18 December 2007

video clips

Here is the video footage of Dickens mentioned in the previous post. You can also check out this second video of Frank.

13 December 2007

Ugandan reflections: part 3

I spent a good deal of time at the conference in my room – specifically, the bathroom. I went over a little bit ill but thought nothing of it. Unfortunately, I was sick a good portion of the conference and was only able to attend the sessions by not eating for about two days. (For me to not eat, you know I was really sick.) It could have been something I picked up in Liberia along with the kids (and the Hep A) or something from Uganda. Either way, I ended up catching up on my reading and even some of my movie watching. (Is the remake of The Dukes of Hazard really the best we have to offer the rest of the world?)

As a result, I thought I should share with you my suggestions for international travel:

- Several weeks before you go, start eating “healthy yogurt.” Something with live yogurt cultures will help build up good bacteria in your system. If you can get it, kefir is even better for this.

- Take Pepto-Bismol with you and use it regularly. This will coat you stomach lining and give added protection against local bugs. I breezed through a trip to Israel doing this even though one-third of the people got sick.

- No matter how good the food being sold on the street looks, don’t buy it. (I have managed to resist the heavenly smells so far, but I am always tempted.)

- “Boil it, fry it, peel it, or forget it.”


Now back to the point. When the conference ended, the rest of the Westerners piled into small buses with too many bodies and way too much luggage for some very long road trips to Rwanda or rural Uganda. (Think clown car for 12 hours without the smooth road surface or shade of the big top.) I, on the other hand, was picked up by a lone driver in a van to visit with Scripture Union of Uganda. SU is a great ministry that works with students and families and has some excellent material for AIDS prevention. Of course it comes from a Christian perspective, so when an Islamic school invited them to share the program with their students, 200 of them responded to the gospel!

Worldlink has connected our church in NJ with one of SU's ministers, Dickens Zziwa Ssenyonjo. I was able to spend the day with Dickens and some other staff people before they dropped me at the airport. I even had the chance to meet Dickens’ wife just a couple of weeks before they had their first child, a boy named Jeremy Reynolds. I was able to take a short video of Dickens describing the benefits of Worldlink’s partnership. It is available on Worldlink's website (or was until the ice storms cut off power to our hosting service in Tulsa). As soon as the site is up again, I'll post the link. It is well worth 2 minutes to watch.

Having lunch with Dickens and another minister named Frank Nkandu was interesting. When we walked into the restaurant to get our food, the tables in the courtyard were all reserved. When Dickens, Frank, and the white man walked back out, the best table was suddenly available. When we all ordered fruit juice, mine was half again as large as theirs. I was uncomfortable with that, so I asked the waitress to bring them the larger glasses as well. I’m glad they took my US currency, otherwise that would have been pretty embarrassing.


Thankfully the restaurant experience was the only time I really felt the deference and privilege that comes with being a Caucasian. I am told by friends in Africa that it is not uncommon for a westerner to be given more authority and honor than he or she would receive if they were African. While most of the rest of the world is better at hospitality than we are, Western privilege goes beyond that.


Part of the problem is a vestige of colonial rule. Another part is the assumption that the "west is best." A third part is more subtle and related to communication and authority. That topic is a post in itself, but I will try to explain it quickly.


Western thought is strongly individualistic. Americans are the poster children for this trait. We are also the loudest and quickest to speak. Other parts of the world - and Africans are the poster children for this - tend to be more communally oriented in their decision making, People tend to listen more and longer. So when an American is in a meeting, logic makes a case in the brain, which the mouth communicates in matter of fact terms. That is not how the local decision making process works.


This difference is one reason Worldlink's vision and programs are so essential to the kingdom. The gospel is shared by local people, with local sensitivities and experience, and it can be heard clearly and without pressure to please a foreigner.


Those are some of the highlights from the Uganda trip. It would be impossible to describe the entire trip adequately - the friendships, the food, the discussions, and the worship. (Nothing makes me feel more rhythmically challenged than worshiping with Africans!) If the muse strikes me, I might try to write a little about reconciliation and some of the other things we discussed, but you should go experience it for yourself. The next conference is in Rwanda. Sign up here.



08 December 2007

very sweet

We sent photo albums to Liberia for each of our kids while they were at the orphanage. When the kids came home, they still looked through them constantly. It was the link that tied their old life to their new one. Every few weeks Joshua and Patience still pull theirs out and ask to have them read at bedtime. The books for the older two are virtually identical, but we read both anyway. Garty's, however, is a Sassy chew book appropriate for the 4 month old baby we were matched with. We didn't write anything in his except "we love you" on the last page. It's just pictures. A few minutes ago, Patience started looking through Garty's book and applying her "story" to his pictures. It sounded like this: "Mommy and Daddy. Mommy and Daddy love you so much. Jesus love you more." It's good to hear from her mouth that she understands how much we love them, especially during a week when loving has been harder than usual.

07 December 2007

is 6pm too early for bed?

If you've been wondering where we've been all week, I (Becky) have been drinking heavily and taking sedatives. Well... that's not entirely accurate, but I'd be happier right now if it were true. The kids are on my last nerve, and it's a very short one in my little toe. Every day this week when Joshua comes home from school, the kids get wild. Maybe it's Christmas mania rubbing off on Joshua during the school day. It shouldn't be because he doesn't even understand all the Christmas hype, but holiday insanity isn't reasonable. At any rate, bedtime has been moving progressively earlier as the week progresses. Then today happened. This afternoon Patience peed a puddle on the floor, walked across the room dripping a trail behind her, peed a second puddle where she stopped, and then continued to walk around the downstairs in her soaked sweatshirt, pants, and slippers. I found out about the incident when I had a close encounter with one of the puddles. After cleaning the floor and changing clothes, Patience spent 20 or 30 minutes alone in her room for her own protection. We had been having bathroom issues with Patience a while ago, but she's been doing really well recently. Not only has she been having fewer accidents but she also has been telling us when she has them (because she only gets punished when she doesn't tell us). What happened today is a mystery to me. My horoscope for the week must have been bad. Then when it was time to leave to pick up Joshua, I discovered that even though Patience had been getting ready to leave for at least 10 minutes, she still didn't have even one shoe on. We've been trying to help her understand that she needs to tell us when she wants help, but it obviously hasn't made a dent. It turns out that her velcro strap had pulled out, and she couldn't get it back where it needed to be. I had to move things along, and we still barely made it to school. The rest of the afternoon involved a lot of repeating myself and nearly sending the older 2 to time out before they listened. At dinner, Garty decided he didn't like his chicken, so he messed around for 40 minutes. I fed him the last 4 pieces so we could move on with life only to take him out of his chair and discover that he had hidden the other pieces under his rear end when I wasn't watching. Interestingly, when we had chicken the other night he inhaled 2 bowls of it. Peter's away speaking for a campus group tonight, so I decided that for my sanity I'd let the kids watch a movie and then get them ready for bed early. When instructed to go choose a movie, Joshua decided instead to mess with the movie that was already in the VCR. He jammed the VCR and destroyed the tape in the process. After 5 minutes on the steps, we discussed the fact that since they haven't been obeying very well today, they shouldn't be allowed to watch a movie at all. However, because I love them (translated: because I don't want to deal with them right now), I would still let them watch a movie as long as they cooperated really well at bedtime. Barney ends in 5 minutes, so we'll see how things go. If anyone has any suggestions on how to survive the weekend (other than the aforementioned relaxation aids), feel free to let us know!

