Archive for November, 2008

It has been a Heits family tradition to go Christmas tree hunting on Joe’s birthday. We used to joke that the temperature would drop below 0 just for the occasion! It always seemed to be the coldest, windiest and wettest day possible on Joe’s day. We would head out to the lot, the boys would lay on their backs in the snow and make a few half-hearted swipes at the tree trunk with the saw. Later Steve would lay on his back in the snow and finish the job. We’d head to the barn, pay for the tree and haul it home. At home it always seemed that the tree was crooked on one side, bigger than we thought, or had a giant hole on one side. Even so, it was a much loved tradition.

Joe will likely not be around on his birthday for three years. This year, we passed the torch from Joe to Emma. From now on, we’ll hunt for the tree on or near Emma’s birthday. Today was the day to head out to the tree farm to find the perfect Christmas tree.

This was the first time the little girls participated in the Christmas tree hunt.  Two years ago, we went to Ethiopia at Christmas time so we used an old artificial tree. Last year, we were a bit overwhelmed at Christmas time and we used the artificial tree again. It was great to get back to the old tradition. The girls loved wearing their boots, riding on the wagon and trekking around the tree farm.

We chose to head to the most remote lot. We searched high and low for the perfect tree. Emma spotted it and we cut it down even before we checked if it was for sale! Thomas lay down on his back and took a few half-hearted swipes at the trunk with the saw Then Paul finished it off. We ended the trip in the barn with some hot chocolate.

Back at home we put the tree in the stand and had some hot chili soup and played some cards. What a great way to pass the tradition.

I hope Joe and Kendra will find a way to carry on the tradition in Paraguay. I know we will always think of them when we cut our tree down, whether it is on Joe’s birthday or not. As a mom, I will treasure the memories of this day when we were all together for the Christmas tree hunt. I don’t need another Christmas gift. I got mine early!

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Look at the crowd gathered here for Thanksgiving. Thankful indeed!

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Here are some things I know about my 16 year old:

She was an easy baby, who loved to be held and talked to.

She sucked her knuckle and slept outside our bedroom door for a long time. I think she just moved upstairs last week!

She’s a tough cookie. She’s a 5′ 4″ post player who scored 16 in the jv basketball game tonight. She’s a bit shorter than most post players, but she makes up for it in sheer tenacity.

She’s funny. I love it when she can’t stop laughing, even at inconvenient times (like church!)

She has strongly held opinions.  She often doesn’t hold the most popular opinion, but she is unafraid to express it anyway. (This has caused family members to pretend they don’t know her.)

She’s not great with directions. She once couldn’t understand why her dad didn’t want to go 10 miles east on his way west because….IT IS ON THE WAY! She may need a GPS system to navigate to school and back with her new license.

She hates to deal in pinochle, especially for six handed.

She talks in her sleep. Recently, I tucked the cat under her comforter as she slept. Suddenly she opened her eyes and said, “Terrorist!”  I replied, “Terrorist?!?” to which she replied with the deepest sincerity, “YES! Terrorist!” She then closed her eyes and went back to sleep.

She loves grilled cheese sandwiches, tavern, her cell phone, her car….her God and of course, maybe most of all…she loves her family….usually!

 

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I can’t believe our Emma will be sixteen this week. It seems like yesterday when she was born.

We waited on Miss Emma for a long time. We had two boys, but really wanted a third child. We just couldn’t seem to make that happen. Finally, when the boys were 5 and 7, we learned we were expecting. Unfortunately, I miscarried that baby on Thanksgiving Day, with guests in the house. It was difficult to be thankful that year.

The very next Thanksgiving, pregnant again, I woke to labor pains. We left for the hospital at about 7, dropping off the boys at my parents house. They went to church for the Thanksgiving service and arrived at the hospital at noon, minutes after our little turkey baby was born. We enjoyed just a little while together before Steve went back to the field (corn was still in the field that year), my parents went to their holiday celebration and I was left alone to marvel at my amazing Thanksgiving gift.

Her very presence my life is a Thanksgiving reminder every day.

Happy 16th baby girl!

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I always pray with Shega when I put her to bed. Last night, I prayed for the girls’ Ethiopian mom. After the “amen”, but before the kiss, Shega said,

“Are you sad when you pray for my mom?”

I said, “I am a little bit sad that she misses you and you miss her.”

