Sunday, July 13, 2014

Haters gonna hate.

I've spent so much money on disposable cameras. I have more photo albums than I know what to do with, sprinkled about the house. I have stacks of boxes filled with photograph memorabilia. I have the negatives filed away by date, along with the doubles from years worth of 4x6 prints. I always spent the extra $1 and made double prints. I did this so that I could share the photos. That's right, I SHARED the photos I obsessively, compulsively took with my disposable cameras with my friends and family, and anyone who I thought might enjoy the candid shot I caught of them. I shared photos long before Facebook. I was obsessed to the point of severe anxiety about capturing memorable moments long before smart phones.

I got a fancy, manual camera for Christmas my Freshman year of college. I took a photography class. I shoved a camera in Matt's hands constantly, insisting he take the picture (since he always seemed to get the better shot.) When I got a free moment, I would go through these picture and work on a scrapbook. Here, I could paste ticket stubs and write words to go with these times in my life that I never, ever wanted to forget. I have an entire, antique dresser from my childhood filled with different stickers, cardstock, glue, pens, paints, various newspaper clippings, old greeting cards, and other essential components to a great scrapbook. Matt would love for me to get rid of these things. Not going to happen. I still, fully intend to complete these books, someday. This desk, though...nothing has been added. At least, not in the last 6 years. I have not had to purchase a disposable camera, since college, really. I no longer scrapbook. Yet, I have managed to capture every image, thought, funny moment, and valuable memory in the past few years better than ever before. How?
Digital cameras, laptops, cell phones, smart phones, and most specifically, the iPhone. These wonderful devices have changed my life. For the better. I no longer attend a wedding, worrying how I will carry my camera around, winding up the flash, hoping the shot turns out as intended. I don't spend time driving to the pharmacy dropping off and then back to pick up my prints. Then organizing them, mailing them to people, cataloging them. I truly believe I have regained years of life just from the sheer amount of stress and time reduction that smart phones have provided me.

I hear and read constant shaming of people for time spent on their phones, Facebook, Instagram, all social media. Making statements, like, "be present". As if, there is no way to be present or enjoy the little things in life if you are photographing and sharing them. If this is the case, then I have never been present, or able to experience "the moment". Which, is partly true, when I think about my state of mind back when technology and the digital age was not so prevalent...I was anxious. Stressed. Constantly, thinking about how I was going to take a picture, remember this party, revisit that concert.

I have never been more connected to my friends and family. I have never kept a more up-to-date scrapbook than this very blog. I have never retained more vivid memories, than in the past 5 years. It makes me happy. It makes me love, and value, and enjoy even the simplest walks, meals, moments. Capturing an image of a cute facial expression, awesome outfit, perfect day was not possible before...unless you hauled your clunky camera with you everywhere. I truly feel that I appreciate life, and everything it has to offer, even more now that I am constantly connected to the world.

This technological age is something I hoped for and dreamed of as a youngster. It suits me. My children and family know that I will take photos. My boys understand to just let it happen, then go on their merry way. My siblings make fun of me, constantly. Yet, if I come unarmed with a camera, they are disappointed. They appreciate my neurosis, as they too, now have memories captured that would have slipped away from consciousness so easily. Only to be rehashed if, by some chance, a thought, image, word, moment, smell, triggered that old memory and brought it back to mind.

Perhaps, for some, these devices are a distraction from, instead of an enhancement to life. I'm also, not trying to imply that I have never been posting an Instagram photo, while my children were in the pool or at the park playing. Sure, I ignore them for a moment. But, before phones, did every mother watch, care for, provide for their every child's need at every moment? They never chatted with friends while park or poolside? Read a book? Watched a Soap? Did a crossword? Flipped through a magazine? I don't use my phone during meals. I try not to use it while socializing with friends, but will when everyone else takes a moment for "phone time". Ok, sometimes I kickstart "phone time" but others follow!
All I am trying to say, is that I love my iPhone. I love Instagram. I love Facebook. I love blogging. I love texting; especially, fun, hilarious group texts with close friends. I love flipping through the many images I've captured of the life that I love, at any given moment. While on call one night, a fellow doctor walked behind me and saw what I was flipping through on Instagram, and exclaimed, "Are you looking at your own pictures!?" Umm, duh! Of course I am. There are no pictures I'd rather see than my own pictures of everything I love in life. I am going to continue to photograph, quote, write about, and post the many phenomenal, hilarious, sad, ironic, mundane, beautiful moments in my life. This life I only get to live once. You may think I am totes magotes cray cray. That I am neglecting someone, or something. That I am missing out on life because my nose is plastered in my phone. I think I am making the most of every minute, and enjoying life to its very tip-top fullest.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


