25 June 2007

bad bloggers

It's been a week since we last posted here, so we hope no one has given up on us. It was a busy week, but we can't use that as an excuse since we were mostly just too lazy to post in the evenings. So here's a nice long (not to be confused with significant) update on life at the Bowersox home to catch you up.

We still have to write our letter of exception for Joshua to go to Marshall Street School, but the woman who helped with our registration paperwork really didn't think it would be a big problem. We learned that our district has gone to all day kindergarten (9am-3:25pm), which we were not prepared for. We're not sure if Joshua is ready to be gone all day, so we'll have to feel things out this summer. We're sure that Mommy isn't prepared to have to entertain Patience and Garty all day, but that's another matter. Joshua was excited to see the school, and we've been talking about it ever since. He actually didn't want to leave the building after we filled out registration paperwork, but then the very loud dismissal bell rang and freaked him out. He ran out the door as fast as he could!

Garty has an appointment at CHOP (Children's Hospital) on Tuesday, July 3 to see what's going on with his kidneys. We weren't able to schedule with the head of the department as hoped, but we're still optimistic that the doctor we see will be able to figure out what's going on. While we wait, Garty continues to amaze us as he becomes more and more expressive and entertaining all the time. Saturday he figured out how to climb all the way up a sliding board by himself, and he did it several times. He was very pleased with his accomplishment, as you can see in the picture below. Yesterday he took 2 steps for Daddy before he realized what he was doing and sat down. He crawls fast, but soon he'll really be moving!

Today while I was putting on a shirt to go out, I turned around to find Patience trying on one of my bras in front of the mirror! Peter ran for the camera and managed to get a few pictures before she got distracted.

Just to keep life from getting dull, I got a flat tire at the supermarket last Tuesday when I ran out for a "quick" trip before they closed. Peter ended up waking Garty who had been in bed for over an hour, dressing Joshua and Patience who were nearly ready for bed, and rescuing me. Tonight the same car completely died on the highway, and we're afraid it might be an expensive repair. I had to call AAA to have it towed to a shop, and Peter and the kids had to postpone dinner to come rescue me again. Watching the big flatbed pick up the car was very exciting for Joshua, who is soon going to think that car problems are a weekly outing instead of a problem. The frightening thing is that these issues have been with our good car!

The most exciting news of all at our house this week is that Mommy got to go out to do something fun without the kids for the first time... and then she did it again... and then again!! Thursday evening after a meeting, my friend Mary Kay asked if I wanted to go out for ice cream, so 3 of us went out for the most exciting ice cream trip of my life! Seriously, I was so excited you would have thought I just won an island vacation. I came home high on life a little before midnight and talked Peter's ear off until he kicked me out of the room so he could sleep. All week, Peter was also encouraging me to do something fun just for myself on Saturday. (Isn't he a great husband?!!) I really didn't know what to do and didn't feel inclined to make plans, but on the way home from the store Saturday morning I suddenly decided that it was a cool enough morning that a carmel macchiato from Starbucks sounded good. I dug out the gift card I got for my birthday and stopped at the only Starbucks around that has outdoor seating. I splurged by getting my carmel macchiato AND a piece of crumb cake. It was a gorgeous morning, so I sat out under an umbrella and did nothing... nothing! How crazy am I? The final and most exciting outing came Sunday when Peter and I actually left all 3 kids with a sitter for the first time and went out to celebrate our 8th anniversary. We didn't think it was a good idea to leave the kids at night yet since that's still a potentially volatile and fear-filled time of day, so we planned a date for the middle of the afternoon. Thanks to Peter's Mom and Bob, we ate a delicious brunch and went to the movies to see Ocean's 13. It was absolutely wonderful. The cell phone never rang in the 4.5 hours we were gone, so we are thrilled! Getting out of the house could easily become addictive!

So that's all the news I can remember from our little corner of the world. More soon!

