Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Keal Family Letter, March 2008

Hello Friends and Family.

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
playing happily.

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!

Love from,

Solomon (31), Tirah (28), Thea (5), Cirdan (3 and 3/4), and Jaden (7

Keal Family Letter, February 2008

Hello Friends and Family!

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
Kindergarten are:
1. Thea would get a chance to learn how to interact with other kids
her age.
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
goes well....)

That's all for now folks!

I hope you have a wonderful February!

Love from,

Solomon (30), Tirah (almost 28), Thea (5), Cirdan (3 and 1/2), and
Jaden (almost 6 months)

Keal Family Letter, January 2008

Hello Friends and Family!

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

Merry Christmas! 2007

Hello Friends and Family!

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:

At the top of her lungs, she made quite a row:

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!

Love from,

Solomon (30), Tirah (27), Thea (almost 5), Cirdan (3 and 1/2), and
Jaden (4 and 1/2 months) Keal.

Keal Family Letter, December 2007

Hello Friends and Family!

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
sleep tonight."
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.
Oh well.

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
family conversation!
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

Keal Family Letter, November 2007

Hello Friends and Family!

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
the back:
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
pretty funny.

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?"
Papa: "Pizza!"
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
military wife.

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
Pro Life)
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.

Love from,

Solomon (30), Tirah (27), Thea (4 & 3/4), Cirdan (3 & 1/2), Jaden (3

Keal Family Letter, October 2007

Hello Friends and Family!

Happy October to you all!

This is the beginning of a new phase in our life. These next two
months are going to be rough going for a while.

Tirah goes back to work on Friday after over two months of glorious
maternity leave. It was a wonderful taste of heaven. A glimpse into
our ideal situation, which we hope to achieve someday, namely: having
everybody at home all the time. One of our goals in life is to reach
a point where I, or both Tirah and I are working solely from home,
and supporting the family. This is our dream. With God nothing is

Jaden will be 8 weeks old this Saturday. I will very soon be the
stay-at-home dad of 2 toddlers and a 2 month old baby! Adventure,
here we come! It will be rough going for a while. Jaden still
very much prefers Tirah to me. But I've been able to successfully
bottle feed him. Tirah goes back to work right in time for the busy
season at Hawk Mountain. So she'll be working longer hours until
Thea and Cirdan love to watch Backyardigans, and in one of their
favorite episodes, as their Viking ship is heading towards a
whirlpool, one of them asks "What do we do!?" and another one
replies, "The only thing we can do... HOLD ON TIGHT!"
So that's what we'll be doing for these next two months... holding on
tight. Holding on to our sanity, our sense of control, our sense of
purpose, and our sense of humor.

Jaden is over his diaper rash and baby eczema (thank the Lord!), but
unfortunately he's been suffering from colic all month. So he
continues to be a very fussy little baby. We took him to the
chiropractor the other day (or the "choir-practor" as our kids call
him), and he's got Tirah on a diet of no dairy, to see if that will
help Jaden to better digest her breast milk. Tirah was already off
chocolate, because that helped to clear up Jaden's eczema. So now,
sadly, she's off chocolate and milk (which of course includes
chocolate milk), and she's missing them horribly. But it's all worth
it, if it helps Jaden feel better! (Of course that's easy for me to

One of the only things that calms Jaden is walking with him on our
tread mill. I don't know if it's the motion or the vibrations or the
noise, but it often calms him down (not guaranteed). We may be worn-
out sleep-deprived parents, but at least we're in shape! Um... I

And on top of Jaden's colic, he now has a cold (which he got from
Thea and Cirdan)! So Jaden continues to spend most of his time
crying. I'd say he spends about 90% of the time that he's not
eating or sleeping, crying. Well maybe it's down to 80%. 80% or
90%, it still FEELS like he cries all the time!

I've been amazed at how codependent I can be with my children. If
they're mad, I get mad. If they're sad, I get sad. If they're
happy, I'm happy. It's like I'm a slave to their emotions.
Jaden's fussiness has been a useful exercise in learning to maintain
my own sense of well-being, despite the emotional roller coasters
that my children are. It's hard, but it's possible... and
ultimately better for everyone.

Cirdan and Thea are still getting over their colds, but they're
mostly back to normal. Although normal has drastically changed since
Jaden has been born. The kid's are still adjusting to the fact that
they don't get most of our attention anymore.

The other day Thea was asking about Jaden's name: "Papa, why does
Jaden have two names?"
"Well, Jaden has a middle name which is Micah! You have a middle
name too... do you know what it is?"
"Yes, my middle name is Clarity Keal!"
"Well, actually Keal is your last name, but yes, Clarity is your
middle name. Cirdan do you know what your middle name is?"
"Yes.... it's.... Cirdan..... Winner-Guy!"

Cirdan "Winner-Guy" Keal. I have no idea where he came up with that!

Tirah just got her hair cut yesterday. It is now REALLY SHORT!
Much to my disappointment. But if it helps maintain this busy
Mama's sanity, then I'm in favor of it. I'm just looking forward to
when she grows it out again!

Tirah goes back to work on Friday (the 5th). She is not really
looking forward to it. It has been so nice to have her home for all
this time, and she is very much in Mama-mode right now, and not in
Work-mode. I think once she's back at work, it will be O.K., but I
know she'll miss us, and we'll miss her. It's good incentive for
me to keep working on building my business, so that one day she can
decide whether she wants to keep working or not.

We're still looking for a new place to live, whether it be renting or
buying. We've enlisted the aid of a realtor to help us find a house
that we could fit in, and afford the payments on. There is also a
slight chance that we may be able to rent the house next door. That
would actually be really nice because we might be able to move in in
the next couple months, and the kids wouldn't be far from Meemaw and
Deedaw. We're still not sure if we can afford to rent the house
next door. But if we can, it would be a great place to live until we
find a place that we can buy. It would certainly fit us nicely. I
would have a bigger room for my studio too.

