Archive for February, 2009

Shega is well again. This child must have an immune system of steel!

I stayed home with her as much as I could, but, because I missed last week when I was sick I had to spend some time there. We strung together care with the help of grandparents, Aunt Dode and shortened days at work. Shega and Em have the day off of school today. She should be well-rested by Monday.

The trip to the doctor was a little weird.

The nurse asked the usual medical history questions. Answering the questions for this child seemed very strange. Here is the six year old child that I love. She is in first grade and I have never had her at the doctor for a sick visit.

Here is part of the conversation with the nurse:

N. Is Shega allergic to any medicine?

Me: I don’t think so. I don’t know. I haven’t given her any medicine, except for the giardia meds she took when she first came home. She wasn’t allergic to that. I don’t know if she has ever had any anti-biotic. Probably….I don’t know….Maybe….

N. Does she still have her tonsils?

Me: Of course. I mean I think so. I mean, I really never looked. I mean….I haven’t had any cause to look. I doubt if they took them out in Ethiopia, but she hasn’t seemed to need them….or maybe she does….  You better take a look!

It seemed so surreal to not really know if my own six year old child had tonsils. I assumed she did, but I had never had any cause to look.

All of a sudden, I was so sad for missing those first 4.5 years of her life.

I’m glad she is feeling better. I now know her tonsils are intact and probably even working! I still don’t know if she is allergic to any anti-biotic, but considering her constitution, I highly doubt it!

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Poor Shega.

She isn’t feeling well. It is very unusual for her to be sick. In fact, she hasn’t missed one day of school because of sickness. We never take her to the doctor and other than check-ups and for treatment for some yuckies when we first got home from ET, we haven’t had cause for even a thermometer.

She went to sleep right after school and slept until 7:00 tonight. When she woke up she had a sore throat and a fever. I decided to run her to the convenience clinic just to do a strep test.

No strep! No anitibiotics! Just rest and fluids.

Although I always feel like it is a bit of a waste to take kids to the doctor when we don’t get a prescription, I was glad I took Shega to the clinic tonight.

She felt so well-loved to be the kid at the doctor. I know she loved to see me worry and fuss over her.

I hope this doesn’t lead to a sudden rash of unexplained illnesses!

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I had an interesting conversation with a student teacher today. She told me that she was learning a new way to be in control.

She had grown up in a very structured family. She was the oldest of six kids with a very traditional family structure. She said, she thought that being in control was getting children to do what you want or to behave in a certain way.

This student teacher has one first grader in her class who tantrums and has explosive behaviors. She told me that she has recently come to a new idea about being in control.

She has been examining the triggers of her student’s distress and is learning that sometimes she herself is the trigger. Her desire for him to behave in a particular way or do a certain thing in a certain way can lead him down the path to trouble.

She has come to realize that being in control means structuring the environment or her own behavior in order to avoid his meltdown. Being in control does not mean getting him to follow her directives in a particular way.

Her new definition of being in control is still finding its way inside her and displacing her childhood notions, but she is well on her way to feeling comfortable with it.

I need to take a lesson from this student teacher at home. She definitely has it under control!

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Do dogs get sick? I’m not sure what I am as sick as, but I have definitely been as sick as something bad.

Those of you of the "mom profession" know that sick moms cause a complete nuclear meltdown on the home front. The house looks like a disaster and all four kids are very crabby. We may welcome a nuclear meltdown!

I’m rarely sick and never miss work. I missed a day and a half of work, and went to the doctor twice and the dentist once in a three day period. Unfortunately I have two more trips to go!

A bad tooth caused my entire being to be very sick. I didn’t know it was a bad tooth. I thought it might be an ear infection or a sinus infection or a cheekbone that was about to explode. Two trips to the doctor diagnosed me with a sinus infection, Bells Palsy, trigeminal neuralgia (sp?) and a migraine, but neither doctor helped me locate my pain to my tooth. I don’t know why I didn’t know it was my tooth. Apparently most people recognize bad teeth when they rear their ugly head (or root, such as the case may be.)

At any rate, I am really wishing it was a bad sinus. To save the bad tooth, it will cost $1,400.

I stopped constantly throwing up while in the dentist’s chair when the novacaine bath immediately stopped the pain. Ahhhhhh! Suddenly, I love the dentist!

I love my hubby too. He has truly tried hard to keep it together here. It certainly seems to take a village. (or maybe just a mom!)

I wish my friendly druggist could supply me with drops like this:


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I took Megan’s braids out on Saturday. I haven’t had the heart to put them back in. She looks so cute with her free hair and is very proud of it. I can hardly keep my hands off those beautiful curls. We may pay for her freedom with a night of brushing out tangles. In the meantime, we’ll enjoy it!

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I saw this on another blog and it made me laugh out loud. You just google your first name with the word ‘needs’ in quotes. This is what I found. My thoughts follow each comment:

Laura needs:

1) 25 cents and two fingers.  I’m not sure what I will do with the quarter, but I am enjoying thinking about the two fingers I need. I hope its my two thumbs in the up position.

