Tuesday, December 27, 2011

How did I do?

As we are closing in on the end of the new year, I wanted to blog about how I did on the New Year's Resolutions I shared on the blog at the beginning on 2011. You can read that post here. So here we go:
  1. Exercise at least 3 times a week-Mark and I actually signed a contract where we get rewarded and punished for meeting or not meeting our goals. The reward for the person who exercises the most minutes this week is a SLEEP-IN Day. If that doesn't motivate me to get my butt moving, then I don't know what will. :-) -It depends on when during the year you asked me on this one. I would say I sort of met this goal at times. I still was not consistent EVERY week with exercising at least 3 times during the week, but I was more consistent overall with exercise. I did not have long periods of time where I did no exercise (except for the 6 weeks I was laid up with an ankle injury) which has been my pattern in the past. I am thinking this will continue to be a goal for 2012 for me (and 2013, 2014, 2015, etc.)
  2. Read the entire Bible this year. I signed up for a plan at youversion.com that helps me track my progress. My OCD brain LOVES this! :-) They have lots of great plans to choose from for everyone.-I met this one. I am on schedule to finish this on December 30 (a day early...I am such an overachiever.) So as long as I don't totally abandon this goal in the next couple of days, I am good! :-)
  3. Blog on a more frequent basis.-Met this one as you can see by looking at my archives.
  4. Have a weekly family devotional time with Mark and Anna.-Sort of. We didn't do this in the traditional sense. However, we did purchase a daily toddler devotional book that Anna absolutely loves and will not go to bed without her Bible Story Book. We still need to work toward this in 2012.
  5. Read AT LEAST 40 books this year. They have to be a combination of personal/spiritual growth, professional growth and pleasure reading.-I read WAY more than 40 books. I definitely need to up the stakes for 2012.
  6. Complete Scrapbooks of Anna's 1st 2 years of life. Since I have started doing digital scrapbooking, I might actually be able to accomplish this. :-)-I have completed all of her books up the age of 1. Her 1 year old book was partially completed when my computer had an untimely death so I had to start over. I am not sure if it will be finished before the end of the year, but hoping so. However, since it was a technology issue that causes this goal not to be met, I am saying that I met it. :-)
  7. Memorize 2 verses of Scripture every month. I stole this idea from my friend Tracy's blog who is doing Beth Moore's Siesta Memory Verse plan. I am not going to Beth's plan, but love the idea of memorizing more scripture.-As with any Beth Moore thing, I did not complete this. I have started several Beth Moore books, Bible studies, etc. and have never finished one.
  8. Fit comfortably into a pair of pre-pregnancy pants. :-)-Nope...still hanging in my closet. There is always 2012.
So there you have it, I completed (at least made progress toward them) 6 out of 8 of the goals. Not too shabby. Looking forward to 2012 and new goals.

Friday, December 23, 2011

71 YEARS!!!!

These are my grandparents, Dallas and Edna Mae Foster. Aren't they cute! :-) Today is their 71st WEDDING ANNIVERSARY!! I can barely fathom living 71 years, let alone being married for that long. What an amazing legacy and example of long lasting marriage!

Here are some things that you may or may not know about them:

*They have 9 children, 25 grandchildren, 27 great-grandchildren (with 2 more on the way), and 1 great-great grandchild. (I may be a little off on the numbers...when I have to count that high I can get a little confused.) :-)
*All 9 of their children have college degrees, as well as most of the grandchildren. Most of the great grandchildren are not old enough for that yet (although we think Anna may be ready for early college admission by the fall.) :-)
*Rites of passage as grandchild included being old enough to go on a tractor ride with Grandpa and being taller than Grandma.
*My sister and I had the pleasure of taking several road trips with them when we were younger. There are few things that we learned. First of all, at one point we knew the numerical code of every county license plate in the state of Indiana. Secondly, Grandpa liked to drive fast and Grandma had an inborn speed detector that went off the moment Grandpa started driving over the speed limit.
*My Grandma probably knows more about Indiana History than anyone I have ever met.
*They were recognized by the Governor of Indiana for their 70th anniversary. Wondering if the President will recognize the 71st.
*They have a deep and abiding faith in God and tried to instill that in their children and grandchildren.

I am so blessed to have these wonderful people in my life. Happy Anniversary! We LOVE YOU!!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cliques, Hicks and Ugly Sticks

How is that for a blog title! That is what I thought when I chose this book from the booksneeze.com library as a free book in exchange for an honest review. Who wouldn't be intrigued by that title? :-)

I really enjoyed this book. I think it is classified as young adult fiction, but would recommend it to tweens as well. The story is about the adventures of a 6th grade girl named, April Grace Reilly, who is working through the growing pains of moving on to Junior High School and all that entails. She also has lots of interesting adventures involving many of the quirky characters that surround her (which I will not go into here in the event of spoiling the fun for anyone who might read it.) One of the many reasons that I would recommend this book, particularly to young girls, is that while April is wrestling with the issues of 6th grade she seems to have a good sense of who she is and what she stands for.

I did find this book a little bit hard to get into at first. However, I discovered after I finished the book that this was the 2nd book in a series. I am guessing I would have jumped right in had I read the first book. All that being said, I was still able to enjoy the book without having read the first one (although I do plan to read it at some point.)

I enjoyed this book and if you are fan of young adult fiction or have a child of that age, I would definitely recommend it.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

You Can't Out Give God

This month in Kids Kanyon the virtue which we are teaching the kids is Generosity. Each month we focus on a different virtue and the Biblical principles behind it. There are several months where I look at the virtue that we are teaching and think, "Oh Man, I really still need work on that." A perfect example of this would be that the virtue of the month that is coming in January is Self-Control. I definitely struggle with self-control a lot of in particular areas of my life...i.e . Most things involving food or sugar. :-)

However, as I think about generosity, it is an area where I think I do OK. In no way am I trying to say how awesome I am (although I am awesome) :-) or brag about how generous I am. Nor do I think that I have arrived and cannot possibly grow in areas of generosity. All that being said, I do think that I have a natural proclivity toward generosity in my personality. If you are familiar with the 5 Love Languages, my predominant love language is receiving gifts (so that means that if you want to show me love...or even that you like me a little bit... buy me lots of gifts and presents.) :-) Because this is my love language, I also like to give and find it somewhat easy to give whether it be gifts, financially, whatever.

In my experiences, I have discovered that the more you give, the more you receive. I know that may sound weird, but it actually happens. Let me give a recent example. At our church, we are doing a huge project to bless all the kids at 2 local elementary schools with Christmas presents and do some much needed construction on our youth building. Mark and I discussed it and decided upon an amount that we would give toward this project. However, when I was writing the check for this project, I was considering writing it for less that we had agreed upon. My reasoning for this was good. We have had several unexpected expenses in the past couple months, the extra expenses that Christmas brings and the fact that we already give financially to our church and other charities and agencies that we support. I was concerned about whether it was a wise financial decision to give the extra money. I was still planning on giving...just thinking about giving less. However, I did take a step of faith and go ahead and write the check for the amount that we had agreed upon. Guess what happened...the very next day we received an unexpected check in the mail as a gift.

In my own thinking, I would often just chalk that up to coincidence. However, this is not the only time that something like this has happened. I find that whenever I give...especially when I give in uncertainty...I am always blessed by it.

So here is my encouragement for you, just try it and see what happens. Give sacrificially to something that is important to you whether it be your church, a favorite charity or a local philanthropic organization. I am not saying that you will receive a large check in the mail the next day, but I promise that you will be blessed in some way!!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Santa or Not??

Mark and I have been wrestling with the decision as to whether to do the Santa thing with Anna or not. One on hand, we don't want her to miss out on the magic and joy of believing in Santa. On the other hand, we don't want to lie to her or be deceptive in such a way that causes her to think that if we lied about Santa what other things have we lied about. We haven't made any decisions about this yet because or Anna's age and understanding of the whole Santa concept.

However, Anna may have made the decision for us. Santa visited her Preschool Holiday Program this past weekend and this was her reaction:

I chuckle everytime I see this picture.

What are your thoughts on Santa or not?

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Dreaded Christmas Letter

OK...so I will admit it. I am one of those people who do a Christmas newsletter every year and send it out with Christmas Cards. It is a sickness, I know. :-) Every year, I say that I am not going to do cards or letters anymore since my life is increasingly online...but every year I still feel this compulsion to do so. So anyway, 2011 was no different and I sent one out. If you were lucky enough to make the cut of the people on my list, then you received it. If you didn't receive it, here are some reasons why you might not have received it:

  1. My address book is outdated and I have an address for you that is where you lived 10 years ago and I know you have moved 4 times but failed to update your address since I see you on Facebook all the time.
  2. I was a dork and forgot to put a stamp on your card. There are a couple of these sitting on my kitchen counter that say "Returned for Postage". Hopefully, I can get myself to the post office before Christmas and get some more stamps to send those out.
  3. You are receiving a big package of gifts from me and I placed the card in the package (this really is only one person, but you can have hope that it is you.) :-)
  4. You live locally and I see you all the time. It seemed kind of silly to send a letter highlighting all we did for the year when you saw us on a regular basis as we were doing those things.
  5. I really don't like you. Just kidding...I like everybody (sort of.)
So if you didn't receive one, here is the letter we sent out. Enjoy!

