Saturday, May 28, 2011

Tali: April 25th, 2006-May 28th, 2011.

Tali passed away sometime Friday night after suddenly getting sick on Wednesday, May 25th, and after the valient efforts of her Doctor, Keith Placke. She was vomiting all afternoon on Wednesday and all day on Thursday. Then, in the early evening on Thursday, I realized I hadn't seen or heard her in the backyard for a few hours. After calling her a few times, and getting no response, I finally located her curled in a ball against the back fence. She simply looked at me as I called her name. She would not budge. When I walked out to her, and finally got her to stand, I could see and feel her rigid abdomen. At that moment, I knew she was in trouble. I felt kind of nauseous, panicky, and just worried. I texted Matt, who was out to see Hangover 2 and held back the temptation to say "Tali is dying, I am taking her to the vet." Instead, I told him she was really sick and had to go to the vet right now. Matt got home, the whole family packed up (I wanted everyone to go, as I sensed this could be our last time with her) and we headed out to Raintree Animal Health Center. I checked on Tali twice during the 30 minute drive, fearing she might pass on the way there.

We got there, and Kim (Matt's cousin) and Keith were relatively calm, which I took as hopeful. We did bloodwork and x-rays. Both demonstrated that something was not right and that there was most likely an obstruction. We decided to give some antibiotics and a pro-kinetic and reassess in the morning. With no improvement the next day, Tali went to surgery. In surgery, most of her small bowel was found to be dead. Dr. Placke did everything he could, was in surgery way longer than expected, and cut out most of the bowel, reattached it and got Tali through surgery. We went back Friday evening to visit our friend, post-surgery. It was painstakingly obvious our little gal was not doing so well. We tried to just pet her, and maker her feel relaxed. Of course, despite intense pain, and moments from death, she still tried to stand up and come home with us. We thanked our friends and family at Raintree and left, hoping to hear good news in the morning (but not expecting it.) I have never really mourned the passing of a pet before. I have also never experienced the death of a non-elderly dog. I kind of always thought people were over-reacting a bit to their pet's death. After all, Tali was only a dog.

But, this dog we watched be born. (Well, not technically, she was the only puppy from Marley's litter that Matt did not witness the birth. She was a bit slow. Guess we should have expected she'd do something dumb like get a corn cob lodged in her gut and not tell us about it until too late.) This dog joined us very shortly after the purchase of our home. This dog has been with us for the entirety of our marriage and the lives of our children. This dog was on our infamous Christmas card, perhaps stealing the show. This dog patiently let teeny babies crawl up to her feet and touch them. She hated having her feet touched. This dog generally slept most of the day, but if one of the kiddos arose from slumber, she would run through the house in search of me or Matt, to make sure we were aware of it. This dog was happy to see us every minute of every day. She wanted nothing but to make us happy. Even when she was in the worst pain of her life, pain that would probably make humans lose consciousness, Tali tried not to be a bother. Yes, she ate dirty diapers, got in the trash, barked at other people and animals, all the things expected of the species, but that was just part of who she was. As just a dog.

Now, without her, I realize that just isn't true. She wasn't just a dog. She was Tali. She was part of our family. Brock asks about her. He was concerned about his sick dog. Curtis would laugh at her for no apparent reason. She just made people smile. The lack of her presence is painfully obvious. I am kind of happy to be leaving town today. I won't see her kennel all cleaned out, taken apart and stored in the garage, or the lack of its presence in the basement. I can pretend that she is just being watched by someone while we are away. Hopefully, Tater being the dim lightbulb he is, will have forgotten she existed by the time we get back. That way he will not wander the house aimlessly, without his big sister as a personal guide and a heater.

