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Happy Birthday, Brighid!

My initiation into the sorority called Motherhood was on August 24, 1991.  I had been in the hospital for over a week with pre-eclampsia, and with my kidneys beginning to fail, my eyesight becoming compromised, the doctor decided it was time to deliver my daughter.

I was only at 31 weeks, and she had failed pretty much every test they gave her.  She was way too small – even for 31 weeks, and she didn’t seem to be passing any of the tests on the Bio-physical profile.  The doctors gave me odd prognoses – girls do better than boys (but we didn’t know yet if she was a girl).  It seemed to be a wait and see what she brings once she’s here.

And then there she was.  2 pounds, 10 ounces.  On room air within the hour.  Squirming and squiggling, and ready to meet the world. 

They whisked her away, and because I was so sick, it was a full 24 hours before I got to see her.  They took a picture for Jim to bring to me, and we had her baptized in the hospital, just in case things went bad.  But they didn’t.  She did awesome.

She was tiny, but she fought hard and came home earlier than they expected – then we expected.  I think you could have tipped me over the day I went into the hospital to visit and they told us to bring the car seat back the next day!

At 31 days old, they sent her home.  She was a whopping 4 pounds, 4 ounces of determination.

And now she’s 20.  From such tiny beginning to such a beautiful young woman.  Don’t get me wrong – she’s been a teenager – you know the kind.  Teenage girls give you a complete understanding of why some species eat their young – and you wonder why we didn’t think of it first.  But she’s done things I would have been terrified to do.  She went away to college.  She went away to Ireland.  She lived the Disney life and worked in the Disney college program. 

She’s played hard; she’s loved hard; and she’s learned hard lessons.

But it all makes her who she is today.  And that makes me proud to be her mom.

Turning 10 Was a Rousing Success

Eilis is a tough nut to crack when it comes to some things.  One of them is deciding what kind of birthday party to have.

She wanted a sleepover, but at 10, there are still quite a few kids who haven’t done the sleepover thing yet.  I worried she’d have a poorly attended party, and that I’d be stuck trying to come up with stuff to do for 10 year olds that are homesick, sleep deprived, and on a sugar high from the sleepover snacks.

We compromised.  I asked her to choose a location for a regular, mom doesn’t have to prep or clean party, and then anyone who wanted to come back and sleep over was welcome to!

I think it was a homerun 🙂

We ended up celebrating at the Treehouse Coffee Shop in Audubon, NJ.  If you haven’t been – GO.  Seriously, the couple that owns this local coffee shop could not be more fantastic (with a son that is so sweet, you don’t even need to put sugar in your coffee!  Think of the calories you’ll save by grabbing your coffee here!).  They put out an awesome buffet – and I think it’s one of the first kids’ parties I’ve had where the kids actually wanted to eat – of course, they were exhausted from dancing, so that might have been an excuse to sit down.  And Eilis was so worried that no one would drink the Italian sodas – but the kids seemed to love going up to the counter and ordering their custom drinks!

And my biggest fear of all – the one where no one danced, and they all just sat and stared at each other for two and a half hours – guess what?  It didn’t happen!  They danced – pretty much every kid, across the board, danced most of the evening!

So the end result was a night that the kids enjoyed; I didn’t have to clean up from (well, except some of the sleepover mess); everyone ate; everyone drank; no one slept – but that’s kinda their moms’ problems today.  No one cried to go home; no one got homesick; and there were even kids who, as exhausted as they must be, didn’t want to go home this morning.

Happy Birthday, Eilis!  I hope it’s one you remember for a long time 🙂

Oh – and visit the Treehouse.  Randy and Tina, we love you guys for hosting such an awesome party!


Two Days Until The Happy Day

Eilis has been reminding us for days that “The Happy Day” is almost here!  Of course, to Eilis, that means her 10th birthday, which falls just 2 hours and 36 minutes after Valentine’s Day.

She has no real idea how much it hits me when she says “The Happy Day”.  I don’t believe a woman with an epidural headache, recovering from 36 hours of labor and a c-section, could have been more deliriously happy than I was on February 15th, 2001.

There had been tremendous heartache in my road to being a mom.  Brighid was a surprise pregnancy, after we had been told conceiving would be terribly difficult for me due to an issue known as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).  As overjoyed as we were to be having Brighid, the pregnancy was difficult, and ended at 31 weeks, when we were faced with the real possibility of a premature infant that would fail to thrive.  Not an easy baptism into the sisterhood.

