Books, frugality, birthdays, and an awesome pencil sharpener (do these topics actually go together?)

My birthday girl, a few years ago...time flies!Life has been nutty around here.  Wednesday alone I had three different interviews for Forever Mom.  By the end of the day both of my phones had dead batteries and I felt certain I had lost all ability to construct a complete sentence.  Whew!  What’s really cool is that people are interested in Forever Mom–here’s a review on adoption.com. (By the way, if you go read it, will you also share it on facebook so more people can see it?  Thank you so much!)  I am so humbled and so grateful that folks are appreciating the message of the book.  And also relieved.  Because, honestly, my heart went right out there in every page. I’ve never felt so trembly-kneed when sending something out there.  So thanks for all your support.

I don’t have many frugal thoughts this week– it was kind of a fish sticks and corn dogs and cereal kind of week around here with all busyness. I did bookmark this great-looking blog post sharing 52 Meatless Meals so that I can intersperse all the rich holiday food with some frugal and good-tasting meatless dinners. I also earned a free turkey at Winco.  (They have a promo where if you spend  $100, you get a free turkey– yeehaw!)  The man in line behind me looked in my heaping cart and told me I should have gone through the line twice and gotten two turkeys.  He was right.  I actually ended up spending $300 on groceries yesterday– apparently I’ve skipped shopping lately too, because we were out of so many things.  So I could have gotten THREE free turkeys, but ah well. Now we are stocked up and I hope that I remembered most of what I’ll need for the next couple weeks.  Potatoes were on a screaming good sale 99 cents for 10 pounds– so we currently have about 4o pounds in the pantry, and I am signed up to bring mashed potatoes to every Thanksgiving gathering we’re attending.  (That reminds me– I still need to buy sour cream.  Because in my opinion, mashed potatoes reach greatness through butter and sour cream.  And maybe garlic.  But I’m aware that not everyone agrees about the garlic.)

 

For those of you who asked, I am in the process of getting an email subscribe feature added to my blog.  I should have done it a long, long time ago but somehow never got around to it.  I will let you know when it is up and running, since I know a lot of people prefer to read blogs in email form.  Thanks to those of you who emailed me lately and encouraged me to get it together.  :)

 

Finally, I have meaning for awhile to tell you about a REALLY neat pencil sharpener. Let me tell you, as a homeschooling mom of many, I have bought SO many pencil sharpeners over the years– from the old fashioned manual kind that you mount on the wall to the really nice electric kind.  I don’t know if it is just a function of having a lot of kids, but every sharpener I’ve ever owned til now has always ended up disappointing me. So when I heard about this one from Classroom Friendly Supplies, I was all attention.  This sharpener is different in that it holds the pencil for you, which I think makes it much more likely that the pencil will enter the machine straight and be sharpened properly. (Watch the video to see what I mean– it’s a little different.)  I also need to disclose that I was given a sharpener for free in exchange for a review. The bottom line is we’ve been using this sharpener for several months, and we really like it a lot.  It makes pencils SO sharp! The only thing I don’t love is that the clamp that is supposed to hook it to a counter is a little chintzy– we can’t make it stay. But since the sharpener holds the pencil for you, it’s not a big deal to just hold the sharpener steady with one hand while turning the handle with the other.  I am working on getting a freebie to give away here on my blog, but I don’t have it yet. I will keep you posted.

Anyway, we are off to homeschool craft day and then we are celebrating my BABY’s tenth birthday– oh be still my heart!! There she is above several years ago with a PENCIL in her hand, which is my very best attempt at making this post actually hang together.  Pencils.  Birthday girl.  Books. You get it?  OK,  that’s all I have for you today. But as usual, I’d love to hear about your frugal successes for the week! So comment away!

Chat with me?

