Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Lioness'

 Congrats to Thomas and Claire O'Laughlin.  
October 13th, 2012.

Months prior to Thomas and Claire's wedding, Matt and I began planning our weekend.  For, perhaps, the first time ever, we acted as responsible parents of three children and set up a sitter ahead of time.  We even got a hotel room for after the reception. I honestly felt proud that I would not be bugging my family last minute to come over and watch the boys.  We would bring the boys to the Rehearsal and dinner.  Our nanny, Kerry would spend the night for the ceremony, reception and our night out of the house.  Done, and done.  Until...
...we found out the week of, that the boy's presence was requested for family pictures as well as the ceremony.  OK, we can work with that, Kerry will just have to drive the van home with the boys, taking them early from the reception.  Then, after some discussion, the decision was made to leave the boys home for the rehearsal dinner.  I consider this our mistake.  What were we thinking?  A sit down dinner is not fun for three boys under 4, nor is it fun for the people in charge of them.  Let the begging commence.  We got it arranged that one (or a few as it usually turns out) of my family members could watch them for the night.  Then, Kerry gets a stomach bug.  Thank goodness for sisters, and flexible family members.  We got it covered.

What I couldn't have predicted was how difficult it is to get 3 boys wedding picture ready, while attempting to make yourself beautiful as well. Alone.  Matt, being part of the wedding party, was long gone for most of the day.  I began beautifying myself at 1:00pm, to be ready in time for family photos at 4:00pm.  Well, long story short, I arrived at 4:17pm and pictures were over.  Done. Missed them.  Rushed around to get 3 stressed out boys to a load, large wedding, so that they could cling to their perfectly dressed mother in heels.  Truly, all I really want to say about it, is, lesson learned; men should never be in charge of communication.

Leah came to pick up the boys.  I had a few drinks, and I joined my newest family member in some dancing, fun, and merry-making in a beautiful wedding pulled off perfectly at last minute.  Rain turned this outdoor event into an indoor party just 24 hours prior to start time.  Claire was a rockstar.  She so kindly included me in the Friday morning nails and bridal brunch.  The speeches were so heart felt.  The bride and groom obviously have some true friends.  And the now three O'Laughlin ladies, enjoyed ourselves all good Leo's do.
Matt and I stayed in the hotel as planned, and I decided it best to capture our morning after; walk of shame...or so it felt.  We left our change of clothes in the van that transported our boys home the night before.  Whoops.  Leah left the next morning, unsure that she and her soon to be husband would ever decide to procreate.  I guess putting 3 babies to bed is a little daunting for a first-timer. Little did she know, she just has to leave on the hall light.
One awesome, happy family wedding down...on to the next.  Glad to have added a sister-in-law.  And next a brother-in-law!  As we all know, my mantra: THE MORE THE MERRIER. 

The Boss

It's easy to lose yourself in residency.  Very easy.  You get forced into doing a lot of things you don't like nor want to do.  Things you don't envision yourself doing in the future, therefore feel pointless.  Things you "didn't sign up for". Things you don't enjoy.  Things you lack not only confidence in doing but the motivation to learn to do it.  You are forced into these things, time after time.  For hours, upon hours, upon hours.  You get pummeled. You get beat.  You lose sleep.  We often refer to the weekend shift on Medicine as "going to war". So, like I said, if you are not careful, it is so very easy to lose yourself.  To question what you are doing.  To doubt your decision to be a physician.  To wonder if it would be best to just quit, and suffer through a life of student loan debt over continuing one more day in the trenches.

Then, it happens.  You have a moment.  One of those extremely rare, but oh, so powerful moments, that wipe the entire slate clean.  A moment that gives you a glimpse into the future.  Where you are a competent, respected, trusted, appreciated, appropriately worked and rested physician.  You are someone 100% confident in your abilities and decision to become a doctor.  I recently had one of those moments.  In the Emergency Department of all places!  (If you didn't know, ER physician was probably the first and only specialty I rotated in as a student that I could [and did] without question, absolutely remove from my differential as future career.  Hate it.)

