Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Where Our Brains Are...

I have more on my brain than usual lately and I've been feeling a little stretched.  And tired. And pulled in a 1000 different directions. 

What's on our brains, you ask?   

Well, here's a glimpse....

Glen's job (still in Philadelphia) has just gotten a bit more stressful.  It's still not a permanent job, but he does have new responsibilities that have allowed him the opportunity to make a bigger difference there, but it also means that he has more on his shoulders.  WE are exceedingly grateful for his job, but it really is stressful to have him so far away.   This is a picture of his office in PA, including the new calendar that Ellie got him for Christmas.  :) 

Spence is doing real life stuff....like oil changes, balancing a budget, and figuring out what girls to ask out!    It's still weird to have him so far away, but we are proud of him and all that he is doing to take care of the "big boy" stuff on his own! 


Cami just started a new semester, just applied to attend the University of Texas next year, started a new job at the community college she attends, and is training for her first marathon next month.  On Valentine's Day her and Garrett got to see "Anastasia" there in Austin.  We gave them the tickets for Christmas. :) 

Emma just started a nannying job, so she's staying very busy taking care of two cute kiddos.   Mostly though she is very happy now that she's heard back from BYU.  

Adam stays busy with his school stuff, planning dates now that he is 16, and trying to determine philosophically what is a sandwich, and what is not.  


For instance, a quesadilla has two breadlike objects with cheese in the middle....does that make it a sandwich?    What about a taco?   Or two waffles with greek yogurt and berries between them?  

If you know the answers to these questions, please call me quick, because there are ongoing debates about this at our house! 


If you can't find Ellie writing a book online with her friends, then she's probably dancing, reading a book, drawing pictures of characters for her book, or playing with Rocky...in other words...she's in motion!   


And me?   What's on my brain? 
Well, thanks for asking...here you go!  

In addition to all the every day stuff....like taking care of my family (spread out in four different states), taking care of myself (I need to do a post on this soon), and teaching my cute middle school earth science class...

My brain is really being overtaken by this kind of stuff...
 backsplash measurements 

 hearth measurements...

 entry way measurements...

and trying to pick out light fixtures, a range hood, bathroom vanities, railings, etc.  Pretty much we are just doing all the things we ever wanted to do to our house and were too lazy to do before....just in case we need to sell it this spring. 

Oh yeah, and there's this...

 Mice!!!!

We've lived in our house 18 years and have never had them like this before (I think a certain teenage driver crashing into the garage door {though it was actually a pretty small crash} may have allowed an easy entry point for them to come into our garage).  We have 20+ traps set up around the house and they're still around.  Last week, after seeing live mice scampering boldly around our house for the third day in a row, I officially decided I was in over my head (especially with Glen not here) and we are calling out the big guns.   What are the big guns?   Steel wool, caulking, some yard work, and a new bucket mousetrap that's supposed to be amazingly effective.  Here's hoping the "Death to All Mice!" rallying cry coming from our house will be heard soon and I will get back a big portion of my brain again! 

 In the meantime, please send any pied pipers you know my way...

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Saturday, February 16, 2019

Happy Day!!!

Happy Day!!!! 

We thought the decision day was going to be this coming Monday, but late last night Emma unexpectedly found out that she was accepted to BYU for this fall!  We decided a celebration was in order, so we did what any true blue BYU family would do....we all got into our BYU pajamas and stayed up until she got home so we could celebrate with her!    Unfortunately, I don't think Rocky is quite as excited as the rest of us. 

Way to go, Emma!  

Friday, February 15, 2019

Picking Up Where She Left Off...

Once upon a time, there was a cute little ballerina who loved to dance...
but, alas, her need for sleep (and a little sneezing fit one day that got her kicked out of her dance class) meant that her preschool dancing career was quite short.   

True story.

Shortly after that experience came the "CRAZY years" for our family and we Goolds don't do crazy lightly.   First it was Ellie starting to have seizures, and with that all the crappy side effects of the anti-seizure medications that sucked the life out of her.  Then it was Spence's cancer diagnosis, and then some more related craziness that sucked the life out of us.  Then came some PTSD/mild depression for me, and with that an unhealthy lifestyle that resulted in gaining lots of weight really quickly.    Throw in a  time-consuming calling that kept me busy as can be, but also gave me purpose and  just barely on the right side of sanity, and then the inspiration to start homeschooling the kids...and maybe you can start to sense that keeping the kids involved in lots of activities took a back seat for a few years.     

   Ellie did try some new activities here and there (like soccer, voice lessons, art classes, running, etc), but she never really loved any of them and we were stretched too thin to really encourage her to stick with any of them.  In fact, we were frankly relieved when the kids forgot to ask us to sign them up for something, because it meant that we had one fewer thing on our schedule.   