03 December 2007

Ugandan reflections: part 2

After the second day of the conference, I knew I had a target on my back because of Worldlink’s mission. One of the men who worked in the housekeeping department of the hotel stopped me, asked for my card, and told me briefly about the ministry he is involved with to street children in Kampala. I had not even spoken about Worldlink to an audience of more than two or three people at that point!

It was very hard to hear about the needs and know that neither I nor Worldlink had the resources to meet them. Even harder was not being able to meet them when I had the resources, as in the case of Timothy, a brother from Kenya, near the Western Ugandan border. He is a police officer from a rural (poor) area who also pastors a church. He asked for a laptop. I was unwilling to leave him mine – and since it was Worldlink’s, I could not do that with integrity even if I so chose. He did not know I had six other donated laptops in a suitcase in my room that I was delivering to ministry partners later in the week. I am glad he did not, because my polite brush off would have become an insult.

I encountered three types of people at the conference. The first type was there trolling for funds, despite the admonition of the organizer not to seek short term benefit at the expense of a long term relationship. It is hard if you see this as your only opportunity to get your message out and make your request. I probably saw more of this than anyone once word got around about what I did.

The second type was also interested in partnerships (funding), but came from a less desperate place. It is hard to describe what I mean by that, but these people were genuinely interested in conversation with me, not simply selling me something. The ones that I was most impressed by also seemed to be the ones who did not ask or only did so in a peripheral way. These people came with honest questions above their needs and interests (Paul Vivire, Jessy Togba-Doya, Ronald Nalera).

The third type primarily came from outside the region or from larger churches in the area. They came for the conversation, perhaps seeking partnerships, but primarily driven by the desire to be there, hear the questions, and hopefully some answers. Of course, many more questions were raised than answered.


I had been asked by the organizer to lead a discussion on International Partnerships. The workshop was Thursday, near the end of the conference. It was well received, though it ran long because of the good discussions. Even though I kept telling people they should leave and have tea (Africans love their tea time – every morning and afternoon), most stayed until the end, and 12 or so asked for copies of the presentation.

I think the most helpful part of the discussion was the concluding section which covered how to write a proposal for funding. This came out of a conversation I had the day before with a great minister from rural Uganda, Paul Vivire. I talked about what to include, why to include it, and what types of pictures to use. (DO include photos of yourself or the staff. DON’T wear a suit and tie when you get your photo taken or subconsciously I will think you are on the same level I am. And smile! Most of the world does not smile when having their picture taken.) A lot of this came out of what I have learned from trying to effectively promote Worldlink.

It was a little disappointing to see only about 5 Westerners in the workshop, especially since the only other option was on “funding your ministry.” I know some folks from North America who wanted to come but were engaged in deep discussion with Africans at the time. I suspect others were just plain tired by that time – I know I was. Still, I was hoping to promote Worldlink to them, so it was disappointing to not have them in attendance. I pray it means they were busy creating partnerships and not dismissing the notion.

30 November 2007

November fun

It's hard to believe that it's the last day of November. We just downloaded some recent pictures and enjoyed them so much that we thought we'd share a few with you. Below you'll see 2 pictures from the first time Joshua and Patience jumped in a pile of leaves. The next 2 are from our lovely Thanksgiving Day walk through Fairmount Park. To see all our leaf jumping and Thanksgiving pictures, go to our web album.





Posted by Picasa

28 November 2007

the slide popped

That's Liberian-American for "Mommy, the slide shocked me thanks to this strange dry American air!" Patience isn't always terribly articulate, so it took a minute to translate this one today. In this part of the world, it blows my mind that some people have never experienced static electricity.

27 November 2007

here we go again... Ugandan reflections: part 1

For those of you who have wondered what it's like to go from being a couple to a family of 5, here's a reality check from one mommy's perspective. While some things have been easier than anticipated, other things continue to amaze me. Things like how I managed to learn 2 foreign languages but can't remember why I walked into the next room. Or why I can never get anything crossed off my to do list (assuming I remember it long enough to write it down). Or how I can look at our blog and realize that I haven't posted in 11 days even though I'm certain I just did. Or how I can live with guilt every day over thank you notes and birthday cards that haven't been written but still can't motivate my brain to write them in the evening (as if it takes a Ph.D. to write a message). Or how I can repeatedly forget when Peter asks me to post his Ugandan reflections, even though I simply need to proofread and copy them onto our blog. So for those who missed round 1, I am reposting some of Peter's thoughts from his trip to Africa in May. For those who have already read this post, keep watching for parts 2 and 3 over the next few days. I'll definitely have them up before 2008 (as long as someone reminds me several times).


When we started this blog, the intention was to keep our friends and supporters updated on our life, ministry, and prayer needs. Over time, things have shifted to "all kids all the time" because, let's face it, our kids are more interesting than we are. However, in an effort to swing the pendulum back to a more holistic view of life, I (Peter) would like to share a few things that I've been processing over the past few months.


Back in May, I went to Uganda for the Amahoro Africa conference. Amahoro is a word used across much of the continent and is roughly translated as “peace.” It is similar to the Hebrew concept of “shalom,” which conveys a peace that comes from rightness in the world – or at least a desire for it. This is the beginning of a series of posts sharing my reflections on the conference. Sorry for the length. It was quite a week.

What stands out most in my mind is the almost overwhelming need of the African continent. There are so many things that have conspired to keep it impoverished. Lack of natural resources means lack of economic opportunities which means lack of education which means lack of skills which means lack of quality job opportunities for individuals and would-be business people. Lack of basic health care means disease. Malaria runs rampant. Drought creates tenuous agricultural conditions.

This says nothing about the human element. Colonial rule sapped the limited resources and kept the continent from developing industries to compete in the global market. Government officials take advantage of their positions to help themselves instead of the people. Others wage violent conflict with the established governments because of perceived injustices or simple lust for power. Institutionalized discrimination or persecution as in the Sudan today or Rwanda in 1994 plague the continent. How does a nation find real healing and unity after those events?


Through it all, children suffer the most, forced to be soldiers or sex slaves, losing parents to violence or disease, dealing with disease themselves, and being denied even a basic education. The average life expectancy in many countries is not even 40 years, and the mass of people who cannot read or write dwarfs those who can.


For the church in Africa, other questions surface: What does African theology look like? Are they doing theology for themselves or is the West doing it for them? Where do they turn for a contextualized gospel? How much of what they practice is the non-essential trappings of Western Christianity and actually stymies the growth of legitimate expressions of African faith? Who are the role models for church leaders?


