Archive for October, 2008

Here’s the requisite Happy Halloween post.

Halloween is a holiday that I always think I’m going to enjoy more than I actually do. It’s always completely wild trying to get all of the fun packed in.

Thomas had a camp-out with the Cadets tonight. They are fortunate to have such nice weather. It will be a bit cool with a low of 35 degrees tonight. I’m sure he’ll be glad we went back into the house for his coat. It was 65 degrees when we packed up.

He did have a bit of stress before he left. I was still in my office when he called me with the great idea of baking cookies to share with the fellow campers. He thought it would be fun to make orange frosting and have the campers decorate cookies. Well…..the cookies took longer than he thought to make. Emma helped him make some very orange frosting, which took just the right formula. When I got home, he had taken the first batch of cookies out of the oven, and had put a dollop of orange frosting on very hot cookies.  The result is quite interesting!

He was in an all-fired hurry at that point. Cookies, pants, coats, stocking caps and even maybe a tear or two were flying. He was sure he would be late to the send off.  It was with great relief that he walked out of the van, sauntered over to his friends and said, “Hey. You want a cookie?”

From there I took the girls to the Community Health Center for a health fair. Later, we stopped at family and friends to show off the girls’ costumes. Then we went on to Boyden for the community Halloween party. We had to make a mad dash home for Megan at that point. Potty training is not 100% accomplished and she was diaperless in her borrowed Care Bear costume.

After the community party, we went to the college dorms and did some strolling through the halls. The girls had great fun there. The college kids were wonderful to the little girls.

We ended our night by a trip for fast food. Neither of the girls ate much of their food. They were pretty filled up with junk food by that time.

When we got home, we quickly brushed teeth, read books and put the girls to bed. It had been 6.5 hours since Thomas called me with his plans to bake cookies. Sometimes fun is sure a lot of work!

For those of you who celebrate Reformation Day, Happy Reformation Day too! Martin Luther definitely rocks!

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Emma’s volleyball season is over. They won their first tournament match and played well. They played great in their second match too. They lost to G-LR in 5 games. The girls played so well. It was a joy to watch them this year.

We’ll miss those seniors, but I can’t wait for volleyball season to begin again next year. What fun!

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SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 41:1-10 SERMON: “Faith and Politics: Two Things Christians Should Be Able to Talk About.

Pastor Todd preached that sermon in church on Sunday morning. It must have had quite an effect on me because I haven’t stopped thinking about it.

Many of you have received e-mail forwards through the election season. Some of you may have even received e-mail forwards that annoyed you! I received two such e-mail forwards over the past week. Neither one of these forwards were the type that were full of rumors, hate or false charges. Fortunately, I haven’t received any of those types of forwards. The two I did receive were nearly alike. Here are short segments of them:

This is the scariest election we as Christians have ever faced. From the looks of the polls, the Christians aren’t voting Christian values. We all need to be on our knees. Do you believe we can take God at His word? His scripture gives us, as Christians, ownership of this land and the ability to call upon God to heal it. I challenge you to do so. We have never been more desperate than now for God to heal our land.

There has never been a time in 2000 years that we can do nothing, never a time that we must sit back and allow the evil in men’s and women’s hearts to take over our world. We should be very afraid because our apathy is leading us to perdition.

Pastor Todd’s message focused on fear. He said that Christians should not live in fear for the future. God himself assures us that we should not fear. In Isaiah 41 we read, “Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my right hand.”

Pastor Todd reminded us that God has not established a theocracy since ancient Israel. The US is not a theocracy.

Therefore scripture does not give Christians (e-mail #1) ownership of this land. In addition, Christians do not have to feel that other Christians who might feel (and even vote) differently than they do, are sitting back and allowing evil men and women to take over our country. (e-mail #2)

I have heard several Christians say that that this election is “scary”. I don’t agree. Christians should not fear.

Here’s what God said to his people a little further down the chapter in Isaiah 41. It says, “Do not be afraid, O worm, Jacob, O little Israel, for I myself will help you,”

God calls his chosen land “little Israel” and a “worm”. Israel was a theocracy. God’s own country.

Do you think it is self-centered, naval-gazing and self-important for Christians in the US to think that the election of 2008 is so critically important that we should be very afraid?

I think it might be time for us to get over ourselves!

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We enjoyed a Heits tradition today! We carved pumpkins.

Two years ago, when we carved pumpkins, we knew about the little girls and were preparing to bring them home. Last year, the girls were full participants in the carving. This year, Miss Shega decided not to carve at all. She decided to watch. Miss Megan played a supervisory role as well, getting a little too close to the action once in awhile.

The Heits haven’t been together for awhile. We missed Paul, but had the rest of the crew here. It felt very good to be under one roof.

Hey Paul! I had a 1,000 Aces in Pinochle today! We missed you.

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It was another beautiful fall day in Iowa. We have been so lucky! It always seems like an emergency to get outside and do some fun things this time of year.

