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Surgery D-1

It’s Monday and I should have written lots of stuff like the prep kit I have to take and the clear liquid diet I am on and how great my husband was in taking me out for yet another last meal. I think I had 30 or 40 last meals.

The kids are packed and at my mothers.

My mother in law stopped by to chat with me on her way home from work to the gym around the corner from us where we are all signed up. The gym will put my membership on hold till I am ble to work out but Jim, who signed us all up, says no. As soon as I can go into the pool, or walk slowly, he wants me down there with him, Brighid and Ann

Prep kit – YEAH

Planning a Trip to Ireland

Jim and I have been talking about taking a trip to Ireland.  It’s a tough thing to plan with three kids, three vastly different ages.  To do a bus tour – the best thing for seeing everything you want to see in the most efficient way – you have to be 8 years old.  That leaves out two of our kids unless I wait 2 years, which still only allows us to bring one more child.  Do we not take any children to be fair and just go ourselves?   That seems harsh – especially to Brighid, who would love nothing more than to go to Ireland.  We’re starting the research now, and we’ll see if this ends up being  a second honeymoon or a family vacation.

Skamarakas Family – Are We Nuts or What? Trip Report

Cast – Mom Anna (41); Dad Jim (29 – for the 10th year in a row); DDs Brighid (so close to 15 she can taste it); Eilis (5); and Granuaile (15 months)

Day 1 and 2, July 20 and early on the 21st

Okay, as we were leaving Disney after our last trip in June, I had Brighid phone and see about booking one of the Deluxe resorts with the AP discount that was being offered.  I figured if we got a discounted room, our next trip was meant to be.  If we didn’t get the discounted room, our next trip was meant to be spent at a moderate resort 😉

Lo and behold, there was a discounted room at the Boardwalk Inn!   We’ve never stayed there!   Jim worked here when we lived in Orlando when they were opening up, and I toured the place when I started my job in Central Reservations, but we have never stayed at the resort.  Brighid and I are just about bouncing out of our seats in the car with excitement, and when Jim agreed to the trip without suffering a major cardiac incident, I figured we were good to go.

Now, the problem is, Brighid is still in the summer math program.  I can’t pick a later date, because my surgery is scheduled for August 1st.  So we really only have 2 days – and that’s with Brighid taking Monday off from school.  Jim and I decide with two of us driving, we’ll do the trip without stopping, and that way, we’ll get all day Friday to do the parks and stuff.

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Review of Fulton’s Crab House

Fulton’s Crab House  June 16th, 2006
Dinner – a bowl of crab and lobster bisque; crab cake entree with vegetables; grilled opah with pineapple glaze and butternut squash; half order of steamed snow crab legs Approximate Price of Entrees: An arm and a Leg ($112.00, with no alcoholic beverages)

Rate the following (1-5, five being the best!)

Food: 4
Service: 5

Atmosphere: 5

Okay for Children: My kids enjoyed it, and the waitstaff was extremely attentive to them.  I could see if they were busy that this might be too long of a meal for kids to sit through

Okay for Couples: This could absolutely be a romantic meal

Be Sure to Try: the Opah was VERY good

General Tips: We made a fairly early ADR, and it worked out great.  There were very few tables filled when we arrived, so we were seated and served immediately.  We left shortly after 6, and it was becoming quite crowded.

MouseForLess Tip: WHATEVER you can do to save money here, do it.  Some of the prices are really outrageous.  You might want to order a couple of appetizers and share an entree.  A lot of the sides are a la carte, so if
you want to skip an appetizer, but add a potato, maybe you can share that. I also try to avoid the children’s menu for Eilis lately so she isn’t limited to fried or greasy food.  She wanted the snow crab (which she loves
at home), so I ordered it, and the waitress told me since it was for a child, they could split the portion AND the price – so she got half the amount of snow crab for half of the price.  Note – she was still hungry
afterwards, as half the portion was 1/2 of a whole crab, and she can easily eat a whole crab herself.

Extra Comments: My aunt and uncle owned a seafood restaurant for YEARS on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and we are huge seafood eaters at our
house.  If I walked into a restaurant at home or in the Outer Banks and was charged $30 for a crabcake platter, I would expect it to come with a salad, a vegetable, and a potato or rice or another side.  If I was paying $30 for snow crab, I would expect at least two clusters with salad and sides.  I thought my crabcakes were “okay” – definitely NOT worth the amount of money I spent for them and little else.  Brighid’s fish was delicious, but for what it cost, I could have sent her deep sea diving for a day to catch it herself, then flown her to Hawaii to pick a fresh pineapple for the glaze (okay, it wasn’t that much, but for $30, she could have at least gotten a salad).