2) some post toddler love. I do receive a daily dose of post toddler love from one slightly toddleresque three year old, but I’m not against more of it!

3) Chicago, IL. I do love Chicago. I’m not sure I need Chicago, IL., but another trip to the windy city would be ok with me!

4) to hear from other teachers who may be having similar dilemmas. Hmmmm. Which dilemma should I share! I am rich with dilemmas.

5) her meds changed. Scary!

6) to save at-risk kids. or do I need some at-risk kids to save me???

7) a tech make-over. Clearly! That’s why I married a techie!

8 )  your continued support. You betcha!

9) you to come eat.  BYOC. (Bring your own chocolate!)

10) to commit this nut NOW! She’s coming to take me away….to the funny farm…..where life is beautiful ALL the time.

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Thomas was home alone for a little while after school the other day. When I got home, he quietly said, "In your face, Mom!" 

I said, "That’s a fine way to greet your mom! What’s in my face?"

He made me guess over and over about why he was sporting a silly grin. Eventually I got it. He was playing a computer game after school when the computer rang. It was a Skype call from Paraguay. Thomas was very proud that he had figured out how to answer the computer and had a solo conversation with Joe and Kendra from Paraguay.

Thomas hadn’t been around when they called before. This call made his day! Thanks for thinking of Thomas, Joe and Kendra!

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We have four kids in four different schools this year. We have two different buses on our yard for Shega and Thomas every day. Emma drives herself to school, and Megan comes with me to "Daycare school".

This week we have parent teacher conferences for two of our four kiddos. One of those kids has a little difficulty behaving well at school. This week I received a note from school stating that there had been some trouble in the reading room. I responded with an e-mail and a short visit.

I must say, there is nothing quite so humbling for a teacher as having a child with some difficult behaviors. Having been a teacher, I know how hard it is to refrain from making judgements about the parents, lifestyle, or family when we’re talking about kids who struggle conforming to rules and behavior.

I really like our kids’ teachers. They are all great! I had a good conversation with the teacher who sent me the note. I am so glad to work with teachers who are so professional and want the absolute best for our kids.

However…..I will still feel….just a slight bit like putting my head down on my desk and staying in for recess when I go in for the conference. I’m sorry for all of the gray hair and worry lines my child is giving or will give teachers now and in the future!

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It was fun to hear from Joe and Kendra. They sounded very excited despite being very hot. Kendra did a little book club for the neighborhood kids this morning. She read "If you Give a Pig and Pancake" in Spanish and then had the kids play a game and do an art project. She is a little unsure of her Spanish, but she is so good with kids, I’m sure that her language is not a problem.

Joe has to give a presentation to his group on Tuesday. His presentation is about making concrete. I’m sure he’ll do fine. He goes by the name "Jose" in Paraguay. He says that Joe doesn’t work in Spanish because it means "me" or "I". He says that introducing himself as Joe in Spanish sounds like, "Hello, my name is me."

They both said they really like it there and are excited to continue their work. I’m eager to hear more about it!

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Joe woke up early this morning in Paraguay. He asked his Paraguayan mom if he could cut one of the roses from her front garden as a valentine gift for Kendra. Their mom was touched by his thoughtfulness and helped him cut a rose and place it by Kendra’s breakfast place at the table. Then he left for his day at his training center.

Kendra woke up and went down for breakfast. Seeing the rose, she inquired about its origin. Their Paraguay mom said it was from Jose. Jose is not only their host dad’s name, but the name that Joe uses in Paraguay. Kendra thanked their Paraguayan dad and spent her morning wondering about the cultural significance of the father giving her a rose for Valentines Day!

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To quote Hannah Montana:

You get the best of both worlds

Put ‘em both together and you know you’ve got the best of both worlds!

The well-loved pink velcro shoes are Shega’s "Hannah Montana" shoes. She has worn them with great affection every day for her entire first grade year. The shoes were an impulse buy when we were looking for school clothes last summer. Shega was immediately attracted to them and began to lobby her dad hard. He really wanted to get her a better pair of tennis shoes that would be more comfortable and last longer, but he didn’t mind the $12 price tag and succumbed.  

Although she never complained about the shoes’ condition, we finally talked her into a new pair of shoes. She did NOT want me to throw away her old Hannah Montana shoes, though. Now she feels like she has a choice. She can "rock it out or take it slow" with her two shoe choices! Definitely the best of both worlds.

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Joe and Kendra called us with Skype today from an internet cafe.

They made it safely and all is well. They are excited to share a new family with two daughters named Lorena and Maria.  They are about Shega and Emma’s ages. Apparently, the girls are a little confused about the Heits family picture, and Joe and Kendra don’t know the Spanish or Guarani word for adoption!

It is very hot there with no air conditioning in the house, but they do have their own bathroom and a lock on their door, so it feels like their own space.

