A Day Late and A Dollar Short

In case you didn’t hear about it on someone’s Instagram, SnapChat or FB post, this past Saturday (August 10) was “National S’mores Day.” I didn’t think about it too much at the beginning of the year when I was creating cute little calendars for my four children to hold onto for the 2019 year.  I was just trying to add as many fun and interesting “celebrations” as I could find for my kids to enjoy.

It wasn’t until the beginning of August as we finished settling into our new home in Ankara, Turkey, that it hit me that there might be groups of people celebrating this gooey and sticky tradition who might be interested in playing a card game to go along with their sweet tooth (as soon as they wash the melted marshmallow and chocolate smears off their hands).

Now, this isn’t a card game that you will find in your traditional stores.  Stephen created the game with the help of a computer art designer, and he bought the copyright so that he could sell the game through the on-line game site known as “www.gamecrafter.com” at the following site:

https://www.thegamecrafter.com/games/classic-smashin-s-mores
smashinsmores_deck

First, picture yourselves playing this game as your stomach digests graham cracker mixed with chocolate and marshmallow.  As you and your fellow card holders flick cards into a middle pile, you wait patiently for a graham cracker card to be laid down, followed by a marshmallow card and a chocolate card and then finally another graham cracker so that you can slap the deck before anyone else does.  You either hope to win by collecting all the cards in the deck or gaining three coins (one for every s’more that you smash).  It’s a fast pace and fun game for everyone.
smashinsmores_cardssmashinsmores_frontcard(the cost for one deck of cards is less than $7 dollars USD!)
https://www.thegamecrafter.com/games/classic-smashin-s-mores

Secondly, remember that every deck of cards that is purchased is helping our family to regain our financial foothold as we transition into our new jobs as Christian workers in an international school in Ankara, Turkey.

I know I am a few days late to be advertising for National S’mores Day.  We are most definitely more than a few dollars short of living “in the black” when it comes to our financial situation.  We are amazed at the ways in which God has supplied our needs over and over again. Several people have stepped up and given us generous donations to help us with our big international move from Far East Asia to the Middle East.  But we are struggling with debt and the gap in our salary between our jobs that ended in early June and this new one that technically does not begin until the beginning of September.

If you cannot support us on a monthly basis, consider purchasing this fun game that you can play with family and friends, knowing that the money you used to make your purchase is helping us with our moving costs and getting started in this new adventure of learning a new culture and language.

Take a moment to visit the site to find out how to make this fantastic game your own:

https://www.thegamecrafter.com/games/classic-smashin-s-mores

If you are interested in helping us out beyond purchasing our game, you can click here to find out how to help us on a one time basis or a monthly basis.

 

 

 

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From the Far East to the Middle East

Location: Portland, Oregon
Date: June 24, 2019

IMG_8349

Another school year is completed for the “MK” Meier family living in mainland China. A flurry of selling, discarding, and packing intermingled with as many final goodbye meetings that we could cram into the schedule for the first two weeks of June. As we prepared for our summer break, it was more than just a preparation for summer activities. We were preparing to leave China behind us for good.

Stephen and I have felt for quite some time that this would be our final year living in China.  As we prayed for God to show us where he wanted us to go next year, the opportunity presented itself for Stephen and I to work at an international school in Turkey, and we found our hearts being drawn to that opportunity. Although we do not know very much about Turkey, our research has shown that it is a unique Middle Eastern Country with a mix of European and Asian cultures. Unlike many other countries with a heavy Muslim influence, Turkey operates as a democratic government based on European models rather than an Islamic one.  This will be change from us after living for two years in a strictly communist environment.

Where will we be working?

We will be working at the OASIS International School of Ankara (http://oisankara.org/) which has been established since 2004 and teaches primarily international students living in Turkey with a few Turkish students who hold dual citizenship. We are currently processing all our paperwork in order to get two year working visas for Turkey. Through the OASIS branch of the Network of International Christian Schools (NICS), we will be entering Turkey as educators and staff members for the international school.  The “M” word is generally discouraged when describing what we will be doing in Turkey.

