Thursday, December 25, 2008
Monday, November 3, 2008
Long time, no write! Happy November everyone!
I've missed two months of family newsletters due to a very busy life
lately. I try to remember to take some notes as I go, but I'm sure
I've forgotten some of the funny cute things that I always try to
capture in these newsletters. Anyway, this newsletter will be a
whirlwind recap of the past three months in the Solomon and Tirah
August 11th, Jaden turned one year old. (Although in a week he will
actually be 15 months old.) We had a really fun birthday party for
him. He had his very first taste of chocolate cake; sort of a
traditional right of passage for our children on their first birthday.
August 16th we moved his crib into the kid's room, and began the
process of trying to get him to sleep through the night, so that we
could sleep through the night. For parents, sleep is like
Christmas. We can't wait for it to come!
It took a while, but for the most part (if he's not sick) Jaden now
sleeps through the night.
When Jaden was around 13 months, he started walking, and at around 14
months he started talking. Aside from Mama and Papa, his first real
two-syllable word was "Apple." These days he gives most of the
words he hears his best shot. It's very cute. When I call out "Who
wants lunch?" I hear Thea say "I do!" and Cirdan say "Me
too!" and Jaden follows up with "Doo!"
Jaden has also recently adopted a stuffed animal/security object
which is a small stuffed duck that Tirah got at Hawk Mountain. He
loves it, and kisses it, and calls it "Duckie."
One of the things Jaden has loved to do for many months now is climb
up the stairs. But he still hasn't mastered climbing down the
stairs. I think it's a very interesting analogy for us: Babies are
built for climbing up, not down. Humans are destined for Heaven not
Cirdan is in that very difficult 4-year-old phase. People talk about
the Terrible Twos, but in our house it's proven to be the Frightening
Fours. He's rebellious, stubborn, rude, violent, irrational... and
most of that is very understandable for his stage of development, it
just makes it hard for us parents. When I get too tunnel-visioned,
I can get very codependent with all of that. But when I can take a
step back, I can loosen up and laugh at stories like this one:
One day at noon after I just finished making his lunch and put it on
his plate, Cirdan said: "Papa I'm not hungry, I don't want my lunch!"
I was too tired to fight it, so I said nothing as he walked away...
... then one minute (literally 60 seconds) later, he said: "Papa when
is snack time?"
So I said, "Right now, it's on your plate!"
And he said, "Oh, O.K. great!" ... and he ate his lunch!
It's amazing how easy it is to get mad at our children because they
are irrational. They're not capable of rationality, and yet we get
mad at them when they can't think the way we think. One day when
Cirdan was screaming his head off at me, he included in his long list
of complaints that I was mad at him! It reminded me of how we may
sometimes think that God is mad at us, because things are not going
well in our life. God is never mad. How irrational we must look
in His eyes! Fortunately God doesn't get mad at us for being
irrational, which in turn is a great model for us as parents.
Thea had her first day of Kindergarten on September 3rd. Over-all
it's gone well. She's been a little nervous at times. Some mornings
she is looking forward to school, while other mornings she is a bit
scared. As time passes it's been more of the former and less of the
later. She's also struggled with her own individuality in
school. She is a very good artist, but some of her class-mates
aren't as good, so she feels like she needs to not draw as well as
she can, so that nobody feels uncomfortable. She's a very sensitive
Well, as many of you probably know, Tirah's mom, Margie Echols passed
away on September 5th. She died of cancer at only 56 years old. A
few days before she died, the indications were given that it could be
very soon, so Tirah was able to fly out to Ohio, and she was there
when she died. The kids and I flew out on the 6th and we were all
there for a few days, as well as for the Memorial Service in Ohio.
Tirah's boss was very understanding, and she was able to get about a
week of bereavement leave. On the 11th, there was also a Memorial
Service in the Cathedral in Bryn Athyn.
Tirah has been in a state of shock for the last two months, and is
now getting some grief counseling and coming to terms with the loss
of her mother at such a young age. It's nice to know Margie is out
of physical pain, but it's very hard for Tirah to know that she won't
be able to talk to her anymore on this earth, and that the
relationship she had with her mother no longer has the ability to
change and grow into maturity... at least not until we all see Margie
again in Heaven.
The idea of Margie being out of physical pain reminds me of a scene
from the movie "The Five People You Meet In Heaven" when the old man
spends his first hours in the spiritual world running and
jumping... simply because he could. It was poignantly exciting to
note that Jaden was taking his first steps in this world, at about
the same time that his grandmother was taking her first steps in the
Tirah went to her 10 year High School reunion during the Charter Day
weekend in Bryn Athyn. She was a little apprehensive about it, but
it ended up being a lot of fun for both of us.
We've started a new thing for our marriage recently. Instead of
trying to have regular Date Nights, we've decided to have Date Days
instead. For one thing, date nights are typically limited in what we
can do. Dinner, movie, etc., most of the time costing money we don't
really have, and also not being conducive to actually connecting with
each other. We also tend to be much more tired in the evening. So
even if we decided to just stay home and play a game or read a book,
those best laid plans are often trumped by a lack of energy that gets
us flipping on the TV and becoming couch potatoes. So we decided to
do Date Days instead. We have a regular babysitter that comes every
Wednesday afternoon anyway. Most of the time she watches the kids
while we get work done, or she cleans our house while we watch the
kids. But we realized that we could leave the house! ... in the
afternoon! So while the weather was nice we started going up to
Hawk Mountain to hike the trails together, and then find a nice rock
to sit on and enjoy nature while we read a book to each other for a
few hours. It's been very nice. As we go into winter, we'll
continue reading to each other, inside. We can also take that time
to work on music together.
You may remember that in the past we've been shopping for a month at
a time to buy in discount bulk and to save money on gas by only
shopping once a month. Well, that worked for a while. But we've
shifted our views on what's important. We've done an about face, and
we're now shopping almost exclusively local. We're trying to stick
to our same food budget, and so far it's been O.K. We live in a
great place to shop locally. We can get local eggs, milk, meat,
maple syrup, honey, pickles, vegetables, fruit, jelly, etc. We make
our own bread. We drink raw milk. It feels good to be not only
eating better quality food most of the time, but also to be
supporting our local economy.
So Tirah and I are trying to complete our album of Love Songs in time
for the Marriage Conference in February. It had been going pretty
well for a while. I had a schedule that I was sticking too. But
then I had to get my computer repaired, and I ended up being without
it for 3 weeks! But we're going to stick to our goal, and I still
think we can do it, if we work hard. It's been a lot of fun so far.
On October 30th, my mom and dad hosted a Halloween Costume Party at
their house, designed for all their grand-children. We all came in
costume, and then the kids got to decorate pumpkins, and do a
treasure hunt. Then we had supper and pumpkin pie. It was just
right for both the kids and the parents of kids. I'm including a
picture of our family at the party. Jaden is Tigger, Cirdan is
Superman, Thea is a ballerina, Tirah is a princess, and I'm a Generic
Well, that's all for now.
Have a great day everyone!
Thea (5 and 1/2)
Jaden (15 months)
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Happy August to you.
We've arrived at that time of year when the twilight part of the day
is just heavenly. Just the right temperature, just the right
lighting. just the right time to be outside. Lately we've developed
a habit of going on daily family walks or bike rides right after
dinner. It is very nice.
Jaden has been going through some pretty major teething lately. He
had a pretty high fever the other day, and we thought he was getting
sick, but it turned out to be just teething.
Jaden will be turning one year old on Monday!
He continues to walk around while holding on to things. He has even
been practicing standing up on his own. Yesterday he stood up on his
own for at least 15 seconds in the sandbox. I feel like I'm
commentating on the baby olympics or something: "And that was Jaden
Keal in the sandbox with a full 15 second free stand." "That's a new
record for him, isn't it John?" "Yes, Joe, this young American has a
lot of potential!"
Jaden has also learned how to hold and drink from his bottle all on
his own. That's a fun little piece of development to watch, as he
figures out that he needs to hold the bottle up in the air to allow
the force of gravity to deposit the desired liquid in his mouth.