Needless to say, with the possibility of moving soon, and the fact
that we don't have much money left over until Tirah's next paycheck,
we've been looking into ways of cutting our expenses. One thing
that we started doing is: shopping for a month. On Monday I went to
Sam's Club, and I bought all of our food for a whole month! We have
a little money set aside to buy milk and produce, but other than
that, we can only eat what we have in our fridge and freezer, for the
rest of the month! In preparation for this we skipped our last
shopping trip and ate up all the dregs out of our fridge and
freezer. You know, the left-over bread, the things stuffed way back
in the freezer. It was actually a really good exercise in creative
meal planning. I find that I tend to assume that a meal should have
certain components. But there's nothing wrong with having just a
block of cheese for lunch... especially if that's all that's left to
eat! We managed to stretch out the last week of August without a
shopping trip, and we cleaned out our fridge and freezer. We got
pretty creative with meal planning. It was kind of a fun exercise.
And hopefully we can shave a $100 or so off of our monthly grocery bill!

On the 16th we went down to Lutherville Maryland to visit with Steve
and Galadriel and Kate and Genai and new baby Joel. It was a fun
visit, and it went really well as far as traveling with a newborn.
Jaden seems to do better when we're out and about. He likes the
car. He also tends to go to sleep when there's a lot of commotion...
I guess it's a defense mechanism. Or maybe he likes to behave for
family and friends, but not us. I don't know. We also took him
out to a party recently, and he was fine! We went to a Going-Away
party for Justin Hendricks who is joining the Army!

We had planned to go out to Ohio before Tirah's maternity leave was
up, but unfortunately the timing didn't work out, because the family
was sick in Ohio, and we didn't want to expose Jaden to it. Oh well.

Last night Tirah and I attending the first meeting of a 6 week
parenting course that we're taking. It looks like it will be very
helpful in our endeavors to become better parents for our growing

Oh yes! Some fun news: Both Roxanne and Tamar are pregnant with
their third child! By the end of next year, my Mom and Dad will
have 9 grandchildren!

Well, that's about all for now. Next month, I'll let you know how
we're doing with Tirah back at work and me as the full-time dad... if
I can get to the computer!

Have a great day!


- Solomon (30), Tirah (27), Thea (4.5), Cirdan (3), Jaden (8 weeks).

Keal Family Letter, September 2007

Hello Friends and Family!

Happy September to you all!

We are officially OUT-NUMBERED! Two Parents vs. Three Kids... the Kids win.

I remember when we only had Thea. All we had to worry about was Thea. There were no other kids fighting in the background... just Thea. When she slept... we could sleep. We even had some free time left over because she slept more than we did. We didn't know how good we had it!

Then Cirdan came along. Thea was only 1 and 1/2, and fortunately just walking, but life was manageable because there was a parent for every child. At some points, if we were lucky, both kids would be asleep at the same time... and then there was much rejoicing.

But it seems that parenting gets exponentially harder with the addition of each new child. So far it seems that having 3 kids is twice as hard as having 2 kids... now is that really fair?! Thea and Cirdan are pretty independent little toddlers, which is good, but they still need supervision (Hey, I wish I had "super-vision," then maybe I could tell who really hit who first!). Thea doesn't nap anymore, and Cirdan is getting close to not napping anymore. For the past month, our life has had one purpose: Try to keep all three kids happy... with a side-order of "could we get some sleep" and maybe a small helping of movies.

Having three kids is sort of like juggling... we've reached that point where we are really parenting now. When you're juggling one or two balls, you're not really juggling, it's when you get to three balls that people are impressed. Or rather it's when people decide to hang around to see how long you can do it before you totally lose control. Parenting really feels like juggling sometimes. We often have to leave one kid "hanging in mid-air" and hope that they will come land right in our open hand.

But just like juggling... it's a lot of fun. I wouldn't trade my life for anything. Tirah and I like to watch Sci-Fi adventure movies. Lately, that's what we'll do in the evening, once all three kids are finally asleep, we'll turn on some Star Trek, or StarGate. It's kind of funny how, at the end of a long day filled with little beings who are fighting and screaming and stealing and talking gibberish, we like to flick on a movie filled with little beings who are fighting, screaming, stealing, and talking gibberish. Escapism? Really? I wonder.

Really I think it's just a different kind of adventure. We all like adventure in our lives, it's just that sometimes we get bored with the adventure that we are currently in, and we want to watch somebody else's adventure. Almost as if to say, "boy am I glad I'm not trying to save the world from alien invasion!" Or maybe as if to say, "boy I wish I could worry about alien invasion for a while, instead of three screaming kids!" Maybe, far away, on some distant planet, some futuristic alien super-hero is sitting back with a bag of chips, watching us through his "super-vision" telescope and saying, "boy, am I glad I'm not taking care of three kids right now. It's nice to relax and not worry about global annihilation for a few minutes!" Whatever it is... we humans like adventure. And I like the adventure that Tirah and I are living.

I've heard that it gets easier after 3 kids. But I don't know about that. I baby-sat for my sister the other day, so I was in charge of 4 toddlers for a couple hours. That was when I realized how good I had it with just 2 or 3. When you only have 2 or 3 kids, you never have to break up two different fights at once!

So, starting with the youngest: Jaden is almost a month old now. He's exactly 4 weeks today. Unfortunately it's been a rough month for him (and by association, for us too). He has had a very bad diaper rash all month. And he's also had a bad case of baby acne all over his body! It looks very uncomfortable... and by his fussiness, I think he agrees. He basically has three modes right now: Eat, Sleep, and Cry. Peaceful, non-meal, awake times are precious rare gems that we try to treasure. I got a brief smile from him early one morning, right before I changed his diaper. We're trying lots of things (diet, homeopathy, aloe vera, prayer) and we're hoping that we'll start to see some improvement soon. But amid all of the fussiness, he is the cutest little thing on the planet.

As I was watching him one time when he was staring at this brand new world, I couldn't help but wonder if that's what we look like to angels, when we wake up in the spiritual world after death. Wide-eyed brand new spiritual beings.

