parenting

An Open Book (February 2017)

Carolyn Astfalk has a first Wednesday of the month book review linkup!

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 Sabbath Rest Book Talk will return in March!

Sabbath Rest Book Talk: a monthly live interactive event where we talk about the value of fiction in developing compassion, empathy, and healthy relationships

There will be a few changes–good ones! First of all, I’ll be adding a few co-hosts.  Both Carolyn Astfalk and Rebecca Willen will be joining me for March 5th’s SRBT.  Also, we’ll be hosting the event over on my YouTube Channel as a YouTube Live Event.  You can still comment and play along, of course.  Lastly, I’ll be announcing the book selections and focus ahead of time, so you can read along and join the discussion a little more easily and thoughtfully.  To keep on top of each month’s SRBT selections, do sign up for my monthly newsletter.

While we’re here, here are the selections for SRBT for March, focusing on JUSTICE:

An Open Book Linkup: Dying for Revenge (murder mystery)

mikemulligancover Sabbath Rest Book Talk: Where Fiction Is Good For You! March 2017 will focus on JUSTICE

 

Meanwhile, I’m still reading.

HER ROYAL SPYNESS SOLVES HER FIRST CASE, Review by Erin McCole Cupp for #OpenBook Wednesday

Her Royal Spyness Solves Her First Case by Rhys Bowen.  

Oh, this was a rip-roaring fun thing to read. I initially picked it up because it’s been on my mind for a while to start this series, and Bowen’s latest (I think the latest?) was mentioned the 2016 list of Agatha Award nominees. The Agatha Awards are, “Loosely defined as ‘mysteries which contain no explicit sex or excessive gore or violence,’ the Agatha Award salutes the books best typified by the works of Agatha Christie.” There’s a little too much racy talk in there for me to feel comfortable sharing this with my tween-readers. There are not, however, any actual sex scenes or horrifically detailed murders, etc. It was adult-funny, cleverly plotted, and peopled with fully-fleshed characters in spite of the fact that there were so many. I’ll be looking for more Royal Spyness.

Review of IN THE PLEASURE GROOVE by John Taylor (yes, that John Taylor) by Erin McCole Cupp for #OpenBook WednesdayIn the Pleasure Groove by (Nigel, ahem) John Taylor

In the Pleasure Groove was everything you’d expect from JT. It was compelling, entertaining, slick, sexy, jet-setty… and flavored with a sad undercurrent of, well, narcissism. Still. Even in his chapters on facing down his drug and alcohol addictions. Don’t get me wrong: I am super glad the guy is working so hard health in all its dimensions, so invested in being a good father and husband. I’m concerned, though, that as long as he stays his own Higher Power, it might not last. In the end, that made the book unsatisfying. Still, if you’re recovering from or still a hardcore Duran Duran addict, I can’t not recommend In the Pleasure Groove. There’s a bit of depth for the reader in it, even if the author himself may have missed it.

An Open Book book review linkup hosted by Carolyn Astfalk: get your recs here!Nutureshock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman

One of the most influential books about children ever published, Nurture Shock offers a revolutionary new perspective on children that upends a library’s worth of conventional wisdom. With impeccable storytelling and razor-sharp analysis, the authors demonstrate that many of modern society’s strategies for nurturing children are in fact backfiring–because key twists in the science have been overlooked. Nothing like a parenting manual, NurtureShock gets to the core of how we grow, learn and live.

It’s amazing how actual science works and how easy it is for us to turn our backs on factual reality when it doesn’t fit what makes us feel good about ourselves, isn’t it?  Long story short: NurtureShock confirms the value of common sense parenting in the face of everything from participation awards to gifted class placement tests to fat shaming and schedule-cramming.  I got a lot of validation out of this book and some ideas for modifying my own parenting choices as well.

Get your recs here: An Open Book monthly book review linkup hosted by Carolyn Astfalk Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Yeah, totally embarrassing that this is the first Agatha Christie novel I’ve ever read in my whole life.  To my credit, I was in And Then There Were None in freshman year of high school (Ethel the maid–first one offed, but I got to scream really loud, so that was cool).

