Tuesday, July 31, 2012


I had every intention to title this: Epic Fail. This Saturday was the Ice Cream Social in Mendon, MO. My family's farm town. I have nothing but the fondest memories from this event in childhood. It helps that ice cream has always been my all time favorite dessert. So couple this fact with churning the goodness myself using products straight from the farm, and there is no better. I guarantee it. My family generally tries to attend this event yearly. But it's been a while since I have been available to go, at least 3 years, as Brock has never attended. This year, Matt had a wedding reception to shoot on Friday night and work on Saturday morning. Since I wasn't really going to get to see him anyway, and he tends to poo-poo the suggestion of heading to the farm, I decided I would just take the boys myself. Oh, and the dogs. And my dad.

Annora, Timothy and Xander came by and took Brock down early in the day, Friday. I took a 4 hour post-call nap, packed the van, picked up my dad, stopped at the store and headed out of town with Curtis, George, Fannie May and Tater in tow. We arrived around 8pm. Where I found Brock running bare-footed through the rough, dry grass. The arches of my feet just ached with the thought of how many times his little soles were being stabbed by those random hard blades of grass, stones or sticks. But he seemed oblivious. He was free. That's what 2 hours from the nearest city, in the midst of 100's of acres of your own land will do; make you feel free. Curtis immediately joined his brother, cousin and dogs in their frolicking.  I joined my siblings and father on the wooden Adirondack chairs facing the road, as always, cracked open a Leinenkugel and relaxed, with George in my lap.

As complete darkness set in, the massive amount of stars slowly appeared. If I had to choose the most remarkable thing about this little farm, it's not that my great, great, great grandparents settled here in the 1800's, it would be the stars.  Anyone raised in the city, who only vacations in other big cities, has never experienced a true night sky.  You have no clue how many stars are up there, hidden from the bustling urban glow.  As a kid. we would lie on a blanket and count, and count and count. Eventually, we sent the little boys in to watch a movie, hoping they would just drift off to sleep.  They left us alone for a moment, but soon, they were hungry, scared, restless. We got George down in my bed, Curtis in the Pack 'n play, Xander on the top bunk, and Brock successfully passed out on the couch in front of the TV.  Dad was next to go.  Then Brennan, Annora and Anne.  I wasn't tired, damn nap and Starbucks Latte.

Timothy elected to stay up with me.  We enjoyed the stars for a moment longer and headed into the kitchen for chips and dip, and a round or two of Uno.  By now, it's well after 1am, and I decide it's time to try and sleep.  George wakes up when I get in bed to eat.  I feed him.  The whole room with everyone snoozing in it, except, me, Brock, George and my dad, are suddenly terrified awake by the dogs growling.  Everyone settles down again.  Timothy's bed breaks.  And we're up.  Curtis is brought into my room.  Now George is up again.  I put Curtis to bed, I get George asleep.  The power goes out.  A few profanities are spoken.  Everyone is up again.  Everyone gets resettled.  Then, daybreaks, and my dad, who is the only one who slept through all the events of the night is up and outside with the dogs.  Ugh.  All the little boys are now up too.  Guess my night is over.

I am exhausted.  But I haul the littles to the church to assist in the ice cream churning.  They are only mildly interested.  They don't appreciate the novelty.  They are babies.  They are hungry.  They are tired.  They are cranky.  Mom is cranky.  We last about an hour and head back to the farm house.  Curtis and George nap.  Brock is all over the place.  It's too hot to nap, Curtis is back up.  We attempt to make some lunch, but the babies can't keep it together. We are in full meltdown mode like I have never experienced before.  I realize that I have actually been defeated.  There is no overcoming this downward spiral.  It's done.  I surrender and inform my father that it is time to pack up the van and head home.  No Ice Cream Social this year.  We came so close.

Despite catching some major flack from Brock, who insists he does not want to leave, he climbed into the van and sat in his seat while we filled the car.  He didn't even make it 200 yards in the air-conditioned vehicle before passing out, for the entire 2.5 hour drive home.  George did the same.  Curtis watched Ice Age, then took a little snooze.

