It’s Official

I’m old. 

This post may be filled with TMI (too much information) for the squeamish, so if you’re not willing to hear gory details about my personal life, this is the point at which you turn and run screaming from the room with your hands covering your eyes and ears.

Okay, are you all gone now?

I went for my annual check up yesterday with my gynecology office.  I say that instead of gynecologist, because unless you specifically request a gynecologist, the office is “laahke a box of chock-lits; you never know what you gonna git.”  Yesterday, I got Marianne, who I requested.  She is a nurse practitioner, but during my pregnancy with Granuaile, she was so wonderful!  We start going over things, including the fact that I am past due by over 2 years on my pap smear (the last one was done at the beginning of my pregnancy with Granuaile), and we talk about my weight loss, and I indicate to her that since my surgery, I have not had my period.  Now, for the common person, this would be incredibly alarming.  But I have PCOS.  There have been periods of time in my life where it is not  uncommon to go a VERY long time between cycles, so I was not alarmed when I started to miss.  Combined with the surgery and whatever trauma that put my body in, I guess I was not expecting to have anything normal going on.  Marianne decides that she should run some blood work, check some things out, and decide where to go once she has the results of the tests.  Then the “M” word gets mentioned. 

Now, I had no idea up until yesterday when people go through menopause.  When Marianne brought it up, I said, “That’s an old lady disease, right?”, and dear, sweet Marianne turned vicious on me.  She grabbed me by the leg, digging her dagger-like claws into me like a vampire (or maybe she just patted me on the knee, the memory is a little fuzzy) and said, “Oh, honey, do you know when your birthday is?”  As it turns out, it is an old lady disease, and I am an old lady!  Okay, so maybe not “old, old” but “old”.  At least old enough to have the menopause.

The confirmation phone call came today, when the nurse working with Marianne phoned to tell me that my FSH levels would indicate that I am indeed an old woman.  Women who are not old get levels in the 2-12 range.  Women who are old have levels above 20.  My level is 57.7 – not only confirmation that I am old, but that I am damn old. 

The nurse, bless her heart, asked me if there was anything I needed to know, and I said that no, I would find information on the internet, if I could find my bifocals, and told her it was a bit of a relief to know I could cancel the psychiatric treatment for the unexplained mood swings and crying jags.  She congratulated me on my ability to find the silver lining.  Bitch.

And there you have it.  Circle of Life and all that kind of nonsense.  At 10 AM, I was young, middle aged at best.  At 10:02, I am old.

Now I want to know where I can get my red hat, my discount card, and that monthly check I hear the old people can line up and collect!

People Like to Be Acknowledged

Stop now if you’re not in the mood for a long, bitchy vent.

My husband works for a living, like most people do.  We are fortunate that his position allows me the opportunity to be at home and raise our children.  I realize and appreciate in this day and age that not everyone has this privilege.  I did not have it for most of the early years of our marriage.  As a matter of fact, after 4 months maternity leave, I did not get to stay home with Brighid again until Eilis was born, so for more than half of our marriage, I have worked outside of the home. 

Inside the home, well, I admit to not being an expert at anything.  I am not a good organizer, and I feel overwhelmed often by the clutter that accumulates in my house.  I am not the best cleaner.  We have clean toilets, clean sinks, clean counter tops, and clean sheets, but I’m not the housewife who is spending my free minutes cleaning baseboards (I even had to just look and see if this house has baseboards) and polishing silverware (we have none of that).  I feel like my children are well taken care of, they get hot breakfast 6 days out of 7; they get the lunch that they want, whether it is hot or not; and I cook dinner at least 5 nights out of 7.  I take kids to the gym, to soccer, to t-ball, to karate, to cheerleading, to three different schools, and to whatever else they need to get to.  I had been going to the movies once a week with a girlfriend, but I have had to put that on hold due to the kids’ schedules; and I have given up my Wednesday night weight loss surgery support group meetings so that the kids’ activities are not interfered with.  So, essentially, except for at least one phone call daily from my mother and another from my sister, my adult contact is limited to when Jim is home on the weekends. 

