at these letters that are organized into words. I wanted to share all the books I’ve read this year, just in case you would like to read them before the year is out. I created a Pinterest board of all the books I read in 2014. There are certainly other books that I have read, but never finished or have yet to finish (Game of Thrones and Read Like a Writer, I’m looking at you) but since I didn’t get to the back cover, they will not be included.

Let's Talk Books! I share my favorites from 2014. They were all written by women, and are indie publishers to boot! by @fillpraycloset

I will highlight those books that are written by gal-pals I know because I think they deserve center stage. It’s a brave thing to write, an even braver thing to share it with the world. They love their words, so much, that they set them free…

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