Monday, April 30, 2012

Snakes and Calendars

I was awakened this morning by a hellish nightmare in which a large snake was draped across the top of my pillow.  Ugh!  Mondays are rough enough without a start like that.

I was trying to think what subconscious thing could have caused that hideous dream, and I recalled a newly installed plaque I had seen yesterday at the campground. The DCNR placed this new sign right outside the bath house so you would be sure to see it on your way in:


I hate snakes.  I really hate snakes.  Apparently, last camping season there were several rattlesnakes that made their way a little too far into the campground, so now the DCNR is "educating the public on safe ways to enjoy nature."  Have I mentioned I HATE SNAKES?

So anyway.  It is the last day of April, which got me thinking to get ready to change to the next page in each of my calendars.  

Our 3 main calendars (there are others too)

In the upper left is our FAMILY CALENDAR, which I love.  It was a Christmas gift from one of our daughters, Rachel, on which each page features recent photos of various family members.  I don't even write on it.

The calendar in the upper right sits on the desk in our kitchen, and it is the one on which I write anything my husband/lover/best friend must remember.  I do not clog it up with other stuff because sometimes men are simple people and just need to know the basics.  Car repairs, haircuts, and his doctor visits go on this one.

Then on the bottom you see THE MASTER CALENDAR.  If our house is burning down this is the one thing I will grab to take with me.  Well, maybe my camera too.  Any my laptop.  That's all I need....my calendar, my camera, and my laptop.  (Side note:  Have you seen the old Steve Martin movie "The Jerk?")  That's all I need....Yup.  On this calendar is EVERYTHING, including things like when was my last colonoscopy and when is my next lunch with a friend.  (Maybe those 2 things should not inhabit the same sentence.)

The ceremonial monthly Changing Of The Pages has now occurred.  (Note to happy self:  I can now see the much anticipated words "Leave for Jamaica!")

In addition, there is one more monthly calendar that I use which I wanted to show you.  It is my April fitness calendar.  For those of you that don't know me well yet, I am somewhat into fitness.  Over a long amount of time I have achieved a great weight loss (132 pounds), by exercising and trying to eat healthier.  Recent major surgery has set me back, though, and I have gained a pile back during the months when I was unable to work out to the level I was used to.  

Typically I work out usually 5-6 days a week at either of 2 gyms.  I go to the Evangelical Hospital's Fitness Center in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and some Saturdays.)  On Tuesdays and Thursdays I travel to Williamsport to train at the Golden Dragon Family Training Center.
So, being a ridiculously organized person, I figured if I wrote stuff down, I would slowly, methodically get back in shape.  Some sort of accountability system for myself I guess.  Here you see my APRIL CALENDAR OF FITNESS and I will explain my codes after it:

A - I was away.  (Depending on the situation of being away, I don't always exercise. )

BC - Body Combat (A martial arts-inspired high intensity aerobic workout.)

Z - Zumba dance

CP - Couch Potato (means I slacked.  Usually every Sunday I take off, so on a 6 day calendar like this one an extra CP is not good.)

D - HiLo Dance class

K/J/J - One hour of kickboxing followed by 2 1/2 hours of Judo and Jujitsu

FOF - "Fit Over Fifty" (A combination of aerobics and weight lifting for "mature" women, code = class for geezers.)

B - Exercise Bike ride

W - Weight lifting machines

So there you have it.  My feeble attempts at fitness.  The May fitness calendar is waiting to be filled in, just as my too fat because I ate too much crap body is waiting to become slim, svelte and fit. 

Be safe, be fit, and enjoy the rest of your Monday.  Like I said before, sometimes Mondays are rough. 

P.S.  I am not even showing you my "Bills To Pay" calendar.  That would be too much for a nice Monday.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Weirdness in the Woods

This is real camping, folks, right here:

We just returned from a weekend at Raymond B. Winters State Park in the wilds of central Pennsylvania, and our camping weekend was, at best, quiet, relaxing, and private.  

Our very private and scenic campsite

The husband/lover/best friend and I enjoyed good food and hours of quiet conversation and companionship.  At worst, it was windy and cold, penning us inside the camper much of the time, and we had numerous mini-moments of WEIRDNESS.

