Small Success Thursday: The Lent’s Not So Bad Edition

 

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Celebrate the good things in life with CatholicMom.com!

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Oldest Dumpling and I decluttered and reorganized the junk drawer.

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We’re going camping!  With the brutal weather we’ve been having, and with how far along we are in schooling as a result, we skipped formal lessons yesterday and started planning our spring camping trip. This will be our third year doing a girls-only road trip, and each year we get a little more ambitious.  The first year, we did a little study of the Appalachian Trail and stayed one night at the Harper’s Ferry Youth Hostel.  Last year we did two nights at a rustic cabin with our rat terrier, whom we discovered is so territory-attached that he makes a very poor camp dog indeed.

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This year we are working up an itinerary to do a tour of the first Catholic settlement areas in our state.  We are using The Catholic Community of Pennsylvania: Past and Present as our guide.  Having this trip to look forward to seems to have brightened our spirits around here.   I aim to include at least one girls-only roughing-it (as much as we can) trip each year to help our daughters build the kind of resilience and resourcefulness Mary and Elizabeth, the First Disciples, had.

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I’ve not been an utter failure at Lent, because temptation is stupid.  

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Apple image courtesy of WikiCommons/Abhijit Tembhekar.

The first good choice I made was to set tough but not ridiculous goals that gradually increase in difficulty throughout the weeks.  But the biggest help I’ve gotten from the Holy Spirit was the realization that I actually do have willpower and the desire to do God’s will.  See, I’d convinced myself that I never resist temptation, so no wonder I’m such a failure at growing in virtue–especially in outgrowing certain vices.  Then, one day in the checkout lane at the grocery store, I had the temptation to slip a candy bar into my purse.

Are you kidding me? I thought.  That’s a stupid idea.  A grown woman with kids, shoplifting?  That’s ridiculous.

I turned my back on the candy display, paid my bill, and went home, not giving that temptation a second thought.  On the way home, however, I gave my post-temptation thoughts some of my time.  I realized it was no trouble at all to resist the temptation to shoplift, because, come on, That’s a stupid idea.  The temptation fled because my next thought was an exact reason why that particular temptation was so stupid.

What if I told all my temptations that they’re stupid ideas?  The more I thought about it, the more I noticed that agreeing with temptation is the very path away from virtue and towards sin.  After all, take a look at Eve in Eden.  In Genesis 3: 6, we see, “The woman saw that the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eyes, and the tree was desirable for gaining wisdom.”  Sounds great, right?  By golly, that temptation sure has some good ideas!

Once I think a sin is a really good idea, I’m likely to do it.  This might be why I have no trouble, say, resisting the urge to scream at strangers who annoy me, but keeping my temper with my kids who do need my correction (“Yelling like this is a good idea, because correcting them is my job, and yelling will make me feel better, and feeling better makes me a better parent, right? Right? Right?“) is so much harder than leaving the Hershey bar behind at the checkout.

So this Lent I’ve been aiming to tell my temptations that they’re stupid.  It’s a little bit of Method Acting, really, using emotional memory to recall times when my character did the right thing and applying that memory to the present challenge.  It’s helping, I think.  Don’t get me wrong:  I still fail a great deal, especially at my favorite sins.  The biggest hurdle is the first one: to realize that my brain is saying stupid things.  However, since I’ve started this Method Resisting, let’s call it, instead of seeing my path to virtue as this long, grueling, Ignatian marathon that I could never possibly finish, each battle just looks like just that–a battle, and one with the grace of God I might actually win.

I hesitated there.  I didn’t want to type anything about me winning anything.  On the one hand, yeah, I really want to be humble.  When you wear your addiction on your body like I do, it’s a bit easier to keep the pride down.  But on the other hand, whenever one of us chooses Christ over ourselves, we become more integrated into His Body.  That’s win-win. There’s gotta be something good about claiming that.

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I almost forgot!  I’ll be giving a talk this Saturday to the he Central Jersey Chapter of The Catholic Writer’s Guild.  This talk will be held on Saturday, March 7th at 10 am at the parish center of St. Aloysius parish, on Bennett’s Mill Rd. in Jackson NJ. I’ll be speaking about -“A Fiction Ministry:  Using Stories in the New Evangelization”

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No registration is required and all are welcome. For information contact Karen Kelly Boyce at 732-928-7981.  Thanks for hosting me, Karen!