Cirdan continues to love to play with cars. He has also been getting
a little more into drawing lately. We realized that we may have been
holding him back a little in that area. A year or so ago, we
instated a rule that said that Cirdan was not allowed to play with
markers because he was too young, while Thea was allowed to draw with
markers. This was fine and appropriate. But we realized recently
that we never really rescinded that rule! Here we thought that
Cirdan just wasn't in to drawing, when really he was still abiding by
an out-dated law! So lately we've made a point about telling Cirdan
that he's allowed to use markers if he wants to. And sure enough,
he's been drawing more lately. He drew a very recognizable pig
yesterday. He also has been drawing rocket ships.
Cirdan has recently discovered the existence of Star Wars! I have a
book about the mythology of Star Wars, and it has pictures from the
movie in it. Cirdan somehow found this book, and got hooked on
it. Question after question... I find it very hard not to get
really excited about the idea of my oldest son sharing my passion for
Just today we decided that it would be alright to show the pod-race
scene from Episode One. Sort of a combination of his most favorite
things: Star Wars and Race Cars.
Thea has also just recently been allowed to watch something new. For
a long time now, Disney's The Little Mermaid has been one of her
favorite things. Just the other day, Tirah allowed her to watch the
movie for the first time. It was some good Mama/Daughter time, as
well as being really exciting for Thea.
Thea continues to get better and better at drawing every day. It's
really amazing to watch. She is also getting better at riding her
bike. She can now stand up on her pedals while riding. It's amazing
how I still think of her as being a toddler. But watching her zoom
around on her bike with training wheels really makes it sink in for
me that she's a kid.
Thea will be going to Kindergarten in less than a month! This will
be a new phase in our life! I think she will really enjoy it.
Life is a little hard for Tirah right now. She's not getting enough
sleep lately because of Jaden's teething and sleep patterns. But
when he turns one, we hope to move him into the kid's room, and start
trying to get him to sleep better, so that we can both sleep better,
so that we can function better as people and parents. And with our
insanely busy schedule, it's hard for Tirah to even find the mental
time to grieve for her mom. But we continue to try to get ourselves
into good physical and mental and spiritual habits so that we can
deal well with whatever comes our way in life.
On July 12th, we took a family trip down to Washington D.C. for the
Ron Paul Freedom Revolution March. We did lots of planning ahead of
time to try to make sure that things would go smoothly, because we
had never done anything like this before.
And everything went as planned! Thank You Lord! The kids were
troopers! They lasted all day: with a 3 hour car drive both ways,
leaving home at 6:00 in the morning, getting on the Metro train,
marching in the July heat. They were amazing.
It helped that we had lots of cookies and a few new toys for them as
prizes for doing so well.
We got to the Washington Monument on time at around 10:00 AM, even
though there was confusion at the Metro station and we ended up
paying too much for our tickets. Apparently us country-bumkins
didn't understand how their new-fangled system worked. Oh well.
We made it all the way through the mile-long march, pushing all three
kids in two strollers.
There were over 15,000 people who pledged to march. I'm not sure
what the actual count was, but I heard several people estimated that
there were around 10,000 people who actually marched.
After the first part of the rally at the Capitol Building, we walked
back to the Mall area, and got some hot dogs, and then escaped into
the air-conditioning of the Air And Space Museum for a few
hours. Then we walked back to Capitol Hill in time to hear a few
more speeches before we heard the Constitutional Party Candidate:
Chuck Baldwin speak, and then finally Ron Paul himself! Jaden
took two naps in the stroller, and Cirdan even took a short nap on
our picnic blanket under the trees on Capitol Hill. After that we
left and were home by 9:30ish PM as very tired, but very proud
citizens and parents. It was quite an experience! You can watch a
little family slideshow that I put together on YouTube here: http://
Then on July 17th we took another family trip out to Ohio to visit
with Tirah's parents and most her her siblings for a few days. The
goal was to work on getting some of the downstairs rooms of the house
organized for Margie's caregivers to be able to function well, and
therefore focus on giving care to Margie. It was also a bit of an
Echols family reunion. It was also the first time our whole family
slept in a tent, which went pretty well, except for the fact that
Cirdan had a Night Terror one night and probably woke up the whole
neighborhood. It was good to spend time with Tirah's mom, knowing
that time is limited.
Find out more about how Margie is doing at http://
We've really been enjoying doing the twice-a-month Coffee Houses at
Creekside, as well as attending the Friday night Vespers services.
If you're in the area, the next Coffee House is August 13th 6:30 PM,
and the next Vespers is August 8th 6:00 PM.
I've added some new things to my website lately. I now have a page
where you can purchase and download the music that I composed for the
Glencairn Documentary. http://www.solomonkeal.com/listen/
glencairn. I also have 3 new Bonus Tracks which you can download and
purchase here http://www.solomonkeal.com/listen/#bonus. One is my
own arrangement of the well-known tune: "The Gift of Love (O Waly
Waly)." Another is a short composition called "Home Away From
Home." And for something completely different, I have an
instrumental rock piece which I composed and performed called
Well, that's all for now.
Solomon, Tirah, Thea, Cirdan, and Jaden
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Happy July to you.
As I mentioned in the last newsletter, Jaden had just started
crawling. Well, in the space of only a couple of weeks, Jaden went
from just "scooting" to crawling, then crawling all the way up the
stairs, then pulling himself up onto his feet, then attempting to
stand without holding on. It was quite the explosion of motor skill
activity from this little man.
It's amazing to watch him pull himself up to a standing position, let
go, wobble, and then plop to the floor... and then do it all over
again... over and over again. I can't help but think to myself,
"What's driving you dude? What's in it for you? Why do you so
desperately want to stand up?" Well, that's just where he is in
life... that's how the Lord made him. It's wonderful to think about
how the Lord inspires a love for something, at just the right
developmental time. He is capable of standing up, so he wants to
give it a try. It's exciting!
I can apply that to me as well. It's amazing to watch myself pull
myself up out of a selfish position, let go and let God, wobble, and
then plop to the selfish floor... and then do it all over again...
over and over again. I can't help but ask myself, "What's driving
me? What's in it for me? Why do I so desperately want to 'stand up'
spiritually?" Once again, the Lord inspires a love for something at
just the right developmental time. I am capable of learning to be un-
selfish, so I want to give it a try. It's almost like the Lord hard-
wired us to be curious enough about heaven to give it a shot. It's
Jaden will be 11 months old on the 11th. We are coming up on 1
year! He's been trying and eating more and more solid food. The
latest is chicken. And just yesterday he starting "parroting."
Thea and Cirdan were showing me something that had fallen down, and
so I said, "Uh-Oh." And then from across the room I hear a tiny
echo: "uh-oh." He tends to say it more when he's not aware of an
audience, but sometimes you can intentionally say "Uh-Oh" to him, and
he will respond in kind. It's very very cute.
We lost Cirdan's Superman toy after Abby and Malcolm's wedding. We
thought that maybe we left it in Bryn Athyn. After a long and
fruitless search, we gave up and bought him another one (it wasn't
too expensive.) A few days later, Cirdan was playing with his
flashlight and shining it under his bed. He called out to me, "Papa,
I see a red boot!" Well, I could see that Superman was sitting on
the chair next to his bed, but my heart sank, because I knew exactly
what Cirdan must be looking at. Sure enough Superman Returned! The
Man of Steel decided to Steal away and hide behind Cirdan's bed, and
even with my Parenting X-Ray vision, I could not find him.
So now we have two Supermans, (Supermen?), saving the world together.
Thea has started painting recently. It can be frustrating for her at
times, because paint behaves very differently than markers or
pencils, but she's learning to catch the drips and shake the water
out, etc. We have an old art easel that used to belong to the
Echols family, and was something that Tirah grew up with. We fixed
it up, and put a white board on one side, and a chalk board and
painting pad on the other side. That is what inspired the urge to
paint in Thea.
