31 December 2009

What Seems So Fun . . .


Our kids love PBS. Mosely even watches a little too much - remember?


A lot of PBS shows are sponsored by Rainforest Cafe. So our kids naturally ask, "When can we go to Rainforest Cafe?"


Guess what restaurant is located at Downtown Disney?


Yep.


So we've been talking this place up for months. The kids are all so excited. They think of it as a highlight on our Florida journey. They cannot wait.


And then we visit.


It looks like, well, a rain forest. On acid.


At first the kids are amused. Entertained. The rain falling all around us is cool. The leaves of the trees hanging around the walls are pretty interesting. The elephant beside our table actually moves. We hear jungle noises. Fish are swimming in aquariums all over the restaurant.


And then we sit down at our table.


The kids check out the crayons - just like at every other restaurant. They forget about the sounds of the rain forest surrounding them and color monkeys and trees in the four primary colors they are given.


Kevin and I look at the prices. Hmm. Is this place donating a percentage of their profits to the actual rain forest? They should be. Because they would no longer be endangered if they were. Uh - a kid's meal of mac & cheese was $7.99. And no drink included!


Piper begins to cry as the thunderstorm rocks our table and temporarily deafens us all.


Our waiter gently informs us that the thunderstorm will only happen once every thirty minutes!


I cannot even hear Kevin talk to me across the table because of the "gentle" waterfall sounds all around us. (That and Piper's cries - which only happened every thirty minutes.)


Suddenly, what seemed quirky and fun just seems loud and overpriced. (Really loud. And really overpriced.)


You can apply a moral message there if you want. There almost always is one if you look hard enough.


But what the Keigleys learned this time is pretty basic - no more themed restaurants for us. We are our own circus, our own novelty show, our own jungle. We don't need to pay anyone else for that kind of entertainment.

sweet


Oh my goodness.


We have been out of town for a while, it seems. A little out of touch. And our internet at home is down.


And although perhaps I should be ashamed to admit this - I have really missed writing this blog.


But I am back now.


And you may just be sorry that I am. Because I hope to update with a flurry of posts. Yes. A flurry. Like snow. (Which I wish we would see a bit of.)


Because here I am.

At Panera Bread.

Free wifi.

A cinnamon scone to my right.

A loaf of french bread leaning against the wall waiting to be served with our spaghetti dinner tonight.

A bear claw in a bag to go for my sweet husband who is at home with our children.


And a laptop in front of me.


A sweet laptop!


And it belongs to me!


It may not be a Mac, but it's mine!


(thank you Dad)


I am far more excited than a person should be.


(I think people might be staring at me. When is the last time you saw someone at Panera giddy with joy to simply be typing at a table alone?)


Hold on.


Here we go!


26 December 2009

Disney

(I promise to add photos when I return home. I promise. Bear with me, Leanne. Bear with me.)


I don't know where to start.





Really.





And I almost don't even want to.





Because I am sure I will forget something.





There is just so much. So much.





We are actually still on the road. (Not literally, mind you.)





So maybe I will just work backwards.





Or whatever.





I'm pretty sure the only person who will be even slightly concerned with the correct order of events or the skipping of any memorable moments will be me anyway.





Disney sounds like a good place to begin.





After waiting in line for about an hour with six children at varying degrees of impatience we reached the front of the line. We laid down (ahem) $400 and received our change - exactly one dollar. Thanks Disney. Thanks.





We waded through crowds of strangers . . . some friendly, some not so much . . . to ride the ferry into the Magic Kingdom.





Now. I don't like long lines. Or crowds of people. Or spending that much money on something on which I can neither drive nor type.





But pretty much from the moment we stepped into the park and saw that iconic castle to the hours and hours we spent exploring this kingdom called Magic, I knew our money had been well spent. Indeed.





I cannot even say which moment was my favorite yet.





But here's a few that I liked . . .





Tinkerbell in lights riding a zipline from the castle to begin the fireworks show.





Piper riding her first roller coaster, liking it better than her wildly brave brother Bergen and asking "again?" as soon as the ride stopped.





Mosely walking around all day in her princess dress, feeling important and beautiful, and being greeted as a birthday princess by every Disney cast member we encountered.





The snow. In Florida. (Disney can do anything.) And London asking, "Hey, why does this snow taste like soap?"





Berg and London and Riley laughing and screaming together on Splash Mountain.





The looks on our kids' faces. Awe. Excitement. Amazement. Joy. Laughter. Shared experience.





The warm, gooey caramel cinnamon roll from the bakery on Main Street at 11 p.m., fake snow falling all around us.





And that's just a sampling.





It was fun - almost, dare I say it? - yes, magical.

21 December 2009

Here We Go

Alert: This post is being typed from a computer with a dying battery. In a hotel room with no access to photographs.

The Band of Keigley are on the road. (And you would know all the minutia of our family's Christmas journey south if you followed Riley's Facebook updates. But please do not. We do not wish to support her addiction. I'm actually not joking.)

The start was a bit shaky . . . an hour and a half later than intended, snow and ice the first forty-five minutes, an accidental opening of the completely, tightly packed Suburban's back door two minutes before the official Buckling In Of Passengers was scheduled to begin, half of the loaf of bread originally intended to be our lunch eaten by Super Nutso But Lovable Terror Magnus, and a near breakdown only narrowly averted by a kind husband's quick and gentle words.

But we made it all in one piece through our first two stops of our adventure and are currently resting at Stop Number Three.

In Jacksonville we hung out with Sarah and Erik and Austin. We were treated like royalty. Fresh, delicious Snickerdoodles were sitting on the counter when we arrived. Sweet hand decorated Christmas tins filled with treats sat underneath the tree for Keiglets. Scrumptious from scratch pancakes, thick cut bacon and some kind of tasty sausage were served up for dinner. And Luna was all quiet and sedate. We really felt loved and welcomed. What a sweet start to our trip. Thank you Sarah and Erik - thank you! You will become a regular stop on our southern route, should we be wild enough to undertake said journey in the future! (And if you'll have us of course!)

Reluctantly the kids buckled up again - it was as if Otto Fox's muscle memories kicked in with the clicking of his carseat buckle. The cries of frustration began. Really, he was such a trooper. Who wants to be strapped into the same place for hours on end, with little to no wiggle room?

The Suburban headed itself straight to Melbourne - the GPS leading the way. (On a side note, apparently Piper Finn is now afraid of the GPS. For hours (yes, hours) she spoke these words, "I scared. GPS." It cannot be explained. I will not try.)

In Melbourne there resides a family. A beautiful family. Three great kids. Two amazing parents. We love them. (I could go on. I could gush. And it would all be deserved.) We had so much fun that this really needs to be several posts - but there's that dying battery issue, you know?