What will we be doing?

After eight years of leading different schools as the headmaster, Stephen has agreed to be the middle school principal at this school and I (Cristina) will be the high school guidance counselor. Although Stephen was offered a headmaster position at more than one school within the U.S. for next year, we felt very strongly that God was sending us to Turkey. Based on that choice, Stephen was willing to accept the position as middle school principal for the next two years. Stephen loves being an administrator and whatever administrative position that he is given, we know he will thrive.  We are excited to see what God will do through him as he becomes part of the secondary administrative team at this school in Turkey.

We are also excited for me (Cristina) to step into this new role in which I will be helping 10th through 12th grade students finish high school well and prepare for college.  I spent several years studying third culture kids (TCKs) in their transition between high school and college and observing how the use of social media either helped or hindered their development from teenager to independent adult. These studies were used to help me earn my doctorate in Communications.  I am excited to be able to interact with students in a similar capacity once again.

Our children have not quite grasped this big move yet, but we are looking forward to what they will learn and experience, as well. Jared will be in middle school as a seventh grader.  Luke will be in fifth grade, Grace will be starting third grade and Seth will be in first grade in the elementary part of the school.

What do we need?

We are looking for both prayer and financial support for the following trips:

1) Praise that our trip from Beijing, China to Portland, Oregon was smooth and we did not lose a single one of our nineteen suitcases and six carry-ons.

2) Prayer for safety as we travel from Portland, Oregon to Gainesville, Florida by car for about 7-10 days of travel across the U.S. (we own a vehicle that we plan to use this summer)
*CLICK HERE: Our summer travel schedule is provided.

3) Prayer for smooth travels and provision for all our travel needs.  We cannot send any of our belongings to Turkey in crates because we’ve been told that large packages get confiscated and/or stolen.  So, the only way to bring everything we need to turkey is to carry it with us on the plane.  We are estimating that we will be carrying an extra six to eight pieces of luggage along with the 12 pieces of luggage that we will already be carrying with us. Each extra piece of luggage will cost us approximately 200 dollars.

If you are interested in becoming part of our financial support team in helping us GET TO TURKEY, please click the link below.  NICS has provided a U.S. tax deductible way for you give both on-line and through the mail.

Follow us on Facebook as we take pictures of our summer road trip across the U.S. Pray with us as we prepare to move to Turkey. Stay connected so that we can continue to communicate as friends and family in body of Christ.

BECOME A PART OF THE MK MEIER FINANCIAL SUPPORT TEAM.

Grandparent’s Day re-lived

November 2012

Although Grandparent’s Day was officially listed on U.S. calendars in the month of September, Brazosport Christian School (BCS) has traditionally prepared a special celebration in their honor during the month of October.  Last year, I didn’t really pay much attention to the activities.  However, things have changed since Jared became a BCS student.  I knew his teacher was busy preparing fun activities and decorations in honor of the grandparents of each of her 18 students.

So, I decided that I needed to attend the event.  After all, Jared does not have the good fortune of having his grandparents close by.  One set of grandparents live in northern Oregon.  We have not been able to visit with them since Luke was six months old (and this was before Grace was born).  The other set of grandparents just recently left Guatemala and moved to the central Florida area.  Although they are much closer to us than they once were, the trip was not within their means, either.

grandparent tree

That left me to be the “eye” of Jared’s grandparents as I recorded the special moments of that day. After dropping Jared off at the usual time, I had enough time to go home and feed Grace her breakfast while Luke worked on his pre-school workbooks.  Then we returned to school to attend a special chapel session / breakfast for the grandparents. Each class got an opportunity to sing songs or perform skits to impress their special guests.  Luke and Grace sat in a stroller at the edge of the crowd and watched the activities with much enthusiasm while their mommy moved around the gym to record the scenes.

