Thursday, December 18, 2008

My Mom

Today is my Mom's birthday!  My Dad always told me when I was growing up that life isn't fair. I'm glad that he is right 'cause for some reason I was blessed with a much better Mom than I deserved.  There is a very long list of things I love about my mom, some of my favorites is her passion, her innocence, and that she is so fun to get 'riled' up.  My Mom has always made me laugh a lot and that is a great gift.

The name of the first High School I went to was the Wayne Blue Devils. My Mom wouldn't let me bring anything into the house with a blue devil on it.  She didn't want the devil to be in her house - NO WAY!  It was always fun to see Mom's reaction when we would try and sneak 'blue devil' gear into the Ostercamp house.  My Mom isn't a Duke fan either.

My Mom has a really hard time sitting still.  I don't think she has ever sat through a whole movie. It is hard for her to go two hours without cleaning something.  My room and I always enjoyed this quality of my Mom. 

One time my Mom had a new habit of filling a water bottle and then keeping it in the refrigerator.  She was real proud of her new plan and enjoyed many long deep drinks of cold water after hard days of cleaning.  I fell off the couch after watching her take in a long cold drink of salt water one summer afternoon.   My evil concoction worked to perfection!  I really enjoyed my trick for twenty-four hours.  Looking back I am disappointed in myself.  I really should have known that my coke-a-cola the next evening at supper was actually cold coffee.  

Once my Mom actually drove into a drive-in bank. 

I don't think my Mom has ever said a bad word.  Once my friend got a new dog and it was a shitzu.  It was always fun to ask my Mom what kind of dog my friend had cause she felt real guilty about saying it.  Once my Mom got her mouth washed out with soap though.  No, she didn't say a bad word, she was cleaning and thought the yellow liquid on the counter was warm melted butter.  Both my Mom and I like warm melted butter so my Mom scooped it up with her finger, but it was shampoo.  I think the taste lasted a whole day.  My Mom never said a bad word again. 

My Mom has taught me many valuable lessons.  One of them she taught me was that if you want to really enjoy life you better be good at laughing at yourself.  Life is too stressful if you take yourself too seriously.  My Mom always brings everyone a lot of joy and laughter, and she is good at laughing at herself.  My Mom has a really special gift with children.  Not many people know what my Mom does for a job; she works with under-privileged children at a preschool in her Iowa town.  Take my word for it, these children have the best preschool teacher in the nation, and I'm not just saying that because I should.  

Have you ever noticed that in life people who do things that truly matter are rarely noticed and people who do things that don't really matter are often noticed a great deal?  Jesus said it would be this way.  Jesus says caring for children, the poor, the lonely, and the defenseless really matters.  Almost all Moms do this, and my Mom has done this her whole life.  When it really matters she will be noticed for it.  I think she will be the official reader of kids books in heaven cause she is really good at it.  

In honor of Mom's birthday may we take ourselves a little less seriously, may we all do something that won't get noticed by many but will really matter to a few, and someday may we all be as close to Jesus as my Mom is. 

Love You Mom, Happy Birthday!

ps.  That should be good for one or two extra gifts this holiday season don't you think..?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Chicago Snow!

Our 'Countdown To Christmas' chart actually said 'snowflake mania' today.  So we got to create our own snowstorm right here in Chicago.  I realize that it doesn't compare to Willmar's snowstorm, but we tried to get close.  :)  We are counting the days to when we get our Willmar company (Angie B. and Mallory M.) this weekend, and then when we can travel to Bloomington, Willmar, and Iowa for Christmas!  See you all soon!
Posted by:  Anita O.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

One Unique Birthday Party

Luke turned 6 on December 4th.  We invited  his 6 closest friends from his new school, and the craziest thing happened.  They all came!  It was especially crazy since they all got their invites two days before, but the craziness didn't stop there.  Five of the moms, one great Aunt, and a seven year old brother all decided to stay as well.  This made Anita a little nervous, but I thought it was fabulous!  The neighborhood we live in never ceases to amaze me and this night was no exception.

