Friday, January 29, 2016

E: Health Update

There are just some things you never forget. I'll never forget the time E flipped over a swing at the park and gave himself a concussion. Or the time he had surgery to remove his tonsils and adenoids. And I won't forget the day I got an offhand comment that basically changed our lives. It sounds dramatic, but I'm forever indebted to someone who has no idea what a difference she made with one word. Magnesium. She isn't a doctor. She just threw something out at me, I took her word and ran with it because I was at my wits end, and it actually worked.

What's funny is that with all of E's health issues in the past, everyone had a comment, idea or advice. Some of it sounded plausible, and some of it was just flat out stupid or wrong. I always listened, I sometimes followed it, and sometimes ended up with yet another specialist because of it. None really made a difference, except to give me anxiety over the possibility of another unfortunate syndrome or disease.

It was the third weekend of June 2015 and one of the nights of the Glen Rock Fun Fair. I'm there every night it's here, so I'm not sure which night it was. I ran into my friend Elissa. Our boys are the same age and both very energetic. We weren't really going to be able to have a long conversation. They'd both be off and running in different directions as soon as they both came out of the Fun House. I'd mentioned E's tics and other health issues to her in the past. The school year had been tough for us with the tics. He had this finger to finger rubbing tic going on that made these gross blisters between his fingers. I think he may have had one between two toes also. They were of his own doing though because of all the friction of the constant rubbing.

I was literally taking small nail scissors and cutting the skin between his fingers almost every night. Then I had a cocktail of cortisone creams, Neosporin and whatever else I could add to it that I thought would help. I'd cream his fingers, then his face. He had also been rubbing his face raw in some spots. It was taking up so much time, doing this morning and night. Elissa asked how E was doing with all his stuff and I gave her a brief overview.

She said someone she knows has a kid who had a lot of tics and such. The mother had found that the child had a magnesium deficiency. They started giving him magnesium and his symptoms stopped. It sounded too good to be true. But magnesium? Hell, I could do that. That's something I'd probably be able to find wherever I buy vitamins. I don't need to ask any doctor, I can just do it. I was over doctors by then. I'd been told by a neurologist I like very much that E has tic disorder. Then, by a rheumatologist that he needs an x-ray because nevermind the elevated ANA that he had on his bloodwork, he said "ouch" when she bent him backwards. I think she thought maybe he could have scoliosis. The only thing I learned there was that whoever told me that specialists diagnose in their specialty, was correct.

I read some blogs and articles online and found one by a mom with a son who developed tics. She gave her son magnesium and the tics went away. What I also read there was that magnesium is supposed to be in children's vitamins. It's often eliminated because the pill would be too big. For most kids, it's okay that it isn't in there. Other kids are deficient in magnesium and the need it or they'll have all kinds of symptoms. Now my curiosity was really piqued. I went to the Vitamin Shoppe. It wasn't as easy as I thought to just pick up some magnesium. I asked for some help. I was shown Kids Natural Calm liquid. I thought that would be easier than trying to find a dosage of just magnesium and I didn't think crushing it up to put in food would be a good answer for us. He already had a low appetite. Trying to get him to eat something with a crushed magnesium topper seemed laughable.

I put the liquid into Trop50. I didn't want to give him regular orange juice daily because of the high amount of sugar. He'd never really had juice and I didn't want to bring in that level of sugar for his morning start. I didn't realize the reason why it's only "50" percent of the sugar is because it's sweetened with Stevia. I don't know how healthy or not that is, but I decided to pick my battles. I know it's not Sweet N Low, so for the time being, I'm sticking with it. E loves it. It doesn't seem to bother him that the liquid vitamin smells disgusting. In the Trop50, he can't get enough. I use the recommended dose in about six or seven ounces of juice.

It's now been exactly seven months. The tics are gone. Just gone. He sleeps through the night. He hasn't been sick in the entire time. Where he used to have some kind of respiratory problem almost every other month where he was prescribed antibiotics and/or steroids, we have had None. NONE. :::knocking on wood::: No more blisters on either fingers or toes. No scratching through the hair, no weird eye twitching. We used to just sit and watch him watch tv, waiting for the weird eye thing. It's been months and nothing.