Anyway, quick read, clean enough, tight plotting, and even I forgot about one of the big clues at the beginning so that the end was a well-timed surprise.  That said, the end was a bit… unsatisfying in a moral sense, if you get what I mean.  As an investigator, Poirot was warmer than Sherlock Holmes and in that sense more enjoyable from a human perspective; Holmes quirks my eyebrows at both his brilliance and his awkwardness, but Poirot brings me along for the ride.

You Carried Me: A Daughter’s Memoir by Melissa Ohden

You Carried Me : A Daughter's Memoir is an experience of tragedy, pain, hope, healing and triumph, told by an abortion survivor. Don't miss this book!What do you do when you find out you were not supposed to live?  Would you want the find the birthmother who, according to all medical records, wanted you dead? And how do you hold onto a voice in a culture that calls you a liar and silences you at any available opportunity… because your very existence challenges the culture’s most cherished ideas?  This is the story of a woman who survived an abortion in 1977 then went on to search for her birthparents.  The pain, healing and triumph of her experience is one that every human should read.  I give You Carried Me both five stars (would give a sixth if Amazon would let me) and a Four Kleenex Warning. I received a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.   I am honestly confident in giving this book the highest recommendation.  Look for an upcoming in-depth review and giveaway in the next few days.

That’s it for February!  While we’re here, gentle reminder: To keep on top of each month’s SRBT selections, do sign up for my monthly newsletter.

What’s your #OpenBook?

Don’t forget to link up YOUR #OpenBook reviews over at Carolyn’s!

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.”

Words that Harm or Heal: A Guest Post from Jeannie Ewing

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, Jeannie Ewing.

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SENSITIVITY IN LANGUAGE: WORDS THAT HARM OR HEAL?

Although most people don’t know it, my oldest daughter, Felicity, was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder at eighteen months of age.  She appears to be “normal,” so to speak, but her levels of sensitivity to environmental stimuli of all sorts truly varies from day to day.  Because SPD is neurological in its origin, there’s no way (short of having an MRI) to know how or why – or even what – triggers her sensory aversions.

I have to say that this has made me acutely aware of the need for sensitivity in my writing.  Some may say that people are too afraid of offending others when we live in a society that perhaps needs a forthright message.  And this is very true.  But I am definitely more candid by nature, often to the point of abrasion, so learning to be sensitive in the written language has been helpful as an author/blogger.  It’s interesting how something like a child’s diagnosis can translate into a generalization, but in my case, it’s true.

Because Felicity is so easily overwhelmed, I’ve learned to pick up her nonverbal cues of discomfort and anxiety.  Pausing for a few seconds, stepping outside of myself and placing myself in her little brain helps me as a mom to discern how best to respond to her needs.  Sometimes she has inappropriate outbursts when explosive laughter erupts during a dinner conversation, and that is promptly (and privately) addressed with her.  But other times I see the build-up of tension in her face as she places her hands over her ears, and in those situations, I am able to avert a potential meltdown from her simply by whispering in her ear and pulling her aside to give her options for dealing with the anxiety (e.g., deep breathing, calming down in a quiet place, etc.).

This unique aspect of my parenting has transferred into my gift of writing.  I usually write uncensored, because I believe it’s critical to be authentic when expressing myself and my heart.  I still believe that very much.  But instead of instantaneously publishing what I write, I allow it to sit for about twenty-four hours and revisit what I wrote.  Then I can see it with fresh eyes and insight, usually considering my word selection.  There have been times when particular sentences or words I choose could be blatantly offensive to some people, particularly if it refers to one’s cognitive ability or aptitude.  But if I take the time to pray beforehand to the Holy Spirit, He graces me with humility to see how my language may inadvertently hurt someone.

I’m not saying that we always have to be careful of every small word or sentence we say.  There is such a thing as false humility, in which a person is so deliberate and timorous in sharing anything at all with someone or expressing a personal opinion.  We should speak and write both clearly and confidently while keeping in mind the importance of truth in charity.  Praying before we write or speak, then pausing for a few moments truly makes a significant impact in the delivery of our message.  Then our words can heal, inspire, and encourage rather than harm or shame others.

