June Updates and Summer Plans

Date: June 22, 2011
Location: Quito, Ecuador

The expression “April showers bring May flowers,” came into mind many times during the weeks that followed the birth of Grace Erin Meier.  It certainly seemed that we were getting enough rain in Quito during that month to water the May flowers of several countries.  Although Grace’s memory bank will not be able to remember those first couple months of her life, her mother will not forget them.

It is hard to believe that spring has so quickly slipped into summer and we are now preparing to make our next big move.  It has been nearly three years since we moved to Quito, Ecuador on July 31, 2008, with a 12 month old boy and a few suitcases.

Now, we are preparing to leave with a nearly 4 year old boy, his 2 ½ year old brother, their nearly 3 month old sister and quite a few more suitcases.  Please visit the posts below to find out more about our big move to Lake Jackson, Texas, and some of the adventures we’ve had in the past few months.

You’ll find the following stories here:
1) Summer Plans 2011
*Read our itinerary and find out if we’ll be in your area this summer to plan a possible visit

2) Graduating the class of 2011
*Find out about finishing the 2010-2011 school year

3) Our April Showers
*Find out about the health challenges and weather-related trials we faced

4) A Quick Trip toTexas
*We flew to Texas in mid-May to visit our soon-to-be home and ministry location

5) Bringing Voting to the 21st Century
*Impressions of the election process in Quito this past May

Thanks for keeping in touch!  We would love to hear from you through e-mail, Facebook, Skype, telephone, blog comments, etc.

Cristina Meier (along with Stephen, Jared, Luke and Grace)

Summer Plans 2011

Once school ended on June 17, we were in earnest to get all our packing done so that we’d be ready to leave Ecuador on the evening of June 24.  Here is our traveling itinerary in case you want to know where we will be traveling before we end up in Lake Jackson, Texas.

Cell phone in the U.S.= 352-215-4524

Meier Traveling Itinerary

(Friday & Saturday) June 24 –25 = Leave Ecuador / Arrive in Florida

Flight Information:
LanEcuador516 @ 6:30pm leaving Quito
LanEcuador516 @ 11:35pm arrive in Miami

Travel Information:
Rent van in Miami and drive to Gainesville, Florida (on the road 8 hours)
Approximate arrival time between 10am -12pm on Saturday, June 25
Drop off rental van and pick up van in Gainesville

Saturday, June 25 – Wednesday, June 29 = In Gainesville, Florida
*Staying with family, visiting, etc.

Thursday, June 30 = Travel to Virginia Beach, Virginia
*On the road (14 hours)

Friday, July 1 = In Virginia Beach / Travel to Northern Virginia
*On the road (5 ½ hours)

Saturday, July 2 – Monday, July 4 = In Winchester / Stephens City, VA
*Visiting friends, church, etc.
Pick up storage items from Griffin family

Tuesday, July 5 = Drive to Mobile, AL
*On the road (18 hours) 

Wednesday, July 6 = In Mobile, AL
*Visiting with Blanton family 

Thursday, July 7 = Drive to Lake Jackson, TX
*On the road (10 hours) 

Friday, July 8 – Sunday, July 10 = In Lake Jackson
*Settling in, buying furniture, pick up shipped items from Quito, prepare for Stephen’s first day at work

Monday, July 11 = Stephen begins working at BCS in Lake Jackson, Texas

Graduating the class of 2011

For the first time since we’ve been here, I was unable to get a babysitter to watch my kids during graduation.  Our first year, I had someone babysit Jared and I took Luke with me to graduation.  He was only five months old and slept through most of it.  Our second year, I found a couple babysitters to watch Jared and Luke and I was able to spend some time greeting the graduating seniors after the event was over. 

However, I still have the same challenge each year.  My regular babysitters want to attend graduation and I have to find someone the boys are unfamiliar with who doesn’t plan to go to graduation.  This year, I wasn’t able to find anyone who didn’t want to go to graduation. 

So, Stephen and I came up with a back up plan.  I would borrow one of the classrooms attached to the gymnasium where the students would graduate.  The boys could sit in there and watch a movie and I could sit right outside the classroom door with the baby to watch the graduation from there. 

Although I couldn’t focus my full attention on the graduation procedures, I was able to there when Stephen was presented with a special trophy for his three years of service at the school.  I also watched him get bear-hugged by one of the seniors.  (Stephen thought he was going to fall off the stage with that hug.) 

I kept getting flash backs from my graduation in 1995, as I watched each student so proudly walk up on stage and pose with the Stephen to receive their diploma.  By 9pm on June 17, 2011, every senior was turning their tassel on their graduation cap and reveling in the fact that they were done with high school. 