I'm not a doctor. I'm not a nurse. I'm not in the medical profession at all. I'm just a mom. But I'm a mom who had been frustrated as hell, having gone to EIGHTEEN doctors, over SIX YEARS, in numerous specialties- Pediatrics, Pulmonology, Rheumatology, Immunology, Allergy & Asthma, ENT, Neurology, Infections Disease. Blood test and specific disease tests like Cystic Fibrosis and autoimmune disease. ALL TO COME UP WITH NOTHING. NADA. The allergist said it's probably allergies but the tests showed nothing. The pulmonolgist diagnosed asthma and gave me steroid inhalers. The neurologist said tic disorder, the pediatrician swore he heard wheezing and corroborated possible asthma. Or "Cough Variant Asthma". More inhalers and steroids. The ENT said tonsils & adenoids need to come out, so we did that. It eliminated the smoker's cough, but did nothing about the tics. The immunologist had a strong and scary reaction to the elevated ANA, sent me to the rheumatologist, where that doctor didn't seem concerned at all except for his spine.

It just has gotten to the point where I have to take everything said to me by a doctor with a grain of salt. I don't think I'm smarter than the doctors. I just think that doctors don't have a lot of time and they diagnose what they're used to seeing. They're hyper aware in their own specialty and they see things that when isolated, seem to be the problem in the realm of what they specialize in.

Eighteen doctors. Good ones, bad ones, strange ones, rushed ones, great ones, funny ones, respected ones. But not one, not ONE, ever so much as whispered the word magnesium

We're not totally in the clear. He still has days where he feels "itchy" and I can see him swiping at his face like he used to do. However- it's MUCH less and it could be for other reasons. He's on a swim team, swims twice a week for over an hour, so he's in chlorine a lot. Chlorine is no friend to the skin. He might be more of what a doctor might call an "allergy kid". He doesn't have eczema or anything, but the pediatrician showed me yesterday that when he scratches himself, the scratches get a little puffy. Almost like hives would. So it just means that he is just more prone to a bit of allergic reaction. I can buy into that. Eczema runs in B's family and mom had psoriasis.

He's in regular public school and he has twenty three other kids in his class. We also live in a state with four seasons. I'm not surprised he gets congested here and there. We figured out that if we give him some kind of antihistamine/decongestant cough & cold medicine, at the first sign of a cough and/or a runny nose, to dry him up, that stops it from turning into something which he used to need antibiotics and steroids. It's sort of unconventional because people I read comments from on local mom message boards are afraid to give their kids cold medications. For us, it's saved us more antibiotics and steroids. I'd much rather give him over the counter cold medicine and never get to the kinds of sinus infections and coughs he's had in the past. So in conjunction with the magnesium, cold medicine seems to be another piece of the puzzle.

I just can't even properly explain the difference between "Before Magnesium" and "After Magnesium". If you haven't been in fear for what could be wrong with your kid, it's a hard place for people to understand. It wasn't even that the tics he had were embarrassing or stopping him from doing things, but they were physically hurting him. The blisters hurt and were gross. The sides of his mouth and the sides of nose were red and raw. His eyes were red. He looked crazy.

Including the scratching and rubbing, he had all kind of behaviors were somewhat OCD and they took a lot of time. He's still a little OCD about things, but more in a normal kid way and not in a way that seemed like it could be the symptom of a larger problem. He also doesn't get nauseated in the car as often. And the biggest thing- he seems fine so far to go on rides. He had such an adverse reaction to going on rides. It was like his equilibrium was off. He'd get hysterical and crying on rides that he used to love and go on for hours. We went to Hershey Park in September instead of the weekend in June when I saw Elissa. We were supposed to go on Father's Day and because of the threat of an impending storm, we postponed. He'd been on the magnesium vitamin since June, so by September, at Hershey, he went on rides he'd previously not been able to go on. Nothing could've made us happier. His biggest joy in life is carnivals and the rides. The thought he'd just have to stop doing that for some unknown reason, totally sucked.

That's where we are. I don't have any idea if magnesium is magic. I don't know what else it "cures". I don't know if it would work for everyone's kid. Tic disorder, Tourette's Syndrome, autoimmune diseases, Cystic Fibrosis, Asthma, and everything else doctors came up with are all real medical issues. What I can say is that magnesium worked for us. I told a friend about E, she started using it on her son in roll-on form down his spine, and it eliminated an issue they'd been having with him. So I guess what I'm saying, is that, if your kid has any or all symptoms that E's dealt with, that I've written about, it's worth a shot. I've spent thousands of dollars on medications, co-pays, and treatments. I've been scared to death over possible diagnoses.

