A Homecoming Update & Prize Winners

November 2012

At Brazosport Christian School (BCS), their annual homecoming event was supercharged this year by a fund-raising event set to deliver prizes to a few lucky participants who took the time to donate money to the school. To attract donors, the school contacted a local car dealership to provide the school with a brand new vehicle to give away in a raffle at the school’s home coming game.  The only requirement for those who wished to participate would be to buy a raffle ticket worth $20.  For each ticket purchased, the greater the chance the person would have to win the car.  Although the free car was the grand prize, there were various other prizes to be given.

There was a $1000 gift card and a free iPad to be given away.  Tickets were given to each of the students at the school and classes competed against each other to receive a special prize to be enjoyed in the future. Jared was excited to participate even though he didn’t know very many people to whom he could sell the tickets.

The night of the homecoming game in early November, BCS students and their families filled the stands.  Friends and supporters and many who had purchased tickets were also there.

Half way through the homecoming game, the box of raffle tickets was brought to the middle of the field and the winning names were drawn.  /The winners turned out to be perfectly matched to their support of the school.  Each winner had already provided a lot of financial support to the school in the past.  It felt really good to watch them claim their prizes.

BRAZOSPORT CHRISTIAN SCHOOL

Springing into Summer and Landing in the Fall

I can’t believe we are already three-fourths of the way through the 2012 year and I have managed to experience each of these months without a single update on my blog.  It’s definitely a new record for silence on the Internet since I created the MK Meier Family site.

I remember sitting down during the final week of January and writing down a list of topics that I wanted to write about for my February update. The entire month of February, I kept thinking I was going to sit down at some point and complete the task.  Suddenly, it was March.  Just as suddenly, March was over.  I took a deep breath as April began and I think the month was over before I finished letting the air out of my lungs.  Don’t even ask me about May.  I think I blinked a couple times and it was June already.  In desperation, I realized I wasn’t actually sitting down long enough at the computer to write anything intelligible.

By mid-July, I had finally decided that my brain was going to explode if I do not write some reflection of life’s experiences as they have occurred to the MK Meier family in the first half of 2012. Then, someone woke up from his nap early and my days blurred together without any further written reflections.

August was a busy month as I slowly prepared myself and my kids for early mornings so that I would be able to drop off Jared at school every school day by 7:45am.  Stephen’s morning schedule involves arriving at work much earlier than that, so I have to get all the kids ready to leave the house at the same time in order to get Jared to school by myself.

Amidst these mental preparations, August also ended up being  a month of illness as everyone struggled through various stages of sinus and head colds.

September was a continuation of everyone adjusting to rising early in the morning and getting Jared to school on time.  By this time, I had managed to work out a morning schedule to keep Luke and Grace busy for the hours between breakfast and when we pick Jared up from school at lunch time. After lunch, my body is usually screaming at me to along with my napping children and somehow…sitting in front of a computer becomes entirely undesirable.

Now it is October.  I am beginning to wonder if I’m ever going to accomplish this task of communicating with all our long distance friends.  By now some of you might have deleted my e-mail address from your contact book from lack of communication.  But here I go again, in an attempt to summarize the past nine months in the lives of five busy MK Meier individuals.

Feel free to browse through this blog to read about some of the following adventures and updates.  I tried to write them chronologically, so the newest ones are at the bottom of this list, but will show up on the top of the blog:

1) Summoned to Jury Duty in Texas (TCK Views)

2) Story Telling the Texan way (TCK Views)

3) Bats in Texas (Meier Family News)

4) Speaking of Conferences (Ministry)

5) A Trip to Waco (Ministry)

6) Stephen discovers Poison Oak (Meier Family News)

7) Bleach and Ice cream (Meier Family News)

8) Fireworks in Galveston (TCK Views)

9) Cristina Gets Stuck on Methodology (Meier Family News)

10) Jared: A Big Kindergarten Student (Meier Family News)

11) Luke: from potty training to preschool (Meier Family News)

12) Grace is walking, climbing and dancing (Meier Family News)

13) Expecting Again: MK Meier Kid #4 (Meier Family News)

14) BCS is Unstoppable (Ministry)

15) Traveling East in 2012 (Meier Family News)

I’ve tried to narrow down my story telling to the most significant experiences we’ve had so far. We are grateful to all who have kept in touch with us throughout the silence and the communication.  We appreciate your thoughts and prayers.  We offer many thanks to those who have kept in touch with us through Facebook, Skype and over the phone when we haven’t been as consistent through e-mail or standard mail.

We would love to hear from you.  Feel free to leave a comment on any of the posts you read, write us an e-mail, write on our Facebook pages or give us a ring on Skype.