We attended church with them. Enjoyed seeing Page play guitar on stage. Then we celebrated two SIX birthdays - Mosely and Hezekiah. You actually can see adorable photos of this at Gretchen's blog. Cute. Cute. Cute. Gretchen made incredible matching Mickey and Minnie Mouse cakes. Two cakes. They looked so cool. I think it was the first birthday party Mosely has had with friends her own age! And then we went to the beach, because they pretty much live in a vacation spot. And Page took photographs that might actually be so good that they might sustain the mirage - because the setting, the lighting, the background - all just worked in perfect union for a few fleeting moments. The results are fantastic! I can't believe ambient lighting can make such a difference! I hope soon you can check them out here or at Page's site. The kids played so well together. We had great conversations, delicious meals and a fab evening of screaming at the television set when Russell was completely robbed of his hard-earned Sole Survivor title. (Yeah, I said "robbed". And I will loudly and passionately defend my stance. Loudly. And passionately. Even if it is a trivial TV show. Just watch me.)

And now we are one mile outside of the entrance to the Happiest Place on Earth. (We'll just see about that Disney.) And apparently the most dangerous as well. I have never seen so many signs reminding me to lock my doors, hide my valuables and put my keys in my pocket. Makes me more than a little cautious. There was even a government-issued, flashing orange road-sign-type sign blinking and proclaiming these warnings. Yikes!

Tomorrow is Mosely's big day. A day of seeing Peter Pan. And pushing that hefty new double stroller. And riding those infamous teacups. Walking miles with six mostly small children. Watching Bergen see a giant Buzz Lightyear. Spending Riley's college tuition on a hot dog and a pretzel. Letting Mosely wear her beautiful, re-created just for her from my old flower girl days, pink fancy dress on her birthday.

It's a special day. And I know it will be perfect. And messy. And funny. And exhausting. And silly. And filled with loads of laughter and plenty of tears. And that's all okay with us!

(Blessing on you, little battery. You did real good.)

17 December 2009

A Story of Hope

At lunch yesterday Mosely made a very unusual comment that seemed to be right out of left field.

"I wish I could meet my first parents one day," she said.

My head actually whipped toward her - it was such an unexpected comment.

We have made the choice to speak normally and often about Mosely's adoption and her introduction to our family when she was but a wee little three-month-old sausage baby. (Hey - "sausage baby" is the term Mosely uses. And listen, if you had the privilege of meeting her at that age, you would agree. Her appendages closely resembled sausage links. It's just true.) So it was no surprise to hear her speak about being adopted. We all talk about it as a matter of course here.

But it was the first time I had ever heard her express any sort of desire or longing or interest in her birth parents.

And I was genuinely surprised at my internal reaction.

Sure, I kept my external reaction appropriate and moderate. (I hope.) We talked about her birth parents and then we let the comment stay as it really was - just a part of the lifelong conversation we will have with our third daughter, whose story happens to be of a different variety than say, our fourth daughter.

Inside, however, I was actually kind of hurt. And even as I felt that, I knew it was probably irrational. Mosely is five (almost six!) and wondering things out loud is perfectly normal. Talking about your past is part of figuring out your future and your place in the present. I know. But I still sort of felt sad. And somehow less important. Like my role or my ability as Current Mom was being called into question.

And I admit I was a little surprised at Mosely's developed thought process along those lines. I honestly (perhaps foolishly) assumed I had a good five or ten or more years before this type of conversation would even start rolling.

Adoption presents its own set of unique issues. And they are really no more or no less daunting than the set of concerns with birth children. But I think it's misleading to pretend that the issues are the exact same. They just aren't. Sometimes they converge, cross over, merge, and so and so forth. But they are still not the exact same.

I think one part of that difference might just be because with adoption, you can always legitimately ask "what if?" What if genetics play a larger role than I thought? What if we are not the best choice? What if the nature vs. nurture debate really does have a clear victor? And dozens of more questions, deeper and scarier than we would like to see in print.

Adoption is such an incredible journey. One in which I am truly grateful to participate. But like all grand undertakings, like all uncharted territory, like all acts of love - there is such a risk as well. Such a frightening forced opportunity for vulnerability. And therefore, a much greater danger of pain. And suffering. And of having to stumble your way through the dark sometimes.

But I think at its heart, Mosely's story - and every story of adoption at any level - is a story of redemption. A story of hope.

And I don't want her to miss that.

I don't want to miss that.

16 December 2009

I Don't Want One


I saw a crazy device recently in Best Buy.

I think it was called Kindle, but I didn't linger long enough to be certain.

I guess everyone has heard of this already before me. Or owns one.

It's this little device that you hold in your hand and it contains the printed words of any large number of your favorite real books.

It is not a book.

It's a little screen (uh - like a computer) that shows you the pages of the books you want to read.

But I can tell you this, you will not be seeing this girl purchase a Kindle. Ever.

One of its selling points is that it has a paper-like display. A paper-like display? What in the world? How about my book over here? Guess what? It has a paper display. For real.

The ad also states that the Kindle reads like real paper without glare, even in bright sunlight.

Is that such a problem? Is the glare in real sunlight what has kept people from picking up books all this time? Oh. Okay.

It can even "carry your library: holds up to 1,500 books". I guess that is impressive. But, you know what I'm thinking. Who needs 1,500 books at any one time when you are out and about?

Actually, the Kindle makes me really sad.

When you want a real reading experience - such as a novel or a biography or an inspirational tome - you want the real deal. Or at least I do. Holding that book in your hands is all part of the process. It's a sensory feeling. And it matters.

What sense of accomplishment can you get from clicking through your Kindle virtual pages? How do you feel when you set your lightweight device down? I want the weight and heft of a book in my hands.

Kevin is reading a 900-page or more book right now called The Source. When he sets that sucker down, he knows he's reading someone's life work. It feels heavy. It feels as if it has merit. And when he finishes those bazillion pages, he is going to know that he accomplished something.

When Riley finished reading the many volumes of Carl Sandburg's Pulitzer Prize winning work on Abraham Lincoln, she could toss that book around with pride. With only a glance, you knew that reading that work of art was a challenge that she had risen to and had conquered. Just by looking.

You can't feel that when you set down a computer device. (And don't tell me that you can. I will not believe you.)

A computer has its place. I know. And I am glad for it.

And a book has its place. I know. And I am even more glad for that.

If it came down to it, which I hope it does not, I know which one I would pick. Every time.

I don't like seeing those two worlds collide.

And I believe that if our culture sacrifices real, in-your-hand books for computer devices, we will regret it. We will lose the appeal of the written word. The words themselves will lose some of their potency, I am afraid. We need the tangible feel, the page turning, the smell, the turned down corners, underlined phrases, borrowed, saved, passed around, treasured sense of vitality that only a real book can provide.

15 December 2009

The Mirage


I had to laugh a little when a friend of mine recently told me that she thought I was so organized and that I looked as if I had it all together.

Maybe it looks that way from a distance. (A very far distance.)

But if it ever does look like that, it would only be a mirage.

Let me share an example. (And there are so many from which to choose.)

Today.

We have been saving our change and stray dollars for our Disney World Christmas adventure. And it only seemed appropriate to stash said spare change in a plastic bank that is a giant Mickey Mouse head saved from Kevin's youth.

I decided today would be a good day to toss those coins into one of the handy coin counters at our local Publix.

I only had three children with me so I should have really been on top of my game.

But I wasn't.

Berg lugged the heavy Mickey head into the store.

