Thursday, June 30, 2011

How to Talk to Girls

This post by Lisa Bloom got me thinking last week.

I don't have kids. And I am not always sure what to do around other people's kids...people think I can be standoffish with their kids, and they assume that because we don't have our own, that we don't like them, or don't want them. Not true! I just don't know how to behave or interact with the little ones.

So, with little boys I ruffle their hair and ask about frogs or Cars (the movie) or something. With little girls I usually say, "You're so Cute!" and ask them about their pretty barrette or shoes.

Wow. After reading Lisa's post, I am newly self-aware.

What sort of message I am I sending to the little girls? And even worse, an UNINTENTIONAL message. From a successful female herself, who has struggled with beauty and body issues, and is smart and hilarious and put together - I could be a real role model for these little girls I meet, if only for 10 minutes.

From now on - I will do as the author of the original post did...ask them about their favorite book. Or science class. Or nature or the earth. Or sports.

But I will not lead off with how CUTE they are. Even if they are.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


My name is Jessica, and I have Gingivitis.

But not as bad as I DID. When I went to the dentist for the first time last year in probably 5 years, I was shocked that my body had gotten older and more worn out, without me knowing it.

I got a really deep (and painful) cleaning where they pull back...anyway, you don't want to hear the details. They also recommended I come in every 3-4 months for another regular cleaning to get things in check.

This week, I went in again for the 4th time in a year. And...drumroll...I have only 3 areas that are still 4mm!!! Everything else has gotten better! It is likely a result of my increased efforts, better diet, and decrease in insulin resistance / no meds.

How did I increase my efforts? Well, I had always been a daily brusher, but I swapped out my manual toothbrush for a Sonicare.

I also began using DenTek floss picks to encourage more frequent flossing...(does anyone else hate doing that?). These help.

I also found out that Gum Disease can be a contributing factor to heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. So - if you haven't flossed today...go do it!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Black Rock Mountain

We decided to go camping one more time - this one a 3-day weekend as I took a vacation day on Friday. Unfortunately, we spent a wee bit too much time buying a camera (notice all the photos this time) and shopping for bear spray at REI...then the weather turned and it was doing this for the first 3.5 hours we arrived:

It poured. We didn't get anything set up at all so we decided to go back into the little town and grab dinner since it was still raining at 6:30.

The aftereffects of all that rain in the Smokies was a REALLY misty morning:

No matter though, we thought we could take advantage of the cool weather to get our Black Rock Mountain hike started. And - we bought a Travel Bug to drop in the GeoCache at the summit!

This "hike" was really, really dense with foliage. And it was still wet and muddy and more than a little slippery. I was grateful for my new-ish hiking shoes.

A bit further down the road you can sure see the damage this spring's tornado caused in this park. Several hiking and biking trails were closed, and we heard over 1600 trees were down. The tornado went right through the campground and several sites are still cordoned off.

Finally, we made it to the summit!

Jeff beat me over to the overlook - and what a view. A great place to catch lunch (Clif bar and Gatorade) and recoup for the trip down. But alas! We could not find the GeoCache. BUMMER

We came back down and I took a shower. Jeff re-grouped, read some hints about the GeoCache and decided to head back up the mountain to track it down. AND HE DID!!! Our first Travel Bug is now out in the wild - and has even been picked up already! Our goal is to see 25 Summit or State Park Caches.

The night's sunset capped off the weekend perfectly.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Camping = Hiking

As previously posted - we are fully back to camping!

This coming weekend we are going to Black Rock Mountain State park, and that trip will make it the 4th camping weekend in a row. Excessive? Maybe. But we will not have the opportunity to go again until the end of July due to other commitments. (Like vacation! And weddings! And trade shows!)

And really, camping for us has grown into a HIKING adventure more than anything. We have fallen into a routine - and I love it.

Friday 3PM - Jeff picks me up from work
Friday 6PM - Set up camp, including tent, easy-up, air mattresses, chairs, etc. Friday 7PM - Yummy dinner - jambalaya if Jeff's in charge :)
Friday night - Decompress from the week with a Campfire and Jiffy Pop popcorn
Friday 10PM - showers and bed

Saturday 8AM - Breakfast of hiking champions - High Fiber Oatmeal, bacon, and a banana
Saturday 9:30AM - Head out for hike
Saturday sometime - Clif Bar and Gatorade mid-hike
Saturday 3PM - Return to camp, recover, go swimming in the lake to stave off soreness
Saturday 6PM - Make dinner and start the fire
Saturday 7PM - Decompress from the hike with a Campfire and Jiffy Pop popcorn
Saturday 9PM - showers and bed

Sunday 8AM - Breakfast again...same thing
Sunday 9AM - Pack up camp
Sunday 11AM - A quick hike which may or may not include lunch
Sunday 2PM - head for home

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Great Wall of Georgia

This past weekend we tackled what I would call the "Jeff Special" hike on Saturday. A combination of 3 different trails and a lot of small - but multiple - elevation changes made for a pretty strenuous hike.