Had I known I could just go to a vitamin store, I could've saved myself a lot of time, energy and money. That's not to say I believe in the whole holistic thing either. As my readers know, I left "THE" holistic pediatrics office in my area, because I DON'T think everything can be cured with garlic oil in the ear. I need a really good balance between holistic and regular western medicine. I need to go with my gut and I need a prescription if necessary. My advice is to go with your gut, don't take the word of just one doctor, see who you think is going to help your kid, be open to things you didn't think could work, but just because it seems too easy of an answer, doesn't mean it's wrong.

For now, I'm just going to keep doing what we're doing, watch him, and hope for the best. So far, so good.

Natural Vitality Kids Natural Calm

E's health history entries:

E's Story
E's Story Part Deux
The Day We Got Our Kid Back
She's Alive

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Let Us Eat Pokemon Cake!

My boy is seven! I can't believe it's been seven years, but it has! So happy birthday to E.

I wasn't going the big party route this year so I decided to do a fancy cake. E and I love cake and I've always wanted one of those pretty fondant cakes. They are just usually REALLY cost prohibitive. Everyone says fondant tastes bad but I disagree. I don't know about different kinds or whatever, but I've had a few fondant cakes from different places and I've thought they all tasted great. I LOVED my wedding cake- even a year after my wedding. My friend had one for her son's first birthday and she gave me a large section to take home. It was amazing that day and the next two days at my house. I've just never bought one because I couldn't justify the price. Any that I've priced out were over one hundred dollars and I've seen some around here for three to five hundred dollars. I love cake but not five hundred dollars worth. I am fully aware that it's an art and a craft and people totally deserve to be paid for their skill and hard work. Considering what I do for a living, I understand it all too well. That people have a problem paying for skill. Hundreds of dollars is just too high a price for ME to pay. THAT, breaks *my* bank.

I thought maybe Pam (from the closed A La Cupcakes) could make me a cake. I wrote her to ask if she's baking these days and she's just too busy. Her daughter is a bad ass ice hockey player and that's a schedule as brutal or more brutal as swim team. I figured my dream of a fancy cake was going to die there. Then I thought of Christine Macario. She is from my hometown and I went to school with her older brother. She and I are Facebook friends and on some of the mom's message boards and FB pages together. I recalled that she makes cakes and I thought I'd liked a business page for her cakes.

I quickly looked her up and saw that indeed, she does make cakes. It couldn't hurt to inquire how much it would cost for a cake that would feel around thirty people. I said thirty people because we all know that this cake, while decorated for E, was REALLY for me. To freeze. To eat until I run out of cake. Knowing I could have a freezer full of cake makes me happy. I rationed out one of Pam's cakes for a year.

Christine told me it would cost fifty dollars. After I recovered from the shock, about two seconds later, I said- OK THEN. Not having any kind of menu, I just told her I wanted a Pokemon themed cake, but to do it however she wants. I googled some images of Pokemon cakes and sent her a photo collage of them. I said that I like all of them, so some version of any of them would be great. I said I'd like vanilla cake, one part with raspberry buttercream filling and some with chocolate filling or chocolate raspberry filling. But I didn't even know how that works with fondant, so I just left her to do her thing.

Her communication was amazing. She drew a cake out and emailed me her drawing. She was making a bunch of Pokemon characters out of fondant. Every time she made a new character, she would send me a photo. I have no idea who any of these characters are, but it was fun to see them all as they were being made. I let her have full creative control though. I wanted it to be her creation and take all the credit for it.

The end result was amazing. Everyone who saw it was super impressed with how it came out. I didn't know what to expect as far as taste, because I've had some bad cake before. There is a famous bakery in NYC that is raved over, whose cake I find barely edible. There is a bakery local to me that I feel that way about as well. I'm not even tempted to go in there. You just never know how cake is going to be. I can honestly say, this cake was GREAT. The cake was really moist, which isn't easy when it's not made that day. There was just enough frosting and filling, but not to much, and the fondant DID taste good. Or maybe I'm just a weirdo that likes to eat fondant. It tastes like marshmallow to me. I also love the consistency.

