31 August 2009


"Manners are made up of petty sacrifices." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

It really is the little things.

While walking recently with the kids, I found myself just like them - tired, sweaty and sleepy. My arms were already full when Bergen asked me, "Mom, will you please carry my towel?" I took the towel but I didn't really want to. "Thank you Mommy for carrying my towel," Bergen said to me. And just like that, the load seemed lighter. I really didn't mind carrying the extra towel. Because he said "thank you".

Kevin has made it a priority to train our children to be appreciative of the meals I prepare for them. Rarely do we sit down to the table any longer without hearing one child pipe up with "Thank you for this dinner Mommy. It is delicious." And then lots of other little voices echo the same, right down to Piper - "Ank ewww mah-meee". Even if the only things on their plates are peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and grapes. But their sweet praise is really enough to make the endless dinner preparations seem worth the effort.

I hope my children's manners don't just apply at home. I want to raise polite children who become polite adults. I want them to look into the eyes of the cashier at Publix when they buy their groceries. I want them to sincerely apologize when they make a mistake at work. I want them to put others first, to be kind to those less fortunate, to not condemn people who look different.

And I am pretty convinced that the best place to practice and to learn common courtesy when you least feel like it, when it serves your needs the least, is right here. At home.

29 August 2009


I love the random juxtaposition of the songs that flow from my iPod when it is on the shuffle setting.

I'll be floating along to the sounds of "Three Little Birds" by Bob Marley and then suffer whiplash when Amy Ray shouts on about Johnny Rotten. The Cure's "Pictures of You" takes me back to the old days and then the Carpenters' "Close to You" comes on to remind me of the even older days.

I mean, really - where else but my iPod shuffle world can Dan Tyminski follow the Grateful Dead?

I like to imagine all of these musicians lined up in some sort of concert hall, waiting for their big moment in the spotlight. (A concert hall tiny enough to fit inside my little yellow Nano. It's my imagination - okay?)

Jack Johnson is leaning against the wall when Johnny Cash and his pal Nelly Furtado amble on over to check out his sounds. In another corner, especially if the gang goes in alphabetical order, Paul McCartney and Pearl Jam are tuning their instruments together. And don't forget Natalie Merchant. I think she and Chris LeDoux might be romantically involved.

It's an equal opportunity iPod. It doesn't matter if you have only one song or sixty four songs - everyone has a chance to be in on the shuffle. Bono will happily provide an encore for the Hawpatch Mountain Boys. There is no ego here. Nathan Heffington can open for R.E.M. It's all good.

28 August 2009

No Longer

No longer will I pass judgement upon you when I hear your kid screaming six aisles over while shopping at Wal-Mart. Perhaps you have just run over your daughter's hand with the grocery cart and that is the reason for her ear-piercing wails.

No longer will I assume you are lazy when I see you leave your shopping cart in the parking lot, far away from the cart return place. Maybe you just left the store without finishing your full purchasing potential because your daughter's hand was crushed and your infant son needed to eat and your six year old daughter had just informed you that your toddler's car seat had not actually been attached to the car's seat belt for the entire length of the ride to the grocery store and returning that %$@# cart was just the last thing you really cared about doing right then.

No longer will I question your fashion sense when you are that lady who is awkwardly wearing sunglasses on over her regular glasses. Maybe your lousy right eye has been irritated for two days so you cannot possibly wear your contacts and the bright sunlight severely inhibits your ability to drive safely and you have stayed at home as long as you could and now you just need to get to the grocery store so you can accidentally run over your daughter's hand, put your toddler in danger by failing to recheck the car seat, cause your infant son hunger by delaying his morning nursing and give the grocery store employee a reason to hate humanity by leaving your shopping cart two hundred feet away from the return cart station.

27 August 2009

Birthday Dos

A lot of my pictures recently seem to be of this kid. But she's just so darn cute.

And today there are more shots of Little Willow. Because it's a big day. She turns two today.

Piper, you're a pretty cool kid. I like how you ask me to sing your special song every night. "Bennnnd Will-whoa". And I think it's hilarious how you wander around the house singing, "We will ROCK you!"

