Even the best laid plans....

"Man plans, God Laughs." -Yiddish Proverb

I first encountered this proverb during one of my many childhood hours spent in the card section at the grocery store. On the front of the card stood a smiling stick figure man next to a beautifully set up picnic under a great big sun and clear sky. When you opened it, rain filled the page and everything drooped including the stick-figure's smile. The proverb was loud and clear. I have to admit, it puts a smile on my face every time I read it.

You see, although I don't believe we are little puppets being tossed around by some crazy God, there are moments (or weeks) that I have to imagine we are pure entertainment to any and all heavenly beings. I know I enjoy good slap stick comedy so why wouldn't God? Afterall, He who created creatures such as the platypus (or the human) surely has a good sense of humor! So what if it happens to be real life and not some blockbuster comedy? So what if it happens to be MY life....Yep, still funny.

And then there are those times where I do wonder if God is just screwing with us. Seriously. How hard would that be to resist? I know I do it all the time to Leroy, throwing stuff in front of him to see how he will react or dangling a string nearby and moving it just out of his reach, over and over. It just never gets old really.

This was simply one of those weeks. We started with a bang (the 3-hour ER trip) and then replaced Peek-a-Boo with a week long game of Catch-Up. Who doesn't love playing catch-up? Yeah, me neither. So by last night, I still had to paint the eleven paper-mache pinata Light Sabers I was making for Aidan's upcoming birthday party (one of those "great ideas" I half-wish I hadn't thought of or at least wish I would've kept to myself), do a week's worth of laundry, clean the house, write a gazillion thank-you's to various friends and family members, finish my Christmas-turned-Easter cards (ok, so I never quite got to all of them!) take Liam to get his stitches out, teach piano....the list goes on and on. My plan was to get up early so that I could get things going, add in a visit to the gym before going to mom's group at church briefly before feeding the kids and getting Madeline to school on time as well. (Note to self: Breathe!)

But around 4 a.m. I awoke to that oh-too-familiar sound of one puking Lily. (Thankfully in her room, not mine!) And of course, Lily had chosen to sleep up with Madeline on her bed last night so I spent the better part of an hour trying to get sheets and blankets and animals and toys (and who sleeps with plastic pie pieces anyway?) removed, rinsed out and washed without waking up Madeline as well. After bathing Lily, setting her up to sleep in the bathroom, and getting a very early start on the laundry, I made it back to bed, the clock closing in on 6 a.m. A little before 6:30 Kurt woke me to say, "Shoot, we forgot to get the trash out to the street." Again.

And that is when I am pretty sure I heard enormous laughter coming down from the heavens. But then, I was still half asleep.

I rolled over, mumbling some words of encouragement for Kurt to get out there as I was not going to be getting up and I went back to sleep....for maybe 10 minutes before Aidan and Liam woke me up thus beginning the day, again. (More laughter...)

I had planned on going to the gym and church, not being stuck at home with sick kids: laughter filled the air.

I had planned on washing the blender and putting it away, not dropping it in the sink (apparently you can't do that?!) and throwing it away. And laughter filled the kitchen.

I had planned on taking my cell-phone on the drive to the doctors to make some catch-up phone calls....but I seem to have misplaced it....Why not just call it you ask? Well, I could, but I conveniently left it on vibrate so all it would do is buzz with laughter.

I had planned on Liam's stitches coming out quickly and easily but it was when the doctor went out for the second time for even more back-up that I realized today really wasn't going to go as planned. (I can be slow sometimes...or at least very stubborn.) Two doctors, a nurse and a very sharp surgical blade later, he was stitch free. But not without much laughter. No wait, my bad, those were tears...

I had planned on putting the kids to bed early to try to finish some stuff up, not hopping around in a one legged jig shouting "ow, ow, ow, ow" after severely stubbing my toe on the side of the bed....

"Mom, I can't really get to sleep," Madeline complained about half way through my theatrics.

Oh really? Because I always find it REALLY easy to fall asleep when someone is insanely jumping and shouting around my bedroom.

But....before I go cursing God and the angels He rode in on, I must admit, I am grateful, even for a day like today. It may not have gone quite as I had planned but it was time well spent: time with the kids at home, preparing for a party, getting 12 loads of laundry done and remembering that sometimes the best laid plans are meant to be broken.

Plus, in the end, the trash got picked up (ironically, the driver was several hours late), I found my phone right where I apparently left it (yesterday's jacket folded neatly in the closet), Liam is done with doctors for the month (let's hope) and Lily seems okay (knock on wood that the plague is not making its rounds again! Seriously. Knock on some wood already! Thanks.)

I suppose no matter how you look at it, sometimes we need a little tossing around in order to be set straight again. And I am thankful I can supply God with some entertainment in the process. And perhaps some to you, too.

