Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Thought Provoking and Amazing

This video was sent to me today. I just keep thinking about how amazing it is onso many different levels.

Click here to see it...

Learned? After seeing/reading this, it makes me want to teach literacy again to have my students write something similar. Amazing writing, thought provoking content.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Happy Birthday Rachel and Summer!

Today two of my friends celebrated their birthday.

Rachel and I have been friends for almost 11, or is it 12, years. We became roommates the summer after we graduated and have been friends since. Last night we celebrated her 30th birthday by watching Pride and Prejudice at Jill's. We don't just watch the new one... we are hard core, watching the A&E miniseries version that is quite long. We started it at 5:30 and didn't end until 11:30. Of course we had a break for cake and presents! There was lots of yummy food to enjoy too! My friend Summer joined us and made a delicious Limoncello Tiramisu YUMMMM! It was a very enjoyable evening!

Summer and I have known each other for several years as our daughters have gone to school together since preschool. Just recently we have become friends that hang out for more than that reason. During Christmas break I got her to start running with me (she is doing great and is already up to 4 miles!). Today she turned 36 (I think I can share that because she shared it on her blog... ) and she looks AMAZING! To celebrate we decided to work our butts off. Running was not an option today because there was no one available to watch the girls and Maddox. So we opted for a video rather than nothing at all. It was a completely different type of exertion than running. She earned her piece of cake for sure after that one!

So Happy Birthday to two amazing friends! Thanks for being a part of my life and sharing a part of yours with me!

Learned? Celebrating another year with each of my friends was very special, maybe if I focus on that rather than getting another year older, 30 won't be so difficult for me come August.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Let's Swim!

Yesterday we went to Malia's birthday party at the local indoor pool. It was crazy busy. They had a swim meet that just got over, and all those waiting to get in were jammed in the foyer. Just before 2:00 (when the party was supposed to start) the lady came out and told us they were still cleaning up from the meet, but they wanted to get us in so we could start swimming right at 2:00.

Maddox, who had been waiting patiently (as patiently as a 2 year old could) responded with a YEAH! The next thing I know Brian is saying "Maddox!" I turn to see my son in the room full of people with his pants around his ankles! Brian quickly pulled them up and informed him that he needed to wait to change in the changing room. Maddox got very embarrassed!

I thought it was pretty funny that he was so excited to swim, and so uninhibited that he could begin changing into his swim clothes as soon as he heard it was swim time.

Learned? Swimming in January is COLD, even at an indoor pool! Brian and I swam with the kids, but I only lasted for the first half of the party.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

NOTE: I added a few pics to "Weekend Get Away"

Souper Bowl 2009

Friday night we went to the PHS Souper Bowl with our friends Jason and Summer and their girls. The souper bowl is a fund raiser for the art club and culinary students at PHS. You purchase a hand made bowl, then get to eat all the homemade soups, bread, and desserts you want! I was pretty impressed with the quality of the pottery for high school students, and the soups were pretty good too!

Here are the bowls that my family chose:

Learned: It was kind of neat to break out of the normal "dinner and a movie" family activity.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Shack Ponderings 1

You may have notice that I have a list of most of the books that I have read with personal rating, and the book with the highest rating was The Shack. I read it a while ago and felt so deeply impacted with it. It is a novel but there were so many great truths with in that I wanted and needed to ponder further, but I also wanted to finish reading it to find out what happened.

So now I am re-reading it, very slowly, in order to gain deeper insight, and allow myself to really think about, reflect, and even implement some of the things I am getting out of it.

It is a book that I would recommend to anyone. It is about a man and the weekend he spends with God. It is not church-y, or religious, but eye opening. I came away thinking "this is how God would really talk to me."

So I skipped the first few chapters the second time around, they are difficult (emotionally) to read and just set up the rest of the story.

Currently I am pondering a discussion Mack has with God regarding free will. If God knows that we are going to do something, is it still free will? Does foreknowledge negate freewill? What does it mean to have a free will? God answers Mack's similar questions by asking one of his own, do you believe you are free to change your mind. Now this is a concept that can make my head spin, but it really sets the stage for a conversation regarding our freedom, what do we really want freedom from? When thinking about what I want freedom from I can make a pretty big list from concrete to emotional. A few would be freedom from anxiety, freedom from perfectionism, freedom from anger. Unfortunately I can't be truly set free until I accept the freedom that only Jesus can give. That initial acceptance of freedom sets in motion the rest of our freedoms, from the concrete, to emotional, and even genetic.

