Fall Expressions from the Mk Meier Family

Date: November 2, 2010
Location: Quito, Ecuador

The end of another month didn’t exactly bring us fall weather, but it did give us a few days of extra relaxation.  Traditionally, Ecuador celebrates “Dia de los Difuntos” (Day of the Dead) as a federal holiday.  They also decided the day that follows this holiday, which is Cuenca Independence Day (one of the major cities in Ecuador), also deserves to be a holiday.  This year, those two days of November second and third fell on Tuesday and Wednesday.  A couple weeks before prior, the president decided that Monday should also be considered part of that holiday in order to give everyone an extra long weekend.

Fortunately, our school had already planned to take that day off.  So, we were not caught by surprise with the last minute change in holiday scheduling by the government.  I hope to take the extra time to finish up my grading (first quarter grades are due next week) and try to get some more research done on my Ph.D. dissertation while also hoping to get some additional rest now that I’m in my 18th week of pregnancy.

So, please browse our blog links to find out more details about what has been going on in the past month with the Meier Family.  Read about the following items:

1) An Election of Reflection (Ministry)– Cristina has been working with a group of students in the school’s civic club and the senior U.S. Government class to simulate a mock election that reflects the issues in this year’s election in the U.S.

2) Stephen’s Upcoming Recruitment Voyage (Ministry) – as Stephen looks for a new location to serve God in the area of school administration, he is planning on attending a conference in Atlanta, Georgia at the end of this month.

3) Experiencing Dora Live (TCK Views) – read about a birthday party that included a real, live and very Latin Dora.

4) The Nanny with the Chicken Pox (Ministry) – the past two weeks brought an added challenge to Cristina when her boys’ nanny came down with the chicken pox.

5)  Pregnancy Update (Family News)– although we still don’t know the gender of our little “tummy package,” here is a brief update on the developments this month.

6) Meier Boy Accomplishments (Family News)– read a brief update in the lives of our two toddlers

We want to let you know how much it means to us to keep in touch with so many of our family and friends.  Please feel free to send us a message, comment, note, etc.  We are on Facebook, Skype, Word Press, and e-mail.


Stephen, Cristina, Jared & Luke Meier

An Election of Reflection

Three years ago, I presented the idea of creating a mock election at the Alliance Academy that would allow all middle school and high school students to participate.  It wasn’t a difficult activity to set up.  After all, the U.S. Government teacher was already doing this in his classes.  However, his class is exclusively offered to the seniors at Alliance Academy and they participate in the mock election for a class grade.  Therefore, all I needed to do was create a voter registration format and election process that would allow all secondary students to vote on the candidates being chosen in the 12th grade government classes.  That first year, we were able to host the mock election on the same day as the U.S. elections were taking place in the U.S.

For the past two years, however, the Ecuadorian holidays at the beginning of November landed on the same day as the election.  As I watch for the election results tonight, I’ll also be preparing the final details for our mock election to take place on Friday of this week. 

To give students a better feel of the election process, I began a voter registration drive at the beginning of September.  My civics club members were in charge of asking their fellow classmates if they had registered to vote and then giving them voter registration application forms to help them become ‘registered voters.’ By the end of October, we had more than 90% of the student body registered to vote.

My seventh and eighth grade civic club members

This coming Thursday, November 4, the 12th grade students will congregate in the school’s chapel to participate in a final press conference/presidential debate.  The U.S. Government class is split into two separate periods.  Each period has selected republican and democratic candidates and one class selected independent candidates, as well.  My journalism class will participate as members of the press to ‘grill’ each candidate on the issues facing U.S. citizens today.

My high school (9th-12th grade) civic club members.

All other secondary classes have been invited to come to the chapel during that time to listen to the debates in order to help them decide who to vote for

The following day, November 5, a special assembly will bring all secondary students together in the high school gymnasium to give each presidential and vice-presidential candidate the chance to express themselves one last times before the students (who are registered voters) ‘go to the polls.’

After they place their ballots in their ‘district’ (voting by grade level), I will have the privilege of counting up the votes and figuring out which candidates won in each of the two government classes. It will be interesting to compare the actual results after tonight with the voting patterns of the students at this school.

Student put up campaign posters in the locker area to promote their parties.

Stephen’s Upcoming Recruitment Voyage

Stephen has been very busy the past few months, but not just with his administrative duties at the Alliance Academy International. He has been searching for jobs at other international and/ or Christian schools that are looking for secondary administrators.

We have been feeling for quite some time that God was going to pull us out of our present ministry and locate us in a new ministry.  We just keep praying to find out where exactly that is.