Your stuffed eagle is still your absolute favorite toy and companion. He's filthy and you have a particular way in which you hold him - upside down so you can caress his tail feathers all day long. (What you don't know is - Daddy located two back up eagles in case you ever lose that guy and they are hidden in our bedroom even as I type this.)

I have never known another two year old with a memory for names and faces like yours. You recall more than 30 Look Up Lodge staffers and say their names when you see them, even in photographs. Not to mention the myriad of other people you recognize and love. And you freely share high fives and rocks with anyone who offers them to you first.

And your laugh. Oh, your laugh. It is sweet and adorable. Bergen does dramatic free falls just to hear it. (And you always oblige.) You have even mastered the fake laugh. And the fake cry.

I think your daddy would eat you if that was allowed in polite society and was not really weird and wrong. He calls you Little Munch because you are so tasty. His favorite word that you say is "gah-in" [again] and you say this after every silly face he makes at you during dinner.

You're pretty popular among your siblings as well. Bergen asks every morning if he can wake you up for a little cuddling. (I don't usually deny this request.) London thinks choosing your clothes is a special privilege. Mosely refers to you as "Pipes". You and Otto are the only Keigleys that Riley requests to babysit.

I think the point here is clear - we love you!

Happy Second Birthday Piper Finnian Willow Lacey Keigley!

26 August 2009

This Body

Some days I survey my own body and I am not exactly pleased with what I see. I begin to play the ultra-damaging Compare Game. Particularly when I find myself on a sandy beach surrounded by bodies. Barely clothed, flesh-in-excess bodies.

So I find myself playing The Game. I pick apart body parts, compare my untanned self to the perfectly tanned supermodel splashing near me. I realize I am too short and too flabby. I think I am not toned enough, my hair is the wrong color. Are my ears even aligned correctly? Why can't I have a little more here and a little less there?

When I surrender to this slippery slope of self-pity, I pretty much am ready to volunteer for the kids to bury me neck-deep in the sand and just leave me there.

I know I need a reality check and I know I cannot rely on anyone else to pull me from this sand pit I volunteered for, so I try to remind myself of some truths.

These are not in order of importance.

Guess whose image I am made in? And I can basically guarantee that the point of that copycat image is not the outside covering. It's not all about the way I look in my mirror. Thank you God that there is a holier standard than that.

My beauty should not come from the stuff I drape across my body. I believe the exact words are your beauty should be "that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." So the tan will fade, the body will sag, the ears may indeed be wrongly aligned, but the gentle and quiet spirit will not fade. Oh, I like that. A beauty that lasts. And doesn't change from season to season like the whims of fashion.

And there's another one too. This body, this God-designed, ear misaligned, shorter than I would like, body has done some incredibly amazing things. It has been remarkably healthy for thirty-six years. It has navigated me through years of highs and lows and neutrals. And, most impressive of all, this body that I continually take for granted and disparage at will, has supported the very life of four magnificent little humans. They could not exist without it. What's more, this body has sustained those four little lives for the better part of four years in total as those tiny humans grew and thrived from this body's nourishment.

It's not just a body, really. It's a miracle.

I guess it all depends on how you define beautiful.

Now that's the kind of truth I need to drag my sorry self out of the sand pit I dug and to embrace this body and all its features, good and bad, saggy or toned, big and small.

24 August 2009

Just What We Needed

You know when you reserve a beach house from looking at photos online, you never really know exactly what you will get.

After a day in the car, as soon as our gang pulled in the driveway at our new casa for the week, we all stumbled out of our bursting Suburban and looked for the water. It's what we came all this way for anyway, right?

Walking down the picturesque stroll (per the website's description) we saw ahead of us the shore and the ocean. Hooray! Upon closer inspection we realized the waves were not exactly crashing onto the sand as we had imagined. Oh and there was land on the other side, faraway but visible nonetheless. Wait, this wasn't the ocean, exactly. It was an inlet.

Honestly, I was a little disappointed.

I like the endless vast view into nothingness that the ocean provides. I didn't want to see land at all. Even if it was the rather interesting Fort Pulaski.

