Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A Sane Woman's Guide to Raising A Large Family


Mary Ostyn of Owlhaven is one of my heroes. Do y'all read Mary's blog? If you don't, I'd encourage you to hop on over and get to know her. She's the proud mother of ten children from three different countries, and she's one of those people. The kind who, the instant your world somehow happens luckily to rub up against hers, makes you want to become a better person. She has a heart of pure gold and parenting skills like you would not believe. She's also an incredibly gifted writer and photographer. And she gardens, cooks and cans. You know. In her spare time.

Land, woman, what CAN'T you do? (Smile.)

When Mary emailed to ask me to read and review her new book, A Sane Woman's Guide to Raising a Large Family, I felt so honored! That one of my own mothering and bloggin heroes could possibly view me as qualified to comment upon this little gem packed full of her patient, calming, inspiring voice and her amazing wisdom left me feeling more than a little bewildered.

Nevertheless I jumped at the chance. Although I'm stumbling through life right now with only TWO kids, I happen to know and love several mothers of large and ever-expanding families, and I'm constantly amazed at the perspective and patience and joy they have to share with their fellow mothers, along with no small amount of expert advice. I wish I could get a book written by each one of 'em!

I loved Mary's book. From its adorably-crafted and ever-so-Mary pink cover with the sweet little house on the front, to Mary's oft-times humorous and always encouraging conversational style and her logical selection of important and insightful topics pertinent to the parent of a large family (namely money, space, balance, helping everybody get along with everybody else, and perhaps most importantly giving each child in a large family what he or she needs to feel uniquely special and loved), the book comes alive with Mary's love, wisdom and passion for raising up children into happy, healthy, capable and successful people.

And it's not just a handbook for mothers of great big families, either! I particularly loved Mary's chapter on money, which included ideas on how to trim the family food and clothing budgets, thoughts about financing children's educations and a realistic break-down of how much raising a child costs when you give him what he REALLY needs and spend and save money frugally and wisely.

So I'll be keeping my copy of A Sane Woman's Guide to Raising a Large Family as a handy reference. My family might not be large, but I'd sure love my two kids to grow up in as practical, loving and empowering a household as Mary details in the book.

The good news is, Mary sent me an extra copy for one of y'all to win! And any of you can win it - it doesn't matter if you're a mother, a mother wanna-be, a Grandmother, or even a Dad or Grandad! Just leave me a comment including a way to contact you on-line and tell me about the best parenting advice YOU'VE ever heard.

I'll do the drawing Friday morning!

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  1. Oooh - sounds like a good book. My family is not overly large, but 3 sure seems like a lot to me sometimes!!! Put me in for the drawing!!!

  2. The best parenting advice that I hold tight to my heart is from my grandma. She told me (and my mom when she had me!), "This little one hasn't ever done this before either and has no idea if you are doing it 'right'". It was the biggest confidence builder for me as a new mom almost 3 years ago!

  3. Oh, I SO want to read this book. I've been drooling over it on various other blogs...

    Best parenting advice ever: Brain wash 'em while they're little. If you tell them their brother is their best friend, they'll believe you. Then, by the time they realize you were making it up, they're already best friends. Also: be consistent. 100% of the time.

  4. I hope to be a mother soon. Until then I faithfully read both Mary and your blogs.

    One of the best pieces of advice my father gave me was when he was mad at me (yes that can happen). I had put off and put off cleaning my room. He finally exploded at me and so I rushed around frantically picking up the big pieces and putting them away in the hopes that he would be happy. After about five minutes (an eternity to an eight year old who is cleaning) I said "How's that dad, better?" and he pointed at all of the edges of the room (ie not the big middle part that I had cleared) and said, "No Jenna, because look at all of the little pieces that make it still look messy." It was a strange way to go about it, but it really did solidify for me that the little pieces can be as important as the big stuff.

  5. I bet that is a great book! I would love to read it - thanks for the review!

  6. i think the best parenting advice i ever received was from a little old lady at our church, who told me to "love on 'em daily," and i try my hardest to do just that, especially when i want to scream!


  7. "Don't worry, it's just a phase. He'll grow out of it."

    I bet it's a good book; I'd love to read it!

  8. I read Owlheaven's blog almost daily and agree she is a very talented lady, with many irons in the fire and handles it all well. Her book would make a great addition to my library.

  9. Parenting advise...the one I always tell my friends with new babies?? Don't listen to anyones advise. Forge your own path with your own family.

    If I had listened to anyone when Boo was born I can't imagine the person shoud would have become.

    Thanks Megan!

  10. I love Owlhaven - I wish I lived next door to Mary. I have three kids from two countries, and feel up to my eyeballs most days. She inspires me to be a better mom.

    Best advice: "Don't get in a power struggle with a child. But if you DO get in a power struggle with a child, DON'T LOSE."

    email: jennclare [at] hotmail [dot]com

  11. Wow. It is so inspiring to hear of a woman with so many children that can actually get so much accomplished too! I'll definitely be checking out her blog!

    I just had my 4th baby 4 weeks ago today. I struggle with many of the issues you mentioned already and he's just an infant! College and having time for each child really weigh the heaviest on my mind! (When my mind is working to capacity that is...I feel I lose brain cells with the addition of eack kid!)