Instead of sticking her cute self in a cart, I allowed Piper the freedom of walking. (Mistake Number One.) Apparently, she got a little giddy with that freedom. Let's just say that throughout the majority of the scene I am about to relay, she acted like a child caught in the classic throes of being Two. (It was not pretty. Nor inspiring.)

Already inside the store, I discovered that the Mickey head required a screwdriver to open. I did not have a screwdriver in my pocket at that moment. (Mistake Number Two.) I managed to wrangle the white plastic lid off with the edge of my key while Mosely observed directly at my elbow, calmly saying repetitively, "Don't break Mickey, Mommy. Don't break Mickey, Mommy."

I began dumping coins. I pushed the start button on the machine, after agreeing to give eight percent of my coin total to the machine. (Greedy little thing.)

The coins spewed out half-heartedly. I dug the dollar bills crammed in the Mickey head out with my fingers. "Uh, guys? Why is this money all wet?" Because it was. All wet.

"Uh-oh," Mosely said. "Um. I might have washed Mickey one time. With water."

Gross soggy money is still money I suppose, so back to the task at hand. I assigned Mosely the job of carefully smoothing the damp bills.

Not only is Piper still being Two, but Bergen has decided that this is the exact right time and place to have an emotional breakdown because he cannot see the coins dropping into the machine as clearly as he would like.

And then the machine stops. A bright red light at the top of the machine starts flashing and the computer reads, "See attendant."

Nice.

I bet I look real put together about right now.

Sylvia comes over to assist. Everything about her, from her countenance to her body language to her audible sighs, lets me know that she does not share my enthusiasm for saving spare change and turning it into dollar bills. Sylvia pushes buttons with force, sighs, puts her hand up at Bergen, pushes the machine away from the wall, sighs, calls Bergen "honey" through her gritted teeth, sighs, grabs a pair of scissors and pokes the coins, sighs and calls for back up from Andrew. Before Andrew arrives she shoves a wooden chip from I Have No Idea Where Or What towards me. I take it. Apparently this wooden chip could be part of our problem. Or not. She never says.

Andrew is, in fact, the superhero of the coin counting machine. Which I try to tell him. No one laughs. Except me. Nervously.

At long last our ordeal is over - more than twenty minutes in.

I gather our dollar bills, the empty Mickey head and three children and leave - more tired than I should be from the simple act of allowing a machine to count coins for me.

So, my sweet friend, if this is what "having it all together" looks like, you may just want to run in the opposite direction.

14 December 2009

Yeah. Just Like That.


Guess what family is unanimous in their recent discovery of their intense dislike for goat cheese?

This family!

(Was that really a hard guess for anyone?)

Yes. It's true. Our apologies to all goat-cheese-lovers reading right now.

We discovered this over a recent dinner.

I made a beautiful salad. And yes, I can describe this salad as beautiful. Because it was. A beautiful serving dish. Crisp, bright green spinach leaves piled high. Creamy white feta cheese sprinkled across the bed of green. Goat cheese layered across and mixed with the feta. Perfectly grilled chicken placed carefully across the salad layers. And exquisite, colorful ruby pomegranate seeds shimmering across the landscape of green and white. It was a cheery, holiday-looking platter.

If a mere salad could look like Christmas, this one did.

But it sure didn't taste like Christmas.

Unless Christmas tastes like old man's socks and smells like . . . well, like wet goat.

No one mentioned the smell as the plates were being served. Kevin happened to be the first to place a forkful in his mouth. Nary a comment did he make. London's face turned a bit south as she tasted her first bite and she said, "Hmm, maybe this cheese is a little strong Mommy. In the future, could you maybe put the cheese in a bowl near the salad so we can choose if we want it or not?"

I applied my dressing of choice and took a large forkful of the still beautiful creation set before me.

Oh. My. Goodness.

The smell was overbearing. But the taste?

Forget about it!


My long-standing rule of No Negative Comments About A New Dish The Night It Is Served took an evening's hiatus in lieu of the dire circumstances.

This stuff was terrible.

Once the No Negative Comments ban was lifted, the table was crowded with conversation.

"It just tastes like goat. Really, just exactly like a wet goat smells- do you know what I mean?" Kevin kept asking.

Yeah. I knew what he meant.

"Raise your hand if you would like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich," I offered. A multitude of tiny and big hands shot up around the table.

It was London who asked the obvious question, "How can something so pretty taste so ugly?"

"You know," I said, "Sometimes things can look great but be bad."

And Riley, who was clearing the refuse of our wasted meal, piped in. "Yeah. That's pretty much exactly like sin."

Yeah. Riley was right. It's pretty much exactly like that.

13 December 2009

Now What?


So, if love is a verb, how do you wrap that and stick it in your stocking?

As the majority of our children are just beginning to enter the age of desiring to give Christmas gifts as well as get, we have been presented with a new dilemma.

Last year we took all of the younger set to the infamous Dollar Tree and let each one pick out gifts for their siblings. It was fun. The kids loved picking out toys that each one would enjoy.

But we ended up with 16 toys that were probably broken and disposed of before the new year, if not that very Christmas afternoon.

This year we are looking to try a new plan.

Another experiment.

(Which I am beginning to believe is all parenting really is - a really expensive, really frightening, really powerful experiment.)

Anyway.

This year we are encouraging the kids to give one another gifts that have no dollar sign attached to them. Gifts that you cannot pick up at your local Wal-Mart.

We are working on gifts of Action. Of Love. Of Experiences.

When I told the kids our plan, I cited Kevin's active love when I was sick. I asked them, "If dad had given me a really cool toy - like a Transformer - would Mommy have gotten better?"

All heads shook no.

"Right," I said. "But what did Daddy give me instead?"

They answered, "Rest." "Sleep." "Help." "Lunch."

"Can you buy those things at a store?" I asked them.

All heads shook no.

After a bit more nudging, we got out crayons and paper and began the process of card making and gift giving. And they started to get excited.

We haven't finished everyone's gifts yet, of course. But so far Bergen has designed his card for Daddy with his act of service written down - which I cannot reveal here since the secret would then be out.

Mosely made a card for Piper promising to play with her and Eagle one afternoon. She has also pledged to play cars with Bergen on two different days. (Which is a bigger sacrifice than you might think - Mosely is no fan of car playing and Berg's daily request is for someone ANYONE to play cars with him.)

London knows Mosely has been asking for an American Girl doll. But we are not buying presents this year at our house. Instead we are going on a road trip to Florida to spend time with family, framily, friends, plus one big overpriced Mouse. So both girls know that an American Girl doll is not in Mosely's future.

After designing her card for Mosely, London began tapping her pencil to her head as she pondered what she could do for her sister. Her eyes lit up as she caught the spirit of our endeavor. "I know! I can let Mosely play with my doll for six, no seven, no eight, no TEN whole days!"

We still have a handful of cards to design and action gifts to determine, but I hope this will be an idea that can catch on at our house.

If not, I guess next year we'll head back to the drawing board for our next experiment.

12 December 2009

Love Is A Verb


I heard it first said at Look Up Lodge actually. (Maybe twelve years ago.)

Love is an action.

Love is a verb.

There is always a lot of talk about love. And how we humans can best express it, one to another. Particularly at this time of year.

