Friday, February 29, 2008

New Software

The 'Learning to Get Along Series' software is now out. Free Spirit worked with the computer company, Attainment, to produce it.

The DVD contains all 14 books . In addition, I wrote a summary page and comprehension questions for each book to help parents and teachers mark children's progress.

Order by phone: 800.735.7323 • by fax: 866.419.5199 • by email: • online:
or by mail: Free Spirit Publishing, 217 Fifth Avenue North, Suite 200, Minneapolis, MN 55401–1299
Order your copy today!

1 million
Books in

“Top Five

Learning to Get Along® Series Interactive Software
by Cheri J. Meiners, M.Ed., illustrated by Meredith Johnson
Praised by parents, embraced by educators, our complete Learning to Get Along series is now available
in one kid-friendly software package (for Windows only). Teachers can choose which books to
make available to each child, manage audio features, and track students’ progress. Children follow
along or read on their own, using a special highlight feature to click and hear word definitions.
A sequence of questions follows each book; test results are stored for teacher review in individual
student files. Designed for classroom use, yet equally useful at home. User’s Guide included.
Developed in association with Attainment Company.

ISBN-13 978-1-57542-281-7
ISBN-10 1-57542-281-6, $99.95
Software disc (Windows only) and 24-page
user’s guide, Education/Teacher Resource
Grades K–3
Cheri J. Meiners, M.Ed.

About the author: Cheri J. Meiners, M.Ed., has her master’s degree in elementary education and gifted education. A former first-grade teacher, she has taught education classes at Utah State University and has supervised student teachers. Cheri and her husband, David, have six children. They live in Laurel, Maryland.
Learning to Get Along® Series Interactive Software __________ @ $99.95 ea:________________

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Ride to Church

Erika in Shang Hai with 2 new friends

We have received a few emails from Erika who is safely in Woxi and getting adjusted to the many differences in China--the first being no heat in her building, and wearing several layers of clothes to bed and while teaching. The children also wear their coats and insulated sweaters in the classroom.

She has one American friend, Michelle, who has also just arrived in the city--but not close by. She wondered how they would find the church today. Here is what she wrote:

Yeah church today.. Oh boy that is a story in itself, I hope everyone is sitting down. Ok, so church began at 9 30. This means that my day began with the sound of my cell phone alarm at 5 45 am. I get up, dressed, make some bread and peanut butter, get the addresses, maps, etc. I get to the bus stop around 6 30 am. I needed to get on bus 24, ride for 13 stops, then get off at 'nan chan si.' So i count them, and listen to the announcements of each stop.. which are in Chinese.. but i can understand road names because they end in 'Liu'. Anyways, so i get off at 'nan chan si', and i am supposed to then catch bus 51 to 'chang jiang qu le bu'. Simple enough, yes? so I get off, and i am looking at the postings at the bus stop. 113, 28, 53.. pretty much every possible numeral combination except 51. So, I am getting worried. The time was then 7:10, and I was supposed to meet Michelle at 'chang jiang 'at 7 :30, and I still had 12 stops to go.
So, I cross the street and ask the guy, "Hey, does bus 51 come here?" ( I always try English first just in case- and I try teens/ young people because they sometimes have learned English in school and their English is usually better than older people, especially old people who don't know any more English than "bya bya" [bye bye]). So anyway, the guy is like 'My English is not good". So I'm like "wu shi yi?" and I'm making some insane driving gesture probably. So then he's like "ah ah", and points up the street. So I cross the street and run to the bus stop a block ahead. I read the sign. No 51. now I am starting to get desperate. So I ask another girl "wu shi yi?" She looked at the postings, and said "mei you." -means 'don't have'.

