Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Staying Sane

A Sane Woman's Guide to Raising a Large Family Ever seen a mom surrounded by kids and wished you could pick her brain?  A Sane Woman’s Guide to Raising a Large Family tackles topics such as:
–Treating each child as an individual
–Stretching the budget to fit another child
–Fitting a large family into a medium home
–Tackling Mount Laundry
–Managing multiple children and activities
–Finding time for yourself and your spouse

To see what people are saying about this book, click on the picture.  And if you want to see what Mary Ostyn is up to these days, visit http://owlhaven.net


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I’ve moved!

For new content from the Owlhaven, please visit me at http://owlhaven.net
This month my oldest daughter is getting married, and I’m blogging about affordable weddings. I’ve got new recipes up too, including awesome ones for brownies and donuts. (Sorry, this isn’t a diet blog!) Head on over so you won’t miss anything.

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(Note:  the majority of my posts these days are owlhaven.net.  Head on over there if you don’t want to miss out on the action!)

Today I have three books to tell you about.  And I’m giving one of them away!

The first is called The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Sushi and Sashimi.   I have to begin by saying that I’ve always been constitutionally opposed to words with “Idiot” in the title.  No matter how clueless I happen to be on a particular topic, I simply refuse to call myself an idiot.  However, when I was contacted by the publisher offering one of their titles for a review, I could not resist the sushi one.  And given the fact that I didn’t even know what sashimi was before I got the book, maybe in this case the Complete Idiot title fits me better than I’d care to admit.

I have made lots of Korean-style sushi before, but never learned how to make the rice taste ‘right’– ie like sushi that I’ve bought — so that was the section of the book where I went first.   The description was clear and easy to follow.   Also in the book there are recipes for all sorts of sushi variations.  I was especially pleased to see a vegetarian section.  Seafood can be spendy, and I’ve wondered if it is possible to make something yummy that is meat free. The answer is yes. I’ll also be trying some of the recipes that work well with imitation crab meat.  I would have liked this book better if it had more pictures, but it is worthwhile, and I am looking forward to trying some of the recipes.


The second book I have to talk about — this is the one I’m giving away!– is called First Lego League: the Unofficial Guide.  Several years ago my big boys did a lot of playing with Lego Mindstorms, Legos that let you build and program robots.   These days there are more advanced Lego robotic kits available.   In fact, there are robotics competitions for preteen kids all over the country.   If your kids are robot builders, and if you are interested in starting a Lego League of your own, this book would be a great tool.  It covers the history of this sport, gives hints for organizing your own team and even talks about robotics construction.  At the moment none of my kids are really into this, so I’d love to share my copy with any reader who might be interested in having this book.   Leave me a comment and tell me why you’d like this book, and I’ll send it to the reader who seems most likely to get some good use out of it!


The final book is one that I am itching to read in its entirety.  Dateable:  Are You?  Are They? snagged me in the Christian bookstore simply because of its title.  By the time I’d read 10 pages without putting it down, I’d decided it was most likely a book that would also interest my teenagers.   I handed it to my daughter in the car after we got out of the store, and she was still reading it 5 miles later as we drove.  The book was written by youg adults and has a breezy approachable style.  It warns of the pitfalls of casual dating relationships, and explains the different ways that guys and girls think.

I remember as a teen getting all sorts of grief for wearing the type of clothing that was in style then:  super-tight jeans and short shorts– and I didn’t really understand why my dad was so concerned.  After several years of conflict over the issue, my dad sat down and explained to me the way a girl’s clothing affects a guy’s thoughts.  Finally I understood that his restrictions were less about me and more about them– about the ripples I made around me in the world. Though I still didn’t love the rules, I understood the ‘why’ behind them.  This book has that same type of talk with girls and guys, in a very teen friendly way.  Kids who read this book will come away with a better understanding of the opposite sex.

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Still here?

If you’re reading this in your feedreader, you’re still subscribed at the old Owlhaven and you may be missing out.  Come join me at http://owlhaven.net if you don’t want to miss anything.   This coming week I’ll be sharing recipes, as well as beginning the adventure of trying to spend no more than $200 at the grocery store during September.  Can I do it?  Come see!

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Today at the new Owlhaven

This morning over at my new blog at owlhaven.net I’ll be sharing 10 ways I’ve used zucchini lately. Come on over!