Cirdan is still in a violent phase. His default, if something doesn't go his way, is to hit the person closest to him. Even when he's playing nicely, he can be too rough sometimes. But over all, he's our little angel boy. While his actions don't always express his heart very well, his words do. He says the sweetest, nicest things to people. He's our little sunshine boy.

I wanted to share a very cute thing he said the other night: We were getting ready for bed, and while I was helping Thea get undressed, Cirdan was throwing stuffed animals up into the air as high as he could get them to go. One time, he threw an animal up into the air, and he didn't notice that it fell back down behind his crib, so he turned to me and said, "Uh oh, it went up to Heaven!"

The other day, just after Jaden emptied a little spit-up onto my shirt, Cirdan asked me with concern in his voice: "Papa, what is that coming out of Jaden's face?"

Cirdan also has a very short attention span right now. He's curious, but not curious enough to hear a full answer. He'll very often ask us a question, but before we can truly answer him, he looks away, and is on to something else. The look on his face reminds me of the windows that sometimes pop up on my computer: "Application has unexpectedly quit. Data may have been lost. Would you like to save and restart?" No... never mind.

Cirdan has an interesting concept of time. It used to be that when he was referring to something that happened in the past, he would refer to it as happening "yesterday." "Yesterday" simply meant "in the past." I wasn't born yesterday, but Cirdan was, according to him. Well, lately he has graduated. Now things that happened in the past are referred to as happening "Last Week." "Mama and Papa, when you got married last week, was it at the big church?" It's almost like his concept of time is broadening as he gets older. It used to be that he took life day by day. Now he understands the concept of a week's worth of time. Last month? Forget it... Does Not Compute. It reminds me a little of adult's concepts of time. The longer I live, the more I understand what long periods of time are like. It used to be that I didn't remember much from a decade ago, but now I do. I can even remember some things that happened over 20 years ago. And yet, I'm only 30 years old. Unlike a 60 year old, I cannot remember 30 years ago. Angels in heaven can remember hundreds of years into their past. They undoubtedly have a better perspective on eternity.

Moving on to Thea: Thea has the opposite situation to Cirdan. While Thea's actions reveal her angelic heart, her words do not. Thea, being a strong-willed child, likes to feel like she is in control and has freedom. Ultimately she wants to be recognized for the valuable member of the family that she is. So if we aren't doing that , by not giving her choices and quality time, she assumes that we aren't being good parents and so she takes over. Her latest favorite phrases are: "No, you're wrong!" and "Papa, it's too late!" or "No, wait, here's the deal.." or even "I don't love you!" or "I don't want to be your daughter anymore!" It's hard knowing that Jaden's presence is probably the hardest for Thea to deal with, because she craves quality time, and we don't have a lot of time to give. But it's all part of the adventure.

Thea loves to sing. In fact she doesn't like silence, and she tries to fill silence with whatever words or songs she can think of. She tends to commentate her life in song. This can be very cute at times, and very annoying at other times. Lately Thea and I have been going shopping together while Cirdan naps at home with Mama and Jaden. This has been some very good quality time for her. But it's a funny mix. She's a chatterbox, and I'm a quiet guy. So she spends most of the shopping trip singing our adventures to the nearest listener. Well, one time she had to go potty. So I took her into the men's room. There was somebody else in one of the other stalls. So here I was standing in a stall, with my 4 year old girl sitting on the potty, and she was singing a song about "Going Potty" at the top of her lungs, with another man in the stall next to us. It was one of those times when I was simultaneously tickled pink, and thoroughly embarrassed at the same time.

But as I said, Thea's actions reveal her heart. She loves to help people. What a great trait to nurture!

Tirah is probably the most sleep-deprived of the two of us. And it's a little hard right now because Jaden only likes Mama. Especially when he's upset, I have a hard time calming him down... only mama can do that. It's amazing how quickly he knows he's in mama's arms... it must be the smell. That glorious smell of mama, versus that weird smell of papa. Tirah is definitely enjoying her maternity leave, but also anxious about having to go back to work next month.

I haven't had much chance to work on music lately, although I did manage to create a new page on my website that features some clips of some of the music that I've been working on in my studio this year. Things like the flute and piano album, and the Glencairn Documentary. You can check it out at: http://www.solomonkeal.com/listen/studio.

We are thinking more and more about trying to buy a house, rather than rent one. The people in Virginville still haven't called about that rental place. So maybe with the help of Providence we will be able to buy our own house soon. We know so little about the whole process, so we're trying to learn. We'll see what happens.

I wanted to share a quote that Tirah and I heard in a Joel Osteen sermon: "Don't tell your God how big your problems are... tell your problems how big your God is!"

So that's all for this time. This month is the last month of Tirah's maternity leave, so the adventure continues! Tune in next time for the continuation of the adventures of Solomon and Tirah and Family.


Solomon, Tirah, Thea, Cirdan and Jaden.

A Baby Boy! August 2007

Hello Friends and Family!

I'm happy to announce the birth of our third child: a baby boy! He
was born at a quarter past midnight on August 11th, in our home in
Lenhartsville. He was 8 pounds 12 ounces, 21 and 1/2 inches long,
with a 15 inch head. Tirah had had a day of "false" labor earlier
in the week, and then during the day on the 10th, she had pretty many
contractions. All of which led up to the fact that by the time
midwife came by for a check-up in the afternoon, Tirah was 5
centimeters. We called the midwife at around 11:00 at night, and
when she arrived, Tirah was already 9 centimeters! The baby was born
an hour and quarter later. A very quick birth! Mama and the baby
are both very healthy. He is nursing well.

We don't have a name yet. We'll keep you posted.

Thea and Cirdan love him. We've taken several pictures, as well as
some video camera footage, which we hope to share with you soon.

- Solomon

Hello Friends and Family.

Our son's name is: Jaden Micah Keal.

"Jaden" comes from the Hebrew meaning "God had heard."