After school, we went to town to go to the park. We picked up a couple of VVs and headed over to enjoy the fresh weather. There were a few other kids there without supervision. They were a little wild. Miss Cindy Lou VV had a dirty diaper which she announced with an “OOOH! I’m poopy!”

Megan checked to see, and sure enough there something in there! It was time to go, so off we went.

Two of my kids had pretty funny commentaries about our time at the park.

Thomas said, “A said that that one of the little girls at the park is obnoxious. What does obnoxious mean?” Thomas is in fifth grade and A is in first grade. I think Thomas was pretty amazed at that big word coming from a first grader.

I said, “A must think she’s a bit bratty.”

“OHHHHH.” Thomas said. “I thought it meant she smelled bad!” (noxious, perhaps????)

Later, we sat down to pray. Megan still wants to pray first at every meal. The rest of us wait until she says, “Amen” before we pray. This was her prayer today.

“Bless Melaku and Askala. Bless Cindy Lou and she has a big turd in her diaper!”

She did have a turd, but she certainly wasn’t obnoxious, or even noxious!

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Steve was very busy this weekend. He canned pork and stained the deck. All of this while I took several naps, took the kids to the pool and blew my nose.

I developed a bit of a cold during the day yesterday.  It sent me to bed early and made a box of Kleenex next to my bed an absolute necessity. I’m feeling much better today, but I spent most of the afternoon napping again.

During my naps, Steve was feeling mighty productive. He canned a couple of canners full of pork. His brother had butchered and didn’t have freezer space for all of the pork. We ended up with some. He found the jars, sterilized them, cut up the meat and canned it. A few jars didn’t seal, so we had them for supper with the rest of the Heits clan tonight.

He is certainly NOT a useless man!

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I just have to blog about a strange thing that happened to me today.

In the parking lot at work, there are a few burning bushes and maple trees planted in the median. The leaves are absolutely lovely right now. The burning bushes are bright red and the maples are yellow and orange.

When I drove into the parking lot today, I saw a woman. She had a shopping bag full of leaves. As I walked toward her, it appeared as if she was examining each leaf carefully as she held them up next to other leaves still on the bush.

As I approached her I said, “Are you finding some beautiful leaves this morning?”

She responded with, “I’m putting them back.”

I answered, “OOHHHHH!” as if now I was perfectly clear about that.

I went into the building and watched her for a moment through the window. It did indeed appear as if she were carefully removing leaves from her bag and placing them on the bush.

I definitely filed that one under, “Things that make you go hmmmmmm!”

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Aunt Dode came by with a lovely little girl on Sunday afternoon. Megan was a bit reluctant to share her toys, her car, or her babies, her auntie or really……..any random items that she decided were hers.

I will say, Megan looked very cute in her new box braids. It took us about 2 hours to comb out her hair and put it up again. We did Shega’s too, but it only took about half the time. We all needed a little entertainment after that. Aunt Dode sure is good entertainment!

I hope Megan’s attack of the mighty two year old and general unpleasantness at sharing you won’t keep you, or your cutie-pie friend away!

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One of my little girls had a difficult day at school. She was uncooperative.

It’s hard to know how to handle school behaviors at home. I know some parents who say, “If I get a phone call about my kid’s behavior at school, (S)he is going to get it twice as bad when (s)he gets home.”

I’m not sure that is the best plan for our little one.

An educator I know often says that someone in each child’s life needs to hold the child in “unconditional positive regard.” Certainly, we want to do that!

I want to follow up at home and we did follow up at home, however, it is critical for her to know that no matter what happens at school, we continue to hold her in “unconditional positive regard.”

If you think of us this week, please pray for an added measure of motivation and self-control!

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We met some virtual friends in real life on Saturday. We met a family from North Dakota who had adopted two sibs who are approximately the same age as Shega and Megan. We also met a travel mate of Shega and Megan’s Ethiopian cousins. It was so much fun to watch all of the kids play together. Megan and little R are just days apart in age. It was fun to watch them hold hands and walk down the sidewalk chattering away as if they had always known eachother. It’s too bad the family is from North Dakota. It would be awesome for the kids to get to play more often.

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Megan goes to a daycare facility while I work. I have had kids in various daycare situations for 25 years. We used family daycare for the first four kids. We chose a facility for the last two because we don’t have good back-up care anymore.

It’s a good thing we didn’t use a daycare facility with the first kids. If we had, we certainly would have decided on a smaller family!

Megan really does well at daycare. She loves her friends. She loves the learning activities. Her teachers say that she has adjusted great to the schedule again this fall. She never has potty training accidents at daycare. She has done very well again this fall.

So….what’s the problem?!?

Daycare facilities are so inflexible. I had a really busy week at work last week. I was late on pick up one day. When I got my bill, I had a $25 fine. That translates into a dollar per minute.