See if you think any of these things are just a bit, well, "off:"

Bob telling the incoming neighbors to "Get the **** out!   leave.
(He likes a private campsite.) 

Is that a fence jutting out of the log?  Where did that come from?

Ridiculous but excellent snack

A weird fungus in the driveway?  No, just a pony-tail holder.

Bob has his own weird fashion sense

WEIRDLY enough, I cannot wait for the next trip.  A bon voyage it was.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Men, Vera Bradley, and LASIK

Later today my husband/lover/best friend and I will be headin' up into the woods for hopefully a lovely weekend of camping, our first outing of the season.  But before I go, I wanted to update all of you kind people who have been asking about my son Caleb's LASIK surgery yesterday.

We travelled to Harrisburg together to ARMESTO EYE ASSOCIATES where the highly recommended Dr. David M. Armesto, M.D., F.A.C.S. did LASIK surgery on both of Caleb's eyes.  (Any person who has that many letters before and after his name must know how to do something well, I was hoping and praying.)  Here is Caleb entering the hospital before the procedure:

Notice he is carrying my Vera Bradley bag for me

The surgery went smoothly, although Caleb said he wasn't prepared for the uncomfortableness discomfort  during the procedures.  He said it felt like the doctor was standing on his eyeballs.  Afterwards also, he didn't expect the 2-3 hours of feeling like hot pepper sauce had been poured into his eyes.  It was a miserable ride home in the car for him, with shields over his eyes, sunglasses over the shields, and a towel over his whole head.

He spent the rest of the day mostly laying down with his eyes covered, with the taped-on plastic eye shields and sunglasses.  His eyes are very sensitive to the light right now.

At about 3-4 hours post-surgery, the pain vanished, and he took a few looks around and started to become amazed that he could see things, and see them fairly well, with NO GLASSES and NO CONTACT LENSES!  Although his vision will still have some clearing up to do over the next week, he was actually seeing well enough to drive himself back to Harrisburg this morning for a follow-up appointment.  So all is well, so far, and he has crossed LASIK off of his List Of Things To Do To Get Ready To Fly Apache Helicopters In The Military.

For the next 3 to 4 weeks he will use plenty of various eye drops till both eyes are completely healed.

We made a chart to keep it all straight

Now.  Back to the top picture above, and I'm gonna go on a tangent here.  Does it not take A Real Man to carry a Vera Bradley bag?  I want to state here for the record that two of my sons-in-law have regularly been seen carrying my daughters' bags for them.

Todd (Lindsay's husband) - A Real Man

Lance (Sarah's husband) - Another Real Man

What's missing?  The husband/lover/best friend is still in training, and so is the other son-in-law Eric.  Still hopin' for the best with that.

So Bon Voyage!  Now I'm off onto my weekend adventures.  I'll post again Sunday.

May you all have the vision and wisdom to carry your appropriate loads.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Don't Mess With S'mores!

I am so excited!  This weekend Bob, my husband/lover/best friend, and I are going out on our SEASON OPENING CAMPING ADVENTURE.  We tow a Sunline Solaris T-2763 travel trailer which suits our get-away needs very comfortably, and we have reserved a spot at the Raymond B. Winters State Park near Mifflinburg, Pennsylvania, hoping for some beautiful scenery, maybe some early hummingbirds at our feeder, and plenty of relaxing and good camping food.

If you are a True Camper, you know that camping and good food go together.  There are certain things a True Camper should eat when in the woods:

bacon and eggs
hot dogs and baked beans
mountain pies
foil packs
adult beverages

So I was making my camping menu for the weekend, when, unbelievably, I came across some appalling aberrations of the traditional s'mores recipe.  Now s'mores have been in existence at least since 100 B.C., I'm sure, and you just DO NOT MESS WITH the 3 true ingredients:

True ingredients

Let us be clear on these:

1.  Graham crackers - do not even think of amending by using cinnamon graham crackers.

2.  Chocolate - just several squares, usually 2, of good old Hershey's milk chocolate bars.

3.  Marshmallows - regular, large-sized, and toasted over the campfire.

4.  Campfire - I assert that a s'more made in the microwave does not have the proper toasting and is therefore a hideous mutant.