"Micah" is a version of Michael meaning "Who is like the Lord?"

Solomon, Tirah, Thea, Cirdan, and Jaden.

Keal Family Letter, August 2007

Hello Friends and Family!

Tirah is now full term, so the baby could come any day now! However,
both Thea and Cirdan were 10 days late, so we're trying not to get
our hopes up too much. Tirah is VERY ready to be DONE being
PREGNANT! Fortunately she is now on maternity leave, and we've been
enjoying spending all of our time together as a whole family. She's
been on maternity leave for one week now. The baby is head down,
and every thing is looking good, thank the Lord!

Cirdan and Thea are as cute and wonderful and difficult and
intelligent and strong-willed and angelic as ever. Parenting them
is a continual learning process, and great for spiritual growth. Our
kids have already claimed the roles of "children" in our family, so
the only jobs left for me and Tirah fall into the category of "grown-
up." It's kind of interesting how spending all my time trying to
communicate with toddlers is helping me to become a better adult.
The Lord is very wise.

On July 13-15 we were able to get away for the weekend; up to the
Catskills of New York state for a Marriage Retreat led by Lori and
John Odhner. It was wonderful! There were 9 couples there (so 18
people, although John Odhner kept referred to it as 19 because of our
baby). The whole weekend was filled with friendship and wisdom and
music and laughing. It was very rejuvenating!

The trip up was a bit of an adventure though! We drove up with
Calvin and Maggie Odhner, who are very good friends of ours. The
trip was like a comedy of errors. We were supposed to get to the
Retreat by about 7:00... well we didn't get there until almost 1:00
at night! First we got off late, and then we forgot some of my
music equipment. Then we got stuck in stand-still traffic. Then we
took a wrong turn and ended up heading into New York City. THEN...
the car broke down! So we ended up stuck in a place called
Tarrytown New York, and we got some pizza (having missed our dinner
reservations) and searched for a car rental place, but the closest
place to rent a car was the airport, but it took forever to get there
because there was a man-hunt on the highway, and the only available
rental car was almost too small, etc, etc, etc. But all in all, it
was a lot of fun to spend that time with Calvin and Maggie!

Jori and Abbey and Malcolm, meanwhile, were back at our house
watching our little kids, which we are very grateful for. It sounded
like a good weekend was had by all.

On the 17th we had the last meeting of our second Marriage Support
Group. Many of the people involved in this group were interested in
continuing! So after the baby is old enough and we start it up
again, we might turn it into an on-going thing (instead of just an 8
week session) which would be great!

On the 19th we went out food shopping, and came back having bought
our minivan! We hadn't intended to buy the van on that trip, but we
though we would drive through the car dealership near the grocery
store and see what they had. Well, they had exactly the right van
for us. It's a 2002 Toyota Sienna. It had 87,000 miles on it. It's
only had one owner. And most importantly... it's a nice color blue
and it has a CD player! ;-)
It was a price we could afford, and the salesman was not at all
pushy. So we were able to buy our minivan before the new baby
came! Now we will all fit into one car. We've been having a lot of
fun on Tirah's maternity leave, just driving around in it.

On the 21st, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" arrived in the
mail! We spent the next week reading it together, which was another
nice thing to be doing on Tirah's maternity leave. Great book by the
way! I don't know how many of you have read Harry Potter, but Tirah
and I are pretty big fans. The last book in the series definitely
lived up to our expectations for sheer entertainment as well as
philosophical and spiritual value.

I've sort of been taking a vacation since Tirah's been on maternity
leave, so I don't have much to report on the music front. Although I
almost have my next piece of sheet music available ("Surrender" from
the "Peace of Heaven" album). I'll keep you posted.

Coming up soon... I will be reporting the birth of our third child!
Stay tuned for that!

Have a great day!

Solomon, Tirah, Thea, Cirdan, and Baby.

Keal Family Letter, July 2007

Hello Friends and Family!

Tirah is now in week 36 of 40. By next month, the baby will be just
about done and ready to take out of the oven. Currently we are
working hard to keep the baby turned the right way around. The baby
has been breech (head up) for much of the last month. Tirah has been
lying up-side-down, using hot and cold on her tummy, using
moxibustion (or "socks combustion" as I like to call it) which is an
Eastern method for turning a breech baby in which you hold a
smoldering "cigar" near the pregnant woman's baby toes, which is
supposed to trigger pressure points that turn the baby around. How
did they figure that sort of thing out? Then there's also
homeopathy, and chiropractic, and not to mention a daily dose of
prayer. For some reason, the baby doesn't seem to want to just
stay head down yet. Hopefully everything that we're doing will
convince it otherwise. As of this writing, I believe the baby is
head down. Keep us in your prayers!

Cirdan turned three on the 13th last month. Unfortunately he was
sick on his birthday. We went ahead and celebrated that day (because
it was Tirah's day off), but it was not quite the fun day that we
were hoping it would be. We gave Cirdan a little drum set, which he
now likes, but wasn't impressed by on his birthday. Fortunately
Cirdan got a whole bunch of kid's TV shows on tape from Mormor, which
was just perfect for a sick-day/birthday. Thanks Mom!

Cirdan entered the realm of "three-year-old-boy" with a bang. You'd
think he got his first major dose of testosterone, because he
suddenly has become very violent. He just loves to hit and whack
and kick. Which is fine when it's a soccer ball, but not when it's
his sister's head. Our methods of punishment (the naughty room)
don't seem to be having an effect on him anymore. He's still the
sweet little Cirdan that he's always been, but he definitely has a
Jekyll and Hyde aspect to his nature now.

Thea keeps growing up. Her current struggle is with being too
bossy. But over-all I think it's just a manifestation of the fact
that she loves people, and loves to be very involved in whatever the
people around her are doing.

