Saturday, December 28, 2013

The 2013 Bunko Report

One complete year of Bunko in the books.  Though every 3rd Tuesday became a scramble to recruit players, the effort was worth it.  Through our year, we had up to 9 players that were pregnant (the most being 7 present at the March game.)  We saw bizarre weather.  A JJ's explosion.  Ashley A with FIVE bunkos, which quite possibly will never be repeated.  Some accusations of cheating, usually involving Shae, Whitney (or me, which was absolute hearsay, and I refuse to acknowledge these as pertinent).  But seriously, Shae and Whitney cheated. We enjoyed fabulous food, and consumed many beverages. We met new people nearly every month, hosted in our bunko-loving mothers' homes, and reconnected with old classmates.

The official player list comprised of: Me (as Founder and acting President), Leah Krieger, Christin Olsen, Whitney Arthur, Molly Oller, Anna Saviano, Kaitlin McCormick, Annora Smith, Ashley Ascencio, and Ashley Toma.

BUNKOS: Leah, Kaitlin and Ashley Ascencio tied with TWO. 
(I would like to mention, that despite us always calling her the loser, Leah was involved in FOUR Most Bunko attempts, losing twice to roll offs.)

MOST WINS: Annora with THREE.

2nd MOST WINS: Erin with THREE.

LOSER: Erin, Kaitlin and Annora with TWO.

I think that this CLEARLY proves that there is some skill to Bunko, as there are three people who obviously took over the books.
 Cheers!!  Looking forward to an even better 2014.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Sweater Party, 7th, is it 8th??

I think I have been calling this the 7th Annual O'Laughlin Ugly Christmas Sweater party...but, upon further investigation, turns out that was last year.  This is the EIGHTH!!  Right in tune with my time-lapse related mistake, a lot of the conversation this year involved marveling at the swift passage of time. People were shocked Brock was 5.  Shocked that it's been well over 10 years since we were all in high school.  One of my closest friends, and godparent to me third child, even remarked, it's been 13 years since she has lived in Kansas City (which will change this Summer!)  A few others, who are still single, mentioned that their grandparents have started to suggest that the "biological clock" will soon stop ticking. Yet, none of us really feel older. (And I know a lot of 40 year olds not having children.)

I frequently feel guilty for assessing my patients' metal status by asking the date.  It is pretty rare that I can answer that question without significant hesitation. I recently made the mistake of suggesting that it has only been 5 years since I retired from swimming, but alas, we are approaching 9 years! Year after year passes faster and faster. When [if] I'm 90, I will blink and be 91.  This whole time thing becomes even crazier when put in context of having children.  Thinking back to college, it feels like that was merely a brief moment in my life, yet, Matt and I have produced 4 offspring.  Four additional human beings.  Four tiny little people, running around our home, impacting our lives more than anything before them.  All in about the same amount of time it took us to get through college.  Which means, this too, this wonderful, amazing, extremely adorable time in my life will also become just a fleeting instant.

Besides pointing out that we are rapidly aging.  That time is precious.  To seize the moment.  This topic made me also realize how truly blessed I am to still have a beautiful, evolving home, now 8 years later.  It points out that an endless number of things can completely change in 4 years, yet here we are, 8 years later, celebrating with all of the same family and friends.  Dressed in silly sweaters.  Despite the quick passage of time, the new jobs, the moves, the marriages, the break ups, the children, the travels, we have all managed to remain close.  So, let time march on.  Let us continue to reminisce about the old, fun times, whilst looking forward to the newer, even better times.  Perhaps, the 9th Ugly Sweater Party will be hosted in a newer, improved location.  Or perhaps it will remain at 4300.  Either way, I cannot wait to share my home, food, and time with everyone again.  See you next year.

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Good Mom.

People often accuse me of being a good mom. These accusations are mostly based off photographs, Facebook stati and blog posts.  If they were to hang out inside my head, or even by my side for a couple days, they're tune might change. Would change really. They'd comprehend just how much I hate amusement parks, crowded places, Halloween, lines, Chuck E. Cheese's, Monkey Bizness or really most things kid friendly or kid oriented.  I have no desire to EVER take them to Disney World. They would begin to notice that most of the things which seemingly I "do for the kids" such as getting ice cream, walking to Starbucks (ok, that's obviously for me), going to the zoo, picking berries, selecting pumpkins are actually just something I wanted to do. Though, give me some credit, at least I put a spin on it, making them think its all for them.  Even if, let's say, this outing was for the kid's, I only do it to waste time and get out of the house, as I slightly suffer from claustrophobia.