I came away with several personal challenges. I, and many concerned Christians in the US, must be more intentional and informed with my politics and influence as a voter. What does it mean to work for justice for Africa in the US? What business practices do I allow to go unchallenged or even support which do not permit a level playing field? (Check out this August 9 post about Pfizer’s activities in Nigeria.) What am I willing to give up or sacrifice in order to promote the economic health and independence of Africans? Who speaks for me as a Christian if I do not? What can I learn from Africa that will help me embrace and be reconciled to “others” in my own context? As a member of the Body of Christ, what can I do to alleviate the suffering and support the ministry of my fellow members, even though they are thousands of miles away? (In case you haven’t heard, half the world lives on less than $2 US per day, and nearly 20%- over 1 billion people- subsist on less than $1 US per day. Guess where a lot of those people live?) While these thoughts could easily become depressing and overwhelming, I believe they can also motivate me and others to action.


Stay tuned for some stories about some of the people I met and things I experienced in Uganda.

16 November 2007

hot in the mouth

Yesterday when we picked Joshua up from school he kept saying things about it being hot in his mouth. In the chaos of hauling 3 kids off the playground during the afternoon exodus, I was very confused. I wasn't sure if he meant hot as in spicy or hot as in a burning sensation. Then I realized that he was seeing his breath for the first time in his life, and it looked like steam or smoke! Just another one of those moments when we realize how drastically our kids' lives have changed. It's going to be a very interesting winter.

12 November 2007

exploring

Joshua and Patience are fascinated with the leaves turning colors, and I've narrowly escaped numerous car accidents as I slam on my brakes to look at amazing trees. We have a great park up the road from us that has some very colorful trees, but unfortunately the weather hasn't cooperated with our schedule to allow us to wander the park. Tonight, however, we were determined to go before darkness fell. We went in an entrance 5 blocks from our house that we've never tried before. The bad news is that the trees in that section of the park were not the dazzling maples we've been seeing, and most of the trees had already dropped their brown leaves. On the up side, that end of the park is incredibly cool with an old train track, a deserted stone house, a great creek, and an old bridge. We felt like we were far out in the country, yet we were only 5 blocks from the place where someone stole Peter's side view mirror 2 weeks ago! Because of the heavy cloud cover, darkness fell entirely too quickly, but we'll definitely be back to explore some more as soon as we can. We brought home some huge leaves and put them in a glass bowl on the table so we could admire their beauty and remember our exciting discovery.






Posted by Picasa

10 November 2007

it's official

On Thursday, Joshua, Patience, and Garty were readopted and now legally bear the name Bowersox. It was a simple court proceeding, but the older two were very excited. Mommy was even a bit emotional as the judge was asking if I understood the implication that henceforth it would be as if they were born to me. After our hearing, we celebrated by going out to breakfast for the first time. We chose Friendly's because it was convenient and we had a coupon, and we're so glad we did. They gave the kids big balloons, and everyone felt very celebratory. Joshua kept asking if his teacher would call him "Joshua David Bowersox," and I said probably not unless he told her it was his new name. Evidently when we dropped him off, he marched in to class and announced to everyone that he had a new name. The kids were quite confused about how that could happen, so they discussed it. There's nothing like showing up at school late and completely disrupting everything the teacher is trying to accomplish. Here are a few pictures from the excitement, including a picture with the judge who coincidentally is a friend of my dad's (proving that I will always and forever be "Dr. Dunbar's daughter" no matter what my last name is).




Posted by Picasa

06 November 2007

seriously obsessed

Those who know me (Becky) well know that few things in the world excite me as much as food and travel (which is significantly connected to food). After deciding that I wouldn't sell cookies this Christmas for 3 little reasons, I was so sad that Peter and I decided I should definitely do it. Because today marks 7 weeks until the big day, I decided it was time to put my list together and email it to local friends, family, and former customers. By the time I went through my recipes and finished my list, I had added cakes, breads, cheesecakes, and cupcakes to the cookie options. By the time I had written the necessary descriptions for the items, my sweet tooth was going crazy. By the time I emailed the list out, I was nearly giddy with excitement about getting started with my baking. I know I'm nuts, but I posted my holiday baking list for the few of you who enjoy reading dessert descriptions as much as I do. (I know I'm not the only one who reads menus online just for fun!)

malaria strikes a friend

Yesterday Peter was chatting online with a guy he met at the Amahoro conference in Uganda. He told Peter that he was in his second day of malaria. Peter assured him that we have a great network of prayer warriors (that's you!), so could you take a minute to pray for a quick recovery for Nyanga Grace? He leads a training and church planting ministry in Uganda. Here's a pre-malaria picture he sent.




02 November 2007

you are invited

Today I've been sending out Evites for our upcoming Thanksgiving Open House to our family, friends, and supporters who live in a reasonable driving distance from our place. However, we realized that some of our most faithful supporters over the past year have been blog readers for whom we don't have email addresses. It's also entirely possible that we missed some emails we should have sent. So if you have blessed our lives and ministry this year as you have prayed, provided financial support, offered much needed words of encouragement, showered our kids with gifts, or helped us in any other way (which is basically all of you), you are invited! Because we appreciate you and would love to catch up on your life, we hope you can join us for some delicious desserts and great conversation at our Thanksgiving Open House. It's a small thank you for being a big part of our lives. In order to keep the group small enough to have plenty of time to visit with each of you, we have 3 different times you can choose. Please join us Friday, November 16th at 7pm, Saturday, November 17th at 7pm, or Sunday, November 18 at 3pm. If you're interested in joining us, please leave a comment or send us an email so we can send you an Evite. If you can't make it, please know that we appreciate you so much even though we're terrible at sending thank you notes to let you know.

01 November 2007

Halloween recap

Our kids' first Halloween was memorable, but not in entirely good ways. Tuesday evening around 11pm I (Becky) checked in on Garty because he seemed to be starting a cold. He was burning up and wheezing "like a 90 year old asthmatic" (in Peter's words). We kept him with us all night so we could keep his fever under control and avoid running upstairs when his wheezing woke him. I got very, very little sleep. Peter got a few hours more. By morning it was all we could do to get Joshua dressed and out the door with his costume. Garty was getting worse, and the doctor had an early appointment available. When the doctor walked in the exam room, she immediately turned around and led us to a different room for a nebulizer treatment without even doing an exam. Garty fell asleep with the mask on because he was so beat. It turns out that he has a severe case of croup. 2 breathing treatments, 1.5 hours, and 1 dose of steroids later we headed home with instructions to keep Garty calm, give him steroids for 3 days, and go straight to the ER if he got worse again. Later in the day we went to Joshua's school for the Halloween parade (with permission from the doctor). Garty perked up a bit being out in the fresh air and seeing lots of people. He was having so much fun on the slide that we finally had to hold him because his wheezing was getting out of control. With all the chaos, we would have happily canceled Halloween, but Joshua and Patience had been practicing saying "trick or treat" all week. I took them to a few houses after dinner while Peter stayed with Garty. Sleep was better last night, although we were still up quite a bit. Today he was almost back to normal. We're praying that neither of the other two come down with it. So tonight I'm hoping for a good night's sleep. Unfortunately Peter just left town for 3 days, which generally that means restless nights for me. So, there's my whiney post for the week. Here are a few pictures from the bit of Halloween fun we were able to squeeze in.
Joshua as the Incredible Hulk & Patience as a fairy princess


Garty as a stocky brown baby with croup

30 October 2007

through the eyes of a 6-year-old

Last night we finally broke down and turned on the heat for the first time this fall. We've been stalling as long as possible to avoid filling the oil tank. This morning Joshua went to get his shoes from the shoe basket by the door and said, "Mommy, this white thing making it hot" [referring to the radiator]. I couldn't help but laugh as I wondered how it must feel to discover indoor heat for the first time in your life, especially when you're as mechanically minded as Joshua.