They did give us a commemorative souvenir of the dining experience – the recipe for Fulton’s Crab Boursin.  We may never use it, but for what it cost us to eat there, I’m having it bronzed 🙂

Driving to Disney World June 16th, 2006

Day 1 will forever be known as “The Day Mommy had her nervous breakdown”. We are scheduled to leave IMMEDIATELY following Brighid’s final – final exam, which ended at 9:45 AM on Thursday.  The deal was we would pack the car and everything up on Wednesday.  I didn’t factor in things like the fact that my husband was in Boston and wouldn’t be able to carry all the stuff out to the car or entertain the baby while I packed stuff.  I didn’t factor in the last minute sleep over Eilis was invited to at Dram’s house (my mother), meaning that Grace would have NO ONE to entertain her for any length of time.  I also forgot to factor in the studying Brighid would need to do.  Wednesday night came, and at midnight, I was still folding clothes
and packing the suitcase.  Having been up the night before with a teething baby, I was running on fumes, and not looking forward to the drive the next day.
So, I picked Brighid up from school, I am already stressed that I don’t have everything done, and we head home so we can finish up and be on the road by
11 – I hope.  As it gets closer to 11 and I start to find all the other stuff I haven’t done, I start freaking out.  I am panicked over that DC traffic, and now that it’s summer, I want to be through DC by 2.

By 11:10, I am like a mad woman.  Eilis and Grace have quietly entertained themselves downstairs by pulling out all of the toys I put away so that when Jim walks into the house after a week in Boston, he doesn’t trip and kill himself on a Barbie shoe.  So I am yelling at Eilis for not playing quietly with the toys I left out.  While I am downstairs cleaning up every single Barbie pump, ski boot and sandal, Eilis and Grace decide to make themselves lunch out of the snack box I have packed.  So when I am finished downstairs, I come upstairs to find pretzels crushed all over the floor, Pop-tart wrappers strewn about, and applesauce painting the railing that leads to the upstairs.

This is when my eye started to twitch.

Then I remember – I have another kid.  Where the heck is she?

Now, any mom to a teenage daughter will understand when I say that I am oh so grateful that I found her, that she hadn’t lapsed into a coma from a terrible, sudden onset of illness.  I am thrilled beyond belief that she has not been abducted from right under my nose by an unsavory character wandering our neighborhood.  I am ecstatic that the alien space ship has bypassed her room in favor of a more interesting teenage specimen.  But when I find that she is in front of her mirror, re-applying makeup, fixing the hair that she has already fixed in the car on the way home from school, on the front step as I opened the door, in the dining room as I put the suitcases by the front door, in the bathroom as she is changing into her “driving clothes”, it is all I can do to keep my hands from spontaneously reaching out to grab her by that now way too over done hair and dragging her down the steps, out to the car, and dangling my car keys in front of her almost 15 year old nose and saying, “Nyah, nyah, now you don’t get to borrow the car until you’re 27!!”

Instead, I just take leave of my senses, and go nuts, yelling and screaming and attracting the neighbors.  Thank goodness most of them are elderly, and attracting them means they have all peeked out from behind their curtains, and not seeing blood running in a stream from my house down the block, staining their driveways, and then they’ve gone back to their old person activities.

We are finally in the car about 11:45, and I spend a good 15 minutes praying that there is some magical tranquilizing powers in the Diet Coke I am about
to pop open.  I feed all the CDs that Jim has made in the CD player, and I tune in the Blue Collar Comedy channel on the new Sirius Satellite Radio my mom has given me.  I figure with the caffeine buzz, the music from the happiest moments of my life playing in the background, and Jeff Foxworthy convincing me that my family is not so screwed up after all, I should be
okay to at least get across the Delaware Memorial Bridge without killing anyone.  OMG – guess what sign is blinking above the bridge when I get there?   “If you are in crisis, Call 1-888- some number that will keep you
from throwing your kids off of this bridge”.  Seriously – there is a crisis hotline number blinking across the message board at the bridge.  I am being watched out for from the great beyond.

Guess what?   I get to DC by 2, and am stuck in a traffic jam that puts me another hour behind schedule.  Yep.  An hour.

I manage to make it to Lumberton, NC by 9 PM, and we stop for the night. I put my jammies on, and leave Brighid to play with the two littles while I try to get a head start on sleeping.  I fall asleep to the soothing sounds of Britney Spears telling Matt Lauer that she is not white trash while her boobs are falling out of the sausage casing top she is wearing, her too short denim skirt is riding up her thighs, and her flip flops are dangling on the floor of her gazillion dollar mansion.  All is right with the world.

