Monday, April 30, 2012


Hello my old friend,

Yes, I am back once again.  Surely, you remember me.  I always look the same when I come to you again and again, so many  times over the years.

Then, just when I am feeling amazing, incredibly proud of myself, so close to the goal, I desert you.  It's sad, really, when I am on top of the world, and feel like I've got this, I say good-bye and don't look back.  I mistakenly believe I can do this on my own and don't need you anymore.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

It took me no time at all to gain back the 44 pounds I lost.  The downward spiral of weight gain swirled faster and faster.  Once the marathon was behind me and the crazy mileage I was logging training each week ended, the pounds caught up fast.  Faster than I hoped.  I am pretty sure I instantly jumped 4 clothing sizes in a blink of an eye.  Oy.

Last week, I had it.  I became so disgusted with myself and realized how very much I still need you by my side.  So here I am, ready to give it a go.  Get back in the saddle and back in control.  I have a long list of reasons why it is important that I do this.  I've had time to reflect and figure out why I can't fail again.  The top of my list is the kids.  I want to be healthy for them.  I want to have energy and be able to keep up.  I want to set a great example of what healthy eating looks like.  A close second is how I feel.  I want to be excited to wake-up each day and put on size 6 clothing knowing there is wiggle room and I am not busting out of them, cringing at myself in the mirror.  I like feeling the power over what I am eating and not the other way around.  I sleep better at night feeling good about my day and knowing I didn't go crazy with junk food.  And lastly, there's Jeff, my biggest source of support.  He jokes that he will always love me as long as I can fit through a door.  However, I don't want to test this theory and take pride in myself that I am weighing less now than I did when we got married. 

I have goals in mind.  It's funny, each time I start-up again, I quickly start doing the math.  Well if I lose 5 pounds a month (this is a realistic number to work with), how many months until I am back to my lowest weight?  What will be going on at that time of the year?  Is there some event I can work towards?  I am trying hard to not fall back into the same old traps.  I want my weight loss to stick this time!  Darn it, I will be successful.  So far, I've done a few things so unlike me.  The old me would be aghast at how different  I am proceeding down this familiar journey.  I am not weighing myself at home.  Really.  I figure that if I stay away from the scale, I will only concentrate on tracking what I eat and keeping count of the points.  I won't start playing the mind games, well the scale is already showing a 1 pound loss for the week, so I can slip a bit today.  Or, the scale is not showing any kind of loss yet, so I will make sure to go crazy with exercise.  The other healthier thing I am doing is not getting caught up in the semantics of weighing-in.  I haven't yet figured out the best day for me to go weigh-in each week.  I just know I need to make it in there at least once.  Whether I am a day or two short or a few days extra between my weeks, I am sticking to the plan and doing it.  And I am not getting all freaky about wearing the same exact outfit each week for weigh-in.  This time around does sound mentally healthier and a better balance, right?

So my friend, I know you believe in me because every time I turn around there is Jennifer Hudson singing that song on the commercial.  Now I need to believe in me.  I know I need to do this.  I am glad I started.  I don't want another 6 months to go by and not have done something.  Something good. 


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Summer 2012

We have less than 2 months to go and school will be out for the summer. Actually, due to the lack of snow days this current school year, FCPS voted to get out 2 days early. I am actually ok with this and very much looking forward to the summer with the kids. We have some fun plans in the works.

I hope I've achieved a good mix of camps, quality time with the grandparents, some day trips, a few weeks away in FL and a trip or two to the beach. Plus, a good amount of down time with nothing at all scheduled, but hanging out at the pool or hitting the local movie theatre and bowling alley.

The kids are on board with all the plans, but the highlight for me this summer will be when I tell them we are making a return trip to Great Wolf Lodge. Jeff and I are keeping this a surprise and we will let them know the night before, when we are eating dinner. Oh, what fun it will be to spring this on them! We are meeting up with some friends and it should be a good trip. Sam is one year older now and will be able to do more at the waterpark. Plus, the outdoor area should be open for us to play and swim in.

I am very optimistic about the summer. As the kids gets older, each year it becomes more fun to plan things for us to do. Let's see how long I make it before I am counting down to when school starts again. :)

Friday, April 20, 2012

The gentlemanly thing to do.

