Tag Archives: learn

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

 

Jared: A Big Kindergarten Student

August 2012 – It has been too long since I’ve updated our friends and family on the progress of our three children.  This is sad, because they are all growing so fast that there is way too much to summarize in short, little posts such as this one.  So, please forgive me as I might rattle on a bit more in these next few posts about some of my favorite little people in the world.

Our first born son has grown and developed so much since the end of January when I told him quite proudly that he was now four and half years old.  He finally became an independent dresser.  He only asks for help every now and then with a button or a stubborn pair of socks.  Jared also finally got control of his bladder during the night time hours and no longer wets his bed.  I am very happy that we no longer have to buy night time “pull ups” for him. He has also enjoyed playing the role of big brother to Luke and Grace.  He enjoys “teaching” them how to do things that he has learned how to do.  Sometimes this leads to a certain level of frustration for all of them as Luke and Grace can’t quite keep up with his “lessons.”

I have also been impressed with his enthusiasm in learning new things.  I had been working on basic phonics, spelling and math with him. Through the spring months, the thought of Jared starting kindergarten in the fall was always on my mind.

Brazosport Christian School (BCS) has two options for incoming pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students.  There is a half day program that begins at 8am and ends at noon, right before their lunch break.  There is a full day program that includes lunch and fifteen minute segment of “rest” before the kindergarten class moves into more hands-on activities in the afternoon.  The pre-kindergarten students actually take a nap for most of the afternoon in the full day program. That program ends at 3pm.  There are also two segments of pre-kindergarten classes; the class for the three year old and the class for the four year olds.

So, one option facing us was sending both Jared and Luke to school for the full day.  Stephen thought that this would be the best option, because I could get both boys out of the house and I would only have Grace at home. He didn’t think it would be a good idea for Jared to attend the half day program because most of the students in kindergarten are in the full day program and Jared might feel uncomfortable if he ended up being the only student pulled out of class at lunch time.

Once again, I struggled with the idea of sending my kids off to school all day.  There were pros and cons to each side.  Sending both boys off to school would mean fewer bodies in the house to care for during those hours.  However, Grace becomes more clingy and emotional when she is the only child at home.  So, I end up accomplishing less because I have to focus more attention on her. We finally decided against sending Luke to pre-k.  (This decision is explained in another post.)

I knew that Jared was ready to start kindergarten.  I just wasn’t sure he was ready to stop taking afternoon naps and attend school all day at the age of five.   Maybe I’m still too attached to the routine of having all three of my kids take a nap after lunch, which allows me to relax for an hour or two and try to tackle some projects that cannot be done during their waking hours.  If Jared attended the full day program, I would also have to disrupt the naps of Luke and Grace to pick Jared up at 3pm.  Currently, their afternoon naps conclude somewhere between 3:30 to 4pm.

I met with the pre-kindergarten and kindergarten teachers and the admissions director to talk about the options and to express my concerns with Jared starting kindergarten.  After our meeting, I was affirmed in my concern about having Jared in the full day program.  They recommended that I send Jared to the half day program.

Jared turned five this summer.  His feet had grown a shoe size and he is hovering between the largest toddler size (5T) and the smallest boy size (4/5) in clothing. His bed was converted into a bunk bed (with him at the top), and he learned how to make the bed on his own.  He has learned how to use scissors very well.  He was ready for school to begin by the time the summer was over. His coloring has developed from “scribble scrabble” on the page to intentionally coloring in the spaces of objects while trying to stay in the lines.

School began on August 15, and I have not regretted for a moment the decision to keep Jared in the half day program. He is one of two kindergarten students out of 18 that go home at noon, but about six pre-kindergarten students are also leave at noon, so it doesn’t seem to bother him very much.  Every once in a while, he’ll ask me why he can’t eat lunch at school with his classmates.  I simply explain to him that he gets to eat at home with his brother and sister who miss him very much while he’s at school in the morning.  That seems to satisfy Jared.

Droppig Jared off on the first day of school

It took us several weeks for the kids to adjust to waking up at six in the morning and staying on task through breakfast and morning preparations.  Before the summer ended, the kids were sleeping as late as 8am and often didn’t finish breakfast until nearly 10am.  Now, there are still many mornings that Luke can’t get his breakfast finished before 7:30 am. Little Grace can only get through her bottle before I pile all the kids in the car to drop Jared off at school. So, they are usually still in their pajamas when we leave the house. BCS doesn’t offer school bus pick up or drop off, and Stephen always leaves for work by 7am.  Therefore, I have to take Jared to school myself.  After I drop off Jared, I come back home to finish feeding Grace and Luke. That’s usually when I’m finally able to eat my own breakfast.

