January 30, 2013 in Random Thoughts

Read The Trouble With Secrets, Part 1 here.

During my son’s teacher’s unexpectedly early maternity leave, his class was bounced around from substitute teacher to substitute teacher with no continuity and no lesson plan left to follow. Eventually, a well-run kindergarten classroom had disintegrated into a glorified daycare. Fortunately, us parents were a vocal bunch, and the principal finally recognized the severity of the problem. He hired a permanent substitute teacher to be in place until Mrs. D could return, in the hopes that actual learning would be re-instated.

That’s how I got to know Mrs. P, a warm human being who drew our kids into her arms and nurtured them with love and hot chocolate on cold days. She gave them her heart, for which I will always be thankful. But stability was still out of the question for my son’s class, for Mrs. P was battling cancer. Our permanent sub needed plenty of subs herself.

The following year, I sat in a church pew and watched pictures of Mrs. P—far too young, beautifully blond and happy, with gorgeous daughters and a loving husband—flash across a screen above her coffin. I sat in that pew surrounded by her fellow teachers, her students’ parents, and her friends, all of whom were well-versed in her battle against cancer, and I listened to the heartbreak, anger, disappointment, shock, and betrayal in Mrs. P’s mother’s voice as she told us all that not only had she lost her beloved daughter, she didn’t even know she had cancer. Mrs. P never told her.

It was easy: they lived far away from each other. It was hard to visit during the school year; her daughters were busy with their activities during the summer; they were going to come, but she had the flu; they’d make new plans next month, next year…

I felt every inch of Mrs. P’s mother’s anger. She had been robbed of the chance to help her daughter, robbed of the chance to grieve alongside her, robbed of any chance to say goodbye. We had those chances. I got to give her a stolen hug in the workroom as she made copies. I reached my arms around her too-skinny body, careful not to dislodge her wig, as she acknowledged the fact that she was not going to get the chance to see how wonderful her daughters would turn out, who they would fall in love with, what beautiful children they would have…and who was I? A fellow parent. Someone I only saw in the school.

Was it fair that I got to see this side of Mrs. P and her mother didn’t get to? Not even close.

Why didn’t she tell her own mom? Was there a rift? Did they not like each other? I don’t think so. They spoke on the phone often, long newsy conversations designed to substitute for actual visits.

Did she not want to burden her mom? Hurt her? Was she trying to spare her the pain?

I’ll never know, and Mrs. P’s mom may never know either. She’ll have to spend the rest of her life dealing with the repercussions of this huge secret Mrs. P kept from her but shared with others.

Of course I have to respect Mrs. P’s privacy, but it was her mom who paid the price. I have to wonder: was it worth it? Would a small sacrifice of privacy on Mrs. P’s part have made the grief her mom had to deal with a little less stabbing?

I wonder…

Stay Tuned for The Trouble of Secrets, Part 3


January 28, 2013 in Random Thoughts

When my middle son entered kindergarten, he landed in a class with a first-time teacher who was filled with promise. At first, I wasn’t exactly thrilled to leave my 5-year-old in the hands of a newbie, but Mrs. D had confidence, enthusiasm, and said all the right things at curriculum night. I set aside my concerns and dove into the year with hope and excitement.


Was she pregnant? It was hard to tell. She wore loose clothing, and there was something about her profile…

She never mentioned a word to us parents, and although we speculated freely, none of us had the nerve to ask. She never mentioned anything to our kids either.

One day in early October, just as our kids were getting comfortable with her and the routine, she was gone. We dropped off our kids with a sub. The next day, there was a sub. And the next day, there was sub. The kids were restless and uneasy: where was their teacher? Who were these other teachers, a different one every day? Routines began to crumble; learning soon followed suit.

Finally, we got the news: in the middle of the night, Mrs. D had gone into frighteningly early labor. Her daughter was born very premature, and of course, Mrs. D’s place was with her infant. She would not be back for a long time.