For the final song, grades K-3 through 6th came up on the stage together to sing the BCS theme song of the year, Chris Tomlin’s “Our God is Greater.” As the students filed out of the gym, grandparents were invited to visit the classrooms of their grandchildren.  The visits were broken down into two segments so that grandparents could visit multiple classrooms if needed.  Stephen took Luke and Grace out to the school playground so that I could go to Jared’s classroom and record the activities taking place there.

Although Jared was one of the few students who didn’t have grandparents present, he seemed quite happy to perform his parts in front of the camera.  Both sets of grandparents had mailed in special card to be delivered to Jared on this day.  Jared was quite proud of his cards.  He had made thank you cards for his grandparents, as well.

Jared_cards

They didn’t receive the cards and video until after Thanksgiving, as it took me that long to get the video recordings organized.  So, they will be able to enjoy the events of Grandparent’s Day for the rest of the calendar year.

Monster Dash into the wind

November 2012

This was the second year that the Meier family participated in this Halloween-themed 5k race with special races for kids, a costume contest and a sudden dip in temperature. I’m not sure it the sudden weather change is an annual thing, but it certainly has been the trend for the past two years.  It’s as if Lake Jackson can’t figure out whether or not it wants to participate in fall temperatures until the weekend before Halloween.  Then, suddenly the weather decides to jump into fall with temperatures resembling the north pole.

Well, it might not be that drastic, but there is a drop of about twenty degrees that strives toward freezing temperatures. Last year, the temperature was in the low 40’s when we started our run.  This year, the temperature was in the mid 50’s, but included a wind chill that cut right through the cotton running outfit you thought was surely going to keep you warm enough.

(At the end of the kids’ “fun run” we were all still feeling the sting of the cold air.)

Unfortunately, I wasn’t really physically ready to run a 5km this year.  Last year, I had jogged the 5km while pushing my darling little Grace in a running stroller.  Stephen had the double stroller with Jared and Luke bundled up inside.  The boys didn’t mind too much being in the stroller.  They had participated in a 100 meter race before the 5km.  Half of the participants had dressed up in Halloween costumes for the race so that they could compete in a costume contest at the end of the race.

This year, I had not been running on a regular basis.  I hadn’t even been walking on a regular basis.  The most exercise I had been getting was in the process of cleaning the house.  Sweeping, mopping, dusting and scrubbing on a weekly basis had been the extent of my muscle use.  My poor little tread mill had seen the vacuum cleaner and duster more often than it saw my running shoes in the past six months.

Therefore, I became the spectator and Grace became the participant in the kiddie race.  It was her first race ever.  She can’t really run yet, but she did a great job speed walking.  She came in dead last, but she finished the race as the youngest participant.  Jared and Luke were actually near the front.  Jared came in fourth place even after falling on the gravel path twice during the race.

When the time came for Stephen to run the 5k race, he decided to leave the running stroller at home so the kids could watch the race with me.  We sat in the car to stay out of the wind until we saw Stephen coming around the bend for the final 400 meters of the race.  The boys ran out to the race course yelling, “Go Daddy!  Kick it, Daddy!  You can do it!”

(Jared and Luke cheer on their daddy as he approaches the finish line.)

Although Stephen wasn’t really impressed with his own time, he was able to get second place in his age group and received a special Monster Dash glass.

The people wearing costumes also were also given points for their outfits as they ran the 5k.  In the end, there was a prize given to the best adult costume, the best kids’ outfit and the best group outfit.  There were a group of runners who were dressed up as different condiments (ketchup, mustard, etc.) and one person as a hotdog.  There were a group of elves and a group of Star Wars characters.

It was a fun race to be a part of, in spite of the cold weather.  It was also good to get back home after the race and warming up again with a mid-morning snack.

Traveling East in 2012

September 2012 – After moving to Texas, I had assumed that we might take some time to travel around the state and get to know it better.  What ended up happening is that we’ve spent more time heading east than we have going any further west of Houston.  Our biggest attraction to heading east of Texas happens to come in the form of family location.