We arrived home before dusk.  I fed the boys.  Started their baths.  Took a shower myself. Therefore, I ended the night with 3 freshly, clean, fed, exhausted, happy boys in bed and asleep by 8:15pm.  In contrast to the 10pm arrive time that would have happened had we stayed for the social.  I even had time to make some brownies. I then watched the Olympics with some popcorn, a glass of wine and a warm brownie a la mode, next to my favorite person in the world. Just don't think this can qualify as a fail. Do you?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Pic Stitch

Every once in a while, something comes along that takes my quality of life, happiness, enjoyment, whatever you want to call it, to a whole new, and wonderful level. I could say it was my iPhone, or the iPad that I am currently typing on, because, without them, Pic Stitch might not be as easily accessible, but I am not going to say that. I am going to say the fact is, Pic Stitch has rocked my world. I cannot even tell you the hours I have spent at the computer trying to cut and paste and organize photos into a collage to load them onto this blog or on facebook or make a print to frame in the house. Or the frustration I feel when I want to load a dozen pictures on my blog to show how fun the lake was, but I don't want to inundate it with photos, because I see my blog as more of a photo journalistic product heavier in words than images. Now, I can easily include 4 pictures in one little, perfect square. The more birds you can kill with one stone, the better.

I delight in efficiency. And I delight even more in user-friendly, high quality products that enhance my lifestyle. I recently re-decorated our small downstairs bathroom, and there was no angle that could include even 1/3rd of the changes. But I didn't want to post a bunch of pictures of just a votive, a shower curtain, a hand towel, etc. With this app, I CAN take seperate pictures of many details and put them together to create one image that portrays my story! Or renovations in this case. It doesn't get any more perfect. Or beautiful. Or organized. Or simple. Or satisfying to my picture/blogging OCD self then this.

 I am not sure if there is some unspoken rule about the number of collage photos you can post on facebook or Instagram, but I can almost guarantee you, I will exceed it. Look out Pinterest, my whole house is about to get displayed, room by room, detail by detail. The ideas and uses for this life-altering app are endless. Thank you Apple.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Things I love, right now.

1. My boys, all 4 of them. Duh.
2. Avocado and Homegrown tomatoes.
3. Pic Stitch.
4. My iPhone.
5. My iPad.
6. Being a 2nd year resident.
7. The pool, the Summertime really.
8. Losing weight, having my own body back to myself.
9. Baby babbles.
10. Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy.
11. Iced caramel lattes, Phish Food, and homemade Popcorn (like those will ever change).
12. Days off of work.
13. Wedding planning with Sissy.
14. Best friends having babies.
15. House hunting, for fakes.
16. Weekend trips.
17. Horseback riding, even if it's infrequent.
18. Frozen custard, mostly Foo's.
19. Christian Bale (and now I am allowed to, because he is no longer an ass, he visited the Colorado victims.)
20. Foster the People.
21. Mint green shorts, fun colored flats, Toms for the littles and Cole Haan for the big.
22. The nanny.
23. Family dinners.
I did not read last year's post like this, I didn't look at it, didn't even know how I had titled it, because I want it to be completely unique, authentic and from the heart.  But then I did go back and look, and here is what I saw: the 2011 version.  Looks like things don't change much, especially, how my mind works.

Monday, July 23, 2012


I despise routines. I have spent my life trying to avoid routines like the plague.  I think the reason I regularly (or I mean sporadically) showed up to swim practice late was in defiance of the daily 4pm start time, for weeks on end, month after month, year after year, with no breaks in between.  In fact, I continue to randomly show up late to work for the very same reasons.  Some mornings I hit the snooze seven times, other mornings I jump up.  I probably switch the time setting for the alarm every other night, depending on if I think I am going to take a long shower in the morning vs. a short one vs. none.  Or if I think I will use the Keurig or stop at Starbucks.  Or if I am going to eat breakfast at home or just grab a Nutri-grain bar for the road.  Lately, I have discovered that many people consider me to be somewhat "flakey" due to this behavior.  I just think I am spontaneous, and willing to do, what so many others aren't...what I want {within reason}.

More often than not, though, I find myself extremely bothered by "routine" people.  People who claim to be "A-types".  Just because you wake up at the same time everyday, brush your teeth before you get dressed, not after, everyday, eat a banana every morning, must have things arranged in a certain order, etc, does not necessarily make you an "A-type".  It kind of just makes you boring.  Sorry.  And it makes me concerned that you are not living life as fully as you could. Go to Happy Hour with friends when asked! So what if you planned to work out, and then eat a salad, and watch your tv show, tomorrow is another day. And, oftentimes, it ruins my fun, because there are not enough whimsical people out there to randomly join me at a moment's notice.  I think that's why I get along so well with my family, and I include my cousins in this.  There must be some genetic factor for spontaneity (or I guess you could argue it's environment as we are all raised by moms raised by the same mom). Or maybe we are all just loony.  But I can often rely on my cousins, as well as my sisters, to join in on some last minute adventure or fun.