Fortunately, her sweet little girl grew and thrived, and her story has a happy ending. My son’s teacher returned in February, and the school year had a happy ending, if you don’t count the fact that most of the class finished the year academically behind.

But here’s the thing: in those early moments of her absence, where mystery and confusion reigned supreme, wouldn’t it have been nice if our kids had known that a maternity leave would be looming at some point? When she did have to leave unexpectedly, there would have been a framework to build on. Instead, we had conversations like these:

“Where is she?”

“She had her baby.”

“What baby? I didn’t know she was having a baby.”

“I didn’t know she was either.”

“Why didn’t she tell us?”

“I don’t know.”

“When is she coming back?”

“I don’t know.”

It’s a lot for a young child to absorb. It was a lot for me to absorb. But Mrs. D is a private person, our principal explained. She would have said, eventually. In her own time. In her own way.

Of course I had to respect her privacy, but it was my son and his classmates who paid the price. I have to wonder: was it fair? Would a small sacrifice of privacy on her part  for a secret that wouldn’t have stayed a secret for long anyway have made the road the kids had to travel a bit more palatable?

I wonder…

Stay Tuned for The Trouble with Secrets, Part 2


January 25, 2013 in Adventures in Re-Discovering Myself

I love seeing Gretchen Rubin’s “The Happiness Project” blog updates in my email inbox. She offers wonderful suggestions of how to be happier in your life, and they are all relatively simple and filled with common sense.

She does something else that I particularly like too: she likes to categorize people in various ways. And there is nothing more fun than trying to figure out which categories my family, friends, and I fit into.

She recently posted “Four Personality Types: Which One Are You?” and it refers to how people respond to rules. These are the four types she identified:

Upholder—accepts rules, whether from outside or inside. An upholder meets deadlines, follows doctor’s order, keeps a New Year’s resolution.

Questioner—questions rules and accepts them only if they make sense. They may choose to follow rules, or not, according to their judgment.

Rebel—flouts rules, from outside or inside. They resist control. Give a rebel a rule, and the rebel will want to do the very opposite thing.

Obliger—accepts outside rules, but doesn’t like to adopt self-imposed rules.

Gretchen Rubin says she is an Upholder 100%. I’m an Upholder too. Not only am I a law-abiding citizen, but if I set a rule for myself, I will follow it. The only time I will purposely break a rule is when the safety of my kids is in peril, and when the breakage is so small is doesn’t mean anything, but these instances are fairly rare.

My oldest son is an Upholder. It’s a fabulous quality, but it does have its sticky points. For example, one night my family ordered pizza. I phoned in the order, but they didn’t ask for payment, so I assumed we’d pay when we picked it up. Another family member picked up the pizza but since they didn’t ask for payment, he assumed that I had paid over the phone. As we all sat around the kitchen table, it gradually came to light that neither one of us had paid for the pizza we were enjoying. We had a little chuckle over the mix-up, but to my oldest son, this was no laughing matter.

“You’d better call them. You have to pay for this.” He was serious. He repeated himself about five times during the course of our dinner, unwilling and unable to let this breach of following the rules lapse.

The good news is, I may not have to worry so much about him during those pesky teenage years. The downside is, there will be no free pizzas in our foreseeable future.

My middle son has the makers of a Questioner. He does what he wants to do, whether it’s allowed or not. This is not to say he is unclear of the rules: he knows exactly what they are. But whether or not he judges them worth following is another story. The other problem is that if he knows that he is breaking a rule, he’ll do it surreptitiously so as not to get caught. His teenage years are going to be a wild ride.

And my youngest son? I’m not entirely sure where he’ll end up. He is a great student, so I know he’ll accept rules from the outside of the home, making him a possible Upholder, but he’s the one that will blatantly disobey my rules directly in front of me, which makes him a possible Rebel. He’s still young, so maybe there’s a chance I can mold him a bit.

Or maybe not. Something tells me these kinds of things are ingrained.

Do you follow the rules? What kind of rules do you follow?