And the waves seemed a little lackluster. Where were those white caps? Where was the distinct, repetitive, soothing sound of water smacking sand over and over and over?

I think Riley was a little bummed too. There were not many people wandering on this part of the shore. (And by many people, I think she was looking for boys. You know, like all the Disney shows portray a beach vacation.)

So I held a bit of secret sadness in my heart. I found myself wishing for what we didn't have, longing to be somewhere just a little bit better.

(Hmmm. Does anyone know where this is going?)

The second day at Tybee gave me a little more perspective though. We headed over to the "it" beach. The one with the pavilion with ice cold drinks, sidewalk shops, huge waves and hordes of people.

It was not all we expected. Nor all we desired.

Bergen was terrified of the waves. He just ran away from them. And cried. Loudly. Not what I would call fun for the family. Piper took her cues from him. Well, the loud crying part. Not the running. She just stood still while the waves hit. Crying. Loudly. Let me repeat - not fun for the family. We couldn't let Wilder rest in his stroller for fear of his body colliding with a tossed football or running strangers. Who were everywhere. A drunk stranger sat down beside Riley and I on a bench one night. He - uh - invaded our personal space. And he smelled funny.

So the beach I thought I had really wanted, the beach I was disappointed not to discover at our front door, was not the beach I thought. It was not the beach we needed.

In fact, what we needed, what fit our family to a tee, was right down our picturesque stroll. Where it had always been. Where we were supposed to be. All along.

And the last day, on our very own little inlet, the dolphins I had talked about seeing all summer appeared in abundance for us. More than twenty of them. Splashing near us. Frolicking. For us. Unexpected. Beautiful.

Just what we needed.

Funny how God provides. On vacation. In our lives. Not exactly what we planned. Not granting our every wish or fulfilling our every desire. Instead, knowing us better than we know ourselves, He keeps giving us just what we need.

Sometimes when we don't even ask for it.

Usually when we protest it.

What He knows we need.

And how much better it all looks when we come around to His way of thinking.

23 August 2009

Is She the One?

Growing up on a dairy farm with pesky cows whose bodies demanded a milking twice every day lest they implode (or so I believed), our family was not able to take very many vacations. (That, and the fact that milking cows is not a consistently lucrative lifestyle.)

The family outings we did take, however, were memorable and exciting even though the location was a simple one - camping on the Bull Pasture River in Virginia's beautiful Shenandoah Valley. We always stashed our watermelon in the creek, always took a photo by the swinging bridge, always brought inner tubes for floating, always ate pancakes cooked on a propane-powered camp stove. Our drive wasn't complete without a first stop at Vance's Country Store for maple candy and a little local-news-chit-chat. We used to always buy canned pudding at a local market until The Butterscotch Incident of 1983. (If you were in that pop-up camper, you remember. My apologies, boys!)

Although I have no desire to duplicate everything about those Eibert Camping Adventures, there are aspects I long for my own family now to enjoy and appreciate. Like anticipating return trips where you always discover something new along with the familiar. And hearing stories about the Year of the Flat Tire or the Year We Saw the Bear. Like recognizing landmarks that remind you that you are almost there. Like knowing one place, besides home, as "your" town.

Our family has been in search of a vacation spot like that for a number of years. And up until now, it seemed we still hadn't found what we were looking for.

Until last week.

Tybee Island is in a perfect location for us - only four and a half hours away. Even with a nursing infant, that's not a bad drive. On the island we discovered both a pizza place and an ice cream parlour to suit every family member's tastes. The beach front featured big waves for Riley and just down the shore next to no waves for Bergen. Plus, it is right beside Savannah, Georgia. And what's not to love about Savannah? Interesting history. Gorgeous hanging Spanish moss. Old mansions. Delicious restaurants. Cool riverfront. Beautiful garden squares. Mysterious mansions.

Yes. I think we have found "our" place.

Tybee Island - she's the one.

(And oh, the stories I have to tell you. A week of not writing has been great - ideas have filled up my super cute red and white dotted journal that my sweet Riley gave to me. Beach blog entries galore - you'll see.)

