Sunday, February 7

Mary Ostyn Interview




Last year I came across the book, A Sane Woman's Guide to Raising a Large Family by Mary Ostyn of Owlhaven and found myself devouring it, nodding in agreement to what I read and making mental notes of things I didn't want to forget. Then I noticed Mary had written another book, this time on frugally priced family meals titled Family Feasts for $75 a Week, a book filled with grocery wisdom and delicious recipes. Both books are excellent! Today you'll get the chance to win one of Mary's books so keep reading for the details after the interview.
Here is Cultivating Home's interview with Mary Ostyn of Owlhaven. Hope you enjoy it!
For our readers who are not familiar with you, Mary, could you tell us a bit about yourself?

I married my high school sweetheart 23 years ago. People thought we were nuts to marry at 19, but it was the best decision for us! We have ten kids, 6 of whom are adopted. Our oldest is a 22 year old newlywed. Our youngest daughter is five. I worked as a registered nurse at a birthing center for ten years, but became an at-home mom when our 5th child came home. I’ve been writing since 1996, blogging at since 2006. I’ve written two books, which both came out in 2009.

You wrote the book, A Sane Woman's Guide to Raising a Large Family. Did you always desire or plan on having a large family?

Absolutely not. I am the oldest of 8 kids and when I was a teenager, I swore I’d never have more than 4 kids. My husband thought 3 would be about right. God must have been smiling. He worked on our hearts in a gradual way, and blessed us beyond our dreams. We would’ve missed so much joy if we’d said no to God’s leading and stopped at four children. I’m not saying our life is easy— frankly, there are moments when the task feels bigger than our ability. But that’s what keeps us leaning on God. And our kids are so worth the work!

In your book, A Sane Woman's Guide to Raising a Large Family, you mention that several of your children are adopted. What first opened your hearts to adoption?

When our 4th child was three, I felt a longing for another child. At the same time, my eyes were opened to the kids in the world waiting for families. There are so many kids who literally will never have a family, and I can’t think of a sadder thing for a child! My husband had reservations about adoption at first. For awhile I thought adoption would not happen for us. But God did a work in my husband’s heart, and now here we are with 6 adopted children. God’s grace boggles my mind!

What encouragement or advice would you give to a couple, perhaps ones with older children who are looking forward to an empty house in a few years, to encourage them to look into adoption?

Pray about it, come to agreement about it, and then trust God’s leading. I know that some people fear their heart-feeling toward their adopted kids won’t be the same as towards kids born to them. And when you adopt older kids, it can take awhile to feel like family—there’s just so much to learn about each other. But especially with little kids, it doesn’t take long at all before your heart knows they’re yours, plain and simple. For me, it happened within days of holding them in my arms. And each child is such a gift.

I thought your book, Family Feasts for $75 a Week was fabulous and well balanced, but tell me, with your family size, how much do you typically spend a week on groceries?

We spend around $200 a week to feed 10 people on a daily basis, along with weekend guests. Each weekend our oldest daughter and husband, and our second daughter and her boyfriend hang out and eat with us for a meal or two or three. So it’s not uncommon to have 12-14 people at dinner on weekends.

If I am frustrated with the amount of money I am spending on groceries, what is one change I could quickly implement that would make a noticeable difference in my wallet?

Simply put: shop less often. Plan meals 2 weeks at a time, and do a ‘big’ shop only twice a month. Make in-between trips brief, essential, and sales-driven. Whenever possible, be creative and do with what you have instead of going to the store for one or two items. Fewer trips to the store mean less impulse buying, and that always translates to more money in your pocket.

Mary, you also homeschool your kids. Does your homeschooling fit into a certain category (classical, relaxed, unschooling). Also, can you tell us what grades you are currently homeschooling?

I’m definitely a relaxed homeschooler. This year I have a senior, a sophomore, four kids in the 6th/7th grade range, a 2nd grader, and a kindergartner. I’ve homeschooled long enough to know that my laid-back approach gets good results—my older kids have been successful in college. But that doesn’t mean I don’t try new things. I just bought a new math program for my ‘middle’ kids that I’m really excited about. It’s called Teaching Textbooks. The kids are taught and do their work on the computer, and the computer automatically grades their work, which thrills me. For awhile there I was sinking under the load of stepping 4 kids through fractions and decimals at once, so I’m really glad to be doing something different.

Can we expect another book from you in the future, perhaps on adoption or homeschooling? Or is there another topic you'd like to write about?

I’ve thought about sharing our adoption story in more detail, so I might write about that at some point. But cooking is my current passion. I’ve gathered together a bunch of recipes, and would love to write another cookbook, maybe one with pictures this time. But we’ll see!


