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!

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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).

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15 July 2007

here's a question for you

This afternoon as Peter was spending his second day rebuilding our mudroom roof, Joshua was sitting in his bedroom window peppering him with questions like, "When we go up to Jesus, will we hit an airplane?" But the best question by far was, "Is Jesus stronger than Daddy?"

13 July 2007

animated joy

When Garty is happy, he's insanely happy and unbelievably expressive. He will often bounce up and down screaming ecstatically. We've tried to capture these expressions of joy on camera without success for 3 months now, but today we got this great picture of him as he frantically shook one of his toys.

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12 July 2007

no news on Garty

Not that we really expected to hear from the doctor this week, but we were hoping that the nephrology department would have come up with a different and less serious possible diagnosis for Garty's kidney issues. Unfortunately, it looks like we're facing a long road ahead for our little guy. You sure wouldn't think anything is wrong with him when you hear him laugh his big laughs or watch him dance as Joshua plays the drum or hear him crawling across the wood floors at full speed.

08 July 2007

he's standing

Well, today Garty did it. He stood up all by himself. He was sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor and just got up and stood all by himself without holding on to anything. He didn't even look unsteady for the 5 seconds or less that he stood there. (Of course, it seemed like he stood for at least a minute as we watched in awe.) Then he did it again almost immediately. Later in the day, he was holding on to Mommy's legs, let go, and stood a bit before sitting back down. We've seen him sort of stand a few times, but this was definitely the real thing. He'll be running after Joshua and Patience and tackling them before we know it.

06 July 2007

reading list

In the past few months we've been asked a few times about what we've been reading. It amuses us to realize that people think we read. We both love to read, but very little reading has happened in our world since we graduated from seminary in 2003... and even less has happened since we bought our house in 2005. Interestingly though, between some long plane flights and nights stuck in the house putting kids to bed, we've started reading again. It's sad that having kids has improved our reading, but that's our reality. At any rate, last night we thought we'd add a reading list to our sidebar because we've got killer colds and don't have energy for anything but sitting on the couch, so messing with our blog sounded fun. As a bonus, it offers you another way to waste time if you feel inclined to check out some books. All the titles are links so you can get details. By the way, we've linked to amazon because they offer reviews for those who care. However, we're really excited about abunga.com, a newer retailer that is content-safe and donates 5% of their profits to non-profit groups of your choice. It's pretty cool. If we ever buy books again, we'll use it.

05 July 2007

4th of July festivities

We spent the 4th with some of Becky's family at her aunt's house. It was a fun day even though the weather didn't cooperate as well as we would have liked. With cloudy skies and a breeze, the pool felt a bit cold, but the hot tub was ready to go! This is the face Patience makes whenever she encounters something "cooold!"
The kids love spending time with their new extended family, and it's a nice break for us. The only down side for us is that they expect too much attention the day after.
When not swimming or eating, Joshua had a great time attacking the balloons that were tied along the fence. He thinks he's tall and jumps really high. It will be interesting to see what happens when he gets to school and sees other kids his age.
Garty liked the pool much better than when we were in Liberia. It may be related to the fact that he learned how to splash... big splashes.
He wasn't sure what to do when he got a mouthful! (It's hard to tell, but this is a happy face.)
We drove home in the rain thinking that the fireworks up the street would be cancelled, but 2 police officers assured us that everything was on schedule. We drove the few blocks to the barricade near the park in a vain attempt to stay dry and found our friends hiding under umbrellas. During the fireworks display, it started pouring harder than it had poured all day. We were all completely soaked, but the kids loved the fireworks. Even Garty was intrigued. We came home, stripped off our soaked clothes, and visited with friends for a short bit before heading off to bed.
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03 July 2007

prayer for little Anna

Even as we process the news about Garty's health issues, we're saddened to hear about 3.5 year old Anna who is fighting a rare form of cancer. Her battle makes our problems seem miniscule. Anna's parents went to Grove City College with us, and we learned of their situation through a mutual friend. We'd like to encourage you to pray for Anna and her family in this dark time. We remember clearly how incredibly encouraged we were last fall to know that so many people, even many we had never met, were praying for Garty when he was sick. So many of you prayed and passed the word to others who prayed. Now we have the opportunity to do the same for someone else. If you have time, you can learn more about Anna's situation on her family's new blog.

update on Garty

This morning Garty and I headed to CHOP to find out what's going on with his kidneys. Dr. Tuchman (Does that ring a bell, Alanna?) was absolutely wonderful. He confirmed that Garty's kidney infections last fall were unrelated to his abnormal, cyst-filled kidneys. Unfortunately, Garty's kidneys aren't presenting exactly like a textbook case of anything. The doctor thinks there are 3 likely scenarios, the most likely being ADPKD. (If you want to know what that stands for, you'll have to look it up yourself. We haven't done any internet research yet.) It's probably going to be just a matter of waiting to see for certain if anything else develops that would indicate something different. As far as a prognosis, he gave me the short story which is 50% of people with ADPKD experience kidney failure and need a transplant by the age of 50. He said most often the transplants are in adulthood, but some children need them sooner. He's going to present Garty's case to the rest of the nephrology department on Friday to see if they have any other suggestions about what could be going on or any other tests they could run. He also sent us down the hall to have blood drawn to make sure Garty's kidney function is normal. If nothing new arises from his meeting or the bloodwork, we will wait to see him again in October. Between now and then, we will need to have Garty's urine tested if he runs any fevers that don't seem to have an obvious cause... a small annoyance since kids can get fevers easily, but it's just a precautionary measure to make sure nothing is wrong. ADPKD (and one of the other possible diagnoses) is hereditary, so we may also need to have Joshua and Patience checked once we have a firm diagnosis on Garty. The greatest part of the whole 2 hour visit was when Dr. Tuchman said, "If you go on the internet and look up ADPKD, which most people do, you'll read some really scary stuff. If that happens, just call me and we'll talk about it." And that sums up why he's our new favorite doctor.

So we're very concerned about this new development, but we're thankful it's not worse. In the realm of serious diseases, a 50-50 chance isn't too bad. We would appreciate your prayers for the doctors as they try to determine for sure what is going on, for us as we process the news, and for Garty's long term health.

02 July 2007

off to NC

Late Thursday night we headed out on our first family road trip -- 8.5 hours to Andy and Elizabeth's lake house in NC. Gathering at the lake house has become an annual 4th of July tradition for the Bowersox clan. This year we decided to make it the weekend before since the 4th is a Wednesday and would require too much time off work. We always look forward to this mini-vacation, but this year was especially exciting with our kids experiencing everything for the first time. The drive down and back went well thanks to Mom Bowersox's generosity in loaning us her car. (Our Toyota was still in the shop after last week's excitement, and our Isuzu can't handle long trips anymore.) The 3 days we spent with our family were fun and relaxing. Our kids experienced lots of firsts, and it was fun to watch their reactions. It was especially exciting to see our fearful oldest boy go from panic to pleasure as he experienced new things. By the end of the weekend, he was trying to swim by himself (with a life vest on). He even overcame his panic when Daddy started having a little too much fun and dumped himself and Joshua off the jet ski! (That was error in judgment #1. Keep going for a photo of error #2!) Here are just a few pictures from our weekend adventures.

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