It was also a blizzard and her husband delivered it to me. I'd just assumed I'd have to come get it. If I ordered a cake from Shop Rite, which probably would've cost me the same for a sheet cake, I would've had to go pick it up. It didn't even occur to me that she'd deliver. But she does! Her husband came out, in the snow, and brought me the cake. Cake delivery will leave me indebted to you forever. 

I froze most of it, ate some last night and will be eating it for the foreseeable future. Oh, and of course, it goes without saying, that Ethan was FLOORED when he saw it. He loved all the characters, he ate the whole fondant Pikachu, and a giant slice of cake.

I highly doubt she'll be sticking with these prices for long. It would be impossible. I know she's just going to get busier and busier as time goes on. So, if you're thinking you are in need of fancy cake, I recommend getting in now when she's just really starting out. Hopefully she'll grandfather me in after I send everyone I know to her for all their cake needs.

Thank you Christine. It was everything I could've wanted and we were SO happy with your work! It exceeded my expectations. Even just that it was two tiers is amazing.

Christine's Confections


Friday, January 22, 2016

Migraines, Wrinkles and Red Tape


I have headaches. All kinds of headaches. Some are dull and some are debilitating. I never know what I'm going to get. Most seem to radiate from my neck and go on up. Some feel like they're around my temples and some are in other places on my head. Anyone I've been in a long term relationship with knows this because they were subject to my frequent requests for neck, shoulder and head squeezing. I used to ask my boyfriend in high school to just "push on my head". It had to be so annoying. I know the constant asking for massage annoys B!

I don't know the exact age it started. I remember being young enough that I couldn't swallow a pill. I'm going to guess around six years old. My mom would give me liquid Panadol, which I assume was like Tylenol. Eventually I graduated to Advil because they were easy to swallow. I recall my friend once mentioning that I probably shouldn't be taking that much Advil, but I really had no choice. Some days I most likely took around eight of them. Later came Aleve, which I thought worked better. But none were like a magic cure and if I didn't catch the headache by a certain time, I'd be screwed. I could take twenty and it wouldn't matter. Nothing would help.

My mom sent me to Holy Name Hospital when I was a senior in high school to try Biofeedback. That didn't work. She also sent me to a chiropractor. That worked while I was there, sitting with heat on my shoulders for forty-five minutes, getting a little massage and an adjustment. However, I felt like I'd need to go daily if I really wanted to get rid of the headaches. Over the years, I just learned to live with the pain. I didn't consider the headaches to be migraines because I thought you had to be sensitive to light or be throwing up. Since a lot of the pain was in my neck, I just assumed a doctor would call it a tension headache and hand me a box of Excedrin.

About ten years ago, I started having really bad back pain too. I had an MRI and it turns out I have some bulging discs and degenerative disc disease. A doctor gave me oxycodone. Yes, I'm aware that many people get addicted to this, but I'm way too rigid and routined to get addicted to anything. Except jellybeans. And cake. But not pills. I need to function during the day, not napping. As much as I'd like to take to the bed, that's not an option, so I can't take that kind of thing during the day. I once took a muscle relaxer and I was like the sister in Sixteen Candles on her wedding day to the oily bohunk. 

What I started doing was taking two Excedrin and the Oxycodone for the headaches. I cut the Oxycodone into four quarters with a pill splitter, and just take a small piece at night. That's the only think I knew to at least just take the edge off the pain so I could go to sleep. Along with sleeping in this weird, head-stretching position. None of that was an answer though. That was just me cobbling together something that worked. It's also not like I had/have unlimited access to a narcotic. You feel like a junkie just asking a doctor for it. I feel like every doctor must be suspicious of anyone that asks for that. So, that couldn't be the only thing that works for me. It's just all I'd found. I'd taken all kinds of over the counter and prescription medications that were basically garbage.

