homeschooling

Promoting Global Perspective in the Homeschool: A Project Idea

Global Perspective in the Homeschool

[I know, I know.  I’m not keeping a consistent brand, veering off here into homeschooling when I’m supposed to stick with Faith, Fiction, and Love No Matter What.  World poverty is anything but fiction.  Still, as a lay Dominican, I’m called to contemplate and share the fruits of my contemplation.  Hence the breakdown in branding.  Anyway.  Read on, if you’d like.  Buy books or review them as I’d like.]

2017 is bearing down on us.  Christmas holidaying is once again threatening to turn my kids into self-centered brats (threatening;  they’re still pretty amazingly caring people, even after a lot of chocolate and no alarm clocks for a week])  We are so behind on school that I almost skipped our January Month of Service.  Almost.  I’m now scrambling to put it together.

The older kids during January month also get an assignment to research a country or region that has been scarred by poverty and stripped of opportunity.  In 2014, they had to pick one of the 50 poorest countries of the world and answer a series of questions about life there.  Last year, same thing but for a Native American reservation.  This year we’ve been going through the first volume of TAN’s amazing resource, The Story of Civilization. I highly recommend this history curriculum.  We just got to Greece after spending the first part of the year in the ancient Levant.  What better time to have the kids research one of the countries of said region?

Promoting Global Perspective in the Homeschool: A Project Idea

Modern child labor. [ By Яah33l – Flickr: Day 198/365, CC BY 2.0, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons]

I’m sharing this year’s research questions here in case you’re looking for something similar.  I took our questions from the 50 Poorest Countries project and made some minor modifications.  You can do the same.  Just keep in mind that the goal is to help kids learn to care about the suffering of others and see themselves connected to that suffering.

Get to Know Another Country

What country are you researching?

 

Where is this country located? [BONUS: Copy and paste an appropriate map of this country into this document, or include a link to a map.]

 

What’s the country’s official language?

 

What is the infant mortality rate?

What is the life expectancy?

 

What are the most common causes of death in this country? 

 

What are the most common diseases in this country?

 

What is the median annual income in this country? How does that compare to the median annual income in the United States?

 

How do people acquire food in this country? What is their diet like? How many times a day do they eat?

What are the country’s natural resources?

 

How would you describe this country’s current system of government?  Has there been a change in government in recent times? 

 

What does it mean for a country to be politically stable? 

 

Look up your country on the Global Economy ranking for political stability (make sure you’ve set the year to the most recent year available). What is this country’s ranking overall?  Has the ranking gone up or down over the past five years?  Compare this country’s ranking to the political stability ranking for the United States for the same year.

How has this country’s level of political stability affected its infrastructure: roads, hospitals, public transportation, cars, electricity, running water, radio, TV, internet access, etc.?

 

How are children educated in this country?

 

What are some reasons children in this country might not receive a good education?

 

Is this country at war?  Has it been at war in the past 100-200 years? What were the effects?

 

Was this country ever colonized by another country? By which, and for what years?  What mark has colonization left on this country? 

 

Would you want to be a child your age in this country today?  Why or why not? 

 

If you were in the government of this country, what changes would you make to help the people of your nation?

What other questions would you add, Dear Reader? Have you done something similar to this with your kids?  What was the result?

 

Small Success: Wiggle Room

Small-Success-dark-blue-outline-800x8001-400x400@2xIt’s time for Small Success Thursday, the empowering, delightful linkup over at CatholicMom.com where we celebrate the little things that mean a lot.

God is good, and this month He helped me with this stuff:

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The gallbladder, after all these months, is scheduled to come out June 2nd!     I have anxiety about this, of course.  Yes, it’s a common surgery.  Yes, complications are even rarer than I like my steak.  However, I’ve realized that when you’re the person to whom something incredibly rare has already happened, the “unlikely” seems a whole lot more likely than it would to your average bear.  So I’m very anxious about this simple, easy surgery.  Pray, if you don’t mind?  Still, just having gotten not one but two doctors to hear me and not need a whole lot of convincing to give me a likely treatment is a huge success in the scheme of how my life usually works.