We had a lot of fun on our vacation, or rather our "stay-cation" as
it is called these days. Tirah got a week off in June, and we had
fun doing various outings, but staying at home. Tirah and I fixed
up our bikes, and then we all went to a local bicycle track near our
house. It's a beautiful track in a park-like setting, complete with
a kiddy track and a huge sand-box. We spent the morning one day
there, and then in the afternoon we went to a place called Bear Rock
Junction. It has mini golf, and a miniature steam train, and really
good ice cream. On another day we spent the afternoon at the pool
at Blue Rocks Campground. Then on the Monday of Tirah's vacatiton,
we went on a day-trip to Knoebel's Amusement Park about an hour or so
north of here. Thea went on several rides that we didn't expect her
to be brave enough to want to try.
On Tuesday the 24th of June, still during Tirah's vacation, we
celebrated our 7th anniversary! We went out to dinner at a very
fancy, very expensive local restaurant. Then we went out to see the
latest Indiana Jones movie. And we finished it off with a chocolate
cake from Wegmans.
We wanted to see Wall-E, the latest Pixar movie, but it wasn't out
until that Friday. We were telling a friend of ours, Matt
Synnestvedt, about how we love Pixar movies, and he came up with a
great term for us: You know how people who love Star Trek are called
"Trekies"? Well, people who love Pixar movies should be called
"Pixies." Yes. Tirah and I are "Pixies," and proud of it!
At the Creekside Center in our backyard, we've started having a
Vespers service every Friday night. This has been wonderful, because
since Tirah works every Sunday, we usually don't get to go to church
very often. This will help to fill the void of regular Sabbath time
in our lives.
At the end of the month, we made the trek down to B.A. for another
wedding: My childhood friend Justin Hendricks got married to Anndwyn
Schrock. Both Tirah and I sang for several pieces of special music
in the wedding.
We had a rainy 4th of July here in Kempton. I was supposed to play
my keyboard for part of the program, and I ended up having to set up
on the porch of the King's house, which meant that people couldn't
here the music very well. Oh well. Later on, during the picnic,
the Kings strung a huge tarp between the trees over top of the picnic
area, which allowed us to continue our picnic during the rain. It
was kind of fun. Later we visited back at our house with Tirah's
sisters Jori, Abby, and Tykah, and Abby's husband Malcolm, and Thane
Glenn and Carl Smith. We had a nice barbecue and then watched Carl
and Malcolm set off some back-yard fireworks. It was a good day.
This weekend we will be traveling down to Washington D.C. to
participate in a March and Rally for Freedom. We're hoping that the
kids won't get too overwhelmed, and that it will be a fun outing.
We've never taken the kids to D.C. before, so there certainly will be
lots to see. We're hoping that we can stay long enough to get to see
Chuck Baldwin and Ron Paul speak. Check out the March at http://
And now for the sad news. The day before Abby and Malcolm's
wedding, we learned that Tirah's mom very likely has cancer. There
hasn't been an official diagnoses, but her symptoms point towards
cancer. Without an official diagnoses we don't know how long she
has, or what sort of cures are possible. Later this month we will
be traveling out to Ohio to visit and to help out around the house.
If you would like to hear the latest updates on her condition, and/or
send your love and support, go to http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/
That's all for now.
Solomon, Tirah, Thea, Cirdan, and Jaden Keal
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Happy June to you all!
They say that April Showers Bring May Flowers, but this year it seems
to have been April Flowers that Brought May Showers. May was a very
cool and rainy month this year. The first real Hazy Hot and Humid
day of the summer was right near the end of May.
We are loving our new house down here by the creek. It has been such
a blessing in our lives.
Jaden is now 10 months old. He crawled for the first time last week,
right around his birthday. Even though he can crawl, he still
prefers the "bottom scooting" action that was his first real mode of
transportation. He sometimes reminds me of a little wind-up toy; we
set him down on the floor and he scoots around for a while,
occasionally bumping into things, until we need to pick him up again.
He is eating a lot more solid food lately including (as was a
favorite of Thea and Cirdan's) pizza crusts. He's got two top teeth
and two bottom teeth, which not only allow for great food-chomping
action, but also the bonus feature of the cutest grin on the planet.
Just the other day, at the dinner table, he accidentally shoved his
index finger up his nose, while trying to get food into his mouth.
Tirah saw this and burst out laughing... and OH NO!... instant
supportive audience! For the rest of the meal, Jaden sat there
shoving his finger up his nose while trying to catch Mama's eye,
because he knew he could get a laugh out of her. The problem was we
couldn't stop laughing... so he kept shoving. Silly kid.
Trying to parent a 5 and 4 year old, while taking care of a baby at
the same time can be very tiring most of the time, and very funny
sometimes. The other day I was holding Jaden on my lap while
reprimanding Cirdan for doing something wrong. I was shaking my head
at Cirdan while I told him that he couldn't do whatever it was he
wanted to do, and suddenly I noticed another little head shaking in
the general direction of Cirdan. Jaden was sitting on my lap
helping me reprimand Cirdan with a big smile on his face and a
vigorous shaking of his head. It was actually really nice, because
it broke the mood, and we all started laughing. Babies are great!
Cirdan turned 4 on June 13th! We actually celebrated his birthday on
the 11th because we were going to be in Bryn Athyn getting ready for
Abby and Malcolm's wedding on the 13th. We had a nice little party.
Cirdan got a Superman action figure from us. And Carl gave him a two-
wheeler bike to match Thea's. So now Tirah and I really want to get
our bikes fixed so that we can go biking as an entire family.
Cirdan started potty training last month, and is now very competent
at using the potty, with hardly any accidents. He has also
successfully given up his binky (pacifier) at night. I think he's
really happy to take on the responsibilities of being a "big boy".
Although, there are some downsides to the new-found freedom that
comes with responsibility. Now that both of our older children are
capable of using the potty on their own, they sometimes think that
it's fun to have a "potty party" in the middle of the night. Well,
not really the middle of the night, but after they should have been
in bed. I can just imagine them whispering to each other after
Tirah and I leave the room at night: "Hey Thea!" "Yeah." "Party in
the Bathroom in 5 minutes!" "O.K.!"
Cirdan's latest favorite thing is: anything that has to do with the
Pixar movie "Cars." We let the kids watch it while we were all sick
with sore throats, and it was an instant favorite. At first it was
nice, because hey: we like that movie too, and it was a nice break
from the monotony of some of their favorite kids TV shows. But it's
starting to get old already for Tirah and I. Of course Cirdan's
favorite character is "Lightning The Queen" as he calls him.
Thea continues to blossom. Her drawing abilities improve daily. The
faces that she draws are very detailed. She has also really gotten
into writing letters. Not just as in the alphabet, but as in a
letter that you would mail. She will draw a picture, and then ask
for an envelope. She knows how to spell her own name, which she then
writes in the return address spot. Then she asks how to spell
someone's name, which she writes in the address spot. And then she
asks for a sticker to put in the postage stamp spot.
She has also started playing the piano more. She knows how to play
ABCs, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, AND Baa Baa Black Sheep! (O.K....
They're all the same song, but it sounds more impressive that way)
She has also started composing her own songs, one of which was about
being a flower girl. (She was asked to be a flower girl in her aunt
Abby and Malcolm's wedding, which she was thrilled about.)
And the latest thing that Thea has been doing is magic tricks. She
will come up to us and show us something in her hand, then she will
ask us to close our eyes while she runs off and hides it, then she'll
ask us to open our eyes as she comes back and shows us her empty
hands! She calls herself a "Mugician" (Like "Musician," only with
Tirah and I have had two of our Coffee Houses at Creekside Cultural
Center. So far they've been small, but we hope they will start to
catch on eventually. The next one is actually tonight at 6:30 PM.
We had fun going on a date last month to see "Prince Caspian" Good
Tirah got some time off for us to go down to Bryn Athyn for her
sister Abby and Malcolm's wedding this past weekend! (We just barely
got over our sore throats in time!) Tirah's mom was also in town,
which meant that almost all of the Echols Family was together except
for Eli and Nicola who are expecting their second baby any moment
now. The wedding was beautiful. Thea was a flower girl, along with
her cousin Kate. And I was honored to be asked by Abby and Malcolm
to play "Angel's Birth" for their processional! That was the piece
that I composed for our wedding almost 7 years ago! My sister Tamar
accompanied me on the recorder. It went really well.