Just this morning, I took the kids to the Younger Children's Service
at our church, and for the first time they got very involved with the
service. In the past, they would just sit on my lap and ask me over
and over when it was going to be over. But this time (for some
reason) they both decided that they were going to sit up front on the
little chairs (without me), and they sat nicely and listened to the
minister, and even answered and asked questions. It was really
cool! I was very proud of them.

Tirah has 11 more days of work (including today) until her maternity
leave. Her last day is the 24th of July. It's definitely been
getting harder for her as the days get hotter. There's no air
conditioning in the Hawk Mountain Bookstore. Over-all though, it's
been a good experience for Tirah to be working while being pregnant.
It certainly helps that it's a job that she really likes. But beyond
that, it's actually a preferable situation to the one I'm in as the
stay-at-home parent. We were realizing the other day that our jobs
are actually sort of similar. We're both managers. Tirah's job
involves telling other people what to do. My job also involves
telling other people what to do. The only difference is... my people
DON'T LISTEN TO ME! And so I spend a good portion of my day
running around after toddlers, picking them up when they're naughty
or hurt, breaking up fights, getting yelled at when they're mad.
It's certainly not an environment conducive to rest. We're actually
really glad that Tirah is not in my position while being enormously
pregnant. When people find out that Tirah is working while being
pregnant, they often say things like: "Oooh, that's gotta be
rough." And our response lately is something like, "Actually it's
better than the alternative!"

On Father's Day this year, Tirah gave me a wonderful present. She
took the day off of work, to give me the day off! It's been a while
since I've had a day off (that wasn't still a parenting day). I got
to play around with some new music software that I got. It was

We got to be in the June 19th pageant this year in our church, which
was fun. Our family along with another family was representing the
Children of Israel in the wilderness in the story of the Lord giving
the manna. The nice thing was, just as the kids were getting bored
with the whole pageant thing, the angels came with the manna, which
was real bread, and the kids got to actually eat it! It actually
worked out really well, because before the manna arrived, our kids
were complaining, just like the children of Israel were in the
story. Good job kids! Great acting!

On the 23rd of June, we went to Gordon McQueen's 40th birthday party,
which was a lot of fun. I was asked to write and read a funny poem
in his honor, so I did a spoof of the Night Before Christmas. It
was a lot of fun. It was one of the first social situations where I
was able to relax a little bit, as a parent. The kids are getting
old enough now, that they don't need constant supervision. It was nice.

On the 24th was our 6th anniversary, which we celebrated on the 27th
because that was Tirah's day off. We went out for a family
breakfast in the morning, and then took the kids to the Lehigh Valley
Zoo, and then to lunch at Wegmans, and then we went swimming in the
afternoon. After the kids were in bed, Tirah and I ate our
traditional anniversary dinner: Chicken, Fresh Mozzarella, and French
Bread, with Sparkling Apple Cider. It was a good day.

The July 4th celebration here in Kempton was also a lot of fun. It
was a nice cool day... overcast and windy. Perfect for pregnant
ladies. My A Cappella group sang four songs including the Star
Spangled Banner, and Taps. That evening we got to hang out with Abby
and Malcolm, and Thane. We had a nice barbecue and did sparklers in
between the raindrops.

The sad news is that my Grandpa Keal just passed into the spiritual
world this month on July 5th. He was 92. However, it's very nice to
know that he is out of pain now. I can just picture him running and
jumping and doing a little jig up in Heaven. And I'm sure he's
already making the angels laugh with his jokes. As one Keal leaves
this world, a new one will be entering it soon.

This weekend, Tirah and I are heading up to the mountains of New York
state for a Marriage Retreat led by Lori and John Odhner. It's a
Marriage Support Support Weekend (for people who are actively
involved in Marriage Support) We are very much looking forward to
it. It will be a nice little vacation just before the baby comes.
And made possible by Jori and Abby who are watching our kids while we
are away! Thanks you two!

The jury is still out on this house that we hope to rent in
Virginville. The landlords apparently are in no hurry to get someone
to move in. It's been a month since we turned in our application.
But they still have a toilet to install, and a garage to clean out.
We're just hoping that we'll be the only ones left when they get
around to calling people!

So that's about all for now. Next month... the baby will be coming!

Have a great day everyone!


- Solomon (30), Tirah (27), Thea (4), Cirdan (3), and Baby Keal
(almost 0).

Keal Family Letter, June 2007

Hello Friends and Family!

Tirah is now in week 31 of 40. The baby is roughly a foot long, and
weighs about 3 and 1/2 pounds. The baby is capable of opening it's
eyes. It has hair on it's head, and toenails on it's toes. It's
brain is capable of memory, learning, and processing sights and sounds.

Thea and Cirdan have really enjoyed the monthly visits by our
midwife, Robin, and they can't wait to hear the "Baby's Heart Beep!"
as they call it.

Cirdan will be turning 3 on the 13th of this month! He tends to be
covered in "owies" lately, because he's a rough-and-tumble little boy.

Thea has lately become fascinated with "what's in our bodies."
Periodically she will ask me, "Papa, what is in our bodies?" and I
will then tell her as much as I can remember from Anatomy classes in
school. She already knows about the heart, the lungs, the brain,
the stomach, bones, muscles, nerves, drums (eardrums), and even
things like tendons. It's really fun to watch her little brain soak
up this information and try to process it.

We had our American Flag out for Memorial Day, and the kid's
mispronunciation of the name of the flag was very profound: They
were trying to say "It's an American Flag!" but it came out: "It's A
Miracle Flag!"

There's a robin's nest up in the rafters of our back porch, and last
month we watched four baby robins hatch, and grow, and be fed, and
finally fledge (fly from their nest.) Me and the kids actually got
to observe 3 of the 4 baby robins leave the nest and take their very
first flight. The whole process is so common and yet still so
miraculous to watch. Tirah and I found ourselves sitting on the back
porch just watching the robin's nest, like it was the most
fascinating TV show! I actually have some video footage of Thea and
Cirdan following a little baby robin around the yard, who had just
flown from the nest. Because they had grown up on our porch, they
weren't really afraid of us. One of these days, I'll get around to
posting that video for y'all to see.