Have a great weekend!


...Because it Was Time For a New Post....

I woke up this morning thinking: "My, it has been far too long since my last blog post, I wish I had something to write about but things seem pretty calm and normal and...." and then I made the novice mistake of FORGETTING TO KNOCK ON WOOD!

We had a busy day planned today. Aidan had no school and the five of us had lots of errands and chores on our plate before Aidan headed out for a playdate, Madeline to school and Liam for nap leaving Lily to help me with the house work (ha ha). Liam had an Occupational Therapist appointment first thing this morning to get us started so I made sure the kids were on top of their personal to-do lists so we'd be ready to get out the door as soon as it was over to take Madeline to a trial dance class.

Liam's tongue teacher (as we call her) arrived a tad bit late. After stopping just once, when Liam told me he had to use the potty (false alarm), we went quickly through all the exercises, which basically amount to trying to get the kid to lick random things so that he gets extra practice moving his tongue various directions. (According to the ENT we saw last week, Liam's tongue is attached differently than normal so it is not the tongue-tie causing his speech and feeding issues, rather an attachment issue that may be hindering some of the movement...or not....which may or may not have anything to do with anything... The good news: He didn't want to go the surgical route...because you know, we were really interested in that option! I'm pretty certain that if talking is a problem now, operating on the tongue probably wouldn't speed up the learning process...)

At any rate, as the tongue teacher was writing up her report for the day, I handed Liam a cup of milk which he immediately spilled on the ground. I gave him a towel to clean it up and afterward he started playing an innocent game of peek-a-boo with me. You know the routine: now you see him, now you don't....because there is a towel on his head and surely you don't know he is there any longer....

Liam got a huge laugh out of this game. Over and over he put the towel on his head and pulled it off to show me 'SURPRISE' he was really there...chuckle chuckle. And then he decided to go all extreme-sport version on me and was about to bust out with his own version of the Double McTwist when he lost his balance (taking the towel off his head) and fell into the side of a nearby wooden chair. (Shoot, how'd that get there?)

Now, from my angle, it looked like he hit his arm, maybe just barely brushing the side of his head on the way down. Nothing too crazy, right? We were playing peek-a-boo for crying out loud. But, my angle was quite wrong apparently because when he came up to see if he had landed it (dude!) he had a three quarter inch laceration above his eye. Perhaps Liam was feeling a little unstable not having any upcoming doctor visits so he purposefully dove head first into the chair...or perhaps he just wanted to prove he fit into our family, just a few months late, as with most things...or perhaps he was just going for that tough-guy look to make up for his size. Whichever it was, he succeeded.

So, the OT helped round up my kids as I made a series of phone calls to find someone to watch the other three while we went downtown to the Children's Hospital, again. Half an hour later, Liam and I were at the Emergency Department. He smiled away, blood oozing out of his cut while I silently grumbled at having to wait for families whose "emergencies" didn't seem very emergency-ish. But then, I suppose the cut wasn't going anywhere either so no need to rush.

Shortly after checking in, the nurse came over and pasted numbing medicine all over Liam's cut. (He REALLY loved that....he just showed it differently than the other things he loves that don't make him fuss and cry and scream.) The stitch nurse came to escort us to our room within minutes where he told us we would wait until the medicine fully numbed Liam up.

"I'll be back in about 45 minutes," he said.

"Really? It takes 45 minutes?" I asked, not remembering from the last three times I'd been in the same position.

"Oh, we want to make sure he is as numb as he can be before we work on him," he replied. "But, here is the remote. Change the channel if you want and if you need me, just press that big red button in the middle." Staples T.V. commercials somehow merged with Southwest Airlines commercials in my head as I imagined pushing the big red button: Wanna Get Away?

We waited. And waited. And waited some more. And after we had waited as long as a two year old is physically and emotionally capable (it had been at least 10 minutes I am sure) Liam started to fuss. He was so fussy that not even the Non-Latex Glove Chicken I had blown up for him, nor the Tissue Magic tricks I did for him could distract him. He was pointing at the door and tugging at me, and grabbing at his clothes and doing everything he could but blurt out that this was not another false alarm: He had to go bathroom, NOW!

As I was bent down, trying to open the drawer of the cart that had the word "Diaper" on it, the admin staff came in to register us. I explained that, although I looked like I was trying to rob them, I really was just hoping to get a diaper since my son was in the process of going potty. She used her magic code to open the drawer (seriously, when did they invent those?) and handed me a diaper.

"We don't have wipes though so you will have to use the paper towels," she told me, as I watched her close the door with the diapers AND WIPES in it.

"No problem," I replied.