And now, today is the beginning of our summer vacation! Tirah is off
from work from today June 18th to June 26th! We don't plan to go
anywhere, except on day trips, and 1/2 day trips to local places.
We also hope to get a good start on recording our Love Songs album,
which we want to release by Valentine's Day 2009. And of course,
Tirah and I will celebrate our 7th anniversary on the 24th!
In Music News: I have a new piece of Sheet Music available: "Wisdom
of Time" from the "Heritage" album, which you can purchase and
download from my website: http://www.solomonkeal.com/listen
A funny thing I realized the other day: Last December (2007) Tirah
and reached a turning point in our lives. As of this past December,
I have been a stay-at-home parent for longer than Tirah was! Tirah
was a stay-at-home mom for 29 months from February 2003 to July 2005
when she got a full-time job. And I have been a stay-at-home dad for
34 months since July of 2005! And we're still going strong. It may
be unconventional, but it works really well for us.
And that's all for now!
Have a great month!
Solomon (31), Tirah (28), Thea (5), Cirdan (4), and Jaden Keal (10
P.S. Here's a family picture in front of our new house:
Monday, May 12, 2008
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
This will be just a short update for now.
The big news is that we've moved! Just down the street.
We now live at 124 Penn Street Lenhartsville PA 19534.
We have a new phone number, which is 484-660-3390
And we have this new family email address.
Our new house is on the quiet end of Penn Street, away from the noisy
intersection, and closer to the creek. And it's got a nice big yard.
It's a beautiful old brick house. We're renting it from Tori Odhner
who just bought the property. She's turning the barn at the other
end of the property into the Creekside Cultural Center. It's pretty
cool, check out the website:
Speaking of that, I'm going to be doing a concert at Creekside this
Saturday, April 12th, at 6:00 PM. It's a free concert. Anyone who
is in the area; please come!
Well that's all for now. I need to go practice!
I'll fill you in on more details in another newsletter.
Have a great day!
- Solomon and Family
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Happy March to you all!
Spring is in the air! That glorious warm wet smell of mud, and the
hope of flowers soon to be adorning it.
We are doing well. So far we have avoided major sickness this winter!
Jaden will be 7 months old on the 11th! He's got two little teeth
popping through on his bottom gums. He is confidently sitting up,
and becoming more and more aware of his surroundings. His latest
favorite noise is... get this... "GA-GA!" My youngest son is a
bouncing baby cliche. I suppose "GOO-GOO" will be next.
I love the 6 month age! Moving from helpless baby to exploratory
infant; it's an exciting time to witness. One of my favorite things
to think about as I do the work of my day-job, is the wonderful
parallel/analogy that the Lord gave us in the process of being
parents. We can learn so much about the Lord, by being aware of
ourselves as parents (and His children); and we can learn so much
about being parents (and about our own children) by being aware of
the Lord as our Parent.
The latest thought to come to my mind on this subject has to do with
holding a baby. I spend much of my day just holding Jaden.
Especially in times of pain (such as teething) he doesn't like to be
anywhere else other than in my arms or Tirah's arms. And when he is
in my arms and happy, it's almost like he's only somewhat aware of me
at all. He just knows that he's safe. Sometimes he will glance up
and look into my face as if to say, "Oh, right! You're holding me
Papa!" Other times when I'm holding him, he will reach out with his
whole body in an effort to go somewhere or get to something, and I
will happily oblige him (provided it's safe). I sometimes wonder how
much he thinks that he is in control of where I walk. He makes a
choice to reach out... but I'm the one who does the walking to get
him there. What an amazing analogy for our own relationship with
the Lord. How often do we think that we are the ones making progress
in our spiritual path? How often do we not even notice the happiness
we take for granted because of the Lord holding us in His arms?
There is so much to learn from parenting.
Just a few days ago, we moved Cirdan out of his crib and into a Big
Boy Bed. We then moved Cirdan's crib into our bedroom for Jaden to
sleep in. He was out-growing his bed-buddy. We're hoping that this
will help his sleeping pattern too, because he still wakes up several
times during the night.
Cirdan took a half-an-hour nap today. It used to be a two-hour nap.
He's starting to phase out of the nap era. Naps used to be my free-
time to work on music, so I always mourn their passing. But at the
same time, Thea and Cirdan are growing up and becoming more
independent, so sometimes I can work on music while they're awake and
We been finding that the hope of going to school has been a great
incentive for Thea to "work on her problems." Being a Strong-Willed-
Child, she lives by this motto: "You can't make me, but I can be
persuaded." The goal of "being a good girl" just hasn't been
attractive enough for her to learn to stop screaming, hitting, and in
general being mean to people when they aren't doing what she wants
them to. But... the thought that she might not be allowed to go to
school if she doesn't change those patterns, well that's something
she can work with. She's been much more motivated to "behave" lately
because there's something in it for her. This childish selfishness
isn't a bad thing. In fact that's how the Lord works with us adults
too. He gives us incentives to be good people; incentives such as
getting to go to heaven. He doesn't expect us to be selfless right
off the bat. Once again, looking to see how the Lord does things is
an invaluable tool for learning parenting techniques.
We very much enjoyed attending the Parenting Conference in Bryn Athyn
last month. We weren't sure what to expect, but our kids did really
well in the group child-care room. The whole thing was very
inspirational, and we had fun performing as a family on Saturday
night. Thea sang a Veggie Tales song called "My Day" all by herself
up on stage. Cirdan was going to sing with her, but a disagreement
over the microphone put him in a bad mood at the last minute. He may
also have been feeling a little shy.
I'm happy to announce that my wife Tirah (with the help of friends)
gathered enough signatures (around 300!) to be placed on the ballot
in our congressional district as an alternate delegate! An alternate
delegate is basically a back-up delegate. If she gets elected, and
if there's a vacancy in the delegates, she could have a chance at
getting to go to St. Paul Minnesota in September to vote in the
Republican National Convention! Pretty exciting!
With Jaden getting older, and the energy of Spring in the air, we're
hoping to get back into leading our Marriage Support Group soon.
Tirah celebrated her 28th birthday on the 19th. Thanks to generous
help from our families, I was able to buy her a digital camera for
her birthday! And it was great to have a digital camera as Tirah
took a small vacation and we drove out to Ohio for a few days to
visit with Tirah's parents and her youngest sister. It's a long
drive (8-10 hours), but our kids did pretty well. We drove partially
through the night on the way out, and entirely through the night on
the way back, which was very nice. We had a fun time in Ohio, and
Tirah's mom got to meet Jaden for the first time!
While in Ohio, I learned that my Granny Keal had passed away. It's
very nice to know that she is with Grandpa again, and that they are
in their young bodies again! In one of my favorite movies, "The
Five People You Meet In Heaven" there's a great scene where the main
character who died wakes up in Heaven and just spends some time
running around and jumping up and down, just because he can again!
It's really fun to think of my grandparents doing that right now. I
just wish they could have met our children before they left.
On the 1st of March, I went down to Bryn Athyn for the third and last
part of a discussion group about the Secret and the Writings of
Swedenborg. It was, once again, a lot of fun.
We're still hunting for a house to rent, but trusting that the Lord
will provide when the time is right. With the economy being what it
is right now, it is very mutually beneficial to be sharing a
household. Perhaps that is Providentially why we're having trouble
finding a place to move to.
Tirah and I finished constructing a vocal booth for my studio. This
will allow us to record good quality vocals for our album of love
songs. Now we just have to make the time to do it.
Last night we took the kids to a Circus! A Circus came to Hamburg,
which is the town just 5 minutes west of us. We were only able to
stay for the first hour, but it was fun anyway. Thea especially
loved it. She kept asking me when we were going to see the "magical,
sparkley, flying ladies again!" Cirdan was a bit overwhelmed by it
all, but speaks of it fondly in hind-sight. Jaden handled it
surprisingly well. Over-all, it was a fun adventure!
I'll be turning 31 on Monday! I'm looking forward to cake!
I hope you all have a wonderful day!