It came 15 minutes before the end of my 12 hour (felt like 3 days) shift.  A podiatry resident was headed into the room of an extremely nice, clean, sane elderly lady with a nasty foot infection.  This lady was accompanied by her loving husband and worried daughter.  He planned to incise and drain the wound in the ER.  I asked if I could join him.  Not only did he let me join, he offered me the procedure!  Suddenly, my long, boring day, filled mostly with drug seeking, menial complaints, had the opportunity to be salvaged. Despite putting my arrival home off by 45 minutes, I accepted.  When I entered the room, the patient and her family very respectfully referred to me as doctor.  They wanted to be sure they could pronounce my name right, and asked me what year I was, and if I'd ever done this before.  They asked details about the procedure, the plan for when it was done. I love it when patients take an interest in their health.  I love it even more when I can answer all their questions, confidently and correctly.  One nurse gathered all the supplies and stayed to assist, soon, another nurse entered, pregnant and due any minute. She asked if she could stay to watch the procedure.  The patient joked and said, only if you promise not to deliver a baby while doing so.  I then joked that it wouldn't matter, because I could deliver the baby too.

Halfway into the procedure, one of my fellow Family Medicine residents arrived at the scene to begin interviewing and admitting the patient to our Medicine service.  A job I had just been doing the week prior, while on that rotation.  At that moment, it dawned on me.  I was THE BOSS.  I was the most educated, well rounded, able-bodied person in that room.  I was the only one in there (until my resident buddy joined us) not only capable but qualified to take care of everyone's health needs in that room.  The podiatry resident knows feet.  The nurses know before and after care.  I can I & D, deliver a baby, and manage the patient's many additional health problems and illnesses. If her heart had stopped (and thank God it didn't!) I would be the one expected to run the life-saving code.  This, my friends, is exactly what I signed up for.  This is what I hope to do with my life.  This was a great day.

So, though it is so very easy to lose yourself.  Just remember, ultimately, you are the boss.  And at any moment, of any day, there is a glimpse of who you are and who you want to be, just watch for it.  Bask in it when it happens.  Then continue on with your less than satisfactory obligations until another wonderful moment appears.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Three Birds, One Stone

Today, I took my 3 little boys to their doctor's appointment.  Brock for his 4 year check up, Curtis for his 2 year and George for his 9 month.  I ventured to the appointment with all 3, by myself.  When I am out with my boys, I get a range of comments, looks and behaviors.  Mostly, everyone just smiles, opens doors for us, and waves to one or all of the kiddos.  Every so often, I get a "God bless you".  Which I both appreciate and am confused by...God bless me for what?  Not ripping my hair out, or melting down in public while wrangling 3 children  ages 4 and under? For being calm?  For procreating?  The nurses all commended me for getting my children undressed, inspected, re-dressed, and vaccinated rather smoothly and without too many tears; George got his flu shot, give him a break.  All the meanwhile, I was carrying around and enjoying my caramel latte from Bella Napoli.  Didn't even spill, and got to finish it before it got cold.  For that, I commend myself.
At this point, taking 3 children out in public is routine.  It is no longer a daunting procedure.  I am not saying it always goes smoothly.  On rare occasion, we have made abrupt exits, cut meals short, or left an event all together.  I am also sure I have let the children do things that some might frown upon.  Perhaps, I have let them wander a little too far from my side.  Or climb on an unoccupied booth.  Or let them go on a little too long talking to a stranger.  Lastly, I am not trying to say the whole procedure isn't exhausting.  By the end of a day with more than one errand with all three, the thought of putting one. more. child. in a car seat is almost sickening.  I am merely saying, I can do it.  And it can be done successfully, more often than not.
Perhaps, some of why I feel so confident, is that my oldest is no longer a baby.  He is FOUR.  That is like "little kid" status.  And, according to his specs today, he is the size of an average 5 year the 97th percentile (40lbs, 43.5in).  I think he literally grew 2 inches overnight, because his 3T pants went from fitting ok, to looking like highwaters and his 4T pants went from dragging on the floor to just barely the right length about one week ago.  Brock continues to amuse and amaze us daily.  His new thing is to discuss his dreams with us.  He loves puzzles and can do most of a 60 piece jigsaw.  He favorite cartoon is Sponge Bob Squarepants.  And his most used phrase is "Aww, nuts!"  His best friend in school is Alex. And, everything is a negotiation with him...but that's not new.  Just the defiant 4-year-old thing is strong with this one.  Can't blame him, look at this parents.
Curtis continues to be the most laid back, easy child.  I would go so far as to call them the Terrific Twos with him.  My favorite Curtis habit is his love of books.  Especially these big "Look & Find" books.  He will bring you a book, then climb into your lap - because books can only be listened to from someone's lap, duh. You ask him to spot something and he finds it, points to it and says "right deerr". He is a parrot.  Repeats EVERYTHING.  Doesn't remember it all.  Only uses 3-4 word sentences.  But if he doesn't know how to say something, he does not hesitate to make something up with a random string of nonsensical syllables. He also continues to be a bit more wide than tall at the 80th percentile for weight and 75th for height.  In fact he almost weighs as much as he is tall, 32lbs & 35.5 inches. 
George is ready to hang with his brothers.  He is standing for short periods of time, and toying with the idea of taking a step.  As soon as he spots one of his brothers lying on the ground, he goes for it, and tries to wrestle with them.  He likes to wave and say "bye bye". He also correctly says "ma ma" and "da da".  By far my most advanced child, vocally.  Being the third boy, I feel like he is going to be so much trouble.  He just soaks in the other two's behavior, and even laughs at their mischievousness.  His favorite activity is bath time.  My swimmer for sure, he dunks his face, slides down the sloped end of the tub, splashes, kicks, squeals and makes a sprint for the bathroom door the instant he sees or even hears it open.  Lastly, as we all know, George is most famous for his many, ridiculous and silly faces.  The most popular?  His stink face, as we so lovingly call it.
And, if you want birthday party suggestions, having their 2nd & 4th birthdays at the Ceramic Cafe was great.  Quick, easy, fun.  Loved it.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