January 17, 2013 in Adventures in Parenting

When my oldest son was young, he watched The Wiggles, JoJo’s Circus, and Little Einsteins—all age-appropriate Disney Channel television shows. He played with Hot Wheels cars, balls, and Legos. He didn’t push, bite, yell, or say naughty things. In other words, he was a complete angel, especially compared to some of his peers.

My fellow moms of our precious first-borns would exchange horrified glances at some of the behavior and language exhibited by their preschool classmates. “I would never let my son go to that kid’s house for a play date,” we would say to each other haughtily as the kid in question ran around the playground pretending the stick in his hand was a gun and shooting everything in sight. “You would not believe the shows his parents let him watch,” we would say. “You would not believe the violent video games his parents let him play.” We passed scathing judgment on these parents who obviously had no clue about age-appropriate boundaries.

But here’s the one bit of information us first-time moms didn’t take into consideration: almost all of these kids had older siblings.

There is a six-year age gap between my oldest and youngest sons. There is no way on this planet watching Little Einsteins was going to fly with a 10-year-old in the room. So, while my youngest was home from pre-school or half-day kindergarten, I let him watch Little Einsteins to his heart’s content. But the rest of the time, he was raised on Hannah Montana and The Wizards of Waverly Place and Good Luck Charlie. Which is fine. These aren’t bad shows. But he has learned about boyfriends and girlfriends and kissing a lot earlier than I would have liked.

He’s also become quite the rock star on Guitar Hero, a game rated “Teen” for bad language. He runs around the house singing Talk Dirty To Me. He plays hand-me-down video games from his older brothers that he really shouldn’t, and he got in trouble last week for calling one of his brothers a name that I wouldn’t have believed a child his age would know.

Despite my best intentions, I have become “that” parent, and my youngest has become “that” child: the ones all the good parents of their first child won’t let come over to our house to play because I’ll let them wail away on Guitar Hero.

We’re lucky: my son runs with a pack of boys that are all the youngest or the middle of three. They have all grown up too fast, trying desperately to keep up with their older siblings. None of us blink an eye when our kids play Guitar Hero or whatever game is currently in vogue at each other’s homes. We all know it’s not ok to call each other names, but we don’t freak out exponentially when it happens because we know it came directly from an older sibling. It’s a level playing field from a parenting standpoint.

To all those parents I judged so harshly in the past, I apologize. I had no idea what was going on back then, but I do now. Boy, do I know now.

To all those parents who are judging me now, as my youngest child leads your precious first-born down a path you wish he hadn’t, I apologize to you too. I’m doing the best I can, and I know that when you have your third child, you too will understand the predicament parenting children with a wide variety of ages can be.

My youngest is growing up too fast, and my oldest is growing up too slow for his liking as I continually try to aim for the middle ground. The one child who is making out like a bandit is my middle son. He gets all the perks of having an older brother, but he has a younger brother to keep him from growing up so quickly. Finally, an upside to being a middle child!


January 14, 2013 in Reflections on Pop Culture

On Friday night, I watched our local news. I don’t usually, for obvious reasons. How can I hope to sleep at night after hearing about all the horrific crimes going on everywhere?

The only reason I was watching in the first place was to hear the forecast. I heard rumors of the possibility of light snow, and with my son scheduled to play an outdoor soccer game the following day, I wanted to be prepared. (It didn’t snow, but it was freezing!)

But then, a small miracle occurred: all the news they reported? It was good news!

The little girl they had featured on an Amber Alert earlier in the day had been found safe.

Seattle was on the brink of finalizing a deal that would bring the Sacramento Kings basketball team here, bringing a level of excitement to our fair city that could only be overtaken by the frenzy surrounding the fact that our Seattle Seahawks were in the playoffs.

And a frenzy it was. Everywhere we went, we saw a sea of Seahawks jerseys, from the gas station to the grocery store to the newscasters on the news. Everywhere we went, we heard people saying “Go Hawks!” DJ’s said “Go Hawks!”  leading into and out of every commercial break on the radio. Emails from teachers containing important homework information were signed “Go Hawks!” The sportscaster could barely get a sentence out that didn’t contain the words “Go Hawks!”