Solomon (31), Tirah (28), Thea (5), Cirdan (3 and 3/4), and Jaden (7
Happy February to you all!
Jaden will be 6 months old on Monday the 11th! Already half a year
old! Time flies when you're having fun (and kids, apparently)!
He just started teething recently, so his usually cheerful nature is
somewhat dampened lately. He has also started eating a little bit of
solid food. He's had banana, rice cereal, and we tried giving him
some sweet potato, but he screwed up his face and spat it out.
Due to the teething, we haven't made any progress in getting him to
sleep through the night, so Tirah and I are still zombies most of the
Cirdan continues to be a citizen of the Imagine Nation. He has a
fascination with "bad guys." Yesterday he drew a picture of "bad
guys fighting." It consisted of a page full of brown squiggles. You
could see the action... it was pretty exciting.
Thea turned 5 on the 2nd! We have a 5 year-old!! We had a fun
time going out to Cracker Barrel for a birthday dinner. Then we came
home for cake and ice cream.
We find ourselves starting to think about Kindergarten! Currently
the options we are looking at are either the Kempton New Church
Kindergarten, or the PA Virtual Charter School, which is an online
home-schooling program run by the State. The upsides of the Kempton
1. Thea would get a chance to learn how to interact with other kids
2. I would get several hours a week with one less kid to take care of.
3. It's a New Church school.
The upsides of the PA Virtual Charter School are:
1. It's free.
2. It's home-schooling (which Tirah and I both like).
3. We wouldn't have to worry about Thea "exploding" outside of the home.
At this point we're sort of leaning towards the Kempton Kindergarten,
despite the fact that we don't really know how we'll pay for it.
Thea continues to get better every day with her drawing skills. She
is starting to learn how to draw profiles of faces! It's very cool.
Tirah has been doing a little better lately with her Seasonal
Depression. She started taking as much Body Balance as I've been
taking, and it's really been helping. She has also been having a lot
of fun being politically active this winter. Nothing like a fun
project to get you through the winter doldrums!
Tirah is running as an alternate delegate for Pennsylvania. She has
to get at least 250 signatures from our Congressional District to be
placed on the ballot. She only has until February 12 (I think) to
get those signatures. If she gets enough she will be listed as an
alternate delegate on the PA Ballot in our district. If she gets
elected, she will then be a back-up delegate if one of the other
delegates drops out. And if that happens there's a chance she could
be going to St. Paul Minnesota in early September for the Republican
National Convention. If she does, then she will be very actively
voting for her favorite candidate. The Pennsylvania primary (along
with several other states) is really just a "beauty pageant" or a
popularity contest. When you vote in the Primary in Pennsylvania,
your vote does not actually go towards electing anybody. The
delegates are the people who do the real voting and electing.
It's pretty interesting! We'll let you know how it turns out.
I'm still struggling to find the time to work on music. Taking care
of an infant and two toddlers is definitely a full time job. But I
did manage to start constructing a sound booth for my studio this
past month. I bought some 1X2s from Lowes, and some hardware, and I
put together 8 basic panels which will form a small octagonal booth.
Tirah is helping me with velcro and fabric to line the booth. The
idea is to have an enclosed area in which a person can stand with a
microphone and sing. The fabric-lined booth will cut down on
bouncing sound waves and create a cleaner, more usable signal to use
in a recording. All of this is working towards the release of an
album of love songs by Tirah and I. My goal is to release it this
year. We'll see how it goes.
On the 2nd, I went down to Bryn Athyn for a second time to lead a
discussion group on The Secret and the Writings of Emanuel
Swedenborg. Once again, it was a fun group, and they've asked me to
come back a third time on the first of March. If you're interested,
you can read my notes here: http://thesecretofheaven.blogspot.com
Tirah has had several "snow days" in the past couple weeks. Although
they were odd snow days. The weather was such that Hawk Mountain
was iced over, but down here in the valley there was only rain. It
was very strange for Tirah to be home on a "snow day" with no snow in
site, and no reason to be stuck in our house. On one of the days we
were glad to be able to get to church, which we aren't able to do
very often since Tirah works on Sundays.
Tirah and I were given a bread machine for Christmas, and so this
past month we never bought one loaf of bread... it was all home-
made! The smell of home-made bread filling the house every couple
of days is yet another thing to put a smile on our faces in this
dreary time of year.
This weekend we head down to Bryn Athyn for the Parenting Conference
(http://www.caringformarriage.org). We'll be taking all the kids
with us (unlike the previous year's Marriage Conference), and we'll
also be performing as an entire family on Saturday night! (If all
That's all for now folks!
I hope you have a wonderful February!
Solomon (30), Tirah (almost 28), Thea (5), Cirdan (3 and 1/2), and
Jaden (almost 6 months)
Happy 2008 to all of you!
We hope that you all had an enjoyable time during the Holidays.
Jaden turned 5 months old today! He's as cute and smiley and happy as ever. He's got the greatest little laugh. He's getting better at intentionally picking up toys. He's very good at rolling over from his back to his front, but he hasn't done it in reverse yet.
He loves to suck his thumb, and he sometimes makes a really cute sound while sucking his thumb that sounds something like this: "Leeko-leeko-leeko-leeko" Tirah thinks it sounds more like: "Galeek-galeek-galeek-galeek" Either way, it's hard to describe how cute it is. I'll have to try to capture it on film, and maybe post it to YouTube or something.
He is still not sleeping through the night, which means we are pretty sleep deprived these days. But we're hoping that that will change soon. Jaden has been "eyeing" food a lot lately, so yesterday we tried giving him some rice cereal. At first, of course, he got a look on his face that said: "Something is horribly wrong with this milk!" But after a while, he started to get the hang of it.
This is a glimmer of hope for Tirah, since she has to be on a diet of no dairy and no chocolate for as long as he is breast-feeding.
Cirdan has a very cute imagination. We got him a pirate costume, and a construction worker costume for Christmas. (Two for one at Toys 'R Us!) He has had a lot of fun living in his own three-year-old world. It's fortunate that Cirdan is so independent lately, because the other two kids are pretty needy lately. Hopefully Cirdan isn't simply getting squeezed out.
Thea is a very complex little girl. She is very much a Jekyll and Hyde little being right now. One minute she can be the most helpful, intelligent, creative, bubbly little girl, and the next minute (if something doesn't go quite the way she wanted it to) something snaps inside her cute little head, and she attacks the world around her. Her poor little voice is almost constantly hoarse because she spends half her life screaming. She has also gotten back into suffering from Night Terrors, which adds to our sleep deprivation, and is just one of the most miserable experiences a parent can face. Being a sensitive, quality-time little kid, Tirah and I are constantly trying to figure out how to give more attention to Thea, but with Jaden around, nothing ever seems to be good enough.
On the up-side (the Dr Jekyll side of Thea) she has been flourishing in the arts. She spends a good portion of her day drawing pictures, and each day her abilities grow. The other day she drew a train, complete with smoke and a driver, that was just wonderful. She also has an amazing talent for interpretive dance. The dance moves she comes up with are amazingly mature and beautiful.
Being the middle of winter, Tirah is also suffering from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), or "The Winter-time Blues" in plain English. She is also suffering from a little Postpartum Depression (or "After-the-birth-blues") which she suffered from after Cirdan's birth as well. This combined with Thea's explosive behavior lately, and regular sleep-deprivation from Jaden, has meant that Tirah is struggling right now. But we're doing what we can to stay happy.
For me, life is extremely busy, and overwhelming at times. There are many things that I hope to get accomplished every day, and most of them don't happen. But I try to stay positive, and remember that this state of life (very young, very dependent children) is temporary. My music career has definitely slowed down since the birth of Jaden, but I have high hopes that I will eventually settle into our new life, and once more find the time and energy to devote to my work. I made less money in 2007 than I did in 2006 (due mostly to the fact that I didn't release an album in 2007), but my profit margin was higher due to less expenses.
Speaking of music, on the 22nd of December I celebrated the 10th anniversary of the recording of my first album, "Thoughts and Affections"! I can't believe it's been that long already!