In their honor, I’ve created a modified version of Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8

 A Time for Everything (at AAI)

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity at the AllianceAcademy:
A time to register for classes and a time to clean out lockers;
A time for seating charts and class syllabi,
And a time for collecting returned textbooks and giving final exams.
A time for greeting new students and time to congratulate graduating seniors,
A time to set down firm rules, and a time to tolerate senior pranks,
A time to teach and a time to learn,
A time to give lectures and a time to provide study halls,
A time to grade papers and a time to hang out,
A time to stress and a time to relax,
A time to hand out homework and a time to gather it in,
A time to hand out hall passes and a time to hand out diplomas,
A time to practice and a time to perform,
A time for new teacher bar-b-ques and a time for final staff chapels,
A time to give detentions and a time to give merit points,
There is a time for setting goals and a time for assessing the work that has been done.

Congratulations, AAI’s class of 2011!

Our April Showers

If this part of our life was made into a movie, the opening scene would have taken place when I brought Grace home from the hospital on Monday, April 4. Grace was born at 12:40pm on Saturday, April 2.  After we were finally released from the hospital on Monday morning, I was looking forward to being home with my family and having some time to relax.  Little did I know that the relaxation time would be short-lived. 

My first week at home was the last week of the third quarter.  I promised that I would grade the final two assignments of my two computer classes so that the substitute teacher could begin grading everything for fourth quarter only.  A few afternoons when I should have been resting were spent grading papers. 

The real action of this movie began on Friday, April 8.  Jared started coming down with a fever around lunch time.  I didn’t think too much of it, but hoped he would sleep it off during his afternoon nap.  Then, Stephen insisted we go to the civil registrar’s office to begin processing Grace’s paperwork, even though she was only six days old.  We sat in line for over an hour to find out we didn’t have all the paperwork we needed to process her Ecuadorian citizenship.  This paperwork is necessary to complete before we could get herU.S.paperwork done.  We were told we needed to get our “migratory movements” from the census office in the center of Quito.

Stephen holds Grace in the Civil Registration Office.

So, I we all tried to go home and relax, and give Jared a little more Tylenol to control his unusually high temperature.  I went to bed that night thinking I’d be up a couple times with Grace, but not realizing that Jared would wake me up in the early morning hours with a raspy cough.  My mom heard him coughing and told me, “Uh-oh, that sounds like croup.”

Since he appeared to be struggling with breathing, I asked Stephen and my mom to take Jared to the emergency room first thing Saturday morning.  They found out that Jared did have the first stages of croup.  They gave him a shot and put him on nebulization treatments for the rest of the weekend. The doctor also told us to keep him away from the baby as much as possible.  However, it was difficult to keep Jared isolated from everyone.  Jared seemed to be doing a little better after his treatments, but he had a really bad cough.  All he wanted to do was lie around the house. 

Saturday night provided an interesting experience.  Little 7-day-old Grace only woke up once that night to be fed.  Jared, on the other hand, was waking me up every hour between 10pm and 4am, because he was so congested and his cough was hurting his chest and throat so much.  By Sunday morning, I was completely exhausted.  But I could not rest, because I promised Stephen that I would go with him to the census place at 8am to get our “migratory movements.”  We all skipped church and I tried to rest. 

However, I was starting to feel a tingling in my throat that day.  Not only that, but my varicose veins in my right thigh had gotten really hard and was starting to bother me.  I started feeling feverish by that evening. Fortunately, Jared only woke me up once that night and Grace two times.

I was tired on Monday morning, but Stephen was set on taking Grace back to the civil registration office to get her Ecuadorian paperwork done.  We left as early in the morning as possible.  We ended up staying there until 3pm before Grace got all her Ecuadorian paperwork done.  We finished just in time to go to my doctor’s office for an appointment.  When I told him about my varicose vein, he sent me to see a vascular surgeon, because he was afraid that I might have thrombosis of the veins. 

Indeed, this was the case.  The vascular surgeon recommended that I get surgery right away to remove the clogs that were blocking the vein in my leg.  So, I scheduled the surgery for Tuesday, April 12 at 1pm.  When I got home that night, I noticed that Luke was starting to cough and look a little congested. 

By Tuesday morning, I was also starting to cough.  But I had no time to rest, because I had to finish all my grading and get my grade book turned in before my surgery. 

With that done, I had 10 minutes to eat lunch, feed Grace and get to the doctor’s office.  I arrive a few minutes late.  My mom held Grace in the waiting room as I went under the surgeon’s knife for the following thirty minutes as he gave me local anesthesia to remove the clots from the vein in my thigh.  The surgery itself wasn’t too painful.  The worst part was trying not to cough too hard, because it seemed that I had caught a cold. 

My mom noticed that Grace was also starting to cough and that began to worry all of us.  A newborn baby may sneeze a lot, but should not be coughing.  I tried not to get too worried, because she was scheduled to see her doctor the next morning for her first check up. 

