30 May 2009

Be Still

For the first few days of his life, Otto Fox Wilder spit up what looked like the entire contents of his tiny meal at every nursing.

At his first doctor's appointment at only four days old, he had already lost a substantial amount of weight. It seemed as if the little man just couldn't keep his food in his new tummy.

For the next two days I tried a new tactic. When he nursed, I kept him sitting in an upright position. After each feeding Riley or Kevin or I would hold him upright for twenty to thirty minutes following nursing. We figured maybe gravity just needed to work its magic to keep his consumed milk in its proper place.

Two days later we went back to the doctor for a weigh in. It worked! He had a little weight gain, enough to relieve some of the concern and to wait another week to check on him again. The doctor thinks maybe his stomach muscle is just not working properly yet.

What this means, of course, is that since it DID work, then that pattern was the new standard. And nursing times when I thought maybe the extra sit up time was unneeded, Otto quickly proved me wrong - by spewing his breakfast all over both of us.

Just nursing a newborn is a pretty time consuming task, as we all know. Add to that an additional thirty minutes per nursing session to just hold this sweet little fellow upright and it seems as if my days are preoccupied with.....sitting down. Which, in theory, may be a nice thing, but in the reality of a house filled with many small people, is quite an unpractical demand.

It occurred to me today, however, that maybe this is a blessing for me. Wilder is definitely the last Keigley baby. (I know, I know. We said that with Piper - but this time we're serious. I promise. Don't ask me for details, just trust me, okay?) And he's a child born sixth in the house. That number probably guarantees a certain level of previous commitments on the parents' parts, right? So this forced sit-down, forced cuddle, forced extra alone time is like a gift. A gift to both of us. A gift to whomever has the privilege of holding him quietly for thirty minutes. A gift of time and attention. A sweet surprise.

And it fits perfectly with what I think God has been trying to pound into my ever-thickening skull for a weary while now . . . be still. Just be still. Quit doing everything. Just be still.

So I sit with my newest son for many, many hours every day as happy chaos swirls around us, beside us and sometimes even below us. I just sit. And I will try to be still.

29 May 2009

My To-Do List

I like lists.
(And the photo of Mosely has nothing to do with that. I just think everyone should look at my kids more often. )

As a kid I made loads of lists. Lists of my favorite names (I was collecting them even back then.) Lists of my favorite books. Lists of places I liked to eat, places I wanted to visit, stuff I liked to collect. I had lists of my stuffed animals' names and everyone I could remember having ever met. (Seriously.)

I typed my lists out on my cool Smith Corona typewriter. I loved that little piece of technology.

All this to say, it is no surprise that I am still an avid list maker today. I keep a list of the novels I have read and the novels I would like to read. I am sure I could locate dozens of baby name lists. I just made a list recently of all the free or cheap summer entertainment ideas for the kids. (I haven't made a list of every person I have ever met in a long time though - in case you were wondering.)

And each week I make a to-do list. (Doesn't everyone?)

But here's the thing. My to-do list is lame lately. So lame, in fact, that I noticed that I had actually written down on my list --- boil eggs.

What? I have to remind myself to boil eggs?

Well, yes.

Having that activity make my to-do list told me two things. One, my memory is pitifully over-taxed right now. Two, I think I am a pretty boring person these days.

My life feels.....uh......pretty mundane.

I think about sleep. A lot. I prepare a great deal of food and then clean up that said food waste. I do so much laundry that I spend more time with my lovely black Kenmore than my spouse. I feed Otto Fox. Frequently. I break up arguments and direct child play. I loosely monitor Riley's end of year school work. (More loosely these days than I care to confess.) Sometimes I take a shower. Usually at a bizarre time. Piper and Otto get their bums changed regularly and that's my area of expertise. And, oh yeah, I boil eggs. (When I write it down.)

Mostly this realization makes me feel sorry for myself. And that's not how I want to spend my thoughts. And I don't want my kids to grow up thinking that their mother believes their care and maintenance is drudgery or unfulfilling labor. So as I struggle with these ideas daily, I think about the following quotes. Maybe you need to read them too. Or maybe not. But here they are.

"Ordinary work, which is what most of us do most of the time, is ordained by God every bit as much as is the extraordinary. All work done for God is spiritual work and therefore not merely a duty but a holy privilege." - Elisabeth Elliot

"This is what he has given us to do, this task here on this earth, not the task we aspired to do, but this one. The absurdities involved cut us down to size. The great discrepancy between what we envisioned and what we've got force us to be real." - Elisabeth Elliot

"Great thoughts go best with common duties. Whatever therefore may be your office regard it as a fragment in an immeasurable ministry of love." - Bishop Brooke Foss Westcott

"Let us practice the fine art of making every work a priestly ministration. Let us believe that God is in all our simple deeds and learn to find Him there." - A.W. Tozer

26 May 2009

The Experience

Some Great Things About the Birthing Experience

Uh . . .