Many thanks to Mary for granting me this fun interview! Mary is being very generous and offering a copy of each of her books, Family Feasts for $75 a Week and A Sane Woman's Guide to Raising a Large Family for a giveaway! All you have to do to enter the drawing is leave a note in the comments, making sure there it has your contact information. Share the giveaway on Facebook, Twitter, or your blog and leave a comment letting me know you did. You'll be entered again for each time you share! Comments will close on Friday.

109 comments:

Elena said...

Oh, how exciting! Thank you so much for having this giveaway!!!! I will only enter once, though, i don´t have a blog or twitter :-)

Elena (principessaelenita@hotmail.com)

Kit said...

Hannah,
I have both of these books in my shopping cart at Amazon as I write this! I'd LOVE to win.
Thanks, and congrats on having the opportunity to do the interview. Nice work!
Kit

Kristin said...

Neat interview! We don't have a large family...yet, but it's something that I think about frequently.

Kristin said...

I've retweeted for you! @jkbaxter612

Chinamama4 said...

I've been reading Mary's blog for years! Thanks for the interview - I'm sure many more will be heading over to her blog and be blessed by all she has to share!
I'm voting for an adoption-themed book from her next!

Erika said...

I loved the interview...

And I really like the sounds of the the $75 weekly food budget.

I hope she writes about her adoption experience as well that sounds like a nice read.

Erika @ homegrown family
pioneerhomemaker@gmail.com

Mama Hen said...

I would love to win The Sane Guide... I have Family Feasts and it is great.
clarksrfun at gmail dot com

Janelle said...

The books look great. As a mom to five lovely's, it is always great to read encouraging material.

Emily said...

Wow. Great interview. I bet it was great fun.

I would love either book although the Sane Women's Guide has been on my wish list for a long time!!!!

Beth said...

I bought both of these books a couple of months ago! But I want to enter, as I gave one book away after I read, and I'd love to have a copy for myself!
jezamonkey *at* triad.rr.com

Beth said...

I linked this on my facebook page!

Beth said...

I posted on my blog!
www.thehauthouse.com

Myra said...

Great post, would love a chance. She reminds me of Mary Ann Kuharski who has 14 kids or so, about 1/2 adopted, and some other families who have grown large despite society's turning against large families. I have 4 and have admired these women who can keep it together.

Myra said...

I will also enter it on my blog
www.adventuresbabysewing.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the interview. I would be thrilled to win the food book! Barbara

The Bannister Family said...

I would love to have either book. I would love to have a large family.

Kelly said...

Hannah,
Great interview questions! I loved reading Mary's responses!

Kelly (kellylmattson@yahoo.com)

Anonymous said...

I would love to have these books ! they look great.. But I do not have a blog or twitter.. so here is my email shboice@gmail.com.

Sue in NJ

Anonymous said...

I would love to have these books ! they look great.. But I do not have a blog or twitter.. so here is my email shboice@gmail.com.

Sue in NJ

Diane said...

I need ideas on how to feed my kids and husband. That book sounds great! Love the interview and hope to see more of them here. :O)

Hope you'll join me for how "Cupid Shot Me" day at my bog www.dianeestrella.com :O)

Tesa said...

I am so thrilled to read the interview and enter to win a copy of one of Mary's books! When you mentioned her books a month or so ago, I immediately checked out her blog and her $75 Feasts book from the library. I am a huge fan of both- and would LOVE to read her other book!
tesagoossen@gmail.com

mandi said...

oh! count me in! i've been really interested in reading "a sane woman's guide..." since you first mentioned it. and the grocery one would be awfully timely for us!

Tesa said...

Shared about the give-away on my blog (with links to yours!) for a second entry!
Thanks!

Tesa said...

Just posted on my facebook page for another entry--Yippee!

Mrs. B said...

Hannah! What a great interview, but i think you are in my mind! I loved the Family Feasts book so I was thinking of doing a give-away on my blog! The interview was great though, and I didn't think of doing that...

Kelly said...

Ok, so now I have the link posted on FB. :)

Kelly (kellylmattson@yahoo.com)

Marcia said...

I borrow the meal one from the library and found lots of great tips...but would love to own a copy of either! Thanks!

John and Teresa said...

i would love to enter the contest! i have shared this on my facebook page.

John and Teresa said...

i almost forgot to leave my e-mail! jtsandquist21@cox.net

Kate said...

Oh, these books look great! Thanks for the giveaway, hope to win :)

katesadventures(at)gmail(dot)com

Quinn said...

Lovely interview... and a wonderful giveaway!

Christi said...

Thank you Hannah, As a mother of eight, both these books sound wonderful! I will only be able to enter once as I don't do facebook or twitter :o)...God Bless you.

christi@stan3.com

Bethany Lynn said...