Sam and Ian have a bit of a competition going on between them.  They are taking delight in seeing who can go to Panera Bread for lunch more times without the other one being there.  It's funny that this is what they are bickering over.   When we pick Ian up from school, before he can even close his car door, Sam will say to her brother, "I went to Panera Bread for lunch and you didn't"   You can imagine how this makes Ian feel and thus the need to even the score on the rare occasion Sam has school and Ian doesn't. 

After Sam's appointment with the latest doctor, we found ourselves in Herndon, at lunch time, with a Panera Bread within walking distance.  Sam saw this Panera Bread from the parking lot and it was a no-brainer where we were headed after the appointment.  We walked in at the height of the lunch rush and took our place in line.  The line, incidentally, was about 35 people deep and went out the door.  Yowzer!  Sam and I were the ONLY ONES not wearing a business suit.  We were the ONLY MOTHER/CHILD combo.  Every single person (other than us) in the crazy-packed Panera Bread was a working professional.  Sam did great waiting in line with me and fortunately, it was only about 10 minutes before we made our way to the front.  The guy next up in line, saw the wave from the employee that he could go up and order, turned around and said to me, go on ahead.  We should take his place in line and be just a little closer to getting our food.  He was helping out a mom with a young child and did the gentlemanly thing.  It was very refreshing!

Unlike close to 3 years ago, when we had a group of about 5 moms and 12 young kids (all age 5 yrs and younger) eating at a Panera Bread, right after blueberry picking.  We got lucky and found a bank of empty tables that were all next to each other. This would allow our whole group to sit together and eat lunch.  It was perfect with the exception of one lone guy sitting at the end of one of the tables.  There were other tables available at Panera Bread.  You would think that this guy would've gotten a clue and offered to move to a different table.  But no, he literally sat there while our group of moms and kids crowded together, practically sitting in each other's laps, so this guy could have his 4 top all to himself.  It was really something else to see him just sit there and continue to eat.

In both situations, I think back to the men in my life and wonder what they would've done.  Without hesitation, I can tell you that my dad would have not only given up his place in line for a mom and her small child, but without any prompting he would've moved his food and himself to a nearby available table.  That's just the way he is.  No need to even ask if this would be his inclination to do.

However, after both experiences, I came home and posed the same situations to Jeff and asked him what he would've done.  I know that deep down Jeff has it in him to do the right thing.  However, it would probably take that person asking him and suggesting it first.  Jeff can be a bit oblivious (he'll admit this himself). He has a huge heart and would do what he can to help others. I know this and have seen him in action.  I only hope that we are raising a son with the same kindness instincts.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Sam meets her match!

Our first appointment with the Developmental Pediatrician was just Jeff and I filling the doctor in on everything going on with Sam.  We were able to sum up all her issues and give a detailed history within 1.5 hours.   Exactly one week later, it was Sam's turn to meet with the doctor.

The doctor introducing herself:

Dr P. :  Hi Samantha, how are you?

Sam:  I'm bored.

Ha! Ha!  Sam totally showed what she was about in just one hour.  After 30 minutes of "playing" with the doctor, she announced "I'm done.  I'm ready to go home now."  Sam was her ultimate herself.  She gave her classic answers to all of Dr. P's questions:  "No.", "Nothing!", and let's not forget, "Never." 

Dr. P. was able to charm Sam and get her to cooperate.  Fortunately, Dr. P. could see how bright Sam is, articulate with a strong vocabulary, playful, and has quite an imagination.  All good things.

The diagnosis came back.  It's official, among other things, Dr. P, wrote, "Although she enjoys interaction, she also seems to take delight in challenge and presenting challenges to others."  Ah, yes! 

Dr. P. confirmed that we are doing everything we should and to continue seeing the pediatrician gastroenterologist and the therapist to work on Sam's withholding issues.  Its going to take a very long time to correct this behavior, but it feels good to be moving in the right direction. 

Stick a fork in me (and Sam for that matter), we are done running around all over town getting poked and prodded looking for whatever is causing her challenging and difficult behavior.  Every since Sam started pooping regularly (albeit with the help of chocolate ex-lax), her temperament has done a 180 degree turn.  She is a joy to be around and loves showering us in kisses and hugs.  It's like the demon possessing Sam moved out.