Shega said, “Don’t cry. I hate it when you cry.” followed by a long pause. Then she said, “And also dance…I also hate it when you dance and Emma hates that too.”

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Emma and I had a Wicked weekend!

Last year, Emma played one of the munchkins in the Wizard of Oz for the school play. I decided then that she really needed to see Wicked, the musical about Oz’s witches. This weekend, in honor of her 16th birthday, we drove to Chicago to see Wicked.

We left on Friday night after her basketball practice, drove the six hours to Iowa City and stayed with my brother’s family. Paul Heits, the eldest joined us from there. It’s about 3.5 hours from Iowa City to Chicago and we arrived at about 1:00 on Saturday. Paul had done an internship in Chicago during college. It was great to have him along to help us get around the city.

We spent Saturday afternoon shopping on Michigan Ave. We found a great pizza place in the theater district for dinner on Saturday night and then we headed for Wicked.

The show was AMAZING! The theater itself was cool, the singing was fantastic and the entire evening was memorable to say the least. I’m sure that all three of us will remember Emma’s 16th. It was truly a blast!

One of my nieces, who lives in Iowa City has a seven year old daughter. She invited Shega to spend Saturday night with them. Shega was so excited, she could hardly wait for the weekend to come. I think she had more fun than the rest of us. They went to Madagascar, they climbed in some gerbil cages made for kids and just generally hung out and played. She wants to go back immediately! I do wish Iowa City was a little closer. We would love to spend more time with the family there.

We drove the entire trip from Chicago to home on Sunday. We left after a drive around the city and on Lakeshore drive. We dropped off Paul and picked up Shega in Iowa City, and arrived home around 9:00 p.m. Megan and Thomas were up waiting to greet us.

This was the longest Megan had been away from Shega since they arrived in our family. Steve said she was a little out of sorts here and there, but did quite well. It was fun to see them settle in to the same routine tonight.

I know we can’t have a Wicked weekend for all of Emma’s birthdays, but we might be able to figure out some other wicked fun ways to celebrate!

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Evenings have not been much fun around our house lately. We have too little time, too much homework and too little good humor.

Tonight was pretty typical:

I picked up Megan from daycare around 4:45 p.m. Then I drove to get Shega. On Thursdays, Shega attends an after school homework helpers at a local church. Megan and I went into church, talked to the volunteers and helped pick up the chairs and materials.

I got home at around 5:45 p.m. I arrived home just over an hour after I left work.

When I get home each night, I have to put together something for dinner. On weekends, I often brown extra hamburger and keep it in the fridge for dishes during the week.

Today, I threw a big jar of Ragu over about a pound of already browned hamburger, threw some frozen garlic bread in the oven, put pasta on to boil and sat down to do homework with Shega.

Steve arrived home during that time, and immediately  broke up a battle between Shega and Thomas. He had them sit on the little couch and have a little loving sister-brother time. That was just the amount of time I needed to complete dinner prep. After dinner, it was time for homework.

Here’s the homework Shega had today:

  • Read a little story three times. (I’m thankful she accomplished that at church.)
  • Read a list of basic vocabulary words. She has to master this list to move on to the next. She worked on her previous list for 3 weeks. I hope she can pass this list in two.
  • Addition and subtraction flashcards (We only did addition today. Shega doesn’t enjoy math, and it was too much to expect her to do both.)
  • Read a list of 75 nonsense words to practice her phonics.
  • To top it all off, She had to find basic geometric shapes around the house. She needed a cylinder, a sphere. a cube, a rectangular prism, a triangular prism and a pyramid. We didn’t find a triangular prism OR a pyramid. I hope Mrs. K has a few extras tucked away!

Megan makes it difficult for Shega to focus on homework. She loves to get between whoever is the homework helper and Shega. Steve had a meeting, and Emma was gone tonight so there was no one to entertain Megan during homework time. (I don’t know how homeschoolers keep going with a two year old around!) I should have had Megan wash the dishes. She can focus on that for an hour! Tonight, she wanted to listen to High School Musical 3 clips on the computer. She sang and she danced. She engaged whoever would dance with her to do so. And then, she pooped in her panties. Rats! I guess that into every everning a little poop must fall!

I may have mentioned this before, but Shega LOVES TV. She watched “Hannah Montana” a few minutes while I cleaned up supper and Megan.

