Just Another Busy November

Date: November 5, 2011
Location: Lake Jackson, TX

The MK Meier family has finally settled into life here in Lake Jackson, Texas.  During the past month, we’ve seen the weather go down from the 90’s range to the 40’s. We’ve watched the mosquito armies bring on a late summer attack for a couple weeks, just to die off every time the temperature dropped below 50.  We went from using air conditioning on a regular basis to needing to use heat. We’ve settled into a routine that keeps the boys busy (and Mamma from going insane).  She also been quite busy attempting to potty train Luke and to get Grace to eat some of her first solid foods.

If any of you have been following the blog, you’ll note that I’ve actually been adding posts a little at a time over the past month.  However, if this is the first time that you’ve visited the blog since the past update, here are the stories you will find:

1) Our two big prayer requests (probably our biggest stressors at this time)
2) My 25 hour day (thoughts on what Cristina should do on the day that daylight savings ends)
3) Halloween alternatives (how the MK Meier family celebrated Halloween for the first time)
4) A Trip to Chicago (find out why Stephen left Lake Jackson for three days to attend a conference)
5) Remembering Smashed Potatoes (discussing some of the cute phrased the boys have said)
6) The Lake Jackson Speed Trap (owning up to Cristina’s first time caught speeding)
7) Texan invadors (dealing with the Texas mosquito population explosion)

Feel free to read through the blog and enjoy!

Big Prayer Requests for November

It’s been a while since we’ve asked for specific prayer for our lives. Right now, we have two big prayer requests that feel a little overwhelming to us.


#1: Cristina has been sruggling to finish her Ph.D. for the past few years.  She passed her qualifying exams in the fall of 2009, but was unable to write any of her dissertation for the following year and a half.  She made a decision to try to finish the dissertation this year and graduate in May of 2012.  So far, she has completed a rough draft of her first chapter and has been working on her second chapter for almost seven weeks.  Now, she three weeks left to finish the first three chapters of her dissertation so that she can defend her dissertation proposal by Thanksgiving vacation. She needs to be able to concentrate on her writing and not get distracted during the hours that Stephen is home to take care of the kids.


#2: Stephen and Cristina are finally settled down into their home in Lake Jackson.  Their debts and payments are also settling into a monthly routine as well.  They finally went through their budget together last week and found that they are $700 underbudget.  That means, they have to figure out how to cut that much money out of their spending and still be able to pay back their debts, bills, health insurance premium and still be able to tithe and put some money into a savings account each month. Please pray for wisdom, especially since we are now coming into the holiday season and there is no extra money for holiday trimmings or gifts.

My 25 Hour Day

Daylight Savings time is going to end tomorrow.  This yearly event has not affected me very much in the past three years.  I had been living in Ecuador where the time never changed. The only difference it made was when I needed to call family and friends living in the U.S.  I had to remind myself that their time had changed.  For half the year, I was on Eastern Time and the other half I was on Central Time.

Central Daylight Saving Time is what we moved into living in Lake Jackson, Texas. Tomorrow, we will move into Central Standard Time.  Although I’ve always had a hard time adjusting to the change in hour, I’ve appreciated the falling back one hour.  It felt like I had an extra hour added to my day.  With all the things I’ve been doing lately, I’ve been to ponder my 25 hour day and ask myself, “What will I do with my extra hour on Sunday, November 6?”

Perhaps I’ll use that hour for my morning preparations.  I could wake up an hour earlier than normal.  That’s when I pull out my breast pump and start doing my devotions while pumping out enough milk for Grace’s morning bottle, four extra ounces to mix with her cereals and some left over for storage, if possible. Jared and Luke are usually awake by the time I’m finished.  So, I get them dressed, make their beds and give them their 8 oz of milk in a sippy cup.  While they drink, I start preparing the hot water to warm up Grace’s morning bottle.  Most of the time, Stephen helps me feed Grace.  Then I can make our bed and straighted up the rooms a little before getting started with the boys’ breakfast. When I finish making breakfast for Jared, Luke and Grace, I let Stephen feed Grace and supervise the boys, while I get myself dressed. Then we switch off and I put Grace down for her morning nap, eat breakfast and get the boys’ teeth brushed and shoes on while Stephen gets himself ready. This would, perhaps, give us enough time to get to church on time instead of a few minutes late.

Jared and Luke get goofy at lunch time.

Or maybe, I should save my extra hour for lunchtime. We usually feed the boys as soon as we get home from church.  When they are done eating, they get to play a little while before they are sent back to the room area to use the bathroom and prepare for their afternoon nap.  Stephen puts the boys in bed while I feed Grace her noon time meal of “Mamma’s milk.” She usually goes right to sleep when she’s finished. That gives us anywhere between 1 and 1/2 hours to 3 hours of peace while all three children are sleeping.  Stephen usually takes the opportunity to take a nap.  I, on the other hand, uses this time for household chores or unfinished projects, such as writing in this blog. Maybe my extra hour would be most useful here.

Grace plays on her mat.

However, I could use the extra hour later on in the afternoon.  Once the boys wake up from their nap, they ask for a snack and either spend time playing or watching a little television. They always wake up before Grace does.  When she wakes up, she’s ready for more milk and then enjoys spending time in her walker so that she can play with her toys, but can also observe what her brothers are doing.  By 5pm, I’m getting dinner ready for the family, Stephen is helping me wash the laundry and we sit down to eat at about 6pm. As the boys start eating, I go to my room to feed Grace and then bring her back to the table to eat her solids.

Cristina with Jared, Luke and Grace.

