Saturday, October 10, 2009

Keal Family update (at last)

Dear Friends and Family,
Greetings from the Looney Bin!  At least that's a little bit like how it feels! These past 6 weeks have been the busiest of our lives so far!
Solomon began classes in Theological School on September 1st. He is in 11 different subjects this term, the most he will ever have in one term for his whole 3 years in Theological school (thankfully!)  Most of his classes meet for three hours each week (some in one hour chunks some in three hour chunks and some in one and a half hour chunks) a couple of classes ar shorter but I think only three. most of these classes also have substantial homework expectations, and we quickly discovered that it is more work than Solomon can complete and still have time to spend with the family.  This was very hard on Tirah in particular, but the kids also noticed his absence and were sad about it too.  Fortunately some expert advice from a fellow theolog in his second year (why aim for an A? if you pass you get ordained! try to get a nice B average!) has helped him to figure out some good boundaries to get some family time and still achieve his goals in school. Despite the business of the  schedule, Solomon is enjoying the work immensely! Each of his classes are subjects that he enjoys and finds useful.
As for Tirah: I am settling into being a stay at home Mom fairly well. it's very different than working full time, but I am finding the challenge satisfying as long as I maintain a good attitude! That of course is the hard part. I find that the repetitive jobs that need to be done (dishes, laundry, sweeping, bathrooms etc.) can become monotonous. But if I remember that I do this because I love my family and I want them to have a nice home and good food, and clean clothes, that makes me recall that this is actually important work and that makes it more gratifying. I am loving watching Solomon do work (school) that he is so suited to! he is insanely busy, but he so obviously enjoys what he is doing that it makes it much easier to be happy where we are. Thea and Cirdan  are both in school now and that means that from 8 am until 12:15 when Cirdan finishes for the day, It's just Me and the two youngest at home.  I am still learning to make the most of this time, both by giving more focused time to the little ones, and getting things done (like writing this!). 
I'm sorry to admit that Solomon's schedule has a big impact on my mental state. I don't do very well when we don't get much face time, and I tend to forget at those times that I want to be a good stay at home Mom and a loving Wife. I try to hang in there, but there seems to be an inherent reality that I cannot change, that when we don't get tme to connect I get cranky. Ultimately it's a very good thing because it keeps our marriage in pretty good shape. I get so unhappy so fast when we don't get time together that we simply have to make time. But I wish I could be less needy sometimes so Solomon could get more done in school and not feel pulled in so many directions! This term I have decided is a test to see how much Solomon can handle, and that means his family is being tested too, and I will not let this craziness beat me!!!
Thea (6) is in first grade this year and loves school. In the past two weeks she has learned to read!!! We are so proud of her! Obviously she is at early reader level, and there are lots of words that she cannot get through yet. but just this eveining she read the first page of a little bear story almost all by herself! She enjoys going to school, but socially she is still integrating. she is coming in on a class that has already been together for Kindergarten and so they already know each other quite well. She is also a shy little girl sometimes, especially with children her own age. It's funny but she is much more outgoing when she is interacting with adults than children her own age. Perhaps it is because she has only ever received approval from adults she meets for the first time, whereas children her own age are not necessarily impressed by her maturity and cuteness, and therefore don't always become buddies right away. I don't know for sure, but whatever it is she is having trouble really becoming close friends with anyone her own class yet. I hope to have one or two girls over for a tea party to help along their friendships.
Cirdan (5) is in Kindergarten, and is almost exactly the opposite of Thea. He is socially right in the thick of it, begging for playtimes with classmates regularly, and  his favorite times in the classroom are playtime with his peers. Academically he is very challenged right now to even keep up a little with the rest of the class. I knew that he was not as far along as Thea was when she began school, but it is a good wake up call to see just where he is in comparison to his classmates. His Teachers and classmates love him though and I get feedback from everyone about how cheerful and enthusiastic he is in just about everything he does.  So we'll keep on keeping on with him, and see how it goes!  His teacher is great about watching out for him and giving him a little extra time and attention. she says that he fits in so well socially that she really wants to hang in there with him on the academics and trust that one of these days it will click for him. Oh and a fun add on, there was a presentation given at a recent Society meeting (I was not there) about BACS, and the Poster child for the resentation was Cirdan!
Jaden (2) is the Sunshine of my day these days. he is a cheerful smiling happy boy who is getting more grown up by the moment. he has started really conversing this month, and using whole sentences regularly. Just tonight during prayer time he actually said a prayer of his own. it went something like this "Tank you Lawd for suppo, no, lunch, no, doodles (noodles). hep us aaaallll seep well. AAAAAAAAmen."
Priceless! We had spaghetti for supper and he had three helpings!  I have been trying to have the kids watch less TV and make what they do watch, the more interactive shows when possible. Jaden had gotten into a habit of watching the Pixar movie Cars almost daily, and he was able to recite it almost word for word, cute, but frightening. Anyway he now watches mostly Blues Clues which he pronounces "cues cues" and he does indeed answer the questions and interacts just the way he is supposed to. I am still trying to keep it to a minimum, but some of these days when I have not gotten much sleep thanks to late nights, and Zoe, I do resort to putting that on! I just began teaching a music class for moms and kids in age from babies through preschool, and he enjoyed the first class, hopefully he will get more and more comfortable with all the people and have more fun each time. Jaden also loves being an older brother! He daily asks to hold Zoe ( which I let him do as much as I can with supervision while sitting on the couch), and showers her with hugs and kisses. He is very aware of her needs and comes to inform me that "Zoe needs you" when she cries. I have to be careful of putting her where he can reach her as he wants to be as close to her as he can and does not wuite understand that he is to heavy to sit on her! It is a joy to watch him with her.
Zoe (5 months on Oct. 21) is growing by leaps and bounds! she is almost all smiles, and she is working hard on sitting up skills. I think she;ll get there soon. For now her favorite things are riding in the baby backpack, and sitting (standing really) in her Exersaucer (like a walker but it's a solid disk on the bottom, so no moving around the room). she had a bout of Colic the other night. I'm not sure what I ate that caused it, but it was vary sad how much pain she was in. It made me recall Thea's infancy and that with Thea I didn't know what I was doing wrong with my diet and she had screaming sessions every day in the evenings. so i was really counting my blessings with Zoe that it is only rarely that she is so upset.  Solomon and I are really noticing the love and innocence that radiate from her in almost tangible waves. We have both experienced just needing to hold her and absorb that incredible aura she brings! The Lord really knows how to make babies irresistible!  She has mastered rolling over and when she is on her tummy does an incredible "airplane" with all her little limbs and her head up in the air and just her tummy on the ground.
So that's the news from our house to yours. Please keep us in your prayers, as things are going to get harder before they get easier. But we are not doubting for a moment that this is the right path, we are just praying for the strength to stay on it!

Solomon "Grade A" Keal 32
Tirah "Super Mommy in training" Keal 29
Thea "Super Reader" Keal 6
Cirdan "Life of the Party" Keal 5
Jaden "Big Brother" Keal 2
Zoe "Angel Girl" Keal 4 months

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