We've been house hunting this past month, and we found a wonderful
little rental house in Virginville (about 4 miles away from
Lenhartsville), that would be just perfect for us. It's a three bed-
room house, with a fully enclosed-insulated-finished back porch,
which would be perfect for my studio. It's got a large yard, and
it's in a nice quite little town. And it's a price that we can just
We sent in our application, so now we just have to wait, and hope
that they like us! We're very much hoping that we'll get it,
because we really like it! And if we do get it, we could be moving
this month!

We celebrate our 6th anniversary at the end of this month! We're in
the middle of our second round of Marriage Support Group, which is
very much fun, and very enlightening and useful.

And that's about all for now!

We hope you are all doing well.

Have a great day!

- Solomon, Tirah, Thea, Cirdan, and Baby Keal.

Keal Family Letter, May 2007

Hello Friends and Family!

The Spring-Time weather has arrived here in Lenhartsville! We are spending most of our days outside now; playing in the swings, digging in the sand-box, helping Meemaw, and Deedaw in the garden, going on walks, eating meals outside.

Tirah is now in week 27 of 40. The baby is the size of an ear of corn. Tirah now weighs more than I do. She's a very tired Mama! We are all looking forward to maternity leave in July. But she has more energy that she probably would if she wasn't taking Body Balance right now. (An aloe-vera, sea vegetable liquid supplement). In fact we're all taking it, and it's helping all of us. I'm no longer taking Sam-E for depression, and I seem to have a higher tolerance for sugar. Pretty cool stuff.

Thea and Cirdan are doing well, although they both have a "night-time" cough right now. Around Easter we took the kids up to Hawk Mountain for a "Raptor Egg Hunt," in which a whole bunch of little kids got a short and humorous lecture about birds of prey, and then we all marched off into the woods to hunt for little wooden "raptor eggs" that the "Spring-Time Raptor" had hidden for them. It was a lot of fun... except that it was snowing!

A couple of weeks ago I took the kids (with Tamar and Dandridge and family) to the Lehigh Valley Zoo, which we had never been to before. It's a nice size Zoo for little kids.

On May 1st, Tirah and the kids got to participate in a May Pole Dance at Gray Glenn's.

We started up our second round of Marriage Support Group here in Kempton last Tuesday night (May 1st). We may even have a slightly larger group than we had the first time, which is very exciting for us, because at first it was looking like we might not have enough people at all. But we had several last minute couples joining. It's a lot of fun to be doing it again!

Oh, some exciting news: We paid off our Subaru Outback! (Thanks to our tax refund!) Which is perfect timing, because we are about to out-grow it! Once the baby is born, we won't all fit into the wagon. So we will be looking for a mini-van pretty soon.

We also may be moving within the next 12 months. Not only are we out-growing our car, but our shared household as well. After considering all the possible options, it seems like the best plan for everyone will be for us to find an apartment that we can afford and also fit into. So the house hunting has begun! I'm actually hoping that the house next-door will become available for rent soon, and we can simply move one house over. It would be less of a culture-shock for the kids, since Meemaw and Deedaw will be right next-door. The ideal will be to find a place that has three bed-rooms, plus a space for my studio (essentially a four-bedroom place) for something that we can afford. We'll see what happens. The Lord is in charge.

If any of you want sheet music for my piano compositions, please let me know which ones you would like. "Star Gazing" is done and available here: http://www.lulu.com/solomonkeal. And I'm working on "Surrender," from my latest album.

Roxanne and I will be starting to record the flute and piano album this month! Yay!

Well, that's all for now. Gotta go back outside!

Solomon, Tirah, Thea, Cirdan, and Baby Keal.

Keal Family Letter, April 2007

Hello Friends and Family!

Happy Easter everyone! "I'm... dreaming... of a white... Easter?" Yes indeed, here in Kempton we had a white Easter. It was flurrying on and off all day. We didn't have any accumulation, except up at Hawk Mountain where they got a visible dusting on the ground, until the sun burnt it off. Strange Spring-time. Maybe it's due to Global Warming... or... something....

Tirah is in week 24 of her pregnancy with our third child. The baby is 8.5 inches long, weighs 1.25 pounds, and is the size of a carrot... at least so says AmericanBaby.com. The baby has been kicking up a storm lately. It's always fun to get those first sensory signs of life.

Also according to AmericanBaby.com, "In his watery kingdom, my child can hear sounds -- Tirah's beating heart, stomach growls, and even a muffled distortion of our voices. He is sensitive to loud noises, which can startle him or cause him to blink or jump. He is alert and stretching his limbs, kicking, gripping, and following the umbilical cord with his hands."

He is only a "he" this week. Next week I'm sure he'll be a "she." At least that's what AmericanBaby.com says. :-)

Cirdan is a rambunctious little "almost-3-year-old." He'll be turning 3 in June. His favorite words right now are "No!" and "Why?" "No" of course is just the default reaction of any "almost-3-year-old." If you say anything to Cirdan, he'll say "No" first to cover his bases. He can always say "Yes" a split second later if he decides that he actually agrees with us, but it's better to be safe than sorry, I guess.

And "Why?" is really just another way of saying, "Tell me more about that... I'll let you know when I've lost interest in that topic."

Cirdan: "Hey Papa, there's a leaf on that tree!"

Me: "Yes there is."

Cirdan: "Why?"

Of course the easy answer is, "Because that's the way the Lord made it." or even simply, "Because." ...as if that's really an answer.

Then of course the reply is, "Why?"

What Cirdan really wants me to do is to say: "Because trees use a process called photosynthesis in which they use sunlight to synthesize foods from carbon dioxide and water. The reason that the leaf is green is because of a pigment called..."

Cirdan: "Papa, I'm hungry."

Me: "O.K. Let's go get lunch."

Thea actually operates on the same definition of "Why?" as well. But she can go for much longer before she loses interest in what I'm saying. It can actually be a fun way to try to remember everything I learned in my years of school. I also believe that it's just a good way to parent... to let our children know that we actually want to communicate with them.