So far, he has applied to several schools both in and outside the U.S. and has had a few interviews.  However, we have not had any solid offers at this time.  Therefore, he decided to sign up for a conference that helps bring new staff to international schools located across South America.  The association’s name is AASSA (Association of American Schools in South America).  The job fair takes place from December 2-5 in Atlanta, Georgia (Link: http://www.aassa.com/recruiting_fair_schedule_2010.asp).

As part of his trip to this conference, Stephen is also planning to visit a school in Naples, Florida that has been interested in looking at the possibility of hiring him as a secondary principal.  Stephen plans to fly to Miami, Florida on Tuesday, November 30 and drive to Naples.  He will stay there until the morning of December 2 and then drive to Atlanta, Georgia to participate in the job fair.  He will drive back to Florida on the afternoon of December 5 when he hopes to visit with Cristina’s side of the family for one evening before returning to Quito on the afternoon of December 6.

If you wish to get in touch with him during his time in the U.S., he will have the following cell phone number – 352-215-4524.

Experiencing Dora Live

For those of you who might think that kids are getting a real glimse of Latin culture and Spanish language through the Dora the Explorer videos sold in the U.S., think again. 

We were recently at the birthday party held for the first birthday of a couple who work at the school.  The husband has been teaching the elementary Spanish classes for the past two years.  He and his wife and entire family are Ecuadorian.

They put together a huge party which included blow up bouce house, face painting and a cotton candy machine (all which their one year old couldn’t enjoy, but her elementary aged guests could).  After a couple hours of free play, the kids were brought together for the great “show.”  A very animated lady on a microphone greeted all the children.  Behind her it was hard to miss the “Dora the Explorer” theme in the decorations and the birthday cake. 

But we didn’t expect what came next.  Suddenly a live “Dora” came out from behind the bushes to dance and sing with the children.  Soon, a live “Boots”  (“Botas” in Spanish) who was actually taller than the Dora figure, also joined the circle of children.  The kids were going crazy trying to shake their hands or give them hugs.  Jared and Luke weren’t sure what to think about the people with the big plush heads. 

Luke does a double-take on Dora's large head.

Then Dora and Boots began to sing and dance and encourage all the children to join them.  However, I’ve never seen Dora shake her hips on the video as much as she did at this birthday party.  That girl had some real latin moves going on. 

At one point, the kids were sprayed with white foam during the singing and dancing.

Of course, all this activity was taking place completely in Spanish. The two characters led the children in some jumping and dancing games and then finished off by breaking a pinata over their laps so that everyone would have the same opportunity to get some birthday candy.

It was a birthday party that Jared and Luke will not forget for a while.

The Nanny with the Chicken Pox

October was already half way over and I was starting to count down the days to our first long vacation at the beginning of November.  I simply had to make in through two more full weeks of classes.  At the end of the day on Monday, October 18, my nanny came up to me a few minutes before she left and said, “I’m not sure how to tell you this….”

At first, I braced myself for something horrific, such as quitting the job.  However, she began by telling me that she had been running a fever all day long.  She said she had been going back and forth between having the chills and feeling overheated.

“My daughter, Evelyn, came down with the chicken pox last week.  So, I’m wondering whether or not, I might have it, too,” she said. “However, I don’t have any pox break out on my skin yet.”

She began to cry saying that she didn’t want to stay away from work and was afraid that I was going to cut her pay or fire her. 

After I assured her that neither one of those things would happen, I suggested she stay home for a day to see if she really had the chicken pox and to go see a doctor.  The following day was a rush in trying to get someone from the school to help watch the boys and Isabella Greer (who also is cared for by my nanny during school hours).  It was also the day I had scheduled for my nanny to make Luke’s home-made soup which would last him for two weeks.  So, I had to make his soup and clean the house and make sure that the baby sitters knew what to do for the kid’s normal routine.

At the end of the day, my nanny called to tell me she had started breaking out into spots in the night prior and she most definitely had the chicken pox.  I told her to rest and not worry too much about us.  Then I tried to grapple with the fact that I would be without a nanny for the following eight days.  After a second day of searching for someone to babysit the kids for the next week, I finally found someone who was willing to help me out from 9:30 to 3:30pm for the rest of the time that my nanny would be out. 

During this whole process, I was so grateful that I was exposed to chicken pox as a pre-schooler and already had immunity to it.  My boys had been received the chicken pox vaccination at part of their 12 month shots.  I was told that this vaccine is good between four to five years.  So, I didn’t have to worry about having to deal with chicken pox in my home. 