But even the coolest, most amazing gift, (even a Mac) cannot express our love as beautifully and as profoundly as our actions can.

Even our most simple actions.

Yesterday I was suddenly and inexplicably very sick. Really sick. Chills, aches. Miserable. Even my eyes hurt. It was lousy.

But despite the fact that I have six children, five of whom do not leave the premises in a daily trek to traditional school, I was able to stay in bed. Sleeping. Resting. Until after four p.m.

I'm not kidding.

And all because my husband loves me.

After I nursed Otto first thing in the morning, Kevin did the one action in our house that equals ultimate rest. He removed the pull up bar from our bedroom door so that the door could be shut completely and entirely. That has become like a sign between us. Normally, we just leave the door slightly cracked and the bar in position. But when you need real privacy (for sleeping only of course) then the bar comes down. (Now, if the bar is down and the door is locked, that's another story entirely.)

I was able to spend the day recovering and resting because Kevin showed how much he loved me through his actions. He took care of things. (And at this house, an awful lot falls under the category of things.)

He tended to our children's needs all day. He cleaned the kitchen from our wild Thursday Night parties. He made breakfast. And lunch. (I was even served my lunch on a tray. My grilled cheese sandwich was cut in half and my plate featured a tiny heart-shaped sugar cookie as well.)

Kevin's actions did not cost a dime. But they revealed more love than him purchasing dozens of items for me from our local Mast General Store.

His actions said everything.

Because
love is a verb.


The ordinary arts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest. -Thomas Moore

11 December 2009

London's First Lost Tooth



Milestones.

One after the other.

I guess that's to be expected in a house with eight people.

Living lives that never stay still.

Our most recent milestone --- a loose tooth.

London's.

It's been wiggling down there at the bottom of her mouth for days. Maybe even weeks. (Just another way she is my daughter, a little me. I would let my loose teeth literally dangle by whatever thin thread of tooth stuff was left. I never pulled them. And I never told my mother when they were loose, in case she wanted to pull them. I hated pain. I still do.)

At London's suggestion (and under the probable influence of a television story or a book) Kevin actually tied fishing line to both her tooth and to the handle of a door. Not my idea, I tell you.

The fishing line was attached. The door was shut. London screamed and clasped her hand over her mouth. But all in vain. The fishing line had slipped off and the tooth was still intact. The scream was superfluous.

London began crying. But she wasn't in pain. Kevin told her that we didn't have to pull the tooth right then. We could wait. But apparently that was why she was crying. Through her tears, she said, "But I want to lose my tooth right now. I want it out so I can get money. I just don't know what it will feel like. I don't know if it will hurt."

SuperDad to the rescue. That guy is so clever. I would have said, "Yes, it will hurt a little. Let's do it now or just go to bed. Come on!"

But not Kevin. He whispered something in her ear. Her countenance changed and she scooted off to find her shoes.

After a short absence the little duo reappeared, ready for action. Orajel on the gum. Some kind of pliers from Papaw's fishing supplies in hand. A quick yank! And the tooth was out. Grins all around and a little spit drooling down a proud six year old's numb chin.

10 December 2009

Pray Like Piper


I pray.

Really. I do.

I mean, you already know that I pray at least once a day - right?

But recently I realized that my two year old daughter had something new to teach me about prayer.

How do I approach prayer?

With joy? With enthusiasm? As if it is, in fact, a privilege or the exact highlight of my day?

In a group setting, when someone offers a blanket opportunity for prayer, do I get excited?

Or do I avert my eyes a bit?

Are my prayers mostly pretty rhetoric? Or only pleas for some quick relief?

Because that's not how Piper Finnian prays.

No ma'am.

Every night at dinner we ask one child to pray before we eat. And every night at dinner, after that one child has prayed for every family member, every food item and every stranger we passed on the sidewalk that day, we're all ready to dig in.

But Piper isn't.

Her busy little hands are clasped and momentarily still and as soon as the "amen" is uttered by her sibling, she shouts, "May I pray?"

Who would say no?

And every night when we say, "Yes, Piper. You may.", she squeals with delight "Hooray!"

That's how I want to feel about prayer.

09 December 2009

First Annual




It finally happened.

The much-anticipated First Annual Pickle Juice Drinking Event.

Yes. Pickle juice drinking.

For some crazy reason the Keigley children discovered that they enjoy the taste of consuming copious amounts of pickle brine.

Apparently, it's genetic.

Because so does their Aunt Betty Ann.

Once this information was leaked to our children the idea began forming immediately.

Drink pickle juice. With other people who like to drink pickle juice. Profound.

London even wrote a letter to her aunt, requesting that one day they could share some memories over a glass or two of the almost neon-colored stuff.

The stars aligned.

Suddenly, there we were in London, Ohio. Hometown of pickle juice drinking pal Aunt BA.

And she comes over, carrying with her an enormous jar of pickles. Enormous, I tell you.

The Keigley kids take their seats at the table. Glasses in hand. Cousins stop wrestling in the living room to join the pickle drinkers. Strangers enter from the streets. A reporter drags in his camera crew to film for the evening news.

Pickle juice is poured. Glasses are lifted. Toasts are made. "To pickles!"

And the drinking begins.

At the end of the consuming, it is possible that London downed five glasses. I don't know. I didn't count. I didn't really want to be responsible for that knowledge.

I'm afraid a disturbing new tradition has been created.

To pickles!

08 December 2009

Long, Strange Trip


Destination: London, Ohio. The birthplace of one Kevin J. Keigley

Detours: Three. One - To wrap up former business details. Two - To surprise a wonderful friend. Three - To avoid a rock slide on the interstate.

Number of Donatos Pizzas Ordered During Our Three Days in Ohio: 4

Hours Spent in a Packed Suburban With Six Children: About 30

Number of Times Mosely shouted "My bum itches": Approximately 42

Favorite New Menu Item at a Restaurant: Panera Bread's Macaroni & Cheese

New Skill Acquired by Bergen, Taught to Him by His Older Cousins: An intense football tackle

Number of Rented Books on Tape: 2

Number of Books on Tape That Failed to Operate Correctly: 2

Best Wake Up Call: A lovely dusting of snow the morning we departed

Number of Cars on the Interstate Engulfed in Flames: 1

07 December 2009

A Dog's Life


We think we have it bad with Magnus.

I imagine Kipling thinks she has it bad with us!

02 December 2009

Wilde Fox


This little guy spits up . . . . a lot!

(His laundry pile is higher than all other young Keigleys combined.)

But, Kevinit - he's cute!

The Annual Tossing of the Bear



It might be fake - but it's our Christmas tree this year.

I really prefer a real tree. The process of choosing one, chopping it down (that's how we rolled, back on the farm), dragging it across the field, discovering it was too tall for the house, cramming it into the never-quite-the-right-size base, receiving enough scratches while decorating to require first aid, cleaning up needles on the floor for a month and dripping water all over the presents in a daily attempt to water the thirsty dying tree.

But this year, we went with the fake guy. Mainly because we have travel plans for this December and a real tree seemed superfluous.

And this year our pal Lanier was on hand to help with the decorating process. I was pretty glad to have new ears to listen to me rattle on about every ornament's history (and they all have one).

