Monday, May 12, 2008

Keal Family Letter, May 2008

Hello Friends and Family!

Happy May to you all!

So as I said briefly in the last email, we've moved!   We now live just down the street from our old house; which is now completely back to being my Mom and Dad's house  (or Meemaw and Deedaw's house).   They've been working on getting the living room ready to re-paint.

We live on a wonderful piece of property right next to the Maiden Creek.  The property is owned by Tori (Victoria) Odhner who is turning the old barn on the Old 22 side of the property into the Creekside Cultural Center.   I've already performed there once, and I'll be performing there again.  Check out the website:

On the Penn Street side of the property is our house, and a little old two-story summer kitchen where Tori and her children sometimes stay on the weekend.   Our house is a beautiful brick house with two porches.  The living room is the same size as Mom and Dad's but without the wood stove, so it feels bigger.  There are lots of windows in the house, letting in glorious sunshine.  Upstairs there are three bedrooms, one of which is my studio.  But, where my studio was in a 9 foot by 9 foot room in Mom and Dad's house, it's now in a 17 foot by 12 foot room here!  It's big enough for many more recording projects than I was capable of before.  We're able to comfortably fit the Men's A Cappella Group into it.  The room is further from the noisy intersection thus making it easier to get clean recordings.   And the room also serves as our guest room and upstairs reading room, with a couch that turns into a bed.   

We love our new house.  The Lord is very wise.  It's always nice to look back and think about the other houses we looked at, and maybe even hoped for, and then realize that this is the best, and the Lord knew what He was doing.

So April 5th was our moving day.  Unfortunately we all got sick a day or two before that.  So the very first night we spent in our new house, we all felt miserable.  It took about a week for us to feel good enough to actually enjoy our new house.

Jaden turned 9 months old on the 11th (Mother's Day).  He's got two cute little teeth on the bottom, and two more teeth coming in on the top.  Unfortunately, all this teething has meant many sleepless nights for Mama and Papa.   Jaden isn't crawling yet, but he scoots around on his little (or not so little) bottom pretty effectively.   He's definitely the biggest baby we've had yet.  He's wearing summer-time clothes that Cirdan was wearing when he was walking!   He's still just experimenting with solid food.  Some pretzels, some Cheerios, some peas, and lots of teething biscuits.   Jaden has taken on the nickname: Bubba.  In part because he's so big, but also because that is the noise he likes to make lately: "Bubba bubba."

It's actually kind of funny to think back and realize that all of our children have had nicknames that started with the letter "B."   Thea was "Boo."  Cirdan was "Bear."  and Jaden is "Bubba."

Cirdan has entered that very difficult phase that we though Thea would never grow out of.   Fortunately Thea has grown out of it, so we know that we just have to hang in there with Cirdan and it too shall pass.   He likes to push the envelope so much that he could easily get a job at the US Post Office.   He's still in diapers and isn't yet interested in getting out of them, sometimes on a daily basis.  He has stopped taking naps.   He likes to hit when things don't go his way.  He likes to kick.  He doesn't like to eat supper at all.  He likes to yell "NOOOOOO!"   All the usual stuff.   Unfortunately, because Thea behaves better, and Jaden is so cute and needy, Cirdan often gets lost in the shuffle.  So we try to get some one-on-one time for him.  Tirah took him out to Cracker Barrel the other day, just Mama and Cirdan time.

Here's a funny piece of dialogue that I overheard the other day:
Thea: "Cirdan!  You're a Prince!"
Cirdan: "NO I'm NOT!
Thea: "Oh, yes you are!"
Cirdan: "Why?"
Thea: "Because, I'm a Princess!"
That little dialogue nicely sums up our oldest children's current states of life.

Thea lost her first tooth on April 12th.  It had been loose for a while before, and then during lunch one day, she bit into an orange and the tooth stayed in the orange.  It was actually a bit of an emotional event for her.  Not knowing what was going on, I looked over to find that she had taken the piece of orange out of her mouth and gotten down from her chair.  With a face that was brimming with tears she said as calmly as she could, "Papa, I'm done my lunch."   As she said it, I saw a flash of black in her row of whites.  So I asked her (in a very excited tone) if her tooth had come out.  We looked for it in the piece of orange and found the tiny little nugget of calcium.  Thea had been very scared that she had accidentally swallowed the tooth.  She was overcome with excitement at this rite of passage, as well as feeling some fear and sadness.  I gave her a hug as she laughed her tears out.