Sincerely,

Cristina (for Stephen, Jared, Luke, Grace and Seth-in-the-womb) Meier

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

BCS is Unstoppable

August 2012 – Struggling economic times and future economic security seem to be topics on a lot of people’s minds in the past few years.  As we quickly approach the election of a new president, each candidate works hard to prove that he would the one to turn the economy around in the next four years.  The past four years have had far reaching effects on people around the world.

Its impact on Brazosport Christian School (BCS) began as a gradual decline in student enrollment.  A school that was incorporated by families in the Lake Jackson community began with an enrollment of 92 students (kindergarten through sixth grade) in 1980.  By 1994, they had increased their staff and student population to include seventh through twelfth grades, as well.  They continued to grow after moving to a new facility that included two buildings.  Their enrollment was reaching 300 students by 2009.  As tough economic times hit the housing market and unemployment began to rise, the enrollment rate at BCS began to fall.  By the time Stephen accepted the position of superintendent, enrollment was half of what it was capable.

However, budget cuts did not enough to keep the school from falling into debt.  It was around the end of the first semester when Stephen realized that the school was hitting a major financial crisis.  They had begun to rely mainly on major donors to get them through the school year.  Half a million dollars was given to the school in the fall, but it was quickly swallowed up by expenses that needed to be paid.

Stephen came to a dawning realization that the school was not going to survive past the current school year if nothing changed in the next few months.  After several months of advising the school board to explain the situation to the school’s community at large, they finally agreed.  Two meetings were held a month before the 2011-2012 school year ended to disclose the financial struggles of the school and to explain what needed to be done in order to insure that there would still be a BCS for students to attend in the 2012-2013 school year.

The main message given to the school’s community was the following: If the school did not raise half a million dollars by the end of the school year, BCS would be forced to close.

The message that was taken away by the BCS community was simply this: We can’t let that happen.

We watched in awe as different people in the community began to step up and offer donations or fund-raising activities.  Several teachers at the school offered to take salary cuts.  Some of them were willing to work for $1.  By the week after graduation, the school had raised a little over $250,000.  After going through the budget once last time, Stephen was able to make up the rest of the costs through budget cuts.

At the same time that all this was taking place, we were starting to see an increase in enrollment.  One of the biggest fears was that we would lose families in the community once they learned of the financial situation of the school.  Although there were some families who withdrew their children, the school greeted the new school year with an overall increase of 40 students which included 70 new students.  Some of the biggest increases were in the pre-kindergarten and kindergarten classes.  For example, there were only 10 kindergarten students who finished the school year in 2012.  At the beginning of the fall semester, there were 18 students (and one of them was our son, Jared) enrolled.

Over the summer, I had marveled at this miracle turn around in such a small Christian school.  I’ve heard of so many little Christian schools having to close their doors in the past few years, because they can no longer afford to keep operating.  BCS was becoming proof that when faith and community come together, miracles can happen.

One day, I was listening to Chris Tomlin’s song, “Our God (is greater).”  The bridge goes like this:

BRIDGE
And if Our God is for us, then who could ever stop us
And if our God is with us, then what can stand against?
And if Our God is for us, then who could ever stop us
And if our God is with us, then what can stand against?
What can stand against?

I thought about the fact that Stephen is in charge of choosing the school’s theme at the beginning of each school year.  He has to come up with a slogan, theme verse and song.  I asked Stephen if he had been thinking of a theme yet.  When he told me that he hadn’t, I told him that I thought “Unstoppable” would be an encouraging theme slogan after going through such a tough crisis at the end of last year.   Chris Tomlin’s song would fit perfectly, and the theme verse is right in the song.

Stephen presented it to the school board and school staff members and they all liked it.  The school year began with this slogan printed across their announcement board, “BCS is Unstoppable.”

Thanks to God and a community of believers, BCS really has become an unstoppable example of determination and strength in the face of adversity.  It may have been down, but it is certainly not dying out of the community.

We are currently finishing up the fall fund-raising project.  BCS was trying to raise $70,000 with a car give-away.  Every ticket sold would be placed in a drawing for one person to win a car at the Homecoming Game on the evening of November 2.

Although, BCS was only able to reach half of that goal by their deadline of October 26, Stephen is still looking at this event as a great way to advertise the school.  It will be interesting to see who wins the car (and other prizes) on the night of the Homecoming Game.