I admit, I pretty much gave up on ever having a solution. I just figured I'd buy out CVS generic Excedrin gel caps and live with pain. Maybe run over to The Healthy Way for a massage when I can. Then two of my friends, within the span of a few months, both said they get Botox for migraines. This, of course, was very interesting to me. No, I know what you're thinking. Everyone knows I love Botox. And yes, I have been getting it since I was thirty for wrinkles. But this headache thing is also legit. The thought of around thirty-something needles in my head and neck that might alleviate pain along with wrinkles is a reason to get excited. I'd also seen the commercials on tv for that usage of Botox. You see the commercials for meds all the time. My assumption was then, that you ask your doctor for it, and if your doctor determines that would be a good treatment for you, you get it. I made an appointment with a neurologist my one friend sees.

I went the first week of November. I got schooled by Dr Tom (Thomas Kreibich). He says my headaches ARE migraines. There are all different kinds of migraines. And Botox is a solution to them he uses. The doctor- he's very nice, knowledgeable, and wants to help. Unfortunately, my idea of how medication and insurance works & how they really work, are two totally different things. Even if your doctor thinks a medication you saw on tv can help you, he actually can't just prescribe it, unless you want to pay an exorbitant amount of money out of pocket. Why? Because insurance is penny-wise, dollar foolish. This whole song and dance I've gone through has been the perfect illustration of it.

**Don't leave comments that it's Obama's fault. Obama is not the reason I can't just get my Botox. I don't know whose fault it is- Big pharma? Their greed? Insurance companies and their greed? Stupidity? I don't know. But it *IS* stupid, that's for sure.

 The doctor told me that it definitely sounds like Botox could help me. It makes sense. It paralyzes the muscles. If they're paralyzed, minimally, they can't spasm. Or at least, that's my understanding of how it works. That's how it works on my face. Supposedly, it can cut migraines down by half. The problem is, the insurance companies don't want to pay for it, so you have to "fail" like two other medications before they'll consider it. He has to prescribe me something then come back in a month. If what he prescribed didn't work, I have to try something else, come back in another month and THEN he could put in for approval for the Botox. This is insane. That's one hundred and twenty dollars in co-pays for me, and whatever these two medications cost them for me to just waste. Along with with my wasted time. Time patients could be without pain, just because they don't want to pay for what the doctor thinks is going to work.

The kicker is, the DOCTOR also has to not only know what will help, but what insurances are most likely to definitely not going to pay for. Again, with my understanding- He has to prescribe things he knows probably aren't going to work, just to get the "fail". So it's like in addition to being a doctor, trying to help people, these doctors have to spend their free time researching how stingy and annoying each different insurance company is about medications. There is never any linear approach and time saving. Just total waste. The frustration on both the patients and doctors has to be at an all time high since commercials on tv for medications have been allowed. People obsess about possible potential medical problems. Otherwise there wouldn't be so many sites like WebMD. It's a no-brainer that you hear these commercials about this or that magic drug and you're going to think it may help you. Only they don't tell you in the commercial, that while the drug sounds great and like everything you've been looking for, that you just might not be able to get it. Or get it in any kind of timely fashion. Unless you're a millionaire.

I had my third appointment this past week. After all that, two useless prescriptions later, the doctor was able to put in for the approval for my Botox. I only have to wait another four to eight weeks for it! I'll update in a few months on either that my Botox was denied or how it's working for me in terms of migraines. In the meantime, if you need a good neurologist in Bergen County- I have one.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Leapin' Lizards- Sky Zone

 Now open

No, when I say "Leapin' Lizards", I'm not talking about Annie. I'm referring to us. As in B, E and me. We were leapin' alright. I've been trying to write this entry for what feels like a month now. The three of us went to Sky Zone in Allendale to check it out. For those who don't know, it's an indoor trampoline park. They have single trampolines, ones you can play basketball on (with a hoop/net), ones you can play dodgeball on, etc.

I'd bought a Groupon awhile ago but had no idea when I'd get there. Of course, I didn't look at the fine print or when it would expire. I bought and forgot, as I do, for anything but cupcakes. But one Sunday over E's winter break from school, we decided we'd check it out. Good thing, because the Groupon was going to expire in early February and I knew I'd never get back there in time.

My Groupon was for an hour on a weekend. It figures that the dates on blackout for using the discount were over break, which I have a real problem with because that's when people want to be able to use those things. We didn't know that we would have any issue using the Groupon so we went and we just had to pay a $10 upcharge. Annoying, but it wasn't going to stop us from trying the place out, to it was fine. You have to buy their special grip socks too for $2/pair. These are basically the same socks you used to buy your toddler so they wouldn't take a header on your hardwood floors. Just bigger.

