Saturday, August 16, 2014

Seven Years...


When did you get so big? I turn around, and you're not a little boy anymore. You're this gangly seven year old who's too big for me to pick up. You wear size two shoes, which means you'll probably have bigger feet than me by the time you're ten. You got a skateboard for your birthday, and you are so smart! My baby is growing up, and as always, we're in uncharted territory.

This year, you welcomed a baby sister, discovered chapter books, finished first grade, and moved across the country on yet another adventure. If we don't count our summer in Utah, that's four states since you were born. In each one you have adjusted with amazing aplomb and cheerfulness that is so wonderful. We are so proud of you for this and so many other reasons.

I introduced you to chapter books this spring, and it was as if I'd opened a whole wonderful new world, which is true. =) You found the "Magic Treehouse" series and read all 50-some books in less than two months. If we didn't know where you were, it was a pretty good bet that you were upstairs nose-deep in the latest book. I made extra trips to the library to keep you supplied, and I couldn't have been prouder. I'm so glad that you read, and that you love history so much. You've found several other series that you like since, but you still talk about the things you learned in Magic Treehouse books. When you found out we'd be near Gettysburg now, you made me promise that we'd go see where Lincoln gave his famous address. We haven't made it yet, but we will. =)

You still love the color blue, and you still want to be a firefighter when you grow up, but you've also found many new loves. If you're not reading, you're probably playing Legos. You got a Star Wars X-Wing fighter for Christmas, and put it together almost all by yourself. It took you most of the day, but you did it. You were so proud of yourself, and rightly so.

All of your sibling look up to you, each in their own way. To Andrew, you are a best friend and confidante. To Nathan, you are exactly who he wants to be, and he imitates you all. the. time. Sometimes this frustrates you, and sometimes it makes you laugh, but it will continue to happen. Please remember that before you act.

I'm not sure exactly what you are to Autumn, but I know her face lights up on seeing you, in a way that not even Daddy gets. I can't blame them. You are a pretty cool big brother. I love to see you play with each of them in a way that makes them so happy.

You are great at helping in so many ways. You like to do chores, as long as it's not cleaning your room, and I need to take more advantage of that. Once we get into our new house,  we'll work on a regular chore chart, but for now, thank you for the help you give.

This year you will be going into Second Grade, and you are super excited. I'm excited too. You will learn new things, and make new friends… and since we're buying a house, hopefully you can keep these classmates for a long time. No more new schools in the foreseeable future.

Here's to another year ahead, full of wonderful adventures. Happy Birthday my son!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Turning 5


And now you are five. I can't believe how you've grown. Yes, I will probably say this every year, but it's true. See?

This year, you finally got to go to school (Pre-K), and you loved every minute of it. You of course charmed your teachers, and I think they were more sorry than you for the school year to end. You learned so much, and it was a joy to see. The ride home every day was usually all about what you did. Unless you were hungry, in which case you'd plan out your lunch. =)

By the end of the year, you were reading far above your grade level. You attribute this to Timothy's tutelage, but you had a lot to do with it too. While I have to admit, I miss not reading our way through the library bag, I love to see you and Timothy sitting on the couch each reading your stacks of books. It brings joy to this bookworm's heart. (Apparently so much that I forgot to take pictures.) And you still want to be read to, so I can keep you close a little longer…

You are such a great helper too. You have a little sister now, and you are her sworn protector. You only sing the first part of "Rock-a-bye-Baby" because you don't want her to be scared by the second part. You always have time to say hi to her, and snuggle her (even if she's too intent on going places lately to appreciate the latter).

You've had some crazy adventures this year. Some were fun, like a new sister, and moving to a new state. And some were a little scary for Mom and Dad, like that three day hospital stay for your asthma. Thankfully, moving halfway across the country seems to have cleared that up.

Through it all, you've kept a wonderful and cheerful spirit, charming the hearts of everyone you've met. From teachers, to nurses, to total strangers, everyone loves you. As they should. You have a wonderful spirit, so loving and giving. Never lose that.

We love you, and we are thankful every day to have you in our family.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Nathan is Two!


And now you are two. You don't really understand this. Until yesterday, "birthday" was synonymous with "Diego Cake." (I blame your brothers for this, and their tendency to plan holidays, in this case, their own birthdays, months in advance.) However, with a present to start the day, strawberry pancakes for breakfast, cake and more presents after lunch, and one of your favorite meals for dinner, I think you've realized there is more to birthdays than just cake. The cake turned out pretty sweet though. You were thrilled. =)

Nathan, you are a joy and a blessing in our life. Your smile and laugh, your bright mind, and those big blue eyes are just a few of the amazing things about you. You are a happy little man who loves to laugh, and make others laugh. You love to run, to read, to learn. When you're tired, you love your milk and your belly button.

You have developed your own opinion about clothes, food and well, pretty much everything a lot sooner than your brothers. It's thrown Mommy sometimes, but it's a good thing. This also means you're communicating sooner, or at least trying to. In the last couple of months, your language has really taken off, and it's been so fun to see. Not that you weren't talking before, you're just getting easier to understand.

In you, Daddy has found his little sports fan. You'll bring him the remote and ask "Watch Hockey?" or "Watch Golf?" Today, you cried when we wouldn't let you take your new golf set to church. You love your Daddy, and want to do whatever you see him doing.

This last year has brought so many adventures, and you have weathered them with amazing aplomb. We took you on a three day marathon road trip across the country, and until the last half of the third day, you did it really really well. Of course, by that point, we were all done with the car. It wasn't just you.

While we were in Utah, you learned to walk, and to climb. You proceeded to keep Mommy on her toes, and follow your brothers everywhere you could. Neither of those has slowed down in the slightest.