The dining staff did bring us a cake and a bottle of sparkling cider afterwards. (Of which I did not partake from either. I think the Look Up Lodge summer staffers may have, however. It's okay, guys. I really didn't want it anyway.)

The remote control to myself ? No. I didn't even want to watch endless, mindless television. I was pretty sleepy.

The doctor's anatomy lesson directly following the birth of my beautiful son. Gosh, I wish I could really go into details here but I am not entirely sure who reads this blog and I don't want to gross anyone out or offend their genteel sensibilities. (Just be sure to ask me later because it was weird and funny, but surprisingly interesting.)

Well, sure - the exact moment AFTER Otto Fox Wilder made the journey from IN the womb to OUT of the womb. He's much cuter out here!

Some Less Than Great Things About the Birthing Experience

How about the experience itself ? I mean, let's be honest here. It really hurts. And it lasts a while. And it's really painful. And then there are the pains AFTER childbirth. But we won't get into all that. Suffice it to say, it's less than great.

A bed with the jerkiest up and down button ever. I want to lie down and so . . . . bump, ouch, ache . . . here we go. Up? Crunch, shake, jerk, jerk . Oops. Shoot. Too far up. Here we go again.

The hospital food. Cocoa Puffs for breakfast. Unsweetened tea at every meal and a carton of white milk. Like in a grade school cafeteria. It's the Labor and Delivery unit, for goodness sake. Why do you think we are all here? Shouldn't the food at least attempt to reflect a grown up's choices?

The fact that some nurse comes in, bless her heart, every two minutes throughout the already sleepless night and pokes and prods you, takes your temperature with the world's slowest thermometer (why can't a hospital and research money do something about THAT?), takes your blood pressure from the same arm that is aching from the IV and pushes your distended belly using creep-out words like "fundus" every other second.

(By the way, I'm pretty sure I spelled "fundus" wrong. But I tried looking it up in a dictionary - a real live dictionary - but could not locate the word. Is it some crazy "ph" spelling or something? Was my nurse very Southern and mispronounced the word the entire time? I don't know.)

25 May 2009

Little Buff Wearer


On his arrival day at our house, Little Otto dressed in style - with his own new baby buff!

Otto Fox Wilder McDonald Keigley slept like a champ his first night home - he crashed out in his sweet little Moses basket, all swaddled by the swaddling professional (aka as Daddy).

First, thanks and thanks and more thanks to Aunt Emma and Cole and Beck who came to the rescue and stayed at the house and played with the Keigley kids. Apologies to Beckett from Piper. I heard she was a little rough. That's not how girls are supposed to be. We'll be working on that! Until then, Beck - remember that Piper loves you!

And as for the name...... what a difficult decision it was.

You want the breakdown? Of course you do.

Otto ---- This little guy was a survivor from that start. Not to give too many details, but this guy was a complete surprise. And both the doctors and myself were sure I was having a miscarriage so it was shock all around when a viable heartbeat was discerned. But there he was. And he has remained strong and healthy - a little miracle like all newborn babies. But we wanted to name him after a genuine survivor with a strong name - Otto Frank was Anne Frank's father and not only did he physically survive the Holocaust and the crushing loss of his entire family, he thrived after the war ended. He carved a new life for himself, marrying again and raising a step-daughter, Eva Schloss, whom Riley and I had the privilege of meeting several years ago at a theatre performance about her life.

Fox ---- A name we both just really liked. And we liked the idea of having a Fox and a Hawke!

Wilder ---- Always a literary choice in any Keigley name. This one is for Almanzo and Laura Ingalls Wilder of Little House on the Prairie fame. We love that book series and the resilience of the pioneer people.

McDonald ---- The maiden name of Kevin's mother.

20 May 2009

The Littlest of the Little Keigleys

Soooo, barring any unforeseen early arrival plans, the newest Keigley should be joining our fold on Friday, May 22.

I don't know what that means for this blog, but I'm pretty sure I know what that means for me.

To my six followers (I am impressed that there are six of you actually - thanks!) - I will add a photo of the little guy as soon as I am able. ("As soon as I am able" should be left wide open for personal interpretation.)

Emma, if you read this and e-mail me one of the pregnancy photos you so graciously forced me to take - I'll stick that up here as the "before" shot. haha.

