Friday, July 24, 2009

Keal Family Newsletter, July 2009

Hello Friends and Family!

It's been a busy couple of months trying to get ready to move to Bryn
Athyn. We will be moving over the weekend of August 1st and 2nd.
We'll be packing the truck here in Lenhartsville on the 1st, and
unpacking the truck in Bryn Athyn on the 2nd. And by the way, if
you live in Kempton we would love your help on the 1st, and if you
live in Bryn Athyn, we would love your help on the 2nd.

Zoe just turned two months old on the 21st of July! Unfortunately,
like many of our kids, she has been suffering from colic and over-all
fussiness. But between fussy bouts, she is the cutest thing ever.
As she has gained weight and gotten a little older, she is starting
to look more and more like her siblings. And we've also been graced
with the occasional smile lately, which is just heavenly!

All of our kids have at some point in their infancy had nicknames.
And without trying to do so, all of our kids have had nicknames that
began with the letter "B". Thea was "Boo" (inspired by the Pixar
movie "Monsters Inc."), Cirdan was "Bear," and Jaden was
"Bubba," (because the first noises he made were "Buh Buh").
Recently Tirah was watching a nature show on TV that was documenting
the work of some people who save orphaned baboon babies, and raise
them to be re-released into the wild. These little baby baboons
were not only very cute, but they also looked a little like Zoe! (or
she looked like them) So we've been trying out the nickname
"Baboon" with Zoe. I don't know if it will stick or not, but it does
start with a "B"!

Jaden will be two years old on August 11th, just after we move to
Bryn Athyn. He is our little ray of sunshine. At first we were
worried that he might feel replaced by Zoe as the baby of the
family. But he absolutely adores Zoe, and at the same time seems to
take some pride in feeling like a bigger boy because of her. He
kisses her, and rocks her in her swing, and sings lullabies to her.
He is, however, very much a Papa's boy. I think he's O.K. with the
fact that Zoe takes up a lot of Tirah's time. After all, he has been
used to Tirah being at work, and me being at home for most of his
little life. The real test will be once I start school full-time. I
don't know how he'll react to that. It will probably be a hard
adjustment for him.

Here are a couple of cute Jaden stories and quotes:
One time I was reprimanding Cirdan for doing something wrong and I
had to threaten to give him a time-out after I counted to three. So
I counted to three:
"One.... two... three!"
And then from the corner of the room, without looking up from his
toys, Jaden called out, "Four."

Lately Jaden has been learning the Lord's Prayer. He's been hearing
his older siblings say it every night for the past year or so, and it
has finally sunk in enough that he has decided to join in. Much
like his older siblings at this age, it sounds a bit like this:
"Fodder.... Heddens.....Name!.... Come.... Done.... Eert!.... Day....
Bed.....Debts.... Debtors!.... Not..... Shayshun.... Evil.... Dum....
Tower.... Jori....Edder.... Amen!" He actually says even more of it
than that these days, but that was one of his first renditions.

Cirdan turned 5 years old on June 13th. We had a very fun birthday
party with family and friends, and he did a very impressive job of
sharing his new toys with other kids. He still has his difficult
times, but we're able to get through to him a lot more often.
Here's a cute Cirdan story:
We were reading the Christmas story one night, because that's what we
happened to be up to in our nightly readings, even though it's summer
time. I read the story and then asked a couple of questions at the
end. One of the questions I asked was, "Do you remember what the
choir of angels said when they visited the shepherds?"
They got the first part right: "Glory to God in the Highest!" but I
had to prompt them for the last bit:
Solomon: "... and on earth..., peace... and...."
Cirdan: "Quiet!"

It's been interesting getting used to having 4 kids, and learning how
to keep track of all of them. Thea and Cirdan are allowed outside by
themselves, but Jaden needs supervision if he goes outside. Not
long after Zoe was born I remember doing a quick mental calculation:
"O.K. I see two kids and a baby, alright good." But after a second
I remembered that we have 4 kids not 3! Sure enough Jaden was
happily playing outside, very proud of the fact that he got out there
without getting caught. I need to somehow update my mental
calculations when I try to keep track of our kids.

Thea and Cirdan have been getting ready for school in Bryn Athyn.
Thea will be in 1st Grade, and Cirdan in Kindergarten. They both
got a chance to see the school when we went down for their
evaluations. I think Cirdan's pretty excited. He's a very social,
friendly boy. He always says "Hi" to strangers, and likes to play
with other kids.