So yesterday was my 17th wedding anniversary.  We’re saving for our trip over the summer, so I had not expected, nor had I hoped for, any type of gift.  I thought we would ask Brighid to watch the kids and Jim and I would go have dinner somewhere.  I expected SOME sort of acknowledgement that it was our anniversary.  I thought even if we didn’t go to dinner, we could do SOMETHING together – just the two of us.  But we didn’t.  We spent the morning waiting for Jim to get off of the computer.  Then we took Eilis and Granuaile shoes shopping.  Then we went to lunch at Buca di Beppo.  Then we went to the mall for Jim to try on pants.  Then we came home.  And it was on the way home that he said, “Well, I’ll just order a pizza so no one (no one?  I’m the only one who would.) has to cook dinner.”  Is he kidding me?  I don’t even have food out for dinner because I totally expected we would go out.

It’s not relaxing for me to go out with the kids to eat.  I don’t mind it all the time, I love my children.  But I look forward to the rare opportunity when I can go out without them.  I spend all week with them and doing stuff for them.  I do not get a shower or use the toilet at all Monday through Friday when there is not a kid banging on the door or yelling through the wall.  I literally have no peace unless I am asleep, and even then, I spend at least part of my night checking on the kids.

But to make it worse, there was nothing special about our anniversary.  It was just another day for the same old stuff.  Based on calculations done here:

http://politicalcalculations.blogspot.com/2007/02/what-are-chances-your-marriage-will.html

we had a 43% chance of reaching our 17th wedding anniversary, so the fact that we got there at all should have made the day special.  But not to Jim.

It hurts me that he doesn’t give any weight to the things that I find important.  Like our anniversary.  Coming from a home that was “broken” by divorce, I am grateful for every day we stay married, and think that it’s important to celebrate the big, annual milestone that says not only we beat the odds, but we have done it with a loving and happy house.  Yesterday was no big deal for him.  He got up, took no special care in getting dressed, even though I made sure to do my hair and put on make up.  It seems like a stupid thing, but it seemed like a special day to me, and I wanted to look better than a normal day.  I expected us to find SOME time during the day to do something for just the two of us, but it really ended up being just a day full of running errands and doing the things I do the other 364 days each year. 

We’ve gone through half of life together almost.  We’ve been through birth, death, bankruptcy.  We’ve spent wonderful days together and we’ve spent awful days apart.  In the past year, we’ve spent even more time apart, and it’s been hard.  That seemed like all the more reason we should have celebrated 17  years together.  It didn’t end up that way.  He ended up being a jerk and I ended up leaving to spend my evening by myself. 

Maybe next year will be better.  I don’t dare hope 🙁

Bean’s Anniversary

It was 5 years ago today that Bean died here at our house.  I walk around here today feeling just an overwhelming sadness and the whole wave of grief that I felt in the days following her death seem to flood back as if the whole thing happened just yesterday.  I get sad that she’s missed seeing how great Brighid is turning out, and I miss that she didn’t get to see Eilis grow, and I miss that she didn’t get to meet Granuaile.  I know she probably looks over them, but for them, it’s not the same as having her here would have been.

There’s not a lot to say to elaborate on how I feel.  I guess I am surprised every year that I still feel so sad.  Because life has gone on and I don’t spend every waking hour thinking of her, I feel safe saying that her death is something I’ve “gotten over”, and then a day like today hits, and it hits hard.

So, Bean, just letting you know that I’m thinking of you, I love you, and I miss you. 

Shower Every Day and Feeding Them Pee-tatoes. Call DYFS.

I am apparently one of the meanest mothers on the planet.  As I stood in the kitchen tonight, slaving over a home cooked dinner of scallop bacon chowder, my youngest child stood behind me, watching as I added the ingredients to the pot. 

“What’s that?”  “Leeks.”  “I no yike yeeks.  Can I have Dora yogurt?”  “No.”

“What’s that?”  “Garlic.”  “I no yike gahyic.  Can I have blueberries?”  “No.”

“What’s that?”  “Potatoes.”  “I no yike tee matoes.”  “No, Granuaile, they are potatoes.”  “I HATE pee-tatoes!  Don’t make me eat pee-tatoes!”  “You have to eat them, you’re Irish.”  “I HATE Irish!”

As if it wasn’t bad enough that I tried to poison my children with potatoes (which, by the way, Eilis doesn’t like either), Eilis walks in.  I tell her to go hop in the shower.  Dinner will be a little late, and rather than try to squeeze in a shower after dinner, it’s better if she has it now.

“ANOTHER shower?  Are you people shower crazy or something?  Why do we have to get a shower like almost EVERY day???”

