Lacey's Articles

Tonight my clothes told the story of my day. As soon as I got home, I stripped down and headed to the laundry room. My favorite khaki pants were in need of a serious stain sticking. On my left leg was a smudge of orange goo - from the three-year-old at church tonight who lovingly gave me a hug, with a cheese ball grasped tightly in his filthy fist. On the right cargo pocket a chocolate mark was barely visible. Earlier, I tried to enjoy a bowl of chocolate ice cream while holding my eight month-old-daughter, who also wanted to partake of the forbidden dessert.
You know, laundry reveals a lot about a person. My daughters’ days were pretty well outlined by their wardrobes as well. London’s miniature fleece parka was covered in a fine layer of dirt, the result of crawling across a not-cleaned-often-enough teachers’ lounge floor. She scooted around amusing herself with bits of dust while I enjoyed an adult conversation with my former co-workers, feeling both a desire to be where they were and a sympathy for the educational politics they had to endure. By the zipper of her little jacket was residue remaining from yesterday’s meal (or maybe the day before) that I apparently had not noticed for two days straight. Another testament to the keen observational skills of a sleepy mother. Finally, I whipped out the stain stick for a carrot-colored mark for which I could not even identify the origin.
My oldest daughter is infamous for turning her clothes inside out before stashing them in the laundry hamper. I have tried numerous tricks to encourage her to properly prepare her clothes for the wash. Lately I have succumbed to the old I’m-not-going-to-wash-this-if-it’s-inside-out routine. I guess it works, sort of. I only wash the clothes that are turned the correct way and her inside-out clothes stack up and overflow from the hamper and she still doesn’t really get the point. And when this laundry pile-up requires her to reach into her drawers’ depths for clothes not frequently worn, she still doesn’t get the point. Even as she is sporting a size-too-small shirt with old stains and a ripped pair of jeans with faded knees, she doesn’t see the big picture. Not exactly the most productive means of dealing with a problem.
Riley’s stains are garden-variety ten-year-old stains. Grass on the knees, dirt on the seat and the occasional lunch menu displayed on the front of her shirt. She wears spaghetti particularly well. I’ve learned to not even grow frustrated with stained clothing any longer. I just let the stain stick work its magic and figure that whatever doesn’t come out just gives the garment added character. I refuse to purchase new clothing for every stained item for a child who is perpetually going to be what she is - a little girl who cares more about adventure than apparel. Besides, that’s a trait I want to encourage. What I don’t want to encourage is a clothing-obsessed child who worries more about ring around the collar than ring around the rosy.
Now my husband, on the other hand, rarely requires the assistance of the stain stick - a tool essentially designed for messy individuals. He wears his clothes more carefully than the rest of us. A lint brush permanently resides in his Jeep and I have watched him carefully remove tiny hairs from his jacket. We try to let him walk in the door ahead of us wherever we go because he makes a better first impression - what with his clothes being all stain free and stuff. Generally, he only gets dirty at the appropriate times, not while eating a normal meal or playing a board game, but while participating in an athletic event or working outside in the yard. You know, times when it makes sense to get dirty and times when you are usually wearing clothing that you have planned to soil in some manner.
Clothes may tell a lot about a family and their individual personalities, but I think the bottom line here is more simple than that. . . I spend too much time in the laundry room.