Everyone who has older kids, says this is the easy time and just wait, it's when they are teenagers that parenting presents real challenges.  I really think Jeff and I have been broken in and warmed up to tackle the teenage years.  When its time, I'll be ready!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Juice no more

The kids' juice consumption was increasing greatly.  We had always been cutting the juice with water, but over the years, the full-strength juice that comes in juice boxes, capri-suns and when we are at restaurants/friend's houses was getting a little out of control.

I just got done reading the book "Scared to Poop" and was inspired to give up juice COMPLETELY(!) in our house. Drinking plain water is very beneficial for the digestive system.  The more water you can drink in your day, will help your body in functioning properly.

I told Jeff my plan and he was a bit skeptical it would work.  The kids have grown very accustomed to juice throughout their day.  I decided to come up with some ground rules.

-We will only start this after the kids have consumed all the juice we've already purchased.  UNFORTUNATELY, we had just stocked up on a sale and had 3 big bottles of white grape juice.  Plus, we had an assortment of juice boxes and Capri-suns in the fridge.  FORTUNATELY, this gave us plenty of time to warn the kids what was coming.  Literally for weeks, every time I gave one of them a drink of juice, I'd preface it with "As soon as we are done with this, it's only going to be water from now on."

-The kids will continue to have their milk/smoothies in the morning and can have another one right before bed, but that's it.  We are not replacing juice with chocolate milk or smoothies.  No sirree! 

-When we are at a friend's house or restaurant, anything goes!  The kids will be allowed to have juice (full strength!)  if they want.  It will be a special treat and it still stays out of the house.

We've been officially out of juice now for close to 4 days.  I have to say, it has been the easiest transition ever.  All the warning I gave the kids paid off.  On Friday morning when Sam said she was thirsty, I handed her a cup of water and she said, "Oh, I like water now."  Whew, that could've so easily gone the other way.  I had sort of envisioned a drink stand-off and Sam not drinking anything all day until it was time for bed, when she can have a smoothie.

Score one for Mommy!  And of course, score one for Daddy too and helping to reinforce this.  These are good habits we are getting the kids in to that will hopefully stay with them their whole lives.

My work here is done.  Well, not quite.  But it feels good to come out on top for this idea.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Passover Perfect

We are currently ending the holiday of Passover.  It has gone swimmingly well this year.  I reflect back to the wonderful Passover Seders with my family growing up and hope that similar fond memories will be created and live within my kids.

We were fortunate to be invited to a friend's Seder the first night and to go to my in-laws for a Seder the 2nd night.  Both were incredibly special in their own ways. 

I loved so many aspects of Passover this year and will do my best to capture a few of the highlights in a top 10 list.  (Jeff - I write this, paying homage to you and your infamous top 10 lists).

Top 10 Things I Loved About Passover This Year:
(in no particular order)

10.  Knowing my dad got out of the hospital just in the nick of time go to my sister's for Passover Seder at her house.  My dad was hospitalized due to a staph infection and it was not certain when he'd be able to get released.  Come to think of it, knowing him, he may have escaped and not actually got discharged.

9.  Watching Ian and Sam partake in the Seders.  Both kids did an excellent job sitting through the service before we got to the food part.  I am very proud of them. 

8.  Since I am gluten-free, it's relatively easy to keep Passover.  I'm already not eating regular bread and pasta.  The supply of baked goodies that are gluten-free AND kosher for passover are through the roof!  It gets better and better each year.

7. Doing the 2nd night of Passover at my in-laws and spending the night. Since it was Saturday, we didn't have to rush home afterwards.  It was great getting to spend some extra time and not watch the clock on making it home in time to get the kids down.

6. Being with our friends on Friday night and watching the kids at the table.  It was truly wonderful to see how much these kids have grown and celebrate this important Jewish holiday together. Given that there are very few Jewish kids in Ian's class at school, I love that they have each other. 

5. Watching Ian be open enough to try gefilte fish for the first time and enjoying it.  He ate a whole serving of fish both nights. 

4. Listening to Ian read the Four Questions.  It was really wonderful to see how far his reading has come.  There is no way he was capable of doing this just one year ago.

3. One of the most entertaining Sedars I get to participate in has been adopted by Jeff's parents.  It is a very family-friendly version of the haggadah.  90% of the Seder is telling the story through song parodies.  We always have great fun year after year singing classic tunes of "Gilligan's Island", "I've been working on the railroad", the "Twelve days of Christmas", and more; all with the words changed to tie it in to the Passover Seder.

