Sunday, April 13, 2014

To the Woman at Jim's Restaurant

Dear Woman at Jim's Restaurant on IH-10 This Morning, Palm Sunday:

Hi there.  You don't know me, even though you think you might, after witnessing what was definitely not one of my finest hours as a parent.

I'm the person for whom you left a note.  The note I never read, because I have the greatest husband in the world that would do anything to protect me.

I just have a few questions for you, despite the unlikelihood that you'll see this.

When you placed your handwritten, back-of-the-receipt note next to me, what exactly did you think you would accomplish?

Did you expect I might be mad?
Did you think you'd make me cry?
Did you just want to vent?

Were you thinking, "Maybe if I let this woman know what a horrible mother she is, I'll be doing the world a favor."

Were you thinking, "If I point out this mother's mistakes, maybe she'll change her ways.  Surely she can take some criticism from a complete stranger about her parenting skills."

Were you thinking, "Those children are just angels.  Why would that terrible ogre of a mother be angry or frustrated in the least?  Poor little things. They don't deserve this."

Were you thinking, "You know, it's Palm Sunday...I think I'll show what a good Christian I am by letting this woman know her parenting tactics are too brutal for those innocent kids."

Were you thinking, "There's no way that mother could be having a really bad morning in any way.  I really should not cut her any slack, whatsoever."

Were you thinking, "I really want to make sure that woman cries today."

Were you thinking, "I hope this reinforces any self-doubts she already has."

Were you thinking, "I hope this woman understands that not all women support her role."

Were you thinking, "Children like that shouldn't be in restaurants if parents can't handle them."

Were you thinking, "What is wrong with your kid?"

Were you thinking, "What is wrong with that mother?"

I wondered all of these things after finding out you left a note for me.

A note that my husband saw you slip stealthily beside me before you walked out of the restaurant.  He reached over and took it while I obliviously attempted to calm my 6 year old daughter Paige--and myself--down after she fell on the floor in the restaurant.  This, after a morning of Easter Bunny pictures and many wrong decisions according to Phoebe, our autistic 8 year old daughter.  Nothing was right for her that morning--lots of stimming, yelling, and tears.  We met friends at Jim's, a local favorite coffee shop/restaurant.  It was already loud and busy when we got there; Paige's fall just added to the chaos.  She slipped on spilled liquid and down she went, in a very narrow area on the way to our table. Paige couldn't hear me because she was crying after she fell, so I picked her up to her feet and told her to walk. "Come on, Paige.  Come on.  You're okay.  We will look at it when we sit down.  Let's go."  Phoebe was in between us, not moving.  "Phoebe.  Phoebe!  GO!  Let's go." (ensue yelling from Phoebe) All of this rough communication was transpiring in the area where the waitstaff come out of the kitchen so I was in a bit of a panic--I needed to get my kids to move to get out of their way.  Yet every single time I attempted to walk, I ended up stepping on Paige's toe because she would NOT move.  So, we finally get to the table, and I was just about at the end of my rope.  Yes, I was short with them.  Yes, I was probably a little loud.  Yes, I was frustrated.  All I wanted to do was sit down. We got Paige calmed down, inspected her leg, talked to the waitress about her slipping, got Phoebe settled, crayons were opened, juice in front of them, and I found myself checking Paige's leg again to see if there's swelling, talking to her about watching her step.  That's when you swooped in with your note.

I saw Matt reading something, perhaps a receipt? That's what it looked like. He was frowning.

I noticed handwriting on the back of it and asked, "What's that?"

He looked up at me, closed the paper up, and said matter-of-factly, "You don't need to know."

I said, "What? What is it?"

He replied, "It's a note.  I saw a lady put it next to you before she walked out.  You don't want to read it."

He then tore it up into tiny pieces and threw it on the floor.  He was visibly disgusted.

My heart sank.  I think I knew what it said, even though I really didn't know.  For a second, though--just a little second--I thought maybe some wonderfully understanding Mom might have written me a note of encouragement...a little, "Hang in there, it will get better." because you know on days like this we could all use one.


You spanked me.

I'm 43 years old, mother of two, a wife...and I got spanked by you.  Hard.

All my insecurities about who I am as a mother--well, really, as a person--came hurtling toward the surface of my very soul.  In ten seconds--the ten seconds it took me to even process what had just happened--without even reading your words--my confidence about my mothering skills (including the ones necessary to raise an autistic child) were shattered.  As much as I hated myself for doing it, I began to tear up.  Right there in Jim's.  I that was what you wanted, too?

Matt reached over and took my hand.  He smiled at me.  He said, "You don't need to worry about that."  His love for me was so great, even at that moment when I was perhaps acting very ugly, that he would not let me see your hurtful words.  This made me even more sad, because I knew he was the one that had to read it.  He knew what you wrote.  It hurt him, too.  Did you want that as well?

As we sat in silence, simmering and processing, I realized that maybe this was a lesson for me for Palm Sunday.  Jesus went into Jerusalem, and even though there were so many people that loved and supported him, showing their appreciation with palms laid down as he entered the city, there were others that were not so loving, and not so supportive--and in the end, these people cheered his death.  But Jesus remained steadfast and loved them, anyway.  He loved them anyway. It was a lesson in forgiveness for me.

