Merry Christmas 2012~


Hi All! Thanks for visiting us once again on our home page with all the news from Healdsburg, CA. Now that we're in the age of iPhones, this year we'll give you a time-lapse through pictures and it'll be like you were right there with us. And remember, you can and should visit us! (We're 80 minutes north of Santa Rosa, about an hour from Angwin, hour and a half from Sacramento. Easy!) At Christmas last year, we did an eastcoast/mid-america trip to see both of our families. It was not long enough time spent with either family but we had a really good trip.

In January, I quit my previous job working as a director of a Boys & Girls Club and started working for the school that we live at, Rio Lindo Adventist Academy.  I do marketing, graphic design, photography, and teach a graphic design class.  Below is one of my first t-shirts.

Some of these pics are out of order.  We went to church outside all summer.  That's Aaron showin us how it's done.

One of my favorite pastimes-Karaoke with the girls!
Here is Bam Bam, surveying our "front yard" and begging for another walk.

In June, we did a quick recruiting trip to Las Vegas and I got to visit lots of long lost friends and Mountain View family.  Hello Rachel, and Kristin, and Jennifer and Jessica!

One weekend, we got away for a fancy weekend at a B&B near the beach.  Ema still played guard dog.

Friends from Afar, Jonathan and Monika, visited us while on a trip across the US.  We went on lots of adventures together, including an epic hike to a waterfall ON THE BEACH!  So cool.  If you're ever north of SF, it's a must-see.

I planted a garden again this year.  I tried some new veggies.  Things that worked: tomatoes, zucchini, little white flowers, jalepeno peppers, all kinds of chards.

Things that didn't turn out so well: Chinese eggplant, strawberries, anything that I tried to compost.

Our Dogs, Bam Bam and Ema.

Above: we did a marketing materials makeover at work, and it turned out to be beautiful!

To the left: My cousin, Ella, came and stayed for a few days.  We did a photo shoot, went out to eat, and had an awesome time together.  Come back soon, Ella!

I believe this was my birthday.  A total surprise to get to have brunch at the Cliff House restaurant with family.  And my dad got me my own kite for my birthday.  This one will be hard to top.  Who knew 27 could be so significant?

Birthday surprises in my office.

Now we're back to last Christmas.  Here's Jacob (my lil bro) looking snazzy in his suit at work.

And then I got to see one of my best friends, Kelli!

We visited Aaron's family in Indiana and had a great time.  We toured Notre Dame, went to an Amish town with his grandparents, and had lots of yummy food.  Thanks Meyer Clan!

In January, my Nanna passed away.  She had been battling with dementia for a long time and finally was at peace.  I will always remember her and make her amazing macaroni and cheese in memory of her.  (Pictured above: my cousin Missy and her sister, Melinda-beautiful ladies!)

Aaron teaches Outdoor Leadership and takes his students camping.  We camped down by the Russian River and it was freezing.  Ema and Bam slept in our tent and tried to warm up the place with their dog farts, but it was still cold.  (and so stinky!)

Shots from our PE teacher Kevin's wedding.  Our little cousins were there too!

Aaron learned to wake skate!

We took a road trip north this summer and explored Oregon.  We love Oregon.  Here's Crater Lake.

Aaron got licorice ice cream at a road side restaurant.  It was disgusting in every way possible.  But he seemed to like it.

We got to see my cousin Becca Flaiz-Schmidt and meet her new husband, Justin in Hood River, OR.

Don't worry Portland, you are very weird.  And I love it.

Aaron and I camped in the most beautiful places.  This place was somewhere near the coast, and was right next to a picturesque little stream.

At the end of summer, Ema attempted suicide and dove through our front window.  I found her 8 hours later bloody, swollen, dehydrated, but happy.  She had about 40 stitches and was fine in a couple of weeks.  We got a new window.  She stays away from it now.

Our students made us judges for a Student Association fashion show.  I dressed up like that crazy chick from the Hunger Games and Aaron dressed like a hip hop star.  He wore a grill all night that night.

In September, my grandfather, Bompa passed away.  Although he was 93, his death was unexpected.  The entire clan got together in Chico to celebrate his life, and I got to see my long-lost cousin, Andrea who lives in France.  Losing family absolutely sucks...but knowing that you're not the only one with loss makes a difference.  I see Bompa's kindness and cheerful demeanor in each one of his kids, grandkids, and great grandkids.  Celebrating family is the best.

I got to join my family in the Outer Banks of North Carolina this summer.  On the 3rd day of kiteboarding in world class conditions, my dad tried to show off some big air and came down very wrong on his foot, breaking it.  The crazy thing is, he didn't even say anything about it until we were back on shore.  He subsequently had surgery on his foot and thinks he'll be ready to ride again next summer.  

I'm also having knee surgery this winter and hope to be recovered by our next OBX trip in 2013.

It's not fair that the East Coast water is so much warmer than the West.  If only global warming would warm up our side of the continent a little bit...

One last look at the place that you should come visit....

Until next year,

Aaron, Rika, Bam Bam and Ema.

Meyer Christmas Newsletter 2011


Hello friends and family!

