Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Can It Really Be a Year Ago?

It is hard to imagine that a year ago today, Troy and I were beginning our journey to China. Exactly one year ago today, we were strapped in a metal tube, about 36,000 feet in the air, anticipating the most precious gift God has ever given us. It is hard to recall the exact emotions of the time. We were facing so many unknowns. From the simple: what did our son's voice sound like? what would he look like in person, not in a photograph? what would he feel like to hold in our arms? To the significant: how bad was his heart? would he attach to us? would it be love at first sight for us, or would we have to grown in love ? what other issues would we face that we couldn't even contemplate faced us?

I remember waking up and being ready to go at 3:30 in the morning. Somehow, after only a few restless hours of sleep, neither Troy nor I were tired. We were ready to go get Aiden, figuratively chomping at the bit, dreading the next few days that stood between us and our son. More than anything though, I recall how surreal it all felt. We were going to get our son??!! A little person was waiting (however unkowingly on his part) for us half way around the world? How was that possible?

One year ago today. How can so much time have passed? Is it possible that it has really been 12 months since we boarded that plane to start the journey that would change our lives for the better...the so-much-better-than-we-ever-could-have-fathomed-better? A year ago we sat down, strapped in, and jetted off to our destiny: Feng RenJie. Aiden Joseph Sturgeon. The light of our lives. We thank God for the beautiful gift he bestowed upon us. A gift we set off to get one year ago today!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Summer, Third Birthday and Fourth of July

Mmmmm! S'mores!
I LOVE being outside

Birthday party picnic
Birthday "cake"
"Do you see those cool fireworks?!?!"

It's hard to imagine; we're half way through summer! Although the only thing we've done of any note is going to the Hills for Jessica's graduation, our break has been everything we could have hoped for and more. The extra time we've been able to spend with Aiden has been such a blessing. We do still take him to day care two days a week; it's good for him to be around kids his age, but it's also good for the sake of continuity. Besides, he loves Andrea, the girls, and the other day care children. As I sit here, though, I've come to realize the solitude and quiet has somehow become unsettling. I asked Troy this morning, "What did we do last summer?" We try to be productive and enjoy our time, but we find ourselves counting the hours until we can go pick him up. Now, that's not to say we don't have our challenges! Last night after setting off our fireworks, we didn't leave Sean and Jenny's until 10:50 -- PM. He'd only had a 25 minute nap during the day, so we fully expected Aiden to conk out a few minutes into the trip home. It was not to be. He sang and babbled almost the entire way home. Almost. With about 10 minutes left, his shoe fell off. Instant melt-down. I had no way to reach it, and he was VERY stressed out! He screamed and sobbed and screamed some more! Yes, we are being fully indoctrinated into the joys of parenting a toddler. We are also learning to pick our battles. He went to bed with his shoes ON. :) For the most part, though, parenting Aiden is a joy. He has SUCH a sense of humor. He laughs frequently and loves to make others laugh. He still isn't speaking much, but we do have a speech therapist, who Aiden adores, coming once a week. She feels he is doing well, but of course, I still worry! That's my job!! Outside of day care and speech therapy, we have had time to be a family of three. (Can it be? On July 12 -- Dad's birthday none-the-less -- we will have been our forever family for nine months!) Back in February I bought a family pass to the zoo. With the zoo, as with pretty much every new experience we're finding, it took Aiden a while to warm up to the idea. After the first trip, though, he loves to go. One morning after speech, we were playing with some Play Doh on the deck. I realized how nice it was, warm not hot and gorgeous sunshine, and make an impromptu decision: we were going to the zoo! It was one of our best days of summer so far. We spent an hour walking around looking at the animals; we then had a picnic I had thrown together. Afterwards, Aiden got to play in the park. Such fun!! It is pure joy to see his excitement, wonder, and happiness: the rewards of parenting! We were also able to witness his wonder and happiness on his birthday. We had his party on July 2. Aiden is fortunate to have so many people who love, dare I say adore, him! About twenty family and friends (who are really more like family!) came over even though it was a holiday weekend. We did a traditional Fourth of July-type BBQ and even had a blow-up waterslide thanks to great friend Jenny F. Most of the time, though, it's just day-to-day life made special by having our new little guy with us. Often we just sit and watch him play in the yard. The kid is nonestop energy! One of his favorite pasttimes his running laps: Ready! Set! Go! **On a side note, we have uploaded videos to youtube. Our name is The3Sturges, or they can be found under the video titles: "Boogie Baby Aiden," "SetGOAiden," "Aiden Sings the Blues," or "Hurdling Aiden."** Frequently, the neighbor kids stop by to play with him. He's the new kid on the block and is getting a lot of attention, especially from the girls! ;) Morgan, Anna, and Emily often come by and entertain him which is nice since he does require a lot of energy and they offer a brief respite! As usual, he was a little leary in the beginning, but now he runs to the door when he seems them. It's so cute! Overall, there isn't much to report. We are fully entrenched in and loving summer. Going back to school and missing out on so much of Aiden's life is going to be terribly difficult. I'm already dreading it. But, hey, if we have any hopes of #2, we'd better get back to work and start making some money.....

