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


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


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


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.


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


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.


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.


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".


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.


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


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.


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


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.


Magnus ate Piper's second sandwich.


"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


one thing



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.

05 November 2009

London Elizabeth Scout Keigley: The Interview

Based on the popularity of my last interview with a young man about town named Bergen Hawkeye, I thought I might ride the coattails of that success and present another interview.

This interview was a bit easier to attain, as this child is less inclined to bolt midway through a sentence.

This small one is a thinker, a philosopher, a leader of her many young siblings and just a darn cute little gal.

She is prone to unusual proclamations such as the one that was pronounced during last evening's bath time.

She had a rather large scab on her ankle from a fall across asphalt. As she was bathing and soaking in large amounts of water, the scab began to do what scabs do when exposed to excess water. It swelled a little and changed colors a bit. And it looked weird. But more than just weird - to London, it looked like food. (Something that is always on that child's brain.)

So she yelled, "I don't like this chicken nugget on my foot!!"

Now, with that shared,

let the interview begin.

Of your many names, which is your favorite?


Do you have any nicknames?


Explain that please.

Because Daddy calls me that and it's not in my real name.

If you could eat anything you wanted for breakfast every day, what would you eat?

Mac and cheese. And cookies.

What do you think about Magnus?

I think he's fun. Daddy loves him. He steals Piper's eagle.

Why do you love Piper Finn so much?

Because she's cute and she's my little sister.

Tell me what you can do in a kitchen.

I can make cake. I can cut the tomatoes. I can make sandwiches, bagels and crackers.

What is your favorite book?
Peter Pan.

Favorite TV show and why?

The Moving Castle even though it's scary. Because I like Howl. That's why I like to watch it. My next favorite show is Spy Kids.
If you could go anywhere for Christmas, where would you go and why?

Disney. Because it's fun! Because they have Mickey Mouse and all the characters!

What makes you happy?

Ummmm. Coloring with Daddy. Drawing, sometimes. That's a funny question.

What makes you sad?

Daddy leaving for a lot of days. Hmmmm. When people die.

Why do you like to sleep in Mommy and Daddy's bed so much?

Because I can cuddle with Daddy. I wish I could go in there every night. I don't even know why you won't let me go in there every night. Why only on special nights can I go in there?
Why are you so hungry all the time?

Because it's fun to eat. And I like to eat.

How high can you count?

To 100.

What's your favorite color and why?

Green. It's in a lot of stuff - it's in turtles and on the ground and on shirts and on crayons and paper and scissors and pencils and pants.

Favorite song?

"Bend Little Willow". The Michael Jackson one where he cries at the end - "Will You Be There?" I like "Bad". Michael Jackson's my favorite guy so far.

What do you think about Look Up Lodge?

I like their food, their cheese and I like Noah and Gloria. I like hikes. Can you ask me who my favorite friends are?

Who are your favorite friends?

Gloria and Raven.

What was your favorite vacation?

To the beach. Because it's so much fun and there's so much water and the beach is just so fun. I want to go again.
Can you drive a car?

NO! 'Cause I'm just six.

Anything else you want to add?

I like coloring pages. I want to do one.

(At the close of this interview session, I am trying to maintain my sense of emotional well-being after my daughter exposed the fact that she clearly has a favorite parent. And. I. Am. Not. It.)

04 November 2009

Speaks For Itself

I'm not sure I run a great homeschool.

Although I don't think I run a bad one.

There are a lot of things I do poorly. (It would be too detrimental to my psyche to list them.)

But I think I do one or two things pretty well.

(Probably because they are my favorite so they're easy for me.)

This is what we do well.

We read.

A lot.

And a vast variety considering my homeschool's median age is probably four. (Math is not something I do well.)

I love Charlotte Mason, a British educator whose philosophy I have snagged as my own.

A major part of her educational foundation, and therefore The School of Keigley's educational foundation, is living books.

True works of art on paper. Classics. Books written by one person who loves the topic about which he writes. (Read - no textbooks!)

Along with that, Mason advocates letting the original author do the bulk of the talking. Not me. (Which suits me fine in theory. A bit harder to self-enforce in reality.)

So much of what is good about a book and an author's original ideas, we muddle up with our own perspectives and prejudices. We ruin a lot when we open our mouths. (Or, more accurately, I ruin a lot when I open my mouth.)


Recently, I heard a scurry of business being conducted in the only room of our house where little feet seldom traverse - Riley's bedroom. Alarmed and ready to gently remind the rebels of the rules (or prepared to blast some truant children) I opened Riley's closed bedroom door.

Instead of seeing the dishevelment I expected, I saw order. No clothes on the floor. Books stacked neatly on the desk. Stuffed animals and pillows placed appealingly near Riley's black lounger.

Suspicious, I asked for an explanation.

"We want to be elves," Mosely said. "Just like the elves in the fairy tale about the shoemaker!"

Oh, the fairy tale from Andrew Lang's fun collection - The Blue Fairy Book.

I remember that one.

And I remember not saying anything after reading the story together. Refraining from offering my adult/mommyized Cliff's Notes on the story. Letting each child take what they would from the words crafted so concisely and precisely.

you know . . .

great literature always speaks for itself.

03 November 2009

I Knew Her When

A gifted student. A kind junior high girl (more a rarity than it should be). A godly young lady. Our favorite Virginia babysitter. A great soccer player. A dedicated worker. A faithful finisher of assignments. A considerate friend. A joyful spirit. A reliable actress on the high school stage.

Jamie Newton.

What a good kid.

That's what we used to think.

And now we can say . . .

What a great grown-up.