This is a lot to ponder, and it is only one page in a packed full chapter of great stuff.

Learned? Until I truly and fully accept the freedom only Jesus provides, my attempts at breaking free of the things that bind me are only like cushioning the shackles.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Madison's Sledding Party

Last weekend we took some of Madison's friends to the cabin for a sledding birthday party. It turned out AMAZING! They all had such a great time and the weather was perfect! Madison invited Emma, Caid, Tommy, Brandon, and Nolan. Our friends the Turners joined us too, it was nice to have some adult company amongst all the kids.

Enjoy this slide show of the fund event... (there are 42 pics, so it is pretty long, sorry).

Learned? It is going to be difficult to top the fun of this party, better start planning for next years now!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Weekend Get Away

So after my horrible Friday I wasn't sure if our weekend get away would happen. But I am happy to say it did, though a bit modified.

We headed out of town a little later than planned because Madison had two indoor soccer games on Sat. After the games we took the kids to the in laws and headed out of town. We always take the scenic way to Moab, it is so pretty to drive, and I honestly think it takes the same amount of time.

On the drive out of town I was in awe of the desert! It was completely covered in glistening white snow! It looked like the arctic tundra, not the Utah desert! I tried to get a pic, but we had left our good (big and heavy) camera at home, and I couldn't get one that did it justice!

We stopped at Fisher Towers and went for a hike. The day was absolutely beautiful! The sun was shining, no wind, brilliant blue sky a back drop to red sand stone monoliths. It was a great hike, and it was in this moment that I was reminded of what I actually think is romantic. If I had the choice between flowers, chocolate, dinner out, movie, or enjoying the outdoors with Brian I would always choose be be out in God's creation with him.

On our hike we saw some base jumpers, witch was way cool -- and very illegal!

Then we headed into Moab and checked into the hotel. We thought about a movie, but soon discovered that the theater in town only shows a 1 and 3 matinee on the weekends. So we vegged, and then went to dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Pasta Jays. MMM! It was so good, and I ate WAY too much.

The next day we slept in then drove through town, all of the cute shops were closed (the problem with tourist towns in the off season). So we headed back home.

When we got back into town we went to a movie before we picked up the kids. We figured that just because we were home didn't mean our adult weekend had to end.

It was a great low key, super relaxing, much needed husband and wife weekend. The quiet atmosphere of Moab was a perfect get away.

(I have some more pics, but they are lost on my camera, I will add them when they reappear.

Learned? We need to not way so long that I can't remember the last time we got away together, before we do it again.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Terrible Horrible No Good Verry Bad Day

It all started at 7:15 this morning in the midst of a white out in Palisade. I had just left my dad's from dropping Maddox off, the roads are slick and snow packed. There is a long steep hill with a stop sign at the bottom where it meets another cross street, I am sure you can guess what happens next. Yep, though I am going very slow, I begin to slide, I can't stop. I end up sliding the passenger side of the truck against a large pile of boulders and a telephone pole. I get out check the damage, and to my surprise there is only a scuff on the rear fender which I think will buff out, and amazingly no dent. So I continue to school, dreading the fact that I need to call and tell Brian about the incident, all too well knowing what his reaction will be.

I make the call, no surprises on how he reacts...

Later I discover that I did not bring lunch! ARGH! So I head to the local pizza shop to get a slice. Once I order I realize that my wallet is missing. The one that has my ID and credit card, and this shop doesn't take checks! Great, now I got a wrecked truck, a mad husband, an empty stomach, and an irrational grouch approaching if I don't get food in me soon. (Thankfully the owner said he would take my check, even though there were multiple sights saying "NO CHECKS ACCEPTED" in angry bold black caps.)

Just then some dude walks and informs me that I have a flat tire! Can you believe it -- a flat tire on top of the rest of it! Thankfully I am right next to a gas station that provides free air. ( I hate that other stations charge for air, I mean it is air COME ON!) So I begin filling the tire up hopeful that I have solved a problem, when I hear loud hissing coming from the other side of the tire and notice that it is no longer inflating.

Yeah, I have a popped tire, though I can't see it on the other side, so I hurry and drive back to school so that I am not late to teach my Algebra class. On the way I realize I have to make yet another bad news call to Brian to inform him of the further damage I have inflicted upon his truck. Again no surprise by his reaction.