In our living room was a mom (Sherri) and her son (Ben) from Japan, and a mom (Sue) and her son (Elijah) from Korea.  We also had a mom (Aishe) and her son (Barkey) from Turkey, and a great aunt (Manita), seven year old brother (Razseen), mom (Nur) and her twin daughters (Farshene & Noshein) from Bangladesh.  Finally, there was a Northern European (Annika) and all of the Northern European Ostercamps!  

The moms from Japan and Korea had been born in the USA, but the rest are first generation immigrants.  It was a beautiful representation of the Kingdom of God.  Japan, Korea, Turkey, Bangladesh all right here together under our roof.  I never would have imagined 12 months ago that Anita and I would be hosting this sort of birthday party. :)  

It was great to get to know all these wonderful people from all over the world.  These Moms did not know each other so I felt like a community organizer of sorts. :)  What an amazing country we live in!  We really are a country of immigrants - a conglomeration of so many cultures.  Luke had a great global birthday party, and we look forward to getting to know our neighbors better in the future.

A man at Church told me that our zip code 60625 is know as the most diverse in the world.  I feel that we are blessed to live in this neighborhood for these three years.  What an experience for us and our kids.  Please pray for us as we seek to know and love those who live around us.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I Love December!

Oh, I love this time of year!  I can sing my favorite songs!  The air is crisp, and the lights are lovely.  As we anticipate Christmas Day, we have put up our tree and have made our Advent Calendar.  I'm having so much fun sharing all of the wonders of Christmas with my kids. They are so grown up now, and they are just as thrilled as I am.  We put up our Chicago Christmas tree - I'm calling it that because it's not the tree we have used in past years since I significantly downsized this year.  Our apartment does look adequately decorated, and it only took us an hour to get our tree up and ornamented!  I am so glad that we can celebrate the birth of Jesus in such a festive and beautiful way!

Posted By Anita O.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sunday, November 23, 2008


There are only a certain number of days in your life that you will never forget.  Some of those days are for the best possible reasons and some are for the worst.  I am not going to dwell on the circumstances of this past weekend as most of you who are reading this blog know them all too well.  I want to reflect on some of the good that I saw admist the evilness.

Sunday Morning my family and I arrived at Church right at 11am.  It was the first time for my kids to be back in Willmar and they were super excited.  One of Alise's good friends was standing on the steps and Alise ran right to her.  Luke bolted out of the car and just sprinted into familiar territory.  I was afraid that he might be sprinting right down the center aisle of Church but figured it would make for some good memories.

It was strange to be there and to not be on staff.  We sat in the very back and looked at things in a much different light then ever before as we were now "visitors" so to speak.  What my family and I witnessed that morning was a beautiful thing.  Pastor Dan appropiately had changed the plan for the services as he dealt with the sudden tragedies and grief head on.  What I saw was a Church living out Romans 12:15 when Paul tells us to mourn with those who mourn.  It was evident on Sunday that the Church's heart was aching with those of its body who were hurting, it was a beautiful thing to see.

It wasn't just Sunday morning either.  The whole week I saw the true love that the people of FCC held for each other.  My family and I were welcomed back warmly by the pastoral staff new and old.  I enjoyed working together with Rocky as he takes the baton and continues the race as he nows leads the youth ministry of FCC.  My family is so blessed to have so many great friends and that was very evident this weekend.  It was wonderful to see everyone and we were so humbled and grateful for the welcoming back that we received.  Cliche as it sounds it blew us away.

All in all there was just a lot of love in the air in Willmar this last week.  It is beautiful to see people allowing God to transform their lives.  People who give control of their lives to God to be used as ministers of his grace and this is what we witnessed.  It was harder than ever to leave, knowing that the people you love and care for are dealing with so much grief.  I can relate to many of our college students who struggle to deal with tragedies such as these as they live in a place where no one really can understand.  However I am comforted knowing that our friends back home who are dealing with so much pain are surrounded by so much love.  Thank you for showing us what a true community of Christ followers looks like.  May we all continue to love and pray for those around us who are hurting.