We had an hour and were worried that wouldn't be enough time. B and I were also planning on jumping. The other Groupon choice was for thirty minutes. That seemed way too short to me. So I picked the sixty minute. Who knew jumping was hard work?? B and I were winded in minutes. And I go on the treadmill every single day! For an hour or.hour and a half at a clip. Good thing I was wearing a sports bra top under a thermal because I had to take off the thermal. I was sweating like I did a marathon. An hour is MORE than enough time.

It was fun. It seemed like it must be good exercise. E was able to get into a game of dodgeball for a little while before a birthday party was supposed to use that area. It gets CROWDED. We got there early because when I looked it up online, there was actually a graph that showed how busy it gets at different times of the day. The middle of the day seems to be the peak time. It also seems like it's a birthday party factory. That's not a bad thing- it's definitely a place to burn off energy and that's what you want for a kid party. You can have a private party but even a non-private party is on the expensive side (to me) for fifteen kids that are included. I don't think I'd pay for the private party. When we were there, a few parties were going on at the same time as just their open jump. I don't like that kind of system for birthday parties. It's like Chuck E. Cheese to me. A big free for all. I'm sure all the kids have a blast though.

The employees are very conscious of watching your sticker to make sure you leave when your time is up. It's fine- they obviously have to have a good system or people would just be staying all day. We were SO done at the end of that hour though. I felt fine during and after but B was in PAIN for days. He didn't wear his compression garment on his calf and he definitely paid for that for the next few days.

It looks very clean, including the bathrooms. It is kind of weird that you have to use the bathrooms with no shoes on if you put your shoes in a (pay) locker. There are open spaces for shoes, but ever since that episode of Sex And The City, where someone stole Carrie's Manolos at a house party, I'm not leaving my shoes anywhere someone can just grab them. Anyway- if they're in a paid locker, you're not going to get your shoes and then have to pay for your locker again. None of us went to the bathroom until we were ready to go and had our shoes back on. They have a snack bar, but no real food. It's a nice looking decent sized snack bar so it seems like it would be a good idea to have real food there- pizza, hot dogs, etc. I forget what they do have but it was nothing I would've wanted for me or E. I saw a pizza guy coming in bringing pies for a party so I guess they have to order out for a party.

We ended up going to Strawberry Place in Nyack after, which was just fine by me. 

For just one of us parents and E, it wouldn't be too excessively expensive to take him there again. B probably wouldn't even jump after the pain he was in. Forties are a real pain bitch, I'll tell ya. I did see a mom of three there that I know who also brought her nephew. For the five of them it cost her like $150 between the jumping and the socks. That seems like a lot of money for only an hour of play time. You could go to a museum, bowling or ice skating for way more hours and less money. It just depends on what you want to do. I needed a nap after our time at Sky Zone, so if it tires your kids out, it might just be the best money you've ever spent!

Sky Zone- Allendale

Monday, January 18, 2016

Acting Class- Glen Rock- Starts 1/24


If your child is interest in tv/movie acting or you just want them to learn how to do improv acting, there is a class in Glen Rock- in the back of CVS, that shares the Music for Aardvarks space.
Actor's Technique- Glen Rock class. A few spots left! Classes start this coming Sunday.


Bergen County: 3:00pm - 4:00pm IMPROVISATION Class
Bergen County: 4:00pm - 5:30pm TV/FILM ACTING & AUDITION TECHNIQUE


Private Coachings by Request

FINAL AGENT AGENT SHOWCASE INCLUDED- agents are brought in to see the kids. It takes the work out of having to try to get representation on your own.

Todd: 917.763.1777

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Drawing Room- New Semester

If you're looking for an amazing art experience for your kid(s), you don't need to look any further. The Drawing Room is fantastic. The only reason E isn't doing it this year is because there aren't enough hours in the day or days of the week. With E making the swim team, I just couldn't swing it. Swim is no joke in terms of commitment. I still hope to go back to art some time in the future. Don't miss out. E learned SO much there. I am so proud of the work he produced from their teaching.

Inline image 1

Monday, January 4, 2016

The REAL In & Out Burger

Photo from Shake Shack site but this is NOT what our food looked like!