You found another outlet for your attention though, when your little sister joined us six months ago. We weren't sure you understood what was going on, but the minute you saw her, our worries were wiped away. You walked right up to her and said: "Baby! Sister!" and gave her a big kiss. You hadn't kissed anyone before that day (not for lack of trying on Mommy's part.) You adore her, and she you. I look forward to seeing your friendship blossom as you both continue to grow.

I am so grateful that you are in our lives little man. I look forward to the adventures this next year will bring.


Thursday, January 2, 2014

A Christmas/New Year Greeting from the Keislings (A Year in Review)

A Christmas Greeting from the Keislings
It is hard to believe that another year is coming to a close. This year, more than any in a while, has been a whirlwind at the Keisling house.

The whirlwind began last year at this time, when Margaret was called to be the Young Women’s President in our ward. This meant that she would be in charge of all the youth activities and teaching for all the girls in our congregation from ages 12-­‐18. She has been dedicated to her calling, and John has tried his best to support her by bathing the kids and putting them to bed by himself every Tuesday night for the last year.

The whirlwind continued into January, when John accepted a summer job as the Assistant Technical Director for the Utah Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City, UT. (More about this in coming paragraphs.) In February,
we were surprised with the news that another family member would be joining us, and we began thinking of boy names again. =) (More on that later too.)
In March, John left for a weeklong conference in Milwaukee. While he enjoyed the conference, he was extremely cold the entire week. Margaret thought this was justice for leaving a pregnant woman all alone at home with 3 boys.
In April, John finished his 2nd year of graduate studies. We packed about half of our house in preparation for a summer trip to Utah. The company John was working for had agreed to provide an apartment for the entire family on top of his salary. We talked to Timothy’s school about the logistics of pulling him out early, and once we had that all worked out, we were ready to pull out to Utah on the 1st of May.
The original plan was to pull a trailer with our minivan so that we would have plenty of toys for the boys, and enough of our household items to make us comfortable for the 10 weeks we would be in Cedar City. After getting about two hours down the road, our van overheated. After quite the adventure getting our van towed, we turned around and brought the trailer back to Tallahassee. (The van was okay, but it wasn’t going to pull the trailer to Utah.) Thanks to some great friends, we were able to unpack the entire trailer, and re pack our van with the absolute necessities for our Utah trip. With a car top carrier on top, and the van packed as full as it would go, we returned the trailer and got down the road, only 10 hours behind schedule.

Thankfully, the rest of the trip to Utah was uneventful. It was long, but we amazingly still made it to Utah three days. Our family spent from the 2nd week of May through July 4 in Cedar City. John worked a lot of hours, and while he was gone, Margaret and the boys spent time exploring the local parks. When John was off, we did some hiking, some sightseeing, and saw some friends we haven’t seen in a while.

When John’s contract ended in July, we had some time on our hands, so we made a trek across the country and saw some long lost friends. We were blessed to be able to spend July 4th with Jen and Jeremiah Bruce. Jen was the teacher Margaret did her student teaching under. The next day we went to Salt Lake and visited Temple Square before continuing North to Idaho for an outdoor wedding reception for some “family” (unintentionally complete with a huge trampoline to the boy’s utter joy), then on to see Margaret’s roommate from college, Marnee, and her family. John was amazed by the amount of potato farms, but the boy’s favorite part was definitely seeing the goats down the street.

We left Idaho and headed south. After a quick stop to see our friends Ty and Cami one last time, we headed south to the Grand Canyon. We’ve included pictures, but anyone who has been to the Grand Canyon knows that the pictures don’t do it justice.

After Arizona we headed for Texas, where we spent about a week with Grammy (John’s mom.) After two weeks on the road, we finally made it back to Tallahassee, where in August, Timothy started 1st grade, Andrew started Pre-­‐K and John started his 3rd and final year of graduate school. (And Nathan tried to go along)


In September, John headed back to Texas to attend his grandfather’s funeral.
and in October our family was blessed with our newest member. Autumn Elizabeth joined us on the 12th of October. She is amazingly beautiful, and John has been wrapped around her finger since the day she was born. Lady (Margaret’s mom) came to help out for two weeks after the baby was born.
November brought us Thanksgiving where we once again hosted the graduate students who couldn’t make it home for the holiday, and now we’re into December.
Margaret is busy being a mother of four beautiful children and the Young Women’s President. When she has time, she relaxes by playing with yarn, but that time is rare these days. John is working on applying for jobs and doing his thesis project. He is the Technical Director for Spamalot. His favorite piece of scenery is definitely the 13 foot tall rabbit. John is also teaching the 16 and 17 year old Sunday school class at church.
Timothy has lost all four of his front teeth since June. We told him that he was going to make the tooth fairy go broke. He is becoming an avid reader, and can usually be found curled up with a book.
Andrew loves Pre-­‐K and may have his teacher wrapped around his little finger... He loves to sing to his little sister, although he steadfastly refuses to sing the second half of “Rock-­‐A-­‐ Bye-­‐Baby” because it might scare her.

Nathan is growing so fast, and loves to do anything his big brothers do. When they’re not around, he’s pretty sure he should be eating or drinking milk. All. Day. Long. He loves his baby sister so much, and he is learning how to be gentler in displaying his love. Autumn still spends a lot of her day sleeping. I have it on good authority that her favorite thing to do is to spit up all over her daddy.

If all goes as planned, John will be graduating this coming May, and the Keisling family will be moving on to our next adventure. However, as we celebrate our last Christmas season in Tallahassee, we are amazed at how blessed our family truly is. We hope that this Christmas season finds our family and friends with as much to be thankful for as we have in this past year.
God Bless you each and every one, and may he ever keep you in his care. John, Margaret, Timothy, Andrew, Nathan, and Autumn