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

United States of America

I am continually amazed by the number of immigrants that I meet here in Chicago.  The night before the election I was walking to my house, and I passed three adult guys who were definitiely not Swedish.  My best guess is that they were from the middle east or southern Europe.  As I past them, I was surprised to hear them conversing with each other in heavily accented English.  I only heard one sentence as I passed by, but I felt it was an interesting one. The older man said, "This is the only country where you can say what you think."  

In my short time in Chicago I am getting a better glimpse of the uniqueness of our country. From talking to a few immigrants and using my own imagination, I am getting a clearer picture of how hard it must be to leave everything that is so familiar and attempt to take up residence in a distance land.  These brothers and sisters must only do this out of pure necessity for I have to consider what it would take for me to leave the USA and my extended family to live in Bulgaria (to pick a random country).  The USA is still the land of opportunity and freedom which is simply not found in so many other countries in our world today.

This was proved true again last night.  No matter the politics, I am proud that our country has been able to move from slavery to having an African-American as President.  Yes, some might say that it took a long time (and we still have work to do in areas of race relations), but if you take into consideration human depravity, history in the end might look back on this day as happening quite quickly.  Regardless, I am happy that this barrier has been broken and am excited to see what positive effects this might have on the African American community.  May God Bless America!   

Friday, October 31, 2008

Pumpkin Video!

Hi Everyone!

I couldn't get the video to load on the site so here is a link to it. It is about six and half minutes long, but I think you will find it enjoyable.

We intentionally picked the music - extra bonus points for anyone who can name the first number.  Everyone likes extra bonus points!

Have a great Day!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Happy Fall to you All!

From pumpkin carving to accumulating lots of candy, our kids have had great fun. They went to Milwaukee over the weekend and got so much candy and it's not even October 31! Here are a few pictures to share.
The kids emptied out their buckets and wow, Aunt Sarah, you really know how to get the candy.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Coke & Sin

Emily loves Coke and I do too.   For the most part Emily puts up a fight when it comes to household chores except for one specific chore that she will always do willingly and with much excitement.  The chore is pouring her dad a Coke when asked.  Of course there is something in it for Emi as she collects her "payment" by swallowing at least two ounces of my beloved beverage, but this agreement has worked quite nicely for us for a while now as it allows me to remain seated on the couch.  Emily's other habit is not looked upon so fondly though.  If I look the other way or leave the room for a moment, she preys upon my vulnerable glass of Coke like a lion does a vulnerable zebra.  She evens gets so desparate for the delectable concoction that she will at times just take the glass out of my hand and help herself!  Lets just say we have had some stern conversations about these manuevers.

Last night Anita and I were cooking supper which consisted of hamburgers and chicken.  On the stove was a glistening red can of Coke.  I'm sure Emily was secretly eyeing it for a while. Suddenly the moment of opportunity arrived as I went to the sink and Anita opened the frig. Like a lion pouncing on her prey, Emily darted in and grabbed the Coke anticipating the satisfying taste of the forbidden fruit.  Unfortunately for Emily in her haste to commit the crime, she ignored all of the warning signs.  Why was the can sitting on the stove?  Why was the can rather warm?  Why was the top of the can all dirty?  Maybe it was because there was not Coke in the can after all but about 4 ounces of grease!  Oh yes, we did laugh heartily as she scurried to the sink to spit out her "Coke" and hurriedly drank about 20 ounces of water!  

Thankfully the grease was no longer boiling hot and hopefully Emily learned a valuable lesson the easy way.  In this everyday occurrence can you see some similarities to the Adam and Eve story?  You see, ultimately I am for Emily.  I want the best for her, as God wants for us.  And so a sin against God is ultimately a sin against ourselves as Emily found out in trying to "steal" my Coke.  Adam and Eve's downfall in Genesis 3 really came down to a lack of faith - a sin against God that ultimately hurt themselves.  They did not believing that they had real freedom.  Some people, like Adam and Eve, might think that real freedom is being able to choose between good and evil.  Maybe real freedom is only found when one can only desire the good?  Adam and Eve certainly appeared more "free" before the fruit. 