Thanks for saving us time, paper, and postage by coming to our blog to catch up with all things Aaron and Rika in 2011. If you didn't know already, Christmas letter time is one of my favorite times of years, because I love seeing what everyone else has done, even if we've lost touch a little bit. It gives me a chance to live a little vicariously through all of you. (so if I'm not on your mailing list yet, add me! Really! I wanna know!)

After returning from a delightful trip back east to see my family, we got right back into school/work/fun mode. We met up with some friends, Kelli and David from Tennessee-to go snowboarding in Tahoe one weekend, and are still in shock that we live that close to glorious snowboarding.

I was working part time for an after school program, and Aaron was working hard in the dorm and preparing for a mission trip to Thailand. He left in March with many other students and faculty from Rio and together, they helped install a water system in a village to help the nomadic villagers get one step closer to citizenship. Along with working hard, Aaron and the team was treated to a nice dinner and a trip down south to Phuket to spend time on the beach and shopping.

Shortly after Aaron returned from his 2 week trip, I left for Southeast Asia to visit Hong Kong and Taipei for a recruiting trip for Rio. I visited many schools and families over there and learned more than I could comprehend about the school systems and expectations for kids in both places. There were several families who were excited about sending their kids to a less-stressful environment that would give their children more options for universities. I was able to reconnect with friends from high school and our time in Taiwan, and got to mark Hong Kong off of my world travel list.

In April, I also got a call from family that my Grandma Margy was in pretty serious condition. I left that weekend and spent some time with her talking, telling her stories, and listening to her breathe. She passed away a little over a week later, and I was so glad that I got those couple of days to tell her goodbye. She was one of my favorite people in the world and our family celebrated her life together, remembering how special and God-led she was. We're relieved that she is no longer a slave to her Alzheimer's and failing body, but miss her so much.

We were so glad to have a real life summer break! Our dream for the summer was simple. Have tons of fun, act like little kids, and go to Disney Land. We spent a week in June house/dog sitting for the cousins in Southern California and were reminded as we sat in traffic each day, of how lucky we are to live in Nor-Cal. (No offense, guys). Our dreams came true at Disneyland and we even had a friend get us in for free! Best day ever! We spent a day in Loma Linda Land seeing all our doctor friends who are going to let us sleep in their backyards someday when we're broke and homeless, and we gave Bam Bam his first dog beach experience.

In late June and July, both sets of our parents came out to visit and we got to show them our stomping grounds. We spent a lot of time hiking, canoeing & paddleboarding, and showing Aaron's parents the Pacific Ocean and Redwoods. We really wanted to give them a relaxing summer vacation without any pressure, and lots of adventure, and it gave us an excuse to re-visit all of our favorite places up here.

The week that Aaron's parents came, we also decided to adopt a baby. Not like a human baby, but a puppy. We named her Ema (her original name was Mae), and she melted our hearts from the very beginning. Ema is half Olde English Bulldog and half boxer and she's got a mind of her own. We're hoping that Bam's perfect personality will rub off on her, or at least a manner or two.

In mid-July, I started working full-time with the organization I had been with. In becoming a manager, I was suddenly in charge of staffing, programming, discipline, facility management....the list goes on and on. I am glad to get to know the kids and community of our town of Healdsburg better, and it's really challenged and grown my leadership experience.

We put in a garden and barbecued our monster squash and tomatoes all summer and fall. Aaron took off on a motorcycle trip to Northern California and Oregon, and we both got hooked on go-cart racing. (Not to brag or anything, but I am currently second in our Rio staff races).

By fall with school starting, both Aaron and I threw ourselves into work and the last three months have been a blur of projects, kid-stories, highs & lows, and lessons learned. Aaron's a great dean and is teaching an outdoor education class to a group of nature-deprived kids. But most kids are, right?

Our goals for next year? Balance! More travel! No babies! More fun, music, laughter, and peace! And I hope all those things for you as well.

Merry Christmas!

Composting for Dummies


My garden is finally at the place of production. After fighting off weeds, hungry neighbors, and weird bugs, the monster of a yellow squash plant that has taken over half the bed is cranking out some baby squash. I have 3 green bean plants that are hanging in there but not putting out that many green beans, and some swiss chard that couldn’t take the heat. My 12 tomato babies are just about to pop out some huge juicy tomatoes, and my basil is on fire! Also, I have a huge sage bush but have run out of ideas on what to use sage for other than the Thanksgiving or Special K loaf.

Since my garden has sucked me into the mysterious world of the growing seed, I’ve been experimenting with organics and most recently have bought a big old flipable composter. Since none of this stuff is common sense to me, I’ve had to read up and research all the right and wrong ways to garden. Below (for all you nerds out there!) is just a little excerpt from my instruction manual that blew my mind.

There are four basic ingredients for composting: nitrogen, carbon, water and air. Food consists of two classes of materials, simply referred to as “greens” and “browns”. Green is high in nitrogen and brown is high in carbon. The greens simply provide protein for the micro-bugs, while the brown materials provide energy. Anything in your yard is potential food for these microbes. Layer and mix these materials into the Tumbling Composter, add water and tumble to add air.

