Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Pain In My Hip Is Ruining My Life

Late September, maybe early October, I experienced a slight spill down a steep hill.  The pain was instant and debilitating but short lived therefor, I believed the issue had been resolved. 

On my next long run, in preparation for the Rock and Roll Half Marathon in Denver, my hip flexor began to yell at me. . . It has been yelling ever since. For almost SIX weeks I have been on the injured reserve, nursing this nagging hip.  Around the clock anti-inflammatory, low load-baring stretches, and of course no running.

I tried my best to NOT run, but at two weeks out I thought maybe, just maybe, I could go low and slow... nope. It was still yelling.  An additional 4 weeks later with a few attempts at running and my hip was no better.

So I've gone 6 weeks with out a real run under my belt, I missed the Half Marathon, and I feel like my girth is ballooning.  Typically I would find some other way to exercise, but what can you do that doesn't involve your hip flexor?? 

Running for me is partially for the exercise and physical health benefits.   Mostly I run because it keeps me sane; when I run, I can better deal with the daily stresses. When I run, I get my much needed social time with my friend Anne. 

I've been with out the benefits of running for too long and it is taking its toll, not just on me but on my friendships, my family, and my work.  I finally made an appointment to get adjusted by my chiropractor.  I like this option as a first resort as it is non-surgical.

It turns out that little spill down the hill tweaked my hip in its socket.  It turns out that pain in my foot that I've been ignoring since summer was an out of place bone in my arch.  My chiropractor got it all back in line and I immediately felt improved, not restored, but improved

Maybe, just maybe, I'll be hitting the road regularly again soon.  Then, maybe this emotional storm I seem to be in the midst of will calm as well.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Why Can't Political Issues be Black and White, Have Clear Cut Lines to Stand On?

This year is not a very big year for elections nation wide. However, the results of our local elections hold a lot in the balance, most importantly, my job.

Our mail-in ballots contain only 5 items up for vote; the three open seats for our school board and two items for funding public education. The reason this election has such high stakes is because the outcome of public education in the Grand Valley could be drastically changed. Currently there are two people on the school board who have proved them selves to be for radical education reform and anti-teacher. In the few years since they have been elected they have sought council with those who promote public funding to be channeled into private education, considered Falcon 49 as an appropriate model for our school district, gone on the record saying that continuing education of teachers is a waste of time and teachers should not be paid more for their continued education efforts (some education is good, but too much is bad. . .??)and most recently flat out refusing to negotiate with the teacher union. Three open seats on the school board means the majority is up for grabs, and could be claimed with just ONE vote going the other way.

A friend asked me why vouchers for private schools and charter schools was "bad". In a nut shell: private and charter schools can pick and choose the students that attend their schools, public schools cannot deny anyone. What ends up happening is the students who cost the least to provide education services to go to charter or private schools and with them the state and federal money. The students who cost the most to educate- who need the most resources- are typically denied to charter and private schools and are left to attend public schools, but now there are much fewer funds to educate them. As a public education teacher I don't support public funds going to private entities.

Now this is where it gets messy. . .

Recently the US Government shut down- the issue was over raising the debt ceiling and holding out for "Obamacare". This particular event left me feeling very insecure about the strength of my country and raised my doubt that we could bounce back. The Affordable Health Care Act basically takes public funds to create affordable health care for all. However, I have great health care through my husband's work, the cost of which has gone up since the passing of "Obamacare", and will probably go up again. I will also see more of my income being withheld to fund the new health care law. Sure, I could opt out of my husband's benefit plan and purchase a public plan- which my taxes help create affordable options however, I happened to like my current plan. So, because I am choosing to stay with my husband's benefit plan I will in essence pay for public health care AND my own private plan. Wouldn't it be great if I could get a voucher - public funds - to help assist in the payment of my private plan?

So, let me get this straight - I am anti-voucher's in public education, but pro-voucher in health care?

Now it gets even more messy. . .