As luck would have it, she was training a new person today and what could have taken a few moments went on and on and on. Long enough that Liam had about lost it by the end (think Jack-Jack from the Incredibles). As soon as they turned to leave, I quickly wet a few paper towels, stretched Liam out on the bed and started the diaper change. Quite unfortunately, what I thought was a completed effort was still in process. He screamed as his bowels made huge, um, progress which I was able to catch in the paper towels. What I didn't anticipate was the other way in which he would go potty at that same moment. So, as Liam was spitting urine out of his mouth (he couldn't have aimed better had he tried!) and I was busy trying to wipe him up with half used paper towels, he gave one final yelp and out came the rest of last weeks food product. Kicking myself for not having taken both legs out of his pants and silently cursing the Miralax we've been giving him to help with the constipation issues, I reached over him to grab the tissues I had tried to entertain him with earlier. I had just started the arduous task of mopping everything up when the doctor came in for her initial visit. WHERE IS THAT RED BUTTON WHEN YOU NEED IT?!

So, there I am with a half naked toddler who is covered in poop at one end, blood and tears at the other and urine down the middle, a pile of diapers and dirty paper towels on the ground sitting next to some unidentified puddle, and I have all of two semi-used Kleenexes to try to fix the situation.

"Hi, I am Doctor.....um, can I get you some wipes or something?" she asked as she took notice of the scene.

"Oh, that would be great, thanks. Your registrar told me you had none," I said calmly.

She pushed the magic code and pulled out the full container of wipes that were sitting right next to the diapers and handed them to me before continuing to examine Liam, still naked but at least now smiling. I lined his new diaper with a few tissues in case he wasn't quite done yet, and made him a little more presentable before explaining what happened for the tenth time.

At this point, I am almost laughing at how ridiculous I sound.

"Well, you see Doc, we were playing Peek-a-boo and it got a little out of control...."(Uh-huh....sure....) "Usually we have them wear helmets of course, for such aggressive play, but you know how it goes....one thing leads to another and BAM!" (She's shaking her head yes, but writing "Child-Services" in her notes...)

I am sure the Emergency Department has heard it all but it didn't make it any less amusing. The stitch nurse laughed and said we should probably rename it Peek-a-Boo-Boo.

I'll spare the rest of the details but after screaming uncontrollably through the papoosing and stitching process, Liam immediately went back to all smiles as we lifted him up and handed him his big red popsicle. (Hmmm, maybe I should make it more clear that I am perfectly willing to just buy the kid some popsicles!)

Although he didn't exactly get a gold medal for his efforts, he does have five beautifully sewn stitches under his brow (along with some very empty bowels). And let there be no doubt, he has decided to throw in the towel on playing peek-a-boo (boo)... at least for today.

Happy Monday to you too! Oh, and be careful what you wish for! :)


Enter Leroy, Stage Right

"He's bad, bad Leroy Brown,
Baddest cat in the whole [darn] town
Badder than old King Kong
And he's meaner than a junkyard dog." -original lyrics by Jim Croce (but this is a variation that has been sung over the years....)

So, apparently the seams came unloose and started to unravel because Kurt and I decided to get the kids a cat for Valentine's Day. Yes, you read that right. A Cat. A handsome (yet gassy), Bobcat-like hairball named Leroy, possessing claws that could match any average Tiger. (Seriously, you'd think the shelter might consider cutting their nails ever so often! Sheesh!)

It seemed like a perfectly good idea at the time. I mean, I love animals (right?) and although I really wanted a nice, confined rabbit, I compromised with a cat thinking it was a good starter pet for the kids. (And the only one Kurt would actually agree to, might I add.) Now, you might be thinking: Why not just get a fish? Honestly, fish are as about as interesting as watching a wall. (And I have plenty of walls I don't have to feed!) At least cats have antics and are good for a laugh here and there.

So, 10 month old Leroy came home with us a week and a half ago. The kids were thrilled ("We get to keep him forever and ever? Until he DIES?!" Aidan asked, excitedly.) And then BAM! The anxiety hit like a Mack Truck.

What? Until he dies? Hold the phone! To what did we just commit?!

Now, rest assured, I did not panic with the stress of getting married and I had no major anxiety adding each additional kid to our family. But then came Leroy, the cat. Ever heard of the straw that broke the camel's back? Welcome Leroy. I hereby declare you a Basement Dweller!

I had such big panic attacks the first four days I thought I was allergic to him. I searched frantically for my inhaler, just in case the tightening in my chest was asthma coming on and one morning I even had to invite my neighbor friend over to calm me down. Because we had a cat. In the basement.

And then later that second day, when he jumped up on our couch, scaring Madeline who immediately pushed him off, which of course engaged his wild claws leaving quite an impression on the leather, I about had it. (Apparently scratched up furniture does nothing to quell anxiety....shocking.)

By Friday, I called Kurt crying because "I'm so sorry...We got a cat!... Waaaaaa!" And he just laughed and laughed.