18 June 2007

school concerns

I finally called the elementary school today to find out how to register Joshua for kindergarten. I was extremely disturbed to find out that even though several of our neighbor kids to the east go to Marshall Street School, we are officially one house too far east to qualify for enrollment there. I asked why our neighbors attended there and was told they must have been granted an exception. Evidently the superintendent has been good about granting exceptions in the past, but now there is a new superintendent and no one knows how he'll handle it. Many of you know that we moved into a pretty rough area, but we believed that we were blessed to have our kids in the best elementary school in the district where they would be challenged and able to catch up educationally. On top of that, it's walking distance from our house and on Peter's route to the office. The school they're supposed to go to is a pain to get to in morning traffic (we're not sure if they bus or not) and isn't very good at all. We're both very concerned about this turn of events and will be writing to the superintendent right away to request an exception. It's a tough position to be in. On one hand, we're committed to being a part of this community and making its problems our problems. On the other hand, we want to give our kids the best education possible, knowing that they're already at a disadvantage. We'd appreciate your prayers about the situation and will update you when we know more.

happy father's day

We hope all you fathers had a wonderful day. Peter says he enjoyed his. We were planning to visit a church in town, but we all overslept until 9:30 (how great is that?!!) and couldn't make it. Instead we had a relaxed Father's Day brunch and gave Daddy his gift... a new outdoor volleyball to replace his well-loved but no longer functional one. He also received beautiful artwork from Joshua and Patience and a card from Mommy. Garty didn't show any appreciation at all for his new papa, but we expect that he'll be more thankful next year. The afternoon plan was to head to the zoo, with or without Daddy depending on which sounded more fun to him. He thought about it for a few hours and decided to go along. It was a fun 2 hour trip. They had a special reptile exhibit for the weekend, so the kids got a chance to see "plenty snakes" up close and personal. They're simultaneously terrified and enthralled by snakes. We didn't see any on our first trip, and they've been talking about going back to find them ever since. They have a great playground in the zoo, and both of the older kids climbed a rope ladder on their own for their first time, surprising us with their bravery. Everyone spent a long time on the swings. You should have heard them all giggling when we pushed them high! Joshua even learned how to make a swing go by himself and received lots of praise from his proud Mommy before heading home. After enjoying one of Peter's top 10 favorite home cooked dinners (yes, we actually have an official list), we started discussing our favorite desserts and spent at least 30 minutes making a list of our respective favorites from my recipe box and our travels. This may sound like a ridiculous activity to some of you, but we've got a pretty serious obsession with food. After much discussion and agonizing, we narrowed the list to our top 15. Of course, all good things must come to an end, and an otherwise great day ended with one child (who will go unnamed) flooding the bathroom floor 2 feet from the toilet because waiting an extra 30 seconds to go was evidently expecting too much. The wet child then had to clean up the floor before getting a quick bath. After all 3 kids were sound asleep, we drowned our frustrations in a brownie sundae (which was on both of our lists).

14 June 2007

conquering the King of Prussia Mall

We decided we were finally ready to take care of the Mother's Day gifts we promised our moms over a month ago, so this afternoon I got the kids cleaned up for their first professional photo shoot at Picture People. Of course, after spending a lot of time choosing coordinating outfits for the 3 kids this morning, I put them on an hour before our appointment only to find that Garty had outgrown his shoes since the last time we put them on and Joshua's shirt shrank or his gut grew since last week. As a result, I frantically threw shoes and clothing around until I had 3 outfits that didn't look terrible together. In the process, Garty got upset and started crying (which was not shocking since he only napped for about half the normal time). I was pretty sure the whole picture taking venture was doomed, but I packed the kids up anyway and headed to the King of Prussia Mall to meet Peter.

The actual photo shoot was crazy since Garty insisted on chewing on his hand (which he almost never does). When we would distract him from his hand long enough for a picture, he usually decided to to crawl away. The few times Garty cooperated, the other 2 weren't paying attention. The photographer persisted long enough to get a few decent shots and told us to come back in 30 minutes to check them out.

Having never done anything like this before, we didn't anticipate the 30 minute wait. We didn't have a stroller or the baby carrier to put Garty on our backs, so we gathered our things and set out to explore the Plaza on foot. First we hit the Lindt chocolate store looking for free samples. We scored and gave Joshua and Patience a very small taste of our limited edition truffles. Joshua decided they were good and wanted more, leaving me to explain that at $21/lb, he would have to wait until dinner for something else to eat. We rode up and down the escalators a few times and then upgraded to the glass elevator. We each threw a penny in the fountain and made wishes. 30 minutes passed relatively quickly, and we went back to find one decent pose of the kids.