You could feel the magic in the air as our city came together to support our home team as they got ready to play in Atlanta against the Falcons. And why not? There are heroes on this team to cheer for:

  • Marshawn Lynch, whose mind blowing 67-yard run on January 8, 2011 where he broke through multiple tackles to score a game-winning touchdown, whipped the Seattle fans into such a frenzy that they triggered a minor earthquake.
  • Russell Wilson, the only rookie quarterback left standing in the post-season on Sunday, and a strong candidate for Rookie of the Year.
  • Golden Tate, a receiver whose star is on the rise due to some stunning catches over the course of the season.
  • And let’s not forget the 12th Man: the Seahawks fans who come out every Sunday, whether it’s raining or raining harder, to make our stadium the loudest in the NFL.

Our playoff journey ended on Sunday against the Falcons with a heart-breaking 30-28 come-from-behind thriller, but I think the sense of community spirit the Seahawks generated is still alive and well.

Thank you so much, Seattle Seahawks, for the pride and hope and the extraordinary run of good news you have brought our city.

We are proud of you guys, and we can’t wait to see what wonderful things you will achieve in the next season!




January 11, 2013 in Adventures in Re-Discovering Myself

This has been an odd week. I have been fighting some kind of low-level bug whose only symptoms seem to be a sore throat and fatigue. The sore throat has abated, but the fatigue…yowza.

But I’m a mom of three boys who have to get to school, soccer and basketball practices, and music lessons. I have important resolutions to keep regarding my fitness, so I still have to make it to the gym. I taught two art lessons this week, and have a big project beginning today for my son’s 4th grade class. I have no time in my life for fatigue.

Or do I?

On Tuesday, when I felt the worst, as soon as the clock chimed 8:00pm, I stood up, kissed my boys good night, and headed upstairs for bed. “What are you doing that for?” “But we’re still up!” Yes, but I was so tired I didn’t even have enough energy to lie on the couch and watch TV. I was asleep before 8:30pm and slept around the clock until my alarm went off at 5:15am. It was heavenly.

On Wednesday, instead of emptying the dishwasher, vacuuming, and folding laundry, I took a nap on the couch.

And today, instead of getting up early to hit the gym, I slept in. I’m still sitting on the couch in my pajamas, and it’s absolutely wonderful.

Sleep is important. Just ask any mother of a small child who is off their nap schedule and screaming their head off inconsolably because he/she is just so tired. Just ask any mother of small children who refuse to let their mom sleep through the night. (That was me…for years.)

My son’s middle school is having a speaker come in to talk about how important sleep is. The medical community already has documented the role of sleep in obesity, blood sugar regulation, heart health, ADHD, mood, and safety (poor decision making).

But the effect of sleep on student performance in school is fascinating. From the school’s PTSA website:

“Recent research has shown that those students with A’s sleep 15 minutes more than those with B’s, those with B’s sleep 11 minutes more than those with C’s, etc.  Other research has shown that if a sixth grader is sleep deprived by 1 hour, their cognitive ability is reduced to that of a 4th grader.”

Wow. I shudder to think what level my cognitive ability has been this week.

Today I plan to honor my body’s need to rest. I’ll still make it to the gym, but later. I’ll still honor my volunteer schedule at the school, but come 3:00pm, I’m off the clock. I’m reserving the couch, one cozy blanket, and a good book and I plan to simply park it for the rest of the day AND go to bed early. Laundry, paying bills, and picking up around the house can wait. Making dinner can wait too: I’m thinking delivery pizza for dinner.

As I go forward in 2013, I’m going to add “Get Enough Sleep” to my list of resolutions, for me and my kids. It’s a simple one, but I suspect the payoffs will be huge.