So I was about to walk away, and she is like wait, let me call 116 for you. I guess it's some kind of information hotline. So, she calls and talks to the lady, and then tells me to walk to the end of the street -back the way i came- and turn right and get on some other bus.. I forget now which one it was. An old lady was listening nearby, waiting at the bus stop, and she says (in Chinese), 'no no you walk up the other way, and turn right'. Then the girl tells me that the lady will walk me there, so I walk with the nice lady, and she is rambling on, and I understand a little. She is telling me to get on bus 35. so we get to the bus stop, and there's a thing in Chinese characters that says all the names of the stops.. it sure would be helpful if i could read it. So she points to one, and says that its 'chang jiang qu le bu'. So I counted, and it was 11 stops away from where we were, so 2 seconds later, bus 35 pulls up and the lady pushes me on and shouts something to the driver. It was very helpful of her. She had walked all that way to the other bus stop with me, and she wasn't even getting on the bus. And that other girl made that call for me. It was very nice of them. s

So I ride the bus, and about 20 minutes later, arrive at the bus stop where I was supposed to meet Michelle. I arrive at 7: 40, after an hour and ten minutes of traveling. So, I get there, expecting to see Michelle waiting- I had told her 7 30, and she is not there. I start freaking out. She doesn't have a cell phone, so I can't call. So I wait around for about 5 minutes and its freezing and the wind is blowing and my purse is so weighed down by my food and water stash that the strap of my purse is digging grooves into my shoulder. So, I'm exhausted and frustrated and about to declare a complete defeat and give up, when finally I see her coming slowly toward me (she had bought some uncomfortable shoes so she couldn't walk normally).

So, we get a taxi. It is about a 20 minute ride, and cost 42 yuan. Well, they don't think its important to give exact change, so it cost 43 yuan. Michelle pitched in 20. So you thought that we were at church? No. The taxi took us to a member family's house. Ron and Erin Mullet and their 4 kids. We got there at 8:04. We waited for about 25 min for the rest of the family to get ready. Then, we get in the car, and drive 45 minutes to Suzhou. Yes, then we were at church.

Anyways, I am worrying about running out of money, so after church, we drove back to the Mullets house. When we were going to leave, the dad offered to pay for the taxi back. I felt bad, but I was thinking it would be about 70 yuan total for both me and Michelle to get back to our apartments. I was thinking we'd probably split the bill. Well, I wasn't sure, but I did know that I only had 800 until the end of march, and all these taxis add up fast. So, I was like 'Are you sure? I promise we will pay you back as soon as we get paid'. And of course hes like 'No, don't worry about it ', but I will have plenty once I get paid, and I will definitely pay him back if he lets me.

Anyways, turns out that the taxi ride from the Mullet's house back to my kindergarten was literally about 8 minutes. So, basically, because I had no map, no resources, and extremely limited Chinese, I took 2 hours to get to the Mullet's house that was about 4 miles away. Taking the bus to meet Michelle was hugely backtracking. Anyway, although I am frustrated, I am relieved to know that the Mullet family is so close to me. They said lots of times that I could come over whenever I wanted. They said I could show up for dinner any night of the week. They even invited us to FHE. [Family Home Evening] I would like to take advantage of that. They had us over tonight for dinner and we had pot roast. I ate so much. I was really happy to eat something without rice, but I know that tomorrow it will be back to rice every meal. They said they would take us to Pizza Hut whenever we want. That family is awesome, I really do like them a whole lot. I'm really glad that we found them. When I was making all the calls last night about church, they were telling us we would have to take a taxi to a train station, ride 45 min, then another taxi to church. I was getting really discouraged and was about to give up, so I was really relieved when Sister Mullet offered us the ride. Hopefully next week will be better. Wait, let me rephrase, Next week will be better.

As a mom, I'm very happy to hear about the friendliness of the Chinese people who have helped her, and of the generosity of the Mullet family who share a bond with her as members of our church and who have made her feel so much more at home there.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Andrea and Barbie

Schools had the day off due to icy conditions today, so Andrea set up her Barbie's--something she rarely has time for, and she invited me to play.

Though I've helped her assemble or organize her Barbies for her before, this was my first time to actually play with her. She's better at it than I am. :)

It's a lot of work to get Barbie comfortable, so we thought we would capture it while it is still standing.

Barbie's apartment is complete with bedroom, office, kitchen, and media room.

Barbie and Kelly stopped here to get snacks.

Here's the school where Barbie teaches. Music and gymnastics were taught. It reminded me of Erika teaching songs to her 4-year olds in China, and Kara
teaching a combination of pre-school and kindergarten in Colorado.