These accuser's would observe me teasing my harmless breast fed newborn as he is sure of impending death from starvation by offering my chin, mouth or nose to suckle. Which he does. Then quickly stops in a panic as there is no food supply. At least I thank him for his kisches. They would see me rub my face (the well known cue that my miniscule supply of patience has run out) in an effort to not strangle a misbehaved child. Or clenching my teeth or biting my tongue in order not to squeeze too hard a stinking adorable child.  They would witness me racing my 4 year old...and winning. Same goes with most board games or any other challenge the boys' create.  I am the mom that laughs at her 5-year-old when he hits his head on the manger while bowing during the Christmas program. Does a "good mom" do that!?
As you might imagine, after reading the previous paragraphs, a visit to Santa with the children TOPS the dreadful children's activity charts.  This endeavor includes long, chaotic lines, crowds, strangers, and lots of cranky children only to end in putting my child[ren] in the hands (or on the lap, as it were) of a complete stranger.  I took Brock at age one, feeling the tremendous pressure as a first time mom to do "the right thing" and get the obligatory Santa picture.  I vowed, never again.  The picture was crap.  I paid $8 for it.  I was hot, Brock was tired.  Not worth it.  No even close. Therefore, we never returned again.  Until now...three kids later.

We purchased a membership to Union Station.  I have found it to have multiple children's activities.  It is very open.  And rarely busy. Shhh, don't tell anyone.  So, when I read that they have Santa visit for 5 days, brought to Kansas City on a train named, "Rudy" and that you could actually SCHEDULE a time to visit, I saw opportunity.  Maybe I don't have to deprive my children of the wonderful "Santa experience".  This is perfect.  Well, after much searching, I never could find out anymore specifics, or where exactly one could sign up for this so-called scheduled Santa visit.  I decided to go for it anyway, it was a Thursday night, and as previously stated, Union Station seems to be a somewhat well-hidden KC secret.  I'll take my chances.  For the kids (it wasn't at all because they were all acting bonkers and tearing the house apart, top to bottom).  We arrive at 7pm, an hour before closing, only to find out that the line is shut down.  Apparently, they stop letting people in at 7pm, though everywhere online says 8pm.

We continue to wander, and I hear, "Mrs. Smith! Hey!"  One of my brother's friends (who just so happens to be in charge of letting people in and out) recognizes me...and we are in. Phew.  Santa had a bleak future prior to this not-so-surprising connection to one of the employees.  We ride down to the exhibit in the largest elevator, ever to have existed, I am quite sure.  It was larger than the bedroom I am sitting in, right now!  The doors open, we get directed to the line and surprise!  There are only about 5 families ahead of us.  Not only that, but after visiting with Santa, who is surrounded by merry elves, the boys get to board and tour a real train. 

As we stand in line, I prepare the boys, making sure they understand that a picture is expected.  I always pump them up/bribe them for pictures.  It works best that way.  Brock has been observing the Santa happenings, and tells me, he'd rather just stay with me and not visit with him.  I explain that I will be nearby.  Then I see Curtis watching, and can tell by his eyes that he is becoming more and more apprehensive as the line shortens.  George is blissfully unaware of the situation completely.  We get to the front.  I set George in Santa's lap, an elf takes Mitch to Mrs. Claus, Matt sternly forces Brock into the photo, Curtis is just crying, the elf insists I come take George "because they will smile and feel more comfortable in mom's lap", I am mad I am going to be in the picture, and hysterically laughing at my ridiculous brood. And done.  Photo snapped.

We then walk to the train, where George starts crying at nearly every turn because he is now certain those "merry elves" are out to get him.  The train is filled with Christmas memorabilia, one care being full of creepy Santa figurines.  They are all a bit nervous through that car.  We get to the end.  Take a few more pictures in front of "Rudy". The boys get a bag full of candy, crayons, puzzles, and we walk back through the old, grand train station, to our car.  Five minutes into the drive, Brock asks, "How much longer, I'm ready for bed." To which Curtis says, "yeah".  They are all smiling and content.

