Monday, November 3, 2008

Keal Family Newsletter, Autumn 2008

Hello Friends and Family!

Long time, no write!   Happy November everyone!

I've missed two months of family newsletters due to a very busy life
lately.   I try to remember to take some notes as I go, but I'm sure
I've forgotten some of the funny cute things that I always try to
capture in these newsletters.   Anyway, this newsletter will be a
whirlwind recap of the past three months in the Solomon and Tirah
Keal family.

August 11th, Jaden turned one year old.  (Although in a week he will
actually be 15 months old.)  We had a really fun birthday party for
him.  He had his very first taste of chocolate cake; sort of a
traditional right of passage for our children on their first birthday.  
August 16th we moved his crib into the kid's room, and began the
process of trying to get him to sleep through the night, so that we
could sleep through the night.   For parents, sleep is like
Christmas.  We can't wait for it to come!   
It took a while, but for the most part (if he's not sick) Jaden now
sleeps through the night.
When Jaden was around 13 months, he started walking, and at around 14
months he started talking.  Aside from Mama and Papa, his first real
two-syllable word was "Apple."   These days he gives most of the
words he hears his best shot.  It's very cute.   When I call out "Who
wants lunch?"   I hear Thea say "I do!"  and Cirdan say "Me
too!"  and Jaden follows up with "Doo!"
Jaden has also recently adopted a stuffed animal/security object
which is a small stuffed duck that Tirah got at Hawk Mountain.  He
loves it, and kisses it,  and calls it "Duckie."
One of the things Jaden has loved to do for many months now is climb
up the stairs.  But he still hasn't mastered climbing down the
stairs.  I think it's a very interesting analogy for us:  Babies are
built for climbing up, not down.  Humans are destined for Heaven not

Cirdan is in that very difficult 4-year-old phase.  People talk about
the Terrible Twos, but in our house it's proven to be the Frightening
Fours.   He's rebellious, stubborn, rude, violent, irrational... and
most of that is very understandable for his stage of development, it
just makes it hard for us parents.   When I get too tunnel-visioned,
I can get very codependent with all of that.  But when I can take a
step back, I can loosen up and laugh at stories like this one:
One day at noon after I just finished making his lunch and put it on
his plate, Cirdan said: "Papa I'm not hungry, I don't want my lunch!"
I was too tired to fight it, so I said nothing as he walked away...
... then one minute (literally 60 seconds) later, he said: "Papa when
is snack time?"
So I said, "Right now, it's on your plate!"
And he said, "Oh, O.K. great!"   ... and he ate his lunch!

It's amazing how easy it is to get mad at our children because they
are irrational.   They're not capable of rationality, and yet we get
mad at them when they can't think the way we think.   One day when
Cirdan was screaming his head off at me, he included in his long list
of complaints that I was mad at him!   It reminded me of how we may
sometimes think that God is mad at us, because things are not going
well in our life.   God is never mad.   How irrational we must look
in His eyes!   Fortunately God doesn't get mad at us for being
irrational, which in turn is a great model for us as parents.

Thea had her first day of Kindergarten on September 3rd.   Over-all
it's gone well.  She's been a little nervous at times.  Some mornings
she is looking forward to school, while other mornings she is a bit
scared.   As time passes it's been more of the former and less of the
later.  She's also struggled with her own individuality in
school.  She is a very good artist, but some of her class-mates
aren't as good, so she feels like she needs to not draw as well as
she can, so that nobody feels uncomfortable.  She's a very sensitive
little girl.

Well, as many of you probably know, Tirah's mom, Margie Echols passed
away on September 5th.   She died of cancer at only 56 years old.  A
few days before she died, the indications were given that it could be
very soon, so Tirah was able to fly out to Ohio, and she was there
when she died.   The kids and I flew out on the 6th and we were all
there for a few days, as well as for the Memorial Service in Ohio.
Tirah's boss was very understanding, and she was able to get about a
week of bereavement leave.   On the 11th, there was also a Memorial
Service in the Cathedral in Bryn Athyn.
Tirah has been in a state of shock for the last two months, and is
now getting some grief counseling and coming to terms with the loss
of her mother at such a young age.  It's nice to know Margie is out
of physical pain, but it's very hard for Tirah to know that she won't
be able to talk to her anymore on this earth, and that the
relationship she had with her mother no longer has the ability to
change and grow into maturity... at least not until we all see Margie
again in Heaven.
The idea of Margie being out of physical pain reminds me of a scene
from the movie "The Five People You Meet In Heaven" when the old man
spends his first hours in the spiritual world running and
jumping...  simply because he could.   It was poignantly exciting to
note that Jaden was taking his first steps in this world, at about
the same time that his grandmother was taking her first steps in the
next world.

Tirah went to her 10 year High School reunion during the Charter Day
weekend in Bryn Athyn.  She was a little apprehensive about it, but
it ended up being a lot of fun for both of us.

We've started a new thing for our marriage recently.  Instead of
trying to have regular Date Nights, we've decided to have Date Days
instead.  For one thing, date nights are typically limited in what we
can do.  Dinner, movie, etc., most of the time costing money we don't
really have, and also not being conducive to actually connecting with
each other.   We also tend to be much more tired in the evening.  So
even if we decided to just stay home and play a game or read a book,
those best laid plans are often trumped by a lack of energy that gets
us flipping on the TV and becoming couch potatoes.   So we decided to
do Date Days instead.  We have a regular babysitter that comes every
Wednesday afternoon anyway.  Most of the time she watches the kids
while we get work done, or she cleans our house while we watch the
kids.  But we realized that we could leave the house!  ... in the
afternoon!   So while the weather was nice we started going up to
Hawk Mountain to hike the trails together, and then find a nice rock
to sit on and enjoy nature while we read a book to each other for a
few hours.   It's been very nice.   As we go into winter, we'll
continue reading to each other, inside.   We can also take that time
to work on music together.

You may remember that in the past we've been shopping for a month at
a time to buy in discount bulk and to save money on gas by only
shopping once a month.  Well, that worked for a while.  But we've
shifted our views on what's important.  We've done an about face, and
we're now shopping almost exclusively local.   We're trying to stick
to our same food budget, and so far it's been O.K.   We live in a
great place to shop locally.  We can get local eggs, milk, meat,
maple syrup, honey, pickles, vegetables, fruit, jelly, etc.   We make
our own bread.  We drink raw milk.   It feels good to be not only
eating better quality food most of the time, but also to be
supporting our local economy. 

So Tirah and I are trying to complete our album of Love Songs in time
for the Marriage Conference in February.   It had been going pretty
well for a while.  I had a schedule that I was sticking too.  But
then I had to get my computer repaired, and I ended up being without
it for 3 weeks!  But we're going to stick to our goal, and I still
think we can do it, if we work hard.  It's been a lot of fun so far.  

On October 30th, my mom and dad hosted a Halloween Costume Party at
their house, designed for all their grand-children.  We all came in
costume, and then the kids got to decorate pumpkins, and do a
treasure hunt.  Then we had supper and pumpkin pie.  It was just
right for both the kids and the parents of kids.  I'm including a
picture of our family at the party.  Jaden is Tigger, Cirdan is
Superman, Thea is a ballerina, Tirah is a princess, and I'm a Generic
Historical Figure.

Well, that's all for now.
Have a great day everyone!

Solomon (31)
Tirah (28)
Thea (5 and 1/2)
Cirdan (4)
Jaden (15 months)