Happy New Year! I just wanted to get that out of the way. I didn't write through the holidays because, well, I wanted to do as much nothing as possible. I also can't really write when I'm home. I don't know why. I'm better when I'm at work. Now, I'm back at work and I thought I'd be able to write today, but so far, it's been a no-go. Awesome that we're super busy, but I've barely read my emails, let alone get any of this out. Here I go again...

I think I've written that we almost always go out to dinner on Saturday evenings, with Ethan. My babysitters are hitting fifteen and sixteen and they have better things to do on Saturday nights than sit in my house. B works on Saturdays and E and I are always running around all day. So we don't even mind just doing a low key dinner thing at The Cheesecake Factory or wherever. We decided this past weekend to go to dinner on Friday, because we actually had a sitter coming on Saturday so we could see a movie.

Coincidentally, we tend to run into our friends Melissa and Rob, in a decent amount of our Saturday night eating establishments choices. We seem to enjoy the same food. The wait was too long for them in Grand Lux Cafe, where our wait for a table was almost up. They mentioned Shake Shack and that they like it a lot. I think that was where they decided to go. They made it seem like it was delicious and we were missing out for not trying it out. It's just that for me, dining out usually needs to consist of a bread basket and a burger joint is not a bread basket type of place. When given the choice, I'm always picking the kind of dinner that involves bread.

E asked to go out to dinner on Sunday. We'd already gone to Grand Lux and then B and I had our movie date. We didn't want a whole big, expensive, dinner out thing for Sunday. Plus, we didn't want to be in a restaurant forever with school looming the next day. But it's not like I was planning on cooking anything, so I said- "Let's try out Shake Shack". Granted, yes, we're late to the whole Shake Shack craze. It was there when I worked in NYC but I never ate there. I've seen the lines out the door. And, while I will goof on Rob and Melissa for their love of this place, they're certainly not the only people who extol it's virtues.

WELL. I will no longer be calling it Shake Shack. It's now Sh!t Shack. Yup. I'm not going to get graphic, but let's just say, while I was eating it, I actually said to myself, "I think I will probably get sick from this". When two out of three of your party NEED any public bathroom available after eating somewhere, it's safe to say, it's not getting a five star rating from us. However, had that not happened, it was basically glorified fast food that cost a fortune.

I actually try really hard not to write negative reviews. I usually will just not write anything if I don't like it. Especially with mom & pop small businesses. I was at a new-ish mom & pop bakery that I didn't write about. The service was bad and the food was just okay. But they're new, are probably having some growing or newbie pains, and I will revisit in a few months. I may still not like it, but I won't write about it because I'm sure they're trying and no small business needs help making it fail. But Sh!t Shake is different. They should have a standard that's higher, especially because they always had a good reputation.

I ordered a double cheeseburger with bacon & fries and a small fountain diet Coke. I ordered a single cheeseburger for E, fries and milk. B ordered a cheeseburger with mushrooms and a bottle of water. This all cost around $35. They give you a buzzer and you go get your food at the pick up area when you're buzzed. It's $35 for that, you have to get it yourself, AND they didn't hear me say that second set of fries. So it cost me that for three burgers, three drinks, and one order of fries. That's RIDICULOUS. It costs me a lot less for more food at the Windmill and the food is WAY better there. We got the food and the burgers were so sloppy. Greasy & cheese everywhere. We needed like twenty napkins between the three of us.

We left Sh!t Shack in Paramus and went to CVS in Fair Lawn. About a ten minute ride. Within minutes of arriving at CVS, that's when two out of three of us had our....attack.

My guess- when Shake Shake was small and just in NYC, they probably had decent quality control. Sometimes, when you get too big, you lose that quality control. All these expensive burger places are are regular fast food in a costume. It's really no different than Wendy's. Just packaged as more "gourmet". The gourmet burger thing became a trend. Smashburger, Habit, BUCU (now defunct Burgers & Cupcakes), Bobby's Burger Palace, etc. We have them all. There is NO difference between BBP or Shake Shack and any other fast food burger place except the cost. If you're craving a bacon double cheeseburger- don't waste your money on a name.

Melissa & Rob- we love you, we'll still take your recommendations, although Rob, I'm not sure about that show you told me about. When we do get to see you guys for dinner, we're not going back there!