29 October 2007

nephrology news

Let me start by saying: 3 posts in one day?! I amaze even myself. Of course, I've accomplished absolutely nothing else today, but that's not the point. As long as my kids are dressed, well fed, having a fun afternoon, and unaware that their mother is a slug, I will glory in my blogging accomplishment (although it would be nice if someone would tell me what we're having for dinner).

The nephrologist called today and pretty much told me exactly what we expected to hear. Patience doesn't have any signs of kidney disease. Joshua does. Although as an added bonus to keep her from feeling left out, Patience does have a small kidney stone. Evidently it's consistent with malnutrition in her past. The doctor will take care of it, but he said there's no rush.

At this point, the calcification in Joshua's kidneys increases Dr. Tuchman's belief that we're dealing with ARPKD. The disease can also cause serious liver problems, but we're thankful that both boys show no signs of liver damage yet. I'll have to take Joshua for bloodwork later this week. If the blood shows normal kidney function, we won't have to go back to CHOP until January. If the results aren't good, we'll be headed back right away. The good news is that the longer they go without impaired kidney function and signs of liver damage, the better. Kids with severe ARPKD can show signs even before birth. The fact that Joshua is already 6 is a positive sign for him. There's never a guarantee that they won't eventually need a transplant, but each year that we can go without deterioration is exciting.

Because we had prepared ourselves for possible bad news, we're not totally overwhelmed by all this; however, you can never be completely prepared to learn that your child has a potentially life threatening disease. I'm feeling exhausted, and it's not just from a lack of sleep. Peter was already feeling stressed because he has a ton to do before he leaves town for a long weekend. We'd appreciate your prayers for all of us: for the kids' health, for us as we process the news and still try to do what needs to be done, and for Joshua as we give him the short story about why he needs to start carrying a water bottle to school.

stories of love and hope

One of the great blessings of the adoption journey is the stories you hear along the way. You tune into stories that reflect your own journey, and you are overwhelmed by the amazing love you encounter in the lives of others. Last night we had the privilege of going out on our monthly date. (Thanks, Mom and Bob!) Based on an email sent to a group of orphan advocates, we went to the movies to see Bella. It is an incredibly deep film based on actual events that makes you stop and think about what is really important in life... about family and priorities and true joy and acting with dignity and how beauty can come from deep pain. We were both completely taken in. The abrupt ending threw me (Becky) for a loop, and I spent the next few hours trying to decide if I still liked the movie. By 11pm I concluded that the story was so good that I was just disappointed that I didn't get to hear more of it. We went to see Bella because of its connection to adoption, but it turned out to be a story about so much more. I didn't even realize it was a true story until I looked it up this morning to put a link in this post. Now I'm completely overwhelmed and ready to watch it again. You should definitely see it. If it's not showing near you, come see it in King of Prussia. I'll cook you dinner, send you off with discount movie coupons, and give you a cozy bed to sleep in if you need it.

Because my chilly toes have encouraged me to stay on the couch under a quilt this morning, I had the opportunity to be blessed by another story of hope, love, and faith while I was catching up on my adoption blog reading. If you have a few extra minutes, read this post from a mommy who just brought her kids home from Liberia... in a very different way than she expected. My heart is so encouraged, and I'm feeling so thankful for the journey we've traveled the past 2 years that I just had to share because many of you were a huge part of our story. Now I'll excuse myself and go smother my kids with kisses before I make lunch.

insatiable appetite

It's no secret that Garty loves to eat, but recently his favorite game is pretending to eat food. Seeing a kid so young pretend is really cute. Right now he's having a blast "eating" Duplo blocks (when he takes a break from chasing Patience in circles through the living and dining rooms). It appears that his tumble on the stairs didn't do any serious damage. This morning all the bumps on his head are completely gone. What a relief!

27 October 2007

waiting for news

Joshua and Patience had their abdominal ultrasounds early Friday morning, but we still don't know what the conclusion is. The tech originally said that the doctor would look at them and tell us what he saw right after she finished. Afterward the story changed. She said he decided he needed to look at them more thoroughly and compare them to Garty's ultrasounds in order to complete a report. We're assuming this response means that he saw something abnormal, but we don't know what. They told us to put a call in to our specialist so he could get back to us in the afternoon, but we never heard from him. So now we wait until Monday to hear something.

Last night we distracted ourselves on a rainy Friday evening by having a carpet picnic and watching Jungle Book. Everything went smoothly if you ignore the fact Garty sat on his plate of pizza several times when he got excited and started bouncing around to the music. All 3 kids actually sat through the entire 78 minute movie and went to bed happily afterward.

Today Peter and the boys went to a memorial service for a friend's mom while Patience and I went to a "girl party" (a.k.a. bridal shower) for my cousin's fiancee. Everything went well until we ended the day with Garty taking a serious tumble down the stairs. We kept him up late to see if he was acting normal. He was his usual active self after all the initial crying, but we're still going to check on him frequently during the night to make sure he doesn't show any signs of a concussion. Once the initial adrenaline wore off from the scare, we were both overcome by a strange mix of nervous, fear-filled energy and sheer exhaustion. So much for our great plan to put the kids to bed early, chill on the couch with a movie, and get some good sleep. Kids really mess up our well-laid plans! If you read this message over the weekend, we'd appreciate prayers for our baby boy (who doesn't seem much like a baby anymore). We'll update you on all the kids' health as soon as we have something to share.

24 October 2007

still out there?

Is anyone still checking our blog? We're assuming most of our readers have given up on us. Our silence has been a combination of exhaustion, stress, and frustration over the fact that it takes 10-20 minutes of kneeling on our laptop (literally) to get it to start up properly. Then if we are distracted by anything (like a child, for example) for more than 2 minutes, the computer shuts down, leaving us to start the entire process again. On the positive side, we're making some progress on the computer repair front, so we're greatly encouraged. We don't realize how much we rely on our computer until it's no longer available. In our 2 weeks of silence about our family, a lot has been happening. I'll try to sum up quickly before anyone needs my attention and close with some fun pictures from yesterday.