Holiday Greetings from the Osterhout Family!

We cannot believe that it is the holiday season again already. It feels like we just put the tree away last week and it is already time to pull it out again Maybe we should just leave it up year round...that would definitely save time and be more efficient.

We hope that 2011 has been a great year for you. After several years of writing about how many changes we have experienced, we actually have had a pretty boring year. In fact, you may choose to stop reading right now since our year was so boring. However, if you stick with the letter, I promise not to write anything about hemorrhoids or a nasty infection.

So...if you are still with us. Here we go:

I am entering my second year of working in ministry full-time as the Children’s Minister at Living Stones Church. I really enjoy this and the challenges it provides. I occasionally miss teaching, but more for things like school potlucks, field trips and summer vacations than the actual teaching part...so changing careers was probably a good move on my part.

Mark is in his 5th year of teaching music at Eastwood Elementary School. He loves his job and works very hard at it. He is busy this time of year preparing for his Winter Concert which means that we have had Christmas Music playing in our house since September...definitely gets you in the holiday mood. He also continues to serve on the worship team at our church and lead worship for our kids area.

Anna will be 3 in February. She is a blessing and the light of our lives. It is hard to believe that she growing up so quickly. She is a busy 2 year old who loves coloring, balls and saying NO. She started preschool this fall. She attends 3 days a week while I work at the church. She loves school and we like the environment it provides. Thanks to Dora the Explorer, she is also bi-lingual. Just ask her to count for you...it goes something like this “one, two, three, four, five, six, cinco, ses, ocho, eight, etc.” We are pretty sure she will be ready for early admission to Harvard by next fall.

We had the opportunity to take some fun adventures this year. In April, we went to West Virginia (enter banjo sound effects here) to visit Mark’s dad and his wife, Jeanne, in their new home. It was a nice visit. In June, we accompanied some kids from our high school youth group to a church camp in Michigan. It was held on a college campus and we ate the best food I have ever experienced at camp. Anna did great as a tag-a-long. This was Anna’s 2nd year at church camp and so by the time she is old enough to go as an actual camper she will be an old pro.

This summer, my mom joined us on a family vacation with the final destination of Mitchell, South Dakota for a wedding. It seems a lot of our travels have been for weddings lately. I hope the next wedding we are invited to is held at Disney World. Anyway, on the way to the wedding, we stopped at the Wisconsin Dells for a few days. We were also able to go the Ingalls Homestead in DeSmet, SD which was one of the highlights of the trip! It was a great time!

In October, Mark and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary. It was celebrated by a weekend get-away to Chicago at a luxury hotel, eating amazing food and enjoying quality entertainment...by me. Mark stayed home with Anna while I attended a Children’s Ministry Conference. How romantic, right? We were able to celebrate on a different weekend and we are very thankful that God has given us 5 wonderful years together.

We also became very un-hip this year. In June we bought a swagger wagon...AKA a minivan. I LOVE IT!!!! I never in a million years thought I would say that I LOVE a minivan...what has happened to me. I am definitely losing it!

Well...that is about it for our boring year. We hope that 2011 has been an amazing year for you and that 2012 is even better. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!!!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Nearing Home

Life has been super busy, so I haven't been reading as much lately. However, I did get a chance to read another book from booksneeze.com in my spare time. In exchange for the free book, I get to post an honest review of the book.

This time, I chose to read "Nearing Home" by Billy Graham. I have always had a great respect for Billy Graham since my high school days when I did a research paper on TV evangelists (no idea why I chose that topic...just showing what a total nerd I was in high school.) :-) As a side note, Billy Graham was one of the few evangelists at the time who seemed to be straight up and honest in the midst of a lot of corruption (Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, etc.)

Anyway back to book...In this book Billy Graham talks about growing older and the challenges that one faces as they are "nearing home." I enjoyed this book and there are several people in my life who I would like to read it. While I do think it was geared at an older audience, it was still an enjoyable read for someone my age. I especially appreciated Rev. Graham's overarching message through the book of never being too old to fulfill God's purposes for your life. It was captivating to read of his struggles of deciding to slow down and eventually end his campaigns for which he was so well known. However, he did not stop doing ministry...his role just changed and he is still fulfilling God's purposes for his life even into his 90's. I also appreciated his thoughts on leaving a legacy for your family and friends.

He does also talk at length about retirement planning, making a will, dealing with grief and other topics. These areas were very informational and provided good food for thought.

Well...that is about it for now! Happy Reading!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thankful

I cannot believe that Thanksgiving is 2 days away. I am so glad that I didn't commit to blogging everyday about being thankful this month because I would have failed miserably if I had made that commitment. I also realized that I could not make my only post about thankfulness be about indoor plumbing. :-) So, I am back to write about some more of the important things for which I am thankful. In no particular order, here are the top 10 things that I am thankful for.

1. MY LITTLE ANNA BANANA-I am so bless
ed by this little girl. She is so much fun and such a joy to Mark and I. It is so neat to see her personality develop and hear the things that she says every day. I am so thankful that God saw fit to bless us with such a sweet and amazing little girl

2. MY AMAZING HUSBAND MARK-He is great husband, father and he puts up with me and all my craziness. That alone should make him eligible for sainthood. Love you honey!

3. MY WONDERFUL SISTER MINDY-She is awesome and does th
ings like bring back cool gifts from trips she has been on (which makes me like her even more) and offers to come for a visit just to watch Anna so Mark and I can have a date night (which doesn't happen too frequently.) She is super cool and I try not to introduce her to many of my friends because people will like her better than me.

4. MY MOM, MARILYN-She is a great friend, grandma and mom. I am blessed to have her as a mom.

5. MY EXTENDED FAMILY-I come from a huge extended family and they are the reason that my favorite movie is "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" because it there are so many similarities between the family in that movie and my family.

6. MY JOB-I love working at Living Stones Church and serving as the Children's Minister. I have a great team of people I work with and can't wait for some of the things on that are planned for the immediate future...both in Children's Ministry and across the church as a whole.

7. MODERN TECHNOLOGY-I love my gadgets...my Nook, Smart Phone, Laptop, GPS, HDTV and all the other technology out there. I still have a hard time figuring out how radio and TV work, but I love it all!

8. FOOD-It is obvious by looking at me that I enjoy food and lots of it. However, I am so thankful that I have ample food to eat because there are so many people who have a food shortage.

9. MY FRIENDS-I have a great group of friends who are supportive and encouraging.

10. THE CREATIVE GENIUS OF WALT DISNEY-So many of my favorite things in the world were created by Walt...particularly the Happiest Place on Earth in Florida (which as a side note if anyone wants to give me a Christmas gift, a trip to Disney is a great suggestion.)

I hope all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Love You More

I am loving this booksneeze thing. I get free books to read for an honest review on my blog. Awesome!!

The most recent book I have read is "Love You More: The Divine Surprise of Adopting My Daughter" written by Jennifer Grant. As the title implies, this is the author's story of the journey their family took in adopting their youngest daughter from Guatemala.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I felt that the author was very honest of regarding the joys and struggles that the adoption process brings. As someone who is currently considering whether adoption is right for our family, this book has caused me (and my family) to think through some things that I had never even thought to consider in regard to the adoption process. There were also some interesting facts that she outlined regarding adoptions in different countries. I also liked the fact that she was very clear that adoption is not something for everyone and outlined many different ways that people could obey the Biblical command to care for orphans.

Even if adoption is not something that is being considered by someone, I think this would still be an enjoyable and captivating read. It was an interesting and inspirational story. I would highly recommend this book!

Happy Reading!!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Indoor Plumbing!!

How is that for a blog title? :-) I know lots of people are doing the 25 days of thankfulness on their Facebook/Twitter/Blog this month and at first I considered it, but knowing how busy my life is I decided not to commit to an every day post about Thankfulness. Not that I don't have a million things to be for which to be thankful. I just know that I am super busy and it is already a day into November so I am already behind. :-) Anyway...I do plan to post several times regarding my thankfulness this month...just not committing to any number of days.