By Wednesday morning, it was obvious that Luke was sick.  He woke up feverish and coughing.  So, I took him to see the doctor, too.  The doctor said that he wasn’t too worried yet, because Grace’s chest was clear, but her sinuses were congested and if that congestion dropped into her chest, she would need to go to the hospital.  He told me to call a nurse who did home visits to come and check on the children’s oxygen saturations for a few days and to provide nebulization treatments to help clear up the congestion. 

So, I called her that afternoon and she arrived that evening for her first visit.  She did not look too happy about little Grace’s condition.  She said her oxygen saturation was too low and wasn’t staying above 90%.  It kept falling to 80%.  I didn’t know what to think of that, because I had never had to worry about oxygen saturation with my sons before.  By Thursday evening, the nurse was very concerned.  I was tempted to think that she was over reacting until she pointed out the fact that Grace’s nail beds were looking purple and so were her lips.  She said her oxygen saturation was falling to 60% and that Grace needed to go to a hospital right away. 

Grace in her hospital gown at Hospital Metropolitano. Poor, little Grace with her IV tube in her hand.

Reluctantly, I packed up a small bag and my mom helped me to go to the hospital where she was tested, x-rayed, poked and then finally diagnosed with infant bronchitis.  They wouldn’t even let me feed her until they were finished with all their tests.  Although there was little room in the hospital, the doctor was able to pull some strings and get us into a hospital “suite.”  It was almost comical, how we were able to stay in such a large hospital room for such a tiny baby.  So, after leaving the hospital on Monday, April 4, she was back in the hospital on Thursday, April 14.  Once again, my boys had to be separated from their mom for two days.  They seemed to do O.K. under the care of my mom, the nanny and Stephen. 

Grace with her IV in her arm.

The hardest night for us was Friday.  The nurse was still visiting our home to check on Luke and Jared.  Jared was finally feeling better after a week of being sick.  Luke, on the other hand, was not doing so well.  The nurse called on Friday night to say that she believed Luke should be admitted to the hospital.  I was at my wit’s end.  How was I going to care for both of my babies at the same time?  It didn’t help that my cell phone decided to run out of minutes at the time and my hospital phone wasn’t working.

Fortunately, the doctor understood my dilemma and suggested we purchase some antibiotics for Luke and see if that would help clear him up.  Stephen went out to purchase the medicine that night and his doses began.

Of course, the real climax of this movie would have been Saturday afternoon, April 16.  We were finally given clearance to leave the hospital on the condition that Grace would continue using oxygen at home until she is able to hold her oxygen saturation level at 90% on her own.  This required ordering an oxygen tank to be brought to our home.  A few hours before we left, we called the oxygen tank company so that they would be there when we arrived. 

Then I packed up our things and got ready to go.  I looked out the window and mentioned to Stephen, “I’m glad we have good weather to go home.”  The sun was shining and everything looked dry. 

This is why I was so shocked to look out the window at the other side of the building to see that it was raining.  How could it be sunny on one side of the building and raining on the other?  The last time this happened, our house got flooded.

 “Uh-oh…I hope we aren’t going to get one of those floods, again,” I thought to myself. 

We managed to get a taxi just as the rain started to come down really hard.  The next thing we knew, it was hailing and little pelts of ice were ricocheting off the windshield.  Stephen called my mom to ask how the apartment looked. 

“No, it’s not flooding yet…oh…wait a second…I think I see water coming up from the kitchen floor.” 

My mom tries to keep the water from flowing up from the kitchen floor.

As we turned the corner to go to our house, I knew it was bad.  The roads were already flooded three or four inches.  The taxi had to slow down quite a bit to keep from getting stuck in the water.  When we arrived in front of the school, the rain was pouring down hard, and we didn’t have an umbrella.  The taxi driver insisted that he would take our things from the car for us.  I ran into the building only thinking to protect Grace from the rain. 

Stephen, however, noticed that the taxi driver had not unloaded his computer case before leaving us.  The next thing I know, Stephen is chasing the taxi down the street leaving me in the front of the building with a sick baby and bunch of bags.  Five minutes later, he returned drenched, but with the computer tucked under his shirt.  He had to chase the taxi down a couple blocks.  Thanks to Stephen’s ability as a runner and the fact that the flooded streets slowed down the taxi, he was able to catch him. The taxi driver thought he could steal Stephen’s computer in the confusion of the moment, but didn’t count on Stephen’s quick instincts or his speed in running.

The next step was to get the baby home.  The man with the oxygen tank had arrived by then, and a group of men in the lobby asked if they could help me get my things home.  When we all arrived at our home, we saw water covering the entire floor of the house.  I stood there in a state of shock until the oxygen man asked, “So where do you want me to put this tank?”