Despite the chaotic description of Christmas Day in my last email, we did have a very enjoyable Christmas season as a whole. Since I did not release a new album this year, the Christmas season seemed much less busy in that regard. We had a very nice Keal family Christmas party on the 14th, and then a very fun Echols family Christmas party on the 21st. We had fun visiting with our friends the Davis' on the 19th. We had a great 4-way video conference with the Echols family on Christmas day. And we very much enjoyed visiting with Abby and Malcolm on the 29th and on New Year's Eve.
Tirah and I had a very enjoyable, and quiet New Year's Eve. It was just the two of us, and we sat on the couch and watched movies and ate yummy food. By the way, we highly recommend the movie "The Nativity Story" !
My wonderful wife, along with several friends and family, pitched in enough money to buy me an iPod this year for Christmas! It's very cool! I've been having a lot of fun with it. Many thanks to all of you who pitched in for that!
My men's a cappella group sang for the Christmas Tableaux on the 23rd. And it was just me and Cirdan going to the Christmas Eve service, due to an untimely temper tantrum from Thea. But it was some nice father and son time.
On the 5th of January, I went down to Bryn Athyn to present my ideas about the comparison between "The Secret" and the truths of the New Christianity to a small discussion group. It was lots of fun, and they asked me to come back again. If you're interested, I've posted my notes from that study on a blog page, which you can read here:
Tirah and I have been having a lot of fun being very politically active this election. We had fun with the "Tea Party" on the 16th of December. And just last Thursday, we "papered the town." We walked around our little town of Lenhartsville and handed out over 130 pamphlets about our favorite candidate. And Tirah is intending to run as a delegate for the Republican Convention! Pretty cool!
We are looking forward to the Parenting Conference coming up in February. And Thea will be turning 5 on Feb 2nd!!! And we're hoping to take a few days at the end of this month to travel out to Ohio to visit with Tirah's parents.
Well, that's about all for now.
We hope you all have a wonderful New Year!
Solomon, Tirah, Thea, Cirdan, and Jaden
Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, accept the stray mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
Which I had found in the attic with just moments to spare;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of "sleeping-through-the-night" danced in our heads;
And with us in our P.J.s, and the baby in our lap
We all settled down for a long (?) winter's nap.
When from out of the monitor there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the kid's room I flew with a crash.
(As I glanced at the clock to see "5:00 AM" flash)
With a heavy head, I did not feel alive
And it made me wish that it wasn't now 5:00
When, what to my wondering ears should I hear
But a miniature lady, with a voice loud and clear:
"NO PAPA, NO MAMA, DON'T YOU SAY ANYTHING!
"DON'T TELL ME A STORY, DON'T HUG ME, DON'T SING!"
At the top of her lungs, she made quite a row:
"NOW GO AWAY, GO AWAY, COME BACK RIGHT NOW!"
As dry leaves before the wild hurricane fly
When they meet with an obstacle mount to the sky,
So out of my head, my ideas they flew;
As I sat in my chair, I knew not what to do.
And then, in a twinkling, the tantrum was gone
And my daughter was asking, what was going on?
As I returned to my bed, in hope of repose,
I looked out the window, and up the sun rose.
It's an odd thing, I thought, as I drooped like a willow.
To wish - on THIS morning - to stay on my pillow.
But we got up and went down, and opened a present
All the while hoping the day would be pleasant.
The 4-year-old exclaimed as her gift did appear:
"It's not quite right... did I not make myself clear?
It has to be perfect! And I want it this instant!"
Enough of this, I thought, let me hold the infant:
His eyes - how they twinkled! His dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow
And the spit-up on his chin was as white as the snow!
A tiny little thumb he held tight in his lips
And the drool it escaped from his mouth in small drips
He had a cute little face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed like a bowl full of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly small elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
But a grunt from his mouth, and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had something to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled up his diaper, then turned with a jerk.
And laying two fingers aside of my nose
I put down the baby, and I changed his clothes.
It's a Parenting Christmas; it's hard work, and taxing.
And I don't know why I expected it to be relaxing.
I had hoped for peacefulness, laughter, and snowflakes,
But what we got was screaming and headaches.
As we finally reached bed-time, to my kids I gave a whistle...
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But with them finally in bed, I told them to go to sleep:
"Merry Christmas my children! ... Now DON'T MAKE A PEEP!"
This is a fairly accurate description of our Christmas this year. It
was full of ups and downs, laughter and screaming, gratitude and un-
gratitude. It was odd to me that after 30 years of living, and
almost 5 years of parenting, I still expected Christmas day to always
be peaceful, relaxing, and just fun.
As I read the Christmas story to my children, it got me thinking
about Expectations. There were probably a lot of things that didn't
turn out as people expected that they would at the time that the Lord
was born. Mary probably didn't expect to be pregnant before she was
married. Joseph probably didn't expect to be told by an angel to
marry his fiance even thought she was already pregnant. The
shepherds, the wise men, and the rest of the Jews probably didn't
expect that the Messiah would be born to a poor family, in a stable.
Hindsight is 20-20. The Christmas story is a beautiful story now,
but at the time is was probably very confusing to those involved.
But the Lord works in mysterious ways. He doesn't always come to us
in the way that we expect Him to. But He does come. He doesn't
always answer our prayers the way we expect Him to. But He does answer.
I felt very much like that this Christmas. I was expecting a "royal
palace," and what I got was a "stable"... complete with little
"animals" running around making a mess. But that is how the Lord
comes to us... in fact that is USUALLY how the Lord comes to us. He
is the Light in our Darkness, the Clean in our Messy, the Joy in our
Grumpiness. The trick of life is to notice Him, and to ACCEPT Him
despite how we EXPECT Him. To notice the Star in the dark sky. To
listen to, and believe the Shepherds. The Lord always comes to
us.... but often not how we expect Him.
We wish you Joy in the Celebration of the Lord's Birthday!
Solomon (30), Tirah (27), Thea (almost 5), Cirdan (3 and 1/2), and
Jaden (4 and 1/2 months) Keal.
Happy Christmas Season to you all!
November was busy but good. Tirah and I are still learning to juggle
our priorities and time-management, now that we have three kids to
take care of. It's amazing how three kids will eat up your time. If
I wanted to be a truly good parent, I would drop all of my other
priorities and focus all of my attention and time on my kids.
Unfortunately that's not possible, but it is hard when my little
daughter is begging for attention and I'm way behind on paying bills,
doing laundry, cooking meals, making music, etc. But for the sake
of running a household, and my own sanity, and the sanity of my
marriage to Tirah, I need to take time away from active parenting.
It's all a matter of finding the right balance I guess.
I think the definition of Good Parenting is: The process by which
selfish little minds are turned into unselfish big minds. And
there's always the hope that the children might learn that too.
Jaden will be 4 months old on the 11th. He's a smiley, laughing,
little boy. Check that... he's not so little. We think he's shaping
up to be the largest of our children. He's growing out of clothes
that are for 6 month old babies!
The Lord was very smart when he designed babies. When we are sleep-
deprived, burnt-out, over-worked, sick-and-tired, dead-on-our-feet
parents, one little smile from Jaden fills us with warmth, laughter
and energy. Jaden loves all of us, but he has found a particular
attachment to Thea recently. Thea loves to try to make him laugh,
and naturally Jaden loves that attention. It's very cute.
I forget the date, but Jaden has officially rolled over, which I'm
told is a baby milestone, similar to getting your driver's license
and being able to legally drink. Congratulations Jaden!
I wanted to share this little dialogue that I had with Cirdan:
Cirdan: "Papa! I had a great idea! We don't have any pizza right
now, so why don't we go to Pizza Hut and get some pizza!"
Me: "That sounds like a great idea, but unfortunately we don't have
the money to buy pizza right now!"
Cirdan: "But Papa! Mama is making money right now at work!"
Here's another Cirdan quote from just today (he's talking about the
two tablets of stone that the 10 Commandments were written on):
"Papa, there are two, because Moses has to share with the Lord!"
I love the way little minds try to grasp things!
Thea still loves drawing and coloring and writing letters. She's
also very good about building houses out of Lego. Some of her houses
are quite elaborate; complete with stairs, and second floors.