My brother Alix shows up towards the end of school with a huge smile and changes my tire for me, he is almost finished and Brian pulls into the parking lot, I hurriedly escape to the safety of my classroom (though there is only minutes left before the bell, I am just not ready to face his wrath.)

Eventually I have to bite the bullet and go outside, and of course Brian and Alix are still there. Brian seems to have calmed down and doesn't even yell at me, instead he gives me a hug and says he is not mad, just wonders why it always happens to his stuff...

Then he shows me the tire and wheel. The tire is absolutely fine however, the wheel is bent on both the outside and the inside so the seal was broken and no air would stay in.

This means we need to buy a new wheel. This means that we won't be taking the truck to Moab for our weekend get away which means no hiking, we can't take my car off the paved road. This also means there may not even be a weekend get away.

When I finally get home, Brian takes the wheel to get a new one, and I go running. While on the run Brian hunts me down and shows me the quote for a new, basic, steel, nothing fancy wheel...$380.00 - American?!

He lets me stew and get knots in my stomach for the rest of my run. When I get home I feel the tingling that precedes tears building behind my eyes, and then he informs me that they found a used one for $100.00, ordered it and it will be here in 7 days.

It was a terrible horrible no good very bad day!

Learned? Like Alexander in this book, I can look back and see that while I was in the midst of it and it seemed as if it couldn't, or wouldn't, get any better it was not the MOST terrible horrible no good very bad day, and I had survived, and maybe I won't move to Australia.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

My Wild Family


My Wild Self

This was a really fun site to play around on. Some of my co-workers and I made portraits of our "Wild Selves". One made one based on functionality the other was stylistically, and mine was based on my personality.

So this is my psychoanalysis based upon my wild self:
Lion Mane: I am a Leo
Flamingo wings: I like to look nice (the peacock tail would have better represented this but it made the picture too busy.
Scorpion tail: the defensive, wicked, impulsive, part of me.
Lion Legs: The runner in me.
Gibbon Arms: The necessity to juggle a lot at one time.
Sea Lion Ears: Not being a good listener. (they were the smallest)
Eyes: They looked a little sad
Brows and Lips: They looked a little mischievous.
The Shirt Color: My favorite color is green -right now.
The Emblem On The Shirt: Three loves of my life, the need to be loved, the desire to be better at loving others.
The Skirt: It matched the best with green.
The Background: The coming storm, the passing storm, or the storm I am in the midst of, a reminder that between the storms- no matter how brief, there is a sense of peace. Also I am comforted by thunderstorms, I love the smell and the energy in the air.

Make one and send it to me via email! I'd love to see what you come up with!

Learned? I learned a lot about me. Maybe I'll do it again sometime when "life" makes another turn...

Monday, January 5, 2009

Back to the Grind

So after two weeks of being on break, I am headed back to work today. The district actually made it pretty easy for us, it is a work day, which means no students. Part of me will miss being able to stay up into the wee hours of the morning reading, sleeping in, staying in bed (reading), and spending all day with my kiddos. The other part of me is ready to get back into a routine.

When ever I am on break, it is just that, a break. It is a break from everything. I always feel like a terrible mom and wife while I am on break. I never seem to have dinner ready, or even an idea of what to make, when Brian gets home. The laundry seems to be put off till the final weekend, all the errands that need to be done rarely get thought of until the eve of my return to work.

As much as I think I would love to be a stay at home mom, I just don't think I would be very successful at it. I think that as a procrastinator, I need schedule, and tight time frames to accomplish tasks. Or maybe I would be able to establish a routine if I knew that it was my "job" and I didn't have a limited time to recoup and rejuvenate.

I guess I'll never know.....

Learned? Is the grass really greener on the other side? Can I have the best of both worlds? Teaching is the one profession where I feel I get to be with my kids just as much as a stay-at-home mom does.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Brokenness and Love

Brokenness, a commonality among all humans. When I look around at the world it is impossible to not see all the faults, the wrongs, the hurts. They seem to abound and overshadow any good that may be left in the world. What makes God's greatest creation, one that was created for the sole purpose to love and bring joy to Him, continue to sin and cause pain? We are all broken.

As humans we tend to categorize others brokenness, judge one less "wrong" than the other, whether this is to minimize our own brokenness and make us feel better compared to others or just the neurotic human need to create order in an orderless chaos. Either option distorts the truth, the truth that God sees all sin as just sin, sees all brokenness as just brokenness.

