Sunday, May 17, 2009

Book Review: "Bless Me, Father, For I Have Kids"

We Catholics can sometimes take ourselves a little too seriously. God has a sense of humor, however, and so should we. Susie Lloyd will have mothers, especially homeschooling mothers, laughing out loud with her latest offering "Bless Me, Father, For I Have Kids" (Sophia Institute Press, 2009). Susie Lloyd is a forty-something homeschooling mother of seven and a member of the Byzantine rite.

Each of the chapters of "Bless Me, Father, For I Have Kids" can stand alone as a quick humor break. Lloyd tackles many topics that will have seasoned mothers nodding, saying “Oh, yes, I have been there!” Who among us hasn’t been covered in vomit, struggled to keep children quiet in Mass, endured a road trip, faced the home haircuts vs. going to the barbers conundrum, or dealt with music lessons? For those who homeschool (which, one has to admit, makes life even more interesting!), there are even more things to laugh about. I brought this book to my homeschooling group and read a passage out loud because I thought it was so good. I plan to share this book with them so that it can make the rounds and they can all enjoy it.

Some of the funniest parts of this book concern what the world thinks of homeschooling moms as opposed to the reality which only fellow homeschoolers can fully appreciate. In her chapter, “It’s a Nerd! It’s a Saint! It’s Supermom!” Lloyd reflects on how others used to view homeschoolers with suspicion. Now, however, “the American public has changed its collective mind. It now thinks that homeschoolers can indeed do it, and do it well. All of it. We know because it exclaims, ‘How do you do it all?!’” She then goes on to explain how she uses triage as a management technique. She tells how she once asked one “put-together” homeschooling mother she knows how she did it all, and they mentioned something about a “schedule.” Lloyd responds, “I was going to look it up, but I couldn’t find a dictionary. Weeks later it turned up in a foxhole in one of the girls’ rooms. . . .If friends such as the family just mentioned drop by (which they rarely do because it’s not on the schedule), it is best to focus on the point of entry. Do not attack the guests. Attack the clutter.” Yes, I can relate!

Her chapter, “Homeschool Unceasingly” contrasts what the world thinks homeschooling looks like versus life in her home. Most people think of homeschooling in terms of the only model of education that they know – the classroom.

Let’s see, according to this picture, we should have one large blackboard, one overhead projector, and several assorted classroom-size pets: goldfish, salamanders, and possibly a tarantula. For d├ęcor, we have various instructional posters, such as an ABC scroll . . .A bell goes off at 8:30 a.m., at which time all normal family activities cease. . .Students then file in punctually for the raising of the flag (you will need a cathedral ceiling) and the Pledge of Allegiance. School commences. Each student (in uniform) sits at a little desk. . . .When he wants to speak, a student must raise his hand, even if he is the only one in the class. (If he gets the answer wrong, he snickers and whispers ‘duh’ to himself. If he gets in right, he secretly envies himself and hits himself in the back of the head with a spitball.) If it were really like this, I wouldn’t blame the neighbors for calling in an exorcist.

“Bless Me, Father, For I Have Kids” is a hit. I recommend it for anyone who wants to have a little fun laughing about this vocation of Catholic motherhood.

This review was written as part of the Catholic book Reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Bless Me, Father, For I Have Kids.

5 comments:

Susie said...

Dear Patrice,
Thanks for your kind review. I'm so glad you like it.
While it's very nice of you to pass it around your homeschool group - and perfectly natural and a great compliment - it's the one thing an author doesn't love to hear. With seven kids and no health insurance for myself or my husband, I hope to sell as many books as possible.
Who knows... Perhaps someone in your group will like it enough to buy it.
Thanks again,
Susie

Dan said...

I was happy to discover your Spiritual Woman blog today. I was unable to find an email link in your profile. I hope it's OK that I'm contacting you through a public comment. I've developed an educational program for Windows called SpellQuizzer that helps children learn their spelling and vocabulary words without the battle that parents often have getting them to sit down and write them out while the parents dictate to them. The parent enters the child's spelling words into the software making a sound recording of each word. Then the software helps the child practice his or her words. It really helped my children with their weekly spelling lists.

I would appreciate your reviewing SpellQuizzer in Spiritual Woman. You can learn more about the program at http://www.SpellQuizzer.com. There's a video demo you can watch at http://www.spellquizzer.com/SpellQuizzer-Demo.htm. Finally, there's a page targeted to homeschooling families at http://www.spellquizzer.com/spelling-software-for-homeschoolers.htm. I'd be happy to send you a complimentary license for the software. Please let me know if you are interested.

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Dan Hite
TedCo Software
Dan@SpellQuizzer.com

Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur said...

Susie,

Thank you so much for your kind words. I can appreciate your wanting to sell as many books as possible (after all, I am a writer, too), but we are all homeschooling moms on very fixed incomes ourselves. Chances are, my friends wouldn't be able to buy the book, but they might recommend it to someone who can. In the meantime, I thought I would bring some much needed humor into their days! I didn't mean to offend you and I do hope that your book is very successful. I put my review on Amazon for you as well.

Shelly said...

I recommend that you also contact your local public library and ask them to add it to their collection. Most libraries have a link "Suggest a Book" where their patrons can contribute ideas for collection development! Then Susie sells the book and homeschooling moms have a great resource available.

Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur said...

I forgot to add that this also appears on Catholic Mom and Catholic Exchange this week!