Wednesday, October 4, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking"

10/3/17--"Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking" by Susan Cain

If you are an introvert, love an introvert, or work with an introvert, then this book should be required reading for you.    We live in a society that values the extrovert ideal and often introverts get the short-end of the stick when it comes to being allowed to be themselves.     I especially enjoyed the explanation of temperament vs. personality and the intricate play of biology, experiences, and environment that come together to shape each of our individual personalities.  It makes sense that people are complicated and I appreciated the fact that she didn't try to swoop all introverts into one easy box. I was also fascinated by the cultural differences of introversion and extraversion.  Americans and Europeans seem to have grasped onto the idea that extraversion > introversion, while the Asian view is opposite.   More than anything, I enjoyed the insights on how to let an introvert shine in their own way.  From the way we set up workplaces and classrooms, we can be aware that there are 1/3-1/2 of the people who will benefit from having their own space to work and think creatively. If I had to sum up  the main point of the book, I would say that just because someone is quiet, doesn't necessarily mean that they don't have anything to say.   Look out for the introverts, respect the space they need, help them to stretch when they need to stretch, and, together, we can change the world!

Want a good summary without reading it?  Watch this video of the author doing a TED talk on the subject!




Friday, September 22, 2017

Randomness from August

The problem with not blogging as regularly as I used to, is I get gummed up with lots of things I still want to blog about, but don't want to devote an entire post to.   I wonder if there will come a day when I give it up completely (or that I'll blog more regularly again), but for now, I see what a treasure this blog has been to my family and I am still drawn to keep it up at least on a minimal basis.   

So, I'm making this a random post with a little glimpse of August in the Goold house!  

Cami's mission started using Facebook to share the gospel and it's been fun to see her smiling face occasionally beaming out to us among the drivel that fills my normal Facebook feed!

My cute Ellie liked this sign at the grocery store! 

My dad had a stroke right after his birthday.  

The stroke was on the minor end of things as far as strokes go,  but he had to spend a few weeks in the hospital and rehab before he was allowed to come home, so it's been a tough time for him and my mom.   He's doing better than the doctors expected, but we were sad that it caused them to have to cancel their trip out to visit us in September.  I decided that was my cue to buy a ticket and go out to see them in a couple of weeks.   We are also heading there for Thanksgiving. 

When Emma packs food for a trip, she goes all out.  These are homemade Larabars she made.

We stopped by Busch Gardens on the way home from seeing the solar eclipse.  

We hadn't been in a couple of years and it was fun to have one last hurrah before school started again!

Me and my cute hunny! 

One day I noticed a little trail of blood all over the kitchen.  I totally got mad at the kids and demanded that they take care of whatever injury was leaving such a mess.   They all denied having any injuries, then randomly pointed out that my toe looked to be bleeding.  Oops!  I didn't feel a thing, but I had quite a little chunk of skin off the top of my baby toe and bled through several bandages (and made a much bigger mess before I finally got it under control)! 


A white dove hung out around our house for an entire day.  I had never seen one in the wild before and haven't seen one since, but I took it to be a good omen and a sign that we need to powerwash  our gutters. 

I found this cartoon when studying for my psychology class (that I'm teaching this year) and it totally struck my funny bone.  My dreams usually involve being unprepared for something and babies that I forget about.   

A random butterfly that we came across one day. 

And with that bit of randomness, I will declare myself officially caught up on blogging through August.   Now onto September! 

Book Review "Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less"

8/30/17--"Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less" by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang
The title makes it sound pretty intriguing, right?   Well, you're right.  It is intriguing.  Basically the premise of the book is that American culture has made work and rest completely separate entities and that rest is only something to be done when the work is done (if it ever is).  The author asserts that this idea is a recent one in history and especially rampant here in America where overwork is praised and rest is devalued and labeled as laziness.  He argues that when we make our rest more deliberate and build it into our days, that we actually increase creativity and productivity, as well as help us to more mentally healthy.   It was a revolutionary and new way of thinking for me and I've been trying to build some of his ideas into our homeschooling days.   It made me feel for Glen, though, because he has a horrible work-life balance right now and seems to struggle to break out of the expectations he feels are being placed on him by the corporate world, none of which involve rest of any sort.  In order to please his higher ups that he feels that it is expected to work crazy-long hours.  What I'd really like is for the whole world to read this book and embrace its tenets.    I think we'd all be happier and healthier if we did!