When I remember Tali, I think of how she would instantly yawn upon landing on any piece of comfy furniture, particularly the master bed, to display her sheer exhaustion, despite being playfully hyper the moment previous. I think of her jamming her nose onto the wall, carpet or laundry basket in an attempt to eat that ever evasive laser pointer, or light reflection. I think of her stupid nub of a tail, that Brock called "Tali's penis". I think of when she would "get the cat", find Nike and just pin her down then look at us, as if to say, "Ok, got her, now what?" I have flashbacks of her and Tater chasing one another, barking in the backyard, probably disturbing the neighborhood, but making me, Matt and the boys laugh in delight. I remember wanting to beat her to death when I was hugely pregnant with Brock for getting into the trash for the 3rd time, and just sobbing on her instead...I would pick up trash everyday as opposed to this alternative. Mostly, I just think of how adaptable and wonderful she was with our kids. She loved them as her own. As we loved her. And all of this makes me truly sad, and I mourn my pet. Goodbye my friend.

Friday, May 27, 2011

THAT baby.

I called it from day one. Curtis was going to be THAT baby. You know, the one that puts anything and everything they can get their tiny, chubby little fingers around directly into their mouth. Therefore, I am constantly scouring the floor for Legos, puzzle and game pieces, loose change, etc where ever I set the child down.

This morning, as Matt, Brock and Curtis were hanging out on Brock's big boy bed, I walked over to join the fun. I started to dangle a toy in front of Curtis, and he looked up, started reaching for it, then started gagging. It appeared that he had just choked on a little saliva and was over-reacting. He continued to gag and started dry-heaving, so I picked him up and took him into the bathroom to lean him over the sink in case he was going to drive himself to vomit. Matt and I were kind of laughing at his ridiculous reaction to a teeny bit of saliva going down the wrong pipe. I mean, he was groaning and heaving. I felt bad for the little guy and start patting him on the back, and leaning him in a better "vomit" position so that he could just get it over with and throw up. He finally got a good heave going and in what seemed like slow motion, out came this ball of grayish looking saliva that clinked as it hit the porcelain sink. Out if the corner of my eye, I can see Matt perk up and go quiet in suspense. And I reach down to pick up the object in disbelief. A quarter! The baby had eaten a quarter! That could have been really bad. It either fell out of Matt's pocket, or Brock (who has a habit of getting change out of the change jar on Matt's dresser) had put it there. Of course, Curtis found it.

I carried Curtis and the quarter back into the room to show Matt (cause you know, he might not remember how big a quarter really is). Matt took the quarter from me, set it in his hand and proceeded to re-offer it to the baby. And you know what my still completely pale from vomiting baby did? Reached for the quarter, grabbed it, and headed straight for his mouth. Ohhh, a quarter, don't mind if I do...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

2.5 Years

As a two and a half year old, Brock has really come into his own. He loves his "big boy bed" and adjusted to it immediately. In fact, if he is not keen on the idea of going to bed, you can threaten him with sleeping in the crib! That generally ends that argument, and to sleep he goes. What I find most amusing about this whole big boy bed thing is his morning routine. Do you remember nervously hanging around outside your parents' bedroom door in the mornings, trying to hear if they are awake, or determine if it is worth it to go in? I do. And I can hear him doing the same thing, sometimes sitting for hours at the top of the stairs. Giraffee always in tow. Other mornings, he just goes downstairs, turns on the tv, and helps himself to various food items in the kitchen pantry. Just the other day I headed down the stairs only to be barricaded by the 2nd to last step. It contained quite the smorgasbord of Cheetos Puffs, an unopened Granola bar, a box of raisins, some loose cereal and a pack of Chips Ahoy with Heath. One word: wholesome.

Brock's vocabulary and parroting skills are off the heezy at this point. A few of my current fave's? His pronunciation of the letter "O" as "ho". So, naturally, whenever he would point out this letter and pronounce it, Matt and/or I will begin singing, "You's a Ho" by Ludacris. Just the other day, I heard Brock playing alone in the other room, I believe his cars were having a conversation, and one felt the need to begin singing, "you's a ho, you's a ho". That's my boy! He also has a tendency to leave the "L" out of "clock" and the "N" out of "tent". Therefore, we make sure to point out these objects whenever possible to the point that is now seems Brock has a bizzare obsession with tents and clocks...or Tourette's syndrome.