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We are done with school for the year!  I really wanted to be a bit further along than we are, but technically First Shift is already well ahead of their actual grade level, and Second Shift is… well, not ahead by any stretch but certainly within two grade levels of where she is.  We made our required number of schooling days.  We can be done, so I let us be done.

I also talked to our evaluator about managing high school from home.  It all seemed to intimidating that I was considering sending them to school or at least doing a cyberschool.  Our evaluator has homeschooled her own kids through high school, though, and she demystified the whole process and made it sound… well, kind of exciting.  I’ve already convinced First Shift to give French a go for 7th grade (I used to be effectively fluent but have long since lost the skill but could teach it with the right resources at hand) with a trip to Quebec at the end of next school year as the carrot on their foreign language stick.

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I’ve needed to add exercise back into my life.  Anything impact makes my asthma flare up.  I don’t have time to get to a gym.  My doctor recommended “7 minute HIIT” workouts, which did nothing but give me chronic tennis elbow and a terrible sense of ennui.  So… I looked up “belly dance” on YouTube.  After trying out a few different tutorial styles, I found Belly Dance With Talia to be simple enough for even me to start out using.  My morning workouts are now thusly:

  • 5 minutes stretching
  • 15 minutes improv with moves I’ve already “mastered” (so to speak) to whatever “belly dance playlist” I can find that morning
  • 5-10 minutes learning a new move or two with Talia
  • 3-5 minutes cool down stretches

I’m no Tiffany, but I’m certainly achieving better physical fitness than I would have done whining about how many workouts I can’t do.  Who knew you could break a sweat without even moving your feet?  I didn’t.  Now I do!

[The first one of you to comment with “pics or it didn’t happen” owes me a tank of gas. For the minivan, not the Prius.]

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Took me long enough, but I finally requested a Mass be said for Scott Weiland.  It took so much courage to do that, people.The receptionist is about my age, and it went just about as I feared.

“I’d like a Mass card?  Well, not the card, just the Mass.”

Understanding pleasantries were exchanged.  “Is 7am on August 25 okay?”

“That should be fine, thanks.”

“And the name?”

Through blushing cheeks, I said, “First name is Scott.”

Receptionist wrote that in the book.  “And the last name?”

“Weiland.  W-E-I–“

Receptionist’s pen hovered in the air while she processed what I was asking.  To her credit, she did not ask out loud if I’m bat guano crazy.  Anyway, the first one is done.  Let’s see how long it takes me to dig up the courage for David Bowie’s, though I can always ask for a Mass for David Robert Jones, I suppose.

What’s your success this week:  small, medium or large?  Share it on your blog and link up, or just comment here or at CatholicMom.com

Homeschool Month of Service: 3 Ways Service Learning Improves Kids’ Attitudes

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Our first two Januaries as a homeschool family were so miserable that I very nearly threw in the towel.  The first year, the kids just did not want to be bothered to learn anything.  They fought me and cried over just about everything.  When I asked for advice from the veterans, I got everything from have them repeat scripture verses until their attitudes change (well-meaning advice but, frankly, fruitless in our house) to, “Take them on field trips!”

I managed a few field trips here and there–the weather wasn’t so bad that year, after all–but when it was time to come back to the books, we only had more fighting and crying than before.

The next year I thought I was so wise.  “Perhaps they’re just not engaged in those measly field trips.  Perhaps we need to really WOW them to make them happy enough to learn!” So guess where Santa sent us for the first part of our second homeschooling January:

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Problem solved, right? I mean, they went from the indulgences of the Christmas season to a nonstop delightfest in Central Florida’s International Temple of Juvenile Hedonism.  Then I was shocked–shocked!–when we came home and nobody wanted to start learning again.  Was that not enough field trip for them?  Didn’t they get surfeited on fun in order to get ready to learn again?