The busy days continued as I had to continue taking care of the household task and making all the food for my boys.  There was no point training a babysitter for these tasks if she was only going to be caring for them for five days.   Stephen helped me with mopping the floors on occasion. 

It was with great joy that we received Sonia back in our home last Thursday.  As usual, God had provided for our needs in a time of crisis.  We were also able to pay our temporary babysitter for a week of work without having to pull it out of the pay check of our nanny.

Pregnancy Update

I have been so busy the past few weeks, I’ve hardly had time to stop and contemplate this third pregnancy that I am now experiencing.  So far, we have had two sonograms to confirm that I have one, healthy growing baby inside me.  Yet, both sonograms were done before it was possible to detect the gender.  So, this part remains a mystery.

One of the things I do know is that my morning sickness is finally decreasing.  I’m also not quite as tired as I was last month (unless I get less than six hours of sleep at night).  I just finished my fourth month of pregnancy and I have to wear mostly maternity clothes as my belly is protruding a lot faster than it did with Jared or Luke.

I also know that my due date is approximately April 8 and the baby seems to be developing at a normal pace.  There are only a few areas of concern with this baby:

1) My right leg is virtually exploding with varicose veins I’ve never had before.

2) My doctor told me in my last ultrasound that I seemed to be lacking in amniotic fluid and that my placenta seemed a little low.  He said that 80% of these cases, the placenta moves up in the uterus by the 20th week.  I hope that is the case for me, because I don’t want to have to deal with placenta previa when I’m trying to give birth to my third child.

3) My thyroid is “hyperactive,” meaning it is overworking itself which can cause low birth weight and development of the brain of the baby.  So, I’m currently taking a hormone pill to help regulate my thyroid.

Besides that, I am feeling fine as I try to balance my time with my boys and my class work and still get enough sleep to make it through each day.

Cristina's profile at 16 weeks of pregnancy.

Meier Boy Accomplishments

I have been surprised to see how well my sons have been able to handle the different baby sitters who came in and out of the house during the time that their nanny was sick.  There was only one day when I really could tell that they were struggling.  I was on my way home one morning when I began to hear them chanting, “Mommy! Mommy!”

I found them standing at the child-safety gate in the front door, rocking back and forth and looking for me to come home.  It made me laugh as I reached in the door to give them hugs.

Jared and Luke look at books together as they drink their morning bottle of milk.

They are learning so many things, so quickly.  One of the things that our nanny has contributed to is teaching my boys how to count in Spanish.  She plays these little jumping and counting games with them.  Luke can actually count from one to ten in Spanish and he can’t even count that far in English.  I heard Jared once count to 24 in Spanish. 

Another one of Luke’s new fascinations is trying to have a conversation with you on the phone.  You should try it sometime.  Give us a call and we’ll hand the phone to Luke.  He will talk your ear off.  Will you understand what he says?  Well…possibly ten percent. But he loves to talk on the phone. 

Jared, on the other hand, is getting much better at having a conversation….if he doesn’t get shy.  He’ll say, “How are you?” I’m fine” all in one breath and then continue to tell you about his latest exploits or the most recent treasure he has found. He is also able to make himself understood by Luke a lot better than before.

Luke is so used to having his big brother around all the time that he always looks a little confused or lost when Jared isn’t around.  Sometimes Daddy takes Jared in the running stroller when he goes out to exercise.  Just recently, we’ve started sending Jared to Awana (for 3 years and up) and allowing him to attend Sunday school instead of staying in the nursery. 

Whenever Luke realizes that his brother is missing, he usually spends about five minutes wandering around saying, “Jey-wed…where are you?” before he notices that he has full and complete access to all the toys that his big brother usually yanks out of his hands.  However, it seems that Luke has more fun when his brother is there to wrestle over the toys than when he is playing with toys by himself. 

Both boys are soaking in more vocabulary every day.  Recently, I realized that Jared had the Bingo song memorized.  I thought to myself, “If Jared can memorize how to spell ‘Bingo’ than he can certainly spell his own name which has the same amount of letters.”

A few days later, Jared is singing:
“There was a boy who had a friend and Jared was his name. 
And Jared can spell his name-o.”

Jared has also memorized three different verses from the Bible after several months of doing bed time devotions.  He knows Psalm 118:24, John 4:16 and Psalm 27:1.  Feel free to quiz him on any of these verses the next time you talk to him.  He’ll probably tell you, if he’s not feeling shy at the time.