Stephen’s sister and her family live near Mobile, Alabama.  My three siblings and their spouses and families live in Gainesville, Florida.  A few days before our week-long spring break in March, we made a last minute decision to travel east to visit them during our vacation.  So, we packed up and traveled east.  We spent one evening in Mobile with Stephen’s sister’s family.  They have four children.  Their second and third children are close to Jared and Luke’s ages.  Their fourth child is about six months older than Grace.  So, our kids always have a blast visiting with them.

Our second day of traveling brought us down to Gainesville where my sister had been able to secure a guest apartment at their apartment complex for us to stay during most of our visit in Florida.  It was a great time to meet three new members of the family.  First of all, my sister, Anita gave birth to her second child, Eliana in mid-November of 2011. My youngest brother, Tim, had recently married the love of his life, Briana, right before Christmas of 2011.  I had never met her outside of Facebook contact.  Around that same time, my brother Philip and his wife, Chrissy, had finalized the adoption process of a precious little girl from China.  So, it was the first time that I got to meet little Li Rose.  Jared and Luke also enjoy playing with their cousins, Noah and Josh.  It was also the first time for Grace and Eliana to meet each other.

During our visit in Florida, I also had the opportunity to travel down to Ocala and visit with my grandfather, Bill Lassiter and his wife.  It was a short visit and the Meier kiddos basically napped the whole time we were there, but it was fun to sit and chat with him the way I used to when I was in college.

At the end of our one week vacation, we stopped in Mobile again on our way back to Texas and spent one more night with the Blanton family.  It is always so hard to leave their home, because our visits tend to be so brief.

We’ve already decided that we will make another one-week trip east before the end of the year.  I will be too far along in my pregnancy to travel anywhere for Christmas.  However, my doctor has authorized my travel plans for the week of Thanksgiving break.  We are excited that BCS allows for an entire week of vacation for Thanksgiving.  Besides seeing the family that we visited in the spring, we have an additional couple of family members we haven’t visited with in a long time.  Just this past July, my parents (Steve and Helen Cobb) moved to Gainesville, Florida after leaving their missionary home of 16 years in Guatemala. My father has not spent time with my kids since before Grace was born.  Jared had just turned three and Luke was a year and a half when they last visited with their “Papi.”  They last visited with their “Mimi” when she came to Ecuador for a few weeks after Grace was born. 

Here are the general plans for the trip:

November 16  (Friday) – Thanksgiving vacation begins at the end of the school day

November 17 (Saturday)  – Leave Lake Jackson, Texas and arrive in Mobile, Alabama

November 19 (Monday) – Leave Mobile and arrive in Gainesville, Florida

November 23 (Friday) … yeah, we’re traveling on Black Friday – Leave Gainesville and return to Mobile, Alabama

November 24 (Saturday) – Leave Mobile, Alabama and return to Lake Jackson, Texas

November 26 (Monday) – School is back in session until Christmas break

Expecting Again: MK Meier Kid #4

Baby Seth Adrian Meier at 15 weeks

Stephen and I had about decided that we were perfectly content with our little family of five.  We had been blessed with two boys and one girl and we thought it was probably time to ‘close down the factory.’  I was still undecided as to my role in the whole process.  Something in me felt strange about ‘tying my tubes.’  I guess it was hard to think of myself moving beyond the stage of life that I like to call ‘the child-bearing’ years.  Of course, I realize that plenty of women have made this decision at a younger age than my current 35 years.  But it just felt so “old” to me.

It was mid-April when I ran out of the birth control pills that my doctor from Ecuador has prescribed for me.  I had not yet found a new gynecologist since moving to Texas.  So, I decided it would be easiest to use ‘natural birth control’ for a few months while I shopped around for a new doctor.  I began taking my temperature every morning and felt like I was keeping a good track my reproductive cycle for that first month.