Speaking of remembering what I learned in school, Tirah and I are reading Bill Bryson's "A Short History of Nearly Everything," and last night we were reading the chapter on Cells, and he said that it's been estimated that we lose 500 brain cells an hour! No wonder I'm so... I'm so... (what's the word?)... so.... Dumb!

Along with "No!" and "Why?" some of Cirdan's other favorite words are... unrepeatable. What is it with kids and potty talk!? They think that the word "Poopy" is the funniest thing they have ever heard in their short lives. Tirah and I struggle with knowing how to parent them in this situation, because it seems like our reaction to their potty talk just makes it even more funny for them. They know that they're not supposed to say certain words, and if they mumble them under their breath, and we catch them at it, they are amazingly clever at weaseling out of it.

Me: "Cirdan! Don't say that! That's rude!"

Cirdan: "Papa, I was just talking about Whinnie the Pooh... in his pants!"

Cirdan loves to walk around the house saying words like "Poofy!" or "Goopy!" or "Chicken Coup!" or "Basketball Hoop!" Partly because he knows it gets our attention, but also partly because he genuinely thinks those words are funny because of what they sound like.

Cirdan even knows how to spell a few words!... but only words that start with the letter "p." He'll walk around shouting, "Pig starts with PEEEEEE!" Crazy kid!

Thea has become a wonderful little helper lately! She is in her element when she is helping us with something.
I'm in the middle of reading a great book called "You Cant' Make Me... But I Can Be Persuaded." by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias. It's about Parenting Strong-Willed Children. It's a great book for me to read, because it describes very accurately and with warm affection and respect, the personality type that both Thea and Tirah fit into. Strong Willed Children (or SWCs) are the people that change the world!... in both bad AND good ways. Reading this book has been a great window into the minds of not only my 4 year old daughter, but also my wife of almost 6 years. It's been a lot of fun, and amazingly useful.

Basically I need to learn how to let Thea have SOME control, and then she's a happy camper. I need to ask her opinion, I need to give her reasonable choices. (For example: "Eat your food, or go to the Naughty Room!" is not a reasonable choice) I need to learn to be O.K. with her facing the consequences of some things in order for her to learn. I need to be flexible enough to let her be in charge of some aspect of her life, that I would prefer to be in charge of. Basically I need to learn to cooperate with her as much as I want her to cooperate with me. It's been wonderful to see the change in our relationship based on these principles.

Thea saw me reading the book the other day and asked me what I was reading, so I said,
"It's a book that helps me learn how to be a better Papa."
And with a very excited look on her face she said,
"Oooh! I want a book that helps me learn how to be a better Thea!"

Cirdan is not as much of a SWC. For example the other day I heard (word-for-word) my kids say:

Thea: "Papa, I'm going up stairs with you."
Cirdan: "Papa, can I go up stairs with you?"

That's the difference between Thea and Cirdan in a nutshell.

Tirah's been feeling very tired lately. She's carrying around a lot of extra weight. But she was telling me that there is a good aspect of her working right now, which is that she has something to focus on all day, other than her enormous tummy. With her previous pregnancies, her life seemed to revolve around her pregnancy, while this time, she can focus on her work, and not get caught up in the negative aspects of pregnancy. We are, however, very much looking forward to the time when she goes on maternity leave.

Last month I turned 30! I had a very nice birthday party. Tirah took me out to Outback restaurant with most of my family. And then we went to Roxanne's house for brownie sundaes. It was a good birthday.

On March 31st, my 7 part men's a cappella group had a gig singing for the General Church Treasurer's Banquet here in Kempton. It went really well. We sang four very entertaining songs, which were: "Spam" (by Moose Butter), our own "revised" version of a classic Barbershop song called "Aura Lee," a very appropriate Treasurer's Meetings song called "Everybody Said," and a nice sort of campfire song called "Sweet Potato." We even got the event captured on video, and I spent some time creating a nice little DVD of the gig using Apple's iMovie and iDVD.

Some exciting news for my music business: First: I have a new website! Go check it out at the same address: http://www.solomonkeal.com. The photo at the top is from a place called Loon Lake in New York state, where we vacationed once. The photo was taken by somebody in my family (I can't remember who) and it was enhanced by Elise Genzlinger. She also nicely combined that photo with a portrait photo which is on the About page. I then sent all that on to Steve Simons who designed a very cool website which I think will be much more user-friendly and able to do what I want it to do.

Second: I now have a piece of sheet music available for one of my compositions! The sheet music is for the piece, "Star Gazing," from the album "Thoughts and Affections." You can purchase and download this sheet music by clicking on this link: http://www.lulu.com/solomonkeal, or by clicking on any of the link for sheet music on my website.

If you have a piece of mine that you would like to see in sheet music form, please let me know. I've started assembling a Request List, and I will be notating my music on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Well, that's about all for this month. Whoa, the month is almost half over anyway!

I hope you all are doing well.

Solomon, Tirah, Thea, Cirdan, and Baby Keal

Keal Family Letter, March 2007

Hello Friends and Family!

Happy March to you all. We had pretty much snow here in
Lenhartsville this past month. Unfortunately enough to shut down
the highway near our house. But fortunately enough to build a
snowman in the back yard with Thea and Cirdan. Well, actually a
snowlady... she was wearing a flowery sun hat, and a purple scarf.
The kids had a lot of fun with it... O.K. so did I... O.K. maybe I
had more fun with it than the kids did.
It got a little warmer towards the end of the month; warm enough to
rain and melt a lot of snow, and get our hopes up about Spring... but
now it's getting colder again, and it's currently flurrying outside
my window.