“Oh, honey,” I want to tell my 2013 self, “it just doesn’t work that way.”

So here’s what we tried last January (weather dragged it into February) and what we’re doing again this January (we’ll see what weather does to us this year).

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Discover a world without their luxuries.  Last year I gave First Shift (then 5th grade) a list of the world’s 50 poorest countries, told each to pick one, then research and answer 20 questions about that country: Where do they get their water? How often are their meals? How old are girls when they get married? Do they have roads, hospitals, internet access?  Do they have schools?  What’s the average household income, life span? Why is life like that in this country?  What would you do to change things?

They’re nerds, so they were both excited to learn new things independently (read: computer time), but as they delved further into the project, the more teachable moments came forward.  For instance, one morning they were complaining about having to share table space and a math book.  I had the opportunity to say, “If you lived in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, would you even have a math book?”  Their jaws dropped.  Then they closed their mouths and got to work.

Over all, they now seem more appreciative of what they have and less demanding for more.  This project taught our kids to see everything they have as gift–even homeschooling.  

 

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Discover the concept of both-and.  There are plenty of people who say that we shouldn’t look abroad for people to help when we have a whole country of need here in ‘Murica.  With that in mind, we did do a number of hands-on service projects locally.  One of those projects brought us to a local food cupboard for a tour and donation sorting.  We saw their industrial-sized refrigerators and freezers, their new kitchen for teaching cooking and canning classes, their rooms lined with shelves for nonperishables.  We had the opportunity to ask what our tour guide thought it would be like to have a food cupboard in sub-Saharan Africa.  She acknowledged that not only would they not have the same kind of infrastructure (no electricity for the refrigeration), but they also would not have people around who were affluent enough to have anything to donate in the first place.

Yes, there is real need here, but there’s also more desperate need elsewhere.  There is no reason we can’t reach out both near and far.  This also showed our kids that there’s good reason to learn not just local geography and history but global as well.  

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Discover the actual faces around you.  We were lucky to have Second Shift in preschool one day into the afternoon so that I could take First Shift to a local homeless shelter where we served lunch.  I don’t know why I was surprised, but the three of us served alongside a couple of guys there for court-assigned community service.  They didn’t look much like the people we see on a daily basis out here in East Cornfield, where the fields are brown and the manure is fragrant, and up until recently the closest thing we’ve had to diversity is a mix of both Amish and Mennonites.  But we were all helping others together, which showed us all that the people who help don’t have to look a certain way.

Moreover, the people we were helping didn’t all look a certain way either.  Some people wore the expected uniform: tattered clothing, many layers and an overstuffed backpack.  Others, however, didn’t fit the preconceived notions: polished shoes, ties, a nice purse.  Just because people can afford to dress well enough to keep their jobs and maybe pay rent and child care doesn’t mean they can afford their daily bread on top of it all.  You can’t tell by looking at someone whether or not that person could use a bit of mercy.

What do these examples do for our homeschooling?  A student who sees an adult helping others can see herself helping others, too.  A student who sees an adult asking for and receiving help is given the gift of humility, and nobody learns anything without humility.  

The most vital job of education is to teach children to become more fully human. The benefit of focusing just one month out of the twelve on serving others is that it make serving others part of our family culture.  When a friend had surgery, it’s no big deal to bring her lunch.  When an elderly family member has been laid up for several months, it’s not a shock that we go over to his house and clean the bathroom and kitchen.  When St. Elizabeth of Hungary’s feast day comes around, nobody complains that we’re skipping recess so we can bring Thanksgiving fixins to the food cupboard along with flowers for the workers there.

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It also makes it less of a surprise that we serve each other in our family: whether it’s through putting laundry away, scooping the cat litter, or completing a math assignment without complaint.