The day after our fun dentist visit, the kids and I (Becky) headed to CHOP to see the nephrologist. At this point, they're still make assumptions about what disease Garty has. There are some signs that his disease may be progressing. They particularly need to monitor his blood pressure because hypertension is common in these situations. Garty's is currently on the high end of normal.

The doctor checked out Joshua and Patience. He was able to feel their kidneys, but they weren't huge. Both of them will have ultrasounds this Friday to see if they have cysts as well. We'd appreciate your prayers for all 3 of our kids. The idea of having 3 kids who may eventually experience kidney failure is quite disturbing.

After standing around for a while trying to keep Garty out of trouble while all our upcoming appointments were being scheduled, it was all I could do to get our fussy baby through his bloodwork. I had no idea how utterly exhausting medical appointments could be. The lifesaver for me was that our friend Daria was on rotation at CHOP for a few weeks, so she took us to lunch in the cafeteria. After an hour or so with her and her husband, Gabes, I was ready to face the rest of the day.

The weekend of October 12th was designated "house project weekend" at our place. We had several major things that needed to be taken care of before winter. Over the course of several days, Peter installed a new front door and then (with plenty of help from Gabes) stuccoed around the outside of our mudroom to stop the leaking and subsequent rotting of our walls.

Monday the 15th, Joshua went to the ENT to see about the hole in his eardrum. The hole is small, and he is experiencing only the smallest amount of hearing loss because of it. The doctor feels that if we can keep it from becoming reinfected, it may heal by itself. We go back in January. If it isn't healing, they will have to run some tests to make sure there isn't a cyst behind his eardrum. Removing a cyst is a major procedure, but repairing the eardrum in the absence of a cyst wouldn't be a big deal.

Last weekend, I went away by myself for the entire weekend thanks to my dear sweet hubby. He secretly signed my up for a scrapbooking retreat with his own birthday money. I drove to the Poconos and had 48 hours when I didn't have to do anything except eat, sleep, and put our treasured photos in albums. As a bonus, autumn is in full swing up there, so the colors were gorgeous. It was absolutely wonderful. Peter took the kids to his Mom's house overnight on Friday and then spent Saturday afternoon and Sunday with them at home. He even made it to church and had dinner hot and ready for me when I arrived home Sunday. I am truly a blessed woman.

Joshua went on his first field trip Monday to Highland Orchards. They picked apples and tiny pumpkins, learned about apple cider, and made scarecrows. I can't imagine being in charge of a field trip for the entire kindergarten, but everyone seemed to have a great time.

Yesterday was a special day at our house. It marked exactly 6 months since the kids arrived in the US. As an added bonus, it was early dismissal day. We headed to the zoo after school and then carved our big pumpkin last night after Daddy came home. We've had the pumpkin for several weeks, and the kids have been anxious to "put a happy face on it." Daddy did the carving while Mommy, Joshua, and Patience prepared the pumpkin seeds for roasting. Garty enjoyed sticking his head in the pumpkin but wasn't too interested in the rest of the process. Plenty of fun was had by all, and today we'll all be eating yummy pumpkin seeds with our lunch.


08 October 2007

new and improved smiles

Bright and early this morning we dragged ourselves out of bed so Joshua and Patience could have their dental work done. They drank their "juice" (sedative) and played for a while before the dentist could work. We weren't allowed to go back with them, so we caught up on our reading. Evidently Patience was very cooperative (thanks to the juice), but Joshua had a much harder time settling down. However, once they calmed him, he was fine for the rest of the time. Things went smoothly, and they were able to finish everything. We are so thankful we don't have to go back! Unfortunately, two of Joshua's teeth were worse than expected, so they had to extract one and cap another that they planned to fill. Recovery today was pretty tough at first. The kids were very agitated and couldn't understand the numbness. Joshua was in quite a bit of pain when the novocaine wore off and made sure we felt the pain with him. Peter worked from home this afternoon so he was nearby to keep me from losing my mind. We agreed that bedtime would be as early as possible this evening, so they were all in bed 1.5 hours early. Peter somehow found the energy to leave the house and is subbing for a volleyball league tonight. I've parked myself on the couch and plan to stay here until forced to leave. It's amazing how exhausted sitting around all day can make you! Tomorrow the kids and I are off to CHOP bright and early so Garty's nephrologist can check them all out.

01 October 2007

Ugandan reflections: part 1

When we started this blog, the intention was to keep our friends and supporters updated on our life, ministry, and prayer needs. Over time, things have shifted to "all kids all the time" because, let's face it, our kids are more interesting than we are. However, in an effort to swing the pendulum back to a more holistic view of life, I (Peter) would like to share a few things that I've been processing over the past few months.


Back in May, I went to Uganda for the Amahoro Africa conference. Amahoro is a word used across much of the continent and is roughly translated as “peace.” It is similar to the Hebrew concept of “shalom,” which conveys a peace that comes from rightness in the world – or at least a desire for it. This is the beginning of a series of posts sharing my reflections on the conference. Sorry for the length. It was quite a week.

What stands out most in my mind is the almost overwhelming need of the African continent. There are so many things that have conspired to keep it impoverished. Lack of natural resources means lack of economic opportunities which means lack of education which means lack of skills which means lack of quality job opportunities for individuals and would-be business people. Lack of basic health care means disease. Malaria runs rampant. Drought creates tenuous agricultural conditions.

This says nothing about the human element. Colonial rule sapped the limited resources and kept the continent from developing industries to compete in the global market. Government officials take advantage of their positions to help themselves instead of the people. Others wage violent conflict with the established governments because of perceived injustices or simple lust for power. Institutionalized discrimination or persecution as in the Sudan today or Rwanda in 1994 plague the continent. How does a nation find real healing and unity after those events?

Through it all, children suffer the most, forced to be soldiers or sex slaves, losing parents to violence or disease, dealing with disease themselves, and being denied even a basic education. The average life expectancy in many countries is not even 40 years, and the mass of people who cannot read or write dwarfs those who can.

For the church in Africa, other questions surface: What does African theology look like? Are they doing theology for themselves or is the West doing it for them? Where do they turn for a contextualized gospel? How much of what they practice is the non-essential trappings of Western Christianity and actually stymies the growth of legitimate expressions of African faith? Who are the role models for church leaders?

I came away with several personal challenges. I, and many concerned Christians in the US, must be more intentional and informed with my politics and influence as a voter. What does it mean to work for justice for Africa in the US? What business practices do I allow to go unchallenged or even support which do not permit a level playing field? (Check out this August 9 post about Pfizer’s activities in Nigeria.) What am I willing to give up or sacrifice in order to promote the economic health and independence of Africans? Who speaks for me as a Christian if I do not? What can I learn from Africa that will help me embrace and be reconciled to “others” in my own context? As a member of the Body of Christ, what can I do to alleviate the suffering and support the ministry of my fellow members, even though they are thousands of miles away? (In case you haven’t heard, half the world lives on less than $2 US per day, and nearly 20%- over 1 billion people- subsist on less than $1 US per day. Guess where a lot of those people live?) While these thoughts could easily become depressing and overwhelming, I believe they can also motivate me and others to action.