We are fun.

Probably should have, but it didn't really dawn on us until we walked into Jared to get Leah's rings sized and cleaned for her big day Saturday, that we weren't actually dressed for public.  See, Leah, Nora, Megan and I met at The Hot Spot for our spray tans at 10am.  For this, you are to wear loose fitting clothes, that you don't mind getting a bit dirty, which is exactly what we did.  During our tans, the technician told us that my sister was the most laid back bride she had met, and that she could tell we were going to have a great time this weekend.  I replied as I stood awkwardly in the front waiting area without shoes on, legs unusually wide apart and arms hanging like a scare crow to avoid rubbing off my new cocoa colored tan, "Going to have a great time?  We already are!" To which she, the random girl waiting her turn and the receptionist just laughed. I am certain we brightened their day.
 We set out to run a few last minute wedding detail errands.  I, dressed in one of my old, brown flowy skirts with a loose fitting, unattractive grey shirt, with the sleeves rolled up. Leah in a Summer bandeau dress with a giant, navy fleece zip up.  Megan in some scrubs and a t-shirt.  Of course, we stopped at Taco Via for lunch.  Where I got into a detailed conversation with the cashier about how they have the best ice, due to the fact that I insisted Megan get a medium because those are the Styrofoam cups, and everyone knows the ice keeps better in that type of container.  And it's free refills. As we carried our trays from the front counter, Megan just stops, and announces, "My pants are falling down!"  Sure enough, a few unsuspecting bystanders got a glimpse of a brand new spray tan line.  Entertainment for all, right there.  Yet again, leaving a venue having brightened more than a few people's afternoon.
Next stop. Jared.  Walking into that pristine jewelry store, with the employees dress in suits, we stood out just a bit.  The guy assisting Leah in her sizing, just kept laughing. Not about anything specific, I am guessing just at our general appearance the situation and/or the interesting/funny/random/dramatic conversations. He finally stops, looks up at us and says in the most genuine, un-creepy way, "You ladies just made my day. I think you would be really fun to go out with one night." To which Leah informs him that we have a single sister...he's taken.

We continue on to find rehearsal dinner wear, and visit the rehearsal dinner venue to plan seating, etc. We drop Megan off at home.  And finally conclude our afternoon.  It was such a fun day doing things that are generally ordinary, not especially memorable things.  But we are fun.  My family is fun. My friends are fun.  My family's friends are fun.  It's who we are, and I love that a day potentially full of stress trying to prepare for a wedding and Thanksgiving for a huge, boisterous family, was simply fun for all involved...including strangers.  I arrive home to my lovely little boys and the fun doesn't stop there.  They quickly brighten my day with their quirky behavior, following right in their mother's, aunts, uncles, father's footsteps.  As long as we Smith/Giblin/O'Laughlin's are around, there will be fun.
If you don't believe me, you can ask one of the many dozens of people who we have adopted into the family per their personal request...

