I've been blogging for a long time and have met some really amazing women in that time. Some of my fellow bloggers have been amazing inspiration for me in the areas of parenting, homeschooling, cooking, gardening, and crafting. Mary Ostyn is one of the mom bloggers that I've loved from the start. In her blog, Owlhaven, she shares a tiny window in to her life: raising ten children (6 of them adopted) and managing to stay on top of mothering, homeschooling and feeding them all.
Last year, she sent me two copies of her book - one to keep, one to give away. I warned her that it takes me a while to do book reviews (and I wondered how she ever found the time to WRITE one). We read a lot around here, but "mom-books" are usually put on hold for lengthy periods as we try and get our curriculum-inspired reading lists finished first. Since I loved her blog first, I was excited to read her book. I knew how level-headed she was and how loving her family seemed from reading her on the net for so long.
I was not surprised to find that her book is a parenting gem.
When it arrived in the mail, I had to chuckle at the whimsical cover art and title: "A Sane Woman's Guide to Raising a Large Family" by Mary Ostyn. From a household with only THREE kids, I can relate to sometimes feeling 'un-sane'. I'd say insane, but I've heard that if you think you are crazy, it's certain that you aren't. I'm not sure about that advice. My kids call me crazy, too. I figured I'd get a lot out of Mary's book (and I wouldn't even get in trouble for being online too much while reading it - I love BOOKS!). I was right! Her book is full of wisdom. Aside from prayer, wisdom is the best thing to add to your life when you feel 'un-sane'.
The great thing about Mary's book is that it applies even if you have just a few children - or one! She has tips on:
- Finding Agreement with your spouse on how many children to have
- Frugality in raising kids and grocery budgeting
- Making space when you think you don't have any
- Getting on top of the laundry (and no, this doesn't mean sitting on it) and dealing with clutter
- How to know if an extra curricular-activity is right for your kid/family
- Affordable vacations
- The 'Supermom Myth' (boy I needed to hear this section, Thanks Mary!)
- Learning to say no
- Parental stresses (and finding patience)
- Hints for new moms
- Making time for your marriage
- Child training and chores
- The school years (not exclusively about homeschooling)
- Teaching when you have preschoolers
- Sibling relationships and family moods
- Celebrating each child individually and making them feel loved
Her advice is timeless and some of her ideas she shares are so creative that I found myself turning down the corners of pages. The sad thing is, she sent the book that I'm supposed to give away WITH my copy of the book - and I ended up reading both of them at different intervals. So... the book I'm giving away here will have a few bent page corners and a little wear on the cover edges - since I've had it in my purse!
Yes, it's good enough to tag along with you everywhere. Once I really started reading it, I decided I wanted it with me all the time, and my laptop bag often gets left behind after the iPhone came to live with us. [iPhones are much lighter than laptops.]
When you read "A Sane Women's Guide to Raising a Large Family", it doesn't matter how many kids you have. Reading Mary's advice feels less like a lecture or a how-to lesson than it does a tea-time chat with a wise and good friend. It's the next best thing to sitting down and talking with the charming Mary Ostyn herself.
If you don't win her book, by all means, hop over and purchase one at Amazon (through my associate link, of course). It wouldn't hurt to go read her blog, either. I think you'll find her as wonderful as I do.
Here's how to win (each item is one entry):
1. Visit Mary's blog and tell me one thing you enjoyed while you were there
2. Subscribe to Mary's blog and/or mine
3. Tweet about this contest (one tweet per day/each worth one entry if you comment separately for each one)
4. Stumble this post
5. Facebook about this post
Fine Print: All entries must be received by next Wednesday. I'll give away the book to one randomly chosen commenter by the end of next week. You must provide a shipping address to be considered once the contest ends. This review was my opinion and all I got for it in return was a sweet email from Mary and a free copy of her book (minus the shipping charges I'll be using to send a copy to you if you win it!).