Our family's favorite silly Christmas tree tradition involves a sad looking little white bear that has been resurfacing annually since mine and Kevin's first Christmas together. After the tree has been decorated, one of the Keigley members is chosen to toss (hurl, sling) the bear onto the branches.

And wherever the bear lands, the bear stays.

Thanks Piper, for making this year's toss.

What Do We Do?


(It's another one of those this-picture-has-nothing-to-do-with-this-post-other-than-the-fact-that-this-is-my-blog-and-this-is-my-cute-kid. Apologies to all.)


I just heard this line in a song . . .

"If you feel it, it must be real."

That turns my stomach.

This idea is absolutely pervasive. It has invaded everything. Our music. Our movies. Our commercials. Our attitudes. Our expectations. Our brains. Our hearts. Our actions.

And I hate it.

Because it is a lie.

I'm not saying feelings always lie. I'm not saying feelings are wrong. Or sinful. Necessarily.

I am saying - you cannot trust only your feelings. You cannot live from your feelings alone. You cannot base your actions on your feelings.

It is a dangerous way to live.

But we hardly know what else to do. We hardly know how else to play this game.

Because it seems everyone else is doing life by their feelings.

And I just wonder . . .

How can I rescue my kids from this disastrous pursuit of what feels right, of what feels good - of feelings forcing behavior?

(Is there any defense? Because some days it seems as if the battle has already been won.)

I don't think seclusion is the right answer. Avoiding the world hasn't proven to be an effective tool in my experience thus far. (Just look at how many kids graduate from private schools and home schools and instantly embrace everything they felt they were denied.)

I believe that you learn truth by studying truth. You don't learn what is true by studying what is false. You memorize what is real so you can recognize the fake. If I am intimately familiar with a made-from-scratch chocolate chip cookie, it won't be hard to taste the difference in a processed Chips Ahoy. I don't have to study every brand of chocolate chip cookie, from Great Value to Soft Batch, to know when I am being offered something less than homemade.

But even though I know that in theory, I'm not sure I know how to teach that to our children.

Particularly our teenage child.

The one who needs the balance, the steadiness of truth most at her vulnerable age where everything Mom and Dad says sounds silly and everything popular culture says sounds cool.

So what do we do?

(This isn't really one of those hypothetical questions. Go ahead and answer.)

It's Time


And the stockings have been hung by the chimney with some degree of care.

All eight of them.

Let the season begin!

01 December 2009

today


This had been a busy little day.

For a random Tuesday. (Actually, I believe it is officially Wednesday morning when I am writing this - but what difference does that make?)

I took the chaps to a local library to watch a Christmas "play" about Holly and Bah Hum Bug. By Porkchop Productions.

I've probably said enough already.

Actually, it was all good. The trip to the library enabled me to pick out a few new books on CD (The Kite Rider (not to be confused with The Kite Runner) and Little Men) for car listening on the many December road trips (Ohio, Florida and all the states between here and there) we have ahead of us.

Back to the library's presentation.

One of the actors in the show used a rather scary Halloween-ish mask for the Bah Hum Bug character. London, Sworn Protector of Younger Siblings, decided that the mask would be too frightening for Piper. London informed Piper that she would be placing her hand over Piper's eyes and would leave them there until Bah Hum Bug left the stage.

Piper agreed to this with an "uh-huh". She grabbed Eagle, tucked her thumb into her mouth and politely sat still for the next twelve minutes, content to merely listen to the action and trust her Protector's decision.

I laughed. (Internally only, of course.)

And I tried to take a picture. With my too-cool-for-school-new-free-from-Verizon cell phone that arrived just yesterday.

After the library I gave the kids a car picnic lunch while I drove to the bank and headed across town for more errands. The car picnic lunch was a great idea from Gretchen and was a way better success than the last at-home-in-a-hurry lunch experience.

And then I took five young children into the pits of Hell known as Toys-R-Us. Unbuckle everyone. Enter store. Corral all children in the direction I need to go. Buy a birthday present for a friend. Check out the double stroller. Feel disappointed that it is not the one I want. Give Fox his bottle while allowing the kids to push the buttons on every talking Dora doll in aisle six. All thirty of them. Corral all children out the door, past the gumball machines and the Tigger ride. Buckle everyone up again.

And then I took five young children into Target. Unbuckle everyone. Enter store from parking at the farthest possible location. No carts nearby. Carry car seat, hold Piper's hand, threaten other children so they will stay close as we walk three quarters of a mile. Watch Bergen nearly implode attempting to control his own overpowering urges to run every two steps. Enter store. Get sucked in to the $1 section by the door. Forget why I entered store. (Oh, yes - double stroller, trash bags, baby wipes.) Find the trash bags. Realize that this Target does not have the double stroller I want. (I just want five point harnesses - is that so difficult?) Find $3 jackets for the girls. Buy two. Find $3 shirts for Bergen. Buy two. Leave store without a double stroller or baby wipes.

And then I took five young children into Babies-R-Us. Unbuckle everyone. Promise ice cream cones at the nearby Chick-Fil-A to all obedient, angelic children. Hooray - a sale on baby wipes. And look - the stroller I want. But too expensive. Agonize over decision. Piper poops and announces it loudly. Finally, and sadly, choose the stroller I can afford. Salesman asks if I have found everything. Laugh and say, "Well, I want that stroller, but I want it for a price lower than the one I am buying." He responds, "Wait, that's a discontinued model. You can buy the floor sample for ten dollars less than the one you have chosen." Push him over in joy. (Okay, that's a lie.) Rejoice as I leave the store.

Of course we all have some ice cream in celebration.

Arrive at home. Remember that I forgot to clean the kitchen. Notice the trash that we forgot to take out. Begin to think our home resembles that new "Hoarders" show on A&E. Realize that Fox needs to eat but he has pooped and spit up all over his car seat. And Piper needs another diaper change. And Riley wants to go sleep over at a friend's house. And Magnus wants to eat all of the dog food in the closet. And Bergen wants his shoes tied in a double knot. And London wants to know if she can watch the Beatles Yellow Submarine movie. And Mosely cannot work the zipper on her new jacket.

In the middle of all of this my new phone beeps, although I barely recognize it because it's a new sound.

And it's my husband.

And he says we have a date tonight.

And it's not to see a play at the library. Or a trip to a store to shop for strollers. And no one should spit up. And there should be no pooping involved.

So I am really glad to go anywhere with him - particularly to see The Fantastic Mr. Fox.

And that is why I am writing this post at 1 o'clock in the morning.

29 November 2009

Little Me


I recently unearthed a leatherish looking white box from under the recesses of our bed.

I recognized it immediately.

It was my mom's jewelry box. A coffee ring staining the lid. Soft red lining inside.

And I could tell from my kids' reactions that they were eyeing that treasure chest the exact same way I always eyed it as a kid - like some sort of miracle box o' wonders.

So we spent a morning going through its contents. The golden crab pendant from Mom's high school - Hampton Crabs. (Yeah, crabs.) The long strings of pearls. The gaudy brooches that must have belonged to another era - I think I remember photos of people wearing those things, but thankfully I have no recollection of my mother sporting them.

