Category Archives: math

The Snapshot

On Sunday evening, Mike and I took the boys to Chili’s to eat dinner and watch USA play Portugal in the World Cup. Upon being seated, we discovered that Chili’s has tablets on each table that can be used to order drinks, pay the bill, and play games. For a mere 99 cents, the kids could play unlimited games while we ate, and I thought it was awesome because it meant we had a fighting chance of lasting more than 30 minutes before the kids expired and/or Riley announced that he had to poop…badly. I was so excited that I posted this snapshot on my social media accounts.


Later, I received this comment:

“Such a shame when I think that dinner is a good time to talk to your kids and have great conversations.”


Believe it not, I’m relatively new at receiving and responding (or not responding) to negative comments on the blog and/or social media. (Just to clarify, negative comments and rejection are two different things.   I’ve received plenty of the latter.) I’ve been writing as The Runaway Mama for nearly four years, and this was just one of two off-putting comments I’ve ever received about my writing or my social media presence. The other – a doozy – came a few weeks ago about my Mother’s Day post from a person who wrote: “what a self-absorbed bitch.”


Dylan is really funny in that he can watch an explosive, large-scale, and violent scene in super hero movie like “Man of Steel” and be totally and completely fine, but he is forever scarred from watching “The Lion King,” “E.T.,” “Finding Nemo,” and the scene in “Toy Story 3” where Lotso tells the story of how he and Big Baby were lost and replaced by their owner. One is too big and shocking to absorb, and the others tug at where he’s most vulnerable…his heart.

Similarly, the “self-absorbed bitch” comment was so crazy hateful that it meant far less to me than the passive aggressive words of disapproval about my parenting (ouch). The thing about our Sunday night dinner at Chili’s, though, is that so much else happened outside of the snapshot of the boys playing on the tablet.

Mike and I stole some quiet time to talk, reminisce, and laugh without interruption. We felt connected and happy, and that doesn’t happen often enough these days!

We talked about healthy eating with the kids. Mike insisted that the boys try the guacamole because avocados are tasty and full of protein and “good” fat. They refused (of course), which prompted a friendly debate over whether or not an avocado is a fruit or a nut (it’s a fruit, by the way).

We celebrated futball! When USA scored their first goal, Mike and I laughed (again!) because we both missed seeing it live due to intense guacamole negotiations.

We had a sensory victory! Dylan ate a french fry (a french fry!), which made me explode with pride. If you’re more than a first-time or one-time reader, you know that Dylan has a limited diet due to sensory processing disorder, so trying any new food, wherever it falls on the healthy eating spectrum and even if it’s a fatty, greasy french fry, is a very good thing!

We explored concepts in math and money. For every three bites of macaroni & cheese Riley ate, I gave him one dollar. For every one dollar he paid me, I gave him a handful of tortilla chips that were leftover from the guacamole, which he eventually did taste and immediately declared, “I don’t like it.” In then end, he ate a pretty good dinner and went home with two dollars in his pocket.

We had a bathroom adventure (of course). Riley inevitably announced that he had to go to the bathroom. He promised he just had to pee, so we let him and Dylan go together. Mike checked on them a few minutes later and discovered Riley in a stall with the door locked saying he couldn’t get out. Dylan was going to crawl under the door to free him and said to Mike, “Don’t tell Mommy,” because he knew I’d be upset that he touched the floor (my valiant son!). In the end, Mike talked Riley into unlocking the door on his own, and they all returned to the table with a bath in their future and great story to tell.

We experienced the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat (or the draw). Dylan was standing next to me when USA made their second goal. It was amazing! We hugged and cheered and yelled “GOOOOOOAAAALLLL!” along with every other crazy, screaming person in the restaurant, and I’ll never forget that special moment. Soon after, we watched stunned as Portugal scored in the last seconds of the game. Boo.

Chili’s is my new favorite restaurant to take the kids, and the snapshot I shared on social media was just that – a snapshot that was a part of a much larger story about a family sharing a meal together at a local bar and grill.

One of the most important lessons that being a parent has taught me is to resist the urge to misinterpret or judge others (and myself!) because the journey is long, surprises await every turn, and I’m doing the very best I can from one moment to the next all the while hoping they add up to something authentic and honest in the end. I like to think most parents would agree with me on this. Regardless, I still look forward to your comments (gulp).