It’s a little late in the game, but I’m finally working on our January 2016 plans as we speak.  I have calls in to the animal shelter, a local Habitat for Humanity, the county ARC, and we’ve started saving money to buy much-needed play doctor kits for the local children’s hospital.  The 6th graders will be researching life for the poorest of the poor in the United States–those on Indian reservations.  We’re looking forward to it, too–more than we would be to an new math book and a new grammar and writing kit.  However, the discoveries we make in service lay the groundwork for the book learning, because those discoveries show our kids–and me as their teacher–the real value of the books.  They’re tools to help us make our world more beautiful.

Have you ever suffered a case of “the Januaries” (or maybe even “the Februaries”)? What’s been your best remedy?  What are some ways you have seen service help your family, either on the giving or the receiving end?  What have you and your children learned as a result?  

The Homeschooling Writer: A Guest Post by Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur

Welcome, Tomato Pie Fans! I’m taking a hiatus from blogging to finish the sequel to DON’T YOU FORGET ABOUT ME. Meanwhile, I have a series of guest bloggers taking care of the place. Let’s hear from today’s guest, Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur.

Finding Time to Write as a Homeschooling Mom

I am the mother of three children, two boys ages 14 and 12, and a 4 ½ year old daughter. I started writing on a professional basis over ten years ago, when my boys were both very small. I had a Masters Degree in Applied Theology and through the process of working with a spiritual director discerned that God was calling me to write. Eventually, God called me to be not only a work-at-home writing mom, but also a homeschooling mom.

I will soon be starting my eighth year of homeschooling. My oldest is starting high school this year. I feel almost as scared about homeschooling high school as I did when I first took the plunge and began homeschooling my second and first grader so many years ago. If you feel so inclined, please say a prayer for me. I can definitely use the help.

So, that being said, how do I find time to write, given that so much of my life is spent taking care of my children? Here are some tips that work for me:

1) Start every day with prayer

There are people in this world who can wake up before their children and spend quality time in prayer before their day kicks into high gear. I’ve been blessed with children who are light sleepers and have supersonic hearing. If mom’s up, they are up as well. (Note: this is no longer true of my teenagers whom I frequently have to drag out of bed.) I know that I need that twenty minute prayer time in the morning. If I don’t get it, the day will go downhill quickly. I’m not above allowing my daughter some screen time first thing in the morning so that I can have some relatively uninterrupted time. Once I’ve prayed, I’m ready to be a better mom and to deal with whatever they day is going to hand me. One of those prayers is that I do the work I should each day. I’m not always satisfied with the amount I accomplish each day, but I have to trust that I’ve done what God wanted me to.

2) Take advantage of every available minute

Over the years, I have worked in many unusual places while waiting for my children at an activity. I have written in the car, in the hallway of a social center, sitting on a stairwell, by the side of a soccer field, and in a gymnastics gym. I write many book reviews, so I always have a book close by in case I get a few minutes to read. I carry one in my purse. I have one on the kitchen counter. I can’t tell you how many books I’ve read utilizing five and ten minute windows of time. I do the bulk of my computer work after my daughter goes to bed at night. The teens entertain themselves. I work for a couple hours and then go to bed around 10 p.m. It probably goes without saying that I don’t watch television. I also don’t spend a lot of time on social media.

3) Keep a to-do list

I have one notebook on my kitchen counter for my household to-do list. I have another for work-related items. If I get an idea for an article, I write it down. If there is a deadline to meet, or an on-going project, it goes on the list. It gives me a great sense of accomplishment to cross items off that list. Every Sunday night, I start fresh with a new page of the notebook, carrying over items that still need to be completed. This keeps me organized and on task.

4) Keep a Sabbath rest

This probably seems to disagree with taking advantage of every available minute, but I have found it to be a great blessing in my life. From 5 pm on Saturday to 5 pm on Sunday, I don’t do any work-related activities. I don’t check my email or Facebook. I watch a movie with my husband and teenagers on Saturday night while I work on quilting or scrapbooking. We go to Mass on Sunday morning. I might read during the day, but I read purely for pleasure. This day of rest gives me a much needed mental break. God made it a commandment for a reason. Yes, we moms never truly get a day off from our mom duties, but we can try to take it at least a little easier on Sundays. I have found that God allows me to accomplish more in my other six days since I began this practice a few years ago.