It was fun to see Mosely and London's eyes shining as they gently touched each item and ohhed and ahhed to their heart's content.

I let the girls play dress up for a little while before we carefully stowed the jewelry back in its box.

"Mommy, will you take my picture? I think I look just like a little you," London commented, coming out of the bathroom all ready for a photo shoot.

And if you had the distinct pleasure of knowing Little Lacey, you would probably agree - the kid looks an awfully lot like I did at her age.

A little spooky, actually, such a carbon copy image.

Now I cannot help whether my offspring look physically like me or not. That's really out of my control.

But, for good and for bad, I do know that they often act like me.

And that is just plain overwhelming.

Because my actions are not always worth imitating.

But I guess that's really our calling, isn't it? Our mission. Our purpose.

No, not to create little copycats of us, exactly. But to be the type of people we would want our children to be. To pursue the things we would want our children to pursue.

To be worthy of imitation.

Really, this isn't just true for our kids only, is it?

Maybe it's true for anyone who watches us.

To be worthy of imitation.

Not that anyone has to imitate us.

But that if they did, it would be okay. It would be good, in fact.

Because we are all imitating someone. Reflecting someone.

And at this house, I know my children are watching.

They are studying me.

And it's humbling and terrifying and difficult and incredible to live under such close scrutiny at all times.

So I know this.

I had better be imitating someone. Someone better than myself.

Because while my actions are not usually worth imitating, His always are.

26 November 2009

Home


There are just so many little things that make home home.

You know?

And those things are probably a little different in each house.

You know when you have been away from home for a while - for a business trip or a vacation or a holiday or even just a long weekend?

And then you come home and you take a shower in your own bathroom with your own normal-sized shampoo and soap?

That's the feeling I'm talking about.

I love that feeling.

I love that part of home.

The comfortable, familiar aspects of our literal house. The parts of our house that make this place a home . . . to us.

Like the favorite glass always on the ready inside the ice cube drawer.

And that hidden stash of m&m's for Mommy. (Oh, man - that makes me just like my mom. I remember discovering her stash one day - it was inside the brown crock pot on the bottom shelf of the cabinet directly below the microwave. No. I never took any of her m&m's. That is the truth.)

Knowing exactly how to shape the giant red slacker sack so that it forms both a pillow and a foot rest exactly suited to my body.

The scent of my current favorite shower gel- Burt's Bee's Fabulously Fresh. It smells like rosemary and peppermint. And it makes me want to take thirty minute showers. (That and the fact that the shower is the only place in the house the kids don't really want to join me.)

The color scheme that just makes me feel . . . relaxed, comforted, ensconced. (I'm not attributing too much power to colors either. They matter. They really do.)

The fact that our kitchen almost always has all of the necessary ingredients at any given moment to make NeedleTips - should the occasion demand it.

Like the ability to write with chalk on all of our kitchen cabinets and half of our doors.

Enjoying the prism of colors when the light pours through the stained glass window Sally lovingly crafted just for our living room.

And the sound of the rain on the skylights, even if it completely overpowers any other sound during a rainstorm.

Oh and our sweet, bright school room of a sun room.

This Thanksgiving, we did not leave our house. We didn't travel far.

We just stayed.

And enjoyed all these things.

We enjoyed home.

And it was good.


Ah! There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort. - Jane Austen

24 November 2009

Never Heard That One


London was asking to play games today.

I told her she should play some group games with her siblings - like Ring Around the Rosy or Duck Duck Goose.

And she said, "We can't play Duck Duck Goose. There aren't enough of us."
Not enough Keigley kids?

Now, that's one I've never heard before!

23 November 2009

Forgotten


I watched a couple of old videos I found on our computer recently.

In one of them, Bergen was talking and he was stuttering. Badly.

"Do you remember Bergen stuttering a lot?" I asked my husband.

Kevin looked surprised at my memory loss and as we talked I suddenly remembered more clearly.

Yes, Bergen did have a serious stuttering problem when he was smaller. As in, relatives could not understand what he was saying. We often struggled to understand what he was saying.

We tried to encourage him to slow down in his speech, to breathe before speaking, to pause and gather his thoughts.

And then I remembered how I worried.

I jumped to a hundred different conclusions, all of them terrible. I imagined my poor son struggling to speak his whole life. I imagined his friends in junior high mocking him. I imagined limited job options. Every bad thing that could potentially happen in his life I imagined and contributed it all to the stuttering problems of his three year old brain.

Yeah. I know. That's ridiculous.

But my ridiculousness is not the point. Not really. (Or maybe it always is.)

I think the point is - something that I worried about, feared, watched over and dissected to the extreme, took care of itself. It disappeared on its own. It went away.

And I don't remember how. I don't remember when. Shoot, until my memory was jarred with video proof, I had forgotten that entire season of my son's young life.

If you had asked me last week if any of my children had ever stuttered, I think I might have said no.

Not because I am liar.

But because I forgot all about it.

And that made me think. (Of course it did.)

Of all of the things I have worried about. Stressed about. Cried over. Lost slept because of.

Of all the things that I have let consume my mind, conquer my heart, break my spirit and keep me pushed down.

Of all the wasted energy. The sleepless nights. The lonely feelings.

Of all the things that took care of themselves.

Without any effort on my part.

I am not so naive as to believe that everything I worry about will vanish on its own like Bergen's stuttering has.

But I imagine that a great deal more of my concerns will than won't.

I listen to Bergen talk every day. (Boy, do I!) There is not even a touch of a speech problem. Not a trace of a communication issue with that young lad. Not a hint. Not a sign. Not any way to know that he once struggled to complete nearly every sentence he made.

I just wonder, in two days or two months or two years from right now, what will I have forgotten? Of what pain or struggle will there be absolutely no sign?

What am I wasting my heart and my energy and my late nights worrying about right now?

22 November 2009

okay


I was nursing Wilder.

Bergen was hovering around.

So far, perfectly normal.

"Man," Bergen says, "I sure wish I could try some of that milk."

You already did, son. You already did.

21 November 2009

Goodnight Little Willow


After tucking Piper Finn in tonight and watching her nightly rituals for about the 400th time (a pretty close estimate I think) I began to wonder if obsessive compulsive behavior was normal in two year olds.

I feel confident that it is.

The evening line up seldom varies.

I spread the blanket over her (the same soft, sweater-like, pale green blanket Uncle Luke and Aunt Jessica bought for her as an infant) and she tucks it just so - never allowing even a slight edge to hang over the bed rail. Eagle (her constant companion since Aunt Beckey picked it up for her at the Marine Corp. Museum when Finn was only six months old) is flipped right side up under her right arm with Eagle's head near Piper's face and her small hand grasping and caressing Eagle's tattered tail feathers. Finally, her left hand gives the thumbs up sign as she plops that little inch of thumb into her mouth.

After witnessing this routine tonight I posed a serious question to the little Willow.

"Are you OCD Piper?"

She replied, "Uh-huh. I buy it with a circle."

19 November 2009

Is This A Test?


We try to learn a few verses together as a family.

I write them on the chalkboard wall near the dinner table and we read them out loud together before each meal.