Remind them how precious they are

Hey friends, THIS afternoon on FaithGateway LIVE at 2pm EST/ 11am PST I’m chatting about my new book Forever Mom: What to Expect When You’re Adopting! Whether you’ve adopted, are considering it, want to support loved ones, or just want to hear more about our adoption journey, come join the conversation!
Here’s the link: http://www.faithgateway.com/author-chat-with-mary-ostyn/  Hope you can join us.

releasing

Tattoos

 

If you ask my teens how I am at releasing, they’d be quick to tell you it’s not my forte.  The youngest three teens in the house are 16, and still I remind them to wear jackets in 35 degree weather, eat protein every meal,  turn off the xbox at 10:30 and take Emergen-C when they have colds. I make them finish school before facebook, ‘force’ them to hang out in the living room with us for an hour during story time in the evening, and don’t allow phone use after 10PM.

SO there’s that.  But here’s some of what I have released. They’ve been allowed to have jobs and cars two years sooner than any of our others, which means some of them missed most of our family camping trips this summer. They are free to take a class or two at the local community college each semester during high school. They drink coffee quite routinely.  And awhile back I finally relented and let them read Harry Potter and the Hunger Games.

I am a person who appreciates nice-looking stylish clothing, but these days I bite my tongue while kids wear huge ratty sweatshirts and tired batman t-shirts over and over and over, when in closets reside heaps of nice stylish clothes. I let them wear jeans to church (unheard of during the growing-up years of our now-grown kids).  Some of them wear shorts all year unless it’s snowing.  At least one kid goes around long-haired most of the year, and on this particular day four of my kids are walking around with ball-point pen’ tattoos’ on their arms.

And yet, when a new friend the other day asked me if my teens were ‘running amok’, I quickly and laughingly said no.  Overall, they’re good kids.

I’ve released my own wishes in other harder areas tho.  I sometimes (at least temporarily) allow disrespect from teens to a degree that was unheard of from our now-adult kids.  It pains me, but with this particular batch of teens, the needs are different, and the responses to correction are vastly different.  I’ve found that with them correction is much more effective when gently stated awhile after the fact, instead of rushing in to offer a consequence when we’re both upset.  Come to think of it, that’d probably have worked better with my big kids too, but they somehow responded okay to the younger-momma ham-handed me, the girl I can still sometimes be.

I’m like any mom, playing it by ear– giving this tremendously hard job my very best, most prayer-filled, most on-my-knees guess.  But I am realizing more and more that even within the limits of God-honoring parenting, there is tremendous latitude.  There’s not just one proscribed, perfect way to respond.  God is the one who made all my kids different, with different needs.  And in this particular phase of life, it seems that God is teaching me that sometimes the most effective path is to release some of my ideas about what is right for our family, and to value my people more highly than I do my own longings and desires.

Oh, this growing-up is painful stuff.  Maybe by the time my kids are all grown up, I will be too.

Created for Care winner

Freebies if you order Forever Mom by Nov 4th

Happy Monday! How I wish I could send all 280 of you to an awesome Created for Care conference. I hope some of you find a way to get there soon. But rafflecopter has decreed that the winner is Christy Largent.  Congrats, Christy!

We are all learning and growing

One of the many freebies you get when you order FOREVER MOM by November 4th

You have ONE more day to get the freebies when you order Forever Mom.  Click on over to watch a video about the book, or to read what folks in the adoption community have to say about the book. To get those freebies, just send proof of purchase (ie- receipt, order confirmation, etc) to ForeverMomBook@gmail.com, and the free package will be emailed to you.  And once you’ve read the book, by all means, please add your own thoughts about Forever Mom on amazon.  I’d love to hear from you, and I know that others considering the book would appreciate additional feedback as well.

And thanks to everyone who shared about the book on your facebook and/or requested it at your local library.  I so appreciate all your support as this little ‘baby’ of mine ventures out into the world.

 

FOREVER MOM giveaway!