However, I started to get worried when that cycle did not end with its usual menstruation.  I didn’t want to believe we were pregnant, because after all, I had been keeping Stephen on his side of the bed for several weeks, (except for the night of his birthday). I finally decided that I needed to take a pregnancy test on May 23.  The pregnancy test proved that it really does only take one attempt to get pregnant.

I stared at the test in shock and fear.  Fear flooded my mind in the form of physical and financial challenges.  First of all, the sound of my doctor’s voice in Ecuador telling me, “If you want to have another baby, you’ll probably lose your uterus,” ran through my head.  I had experienced placenta accreta with the delivery of both Luke and Grace, and the risk of it happening again would be greater with any future pregnancy.

Secondly, the school where Stephen is employed did not offer health insurance to its employees because so many of them are covered under their spouse’s plans who work for other companies.  We had to purchase our own health insurance and were not allowed, under the private plan, to receive maternity coverage.  We didn’t think it was a big deal at the time, because we weren’t planning on getting pregnant.

Now, there I was, staring a pregnancy test and wondering how in the world we were going to cover the costs of a pregnancy without help from our health insurance plan.  I was also not very excited about having another baby while its older sister was still so young.  When I calculated the due date, I realized that my oldest child wouldn’t be quite five and a half before I would give birth again.  That’s four babies in less than six years!  How in the world did I manage to do that?

I can’t say that I began my fourth pregnancy with the best attitude about this added blessing in our lives.  My next shock came soon after when the surprise pregnancy almost became a surprise miscarriage.  I had just visited a new doctor in Lake Jackson at 5 weeks of pregnancy.  I came home that day and began experiencing heavy bleeding and sharp, cramping pains that felt like early labor.  I rushed myself to the Lake Jackson hospital where they did an emergency ultrasound.  It didn’t reveal very much, because it was too early to detect a heart beat on the monitor, but it did show us the small, peanut-looking object that assured us of the presence of a growing fetus.  The blood work done that day to test my hormone levels also showed that my pregnancy hormones were increasing at the appropriate levels.

So, I was sent home with orders to stay off my feet and get as much bed rest as possible.  Please, someone laugh with me, and try to picture a mother of three kids between the ages of four and one being able to get much bed rest all day.  However, the Lord provided during that time.  I was so grateful that this was all happening at the beginning of summer break.  Stephen’s working hours were shorter and he didn’t have to work on Fridays at all.  He was able to help me with the kids when he wasn’t working and we always had lots of three day weekends.

Another hidden blessing for me happened to be the European Soccer Cup of 2012 that took place in England.  The games aired our time at 10 am and 1pm every day for several weeks in a row.  I was able to find activities for the kids to do in the living room while I rested on the couch. I would watch the afternoon game while the kids took their nap.  Usually, I fell asleep during those games and got lots of much needed naps. The soccer games were something that took my mind off of all the things that I thought I should be doing while I was supposed to be resting.  I didn’t miss a single game of that tournament.  By the time the final match was played and Spain came out victorious, the risk for miscarrying was gone.

During that time, I decided that I needed to find a new doctor.  The doctor I started to see in Lake Jackson told me that she didn’t handle high risk pregnancies.  Someone recommended a doctor in Houston, so I began seeing her.

So, my high risk pregnancy began with two major bleeding episodes, but has continued as normal, otherwise.  By the time summer was over and another school year started, I was in my second trimester and regaining the energy I had lost during my first trimester.

We discovered at 15 weeks that we are going to have another male bundle of joy added to the family picture.  Every time I try to tell someone that we are only going to have one girl in the family now, Jared insists on correcting me by saying, “But you’re a girl, too, Mommy!”

As the month of October comes to a close, so does my second trimester.  Little Seth Adrian Meier was measured at his last ultrasound to be growing at a rate four days faster than his due date and was weighing a little over two pounds at 27 1/2 weeks.  He’s already positioning himself head down and he is quite the mover and kicker.

