Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Keal Family Newsletter, Spring 2009

Hello Friends and Family.

Boy has life been busy lately. I keep waiting for life to get back
to Normal, because then I will have Time to do all the Important
Things I want to do. But as Dr. Seuss so aptly put it: life is no
fun if you're stuck in the Waiting Place.

Part of my intent with this series of "monthly" email newsletters was
to capture some of the wonderful developments that I get to witness
as a stay-at-home dad. It's hard not to feel bad that I haven't
captured all of them because of missing months. But once again, life
is best lived in the present, not the past. Maybe as I write this
newsletter some of the cute things I have watched my children do or
say over the past couple of months will come back to me.

My last real family newsletter was in November, and then a quick
Christmas newsletter in December. A lot has happened since then.

Starting with the cutest member of our family:
Jaden Micah is over 1 and 1/2 years old. He is capable of walking up
and down the stairs on his own (which is nice because "No more baby-
gate!"), and he can even do a few steps without holding on to the
railing. He has a constantly growing vocabulary. Just yesterday I
heard him say "Amazing!" His favorite toys are cars, and
specifically the toy cars from the Pixar movie "Cars." His favorite
character being Lightning McQueen who he calls simply "Queen," and
then close seconds being "Mater" and "Doc." I will often find
Jaden face down on the living room rug with cars lined up inches from
his eyes, and then I will hear a tiny voice say, "Eddy, Et, GOOOoo!"

Since Tirah and I have finished our album of Love Songs, Jaden will
often point at the iPod and say, "Mama singing?" to ask to hear her
singing on our album, especially when she's at work. Jaden says,
"Mama a work." when Tirah's at work, and then when I start telling
the kids that Mama will be home soon, Jaden will say, "Mama
homing?" sort of a squooshed version of "Mama coming home?"

His vocabulary includes words like, "Tractor," "Truck," "Puppy Dog,"
"Diaper Change." He can count to 10 with a fair amount of
accuracy. And recently I heard him put together this sentence:
"Thea and Cirdan are outside." It sounded more like: "Thea a Canan
a ouside," but he got all the important parts of the sentence into
his observation. One evening when Tirah mentioned to Jaden that
supper was ready, he called in a loud voice into the living room:
"BODY.... COME.... ABLE!" ; essentially his own version of "Everybody
come to the table!"

Jaden also likes to pretend to talk on the phone. Sometimes he will
pick up a domino and put it to his ear, pretending it's a phone. I
often think: what a different world our children are growing up in,
where a domino is just about the right size for a pretend cell phone
for a kid. I can just imagine that our grandchildren will be
talking on little Star-Trek-like communicator pins, and that cell
phones will be seen as big, bulky, and old-fashioned.

Cirdan Ewan is 4, and he'll be 5 in June. I think I've mentioned
before that the age of 4 in our house seems to the hardest. He works
hard at flexing his Will, and practicing his "No!" He pretty much
refuses to eat supper, and Tirah and I have decided to stop fighting
him. We ask him to sit at the table with us, but we don't force him
to eat food. He just has to deal with the consequences of hunger,
and he usually does that by being delightfully starving in the
morning. (That "delightfully" was smothered in sarcasm by the
way.) We feel very much like Bill Cosby: "We don't care about
justice, we just want QUIET!" It's amazing what a difference there
is between eating supper while having polite pleasant conversation,
and eating supper while exchanging yells and threats. Lately, we've
been choosing the former. Maybe we're being push-over parents, but
it's seems better than constantly forcing our child to eat food amid
tears and screams. Hopefully it's just a phase he's going through.

Cirdan has a strange relationship with food. And I can't say it's
entirely foreign to me. I was a very picky eater as a kid. And in
some ways I can understand a little bit of what he's going through.
For some reason, he decides that he doesn't like a particular food,
and so his brain sends signals down to his taste buds, and he will
actually start retching after putting something in his mouth that
just a few years ago he couldn't get enough of. He decides it's
yucky, and so it actually BECOMES yucky to him.