And for those of you who asked why I decided to do ads over at my other place (I’ve heard from two people), here’s my answer:

One of my goals as a freelance writer is to help support my family. Over the years I’ve sold stories to magazines, written for adoption.com, and recently, wrote a book. I love blogging enough to write ‘Owlhaven’ for free– in fact for the past 2-1/2 years, I’ve done just that. But it is something that takes an hour or two of my time each day, and as you all know, John and I are raising 10 children, and we’re doing so on a moderate income. There are always demands on my time and there are always bills to pay!

When I was approached by BlogHer and learned that I could make a moderate amount of income by giving them a few inches of space, I decided to give it a try. BlogHer allows me veto power over the ads, and they don’t restrict my writing in any way. I am giving them a trial and am pleased at the thought of being able to buy a few bags of groceries each month simply by doing what I love.

As far as my reader’s response to the ads, please investigate them or ignore them, whichever you prefer. Though they they take up a little bit of real estate, they won’t be changing the writing on my blog, and I trust you all will be able to see that. Thanks for being faithful readers! I so much appreciate you all!

Click the orange button if you’d like to add my new blog to your feedreader.

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Panic attack

OK, people, maybe I shouldn’t care so much, but I am missing a bunch of you over at my new place. PLEASE come on over and hang out with me at http://owlhaven.net I’ve got a new recipe over there today!

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That’s right– Owlhaven is moving to its very own domain: http://owlhaven.net. The wonderful Cheng Leng just got the last posts imported there. Come over and hang out with me, and by all means please subscribe to my new feed via RSS . That way you won’t miss a thing.

Also would you please, please, pretty please, change my url in the sidebar of your blog, if you have me listed there? Thanks so much! I am excited about this move. For months I’ve been itching to try out some of the many cool plug-ins written for wordpress. I just added one that lists the names of the top commentaters to my blog. It’s very fun, so come try it out!

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(Update below)

I’m going to be savoring these last few weeks of summer, but I did want to mention something I’m planning for September. I’ve been looking at the budget lately, and between rising food prices and recent medical bills, frankly, it would be really nice to find a little extra cash somewhere.

Two years ago my family, along with some others, did an experiment called 30 Days of Nothing.

For one month we drastically cut back on our spending, to see just how much we could live without. Different families played along to different degrees. But for our family that meant no new clothes, no books, no eating out, and only the absolute essentials when it came to groceries. We’re not talking starvation here, people. After all, September is a great month to eat out of the garden. When we ran out of something we really needed, I bought it. No one lost weight that month. But we did skip chips, coke, fish sticks, and a passel of other non-essential conveniences.

I was shocked at just how many times I had to resist the urge to buy. And I was gratified to see how the experiment got my whole family thinking. What could we do with money instead of squandering it?

We are fortunate to have so many choices. But just because we CAN buy almost anything our heart desires, doesn’t mean we SHOULD. In September we’re doing the experiment again and I’ll share my family’s experience with you.

I hope that some of you might decide to try this experiment for yourselves.

30 Days of Nothing.

Who’s in?

I’ll talk more about it later. But in the meantime, think about it.


Updated to add:

Just to clarify the ‘rules’, this is an extremely personal project. I’m not going to say you must do ‘xyz’ to be involved. The purpose of the month is to look at each and every decision and say, ‘Must I spend money for this? Can I live without it? Is there a cheaper option?”

Grappling with your own personal set of ‘rules’ IS the project.

When you scrutinize every penny coming out of your pocket it can get really complicated really quick. Is coffee creamer an essential? Sounds ridiculous, but I missed it dreadfully when we ran out last time.

School pictures? If buying is required by your child’s school, then it’s a no brainer. But the number of pictures you buy…that’s another thing…

Some people might decide to curtail all new clothes. Others might take a foray into thrift store shopping and be thrilled at the savings.

Last time around I opted to buy canning supplies when I ran out because that would benefit my family for the entire year. But I opted not to stock up when the grocery store ran some good sales that month. Fuzzy line? You bet. It made my head hurt a little.

But I also came away from the month with….well, I’ll have a whole month to talk about it. For now I’ll just encourage you to try it for yourself. Then you can tell me your impressions. I’ll put a Mr. Linky on my blog so we can all keep up with the people who decide to participate. This should be really interesting!

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Because she makes me smile

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Backpack winner!!

My 10 year old son has decreed that the winner of the Land’s End backpack is commenter #3, Elizabeth M. She mentioned the contest to several friends via email since she doesn’t have a blog. Thanks to everyone for playing along. And thanks to Land’s End for sponsoring such a great giveaway!

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