However, some idiots innovators are promoting IMPOSTOR s'mores, which may contain any of the following ridiculous ingredients, and therefore, s'mores purists shall religiously avoid them:

Impostor ingredients

Impostor ingredients can be these and others:

1.  Banana slices

2.  Peanut butter

3.  Marshmallow fluff stuff in a jar

4.  Chocolate chips

5.  Tortillas - what?

Yes, one particularly heinous s'mores recipe alteration I found, in the camping cookbook Fix It In Foil, puts crunchy peanut butter, miniature marshmallows, and miniature chocolate chips into a tortilla, of all things, and then roasts it all in a Foil Pack!  Not a stick or marshmallow fork anywhere in sight!  It's wrong.  Just so wrong.

And one last thing:  look at the gargantuan marshmallows I found:

Impostors on the bottom

What exactly are those monsters for?  Using one of them in a s'more would completely throw off the proper taste proportions.  I have even seen flat, square marshmallows for sale.  How do you put one of those on a stick to toast?

I say, let's just keep it RIGHT.  What do you think?

Until next time, have a sweet, sweet day.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Booger Math

So Brianna's ridiculous and out-of-her-mind teacher tells my daughter at a recent teacher and parent conference that Brianna "is having mathematical difficulty and will need professional tutoring."

Well.  This is my granddaughter, one of the cutest-sweetest-most-wonderful-twins in the world.  I am a math educator.  My hackles are up.  And for goodness sake, this is kindergarten.  Professional tutoring?  Paleeeese.  Wait a minute.....I am a professional math educator and tutor.  Do you see where this is going?

Now I have studied a lot about how students learn the best.  Meaning, if we can identify a student's primary LEARNING MODALITY, we can teach in methods that will facilitate maximum learning and retention.

A student who is primarily a VISUAL learner likes to see things done.  Likes watching the teacher write on the chalkboard.  Likes looking at pictures and books.

A student who is an AUDITORY learner learns best when hearing the instruction.  He or she likes listening to lectures, recordings or story-telling.

Then there are the students who are KINESTHETIC learners.  They are hands on kiddos.  They like to touch things, do things, move around.

Well then.  Don't all 5-year-olds basically like to run around and play?  They are kids!  Geez!

So - I decided to go with the hands on method (Kinesthetic), or in this case perhaps, hands in.  (Sorry.)

Here it is, ready for Brianna's tutoring session:



1.  If you have 5 boogers and find 2 more, how many boogers do you have?
2.  If you have 7 boogers and eat 2 (hey, all kids do this at one time or another), how many are left?

Brianna took the challenge, and the results are in:

There you have it!  She's a genius!  The lineage flows!  

Tutoring shmutering.  She's fine.  

Until next time, may you all find and pick some fun.  Heehee.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The One True Sport

HAJIME!  (referee calls to start a match)

If you read my post from yesterday, I taunted you with the comment that today we would talk about The One True Sport.  Well, really it's two - Judo/Jujutsu.  Yup.  I study Judo and Jujitsu.

The reason I am going here with this discussion is to set things straight.  You see, even though my blog is a mere 4 days old, I have already received flak from Tim, one of my black-belt judo friends, for representing myself incorrectly on my profile picture.  On the picture I am dressed in my white judo gi and am wearing an outdated green belt, when in reality I have tested and received my brown belt.  So let me make all well with the world and keep everybody happy and show here my brown belt - 3rd degree (because I seem to have no recent pictures wearing it):

I study the Dan Zan Ryu system of Jujitsu for any of you out there wondering, and here is the sequence of belts earned, starting with white.  (I will have two more levels of brown tests - 2nd degree and 1st degree brown, then black.)

In order to be ready for my brown belt test, I was required to know by name and by technique about 140 items and any combinations of them.  You can see below my pile of notecards that I use to study.

The words "Genkotsu Otoshi," for example, are a response technique to a double fist punch from an attacker, using the following defense:

                                               1.  Block punches simultaneously and grab attacker's
                                               2.  Head butt
                                               3.  Knee attacker's groin
                                               4.  Sweep throw attacker to the rear
                                               5.  Strike attacker and walk/run away

Lots of studying, lots of work, but very satisfying to me.  Love it.