I also think this non-routine trait of mine, is why I can do what I do...which is a lot.  I don't get caught up in the routines of daily life.  If the boys go 5 days without a bath, so be it.  Unless they smell, look greasy or visibly covered in food and/or dirt, who cares. They don't.  Some days they are in bed by 8, and others, it's nearly 10pm and they're still romping around the house.  I can roll with the punches and it doesn't rock my boat.  I rarely expect things to go as planned, and am mostly surprised if they do. For instance, right now, it is nearly midnight, on a weeknight.  George will probably be waking up to eat any minute.  Why am I still up?  Because I feel like blogging. So I am.

But I was taught some core values.  If I commit to something, I will be there, or do it, or find someone to do it for me. If someone else depends on my punctuality, I will try my very very best to be there, on time, and if I am running late, I don't expect to be waited on, and am willing to accept the repercussions. 

Interestingly though, I find I am drawn to 2 types of friends.  People who are either, spontaneous to the point of being reckless and somewhat rude because of their lack of consideration for other's time and belongings OR people who are extremely routine and somewhat rude because of their lack of flexibility when things don't happen exactly when or how they expected.  I guess I need my people that I can call, 5 minutes before a movie starts, who will gladly join me, despite missing the previews and perhaps the opening credits.  And I need my people that hold me accountable to my frequent boasts and somewhat ridiculous claims.

Though, I must admit, as contrary to my openingg statement as it might sound, I have only recently (in the past coupe years, probably soon after Brock was born) come to terms with the fact that this is who I am. You know that grass is always greener thing? I used to think I would love to work out everyday. I would love to have a job that has the same hours on the same days of the week all year long. And I would always daydream that someday, my life would be "in order". Well, here I am, nearly 30 years old and no where NEAR any semblance of a routine. Never been further from it, actually. And I am loving it. Now I look forward to a life of increased chaos. I reflect on the jobs or situations I have been in that were extremely routine, and it drove me nuts. I am crazy to think that is the lifestyle I would want. So, I have embraced my spontaneous side, I love my randomness, and I wish for others to loosen up every once in a while to experience the freedom, that is doing what you want, when you want, and how you want to do it {again, within reason}.

Friday, July 20, 2012

By George!

Deciding on the name George, was a spur of the moment decision. He was actually going to be Mitchell Frances (with the Frances part still up in the air, and he would go by Mitch). George Edward had always kind of been the joke. At one point during my prenancy, I had said, "I am sick of naming boys, so if it's a boy, we could just do our dad's dads." And George was just kind of a funny name to say and think about for a tiny baby. We don't really discuss baby names with others, and I had even mentioned the name George to multiple people because I was certain we would not pick that name. We usually check the SS names site to make sure we don't pick a name that is trending upwards in popularity, and is somewhere in the mid 2-300's. Not real common, but not real bizarre. We hadn't looked up George. I did know Brock had a George in his class. And I definitely knew that everyone has an uncle or grandpa George, but I had no idea where the name fell in the popularity curve. Risky, very risky.
So, when he came out, looking completely like a George and nothing like a Mitch. I kind of panicked. I almost regretted the decision. He might have another George in his class! I suddenly saw and heard George's everywhere. His name is almost 2 times more popular than Brock or Curtis! What was I thinking!? I frequently critisized and pondered the reason as to why one would name their child an insanely popular name, like Aiden, Caden, Jayden, Hayden, Jacob, Jackson, etc. Don't you want your child to be unique? Carry their own identity? Stand out? I hated my name growing up. I hated that I continually met, not only other Erin's, but Erin Smith's. I didn't want to share my name with anyone. I like to think there is no one like me. In fact, my brother-in-law dated an Erin for a while, and she was nice, but I could not stand the thought of the relationship going somewhere. Finally, I am Erin O'Laughlin, never met another one of those...and she threatened to become one!