How do you balance homeschooling and whatever outside work you may do? Please share. I’d be happy to hear your tips.

MacArthur PhotoPatrice Fagnant-MacArthur is a homeschooling mom of three. The editor of todayscatholichomeschooling.com, she blogs at spiritualwomanthoughts.blogspot.com. She has been a longtime columnist for Catholicmom.com and is the author of “The Catholic Baby Name Book.”

Interview with Margaret Rose Realy, Oblate

CGSA CoverWe have a lovely book to enjoy today, dear readers!

Not only that, but all you writerly types get to learn a little bit about the flexibility, patience, and Providence that are part of the successful writer’s life.  Read on to learn more about Margaret Rose Realy and her latest book, A Catholic Gardener’s Spiritual Almanac.

Margaret Rose Realy, Obl. OSB, is a contemplative lay hermit. She grew up just outside Detroit, sharing a home with her maternal grandmother where the love of gardening flourished. Margaret reveals her love of nature, learning about the Creator through his creation, with a Benedictine spirituality, in her books, columns, and presentations. 

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Because my blog is about the writing life, I asked Margaret to share a little bit about what went into the making of this book.  She kindly obliges.  Read on!

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EMC: How did you get the initial idea for this book?  

MRR: The first publisher I worked with, Circle Press, had started production on my first book, A Garden of Visible Prayer; Creating a Personal Sacred Space One Step at a Time,(now a  2nd Edition). In a meeting Fr. John Bartunek and Claudia Volkman discussed the need for a book that looked at the traditions of the Church as revealed in nature. Father wanted a book that was grounded in our faith, and took away all the new-agey-bunk that detracted from knowing the Creator through his creation. It was at his suggestion six years ago that gave direction to my writing. Circle Press eventually closed down that division.

leaf logoEMC: As so often happens in the publishing world, alas.  But that wasn’t the end, was it?  Tell us what happened when you pitched the idea for this book.  

MRR: It seems that the concept for this book (A Catholic Gardener’s Spiritual Almanac) was out of my hands. The second publisher for A Garden of Visible Prayer, FAITH Catholic, had discussed with me a book of the same nature that Father had suggested. FAITH was a very small book publisher and after much prayer, I felt they weren’t the right ones for the title. So rather than say no out-right, I waited. Good thing I did. They, too, closed down their book division.

Claudia, then with Franciscan Media/Servant Books, still had an interest in my manuscript and asked that I pitch it to her at Catholic Writers Guild Live conference. Having worked with her before, it felt more like tea with a friend—who just happened to be an acquisition editor. Franciscan Media decided the manuscript wasn’t a good fit for their house and I moved on.

The manuscript was pitched a year later to Ave Maria Press. Thanks to Lisa Hendey, who had reviewed the manuscript for CWG’s SoA several years back, and recommended it to AMP.

leaf logoEMC:  Can you tell us a little bit about the process for getting the contract to write your latest book?  

MRR: Bob Hamma of Ave Maria Press wanted me to rework the book and gear it towards Catholic moms…you know, because, Lisa Hendey. Since I do not have family and never had children, I knew I couldn’t produce the book he wanted—readers would know I wasn’t all that—and turned him down, twice. We finally agreed to meet at CMN in Texas (2012) to discuss what I could produce that would meet Ave Maria Press’ market needs. It was there that we agreed on the layout for an expanded manuscript that combined sections from other manuscripts into one book.

leaf logoEMC: How long did you wait from time of pitch to when you signed your contract?  What happened with this project in that time?

MRR: After the meeting in August 2012, we discussed the outline and the contract and advance, which were settled upon by April 2013. I was given one year to produce the new manuscript.

leaf logoEMC: How long was it from the time you signed your contract to actual publication?  What were some of the highlights and challenges you encountered during that time?