Lacey's Articles

Most of my little gang was sleeping during their daily nap time. At age four, however, London’s naps were sporadic and we often used the afternoon quiet time to learn letters, read books or draw. Yesterday, London requested a game. I thought that sounded like a fine idea - learning through fun is always a positive experience, right?
My thirteen-year-old daughter volunteered to get the game from the shelf downstairs. She placed Chutes & Ladders in front of us and bounced off to entertain herself.
It all seemed ideal - number recognition, counting, taking turns - what better leaning opportunities than that? This game even threw in dealing with disappointment when your character landed on a chute and was forced to go backwards. London enjoyed spinning the arrow and counting her spaces. I enjoyed watching her decide the best way to spin - ineffectively flicking the blue arrow to imitate Mommy or pushing it faster in her own manner.
We were having fun. London had her game piece positioned almost at the end of the game - in the 90's - while my character struggled along in the 40's, catching every chute there was to catch. It looked like London was on a sure path to quick victory. I really wanted her to win. I wanted to see how excited she would be when her red plastic piece made the jump to the winner’s square first.
Which made me think. Should I let my four-year-old daughter win? I could, of course. It wouldn’t be hard to miscount my own squares, tumble down a chute unnecessarily. She wouldn’t notice - not yet. Hmmm. I couldn’t believe I had never faced this dilemma before. Had we never played games? Actually, this was the first game with a clear victor. Sure, we played Memory - but she never really got it before - we just matched faces and symbols and got excited when anyone got a pair. We never kept score. And we had played I Spy and other non-competitive style games.
So here I was. I never thought I wanted to be the kind of parent who purposely let her child win games. What life lesson is that? And when does the game end? But I really wanted to see London’s plastic guy beat my plastic guy. I didn’t care if I made it to the winning square first. What should I do? And I didn’t really think this was one of those defining parental moments - it was just a silly game of Chutes & Ladders. But somehow it seemed that whatever conclusion I came to would set a sort of standard for me. Not just how I played games, but how I taught my children. Did I clear obstacles out of the path ahead of them or did I teach them to deal with life’s difficulties? Yeah, this was pretty heady stuff for a preschool game.
Well, maybe it wouldn’t matter this time - London was just squares away from plopping her character on the 100. I wouldn’t even have to make a decision now. That’s great - avoidance to buy myself some time. Besides, wasn’t I making this a bit bigger deal than I needed to? Wow, the things that go on in my head.
And then, London hit a snag - the biggest chute, right beside the victory number 100 - and down her little game piece slid, back to the low numbers. Just as suddenly, my little character caught a break and hit the biggest ladder, immediately sending me to the victory 100 spot. Well, there it was. My plastic man had landed. London recognized the winner’s square immediately. I looked up and held my breath.
"Yeah, Mommy. Hooray! You won!" And she reached over and gave me a big high five. I smiled at her beaming little face. "That was fun. Can we just play with the guys now?"
And so we did, making every character slide up and down and climb the ladders in every direction. We just played. And that was what London had been doing all along.
Actually, the game did turn out to be one of those defining moments for me. I decided how I would play games with my children from then on. If I am winning, I will continue to do so. I don’t want to lie or alter reality to make my children’s lives, even momentarily, better. It is what it is. I want our home to be a safe place to fail - whether in an inconsequential board game or in the bigger moments that surely await each of my children.

What Riley's Reading

November 30,2007

A novel about sacrificing, trust and having a lot of guts, Brady by Jean Fritz is a book that will make you realize that sometimes you have to sacrifice yourself for others In their time of need. This book has a great plot about friendship, trust and love,
Brady is about a young boy named Brady. He lives with his mother and father. part of the time he has his grandmother, his cousin Mary Dorcas and his aunt and uncle living with him. He also has one older brother who lives at a college in Washington named Matt. Brady’s father is a pastor and he has his own sermon house. He never lets anyone in the house and there is a reason for that, Brady’s father is a secret undergroind railroad worker. He helps runaway slaves get to the free states. One day while Brady walks past the sermon house the door is always locked, but this time it is not, so he goes in. it turns out that there is a little boy named Moss who is a run away slave. Brady is so shocked that he could not say anything. Brady and Moss become secret friends but finally Brady had to say goodbye.
While Brady is away visiting Matt at college he gets home sick and goes home. As Brady gets home his barn is on fire. At first his thought is to scream but he couldn’t even if he wanted to. So Brady gets all the horses out of the barn and ties them to trees far away from the burning barn. While he is getting one of the three horses he sees Laben Williams, a city trouble maker. Brady wants to run after him and turn him, in but he just got the horses out.
Once all the horses are alright, then Brady yells for his Pa. His dad is there along with his mother and they are fighting the fire. while they are doing that a piece of wood comes down on his father’s leg and it knocks him unconscious. Brady and his mother pull his father out.
The night before the fire was started his father was supposed to deliver a buggy full of house hold goods to his uncle. Along with the package for his uncle he hides Moss under blankets and several old coats. Brady decides to deliver the package without permission while his dad is in bed rest from his leg. His father does not know that Brady knows about Moss. So Brady delivers everything and gets back home safely. Then he tells his father everything and that day his father decides to write in the family’s Bible that that day Brady Menton went from a boy to a man.
Fritz wants you to walk away with the sense that no matter how small you are you can still help save people’s lives.
This book is a really good book and if you can read, you should read this one. It is very addicting.