I have observed and read about naming trends for a long time. I can nearly always predict the top 10 boys and girls names every year (it helps that I deliver and take care of babies on a regular basis) and it blows my mind how often someone names their kid the exact same name as the little boy, born 3 hours earlier, 3 doors down. The only thing going for him, is that despite it being more common than his brother's, the name George is still on the downward trend at #165 in 2011, peaking in the 1880's at #4. But I fear it is going to take a turn for the worse. Soon after his birth, I found out that a friend of a friend had given birth to her 3rd boy, just one week prior to my 3rd boy. His name? George! I smiled and laughed about it, but there was a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. Again, the regret threatening to rear it's ugly head. I love my kids' names. Love them. These 3 guys are adorable, but did I let my third child down? Did he just get a garbage pail name because I was too lazy to search for, yet another, perfect little boy's name?

Well, today, 5 months later, I can happily say, no. No, I did not fail him. George has so much personality, a unique name would be overkill. This kid is hilarious. A spaz at times, yet tolerant of all the chaos around him. He sleeps through being tackled, yet gets distracted by most noises. He can get across a room through a combination of rolling and dragging with his arms and pushing with his legs. None of it real coordinated. Or he will contently sit in your lap to observe his surroundings, or watch TV. He smiles at anybody willing to look his direction, but remains inquisitive and serious in expression when he thinks no one is looking. His movements are quite exaggerated and sudden. One moment you think he is drifting off in your arms and in the next his hand has reached into your bowl of cereal and grabbed a handful. And DO NOT set any kind of beverage glass or bottle with in arms reach. That kid is like white on rice when it comes to fluid filled containers.

He has always had this bipolar type nature. For his first three months of life, I described him regularly as a ticking time bomb. He would appear content. Pleasant. Happy to be held. Engaged when being spoken to, then BAM. Not happy. In consolable. Tired. Fighting sleep. Or whatever it was. Then one day it stopped. He has been sleeping through the night for quite sometime now, an entire month maybe? Not only that, but he prefers to be put to bed to fall asleep. No rocking, feeding, or consoling required. I think this can be attributed to the discovery of his hands and the ability to control them. The fingers of choice seem to be the left hand pointer and middle finger, palm side out. Don't worry, we have already started a savings account for the orthodontics which will be necessary for the buck teeth. If he ever grows any of those things.

George giggles. George laughs. George loves. People love George. And I think it's due, in large part to his name. I can see the smile, and reflection, and love in people's eyes when they hear that name. Almost everyone has a George that they love or loved. Even if it's George Clooney, or George Brett. Even small children giggle, and say, "like Curious George!?" And, by George! it became clear to me why one might choose a popular or common name; because people like it. Perhaps it's not so bad to have a bit of familiarity in a name. Perhaps George will have another boy in his class by the same name. But George will be George. He will be the cute, funny, snuggly, full of life, spunk and character kiddo that he is today, 10, 20, 30 years from now. And he will become the George that people know, and fondly think of, when they meet a strange new baby by that name.

Monday, July 16, 2012

I'm on a boat!

Matt has been hinting at the idea of a lake weekend for quite sometime. And by hinting, I mean blatantly asking, when are we going to the lake with your dad and Terry?  They have a nice little, 3 bedroom condo, directly on the water, one staircase away from a pool, 2 wave runners, and a pontoon boat.  So, what better time, than my 2nd of 2 weekends off this month, which coincides with Matt's 29th birthday!?   So, we packed up the 3 boys, on the Friday of my 86 hour work week, and headed to the Ozark's. 
 I'd rather not bore you with the details of a typical lake weekend, cruising on a boat, lazing in the water, drinking beer, eating burgers, working on my freckles, riding a jet ski {for the first time} resulting in a really sore rear end, Brock riding the waves for the first time, and loving it with his wind blown hair, hanging with Pops & Terry, Curtis pointing at every boat that passes by, and the boys seeing a little hummingbird at the feeder off the screened in porch.  No need for me to mention George napping in the pool, and Curtis LOVING to float on a raft in the lake.  Really, I can sum it all up in one statement.  We weren't home 5 minutes before Matt was on the computer looking at lake Real Estate. Seriously, the car was not even unpacked yet.
 Happy 29th Birthday, Matt!  (Maybe in a few years my gift to you won't be a trip to the lake...but a home on the lake...)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Olympic Trials