2. The availability of Gluten-free matzoh.  Yay to Whole Foods for carrying this item and having plenty in stock.

1. The most awesome scavenger hunt my friend created for the 8 kids to partake in to find the Afikomen.  Or, was it just a wild goose chase that led to anything but the Afikomen?  Each of the clues were tailored to the kids' personalities perfectly.  It was truly unique and the kids loved it.

Sam's Clue:  Sam, you remind of us all that princesses have to offer.  You are Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White.  Go find clue #4.  (The clue was in the dress-up clothing box).

Ian's Clue: Ian, your wise and smart and would never need to use one of these to do any math problems because you are a math genius.  Go find clue #7.  (The clue was under a calculator).

Passover Perfect.  :)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Most. Productive. Day. Ever.

Friday, March 30th:
Awake at 5:30am, took shower, got dressed

Made blueberry muffins, packed Ian's lunch, put Sam's wash in the washing machine.

Gave the kids breakfast, got Sam dressed

Put Sam's wash in the dryer, put Ian's in the washer

Right before leaving the house, got Ian's clothes put in the dryer

Got the kids to school:  Ian by 9:00am, Sam by 9:30am

I had to be back to Sam's school by 11:30am for a special Passover Sedar program.  In the 2 hours I had kid-free, I got the following done:

-Whole Foods - to stock up on GF matzo
-Our place nearby where we go for swim lessons to sign the kids up for the next session
-Kohls - to do an exchange/return and spend the $50 in Kohls cash we had
-Target - fastest time ever spending $150, stuck to the list and found all 10 items in 10 minutes!

Made it to Sam's school by 11:30am!

Left Sam's school at 12:40pm.  Met Kelly for lunch (with Sam) at 1:00pm at Chipotle.
1:50pm - went to the liquor store nearby to get the ingredients needed for a sangria I was making Saturday night.
2:00pm to 3:10pm - grocery shopping with Sam (all 3 pages!)
3:15 to 3:40pm - put groceries away at home
3:45pm - picked Ian up from school
4:00pm to 4:45pm - took kids to Dairy Queen for ice cream

6:00pm - fed kids dinner  (Jeff was out till midnight with a baseball fantasy draft event).

Ordered item at Best for pick-up on Saturday at their store, put another order on Amazon.

6:30pm - folded and put away Sam and Ian's clothes

7:00pm - vacuumed and mopped the floors

8:00pm - put Sam down to bed

8:30pm - cleaned the bathrooms, put Ian down to bed, dusted all surfaces

11:00pm - researched for best pricing and booked all our plane tickets needed for FL this summer- me to get the kids, the kids & I to come back together.

11:30pm - read the whole book, "Scared to Poop"

12:45am - went to sleep.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Heard and Observed #34

Ian's school had a dentist come and give a presentation about good dental health.  Yowzer, this had a BIG impact on Ian. 
A day or two later the following conversation transpired between Sam and Ian:

Sam (picking out a lollipop from the cookie jar for herself):  Ian, do you want a lollipop?
Ian:  No, they are too full of um,,,..(trying very hard to think of the word)

Sam:  Flavor?

Ian:  No, sugar.


Sunday, April 8, 2012


After reading "The Strange Case of Origami Yoda" and it's sequel "Darth Paper Strikes Back", Ian and I fell in love with reading together each evening and decided to keep it going with a new series of books.

We did it!  We've read all 6 books of "The Diary of Wimpy Kid" series.  It's quite impressive when you think about it.  We started the books (they are each 217 pages long) at the beginning of January and by mid-March, they were all read.   Now, this is in addition to the nightly reading his school requires, the homework Ian has each week, and of course the reading Jeff does (think: Scooby-do books) each night before bed.

 Once we started nearing the end of the last book, Ian asked if I would get him "The Wimpy Kid: Do-It-Yourself Book".   You don't have to ask me twice to get Ian something that he wants to practice his writing.  He actually brings this book to school with him and will write in it (with his friends) during snack time.  How cute is that!?!?
Oh, how I would love to give you all a glimpse of what Ian is writing about, but I will respect his privacy and not publish it.  Please know, that it is super cute and it is about a girl!   

Friday, April 6, 2012

Reason to smile

The other day, I had picked Sam up from school and we were headed home.  During the drive, I looked in the rear view mirror and saw Sam smiling.  She was happy, just sitting there in her seat, listening to the radio, with a smile on her face.  It was a beautiful thing and took my breath away.  Not to be so dramatic over this simple gesture, but I can't remember this ever happening. 