January 9, 2013 in Reflections on Pop Culture

I saw Les Miserables, one of the greatest musicals of all time, on the brightest stage of all time: on Broadway in New York City. It was spectacular: big sets, big voices, big themes, and big tears rolling copiously down my cheeks. For a long time, I wanted to be Eponine. Pining away for a man who only had eyes for someone else and then dying in his arms? Could anything be more romantically tragic? (It’s possible I have a dark streak.)

There’s something about seeing a musical live. It’s big: it has to be. Everyone in the back tiers has to be able to see and hear everything too. The talent pool the casting directors have to choose from is probably one of the best in the world, and it shows. The men and women can sing in every possible way. Loudly with passion or ire, softly with shame, regret, or longing, high notes, low notes, and everything in between. The songs are big too, with multiple voices carrying multiple harmonies, yet blending together in one beautiful swell that can cause shivers in your spine. Done right, musical theater can almost be a religious experience.

I hadn’t seen Les Miserables for over 20 years (is that possible?), so I was thrilled to relive the story and the music once again at my local movie theater.

I went on a Saturday night where the only seats available were in the front row, so I saw every drop of rain up close and personal.

I think that may be what my problem with the movie was. It was too close.

Les Miserables is called that for a reason. The situations the characters find themselves in aren’t always pretty, and seeing Anne Hathaway have her teeth extracted for money was a disturbing image, to say the least. In fact, almost every scene Anne Hathaway was in was disturbing–in a good way. I wanted to look away, but I couldn’t. I thought she was riveting.

In the theater, there’s a distance between you and the actors on stage. Unless you have access to front row seats, the picture they paint is broader, less detailed, and more impressionistic.

But what the stage loses in details it makes up for in drama. Honestly, seeing Javert on stage with his great booming voice singing his final song with lights swirling over the entire stage floor to simulate the eddying of the waters below him was one of the most moving scenes in the musical. It wasn’t a simple song sung in a quiet moment, as it was depicted in the movie. It was powerful, visceral, and charged with conflicting emotions. Whoever played Javert that night I saw Les Miserables all those years ago was amazing.

I know much has been said about casting non-singers in this movie. They are right. It’s a time-honored musical built for extraordinary voices. And it’s all sung! There’s no dialogue to hide behind. Every speech, every line, every word is sung, so I would think the number one quality in casting for this movie would not be an ability to sing, but an ability to sing brilliantly.

Some characters could. Eddie Redmayne, who played Marius, took my breath away. (Want to listen to a snippet? Click here.) Samantha Barks, who played Eponine, had a voice that was as beautiful as it was haunting.

From an acting standpoint, I found Hugh Jackman to command every scene he was in. There was something in his eyes that pulled you in. Sometimes his voice was great; sometimes it wasn’t, but I believed he was Jean Valjean from beginning to end.

If you haven’t seen Les Miserables in any form, go see the movie. The music is fantastic and the story is heart wrenching with war, love, unrequited love, humor, and death.

If you’ve seen the show live, go see the movie anyway. It doesn’t compare, but it was a wonderful way to relive my memory of sitting in the darkened theater in Manhattan years ago listening to the splendor that is Les Miserables. There is just nothing like it.


January 7, 2013 in Adventures in Parenting

My three boys were the deliriously happy recipients of an X Box this Christmas. They were, quite possibly, the last three kids in our community to get one. But since they had played plenty of times at their friends’ houses, they knew exactly which games they wanted. So off we went, gift cards in hand, to the video game store to pick out their favorite games.

That’s where all of our dreams fell apart.

I’m not a gamer, by any means. I was raised on Wii with my children. I am used to Wii Sports and the entire gamut of Mario Brothers adventures. These games are innocent: bowling and tennis, driving along Rainbow Road in a peach-colored vehicle, hopping onto creatures with what looks to be turtle shells, and racking up gold coins.