That night we put her tooth under her pillow, and in the morning the Tooth Fairy (who happens to work at Hawk Mountain) had left a butterfly coloring book for her.   Our kids are very smart.  Thea wanted to know if the Tooth Fairy was real or just pretend.  We told her that she was just pretend... and yet the mystery remains: how did the book get there?   It's an interesting thing to be a parent, and wanting to pass on family traditions, yet also wanting to always tell our kids the truth.

You know the Golden Rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."   So often I think we limit the application of that rule to how we should behave when we're dealing with other adults.  But really, it's one of the best Parenting Tips in existence.  I can't even count how many times I have NOT done this with my kids, and had it backfire in my face.  For example: We ask our kids to please be patient when they're begging us to make lunch NOW, and calling our names (or their favorite foods) out over and over again.  And yet, what do we model for them?:   "Thea put your shoes on now.  NOW!  We're going to be late!   I don't care what your doing right now, you need to get your shoes on!"   Thea could very justifiably turn to me and say "Papa, please be patient."   Because we tend to have different priorities than our kids do, we forget that our kids have priorities at all, and that they feel legitimately strongly about them.   It's amazing what the Golden Rule can do for changing our perspective and bringing peace and patience to parenting.

Thea recently was given a bicycle as a late birthday present!  It's got training wheels, and it's pink and purple with a bell!  Thea has been very excited about learning to ride it.  Cirdan has been a bit jealous, but there's the hope that comes with his 4th birthday coming up in June.  And it has also inspired him to get better about riding his tricycle.
On our street is a wonderful old bridge that crosses Maiden Creek, and gets hardly any car traffic.  It's the perfect spot to ride bikes.  And it's practically in our backyard.  I'm really looking forward to our whole family riding bikes together this summer.  

We decided that we will send Thea to Kindergarten at the Kempton New Church School, so we are all looking forward to that this Fall.

On April 12th I had a concert at the new Creekside Cultural Center, which is in the barn at the other end of our property.  That was fun, and I hope to perform there more in the future.  In fact, Tirah and I will be doing Coffee Houses there.  I'll be providing nice live piano background music, while Tirah will provide coffee and snacks, and people can come and hang out.  If you're in the neighborhood, we'll be doing those on Wednesday nights, May 14th and 28th, 6-8 PM.  We'll tell you how it goes next month.

On April 22nd, I had fun voting for my wife!  She ran as an alternate delegate for the Republican Party.  Unfortunately she was not elected.  But she did get the most number of votes of any alternate delegate in Lenhartsville.  And she learned a lot in the process, and was glad to be so actively involved in this election process.  I think you can still see her profile here:

My two sisters had their babies; both girls!   So now all of my Mom and Dad's children have families with two boys and one girl!
Tamar and Danridge's daughter's name is Tova Allison.   Roxanne and Peter's daughter's name is Shiloh Lee.   (Don't sue me if I got the spelling wrong on those names.)

On the 29th, Tirah and Thea went down to Bryn Athyn for a shower for Tirah's sister Abby.  It was some great Mama/Daughter time.  The shower included a wedding dress fashion show, in which Thea got to wear a flower-girl dress.  I wasn't there, but I can imagine that she was in heaven.

Tirah has recently discovered (or suspected) that she suffers from ADD.  She hasn't had it officially diagnosed.  But this has been a positive revelation for her, because it explains things about her behavior that she assumed were just her own faults.   But like me with Depression, the Rumpelstiltskin effect has been empowering for her.  Just being able to name the problem has given her power over it.  She's been discovering many cool things online that are great tools for people suffering from ADD.

Oh, and by the way, I've loaded all of my past and current Keal Family Newsletters onto a blog, which you can read by going here:

And finally, in music news:

I have a music video which you can watch here:
I also have new sheet music available for "Thoughtfulness" from the "Peace of Heaven album."

Well that's about all for now.  Hopefully I'll send a family photo soon.

Have a great day!

Love from, 

Solomon "Soggy" Keal
Tirah "T" Keal
Thea "Boo" Keal
Cirdan "Bear" Keal
Jaden "Bubba" Keal