Actually, I think I might just save my extra hour for the later evening hours.  After dinner, the boys play with their toys or watch a little more television while the dinner dishes get cleaned and the laundry continues to be washed.  Around 8pm, we start getting everyone ready for bed. Jared and Luke brush their teeth, get their pajamas on and then pull out some books to read.  I used to be the story reader of the family.  However, Grace’s final feeding for the evening has come to conflict with the boys’ story time.  Therefore, Stephen is the one who most often reads to them while I start feeding Grace before putting her to bed. However, I do get to see the boys before they go to bed.  After their stories have been read, they insist that I pray with them and give them a hug and kiss good-night.  So, they run over to my room so that I can pray with them while I’m still feeding Grace.  After hugs and kisses, they run back to their room where Daddy puts them in bed, prays with them again and turns on their music so that they can fall asleep.

By the time Grace is asleep, I begin to wonder where all the hours have gone in my day.  Maybe my extra hour should be used at this point, so I can get a few more things done on my to-do list. Or maybe I’ll just use the extra hour to go to bed early and feel somewhat rested for the next day.

Halloween Alternatives

My childhood is devoid of Halloween. I never had a Halloween costume and never went trick or treating.  It really wasn’t that hard to avoid.  I was growing up in South America as the daughter of missionary parents trying to spread the love of Jesus to everyone they knew.  Celebrating a host of ghost, goblins and other evil-spirited creatures did not work well with the message of God’s love for humanity.  None of my friends participated in Halloween and the community that my parents worked with didn’t celebrate it, either.

I don’t ever think I felt deprived of the holiday.  After all, we got to dress up for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Every year at Thanksgiving time, I would switch back and forth between being a Pilgrim or an Indian (sorry, I didn’t call them Native Americans back then.  We had not yet reached the political correctness we have now). For Christmas, we were always involved in some kind of Christmas play and most of the time I was given the role of Mary.  We also got so much candy for Christmas, I could hardly say I missed the treats of late October.

However, here I am in Lake Jackson, Texas, where I see lawns as decorated for Halloween as they are for Christmas.  Huge blown up pumpkins, ghosts and scarecrows invite trick or treaters to knock on their doors. I wasn’t sure how I felt about having my children participate.  I never felt the need to be a part of Halloween and we didn’t really have that tradition living in Quito, Ecaudor for the past three years.

The event that changed my mind was an announcement letter from Jared’s Awana group.  They were planning on having a special “Hallelujah” night and costume contest.  The catch was that all participants had to dress up as a Bible character and then be able to explain what was important about that character.  Being that I’m not a very artistic person and hardly excel at needlepoint, I knew I would have to find an already made costume that would fit Jared. Thankfully, an on-line Christian bookstore had just what I needed and Jared got fascinated with the modern-day version of a Samson costume.  While I was at it, I went ahead and got a Bob the Tomato costume for Luke, so he wouldn’t feel left out. And then I couldn’t resist buying a cute little bunny outfit for Grace.

So, yes, we did give in somewhat to the Halloween craze here.  The kids wore their costumes to Awana, library story time, a couple church Harvest festivals, Sears portrait studio, and finally at Chuckie Cheese’s where each kid got 10 free tokens for wearing their costume on Halloween. We even got home in time to hand out candy to one family still driving their kids around the neighborhood past 8pm on Halloween.

This was my Halloween alternative.  Find as many different events in the week before Halloween so that the kids get to wear their costume as much as possible.  By the time Halloween gets here, they are so tired of their costumes, they are glad not to wear them anymore. Well, I’m not sure if that worked so much for my kids, but it sure worked for me.

Halloween Pics:

Grace dressed up for library story time

Luke makes a mask at the library.

Jared at the libary in costume and the mask he made.

A Trip to Chicago

As the weeks of October began to fly by,  Stephen came home announcing that he was planning on attending a conference at the end of the month that would help the school develop a HomeStay Boarding program. He was really excited about this concept, because it was something that he had a vision for since his years working at Shenandoah Valley Christian School in Virginia.  A HomeStay program would open the door for international high school students to attend particular schools in the United States.  The idea was not to use a dormitory to house these students, but to ask local families to take in one or more students into their home.  Each family would be given a certain amount of compensation by the school for room and board and they would be responsible for making sure the student had transportation to and from school.  This would all be included in the tuition charged to the students’ parents.

Stephen used Southwest to find an affordable one-stop flight to Chicago.

Therefore, Stephen was off to Chicago from Monday, October 24 to Wednesday, October 26. The conference was hosted by Wheaton Academy in West Chicago. Stephen was able to attend various workshops concerning all the logistics of bringing international students into a U.S. school system and finding host families to take care of them.  He got to meet some of the international students who attend Wheaton Academy and talk to administrators from schools where the HomeStay Boarding program is working.

The keynote speaker of the symposium was none other than Dan Egler, who had once been a secondary principal and director of the Alliance Academy in Quito, Ecuador.  Stephen had first met Dan Egler at various events held in Quito for ACSI.

Stephen returned to Lake Jackson very excited about starting this program at Brazosport Christian School as soon as possible. He has a vision for 15 international students to start attending the school as early as the second semester of this year. It took a few meetings to convince some of the teachers at BCS, but everyone is on board for this new project. The school currently has a handful of international students, but all of them live at home with their parents who have moved to Lake Jackson, as well. So, the biggest challenge right now would be finding the host families who would be willing to take on one or more students right after the Christmas holidays.

It’s an amibition plan.  But those of you who know Stephen know that he doesn’t every dream little. Keep him in your prayers as he works to make this project a success that will help the school grow.