MRR: I began researching and compiling materials immediately after our August 2012 meeting, assembling chapter folders through the winter. Every year I offer several spring presentations, gardening and Lenten, and the spring of 2013 was no different. The rewriting began later that summer. My manuscript was to be submitted the end of April 2014, and much to my editor’s delight—and AMP’s graphics department—it was sent the first week in January 2014. That gave the publisher a good year to work it through production for edits and design. It was here that the work changed in perspective. It was no longer MY book but OUR book—a sentiment important to all authors.

 My greatest challenge was—and still is—that I am just a gardener. I failed and had to repeat English courses in college. When I realized being called to write I was dumbfounded. I had to set aside my fear—and being totally clueless—and remain attentive to the task placed before me. Our Lord has provided beautiful people along my journey, skilled at critiquing and editing my writing—like you, Erin—to help me keep moving forward.

 What delighted me most in the writing of this book was sharing my love of gardening and God. Each section of each chapter brought some level of joy. I often felt that I was doing an odd sort of evangelization by offering some of what our church teaches in a way that brings to light the Bible parables that were related to nature. It was fun researching and then correlating spiritual themes and then to actualize them in a garden setting. I pray that those who read my book might apply some of the gardening themes to their own outdoor prayer space and in doing so draw closer to Our Lord.

leaf logoEMC: If you could sum up your mission for this book in three sentences, what would you say?

MRR: I need just one: It’s the first book to offer gardeners spiritual resources and creative projects that connect a love of gardening with their Catholic faith.

leaf logoEMC: Count me as one of your readers who is getting connected to a love of gardening through the Catholic faith, thanks to your warmly detailed book!  Any parting advice for aspiring writers?  

MRR: This is the hardest question of all. I never aspired to be a writer or author. I had to discern in the call to write, what it was that made me come alive, what—besides prayer and my love of God—brought me joy, and then translate that into words. I was happiest gardening and sharing my love of it with others. I drew great peace, with the help of many volunteers, creating gardens of prayer and memorial. This is what I knew, this is what I loved, so that is what I wrote.

We’re told to write what we know, and you write about what you love.  The fruit of that is clear to the many of us who love your work!  Thank you for stopping by, Margaret.  Readers, it’s spring, and it’s Passiontide.  I can’t think of a better time or better reasons to get yourself a copy of A Catholic Gardener’s Spiritual Almanac.  This will be a book you keep as a reference.  I already plan on getting clear Contac Paper for the cover to keep it from getting all raggedy.

Homeschoolers, also, take note:  my oldest read this through before I could finish it, and she loved it.  If you use gardening in your curriculum so you don’t have to spend so much time weeding, your older children (5th grade and up) might enjoy this book as well!

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 Emily Davis

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, Emily Davis!

What’s your name?

Emily Davis

Tell us a little bit about your family. 

I am married to Marque Davis, an RF Engineer. He spent 22 years in the Army and still works for the Defense Industry. I left my career in 2005 to stay home with our son (Marque has three children from a previous marriage). I had Christopher at 40 and he has Aspergers. I homeschool him and run our home. I teach a Saints Class @ Co-Op and am looking for a PT job to do at home after the first of the year.

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

I worked in corporate America for 15+ years. Now, I’m a wife, mom and teacher. I think my job now is harder and WAY more beautifully time-consuming.

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

Through homeschooling, I get to revisit our Faith. It’s so enlightening and beautiful to teach my child and be called to live my Faith in a different way. It’s about being a good example. When your child is Aspy, they hold you to the exacts. So please – don’t break a Commandment or you’ll be scolded. HA

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

I do not work away from home [now]…. But when I did work away from home, the obvious benefits were my paycheck and the fact we could take a vacation, not stress about money and in some ways, just being away from my child on occasion, rather the memory of it, sounds great.