We started on the Gold Mine trail and literally had to dodge blooming wild magnolias - they were like 'weeds' along this beautiful creek we followed. In fact, not only did we follow the creek, we had to walk IN the creek for a bit to catch up with the trail again.

Then we hopped on the Gahuti backcountry trail - and it was. Sometimes narrow, sometimes VERY rocky, always shaded with lots of trees...I can't imagine doing the full 8 miles on it.

Finally we got on a loop that took us down to the most magnificent waterfall. It was just breathtaking (also a cause of breath-taking: hiking) and we were so close you could dip your feet in the small pools.

Too bad there are no photos - I think we have to invest in a pocket camera!

After hiking, we did our obligatory swim in the lake - both really fun and relaxing, cooling, and keeping the swelling down are all benefits to the afternoon swim.
As we were bobbing around, we saw some menacing clouds in the distance. No sooner had we decided to get out, than the sky opened up with thunder, lighning, and driving rain. We took refuge in the building with the concession stand and ate the best hot dogs we'd ever had (we were wet, cold, tired, and hungry - so that may have had something to do with it too).

We drove back up to our campsite and hoped our tent had kept our things dry. It had - hurrah! Since we didn't put our chairs away and the wind had blown rain sideways, the only place to hang out while things dried out was on our air mattresses. We thought dinner might be Oreos and dried apricots if things didn't dry out - but luckily they did and we could still cook dinner.

Here's a sample of our campsite at Fort Mountain State Park. No worse for the wear after the rain!

On Sunday, we went up to the West Overlook to see 4 states. On the way down, we saw the Great Wall of Georgia. It's extremely mysterious - no one has been able to identify who built it or why, but these giant boulders fortify the top of the mountina in mounds from 2 to 5 feet. I imagine at one time it did make the top of the mountain quite secure.

While walking around this area, we found our first GeoCache!!! It was off the main trail just a little bit, but as a well-established GeoCache already had a foot path going to it so was a bit easier to navigate. Jeff climbed right over it, but in the end, I was the one who spotted it! We logged our visit in the logbook and took a Travel Bug with us - we are going to drop it off in a few weeks at the Spearfish Canyon falls GeoCache. COOL!

After packing up, on way back through Northwest Georgia, we stopped at a roadside produce stand for fresh peaches, vidalia onions, and sweet corn - yum!

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Cure for Not Being Superwoman

I have been saving this article to share with you all, just waiting for a time when I feel overwhelmed.

After reading this article on an overwhelmed day, I hope you too will realize to pick and choose to learn, discuss, and be the things that are truly important to you. Let the other noise fall away - and let go the guilt that you are doing it. You cannot - and should not - be all things to all people in the world.

The opening excerpt from NPR correspondent Linda Holmes:

The vast majority of the world's books, music, films, television and art, you will never see. It's just numbers.

Consider books alone. Let's say you read two a week, and sometimes you take on a long one that takes you a whole week. That's quite a brisk pace for the average person. That lets you finish, let's say, 100 books a year. If we assume you start now, and you're 15, and you are willing to continue at this pace until you're 80. That's 6,500 books, which really sounds like a lot.

Let's do you another favor: Let's further assume you limit yourself to books from the last, say, 250 years. Nothing before 1761. This cuts out giant, enormous swaths of literature, of course, but we'll assume you're willing to write off thousands of years of writing in an effort to be reasonably well-read.

Of course, by the time you're 80, there will be 65 more years of new books, so by then, you're dealing with 315 years of books, which allows you to read about 20 books from each year. You'll have to break down your 20 books each year between fiction and nonfiction – you have to cover history, philosophy, essays, diaries, science, religion, science fiction, westerns, political theory ... I hope you weren't planning to go out very much.

You can hit the highlights, and you can specialize enough to become knowledgeable in some things, but most of what's out there, you'll have to ignore. (Don't forget books not written in English! Don't forget to learn all the other languages!)

...the story continues here. Please go and check it out, and give yourself a break today.

Sample Your Way

Are you among those who go to Sam's Club on the day of sampling? Do you love free stuff?

So do kids. And picky eaters.

Dr. Ayala wrote this thoughtful article on using the sampling idea to get kids and other picky eaters to 'try' new food items.

It's actually simple. Prepare a dish in small, mini-bite size portions, and ask your person to try one 'out of politeness'.

Not many people can turn down a half-dollar sized bite, even if they are pretty sure it will make them retch.

Given enough time and opportunities - something has to stick.

Maybe it's squash or olives or bruschetta, but something previously unliked has a chance to be liked if presented in sample form.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Top 3 Reasons I love

My top three reasons to love
1. Kindle
2. Video on Demand
3. Amazon's Awesome Customer Service

Recently, I had a blunder. A mis-step. A mistake.

I dropped my Kindle. (GASP!) (No, the horror!!!)

I was fumbling around in my purse on the way into the allergy doc to get shots and the Kindle just tumbled out onto the burning, hard asphalt parking lot.

When I settled in after my shots, I opened it and was distressed to find the top of
the screen chipped and unreadable, and lines down the side of the screen.

I cried. A lot. Right there in the doctor's office. And again when I got home. It's like having a friend break their leg and it's your fault.