ONE-MINUTE THOUGHT:  How do my words hurt or heal others?  What can I change about how I speak, write, and relate to others today?

Text Copyright 2015 Jeannie Ewing, all rights reserved.
Image Copyright 2015 “Grasshopper” by FeeLoona on Pixabay and edited in Canva by Jeannie Ewing.

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Jeannie Ewing is a writer, speaker, and grief recovery coach.  She is the co-author of Navigating Deep Waters: Meditations for CaregiversJeannie was featured on National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition and Tony Agnesi’s radio show Finding God’s GraceShe offers her insight from a counselor’s perspective into a variety of topics, including grief, spirituality, and parenting children with special needs.  Jeannie resides in northern Indiana with her husband and two daughters, both of whom have special needs.  For more information on her professional services, please visit her websites lovealonecreates.com or fromgrief2grace.com.

Follow Jeannie on social media:  Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn | Google+ | Pinterest

Seven Quick Takes on Your Kids’ Spirituality

It’s Friday, and you know what that means! Kelly M’s hosting Seven Quick Takes Friday over at This Ain’t the Lyceum.

7QTlogoToday it’s my pleasure to host Connie Rossini, author of several books, her latest being A Spiritual Growth Plan for your Choleric Child.

1) Connie, thanks for visiting us today.  Briefly, can youConnieRossiniHeadshot tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m a lifelong Catholic, married with four young sons. I have a B.A. in Elementary Education and have homeschooled since our oldest was four. I also homeschooled my youngest brother through high school. Off and on for the last ten years, I’ve written a spirituality column for the diocesan newspaper. I blog on Carmelite spirituality and raising prayerful kids at Contemplative Homeschool. I’m also a columnist at SpiritualDirection.com.

2) Your latest book is called A Spiritual Growth Plan for Your Choleric Child.  Can you tell us a little bit about what you mean by a “choleric child”?

3d Choleric Cover CroppedThe idea of four temperaments comes from Hippocrates, most famous as the father of medicine. He saw that people tended to react to stimuli in one of four ways. He thought these reactions were related to body fluids, so he gave them the names choleric, sanguine, phlegmatic, and melancholic. The choleric reacts intensely and immediately to stimuli. He holds onto his impressions for a long time. His strengths include high energy, determination, noble ideals, and a strong work ethic. He is often good at nearly everything. He tends toward pride and anger and loves a good debate. Without proper direction he can become a tyrant, but many cholerics have been great saints.

3) I understand that our vocation as parents includes providing spiritual guidance as well as an education for our children.  However, I’ve never before heard of making an actual plan for a child’s spiritual growth.  Can you tell us where and/or how you discovered the idea of planning out a child’s spirituality?

I think the idea really started several years ago when I read A Mother’s Rule of Life by Holly Pierlot. She suggested something similar. I made a few notes for my oldest son, who was probably six or seven at the time, but I never really implemented them.

I’m a person who likes to look for underlying principles that tie things together. (That comes from my strong secondary melancholic temperament.) After studying a lot about the temperaments in the last few years, I began to realize that most of my kids’ misbehavior was related to their temperaments. I realized that the discipline that worked for one child wouldn’t necessarily work for another.

So I thought, I’ll make a plan for each child as part of our homeschool year, working proactively on issues related to his temperament. I knew my choleric son needed to learn humility and compassion, my melancholic son needed to learn to fight despair, and my phlegmatic-sanguine son needed to overcome sloth. [My youngest just turned four, so we are still discovering what makes him tick!] These are all spiritual issues. So temperament studies became a weekly part of our religion class.

4) I have to admit:  right now I find the idea of planning my child’s spiritual growth a bit troubling.  The idea of it feels.. intrusive somehow.  Can you maybe put to rest any qualms some of us might have with the idea of planning the growth of another soul? Specifically, I mean beyond the usual setting of a good example, providing instruction in the faith that is in line with the magisterium, etc.?

