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!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

It's Been Quite A Week...

Vacations are the time you take from everyday life, when you kick back & relax ("just chillaxin'," as the saying goes), when you don't worry about all the "stuff" that makes up daily life.

Oh, how I wish that was true!

A couple of weeks back, I realized I was scheduled to be on duty the weekend we were supposed to get away on the Pipsqueak's first real family trip. (A quick note of explanation: We're in the MD 'burbs of DC, and for years we drove to & from my grandparents' in the 'burbs of New York every weekend. We drove to visit relatives in Kansas a couple of times. We drove to Florida a couple of times, did the Auto Train once as well.  Drove to & from Chicago. Flew out to Albuquerque and then drove all over New Mexico. Did Colonial Williamsburg a few times, Gettysburg more often than I can count... a drive of less than a coupla hundred miles and/or less than 3-4 hours isn't a "trip" in this family!)

As I was saying... I suddenly realized I had to reschedule. Then I realized I didn't want to work on Friday night into the wee hours of the morning and then get up early for a long drive, so I decided to take the Friday before the trip as my comp day. Then I realized we wouldn't come back 'til Monday, so I had to use a day of vacation... and then I realized August is my anniversary month, and the company would be adding the usual lump sum of new vacation days to my account -- and since I haven't quite gotten out of the habit of hoarding my vacation days ("I don't know when we're going to China so I'm hanging on to all the time I can" was my refrain for several years) I suddenly had "use or lose" time and it all added up to one of those "what the heck" moments and I told asked my boss about taking Friday and the entire following week off... and he said it was okay by him.

So there I was, only slightly sleep-deprived last Saturday as we set off for our cousins' farm (non-working) in the wilds of what Dad sometimes calls "Pennsyltucky," riding shotgun with AJ and the Pipsqueak while Mom & Dad alternately led/followed up I-95. (We hadn't originally planned to usd two vehicles... but did you every try renting a minivan with only 3 days' advance notice? I don't recommend it!) As expected, Miri was a champion traveler, only getting a little crochety once in a while -- but so did her mommy & uncle, since the traffic was absurdly slow almost all the way there. The weekend was pleasant and restful, and the two young 'uns got along famously. (Dude, you'd better not talk about what happened every time one of them had to share his or her toys with the other... but hey, they're two...) [Note: I'm working on the draft of a post about the Pipsqueak and this trip, it'll be up shortly.]

Tuesday was kinda blurry, since somehow "restful" did not equal "sleep" thanks to a couple of two-year-olds and (one morning) a VERY LOUD emergency generator kicking off because of a local power outage. But hey, I was on vacation, I was all good; I got some filing done & spent time chillaxin'... I even managed to drop the beast turdonwheels Mountaineer at the mechanic's, only to find the family "extra" car (an old Camry we bought used several centuries ago) would. not. start. Okay, my folks were glad to get me to & from the house, the mechanic, etc. so no problem.

Wednesday started off wonderful; we took the Pipsqueak to one of the major local synagogues for a formal mikvah conversion. She looked super cute in her little dress, and charmed absolutely everyone involved, and the lady who specializes in mikvah baths/conversions said she wants her to be their "mikvah poster child" -- the Pipsqueak's a real water baby, and absolutely loved being in the water with her mommy, triple-dunking and all!  [Yes, there's a post specifically about this coming soon.] My balloon deflated a bit when the mechanic called and let me know what the shopping list of repairs was going to cost; we agreed on the two most critical (plus the oil change that was coming overdue) and I went online to make sure my credit card would survive the hit.

Thursday I spent basically trapped in the house; the work on the front end of the beast turdwithwheels Mountaineer was taking longer than planned, and the ridiculous monsoon that passed through the area delayed delivery of some parts.  I got some more filing, etc. done in the house and suddenly the day was done. Friday I slept late (Dude, you gotta log off the computer before 4:00am!) and bailed my vehicle out from the mechanic's lot... which took three credit cards, long story, but I'm not going to believe the "credited" date on any online payments I make from now on...! We all got back together for dinner, and I used about 1/3 of the 8GB SD card in my camera trying to capture the Pipsqueak and her mommy playing.

Saturday was a special day (yes, there's a dedicated post on this coming soon, too!) because I had the Pipsqueak all to myself while AJ taught a class & our folks were off at a bat mitzvah somewhere. This was the first time it was just the two of us for any appreciable period of time since China, and I'm glad thrilled to say we had an absolutely wonderful time together. We read books and sang songs... took a walk outside and picked up sticks... had a little snack... colored & drew pictures... and only got the TV involved a few minutes before AJ finally came back, at which point she put the Pipsqueak into a swimsuit and I used another chunk of the SD card while my niece played with a water table on the deck. I eventually went back home & got in about 2 hours of "work" on the computer before running to meet everyone for dinner. We met at a family-style buffet, and the Pipsqueak kept us all on our toes but very happily so. I eventually got in a little more filing & computer maintenance before hitting the pillow.

And now, all of a sudden, it's Sunday... I was awakened by a passing storm and decided to type this post, but I plan to go back to sleep as soon as it's published. The problem is, this is the last day of my "vacation" and so far I've done everything but relax, chill out, and do nothing. Don't get me wrong; I wouldn't exchange the family time from last weekend or this past Wednesday for anything, and there's absolutely no way to quantify the value of the alone time I had with the Pipsqueak, but I was kind of hoping to return to work rested & ready to roll... but instead I'm as tired as I was at the beginning of my vacation, with just as much laundry to wash and just as long a to-do list as when I was looking forward to all the "free time" I was going to have!

I think I need a vacation from my vacation...!

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