Here's us adding some deliberate rest to our day.  

Hikes and walks are considered restful, because they're good for our bodies and allow our minds to have a break from our work. 
I've been trying to work a good walk into our schedule every day.  


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Solar Eclipse!

  For the most part, I'm pretty sedate and like to keep life pretty routine. However, I guess you could  also say that I have a bit of an adventurous streak as well.  So when I heard about the total solar eclipse that was coming up, I decided that we needed to be there to see it in person.    Never mind that the path of totality was 9-hours from home.   It was excited enough about it that  I was willing to do it by myself even if Glen couldn't take the time off of work.   

So I did the research, picked a cute little town in the path of totality, ordered our glasses, and reserved a hotel.   In the end, Glen bent over backwards to take the day off and on Sunday, August 20th, we embarked on our ecliptic journey to Greenville, South Carolina!  


The kids had never been to South Carolina, so we had to stop at the sign and document the occasion.  It was Emma's 49th, and Adam's and Ellie's 47th state! 
 

Though we'd planned our trip without talking to anyone, at the last minute we found that two members of our ward (James and Reinbold families) were coming to the same small town we'd picked.   So we met up with them, picked a local park away from the crowds in Greenville, and made it into an eclipse viewing party in Liberty, SC! 
  

We put on our eclipse glasses (which I'd thankfully ordered more than a month in advance) and watched  with awe for the hour or so leading up to totality...





Some people we met shared their eclipse snacks with us.  :) 

It was such a cool experience to see the sun being covered (we put our eclipse glasses over the camera lens to take this picture)...

and watch as even the shadows became crescent shaped...


We got a little nervous with some minor clouds that came and went....

But the sky was clear as can be when the moment of totality came.

My words won't really be able to describe what it was like in those last few minutes leading up to totality and the 2-1/2 minute while the sky was dark, but suffice it to say, it was an amazing experience that we will never forget.   The sunset glow of the sky in the middle of the afternoon, the crickets chirping, the hawk that sailed over our heads, and that absolutely indescribable beauty of seeing the sun's corona around the shadow of the moon.   Wow, wow, wow.  God is real.  There is no other explanation for that kind of perfection.   I literally had goosebumps thinking of how for a brief couple of minutes, how the world had laid aside their differences to embrace the beauty of  heaven. 

It was amazing how quickly the sky lit back up the second totality was over.  Even a sliver of the sun is enough to light the sky...a powerful analogy for the power of doing good in an ever increasingly dark world.    

Afterward, we went into the town of Greenville and explored that charming little southern town!  

It's a cute place with a lot of personality.

We loved the city park...

which was like a little piece of the country right in the middle of the town. 
It was well-worth the long drive to be a part of and I have to admit that I'm already excited for the next American eclipse in 2024.  

Ohio...here we come! 

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Sunday, September 17, 2017

Family Theatre Experience

I am the least dramatic person you'll ever meet.  
I don't sing, I don't dance, I don't play any instruments, I don't act, and I can't put two coherent sentences together when put on the spot.   The only semi-dramatic thing I sometimes do is a late-night dancing singalong when when my favorite Rachel Platten song comes on. But believe me when I say that the chances of you ever witnessing a pajama clad Lara performing her ear-splitting 
"Fight Song" performance are about zero, unless you've planted a hidden camera or we've adopted you into the family. 

So the fact that THREE of my kids were excited to be a part of a community theater this summer  was pretty much mind-blowing to me.   They were performing "Annie, Jr.," and were all so excited to be a part of it that we altered our summer schedule to make sure it could happen (i.e. went to Alaska in June, instead of August)!   

Emma would have loved to have performed, but since all of her friends were helping with stage crew, she opted to join them instead of auditioning for a part.   Ellie and Adam, though, put aside their nervousness and went for it!    Ellie got the part of one of Daddy Warbucks' servants, Annette.   And Adam was Daddy Warbucks' butler, Drake.   


They all worked hard and put on a fabulous show!   I loved the Annie music wafting through our house and found it delightful hearing my kids practicing their lines together. 

Here are some pictures from their performance:   

The orphan scene (none of my kids are in this scene)

New York, New York!

We think you're going to like it here...

Adam had a ton of friends his age in the play, so we gathered them all for a picture of all the upcoming freshman who performed!

Here is Ellie with one of her servant friends, Maddie.   

Sadly, I never got a picture of Emma with her stage crew! 

