March 24, 2010

Practical Parenting Advice and a Book Give-Away



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
  • Scheduling
  • 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):

MANDATORY:

1. Visit Mary's blog and tell me one thing you enjoyed while you were there

ADDITIONAL:

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!).

81 comments:

Amiee said...

I loved reading her recipes, especially the one about if you don't have enough eggs. I never would have thought of that! This seems like a GREAT book that would really help me in my parenting journey. Thanks! amieeogden@yahoo.com

Suzanne ~ TheJoyfulChaos said...

I like the sidebar recipes too. Right there, easy to see and I'll definitely be coming back for them. I also look forward to looking through her Frugal tab. I have five kids and need all that frugality I can get!

Ali said...

My heart swells when ever I read a blog of a family who has adopted. Since we are going through an adoption ourselves, adoption blogs hold a special place in my heart. Her children are beautiful! A rainbow of blessings.

I'd LOVE to have her book!

Ali
weetelfers at gmail dot com

Suzanne ~ TheJoyfulChaos said...

I subscribed to Owlhaven (I'm already a subscriber to you!).

Anonymous said...

I am already subscribed to your blog. :)

Ali said...

UGH..it posted before I was finished..I am anonymous.

Ali

Suzanne ~ TheJoyfulChaos said...

I retweeted your tweet! C'mon random selector - I need all the sanity I can get!!

ali said...

Tweet!

http://twitter.com/Teachmyown/statuses/10990022496

Suzanne ~ TheJoyfulChaos said...

Officially facebooked you. (mental note: i must get a stumble account asap!)

Ali said...

Stumbled your post

Ali said...

Facebooked it

http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/Teachingmyown?ref=profile

Hannah Braboy said...

I love how real Mary is. Some blogs seem to candy coat everything and I don't like that. I like things real, fresh, and raw.

Hannah Braboy said...

I subscribe to Mary's blog and enjoy reading it very much!

Hannah Braboy said...

Of course, I subscribe to your blog too. ;)

Hannah Braboy said...

I tweeted about the giveaway!

Hannah Braboy said...

I Facebooked the giveaway.

Gwen Toliver said...

Her 30 days of nothing frugality experiment - if she can do it with her big crew I can do it with my little crew of nine! ;)

Gwen Toliver said...

I subscribed to your blog!

Leslie P said...

I subscribed to your blog. I liked the yarn Mary was using for her socks. I could understand her bittersweet feelings about the heritage her Ethiopian daughters have given up in exchange for adoption into their family.

Leslie P said...

I subscribed to your blog. Also, I liked the yarn Mary was using to knit her socks (if she ever finishes them they will be cute). I could understand her bittersweet feelings about the heritage her Ethiopian daughters have given up in exchange for adoption into her family.

The Coopers said...

I think I just spent a good thirty minutes at owlhaven! I enjoyed seeing her husband's handywork as well as reading about her trip to the Dominican Republic. I like your blog too :)

Jen @ Happy LIttle Homemaker said...

I love her dinner idea posts!

Jen @ Happy LIttle Homemaker said...

I sub to your blog via rss.

Melissa E. said...

I, too, enjoy Mary's blog and started reading it way back when she adopted the older girls from Ethiopia. At the time, we were beginning our adoption of three Ukrainian orphans. Our household has six children now and what a blessing each child is! And, of course, some days I feel crazy. I even suspect that some days I AM crazy! Haha!

It's Wednesday and I hope that "by Wednesday" includes Wednesday too! I would love to win a copy of Mary's book. Sounds like a great one. :-)

marissaburt said...

I like reading Mary's parenting posts. Especially the ones that remind me to slow down and enjoy the time I have with my littlest ones.

Thanks!

Marissa

marissaburt said...

Oh, and I subscribe to Mary's blog.

Thanks!

Marissa

Tracy said...

As a family who has adopted and is planning on adopting again, that is what attracted me to Mary's blog. Her heart for orphans is such a blessing read about.

