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?


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.


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


(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.


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.)


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."


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.)


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.

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


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.


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


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.