So, Woman at Jim's Restaurant, while I don't really want to "thank you",  I feel I should.  I must also let you know that despite your questionable intentions, you did not make me sad for very long. Because as we ate our breakfast and talked with our friends and our kids, our smiles came back and soon enough we were laughing. Additionally, I forgive you.  I forgive whatever it was you were trying to do.  I will never know what that was specifically, but I have an idea. You are forgiven.  And may you forgive anyone that chooses to criticize your parenting on any day, not just one of your bad ones.

God bless you.


Polly McDonald

Monday, February 3, 2014

Run Disney. Uh...Whut?

Did you know that, in January of each year, hundreds of people descend upon Disney World

I did not know this until my childhood friend Amy started posting her run pics on facebook about two years ago.  Fun, sparkly medals, chicks bonding over their run costumes--which vary from Buzz Lightyear tutus to Cinderella tiaras and tights...I thought, "Wow, I wish I were a runner!"  I marveled at how she could do these 1/2 marathons, how she took one (or both) of her daughters with her, setting not just a fitness example, but a goal-fulfilling example: "Work hard, achieve the reward, do it all over again".  Veni, vidi, vici, right?  I'm on board.  I love that kind of thinking.

Unfortunately, I didn't really come from a family that looked at fitness that way.  The last thing my father wanted to do when he got home from work go exercise.

And unfortunately on top of all unfortunatelies, all of my family is dead and gone, save for my siblings & cousins.  Dad: 63, heart attack.  Mom, 66, cancer.  Grandma, 88, well God bless her, she probably would still be here if it hadn't been for a persistent staph infection.  Grandfather, kidney disease. Aunts and Uncles, heart issues or cancer.

So you can see I have a little motivation to get healthy, now that I'm 43 and can see down that barrel pretty well.

I have always--always--always hated to run.  Running was for tiny people with small boobs.  Not 5'10" behemoths with breasts the size of basketballs.  Graceful, I have never been; "lithe" and "athletic" are not words in my lexicon.

"Stubborn", however, is.

So every few years, I'd try to run.  I'd buy a new pair of fancy running shoes, grab my Walkman (followed by Discman) stretch for a minute, and sprint off like an idiot.  And always, I'd hobble back like an injured giraffe, about 10 minutes into it, feeling like my boobs were going to fall off, heaving and gulping and vowing never to try that crap again in my lifetime.

I would do this at least 5 or 6 more times; then I turned 30 and forgot all about that nonsense.  Not only that, but I had really gained significantly and there was no way I could ever try it again.

But that stubbornness has creeped back, and you see, it just doesn't get any less as you get older.  It is almost life-affirming by this point.  There's got to be some sort of primitive fight-or-flight crap going on here, right?  You'd think so, because I am so stubborn and defiant about stuff now. "OhIsureCANdothat,thankyouverymuch" runs through my head a lot these days.  And so it went, when I realized yet again that I wanted to run.

Matt was not supportive initially.  He downright balked at running with me, which is understandable as he not only has the flattest feet in the world, but he has a paternal uncle whose knees and back are just shot from running daily.  So I had to know going in I was doing it alone.  I had to be okay with that.  Once Matt realized I was not interested in running a marathon, he was more on board.  When he realized it was more of a personal goal, a quest, to do it, he became 100% behind it.

And that's how I decided I was going to train to do the Disney 10K run for January 2015.

Go ahead. I'll wait until you're done choking.

And that's when my sister--unlikeliest of candidates besides myself--decided she was going to do it with me.

No, no, it's okay.  I'll clean that up.

I think my parents would be very proud.  That is, after they picked themselves up off the floor.

So I got online and bought myself 2 new Enell sports bras to hold the girls in, and they work like a charm, especially when I double up with a regular bra underneath. Hey, you do what you gotta do.

I will definitely update along the way with my progress.  For the last two weeks, I've been doing the Runner's World training schedule for beginners, which is found right here:

It's very simple--you run until you can't breathe, then walk.  When you catch your breath again, you run.  Then walk when you can't breathe.  Repeat, repeat.  Soon enough, you're supposed to be running the entire time.

Of course, my goal with the 10K is to finish; I'm not looking for time.  I know I do not have to run the entire 6.2 miles.  I can run, then walk, then run, then walk.  Further, I am hoping to practice with my first 5K in April.

How have you been inspired to try something you've never done before?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Video Update: Got A Fill Today

Getting a Fill Today...

I have an appointment to see my surgeon today.  I am so incredibly frustrated with the weight gain.  I knew it was going to be rapid once I could eat again, but I had no idea it was going to be so much, so fast.  Even with my exercise plan this month, Atkins, and my 3x's a week walk/run and Yoga, I've managed to gain 23 lbs since Thanksgiving.  Very upsetting. BUT--I am not giving up.  I will be back under 200 again.  I am hoping that we are able to find my supposed "sweet spot" so that I can lose. I will report back when I return!  Prayers are appreciated.  Three years into my band and I can't seem to get this thing to work with me, it's always an extreme (like...oh....starving to death <500 calories a day?).   Self-pay sucks when you're fine-tuning all the time.  I just have to stay focused on my mission, which is overall fitness, and my 1 year goal which is running the Disney 10K next January with my sister Robin.