While we were out, we planned to go crazy and eat dinner in a restaurant for the first time in ages. (One of us really needed to be out of the house for a while.) We were planning to go to Peace A Pizza, since it would be cheap, yummy, and easy to make a quick exit if things turned ugly. However, on our tour of the mall, we discovered Ruby's Diner. If you have kids and live anywhere in the area, Ruby's is a great place for dinner. They have 2 trains that run around the restaurant on a track suspended from the ceiling, they're pretty cheap, and they have a very cool kids' menu that turns into a car and comes with stickers for decorating it. Our kids were very well entertained, and we were completely refreshed by being out and about. We almost had a tantrum when Joshua picked up all his apple slices, told us "I have plenty apples," and then dropped 2 of them on the floor. Fortunately, he decided that sulking for 5 minutes was sufficient and screaming wasn't necessary. Overall it was a great $29 first restaurant experience except for one unforseen problem. When we were leaving Joshua declared, "I want to eat," drawing our attention to the fact that kids' menus weren't created for kids who eat like ours do. Joshua ate his chicken breast, every drop of BBQ sauce, his clean apples (plus the ones Patience shared), and the lettuce they used for garnish without being anywhere near full. On the way home he asked, "Oh, Mama-o, when we go to the house we will eat lunch?" (He often confuses lunch and dinner.) I explained that we ate dinner at the restaurant, but they could have a snack when we got home. We're hoping they don't wake up at 5am because they're famished.

The kids were pretty tired from our adventures. We're pretty pleased that we survived a major outing without any crises. We're also a bit depressed that a 2 hour trip to the mall 10 minutes down the road is now a major outing. Check out Patience and Joshua with their Ruby's Diner cars.

13 June 2007

poor little guy

This morning Garty and Mommy went to get an ultrasound of his kidneys and a VCUG (a urinary tract test that involves shoving a small tube into an uncomfortable place and shooting fluid into it). The doctors wanted to see if there was any underlying cause of his kidney infections last fall. Since he hasn't had any trouble since December, we fully expected the tests to conclude that the kidney infections were just random. We were correct on that count. However, the ultrasound revealed that Garty's kidneys are abnormal and full of cysts. The doctor who read the tests suggested that we see the head of the nephrology department at Children's Hospital in Philly. He's evidently world famous and will hopefully be able to shed some light on the situation since the doctor we spoke with had never seen anything quite like Garty's kidneys. We'd appreciate your prayers for our little guy who has been through so much already in his first year of life. We're thankful that his kidney infections last fall gave us the opportunity to discover these cysts. We're praying that they aren't a long term health concern. We also learned that renal cysts are often hereditary, so we'd appreciate your prayers for Joshua and Patience as well. We'll keep you updated on the situation as things develop.

10 June 2007

week in review

We've had plenty of new and interesting experiences over the past week. Joshua and Patience will now play upstairs by themselves while we are downstairs, and they allowed us to go into the house for 2 minutes while they were in the yard. This may not seem like a big deal in your world, but it is enormous progress for our fearful little ones. * It's been 4 days since we last ate rice, and no one has complained! * On Saturday Peter installed our new over the range microwave/convection oven that we bought in March on clearance. Now our kitchen is complete (except for lighting issues), and we are thrilled to say that all our appliances were amazing clearance deals at Lowes or Home Depot. * Becky made 3 batches of strawberry jam and 2 strawberry pies with fresh whipped cream. You wouldn't believe how exciting that is for one of us. Peter finds my obsessions amusing, but I just can't contain my enthusiasm. * Garty will now hold on to any toy with wheels and push it across the room. * The kids finally met Uncle Steve and their cousin Ava, both of whom Joshua has been talking about constantly since we were in Liberia. They've now met all their aunts, uncles, and cousins. * Joshua and Patience played in a sprinkler for the first time. It took them a few minutes to decide if they liked it.

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07 June 2007

medical updates

Today all 3 kids went for their second round of shots. Peter came along, and we only took one kid back at a time in order to avoid some of the hysteria. Garty took it like a champ. Patience cried a lot but recovered quickly. Joshua melted down and did his Liberian wail that we seldom hear these days. It took 2 nurses and myself to hold him down. Unlike last time though, it only took 5 minutes to get him under control when it was all over. They left with stickers on their shirts and Dum-Dums in their mouths.

We had mentioned that Garty was going to see a specialist last week to follow up on some things that happened when he was sick last fall. At this point, the doctor is very happy with his overall health and has no concerns. However, she said that at his age things could still change. We'll be headed back to see her in Nov to find out if there will be any long term issues.

As far as our Hep A crisis, we're both back to normal (or at least 95% back). It looks like the older 2 kids probably missed it. The pediatrician told us this week that we could quit worrying about the kids infecting anyone and let them go swimming and do all the things we've been refusing to let them do.

So for the moment, we have a healthy family! Thanks to all who prayed for us and our many health problems over the past few weeks.