It was a fun thing to be part of and I am grateful for opportunities like this that my kids have to develop their talents!  I'm proud of them for stretching themselves outside their comfort zones to do it!    Way to go kids!    Now excuse me while I go break out my Rachel Platten CD....


Friday, September 1, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of Elements

8/22/2017--"The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements" by Sam Kean

Haha!  Can you tell I'm a homeschooling mom?   This book was required summer reading for their chemistry class this upcoming year, so we just decided to read it together as a family!   We checked it out of the library on audiobook and listened to it on our drive to and from seeing the solar eclipse.   Fine literature it is not, but it was far more interesting than you might imagine and we all gained a new level of respect for the periodic table of elements.  Even having taken an honors' chemistry class in high school, I don't think I ever gained a true appreciation for the simple beauty in the way the periodic table is organized and what a breakthrough it was for Mendeleev to see the patterns and holes in it.   The author's humor and engaging style make this much more than a dry textbook describing the elements.   These real-life tales of the elements and the scientists that discovered and used them have made chemistry seem relevant and interesting.  I think it was the perfect book to read before embarking in their chemistry course and will add a depth and  meaning that I fear may have escaped them otherwise.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

"Far From the Madding Crowd" Book Review

I'm a little behind in posting this, but here's the book I read on airplane rides to and from Alaska!   And if you're interested to see the rest of the books I've read in 2017, click here!

6/20/17-
"Far from the Madding Crowd" by Thomas Hardy


Main characters
:  Gabriel Oaks, Bathsheba Everdene, William Boldwood, Fanny Robin, Sergeant Francis Troy

I had the funny experience of starting to read this classic book and THEN realizing a couple of chapters in that I'd already seen the movie!  So the main character of the book, Bathsheba Everdene, is lovable, but frustrating as a character.   She's beautiful, capable, and intelligent, but constantly doing impetuous things that hurt herself and those around her.  She's completely blind to the steady and faithful Gabriel Oaks, while she pines after the philandering Francis Troy and the wealthy, but stuffy William Boldwood.   There were several times I wanted to give her a good slap and tell her to wake up, but don't we all know people in real life that are determined to take their own winding path, despite it being obvious to everyone else that it may not be the best one for them?    Over all the story is well-written and I can see why it's a classic.    And I hope I'm not giving anything away here, but in my romanticized mind....all's well that ends well!

Definitely worth a read!  4 stars.





Saturday, August 26, 2017

Alaska: Part 2 (Day Cruise to Kenai Fjords National Park )

June 15, 2017

One of the favorite things we did while we were in Alaska, was to take a 9-hour cruise with Kenai Fjord Day Cruise Tours.   

It was freezing cold on the boat, but worth every bit of discomfort to have had the opportunity to see the raw beauty of Alaska from the perspective of the water!  
 

Through the course of the day we meandered through Kenai Fjords National Park for over 150 miles.   The turnaround point of the cruise is this gorgeous bluish glacier that's part of the Harding Ice Field, Northwestern Glacier (named after Northwestern University).  

We stayed there for over 30 minutes just to watch the glacier.   That might sound a little boring, but it was actually quite interesting to watch the glacier calf (that's what they call it when pieces of ice fall off the glacier into the water).  It happens pretty frequently and it was a cool way to see how light waves travel faster than sound waves.   We could see a piece falling, then a few seconds later hear the roar of it.  

The beauty we encountered through the day was absolutely stunning! 
 







Additionally, we saw abundant wildlife, a fact which absolutely delighted everyone in our family!  

The mammals we saw were sea otters (shown in picture above), harbor seals (shown in picture below), orcas (part of the AD8 pod), humpback whales, Dall's porpoises, coastal mountain goat, and Steller sea lions (shown sitting on the rock on a picture below). 



We also saw some awesome birds, including puffins, bald eagles, gulls,  and a variety of species,  that attracted some serious birders onto the cruise who'd come just to see these specific types of bird which live in these isolated waters away from land (the ancient murrelet, rhinoceros auklet, common murre, white winged scoter, red faced cormorant, marbled murrelet, parakeet auklet, northwestern crow, black legged kittiwake, double breasted cormorant, pelagic cormorant, black oystercatcher, pigeon guillemot, Kittlitz's murrelet)! 

The cruise was one of the highlights of our trip  and I highly recommend it to anyone planning a trip to Alaska anytime soon!   

And this concludes the record of our family trip to Alaska!  

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