Interview with Working Mother Kerri Baunach

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, Kerri Baunach!

 

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Kerri Baunach. I always loved my Irish name, still do, but then I married a German. My first name combined with my married name still sounds funny to me. In a good way, it just makes me smile.

Tell us a little bit about your family. 

​​My husband and I met back around 2004 (I think) through the young adult group at our church. I was actually dating someone else at the time and was hit or miss attending the group. But I eventually became a more regular attendee, we very slowly got to know each other, two years later we started dating, and were married a little less than two years after that, in 2007. We have 6 children; our 3 in heaven are Casey (2008), Zachary (2009), and Brigit (2010); and our 3 living children are identical twins Peter and Ethan (born in May 2011) and Silas (born in December 2013). We live in Lexington, KY and think it is a wonderful town surrounded by beautiful country.

 

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

My answer varies depending on the person asking. Most of the time I tell people I’m a librarian, specifically a music librarian in an academic library. If I’m asked more about what I do (often I get asked about shelving books, checking books out, etc., the types of tasks we hire students to do) I’ll explain as briefly as possible that I am mostly a cataloging librarian for the music materials and a few other formats. And no, I don’t know anything about the Dewey Decimal System.

[Erin here.  Kerri also writes for and is on the board of Catholic  Sistas.]

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

One of my job responsibilities is that of supervisor for what we call Special Formats Cataloging (music, maps, rare books, and some other odd formats). It was a role I was asked to do after a reorganization, not a role I particularly wanted and definitely did not seek out. Despite that, I believe I have grown from the experience. I believe God has used this aspect of my work to teach me leadership skills, to help me learn more about fostering success in other people, and He’s given me the chance to act as a mentor to colleagues in earlier stages of their careers. Being in any sort of administrative role, even my tiny low-level one, was not something I ever wanted, but I have most benefited in a way that I think makes me a better mother to my children and gives me skills that I can use in other aspects of my life as well.

 

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

For me, my job offers some flexibility. I have the ability to connect to my office remotely if I have to and I have a bit of freedom in my hours and when I work. This is helpful for weeks like this week when I have a deadline but also a sick baby. So I’m home with the baby while the twins are at daycare and I’m connecting to my office remotely to finish the work that needs to be done. I have been able to work during nap times and then I work a couple hours at night after the kids are in bed. When my twins were babies I also got approval to take a six month sabbatical. A sabbatical, still requires you to work, but the work is focused on a project (just one!) and you can do the work whenever and wherever you want. The boys were in daycare for about 4 months or so from the time they were 8 weeks old until about 6 months old. Then I took off the whole month of December to use all my remaining vacation time (our year ends June 30) and in January my sabbatical started. The boys were home with me in December and they stayed home with me during my sabbatical. They were a perfect age because they still napped twice a day. I worked during nap time and a little in the evenings. THe last few months of my sabbatical I hired a babysitter to come over twice a week and play with them from after lunch until they went down for their second nap. That way I had a couple days of work where I could get more like 6 hours in instead of 4. It worked out beautifully. They were 13 months old when I returned to my office full time and they started at a new day care.Unfortunately I’m not eligible for another sabbatical until (I think) 2018.
Sometime, too, I take advantage of the fact that I am paying for daycare anyway. I will sometimes take a day off of work to run errands or get my haircut without having to drag all the kids with me. Oh, and speaking of dragging all the kids with me, it’s been helpful to be able to take a sick child to the doctor without the other two in tow.

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

One thing I try to do is remain focused on my job when I am there. By that I mean that I figure if I am going to be at work I need to be working and not wasting time. If I’m going to waste time or be lazy in my work then why am I bothering to work, I could be home with my kids instead. Likewise, ever since I got married I have made a conscious effort to not work late and not bring work home. I felt it was a courtesy to my husband (and now also my kids) that I be present to them when I am home. There are still rare times when I have to bring something home or run in to my office for a couple hours on a Saturday, but overall, work stays at work and my time at home is for my family.