Those who are interested in giving to the school can visit their donation page on the web:

http://www.1bcs.org/support/index.php

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

 

Luke: from potty training to preschool

August 2012 – This year I’ve watched my energetic and self-determined toddler develop into a full-blown preschooler.  Our first challenge after he reached his third birthday on January 5 was to begin the process of potty training in earnest.  He had been watching Jared use the toilet for quite some time.  He would use it very inconsistently.  I had completely switched him out of normal diapers and started using the Huggies “pull up” diapers to encourage him to learn how to pull down his clothing on his own.  But I didn’t really focus on potty training in earnest until mid-January.

The process took a little longer than I had originally expected.  It didn’t help that Luke caught a stomach flu that gave him diarrhea during the second week of being potty trained.  But I was determined that we were not going back to pull ups again and that I was not purchasing another diaper to put on that child’s behind.  I think it took a full three weeks for Luke to be officially potty trained.

Our biggest challenge with Jared was getting him potty trained at night.  After the first week of potty training at the age of three, Jared has had only a handful of day-time accidents.  However, he would continue to wet his bed for another year and a half.  The interesting difference with Luke was that he seemed to gain night time bladder control almost immediately.  Luke will still have accidents during the day, because he gets so engrossed in whatever activity he is doing and will “hold it” until it’s too late to get to the bathroom.  But he rarely wets his bed.

It was actually, this process of potty training that began planting doubts into my mind of Luke’s readiness to start any kind of school program in the fall. It has always been harder for me to capture the attention of Luke than Jared. He seemed to manage pretty well in a nursery setting, but I just wasn’t sure he was ready for a classroom setting. I couldn’t help but transport myself mentally to the time that I taught English at a little Korean language school in South Korea in 2002. I had the youngest class which included three and four year olds.  I had scoffed at the parents who sent their little three year old “babies” to school who were just barely potty trained.  I remember telling myself then that I would never send my child to school that young. Now, here I was contemplating doing just that.

I also felt that Luke had been in Jared’s shadow in his learning development.  As I worked through preschool activities with Jared, Luke would do his best to keep up, even though he wasn’t quite able to comprehend everything that I was teaching Jared.  Up to this point, Luke had never been separated from Jared for more than an hour or two at a time. I thought it might be good to keep Luke at home so that I could focus on him without being under the shadow of his big brother.

Stephen made fun of me at first, saying that I was having a hard time letting go of my kids.  However, once school got started, he began to agree with me.  It became especially clear that we had made the right decision when we watched Luke being unable to get ready in the mornings as quickly as his big brother. Luke still cannot really make his bed and needs help dressing himself.  He also has a hard time staying on task unless someone is standing right beside him.

I don’t worry about any of this now, because it just makes it clear to me that Luke hasn’t reached that stage of independence.  Slowly, he is making progress.  He is learning how to communicate himself more clearly.  Earlier in the year, he was having trouble completing his sentences and would begin stuttering and then rushing his words together in a blast of phonic sound while appearing as if his entire face was going to explode.  (Seriously, it was quite an interesting thing to watch.) Now, he’s able to make himself understood most of the time and enjoys joining in conversations with the family.

As with our decision to keep Jared in the half-day kindergarten program, I have not regretted for a moment keeping Luke out of school altogether.  I am really enjoying the pre-school activities I’ve been doing with Luke.  He’s been working on his alphabet, basic phonics, writing letters and writing numbers, and learning how to count different items.  I’ve also been using different flash card games to help him build his vocabulary. Another activity that has become part of his morning exercises is going over a section out of his Awana Cubbies book.  Luke has been so excited that he is old enough now to participate in the Awana program with Jared.  Luke also enjoys learning Bible verses and doing the activities and projects that the book recommends.

Luke has been enjoying this time that I spend with him in the mornings.  You may wonder what Grace is doing at this time.  I usually am feeding her the rest of her breakfast and letting her look at little books and play with small toys until Luke is finished with his exercises.  I don’t spend more than an hour and a half in the morning on these activities.  Then, Luke and Grace play on their own unless we have an outing planned or a list of errands that Mommy wants to take care of before picking up Jared at school.

Luke is really beginning to understand what it means to be big brother now that he is the one that Mommy turns to for help while Jared is at school.  He is also starting to look to Grace more for companionship now that Jared isn’t here as much to fill that void. In the past six months, Luke has grown three inches, gone up one shoe size and is wearing 4T in most of his clothing.  He is still about six inches shorter than Jared, but has slowly caught up to him in weight so that he now is only two to three pounds lighter than Jared.

Luke loves music and impresses his Sunday school teachers by being one of the few enthusiastic “worshipers” during their praise and worship time.  They tell me that Luke always makes his way to the front of the room so that he can dance and do the motions to all the songs they sing.