Then Barbie stopped to get ice cream for Kelly at the ice cream parlor. In real life, though, the daughter gets most of the treats from her dad . :)

Friday, February 15, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

This Valentine's Day was memorable. Besides sending Erika to China that morning, I had sent packages and cards to James in the MTC, and Kara and Luke in Denver. It seemed like the first time that so many of our children were far away-- but, of course, it was great to have Daniel, Julia and Andrea home with Dave and I. I like to make a nice dinner and have surprise valentine treats for the family at dinner.

Dave never forgets the holiday, and brought me some chocolates and beautiful potted tulips. I am very blessed to have such a loving family, as well as great parents and extended family and friends. Hope you all had a great day!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

BWI to Shang Hai

Dave, Julia, Andrea and I saw Erika off at the airport on her way to China

Erika was all packed for her trip this morning at 5:45--staying up all night to make sure she was tired enough to sleep on the plane.

She'll travel 6 hours to San Fransisco. There she will meet her friend and others traveling with China Horizons. From there they have a 13 hour flight to Shang Hai.

She will attend 3 days of orientation and training there given by her Chinese teacher from BYU-Idaho, and then travel about 2 hours to Woxi, the town where she will be teaching kindergarten students English.

Happy Valentines Day, Erika!

We love you!

Our Inheritance

While Erika was home for about 2 months from December -February she worked at Maggie Moos in the Mall, where they make shakes. She has a great memory and would tell us all the delicious or unusual combinations that her customers ordered. She was proud that some people in line said, "I'll wait for her" meaning that they wanted her to mix their shake, and that she remembered what repeat customers wanted to order.

One of the job perks was to bring home a shake that for some reason wasn't sold. I'm not sure where we would have continued to collect them if she she stayed much longer. They filled our freezer and frig.

Knowing that she was departing, she told us that we were inheriting her shakes. We'll be thinking of her fondly as we sip our inheritance. :)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

First time Voters

Yesterday was Maryland's Voting Day for the presidential primaries. Our state's primary was held a little late for my liking because the candidate I had been following is no longer running. Still, I consider it a privilege to vote, so I drove to the polls with Erika and Daniel, who are both voting for the first time in the presidential election.

Erika worked at the polls two years ago while a student at Towson University, but missed voting in the presidential elections four years ago by two weeks. Daniel, on the other hand, is able to take advantage of a new law this year in Maryland allowing those who would be 18 for the elections to vote at 17 in the Primaries.

Our third first-time voter, James, may be able to vote absentee in November while in California on his mission. Kara, our fourth voter, has already voted in a national election by absentee vote from college. Dave also took time from work to vote, so this household has almost doubled its' voter turnout this election.

We went online beforehand to read about those running for the county School Board, and we had a good discussion about the backgrounds and ideas of the candidates. It appealed to Erika and Daniel to vote for someone they felt represented them--Di Zou, a 19-year old college student--who also ran last time, at age 17. (I'm not sure he was old enough to vote for himself that time!)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Invisible Handshake ll

Our family was invited to an open studio in Baltimore Saturday, Feb 9, to see that latest sculpture of our friend Helaman Ferguson. Six years in the creating, it is the solution the following mathematical equation and will soon be sent to Macalaster College in St. Paul, MN for outdoor installation.

"INVISIBLE HANDSHAKE II", negative gaussian curvature carved
triply punctured torus, (x,y) in C x C and y^2=x^3+ax+b in R^4
down to R^3, singlehandedly carved 1/2 billion year old 11 ton
block of diorite; commissioned by Professor of Mathematics Stan
Wagon, Department of Mathematics, and Macalester College, St. Paul,
Minnesota; inspired by the mathematical work of Celso Costa and
Alfred Gray.
Helaman Rolfe Pratt Ferguson, Sculptor, American, b. 1940.

When you shakes hands with someone, there is space between the hands, and the sculpture is of that negative space

Helaman talking to Julia

Daniel climbed through the sculpture. The red is cutting markings that still need to be polished before delivery.

I was persuaded by Hemaman to crawl through this space.