One of the greatest root causes to our current social situation - breakdown of families, health care crisis and such, is because the Church has failed in its most important job. We are supposed to be Jesus to the world - we are supposed to care for the widowed, the orphaned, the hungry, the needy, the homeless. Because the Church has slacked on it's job, the need to care for these has only risen, risen to a level where it has become necessary for the government to try and fill that need. So shouldn't I, as a Christian, be supportive of part of my taxes going towards welfare and health care? Isn't that what I have been called to do as a Christian? So, as a Christian I am happy to give to those in need, seeing it as part of what brings honor to God; but when it is mandated, garnished from my wages, I don't support it?

Public education, Government health care - the two hallmarks of a socialist government, can you support one and not the other, and then can you as part of your Christian beliefs and convictions not support funding that is filling the hole left by a church not fulfilling its responsibilities? Does being a public education teacher AND a Christian mean I support a Socialist government-I sure hope not. I think what is scary to me is not so much the term "socialism", but the thought of placing a man made government in such great power, that its people rely solely on the government to provide for them. Then what happens when an entire nation relies on it's government, and that government shuts down, crumbles. . . what happens to the people?

It may sound cliche' and overly churchy, but this is where I must place my heart, place my faith, place my trust: I am not a citizen on this world, I am a citizen of the kingdom of God. By setting my heart there, maybe, hopefully, I can find peace in the political storms of this world.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

I Missed the Boat... or did I...

The other day I whispered a little prayer... something along these lines:

"God, help me see where I can be a better wife. - amen"

I kid you not, less than two minutes later B and I were knee high in a shit flinging fight!

I'll spare you the details for now, but in the aftermath I felt defeated.  I felt like God had given me an opportunity to grow and become a better wife, and I completely missed the boat, in stead I had jumped aboard the SS Strife!  Inwardly I just kept reflecting on the incident, trying to see what I was supposed to have learned, how I should have responded. (ok I also stewed in a place of righteous indignation for a bit) The more I reflected the more I saw how our argument was a complete role reversal of how we typically duke it out.

B usually voices a frustration to me, some times calmly- other time not so much.... and I typically respond defensively, feeling personally attacked, and start spouting off the stored ammunition of past wrongs. 

This time it sounded more like this...
ME "I need to to tell you that I am feeling _________."
B "Welcome to my world!  I've been telling you for years to ______, and I can't tell you how many times I've asked the kids to _____.  And remember when ______...."  - get the picture?

Complete role reversal... but why?  Why did we both act so out of character....

"God, help me see where I can be a better wife...."

God had answered my prayer, I was able to see, to experience the frustration and hurt of being vulnerable in stating a need or an issue only to be turned on and fired upon.  I wasn't voicing my feelings to blame and accuse him. I wasn't intending to attack his character. I was voicing a personal need in hopes of being met with a partner willing to hear me out- and that is how B comes to me.  Likewise, how B responded to me is how I've responded to him more often than not (which I hate to admit). 

So maybe I didn't miss the boat after all.... Maybe I'm on the right boat, but a long ways from the destination...

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Oregon Vacation 2013

Oregon Vacation 2013, a set on Flickr.
This year the Caster family trekked thousands of miles (round trip) to the Oregon Coast.

My little family of 4(+1) made the travel time to Oregon like a mini vacation, planning stops at highly recommended places along the way. We made a stop in Hood River, at the base of Mt. Hood, and along the Colombian River Gorge.  Hood River was a really cool little town to visit.  The wind there is unbelievable, making kite surfing and wind surfing a very popular sport.  After lunch in this gem of a town we headed to Moltnomah Falls, for a walk-a-bout.  The scenery here was amazing, and its ease of access makes it quite a busy stop.  I was really surprised that Oregon doesn't begin to look like "OREGON" until you get closer to to coast, in fact it looks pretty much like the barren lands of Western Colorado and Easter Utah.

When we got to the house we rented for the week, we literally parked the car and RAN for the beach.  We spent hours - no joke- searching for the perfect house in the perfect location. We wanted a house on the rocky beach close to tide pools, but will sandy beach access close.  Our house was perfect, I could have sat for all 10 days of vacation at the windows and watched the ocean tide crash upon the rock.

Every morning we got up early and combed the beach for ocean treasures, Maddox was able to find a perfect sand dollar.