Let me share a story....Over the weekend, we had a big plumbing issue come up in one of our bathrooms. So as not to pay the ridiculous weekend rates for a plumber, we were able to stop the immediate problem and just not use that bathroom. We scheduled the plumber to come out yesterday at 12:30. However, he didn't arrive until 4:45 PM which was a huge frustration because I had to rearrange a meeting and leave work early to meet him and then he didn't show up until 4 hours after the scheduled time. He had to access the pipes through a wall in the kitchen behind the fridge. Because the fridge had to be moved, it blocked the stove and I couldn't cook dinner (which was not such a bad thing) so we decided that we would probably have to eat out. I had to be somewhere at 6:30 but we couldn't leave the house to go out until the plumber left. We were hoping to avoid fast food, but ended up at Taco Bell at 6:05 (probably the grossest of the gross as far as fast food goes) where I inhaled my 2 fresco tacos and ran out the door to my meeting at 6:30.

You may be thinking that this sounds a lot more like complaining than thankfulness. However, once I got over my frustration and thought about it, I realized just how lucky I am. I have not one, but two, working bathrooms in my house. I don't have to dig a hole, go to an outhouse or anything else. I can get water from several different faucets in my house any time I want. There are people all over the world who do not have clean water to drink AT ALL and I have enough water in my house that I can completely close off a bathroom and it not phase me at all.

So, there you have it! I am thankful for indoor plumbing. Maybe not the most conventional thing to be thankful for, but I realized yesterday how much I took it for granted.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

My Job is More Fun Than Your Job

As most everyone knows by now, I left the world of public education after 17 years of teaching to become the Children's Minister at Living Stones Church. I am having a blast as the Children's
Minister. Sure there are some things about the job that aren't so fun.... like having 12 volunteers call you on the Sunday they are scheduled telling you they can't come because their hamster has a hangnail (A slight exaggeration...I have the best volunteers in the entire church and if they call me on a Sunday it is usually a VERY GOOD reason.)

Here is why my job is so fun:

This is what I did in my office yesterday. You may be saying...what is this crazy mess? It is pasta that I colored. How many of you can say that you dyed pasta in your office yesterday! :-) I am working on curriculum supplies for the next month in Kids Kanyon and an activity in the curriculum for our preschoolers called for colored pasta. I typically don't LOVE putting all the curriculum supplies together or creating things (a job for which I will be recruiting volunteers in the near future.) So I am not sure why I enjoyed doing this so much, but I had a great time. I am not usually a fan of crafts involving macaroni, but I am excited about this one. I know the kids and the volunteers that get to use this pasta are going to love it as well. Want to find out what it is used for? You will just have to stay tuned or volunteer in the Explorers class on November 6th to find out.

Anyway, I thought this was fun project that I may try to do with Anna in the near future. If you are interested in doing it yourself, here are the directions (which are totally stolen from Orange's First Look Curriculum)

SUPPLIES NEEDED: Pasta (I used Ziti, but any kind would work depending upon what you wanted to do with it), Food Coloring, Isopropyl Alcohol, Galloon Ziploc Bags, Newspaper.

1. Fill the Ziploc Bag 1/3 full with the pasta.
2. Add 5-10 drops of food coloring. You can add more or less depending upon how dark you want the color to be
3. Add 1 Capful of Isopropyl Alcohol (which means you probably shouldn't eat the pasta once it is colored. :-)
4. Zip the bag and shake until all pasta is colored.
5. Spread colored pasta on newspaper to dry.
6. Once dry, store in Ziploc container.

The pasta could be used or all sorts of craft projects or educational purposes (sorting, counting, color recognition, etc.)

Can anyone top the fun factor in their job? Happy Coloring!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Monday, October 24, 2011

Heaven is For Real... for Kids

I received my second book from booksneeze.com to read in exchange for a review. The book I chose this time was "Heaven is for Real for Kids" as told by Colton Burpo to his parents Todd and Sonja Burpo. As I mentioned in a previous post, I am sort of addicted to my Nook Color and digital books. However, I chose to receive this book in hardcover because it was geared to children and much prefer a "real book" when it comes to children's books.

I really enjoyed the book of the same title "Heaven is for Real" so I thought I would enjoy this as well. I also thought it would be helpful for me as a parent and as a Children's Minister.

I thought the story and the message were great. The authors did a good job of breaking down the concepts tackled in the adult version of the book to level that is appropriate for children. The main theme that ran through the book was that "Jesus really loves children." That was one of the things that struck me the most in the adult version and was glad that theme was predominant in this book as well. If there is one message that I want Anna and the kids who are involved in the Children's Ministry at Living Stones Church, that is it.

This book also passed the 2 year old test as Anna sat through the whole book as I read it to her. She loves books, but if she doesn't like one she will try to close the book and get another one. I know she didn't understand everything in it, but it definitely engaged her attention. It seems to have details that would engage children of a wide array of ages. There is the basic story that a younger child would enjoy and has some additional details that would engage older children.

If I had one criticism of the book, it would be the illustrations. I know they were done by a professional artist and I am not at all an expert of fine art. They were also based upon the observations that Colton had based upon his visit to heaven. However, I felt that the illustrations were not very clear and sort of felt like 1970's Sunday flannel graph pictures. I would say that while the illustrations are not great, the book is still worth reading.

I am glad that I own a copy of the book and think it could be a great resource for Anna when she begins to ask questions about the people in our family who we have lost in her short life (my dad, Mark's mom and Mark's brother.)

Good Intentions??

Lately, I have been realizing how my life is filled with good intentions. Before you begin to think how amazing I am with being well intentioned, you need to know that just because I have "good intentions" doesn't mean that I follow through on those intentions. I am super frustrated that I seem to be noticing more and more how I have good intentions to do something and those things are they type of person I want to be, I still have a hard time following through. Let me give you some examples:
  • There is a couple we know who I had intended on inviting over for dinner when they were newly dating because we thought we might have some things in common. We finally did have this couple over, about 3 years later. The couple is now married for over a year and expecting a baby. At least I followed through on this one, but there are many others where I was not so successful.

  • I have an acquaintance in the area who is a friend of my sister who was basically a single mom for over a year while her husband was deployed to Afghanistan. Many times throughout his deployment, I intended to call/email/facebook her to see if I could bring her a meal/babysit/help with household tasks and yet I never did it.
  • I have intended to work out and lose weight as a part of my goals for 2011. I have not really lost any weight, my workouts are inconsistent and it is almost the end of October.
  • I want to be more frugal and have intended to eat out less and cook more and yet we are still on a first name basis with many of the servers at our favorite restaurants.
  • I have great intentions as far home maintenance, cleaning and improvements and even made a chore chart for Mark and I to follow but it has gone by the wayside.
And the list goes on and on...Just blogging about this because it is frustrating to me that in so many areas I don't follow through on things in a way that I would like and that is not the person I want to be. I know that I should probably cut myself some slack because I work full time, have a two year old, a marriage to work at and am super busy in general...but I need to be proactive in being more than someone who has "good intentions." I also realize that many of these things are things that I am not very good at (cooking and cleaning) or don't enjoy very much (exercise and eating right) which makes it harder to follow through on my intentions, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't do it. Maybe by putting it out there in cyberspace, I will be better at taking action rather than just being well intentioned.

Any suggestions on how to have more than just good intentions??

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

One Call Away


I am huge fan of reading. It is one of my favorite past times. I am especially loving it since getting a Nook for my birthday. Anyway, I discovered this website called booksneeze.com that gives you free access to books in exchange for reviewing them on your blog. So I thought I would try it it out.

The book I chose is called One Call Away by Brenda Warner.



This book, written by the wife of retired NFL quarterback Kurt Warner, is the opportunity for the author to share her life stories and how her faith has helped her through some difficult circumstances in her life.

The book is an easy read and kept my attention. I was very impressed how the author was very open with her life circumstances and how she dealt with them. It was wonderful to see how she relied on her faith as she struggled through an accident which left her son permanently disabled, a failed marriage, the death of her parents in a tornado, pregnancy losses and the pressure of dealing with NFL fame. In spite of these things, she held firmly to her faith.

However, I was a bit frustrated that this seemed to be a faith based book, but that some incidents that were recounted in the book seem somewhat contrary to the faith that she was professing. The author received a huge amount of scrutiny from the media in her husbands early days in the NFL. Most of this scrutiny was probably unwarranted and fueled by the media's ability to sensationalize things. However, it also appeared that she made some poor decisions that contributed to this media scrutiny and I felt that this book was her way of trying to explain or make excuses for the behavior.

Overall, it was an OK book. I am impressed that the author and her husband were able to hold tight to their faith and grow while being in the public eye.

Well...folks that is all for now. Happy Reading!

Weekend Re-Cap

If you read my blog last week (all 4 of you who do), you will remember that I blogged about how I was leaving Anna for the first time overnight this weekend to party in Chicago with a bunch of ladies (actually go to a Children's Ministry Conference, but partying with a bunch of ladies sounds much more exciting.) We all survived and it was a great weekend at the conference. The folks at Group Publishing really did a fantastic job with the conference.

I am still processing everything that we experienced, but here are some things I learned or came away with from the weekend:


*The Children's ministry team at LSC is amazing.....and crazy. However, I will not share any crazy stories because what happens in Chicago stays in Chicago.

*Don't try to go to downtown Chicago and expect to get a seat at a restaurant on the Sunday of the Chicago marathon. I'd be hungry too if I ran 26.2 miles (who are we kidding..I'd probably be dead if I tried to run one.) :-)

*We are doing a lot of things right in Kids Kanyon....not that we can't do more and make huge improvements, but it was encouraging to realize that we on the right track.

*Giordano's Pizza is the best pizza, but it is better at an actual restaurant than when delivered to your hotel. Just sayin'!

*We should actively involve kids in ministry and give them a vision for it as opposed to just having them be helpers. There is a huge difference between USING kids for service as opposed to MENTORING them in ministry.

*Due to the acting skills and networking of a particular member of a our team, a special needs consultant is going to come to our church for FREE to help us develop and hone our special needs strategy. SUPER STOKED!!

*Speaking of FREE, I am amazed at the amount of quality "free stuff" that was distributed. (I am a sucker for free stuff, but this was really amazing the amount of stuff they gave away. I think the retail value of the stuff I brought home was probably well over $200.)

*I am going to try to tweet more. For those of you who think I just mentioned something regarding flatulence, you may not be familiar with the social networking site Twitter. I have a twitter account, but totally don't get it. So, in my spare time I am going to try to figure all that out. It seems to be a great place to network with other people and I don't want to miss out some great ideas You can follow me at AmyOsterhout

*I am no longer recruiting volunteers, but instead working on building teams (so anyone who reads this blog and serves in Kids Kanyon can breathe a sigh of relief if you were worried that I would no longer find others to serve.)

*The Skit Guys are hilarious. I haven't laughed like that in a long time.


*I have to EXTERNALIZE everything. This was great point to remember that you constantly have to share your vision, expectations and ideas because people cannot read your minds and they forget

*I am still very inspired by people with disabilities who do amazing things. Mandy Harvey was profiled in a video and then was there live to perform. She is a musician who lost her hearing while she was in college studying music.

*We need to make sure that we are one step ahead of technology and using that to our advantage as opposed to being 5 years behind.

*I loved hearing from Jim Wideman (who has been doing Children's Ministry for 30 years.) He has so much to say that I cannot even process it all.

*I was obsessed with collection flair all weekend (little buttons to pin on your conference lanyard...so goofy, but don't be surprised if you see me rocking the flair in Kids Kanyon.)

*Children's Ministry is about making life transformations and not just going through the curriculum.

*What would Kids Kanyon or any other area of the church (or our lives for that matter) look like if we all chose to make a commitment to give 100% in everything we did?

Those are my initial thoughts on the weekend. I know I have much more to process and figure out how to implement into the Children's Ministry at Living Stones Church. It was great weekend and I am so thankful that LSC allowed most of the Children's Team to miss a Sunday and provided the resources for us to go. It was a great weekend.

Friday, October 7, 2011

5 YEARS

Five years ago today, this is what we were doing.



Happy Anniversary to the best husband a girl could ask for!



I LOVE YOU MARK OSTERHOUT!









Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Weekend



THIS is where I will be spending my weekend. SWEET HOME CHICAGO!! Chicago is one my favorite places in the world (aside from Disney World, of course). I am going to a Children's Ministry Conference with 5 other ladies who are on my team. I am excited to spend some time with these ladies and hopefully learn a lot from the conference...not to mention that I am hoping to eat some delicious pizza and maybe even a Chicago Dog or some Chicago Style popcorn. :-)


However, I am also a little bit anxious about this conference. This is the first time that I have left Anna overnight since she has been born. I know many of you may think this is crazy since she is almost 3, but I just haven't done it. I am not sure why I am anxious about it. I know everything will be fine. She is getting a Daddy/Daughter weekend and will probably have way more fun than she would if I were home. Mark is an amazing dad and I am not AT ALL worried about his ability to care for Anna over the weekend (except maybe in the area of fashion and hair...so if you see them in public and Anna is missing her pants or her hair is a crazy mess just remember that Daddy is doing the best he can in that area.) :-) I think it just more selfishness than anything else...I simply am going to miss her (and Mark, too.)


I just have to pray and trust that this is going to be a great weekend for everyone. I hope that it is for you too!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Heart of a 5th Grader?!?

Wow...2 posts in the same week. My writer's block must be going away! :-)

Something happened recently that has stuck with me and I just had to share. A couple of weeks ago, we began a 12 week class for adults at our church on Wednesday nights. Because we wanted as many adults to participate as possible, we decided to offer child care for kids from Birth through 4th grade. Our intention was to hire college students who did not go to our church to handle the child care. However, we were not able to secure the number of college students needed and knew we would need some more people to help handle the number of kids. I got the crazy, I mean brilliant, idea to ask some of our Middle School kids to help out since their youth group meets on a different night. We also decided that we would offer them 5 dollars as bribe, I mean incentive, to serving and doing what they are supposed to as opposed to being another kid for the college volunteers to manage. (They are middle school kids after all.)


Once the evening was over, I was paying all the child care workers and gave one girl her $5. She didn't know that she was getting paid for helping, but took the money and walked away. About 2 minutes later, she came back to me and handed me the $5 and said, "I don't want to take this money. I just like to volunteer." At first, I thought that she had told her parents and they told her to give it back. However, I realized that she had come from the opposite direction from where her parents were located. Her parents were busy helping clean up and could not have possibly had a conversation with her in that short time. She did this from the kindness of her heart.


As I thought about this, I thought about how amazing that was, especially coming from an 5th grader. She served simply for the joy of serving, not because she was going to get something out of it.

This really made me think about how often I do things for what I am going to get out of it instead of doing something simply because it serves someone else or because it is the right thing to do. I also wonder what kind of world we would live in if everyone adopted the heart of this 5th grade girl and just did one thing everyday simply for the joy of serving and not expecting anything in return.

I think we all have a few things to learn from the heart of this 5th Grader.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Writers Block and Randomness

Hello Friends! Sorry I have been away for so long, but I cannot seem to get my thoughts together for a decent blog post. I have about 500 different blog posts in my draft folder of things I want to blog about (all right that might be a slight exaggeration, but there are several.) :-) I don't know why I have such a writer's block. Usually writing comes fairly easy to me, but for some reason I can't seem to put the thoughts I have in to words (at least coherent words that make any sense.). I am blaming it on Mommy Brain (which is a great excuse for everything that isn't going right in your world.) :-) Anyway...I hope to share many of these posts soon so hopefully my brain will get it together. Until then, here are a few of the random things going on in my head:

*My sister is awesome. She came for a visit this weekend to hang out and give Mark and I a chance to go out for our anniversary. We saw the movie THE HELP and went to dinner at CORNDANCE TAVERN. I loved the movie and I think Corndance is quickly becoming one of my favorite restaurants.

*Mark and I celebrate our 5 year wedding anniversary on Friday.

*We are celebrating our anniversary by spending the weekend apart. Great way to celebrate...huh? I am going to conference while he stays home at with Anna. I like to look at as reliving our dating days when we were living in 2 different cities. Sounds a little more romantic that way. :-)

*When I go to the conference, it will be the first time I have left Anna overnight. I know everything will be fine...just makes me a little sad that I won't see her for 2 days.

*We are considering a trip to Disney after New Years. Our original plan was to go again when Anna was 4, but I found a great deal. We do have lots of things around the house that should be done (refinishing and/or carpeting the wood floors, replacing the windows, buying new furniture, etc.) but I'd rather see Mickey Mouse. Not sure what we will do, but it is at least exciting to think about the possibilty of going back to the Happiest Place on Earth.

*My laptop is sick right now. Hoping it can be fixed, but for now I have hijacked Mark's computer. I wonder if my phone stops working Mark would let me hijack his iPhone. :-)

*I am super excited about some potential opportunities with my job at Living Stones Church and the local school down the street. More to come on this at some point.

*In a mommy brain moment, I accidentally put some grapes in the freezer a few weeks ago. Little did I know what an AMAZING snack frozen grapes can be. Now all grapes automatically go into the freezer.

*I am loving the website PINTEREST. Very cool!

*I am slowly easing back into an exercise routine after injuring my ankle 6 weeks ago (in a skydiving accident..OK so I really fell down the stairs, but skydiving sounds so much cooler.) :-) I cannot believe how much more out of shape I am now. I wasn't in great shape before, but I could carry a load of laundry up a flight of stairs without getting winded...now not so much. I have got to get back into shape.

*I have decided not to take tap class this year. I think my skills are beyond the class and should focus on my potential Broadway career. :-) Seriously, I missed the first month of class because of my ankle which would put me behind everyone else in the class and since I am not the most coordinated person in the world catching up is not easy for me. We also have a lot of other things going on in the evenings and if I were take tap there are certain weeks where I would be gone from the house every weeknight. I am kind of bummed about it, but hope to go back soon.

Well...I guess that is all the random things in my head right now. I promise to post more soon.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

I'm Messed Up!

As many of you read the title of this post, I know that you are thinking something like "We already knew this Amy!!" :-) I would definitely agree...there are so many areas which I am totally messed up (and if you don't know what they are I am definitely not going to share it here.) :-) However, there has been something that is totally messing me up lately that I do want to share.

In my last post, I mentioned RECESS which was a summer day camp that we did at our church for kids who live in the Miami Hills Apartment Complex. For those of you not familiar with Miami Hills, it is a low income (actually probably no income in many cases) housing complex and you can find anything there (poverty, addictions, crime, violence, etc.) I would say that RECESS is probably one of the greatest things we have ever done as a church. It was an amazing experience!

So you may be thinking, "That sounds like a great thing...how could that be messing you up." Well, here is how. Through RECESS and the free lunch program that we offered in conjunction with RECESS, I discovered that 3 of my former students are now living in Miami Hills (who were my students in 4th, 5th and/or 6th grade). Two of them have children and one of those kids attended RECESS (and this kid was one of my favorite RECESS campers... even before I knew who his mom was who coincidentally was one of my favorite students when she was in 4th grade.) These young moms are either in late teens or early twenties and are living in Miami Hills and trying to raise children in that environment. I know the childhood stories of these young moms and know that they have tragic stories, especially involving their mothers. So as I think about these girls, I wonder what is going to happen to them and their children. They already have so many strikes against them...living in the Miami Hills environment, having an incredibly poor example of motherhood in their own lives, a lack of education and learning disabilities to boot, and who knows what else has happened in their lives since I last saw them in elementary school.

I knew these young moms as young girls and want so much more for them than their current circumstances. As I think about these young moms, I think about the kids who spent 8 weeks at RECESS and know that I definitely don't want to go to Miami Hills in 10-15 years and see the kids who were at RECESS 2010 bringing their kids to RECESS 2025. So here is what is messing me up.... Now that I know that these young moms who were my students are living in Miami Hills, what do I do about it? Do I try to make a connection with them as mom and a friend based upon our past history? Do I offer to take their children on play-dates with Anna? Would they think I was totally crazy if I offered that and ruin any connection I have with them? And...what do we do about all the kids who we spent 8 weeks with this summer? How do you break the cycle of poverty, crime, addictions, etc.? Anyway...that has what has been consuming my thoughts lately and messing me up. I think it is a good messing up...but still messing me up. :-)

The one thing I know that I can do is pray like crazy...so that is what I am going to do! I think God is especially fond of messed up people and will help this messed up person know how to best reach out to other messed up people.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Good-bye Summer

Yes...I know it is only mid-August and some of you may be thinking what am I talking about when I title my blog post GOOD-BYE SUMMER. I mean the temperature is still in 80's, the new TV season has not started and we still have to mow our lawns. It is still summer! Yes, technically it still is summer. However, our summer ended on Monday of this week because that was the day that Mark went back to school. That means we are back into a routine of getting up early, figuring out who will get in the shower first and making sure Anna has everything she needs to go to day-care/preschool for the day (which consists of about 1/4 of the items in our house). :-) It seems like this summer was a fast one, but a good one. Here are some of the highlights of summer on the Osterhout Family:



  • Our Family Vacation. We went to Wisconsin Dells and South Dakota. My favorite part was visiting the Ingalls Homestead in DeSmet, SD. Here we are in front of the Ingalls Home. It made me want to read all the books again.



  • Speaking of reading books, I read about 15 books this summer and that was really great...especially since I now have NOOK e-reader. Mark got it for my birthday and it is the best invention ever. I am becoming a NOOK snob and don't want to read anything that I can't get on my NOOK. :-)

  • Another highlight was Family Fridays. My day off from working at the church is Friday so we made a conscious effort to do something as a family on those days. Sometimes it was simply taking time to go for a walk and other times it was something bigger like going to the Zoo or Healthworks Museum. We even did a road trip to Chicago for the day on one of the Fridays.

  • HARRY POTTER! I only saw 3 movies at the movie theater this summer, but the Harry Potter movie was by far the best. Since I am huge fan of the books, it was great to see the final installment come to life on the big screen.

  • RECESS-For those of you who are not Living Stoners, we had an 8 week day camp for the kids from Miami Hills (a low income apartment complex right behind our church.) It was so fun to have the activity and fun on our church property every day. Mark volunteered one day a week and I was able to be a part of at least the lunches Monday through Thursday. I am SO proud of what the people who volunteered accomplished!!

  • This was also a summer of peace for us. The past two summers have kind of sucked (to put it mildly) for us since my dad was ill and passed away last summer and Mark's brother passed away in the summer of 2009 just 6 weeks after his mom died. We are VERY thankful that this summer did not have anything like that happen.

So...farewell Summer 2011! It was a good one! I am ready for fall and all the things that go with it-football, apple cider, cooler weather and Halloween Candy! :-) Bring it on!!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Oh My Glory, Glory, Glory

Isn't it amazing how an ordinary day on a calendar can become very significant? July 26 is one of those days in the life of our family. It is not a holiday or any kind of special day, but it is a day of both celebration and sadness for us. Last year on July 26, my dad lost his battle with cancer. This is sad for us because he is no longer with us, but it is also a cause for celebration because he is now hanging out with Jesus.


If you knew my dad, then you can imagine that he is in a place where:



  • There is ample food (especially donuts and steak.)


  • There is always a softball game to coach.



  • There is a golf course where he is always playing his best game ever (hole-in-ones are the norm on this golf course.)



  • There is always a Southern Gospel sing-a-long going with the Gaither Homecoming people who have left the Earth.



  • There is a big TV with every channel imaginable and he can watch all he wants.


  • There is no heart disease, diabetes, cancer or any other thing that ailed him.



  • Best of all, he is in a place where he is in the constant presence of Jesus.

So, although there is a lot of sadness associated with this day because my dad is no longer here on Earth, it is also a day of celebration at his Homecoming. In the past couple of years Mark and I have suffered 3 significant losses (my dad, his mom and his brother) and when we talk about those losses, we always say how we miss our loved ones but how we don't want them back because they are in such a better place.


So in that vain of celebration, I wanted to share one of my dad's favorite songs. It was a song that was played at his funeral (at his request), but it is not a typical funeral song but it does describe the celebration that I think my dad felt as he met Jesus last year on July 26th.


Enjoy the song (and late 90's fashion and hair!) :-)





Saturday, July 16, 2011

I Need a Vacation

Today is the last day of my self-imposed blogging challenge and after 7 days I guess I could say I need a vacation from blogging. :-) This exercise has reminded me that I did commit to blogging more frequently in 2011 so hopefully I will continue.

Anyway, on to the topic of this post...In the near future, we are going on vacation. (I am not saying the exact dates in the event that someone decides to come rob my house. Although if you find out the dates and have plans to do that, let me know and I will make a list of the things that I would like to replace in the house and you can take those.) :-) Other than a trip to Disney, I cannot remember looking forward to a vacation as much as this one. Maybe it is because we are going in our new minivan. :-) However, I think it has more to do with the fact that I am looking forward to getting away and a change of scenery. We have done some day trips and fun activities locally, but it will be great to get out of town and away for an extended period.

Our final destination is Mitchell, South Dakota because Mark is in a wedding there. However, we are going to take our time getting there. We are hoping to stop at Wisconsin Dells, WI and Walnut Grove, MN...as well as some other places along the way. I am so excited! It will be fun to see some new places and get away from Indiana!

If you have any suggestions of two year old friendly activities in these locations, I'd love to hear them!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Pulling the Trigger

Hello All! I know some of you may be disappointed to find out that this post is not all about guns (because I am so into that. Ha-Ha!) :-) Anyway, it is actually about something completely different.

The trigger I am talking about here concerns my employment situation. As most people know, I spent the first 17 years of my professional career teaching Special Education (a job that I enjoyed.) Last school year, I took a leave of absence from my job with the the South Bend School Corporation for a number of reasons, but one of them was so I could pursue the job of Children's Minister at Living Stones Church. So I spent the year away from the public school setting working in Children's Ministry knowing that this spring/summer I would have to make a decision as to whether I wanted to go back to teaching or continue with the ministry job.

I have spent a lot of time thinking, praying and evaluating and have discovered a few things. I discovered that I missed several things about teaching: the school environment, comraderie with my colleagues, summers off and the kids. However, the thing I did not miss was the actual teaching part. Considering my job title is Special Education TEACHER that poses a bit of a problem. :-) So, I have decided that, at least for now, that I am not going to be returning to my position in the schools and continuing to work as the LSC Children's Minister. This does not mean that I won't return to teaching at some point in the future, but for now this is where I am supposed to be.

In many ways this is a huge step of faith for me, but I know it is the right one. I really like what I am doing at the church. It is challenging and fun at the same time. It has been a refreshing change while still being able to use my skills and education.

SBCSC Peeps...I will miss seeing you regularly, but feel free to stop by Living Stones Church. You will typically find me in the Kids Kanyon area. :-) Or, Anna will be in school in a couple years so maybe I will see you then. :-)

LSC Peeps...You are stuck with me! :-)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Adventures in Babysitting-Resolved

Before I started this daily blog challenge, my last post was dated on May 13 and it talked about the babysitting issue that we have had for Anna. You can read that post here http://mickeyfan3.blogspot.com/2011/05/adventures-in-babysitting.html.

After much searching and prayer, our adventures have come to an end. Anna will be attending East Bank Learning Center beginning in August. It is a daycare and preschool program combined. It is nationally accredited and is a Level 4 on the Indiana Paths to Quality so we feel confident that it will be a great place for Anna. In the meantime, Anna is having a Daddy summer and they are both loving it. I think it will be a big adjustment for both of them when Mark goes back to school. :-)

Kind of a short post tonight, but I am pretty tired. More exciting posts tomorrow!! :-)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

See the USA in a Chevrolet...or a Honda

Hello Everyone! Welcome to Day 4 of my weekly blogging challenge! If you are a fan of GLEE or if you were alive in the 50's then you will recognize the title of the ad in my blog. Chevy had some ads in the 50's where Dinah Shore sang this song "See the USA in a Chevrolet" and it was reprised by the GLEE cast for the Super Bowl this year. You can watch the GLEE version here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JD7EsyYlqlU

Anyway...we were inspired by the Glee commercial and thought that we should do what the song says and see the USA in a Chevrolet and started the search for a new car. OK...so we really don't do things just because Glee suggests them (although as obsessed as I am with that show that is not all that unlikely.) :-) In reality, we knew that our 2001 Saturn with 100,000 miles was nearing the end of it's life and we also were hoping for something a little larger now that we have Anna. We started casually looking knowing that we were in no hurry to buy something, but that if we found what we wanted we would consider buying it. Well, about 1 month ago, we found a great deal on a minivan. However, instead of it being a Chevrolet, it is a Honda...a 2008 Odyssey to be exact. I knew it was meant to be because I have always aspired to be a soccer mom who drives a minvan. :-) We really like it and in the month that we have had it we have taken the see the USA line in the song to heart. The van has already been on short 4 road trips to West Lafayette, De Motte, Holland, and Chicago. We also have a couple of other longer trips planned this summer (more on that later) so we are definitely seeing the USA in our Honda!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

This One Time at Church Camp

So this blog post is a little overdue, but better late than never! Anyway, about 3 weeks ago, we accompanied some kids from our high school youth group to church camp. Let me say, that I love going to camp. I started going to camp in 1985 and have basically been to some sort of camp almost every summer since then. I know you make think that I am insane for wanting to spend a week of my life hanging out with kids (especially middle schoolers) but I love it!! It is a great time for me.





Anyway...this year our high schoolers from Living Stones Church went to a CIY (Christ in Youth) Camp that was held on the campus of Hope College in Holland, MI. This was our first time attending this camp so we were not sure what to expect. However, It was an AMAZING week! I think I can say that it was the BEST WEEK OF CAMP I have ever attended. There are lots of reasons:




  • There was AMAZING food (which typically doesn't happen at camp.)




  • The campus and facilities were great.




  • Anna did really well at the camp, even on the night when we had the fire alarm in our dorm go off 3 time in the middle of the night and had to evacuate the building each time.




  • The worship band was Amazing. You should check out the Jordan Howerton Band on Facebook, Twitter or I-Tunes if you are into that kind of stuff.




  • There were some amazing Living Stoners praying specifically for our kids. (Thanks Carl, Heather, Jeff, Jim, Lowell, Katie, Kathy and Greg)




  • The other adults on the trip were incredible (my hubby Mark and Ann L.)



However, the biggest reason that camp was so amazing was our kids. We had a wonderful group of kids who were amazing. SO.... Ashlynn, Julia, Lena, Mary, Sarah, Haley, Andrew and Isaac...YOU ROCK! Check out the picture of these amazing kids!



Can't wait until next year!!





Monday, July 11, 2011

The Big Challenge

Yesterday was the day to begin some challenges in my life. If you read my post yesterday, you will see that I have pledged to blog everyday this week. However, our family started another challenge yesterday as well.

We LOVE to go out to eat and do it very frequently! It is probably one my favorite things to do. Quite often there are special occasions that warrant it: birthdays, anniversaries, date nights, friends or family that are visiting, etc. However, lately we have used reasons like "It's Tuesday" or "I am wearing clean clothes" or "The Sky is blue" as a reason to go out. Really, who can blame us....who doesn't like having someone else cook exactly what you want and then deliver it to your table. :-) It is especially good for me because I am not the most skilled when it comes to being in the kitchen. More often that I care to admit, I have made something that was so disgusting that it was thrown completely in the trash. So eating out is just easier and more convenient.

Yesterday afternoon, I approached Mark about a challenge for us to not go out to eat for the next 3 weeks unless it was absolutely warranted (in a travel situation, a legitimate celebration, etc.) He immediately pulled out his phone and started to call 911 because he was certain that I must be having a stroke or some other neurological crisis because I would never suggest such a thing. :-) However, I was of sound mind when I suggested it and Mark agreed. I know this will be a challenge for both of us, but hopefully we can do it. We will save money, eat healthier and be proud of our accomplishment. If we don't meet the challenge, there will be some shame involved, but at least we will have eaten some delicious food. :-)

ON A TOTALLY UNRELATED NOTE....I had already written most of this post when we had to leave to go to Mark's softball game so I saved the draft. When we came home, we were all sweaty and gross from the disgusting heat so we turned on the water to give Anna a bath before she went to bed. Once we turned on the water, we discovered that we did not have any hot water. I started thinking about how inconvenient it was going to be to have to take a cold shower and how miserable that would be. I started getting really irritated and upset at the prospect of that. Then I was struck by the fact of how self-centered and spoiled I am...there are people all over the world for whom a cold shower would be a great luxury. So, I have no idea how long we will be without hot water, but if I have to take cold showers for a week I will try to remember how incredibly blessed I am. Anyway, I know this has nothing to do with our eating out challenge, but it was on my mind as I finished the blog post.

See you tomorrow!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

I'm Back

So...it has been almost two months since I have posted on here. So much for my New Year's Resolution of blogging more (unfortunately that is not the only New Year's Resolution that I have been slacking on...but there is still half of 2011 so I have time to get back on the wagon.) :-) Anyway, back to blogging thing...we have been really busy and enjoying the summer and blogging has taken a back seat. However, to get back in the saddle of blogging I am going to attempt to blog everyday over the next week. Here is a teaser of some titles to look forward to:


  • Pulling the Trigger

  • Adventures in Babysitting-Resolved

  • This One time at Church Camp

  • The Big Challenge

  • I Need a Vacation

  • See the USA in a Chevrolet...Or a Honda
See you tomorrow for another exciting episode of Amy 4.0! :-)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Adventures in Babysitting

No, this blog post is NOT about the 1987 movie Adventures in Babysitting (although I loved that movie when I was in high school and watched it about 500 times.) Adventures in Babysitting has been my life for the past few months. In fact, I am pretty sure that there has not been one day since the end of February that I haven’t thought about babysitting. In fact, we could probably have produced 4 Osterhout Adventures in Babysitting movies in the past few months. :-)

ADVENTURE NUMBER 1 started in February. Since Anna was 6 months old, she has been cared for by a wonderful friend…Miss Sarah! We were so fortunate and blessed to have such amazing care for Anna! Miss Sarah and her family have been blessed with some additions to their family and 4 kids in their home was plenty for them. Since Anna made number 5 and they weren’t willing to give away one of their own children, Anna was the logical choice to go (although I think they should have at least considered it…I mean Anna is awesome.) :-) We were (and still are) super excited for Miss Sarah and her family and totally understood their situation and were totally willing to do whatever was necessary for their family. Their friendship and well-being of their family was our ultimate priority. Although we were thrilled for Miss Sarah’s family and completely understanding, it was kind of stressful as we started looking around and interviewing child care providers. We ultimately found an in-home daycare which was highly recommended and was near the preschool where Anna would be attending in the fall. We made arrangements for Anna to stay with Miss Sarah until the end of the school year and would start at the new daycare in the fall. ALL SETTLED and our Adventures in Babysitting were done…for about a day anyway. :-)

ADVENTURE NUMBER 2 began when Miss Sarah began to have some medical issues with her pregnancy so we had about 2-3 weeks where we weren’t sure what was going to happen (things are good for her and her baby now.) Of course our first concern was the health of Miss Sarah, but we started another adventure during those 2-3 weeks. We were scrambling and very blessed to have my Mom (who happened to be on Spring Break) and my Aunt Donna help out. It was also a huge blessing to be working at Living Stones Church, which allowed me to have a flexible schedule while all of this was going on.