I was expecting something similar in the X Box realm, but imagine my surprise when this game was featured against an entire wall:

WTF? And it’s the third version? What possible redeeming value could this game  have? I have no idea because I was too scared to pick it up and read the blurb on the back. Suffice it to say I only noted that it had a “Mature” rating, meaning 17 years +, and I decided then and there that “Mature” games were off the table for our family.

Except…my 12-year-old son (soon to be a teenager) wanted Halo 4, which is rated “M”. The helpful gentleman in the store advised against it, but he also said that Halo 4 was the least violent of the overtly violent games. My son had played this game at all his friends’ houses, and he has great friends with great parents. If it was ok for them, surely it would be ok for us?

Except…our gaming system is smack dab in the family room, where we all congregate, and the images are run through our giant flat-screen TV in full color. Which means my soon-to-be 7-year-old would be watching and begging to play, and there’s no way I could keep my 9-year-old (who thinks he’s already a teenager) away.

Was I really ready to unleash the violence of Halo 4 in our home?

I couldn’t do it. In the moment, I was so overwhelmed with the game options and the “Mature” and “Teen” ratings that I told everyone that for their first X Box game, it had to be rated “E” for Everybody. Yes, I stalled. My youngest was fine with that and selected a snowboarding game. My oldest, with remarkable grace considering he couldn’t get what he wanted, went with a NBA basketball game, and my middle child chose a Lego Lord of the Rings game that looked fairly harmless until I watched him play it. He was in a great battle scene cheerfully lopping off Lego heads with his giant sword. And that was an “E” rating! Is there no escaping violence in the gaming arena?

I know it’s coming. The testosterone is brewing. Before I know it, I’ll have three teenage boys playing Call of Duty Black Ops in my family room, and by then I will have become so jaded to violence in video games that I won’t even blink an eye.

But not just yet. I’d like to hold on to the innocence of my boys for a little while longer.

I’m sure Halo 4 will still be around when we’re ready…except it might be Halo 7 by then.



January 4, 2013 in Adventures in Re-Discovering Myself

I am estimate-challenged. I don’t think they taught the skill of estimation when I was in school. Either that or I was absent that day.

I never got the point of estimating either. Why estimate the product of 23 x 56 when you can just solve the problem correctly and get the exact answer?

I compensate fairly well, but my deficiency does show up at odd times. I buy the wrong-sized light bulbs for the socket size. I buy way too much or too little wrapping paper, fabric, ribbon, food, etc. I cannot tell what size of container will hold the leftovers in the saucepan. I will tell you that something is only a mile away when it’s more like 5 miles, and on another day, my mile might actually mean 100 feet.

So when I signed up for the Goodreads 2102 Reading Challenge in April last year, I should have known better than to just “estimate” an answer. One-third of the year had already passed, and while I am always reading, my reading material is not always in the novel form (like magazines and my favorite blogs). What I should have done was taken these facts into account and then pulled out my calculator:

x = Number of words in a novel that I can read on even a busy day

(Average number of pages multiplied by 250 words per page = number of words in a book) divided by x = how many days it takes me to read a novel (y)

y divided by the number of days left in 2012 minus major holidays and sick days = number of books I can read in a year

That is the number I should have entered in the Reading Challenge. Instead, I estimated, and I estimated badly. It was a little depressing seeing that I had achieved only 20% of my goal. I’d like to do better this year, and I can! All I need to do is lower the number. But by how much?

I should do the above calculation, but my math mind is fried from trying to teach my son two-digit multiplication by a method I’ve never seen before in my life. So, I’m going to (gasp) estimate again, but this time I’m hoping it’s an underestimation.

My reading goal this year is a book a month: 12 books in 2013, which includes a written review of each book on Goodreads. I’m confidant I can keep, and even exceed, this resolution, especially when I look at the list of books I just created on Pinterest that I am dying to read. There are 12 books on there, so the road is already mapped out. The only burning question is which book should I start with?

Now this is a resolution I am looking forward to keeping!

Do you have any reading resolutions/book suggestions?