I can see how God worked through our decision to put Jared into the half-day program, because Jared has had a very rough time physically at the beginning of this school year.  He got sick with a bad cold and chest congestion a few days before the first day of school.  He continued to struggle with this cough for the first few weeks of school.  Those afternoon naps became essential to helping him recover.

I am also so grateful to see Jared’s positive attitude about school.  He loves going to school.  Even on the mornings when he had a hard time waking up and couldn’t seem to stop coughing, he would insist that he didn’t want to miss school.  So far, he’s only had to stay home one day because of a temporary stomach flu that had him throwing up in the middle of the night.

His kindergarten teacher tells me that Jared is one of her most enthusiastic students and that he always is eager to participate in all the activities she has prepared for them.  He has gotten excellent behavior reports for every day he’s been in school so far. His gym teacher has told me that Jared has displayed some real leadership qualities.  She reflected on the day that he stepped out of line at the end of class.  She asked him why he wasn’t in line.  He explained that his classmates were not in the correct order and proceeded to rearrange the line until it was to his satisfaction.  Only then would he step back into the line.

He always comes home bubbling over with stories of the things he has done in class and with his new friends at school.  He seems to really enjoy math, music and physical education.

He is also growing spiritually.  This past spring, Jared made the decision to ask Jesus into his heart and he loves memorizing verses and learning Bible stories.  He goes to a special chapel for pre-k and K-5 students and can often recall what was discussed when I pick him up at noon.

I am so grateful that we have the opportunity to place him in a Christian school that is reinforcing these truths into his heart and mind. Our prayer for him is that he will continue to develop in his relationship with Jesus and that He will continue to mold our son as a little leader and as a role model for his classmates.

Storytelling the Texan Way

January 2012 -We have now been living in Texas for over a year. During the first few months, I started to become familiar with the cultural differences between this western state and the very far eastern states in which I lived in the past.  Since I’ve never lived in any other western state, I couldn’t tell you if Texas is similar or different to some of its western neighbors.  I can only compare it to Florida, Georgia, South and North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey and New York where I lived or visited in the first 35 years of my life.

One thing that did become very clear in the first year of living here is what I like to call “the pride of Texas.”  This is the first state that I’ve lived in that focuses on teaching their kids about their state history, legend and lore. It is a required part of their school curriculum and you can even see it in the stories that are found in the library.

I take my kids to a local library on a regular basis and we’ve found well-known children’s stories that have been re-written with a Texan twist.

The Gingerbread Man has become “The Gingerbread Cowboy.”  This cowboy made of gingerbread goes running across the desserts of Texas being chased by cowboys, buffalo and other Texan ‘villains’ before being eaten by the sly coyote crossing a river.

Then there is the slightly disturbing retelling of the three little pigs in a story about three little gators being chased by a ‘big bottomed boar’.  The boar destroys the first two gator’s flimsy homes with a “bump, bump, bump” of his large rump.  When he can’t knock down the third gator’s home, he tries to scoot his body (rump first) down the chimney.  The gators respond by heating up their grill.  The boar’s large behind gets slightly charred at which point he quickly retrieves his large proportions out of the chimney and runs away never to be seen again.

Side note: My sons really got a kick out of me acting out the role of the big-bottom boar knocking down the gators’ homes.

I think my favorite book so far is the Texas ABC’s.  Every letter of the alphabet has a picture of something from Texas.  Jared helped me take pictures of the pages, because I thought they were so cute.

I’m sure there are other books re-told Texan style.  I’ve only pointed out the few examples with which I have already become familiar.  Let me know if you know of any more, or if you know of another state that has its own similar stories.

The Meier Boys’ Bedtime Routine

Jared and Luke put Bible stickers in their notebooks.

Every night after getting ready for bed, we have a “story-time” routine.  In the past few months, this time has developed past simply reading a few story books.  We added a Veggie Tale devotional book for kids for a while.  Then, Jared joined Awana Cubbies and we began to add this Cubbie book lessons to our “story-time reading and activities.  Jared spends some time learning Bible verses and Luke sometimes tries to mimic what Jared is saying. 

When we are all done, we pray together before the boys go to sleep.  For several months, I would sit at Jared’s bed and Stephen would sit at Luke’s bed while the boys prayed laying down and looking up at the ceiling. A couple weeks ago, as Stephen began planning his school-visiting trips, I realized that I was going to be by myself during this process for several days.  So, I began to change their prayer time routine by having both boys kneel at the foot of Jared’s bed so we could pray together.  Luke sits on my lap and Jared kneels next to me.  My heart swells as I listen to them repeat after me.  Jared has actually started adding a few lines he thinks of on his own.