Mitch is all boy. He will wade through the sea of toys, upon toys, upon toys until he stumbles across a car. Even a tiny Matchbox car. He will then fumble awkwardly with his horrid, fine motor skills until he finally gets a "good" grip on the vehicle to move it back and forth and back and forth, take a taste, make some cute baby noises, then back and forth again while blowing raspberries - or, I mean, make very realistic car sounds. If he sees a brother down on the ground, he sprints toward them with his exceptional gross motor skills and tackles them. Poor George, being the smallest brother, doesn't even stand a chance, at least physically, against his monster baby brother. George weighed 26lbs at two years, Mitch weighs 23lbs 8ozs at nine months!! He growls. He screams. I mean, really, really loudly screams. I am tempted to add girlish to the scream description because of the extremely high pitch, but he has somehow made it manly based purely off the shear force behind that voice. Apparently, he got the Smith/Giblin side in volume as well as looks. He has a perpetual bump on his forehead. When on the move, nothing will stop him from his destination, neither wall, nor door, nor stair, nor brother, no chair, nor table, nor wall corner, nor door-jam. The constant bouncing, you know, strengthening his thigh muscles, while standing does not help the head bruise situation either. My future, all-star athlete is in constant training.

When pregnant with this one, I joked I was breeding an Olympian. Something in his movements, the way we saw him kicking on ultrasound, all added together to give me the impression that he is athletic. His behavior and physique on the outside has only confirmed this suspicion. They say the Secretariat ate more than any other race horse ever had, walked early, appeared a champion from day one. This is Mitch. Now that I have finally stopped breastfeeding (nine months, my longest stretch!) I can see how much he is drinking. On top of 3 baby food meals a day, he drinks four 8oz bottles. That is 32ozs!!!!!  He is sad at the end of each one, as if he could eat more. None. Not a single one of my boys, ever, got above 24ozs of milk a day. Until now, of course. Like Secretariat, I think I am going to syndicate The Mitch and start selling shares for a couple hundred thousand a pop, prior to proof of performance. I'm {sort of} kidding.
Despite his many manly mannerisms (say that 6 times fast), my biggest baby is just that, a baby. He loves to be rocked to sleep. If you stopped rocking or patting him, he will try to do his himself; kicking his legs. If you sway and hum, he hums along. He has no "lovey" yet...but I'm thinking he is going to be a Blanky guy...again, following the Smith side trend. He attempts to repeat "what's that?" and says "dada" with purpose. "Mama" for him is following me around crying, squealing and screaming, like a whiny little puppy. Until he gets distracted by a toy car. Especially this green transformer one that says roars, "I drive angry!" When he's not load, he's silent. He speaks with his eyes. His huge, brown, beautiful, engaging eyes. He has no toofs. He loves food, eats anything, has never gagged, yet has no teeth. Truthfully? I love it. Toothless babies are totes adorbs. Never mind that he already weighs more than any of my children did by 1 year, it makes him look so much more infant-like. I don't want him to grow up, turn into a toddler, become like those older three, awful things. (Ok, I like them too, but I LOVE me a baby.) I know it's inevitable, but, at least now, I can come back and remember my little Mitchers.

Monday, July 7, 2014


For as long as I have lived in this little Prairie Village home, I have taken regular walks to Starbucks. In the beginning, there were no children. I can hardly remember that time. I don't remember that time. I imagine the walk was relaxing, enjoyable, and easy, but obviously it was meaningless. I have no memory of walking alone to Starbucks. Now, four children later, these walks give me a sense of joy, pride and love. It may seem silly, that such a simple, mundane routine could provoke these emotions, but trust me, there is no such thing as "simple" or "mundane" with four children under age 6.
 Every morning, Brock comes into our bedroom, sometime between 6:30 and 7am. Every morning I tell him it's too early. He doesn't listen. He wakes up this early, every single morning. He then asks if it's "a mommy day"? If I answer yes, the next question that follows is, "can we walk to Starbucks!?" Why, of course. Don't have to ask me twice. By this time, all the children are up. In about 30 minutes, after multiple threats to not go to Starbucks, or not get chocolate milk, we are all out the door. Curtis and Brock on their bikes with their helmets (which Curtis can latch on his own, yet Brock asks me to help him, every time). George and Mitch in the sit 'n stand stroller.