18 May 2009

Through Little Mister's Eyes

Everything is an adventure to Bergen Hawkeye. Every piece of furniture provides a leaping off point. Every line painted on the pavement is a jumping challenge. Anything higher than his knee is an opportunity to test his swinging strength. Hopping out of the car is a contact sport. He doesn't just look over the edge of a counter - he scales the counter first to see what experience lies on the other side.

For Bergen, all movement must be forward. Every obstacle can, and should, be climbed. Time is on his side. Deadlines matter not at all to him. You need to be on time for an appointment? What does that mean to him? Didn't you see that rock by the door? It must be conquered. It must.

16 May 2009

Rule Breaking

Before I had children, I had a lot of good ideas concerning how to raise small people.

Now that I have children, I guess I still have some okay ideas about what SHOULD be done, but my theories have not always aligned with my actions.

We have broken a lot of our own self-imposed Child Rearing Rules. And it seems like the more kids we have, the more rules we break.

At London's first birthday party she was offered an organic, sugar free tower of stacked, neutral-colored "cakes", consisting primarily of carrots and wheat germ. At Piper's first birthday party she had a tower of box-mix cake layered with pink and purple sugar-laden icing.

Some days, when the kids request a special "PJ Day", I let them stay in their pajamas all day long. And then sleep in the same pajamas that evening. What a time saver!

I think last summer we had watermelon as an entire meal more than once.

I allowed Piper Finn, not even two years old yet, to consume a root beer flavored lollipop in the grocery store this week.

I'm pretty sure I am not alone in the rule-breaking way of life. What parenting "rules" have you let slide when real life meets idealism?

14 May 2009

This Bowl

Growing up, every spring for longer than I can possibly remember, my mother made strawberry jam. It was delicious. We never had Smuckers at our house, we only had homemade strawberry jam.

I am not entirely domestic, but the strawberry jam tradition has been one I really wanted to continue.

Now, every spring I find myself picking strawberries and making oodles of batches of what my husband refers to as "red gold".

I don't buy Smuckers for this house either - I prefer the fresh strawberry goodness.

Here's the funny thing. Many years ago my mother gave me the particular bowl in which she always prepared her strawberry jam. (Which I think implied I was to begin making jam for her too!) So I began using the same bowl, wrapped up in the nostalgia of the idea of generations of jam being stirred in the exact same bowl.

But the bowl is really heavy. Too big for the task at hand, really. And cumbersome for pouring. Overall, it's really the wrong choice. But I keep using the same bowl anyway. Every year.

I'm okay with this though. I'm okay with spending more effort to do the same job because I like using my mother's bowl. I like the idea that my mom was standing in some kitchen, surrounded by the change that many moves and many young children and many years of life had brought into her world but there was this one little object that never changed. This silly, heavy bowl remained the same. Different house. Different kitchen. Different year. Different chaos. Different strawberry patch. Same bowl.

I like to imagine my many daughters passing this cumbersome keepsake around their homes year after year so that they too can carry on the tradition of spring strawberry jam in the same bowl. A tiny constant in a sea of change.

12 May 2009

Cannon ball!

Lately, when Bergen takes a dive onto our big red slacker sack in the living room, he shouts, "COTTON BALL!"

(The image of the splash a cottonball would make into a pool of water never fails to amuse me.)

11 May 2009

This One

I just don't know if you have seen enough of this kid lately.

At dinner Mosely is frequently guilty of bringing her prized blanket to the table. Blankets are not allowed at the Keigley meal table. (Yes, that is a real rule at our house.)

Kevin told her to store it somewhere special so she would not misplace it.

With great pomp, Mosely arose from the table, carried her blanket across the kitchen and opened the china cabinet. She lovingly placed her blanket on the shelf so she could see it through the glass doors during the entire meal.

10 May 2009

Little Red Wagons

I like word pictures. I like analogies. (Kevin likes metaphors.) I think it's all the same way of saying - we like words.


I just heard a good word picture on the radio this week that I am going to shamelessly steal and use as my own. (It was said by some former basketball star of the olden days. Whatever.)

The idea was this . . . everyone has baggage that follows them around, baggage that they are carrying from the past - hurts, wounds, preconceptions, ideals, opinions - the stuff that makes us say what we say and do what we do. Our explanations, if you will. The guy on the radio called these little red wagons. And everyone is pulling one.

When we meet people we sometimes forget that they have a history outside of us. And that history affects how they live and it will affect how they treat us and how they respond to us. And when we forget that each person comes to us pulling a little red wagon, we begin to take everything personally. We begin to believe their reactions are about us. All about us. When they usually are not.