Bedtime is at 8:00 p.m. We head upstairs. If anyone accidently gets up the stairs before Megan gets there, we all have to go back down and begin again. Megan is obsessed with beating everyone. She screams, “I’m gonna beat-ya!” over and over as she races up the steps.  If she doesn’t arrive first she screams inconsolably. We try hard to arrange her victory every time.

Shega chooses two books each night. I read to her and then she reads her list of words one more time. We end with prayers and kisses. Megan can choose to hang out and listen, or to go downstairs and wait. Last night, she chose to go to bed without a book. When she was in bed, she decided her first choice was definitely NOT a wise one. She cried and rearranged her room by brute force while waiting for me to finish reading with Shega. It is amazing how far a two year old can send books and pillows!

Tonight I came back downstairs with both little girls in bed at about 9:00. Whew! Now I’m too tired to do my own homework or housework, or basically anything else useful!

I guess that’s why I decided to blog. It’s definitely not too taxing!

Good night everyone!

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Joe and Kendra are heading to the Peace Corps.  They will be leaving on February 2 for Paraguay.

Kendra will be teaching and working with teachers and kids. Joe will be doing basic sanitation. I’m not sure what that is, but it is probably a good thing for a sociology major!

They leave on February 2, head to Miami for a few days and then off to Paraguay. They will train for three months and then be off to their job locations. They’ll be learning two languages; Spanish and Guarani.

I hope we can visit them sometime. They’ll be living with host families for the first three months. They’ll be moving to their service location after that. They are not allowed to receive visitors for six months.

It sounds like the best time to visit them is during our summer. Apparently it gets mighty hot there in their summer.

That reminds me of the two weeks I spent working in a children’s home in Jamaica in June with Emma a few years ago. I had no idea that my shins could sweat. I discovered that while lying in my bed in the middle of the night, too hot to sleep. Unlike me, I’ll bet Joe and Kendra who are both athletes already knew about that.

Keep them in prayer as they prepare! Kendra made a paper chain with a link for each day until they leave. On Wed., she had 90 links in the chain. It’s getting closer!

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Guess who FORGOT the soup supper?!?!

When I walked in the house at nearly 6:00 after working all day, Thomas said, “MOM, aren’t we going to the soup supper?!?”

I am not particularly proud of the word that came out of my mouth right then.

Well …………. It was too late to make my vegetable soup but it wasn’t too late to show up for my dishes shift.

To all who planned on eating my vegetable soup tonight, I’m deeply sorry for your loss. I am sure you were well fed by some other more responsible mom.

Here’s a link to a great video. It definitely describes me!!

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The family went to see High School Musical 3 in the theater tonight. The little girls LOVED it! Even the parents enjoyed it. Thomas and Emma, Joe and Kendra love it too.

We walked out of the theater singing and dancing. (OK, maybe that was just the mama!)

 

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Rosa sat so that Martin could walk.
Martin walked so that Barack could run.
Barack ran so that my children might fly.

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A Prayer for Election Day

Sovereign Lord, foolish we are, believing that we can rule ourselves by selecting this or that person to rule over us. We are at it again. Help us not to think it more significant than it is, but also give us and those we elect enough wisdom to acknowledge our follies. Help us laugh at ourselves, for without humor our politics cannot be humane. We desire to dominate and thus are dominated. Free us, dear Lord, for otherwise we perish. Amen

Stanley Hauerwas

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For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.~Colossians 1:9.

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Thomas got to come along to vote. He was so interested. It was fun to have him along. It helped that I took him to school and he got to skip the bus ride today!

There were no lines in Boyden! I think there were more election workers than there are residents in Boyden. (just kidding!)

Get out and vote! It’s an amazing privilege.

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Do you need some Amharic t-shirts for Christmas gifts?

I ordered a few last summer. They are sold by an ET/American couple with an adopted ET daughter. The t-shirts are high quality, soft and very nice.

Very cool for Christmas!

Here’s a link:  http://www.hoyahoye.net/

If you would prefer to give something a little more altruistic, here’s a link to a fellow adoptive mom’s blog. She has a fun blog, and has been blogging with a purpose.

Here’s a link to her blog:  http://hotflawedmama.blogspot.com/

Here’s a link to the fundraising site she has set up. Also…very cool!  http://www.charitywater.org/pages/waterforchristmas/

Enjoy Election Day! Remember, Do not fear! also know as….it’ll be ok, or in terms my 15 year old would understand, It’s all good!

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