Stay tuned for some stories about some of the people I met and things I experienced in Uganda.

27 September 2007

FYI

If you want to tape the season premier of one of your favorite shows, it's best to check to see if there are any small plastic toys inside the VCR before trying to insert the tape.

Oh, and in case you are wondering... Yes, we live in the 20th century and still use a VCR. No need to make fun of us. Peter has already been ruthlessly teased in the past week about this same topic among his young and trendy volleyball friends. Yes, there are more significant bits of information I could share with you, but I don't have the energy to say anything significant after canning 2 bushels of applesauce today. No, I won't give you a jar of my applesauce because 2 bushels doesn't actually make as much as you think, and our kids are so excited about the applesauce that they actually did a dance.

18 September 2007

Willow Valley adventures

The wedding this weekend was at Willow Valley Resort in Lancaster County, and we were blessed with the gift of a weekend there. We're still recovering from all the fun, but it was a great chance to get away and find out what vacationing with kids is really like. (3 days is definitely plenty.) Highlights of the weekend (other than the wedding, of course) included a visit from the Grosh ladies, lots of time in the pool with the cousins, a ride on the 100 year old Strasburg railroad, a horse drawn wagon ride to the farm, and Garty's first French kiss... from a cow. (The cow is the one that leaned in for the kiss, but Garty was happy to reciprocate. Mommy couldn't kiss his cute little face for a full 24 hours.) Pictures are now available for those with nothing better to do.

17 September 2007

wedding update

We're back and settling in from our weekend adventures. We had a wonderful time. The wedding was beautiful, and all 7 kids walked down the aisle (much to our surprise, since Garty screamed nearly every time we practiced). Our kids had a great time playing with their cousins during the wedding reception and throughout the weekend. Below are a few favorite pictures, but we uploaded a bunch of the wedding photos to our web album for those who want to see lots of photos of our kids and their adorable cousins. We'll post again tomorrow with more details about our adventures.
















Posted by Picasa

13 September 2007

absolute craziness

This is going to be a super quick post. Last week and this week have been insane with one thing after another. School. Joshua's ear problems. Patience turning 4. The usual frustrations of life, bills, and kids. Leaving shortly for a long weekend away centering around Mom Bowersox's wedding. When we get back, we'll have lots of pictures from the past 2 weeks to share, so check back Mon or Tues. By the way, our kids are (theoretically) walking the aisle along with their 4 little cousins, and Peter is performing the ceremony. That leaves me to convince the kids to cooperate. If you think of us between now and tomorrow at noon, we'd appreciate your prayers for all of us, especially Mom and Bob as they start a new life.

06 September 2007

what happened to our son?

After the second bad day at school, we were prepared for a week or two of misery. We decided that until things settle down, we would all take Joshua to school in the morning for consistency. We made it to the door without trouble as in the past and looked inside for the faithful guidance counselor. To our surprise, Joshua hugged us both goodbye and bounced into the building next to Isaiah, one of his classmates. As we picked our jaws up off the ground and turned to leave, the guidance counselor came out of the building, flagged us down, and (with shock in her voice) asked, "What did you do last night????" We then had a great chat with her because she has a foster son who is Liberian.

It amazed me how much more energy I had today compared to the first two days of school. (It's gone now because my mom picked up 100 ears of corn for me at the farm this morning, and together we filled the freezer for the upcoming winter.) It felt so good to know that Joshua really looked forward to school today.

After school our kids were playing on the playground, and Joshua's teacher came over to talk with me. She said that not only did Joshua enter the classroom with a smile, but he played with the other kids on the playground today. In her words, the previous two days were "parallel play" where he played near the other kids but not with them. Thanks to all who are praying for our little boy. Please don't quit! Monday could be like day 1 all over again.

05 September 2007

second day same as the first

We're beat, so we'll save ourselves the energy of telling you what happened today. Just envision yesterday's story except the wailing and kicking started at a different entrance to the school. The bruised and battered guidance counselor appeared again and carried him off. As before, he settled down when they got to the classroom. The difference today was that Mommy was able to walk away and go home without fighting tears all day and second-guessing our decision to start school this fall because we both knew he'd have fun. This afternoon and evening he kept telling us things about how they raise their hands with 2 fingers in the air when they have to use the bathroom or about how they signal for everyone to be quiet. He's clearly enjoying himself, although he did mention several times that school is "a long time." Please keep praying for Joshua as you think of him over these next days and weeks. We're thinking of starting a pool where everyone can bet on how many days he'll keep this routine going. (Of course, we'll skim a percentage of the money off the top before paying out to the winner to compensate for our pain and suffering.)

04 September 2007

first day of school

The short story is that Joshua freaked out this morning but ended up having a great day at school. The long story, for those who like details, is that Joshua woke excited and ready to go. We took pictures and walked to school without difficulty. When he entered the auditorium and saw so many kids, he looked like he was going to melt down. I sat with him while the principal talked, and he calmed down. We talked for the 200th time about how much fun he was going to have. I explained that when the teachers called them to go to their classes, all the mommies and daddies would say goodbye. He actually got in line with his teacher and walked out of the cafeteria. We were thrilled! Then he stopped in the doorway, and it turned bad. He had a full meltdown with his Liberian wail. The guidance counselor carried him down the hall kicking and screaming, literally. We left concerned that we might get a call from a bruised woman asking us to come back. It was a long, stress-filled day for Mommy, but at 3:25 we learned that Joshua had settled down almost immediately after they reached the classroom and had a great day. He was super affectionate this afternoon and evening but seemed totally normal other than that. He did mention a couple times how he had cried this morning. At one point he said he would cry again tomorrow and later claimed that he didn't want to go. We'll see what tomorrow brings. Here are a few pictures from the day.




















Posted by Picasa

03 September 2007

it's time

At 9:10am tomorrow Joshua starts kindergarten! It's hard to believe it's time. Mommy has been running around getting his last few school supplies ready and worrying about whether he'll have enough food to eat (a somewhat reasonable fear since his lunch bag wasn't sized for his Liberian appetite). In the morning all 5 of us will walk to school together. If you read this during his first day, we'd appreciate your prayers for a smooth transition. We'll update you tomorrow night on how things go!

28 August 2007

new car

No, we didn't get a minivan, despite many suggestions that it's time. Actually, we didn't even get a new car, but it feels like we did! In the past month, we've finally replaced the stereo that was stolen from our car last August. There's no longer a large whole in our dashboard. Joshua and Patience were very impressed that Mommy's car now has music, and it only cost us a few dollars for trim pieces thanks to our friend Dan who gave us the stereo. To make things even more exciting, Peter replaced our partially yellow back bumper tonight. We've been watching the paint flake off for quite some time now, but Peter recently found a matching bumper at a junkyard. We had designated some Christmas money for car repairs, but it took us this long to get to it. So our car now looks totally normal and won't embarrass us on the rare occasion when we're at a special event where these things are noticed. On the down side, we're going to have trouble locating our dark green Camry in crowded parking lots without the unique bumper design.