As we depart from the house, the boys race off ahead, stopping at our next door neighbor's bushes. For some reason, this has become a boundary, past which they know not to go without approval from a watching or accompanying adult. We continue on. Brock and Curtis stop at every street. If George has strayed from the stroller to pick a dandelion, or examine a bug, he searches for my hand before crossing the road. The walk proceeds smoothly, yet with multiple interruptions, distractions, discoveries and lots of coaxing and redirection. Like snowflakes or fingerprints, no two morning walks to Starbucks are alike.

When we encounter neighbors, at least one boy waves, if not all, sometimes they even say, "hi". They politely ask to pet every dog. Or, at least, I remind them to politely ask before petting the dog. George usually thinks he wants to pet it as well, but chickens out, every time. We need a big dog. As we approach the destination, I give the boys a pep talk. I tell them to behave, which means, not touching all the merchandise, or people, waiting with me in line, and, above all, listening to me...or else they get no treat of any sort.

Soon, we are inside the cafe. If I haven't heard it at least once on the walk, it's not long after we enter the store, before I hear, "All boys!? You've got your hands full." This is something for which there really is no proper response other than to shrug and smile. I'm not sure what I expect people to say. I'd be fine with, even prefer, no comments. Perhaps, then I could feel like I'm not a spectacle everywhere we go. Without knowing it, the people who make this seemingly harmless statement have made sure that I'm aware of how conspicuous the 5 of us are. The little O'Laughlin parade of boys. It also, somewhat, implies that my hands are too full, therefore, I don't have control of the situation. If I'd have my way, no one would even acknowledge me with my gaggle of boys.

We finally make it through the long, nearly out-the-door line. No porcelain mugs have been broken, to date. No back of coffee opened and spilled. A plastic straw may have had a little mouth on it once or twice, and "secretly" placed back on the shelf...but people wash these before use, right!?  When we get close to the front cooler full of snacks and beverages, the boys all cut in line to grab their chocolate milks. People usually smile, and find this to be cute. Sometimes I hear an "excuse me" - we need to work on that one. I open each wrapper, put in the straw, and seat the 3 boys at the high table, facing the register, all while still holding the baby. They sit and enjoy the milk. I order my drink, and their snack. I divide the cookie or pound cake into 3's, and head over to the counter to get my drink. Normally, I return to find my three boys still happily sitting, and eating. Sometimes they've made a huge mess. Sometimes they've discovered that if you blow hard into the straw, milk squirts back into your face. Mostly, they just want more cookie.

On this particular day, I returned and a middle-aged woman was standing beside them, smiling. I had taken a little longer to return because I made a detour to grab napkins to wipe up some milk off the floor. I stoop down to wipe the milk, and stand back up, again, all while holding the 23 and 1/2 pound baby. This woman looks at me and says (as she points to a table with a man and another woman), "We have just been absolutely charmed by your little family. We have been watching them, and you since you walked through the door. They are so well-behaved, and adorable. They 3 of them just sat there while you ordered and paid. Then you squatted down to wipe up that milk, while holding the baby, as if it were effortless. You seem to have everything under control. I am amazed. And you must have the strongest thighs."

I must have everything under control!!!!??? That was perhaps the nicest compliment I have ever received. She could not have known that "control" is something I strive for, and always have, all of my life. Nor could she have known that I simply do not accept compliments. I don't know how. I rarely feel deserving of them. Even this one, I'm not totally sure I deserve it. These boys have an amazing father. They have a family that surrounds and teaches them manners, how to behave, and loves them no matter what. And, not to forget, the boys themselves are wonderful (as far as little, baby, toddler boys go, anyway.) For once, I appreciate that someone approached me and admitted to gawking at my little "S show", because she seemed to see the intricacies of what had just happened. She looked beyond the spilling milk, the crumbs, the constant touching of other people and things, the required redirection, and saw 4 boys and their mom, simply enjoying some treats together at Starbucks.