You’re not the first one who has told me the idea challenges him. The first thing I want to say is that this has been an extremely positive experience for my family. I feel like at last I am loving my kids for who they are and trying to help them be the best they can be, instead of expecting them all to act and react like I do.

The Church tells us that parents are their children’s first teachers in the faith. That doesn’t just mean first chronologically because we know them first, but we are their primary teachers of the faith throughout their childhoods. I look at myself and my husband as our children’s spiritual directors. We are to help them on their way towards God. A spiritual director cannot force his directee to change, but he can and should help the directee make a plan of attack for his spiritual life. My boys are very active in this process. I often begin their temperament studies (and we do this one on one) by asking, “How are things going with your temperament? Is there anything you think you need to work on?” Then we talk about it and try to come up with some ideas of how to approach the problem. My choleric son in particular (who is also the oldest) often has great ideas about what will work for him. But without this time set aside, he may never have been as reflective as he needs to be for genuine growth.

As I say in my book, we are to know, love, and serve God–that is our life’s purpose. Instruction in the faith touches on the knowing, although I don’t think it even covers that aspect completely. Ultimately, what we need to know is Jesus, not just the articles of faith. That’s why teaching my children prayer methods that go along with their temperaments is an important part of our studies. Setting a good example is imperative too. I have a whole section about the importance of modeling the behavior you want to see in your children. But I want to give my children the tools that will help them grow closer to Jesus. They don’t need to have the same exact relationship with God that I do. They don’t have all my struggles. They have different strengths. I want them to be aware of both those struggles and those strengths, so that they can already be practiced in fighting them or using them for God’s glory by the time they are adults.

5) What are some of the resources you used in writing this book?

For background on the temperaments, The Temperament God Gave You by Art and Laraine Bennett is the best source by Catholics. Protestant author Florence Littauer also has a temperament series that is excellent. John Paul II’s exhortation on the family, Familiaris Consortio, was my go-to source for the spiritual life of parents and their kids.

6)  What are some of the lessons you yourself learned while pursuing this project?

One valuable lesson I learned from other writers who critiqued my early drafts was that not only our kids are different–parents are too! I tend to think that every parent will have the same struggles with their kids that I do. I learned from these other parents that some of the things about the choleric temperament that nearly drive me crazy don’t bother them at all! I had to rewrite parts of my book to reflect those differences.

7)  Lastly, where can we pick up this book and any of your other work for ourselves?

A Spiritual Growth Plan for Your Choleric Child is currently available on Amazon as an ebook and a paperback. The paperback should be available at other online retailers soon. My earlier book Trusting God with St. Therese is available in several formats.If readers visit the Book Table tab on my blog, they will find links to many different retailers, as well as to the two free downloads I have written.

Thank you for stopping over, Connie!  I certainly learned a lot from this interview, and I hope Tomato Pie fans did as well.

Interview with Working Mother Jessica Roseborough

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 marks the start of the novena to St. Jerome Emiliani, patron saint of orphans.  In honor of St. Jerome, let’s meet working mother Jessica Roseborough!

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Jessica Roseborough

Tell us a little bit about your family. 

My husband, Rob, and I have been married for 13 years.  We have 4 children, ages 11.5, 10, 8 and 5.  Our children are active, smart and fun.  They keep us very busy!! We have 2 dogs as well.  We own an adoption agency that we operate together, Rob has a full time job and I also work per diem hours in the ER as a social worker on the weekends.

 

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

My primary job is a mother to 4 active children between 5-12.  Professionally, I am a social worker.  I work in both child welfare and as an emergency/medical social worker.

 

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

That is a big question that could have a long answer.  In a nut shell, as a mother and a social worker I feel that I have an impact on lives every day, which is something that I believe God wants from me and gave me talents and endurance for.

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

I feel more fulfilled and can therefore be more engaged and present when I am with my children.  As part of our work with the adoption agency we foster newborn babies from time to time while the adoption details are worked out.  My children absolutely love this and have learned a lot about how families are built, how God works through us to help babies be where he wants them to be and in general how to make sacrifices in their own lives to help someone else.