Monday, October 13, 2008

Escalators and Germaphobes

We encounter more escalators in Chicago.  The new adventure for five out of the six Ostercamp's is to see if they can get on and then off the escalator without ever touching the railings. At first I thought this was a test of their coordination and over-all physical abilities.  I was all for this training as it was at least one redeeming thing to do while immersed in the otherwise unredeemable activity of shopping.  

However, after inquiring about the activity, I found out that the source of it came from our friend, Janell, and did not have anything to do with athletic training at all. No, I guess Janell is a germaphobe (one concerned with germs) and convinced my kids and my wife that the rails where filled with germs and that one should risk falling and breaking an arm, neck, or worse yet getting sucked into the undergirth of the escalator beast in order not to contact a few measly germs.  

To prove the irrational thinking behind this, my common practice is to now firmly plant both hands on the escalator rails, ride it safely, and then lick my hands. Yeah, I know it might seem a little gross, but I strongly believe it is the responsibility of a Father to make sure their kids understand the truth.  So if you hear any reports of any escalator related injuries involving Ostercamp's, you will know why and I should be exonerated of any fault!

Changing the subject, but I would appreciate your prayers.  All of the sudden on Monday I came down with a horrendous cold. It is taking all of my energy, and I really want to be out and about with the rest of the family. Praying it won't last too long!



PS.  Anita thought that I should not joke about prayer.  My disclaimer is to state that while the story is true, it is intended to be humorous.  I always covet your prayers.  Just reading this story should show you how much I need them! It is okay with me if you pray for wisdom rather than health.  :)

Thursday, October 9, 2008


Natalie and Culture
So Natalie and I were talking about the dogs next door, and I told her that they wanted to lick her face.  She said, "If you're married and you kiss that's gross, but if you're not married it's okay."  It was out of the blue so I asked her, "You can kiss if you're married, right?"  And she immediately and matter-of-factly replied, "No, if you're married it's gross, but if you're not married it's okay."  WHAT?  Chicago must be corrupting her.

Emily and the Pres.
Emily's 4th grade class had an election for class president.  It turned out to be only a two person race between my Emily and some other 4th grade chic who I'm sure was all talk and no substance.  Not to mentioned, she had no previous political experience and what she promised she most surely could not deliver (I mean a pizza party EVERY day, lets be realistic here!), but she had a lot bigger pocket book backing her campaign, so she won.  Okay sorry about the rant, I guess I'm a little bitter, but when all the votes were counted, Emily came in second to this other girl.  [Who by the way, I am trying to like.  :)]

Since it was a two person race and it was so close they decided to make Emily the Vice President.  The scene is Wednesday night dinner at the Ostercamp's.  Emily entered the room eating a breakfast sausage with her fingers.

Anita says, "Why are you eating with your fingers?", insinuating that Emily should definitely know better since it has not been a common practice in our household.  Emily then proceded to tell us the above vice president story.  I told Emily that I was going to start calling her Sarah. Emily said "what" and then smiled and said, "Oh Sarah Palin."  Anita not hearing Emily said, "Sarah, Sarah who?"  She was trying to figure out why I would call Emily, Sara Chapin as Anita was pretty sure Sara Chapin is not vice president of her class even though she, with her heritage, would be more than qualified!  :)  We let her think and think about it and she couldn't figure it out.  We said then it was a famous Sarah and so then she started thinking about my sister.  Guess you're famous, Sarah O! :)  The gears were starting to smoke so the next hint was something like president....  Finally it clicked and Anita said "Oh Sarah Palin!"  

We laughed heartily, and Alise who had been somewhere, I guess in 'lala' land this whole time perked up and said in a surprised and concerned voice, "Sarah Palin eats with her fingers?"   

So there you have it, I guess our potential Vice President candidate is from the Middle Ages, at least according to Alise.  Of course she is from Alaska maybe not a lot of difference...

You probably had to be there, but rest assured we all had a big laugh as we tried hard to keep our food in our mouths!

Craft Time With Natalie!
So Natalie wants to be craftie like her mother and today's activity was painting!  You know those little kid water color paints where the paint is all dried up and you have to use a wet brush to try to get some paint on the paper.  To use this paint of course you need a little cup to wet the brush and also to clean the brush for your next failed attempt of trying to extract a little bit of dried paint from the plastic tray.  Anyway, Natalie got herself all set up and was painting away.