When mixed, the critical mass hits the temperature of 140 degrees F and starts to break down, then the magic happens.

Use 25% Nitrogen, 75% Carbon

Nitrogen (green)................ ........................Carbon (brown)

Table scraps, fruits & veggie scraps............Leaves (shredded go faster, best carbon)
Chicken/rabbit manure ..............................Straw
Coffee grounds ..........................................Pine needles (acidic-use sparingly)
Grass clippings ..........................................Wood ash
Garden plants, flower cuttings, seaweed ....Cardboard (breakup)
Weeds ........................................................Dryer lint (?!)
..................................................................Woodchips & sawdust (use sparingly)

After all this is done, the box claims that within 3-4 weeks, I’ll have beautiful, nutrient-rich soil that has a pleasant earthy smell.

I’ve been shoveling leaves, keeping all my compostable food scraps, and am gearing up for the winter garden that I’ll plant when we just can take the squash and tomatoes anymore.

I figure that this composter will pay for itself in about three to eight years. I’m pretty sure I’ll have way more compost than I can handle. Oh well, I’ll just have to share it then!

I think I’m about to outgrow this garden. Maybe a farm next?

Snippets from a boarding school dean's wife...


These are the last days of school. This is the time when many of us, who have lived along with these kids-disciplining, commending, encouraging, advising, and watching-begin to reflect on the actual growth that has occurred in these kids. One example: the freshmen boys. Many of these guys come at age 13 from various family backgrounds and situations. They come as babies, basically. They’ve never done their own laundry, they lose their homework, backpacks, room keys, everything imaginable. But they have grown the most. Most of these freshmen guys are some of the sweetest and most considerate in the dorm. Yes, they’re still boys and are more wild than a barrel full of monkeys, but they are so LOVABLE! Sometimes one or two will come to my door and ask for a snack and I cave every time and beg them not to tell any of the other guys in the dorm. In the beginning of the year, I called the worst one, “Baby V”, because he was the most immature of all. Now, I can’t call him that anymore because he’s grown out of that stage. He's growing up, learning how to share and do his laundry. He sat down with me and opened up his heart about some things that he's been going through this year in his personal and home life and it just made me love this kid even more. I can't wait to see what's in store for him and his other freshmen, now sophomores.

This morning someone left a prank on our door. I’m not going to say what it is, but investigation is underway. It was nasty; a cry for attention. None of the guys will tell us who it was, but we know who knows. This part of living in the dorm is un-amusing and makes me want to really dig, find the perpetrator, and punish them. But really, it doesn’t matter. Because his friends don’t think he’s cool, and neither do I. And he’ll have to live with himself. Another student cleaned it up anyway. He’s the hero in this story. When we found out it was him, we wanted to hug and celebrate him, but we cooked him meat instead.

Friday night was the last full-school vespers and focused on wrapping up relationships through the flower ceremony. After a short talk, the students were given three choices of flowers. Red means, I love you. White, I’m sorry or I forgive you. And multicolor means, You inspire me. I remember doing the flower vespers when I was in high school and how emotional it was for me. It was all about clearing the air with ex-boyfriends, or sharing tears while untangling misunderstandings in friendships.

I loved walking through the crowd slowly, catching phrases from various conversations. “I just wanted to tell you that…” “I’m so sorry for not being there for you….” “It was me who spread that bad rumor about you….” Don’t worry, I didn’t listen in on the whole thing. I gave flowers to students and got some flowers too. Both Aaron and I got the white flowers from kids who had felt bad for things that we’d long forgotten about.

I took my freshmen/sophomore girls to town yesterday for a year-end party. We had a real-life photo shoot then got ice cream. These girls have really been working hard the last month or so, even putting up with my genius idea of starting “Study Hall Bootcamp” where we study hard and silently for 20 minutes, then do 2 minutes if intense cardio exercise. I read somewhere that taking lots of breaks mixed with physical activity helps the information seep into the brain better, or something like that, so we tried it. I have no way to tell if it worked or not but the girls were a lot more focused while they studied.

During the shoot, all the girls hammed it up. We had so much fun, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to miss all of them over the summer. I hope so badly that they find hope and meaning in life, more than just makeup and boys. But how different was I when I was their age?

For graduation weekend, there was a handful of guys whose parents couldn't come for various reasons; mostly international students. On Saturday, the school puts on a big parent appreciation program for the parents who have come for the event, and these guys were given special permission to skip it. So they came to our house and cooked. It was all they wanted to do. These guys, from Korea, Hong Kong, and China, cooked tons of chicken, beef, and even a special tofu number for me. After stuffing our faces, we all sat around and the guys shared about their experience in the States, and we laughed at all the cultural differences between all of our respective countries. We spoke of China power, eating dog (more common in Korea than China, it turns out), and where these guys are going from here. That afternoon, we became a family.

Now the kids are gone. Graduated, home for the summer, releasing us of all of our expectations of them. The campus is still, bright, beautiful. We try to eat outside as much as we can. Aaron and I are re-discovering the art of reading. We’re racing go-carts, walking the dog, shampooing our carpets, cleaning the house and messing it up again. Summer time never felt so good!