By: Lacey Keigley

When was it that I officially became a parent?
Was it when I adopted my first daughter?
Was it when I gave birth to my second daughter?
Or was it when I licked my finger and rubbed smeared banana off my then seven-year-old daughter’s chin?
What about the time I used my pinky finger to dislodge a booger dangling from my infant daughter’s nostril?
Did parenthood claim me that Saturday morning I found myself in the dressing room at a department store, sitting on the bench as the official coat hanger, taking the clothes off the hangers and re-hanging them for my nine-year-old to have a mini fashion show in the changing room?
Or was it when my newborn needed a diaper change while I was enjoying a candy bar - so I set the candy bar beside the changing table, changed the offensive diaper and resumed eating the chocolate chunky bar immediately afterwards?
Maybe my official title of parent was earned when I realized that I was reading the Berenstain Bears more than I was reading the local newspaper.
Or was it when I recognized that I was continually referring to myself in third person - "Mommy is going to change your diaper now." "Mommy loves you." "Mommy would like paper bags instead of plastic, thank you."
Maybe I earned my parental status when I had an extended conversation about Barbie’s job and her future plans. Would she rather be a doctor or a teacher?
Or was it when I found myself explaining why it wasn’t a good idea to wear white shoes in the winter even if they were shiny with pointy toes that made you look like a fairy princess?
I could claim the day when I discovered I had been reading the entire novel To Kill a Mockingbird in a high falsetto so my daughter would smile as I read.
Or was it an evening a few weeks ago - there I was, sitting in front of the television . . . sewing. Sewing! Well, okay, my daughter’s quilt had several holes in it and I was looping mismatched thread over and over to try to salvage the blanket for a few more nighttimes. Isn’t anything using needle and thread considered sewing anyway?
How about when I was up at midnight decorating cupcakes with tiny number nines for every child in Riley’s second grade class?
Perhaps my real badge of parenting is delivered every time I just go ahead and leave the door to the bathroom open because I know my daughter will walk in anyway.
Or what about the fact that every movie I watch now, aside from cartoons, has to be viewed well after 9 p.m.?
Maybe my new style of television watching altogether reveals my parental traits - remote control in hand, ready to aim and fire whenever a risque commercial or an inappropriate scene appears on the screen. (Which is about constantly these days, but I’ll save that ranting for another column.)
Or how about my new showering schedule - only at nights or during random nap times during the day?
Could it have been the final straw - the one that just happened yesterday? While feeding my infant daughter, her diaper leaked through her clothes and onto the sheets of my bed. It couldn’t have been more than a quarter-sized amount - well, maybe two quarters, but definitely not any larger than a baseball. I changed the diaper but then the day’s distractions hit hard. I forgot about the stain until bedtime - late night. I looked at the small mark. I knew what needed to be done. I looked at my alarm clock. I took a clean burp cloth, one was conveniently lying beside my pillow - I knew what needed to be done. I carefully placed the cloth over the stain, turned out the lights and climbed into bed.
Good night, I thought to myself. It’s official - I am a parent now


What Riley's Reading

November 8, 2007

A novel about sadness, love and safety,Witness by Karen Hesse is a book that will scare you. This book has killing, blood and several other gross things that I will not mention you will just have to see for yourself.
Witness is about eleven people who live in the year 1924. It is trouble when the Ku Klux Klan comes to town. No one is safe in their own homes, especially twelve year old Leanora because she is African American and Ester who is six years old because she is a Jew. When Easter’s dad come to visit her she is sitting on his lap and all of a sudden someone fired a shot and it hit Esters dad and he slowly bleeds to death. They figured out that the killer was the preacher of their own town. He was in the K.K.K.
The theme of this novel is secrets. It is shown through the twelve people who have been keeping secrets from one another. Everyone shows this trait. Hesse wants us to walk away with the sense that African Americans and Jews had a terrible time because of the Ku Klux Klan.
This is a good book and it reads really well. It is as if the people are writing letters about what they went through and what they heard.