Thank you so much for this, Hannah!

summer said...

thank you for the interview and the chance to win! this would be so awesome!

summer.harms@gmail.com

Jenn said...

What a great interview... so much wisdom. Thanks for having the giveaway!

Jenn

blessedwithtwins05@yahoo.com

Lydia Goerner said...

Great interview!!

Lydiajoybells@yahoo.com

Anna said...

I would love to own those books - great giveaway!

Tracy said...

I was just looking at these books on Amazon.com last week! Please enter my name in the drawing. :)

Jessica said...

I actually know Mary! :-) She was a mom in our local homeschooling group when I was still in highschool. So, I'd love to win a book by her, now that I have 2 little boys who will be homeschooled in the future. :-)

Lisa said...

I agree with the tip about staying out of the stores to save money- I'd love to hear what else Mary shares in her books!

Anonymous said...

Her books sound great! Thanks for sharing this.
Tracy

btcassel@verizon.net

Bell said...

Sign me up for the drawing!
Does four kids make us a large family?

JStacie said...

Both of these books sound great! Thanks for the giveaway.

JStacie said...

Linked to it on my FB page.

Only By His Grace said...

I would love either book. I have enjoyed your blog so much. As a homeschooling mom of six, I can relate so well to what you write.

~Michelle~ said...

oooh, fun interview! Both books sound interesting, but who wouldn't love to trim the grocery bill?!

bnnmpearson (at) charter (dot) net

Colleen said...

I have been wanting to get the Family Feasts books as I have seen it on Amazon and in the stores. I would love to wn

1couponnut@cox.net

Karen G. said...

Hannah,
I always enjoy reading your blog. I wanted a larger family but that didn't happen. Glen and I still have our hearts open to more - either through adoption or fostering -- even as we are empty nesters now. Who knows?

Karen G.

angela said...

how exiciting. i would love to win.

Kristina Whitaker said...

I would love to win either book. I have seen the cookbook before. Thanks!

arkwhit (at) hotmail (dot) com

LS said...

I would love to win!
heyalethia@hotmail.com

BethAnn said...

Thank you for showing off these great books, im always on the lookout for books just like these to keep me going and inspire me. Thanks again!
Beth

MKB said...

I would love to win this! Kbroderi@msn.com

amy said...

Please enter me Hannah! I have never read either book and would love to!

amy said...

Hannah, I also posted on my blog.

thehughesmob.blogspot.com

Amy said...

Thnaks for doing the drawing! I thought the interview was very interesting. I so enjoy reading your blog!
Amy

amymag@cfl.rr.com

Nick, Annie, Aiden, Sophie and Clip said...

Either book would be a blessing in our house!
Thanks for the opportunity!
~annie

The Southern Housewife said...

Please enter me! I'd love the groceries book!

Stephanie said...

I have wanted to read this book since the first time I heard about it!

simplecraft AT hotmail DOT com

Anonymous said...

Hi!
Thanks for having a giveaway! Very fun. Hope to win!!
krdoig@rocketmail.com

Jenna said...

I have read Mary's blog for quite awhile now and would love to win either of these books (or both!).

Susan L said...

Thanks so much for having this giveaway!

Sue (SuesterMeister@aol.com)

Embrace the Circus said...

Oh, I've been wanting these books! Thanks for the giveaway!

Coupon Teacher said...

Thanks for the great Giveaway!

Jamey... said...

I'd love to win! I just started reading her blog recently and I love that she has such a positive message without sounding crazy.

www.mamaenat.etsy.com
www.zehlahlum.blogspot.com

truth said...

I had the privilege of testing some of Mary's recipes and giving her feedback. They were excellent! I can't believe I don't have a copy yet.

bekah said...

I have these books on my wishlist. I would love to win them!

Rebekah

Bassoon80(at)gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Very encouraging (and educational)

Vanellia
alesia57 (at) hotmail (dot) com

Anonymous said...

I would love to win this book. I read A Sane Woman's Guide to a Large Family and enjoyed it very much. I would love to have this one as well.

Diana C.
amlitrocks@yahoo.com

Bethany said...

I've been wanting a copy of her cookbook! Thanks for the giveaway!

Marissa said...

Thanks! I've read Family Feasts and use it as a great resource.

Marissa Burt
marissa.burt@gmail.com

Tamara said...

I would love to enter the giveaway. I have looked at the cookbook and it is awesome. Lots of good recipes to try.

Martine said...

I am currently borrowing Family Feasts from the library and will be sad to send it back. I would love to have my own copy that I could makes notes in. It is a wonderful book. Great interview, looking forward to Mary's next book.

Kathryn said...

please enter me, thanks!

kathrynbaby2004@yahoo.com

Flick, said...