This is when I enter the room, right when Natalie realized she was very thirsty.  All of the sudden, I see her pick up the paint glass, which surely looked a lot like some kind of exotic juice to her, and take a big sip.  I was proud of myself as I kept a straight face while I chewed her out!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Fantastic Friday

Yesterday proved to be a day of days!  I had such a nice experience that I had to blog it.  First, I had my first NPU student come to my desk for Financial Aid help because my boss says that I'm officially trained. The gal's situation was easy enough for me to solve, and it was such fun to interact with a student.  Then after work, I traveled about 5 miles south to meet a gal about a television that I spotted on Craigslist.  I've been "shopping" on Craigslist for about 18 months now, but this was my first actual in-person pursuit.  I talked the gal down a bit so I saved $10 and she threw in a DVD player, and now we have ourselves a big, but working television!  The kids think that it's Christmas.  Next I changed our room around just a bit by moving a bulky night stand out and letting the girls take it to their room.  It's amazing how even the little rearranging of a room can give me a greater spring in my step!  Try it!  This next endeavor is my favorite.  I am no longer a "recipe off of the bag" chocolate chip cookie maker!  I haven't been happy with how my cookies have been turning out lately, so yesterday I tried a new recipe from my trusty First Covenant Cookbook.  I am now a Mike Buer chocolate chip cookie recipe follower!  Thanks Mike!  Everyone agrees that they are yummy!  As if the day wasn't successful enough - I ended it with a Settlers win against Dave and our friends, Oscar and Lina!  Goodnight!

Posted by: Anita

Friday, September 26, 2008


Sorry, I have not posted for a while, and now I give you a couple at once.  I'll try to spread them out next time.  

Last weekend we were able to go to Winona, Minnesota where Bryan and Becky Rice live.  Their son Adam came (not pictured - not sure why he isn't pictured - he is a real good looking guy so its not like it would have ruined the picture or anything - plus he is available!  My bad Adam, this blog is so popular you probably just missed out on at least 3 or 4 dating opportunities.  Okay, time to end the longest paranthesis break ever in a sentence - sorry English teachers!)  

Josh, Holly, and Seth Carlson were there.  It was very fun to see people we know and it made us even more excited for our (Dave and Anita only) trip to the Twin Cities and to Willmar in October.  We are very anxious to see all our family & friends in Cardinal country!

Enjoy some pics from the hot tub and apple orchard!


Wow!  What a week for the Twins.  Now that they are in first, Emily made a Twins magic number count down.  Hopefully it will be down to three after Friday night!  We are able to follow them on the internet, the radio, and on the TV some.  The only bad thing is that this exciting finish is hard on the study habits.  Oh well...

If the Twins and the White Sox tie, then they play a one game playoff in Chicago on Tuesday!  I think I might have to find a way to cheer my Twins on in person if that happens.  Oh, I better go...  I need to call my professor and give him a heads up about the really bad cold  that is going to hit me about 9pm Monday night.

Go Twins - more posts to come soon!

Monday, September 15, 2008


On Saturday, September 13, we had almost 6.7 inches of rain.  The total for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday was over ten inches in some places in Chicago.  The 6.7 inches in one day was the most ever recorded in Chicago, and we were here for it!  Isn't that special?  I have never used an umbrella as much as I have here!  The umbrella, by the way, is an excellent invention. 

For all you FCC youth group members and leaders, this video is taken from the bridge over the little river that we had to walk over to get to North Park's campus during our summer trips.  It is not the bridge that we walked over to get to the showers, but this is the same river.   This little river has flooded many Chicago neighborhoods over the last few days.

Luke ran up to the river when we made this video and then immediately turned around and said, "All this water makes me really have to go to the bathroom!"  Ha-ha.  

Friday, September 12, 2008

Curious Natalie!

Yeah, I know I had a perfect opportunity to use alliteration in the title of this post, but Anita and I have committed not to make that her nickname.

