Monday, May 2, 2011

Interview with Vickie McDonough: Home

by Melissa Jagears

Today, our guest is Vickie McDonough.

Vickie McDonough is an award-winning author of 23 books and novellas. Her books have won the Inspirational Reader's Choice Contest, Texas Gold, the ACFW Noble Theme contest, and she has been a multi-year finalist in ACFW’s BOTY/Carol Awards. Vickie and her husband live in Oklahoma. She is a wife of thirty-five years, mother of four grown sons and grandma to a feisty five-year-old girl. When she’s not writing, Vickie enjoys reading, gardening, watching movies, and traveling.

Thank you, Vickie, for agreeing to interview with me! I've read several of your books and enjoyed them very much and am glad you are here to share what you've done in the past staying home with your children and working. I'm excited to hear what you have to say.

Readers, Vickie has been gracious enough to offer one randomly drawn commenter a book of their choice from off her website! Leave your EMAIL ADDRESS and BOOK CHOICE in the comments either today or on Wednesday's post. (You'll want to come back and hear what business tips she has for us on Wedns.)
She's willing to send to US and Canada residents only please.

Tell me a bit about your family. How many children do you have, and if they still live at home, how old are they?

I’ve been married 35 years to a sweet computer geek. We have four grown sons. The oldest is married, and he and his wife have given us a feisty granddaughter. The three younger boys are still with us—kind of, sort of. One lives with us all the time—can’t seem to get him to move out even though he’s plenty old enough to. The youngest is a sophomore in college but generally comes home on the weekends and during the summer. My #3 son is in the National Guard and is currently on his third deployment. He’s been to Iraq twice, but he’s now serving in Egypt. He’s still trying to finish college and lives with us when he’s not deployed.

Ay yi yi, Four boys. My four year old daughter trashes the house, I'm a bit scared of how much damage my baby boy is going to do. Can't imagine what four boys would do!
Why did you choose to work from home rather than find a job elsewhere?

I used to work outside the home when the boys were younger, but I hated leaving them. Their dad worked long hours, so it was hard to coordinate my working hours with him being home. It seemed the easiest answer was to work from home. I ended up getting several part-time jobs, some that allowed me to take the boys with me, and I even tried stating a home business for a time.

What was the most challenging aspect of working from home while raising children?

Home and family came first, so finding the time to actually work was often hard. Between sports and homeschooling the kids and church activities, extra time was hard to come by, but that’s something you have to deal with when you work from home.

I know how that is. Right now, I'm struggling with my priorities, especially when business activities become overwhelming.
Did you ever get your children involved with your home business?

Yes, I did on several occasions. One time I delivered Thrift Nickel newspapers with a baby and a 3- and 5-year-old in the car. My oldest son helped count the papers while the middle son entertained the baby piled up the return papers. It was a bit crazy at times, especially when the baby wasn’t happy, but we managed and made some extra cash too.

My four year old would love the counting job--for a few minutes anyway.
What advice would you give mothers thinking about having their children help with their business?

• Give them specific duties within their age capabilities
• Be structured and organized so that you have set hours and the children know when they start work and when they get to stop
• Pay or reward them a little if you can and encourage them to be good stewards with their money
• If you have a home office, have a special play area where younger children can be close and see you but not be underfoot
• Most of all, be flexible and patient

I'm working on the flexible and patient thing right now, and working on the setting specific hours, I think that's something I need to do for my daughter who likes routine.
What challenges did working from home present to your marriage?

Probably the biggest challenge to working from home when it relates to my husband was that I was often tired out after dealing with the boys and working too. I didn’t cook fancy meals and the house often was messy. We didn’t have much alone time. Things probably wouldn’t have worked out so well if I hadn’t had such a kind and understanding husband. He’s a big encourager too and has been my biggest cheerleader as I began down the writing path and seeking publication.

Don't even look at my house right now! :) I'm as lucky as you with the hubby cheerleader. That boy thinks there is nothing I can't do, he's so sweet.
If you could start all over again, what would you do differently?

That’s a hard question. Yes, most certainly, I’d do some things differently. I would encourage my husband to make different career choices which might have enabled me to stay home and not have to worry about bringing in extra income. As my boys got older, I didn’t feel qualified to keep teaching them because they were super smart. We didn’t have online schools like there are now. I wanted my boys to attend Christian school, but that would mean leaving my baby with a sitter, and I couldn’t do that. I do have regrets, but what parent doesn’t?

I've already started wracking up my regrets, but I've gotten the advice, "It'll happen; don't beat yourself up over it. Learn from it and work on being better in the future."
Along the same lines of getting to start over, What would you do the same?