It actually works in reverse too. Just like he has decided that he
hates certain foods, he has also decided that he loves certain foods,
and he will eat them no matter what. Tirah made a batch of cupcakes
one day, but she accidentally left them in the oven too long, and
they got a little bit burnt. But the kids were so determined to eat
them that they did anyway. As Cirdan sank his teeth into a darker-
than-chocolate chocolate cupcake, he walked out of the room saying,
"It tastes a little yucky, but it's so delicious!"

Cirdan's favorite thing these days is super heroes. His current
favorite is Buzz Lightyear from the Pixar movie "Toy Story."
We think that Cirdan is also suffering from growing pains in his
legs, which is something I suffered from as a kid.

Thea Clarity is 6 years old. She is loving Kindergarten. She is
bursting with creativity, and helpfulness lately. At night she often
includes in her personal prayer: "and please Lord help me to obey
Mama and Papa."
She can draw amazingly detailed pictures of mermaids, and
princesses. She even understands a little bit about perspective, and
what the human body looks like at different angles. She is taking
piano lessons from Meema (my mom), and loving them. Not only does
she practice what is in her piano books, but she also picks out other
songs she knows, and even composes her own songs sometimes. There
was one day that she played the melody of a hymn on the piano for
worship in her Kindergarten class.
She is also learning how to read analog clocks, and will often tell
me when it's lunch time or snack time or clean-up time.

Tirah has a little more than a month left in her pregnancy when our
4th child will be due, some time around May 17th. She's getting to
that part of the pregnancy when it's just tiring to do anything.
It's hard for her to get comfortable at night. She goes on
maternity leave on May 16th. She's still learning to deal with the
loss of her mom, but the busyness of life often takes up all of her
mental energy. But amid all of that, she pulled together the energy
to record an album with me, and perform in a concert!

Here's a bit of a recap of the last couple months:
January was a mad scramble to finish recording and replicating our
Love Songs album before the Marriage Conference in February.
On February 2nd, Thea turned 6. On the 11th we had a surprising heat
wave and were able to play outside! On the 14th and 15th we went to
the Marriage Conference in Bryn Athyn and officially released our
Love Songs album, as well as performed a few of the songs. On the
19th, Tirah turned 29. On March 2nd we had a snow day, and then on
March 7th, another heat wave. On March 10th I turned 32. We then
spent the next couple weeks preparing for a concert at Creekside on
March 21st featuring the songs from our new Love Songs album,
"Forever and Eternity." We put together a family band for the
concert, featuring me and Tirah on vocals, me on piano, my mom on
guitar, my sister Roxanne on flute, my sister Tamar on keyboards, my
uncle John on bass, and my friend Matt on drums. It was a lot of
fun! We got it on video tape, so I'm hoping to post some of it to
Youtube some time. Then it feels like our whole family has been
sick ever since. We're just starting to see the light at the end of
that tunnel, which is part of why I haven't been good about writing
these newsletters.

Tirah and I have spent a lot of time this year considering a possible
major change for our life. We've spent 4 years now in a
stereotypically role-reversed situation, with me as the stay-at-home
dad, and Tirah as the bread-winner. We are looking into a
possibility that might mean we switch back in the near future. But
nothing is set in stone yet, so all I will say is that the
consideration of this change has been occupying a lot of our time
this year. More on that in future newsletters.

After being sick for 2 weeks, I am REALLY looking forward to throwing
our windows open soon, digging the screens out, going for walks in
the flower-scented air, and stretching our hibernated bodies.

"Somehow you'll escape all that waiting and staying. You'll find the
bright places where Boom Bands are playing." - Dr. Seuss

Happy Spring everybody!


Solomon (32)
Tirah (29)
Thea (6)
Cirdan (4)
Jaden (1 and 1/2)
Baby (minus one month, and counting...)

No comments: