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!


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!