Okay, I'm going to back up and post a few more photos from the "One Year Ago Today" series...
One year ago on July 14th... The Pipsqueak, her Mommy and her Jiu Jiu spent most of her Grandma's birthday on the least comfortable bus ride we'd ever had, culminating in getting lost in Guilin... and then discovering the beauty of the city and surrounding area in the evening.
Meanwhile, on July 14th this year (2011), I was spending Mom's birthday crashing at my folks' because I wasn't feeling well, while AJ had a normal day at work (or what passes for "normal" there, anyway).
One year ago on July 15th... AJ began to work out a system that would allow her to eat at the same time as her daughter, and then we spent a hot but lovely day at Seven Stars Park (where we saw pandas and dinosaurs, ensuring the day would be a success) and then a silk factory where we did some damage to AJ's credit card. The day ended with AJ seeing signs that her daughter seemed to hold some disdain for gravity...
Meanwhile, on July 15th this year (2011), I was back at work scrambling to make deadline on an important document (I didn't) and trying to get home early enough to be able to wake up early for the big family events spread through Saturday (didn't achieve that goal, either. <sigh>)
One year ago on July 16th... We took a long boat ride on the Li River, passing through some of the most incredible landscapes I'd ever seen (complete with the occasional water buffalo, cormorant, or other livestock... and a quick reminder along the way that Chinese culture has some different ideas about hygiene) on the way to hot, crowded, and touristy Yangshuo. From there we took our trusty bus back to Guilin, stopping for a photo op at some rice paddies and paying a visit to an art gallery, where we did some more damage to our bank accounts & watched an artist magically turn a blank piece of paper into a classical-style painting of bamboo. We finished the day with an especially entertaining dinner that featured my niece babbling and singing -- she was finally opening up to let us see her true personality!
Meanwhile, on July 16th this year (2011), about the same time of day I'd carried my backpack & the Pipsqueak's diaper bag onto a boat I was carrying cases of soda into the party room we'd rented for Miri's naming ceremony and (later) a party to celebrate her Grandpa's 81st birthday. (We'd wanted to throw a big shindig for his 80th, but that didn't work out because his kids were on the other side of the planet at the time!) Both were wonderful days filled with happy moments that will be long remembered; I really can' say which I liked more!
One year ago on July 17th... We went underground, traveling through an especially rural area to visit the Reed Flute Cave -- and along the way I had a flashback to a similar rural road four decades earlier on another continent, and found some interesting parallels with my new "here and now". The cave was beautiful, and moments after exiting we had our first Emergency Diaper Change (EDC) due to AJ having guessed wrong about which size diaper was the right size (she guessed too big). We stopped at the famous Elephant Trunk Hill, then enjoyed some real family bonding time on the way to lunch at a fancy restaurant... where we had the day's 2nd EDC, this one nuclear-powered. Most of the afternoon was free time (our guides needed to pick up a lot of our paperwork) so we stayed in our hotel room; the highlights of the afternoon were the Pipsqueak teleporting headfirst off one of the beds (and taking about a decade off her uncle's life expectancy!), and then watching one of the heaviest rainstorms I'd ever seem come sweeping in from the mountains. At dinner that night, we all received the kiddos' new Chinese passports and all the documentation needed to prove the provincial government had approved of the adoptions. The evening was punctuated by my niece peeing aaaaallll over her uncle (while mommy was in the shower) but I figured she was just getting even for my letting her fall off the bed and there were no hard feelings. :-)
Meanwhile, July 17th this year (2011) was spent chillaxin' with a bunch of cousins who'd come down from New York, enjoying each other's company (when anyone could stay awake!) and being thoroughly entertained by the Pipsqueak. Last time they saw her, Miri was just learning to walk on her own (and did so successfully for the first time while they watched); this year she was walking and running and dancing and singing and demanding piggyback rides & games of "Catch Me!" from one and all.
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!