For so long I've been walking around on egg shells and doing my best to not piss her off.  It seemed like Sam was in a continually bad mood and every little thing set her off...some times it would be over absolutely nothing.  She was quick to anger, get intensely angry and lose all sense of reason.  Her temper tantrums and meltdowns would go on for a crazy amount of time and there was very little you could do to get her to calm down. This was multiple times a day, every day.  Fortunately, it was just with Jeff and me, but that meant this negative energy would have time to build up and explode when she was with us.

You don't realize what hell you've been accustomed to living in until you see the sun shining brightly and can breathe normal again.  I've found that when stressed, I'll unconsciously hold my breath in.  This has been going on for so long (we are approaching one year), that is was difficult to see the trees through the forrest.  I knew there was a big problem with Sam and it took everything I had to get these appointments made with all these doctors and wait our turn to be seen.  If anyone is thinking of changing careers, become a pediatric speciality in anything and you will have a line out your door a mile long waiting to get in.

For the past several weeks, Sam has been spending a large amount of time at various doctors and therapy trying to get to the bottom of it all.  It turns out that not pooping (she recently made it a full 18 day stretch without fully going) can really wreak havoc with your temperament.  We are not sure why Sam has this psychological need to hold in her poop (that's for the therapist to figure out and work on), but the pediatric GI doctor has us on a regimen to get her cleaned-out and going regularly.  In fact, we are intentionally inducing diarrhea (think oatmeal consistency) to happen every day for the next several months.  The goal is to get her so far removed from having to push out a bowel movement that she forgets about holding it in.  Of course Sam is back to wearing pull-ups and will be for quite some time, but this is for the best.  I am sure Target is missing the weekly sale of 20 pairs of girls underwear each week that I was purchasing, because of all the overflow soiling previously going on.

We are not out of the woods yet.  We are in the middle of a series of appointments with a pediatric developmental pediatrician who will look at both the medical and behavioral issues and give us the full picture.  I have to admit it is a big relief to be moving in the right direction.  It will be up to a year (according to the GI doctor) before the pooping can get to normal, but I am so excited to be seeing a little progress. Seriously, it is a night and day difference with her temperament and disposition.

I am enjoying being around Sam.  She is delightful.  We are having fun together.  The diarrhea daily (some times up to 3 times a day) I will gladly embrace and clean-up if it means I am around someone who is human.  And not around someone who is constantly cranky, irritable, quick to anger, and fly off the handle. I guess you would be too if you only went poop every 12 to 18 days.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Really, it's Chinese.

Kudos to Jeff for successfully pulling the wool over Sam's eyes.  She has been dying to eat Chinese and Jeff told her the next time we go to a restaurant, she can pick it.  The opportunity came up a few Fridays ago when our dinner plans at a friend's house fell thru and we used the opportunity to go out to eat. 

When we were dating, I introduced Jeff to Cafe Asia in Arlington. Jeff wasn't familiar with Japanese food and I enjoyed showing him some of my favorite rolls and edamame.  He instantly fell in love with the place, and we've been back many times.  Although, we've had yet to eat there since having two kids.  It just isn't convenient to where we live and the food generally has to be more kid-friendly in order to justify going to a restaurant.

But, what the hell, we decided to go for it.  Jeff's office he works at on Fridays is located a few blocks up the street from Cafe Asia.  We decided the kids and I would drive in and meet him at 5:15pm. Jeff told Sam she is getting her pick of restaurants and we will be doing Chinese.  However, Ho's Dynasty (our fave place) is closed (boo-hoo! They've shut down for good), and we will need to go a little further for Chinese food.

During the drive to Arlington:

Sam:  "Ian, we are going to CHINESE!!!!!  It's my choice. I picked it!  It's CHINESE!!!!!"

Ian:  "I know, I can't wait to get sweet and sour chicken."

Me:  "Ian, um, this place isn't going to have sweet and sour chicken.' 

Ian:  "WHAT!?!?  What Chinese restaurant doesn't have sweet and sour chicken?"

Can't blame the kid...he's right you know.

Sam:  "Ian, its CHINESE!!!!!!!!"

Ian:  "Then what will I get?"

Sam:  "CHINESE FOOD!!!!!"

Oy, poor girl is going to grow-up so confused after this restaurant experience.

