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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.