Friday, July 1, 2011

A Post of Gratitude


Fun at the Park and
All Tuckered Out!

Today marks Aiden's 3rd birthday. Tomorrow we will celebrate with family and friends, and afterwards I will post about his big day and our summer to-date, but right now I want to take time to write a short post dedicated to somebody / something else. At moments like this, we take extra time to really appreciate what we have. We are fortunate to parent this beautiful, funny, bright, gentle, loving, albeit active, energetic, independent (dare I say stubborn?) little boy. We are grateful to God every day that Aiden was brought into our lives. He was brought into our lives, however, because his biological parents practiced pure, selfless and sacrificial love. We cannot imagine how they must have agonized over their decision to give up their baby in hopes of a better life for him -- maybe in exchange for life itself. The gut-wrenching sadness is hard to fathom. And, on Aiden's birthday, I wanted to take a moment to honor his birth parents. I'm sure they think of him everyday and hope for his well-being, but on these special occassions, the sense of loss has to be overwhelming. As I cry and type this, the best I can do is pray that wherever they are, God grants them peace. I pray He has somehow spoken to their hearts, and they know he is a healthy, happy, three-year-old with a creative, bright mind of his own. We are privileged to share these milestones with our precious boy because of their brave decision, and daily we are grateful. May God bless them!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Blessed Easter

Life has settled nicely into a routine. Aiden loves daycare and his daycare family. It sure puts these parents' minds at ease when we tell Aiden in the morning he has to hurry and get ready because we have to go to Andrea's and see the kids, and he actually seems happy to get ready to go. Still, we are looking forward to summer (which is approaching remarkably FAST) when we can spend some extra, quality time with our little guy. It will be an interesting / challenging summer, though. We will have to be fiscally creative since, for all intents and purposes, I will not be receiving a paycheck; the reality of those unpaid-leave days are about on us. Oh well. They were WELL worth it; that time with Aiden was precious and absolutely necessary to his adjustment and well-being.

Easter this year was wonderful. Aiden adored coloring Easter eggs. He was more than a little miffed when all 18 eggs were done. :) Easter vigil Mass was a bit of a challenge. It was beautiful and the sermon was inspiring, but it was over two hours long and started at about the same time as Aiden's usual bedtime. He was actually very well behaved - most of the time. We did have to take a couple of breaks out in the hallway. Aiden is a very active almost-three-year-old!

Easter day was gorgeous, and we spent a lovely day up in DeSmet with the grandparents. Thanks to Grandma JoAnn and Grandpa Dean having great neighbors (The Hollands), who let Aiden play on their gym and in their rocks / gravel, Aiden had a blast. The fun outside and the special time spent with family even made up for the grueling 1 1/2 hour trip up -- and back. It turns out, Aiden is not the ideal traveller. (This could prove interesting this summer since we're supposed to head out to the Hills not once but twice.)

We had a beautful, blessed Easter. We hope everybody else did, too! Until next time...

Aiden playing with his golf clubs from Grandma Jan
Sliding with Grandma JoAnn and Cousin Cory
Easter egg hunting
Ready for church :)

Coloring Easter eggs -- LOVED it!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Gottcha Day Video

Is the saying better late than never an accurate statement? I've tried to upload this a couple of times, unsuccessfully obviously. Finally, we are able to share this, the happiest moment of our lives!! Hopefully you can see it on our faces; we were overwhelmed with emotion. We had our son!! God is good! I'll let the video speak for itself. 10/11/10 - the single greatest moment of our lives!