The Kempton Kindergarten is a little different from the Bryn Athyn
Kindergarten. Because the Kempton Kindergarten meets only 3 mornings
a week, and the Bryn Athyn Kindergarten meets 5 days a week, they
cover a lot more material in one year in Bryn Athyn. So Thea may
have a little catching up to do. But it's mostly things like knowing
lower case letters, and counting to 50, and over the summer she has
not only shown interest in learning those things, but she's gotten
pretty good at them. So I think after she gets used to the newness
of a different school, she'll fit right in.

This summer, Thea and Cirdan have really enjoyed playing on our quiet
little street here in Lenhartsville. They've become good friends
with two other kids who live up the street from us who are 5 and 3:
Theo and Clara LaMastra. And between playing with those kids, and
Tirah and I having our hands full with two babies at home, we've
loosened the apron strings a bit with Thea and Cirdan. When we
first moved into this house, we wouldn't have let them run up and
down the side-walk and cross the street without us with them. But
this summer that's what we've been doing. I think it's been good for
everyone. It's given Thea and Cirdan more freedom and independence,
especially when our time is taken up with taking care of Jaden and
Zoe. And it's also given us the chance to practice "Letting Go";
always a hard thing to do as a parent. We feel sad that we'll be
moving away from this quiet little street, and the home that it has

On June 24th, Tirah and I celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary!
Even though Zoe was still very new, we were able to go out! We got a
babysitter for the three oldest kids, and we took Zoe with us. We
went to Wegmans and got our traditional anniversary meal: chicken
strips, french bread, yummy cheese, Martinellis Sparkling Apple
Cider, and then of course, a very yummy dessert of healthy "no
refined sugar" ice-cream and cookies. And we took that meal with us
to the local drive-in theater and we watched the latest Pixar movie:
"Up". We also took one of the seats out of our van, and brought the
baby swing with us, and we were able to put Zoe in the baby swing in
the minivan while we watched the movie and ate our dinner. Zoe
fussed a bit, but we were able to watch most of the movie. It was fun.

Since we won't need two cars in Bryn Athyn, we sold our Subaru
Outback wagon to my mom and dad, and we used that money to buy
ourselves a really great anniversary present: a Sleep-Number bed!
It's been really great. I've never slept very well, and I've
noticed a big change in the quality of my sleep. It's also a King
size bed, which we've been thinking of getting for a while. So now
we all fit when the kids come tumbling in in the morning.

Towards the end of June we got to visit with my cousin Lesley from
New Zealand, and her husband Jonathan Longstaff and their two kids.
It's always fun to visit with other parents our age who are going
through the same things we go through every day. There's a great
sense of comradeship in that.

After the really fun Kempton 4th of July celebration, we headed out
to Ohio to visit Tirah's dad and two of her sisters for a week.
That's right, we drove 12 hours both ways with a 6-week-old baby! I
know... what were we thinking?! But actually it went as well as
could be expected. It's actually closer to a 10 hour trip, but we
stopped as often as the kids needed to. And we had a great time
visiting with Tirah's family in Ohio. Vacations are an odd thing to
attempt when you've got little kids, because no matter where you go,
the poopy diapers and tantrums and chaos follow you too. We were
really just moving our crazy schedule to a new location for a week.
But it is more than that. It's a nice change. And especially at
this time of our lives, it was nice to not think about all we had to
do to get ready to move for a whole week. Thank you Morfar for
making that possible!

So now we're down to packing, packing, and more Packing. It's a hard
thing when you've got a newborn in the house. Fortunately we've had
help. This Sunday (July 26th) after church, we'll be having a Going-
Away party here at our house, or a "House Cooling" party, as Tirah
likes to call it, since we never had a "House Warming" party when we
moved in, just over a year ago. If you're in the area, please drop by.

The next newsletter I write will be from our new house in Bryn
Athyn. Aside from my 4 years in college in Bryn Athyn, I've lived
in the Kempton area since I was 8 years old! Because Tirah and I
both went to college in Bryn Athyn, and we have many friends and some
Echols family there, there are many happy things about moving. But
it will be very sad to be moving away from all of my family, and my
childhood home. Plus, our kids have grown up with my parents as a
regular part of their lives. This will be a big change for them.

So there is happiness and sadness about this move. It's a change,
and change is always hard, even when it's a good change. And I think
this will be a good change for us.

That's all for now.

Love from,

Solomon (32)
Tirah (29)
Thea (6)
Cirdan (5)
Jaden (almost 2)
Zoe (2 months)