 

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

​ I would ask people to not be critical of the decisions my family makes. Whether you agree or not, you don’t know, can’t know, all the reasons why a family makes the decisions they make, whether it is having both parents work outside the home or something else. Instead, be supportive of us and offer to help when/if you can. Just knowing that others in our life are supportive of us makes a world of difference when we are stretched thin.

 

Thank you, Kerri!  

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.”  

{SQT} The Better-Than-I-Expected Edition

It’s Friday, and Kelly is our lovely hostess for Seven Quick Takes!

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It was the first week back to proper, regular homeschooling days… and we’ve only had a total of 3 meltdowns.  Two were from the preschooler who is getting over bronchitis and a double ear infection.

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One thing we started this week is an addition to our “Morning Meeting.”  Each kid has her own sketchbook.  After we read the Mass readings and such, they draw something having to do with the day’s readings. This not only introduces them to both history and fine pieces of art…

… but it also teaches them that the artist of this John the Baptist is pronounced Ti-shun.  You’re welcome.

This week we added looking at a piece of sacred art depicting the gospel reading.  A lovely resource I found this morning was the blog Ad Imaginem Dei, which does this old art history student’s heart good.

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Oh, don’t forget the talk and signing on January 24 at JMJ Catholic Books & Articles in Virginia Beach.  JPII.  Don’t You Forget About Me.  Jane_E.  Together, as was intended by the original artist.

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And because that’s not enough, I’m working with a local library to hold a “Fall in Love with a Good Book” event for the afternoon of Valentine’s Day.  I’m trying to talk them into a “Speed Dating” event, where we’d have a copy of each book around their biggest table, then have visitors sit in front of the books, and they have 5 minutes to flip through it before the timer goes off and they have to move on to the next book.  What do you think?

Do you want me to answer that, or shall I just glare?  Rupert Giles.  Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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I’ve made more headway on Never Let Me Down Again.  I had a horrible chapter ending to write, and I don’t think I could’ve made it through were it not for the mutual support and the word-count-sprinting competition that I received from the Catholic Writers Guild.  Go join.  It’ll be worth your time.

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We have survived our first two months of puppy ownership.

The potty training is… progressing.

She still doesn’t like the rain.

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Lastly, thank you all for the continued support of the “Working Mother” release celebration interviews.  I have learned so much from all of you, and I hope the readers are as well.

I feel like I’m forgetting something that will hurt someone’s feelings for my forgetting it… if that’s you, speak up so I can make amends.

On your mark. Get set. CONFERENCE!

Tomorrow I will join the number of writers, editors, booksellers, and other creative Catholic types making the annual journey to the Catholic Marketing Network Trade Show.

Included in that event is the Catholic Writers Conference LIVE!
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Online registration is closed, but you can drop by the CWG registration booth for on-site registration. Did that register? I’m typing this on a register. Sorry. Just trying to register how many times I can use the word “register.”

This is my fourth year going, and I’ve never been more excited. I have to admit, though. I wasn’t always this delighted to be making this trip. The first year I learned that this event existed, I was just there to explore, kids in tow, and get the lay of the land. The highlight was meeting Gandalf John Michael Talbot.

The following year was far more nerve-wracking. I was about to room with an editor who had my manuscript in hand and thus wielded the power to crush my dreams yet again. And that room was CROWDED: four to a room. I think we were all too poor to complain. And if I wanted to escape, well, too darned bad, because home was a plane ride away. I was terrified, kind of like this:

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Long story short, I learned that if you go to a writers’ conference, you’ll be SURROUNDED by introverts, so relax. We all understand.  Last year I was able to offer that sentiment to other newbies, so if you’re a newbie this year, you get to relax, too. Besides, where else can you go to network professionally then decompress in front of the Blessed Sacrament?

This year, I won’t be handing out free food…

Author Erin McCole Cupp distributing slices of Philadelphia-style tomato pie at the 2013 Catholic Marketing Network Trade Show

Author Erin McCole Cupp distributing slices of Philadelphia-style tomato pie at the 2013 Catholic Marketing Network Trade Show

But I will be stalking Catholic authors who are stalking Catholic authors…

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…scoring book swag…

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… hanging with Paper Pope…

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…and La Guadalupana Papel…

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I’ll also be joining with Ellen Gable and Karen Kelly Boyce as part of a talk on Wednesday on the Sorrowful Mysteries of Rejection. Come check it out, if you can. I can also guarantee you that I’ll be doing this at least once a day…

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…because awkward is how I awkward.  Will you be there?  Would you like to participate in a CMN selfie scavenger hunt? I can’t wait to see you!