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

I don’t really feel guilty because I know that for me working outside the home is necessary to be fully engaged when I am home.  I would say my bigger struggle has been to create a lifestyle and set of professional responsibilities that can meet my needs as a person while not interfere with my needs as a mother.  For example, choosing to own and operate an agency allows me the freedom to have total control over my own schedule and that is worth the challenges it causes me because I would have a great deal of guilt if I missed birthdays or school shows (etc.) due to work.
What is one thing that you would ask the people in your life to do to support you more? 

The children: put your shoes and clothes away!  I am lucky to feel very well supported and would say that the biggest struggle is feeling like there is not enough of me to go around.  I think the only thing that would make me feel more supported would be to hear “don’t worry about it” when I am stressing about not getting to the housework, laundry or home cooked meal because being a mother and social worker at the same time has to come before all of that.

 

Too true.  Thank you, Jessica!  

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 Melanie Weiler

Here at Tomato Pie, we’re celebrating the release of my biblical historical fiction ebook “Working Mother.” Today is the Feast of a working I didn’t meet until I went searching for Dominican working moms:  Blessed Villana di’Botti.  Bl. Villana balanced her duties to husband and family along with a great love of and devotion to the poor and disadvantaged in her neighborhood.  I see the same balance in an old friend of mine, Melanie Weiler.

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Melanie Weiler

Tell us a little bit about your family. 

My husband and I have been married for 23 years with two children. Our son is 15 and daughter is 13.

 

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

I tell people that I manage a small nonprofit in Kennett Square, [PA], which consists of a food pantry and emergency assistance program. We focus on providing quality nutrition and securing resources for our clients to increase their self-sustainability.

 

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

I will always feel compelled to strive to be the person He made me to be. Through my experiences, I have been shown compassion and kindness that I know is His love. Every day I am given the opportunity to pay that forward to our brothers and sisters that are struggling. I have found the voice that we all have to speak for those that can’t speak for themselves.

When I took on this ministry, I didn’t realize how many in the community want to help, but feel powerless to do so. Through helping others, we find our humanity. I feel honored to be able to deliver that opportunity to many people and wish I could do more.

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

The kids are at an age when our society sweeps them into a consumption-based system of values. At a time that friends and peers can easily influence their values, my children have grasped an understanding and appreciation for their blessings. They are well grounded.

I will never forget the surprise on my daughter’s face the first time she helped a person select groceries in the cupboard.  At first, she thought the person was another volunteer. She quickly learned that not only were they a client, but they were also experiencing homelessness.  Homelessness has a unfair stereotype that must be broken and at the age of 13, she understands and shares that with her peers.

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

After multiple attempts at being a stay-at-home parent, I realize that is just not in God’s plan for me. But I always felt that if I needed to be away from my family, the work needed to be meaningful. At this point in my career, I don’t feel particularly guilty. My husband and I have always managed a balance of housework and family time. Of course I couldn’t do my work without him.

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

Just to respect that I am compelled to do this work and to make allowances for that. And understand that my house may be a little dirty and know I don’t care as long as my family is happy.

 

Love it.  Thank you, Melanie!  

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 Tiffany, the Catholic Librarian

Catholic Librarian

Tiffany the Catholic Librarian

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 my Dominican patron, St. Thomas Aquinas.  In honor of this saint who spent plenty of time in the library (and whose work has sent several of us there), let’s meet working mother Tiffany, the Catholic Librarian!

What’s your name?

Tiffany, and I blog at Life of a Catholic Librarian. I write about my Catholic faith, my family, the liturgical year, librarianship, crafts, my love of Middle Eastern dancing (which I started studying as a once per week timeslot of pure “me time” to charge my batteries a bit), and generally amusing things that happen in my daily, and ordinary, life. J

Tell us a little bit about your family. 