    The best parenting advice I've gotten was from a friend who was remembering his father. He didn't mean it as "advice" really but I sure felt that it was beautiful. He said his dad always made him feel special b/c when he needed to tell him something, even something small, that his dad would stop what he was doing and take the time to REALLY listen and look at him while he was talking. When I think of a lot of my interaction with my kids, I am usually doing something while listening at the same time and it never occurred to me I could be sending the message that their thoughts aren't "important."

    Anyway, still love your blog and pop in often to see if you've been on to write! (You know...with all that spare time you mentioned! lol!!) ;-)

    ps. I've emailed you in the past-my email is if I happen to be the lucky winner.

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  13. I am hoping to be a mother soon. I think this book sounds great and I will be checking out her blog. My email is flurries_04 at

  14. I don't have a large family, but I am always interested in advice on parenting and stewardship of the things God gives to us. Please enter me in the drawing.



  15. I aspire to a large family (I think!) We're about 2 months away from the arrival of our 2nd baby - and I'd love to get my hands on this book!
    The best parenting advice I've ever gotten would probably be USE HIM. Prayer and scripture and fellowship have done more for my attitude and my parenting perspective than anything else.

  16. My kiddos are grown, my oldest is married and thinking about starting a family. So if I win, I will definitely be gifting it to them :-)

  17. You and Mary are both on my "daily must-read" blog list. I'd love to read her book!

  18. I've only got two kids so far you know, but hmmm, the best parenting advice? Probably the age old "always follow through".

    So easy to be lazy and not carry out your "threats".

  19. I would LOVE to read this book!

    Best parenting advice for me is from Martha Sears and is especially effective parenting babies - "get behind their eyes." When they are cranky and fussing and you are so frustrated because you don't know how to help them, try to get behind their eyes and imagine how they are viewing you. What do you imagine they are needing to see in the person they trust most to care for them?

    I feel like i am not explaining that very well, but it totally changed my perspective on parenting a high-needs baby.

  20. First, Thank you to you & Mary for making this give away possible.

    I am a homeschooling mother to 4 girls int he age range of 19 months to 13.5 years. I'd love the opportunity to read Mary's book. I follow both your blog as well as hers daily.

    Parenting advice that I have received that we actually used: Pray with your child & read to your child, you can't spoil a baby hold them all they need, be your childs parent not their friend.

    mommybirdto4girls at yahoo dot com

  21. Oh me me me meeee!!! Pick me!!! (though I realise it's random)

    You know all about me already, nearly 4 little tiny boy persons, and thoroughly eager for God to bless us with many more! Also the whole "aaaaargh, I absolutely suck at the PARENTING!!!" part, hmmm... Sounds like I reeeally need Mary's book! I would love to read it.

    Best parenting advice... that's a hard one (mainly because my brain cells are not cooperating with each other and thus I can't remember a thing), but I'm thinking some good advice that was given to me was to cherish even the difficult days with little ones because it's gone in a flash and they're suddenly all grown up. Keep the perspective! That's good advice.

  22. I love Mary's blog and I am sure this book is just as good. :)

    Thanks for doing this!

  23. I too read Mary's blog and it has been a big encouragement to me on our adoption journey.

    I have heard lots of great advice, but to me the best is to not make it too complicated. One lady said, "Feed'em a little, discipline'em a little, and love'em a lot.

  24. Ooh, the best parenting advice ever? It was in a MOPS book...there are these 'truth statements' that you say over & over to yourself when your kids are driving you crazy - something like, "This child is a gift from God" and "God gave me this specific child for a reason". It really helps so much to stop & remember that, especially with an unruly toddler. :)

  25. The best advice I ever heard was from Dr Ray... STOP LISTENING TO "EXPERTS" ;)

    I'd love to read the book!

  26. This is probably late, but I'll throw it in anyway... that you are the BEST mommy to your children. God chose you for them and them for you!

  27. Best parenting advice came to me with my first one and I have carried it through all four--Don't shush everyone while the baby is sleeping, let 'em get used to the noise. If he can sleep through the noise you'll be able to be anywhere and he can take a nap. So true!! My kids can sleep through anything because of this advice and I love it!

    Would love to read the book, thanks for a great giveaway!

  28. Sounds like a great book and Lord knows I need all the help I can get when it comes to large family stuff!

  29. I put Mary's book on my Amazon Wish List as soon as it was released. I'd love to win a copy.

    I just admire everything about her. Your review is spot-on, Megan.

  30. I'm a little old for parenting tips, but my chillins are all getting to that age, so it would be a good one to pass around to the family. I really don't have any sage advice on parenting, except to love, love, love 'em, no matter what. And let them know - everyday. They need to hear it, no matter how old they get. Oh, and do you remember that little thing called disipline? Best way I know to let your kids know you love 'em.

  31. Did I mention that I'm forgetful? And that's putting it mildly? Raising children definitely uses up some major brain cells.

  32. My dad had a few sayings- one for us kids, one for parents. The one for the kids was, "Well, if that's the worst thing you ever do, you'll turn out all right." And for parents, he says, "Have fun with your kids," which is something I hope to do.

  33. hiya living in europe i dont know if im eligible but you never advise was to believe in my instincts...difficult when loads of others around you say otherwise. melissa.josephine (at)

  34. Children need a clear definition of acceptable and unacceptable conduct. They feel more secure when they know the borders of permissible action.

    *BluePixo Entertainment - A place for mom and dad to share topics about parenthood*