What remedy do we have for this brokenness? We try to bandage it, cushion it, to numb it. Only creating a thick plaster cast protecting an unset fracture. Is there hope of becoming whole? Hope of not just caring for a wound, but actually healing it to the point that there is no trace of it?

I believe that our loving creator did not leave us alone in a broken world, only to survive broken ourselves. I believe he left us the the most important remedy of all, Love. Tue love embodied by His son, Jesus. Not the human selfish love that only gives to receive, but the Godly love that loves to bring others joy, peace, happiness.... healing.

This love is the only thing potent enough to crack through the layers of plaster, pierce the skin and nett the brokenness back together making it whole once more. This love is freely given by God to all of us, and only through Him are we, in turn, able to give that same selfless love to others around us. With out God it is impossible to fully love, or truly forgive, only through him is it possible.

To those that are broken, it is unfathomable to even consider that someone, some human would be able to give us this type of love, though we may know God is capable, we find ourselves unworthy to receive this healing love from human, and all to often God.

Feeling this way seems logical by human nature, but when we step back and look at it through what God has already said and done for us, reconsideration is necessary. Didn't God still create us even though he knew the current conditions of the world, of our lives? Didn't God give his only Son as the only way to restore us to Him? Didn't Jesus already pay the ultimate price, and die a death so gruesome for us? Hasn't our entire debt already been paid? If we can accept this, this most amazing, unquantifiable, outpouring of love and forgiveness, then why is it so difficult for us to receive even a fraction of that love that would mend our brokenness?

We still find our brokenness too much, our sin too much. We have yet to forgive ourselves. How do you forgive yourself? Only through God, only through his grace, only through his love. Accepting fist His love from Him, then we are able to accept His love through others in our lives.

Yes, we are all broken. But God has provided a remedy, Love. The next step, and there is only one, is to accept this love, let if fill, let it warm, let it mend, let it work.

"Now I give you a new commandment: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other." - John 13:34

"And most of all be warm in your love for one another; because in love there is forgiveness for sins without number." -1 Peter 4:8 (Bible in Basic English)

"Three things will remain forever - faith, hope, and love - the greatest of these is love." - 1Corinthians 13:13

Learned? I am not sure if I have really "learned" anything...yet. Maybe these thougths are just beginning to sink in.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year! (And a recap of Christmas)

I think the older I get the faster the years go by; 2008, in particular, flew by. We had a pretty uneventful New Year's Eve. Brian, Maddox and I went to dinner with his parents, then I dropped the boys off at home and headed to my friend Allison's to play games and drink virgin mojitos(which are very boring with out the rum). Brian had to get up and go to work today so he stayed home with the boy and attempted to get to sleep, as every neighbor was partying very loudly. Fireworks were going off from 11 till 2, scaring the dogs and Maddox. So no one in our house got any sleep.

I quit forcing my self to try and sleep and got out of bed at 8:00 to run. I was totally dragging butt, but at least I got up and out. It was a good way to start 2009.


Christmas Eve we went to my mom's and sledded in the field behind her house. Brian was working but made it over in time for dinner. My mom made a scrumptious prime rib, roasted potatos, yorkshire pudding, and yummy green beans. My Grandma Barron and aunt Penny were there to and it was a very enjoyable evening. I took some great pictures, but they have somehow been lost...

Christmas morning we spent here with the kids. Maddox was so cute, he would open one present and then play with it for a while then come back to open the next present. Madison got cowboy boots that she has been wanting, she still really wants us to get land so she can ge a horse.

We headed to Brian's parents house about 9:00 for the Caster Christmas Breakfast. It is a mad house. Both of Brian's grand parents were there along with his siblings. It was my niece Myla's first Christmas, so it was pretty special. Every year I am amazed that so many presents fit in one room, they literally spill our from beneath the tree several feet into the living room leaving just enough room to sit on the couches. Amy made a tastey breakfast of eggs, hashbrowns, waffles, breakfast burritos...yummm!

Christie, Dillon's girlfriend, and I came back to our house to watch Mamma Mia! Then the rest of my family came home, the boys took a nap and Madison and I watched a movie.

For Christmas night we headed to my dads house for dinner. My dad got the kids a little 4wheeler, and sent them on a scavenger hunt to find it. It was a big hit, though difficult to drive on the ice packed driveway.

All in all it was a great holiday season.