The advances are not only found in the language department, his memory is improving as well. Lacrosse practice is held quite frequently in a nearby park. Brock perks up and gets pretty excited about any sport, and generally calls them all basketball. So, when he saw a bunch of boys running around with sticks and balls at the park as we drove past, he made sure to point them out by yelling "basketball!" Matt says, no Brock. That's gay. (You know that whole Rugby vs. Lacrosse thing...) A week later, we drive by, and Brock's in the back of the car yelling, "It's the gays! Look, more gays!" Umm, parenting fail on that one, Matt O.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Teeny Tiny Newby

With my time off, I thought it best to begin organizing my 100's (more like 1,000's, but I don't want to admit that) of photos to put together an album for Curtis. I refuse to be that parent that has a full, chronological, perfectly organized photo album for their oldest, and dwindling to non-existent albums for the rest of the brood. In my perusing, I came across this gem. I seriously think this is the only footage we have of Curtis actually appearing like a newborn, he is less than an hour or two old. Pretty sure he was the baby he is today by 6 hours of age..., there is nothing sweeter, more relaxing, amazing and wonderful than a teeny, tiny newborn. Love him.

Friday, May 20, 2011


Unbeknownst to most visitors, we do, in fact, have two, spacious, upstairs bedrooms. Whenever we did allow guests to venture up the stairs, they were always shocked. They played off the shock as being related to the size of the rooms, as they are a bit large for the normal Prairie Village home. But I am certain the shock was really due to the state of disarray in which they found the rooms. The master always has a large amount of clean, dirty, folded, piled laundry and shoes (which will change when we dive into the huge master closet renovation some day). As for the other bedroom, well, it was the "catch all". Not anymore. As a byproduct of my insane amount of energy and desire to get my house in order before July 1st, we sucked it up, moved around some furniture and other random belongings, painted, rearranged and completed the perfect little boys' bedroom:The theme was actually inspired by these four old, old sketches of office chairs that Matt discovered in his former employer's storage. I loved the simplicity and strucural feel of the prints and wanted the room to match. I had my dad cut glass to fit each print exactly, as they were all slightly different sizes, and found simple clips to hang them to the wall. Also, Brock and Curtis already had Navy and Green chairs, so paint selection was easy with a Navy accent wall, and Grey to keep with the raw structural theme. Sherwinn-Williams of course!

Total, I think we spent just under $300 creating this room. The most expensive part of the room was the steel piping we bought for the window fixtures. But it was totally worth it, I think that touch drove the theme home. The magnetic chalkboard just seemed a natural addition to the bizzarely shaped nook of the South wall. And helped to tie in the awesome little navy storage baskets I found with mini-chalkboards hanging from them. The 1-2-3-4 buckets I discovered at my mother's flower shop. Originally, I just wanted the #1 to use for Curtis' first birthday party, but loved them all too much. (I would like to add that I recently opened a PotteryBarn Kids magazine and discovered mini-chalkboard baskets and tin storage buckets! Pretty sure I should be one of their designers...) And, well, you can't have a "structurally" themed boy's room without LEGOs, right? So a LEGO table adorns the center of the room.

Needless to say, Brock LOVES his room. He is proud of it. He adjusted to his big boy bed immediately. There is something to be said about waiting until the kid is ready and not pushing things; let's just hope potty training goes the same way (and that he decides he is ready soon.) And I am fairly certain Curtis cannot wait to join his big bro in that awesome room. And I just so happen to know where I can find the perfect unstained, raw-looking bunkbed to fit...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


If dilly-dallying were an Olympic sport, I think I would be the reigning gold medal champion. In fact, just by authoring this post, I am finding yet another way to postpone going to bed. I mean, why would I do that? Just go to bed, already. What am I attempting to avoid? And the amazing thing is that I do not discriminate. I waste time, even when there is no time to be wasted. I dawdle whether I am excited or nervous or dreading the impending event. I will never stay on task and I will always be the last one ready. Ask anyone who knows me well.