(Scroll down to actual video -- I'm something of a technotard and can't figure out how to make the player smaller. I also can't seem to make it be just our video, so after you view our Gottcha Day, YouTube wants you to see a bunch of other videos! Sorry. It's the best I can figure out for now! I may just post a link, but for the time-being......)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Christmas and Two New Years

It's hard to imagine we are closing in on the four month anniversary of Gottcha Day! In some ways, it seems like it has been so much longer; Aiden fits so naturally into our family, it is like he was born into it. In other respects, it feels like yesterday we were in China seeing his beautiful, tiny, stunned face.

Christmas, which we celebrated here at home, was a special time. He was beautifully behaved at church and had a good time opening presents....each time he had the opportunity! Aiden didn't really grasp the concept, but he certainly got a kick out of the wrapped boxes containing hidden treasures just for him. Of course, in some instances, he got more mileage out of the boxes themselves than the gifts they contained - such is a 2 1/2 year old.

For New Year's Eve, we went to some friends' house for a few hours, but came home early. Aiden had a ball running around and playing in a new environment (since Mom and Dad were around), but we were - and are - trying desperately to keep him on a schedule. Even so, he still doesn't sleep well. Every now and then we'll get a night of only one or two awakenings, but those are the exception not the rule. I actually rang in 2011 asleep. Sigh.

After the the holiday break, I returned to work. This has NOT been a big hit with our little guy. In fact, he still cries, sometimes very hard, every day when Troy drops him off. It's hard on Aiden, but it's also hard on Dad. I would take my turn, but one day, when I had to take him to day care, he got hysterical, and he was affected for about four days. He didn't want me to be out of his sight and would actually cling to my leg or demand to be held in some cases. Our day care provider is wonderful, and we really like her, though. In fact, every day we go to get Aiden, he is in good spirits. He is excited to see us and wants to go home, but we know he is getting good care and love there.

Most recently we celebrated Chinese New Year with some other adoptive families in the area. Somehow we managed to cram 19 kids and their parents into our small house. We ate Chinese food, passed out red envelopes and small gifts, and "set off" party poppers in leiu of fire crackers. It was a little chaotic and cramped, but overall it was a really nice time. We met some great people while trying to maintain our children's culture and heritage. We hope to stay in touch with them. It was interesting the way our Chinese kids seemed to "recognize" each other. It's nice for them to have others around them who share a culture and heritage. It's also nice for the parents to have a support system! Fortunately, they were all great families!

Overall, things are going well. Aiden is a bright, happy, funny boy! He loves to tease and be teased. His sense of humor is amazing, and his facial expressions are priceless! We are praying, though, that he starts to grasp language; he can understand pretty much everything we say, but he is still unable to verbalize much. His favorite words / phrases right now are "da doo" = love you (as well as "da doo too" = love you too), "di dow" = sit down, "tay" = stay, "doo doo" = thank you, "pea" = please, "joo" = juice, "mi" = milk, "wah-oo" = water. He can say Mom, Daddy and bye-bye well. He is working on "mumma" = grandma and "mapa" = grandpa. He has no-no-no down pretty well, too. He enjoys babbling a lot right now, though, so maybe I should not be so eager for him to find his words. He may never stop talking once he does! ;)

We are ceaselessly amazed at how blessed we are. We would like to just watch and listen to him all day, every day. He loves to dance, run everywhere he goes, "sing," and line up his toys (and everything else). He plays beautifully by himself and seldom requires an entertainment committee but is pleased when we spend time with him playing cars, reading books, and "cooking" in his kitchen. He is thriving with individual attention and from being surrounded by so many people who love him immensely. Don't misunderstnd, though. The kid has a stubborn streak a mile wide and can definitely cop an attiutude. I guess that just proves he was meant to be ours, huh?!

We continue to pray for good news from our doctors and would appreciate any prayers anybody wants to offer up as well. We have another ENT visit on February 11, ironically, the anniversary of Gottcha Day, to see if Aiden has permanent hearing loss or if it was just wax and fluid build-up. It may be that the tubes were enough. We are also praying that there are not other findings of medical problems. The geneticist feared he may have a syndrome; we're praying she was wrong and have luckily been able to cross off a couple of the criteria. Here's hoping a few more are knocked off the list!

Thanks to everybody for the continued love, support, and prayers!!

Pictures Top to Bottom: Most of the kids in attendance at the CNY celebration; the family before the CNY gathering; Mom and Aiden; New Year's at the Farkes; Aiden's Christmas