"Karen," he said. "It's...a cat." (Breathe Karen Breathe!)

And that is when it hit me: Well duh....how well do you think most chickens react to a cat in their coop? All this anxiety and territorial behavior I was exhibiting began to make sense. And I realized, I am fully and completely a nut-job! Surely the fact that in the midst of panic attacks over a cat I planned out where I would build my chicken coop under the deck and how I would convert the sunroom into a bunny habitat (you know, in the event that Kurt lost his marbles too and allowed it) confirms my nuttiness.

So, after admitting to myself and others I did not want to keep this cat, (I actually made tentative plans for just how he might take leave of our house), I forced myself to bond with the furball. I took the kids to the pet store to get a Furminator to help control the shedding as well as some cat treats and we headed down to the basement together to brush out his beautiful coat and begin the process of "training" him. I handed a treat to each of the kids and told them to give it to Leroy, making sure I called him by name rather than "the cat." Madeline and Lily immediately threw theirs at him and when I told Liam to give his to the cat he held up his empty hands and began to chew wildly.

"No, Liam! Don't eat the cat treat!" I said while trying to get his busy mouth open. He quickly swallowed and started signing "more, more, more."

Well shoot, maybe we HAVE been feeding Liam the wrong kind of food this whole time!

After watching Leroy fall into the toilet a few times (that's just plain funny), seeing how much abuse he tolerates from the kids who still think you can safely carry a cat by the neck, and in discovering I am not at all allergic, I now realize he is actually a decent fit for our family. And since Kurt was originally hoping we could rename the cat "Bruce Lee-roy" I will end on a few quotes from the martial arts master which help sum up this last week or so.

"There is no such thing as maturity. There is instead an ever-evolving process of maturing. Because when there is a maturity, there is a conclusion and a cessation. That’s the end. That’s when the coffin is closed. You might be deteriorating physically in the long process of aging, but your personal process of daily discovery is ongoing. You continue to learn more and more about yourself every day."

"Flow in the living moment. — We are always in a process of becoming and NOTHING is fixed. [Well, Leroy is...] Have no rigid system in you, and you'll be flexible to change with the ever changing. OPEN yourself and flow, my friend. Flow in the total openness of the living moment. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves. Moving, be like water. Still, be like a mirror. Respond like an echo."

"You cannot force the Now. — But can you neither condemn nor justify and yet be extraordinarily alive as you walk on? You can never invite the wind, but you must leave the window open." --Bruce Lee

And with any luck at all, the cat might just find that open window and escape!

One week down, only about eight hundred more to go....

Leroy, post 'declaw' surgery
(We're a one strike you're out family apparently....)


The Itsy Bitsy Birthday Elf

A more upbeat version of the common children's rhyme goes like this:

"The itsy bitsy spider climbed up the water spout
Down came the rain and washed and spider out
Out came the sun and dried up all the rain
And the itsy bitsy spider climbed up the spout again.
Is he big? (No, he is an itsy bitsy spider)
Is he big? (No, he is an itsy bitsy spider)
IS HE BIG? (No, he is an itsy bitsy spider)
And the itsy bitsy spider climbed up the spout again."

Unfortunately, I can't find the music to share but it is an upbeat fusion of blues and rock with the added call of "Is he big" and then a little tiny voice responding, "No, he is an itsy bitsy spider."

But, lately, when I sing it to my kids, I can't help but think of Liam:

"Is he big?"

"No, he is an itsy bitsy toddler."

Weighing in at just a smidgen above 21 pounds, Liam turned two over the weekend. According to the growth charts, Liam is so little he doesn't actually exist. To put it in perspective, when our oldest son turned one, he weighed just under 24 pounds. At his second birthday, Aidan weighed 31 pounds. Liam, ten pounds lighter than his brother at the same age, is surely an itsy bitsy toddler.

But then, what do you expect of an elf?

And, along with his tiny size, he is still not talking (except in sign-language). So asking him what he wanted for his birthday was kind of pointless. As a matter of fact, when I was asked about what grandparents and other loved-ones might get him for gifts, I had to stop myself from explaining that I was pretty certain all Liam really wanted was some new kitchen towels, a piano music organizer and possibly a new violin case and music stand. Although, if you asked Aidan, Liam really wanted a new Wii game and Madeline and Lily might have told you he wanted a kitten. Kurt probably would have said Liam really just wanted the house cleaned and tidied and instead of receiving toys, he really wanted to get rid of some....to be honest, it's hard to know for sure who was right! :)

At any rate, we wished him a very happy birthday on Sunday. He ate an elf-sized red-velvet cupcake, opened a present or two and smiled his sweet smile. Life is good, even when you're tiny.

Happy Birthday Liam!