23 August 2007

getting ready for kindergarten

We finally heard today that we received approval for Joshua to start kindergarten at the school we requested! We're so thankful. We have to reapply each year for this exception, but we assume that it's just a technicality. It would be cruel to arbitrarily force kids to change schools. So now we're officially getting ready for school. Next week we will both go with Joshua to kindergarten orientation. We're also taking a big shopping trip to pick out a special lunch box. Then school starts the day after Labor Day. We've been talking about school all summer, but now we're talking about it constantly. Joshua seems excited, although he has asked several times whether we'll be at school with him. Please pray with us that his fears will not prevent him from enjoying the school transition. We really think he'll thrive in school if we can convince him to go.

20 August 2007

long week

We've been buried under a bunch of paperwork and car troubles the past week, so blogging hasn't been a priority. The kids are doing well though, and we'll try to update with some pictures in the next day or two.

13 August 2007

American birthday celebration

Last night we celebrated Joshua's 6th birthday (a few days early) with some of his aunts and uncles, a cousin, all his grandparents, and all his great grandparents there. We even included his "friends," as much as he understands having friends at this point. We've been talking about the party for a few weeks, so there was plenty of excitement around our house the past few days. It was fun to watch Joshua learn how to blow out candles. He was surprised by the presents, as we had left that part out of all our discussions. Actually, as one who has never planned a kids' birthday party, I forgot about the presents as well! People were leaving when Meg reminded me that Joshua hadn't opened them. It was a fun evening for us and hopefully for our guests as well. My only regret is that we don't have a bigger house so we could invite lots more family and friends to share this momentous first with us. Below are a few pictures from the big event.



Mommy explaining to Joshua how to blow out candles



3 down, 3 to go



Garty and Grandmom having a great time



Patience loving her cake


Joshua at the "after party" party considering becoming a Chippendale
(There's actually a simple not at all creepy explanation for this picture, but we prefer to make you wonder.)
Posted by Picasa

09 August 2007

sobering day

Today was one of those days that stops you in your tracks and makes you really think. This morning we went to a funeral for Peter's cousin's husband. Saturday was Carl's 45th birthday. He was camping with his wife and 10-year-old son when he suddenly died from a pulmonary embolism. We didn't really know Carl. We seldom see Susan, Peter's cousin. But you don't have to be close to someone to feel overwhelmed by the pain of a situation like this. We hear tragic stories so often that we can become nearly immune to them if we choose to. Then there are those times when the tragedies hit close to home, and we're faced with the apparent injustice of it all. By all accounts, Carl was an amazing man who loved God, his family, his friends, and the teens he worked with at church. He had so much to live for. At times like this, I'm so thankful I have confidence in a wise God who can see the bigger picture that I can't see. I don't know how anyone processes situations like this without that assurance. Please take a moment to pray for Susan and their son, Daniel, at this painful time. Then go and live today to the fullest with those you love.

our accomplishments

Our silence on this blog isn't because there's nothing to share. Actually, there has been a lot going on, and we've accomplished some great things in the last week or two. We've just been too lazy to post about them. So here, finally, is a list (in no particular order) of the big and small accomplishments in our little corner of the world.

Joshua and Patience will now play outside when we are inside. This may not seem like a big deal, but Joshua used to be absolutely terrified if we stepped inside for even a minute. Their confidence and comfort level are improving all the time.

Garty is now walking in earnest. He still prefers to crawl if he's in a hurry, but much of the time he can walk all the way across our living room, dining room, or kitchen without falling. To keep things exciting, this morning he climbed up next to me on the couch while I was reading to Joshua and Patience. After playing on the couch for 15 minutes or so, he decided to climb over the back of it. Climbing definitely adds an entirely new, and much more frightening, dimension to life at our house.


Joshua caught his first fish... a big, ugly catfish! Well, he may have had a little help from Grandpop... or maybe it was a 50/50 effort... or maybe Grandpop did all the work and Joshua just helped here and there... but the point is that it was his first fish! When he saw the big whiskers, he didn't want anything to do with it. This from a boy who ate Liberian soup with fish heads in it.


We had our second official date out thanks to Becky's parents who were great babysitters. We ate at Hart's Tavern, a favorite restaurant in Peddler's Village. The food isn't anything unusual, but it's cheap and the restaurant has lots of character. (We actually ate there on our wedding night.) Then we wandered the Village and stopped for ice cream on the way back. It's amazing how much cuter our kids are after a few hours away. We're trying to get out for a date one afternoon a month for now. It's frequently enough to keep us sane and connected to each other without being overwhelming for the kids.

We've had 2 opportunities to swim recently thanks to the Brandts and Becky's aunt and uncle. The kids are really starting to enjoy the pool and getting quite brave. They'll leap off the side of the pool at full speed, assuming that we'll actually catch them. Here they're demonstrating how they can put their whole face in the water. What a change from the kids who were petrified to get in the pool for the first time in Liberia. (In their defense, the green water did make it slightly less enticing.)

Peter has been training a new office manager at Worldlink who will take some of the day to day tasks like bookkeeping away from the rest of the staff. Previously everyone just pitched in as needed, but it was a tough way to run an office. Training someone takes a lot of time and makes it difficult to get anything else done, but he's seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and is looking forward to having freedom from some of the tasks that don't really utilize his gifts.

I'm mentally preparing for our 2nd annual Neighborhood Kids' Club and Neighborhood Cook Out. I was considering wimping out this year and taking a break, but the other day a kid from the neighborhood rode by and asked Peter when the club would be. That was enough of a motivator to convince me that we need to it. It's crucial to our ministry in this neighborhood, and we haven't done much to connect with anyone here since the kids came home. They're a convenient excuse for just about anything we don't want to make time to do. (When you tell people you just adopted 3 kids from Africa at one time, they'll forgive you for almost anything.) So the next few weeks will be very busy around here. We'll do our best to keep up with the blog for those of you that check every day and are terribly disappointed when there isn't any news.
Posted by Picasa

05 August 2007

where the US and Liberia meet

Patience is walking around with a bucket on her head calling, "something something pizza... something something pizza..." (I don't understand the something something) and distributing plastic pizza slices to us. It cracked me up because we saw so many women in Liberia walking the streets with really heavy pots and baskets of food on their heads. However, I'm pretty sure none of them were selling pizza.

31 July 2007

marathon maniac

Right before we went to pick up our kids, we learned that a man we know through our Worldlink connections had committed to running 13 marathons in 2007 to raise money for Life International. For those who don't recognize the name Life International, they are the amazing organization that helped us raise the funds we didn't have for our adoption expenses. Life International has many exciting programs that help orphaned kids, and assisting with adoption expenses is just one of them. Peter just saw this article about Dave Broman and his marathon goal. It perfectly describes the man Dave is. If you would be interested in supporting his quest to make a difference in the lives of orphans by running his heart out, let us know so we can hook you up with more details about his project and how you can make a donation.