#SmallSuccess Thursday with CatholicMom.com

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Join me and the rest of the optimists, the hopers of far-flung hopes and the dreamers of improbable dreams over at CatholicMom.com for Small Success Thursday.

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I’m being interviewed over at CatholicFiction.net!

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Make with the clicky to read more than you ever wanted to know about me. Thank you, CatholicFiction.net, for this opportunity!

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Mother’s Day has the potential to be very difficult for me, but my husband and kids always make it so beautiful and so much fun. At breakfast, hubby asked, “Are there any movies you’d like to see?”

I hemmed and hawed a bit. “Well, I’d like to see Mom’s Night Out at some point, and I”m pretty sure it’s family-friendly. I’ve heard nice things about God’s Not Dead and Heaven is for Real, though I’m not sure they’re for the kids–”

“No, I meant we arrange babysitting and go see a grown-up m–”

CAPTAINAMERICAWINTERSOLDIER!”

Image by Takk courtesy of Wikicommons

Image by Takk courtesy of Wikicommons

I don’t have time to post a real review, but we’ll just say I LOVED it. The plot was solid, the acting was spot-on, and… this might sound weird, but it was one of the best scores I’ve heard in a while (that may not be saying much–I don’t get to many movies these days). Anyway, it was the perfect end to the perfect day for a nerdy mom like myself.

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I took my kids to the pool yesterday and didn’t lose my mind with boredom chasing Second Shift around.  Oh, and nobody drowned.

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I let the older member of First Shift fix Second Shift’s toothbrush. It’s a kiddie spin brush, and fixing it involved using a jeweler’s screwdriver, so this is a big accomplishment for someone with low muscle tone, poor coordination, and resulting generalized anxiety. It’s not my success (well, I guess it is if you count me not doing it for her), but it’s so awesome it’s worth sharing.

Advent Wreath Link-up for those without an Advent Wreath

ETA:  I’m going to include this in the CatholicMom.com Advent Wreath Link Up… for those of you who, like me, don’t actually have an Advent Wreath at the moment! Hence why you may be experiencing deja-vu, the extraordinary sensation that you’ve lived through something before.  But first, let’s explore the phenomenon of deja-vu, the extraordinary…

Advent Wreath Link-Up at CatholicMom.com

I turned 40 on St. Andrew’s Day, which meant that my husband whisked me away for an overnight. We got to see Catching Fire and eat a meal in peace at a table where someone else was serving, someone else was even cooking, and where I was only interrupted when asked if I wanted another cocktail.

Bliss.

What we didn’t get to do was find our beautiful Advent wreath in time for Advent. I thought it was in one place. Hubby thought it was in another. Turns out it was in neither of those places, and we are stymied. However, if improvisation is good enough for the Holy Family, then we really ought not turn up our noses at not having things where we want them when we want them. And thus, behold! The Advent, erm, Basket!

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We have a cup on the first candle so one child can hold it, lit, while another reads the night’s selection from Welcome, Baby Jesus by Sarah Reinhardt.  This is all done with supervision, of course.

We also didn’t have time to make our annual gingerbread “sacrifice manger,” so we made it out of construction paper.

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Second Shift filling the manger with yellow strips of paper she just cut for “hay.”

If Advent Calendars aren’t your thing, this might work for your family as well. The idea is that every time you do something nice for someone else or offer up something to Jesus, you put some “hay” (a piece of yellow paper) in the manger. By the time Christmas rolls around, we want to have a nice, soft manger full of “hay” to keep the Baby Jesus warm and comfortable.  You can make your manger out of craft sticks, gingerbread, an empty clementine orange box, or even construction paper.  This is our fourth or fifth year doing this, and it’s been a great way to keep our minds on preparing for our King all day long.

What does your family do to prepare to receive your King?