Just wanted you all to know that Lisa Qualls of One Thankful Mom is doing a giveaway of Forever Mom: What to Expect When You’re Adopting over on her blog this week. She’s also sharing her impressions of the book, so if you’d like a free copy, go sign up for the giveaway and read what Lisa has to say about it. And remember that if you buy a copy of FOREVER MOM anytime between now and November 4th,  and want the freebies described below, just send proof of purchase (ie- receipt, order confirmation, etc) to ForeverMomBook@gmail.com, and the package below will be emailed to you.
preorder-banner

 

Forever Mom: What to Expect When You’re Adopting (and free wall art)

preorder-banner

My new book!

I wanted to tell those of you who are interested a little about my latest book Forever Mom: What to Expect When You’re Adopting.  It is coming out on October 28th, and I must confess to a crazy mix of excitement and tremulous nerves about this book.  My greatest longing is that it will encourage and equip moms along this adoptive parenting journey.

This book is very vulnerable, a true window into my heart as an adoptive mom.  There’s been so much joy– adoption is an incredible gift– but also much struggle, much lurking fear that I wasn’t doing this hard job well enough. But praise God, He’s been strengthening and growing me all the way. Even as I wrote about our journey, God was gifting me with more growth, more compassion for my precious ones, and a greater ability to more clearly see my own personal ‘stuck’ points. I’ve come to a much better place as a mom, better at releasing my desire to control outcomes and speed healing and growth, instead leaning on God’s providence in my kids’ lives as well as my own. But wow, it has been a long hard path. I hope that sharing my struggle will help other moms know they’re not alone, and that there is a way through difficult waters.

If adoption is a topic that interests you or you’d like to read more of our story, I hope you might consider pre-ordering Forever Mom?  If you know me, you know I feel really funny about doing the pushy sales-person thing. But in the publishing world, all pre-release sales on amazon are counted as first-day sales of a book. It really helps a book gain more attention (and more orders in stores and from libraries) if those first-day sales are strong.  I’d love for this book to be widely available to prepare moms before adoption and to come alongside mommas who may be struggling, letting them know they’re not alone.

And here’s some really fun news– everyone who buys Forever Mom before November 4th gets some neat freebies!

  • Freebie#1– A little e-book I’ve written called ’50 Things Adoptive Parents Should Know’
  • Freebie #2- 8 custom Forever Mom downloadable prints for framing  (see samples below)
  • Freebie#3- all 8 of those same custom prints as phone lock screens/screensavers!

To get those freebies, just send proof of purchase (ie- receipt, order confirmation, etc) to ForeverMomBook@gmail.com, and the free package will be emailed to you.

Here are some additional ways to support this book:

  • Mention FOREVER MOM on facebook or your blog
  • Pin this post on Pinterest, mentioning the freebie
  • Request FOREVER MOM from your local library
  • Give it as a gift to adoptive families that you know

Feel free also to share the video and graphics below, either on your blog, pinterest, or on facebook.  Thanks so much for your support!!

Remind them how precious they are

 

 

FM_Lock_growing

 

Back home again

OH my goodness. I am so very out of it, people.  I feel like I haven’t been here on the blog forever.  I have NO frugal things to tell you about, no recipes to share, no wise thoughts.  So I think I’ll just catch you up on what’s been keeping me so darned busy.

I mentioned that last weekend I went to a retreat in the Seattle area, a lovely precious time. It was so wonderful, in fact, that I felt intimidated, expectation-wise, about the retreat I’ve been planning for some other adoptive moms in McCall. The Seattle retreat was very low key.  No real agenda except fellowship, conversation, and a few times of Bible study.  It was just wonderful, so relaxing.

I had been planning my retreat in McCall to be more structured, since I’d been planning to share some DVD’s from the Created for Care conference that I attended in Atlanta last spring.  And, frankly, there was this tiny fear that I’d get all these lovely people gathered together, and then have no idea what to do with them. That they’d stand around bored, making stilted, polite conversation, the kind that happens in a room full of strangers.  Which they mostly were, before this weekend. So my subconscious thought was to keep them busy.