We embarked on ADVENTURE NUMBER 3 when we finally decided that we would contact the daycare that Anna was supposed to attend in the fall to see if she could come for the rest of the school year. Miss Jane agreed and Anna started attending that day care one month ago. We were very pleased and really liked the care that she was receiving there, but there were the adventures and stresses that come with starting a new daycare and how Anna would adjust, learning the routines or new place, etc. About a week ago, I finally started to relax and knew that we had made the right decision. Anna was adjusting well and there were all kinds of neat things going on there. Then this week, the bomb was dropped. Miss Jane told us that she would be closing the day care in July. She has been doing child care for 30 years and had a completely different business opportunity arise and she was ready for a change. We are happy for her to have this new opportunity, but it kind of puts us in a bind. It has caused me to add something to my list of questions that I would have never thought of: “Are you considering closing your day-care/stop babysitting in the next month?” :-)

So, now we embark on ADVENTURE NUMBER 4. As I see it, I have 2 options:

• Quit my job and become a stay at home mom
• Begin the search for another child care provider

As far as option number one of becoming a stay at home mom…there is a big part of me that says do it. However, we have two problems with that. Number 1 is financial. By the time insurance premiums, retirement, college funds, taxes, union dues, etc. are deducted from Mark’s salary, the amount that he actually brings home is fairly small. We kind of like having food to eat and house to live in so we need my income to make that happen (even considering that fact that we have no debt other than a mortgage.) I guess I could become an Extreme Couponer like those people on the TLC show. However, I am not sure I have the time or the energy to devote to that. As a side note, I really think some of the people on that show are about 2 steps away from being on the show Hoarders. I mean who really needs 100 bottles of Maalox (and if you do, you probably have bigger problems that probably should be addressed by a medical professional.) :-) The second reason why being a SAHM is probably not feasible for me is that I think I am probably a better mom because I do go to work a couple of days a week. I think that my personality and the way I am wired makes it a healthier situation for my marriage, my child and myself if I do go to work. If you saw my Facebook post yesterday, you know that I forgot to buckle Anna into her car seat as we drove home on the 20 bypass at 70 MPH so it is probably good if she has someone else who takes care of her part of the time. :-) So…all of you who are stay at home moms I have nothing but mad props for you!!

So, we are left with the option of finding child care once again. The thought of starting over is exhausting. One of our top contenders when were looking in February and March has since de-friended me on Facebook so not sure that is a contender anymore. There are couple ladies at church who do child care, but their location is not ideal. I am hoping to find something on the South Side of South Bend since that is where we live. If you have any recommendations, I would be happy to receive them. We do have some good prospects and I ultimately know that I we will find the right fit. It is just frustrating to begin the process all over again.

Once we do find the right fit and end ADVENTURE NUMBER 4, I am hoping the ONLY Adventure in Babysitting that we have for a LONG while (or ever) is in the form of a cheesy 80’s movie. :-)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Royal Wedding

In case you have been living under a rock for the past few months, there is a big wedding taking place in London tomorrow. Prince William and Kate Middleton will be exchanging vows in Westminster Abbey at 4 AM tomorrow. I have considered getting up to watch the nuptials but I have a feeling my bed will win out. However, thanks to modern technology I have my DVR set to record the whole thing so I won't miss any of the excitement or any sleep. :-)

Now I am not a huge royal watcher or anything like that. However, I am a little enamored by princesses. On my first trip to Disney World, I cried when I saw Cinderella for the first time. You may be thinking that is not an uncommon response for a child to be overcome with joy at seeing a princess in front of Cinderella's castle for the first time. However, I was 34 years old at the time. :-) Basically, I think the idea of princesses is kind of cool.

I started thinking about Kate Middleton and what happens to her tomorrow when she marries Prince William. She becomes a princess and member of the Royal Family. She is no longer Kate from down the street or simply a pretty girl. She is now "Her Royal Highness" and her life is forever changed. Everywhere she goes she will be treated with the utmost respect and honor simply because of WHO SHE IS and her identity as Princess Kate!! I have a feeling that Kate will carry herself in such a manner fitting of a princess as well. She will know who she is and will have expectations as to how she is treated.

What is happening to Kate Middleton is a pretty amazing thing...but not really that amazing if you think about it. God does the same thing for us. When we enter God's "royal family", our lives are forever changed and receive a new identity that makes us Princesses or (Princes.. if you are dude.) I know that when I first learned this concept and really took it to heart, it TOTALLY changed the way I thought about myself. When I realized who I was in Christ and that God was absolutely crazy about me, it was revolutionary in so many ways in my life.

This concept has even more meaning for me a parent of a little girl. It is my hope for Anna that she never doubts who she is and what God thinks about her. I want her to be secure in who she is so that no BOZO of boy is going to treat her badly or she is going to think things about herself that are not true. I pray that Anna will always embrace her identity as a princess, a daughter of the King.

So...enjoy the royal wedding and remember as Kate becomes a princess that there is a God who is crazy in love with you and considers you a Princess (or a prince).

Friday, April 15, 2011

Birthdays!!

Hello Friends! I cannot believe it is already April 15th. April is definitely a month of birthdays in my world. Today is my Grandpa Foster's 95th birthday. I cannot imagine living 95 years, but I hope that I have inherited some of his genetics. :-) Here are some impressive things about my grandpa.

He and my Grandma have been married for 70 years. Pretty impressive legacy of lasting marriage.

He worked as farmer a good portion of his life. I think a rite of passage for every Foster grandchild was getting to go on a tractor ride with Grandpa. Up until about a year or so ago, he was still driving. It might have been a good idea for him to stop before that, but still impressive that he was still driving in his 90's. :-)

    Well into his 80's he still worked the Farmer's Markets in Chicago selling produce from my uncle's apple orchard. This may not sound like a big deal, but it involved getting up at 2 AM, driving to Chicago, unloading a big truck, setting up displays and standing on the hard pavement doe about 7-8 hours in a variety of weather. Pretty hard work, especially for an 80 year old.

    My sister and I went on countless trips with him and he taught us all about the (now defunct) license plate numbering system on Indiana license plates. I think we knew all the numbers for all the counties by the time we were 10 or 12 years old.

    I don't think I have ever seen him yell or get really angry.

    He and my grandmother raised 8 biological children and 1 adopted child. They have 23 grandchildren and 24 great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild (I think I have those numbers right...but even if I am off a little it is still a lot of people!) :-) I consider myself extremely blessed to be among that number and I am very thankful that Anna has had a chance to meet and get to know him. Happy Birthday Grandpa!! Tomorrow we are celebrating his birthday complete with cake and visit from a State Senator (who is a former 4th Grade student of my Grandma's.) Since we are on the subject of birthdays, a shout out goes to my sister Mindy who celebrated a birthday on April 3rd!!

    April is also my birthday month. On Monday, April 18th I will turn 41 (so no worries...you still have time to shop for my present). :-) I have to admit that I have been struggling a little with 41...way more than 40. Not sure why, but I am trying to look at it from a positive perspective. After all, Jennifer Lopez is my age and was just name the "Most Beautiful Woman in the World" by People Magazine this week. While I am no J. LO, it does give me hope that 41 will be great and that 41 isn't as old as I once thought!!

    Well, I guess that is all for now. Bring on the Birthday Celebrations!! :-)

    Tuesday, March 15, 2011

    My New "Job"

    Hello Friends! I know it has been a few weeks since I have posted, but I have been really busy.

    I have a new "job"....Well, it isn't actually a job. I don't get paid for it (I actually paid money to do it...how crazy is that.) :-) What is it?? I joined Weight Watchers Online. I have a significant amount of weight to lose that I gained after getting married and then having Anna (so that means I can blame Mark and Anna for my weight gain and not the fact that I REALLY love food...especially food that isn't good for me.) :-) I was trying to do it on my own, but right now do not have the will power to do what is necessary so I needed some external help. I have always been a fan of Weight Watchers and their program and think it really is one of the best of the best weight loss programs out there, so I decided to give it a try.

    I know you may be wondering where the "job" part comes in....counting points is like a part-time job. For those not familiar, Weight Watchers has a point system where you are allotted so many points per day and all foods have a point value. This value is determined using a systematic formula based upon the amount of fat, carbs, protein, and fiber in the food as well as the city where the food was produced, the income level of the food manufacturer or farmer, and the consumers blood type and state or country of birth. (OK so I made some of that up, but you get the picture.) I am certain that counting points will get easier as time progresses, but right now it is very time consuming.