05 June 2007

a beautiful day

Today was one of those days that just feels like the way motherhood should be. We all got out of bed between 8:30 and 9am. Joshua, Patience, and Mommy read a book before getting Garty out of bed and heading downstairs for a relaxed breakfast. After Daddy left for work, we watched a Baby Einstein movie, played, and sent Garty off for a nap at 10:30. Mommy actually accomplished a few things while Garty was asleep. The oldest 2 kids took a bath, and then all of us got dressed to head out for the afternoon. We ate a quick lunch and headed to Biblical to surprise Grandpop for his birthday. We visited Grandpop's office, sang "Happy Birthday," met some of the staff and faculty, and then headed out again so people could get some work done. As we drove across Bucks County back roads, there were frequent outbursts of "Oh, Mama-o cows!! ... horses!! ... sheep!!" Bucks County is farm animal heaven to our Liberian kiddos who just learned that these creatures exist. We dropped Garty off at Grandmom's house before heading to the farm to pick strawberries. Joshua and Patience each filled a 32 oz container with strawberries, most of which are edible. Mommy picked a big flat of beautiful berries, making a total of 12 lbs. The temperature was perfect, the kids had fun and behaved, and Mommy got to enjoy one of her absolute favorite times of the year... strawberry season. Soon we will have strawberry pie to eat with fresh whipped cream and lots of strawberry jam to freeze for the next year. When we went back for Garty, we got to visit with more of the family. Joshua got a fishing lesson from Grandpop as they practiced casting out to a bucket in the yard. We finally came home for a late dinner. Mommy spread mulch on her flower bed that Daddy and Joshua improved last weekend while Daddy enjoyed (??) watching Barney with the kids before taking them up to bed. It was truly a beautiful day.

04 June 2007

one of those moments

I'm checking email while the kids play around me. A few minutes ago everyone was playing the drum and dancing. Now they're eating imaginary food off the pages of their new Bibles. Two minutes ago Joshua prayed this prayer: "Father God, thank you for the good food. Thank you for Patience to dance and I beat the drum. Thank you I dance and Patience beat the drum. Thank you. You're welcome. Amen." I always say I should write these things down. Since I'm already on the computer, I thought I'd share with all of you.

03 June 2007

Garty is 1!

For those of you who have been craving pictures of our cuties, this is the last of 3 picture filled posts just for you. It was a big weekend of firsts for our family, with the biggest being Garty's 1st birthday. It's amazing to think that at 4 months old we feared Garty would never turn 1. Now we're celebrating at home with all 25 lbs of him. We opted not to get a birthday cake since the kids don't need the sugar and we're supposed to be watching our fat intake until our livers are back to normal. As a substitute, we put a candle in a slice of watermelon, Garty's new favorite food. He loved it! Garty received some help opening a few birthday gifts from various family members. Joshua and Patience gave him his own sunglasses since he likes to take them from everyone else. It was a quiet but fun evening with the 5 of us. We were planning a little party, but we decided this week to cancel it since the health department didn't want us preparing food for anyone until we're definitely clear of hepatitis. All Garty's birthday pictures are in our web album.

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giving our children back

Today we headed to NJ for Grace's picnic, baptism, and baby dedication. Twice a year we gather around the pool for this really special time. This picnic it was our turn to dedicate our kids to the Lord. We dressed them in their Liberian "fine fine" clothes for this special day. It was a wonderful time with our church family and both grandmothers who have been with us through all the ups and downs of our adoption. Although we won't be at Grace every Sunday anymore, it will always be our home. Those who have free time can check out the rest of our photos.

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first zoo trip

We have a small zoo exactly a mile from our house, and thanks to a very special baby shower gift, we have a membership to enjoy the zoo all year. Saturday with Daddy and Mommy feeling better, we headed out to the zoo for the first time. We were only there 2 hours, but we had a great time and stopped by Rita's Water Ice on the way home. Joshua got brain freeze on the 4th or 5th bite and decided Mommy should finish his mango water ice. Patience loved hers but spilled it halfway through and decided her distress required a very loud and attention drawing tantrum. Garty eagerly ate whatever Daddy was willing to share. If you want to see the rest of the pictures from our excursion, you can check out our web album.

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01 June 2007

powerful adoption story

This wonderful story from the NY Times really sums up the essence of becoming an adoptive parent. It reminded us of how we felt when Garty's survival was in question last fall and we realized that we didn't care what was wrong with him or how many long term health issues he had as long as he made it home. Now we look at him wearing Joshua's glasses and hanging on to the couch with one hand as he mutilates the Walmart flyer with the other, and we are amazed by the miracle that took place in his little life.