Tirah and I are craving grown-up time, especially time for our
marriage. Lately we're both so tired after long days of work, that
we often just turn on a movie at the end of the day, and then fall
asleep. But we're trying to remember that quality time and pursuing
our interests actually does give us energy.
Tirah has had a really good year at Hawk Mountain. Even with her
being gone for maternity leave, her little bookstore has already made
it's budget for the fiscal year... which ends on March 31st 2008!
Needless to say, her boss is very happy, and so is she!
We are all just finishing up a round of sickness. Sore throats,
runny noses, coughs, etc. Thea had it first, right after
Thanksgiving, and then one by one, we all got it. I was the last to
get it, and I'm just now starting to feel better as I'm writing this
newsletter. But both Jaden and I are still congested, and I'm still
What is it about kids being sick?
They're up all night, so I think: "Well they'll be tired tomorrow so
I can at least take a nap on the couch or something."
But no... they're running up and down the halls all day long. So
then I think: "Well, they must be feeling better, so I'll be able to
But no.... then they're feeling sick again.
It's enough to make me go off my rocker.
Well, actually I was sitting in the rocker all night.... so it's
enough to make me loose my marbles.
Actually I found one of them under the couch, and another one mixed
in with the Legos.
I had fun selling my CDs at the Bryn Athyn Craft Sale again this
year. I also sold sheet music. It was a better year for me this
year than last year, despite the fact that I didn't have an album
release this year. I also sold my CDs at the Kempton Craft Sale.
We've had a lot of Pre-Christmas Snow this year... a lot more than
usual. We had about 3 inches of snow on November 18th, and Tirah
actually got a snow-day the following day! The tree outside my
studio window, which is always late to turn colors, had green leaves
with snow on them! And then just a couple days ago we had more snow,
and there is still snow on the ground as I'm writing this
newsletter. Usually we don't get much snow until after Christmas,
but this is a lot of fun!
We had a very enjoyable Thanksgiving this year at our house. We had
our whole family, as well as my mom and dad, Tamar and Dandridge and
family, Nils and Neva, and Carl Smith. Lots of good food, and good
The night before Thanksgiving, as I was putting the kids to bed, I
wanted to tell them a little about what Thanksgiving was all about,
to prepare them for church the following day.
So I began by asking them, "Do you guys know what Thanksgiving is?"
Thea quickly replied: "That's when we eat Pumpkin Pie!!!!"
Oh well, so much for a deep spiritual conversation with my toddlers.
What was I thinking?
No, actually, we DID end up talking about Thanking the Lord for
things, and I think something sunk in for them, so I felt good about it.
Before Thanksgiving, Carl moved the office for his business out of
our living room, so we had a lot of fun rearranging the living room.
It's a lot bigger now, and the space works really well. We're loving
And in Ron Paul news....
Don't worry, I'm not assuming that everyone who reads this newsletter
is a Ron Paul supporter, but it's an exciting, important part of our
lives right now, so I'm including it in my newsletter. Plus, I
originally thought that a discussion of the candidates for the
American Presidency would be irrelevant to people not living in the
USA, but I've found that not to be true. There are actually Ron Paul
fans all over the world!! I think it's because of his foreign and
fiscal policies. They realize that if Ron Paul becomes President of
the United States it will be good for the world, not just the USA.
Tirah and I were very proud to be a part of a massive fund-raising
event for Ron Paul on November 5th, in which we (Ron Paul supporters
everywhere) raised a record-breaking $4.3 million dollars in one 24
hour period! The people are speaking!
Then on November 30th, there was an unofficial fund-raising push (not
organized in any way), in which Ron Paul raised over $300,000.00 in
one day! This pushed him over the top so that he actually beat Rudy
Giuliani in third quarter fund-raising! And Giuliani is considered
a front-runner candidate, while Ron Paul is not.
On December 16th, the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party, there will
be another massive fund-raising day. Just as the colonists dumped
tea into the Boston Harbor to protest government oppression, we will
be dumping money into the Ron Paul campaign. The catch-phrase is
"Libery is brewing!" Check it out at http://www.teaparty07.com.
And if you like what Ron Paul stands for, you can donate at http://
www.ronpaul2008.com. Very exciting things are happening!
There's a wonderful little biography of Ron Paul's family on his
website, written by his wife of 50 years, Carol Paul (Yay for marriage!)
You can read it here: http://www.ronpaul2008.com/articles/331/the-
Alright, enough political rambling.
We intend to send out a family picture around Christmas time.
We hope that you all have a wonderful Christmas season!
May the Lord's love and wisdom be a light in the darkness for you,
and may the Lord bring you Peace and Prosperity in the new year!
Solomon, Tirah, Thea, Cirdan, and Jaden Keal
Happy November to you all!
We successfully made it through October! Tirah went back to work on
the 5th of October. So I have been the stay-at-home dad for our 3
kids for over a month now! We are all still alive, although we
parents are pretty sleep-deprived! I usually try to send this
newsletter out on the 1st of the month, so it has taken me 13 days to
write this! Busy life!
Jaden turned 3 months old on the 11th. He has been charming us all
with his beautiful smile. And just the other day I heard him chuckle
for the first time! His colic seems to be kept under control by
Tirah being off dairy, so the days have been filled with more smiles
than screams. He is getting into a really regular routine of
Eating, Activity, and Sleeping, which is very nice.
It's pretty cool what technology can do for the stay-at-home dad.
The essential obviously being Tirah's breast-pump and the bottles
that he drinks from. But then there's the Baby Bjorn, the tread-
mill, monitor, and of course the internet for ordering supplies.
All of which allow for better management on my part. Being a stay-
at-home dad is actually probably good experience to have on one's
resume if one is looking for a management job. Not that an employer
would necessarily see it that way, but maybe they should! I feel
successful when I can manage to keep all three kids happy at once.
It's such a good feeling... to know you're alive, it's such a happy
feeling; you're growing inside... Oops sorry. Stream of
consciousness. The soundtrack running in my head these days is
composed of kid's music. Maybe it's paving the way for a future
I've thought lately about the idea of making a website or blog for
Stay-At-Home Dads. Not that I really have the time for it, but I
definitely have the experience and content for it. At the very least
maybe I'll turn this newsletter into a blog.
Apparently Stay-at-Home Dads are one of the fastest growing family
styles in the country right now, so there could even be a market for
it. Although the acronyms haven't yet caught up with it's
popularity. Moms have all the cool acronyms. Work-At-Home-Moms
rule the world with the powerful acronym WAHM! Don't mess with
them! Stay-At-Home-Moms have a similarly functional acronym of
SAHM. But what to Stay-At-Home-Dads have? SAHD. We are not
sad, but that acronym is. Work-At-Home-Dads is not much better:
WAHD. And then of course Stay-at-Home-Papas (SAHP) sounds...
well... sappy. And Work-At-Home-Papas (WAHP) doesn't have nearly the
punch that Work-At-Home-Mamas (WAHM) does:
"Hello! What do you do for a living?"
"I'm a Work-At-Home-Mom!"
"Good for you!"
"Hello! What do you do for a living?"
"I'm a Work-At-Home-Papa!"
"Oh... that's so cute!"
I saw a great slogan on a Stay-At-Home-Dad website the other day:
"Men who change diapers.... change the world!"
That makes me think of another one: "Men who rock babies... ROCK!"
Alright, enough patting myself on the back... time to pat my baby on
Jaden is 3 months old, and very cute. My mom dug out some baby
pictures of me, and it's amazing how much Jaden looks just like me
when I was 3 months old. He's a smiley boy. He's growing fast.
He's already in size 3 diapers, and probably soon to be in size 4.
Cirdan came up with a nick-name for him; he calls him "Bacon
Micah." Cirdan thinks it's hilarious. I have to admit... it IS
Cirdan is really developing quite the imagination. He spends a lot
of his time playing with dinosaurs and/or cars & trucks, making up
all sorts of games and scenarios in his little head. If you listen
closely, you can catch some very cute little dialogues. Lately he's
been making his little Duplo (Lego) boy ride on a little Duplo cow...
which of course is what makes a Cowboy! Very smart.