It was so much fun for our family to load up the Suburban this weekend and drive a little bit into the North Carolina hills to meet Jamie and her equally cool husband of four months, Cole, for a little fall-weather-enjoying, catch-up-on-your-life-chatting, tour-Gardner-Webb-University-walking kind of day.

I met Jamie when she was in seventh grade in my English class. And Bible class. And theatre program. (It was a small school, demanding multi-tasking at its finest. Or worst.)

(I know - it makes me old!)

And our family fell in love with her family.

What a pleasure - really, a pleasure - to watch Jamie grow up, mature, have roots and make a difference.

To even have a role in her journey, however small it may have been, is an incredible blessing.

And it made me proud just to hear about her job and her experiences and her outlook and her heart for serving others and her love of Christ.

I thought about all the things her mom and dad did well.

And the high school that Jamie attended.

And how all of our lives ebb and flow into and out of one another's lives all the time.

Ebb. And. Flow.

And we seldom know what the end will look like.

Or the roles we will play.

But what a spectacular moment just to see a life headed in the right direction. A series of choices made that honor God and the reward of those choices plain on her sweet and pure face.

Yeah, the Keigleys love Jamie Newton. And Cole Harden.

So - Newton parents . . . guess who we will be turning to for that parenting advice now.

02 November 2009


Really, this post is about chaos.
And I think the photo demonstrates that fairly well.
And it's funny.
And Leanne said she will only read my posts if they are accompanied by a photo.

Our house is lived in.

It's comfortable.

And we like that.

But comfortable can ooze into cluttered faster than Bergen can ride a bike down a hill. And cluttered can morph into chaos with a speed faster than Riley's fingers can text.

Last weekend Kevin and I looked around our home.

And it looked like chaos had settled in.

I was tired of messy children's rooms where a child could not play with any particular item if they desired because there were simply too many toys strewn across the floor. Clean laundry was flowing out of the basket and beginning to be contaminated by dirty laundry piled near it.

I wanted a change.

So did Kevin.

And we had a yard sale quickly approaching.

It was the Perfect Storm.

So we organized. Cleaned every nook and cranny. Bagged up all but four stuffed animals per kid. (Veggie Tales, Curious George and Eagle are the only ones who have made the current cut.) We swept. Sorted clothing. Stashed the doll house in the closet for a rainy day. Sold the train table on craigslist. Threw away only what even GoodWill would refuse.

It was hard work.

But rewarding.

And the house looked good. Shiny. Clean. Simplified. Clutter-free. You could walk. You could run. Your socks didn't get dirty just walking around the kitchen. Your clothing choices were infinite because every article of clothing was cleaned and neatly folded or hung in the closet.

It was beautiful.

And heartbreakingly short-lived.

It still looks pretty good. It does.

But not pristine.

We had to eat. We had to get dressed. We had to play. We had to live.

One busy weekend later and things are a little misplaced again.

Laundry is dirty. (Why did man ever have to sin in the garden? Nakedness is so much easier to maintain.)

Dishes are in the sink.

Larry and Junior and George are flopped on the floor.

Disorder is always waiting around the corner.

It is always waiting.

And it takes steady, concentrated effort to maintain order.

To push back chaos.

This is true at our house.

And in our relationships.

With our friends. Our spouse. Our children. God.

Steady, concentrated effort to maintain order.

To maintain relationship.



And how quickly it falls apart if we stop.

Even for a weekend.

01 November 2009

Remember When?

This is a recent photo of the Little Willow.

The "bigger" kids dressed her up one day.

For no reason.

And yesterday was Halloween.

Which, at the Keigley house, did not imply anything out of the ordinary this year.

Kevin and Riley ran a race. The rest of the kids and I had a less-than-financially successful yard sale. We relaxed in the afternoon, went to the store, had tacos for dinner and watched a movie with friends. You know - the regular.

But this Halloween made me think of last Halloween.

And that made me laugh.

And since yesterday was so . . . . normal, I thought I might choose to entertain today with last year's Halloween.

And maybe you will laugh too.
(Cue the soft lights, appropriate music and squiggly dream sequence waves across the screen.)

Disclaimer: This story may make the Keigleys sound as if they deprive their children of holiday joy. In fact, we do not. (Or maybe we do - it depends on your perspective.)

It was Halloween day.

In our house, that doesn't mean an awful lot. Or, well, anything really. For the whole of our children's lives we lived on the farm in Virginia where no honest soul dared traverse the long dark drive through the woods to get a measly candy bar from a stranger.

Hence, no Halloween for Keigley kids.

I bought Riley a bag of her candy of choice. The other kids were very young. They didn't know. They didn't care. It seemed to work out just fine.

So along comes our friend Jane on Halloween afternoon. She asks if the kids are dressed up.

Well, they aren't currently naked - so....yes.

She asks if we are going anywhere. We aren't. And then she tells us of a nearby college that decorates their dorms and passes out candy.

Our Friday night held no plans. At all. And I like candy too. Especially bite sized amounts of candy.

"Hey kids, you should go find some fun costumes and wear them," I told them.

They didn't even question me. They just ran to the dress up trunk and found some dandies.

They came back, dressed as tiny ninja, ninja boy, ninja turtle and, in Mosely's own words, "Ummm ....[cute head tilt and crooked grin]....I don't know."

I told them that we were going to go to a college dressed up to say "trick or treat".

They happily agreed.

"Do you know what will happen when you say that?"

Blank stares all around.

"You'll get candy!"

Then applause, glee, rapture, such joy as three ninjas and an I Don't Know could display.

We went to the college, we got our free candy.

Bergen approached every door and first said "thank you" and then as he exited he followed it up with "shrick or shreat"!

As we got in the car Berg announced, "I like Halloween. Let's do it tomorrow!"