I already subscribe to her blog and just subscribed to yours.

I'm going to Facebook this right now too.

So I think that gets me 3 entries? :)

Tracy

Sheila said...

I've been reading her blog for a while. I love her down-to-earth attitude, her recipes, and her love of family.

Kimberlie said...

I really enjoy Mary's honesty about adoption and older child adoption in particular. I am an adoptive mother, but all my children came to me as toddlers. Now we are going to be adopting a boy who will be 6, nearly 7, by the time we travel. I appreciate her honesty about the good, the bad, and the downright ugly.

Megan said...

I always enjoy Mary's posts, particularly about her kids. Her oldest kids give me hope - you can raise teenagers and maintain your sanity. :)

Megan said...

I already subscribe to Mary's blog!

Heather said...

I frequent Mary's blog often. I love her organizational ideas and frugality posts. She makes me want to be a better mom!

Heather said...

and I facebooked about this post!

Jen said...

In her post titled "Faster than a speeding..." I love that she said, "it's funny how quiet it can be in the house with only 5 kids at home!" I can't imagine that's only half of them...I love it!

Jen said...

I didn't subscribe but I added her to the blogs I follow!

kelli said...

I love the recipe for Pasta Carbonera! I would love to win! ☺

Dianne said...

I love Mary's blog. I love that she has more kids than me and is still sane. :)

Kimarie said...

I really enjoy the variety of topics, especially today's post about the girls' drumming.

I already subscribe to her blog :-)

Shannon said...

Hi there...thanks for reviewing this book! It looks like a wonderful read, and everything you wrote about it interests me.

I visited her blog, and learned that she has adopted daughters from 3 different countries. I also learned that she wrote another book about feasts for under $75 a week.

jwallace9 at gmail dot com

Shannon said...

I already subscribe to you blog! :o)

jwallace9 at gmail dot com

Mama Llama said...

I love Mary's blog and the great tips she gives for raising a large family. I sure would love to win her book though to get more great tips. Her book has been on my wish list for a while now! Thanks for the chance! :)

Mama Llama said...

I heard about this give away because I already subscribe to her blog through google reader, so I do not know if that counts as an extra entry or not.

kelli said...

I subscribe to your blog

Jenny said...

I love that Mary is so upbeat, especially appreciate her relationship with her husband.

Jenny said...

I subscribe to Mary's blog.

Jenny said...

did a facebook status about this post!

Julia said...

I was really touched by "Shades of Grey". My husband and I are praying about adopting a child from India. This post deeply moved me and gave me much to think about.

julesreffner(at)gmail(dot)com

Julia said...

I'm also an email subscriber.

julesreffner(at)gmail(dot)com

Anonymous said...

I love her random posts. The ones that tell about something funny or memorable with her family. She makes me smile while keeping it short.

Krystal

Anonymous said...

I subscribe to your blog and Mary's blog.

Krystal

The Summers said...

I love her adoption funding post...very encourage and such God stories!

The Summers said...

I subscribe to your blog!

The Summers said...

and I subscribed to owlheaven!!!

The Summers said...

i tweeted! http://twitter.com/kellysummers07

theconfidentmom said...

Love the grocery savings on the side bar by month. That will challenge me!

theconfidentmom said...

I subscribe to your blog!

theconfidentmom said...

I subscribed to Marys blog

theconfidentmom said...

Tweeted the giveaway~

theconfidentmom said...

Posted on my facebook fanpage too!
http://www.facebook.com/TheConfidentMom

Amy said...

I purchased Mary's cookbook as a birthday gift to myself last month, and we've enjoyed many of the recipes from it already. Although I only have two children (and one on the way!), I'm sure such a wise mom could give me lots of needed and helpful advice.

I just visited Mary's blog, and her current post about her Ethiopian daughter and her ebullient worship back at the orphanage was touching. I also read a book review (can't remember the title of the book now), and I think I'll go back and look that book up.