This coming January 8th, I’ll have been married for 10 years to my adorable husband, Mike. The date sounds a bit unusual for a wedding anniversary, I know, but we enjoy winter and thus had a snowy wedding day! Our anniversary also falls during Christmas season, which is a liturgical fact I just couldn’t resist. J Mike is an adjunct professor of philosophy and mathematics at several local colleges, two of them Catholic and one a community college. We have two children. Our son, Henry, just turned 9, and our daughter Anne is 3. Henry attends a local Catholic school and is in 4th grade this year. He enjoys reading, crafts, Legos and video games, and recently joined the school wrestling team. He is a very gentle and reserved child, in fact his quiet personality reminds me so much of myself. Anne is *very* precocious and outgoing! She loves to have books read to her and to color, and is such a sweet, loving little girl. Mike is at home with her during the day while he is on semester breaks, and several mornings per week, and she stays with her grandparents while he is teaching and I am at work.

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

I am a librarian at a large state university, and I am a wife and mother. I do not see those things in that specific order in terms of their significance in my life, but when someone asks me that in such a setting, they are generally wondering if I work outside of the home, and if so, in what capacity.

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

I think that God uses my job to teach me things every day. Patience, perseverance, compassion, understanding, clear communication, all of those things and more. For the most part, I am helping students each day, and I think that we can learn a lot from each other.

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

I think that working outside of the home makes me a better mother. This is certainly not the case for everybody, but for me it is. When I was home on maternity leave with my son, I did not know any mothers who stayed at home with their children, and so I had no support system during the day. I found myself very depressed from the lack of adult interaction and it was a difficult time that I find painful to reflect back on. Now, I do have a few friends who are home with their children during the day, so that would be a huge help to be sure. But we do need my salary and benefits for our family finances, so that isn’t an option for me at this time. That aside, I do find that the social interactions and interesting challenges deal with each day at work stimulate me such that when I return home in the evenings, I am ready and able to spend that quality time with my children and husband.

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

This is the conundrum for all working mothers, yes? It is difficult, but has gotten easier over time. I know that I am doing what I have to do for the good of the entire family, and that certainly helps. I also think that I am setting a positive example for my kids in that women have options and prayerful choices available to them depending upon the needs of their family. It is obviously a beautiful and good thing for women to be at home with their children. That situation, however, is not possible for everyone, and so long as a woman has discerned her role in prayer and with her husband, other possibilities are good too.

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

I think that my family is very supportive of my working role. My husband, who works less hours than me due to his status as adjunct faculty rather than full-time, takes care of SO much around the house and for the kids, and my in-laws help out so much with childcare. I really do not think they could do more, truly. They are wonderful.

Thank you so much, Tiffany!  

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 Leslie Lynch

Here at Tomato Pie, we’re celebrating the release of my biblical historical fiction ebook “Working Mother.” When author Leslie Lynch agreed to let me interview her for this project, I knew I had to run her interview today.  This is the Feast of St. Agnes, who is among other things, the patron saint of victims of sexual assault.  In Leslie’s books you get a real hope for true, Christ-like justice for all who have suffered through rape and related crimes.

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Leslie with her family

What’s your name?

Leslie Lynch

Tell us a little bit about your family. 

My husband and I have been married a bit longer than 38 years and have three grown children, a son-in-law, a daughter-in-law, and two granddaughters.

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

Just like most women, I do a lot and juggle to make sure it all gets done—and some days I can’t tell you exactly what I did! But along with being involved with extended family, I write professionally, mostly fiction and some nonfiction.

 

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

I think it’s perhaps the other way around for me. God has used the experiences of my life to shape me into the kind of writer I am: realistic, gritty, and yet my work is infused with God’s mercy, leading my characters on journeys toward reconciliation with each other and with Him.

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

I look at the choices my kids have made in their careers and with whom they spend their lives. I believe they watched my example and reached for the stars, and in particular, their individual, unique star. I am also a registered nurse and a pilot with advanced ratings, so they saw me take whatever route necessary to make my dreams come true, and to do so in the face of moments of adversity. My husband was also a role model in that regard, so they were doubly blessed. Our kids are all high achievers in the fields they’ve chosen, as well as being genuinely wonderful human beings. That is the more important legacy of my “working motherhood.”