It’s both exciting and scary to think of his little mind trying to comprehend the spiritual aspects of our routine.  One night, he was lying on his bed and staring at the ceiling shortly after I got his pajamas on and I could tell he was thinking about something quite deeply.  Then, he turned to me and asked me, “Mommy, where’s God?”

I felt my heart stand still for a second as I tried to break down that question in a way that a three year old might understand it.  It’s amazing to me that he will soon be at the age where we can explain the message of Jesus’ love and sacrifice and the salvation of mankind.  It is also a bit terrifying that I am the primary tool for communicating that message in his life.  All I can do is pray that Jared will somehow see Jesus’ love in me in spite of my flaws and weaknesses.

August Prayer Requests

We have a few prayer requests as we wrap up our summer months and prepare for a new school year at the Alliance Academy International.  Please be in prayer with us for the following situations:

1) Stephen’s Intensive Spanish Classes – That Stephen will get the most he can out of a three week intensive class in Spanish.  After finishing one week of classes, Stephen has felt challenged in taking in and retaining the mountain of language that is being thrown at him each day. 

2) Cristina’s Ph.D. program – That Cristina will continue to be motivated as she comes into her final year in the program.  She needs to retake two parts of her comprehensive exams in the fall, as well as work on the first three chapters of her dissertation so that she can defense her “dissertation proposal” in the fall.  If she passes this defense, she will be able to finish writing her proposal and possibly graduate in May of 2010.

3) Renewing Our Visas – That the process will take place quickly and that we might be able to obtain Ecuadorian residency.  We are in the process of renewing our yearly missionary visas for the family.  We had managed to get Luke’s Ecuadorian citizenship (because he was born in Ecuador) and his paperwork was completed before we went to the U.S., but we were running late in obtaining missionary visas for the rest of the family.  We were told to return to the country under tourists visas so we could get the visas renewed after we returned.  As of now, the school’s lawyer has all our passports and legal documents to see if it might be possible for us to obtain Ecuadorian residency based on the fact that we have a son who is an Ecuadorian citizen.  If we do obtain residency, we no longer have to obtain a missionary visa every one or two years, but would be able to pay a one time fee for being a resident of the country.

4) The RE-scheduling of the 2009-2010 school year – That the administrators will be able to make wise decisions that include the recent changes in the scheduling of school days. In past years, the Alliance Academy had started their school year in mid to late August.  However, the Ecuadorian Ministry of Education informed the school this summer that they were not allowed to begin the school year before the first Monday of September.  Therefore, the first day of school is being moved to September 7th.  Recently, they’ve also expressed to the school that they are required to have 200 school days, of which 190 days must be “educational.”  This has the potential of increasing the school year for two solid weeks. Be in prayer for our scheduling team as they work out all the details.

Learning Spanish

Four days after coming back home from all our summer vacation travel, Stephen was waking up early to attend his first Spanish classes since moving to Ecuador.  Yes, he had picked up a few words here and there, but this was the first time that he would attend an intensive Spanish course specifically designed to help him learn Spanish quickly.

The class was set up by a nearby university in the city of Quito as a three week intensive class in Spanish, reaching the needs of various Spanish language learners at their personal level of learning.  The Alliance Academy International offered to provide the class for free to any of the teachers or staff (or their children) who wished to participate. Stephen said that about 20 people showed up for the free rides from school to the location of the Spanish classes.  The only thing that they had to pay for was the meal plan (if they chose not bring their own food from home).

Classes began on Monday, July 27 with classes taking place from 8am to 3:30pm. Stephen described his “placement exam” on the first day of class as a joke.  He couldn’t answer any of the questions or understand anything that was being said to him.  Eventually, he gave up and asked to be placed in the lowest level possible.

For the past week, Stephen has been learning the very basics of Spanish in a setting where most of the discussion takes place in Spanish.  Every afternoon, Stephen comes home with a stack of notes and picture cards to help him review what he has learned that day.

Although the class is quite a challenge for him, Stephen is already beginning to grasp some of the words and phrases he has been hearing for the past year of living in Quito. 

He is hoping to have a basic understanding of the language by the time he finishes this crash course.  He has two weeks left with his final class taking place on August 15th.  This basic understanding will help him as he begins preparing for the new school year next year.