Filed under bathroom, eating out, food issues, math, movie, parenting, sensory processing disorder, writing

Basal Cell Carcinoma…By The Numbers

13: The date. On Friday the 13th [insert dramatic music], I had Mohs surgery to remove a basal cell carcinoma (i.e. cancer) from my face.

Mohs surgery is a precise surgical technique used to treat skin cancer. During Mohs surgery, layers of cancer-containing skin are progressively removed and examined until only cancer-free tissue remains.


4:45: The hours and minutes the procedure, including Mohs surgery and plastic surgery, took from start to finish.

2: The number of doctors who treated me.  First, a dermatologist who specialized in Mohs micrographic surgery.  Second, a plastic surgeon who closed the wound.

Infinity: The number of times the right side of my face was poked with a long metal needle filled with local anesthesia. As a point of clarification, the assistant at the dermatologist’s office, Maggie, anesthetized me with a gentle and caring hand. Thank you, dear Maggie. You have the hands of an angel. I adore you. Later on, the arrogant self-confident plastic surgeon robotically stabbed my face over and over again with the gentle hands of an axe murderer.

2: Number of rounds of Mohs surgery before my face was officially cancer free.

50: The percent chance that the cancer would be gone after the first cut. I lost that round, but some people get cut three or four times, so there is gratitude hidden deep in this tale.

$.10: The wound on my face after two rounds of Mohs surgery was approximately the size of a dime.

2: The number of times I cried at the plastic surgeon’s office after Tanya, the assistant, explained what the scar on my face would look like and how it would most likely swell, give me a black eye, and take months to heal.

Here’s the thing about how my anxiety works.  I climb one mountain at a time.

Two hours earlier, I was anxious about how many cuts the Mohs dermatologist would have to make. An hour before that, I was worried about getting the kids dressed, packing their lunches, and dropping them off at school on time. Fourteen hours earlier, I was worried about Dylan getting his 20 minutes of nightly reading done. Forty-eight hours before that, I was worried about PTO bingo night and how many rounds of bingo we would have time to play and if we would have enough prizes for the kids and if I was going to make an ass out of myself at the microphone because I co-chaired the whole thing and had to get up on stage in front of over 200 people to say a bunch of stuff. Four days before that, I was worried about whether or not a kid would crack his head open on the ice at Dylan’s ice skating birthday party. (No one did.) A week earlier, I was worried about whether to make mashed sweet potatoes or baked sweet potato wedges for Thanksgiving. A week before that, I was worried about the ugly bandage on my face when the dermatologist biopsied the little bump on my cheek that I thought was a pimple.

One mountain, one cliff at a time.

I didn’t worry about swelling, scarring, and the months (months!) it would take for my face to heal until that moment in the examination room at the plastic surgeon’s office. I hadn’t really truly thought about any of it – the dime-sized hole on my face, the additional needles that were coming, the stitches, and the thought that I might have to do it all over again someday because once you get one basal cell carcinoma you’re likely to get another one – until right then.

I totally lost it. Tanya gave me a tissue. She was lovely. Like Maggie. Eventually, I stopped crying. Then I lost it again.

7 or 8: The number of stitches on my face.  The arrogant self-confident plastic surgeon didn’t count as he went along.  (Figures.) Despite my description of this guy as an axe murder, he’s highly regarded, and he assured me that my face will heal nicely….unless it doesn’t, in which case there are “things he can do,” which probably involve more face stabbing, so I’m hoping on a wing and a prayer that this works out the first time.

2: The number of weeks until my follow-up appointment with the plastic surgeon.

2: The number of months until my next check-up with my primary dermatologist.

3: The number of months between future dermatologist check-ups for at least one year and probably for the rest of my life.

3: The number of bowls of Skinny Pop I ate when I finally got home.

1: The number of bowls of matzo ball soup (homemade and defrosted from Rosh Hashana) I ate after I finished the Skinny Pop.

1: The number of books I (finally) finished during all of the waiting. (“The Husband’s Secret” by Liane Moriarty, in case you’re wondering.)

4: The number of selfies I took during the ordeal.


After Mohs round one.


After Mohs round two.


After stitches.


You know what they say.  A couple that does basal cell carcinoma together, stays together.

One two more things:

26: The number of children and adults who were shot and killed tragically and violently at Sandy Hook Elementary School one year ago today.

1,000,000: The number of times I’m going to hug my kids today (after the ibuprofen kicks in).

Numbers are fun. Perspective is everything.


Filed under anxiety, basal cell carcinoma, cancer, gratitude, health, math