Well, damn.  Had I read the mom handbook properly, obviously, I would have known that children should never be made to shower and eat potatoes.  Where did I put that darn handbook anyway?  Maybe there’s something in there about not having to drive their ungrateful little hineys to school tomorrow…..

Arby’s – a Gastric Bypass Restaurant Review

ARBY's logo I am thinking ARBYSYou all know Arby’s.  To start with, it’s fast food, and if you’ve had gastric bypass surgery, you probably want to avoid fast food when you can.  And then on top of that, there is usually so little you can eat at fast food restaurants, it’s not worth the trip to go. 

We’ve been steering clear of fast food restaurants since my surgery unless we are on the road to Florida or somewhere, and unless we treat ourselves to the rare cup of Wendy’s chili.  It’s better for the kids to not get used to having Happy Meals whenever they want them, and it really works out well to use them as a treat or a reward for once in a while.  If you get a good grade or have an especially great day at school, we might take a ride to Wendy’s or Bok Bok Fresh.  We’ve never ridden down to Arby’s until a couple of week’s ago.  I can’t remember the occasion – someone got a good grade or went pee pee on the potty – but we went to Arby’s just to see what they had and if there was a good alternative to the Wendy’s chili for me.

Let’s start with the kids’ meals.  Yes, I know this is a gastric bypass review, but if you are like me trying to help your kids avoid the need for surgery, what type of kids meal you choose can be important.  Eilis ordered the meal that came with a mini-turkey sandwich.  It was a nice sized sandwich of sliced turkey and Swiss cheese on honey wheat bread.  The crust was cut off, so your kid will eat the whole thing.  Granuaile got popcorn chicken, which was a step above typical fast food chicken in that it looked and smelled better, and she ate it all, so it must have been good.  The kids meals come with either french fries (curly fries – YUMMMY) or a fruit cup.  My kids chose the fruit cup, which consisted of chunks of diced apple and grapes.  They loved it.  The best part is the kids’ meals came with story books, and my girls LOVED that!

I browsed the menu for something soup or chili like, and didn’t find anything, so I ordered the one salad I didn’t think I’d be familiar with – the Martha’s Vineyard salad.  The salad is chunks of diced chicken on top a healthy serving or lettuce.  The salad has diced apples, cranberries, shredded cheese, and grape tomatoes, and they give you slivered almonds on the side.  Topped with their raspberry viniagrette dressing, this was one really nice salad.  Sugar wise, it may be a little high for most people.  Much of the sugar is in the cranberries, and they are easy to spot, so you can start by removing half of them.  Also, the raspberry viniagrette contains quite a bit of sugar, but I use only half of the package, so I didn’t worry too much about the sugar in the dressing.  The salad packs a good protein punch, and satisfies a lot of cravings I know I get – for something sweet or something fruity. 

Arby’s still has their famous roast beef, which you can order and eat without the bun, but for something satisfying and delicious, I highly recommend the Martha’s Vineyard salad.

Melange Cafe – A Gastric Bypass Restaurant Review

Usually on Thursday nights, Jim is getting in really late, and we are welcoming the midnight shift at our favorite diner as we sit down to eat dinner.  Jim has a couple of weeks in a row where he is scheduled to come in at 7, so he wants to try a couple of restaurants we have not yet eaten in, and this one is on the radar.

Melange bills itself as Louisiana and Italian cuisine.  I can’t eat much in the way of Italian since my surgery, but I love Cajun food, so I’m anxious to see how Melange stacks up to my favorite local Cajun retaurant, the Creole Cafe.  We call ahead and make a reservation, but when we arrive, the restaurant isn’t terribly busy, so I don’t know if the reservations were necessary.  It is kind of a smallish restaurant, however, so if you want to try it for yourself, call ahead and secure a table.

You will find, having had gastric bypass surgery, that there are things on the menu you can eat some of.  If you are familiar with the Creole cuisine, you know that there’s often rice involved, and I can’t eat much rice.  But you can certainly eat around the rice in many of the dishes.  There is also a good selection of grilled steaks and pan seared fish.  If you do phone ahead for reservations, you can speak directly to Chef Joe Brown about your dietary needs, and I feel confident that they will do their best to accomodate you.  The staff was very friendly. 

We decided to start with two appetizers.  I couldn’t make up my mind, so we went with the appetizer sampler and the trio of soups.