Cirdan's default answer to anything right now is "NO!" It doesn't
matter whether he wants it or not, it just comes out first... sort of
like a young adult's "Um."
Cirdan: "Papa, what's for supper?"
Cirdan: "NO!... oh... I mean... yeah!"
Thea has really developed a skill in drawing lately. She's
amazing! She can draw mermaids, and little girls in dresses,
complete with 5 fingers and eyelashes. It's become somewhat
standard that about once a week, Thea walks into my studio with a
drawing and asks to send it to Mama at work. So I scan and email it
to Tirah. Now all of Tirah's co-workers ask for "Thea drawings" to
post on their doors!
And also, to our great surprise a couple of weeks ago, she wrote her
name! T H E A . Fortunately it's an easy name, but still at 4
and 3/4, I think that's pretty cool. Now she does a lot more
writing. She loves to fill pages with all of the letters and numbers
that she knows. Mostly T, H, E, and A.
Just the other day, we were on our way up to Hawk Mountain to visit
Tirah, and we drove past a house where they kept chickens. As we
drove past, I had to slow down to a stop because there was a chicken
in the road. After it had gotten out of the way, and I resumed
driving, I hear Thea from the back seat innocently call out: "Papa,
why did the chicken cross the road?" I loved how oblivious she was
to the humorous significance of her question. To her it was a
perfectly reasonable, ordinary question. But of course, amid many
chuckles, I had to answer her: "To get to the other side!" Chuckle,
chuckle. It's moments like those that really make me love my job.
We just finished a six week parenting course. It was really good.
We learned some valuable tools for becoming better parents, such as
validating our kids' feelings, visualizing situations through their
eyes, becoming aware of default reactions (in both children and
parents), and investigating our attitudes about our roles as parents
(Dictator or Helpful Guide?).
Just today I was thinking about how inconsistent we can be as
parents. When little baby Jaden is hungry, he cries and sometimes
screams. My reaction as a parent is to want to feed him as soon as
possible and to comfort him. I don't say to him: "Well, my goodness
Jaden! If you're going to scream about it then maybe you won't get
your bottle! Go to your room until you calm down and ask nicely!"
That's ridiculous... horrific. And yet when my 3 and 4 year olds
are hungry, they essentially do the same thing. Except it looks a
little different. It can often look like a 4 year old screaming
"PAPA! I HATE YOU!!!" and slapping me in my face. That sort of
expression of emotion is not one that naturally evokes a desire to
comfort. It often arouses anger in us. But what we have to
remember is that, despite the illusion of rationality created by
their ability to talk, my toddlers are a lot closer to babies than to
adults. And when my daughter says "PAPA, I HATE YOU!", comfort,
validation and love are exactly what she needs.
Tirah is a tired, sleep-deprived, working mother. Jaden still wakes
up a lot at night for feedings. She loves her job, but she
definitely misses the kids during the day. Fortunately she works
very close to home, and works in a small non-profit work-place that
is very casual and family-like. During the first week of this month,
I took Jaden up to Hawk Mountain once a day for a feeding with Mama.
Over the next couple of weeks, we slowly cut back to only the
occasional trip up the mountain. But it was great that we were able
to do that, and that Tirah has a job that allows her to take a
nursing break like that. In that time Thea and Cirdan have made
friends of just about everybody who works at Hawk Mountain. The
other day when we went up for a feeding, it was sort of a slow day
for everybody, so everybody still in the building grabbed a basket of
magic markers, came into the Hawk Mountain kitchen and had a "Drawing
Party" with Thea and Cirdan. Thea wanted to draw a snowman, so
everybody else drew a snowman too. Isn't that a great work-place?
On Friday the 9th of November, we drove up in the afternoon for a
visit. It was raining in the valley, but as we got up to the top of
the mountain it was snowing! There weren't many people there, so
the whole family got to hang out with Mama "at work" for the
afternoon, watching the first snow of the year! It was great!
We're still on the look-out for a house to buy or rent. Although at
this point it's seeming more like renting is the way to go for us, in
our current financial situation. There are a couple possibilities
that we're considering. We'll keep you apprised.
In other news... my child-hood friend Justin Hendricks (who just
enlisted in the Army) is engaged to Anndwyn Schrock. Yay! I think
they plan to get married next summer, and then Anndwyn will be a
Last month, in order to cut our expenses, we started a new plan of
shopping for a month at a time. So this is the second month we have
been doing that. It's been great! Not only does it save a couple
hundred dollars a month in grocery bills because of buying in bulk,
but it also saves on gas because we only go out shopping once a month.
And now for something a little political. I don't usually talk
politics in my newsletters, but I'm pretty excited about this.
Sorry to anyone who doesn't live in the USA, but I wanted to talk a
little bit about my favorite candidate for the Presidential election
in 2008. His name is Ron Paul. He is a true conservative in the
sense that he really stands for the Constitution of the United
States. He is the only candidate running who truly seeks to defend
all of the civil liberties of every American. If he got into office,
the Land of the Free might actually be truly Free again! To give
you a sense of where he stands on some of the main issues, here is a
1. He would try to eliminate income tax (which is unconstitutional),
and get rid of the IRS. He is the true tax-payer's friend!
2. He advocates a foreign policy of non-intervention (but not
isolation). He would bring all of our troops home and encourage a
foreign policy of economic trade with all, military alliance with
none. (Did you know that World War I would possibly have never been a
World War if the nations of the world had not been entangled in so
many military alliances!) He believes that in all areas of life, our
responsibility to help our fellow human being, is the role (and
choice) of each and every citizen, rather than the role of
government. (Proper separation of church and state; charity should
not be dictated by the government.)
3. He would have our troops defending our borders, instead of messing
with other countries' business.
4. He believes that every American has the right to life, liberty and
the pursuit of happiness, and as a doctor who has delivered over 4000
babies, he believes that life begins at conception. (Therefore he is
5. He would try to end this communist, welfare state that we've
gotten ourselves into, and allow for a state where people are free to
pursue happiness, rather than expecting it to be delivered to them on
a silver platter. (He is against universal health-care; see number 9)
6. He would reform Social Security so that young people can choose to
opt out of a bankrupt system, while protecting the income that old
people depend on.
7. He would protect our right to keep and bear arms, so that if our
government became too corrupt and dictatorial, the citizens would be
capable of overthrowing it. (An American tradition since the very
8. He would protect our freedom to choose our children's education,
be it home-schooling or private schooling or public schooling.
9. He would protect our freedom to choose our health care, be it
allopathic, homeopathic, or any alternative form of health care.
10. He voted against the Patriot Act, and believes that we must never
sacrifice our freedom for security. If we do, we lose both.
11. He wants to try to halt this run-away inflation and get us back
on the gold standard, and eliminate the Federal Reserve. Imagine
that! Not only could we keep more of our hard-earned money, but our
money wouldn't be losing so much value over time! This land would
once more be a land of freedom and prosperity!
I've never been so excited about a presidential candidate. All of
the other presidential candidates are unfortunately misguided in
various ways by the idea that the role of government is to take care
of the American people, when in fact the role of government is (and
was always meant to be) to simply protect our freedom to take care of
ourselves and other people. Check out Ron Paul at http://
www.ronpaul2008.com. And I strongly encourage you to register as
Republican and vote for Ron Paul in the primaries for your state.
Thank you. I will get off my soap box now.
And lastly, news about my music business: I will be selling my CDs
at the Bryn Athyn Craft Sale this Saturday, November 17th, 10:00 AM
to 3:00 PM. I will also be selling my CDs at the Kempton Craft Sale,
Saturday December 1st, 9:30 to 11:30 PM. I will also be selling
sheet music for a few of my compositions. I just finished up the
year long project of creating a musical soundtrack for the Glencairn
Documentary. I'm also working on creating a music video for "Peace
of Heaven" ... stay tuned for that.
I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving! May the Lord bring
you peace and prosperity.
Solomon (30), Tirah (27), Thea (4 & 3/4), Cirdan (3 & 1/2), Jaden (3