So we stand there and let someone else's old baggage hurt us, offend us, wound us - when it was never really about us to begin with. It was their little red wagon, not ours.

I decided two things while listening to this. One, I plan to use this analogy to help explain to my kids why people do and say hurtful things sometimes. And two, I don't really want to keep allowing other people's little red wagons to so dramatically affect me.

08 May 2009

What Should I Have Done?

So this is a weird thing.

Riley and Kevin had a race to run together tonight. The kids and I joined them for moral support and good times.

While waiting for them to finish the race we enjoyed the bouncy inflatables set up in the nearby field. As the kids hopped and jumped, I noticed a lady wearing running gear, with her number pinned on, anxiously surveying the scene as her son flitted through the bouncies. She made eye contact with me several times and I just had this odd feeling..... I just expected her to ask me to watch her child.

My mind began swirling. Should I watch this stranger's child for an entire race? How crazy is that? What should I do? What should I say?

Sure enough, she approached me about ten seconds before the gun was scheduled to go off. "Are you going to be here for a while?" she asked.

"Well, no, we aren't really," was my pitiful reply. (And we weren't. Really.)

She then located her little boy, who could not have been older than five at the most, passed him her cell phone and instructed him to call her if he needed her and then walked away. "Stay at the bouncies until I get back. Just stay here," she called to him.

Uh. That wasn't right. What in the world?

So I kept my eyes on the kid as long as we were there. Then Bergen had to use the bathroom. I checked my watch. Noticed what the kid was wearing and took our children to the bathroom. When we walked back, the stranger's son was nowhere. I looked. A lot.

As I led the kids over to the face painting tent, I kept looking. No sight of him.

On to the hot dogs and chips tent. No boy anywhere.

Finally, after the popcorn tent (what a night for our kids!) I saw the little guy. Wandering aimlessly through the field. Eating a bag of popcorn. Alone. With a painted face.

After the race I did see him with his mother and breathed a secret sigh of relief for the danger she had luckily avoided.

But what should I have done? What would have been the right course of action? And what is going on in your mind to leave your kindergartner alone at race with such unpredictable variables?

07 May 2009

Whose Idea Was This?

Potty Training.

It's really a funnier topic than we think.

Who thought up the idea of that little plastic miniature toilet-thing that is designed to sit in your bathroom to entice your child to defecate into it?

At the beginning of our potty training experience we purchased one of those fabricated devices because it seemed as if that was the choice everyone should make. We didn't think through the purchase thoroughly, I guess. We set it up in the bathroom and London did what we asked - she deposited her poop and pee inside the plastic enclosure.

And that's when it dawned on me.

So now what? There is no flushing handle on that thing, you know. Hmmm. So this meant that I had to pick up the plastic bowl and try to scrape or dump or shake or otherwise transfer the excrement and urine into another bowl. Gross. And it isn't as if the exchange was neat and tidy. It doesn't slide well. And then you can't just leave the scrapings and residue inside the plastic fake toilet. You have to clean that out too?? But where? In the too small, shell-shaped bathroom sink? In the bathtub? In the kitchen sink?

That was the first and the last time we used the miniature toilet. It just seemed like more work than simply teaching our children to sit carefully on the regular toilet, where the magic handle takes care of every little problem that proceeds from the bum. And I don't have to deal so directly with solid and liquid waste. I've done enough of that already.

05 May 2009

What It All Comes Down To

Why do we say the things we say to children?

No wonder they grow up a bit confused and have to find out so much for themselves in the long run anyway.

The breakfast table topic this morning was birthdays - whose was next and what that child wanted to do. In our house, that discussion always leads to a discussion involving Chuck E. Cheese's. (We've only dared enter that establishment twice in our children's lives, but it has unfortunately clearly made a large impression.)

As they bantered about the games, the ball pit and the pizza that you can eat while watching a show, London wisely surmised the experience . . . and called us out on our society's breaking of one of the cardinal rules preached to children.

"You know, right before you leave the restaurant and Chuck E. Cheese comes over to give you a hug? He's just a guy dressed in a costume so we are really just hugging a stranger."

03 May 2009

Read This

Read this ...... it's better than anything I could put up here anyway.

All this is flashy rhetoric about loving you.
I never had a selfless thought since I was born.
I am mercenary and self-serving through and through;
I want God, you, all friends, merely to serve my turn.

Peace, reassurance, pleasure are the goals I seek,
I cannot crawl one inch outside my proper skin;
I talk of love - a scholar's parrot may talk Greek -
But, self-imprisoned, always end where I begin.

- C.S. Lewis