Thanks, Heather, for the chance to win!

Amy said...

I stumbled the post! (Or at least I think I did. . . that was the first time I've ever tried it!)

Oh, and my email is hopeistheword at gmail dot com

Rebecca said...

we recently adopted, so i enjoy anything mary posts about adoption. thanks for the chance to win.
Rebecca

Tina said...

I enjoyed reading her adoptions stories.

Tina said...

I subscribe to your blog.

ClassiclyAmber said...

Okay, so is it wrong to just say that I love everything about her blog? I really like her family - the fact that she has 10 kids, has adopted, appears to be a GREAT momma to all of 'em and then even blogs about it, shares recipes, shares her monthly grocery spending, which - by the way - is it not incredibly low for so many people?!? I love it all! I wish I could subscribe to her blog, but I couldn't get it to work right, so I've bookmarked it instead so I can keep a checkie on it! I would LOVE to read her book, too!! <3

http://classiclyamber.com/blog/

sothisislife said...

I just came upon your blog via the 4 mommy blogs that have joined up to help us mom's w/young kids venture out alone. I stopped by Mary's blog and really enjoyed her layout, personality, and her yarn/sock project. I would love to read her book, and I've heard great things about it from some of my friends!
rebecca_jane_1(at)hotmail(dot)com

Anonymous said...

I love Mary's blog - stories about her kids and family, adoption, cooking, and her life in general. It is so interesting and inspirational.

Deanna
dmfitzpatrick16 @ rangers.nwosu.edu

Anonymous said...

I subscribe to Mary's blog.
Deanna
dmfitzpatrick16 @ rangers.nwosu.edu

elizabethrose said...

I love Mary's recipes...especially the spaghetti carbonera! It was a family hit.

Rachel Priest said...

Her blog is very cute I just read about the log cake she made.

Robin said...

I read Mary's blog often. I love to read about her experiences with adoption and a large family. Her most recent blog about the log cake was great! I would love to read her book if I am chosen.

Linds said...

I love Owlhaven. I've been reading for quite awhile and love her down to earth writing and her recipes.

Anonymous said...

loved the quick bit about lens caps--I lost ours and know that without something I will lose it again before the week is out. The spaghetti frittata recipe looks good too.

photini_@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

I love Owlhaven. I especially enjoy the recipes.

kristen_yeh (at) yahoo (dot) com

Katy said...

Mary is wonderful. She's one of the few bloggers I read with any regularity, even though we don't have much in common. I love how she can homeschool, cook from scratch, blog, and take photos all with such grace!

Innocent Observer said...

I have been reading Mary's blog for many years, and I am already subscribed, in fact, that's how I ended up here. :)

I really enjoy her bright smile!!!

Please enter me to win...I have been wanting to read her books but we have a large family with a tight budget, and the books aren't in our library system yet. Thank you!

Stefanie said...

Oh, I'd LOVE to win this book! I actually purchased it and started to read it on my recent trip to China (bringing home baby #9) and inadvertently left my copy on the plane! ARGH!! At least I remembered the baby :)
I love how Mary outlines her grocery spending. It's a big inspiration to me to see another big family being able to afford to eat well and inexpensively!
Thanks for the giveaway!

Young in TX said...

I enjoy Mary's family stories like when her daughter got married or even her and her husband's how they met, etc. And the kid's when they aren't the most agreeable stories, etc.

Please enter us in your contest.

Young_in_TX
123yes456@gmail.com

Nancy said...

I love her wit and humor. The post about Old Spice is something I can relate to and her recipes are yummy.

I subscribed to both blogs, too.

Stacey Guyse said...

I loved the Family Rules canvas in the projects section! And I want my spice cabinet to look like hers!

Wendi said...

I love reading through her posts about adoption ~ it's something we've been praying about :) I have her Family Feasts book ~ love it!

 

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