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Using my powers for good.

Some days I am thankful for my neurosis.  Most days I am not. (Not sure that Matt is, EVER).  But some days I am, like today.
Neurosis #1: I put Brock in his little grey and yellow striped tee with navy long johns underneath.  I went to dress Curtis, what do I see?  A yellow and grey striped sweatshirt.  I head into my room, well, I might as well throw on my navy and white striped t-shirt with my mustard sweater.  That leaves George and Matt.  No way Matt is hopping on this bandwagon...but George has no choice!  It wasn't planned.  I had no intention at the outset of the day to dress my family alike.  But once I get going, there is no stopping.

Neurosis #2: George's 9 month photo shoot.  I bugged Matt all weekend to get the camera out and take his picture.  Just wanted to get it done, off my constant mental "to-do list".  Matt knows this is coming every month, so he deals with it.  But today, the other boys were so cute, I insisted on a little family shoot.  Not something Matt wanted to hear, or do.  So, I gave him no choice.  You see, I get these little ideas in my head, and I must have my way.  Matt has learned it's not worth the fight.  Sometimes these ideas are massive failures.  Sometimes they are a complete waste of time, energy, mental and physical effort. {Substitute "sometimes" for "rarely", kind of, sort of, I'd like to think so.} And sometimes, they turn out like this.  Sometimes, they capture a beautiful image, or result in a more comfortable bedroom, or a really fun day, or a fabulous meal.  I live for these sometimes.  And I like to believe, when I am pressuring someone to go outside their comfort level, or beyond what they thought capable, or pretty much just forcing them to do something they don't want to do, I am using my persistent, neurotic behavior for good.
Neurosis #3: I am always right.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Walk

In the rarest of rare occasions, I have a week day off of work, without a single obligation.  Today is one of those days.  No huge board exam to study for. No delinquent work notes, surveys, evaluations (that cannot wait one more day to be done, anyway).  No party to prepare for this weekend. Absolutely nothing that requires my immediate attention. So, I played with, dressed and fed the boys all morning, then took Brock to school.  When I pulled in the driveway, I made a last minute decision to take advantage of the beautiful fall day and join the two littlest on a walk, instead of going inside to clean, organize, or tend to the house.

On this walk, I resisted the constant temptation to pull out my phone to record every single, adorable photo op that presented itself in this short jaunt of about 7 houses length. I simply enjoyed watching Curtis collect acorns; holding them ever so delicately between his pointer and thumb, while appearing cross-eyed as he looked at it, raising his hand to show me his prize and mumbling some incoherent string of syllables about his discovery.  I chased him. Kicked leaves in his face and tossed leaves over his head. I encouraged him to run, roll, jump, and throw leaves, even suggested he include his younger brother by tossing some into the stroller. At one point, he suddenly dropped to his belly in a huge pile of leaves, placed his hands under his chin while resting his elbows on the ground and smiled up at me, creating the perfect shot, as if to taunt me because he knew I had decided I would under no circumstances take a picture.

I observed him, in his two year old wonder. Excitedly pointing out our neighbors huge orange pick-up, calling out, "tttrrrhuck!".  Yelling out "choo choo!", as a distant train honked. A sound I had begun tuning out long ago, and almost forgot existed until I had Brock, and his naive toddler ears began picking up every city noise like airplanes, trucks and trains.  Now Curtis, follows in his footsteps, helping me to again appreciate the little things.  I watched as he spotted a cat underneath a car in the driveway.  He tried to coax me to join him, by grabbing my hand and saying, "um on".  I declined, to let him attempt to call the kitty on his own, and he did just that.  Soon, the cat was rubbing against and thru his legs, lied down in front of him, and Curtis just squealed, patted and rested his head on the creature, while repeating "kitty" over and over in his happy, slightly raspy voice.  My hand nearly reached in my knock off North Face from China jacket pocket for my, iPhone: so cute. Just so gosh darn cute.