We went on many outings while visiting the coast including: Tillamook Cheese Factory, Ocean fishing, Aquariums, the boardwalk at Seaside, and the picturesque Haystack rock at Cannon Beach, riding the rails at the sand dunes, light house touring, and hiking to the highest point on the Oregon Coast at Cape Perpetua. 

We also had our fair share of days enjoying our little town of Yachats, playing on the beach, exploring tide pools, running the coastal trails, and even wine tasting.

I must say that the weather was SO much colder than I had planned for, I really would have been comfortable in my jeans and parka the whole time!  We did have two sunny afternoons where it looked warm enough to trick us into playing in the water, the kids had a blast, but my toes were as far as I could be coaxed to go in.

Our fishing trip resulted in an abundance of fresh cod and black sea bass, which we made two different fresh fish feasts with.

We also had professional family photos take by a friend of Christies while in Cannon Beach and they turned out AMAZING! (I'll see if I can get one or two to share here). 

On the last day we played a lot around Yachats, and made a special trip to see Thor's Well in Cape Perpetua, at high tide.  It truly was stunning to see the massive force of water , and feel the crashing of water against rock as it rumbled deep in your heart.
To wrap up our trip on an exciting note, Dillon proposed to Christie at sunset on the rocky beach just outside of the house!!!  And even better she said YES!!!!!! 

This was one heck of a fun filled family vacation!  I think our next one might be a destination wedding.... maybe somewhere warm....

My favorite trip memory would be the mornings we woke up as a family, our little 4 (+1) and explored the beach together. There was something magical and intimate about those morning hours spent together, waves crashing so loud they drowned out the rest of the world, the fog heavy and thick creating our own little world where only we existed, just us and the sea.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Mt. Sneffels Half Marathon

This race has been on my "to run" list ever since I saw a flyer for it on my 30th birthday trip to Ouray. 

I ran this course several years ago for a training run while we were camping and it quickly became my favorite run. 

My family came to cheer me on, this was the first race they were all present for, and it was great to see them along the course. 

Anne and I ran a great pace as the course is mostly a gradual down hill... Except for the first two miles, and a humongous hill at mile 11. I was pleased with my time of 2:02:11 (according to my Garmin). My goal was to be as close to two hours as possible. 

After the race the family and I enjoyed the town of Ouray - in a rain and thunderstorm. We went on a little hike on our new favorite trail, the baby bathtubs. Though the bathtubs were too full and fast to play in they still were amazingly beautiful. We also got to soak in the hot springs, in the rain. 

I absolutely LOVE Ouray, and the rain makes it all the more cozy!!

It was a beautiful morning to run, and the scenery was that which ranks among the most beautiful places in the world... And there was a nice cold beer at the finish! All in all I'd say it was pretty close to perfect! 

Back to School

This year back to school seemed to creep out of no where. Not only did our district start 2 weeks earlier than usual, but we were go-go-going right up to the last second. 

Our family vacation to Oregon brought us home the week before I officially had to return to work however, I was asked to help lead the middle school math in-service and we had to meet just days after returning home. Needless to say I was not able to get much BTS preparation done . 

I was also at the tail end of training for my half marathon, which meant we were decreasing our miles, but it also meant race day was upon me... This combined with a work week more filled with meetings than actual time to prepare for students sent me into an anxiety attack. I haven't had one this bad in a loooong time. My chest felt like it was squeezing so tight I couldn't breathe, I had a huge knot at my sternum, and my heart was racing. I sent out prayer requests and just kept saying the name of Jesus- it was all I could focus on. Thankfully this was a school inservice day and I wasn't missing out on getting work done. The anxiety alleviated enough for me to function but it lingered through the start of school. 

The Saturday before school started (with kids) we were in Ouray CO for me to run the Mt. Sneffels half marathon. We enjoyed our usual stops; Mouses Chocolate, Ouray Hot Springs, and a hike up Baby Bathtubs. My anxiety over school starting and not being prepared made it logical to head home early Sunday morning, and I was able to get some BTS shopping done. 

The morning of the first day Madison had VB try outs beginning at 6:00 AM. I was thankful that B was able to go into work late and take her, otherwise it would have been a crazy morning for Maddox and I. 

My Freshman:
She reported that the first day was hectic, "there's just so many people!"