The appetizer sampler came out first, and it was a beautiful presentation.  There are four different appetizers here.  We started with the fried oyster, which had a real southern, down home flavor, enhanced by a delicious red pepper and honey sauce – just a little sweet and just a little spicy.  Next, was one very large pan seared scallop.  I could have made  a meal out of a few of these.  You don’t see the scallop when the plate is in front of you, as it is topped with a next of very thin, very crispy fried onion rings.  They were so good!  I only ate one, but could have eaten a whole plate of them – and that was before the really delicious scallop!  The next appetizer on the platter was the smoked shrimp.  Served cold, the large shrimp was all Jim’s, because I can’t do shrimp, but underneath was a corn crab relish with pecans.  I all but inhaled it.  The lump crabmeat was fresh, in big chunks, so I was able to pick it out through the corn.  And there were plenty of crunch pecans that tasted so good with the crab!  This was definitely a nice choice.

It wasn’t until the final appetizer on the sampling platter that we had our first taste of disappointment.  And I can’t blame the Chef or the kitchen, but our own personal tastes.  It was a cold appetizer that featured a slice of grilled marinated eggplant, stacked with fresh mozzarella cheese, roasted red peppers, and I think a portabello mushroom.  It was too dense for us to really enjoy, and while the marinated eggplant had a nice flavor, it really isn’t our cup of tea.  A tiny sampling of the crab cheesecake would have been better!

The appetizer was followed by the soup trio.  I can eat most soups without any difficulty, and I have come to really enjoy soup.  The trio includes their two standards – crab bisque and sausage and bean soup, and then they add what they call the “soup of the moment”, which tonight is Manhattan clam chowder.  I love clam chowder, but unfortunately, it doesn’t love my new digestive system, but I figure between Jim and I, we’ll manage to enjoy all three soups.  We are again impressed with the simple but elegant presentation, and I quickly dig in.  The crab bisque is velvety smooth, with a hint of tomato, and generous chunks of that same lump crabmeat that was in the corn crab relish.  The only thing I don’t like is that I think the splash of sherry in the soup was a tad too generous.  Had it been brought to the table, I would have probably left it out entirely.  It didn’t add anything to the bisque for me.  The sausage and bean soup was by far my favorite of the three.  It was packed with tender white beans and some good sized hunks of andouille sausage.  It had a nice flavor, just a little bit of spice, and definitely was the highlight of the trio for me.  The clam chowder fell short.  There was something in it that really over powered the soup, and I still can’t put my finger on what it was.  There were good sized chopped clams in the traditional Manhattan clam chowder tomato soup, but there was some herb or spice or something that just wasn’t good for me.  I left the whole sample for Jim to finish, but he wasn’t especially fond of it either, so it got left.

Upon the suggestion of our waitress, I ordered the pan seared tilapia.  The mountain of tilapia was presented over a good sized portion of the jumbo lump crabmeat and spinach.  It was finished with a really light tomato type of sauce with mushrooms.  The crabmeat was delicious.  It was, again, that fresh, chunky bits of crab, cooked perfectly.  Now here’s the thing.  Tilapia is a GREAT choice for gastric bypass patients.  It’s high in protein, low in fat, and really, it’s almost like the tofu of fish, in that it takes on the flavor of the things it is cooked with.  As far as how it was cooked – perfect.  But the flavor just wasn’t here.  I don’t know if I expected something a little bolder or spicier because of the Cajun thing they have going on here or what, but it was kind of bland.  Loved the crabmeat, but crab can stand on it’s own without too much seasoning or spices.  But the fish was bland.

Jim had the jambalaya, which I thought tasted really good, but the rice was a big portion of this dish – as it should be in jambalaya.  The flavors were good, I had a scallop from the dish which was delicious, and it had shrimp, mussels, clams, andouille, ham – a good combination of proteins.  If you can eat shrimp and clams and mussels – which I have a hard time with – this would be a good sharing dish, as someone else can get the bulk of the rice.

There are no sugar free desserts on the menu, but they do have a great dessert menu.  The appetizer sampler and the soup sampler is more than a complete meal for someone with altered digestion, but there are plenty of items on here that you can eat and enjoy.

I would probably return to Melange, although my favorite is still Creole Cafe.  But the atmosphere here is great for a romantic meal and they comfortably accomodated a large family party while we were there.

They have a dinner tasting menu for $75 per person which looks fabulous.  You may end up taking home a good portion of the meal, but definitely something to try!