One would think, after spending up to 6 hours at the pool, working out, I would want nothing more than to get dressed and get home to my comfy bed. But no, I took my sweet time getting out of that Indiana University locker room. Even when my out of town boyfriend came to visit! Seriously, what is wrong with me?

I don't even do it consciously, or to be rude. I can't explain it. And it absolutely, does not match my personality. But it's a fact. I dilly-dally. And I do it quite marvelously.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

What a Week.

For a multitude of reasons, I nearly drove my relationship to divorce due to house preparation for my graduation. I wanted the house to be put together, clean, painted, personalized, and organized before May 14th. I had no nesting instinct with either pregnancy, but the end of med school, implying the beginning of residency, aka 80+ hour work weeks sure did the trick. If our marriage could survive the last couple weeks, it can survive ANYTHING. Let's just say, our energy levels do not quite match. And it wasn't just the end of school, it was the beginning of Summer vacation. I wanted to be free of any pressure I might put on myself to get the house in shape for the next 5 weeks. Also, many of my close classmates were from out of town and planning on staying with us for a couple days leading up to the event.

Therefore, on top of getting things in ship shape for guests, I felt it necessary that I host a little hang out session with food and drink as well since half the people were already at my house. But, for me anyway, all of this was worth is when Ashley Ascencio (a classmate very familiar with the usual condition of my abode) walked in and said, "Wow, Erin, I didn't even recognize your house!" Job well done, I guess. I nearly replied, "whatever do you mean? It is always like this..." But I have never been a good liar.
It brought me such pleasure to have 3 of my closest friends spending the night in my home. Perhaps the coordination of showering, the sharing of a mirror to put on make-up, the other girls around to ask, "does this look ok?" all brought back some nostalgic feeling from growing up in a huge family with 2 close sisters, or living with my 2 closest Indiana swimmer friends for 3 years. Or, perhaps it was the satisfaction one feels in being able to offer some kind of service to a friend; knowing you have made life easier for someone, if not for just a moment. Or, perhaps it was the opportunity to show off my adorable, little family; so that others could witness the hilarity of Brock, the happiness of Curtis, and the laxity of Matt first hand. But mostly, I think it was getting to spend a significantly increased amount of time with some amazing friends and share completely with them in the celebration of our accomplishment.

We ate. We drank. We shopped. We talked. We stayed up way too late. We got up way too early. We didn't take nearly enough photographs. (I have decided that this is the sign of a truly good time, who has time for pictures when you are in the moment, celebrating?) We laughed at Brock for unapprovingly playing with the sodas in the cooler, dropping one, quickly picking it up, noticing that it was spraying and throwing it back in the cooler then sauntering away. You could almost here him whistling as to attempt to display innocence. We graduated. We then parted ways. And moved on to more celebration with our own families.Meanwhile, my own mother scrambled to get her house together for the graduation after party, nearly driving her children to emancipation. I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. She opened her house and prepared food for the nearly 70 guests that attended the event honoring both Leah's and my graduation. I loved the opportunity to share a moment with all of those who had supported me throughout my rigorous education. And I loved the food. Man, it was a good spread - with very special thanks to Mimi for the perfectly tastey and adorable cookies. And Annora for the yummy tortilla roll-ups, and gaucamole, and salsa. And Wanda, for making my favorite cheesecake as a graduation gift! And, of course my mother, quite a talented hostess. The house looked beautiful and perfect. Allowing for celebration with the first guest arriving at 1pm and last leaving just before 10. My kind of party.I guess, what I am trying to convey, is that this past week will go down in history as one of the best weeks ever. All of this due, not to my actual graduation ceremony, but to all of the people who made that ceremony possible and enjoyable. The joy and love that surrounds me on a daily basis, became so ostentatiously clear. If I were an emotional person, it would have brought me to tears and involved a lot of hugs and kisses. But, alas, I am not. So, all I can do is attempt to convey my love and appreciation in writing. I love my families, intensely. And yes, I meant intensely, not immensely, as that is the way I roll.
And yes. My mother did her first keg stand. And liked it.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