Fast forward a couple of years and we started to emerge from the fog.   I got healthy again...physically and mentally.  Spence moved out.  I got released from my busy calling.  Cami went on a mission.  We developed new healthy habits as a family.
(not necessarily in that order)

Somewhere in there Ellie decided she really wanted to try dance classes again.  

  A couple of years ago, my foggy PTSD enshrouded brain wouldn't have even considered it at all.   I worried that she was too old to start and the 1/2 hour drive each direction wouldn't really be doable with all the other things we had going on.   But with my life in a better place, I decided to let her try it for a year and see how she liked it.  

How did a 12-year-old preschool dance class dropout enjoy being in a class of 8-year-olds?   


She absolutely loved it!  


She was the "big sister' of the class and they all adored her, and I think she rather enjoyed that role too!  


And what do you know?   She really, really liked dancing too.   
And she's good at it.  

Now sights like these aren't uncommon at our house....
You know, just tying her shoes while doing the splits.  

Or practicing them against a wall....


Or trying out different contortions on the living room rug...

Or choreographing her own dances... 

And these kind of poses aren't just for home.  They're now her favorite new way to pose on vacation too!   

A backbend at the ocean's edge.


Splits at the ocean's edge...

Splits at a beautiful overlook along the Pacific Coast Highway...


Splits in a tree...

Leg extensions at the Golden Gate Bridge...

Leg extensions at the park in California and a sea lion pose with the sea lions...


And a backbend at Joshua Tree National Park 

Dancing is now a part of her life...and I'm pretty sure it would take way more than a sneezing fit to keep her away now!  

 (these pictures were from our 2017 Christmas card)😂








Sunday, February 10, 2019

A Pretty Unpleasant Commute

Glen got a new job this past year and now has a 145-mile commute to work. 

No, I'm not missing any decimal points there and, yeah, that's about as pleasant as it sounds. 

He spends all week in a Residence Inn and comes home for the weekends.   In other words, our weeks seem long and lonely and our weekends far too short.   But it's a good job that's giving him good professional experience, decent insurance for our family, and a paycheck...all things we were mostly missing in 2018....so we are grateful!  

Right now he's in an interim position, so it makes no sense to uproot the family to join him yet, but after living 5/7 of the last three months in separate states, moving is definitely on the radar screen if his position becomes permanent.   We've lived here in the DC area for about 20 years, so moving  really is a HUGE deal that makes all of us pretty nervous.   My kids at home have never even lived in another house, yet alone another city or state.  

So this last weekend we decided to switch up the commute and instead of him coming home as he usually does,  he stayed there and the rest of us drove to join him!     What better way to get a feel for an area, than to be there and experience it for ourselves?   

I weirdly took very few pictures while we were there, but this is what the day looked like when we left... 
It was a very small snowstorm in the scheme of things, but it did make for more stressful driving.   And temperatures were pretty frigid, so nothing was melting fast and we had to bring lots of warm clothes!  


Our three main goals of being there {besides saving Glen 300 miles of driving} were to 

1. Drive through some neighborhoods....
{It's a cheaper cost of living in the Philadelphia area!}


2. Go to the temple together.... 

One of the best perks about working near Philadelphia is that Glen has been able to go to the temple almost every week.   This is especially nice because the DC temple is currently closed and will be for at least another year.  Me getting to Philadelphia has proved a little more challenging, so this was definitely one of the motivating factors to switch things up last weekend. 

And it was lovely to be there and have a little date in the city with my hunny.


3. Visit a couple of wards (church congregations)

{I didn't take any pictures of us at church, so this picture of me after church  will have to do here}
Let's just say that church-wise, it will be a pretty significant adjustment if we end up moving there.  We've been spoiled.   


All in all, it was a productive weekend.   And next time, I'll take more pictures!  









Thursday, February 7, 2019

A Fox and a Dog

We live squarely in the suburbs of Washington DC, near the freeway, near the Metro, and in a county with over a million people.   

And yet we regularly have wildlife wandering through our yard.  
It doesn't happen super often, but it is regular enough that it doesn't surprise us too much (even though our backyard is completely fenced-in).  Usually it's a beautiful bird and that isn't as surprising.   But sometimes it's a deer.  Sometimes it's a raccoon.  And sometimes it's a beautiful fox like this one.  

All I can say, is that it's a good thing that this lazy and not-so-wild animal didn't see that fox...

because he's getting a little old for conniption fits! 




Tuesday, February 5, 2019

One Winter Day

It was a gray and dreary day...

and I chose to wear one of my warmest, coziest outfits, which happen to be gray too...

so I figured a little POP of COLOR would make me smile all day! 

And it did.   



What else did we do that day?  

We read the longest chapter in the Book of Mormon and put our marking pencils to good use marking references to the Savior...


Then Adam and I gave blood again.
  