    My time has been worth it, I do have to say that it seems to be working. I have lost almost 5 lbs in 2 weeks! Hoping there is more success in my future!

    Monday, February 21, 2011

    Watch Out...Martha Stewart!!

    As most people know, I am lacking certain skills in the domestic area and always thought that Martha Stewart didn't need to worry about me competing with her as the domestic goddess of the world. However, the past few days. Martha may have to watch out (OK...so not really, but that makes this blog post a little more exciting if I say that.) :-)

    First of all, I have actually cooked dinner for my family 3 nights in a row. I mean actually cooking from a recipe...not leftovers, heating up something frozen or eating out. I know this is not a big deal for many people, but it is huge in my world. The even more impressive thing is that it all tasted good...AMAZING!! :-)

    Secondly, I decided that I wanted to have Anna help me make thank you notes for her recent birthday party. I have NO IDEA why I decided that because I am NOT a card maker. I have tried to make them and been to tons of Stampin' Up parties and workshops and have never really been happy with the results of what I made. I must have had a case of temporary insanity or something in deciding to do this. :-) Anyway...Anna really enjoys finger painting with her Color Wonder Paints (as a side note...whoever created Color Wonder is a GENIUS!!) So, I decided that we would use some of her masterpieces to create the cards. Since we had a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse themed party, I decided to cut out Mickey Heads from her paintings (although I am not longer in the running for Mother of the Year, I did all the cutting since giving a a pair of sharp scissors to a 2 year old probably isn't the greatest idea.) :-) After that, I printed the words for the cards on the computer. Then I had Anna help fold the card stock and then glue the pieces on the cards. These cards cost me nothing since they were made from items that I already had in the house. Overall, I think they turned out to be pretty cute and the beauty of it is that I can say that they were made by a 2 year old if anyone doesn't like them. :-) Here is a photo of the finished product:


    So, I have the cooking and crafts down...now I just need to move on the cleaning part. On second thought, I bet Martha pays someone to clean her house. Maybe I should consider the same!! :-)

    Saturday, February 19, 2011

    Definitely Disqualified

    Well friends, it is official....I have most certainly been disqualified from winning "Mother of the Year." I am incredibly disappointed because I had visions of standing in front of my adoring fans in a size 2 designer dress (don't laugh..this is my dream.) :-) I pictured myself sharing my acceptance speech that started with "I'd like to thank the academy..." while being flanked by celebrities like Zac Efron and Hugh Jackman.

    Even when great friends like Heather N. said things like "I am not going to win Mother of the Year, but neither are you" as a form of encouragement, I politely nodded. However, I secretly knew that I was destined to win this prize.

    If you look at the facts, it is obvious that I was a serious contender. Here are just a few of the reasons that I thought I had it in the bag:
    • I took Anna to Disney World for her first birthday.
    • I have all of her scrapbooks up to date.
    • And although my house isn't always the cleanest, I was spending the time I should be cleaning with Anna making crafty birthday thank you notes or reading books (that or spending time on Facebook...where I most certainly was gaining valuable parenting skills.) :-)

    However, that dream was shattered today at around 4:45 PM. I entered the kitchen to start cooking dinner (an accomplishment in and of itself.) I usually bring Anna into the kitchen when I cook dinner and have her help or play with her toy kitchen set, but she was finishing the rest of a DVR'd episode of Sesame Street (DVRing educational TV...another reason I should have had the Mother of the Year Award in the bag.) I decided to let her finish figuring she would be OK for the few minutes it took to finish receiving words of wisdom from Elmo. While in the kitchen, I heard a loud thud and then screaming. I ran into the living room to find Anna on the floor in front of the couch. I am guessing that since Mommy and Daddy weren't in the room she decided that it was the perfect time to jump on the couch and ended up falling and face planting. She had a bloody lip, swollen nose and a red mark on the forehead. Once the bleeding was stopped and we were certain that we didn't need to take a trip to the ER, I sent Mark to the store for popsicles since she would not put ice packs on the injured areas and figured that was the next best thing and would at least help with swelling on her lips. Like any good mom, I fed her chocolate and fruit snacks while we waited for the popsicles (because it is never to early to learn that certain foods always make you feel better.) :-) Anna was fine the rest of the evening, but I think she will have some interesting marks in the morning.

    However, since I left her unattended and she got hurt, I am guessing my chances of being Mother of the Year are no more. Maybe it is time I give up that dream and start aspiring to something else....maybe a TONY Award. My tap teacher told me I looked like a real dancer the other night after I fell while dancing and had several bruises on my knee and elbows. I think that was her subtle way of telling me that I should move on to bigger and better things. :-) Broadway...here I come!!!

    Friday, February 4, 2011

    Relaxing Friday

    I am pretty excited for this weekend. Anna is turning 2 on Tuesday, so we are having a party for her tomorrow. I thought that my day today would be filled with cleaning and prepping for the party, but thanks to the snowstorm and things being cancelled we were able to get most of that done already. That means a relaxing Friday (until our overnight houseguests arrive a little later today.) I am thinking that I am going spend some of the time reading once Anna goes down for her nap. I love to read, but don't often get a lot of time to do it. I am trying to make a more conscious effort read in my spare time as opposed to messing around on Facebook, watching TV, or playing "Angry Birds"on my phone (my latest addiction.) :-) So far in 2011, I have read 7 books and am in the process of reading 4 others. (I know...4 at one time is weird, but they serve different purposes and it depends upon my mood which one I want to read.). I am considering getting a Kindle or some other e-reader, but still not sure. I like the idea of having all my books in one compact little device. However, I am a fan of getting books from the library rather than buying them and I know that is not possible with a Kindle (at least for now.) I would love to hear feedback from people who use an e-reader.

    Anyway...here are some of my favorites so far:


    ROOM by Emma Donoghue

    This was a book that I could not put down. It is the story written from the perspective of a 5 year old boy who has lived his entire life in a 12 x 12 room because his mother was kidnapped and held captive for many years (similar to the Jaycee Dugard story). He only knows life inside this room. It is a compelling story about the things his mother does to make life good for him and his adjustment to the real world once they escape. In some ways it reminded me of the movie called, "Life is Beautiful" where a father tries to protect his child from the horrors of life in a concentration camp during WWII. I usually have a difficult time reading books that involve abduction or violence against children or young women, but this one didn't seem to affect me as badly as others that I have read involving these topics. It was a compelling story and one that I kept thinking about for days after reading it.

    STUFF CHRISTIANS LIKE by Jonathan Acuff

    This is a hilarious book! It is based upon Jonathan Acuff's blog based of the same title. If you are a Christian who gets offended easily, I would not read it. However, if you can laugh at yourself as a Christian, it is a great read. I love his sarcasm and humor intermixed with the ability to make a point. Great read and a great laugh!!




    HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX by JK Rowling

    This is my 3rd time reading the Harry Potter Series. I don't know what it is about Harry Potter but I can read them over and over again. There are very few books that I want to read more than once. Actually there only 2 that come to mind right now: "The Bible" and "To Kill a Mockingbird." Anyway, back in September, I decided that I would try to re-read the entire series before the movie of the Deathly Hallows came out in December. Obviously, I haven't accomplished that goal, but I haven't seen the movie yet either. :-) Maybe I will finish the series before The Deathly Hallows, Part 2 comes out this summer. This is one of my least favorite Harry Potter books. I think partly because Sirius Black dies in this book (Sorry if I spoiled it for anyone, but the books and movies have been out for ages...so you had your chance to find out on your own.) :-) I also think it is not my favorite because things begin to get darker in this book without any resolution. I still enjoyed it and love my Harry Potter.

    LIFE AFTER SUFFERING by Chris Williams
    I actually know the author of this book so when I found out that he had written a book, I ordered it. (As a side note, if you ever write a book count on at least one sale because I will purchase it.) :-) I received it in the mail yesterday and thought that I would put on my pile of books that I will read at some point. However, I did read the first couple pages and I was hooked. I finished last night (sacrificing watching "The Office"...thank goodness for DVR's, right?) :-) Anyway, in this book Chris tells his personal story of suffering when he tragically lost his parents in his freshman year of college along with telling the biblical story of Jeremiah (which is also a story of suffering.) He has many great points about suffering, but my favorite quote of the book was at the end of a chapter when he talked about how different people supported him during his time of grieving. "I had always been told that God put on flesh two thousand years ago as a Middle Eastern Jew, but in my darkest moments of despair it seemed that God put on flesh again and again in many different faces and names." I thought this was a beautiful quote and a great reminder that I need to be "BE JESUS" to people who are suffering around me. There were also many personal applications for me (that I will not go into here) because of the experiences we have had in losing Mark's Mom, Brother and my Dad over the course of the past couple years.
    Well..those are my favorites over the past few weeks. How about you? I always love to hear book suggestions.