As soon as I had computer access, I logged onto FAQ's about Kindle. There was a number to call if your Kindle 'wasn't working'...and mine clearly was not.

I got a customer service agent on the phone and told him I dropped my Kindle and now the screen was broken and WAAAA! (Started crying again.)

"No problem. It's within the year warranty. We'll send you a new one that should be there in 2 days."


I was surprised, and thrilled, at this level of customer service and product backing. (They may also have looked to see I am probably in their top 10% of book-buyers, Big Love-buyers, and general stuff-buyers from their website.)

Amazon, you have an (even more) loyal customer for life. THANK YOU!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Building Relationships

Reposted from Seth Godin:

A shortcut to customer and co-worker intimacy is to respond in real time. A phone call is more human than an email, a personal meeting has more impact than a letter.

On the other hand, when you do your work on someone else's schedule, your productivity plummets, because you are responding to the urgent, not the important, and your rhythm is shot.

The shortcut analysis, it seems to me, is to sort by how important it is that your interactions be intimate. If it's not vitally important that you increase the energy and realism of the relationship, then insert a buffer. Build blocks of time to do serious work, work that's not interrupted by people who need to hear from you in real time, right now.

On the other hand, for interactions when only a hug or a smile will do, allocate the time and the schedule to be present.

Confusing the two is getting easier than ever, and it's killing your ability to do great work.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Camping Part Deux

We had so much fun last weekend we made a repeat trip to Vogel State Park.

We headed out Friday after work (Jeff picked me up to cut an hour out of the drive) and set up camp by 6PM!

On the agenda this weekend: Tackling Bear Hair Gap Trail. 4.5 miles and 1200 feet elevation change over rocky terrain and fording streams.

This photo looks innocuous enough, but that is because it's merely the side trail leading DIRECTLY FROM OUR CAMPSITE (#30) to meet up with the mini-trail that goes to the trail head.

So...that is all of the photos I have from our hike. 2 reasons: 1) we did not want to lug the camera with us and 2) whoa nelly when we were stopped I was huffing and puffing, not checking out photo ops. IT WAS TOUGH!!!

After ascending the 1200 feet in the first 1/3 of the trip, we sat down for a picnic lunch at Vogel lookout (we split a Clif bar, turkey sandwich, and Gatorade). A good 15 minute recovery prepared us for the extremely rocky, backcountry descent back down the mountain.

We tested the water resistance of our shoes several times (Jeff's favorite part) and are pretty sure we saw bear poop. (Yes there are bears. No you are not supposed to feed them. We met up with a guy that was carrying a blowhorn. Not a bad idea if you ask me.) I have never hiked anything this crazy in my life. But I am bitten by the bug...I can't wait to do it again!!! What a sense of accomplishment and an adrenaline high when all is said and done...

And when it was all said and done, we went for a swim in the cold lake (essential to keep swelling and pain down, we've discovered!), and built our fire for the night...

What a great site. I hope we get to come back soon!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Tudor England

I seriously cannot get enough of England during the War of the Roses, Henry VIII, and Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth.

It seems like every single book I have read lately has to do with this time period, and I am UNAPOLOGETIC for it!!!

And I am extremely grateful to Phillippa Gregory for writing what seems like a bazillion historical novels to feed my obsession.

Here is my list of titles I have finished so far (thanks to the Kindle!!!):

1. The Queen's Fool - A secret Jewish girl is serving Queen Mary and Princess Elizabeth at court as their fool, takes a different view of the country at that time.

2. The Boleyn Inheritance - Jane Boleyn / Lady Rochford, Katherine Howard, and Anne of Cleves story

3. The Red Queen - The story Elizabeth Woodville, the queen consort of King Edward IV of England and mother of the Princes in the Tower.

4. The White Queen - The story of Lady Margaret Beaufort and her ambition to place her son Henry Tudor on the English throne.

5. I have downloaded The Virgin's Lover (about Elizabeth I) for consumption next...

What are you favorite novels and genres of the moment?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

All's Well...

Wow, what a fun time! As the temperature rose in HOTlanta (it was over 100 heat index in the city) we were enjoying a cool 83 degrees in the Blue Ridge Mountains which was a welcome relief.

We decided to take Friday night to relax and recoup from the week and headed out early Saturday morning. After a quick stop at REI for a few 'essentials', we tooled through Dahlonega, a quaint artist and wine town that had antiques too boot! About 30 minutes later we arrived at our campsite at Vogel State Park, joining the other 103 campsite campers.

We set up our gear and headed out to explore.

A 1-mile walk around the lake was beautiful and the perfect start to the trip. While walking we saw a sign for 'Bear Hair Gap Trail' and thought - hey, let's do that tomorrow!

So we did. Kind of. We started it...but didn't even make it halfway :(. We will tell ourselves it's because of the heat (it was) and the lack of good hiking boots (it was REALLY rocky and bruised my tootsies). This is now remedied and the trail will be attempted again soon!!!

It is Georgia after all, and even at breakfast time my hair gets frizzy and I am sweaty - but boy we had fun!!!