Granuaile At 15 Months

We saw Dr. Nina today for Gracie’s 15 month check up.  I can’t believe she is 15 months old already!

She is 21 pounds, 13 ounces, which put her between the 25th and 50th percentile.  She is also at the same percentile with height – 30 inches.

Her head circumference, which used to measure WAY small, is now at the 50th percentile.

She has labial adhesions still, but she’s had them since birth, and our peds office does not treat them until 2 years old.  Eilis has them as well, but we refused treatment for them and she is doing fine.  The treatment is a hormone cream, but there is strong evidence that when you stop using the cream, the adhesions come back, and if there is no problem with urination or anything like that, there isn’t a lot of reason to treat them.  So we’ll see how she does over the next few months.

The doctor asked for her list of vocabulary words, and I was really shocked when I started going over everything she says.  Right now, we have these words:

Thank You
Your Welcome
Hey (which is so cute when she is yelling it at her older sisters when they get in her “stuff”)

The doctor was really impressed, and said on average, a baby at 15 months can say 5 words, so we’re definitely ahead of the curve there 🙂

She can walk and climb, and she identifies your eyes, ears, and nose – but she won’t identify her own.  She did her nose a few times, but now if you ask her where her nose is, she points to yours.

The doctor said everything looked great – always good to hear.  She got some shots, cried like a lunatic, and then fell asleep in the car on the way home.  She’s been really pleasant ever since she woke up.

We go back again at 18 months – and guess what?   NO SHOTS NEXT TIME!!!   YIPPEEEEEE!!!

Like Riding a Bike

I have just gotten in from having dinner with my cousin Peggy.  Growing up, my Aunt Franny and Uncle Ricky had two children – Peggy, who is 9 months younger than me; and Rick, who was 11 months younger than Bean.  We lived down the street from my grandparents, and any time Peg and Rick would come, Bean and I would be there.  We played together great as kids, and often had sleep overs at my Aunt Franny’s house as we were growing up.  We put on little shows in my aunt’s basement, and we read comic books together, and we just always enjoyed being in each other’s company.

My mom and dad divorced, and we spent almost all of our weekends with our dad; and eventually, my aunt and uncle divorced, and Peg and Rick spent a lot of weekends with their dad.  We got too old to still be doing skits in the basement, and with us living in Jersey by then and Peggy and Rick in Northeast Philly, we didn’t get together as often.  But I always felt a special connection with Peggy.

Over the years, however, we sort of fell out of touch.  We were at each other’s weddings, but I had not seen Peggy’s daughter since she was a year old (she is now 16), and I had never seen her son (who is now 12).  Since we’ve been back in Jersey, we’ve emailed occasionally and tried to plan to get together, but with her schedule, my schedule, the kids’ schedules, it just never seemed to get off the ground for us to get together.  But she emailed me the other day and asked me to get together for dinner, and tonight was the night.

We met at the Italian Bistro, and I have to admit that I was a little nervous.  Peggy’s life has taken a much different direction from mine.  She is a vice president of a bank and has a very high profile business position.  I am my kids’ mom.  I thought we’d have nothing to talk about, and I worried that there would be long periods of silence and conversation that would end up being about the weather.

Well, just like riding a bike, once you learn how to ride, you never forget.  Once we got back together, it was like we were never apart.  It was so easy to talk to her and catch up on what we’ve done and how we’ve been for the last oh so many years.  We talked and talked, and our dinner stretched over the course of more than 3 hours.  And I hated for it to end!   I knew Jim and the kids would be wondering about me, but it was so great to have that time with Peggy.  I wish I had 3 more hours I could have spent.  After I got in the car and was driving home, I started thinking of all the things I wanted to ask her about – how her brothers are, how her dad is, how her husband is!   We talked about our kids, our parents, our childhood. It was so great to share memories and talk about how our experiences with things we shared growing up were so different for each of us.

Part of me was tempted not to go through with the dinner, fearing that I wouldn’t be “smart enough” to hold up my end of the conversation, or worried that our lives would be so different that we would find no common ground on which to meet.  I’m so glad I went, and I hope we get together many more times in the future.

Medical Clearance?