Given the same situation, I’d probably done about the same thing. I tried to be industrious, but was limited in my abilities. I used the skills I had and did the best I could, and guess what, my boys all turned out pretty good. One is a restaurant manager married to a bank branch manager, one is making a career working at Walgreens (still working on getting that changed since this boy is a computer whiz), one is a soldier currently stationed in Egypt, and the youngest is in the honor’s program at his college studying electrical engineering. I want to encourage you moms with little children that there is life after kids. Hang in there and do the best you can, and rely on God to strengthen you and to give you wisdom.

I needed that encouragement, it does feel like my life right now is solely picking up after my tornado children.
Would you say staying home and attempting to work was worth it?

I guess it depends on what’s important to you. I didn’t want to have someone else raising my boys while I worked. I understand that some families have to do that, and I’m not putting them down. Two of my boys were very strong-willed and needed more attention to keep them focused so they weren’t always getting in trouble. We had plenty of hard times, but yeah, it was worth it.

What keeps you home instead of having an outside career?

Now, I’m at the point where I could get an outside job, but I choose not to. I babysit my five-year-old granddaughter several days after school while her parents work. I’m also primary caregiver to my 81-year-old mom whose is a partial invalid, and I do all her errands, shopping, and take her lunch several times a week, besides fixing her dinners. Working from home allows to do those special things, as well as to have the freedom to have lunch with friends once in a while.

Can you share your favorite easy recipe?

Yes, but it’s not one of those sugarless kind.

Good, because I like the sugar-filled kind.

When I was young, we often went to my Aunt Mildred’s house for dinner. My grandma and grandpa lived with her, so it was the place the family would hang out. Aunt Mildred made this yummy dessert that I called “pink stuff.” It remains one of my family’s favorites.

Aunt Mildred’s Ice Box Cake
1 small pkg. strawberry Jello
3/4 cup boiling water
Scant 1/2 cup sugar

Mix well. Cool a little.

1 small can crushed pineapple with juice
1 cup miniature marshmallows
Scant 1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Fold in 3/4th of a small or medium container of Cool Whip.(Leave final 1/4th to smooth over the top when done)

Line an oblong cake pan with vanilla wafers. Top with a layer of sliced bananas. (You can add as many as you like – about 3 - 4 medium bananas) Spoon on Jello mixture and even out across the top. Spread on remaining Cool Whip to make top pretty.

Cover with plastic wrap and keep refrigerated. Serves 12 – 16 people.

Note: When getting supplies for this recipe, please note the Cool Whip, bananas, and vanilla wafers listed in the body of the recipe.

That sounds yummy. I love strawberry and banana desserts.
All right, readers, make sure you come back on Wednesday and read more about how she deals with working at home.

And go visit her website: and find a book you'd like to read. She has handfuls of them and has been sweet enough to offer one random winner his/her choice. Come back and leave your email and book choice to be placed in the drawing.

This is her newest one, check it out while you're looking around. (I'm currently reading this one, I'm on chapter 2 at the moment.) Or click on the book to go straight to Amazon.

Finally a Bride
Jacqueline Davis, a reporter for the Lookout Ledger, is bent on nabbing her story at any cost. When Noah Jeffers comes to Lookout as the temporary pastor, Jack suspects there may be something hidden behind his shepherding ways. Soon though, Jack becomes attracted to the new pastor despite her initial hesitation. But as she uncovers the truth, will the story cost her too much? Will she reveal what she’s found, or keep it hidden to protect newfound love?


  1. I really enjoyed this personal glimpse at a great writer and savvy business lady. Thanks, Melissa, for having Vickie here and for encouraging those of us holding down the home front. That's a cause near and dear to my heart. So glad to see that it can be done successfully.
    I enjoyed Vickie's Boardinghouse Bride books, too, so make sure someone else gets a chance at winning.

  2. Great interview Melissa & Vickie! Vickie, I love your reason for working from home. Not wanting someone else to raise my boys is the number one reason I write from home.

    And thanks for this opportunity to win a book. The book Melissa's readings looks very interesting, so enter me for that one:)


  3. You know, Melissa, we are all going to gain pounds just reading all these delicious recipes! ☺

    Thanks, Vickie, for sharing your Aunt Mildred's Icebox Cake! And for a really good interview with lots of helpful information for stay-at-home moms with busy schedules. Looking forward to the business tips on Wednesday.

  4. Such wise advice. Thank you for sharing Vickie. Four boys. Wow. Sometimes I feel like I'm smothering under two boys and my hubby.

  5. Thanks for your kind welcome, everyone. Waving at Kathy. Joy, writing does get easier when your kids are bigger. Thanks, Sally! No worries, Naomi. I imagine they enjoy some of the smothering.


  6. Thanks for the interview Vickie! Great job Melissa!

  7. I love Vickie's books and Finally a Bride is excellent as well as the other two that go with it.

    Great interview, as the mom of 3 boys I can say: I understand Vickie.