Great giveaway! She is so fantastic... and the books look amazing..
:)

Melissa said...

Please enter me! I have checked out the Sane Woman's Guide from the library and browsed the cookbook at the bookstore, but I would love to have my own copy of either!

Crystal said...

Oh, I'd love to have a copy of Mary's book!

Joann said...

Wonderful!! My friend is really enjoying her book and I would love to have one too! nanabags@gmail.com

Donna said...

I'd love to have her book. I used to "know" Mary via email when we were adopting at the same time a few years ago.

Tammy said...

Oh please enter me! I would love to have a copy of either book!
Thanks! Tammy (ttyms@aol.com)

Jay said...

Thanks for the opportunity-it would help our family I think.
rbjj32825[at]lycos[dot]com

Christy, the Notable Blogger said...

I enjoy Mary's blog and would love one of her books...both actually. Praying for God to open her husband's heart to adoption--how perfect!

Christy, the Notable Blogger said...

I Facebooked this offer. Facebooked: the new verb.

Anonymous said...

Please enter me for Family Feasts, I have been watching Costco so that I can get one for my sister and they are out. Puting up a post on Facebook.

day2phillips@yahoo.com

Lori Aschbrenner said...

What an exciting giveaway! And Thank you to Christy for posting this on her blog. I had never heard of this author before but am now sooo interested in her books.

Lori (clnlilangels@gmail.com)

Safire said...

This book looks amazing! Thanks for the chance to win.

safirecat at gmail dot com

SnowMomma said...

I LOVE Mary's blog - I use her bread recipe all the time. I have some dough rising on my counter right now! Would love to win her book. Thank you.

Amanda said...

I just borrowed the $75 Family Feasts book from the libarary, and I loved it! I would love to win either of Mary Ostyn's books. Thanks for the giveaway!
Amanda
onlychocolate4me at gmail dot com

Anonymous said...

What a blessing to be doing this giveaway! Thanks! :)

Jenn E (jennervin@sbcglobal.net)

Zimms Zoo said...

I love this book. I want my own copy.

Zimms Zoo said...

oh my email is thezimms@sbcglobal.net

Kelly said...

Great interview, thanks.

Julie B. said...

These books sound great!
Julie B.
djberger@platinum.ca

Mrs. Fix said...

What a nice interview -- and both of these books sound lovely!

Rachel (rachelfix at gmail dot com)

Rachel said...

Oh I would love to win this book! I know I could learn so much from her!

rboreing (at) gmail (dot) com

Anonymous said...

This sounds like a great book!
Darrell
miamichickens at yahoo dot com

Sarah said...

It is so exciting to hear that it is possible to have a large family and still eat well. I am pregnant for the first time and am hoping to have a large family. Thanks for the interview.

Matt and Mary Thomas said...

Loved the interview, and I would love to have her books! We have 4 kids, aged 4,2,1, and 1 month. We are planning on at least two more. Praise God for women who have already been through this and have advice for others! I've retweeted,and posted it on facebook and my blog!!

thesavedquarter said...

Great interview!

The $75 budget book would certainly come in handy at my house! We're working hard to stretch every penny and save a quarter of our income this year, and all the tips I can find will help with that goal!

I'm offering a giveaway on my blog right now, too, of the book "The Budget Kit" - another excellent book for getting control of your expenses. :)

Amanda said...

I really want both of these books! I have been looking at them on Amazon for several months now. Thanks for having this giveaway!

amanda.corley@ymail.com

Amanda said...

I retweeted the giveaway.
http://twitter.com/frugalmomto4/status/8983854004

amanda.corley@ymail.com

Scarlett said...

I'd love a copy of either book!

heavenlysavings said...

I would love to read her books! If I win or not! How wonderful! Thanks for the chance to win one!!

Kwhiz84@live.com

Genevieve P said...

I've been reading Mary's blog for years and I would love to read her books! Thanks for the giveaway.
parknj at verizon dot net

sarah said...

Please enter me. Would love to win this! Thanks,
thesolaras@yahoo.com

Raising Trees said...

Hannah, I'd never heard of Mary Ostyn before, the interview was great. I would love to entered to win her books.

Svetlana Duray said...

I've heard of the books before, but have not had a chance to read them yet. I would love to entered to win her books.
--Svetlana Duray (svetlanaduray@yahoo.com)

WendyLou said...

Would LOVE to have 'A Sane Woman's Guide ...' As if having four didn't feel big enough, we're beginning the process of bringing home two more from Ethiopia! People already think we've lost our minds, and I'd love to not prove them right :)

Cyndy said...

I would love to read those books! I have 7 children and could always learn more to help me become a better mom and homemaker.