15 August 2009

See Ya' Later

Camp is over.

We've said goodbye to summer staffers.

Now it's time to say goodbye to you guys.

But don't worry.

It's not forever. Just for a week.

We're headed to the beach and we're leaving behind the computer and we're not checking facebook or updating blogs or checking e-mail.

Instead, we'll be checking out each other.

We plan to swim and to splash and to explore. To sleep late. To eat crazy prepackaged foods like Pop-tarts and Spaghettio-'s. We'll let the kid watch extra movies and we'll eat out at restaurants like Moon River and the Crab Shack.

I hope we see dolphins and turtles and a big lighthouse. I hope we see our kids laugh until they cry. And love one another's company.

I hope we hear ocean waves and the simple sounds of birds and breezes blowing through palm trees. I hope we hear giggles and stories.

And you can be sure, when we come back, after the laundry and the last minute school preparations, I'll be telling you all about it.

11 August 2009


Happy Anniversary to us!

10 August 2009

You've Got Mail

Every day when we check the little black mail box at our home, the kids ask, "Who got mail?" (Disregard the poor grammar.)

And when the answer is usually someone other than themselves, their little faces turn downcast and they wonder aloud why only mommy and daddy get letters every day.

These guys already know the significance of a Real Letter.

I have about three friends with whom I (almost) regularly exchange genuine letters. And it is a highlight of my week to receive one of those beautifully hand written envelopes in the mail.

I get almost giddy. And I never rip it open right away while I am still in the car. I wait until I can actually sit down, which is sometimes several hours post receiving said letter. And then I open the letter and unfold the many pages. (Yes, many pages. These friends are good like that.)

Even the feel of the paper is pleasant. Words appearing in perfect balance on a screen just don't convey the same level of emotion as words penned in ink and scrawled across a page with character and personal style.

You can savor a letter in a way that you just can't savor other writing.

The return letter is just as rewarding. Sitting still, using a pen (a blue one), and thinking carefully before you begin writing because you don't have the easy delete button. The only spellcheck is the one in your brain.

Yes, I can see why my children are sad when their names seldom appear on the outside of an envelope. I would be sad too.

Long live letters.

09 August 2009

Fix You

It was an offer we couldn't refuse.

Free tickets to see Coldplay.

Kevin had to work so Riley was the lucky benefactor of Ticket Number Two. (Naturally, I had already claimed Ticket Number One.)

We had a great time at the concert. (This is an understatement, of course.)

Getting to the concert was an entirely different matter. One mile to the venue parking lot took us 48 minutes to traverse.

I had to take Fox because of the whole nursing thing that he's into right now. Besides, he's a pretty big Chris Martin fan.

Before you join the ranks of the thousands of strangers who judged me that evening, let me throw this in - he wore ear plugs the entire time and he only woke up during the band's rendition of "Billie Jean" which happened to be performed by the guys of Coldplay a mere twenty feet from us out on the lawn.

(Actually, the truth is, I felt pretty guilty about taking my baby son to a rock concert. I even occasionally felt stabs of guilt about taking my fifteen year old daughter to a rock concert where a large percentage of the audience was either intoxicated or high.) Judge me if you must.

Really, the concert itself, although a jolly good time, is not exactly the intended point of this particular post.

It's about a song. And an epiphany. And it's about me. And my mistakes.

I love Coldplay's song "Fix You". It's my favorite. So I was really excited (stoked, jazzed, whatever the coolest word is these days - pretty sure those aren't it) when the melody started crashing over the audience.

I had listened to it incessantly a few years ago when it first came out when I was struggling with some life stuff. The song says something like this, "When you try your best, but you don't succeed. When you get what you want, but not what you need. When the tears come streaming down your face. When you lose something you can't replace." And there's some more lines about loss and what not and the chorus chimes in with "I will fix you".

Listening to the song sitting on the grass in Charlotte, surrounded by strangers, I realized something about that song.

About me.

In my mind, I had always associated the person "fixing" me as a regular person - at the time, my husband, in fact. And my heart's cry back then had really been for Kevin to "fix" me.