This week I wrote out James 1:19-20 - "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires."

And let's just be honest.

When I picked this little nugget of a verse I was targeting a handful of sometimes short tempered, angry-word-shouting siblings.

I was trying to preach when I should have been quiet.

And so maybe this day just serves me right.

Because I have wanted to be angry today. A lot.

At little things. At big things. At every thing.

Because this day seems to have been full of problems, mistakes and inconveniences.

Like Magnus putting his two gigantic paws on the counter and knocking down a wooden bowl that I really loved that was a gift from Kevin's mom. It broke into four pieces.

Like Mosely complaining that "all we ever do in school is read! I wish we never had school."

And like my ridiculously weak eye flaring up again, causing me pain, forcing me to wear my glasses and making me ultra self-conscious about my appearance.

Like the computer making a rather loud and annoying humming sound all morning while not allowing me to access my photos.

And like my poor Wilder sporting a fever tonight.

Like one particular small boy I know choosing to lie despite my provision of ample opportunity for truth-telling.

And like one toddler I know exercising her vocal chords loudly and boldly during any sibling conflict, of which there were a-plenty.

Like misplacing the all-important notebook of school schedules.

And all of this occurring the first day of my husband's business trip.

When I introduced the verse to the kids on the first day, I told them that it was a message for all of us, not just them. And I told them that this was something we could gently remind one another of any time we saw one of us struggling with anger. "You can even correct Mommy about her anger, as long as you do it kindly and respectfully," I said to them. (What was I thinking?)

And how many times I have heard a little sweet voice beside me today, patting my shoulder or touching my hand, "Mommy. Slow to anger. Remember? Slow to anger."

Yes. I remember.

I remember.

What?

Is this a test or something?

No, not exactly.

And yes.

This Is Not Good


Look what happens
when I answer the phone
and have the audacity
to walk into another room
to finish my conversation.

18 November 2009

Close Enough


Last week we visited our new favorite field trip place again - Pisgah National Forest and the Pisgah Wildlife Center.

The kids attended a class about opossums.

Apparently, Bergen was paying attention.

Today I asked him to return some math toys to their proper basket.

After he had completed his chore, he said, "Okay Mom - I have returned them to their native habitat."

16 November 2009

She Will Surprise You


Oh.

This One.

Sometimes she is such a mystery.

Last week at the entrance to my least favorite store a lady representing the Salvation Army was ringing her little holiday bell.

I gave all of the kids whatever change I had and they all trotted off to dump their coins in the red kettle.

Much later, inside the store, I heard loose change hit the floor near my feet.

And there was Mosely, scrambling after it. I knew right away where that little kid had gotten her quarter.

Instead of dropping her money into the kettle, Mosely had dropped her quarter into her pocket.

(Yes, I made her go back outside and give the volunteer the quarter.)

After several conversations over the next few days, Mosely and I came to some sort of terms.

She felt as if she never had the opportunity to earn money to purchase things that she would want.

"Like what?" I queried.

"A piggy bank," was the quick response.

Okay.

Mosely volunteered to do extra chores and asked to be paid for them. I agreed to her entrepreneurial schemes.

One afternoon, she cleaned the sun room above and beyond the normal methods. (She did a remarkably good job too. Hmmm. Now I have a new standard for five-year-old labor. That one might just back-fire on her.) One quarter earned.

The next day she accomplished another task. Another quarter dropped into her makeshift piggy bank - the classic plastic container with a thin slice cut out of the lid.

More chores done. At this point, Mosely has earned three shiny quarters.

She continually opens her container and looks adoringly at her coins. She shakes them in her tiny hands. She stores the container on a high shelf, just in case Piper tries to take it, she tells me.

Mosely is making plans for tomorrow - what she can do to earn more money, to collect more coins, to see her empire stretch even farther.

Fast forward to right now . . .

Bergen and Kevin are about to embark on a little father-son jaunt to the store for some necessary items - such as milk and chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.

London complains that she is not able to attend this exciting adventure.

Mosely, however, does not speak a word of complaint.

She jumps up and races into her bedroom.

Her fist is tightly clenched as she returns to the living room.

Still without a word, she approaches her younger brother. She stretches out her closed fist to Bergen.

Wordlessly, he opens his hand, palm up.

And into that palm, Mosely places the entire contents of her piggy bank fund into Berg's sweaty little hand.

All three coins.

Nothing held back.

Oh.

This one.

Sometimes she will just surprise you.

11:00 a.m.


The alarm on my watch beeps every day at 11:00 a.m.

When Kevin was in Israel we both sat our alarms to the same hour so we could remember to pray for one another and our family at the same exact time, despite the physical distance between us.

Once Kevin returned, I just left the alarm setting as it was. (Not just because I don't know how to change it either.) It has been a good daily reminder to pray for my husband.

In the past when I have prayed for my husband, or any loved one in my life really, my prayers were pretty selfish.

Yes, I would pray for his physical health, his safety or specific situational problems.

But the reason I was praying those words was the selfish part.

I wanted those things to be protected, those requests to be granted, because his physical health, safety and everything else directly affected me and our children.

It's pretty hard (maybe impossible) to separate our prayers, even in our most sincere moments, from our selfish desires.

But my prayers for Kevin while he was in Israel became so much larger than just prayers for his physical safety.

I started to pray something else for my husband, the tall, handsome, bearded man I committed to stay married to for the remainder of my life.

I didn't ask God so much for stuff for Kevin any longer. (Or anyone I pray for really.)

I didn't ask for a cancer-free life. Or happiness. Or financial security.

I asked God for this . . .

Let my husband love you God. Make him chase hard after you. Chase hard. God, keep him pursuing you, pursuing you, pursuing you.

And that's all.

It's really my prayer for me too.

Maybe it's still selfish.

Because I know (and am learning) that when Kevin chases hard after God, my life is better too.

Of course it flows in both directions. When I chase hard after God, Kevin's life is better as well.

And who doesn't like better?

Back in the day (as in high school) I distinctly remember hearing youth leaders in my life, like Mark Griffith and Sonja Richards, say what I thought to be the most absurd things about marriage. Stuff like, "Fall in love with a person who loves God more than he loves you." And "the most attractive thing about your future spouse should be his love of God".

Yeah.

At sixteen I thought the most attractive thing about my future husband would be how attractive he actually was.

And I was hardly convinced that I wanted my spouse to love God more than he loved me. I think I was pretty anxious to edge God out of that first place position.

Now, and only after fourteen years of marriage, I think I may just be starting to understand the concept. A little. (Ask me why I make things harder than they need to be. And I answer - I don't know.)

It's so simple.

And so complicated.

When I love God (When I love Him well. When I love Him right.) everything in my life can find its proper place. Peace. Shalom.

When I love God better, I love Kevin better. I love my children better. I love people better. I just love better.

So if I really love my husband, why would I ask God for anything else?

14 November 2009

My Blue Eyed Boy


Do you know what song I have been in love with lately?

"Hard Rain's Gonna Fall". By Bob Dylan. Performed by Jason Mraz.

And I listened to it this morning as I took my bi-monthly run. (Or maybe I should call it my bi-monthly shuffle-my-feet-only-slightly-speedier-than-I-walk.)