Joe will be heading out each day to learn how to make wells and ovens (those are the two examples he gave me!) Kendra will go each day to a school. They’ll spend about half the day in separate language schools to learn both languages. I’m sure they are a little overwhelmed, but they seemed very excited and ready to go.

The Skype call made it seem like they weren’t so far away. Since their training host family home is only about a mile from the internet cafe, we should hear from them fairly regularly during the first three months of training. It isn’t like we can call them to share news at any time, but they can typically check in with us on weekends.

I can’t wait to witness their adventure from afar!

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Joe and Kendra had a farewell party on Saturday night. Many friends and family members stopped in to say "Adios."

It was Megan’s birthday, and she was pretty sure all of the partying was about her. At one point she asked, "When is everybody going to sing to me?" A few of us got together and sang just to make sure her bubble wasn’t burst!

On Tuesday, we caravanned to the aiport to see Joe and Kendra off. We took the other kids out of school. Joe rode with us and Kendra rode with her parents for the two hour trip. The airport goodbye was so sad. We’re so very happy for them, but the airport goodbye was just tough on all of us.

The Peace Corps information sheet says that volunteers should have an opportunity to make arrival calls or send arrival e-mails during their first weekend. We hope to be on their arrival call list! They should be in Brazil tomorrow morning and in Paraguay tomorrow night. I am eager to see if they post to their blog. I know I’ll check faithfully! Here’s a link:

Here are some pictures of the Adios party and the Adios at the airport.

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while we are absent, one from another.  Gen 31:49

I am (mostly) retyping the article from the Sioux County Index Reporter. The article was written by Jeanne VIsser and appeared in the Wed. January 28, 2009 issue.

Heits Prepare for Paraguay


They’re packing bags, studying Spanish and examining maps: and saying their goodbyes.

On Tuesday, February 3, Joe and Kendra wil leave their home and travel to the South American country of Paraguay to begin a two-year adventure with the Peace Corps.

They’ve waited so long for this journey to begin.

The students dated while in college and got married during their senior year. That was also the year they decided to join the Peace Corps.

"We wanted to serve other people, but we really didn’t want the huge commitment of being church missionaries," they explained. "Through the Peace Corps we can volunteer to help others and spend time in another culture."

The Peace Corps traces its roots and mission to 1960, when then Senator John F. Kennedy challenged students at the University of Michigan to serve their country in the cause of peace by living and working in developing countries. From that inspiration grew an agency of the federal government devoted to world peace and friendship.

Since then, more than 195,000 Peace Corps Volunteers have served in 139 host countries to work on issues ranging from AIDS education to information technology and environmental preservation.

Today, there are 7,876 volunteers and trainees in the Peace Corps serving in 76 countries around the world.

Entering the Peace Corps is a lengthy process, involving lots of paperwork, interviews and some frustration.

"We wanted to go somewhere right after we graduated last spring," said Kendra. "But it takes longer to place a couple because they have to find an opening for two, with our training."

She graduated with a degree in Elementary Education and Physical Education. Joe has a degree in Sociology and experience in construction and plumbing. The Peace Corps found a spot for them where Kendra will teach and Joe will work withe Health and Sanitation, which includes clean water, sewers and health education.

The first opening that the couple was offered was in Africa and they both said no.

"We’re both familiar with Spanish and we preferred to go someplace where the people speak that language," explained Joe.

Last summer they received word that they were going to Paraguay.

"We didn’t know anything about the country at first, but we’ve been learning," said Kendra. "We also found out that we have to learn a second language, Guarani, which is a little scary."

The Guarani language is spoken by up to 90 percent of the population of Paraguay and is one trace of the original Guarani culture. Guarani and Spanish are both official languages of the country.

Paraguay is located in central South America northeast of Argentina. The country is about the size of California. It is a developing country and the second poorest in South America.

When they leave Omaha on Feb. 3 the couple will travel to Miami and join other Peace Corps volunteers heading to Paraguay. They will all to to Guarambare for three months of training. During that time they’ll live with a host family and learn the language, culture, safety and tips on how to live in the country. If they meet the Peace Corps standards, they will be sworn in as official Peace Corps volunteers and then be assigned to a location in the country and begin two years of service.

"We probably won’t come back to the United States during those two years but maybe some members of our family might come to visit us," said the couple.

They also hope to travel and expore areas of South America during their stay.

"We’re very exicted about trying something new," said Kendra. "We both grew up here and went to college here. Learning the language and culture will be a challenge."

The Peace Corps provides volunteers wiht a living allowance and also banks some money for them to help them adjust to live back in the U.S. when they return.

"They’ve told us that we might be …kind of like celebrities," said. Joe. "We’ve been told that our work hours are 24/7. We’re always on the job, representing the Peace Corps. But we’re looking forward to the challenge."


Benediction prayer for Joe and Kendra

May the Lord bless you and keep you.

May the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you.

May the Lord smile on you and grant you His peace!


We will miss you two!

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