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

When we lived in MD, I had to work. My child was very young and I knew there would be a someday I could stay home. I was so blessed to have an understanding boss and could work from home from time to time, when my child was sick.  I am odd, I never really felt guilty. I just didn’t. And if I had to go back to work tomorrow, I’m sure I’d have a period of guilt, but it would wane. Life is what it is. Though I am called to be home now, I look forward to a day when I can put my child into a Private School and go back to work… SERIOUSLY!

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

Give me time to rest. Everyone needs it. Sure, I’m superwoman. I went back to work while Christopher was in public school. And I realized how hard it was to work all day and come home and clean. I think when both people work, it’s about pitching in and everyone doing their part.

Thank you, Emily!  

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.”  

The Quickest of the Quick Takes

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Join Kelly, the Professor and Maryanne over at This Ain’t the Lyceum for Seven Quick Takes Friday

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I spent New Year’s Eve at a Grown-Up New Year’s Eve Facebook party that was all about books.  And first crushes.  And music.  And alcohol.  And Speed Racer.  It was surely one of the best NYE parties I’ve attended.  Meanwhile I still got to stay home with the fam and play Bananagrams and Wii and finish off the chocolate crackers.

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Don’t try to go out for lunch on January 1.  It won’t go well.  The wait staff who do show up will be hung over, and those who don’t stayed home for being even more hung over.

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We took most of December off.  My kids wanted to start back to schooling LAST NIGHT.  #endtimes

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Speaking of homeschooling, after our first two horrible, HORRIBLE January-February spans (one of which even included a trip to Disneyworld, fercryinoutloud), I am tackling the post-holiday malaise head-on.  The month of January will be spent doing service projects (local orphanage, local food cupboard, nursing home, hopefully a trip to a Ronald McDonald House).  The month’s reading/writing project is a report on what life is like in one of the world’s poorest countries.   This morning First Shift spent over an hour looking on our globe for countries on that list, then requesting pertinent books & videos from the library.  January and February (and last year even most of March) have previously been defeated by a terrible, family-wide case of Poor Victim Me.  I’m hoping that getting a dose of gratitude will combat the symptoms and help us recover our sense of how good God is to us–and, perhaps, how good we should be to each other.

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Santa brought First Shift iPad minis.  I covet your recommendations for any middle school range learning apps that you have found effective.

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Working Mother” seems (seems) to be doing well.  I’m loving all the Working Mother Interviews.

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And now to get a few paragraphs done on the sequel to Don’t You Forget About Me.

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Assets & Liabilities: 7 Quick Takes Friday

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Come check out Seven Quick Takes Friday with Jennifer over at Conversion Diary.  

In case you’ve been reading here and haven’t noticed lately, I’ve been a bit down on myself. That is in no small part due to my lack of progress on the sequel to Don’t You Forget About Me.  I even made a list of all the assets to time I had when I wrote my first book (without kids) and then my second book (with two in school and one non-verbal who took two naps a day).  Then I wrote a list of all the assets I DON’T HAVE this time around (homeschooling 3, 0 naps, demanding preschooler).  It was kind of grim.  It was kind of hopeless.

And then my clumsy fingers accidentally fed those lists to my computer.

So I’m taking that as a sign that God wants me not to list my problems but to list the gifts I do have that will help me write the next book, as long as I start looking for gifts instead of focusing on the hardships.

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I have a well-established morning wake time.  I wake up about an hour and a half before the troops come down for breakfast.  This was a hard-fought-and-won habit.  That battle to tackle the day before the day tackles me is already won.  I think I just need to change tactics and use that time for something else.

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First Shift is now old enough to keep Second Shift busy and answer her INCESSANT questions.  I just need to schedule in time for them to do this. I need to figure out how much time isn’t too much.  An incentive of money if they keep their time with her relatively conflict-free may be in order.  Which brings me to…

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My husband just got a promotion that makes us a little more financially comfortable, so that an extra bit of hush-money to the kids won’t push our budget past the point of no return.    Even without the promotion and the wiggle room that provides, my husband is awesome.  We have our rocky moments, but in the end, we rock.  It’s all about the end, anyway.  Thank you to him.  And thank God for him.  I won’t say any more because praise makes him squirm.