I guess I understand why they have to have fines. I am happy to pay for the additional hours if that happens. However, there is no way to adjust in advance even if I can see that type of situation coming.

I contract for Megan’s hours once per year. I can change the contract only once per year. I have to change my contract in the summer because I don’t use the daycare at all then. In the summer I pay the weekly holding fee because I have to hold her spot.

I contract for a little leeway outside my scheduled work time. In other words, I typically arrive at daycare at 9 and Megan stays until 4:30. I contract from 8:45 – 4:45. That gives me the flexibility to come and go a little early or late. However, contracting outside my work time means I have to pay for the time she isn’t there.

I get 5 “free days” per year. This means that for 5 days per year I don’t have to pay when Megan doesn’t go to daycare. I adddition, I get one vacation week where I don’t have to pay for when she isn’t there.

I am on an academic calendar. I get many days off during the year. I get a three week Christmas break, ten days for spring break and the occasional holiday. I pay for nearly all of that time that I know Megan won’t be at daycare. In addition, I have to pay a minimum charge all summer when she doesn’t attend at all. 

Last week, I was late on Tuesday and was charged $25. Megan stayed home with Emma on Thursday. I paid full price for Thursday even though she was home with Emma. I took 1/2 day off on Friday. Megan was only at the daycare for 3 1/2 days, but I had to pay all week PLUS the fine!

I called and discussed the situation with the director. It isn’t that I’m unwilling to pay the fine. (They have the key to my bank account since we do the automatic pay system. it would be fruitless to be unwilling to pay the fine.) However, I really think they need to come up with a little more flexible plan if they want to keep folks like me.

I can’t wait for Miss Megan to go to school! Daycare is totally  maddening!

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Megan needed a check-up for daycare today. It was fun to see her progress, especially on the developmental checklist. She did very well on all of the developmental tasks.

I enjoyed listening to her give the answers to the questions on the ages and stages survey.

Here are a couple of examples:

The nurse showed her a picture of a stickfigure and asked, “What’s that a picture of?”  I assume the answer is supposed to be, “a man.”

Megan said, “Christmas.”

The nurse probed a bit saying, “How is that picture about Christmas?”

Megan said, “You know….Santa!”

(That stick guy was a little round in the midsection.)

When the nurse asked her, “Are you a girl or a boy?”

Megan answered, “I’m not a boy! I’m a baby!”

The nurse said, “Are you a girl baby or a boy baby?”

Megan said, “I’m not a boy baby, I’m a baby mama!”

I think she’s a bit of a curve breaker!

It was fun to see how much she has grown.

She weighed 31 lbs and was 36 inches tall. She is growing like crazy!

She is definitely VERY TWO-ISH right now! I caught a couple of pictures of a prolonged tantrum yesterday. She is very cute when she is tantrumming. (I’m sure I’ll still think so when she is 16!)

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You would never guess there might be sibling rivalry by looking at this picture!

Shega has to read a home story three times each night. Shega loves to do her “homework” and I love to hear her read. Here she is reading to Thomas.

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I have been very busy at work lately. For much of the past six months, I’ve been putting in many hours working on accreditation reports. It has kept me at work for many late nights. Last summer, I often went to work after the girls were in bed and stayed there long past the bedtime of the rest of my family. Finally, all of this work came to fruition. Starting last weekend, we had 14 folks on campus searching through everything we had prepared. It was an intense few days. The whole crew finally left on Wednesday. Low and behold, we passed! We earned state and national accreditation! What a wonderful feeling.

My family has shouldered much of the work on the home front through all of this. They’ve been great!  It was wonderful to have a weekend to really focus on them and not feel like I had to run off to work or worry about the things I had left undone. This weekend we had a chance to just relax.

On Friday night we went for a long family walk and I spent some time taking the girls’ hair down. On Saturday, Emma and I went shopping. (I bought some celebratory jeans, even though the long project mentioned above may have had me buying them in a bigger size than I like!)

Today we went to church and we took a nap. Later Steve and Emma went to practice the volleyball serve and Thomas and I went on a little explore at the sandpit. We had a few guests for supper and pinochle. It was a wonderful, pleasant weekend. I would really like it to last a little longer.

Here are some pictures I snapped of the kiddos after church. I didn’t have the heart to put Megan’s hair back in braids today. She’ll go to daycare tomorrow with it out. It looks so cute down. I do need to get it back up soon though. Comb outs are killer after a few days out of the braids!

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Megan’s hair has been in cornrows since the first week in August. I re-braided them periodically, but I kept them in for two months. I took them out today. I chased her around for more than an hour to take the braids out stitch by stich. It is remarkable how much hair this child has.

We can’t do a de-braid and a re-braid in the same day. It would definitely be too much for her. I’ll figure out what to do with it tomorrow.

The Heits cousins were here to witness the braids coming out. Even they were facinated. Steve snapped some pictures of the wild hair girl.

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