One day, I will go to the Olympics. I will. No, I am not deliusional, I don't mean as a competitor. Though, I can't say that dream of mine has completely fizzled. Every so often, I think about how much I have learned, how much wiser I have become, how much I now know that eating right and sleeping right makes a huge difference on how your brain and body performs. I think back to high school and college, and how I often got only 4 hours of sleep. Then, I would swim for a couple hours, then go to school, then swim. How did I expect to perform at my peak on that amount of sleep? And sometimes I would eat a whole row of oreos for a snack, or half a bag of Twizzlers. I would bring 5lbs of sour candy to swim meets and eat only that and a few bites of lettuce the whole weekend because the nerves destroyed my appetite. A common theme to my swimming career was "inconsistency". Now, I think I could buckle down for a few years. Quit staying up late, eat right. I could do all the things necessary to perform at my full potential. Now, does that mean I could be or could have been an Olympian? Probably not. But maybe. But seriously, I will attend the games as an excited, nervous, sympathetic spectator.
Recently, I drove to Omaha for the night to watch finals of the 2012 Swimming Olympic trials. I went partly because a couple of my college teammates were there, but mostly because I love feeling part of my sport again. I miss it. I feel at home near the pool, surrounded by beautifully sculpted, half-naked bodies built for performance. I watch those kids parade out for finals, and I remember that moment. I remember trying to stay loose, shaking my arms and legs, jumping, doing "Nordics" behind the blocks as were customary for a Blazer kid. Wondering if I had warmed up properly. Trying to remain confident, focused, excited. For me, there was a perfect balance of adrenaline and composure that I could rarely find, but when I did, the race was over before it started. I could feel it as soon as I stood behind my block. I was going to win. Coaches even told me they could see it. They knew when I was "in the zone". Watching trials, I could see those swimmers "in the zone". Witnessing 8 people swim for 2 spots to compete in the greatest meet in existence is exhilarating and nostalgic. When they step up on that block, I know exactly how they are feeling. I remember the desire to win, deep in the pit of your stomach sensation to the point of making you feel sick. Every event. To represent their country by doing what they love and doing it the best. I love being the best. I like to think, at this moment, I am the best and greatest person that ever existed. But alas, I am not. I am a spectator. And always will be. I can say I tried.

I did compete in the Olympic trials. I remember it as one of the most exhilarating, exciting events in my life. I felt like the best. At least, I was walking around the deck and sharing a pool with all the best swimmers in the world (as USA dominates the sport.) I remember being told by my coach not to get DFL (dead fucking last, as we would say). I was swimming the 200 butterfly. My best, and probably most inconsistent event at that time. And it was a long course (50 meter) pool, I was more of a short course (25 yards) girl. I liked my turns. I was known for my underwater swimming. Fairly certin, if there was a 50 meter, underwater with fins Olympic event, then I would have been there. Just saying. I ended up getting a best time by almost 3 seconds. I didn't get even close to semi-finals. I didn't care. I was starting my Senior year in high school. I had all the time in the world to improve. How was that 12 years ago? Michael Phelps was a 15 year old baby, shocking the world with his 200 fly. Now, he's the veteran swimmer. Back then, I couldn't imagine my swimming days ever coming to an end. Ever. Inconceivable.
I am happy where I am in life. I had a great time, reminiscing with Susan Woessner and Megan Ryther, Seniors when I was a Freshman at IU. We stayed up late, we drank, we talked, we acted as though no time had passed. And despite being out of the sport for 7 years now, I still ran into people I knew left and right. It still felt comfortable to be in that arena. I got to talk to Dorsey, my IU coach for an hour. I got to brag about my children, and my career. I have succeeded. And I have won. In so, so many ways. I look forward to continuing my journey. But, I love catching a little whiff of my past, and feeling part of that world again. For a brief, wonderful moment, I imagine being the best, being an Olympian. And it is awesome.
Now, I mostly start imagining my sons competing, in some way, in some sport. It almost brought tears to my eyes seeing the mothers of new Olympians sitting by me in the stands. I sympathize with both sides, the competitor and the spectator. How amazing to know you created and raised an Olympian. So many emotions in one little 24 hour trip (literally, I left the house at 3:32 on Saturday and pulled in the driveway at 3:32 on Sunday - weird!) So much fun. And THAT is why, one day, I will go to the Olympics.