When Lynn Bowen Walker contacted me to offer a review copy of her new book Queen of the Castle: 52 weeks of encouragement for the uninspired, domestically challenged or just plain tired homemaker I was so pleased, because it looked like it would be right up my alley. When the book arrived in the mail, it was one of those that just cried out to me, "Open me! Look inside!" The cover can say a lot about a book, and this one tells it all, showing a woman balancing her entire life. The book is written in a 52 week format, so that the busy mom can cover one chapter each week, but I found myself browsing through and reading the parts that I really thought I needed right away. The chapter titles are very helpful to locate the information you need. I highly recommend this book for its clear presentation and easy format which includes quotes from many homemaking and mothering and women's books on the topics that she is covering, along with a word of the day, and plenty of anecdotes, and oh yeah, chocolate recipes.
Thank you Lynn for stopping by to promote your first book, Queen of the Castle. It is a book that I will be recommending, especially to moms of multiple kids or ones with a busy schedule (oh--isn't that all of us?), or moms like me who have never felt comfortable with the daily practice of housekeeping. In fact, I've already bought my first gift copy.
- The title of your book is Queen of the Castle – can you tell us the story behind that title (I’m also curious about the king and the princes)?
I was thinking one day about the saying, “A man’s home is his castle,” and decided if that’s true, then our husbands are the kings of our homes and we get to be the queens. I like the idea of being queen! In our home I’m married to the ever-cheerful Good King Mark, king of home renovation projects, and the mom of two outstanding princes who are way smarter, way funnier, way more charming than I’ll ever be. They will make fine kings someday.
- I find that I often write about things which I know are important, yet have oftentimes fallen by the wayside. Putting it out there and getting my thoughts on paper about how important it is often helps me to be more accountable. Has this been the case for you with Queen of the Castle?
That’s an insightful question, and it’s probably truer than I’d like to admit. I’ve always enjoyed the “have fun with your family” part of my job. But the housework part is tough for me. I can walk by piles of papers or a basketful of unfolded clothes for days and not even notice them. It’s kind of embarrassing to have written a book on homemaking when you’re not so great at keeping up with housework. But that’s one of the reasons I wanted to write this book; it doesn’t help me to read tips from people who organize their clothes in their closets alphabetically. I could never do that! I need to hear from women who don’t have it all together, who have rooms in their homes that look like they’ve been hit by a tornado. When I hear from someone who has struggled but keeps picking herself up and trying again, that’s what helps me.
Perhaps that's why this book has been such an encouragement for me. It prods me to do my best, but does not overwhelm me with a level of housekeeping that I know I will never attain (and I'm not even sure I want to).
As for being accountable, the biggest help for me there is to have people over often. There’s nothing like knowing people are on their way over to make you suddenly see the piles of mail everywhere.
- Most of us have areas of our housekeeping that we do well (or that we don’t absolutely hate doing), and then other responsibilities that we only do to keep the sanitation department at bay. My passing grades are in laundry and cooking, and my failing grades would probably be everything else, bathrooms and floors specifically. What are yours?
I think I keep up pretty well with dishes and laundry. I don’t mind cleaning toilets, and we’re usually fully stocked with toilet paper, library books, and home-made cookies. Where I fall down abysmally is in vacuuming, mopping (what’s a mop?), ironing, and dealing with paper clutter. And maybe a few more . . .
I don't know what a mop is either. I know that some of those gifted in the cleaning arts regularly wet down every hard surface floor in their house. I find that spot cleaning works really well for us. Actually, when I do clean the kitchen floor, I do it "Cinderella style" on my hands and knees. By that point, it needs it.
- In addressing the balance between getting involved in outside activities and keeping the house, you shared a great question that you ask yourself when evaluating a commitment: Do these activities really reflect your goals? As one who has always chosen (or felt called) to be involved in some sort of ministry or volunteer work, this is a perfect reminder for me. Can you share a story about a time that this question helped you pare down, or convinced you that it was okay to continue in spite of personal sacrifice?
The time that leaps to mind is when my boys were in second and third grades and I was asked to help lead women’s ministries at our church. I prayed about it and really sensed God directing me to say yes. Over the course of the next couple years, a lot changed in my home responsibilities – mainly as my kids got older, their homework load drastically increased. Nights when I should have been home helping them study for their next day’s spelling test, I was off at church leading Bible studies or attending meetings. After two years, I really needed to step down from my church responsibilities. My kids were just at a point where they needed me more. Sometimes it’s a question of timing – an activity that was perfect for you and your family last year, no longer fits so well. We need to be willing to keep re-evaluating.
Thank you for the reminder that we not only need to ask that question, but keep asking it as we evaluate each new season.
- Mother’s Day is this week. You devoted a chapter to this day, sharing about how God ended up giving you the true desire of your heart "the ones I didn't even know I possessed: the chance to love and nurture my children, to experience every moment possible of this job of motherhood." And sagely summing up the experience by stating that "When we take on the job of motherhood, we have no idea what's coming." What are one or two things that motherhood has taught you about yourself?
I was surprised to find that, in the end, the desire of my heart was really to be a great mom. I was not someone who grew up playing with dolls and dreaming of the day I’d be a wife and mom. If you had asked me when I was younger, I’d have probably predicted I would have been more career-oriented. But when you look into your baby’s eyes, and hold him for the first time . . . I just melted. I knew I didn’t want anybody else to raise my children. I wanted to be the one to help them take their first step, to read with them on the couch, to teach them how much God loves them. I’m so blessed God allowed me to do that.
And then He allowed me to write a book, too. How cool is that?!Very cool, indeed.
- I enjoyed your chapter on hospitality. How do you incorporate hospitality at home when it’s “just” the family?
Well we don’t all get to sit down at the table and enjoy a meal together as often as I’d like, so when we do, we often dim the lights, light the candles, and play some pretty music. Also, I always hated the idea of making a special meal or dessert for some outside activity but then be yelling at the family, “Keep out of that! That’s not for you, that’s for the church potluck!” So if I’m making special food for an activity outside of our home, I always try to make enough for my family, too. If you’re already making five dozen cookies, what’s a couple dozen more?