Currently, the biggest concerns with this pregnancy are:

1) My placenta – The doctor has said that she plans to thoroughly check the position of my placenta around the 32nd week to decide whether she thinks it will be necessary to perform a C-section and a possible hysterectomy during delivery.  We are praying that neither scenario will be necessary.  I have given birth vaginally to my first three children and would prefer to keep my uterus even if I don’t want to fill it with future babies.

2) My varicose veins – As with my pregnancy with Grace, varicose veins have taken over my legs and feet.  My OBGYN happens to be married to a vascular surgeon.  I already made one visit with him.  He looked at my veins and recommended that I use compression hose and take aspirin.  So, my hope none of my veins will not develop blood clots that produce any type of thrombosis after I give birth.

My due date is January 23, 2013 and a dear friend of mine is organizing a baby shower for me to take place on Sunday afternoon, December 9.  I have created a baby registry at Target (www.target.com) for those who are interested in seeing what our current needs are to prepare for our third son.

Grace: Walking, climbing and dancing

When I look back at Grace’s progress in the past six months, it is hard for me to believe that my little munchkin has transformed from a passive sitter to a highly mobile toddler.  At nine months old, Grace was perfectly content to sit in one spot and play with toys.  She wasn’t even really interested in crawling until she was nearly a year old.  It is possible she did not like the feeling of the cold, hard tile against her knees (the majority of our house has tile flooring). When she finally began moving across the room, it was the bottom scoot that she preferred the most.  We would try to put her in a crawling position on the ground, but she would fuss until she could sit down and then scoot along using the padding of her diapered rear end.

When she reached her first birthday and she hadn’t really gravitated toward crawling and walking, I began to worry a little bit.  However, it was funny to watch Grace develop her bottom scoot into a one-legged / one-arm crawl.  She would use the other leg as a lever and just scoot her way from one side of the room to the other and then pull herself up on a chair or small table so she could stand.

It was around 14 months old that Grace finally started gravitating toward taking some steps on her own.  She was confident as long as she was holding someone’s hand or could walk along the side of a couch or table. Right around this time, we also discovered that Grace did know how to crawl on all fours.  Jared was the first one to point this out to us.  He got down on his hands and knees with her while she was sitting on the play mat in our living room and helped Grace to copy his movements.

Her independent walking finally began a little after she reached the 15 month mark.  On July 11, she walked across the room without any assistance.  In the months that followed, her mobility has progressed to the point that she’s can walk, climb and dance.  She loves tacking stairs whenever she can find them.  (We have none in our home, except for a small step that leads into our garage). She learned how to climb up on the dining room table all by herself.  We now have to keep all our chairs pushed all the way in.  Fortunately, the chairs are too heavy for her to pull out again.  She also likes to climb the ladder that leads up to the top bunk of the boys’ bunk bed.  This has made it necessary for me to remove the ladder during daytime hours so I don’t have to worry about Grace climbing up to Jared’s bed and getting stuck there while I’m in another room.

Grace also loves to ‘dance.’ Basically, this means she spins around, waving her arms and stomping her feet.  She’ll do this whenever she hears music.  As soon as the music begins, a big smile flashes across her face, she begins to shake with excitement and then starts to spin around the room.

Grace’s language is also beginning to develop.  She knows her basics, “Daddy, Mommy, yes, no, etc.” She’ll also surprise me by putting together phrases such as “see you tomorrow” and “I want a cracker.” In some ways, I can get her attention more easily than her older brother, Luke. She loves to help me clean up by putting objects in containers.  She is very good at putting away her brother’s hot wheel cars.

She does tend to gravitate toward boy toys, but she also has some girlie toys that she likes.  And she’s recently decided on a favorite blanket.  It is hard to take it away from her in the mornings when its’ time to get up and eat breakfast.

Although she is still in a crib, we have already purchased a toddler bed for her and are looking at transitioning her into it at some point before the end of the year.  Grace is definitely the reigning princess of the family and is well loved by her older brothers.

Grace is armed and ready to play in the pool.

Grace, the climber