Today was the day I met with my primary care doctor, Dr. Heck, to see if I would be medically cleared for surgery. He said, essentially, that he would give me the clearance, but on the tests that were done, it showed my blood sugars as elevated. He is having me repeat the test, along with the hgA1c, to get a feeling for how much he should be worried about it. Then he is faced with the dilemma of either putting me back on the Glucophage to lower the sugars, or wait until after the surgery and see if the weight loss has the effect he expects it to, and my sugars will be lowered with the weight loss. I see him again next Tuesday, just 3 days prior to the clearance having to be in Dr. Nusbaum’s hands, so hopefully, there won’t be a roadblock when the new blood work comes back.

Secondly, Cialis Online can help even in case of alcohol intake (in not very large doses); thirdly, the drug can’t be taken regularly when erectile function is restored, the treatment can be stopped or the dose can be reduced up to four times.

I had my first meeting with a trainer this morning at the gym, and they are going to work out a program for me using the resistance machines – Kaiser machines, they called them. I like that room, because it’s quiet and some what isolated. Not many people use it, and because it provides a whole work out in 30 minutes, when someone uses it, they aren’t there too long. I’m also going to continue to use the treadmill – which they were way too easy with today. As I recover from surgery, I’ll be more able to do some of the other machines.

Brighid went to the Aqua class tonight and had a good time. She was the youngest and thinnest one in the group, but it was good for her hip to do that kind of exercise as opposed to the regular workout. There’s another one tomorrow night, so I might go with her.

We joined a gym

Fit I am not.  We joined a gym – the whole lot of us!   Jim, Brighid, me, and my stepmom Ann all joined Royal Fitness last night.  Ann had off from work today, so Brighid and I met her there to do a little exercising.  We all have meetings with the fitness trainers set up so we can get a workout routine going, but today we were just winging it.

They have one room there that is set up like Curves – you go in and work out on resistance equipment, and you are supposed to do each machine 3 times for a total of 30 minutes for the workout.  We spent about a half hour in there, but it was mostly to figure out how to work the machines and what to do with them.  Brighid was becoming very impatient, wanting to go upstairs to where the “real” machines were.  Not knowing anything about the weight machines, we stuck with the treadmills and the stationary bikes.  Since I had done 10 minutes on the bike downstairs, I just did 15 on the treadmill before calling it a day.

Brighid was the only one of us that wore her bathing suit, so when I was done on the treadmill, we went down to the pool.  It was ROASTING in there – good for the little kids having their swimming lessons, but really darn hot.  I sat in a chair on the side of the pool, and Brighid did a few laps in the lap lanes.  I certainly didn’t need a sauna after that – I was drenched in sweat.  Just as Brighid was putting on her shoes after changing, Ann came down to the pool to meet us to let us know she was finished for the day, so we all walked out together.

Jim and Brighid go tomorrow for their first session with the trainer.  After that, they will meet the trainer one more time, and they will get their routine.  I hope Jim goes – he’s all for pushing the rest of us out the door, but I think he’ll have a hard time finding motivation himself.  I’m hoping since they have the nursery there for Eilis and Grace, he’ll come with me sometimes and we’ll figure out a schedule where we all can be there, working out, and the kids are supervised.

So I also didn’t eat anything for quite a while before I went to the gym.  I’ll never do that again.  I’m not looking to have a surf and turf dinner before I go next time, but at least a little something.  I was so shaky when I came out, it was all I could do to get home and grab something to eat.  A peanut butter and bagel sandwich later, I felt better.  Gotta love those carbs.


I completed the last of my pre-op testing today with a chest x-ray.  I was scheduled for 11, but arrived a little early after dropping Grace off at my mom’s.  Eilis is already there, spending the week and going to swimming lessons.  They took me right away, and I was back in the car before 11 o’clock 🙂

I meet with Dr. Heck on Monday, so I’ll be putting together a list of all the tests I had and where I had them to drop off at the office tomorrow morning so they can make sure they have all of my test results when I get there on Monday.  Then, Dr. Heck has to give his medical clearance and get all of the paperwork to Dr. Nusbaum before the surgery.

There are only 21 days left until the surgery now.  I think I am going to try and get an appointment with a nutritionist before surgery so I can have some things in place in terms of where my diet will need to be after surgery.  The first week is just clear liquids, but after that, I’ll need to be getting in enough protein and all of my supplements every day.

Jim and I also went to look at a couple of fitness centers.  The one closest to me seems to be the best choice.  They have childcare for Grace and Eilis, and Brighid can join and use the facilities as well.  They have a pool and a ton of classes, so I think I might really benefit from going to a few different ones and see what it is I like and progress into harder ones as I progress with my weight loss.

We’re taking a couple of days next week and having a last family “fling” – some good restaurants and some activities with the kids.  It will be nice to have a few days together to do stuff, with Jim  off and no chores or anything in the way.