My Second Grader:
When asked about his day Maddox replied "It was GREAT!

I wasn't able to catch a first day pic of me- darn it ;). I had no embarrassing spill to share this year, and my classes seem pretty good- which leaves me excited and hopeful. 

First week update: 
Maddox fell on the playground and got a mild concussion on the second day of school, I had to leave work and get him. I'm so thankful for my MGMS family who volunteered to take my classes. He was back to normal in a 3-4 hours and was able to go back to school the rest of the week. He was so upset that he had missed school, and his favorite subject.... Math! That's my boy!

Madison had VB tryouts M-W until 6:30. Tuesday was the PHS back to school dance until 9:00. She had homework every night and was up past 11:00 each night. Madison made the VB team, and had team building at the ropes courseThursday until 7:00. Then Friday was practice followed by a going away party for one of her close friends, Russell.  Welcome to High School Bug! 

The fact that I barely got to see Madison  this week and that this is going to be the normal for the next 4 years was heart breaking. It's hard for me to realize that my girl is on her way out. 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Cabin for the 4th of July: When I chose to see, or stumbled upon Kairos.

It is no surprise that the month of July escorts temperatures that tip the scales above 100. We typically find reprieve from the heat in the mountains just a short drive east of here at our family's cabin on Vega lake. While the temperature at the cabin is usually cooler than in town, it's still quite toasty, making for a pleasant jump in the lake to take a turn being pulled behind the boat on a tube, skis, kneeboard, or - new this year - a wakeboard. 

But God must have known that I needed a cool-down, not just physically, but emotionally, giving us a weekend with clouds, cool breezes, and evening rain showers. 

I've been putting significant effort into reigning in my emotions, not the regular emotions that make life colorful and memorable, but the emotions that make me see red, make me fall apart, or lash out at others. Taking my mornings to enjoy coffee, the sunrise, and seeking God (this is one of my favorite parts of summer). Most recently a friend share an article/blog post where a mother spoke directly to my heart, and offered some wisdom on a specific area of struggle. This idea of multidimensional time, chronos time and kairos time. 

What's this have to do with my weekend away? For the first tow days I was stuck and frustrated with chronos time, the passing of minutes. Stuck and frustrated because time was passing and I wasn't enjoying any of it. My children arguing, being rude, proclaiming boredom, refusing to share- all of this was stealing my joy. 

Halfway into day two I lost it, told my son to pack his bags I was taking him home. Tears, pleas, promises... And a realization that I had set down a punishment a bit too grand for the offense, and one I really couldn't follow through with logistically, I gave him one last chance. 

I also realized that I was allowing myself to get taken up with the frustrations rather than seeking out the moments of joy and beauty - kairos. (Honesty disclaimer: This realization came after a Xanax and a nap- my nap.)

This became my unintended mission (yes, I see the dichotomy of that phrase) for the remainder of our mountain stay- seek the kairos - those moments outside of the chronological passing of minutes- when it seems that the world is put on pause, and you glimpse the extravagant beauty of this precise moment.

The sun setting behind the distant peaks, reflecting off the lake, the soundtrack of nature smoothly transitions to the track titled "Evening".... Kairos....

Freshly washed earth, still and silent morning air, rhythmic thumping of heartbeat, running shoes, and breath greeting the sing song chirps of morning..... Kairos..  

Roar of boat engine, gliding across smooth waters, my children's smiling faces and outstretched arms sailing behind the boat, their confident, brave, and daring spirits shining through.... Kairos....

Exclamations and wonder at critters found, creating habitats with care and attention to detail, enjoying the the uniqueness of  creation, then  releasing them back to the wild.... Kairos...

Sleeping children exhausted from a weekend of fun and adventure, the sticky remnants of ice cream glistening on their lips, and the warm desert air once again pressing on my skin, welcoming me home.... Kairos... 

I'm learning to trust, quite slowly, that my God is mighty, that I can rest in His power; where I lack He is abundant and taking time to seek kairos shifts my attitude to gratitude. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Oh God, Chisel Me!

Maddox and I are so very much alike, in fact I've learned so much about what I need by being his mother. On more than one occasion I have seen him exhibit a behavior or reaction and I'm like "that's exactly how I feel! Now what does he need, food? Rest? Physical activity? " Thus determining my own need based on my mothering instincts for him.