I like the line about my blue-eyed son and my darling young one.

Which made me think about my little Wilde Fox of a son, conquering milestones left and right.

Eating too many new foods to count - like peas and sweet potatoes and pears. And not turning up his tiny pert nose at any of them.

Responding to our voices and our expressions and freely offering his face-altering, flat-lined grin at almost anything we say.

And now his latest feat.

Lifting that wee belly right off of the crib and pushing up securely on all fours.
Downright adorable. The very definition of it.

He may be Number Six Keigley Kid, which may imply busier parents, hand-me-down toys and already-been-worn clothes. But that Six ranking also most certainly means more love from so many more faces, hands and arms.

This kid is loved. Very well.

And there is simply no way he will not know that fact.

I hope he rests in it. I hope he rejoices in it. Finds comfort in it.

I hope this love, this abundant overflow of love that drips on his sweet life will point him to the love, the greatest love, of a God who decisively placed this minuscule man in our home.

My blue-eyed boy. My darling young one.

12 November 2009

The Greatest Obstacle



Do you want to know what my biggest parenting challenge is?

Let me start but telling you what it is not.

It is not

determining which homeschool curriculum to use

or even the decision whether or not to actually homeschool these children at all.

It is not preparing daily breakfasts, lunches and dinners with variety and healthy eating habits in mind.

It is not

balancing the demands of six children, a messy house, overflowing laundry, marriage and friendships.

It is not

determining the best course of discipline appropriate for six different humans.


No.

It isn't any of those things.


My biggest parenting challenge is this . . .

With five children under the age of six all together on every day outings to the grocery store, museums, farms, nature hikes and more -

How am I supposed to use a public restroom?

11 November 2009

Afternoon



This past weekend Riley volunteered to help at a local Farm Day with her classmates.

The farm was beautiful. The barns and the mountain views made me miss sweet Virginia.

The smell of the hay barn even made me miss the dairy farm on which I grew up.

London, Mosely and Bergen passed around bunnies that were so cute I almost wanted one.

Almost.

Because I had bunnies when I was a kid.

My little brother and I had matching white fluffy ones. Trapper and Whatever-Douglas-Named-His. My cousin Mark jumped into their pen once when he was visiting. He landed on Trapper, my bunny. Hard. It died. Since the bunnies were difficult to tell apart, I told Douglas that his rabbit was dead. He believed me.

I didn't confess my ten-year-old sin until we were both well into our twenties.

Sorry Douglas.

We were escorted from the parking lot to the farm site on an extended golf cart that the kids thought was just part of the fun. Mosely and London enjoyed face painting from Kendall. They all rode a horse around a small circle. (And imagine themselves cowboys now I think.) There was a rope swing with a feed bag attached to the bottom and boys assigned to push the kids on it. That was a big hit. Bergen was most excited about using an old-fashioned washing tub and wringer. He cranked that little thing with such intensity. And (Girl Staff) Riley carried Curious George around for Bergen all afternoon.

It was supposed to be a quick trip to pick up Riley from a volunteer day, but it turned into such a nice surprise.

I like when that happens.

10 November 2009

seriously.


Oh Man.

After this morning's Bible study, I had a small window of time to get back to our house, grab a quick lunch for everyone (and by "grab" I mean "Mommy has to assemble") and get everyone back in the car and headed in the opposite direction to the afternoon's art lessons.

It was raining. Time was limited. I had five children with me.

I knew it was a recipe for disaster.

But I had no idea how violently it would all break down.

The kids got corralled in, stepping in each puddle and muddy inch in the yard and splash their wet selves across the sun room floor.

Thankfully the kind ladies at the nursery had given Wilder a bottle, which bought me a few minutes to slice an apple and set out some pickles per London's lunch request.

Nursed Wilder. Then fed him his mushy bananas. (I am always glad when my babies begin solid food, but sad too because the meal process becomes so much more involved.)

Changed Piper Finn's diaper and then began slapping peanut butter on sandwiches that kids could eat in the car.

London announced that Magnus was in the car. (Didn't bother to ask how this happened, just passed her a dog biscuit to lure him out.)

Heard Piper screaming. Magnus had stolen her sandwich. "Mommy, please make me another one?" she asked.

I did.

Grabbed my bag and began putting poor Wilder back in his car seat.

Screams.

Magnus ate Piper's second sandwich.

Seriously?

"Mommy, can you please make me another san'wich?"

I did.

Attempted to get five set of small feet out of the door.

Watched Magnus barrel back into the house, knock Bergen over and attempt to grab Bergen's sandwich from the poor boy's very lips.

Forced Magnus out of the house in a less than godly manner using less than godly words that were less than quiet and less than appropriate.

Reached for my own sandwich and watched mustard fall onto my skirt.

Trudged through the rain carrying Wilder and my bag.

Wrestled Piper's eagle and Mosley's blanket away from Magnus at least three separate times.

Grew impatient watching two little girls struggle to enter the Suburban while holding umbrellas.

At long last, started the vehicle and hit the road.

From the backseat, I see Piper's peanut buttery hand reach toward me holding her crumpled sandwich and hear her say,

"I don't care for this anymore Mommy."

08 November 2009

One Thing Leads To Another



Ups and downs.

Highs and lows.

This and that.

A chain of events that

connects

one thing

to

another.


We were in the car on the way to the bank.

Piper threw up in the car again. (Is this a pattern?)

I turned the car around, errands never completed. I unbuckled the entire car seat, with the sticky, smelly two-year-old still buckled in, and set it all on the driveway. I left the car seat outside and carried the little Finnian directly in to the bathtub.

I forgot about the car seat.

Magnus did not.

Riley (or as our kids call her - Girl Staff Riley, not to be confused with Riley Our Sister) and Caitlyn came for a weekend visit.

We laughed. They burned cookies. We watched silly shows. They stayed with the wee ones while Kevin and I drove to pick up the finally repaired Tahoe. We caught up on the details of our lives. They helped entertain the young crowd of kids at our house. We moved furniture. (Yes, I disobeyed London's No Moving Furniture rule. Hey, I'm in charge here - right?)

In other words, I was rather distracted.

Which gave Magnus ample opportunity to eat Piper's car seat.

Well, not eat exactly. But solidly destroy, mangle or otherwise make said car seat unsafe for toddler transportation.

And the girls happily and kindly offered to stay at the house while I bought a new car seat.

Apparently I stayed distracted at the store as well.

Perhaps I was confused by the unusual calm surrounding me as I paid for my groceries and car seat. But I walked away from the cash register only to hear feet running behind me. It was my cashier. His name was Josh. He was carrying the milk I had forgotten to put in the grocery cart. I thanked him and headed to the car. I was out in the parking lot, approaching my car at the very end where I had parked. I heard feet running behind me. It was my cashier. Josh. Carrying the bananas I had left behind at the check out line.

Good grief.

But, on the bright side, I now appreciate Josh. I have a newly arranged living room. I listened to a really great CD loaned to me by Riley and discovered a fantastic little pair of musicians named Jenny & Tyler. And I basked in the kindness of two summer staffers who showed us love in action.

All because Piper threw up.