So starting with the youngest and going to the oldest:

Baby Keal is 18 weeks old (in the womb). He or she is 5.5 inches
long, and weighs 5.5 oz, just big enough to cradle in the palm of
one's hand. Fingerprints and footprints are starting to form on his
or her tiny little feet and fingers. Tirah has felt a few tiny
kicks already, and has started to notice that the baby seems to "wake
up" right as we are settling down for bed. The baby has been the
most behaved little kid I have ever been around. He or she doesn't
scream when he or she doesn't get his or her way. He or she
finishes all of his or her supper. Over-all, he or she doesn't get
into too much trouble. An absolute gem of a kid!

Moving up: Cirdan is 2 and 2/3. His favorite things right now are:
Dinosaurs, soccer, and cars. His favorite dinosaur is the
Triceratops, or "Top-ceratops" as he calls it. I certainly get my
exercise when I play soccer with Cirdan, which consists of running up
and down the hall way while kicking, throwing, or carrying his soccer
ball. And if I put two matchbox cars in his hands, he will be off
in his own little world for hours. Cirdan is learning to
communicate better everyday, while still retaining that adorable 2-
year-old comprehension of language. The other day Tirah was reading
a book about animals to the kids. They got to a page which had a
picture of a fox on it. Thea said, "That's a fox." and Cirdan
responded with, "No Thea, it's just one Fok!" One fok, two fox...
that makes sense!

I've discovered a perpetual motion machine! Here's how to build
it: You take one 2-year-old boy who loves to ask, "Why?" over and
over again. And you put him in the same room with a 4-year-old girl
who loves to talk non-stop... and boom! you've got a perpetual
motion machine. It's great!

Thea is 4 years old. She is quite the amazing little girl. Her
latest thing is that she keeps getting better at singing harmony to
songs. Tirah and I always sing lullabies to the kids before bed, and
we usually sing two-part harmony; Tirah on the melody, and me on the
harmony. Thea has been soaking this in for a while now. She
eventually started learning to sing my harmony (an octave or two up),
and would be able to sing along with me. Now, she has progressed to
the point where she makes up her own harmony, and we end up singing 3-
part harmony with our 4-year old daughter every night during
lullabies! She doesn't always get it right, but more often than not
she does, and she makes it up! This third part is not something
that we taught her... she just hears where the right notes should
be! Last night, totally out of the blue, she surprised us at the
end of one lullaby by intentionally singing harmony that created
suspension (where her note moved over three notes to create a
suspended chord which then resolved into the final major chord)!
That's the sort of thing you hear in classical pieces! It's very cool!

Thea has (I think finally) stopped taking naps. This means that I
have to switch my music time to the evenings because I don't get it
as much during naps anymore. Sometimes she will play happily by
herself, but she's a very social "Quality Time" little girl, so
during Cirdan's nap I try to spend more time playing with her. We
also might start putting her to bed at night a little later than
Cirdan. She often keeps him awake with fun games, chatter, and
uproarious laughter. We think we might try having Cirdan's bedtime
at 8:00 and Thea's at 8:30. Plus that gives Thea a little more
Quality Time with us, and especially with Mama.

Tirah is more and more feeling the weight of the baby. Morning
sickness is not a problem anymore, in fact she has lately been
craving meat, which is something that used to make her sick a few
months ago. Tirah is essentially working two jobs: helping a book
store grow, and helping a little baby grow... at the same time.
Understandably, she gets very tired. We are also starting to
wonder if Tirah suffers from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder),
because we've started to notice that she often gets the blues in the
winter, so we are very much looking forward to Spring.

Tirah has been doing some great things at Hawk Mountain. She began a
program in which Hawk Mountain features monthly events throughout the
non-migration season. She's had two events so far: The Snowflake
Flurry in January, and Feed the Birds in February. These events were
designed to get families to come to Hawk Mountain, even when the
birds aren't flying as much. For the Snowflake Flurry, Tirah read a
book aloud to children, about snowflakes, and then taught people how
to make some really cool snowflake patterns. This past month she
read a children's book about Bird Beaks, and then helped people make
Pine Cone Birdfeeders. While the first event was a little slower,
the second event noticeably boosted the bookstore sales, and both
events were written up in local newspapers, complete with a picture
of my beautiful wife! Very cool stuff!

Tirah and I attended the Caring For Marriage Conference in Bryn Athyn
this past month. http://www.caringformarriage.org. We ran a
workshop on Marriage and Depression, which went very well. We also
sang some of our songs for the Sunday night celebration at the end of
the conference. The conference was a ton of fun! And with a new
baby on the way, we decided it was time to take a second honeymoon,
so we left the kids at home with Meemaw and Deedaw for that weekend,
and we rented a hotel room for three nights! It was luxurious! Not
something we can really afford, but if we have to go into debt for
the sake of a healthy marriage, I'm all for that! It's all part of
the philosophy that we try to live; of spending as much time, energy
and money on our marriage, as we did on our courtship and wedding.
The last day in Bryn Athyn was also Tirah's birthday, so it worked
nicely for celebrating that too.

So once again, we're doing a "No TV Diet" for a month. We often get
into bad habits of watching too much TV, so we put the TV away for a
month to focus on more important things, and hopefully get into a
better habit with our movie watching. When we do it successfully,
we often end up not watching TV for about two months just because of
the good habit we got ourselves into!

My music business is doing pretty well. With the baby on the way
this year, I don't know if I will manage to produce another album by
the end of this year. But I do hope to start producing sheet music
very soon. I have the notation software now, I just need to learn
how to use it. I've had some really cool for-hire studio projects
lately. Somebody hired me to create a soundtrack from an older
movie, for which the soundtrack was unavailable. With my audio
sequencing software I was able to cut out dialogue and put together a
really fun soundtrack, edited straight from the movie! And I got
paid for it!

In less than a week, I will be turning 30! Although I don't know
why I'm telling all of you that... the "old man" teasing has already

At one point in my twenties, I made myself a goal to be doing music
full-time by the time I was 30. So while it's not supporting the
family yet, I'm at least on that road heading in the right direction,
and that makes me feel good.

Have a great day everyone!

Love from,
Solomon, Tirah, Thea, Cirdan, and Baby Keal.