I know I can do it. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

What I Have Learned About My Body, My Thyroid, and My Weight

Oh boy.  Well, in a nutshell--I have to exercise every day.

Every single day.

Some form of aerobic exercise: walking, jogging, swimming.

30 minutes, really.  Not a lot.

But every day?

Yes, if I want to eat actual food.  Not junk food.  Just food.  That I cook.

I had no idea, really.  Not until the light bulb popped up over my head when I weighed in this morning 3 lbs heavier than when I started Atkins last week.

Big time sad face.  I hate my thyroid.

I'm going to have to learn to love exercise more than I love chillin'.

I can't wait until my lap-band fill on the 29th.

That is all.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Homemade Oreo Cookies...Valentine's Day Sweets

I love Valentine's Day!  When I was a kid, my Mother would make a fun deal out of it, with a little treat, trinket, or toy for my sister and myself to see when we got home from school that day.  I couldn't walk home fast enough on those special days. She always had the right touch and unique style to make it a holiday to remember.  When I got older, it was obviously less interesting, as I was hoping for a "real" valentine from some goofy boy (and that never materialized), but it was still a comfort to know that Mom already thought of me.  In fact, she thought of me almost every single Valentine's Day until she passed away, with a card or little something.  That's just how she was.  I miss that.  It is gone forever.

Now, it is my turn to pass on that love to my kids.  One of their favorite cookies in the whole world is a Nabisco Oreo, much to my surprise, as we never had Oreos growing up.  If we had chocolate sandwich cookies of any kind, they were Sunshine Hydrox, or my personal favorite, Famous Amos.  I say "if", because we really didn't have very many packaged cookies, unless they were Windmill cookies or Vienna Fingers for my lunchbox.  Sometimes assorted Mother's cookies--Taffy or Iced Oatmeal. If we had cookies for special times, my Mom made them from scratch.  But occasionally, there would be chocolate sandwich cookies in a package up on the top shelf of the pantry (later I realized it was my Dad that had bought them).   They were a treat for sure.

In my Good Housekeeping "Cookies!" cookbook, there is a recipe for Refrigerator Cookies using cocoa.  I adapted it in only one way, using Dutched Cocoa rather than Natural Cocoa.  These chocolatey cookies turn out to be just the right crunchy texture and size to sandwich a fluffy layer of my vanilla icing into bite-sized goodness.  I made them last night to test out and the girls gobbled their samples right up.  Paige (my 5 year old) said, with a grin, "Oh! They're Mommy Oreos!"  and proceeded to lick the filling from the two cookies like a pro.  She then wanted to dip the cookies in milk.  Phoebe (my 8 year old) was my biggest worry, since they don't exactly look like Oreos (my girl has autism and is quite par-tic-u-lar)...but she devoured hers, and asked for more. I was the happiest Mommy on the planet. <3

For Valentine's Day, you could make the dough a few days ahead of time, wrap it in waxed paper, and cut when you're ready.  You can also make the icing ahead of time and keep it in the fridge with the dough.  When you're ready to assemble, just put a little bit, about a teaspoon or so--on the bottom side of one of the cookies and top it with another...and voilá!  Put  a half-dozen together and place them in a small treat bag or box, wrap with ribbon, and leave for your child to see when they return home.  A sweet treat for your loved ones that they will surely enjoy!

And now, the recipe:

Chocolate Refrigerator Cookies (from Good Housekeeping)

1 2/3 c. flour
1/2 c. white granulated sugar
1/2 c. light brown sugar
1/2 c. dutch-process cocoa (cocoa with alkali)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 c. unsalted butter
2 squares of semi-sweet chocolate, melted and somewhat cooled
1 tsp. vanilla
1 large egg

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In a large bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat butter and both brown & white sugars until light and fluffy.  Beat in chocolate and vanilla until well combined.  Beat in egg. Reduce speed to low and beat in flour mixture until well combined.
Divide dough in half. On seperate sheets of waxed paper, shape each half into a 12" x 1 1/2" log.  Wrap each log in waxed paper and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350*F.  Move one rack in the oven to the top and one rack to the bottom. Cut one log into scant 1/4" thick slices.  Bake until firm, 10 to 11 minutes, rotating sheets between upper and lower oven racks halfway through baking.  Cool on cookie sheets for one minute before transferring to wire cooling racks.
Repeat with remaining refrigerated log.

1/2 c. high-ratio shortening
1 to 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla
1-2 T milk
pinch of salt

Beat shortening until light and fluffy; add powdered sugar slowly.  Add milk, vanilla, and salt.  Beat until combined thoroughly. Let icing rest for about an hour before use.

spoon on about 1 tsp of icing, and use another cookie to top it.


I hope you make Valentine's Day special for someone you love, or that someone makes it special for you!


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Quick Ketostix Pic...Induction is ON!

Nothing makes an Atkins dieter happier than seeing this!

HOYEAH!  I feel like Peggy Hill... :-)