Me:  "You'll be able to get spring rolls, noodles, and other chicken dishes."

Sam: "I want noodles!!"

Ian:  "I want Mexican.  The next time we go out, I get to pick.  I want Mexican."

Sam:  "Can I get noodles at Mexican?"

Me:  "Yes, you can."

Ian:  "No, you can't get noodles at Mexican!"

Sam:  "Can we go to a Mexican restaurant that you can get noodles?"

Me:  "Can we just make it through this restaurant first before we begin arguing on where we will go next?"

It was an easy drive into town -- how sad that Arlington is considered "in town" to me now, and parking was a breeze.  We decided to eat outside.  Friday, March 23rd was a gorgeous day and it was nice to have fresh air and enjoy the outdoors.

Even though we knowingly went to restaurant with no kids menu (hard to believe, right?), the food was a big hit with Ian and Sam.  They ate incredibly well and Ian even tried a cucumber roll and asparagus roll for the first time and really liked it.  He didn't even spit it out when I told him it was wrapped in seaweed.  He said next time he'd like to try a salmon roll. 

Hold on to your socks, we even stayed longer than 45 minutes!  We actually ate the food in the right order, appetizers and then the entrees.  Whoa, baby! 

Monday, April 2, 2012

Finding my voice

My dad showed me at a young age what it means to believe in something.  He has got to be the most patriotic person I know, and I am pretty sure he bleeds red, white and blue.  You don't come between my dad and the U.S.  Having fought in the Vietnam war (front lines baby, carrying the radio with its ridiculously long and very noticeable antenna), he had little tolerance for Jane Fonda and her act of betrayal for our men fighting for our country.  I remember like it was yesterday, when my dad took my friend and I to the mall in the early 80's. He and other individuals protested outside the store Jane Fonda was at promoting some exercise video or something.  My friend and I were inside the store killing time, watching Jane do her thing and outside my dad was circling the mall parking lot holding up "Hanoi Jane" signs.

It doesn't come easy for me to speak up.  Oh sure, I talk a good game and am quick to point out a situation being handled unfairly or injustice being done. But telling the people in charge and making my views known for the record, doesn't come second nature.  Confrontation, not matter how politely packaged, is still confrontation.

With age has come the ability (and chutzpah!) to find my voice.  I am proud of myself.  These past few months, I not only spoke-up once, but twice on different matters.

The first being the kids' swim teacher.  The mom whose daughter got stuck with this gem, I see each Saturday.  You can actually see her blood boiling during the lesson and getting peeved over exactly the same issues I had.  I encouraged her to speak up and say something to the swim director.  But she didn't and got stuck with this 'teacher' week after week.  There is no way they will know there is a problem or do things differently, unless you say something.

The most current situation, where I've spoken up, is with our synagogue. My daughter goes to preschool and has one year left before entering kindergarten.  For many reasons, it has turned out not to be the place we once thought.  It would be so easy to continue sending Sam there next year and not ruffle any feathers, but no, a stand needed to be taken.  My family and I are making a big switch and starting July, we will have a new synagogue to call home.  Ian and Sam don't know yet the changes that are taking place, but as soon as religious school (Ian goes on Sundays) and preschool is done (at the end of May), we will sit down and tell them. I want them to know that Daddy and I didn't take the easy way out.  That we are standing up for what we believe in and how important it is to us.  Fortunately a lot of Sam's friends are changing with us, so it will be relatively seamless for her.  But this is a big deal to us and a decision that didn't come lightly.  We've been experiencing some backlash, but until the year is over, I continue going there almost daily, holding my head up high.

In both situations I knew it was the right thing to do almost instantly.  Albeit, I was nervous, like first day of school jitters, but a weight came off my shoulders and I felt this immense sense of relief.  It was out there.  I had issues.  I wanted them known.  I was planning on taking action no matter how my comments were received and I felt good about it.  A smile came on my face and I knew deep down I did the right thing.  There was no second guessing myself.  It was the right decision to speak up on behalf of my family and it was in the best interest of my kids.

I will use this newfound power wisely.  More than anything I want to set an example for my kids and show them not to cower on the sidelines and let others do the dirty work for you, if they decide to do it at all.  I want them to see that even though it is more difficult to step-up, it is also the most honorable.

I thank my parents for giving me these values and hope I make them proud, like they did me.