As I went for an intense, adrenaline filled run, the evening before my "big dance", I couldn't help but become overwhelmed with pride. Working out is nearly the only time I truly feel focused, relaxed, emotional, invigorated and determined all at the same time. The endorphin's, combined with a mind free from distraction, creates the perfect recipe for positive self reflection. As I jogged, I thought to myself: I have made it. I will receive the distinguished title of Doctor in the morning. As I reflected on the road that lead to this accomplishment, and the meaning of this title, I did not feel boastful. I did not think for one second about the possible societal status change that some people feel this title automatically bestows. I did not hope to gain respect from anybody or feel any sense of entitlement. I simply felt proud of myself. And then wondered if that was allowed? Socially acceptable?
It is commonly taught that pride is a "deadly" sin. People generally look negatively on the word, especially when it is being used by an individual to describe them self. It is somewhat acceptable to be proud of your team, your friends, your family, your children, but proud of yourself? Huh uh, no way, not allowed. Society would prefer you to strive for the descriptors: humble, sacrificing, giving. So, I decided to look up the meaning of the word, and found this:

Pride (n) 1: a feeling of honour and self-respect; a sense of personal worth. 2: A feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one's own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.

I think the definition of the word is completely fitting, so, for the next couple of days I choose to embrace my true emotion. I am proud. For once, the narcissist in me is right and deserving. I worked really hard to get where I am. It took a really long time. It took dedication. It took perseverance. It took sacrifice and love and every word you can think of that you have seen on a motivational plaque or those "Successories" posters.
And with my pride, I have not forgotten the people that got me here. I have not forgotten the numerous hours of free babysitting from my supportive family. The dinners they provided. The listening ear. Their constant encouraging words. Their unending belief in my abilities. Their trust. And most of all, their patience and understanding. During the moments when I failed, or had doubts, I expected nothing but disappointment from these people who had so selflessly offered their services, but that emotion never existed for them. I think my mom even laughed when I suggested such a thing. I felt guilty every time I asked for assistance. After all, it was I who chose to attend medical school. I chose to have two children during this rigorous curriculum. I put too much on my plate, and then shoved some of it onto theirs, and they NEVER flinched. Thank goodness.

So, I hope all of you will stop for a moment and enjoy your sense of pride from this accomplishment. Because it is ok to be happy, and proud about something that you have earned. I know I am.

Dr. Erin M. O'Laughlin

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Very Merry Unbirthday.

As the rain drizzles on this typical, early May morning in Kansas City, it ruins my garage sale plans. On the other hand, it causes my sweet, happy, lovable, happy, energetic, happy, bouncy, smiley, giggly, did I mention happy? baby boy to nap for extended hours. So, instead of peddling my goods [crap], I have taken the opportunity to recount Curtis' progress in just 6 short months of existence.

As for sheer physical facts, Curtis continues to be on the large side, but is slimming out for sure. It's no surprise that boy's getting trim; anytime he gets in his Johnny Jumper he just starts bouncing, and does not stop. Ever. Eventually, after 30 to 45 minutes I just take him out because I feel like I am either neglecting him or forcing him to exercise. Seriously, my legs burn just watching the kid go. But he obviously loves it; after I remove him from the contraption he stares longingly at it and starts moving and shaking in my arms. This also may be why everyday he seems to look more and more like his older brother did at this age. I could see no resemblance between the two as newborns, but now there is NO QUESTION these two are brothers. To match my post on Brock's 6 month unbirthday, I will add the specs from his doctor's appointment [which was a week early]:
Height - 27.5" (65%)
Weight- 18lbs 15ozs (85%)