When I came back from the awesome retreat in Seattle, I decided McCall needed more empty space, more time just to BE.  I ended up sharing just three DVD’s.  The rest of the time was free for visiting and talking.  And, praise the Lord, my worrying about them not enjoying the time was totally unfounded.  The talking started instantly and never let up the whole weekend. Very little sleep was had, but, oh, the conversations we had. It was just a constant roar all over the house.  SO rich.  So good.

I felt almost apologetic interrupting those conversations to gather everyone together for the DVD’s.  But it turned out that those were appreciated as well; talking together on the last day many moms mentioned good tidbits they’d gleaned from the DVD presentations.  I really should not have worried.  They were a really, really neat group of ladies.  And God was obviously right there in the midst of us, personally meeting our needs in such encouraging ways.   I am so thankful to have gotten to know each of these ladies better.   And if you can believe it, this group of 21 ladies has a combined total of 102 children.  Neat, huh?

These mommas represent a combined total of 102 children!

As you can see in the photo, there were also three infants in attendance, who did a great job tolerating our noise and managed to sleep and nap OK in the midst of it all.  The house where we stayed turned out to be really neat too. Here’s a link if you’re interested– I’d highly recommend it for anyone planning a retreat for up to 30 or so people.

My wonderful husband John came along, and did a TON of work in the kitchen so that I could really just sit and visit and enjoy the retreat myself as well.  Due to the late nights, I suspect that nobody went home very well rested.  But we had a really great time getting to know each other.  Such a blessing.

I hope to get back to a more regular blogging schedule this week.  I have some Stitch Fix clothes to tell you about, and a recipe to share.  I also really need to get back to my old frugal ways.  Being crazy-busy is just not very conducive to thoughtful spending, ya know?  Hope you had a good weekend and are doing well!

down from the mountain

Water

blessed space

blessed space

I had the great and delightful privilege of spending last weekend on Puget Sound with a handful of mommas whose hearts and greatest challenges and greatest loves in life are similar to mine.   We laughed and cried and prayed for each other and encouraged each other and took walks together and sat around a campfire hoping the next door neighbor boys wouldn’t go skinny-dipping again.  And talked some more, and did Bible studies together, and basically ended up feeling like we’d all be best friends for life.  It really couldn’t have been a more delightful weekend.

But the thing I brought away that is more valuable even than that awesome sense of community, is what I came away deeply knowing about God.  That in all the challenges and trials of my life, no matter how deeply humbling, no matter how hard, He truly is sovereign, and He’s good, and He loves me with an everlasting love.

So often I take it upon myself to be the problem-solver, the mover, the shaker, the do-er.  And then when things don’t go my way, it’s easy to flounder, to feel inadequate, to fear that if only I could do a better job of figuring out this thing called life, that I and my family would all be living in this perfect tranquil place that looks a lot like the picture at the top of the page.

Except really God has called us to rest, to abide in him right in the middle of the storm.  To keep our eyes fixed on Him. And then to point our loved ones to that perfect Place of rest that is Jesus.  The One who is constant whether I’m sitting on a sunny deck surrounded by quiet and sunshine and precious friends and miles and miles of water, or scurrying around in my kitchen cooking dinner while the dog whines and the kids argue and we need to be in the car in 10 minutes in order to get to that soccer game on time.

A peaceful weekend is a short-term gift, no matter how wonderful.  Being equipped to rest more fully in the true peace that  is in Jesus– that gift is priceless indeed.

on the water

Buy a sweet treat and support adoption

This post was sponsored by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.

Wendy's coupon books are here!

Wendy’s coupon books are here!

I have something really fun to tell you about this week. Every year, Wendy’s sells Halloween Frosty™ Coupon Books and gives $3 million of the profit to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. Not only is this a great cause, but the coupon book is only $1 for 5 free Jr. Frosty coupons (at participating Wendy’s for a limited time). Talk about a sweet deal.