I try to give at least every January in honor of Spence (and the gazillions of blood donations he received during his treatment for AML).   It was Adam's second time giving and he did better this time than his first.   I'm glad to have a blood donating partner now.  Glen lived in the UK for too long and is barred for life from giving blood, and Emma's iron tends to be too low.   Now that Adam is 16 (and I take daily iron pills now), I expect to do this more regularly again! 

Then we came home to an afternoon of cancelled activities and a beautiful snowstorm! 
I love Virginia snow days.   It's nice to have a break from the routine in these dog-days of winter! 

So, what did your winter day look like?  





Friday, February 1, 2019

Food, Glorious {Keto} Food

I've read about low carb/high fat diets (keto) as a treatment for children with seizures for many years, but frankly never considered it an option for Ellie.   It seemed way too hard to do and I worried that it wasn't all that healthy either.

Then our friends, the Spigarellis, started doing it to help with blood sugar control for their daughter's Type 1 diabetes.   I watched them closely and asked Rachel a gazillion questions as they figured out what worked for them, and then  eventually as they  ended up shifting their whole family to that way of eating.   Suddenly it seemed like something we could try...someday.

Then we had a weird glitch with Glen's COBRA insurance and ended up completely uninsured for several months.  We ended up joining a Christian Healthshare so we didn't have to pay a penalty, but basically it was just major medical and didn't cover anything.  We learned firsthand very quickly how expensive Ellie's medication is without insurance ($300+ per month) and we did not like paying that outrageous amount.  So we decided it was time to try low carb/high fat for ourselves!

That was August.

We muddled our way through a lot of mediocre food and some crazy cravings at first, but we ended up totally changing our tune before long.  The food is very satisfying and combined with lots and lots of veggies, is actually very healthy.  Glen's lost a bunch of weight, Ellie and I have maintained ours, and our cholesterol (and other blood numbers) have never looked better.

And it's helped Ellie's seizures so much that we've been able to do reduce her medication to less than half of what she had been taking!

  So after six months of eating this way, I am calling it a success and the plan is to keep going with it until Ellie's seizures go away completely, or it completely stops being effective for them.   And even then I will probably always eat a lower carb diet, because I frankly feel much better eating this way.

So what do we eat on this diet?

Here's a glimpse:  

This was a our lemon-herbed chicken served over cauliflower rice for dinner and over a salad for lunch the next day.    It encapsulates everything that eating Keto is for us....healthy, full of veggies, delicious, and pretty quick and easy to make.  

Friday has always been pizza night at our house and we weren't about to let a low-carb diet get in the way of that!   This "fat-head" pizza crust is easy to make (NO cauliflower at all), and is good enough to serve to friends who never even notice a difference! 


My creamy Mexican chowder (without the beans and corn), along with sautéed cabbage, and a keto roll.  

Spaghetti with zucchini noodles and low carb marinara sauce (from Trader Joes), along with some keto bread with melted cheese. 

Sweet and sour chicken, sautéed cabbage, with roasted broccoli. 

Grilled salmon with salsa, roasted brussels sprouts, and seasoned avocado

Pesto chicken over zucchini noodles with stuffed peppers.

Jalapeno Popper Casserole with mashed cauliflower and roasted broccoli and butternut squash.  (Butternut squash is a little higher in carb than we normally do, but it's so healthy we have it occasionally)


Sheet pan fajitas (one of our very favorites) on zucchini tortillas with homemade guacamole

Chicken cordon bleu casserole with cauliflower rice and roasted broccoli


Keto Lasagna (this is another one to serve to other people...it's so good you can't tell the difference). We went through two whole pans of this in three days!  

Faux Baked "Potato" Soup with Keto Breadsticks (made with this dough)


And what do we eat for breakfast?   

Well, most people on keto eat a lot of eggs for breakfast.  We do go through a lot of eggs now, but I really really love breakfast, so we have a rotation of some fun breakfasts that we have every week.   It's literally one of my favorite parts about eating keto.   Before eating this way, I'd always be hungry by 11am or so.  Now I'm filled until 1:00pm most days.   

This is probably my favorite....hemp seed porridge.  It's like a keto version of oatmeal and we top it with stevia sweetened whipping cream, unsweetened coconut, raspberries, and unsweetened cacao nibs.  It feels incredibly indulgent and fills me up for hours!  

It took trying a lot of keto pancake/waffle recipes before we finally found one we like (we don't add the butter to this recipe).   We serve it with unsweetened greek yogurt (5% Fage is the brand with the lowest carbs), homemade stevia/erythritol syrup, and some fresh raspberries.  Again, it's delicious and filling!   

Stay tuned and I'll share a list of my favorite Keto resources soon!   In the meantime, feel free to shoot me a question if you're interested in learning more about this way of eating.

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