January 2, 2013 in Adventures in Re-Discovering Myself

About a year and a half ago, I lost just over 20 lbs through the Weight Watchers Online program. It’s pretty easy in terms of the process: every food and beverage has been assigned a certain number of points by the powers that be at Weight Watchers. For example, a single egg is 2 points, a light beer is typically 4 points. Based on your height and weight, you are allotted a certain number of points per day. You can spend them any way you want, but as long as you don’t go over your point allotment for the day, you will lose weight.

The difficulty comes with trying to achieve a feeling of satiation without going over the point total. I have learned a lot about portion size and the need for protein to sustain me from one meal to another. In other words, I’ve had to re-learn how to eat now that I have a post-40 lazy metabolism.

But with what I know now, the actual weight loss is the easy part of the program.

What’s hard are these:

1)    Knowing When To Stop

I have stayed far away from scales my entire life, especially when I was pregnant. I’d close my eyes and make the poor nurse record my upward weight gain silently. So when it came time to enter my Ideal Weight in my Weight Watchers Online registration form, I had no idea what it was. I picked a number randomly, probably some number I absorbed from reading an US Weekly magazine article on an Australian supermodel.

With a lot of hard work, discipline, and yes, some tears, I started dropping some pounds. At first no one noticed, not even me. Only my shiny new scale was the witness to this new phenomenon. Then, gradually, I lost more weight. Some started to notice. I got cautious questions: “Have you lost weight?” I lost more weight and I got outright compliments: “You look fantastic!”

But I kept going because I honestly didn’t know where to stop, and it was no good trying to judge myself by looking in the mirror. After at least 12 years of pregnancy ups and downs, I had no reference point. I started getting comments like these (and I did not make these up):

“Have you lost weight? Um…don’t lose any more, ok?”

“You’ve lost weight. Are you sick?”

Word to the Wise: If you start getting remarks like these, you have overshot your weight loss mark.

2)    Keeping the Weight Off

During the acute weight loss phase, counting points and writing down everything I ate was fine. But after a certain point, I wanted a break. I wanted a little freedom. Since I hit my weight loss goal, I could relax a little, right?

Yes and no. I don’t count every single point throughout the day, but since I have been on Weight Watchers, I’ve gotten to know the points and the portion sizes. I know if I’m planning on drinking several glasses of red wine at a party, then I had better cut back on the Christmas cookies. If I have a big slab of coffee cake on Christmas morning, I’d better not go over 4 points for my lunch…or dinner. If I have bad splurges where I eat cookies and drink red wine every day of the winter break, then I know I’m going to have to toe the line in January.

Word to the Wise: Maintenance is hard. For me, it’s a constant yo-yo between discipline and freedom that I haven’t quite figured out yet, but I’m working on it!

3)    What Do You Do With All The Extra Skin?

You’d think I’d finally be happy with my body now that the extra weight is off, but not so much. All that extra skin that used to hold the added weight is still there! Here’s the hard honest truth about weight loss: even though I’ve achieved my weight loss goal, I’m not done! I have to work at strengthening and conditioning my body to tone up that flabby skin. (Boy, my body is high maintenance!)

In addition to my cardio workouts, my Fitness New Year’s Resolution is to do a strength training class 3 times a week to get my body (abs) into bikini-wearing shape by mid-winter break in February. I’m already off to a great start because I’ve been doing a weight lifting class twice a week since September, and I have just added a toning class that hurt so badly that frankly I’m surprised I can still lift my arms high enough to type.

If you’re thinking all this monitoring of food intake and exercise is a lot for me to take on, don’t. I love it! (Well, not the food monitoring part.) I enjoy exercise, and I am really enjoying the results I’ve been seeing. Biceps? Yes, they now exist on my body. Abs? Yes, they are in excruciating pain after today’s class, which means that if I keep this up, I just might see some results in about six weeks.

What are your Fitness Resolutions? And remember, for a Resolution to be effective, it must:

1)    Be Specific.

2)    Be Measurable.

3)    Have a Time Frame.