Wow. What a heavy load to dump in someone's lap, even if that someone is your spouse. The responsibility to 'fix" another person. A broken, hurting person.

And then the epiphany.

I think I have always been doing that. Looking to people to fix my greatest need. Whatever it was at the time. Oh my goodness. How stupid that is. (Or misguided, if you want a softer spin.) Like any broken person can fix another broken person. Like any created thing, human or otherwise, can fix the hole in our hearts. Like anything but God can satisfy our greatest longing to be fixed. Getting what you want but not what you need.

And I think when you put that kind of pressure on a person, especially your spouse, you both end up feeling more broken. Less fixed.

The song sounds differently to me now. I am certain I will still struggle with wanting people to fix my problems. (And I'm not saying God doesn't use people to help us. We know He does.) But I know there is no fix greater than God's. There is no cure for brokenness bigger than God. When you've tried your best, but you don't succeed.

Should I be surprised to find God at a Coldplay concert? At a concert filled with mothers who make poor judgments, sons that take unnecessary risks, daughters that seek acceptance in friends, couples that look to one another for their sole source of comfort and love?

I guess not.

Everything is spiritual, after all.

06 August 2009

Multi-Task Madness

Women are Queen Multi-Taskers.

And we have this whole network of women out there who are doing simple things better and faster. So we should collaborate a little more often - quit reinventing the wheel all the time - right?

What I am saying is - what do you do that cuts down a few of your chores every day? How do you save time or money or energy or effort in some way that you think maybe everyone else is doing, but we really aren't?

I'll go first.

It's a little one. And you may already do this. Or do this better. That's good. But here it is anyway.

There are a lot of dirty children running around this house on any given day. And only one of them showers without being reminded.

So I use bath time. And I use it well.

While the kids are enjoying their splishy-splashy I do one or many of the following activities . . .

Scrub the toilet

Wipe down the ever toothpaste stained sink

Clean the mirror (We have the best cleaner that Kevin won a case of in a golf tournament a few years back. I'll be sad when that mother load runs out. )

Jumping jacks

Lift my puny little weights

Read a novel

Make the random phone call

Paint art on the bathroom wall

Construct my grocery list

Write letters

Soak my own feet and then give myself a pedicure

These activities keep me in the room since my chaps are mostly too small to be left alone in tubs of water. I sometimes let them eat popsicles during their bath time. I often brush their teeth while they bathe.

I sort of enjoy bath time. It's pretty productive.

Now it's your turn.

05 August 2009

Some Things

This is just a photo.

Of the cutest tiny baby I have seen today.

We have been busy.

A lovely visit from Papaw and Uncle John.

A butterfly class at a children's museum for London and Mosely - worth the money to hear Mosely talk about a chrysalis.

Teaching Riley how to play Risk - and dominating her in the process.

Getting a hair cut and highlights - a first time experience for me.

Chauffeuring Riley back and forth to tutoring.

Chauffeuring Kevin back and forth to Look Up on days the rain has been too hard or the hour too late to be riding his bike on a highway. (The Tahoe is having, uh, issues.)

Shopping for groceries.

Rearranging furniture to make way to put the sewing machine up in our bedroom, even though I am terribly incompetent at that machine.

Eating sweet South Carolina peaches.

And so on and so forth.

Just enjoy gazing at this little face - the face of a fellow who is sleeping through the night! (Can you do a little dance with me, please?)

04 August 2009

Travelers Rest

It's August.

And that means something around here.

Summer camp season is almost complete.

As I have said before, if summers in Virginia always ended when the Wickstrum's suburban pulled out of the driveway, then summers here end when the summer staffers load up their belongings and leave the camp.

What a privilege it has been to be a part of all that is Look Up Lodge - two summers now.

We love this collection of people, travelers, if you will. All of us at different stages in our journeys, but headed for the same ultimate direction - to live forever.

How prophetic really. To live in Travelers Rest.

Travelers Rest.

And everything in our lives has been propelling us to this place. To this square spot on the earth.

To raise these six humans.