My instructor has told me that in the early days of the sport in Japan, every student wore a white belt and trained for years and years until the white belt had turned black from work and wear and sweat.  Here in America though, we have rigged the color system because we Americans are more impatient and like regular rewards.  Hmmmm.  How true.  

What is Judo?  What is Jujitsu?  And what is the difference?  It took me a long time to be clear in my mind, because there really are many similarities.  Judo is basically the sport game and Jujitsu is more of a self defense system.  But both use many of the same techniques.  

A judo player (judoka) will spar with his opponent trying to obtain a decisive throw or submission.  There may be throw attempts, choke attempts, arm, leg or other joint lock attempts and various amounts of ground grappling.  Where Judo differs from jujitsu is that jujitsu allows for the actual choking or neck and limb breaks when used in extreme self defense.  It would not be nice to see those things happen in an Olympic Judo sporting match.  

How did I, a middle 50's grandmother, get into this sport?  I still say to this day my Sensei tricked me into it and I fell in love with it.  I had been taking a women's self defense at his dojo, The Golden Dragon Family Training Center, in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.  Somehow I was talked into staying one night and "trying" a Judo class, and here I am, still loving it, several broken toes later.  The guys that I work out with are all gentlemen, yet push me to my limits.  When I travel around to various Judo conventions and get to match up with other girls, it always seems easy, because of the training I have had with the guys in my dojo.

So there you have it.  May you all have a colorful day, doing something you love to do.

MATE!   (stops the match)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Laundry Treasure

A rainy, cold, dreary Monday it is, so I think I'll share a bit of "this and that" with you.

First, a bit of follow-up from the weekend with the-most-adorable-in-the-whole-world twins.  Remember I mentioned the trip to Star Nails Salon and Spa with the girls, and how proud of themselves they were when they left the shop?  Here's the artwork in all its glory:

Brianna's on left, Tori's on right

And then we filled the evening with several hours of cutthroat "Crazy Eights." 

Trouble holding all the cards at times
Is Tori manipulating the score perhaps?
Which brings us to today, Monday.  Mondays are rough.  Especially after a particularly fun weekend.  And by the way, am I the only person who thinks that The Big Guy always speeds up the clocks on the weekend and then slows things down again throughout the week?

Anyway, so Monday mornings it is my habit to pay the bills that are due.  As I said Mondays are rough.  But I am like a toddler who thrives on routine, and so every Monday morning I sit down and pay what I owe.

Then also on Mondays, I typically do several loads of laundry.  Which brought today a little gem of a treasure, my Laundry Treasure.  If you do your own wash, I'm sure that over time you will come upon various treasures in the course of sorting, washing, drying, and folding your clothing.   I got thinking of the things I had found in the pockets or machines just during the last week:

1.  A quarter  (I'm pretty happy with that find, like some sort of a jackpot really)
2.  A list for a Sunday morning run through Dunkin' Donuts (yup I fed the kiddos donuts for breakfast)
3.  Several walnut-sized lint bombs
4.  The paper wrapper from a McDonald's ice cream cone (retrieved from the cone when it "kablobbed" onto Tori's pant leg)
5.  5269 pieces of a tissue scattered throughout a recent load
6.  A clear round sticker with XL marked on it (I'm hoping I didn't wear that all day on my new shirt)
7.  A tiny spring I think from inside a pen (My daughter Sarah ate one of these one time when she was a toddler, and for several days I had to....well never mind)
8.  What you see in the picture below

Yup, the laundry treasure of my very exciting Monday - doggie poop bags.  Must've been in Caleb's pajama pocket.  (He has a very energetic 9 month old, 60 pound Weimeraner puppy named Sheila.)  The day can only get better, I guess.

Tomorrow, perhaps I will talk about The One True Sport.  Any guesses as to what it is?
Until then, wishing you all a Monday evening filled with "treasures."


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Nail Art and Crazy Eights

A fun time was had by all last night.   Translation, the twins slept long enough overnight to keep me happy.

But I must back up to the beginning of the festivities.  The twins always arrive with some sort of mindset that they are now at Germall's (that's me) Disneyworld.  So, the first sensible girls' outing was to the nail shop.  Johnn and his beautiful wife at Starr Nails Salon and Spa in Lewisburg outdid themselves with some beautiful nail art on the twins tiny fingers.  The twins walked out of there feeling like princesses and "checking" their nails every 5 minutes or so.  So thrilled with themselves.  Don't you just love the feeling of seeing a child feeling so good about him or herself?