My kids like to watch the cartoon Curious George. And, growing up I used to love Curious George as well as the Man with the yellow hat. It was my favorite book. However, as I have grown up (I use that term loosely), I have become increasingly frustrated with the yellow man and the monkey. Everyone, but aparently not the yellow man, knows that George's curiosity is going to get him in piping hot water at some point in the half hour show. I feel like the yellow man should be able to anticipate George's trouble as those of us transfixed to the screen can easily tell when something mischievous is about to happen. But, maybe in real cartoon life it isn't that easy. The show would be a lot less fun to watch if the yellow man excelled at anticipation. The reality is that to really control George there would need to be someone constantly watching him every minute of every day. I suppose he could be put in a cage. A cage would be appropiate for a monkey, but I think that if we used it, we would quickly get locked up by the Chicago PD, whom by the way, we are working hard at not meeting again. :)

So the other day Natalie had some time on her hands, which is rarely a good thing. Quick side story here - Natalie was hungry tonight and she came up to me wanting me to feel her stomach while commenting, "My tummy is begging for food." Quite an interesting and very cute way for a three year old to say that she's hungry! - So back to the afternoon, you know the one when she had some time on her hands. She must have been thinking the same thing about her stomach. So being the problem solver that she is, she found a tortilla, put some american cheese on it, and put it in the microwave. Natalie was working on making a quesadilla just like she has seen her mom do many times.

Unfortunately, Natalie seems to be not very good with numbers. Soon our noses began to tell us that something was wrong. The smell led us to the kitchen where we found a quesadilla in the microwave with 58 minutes left to cook! Believe me, the apartment had an interesting aroma for the next 12 hours or so!

I wonder if the cage we ordered is really, really nice...

Friday, September 5, 2008

A Word (or two) From Anita

The time has come for me to get a word in!  :)  We were so happy to have my parents come for a visit last week.  We celebrated my dad's 60th birthday with a cake, Chicago pizza, and a trip to Lake Michigan.  Grandpa G. is a big fan of the Great Lakes because they have the best beaches.  He showed the kids how to bury each other in the sand and they had such fun!  

We are staying busy and enjoying the sites of Chicago.  God has definitely gone before us, and we feel safe in His care! Having Dave's brother and his wife only two miles away has been really special.  I am also really blessed by my new job.  I have completed three weeks of work in the Financial Aid office at North Park.  My job has offered some variety, much brain challenges, and a sense of community. All of these aspects are super for me.  Dave is able to stay with Natalie while I am at the office and our tag teaming has even worked out great.  Thank you for your prayers!  We can feel your love all the way over here in the big Windy City!

Trusting in Him,   Anita

Thursday, September 4, 2008

School In Chicago!

The kids were served their traditional "last meal" before their freedom ended and the daily grind of school began.  Emily was the most excited for school as the other kids had found friends in the building to hang out with.  Emily, however had no luck meeting someone her age so she was bored and couldn't wait to get to school.  Of course a bored Emily isn't great for in-house relations so let me tell you, everyone was excited for school!

The kids were excited but also nervous as they bravely marched into their new surroundings on Tuesday morning.  Each of them had a positive experience which is an answer to prayer!

This neighborhood is proving to be a most interesting one.  It is comprised of many nationalities.  The town of Willmar was a good primer for us with its population of Latin Americans, Somalians, and Northern Europeans.  This neighborhood seems to be filled with countless nationalities.  One of my professors who lives near me told us that he has six neighbors from six different parts of the world!

Being at the school, I could not honestly tell you which nationality is in the majority.  There seems to be a population from the Asian countries, people from India and Pakistan, Middle Eastern people, African Americans, Southern Europeans, Northern Europeans, and Latin Americans.  People almost literally from all around the world!  What an opportunity for our children, I hope they become friends with some children from a cool place in our world.  With my luck, they'll all be friends with Iowans!  Guess you can't get much cooler than that!

Oh by the way, today Emily came home with an assignment.  She needed to go to a library and check out a biography.  We walked two blocks to the nearest library, got a library card, and checked out a biography on Michael Jordan!