Unfortunately we also share this tendency to come unglued, this overwhelming rush of emotions that inhibit all rational thought, and our brains spin out. I despise this part of me and I am wracked with guilt seeing it surface in my child.

I was given a book, UNGLUED by Lysa Terkeurst, that delves into the very heart of this and through some comedic relief and Gods word guides towards "making wise choices in the midst of raw emotions". To be completely honest this book was difficult and overwhelming- and oh so good- on one hand I wanted to devour the words from cover to cover, on the other I wanted to meditate, chew on, and practice. I ended up setting it aside for a few months, unfinished. Just this week it made its way to the surface of my reading pile, just when I was ready and in need of it again.

After skimming the first 40 pages and my personal reflections scrawled across the margins, I began to meditate on the section "Unfinished Sculptures"and how what she shares here speaks to my heart, and would also speak to Maddox's. The teacher in me began to find a way to share this with my son in a way that would engage him.

Thank God for Google! I had images of the statue of David, blocks of marble, and the Unfinished sculptures that are at the heart of this lesson. (Ideally I would have a block of foam for him to create a sculpture with at the end...)

We started with The David, discussing this masterpiece, said to be sculpture perfection, we talked about how long it took Michelangelo, and that for the duration he never left the sculptures side.

Then I showed him the blocks of marble similar to the piece that The David had emerged from. We discussed how and what tools Michelangelo would have used.

 Then, the key point: it is said that when asked how he created this perfection, Michelangelo replied that he just chiseled away the parts that didn't look like David.

This is what God is doing with us, chiseling away the pieces that don't look like us. I asked Maddox if we were the finished perfection like The David, and he said "No, Gods still chiseling." (Love this boy) then I showed him the Unfinished Sculptures, this is where we are, still being molded and chiseled into what and who God wants us to be. When we come into difficult or trying situations, God is using them to chisel away the parts of stone that don't look like us. When we feel ourselves becoming UNGLUED, God is showing us an area that needs chiseled.

Then I asked how long he thought it would take for us to become sculpture perfection like The David, two years of constant attention? Less? More? He pondered for a moment and when he spoke, his response showed great wisdom, "I don't think we will ever be perfect, mom. I think that there will probably always be something that needs to be chiseled." WOW!!! I am still, even after writing this, in awe and wonder at the perspective of his words.

He didn't stop there, he went on to tell me how this reminded him of what his grandma told him, that he is God designed, purpose intended, significant, lavishly loved, prince, son of the King of the universe.

He had lots of questions, I suppose they are the same questions we all have: What is he designing me to do? What purpose has he intended for me? How will I know?

In the end we agreed that we would trust what God says about us, choose to walk in love, and continue to pray "Oh God, chisel me!"

Saturday, June 8, 2013

A Box of Darkness

I'm left with this one thought: How well do we truly know anyone, how deeply and honestly do we allow others to know us?

On the surface this memoir is a story of one marriage, one husband, one wife, one secret. What lingers in me at its conclusion... this is the story of many relationships, and the multitude of secrets we all keep in an effort to conform, to portray the ideal, to keep hidden our perceived flaws.

Engaging piece of nonfiction that read effortlessly through difficult and heartbreaking revelations.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

"Come As You Are Party"

Madison organized an end of middle school celebration for her friends. We woke up at 4:20 in the morning and drove all over Palisade and Clifton dragging her friends out of bed and taking them to breakfast and then school- exactly as they were... No brushes, no make up, no clothes changes... unless their sleeping clothes were not school appropriate.

They all had a blast and didn't complain at all about being drug out of bed and forced into public. They are a great group of girls and I am excited to see them go off to high school!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

My New Nieces

The month of March welcomed two new beautiful lives: Hailey Lynn and Azayla Leeanne. My two youngest brothers and their wives had girls within a week of each other, even born in the same hospital room.

Hailey was born to Nik and Megan on March 19, 2013.

Alix and Amanda welcomed Azayla on March 25, 2013

They are both just so beautiful and yummy, their Auntie can't get enough!!!