To throw open the doors and windows of our very lives and bravely bare our warts and our wounds, our mountain moments, our miseries and our mysteries. To be real and to welcome these summer sojourners into our story as a gift, to be opened and examined and studied and scrutinized.

Rest here, travelers. It isn't always safe. It isn't a luxurious life. But it's yours to share.

My life is my message. - Ghandi

01 August 2009


Yesterday was just a normal day at the Keigley household.

If you consider this normal:

7 something a.m. - In the shower. Riley enters the bathroom. I don't recall any sound of someone knocking. She's on the phone with her tutor and wants to know if we can change that morning's tutoring session to an hour later. I think an hour later is a great idea.

7 something a.m. - I am exiting the shower. Towel wrapped around my body. London sheepishly enters the room holding a used diaper. I smell poop. Naturally, I am suspicious. Apparently London tried to "help" the family cause and attempted to change Finn's diaper by herself, unaware that the diaper held a toxic amount of excrement. And not all of said excrement made it to the diaper. Not exactly the type of situation to be put on hold, I help remedy the problem immediately. While still wearing only a towel.

7:40 a.m. - Mosely pulls on the towel. "Mom, I''m hung-ah-reeeee."

7:42 a.m. - Bergen pulls on my towel. "Mom, what's for breakfast?"

7:43 a.m. - London asks, "Mom, when can we eat?"

7:46 a.m. - Piper chimes in, "EAT!"

Has anyone told these kids that I'm still naked?

9:00 a.m. - Mosely dresses herself in a skirt that is so wrinkled that is appears to be six inches shorter than it should be, which makes it completely immodest, even for a five year old. Since I am a swell mom and since I know Mosely has been wanting to wear this skirt all summer, I decide to finally do what I have been promising her I would do for the skirt - iron it. It's full of pleats. I hate ironing. But I drag the ironing board out, heat up the iron and spend more than eight minutes on a silly wrinkled plaid skirt.

9:15 a.m. - In an effort to "make Mommy happy" the girls take out loads and loads of laundry and pile them on mine and Kevin's bed. Our unmade bed. It doesn't really make Mommy happy.

9:25 a.m. - Bergen wants to help put the sheet on Piper's toddler bed so I send both Bergen and Piper off to her room to see what they can do, with no silly expectations of success mind you.

10:30 a.m. - I begin to nurse Otto. While sitting down, you know.

10:31 a.m. - Riley begins to load the trash bags into the Suburban for our future stop at the dumpsters.

10:32 a.m. - Piper accidentally pulls the basket of magic markers down off the craft table, spilling markers all across the sunroom floor.

10:33 a.m. - Bergen screams from the bathroom that he needs someone to wipe his bum.

10:34 a.m. - Magnus comes flying in the door Riley has left open while carrying out trash bags.

10:35 a.m. - The telephone rings.

10:36 a.m. - A child screams as Magnus gets a tad too close for comfort.

10:37 a.m. - London shoves the phone in my ear.

10:38 a.m. - Magnus knocks Piper over and licks her face. Piper does not respond well to this affection.

10:39 a.m. - Mosely finds herself within my field of vision and I notice something brown on her freshly ironed skirt.

10:40 a.m. - London confirms that the brown spot is actually poop.

10:41 a.m. - Mosely cries as she has to go change out of the prized skirt.

Has anyone told these kids that I am nursing an infant here?

In the end, we end up being late for Riley's tutoring session, despite the fact that it was moved to a later hour.

When we finally return home I discovered that Piper's sheet never found its place on her bed and that the reason Mosely's skirt had poop on it was because Bergen never got a response to his screaming request of someone wiping his bum so he did a pretty poor job of it himself, leaving poop on the toilet seat, which Mosely managed to brush against, thereby smearing her tidy pleats.

And in the evening . . .

8:20 p.m. - Bergen exits his bed and approaches the living room in tears.

"Why are you crying son?" I asked, through clenched teeth.

"Because of what Mosely said," he answered.

"And what did Mosely say?"

"She said that butterflies don't eat nectar, but I know they do."

All in all, I guess it was just another day.

(You know, this post sat on my computer screen for two days before I could push "publish".)