For 9 years after Brighid, we struggled with infertility.  It was during this time that we lost three of the five babies I would eventually miscarry, and it seemed that there would be no more children for us.

So after a month long trek across the country, from Florida to New Jersey, and then on to Washington state, when it seemed I wasn’t going to ever be un-tired again, I took a pregnancy test.

Positive.  Not yet a happy day.

After the losses we suffered, a positive sign on a pregnancy test meant nothing more than another $10 down the drain on a home test.  But in working with the doctor who I credit with saving not only Eilis’s life, but my dreams to be a mother – Dr. Mark Denker from the Palm Beach Fertility Center – this time, we’d have our happy day.

The minute Eilis was born, 2:36 AM on Thursday, February 15th, 2001, U2 was playing on the CD player in the operating room.  “It’s a Beautiful Day”.  Forget that they lyrics sing about doom and gloom in some places.  The chorus could not have rung more true.  Not only was it a beautiful day, it was a happy day.

And Eilis, you have given me 10 years of happy days to celebrate.  So when you ask, “How many more days until the Happy Day?”, I’m already there.

Civilization V – the game that crashes

Civilization V video bugs
Civilization V from Sid Meirs was a birthday present from the girls and I to Jim. Luckily for Jim, he has been playing the series for years and has shown our two oldest how to play the turn based strategy game.

If you buy a computer game for a computer geek and its broke, that counts as two presents, right? According to Anna math, the game, the game he actually wanted, and a broken game that he has to fix. So thats three presents.

Unfortunately for Jim, even on his high end computer, with large amounts of monitor space, memory and graphics card memory so he can see to use the computer – even though he sits about two inches from the screen – Civilization V doesn’t seem to want to work well.

I did all the homework of a non-geek mom – I saw the box, knew my retired, legally blind husband loved the game series, and put it in the shopping cart to be wrapped and presented with love.

Had I done my homework online as only a true geek, nerd, gaming geek, or retired Microsoft Jim can do, I would have found all of the issues people are having with the game not working. Playing Civilization V on a high end system with all the settings turned on is causing all sorts of issues. Jim and Eilis watched the opening cinematic movie the first time thrilled together. The second, third and fifth time when they could not skip past it, the thrill was gone and Eilis left the room abandoning her father to his present and his fate alone in favor of a SpongeBob rerun.

In my quick checking, I found a suggestion to turn the settings all the way down to I guess Civilization IV or the stone age, and Jim responded in true geek tones “Yeah I saw that also, but follow-ups have people saying the game goes black or crashes even more”.

As I write this, one half of the left screen is blank, the rest a beautiful image, and on the right screen a very very small rest of the game that I can’t see and he has no chance of using. I will stick with the shoulder rub form of proven tech support and follow Eilis out of the room.

Good luck and Happy Birthday enjoying those three wonderful birthday gifts xoxo

The one and only REAL reason we go on Cruises

People go on cruises so they can have luxurious accommodations, travel to exotic locations, enjoy endless pampering, experience non-stop entertainment and activities, and eat decadent and delicious meals 24 hours a day.

Not so the Skamarakas family.  The one and only reason we ever go on a cruise?  It is pictured above.  What the hell, you say?  You go on cruises to eat oatmeal with fruit in it?  This, my fellow Americans, is not oatmeal with fruit in it.  It is COLD oatmeal with fruit in it.

Yes, the one and only REAL reason we ever go on a cruise is so that my husband can eat Bircher’s Muesli.  It’s an item not found on the local diner menu, because honestly, they probably, like me, never heard of it.  Until we went on a cruise.

And they have it on nearly every cruise on which we’ve ever gone.  Jim loads up a big bowl of it every morning, and quite frankly, the ship could pull a Titanic on him, hit an iceberg, and sink to the bottom of the ocean.  As long as he has a tummy full of Bircher’s Muesli, my husband is going down a happy man.

So, on Monday, it will be the 14th anniversary of my husband’s 29th birthday.  I’d love to make him some Bircher’s Muesli for breakfast on Monday morning, but the recipes for this dish are so varied!

If anyone has braved making this dish, I’d love to know your tried and true recipe.  I’d hate to have to book another cruise to help celebrate Jim’s birthday with his favorite meal.

Hey, wait a minute….