My niece joined the family on July 12th, 2010. This special young lady's mother is my younger sister, which in classic Chinese culture makes me her Jiu Jiu (舅舅) -- thus the title of this blog. Here I intend to semi-regularly post reflections, thoughts, stories, and assorted whathaveyous pertaining to our trip to China, adoption in general, and (mostly) watching my niece grow up. Since the web is a very public place, I will attempt to maintain my family's privacy while telling the story... but I invite you to follow the blog and come along for the adventure!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

First Post (and Introduction)

 "A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step."

This famous proverb is sometimes attributed to ancient Chinese culture -- thus its use as the opening words on this blog.  I've been playing with the idea of blogging about my niece's adoption ever since I began to post journal entries online during our trip. (The emails saying I did a great job didn't hurt, either! <g>) After much deliberation & research, I've decided that I have enough to show & say about the trip, about adoption, and about my niece growing up to be worth sharing it all.

An unhappy irony is that I've wound up using a blogging service that's blocked in the nation of my niece's birth -- so those very special people who were our guides on the trip are unlikely to ever be able to see this blog themselves... a problem I hope can be solved sometime in the near future. (Note that in this case, "guide" = ticket buyer, translator, entertainer, errand runner, storyteller, courier, hand holder, paperwork completer, problem solver, Blocker of Overzealous Street Vendors, meal orderer, travel scheduler, diaper change helper, transportation arranger, and general Keep Traveler Out Of Major Trouble-er).

In the meantime, a quick introduction (for those visitors who don't know us) of the primary players you'll encounter in my posts. My first name begins with the 2nd letter of the English alphabet; my last name is one vowel with one consonant on either side. I know that's not much to go on, but (as mentioned in the welcome text at the top of the page) I hope to maintain as much of my family's privacy as possible.  A little more info about me: I'm an (adult) Foreign Service "brat" and spent many of my formative years in South America, and a too-small part of my young adulthood in Western Europe. I can communicate and/or read in a number of languages to varying degrees, but sadly can only claim fluency these days in English... and I've been working on learning spoken Mandarin for about a year at this point, and it's proven doggone hard so I'll probably be posting updates on that endeavor here.  At varying times over the years I've been (in no particular order) a systems analyst, help desk coordinator, human/computer interface designer, group manager, web designer, sales clerk, artist (mediocre), singer/musician, writer, instructor, college professor, entrepreneur, Beltway Bandit, and just plain "manager" ...and darn if I'm still not quite sure what I want to do when I grow up!  (It's okay, though; my father turned 80 on my niece's Gotcha Day and he still hasn't decided what he wants to do when he grows up... <g>) One "job title" I hadn't anticipated until my sister broached the subject back in 2005 was uncle -- and I have to say I'm lovin' every minute of it. (Yes, even when the Pipsqueak dribbled pee aaaalllll the way down my side & leg, but more on that in another post!)

My niece's mom (I'll call her "A") is my younger sister, a very brave & talented single mom for whom mommyhood really is what she wanted to do when she grew up. She's also a professional with a very demanding full-time job and a part-time "just for fun (and cash)" job a couple of times a week who somehow has managed to make her daughter the priority in her life. (I say "somehow" because I never got in the right line when they were handing out organizational skills -- I can manage a menagerie of IT pros, nursing staff, or crazed customers but please don't ever ask me to organize me!) Lucky for me, A has also been a co-worker for the past few years, so we have the luxury of being able to stomp into one another's office on a bad day and just vent without fear of losing our jobs... which also comes in handy when planning adoption trips, conspiring to adopt kittens, and the like. :-)

Our folks are retired -- something of a family joke, because ever since they both stopped formally working they've been busier than ever either maintaining their house, maintaining a better social life than either of their kids has, and (more than anything else) helping out their offspring at every twist & turn. The Pipsqueak knows who her mommy is -- but she'll usually run to Grandma or Grandpa before she runs to anyone else (including her loving uncle... <sigh>).  You'll probably see Mom & Dad show up in some of my posts simply because they're getting even for all those years of my driving them crazy by occasionally returning the favor... and because they are (very thankfully) still a very large part of A's, the Pipsqueak's, and my lives.

And, of course, there's my niece. I often refer to her as the Pipsqueak (and she does squeak, if you tickle her just right!) but I suspect there will come a day when she's not so fond of that nickname (or "Niecey-poo," or "Silliness," or maybe even "Ladybug") so I'll also occasionally refer to her as... hmm, don't want to publish real names, so... so I'll also occasionally refer to her as "Miri." It's incredible to me that this little person has only been known to us since May this year and that we've only actually been able to hold her in person since July... It's almost as if she's been a member of the family from Day One. She's just a toddler but her personality is rapidly emerging: cute, curious & adventurous, independent but glad to have backup and happy to snuggle & play with loving relatives. She's a bit shy when meeting new people or in new situations, but after 15-20 minutes her independent streak asserts itself and she'll be off and running. She only knows a few words in English and a couple of signs, but babbles almost continuously to herself in a language of her own creation... she'll even occasionally stop & laugh at a joke she's told herself! She's currently very fond of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and "The Eensy-Weensy Spider" and also thoroughly enjoys such really fun & educational games as, "Splash Mommy with Water," "Let's See If Gravity Still Works... Again... And Again...," "Walk Across the Table During a Meal," "Let's Empty Grandma's Kitchen Cabinets," "How Far Can Food Be Flung," and so on. She fights sleep exactly like her mom & uncle did, is as interested in food as her mom at that age, and will cry huge crocodile tears for all of 30 seconds when hurt and then get upset that we're not letting her go running off on her own again. We're also seeing an emerging sense of humor that's perhaps a tad twisted... which just helps her fit into the family even better. <g>

I'm going to end this post here; the blog is new and there are many settings left to explore, accounts to create, and images to upload... So I'll just say "Welcome!" and invite y'all to follow along on the adventure...

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