30 July 2007

kidney news

The nephrologist from CHOP called to check in. They don't have any new ideas about Garty, but he does want to see Joshua and Patience when we go back in October. Of the 3 possible diagnoses for Garty, one gives Joshua and Patience a 25% chance of having the same disease. Another gives them a 50% chance of having it. Only the least likely diagnosis is totally random and unrelated to genetics. It's a good thing we know God is in control or we'd be pretty freaked out right now.

26 July 2007

intriguing photo essay

Our friend Theresa's friend Serena (follow that?) posted a link to this Time photo essay called "How the World Eats." It was interesting to see how incredibly much many families spend on food compared to how very little others spend. It was also interesting to see what those families are eating. I wonder what we'd all think of our eating habits if we stacked a week's worth of food on the table and took a photo.

dental adventures

Monday Joshua and Patience visited the dentist for the first time. The visit went pretty well, although Joshua had such bad plaque and tartar buildup that they couldn't complete his cleaning without making it very uncomfortable for him. They decided to put it off until next time. The bad news is that we'll be back soon for a not-so-pleasant appointment. Joshua has a total of 6 cavities in his molars. One of them needs a root canal, and 2 of them need caps. The stains on his front teeth are just that, stains. Patience has one shallow cavity in her molars, but the stains on her 2 front teeth are cavities. Because she's still a few years away from losing her teeth, these need to be taken care of with caps as well. The dentist recommends sedating them and doing all the work at once because of their age and the severity of the problems. The grand total for their cleanings and all the work? Over $2200! We never minded not having dental insurance before, but I just stared at the woman who gave me the estimate. She asked if I wanted to schedule appointments right away, and I just told her that I had to go find the money first!

The great news that has come out of this situation is that we learned our family qualifies for free CHIP (Children's Health Insurance Plan) in Pennsylvania. I read all the fine print and called several times with numerous questions because I was sure it was too good to be true... but it's not. It will take 4-6 weeks to go into effect, but then all the dental work will be free as will all their health care! We can take them off our health insurance policy, which saves $180 per month out of our Worldlink account. We're so excited to have made this discovery, but we're also frustrated that we didn't know about it sooner. I keep thinking about how much better off our checking account would be if we hadn't paid so many copays over the past 3 months. We'll put that behind us though and thank God that the kids' bad teeth will ultimately save us thousands of dollars over the next few years.

Now we're wondering if Joshua's dislike of cold and sugary foods is simply because his mouth is such a mess. He claims his teeth don't hurt when he eats those things, but it will be interesting to see if his eating preferences change in September when he has a mouth full of good teeth.

24 July 2007

out of the mouths of babes

The kids are watching Barney while I check email, which reminds me of something Joshua said on Sunday evening in the car. He generally has a pretty good memory for topics we discuss frequently, but this time he was a bit confused. He was talking about a rainbow, and I asked, "Why did God give us a rainbow? What does God want to tell us?" (The correct answer from our Bible story book is "He loves us.") Joshua thought for a moment and said, "Don't waste the water!" Unfortunately, this is what we've learned from Barney's tooth brushing song. Both important lessons, and who can expect a 5 year old to remember the difference between God and a dancing purple dinosaur?

23 July 2007

3 months

Today marks 3 months since we landed on US soil with our kids. It's hard to believe how quickly time has flown.

21 July 2007

the ultimate compliment

Our new neighbors invited us to come to their family BBQ today. There were probably 50 people there. One of the men is married to a white girl, so there were 3 of us total when we arrived. At one point our neighbor asked who did Patience's hair. When I said I did, she responded by asking, "Are you lying to me?" She then asked Patience who did it to confirm. Once convinced that it really was my handiwork, she and another woman complimented me up and down and said they didn't do any better when their girls were Patience's age. Needless to say, I'm terribly pleased with myself right now. I think they were overly generous with their praise, but I don't think were just lying to make me feel good either. There is not greater compliment than having a black mama tell a white mama that she did a great job on her black cutie's hair.

19 July 2007

week of firsts

We've had a busy week. Tuesday the kids went to the zoo with Daddy and had lots of other fun because... insert drumroll here... Mommy had her first full day off! I left before anyone was moving and drove 2 hours to meet Marcy, my former roommate and dear friend, in the lovely town of Boiling Springs, population 900. We discovered Boiling Springs (which has 30 bubbling springs that look like they're boiling) as we were searching for a public pool halfway between her house in VA and ours. We had a wonderful day lounging in the pool and enjoying the waterslides before exploring the town (which didn't take long), consuming 2 scoops of Bruster's yummy ice cream, and heading home after bedtime to a quiet house. I'm so thankful to have such a wonderful husband who put in extra time at work several days so he could take off and send me away without a worry.

Today the kids and I got up and headed out to Solebury Orchards to pick blueberries. It was a warm but overcast day, perfect for blueberry picking... especially with a baby on your back. The blueberries weren't quite as plentiful as we hoped, so finding perfect berries was time consuming. The kids were very patient though, and we received a wonderful compliment from a woman in the next row who said, "It's so nice to see such a peaceful family." She even invited Joshua and Patience to pick with her from a heavily loaded bush that had really, really big blueberries. Garty passed the time by reaching around me and stealing blueberries from my box. Oh, and he consumed 2 leaves he pulled off bushes before I could get him off my back to empty his mouth. I tried to get Joshua to help, and he responded by declaring, "He'll bite me!"

After we finished picking blueberries and cutting flowers at the orchard, we stopped to see Grandmom and Auntie Katie, who were on the way home. While there Patience got a big surprise... a Radio Flyer tricycle that Auntie Katie found at a yard sale for $5! The older kids both had a great time riding it. When we got home, Joshua got his big surprise... a real 2-wheeler (with training wheels, of course) that I got free from someone on Freecycle! His eyes nearly popped out. After dinner we went to the farm park up the road so they could both practice riding. After about 30 minutes, Patience was no longer steering into the grass, and Joshua could keep pedaling for more than 20 seconds at a time. It was great fun for all. Hooray for yard sales and Freecycle!

Posted by Picasa

Peter's handiwork

As previously mentioned, Peter spent the weekend rebuilding our mudroom roof. It was old, and some of the wood was rotting. Despite many other house projects we would prefer to have done, Peter wisely insisted that we use our $200 worth of Home Depot gift cards to keep our roof from leaking. Here are photos of his good work and one of his fan club watching through the window. Oh, and if you're looking for a new credit card, email us so we can tell you how we manage to collect lots and lots of Home Depot gift cards on a small budget with the best credit card deal we've ever found (but your rewards wouldn't need to be Home Depot if your house isn't over 100 years old).



Posted by Picasa