I could see George fading, past due on his morning nap.  Curtis, my go-with-the-flow middle child, would walk forever, or turn around in 2 houses.  So, we turned around, and began our journey home.  Curtis ran, in his gallop-type stride, down the hill to our home.  He smiled to me as he turned in the driveway, and led me to the front door.  We went inside, and our walk was finished, but the memory of this joy, innocence and fun that only the youngest people can provide will live on in my soul.

Friday, November 9, 2012

One for the books.

Oh, George. My little bonus baby. He is an opportunist for sure. Thought I should go ahead and document this photo, as George proves this motto absolutely, and utterly incorrect. This boy's silly nugget stink-face expressions amuse me on a day to day basis. We love you George. Thank goodness for a great Vegas vacation a year and a half ago, and our little "souvenir".

Thursday, November 1, 2012


It's happened.  Man! Has it happened.  I am not sure if it was turning 30, that my oldest is almost 4, the recent sequence of events including but not limited to a bachelorette party I am still recovering from, or the fact that when I see pictures of all my friends and family on Facebook they look old (sorry guys).  But I am a mom.  I am an adult.  Grown up.  Completely, and utterly absorbed by parenthood.  Halloween put the nail in the coffin, on that one {pun intended}.  All I wanted to do (and did) was come home, get my kids dressed, take a few photos and accompany them door to door with an alcoholic beverage in hand, chatting it up with the neighbors as our kids excitedly collected their goods.
We had the opportunity to attend what, judging by photographs, appeared to be a phenomenal Halloween party, hosted by close friends.  These friend's have only one child, expecting number two.  They are still in that attempting to preserve the "old", you know, single-type lifestyle.  The one where you host parties.  You travel.  You go out to eat where ever and when ever you want.  Spontaneity exists. You can still do this with one child, because A.) like MasterCard or Visa, one baby is generally accepted everywhere and B.) if they're not accepted, one baby is easy to dump off, especially onto unsuspecting family members with in a moment's notice.  In hindsight, one baby is incredibly un-interruptive to your social life.  But I didn't want to attend this party.  Partly because it was too exhausting to get ready for a social gathering like that, but mostly because I wanted my kids to experience Halloween like I remember it; traversing the neighborhood, while my dad chatted with our neighbors, standing in the middle of the sidewalk, drinking a beer.   

Even when I had just two kids, I didn't mind spending more of this holiday parading the children around to show off their cute outfits.  We hit up the 3 homes of the grandparents, and rang the doorbell of just a few houses to give Brock the true "Trick or Treat" experience.  He loved it.  I, on the other hand, not real interested.  I would have contemplated attending the awesome Halloween party with just 2 kids.  It would have been way more work than it was worth, but I would have attempted it.  You see, with 2 kids, you can remain in denial that they have completely taken over your life.  If one is acting up, a parent just holds them, walks with them outside, feeds them, while the other parent can still chat it up with friends.  Or eat dinner.  And again, most people can tolerate two children, they are not as widely accepted as one child, but the odds are still in your favor. 

It's the third child.  That 3rd kid is the whopper.  Life has undeniably changed, and will never, ever, EVER be the same.  Now, your options are severely limited.  For example, let's say you take them all out to this party, 2 start acting up, what do you do with the 3rd?  Yup, you rely on someone else to help them.  Suddenly, you are a burden to people.  Social events require a sitter. Or family member presence.  Every time.  And that sitter?  They need advanced notice. Dumping off 3 kids is a bit daunting and rude. They maybe even need support.  Only experienced sitters can watch 3 children under the age of 4 alone. 
The interesting thing about this change, this transformation in lifestyle and attitude?  It is welcomed.  Wonderful.  Absolutely fulfilling.  I enjoyed every minute and every second of our Trick or Treating through the Village.  I loved seeing Brock run into his neighbor friends and immediately tag along with them, door to door, yelling, "Girls! Girls!  Wait for me!"  I beamed with pride at the adorableness of my progeny.  Strangers, stopped to photograph Dr. Curtis.  Matt, who arrived home from work an hour later than me, found us and brought Tater, joining in the fun.  Completing our adorable, happy little family.  I didn't, for one moment, regret missing out on a party where many of my adult friends might be present. In fact, I don't ever miss that old "before children" lifestyle.   The smiles, happiness, giggles, excitement, wonder, and novelty of my very own children meant more to me than anything I have ever experienced.  They are absolutely, completely, 100% my entire world.  And it's the best. Welcome to parenthood.