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I have people who know what it’s like to be in these no-time shoes.  Go check out the 10-Minute Writer.  There’s nothing I could say that she couldn’t say better.  I just got welcomed into the 10-Minute Writer Facebook group as well as a couple of FB groups for Catholic bloggers, Catholic women bloggers, and so on.  I have support for when I get stuck.  All I have to do is get my own ball rolling a little bit here.

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I have people who like my work and want me to succeed.  I don’t want to drop too many names, but I have to give out the most major of props to Cristina at Filling My Prayer Closet.  She is being an absolute darling and putting together a Street Team for my writing schtuff.  I feel like, because I’m drowning in life, I can’t support her as much as she supports me, and that makes me feel unbalanced.  I’m trying to let that go and just be grateful.  Believe me, I am grateful.  It’s the “just be” that trips me up.

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I have a great relationship with a great, integrity-driven publisher who shares my view of what fiction is supposed to be.

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I’VE ALREADY WRITTEN TWO BOOKS!  The me from ten years ago is looking at the me now and going, “SRSLY?  Dude, you’re what I want to be when I grow up.  You are LIVING THE DREAM, DUDE!”

Even putting that aside, I have the experience that comes with, you know, having written two books.  That’s gotta help out somehow.  I’ve done it before.  What’s to stop me from doing it one more time?

So now I just have to pull it together, take my own stinking advice, suck it up and get writing.  Butt in seat.  Fingers on keys.

I expect to take a few weeks off from blogging so I can get a little more caught up.  I’m sure you understand.  Have a great time.

7QT: Better Late than Never

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Join Jennifer, The Skipper too, The Millionaire and his Wife, the Movie Star, and the rest, here on 7 Quick Takes Fridaaaaayyyyy!

About an hour ago I sent off my final scheduled DYFAM blog tour post to Celeste at A Perpetual Jubilee.  A few other bloggers have invited me over for interviews, but as of right now there’s nothing pressing on the calendar.  Some time in the relatively near future, I will have a post about How Not to Do A Blog Tour.  Because… dang.  I shot myself in the mental foot so many times I’ve lost count.  My hosts were all wonderful and gracious.  I just made this harder on myself (and, I’m sorry to say, on them) than it ever needed to be.  I did hit my primary goal of getting my posts to my hosts at least one week in advance.  Other than that, though…yeah.  I’m glad it’s winding down.

Anyway, here’s the list I’ve been treasuring in my heart over the past month of writing posts and commenting on them and otherwise promoting Don’t You Forget About Me. And that list is called…

7 Things I Will Do When This Blog Tour Is (Mostly) Done

  1. Make these cupcakes.  A friend at co-op made them for our Halloween party.  They are so worth making at home for no good reason other than, yay, I don’t have to write anything tonight.
    Ultimate Chocolate Cupcake
  2. Return to my pre-tour showering schedule.  Same goes for flossing.
  3. Get to the gym… though now that I’ve been given the boot, I haven’t quite figured out how to make this happen before my foot’s 4 week incarceration has been served.
  4. Mop a floor.  At least one.
  5. Declutter.  Though that’s like having the goal of “Flying to Mars on Wings Made of Fountain Grass.”
  6. Prepare for the upcoming holiday season. Cards.  Shopping.  Wrapping.  Decorating badly and cheaply.  Before you all whine at me about “It’s not the holiday season.  It’s CHRISTMAS, you soulless wretch,” I feel VERY strongly that nobody should be calling it a HOLIDAY SEASON moreso than we Catholics.  We have so many holy-days between now and The Baptism of Lord, that if that’s not a season of holidays, then I’m a wilted cabbage leaf.
  7. Educate my children again.  I haven’t taught math or Latin in nearly three weeks.  We’re already more than halfway through the number of hours our state requires us to log, so it’s not like I’m negligent or they’re truant, but the return to a structured schedule would be good for all of us.