“Not here!” I said.  I would not be able to take care of a sick baby with bronchitis in this flooded house.  So, we sent all the kids to the second floor with some of our friends to watch a movie. I tried to stay upstairs because I had no boots and my tennis shoes were completely soaked.  But every time I came downstairs to get something for the kids, there were more friends and neighbors helping us to sweep the water out of our house and to try to clean up all the city water that had created a muddy, wet mess everywhere.

The water overflowing from the inside of our house and the outside as well.

Since we live in the basement of a dorm, we were allowed to use some of the guest rooms upstairs to sleep for the night.  We tried to start cleaning some of the clothing items that had gotten wet in the flood, but the electricity went out at 8:30 that evening, leaving us in the dark for several hours.  It took three guys to move Grace’s oxygen tank up to the guest rooms, but we were all able to get some rest that night.

By noon the next day, we were able to bring the kids back down to the house.  We had heaters running throughout the house to warm up the building and dry the walls and floors.  Grace’s nurse finally gave Luke a clean bill of health on Monday, April 18.  The antibiotics were really helping him improve.  By Wednesday of that week, I actually got antibiotics for Grace and for myself because our congestion was not clearing up, either.  As soon as I took my first dose, I started to feel better. 

Grace had to wear her oxygen in her nose for several weeks.

Easter vacation began, but we couldn’t go anywhere, because Grace was still hooked up to an oxygen tank.  The nurse was still coming to visit twice a day.  After Easter vacation ended, I took Grace to see her doctor on Monday, June 25.  The doctor said that she would still need oxygen for two or three more weeks, but that the nurse could bring down her visits to twice a week.  I was also told that Grace wouldn’t need nebulization treatments anymore and that she just needed to have her oxygen saturation checked. 

In the next step to recover, Grace only needed oxygen blowing toward her face and not in her nose.

So, the nurse came for the next two weeks.  Another positive change during this time was that the daily rains suddenly stopped at the beginning of May.  The second of May was the first day in over a month that it didn’t rain.  And finally, the nurse made her last visit on Friday, May 6. She recommended that I continue using oxygen with Grace at night.  So, I continued to use it until May 15.  Then I returned the oxygen tanks just in time for us to fly out toTexas for a visit on May 18.

Grace sleeps without her oxygen completely.

A full month has passed since then.  Grace continues to stay healthy and grow both in length and weight.  In spite of the trials that happened during her first month of life, Grace is a happy little girl who loves to giggle and coo at those who pay attention to her.

A Quick Trip to Texas

Brazosport Christian School made a way for us to come up and visit them at the end of their school year.  They really wanted Stephen to be there for their graduation, so we made plans to travel up on Wednesday, May 18 and return on Saturday, May 21.

We flew into Texas at around noon on Wednesday and ate lunch at the airport.  Then we went to our rental car.  The drive down to Lake Jacksonwasn’t too long.  It took a little over an hour to get there.  I was interested in seeing a sign outside the city describing Lake Jackson as the “city of enchantment.”

The next thing I noticed about the city was the wind.  As we stood outside of Home Depot getting the boys back in their car seats, I noticed the strong winds blowing and the slight scent of ocean air mixed in.

We spent a couple days at the school getting together with teachers and families in the community over lunch.  Then Stephen attended the high school graduation while I rested in the hotel.

Another unexpected benefit was the tour of different rental properties.  We were able to find one that we liked that was within a mile and a half from the school.  The school helped us with June and July’s rent so that we can move right into our house when we arrive in Mid-July.

Jared and Luke at the pool in our hotel.

Bringing Voting to the 21st Century

When we were visiting the civil registration office in centralQuito, I didn’t understand why it took so long to get Grace’s paperwork.  Later, I discovered that the country was getting their citizens ready for their annual election with the use of new technology.  Just as drivers’ licenses, passports and other identification documents have become digitalized, so have the Ecuadorian registration papers. 

When we were in the office, there were many Ecuadorian citizens there getting their registration cards redone, so that they would contain the digitalized image that could be scanned into a machine.  Although everyone got sick in the process of getting Grace’s papers done, I’m glad that we completed that process in early April.  If not, we would have been stuck in line with all the people trying to get their registration I.D. done before the elections.

Ecuadorians are required to vote or pay a fine.  For a while, it was understood that all Ecuadorian citizens needed the new digital registration card in order to vote this year. However, my nanny told me that she didn’t have time to go get her registration card done and thought she could vote with the old card.  The nurse who was checking on Grace said the same thing.

Fortunately for them, they were able to use their old cards.  On May 14, all citizens of the country got to vote on changes being made inEcuador’s Constitution.  By the end of the election process, the “yes” votes once.

As for me, I won’t worry about the vote outcome.  I’ll just take my two registration cards fromEcuador.  Luke’s card has the old non-digital card and Grace has the new one.  And that’s the way it is going to stay for a while.