Wendys2The coupons are on sale during October  (get yours quick before they run out!)  and they’re good from November 1st to February 1st. This means they’d be awesome for all sorts of fall and winter giveaways.  Halloween is an obvious time where it’d be easy to give them away.  (Parents, don’t be surprised if they show up in some of your kids’ Halloween treat buckets!)   But I also think they’d be great to stick in a card as part of a birthday gift, or even in a Christmas stocking.  Who wouldn’t want a free Frosty?

The best thing is that this promotion benefits adoption from foster care, a cause that was very near and dear to the founder of Wendy’s since he was an adoptee himself.  My adopted kids came via international adoption, but this weekend I had the chance to visit with ladies whose kids were adopted out of foster care.  The need is absolutely tremendous, and the really wonderful thing is that adoption from foster care is a very affordable option. Click here to read more about the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program.

If you have a heart for adoption, I hope you’ll consider buying some of these coupon books for your gift-giving needs.  I’d also love it if you’d share this post on facebook or twitter by clicking the social media buttons below this post.  Kids need families. Wendy’s is committed to helping this very important cause.  And thanks to Wendy’s Frosty coupons, you can help too.

Learn more about how Wendy’s supports foster care adoption.

 

Being Real

Gathering

I’m preparing for a couple of different get-aways during October. I already mentioned the adoptive momma retreat that I’m planning locally, which I hope is going to bless the mommas attending. I’ve also been invited to attend a different adoption retreat in Seattle soon, also quite small and intimate. At each retreat there are mommas I’ve known for awhile, and others I’ll be meeting for the first time. But we all have adoption as a common thread. I’m looking forward to curling up on couches with hot drinks, sharing stories and hearing stories, and being encouraged.

My prayer for both events is that God will move powerfully and personally in the lives of each attendee. That He will speak the words each woman needs to hear. That we will leave the event, each having encouraged someone else and each having been encouraged herself.

But about that encouragement thing.  How do we best give it?  Receive it?

When preparing for a gathering with other women, it can be easy and tempting to pack our bags with our cutest (thinnest? most flattering?) items of clothing.  To do our nails and get fresh haircuts.  To dust off our happiest stories and our proudest moments, prepared to smile and show the bits of our lives that look most pulled together.

There’s nothing at all wrong with sharing happy stories.  They’re tremendously powerful and we all need to hear them.  But I’ve found that equally powerful moments in relationship — moments when encouragement is just as rich and long-lasting– come when we are real about both the joy and the hard inherent in motherhood. When we’re brave enough to say that this part or that part of our life is a real struggle. When we admit how we don’t have it all figured out. Where we transparently share the real aches and the true sorrows that go hand in hand with the shining moments of joy.

When we share from the full range of our experience, we give each other a chance to say, ‘Me too.’  The stories of struggle reassure that quiet momma in the corner who wouldn’t bring up the topic on her own but fears she’s the only one struggling with that particular thing.  The stories of joy give hope that good moments are coming and remind us of joy we’ve maybe forgotten in our own lives.

So as I pull out my bags and prepare to head off for each of these weekends, along with my comfy yoga pants and my softest socks and my adoption-themed t-shirts– OK, and some cute clothes too–  I’m planning on bringing my real, honest, authentic struggling self.  Yes, there’s a bit of me that’s still tempted to only show the shiny side of my life.  That’s afraid being real will be too much for some.  But in my heart I believe that real community only happens in a spirit of honesty and truth.

Beth Guckenberger, at the Created for Care weekend I attended last spring, said, “May we be more real than impressive.”  To that I would add, “Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.”  (Col 3:14)  I think keeping those two things firmly in mind open us up to be encouraged by others and to be encouragers ourselves– to really grow in relationship and in community.  And that’s something I very much want.

~~~~~

And, remember, we encourage each other in tiny ways every single day:  Dear You…a letter for all of the hard days