As for personality, one word covers the extent of it: HAPPY. That's it. Happy. When meeting Curtis for the first time, you will get a huge, warm smile as a welcome. And I'll just let you think you're special. I won't mention that he does that for everyone. Eventually, you will figure it out for yourself, when you see him repeatedly smile at everyone and anything moving. You will then become slightly perplexed, and ask me, "Is he like this all the time? This happy?" To which I will reply, "Yes." Invariably, you will repeat the question, because his happiness is astounding, contagious and unbelieveable and I will have to come up with more description than just a yes. I will start talking about how he sleeps from 9pm to 7am every night. That we can just lie him in his crib awake, and he will fall asleep on his own. That he laughs at his brother and the dogs as they romp all around [and on] him. That every once in a while he will let out a squeal or giggle for absolutely no reason. I will do this in a manner no of a braggart, but more of a mutual bystander, astonished at the child's demeanor as well.

None of this is to say that Curtis never cries. But I can say, he never cries without a damn good reason. Such as he wanted to eat over 2 hours ago, but I have finally pushed him to his limit. Or Brock has decided to "tickle" him directly in the face and nearly poked an eye out. But even amidst his crying, if you look him in the eyes and smile and talk to him, he can't help himself but to reciporicate the grin. In his early days, he had his fussy moments, but the Nuks solved that issue, and I can honestly say he has never looked back.

As for being a second child, I can honestly say I under-estimate Curtis all the time. I am guessing that nearly every parent thinks their first child is amazing. That everything he or she does cannot be repeated or surpassed by any other human. And in some ways, this is slightly true. Because they were your first experience as a parent, therefore everything they did was incredible. Only, now with a second child, you begin to question it. Could Curtis possibly be more coordinated than Brock? Could he be bigger? Funnier? Nicer? Smarter? More athletic? Cuter? Up until recently, I had just assumed, no. That the bar had been set, and I would love my second, possibly inferior child, equal to his older more superior brother. Now I see Curtis setting his own bar in his own way, and I realize the two just can't be compared. They are not at all the same person. And now I know why my parents always answered the question, "which child is your favorite?" the same exact way, when I clearly knew I was the obvious favorite. And the answer: they ALL are, for their own reason.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Literally, a picnic.

I am calling it right now, the two most beautiful, perfect, relaxing, wonderful days of this entire year were this past Friday and Saturday. Seventy and sunny. DONE with medical school. A stay at home husband. And two cutie patooties. So, when Matt actually warmed up to the idea of going on a picnic Friday, I got to packin' a basket.
As I methodically packed PB & J's for me and za Brockus, a salami sandwich for Matt O, nothing for za Cuck as he was asleep, chips, some strawberries, grapes and wafer cookies, Matt suddenly realized that by picnic, I literally meant picnic. As in the kind where you sit on a red and white checkered tablecloth in the grass of a park that you walk to from your house. He proceeded to comment on the fact that I insist on making everything "complicated" by which I know he really means "perfect". And I know it was perfect, because, instead of sprinting to the swings and slides, Brock first sat down and enjoyed his entire sandwich, every bite, in one setting. Right next to his father. He then helped himself to some chips and fruit, some chocolate milk, THEN, the playground.

Curtis eventually woke up and joined the fun. Besides being unsure of his first experience with that sun hat, he was happy as usual. Got to touch and experience the grass for the first time. Loved it sooo much, he wanted to eat it. But, then again, Curtis wants to eat everything. We let Tater run off leash for a moment, which concerned Brock, who decided chase after the lightening quick dog. So, then we let Tali go. The three of them sprinting around one another was the best portrayal of the carefree nature of that day.
For just a moment, I am free to enjoy life with my little family. I get 7 weeks off before I begin residency, and Matt is now home doing photography. We get to finish house projects. Or not. Do activities, together, with our children, instead of divide and conquer. I am in for such a rude awakening that last week of June. And our road is not paved with gold, actually, it's not really paved at all. But it is so worth it. And so wonderful.