 

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

I was lucky in that my careers allowed me options to schedule my work life around my home life, for the most part. At one time I worked four different jobs at the same time (two temporary nursing positions and two as a flight/ground instructor) so I had more control over my hours than most.
Then, of course, after the eight hour shift at a hospital, I would come home and commence the six hour marathon of getting kids to activities, homework, supper, baths, and bed. (My husband’s job took him away from home for days at a time.) Again, we were fortunate in being able to spend so much time together in the evenings, though much of it was in the van!

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

Recognize my contributions and give me hugs. Sometimes I long for more “down” time for writing, but family is always more important. I’m grateful for the opportunity to spend as much time as I do with my grandkids.

Thank you, Leslie!  

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 Debbie Gaudino

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, Debbie Gaudino​!

 

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Debbie Gaudino​

Tell us a little bit about your family. 

​​My husband and I have been married for 18 years and have been blessed with two beautiful children: our son who is 12 and our daughter who is 10. A few years ago, our Pastor asked us to share about our family’s faith at a retreat for the graduating 8th grade class.  Each of us took a turn sharing how God has blessed our lives both personally and as a family. Father referred to us that day as “Team Gaudino” and the name really resonated with us and has stuck ever since. We try to approach all aspects of our life as a team and involve our children as much as possible in our work and ministry. Like many sports fans, the concept of rooting for our family as a team has drawn us closer together and helped us to support each other’s interests and activities.

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

​”May I have another glass of wine?” In all seriousness, my life is a constant juggle of a wide variety of roles that defy an easy one-line dinner party answer. I am a homeschooling Mom, a blogger, a free-lance writer, the director of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in my diocese, a retreat speaker and leader, a theology graduate student at Franciscan University of Steubenville and an account manager for Lighthouse Catholic Media. If I had to sum up these roles in one short answer I would say: “I am a child of God and my life is spent trying to grow and reflect that reality more perfectly both interiorly and to others.”

 

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

​I “grew up” working in the banking and software industries and spent many years doing project management, working on sales proposals and making presentations to clients. I am so blessed that the Lord has allowed me to use the skills that I honed during those years working “in the world” ​to now work to build his Kingdom here on earth and give him glory.  Honestly, I sometimes feel like I am the person God is touching the most through articles I have written, or a Lighthouse CD’s I have sold or a retreat talks I have given. God has used my own work and words to challenge me to grow in holiness and in surrender to his will in my life and I thank him and praise him for that!

 

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

Working outside the home on retreats or through my work with Lighthouse Catholic Media has helped my family grow​

 

​both spiritually and in knowledge of the teachings of our faith. We often listen to Lighthouse Catholic CD’s in the car as a family​ and my children accompany me to parishes to restock their Lighthouse kiosks. My husband and I try to stress the  importance of evangelization to our children and my work helps them to see that being lived out. One of the greatest joys I had was when my daughter, of her own accord, designed posters to promote Lighthouse Catholic Media for one of my Lighthouse parishes.  I treasured her efforts and, more significantly, her desire to share in my work.

 

 

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

​I try to keep the guilty feelings at bay by taking frequent check-points with my husband, my spiritual director, and my children as to how I am doing in the balancing act of life.  There have definitely been seasons in my life where I have had to back-off of some activities, and other times where I have been able to add things to my plate without issue. Making myself accountable to others I trust in this area has been a huge help to me. If everyone is in agreement that an activity is fruitful and the guilty thoughts creep into my mind, I am more easily able to push them out. On the other hand, if I am having guilty thoughts and have not discussed them, I know that there is a possibility that I am doing too much. ​

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

​Above all else, I would ask for their prayers. On a more practical side I would invite them to ask questions. I find that many people shut down when you mention that you work for the Catholic Church in some capacity and I am not sure why.  I would love for family and friends to ask a few questions – I promise not to proselytize them, sell them anything, or force them to read my writings (unless of course, they are my parents – then all bets are off).

 

Thank you, Debbie!   Readers, Debbie has issued you an invitation!  “Visit me at my blog: Saints 365 where I reflect on striving for the heights of holiness in the trenches of everyday life, or stop by the Lighthouse Catholic Media store for some of the best Catholic teachings available on CD or MP3.”

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 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.”