Next was dinner at Lewisburg's famous Street of Shops, by request of the girls again.  (There are certain activities that always must be done every every every time they come.)  We always eat there.  We always eat eggs.  And jelly from the little jelly containers, right out of the little box with a spoon, with no shame.  My mother would be appalled amused.  This place is such a hole in the wall, but almost always busy.  Food is Ok, not great, not lousy, but the setting and weirdness of it all makes it a candidate in my mind for the book Roadfood.  I love that book.  Whenever we travel I always check if there are Roadfood restaurants anywhere along our route.  We have eaten at some doosies  - either the decor or history or food or all is memorable in some fashion.

For dessert we ate ice cream cones in the car on the way back to Germall's, and from this point on, the evening got exciting.  What had started out as a calm and mildly entertaining visit segued quickly into vicious and cutthroat card-playing.  "Crazy Eights" no less.  Two hours of escalating stealth and strategy.  Hoarding of the number 8 cards.  Such blatant hoarding to the point where I actually checked the rules card to see if that was allowed.  Hmmm.  Didn't say.  The makers of the game obviously, although the game is recommended for 4+, have not met my absolute-cutest-in-the-world-twins-but-vicious-in-competition granddaughters.

It was intense.  Fierce.  Vicious.  After two hours of many rounds of battle, and a moderate amount of cheating, the score was here:

                Germall:  6 (rounds won)
                Tori:  4
                Brianna:  6

By now Tori was fairly irked and stated in a very organized way why, and these are her words:

   "#1  I spilled my chocolate milk all over at the restaurant.
     #2  The top of my ice cream cone went kablob down onto my pants and
     #3  I am not winning."

To rectify the situation, apparently, she tore off a new sheet of paper and started a new tally sheet.  (That always fixes everything of course.)  In the process she spelled Brianna's name wrong, writing Banana instead, which really pissed off Brianna > pushing and shoving > someone was gonna get hurt > I told them we should stop before we all turn into monkeys.  End of game.  Off to bed.

Oh, I always feel like a winner when I am with my grandkids.  Yup.

Saturday, April 21, 2012


I am just a little bit jealous that "the other grandmother" is with my other 2 wonderful, beautiful, amazing grandchildren, Jarrod and Ellie, today.  And I am not.  Not to be hoggish or anything, but she better not steal all the kisses and hugs and snuggles out of them.  No really Lisa, just kidding, give them double today, from you and me.

Well folks, I have had just about more excitement than one day deserves so far. And it's only lunchtime.

 Had coffee and goodies at the local bakery with my 3 favorite men (my dad, my husband, and my son).  Keeley's it was, for all you locals that have experienced the finest baked goods in the eastern seaboard Pennsylvania.  Sarah, my youngest daughter, makes the best in the East, and Central, and West, of course.

Then, I weeded out a few expired coupons.  (Don't read any further if you are sleepy.)  And started a load of wash.  (Snore, snore.)

AND!   and this is almost more technology than I can bear in one eon, I am learning how to BLOG.  Yes, me, Jill, learning to blog.  To my 4 kids, stop it - I know you are rolling your eyes.

My day will get even better later, when my most-adorable-in-the-whole-world-twin-5-year-old granddaughters are coming over for a sleepover tonight.  Well, "sleep" may be a misnomer, if we think back to the last one.  (It was asleep at 2:30 AM, and up at 5:30 AM.)  Yup I love those kiddos.  Usually.

Just bought a new camera too.  A Canon PowerShot SX260 HS, so look out.  Before long I will even be adding photos.  (I have no idea what all those numbers and letters mean, but it looks impressive to me.)  At least, when I took a trial picture of the junk laying on my kitchen table, the picture in the "Screen LCD Monitor" seemed to really look clearly exactly impressively just like the junk on my table.  I guess that's what one wants in a camera.

So then, look for more reports on my ventures into technology, or non-sleeping tonight with the kiddos, to come.  Stay tuned...


(More like technical retardation.)  Trying this again.  I feel technologically illiterate.

Hi.  This is Jill.  See Jill go.  Jill is making a blog.  Go Jill go.