Mission accomplished.  Short line. No crowds. Free.  Gifts for the kids. Bedtime upon arrival at home.  A hilarious picture.  And never taking the kids back to Santa, guilt free, as I am sure they were all sufficiently scarred.  Oh, except Mitch.  The happy baby, smiling at his brothers' chaos and misfortunes, as per usual, with no regard for strangers.  Perhaps he will want to go back.  And, like a "good mom", I will take him - when I feel like it.

Monday, December 9, 2013


I'm not supposed to talk about it.  I am supposed to pretend that the thought of having another child is a distant, and unimaginable thing at this moment. I think I am even supposed to pretend that I have decided our family is complete. And, to some degree it is.  I fully plan to find a job, finish residency, move, get a dog, potty train a couple children and get rid of a lot of clothes, toys and other things before I would even consider adding a fifth [boy] to our pack.  But, nevertheless I am seriously considering another child, someday.

I know this even more, now that Mitch is 2 months old.  He sleeps at least 6 hours every night now. I don't feel even a whisper of sleep deprivation.  He is extremely ticklish in his groin, and slightly on his ribs, under his chin and the bottom of his feet.  He is developing a wrist roll.  I've never had a baby with fat rolls. His eye color is still indeterminable.  He is absolutely precious, a cuddler, LOVES to be warm.  No amount of blankets is too many blankets for Mitch. When I sit in the evening and hold him, sleeping soundly on my chest, I lean down and kiss his little forehead. Continually.  As Matt sits and holds him in the evening, I catch him doing the same.  Every so often, Matt will even say, "I love him, Erin."  It's incredible.  Each and every one of them.  Each and every time.  They are amazing.  They love each other. They love me.  They love their father.  We have so much fun together.  I could tear up every time I take a moment to just love on and admire my little creations.

Sure, Matt found an app that calculates how much each child costs per year and it is $16,000. Not cheap! We make over double what we did the day Matt bought that home, nearly 8 years ago, yet continue to live in the same financial bracket. That being said, imagine a Mastercard commercial here, where I could list all the ridiculous expenses, like nearly $200 a month on diapers alone.  In the end, I'd call them priceless.  I didn't leave the house yesterday (for probably only the 3rd time since we've lived there) and I still could have photographed every moment.  Brock playing outside in the snow with nothing but a coat, PJ's, gloves and rubber boots.  Curtis, hanging all the ornaments on the tree on one branch, annoying, yet oh so adorable. Brock drawing a portrait of his mother and father AND writing our names, for the first time ever. Holding my Mitch, making him giggle, enjoying his facial expressions. George, disappearing for a moment and returning with lotion all over his hair, and a little drooling from his mouth.  He loves this Aloe lotion.  And by loves, I mean the taste of it, or the texture. George walking around with a toy drill to his head. George, laughing while pretending to cry as he gets tackled by his brothers {and mom}.  All of them, head over heels, ecstatic to decorate the tree (which had to be postponed, as I quickly learned I need to purchase some 'kid-friendly' ornaments this year).
I spent a day, just enjoying the madness.  Love on all 4 of my children. Spending time with Matt.  And though I felt a little anxious, and crazed, none of that was because of the children.  It was all because of the looming feeling that I have SOOOO much work to do, outside of the home.  A license to apply for, 2 lectures to create, a research project, job interviews, Holiday parties, gifts to wrap and purchase, photos to print, cards to send out, pants to buy for Brock, groceries to buy, laundry and the list goes on, and on, and on.  Therefore, as I said above.  I am not supposed to mention that a fifth child is a distinct possibility.  That idea is absurd...until I really look at my life, and see that all I want to do, and talk about, and be around, is my little family.  They do not cause me stress, not one bit.  It's all those other things that interfere.  So, why would I not want to add to the chaos? didn't hear that from me.

Thursday, December 5, 2013


While preparing dinner tonight (yes, I cook sometimes), I heard the boys playing in the other room. They were pulling off all the blankets, pillows and cushions from the couch in an attempt to create a "bouncy house". This is a very regular occurrence. But tonight, tonight it was different. I hear Brock say, "Let's make a Santaland Bouncy House!" Curtis, excitedly obliges, "OK, Brock!"

I kind of forgot about the insanity going on next door, until I heard this: "Do you know what I want, Santa? Santa!? Do you know what I want? One thousand brothers."

That boy. I love this statement for two reasons. First, I love that he enjoys his brothers so much, he wants more. And second, even in his imagination the person he's talking to doesn't respond immediately. True to life.