Well, it's that time of year again -- the time I magically become a whole year older. Somehow, during the preceding 360+ days, my age barely inched forward... and then WHAM! and I'm a whole year older. Dunno why, but that's the way it works.
I'm old enough to remember wondering why my folks said it was important to watch a boring funeral on our little black & white TV (JFK), for Mighty Mouse cartoons to still be in production, for computers to be massive beasts that occupied entire rooms and could be afforded only by governments and very large corporations, and for China to be that odd place I could get to if only Grandma & Grandpa would let me use a bigger shovel to dig in their yard. I'm old enough for birthdays to be (relatively) pleasant things that are celebrated in a decidedly low-key fashion, with gifts being optional and at least one person in the room to wonder aloud how many points over their daily allowance that piece of cake had set them. (Dude, that cake didn't set you back a day's worth of points, it set you back a month's worth of points...!)
For my niece, on the other hand, birthdays are still really neat celebrations with cake, and cards, and cake, and lots of family and/or friends, and cake, and getting dressed up in a special pink party dress, and cake... and did I mention cake? I guess I should be glad that the Pipsqueak is a lot more interested in eating cake than in getting gifts (although "mine" seems to have leapt to very near the top of her list of favorite words).
We had a family celebration for Cousin J's birthday last week, and when the cake was brought out after dinner Miri insisted that he & she wear party hats. Mercifully, I was able to skip trying to balance a brightly-colored cardboard cone on my head this weekend -- but wow, did we ever get asked about when we could eat the cake...! (No, that's not a complaint, I happen to think that the Pipsqueak's still at an age where it's doggone cute.) I even had Miri's help blowing out the candles. I said I was going to count to three, and then we should both blow the candles out -- and she handled it like a champ, puffing right on cue and actually getting one candle flame to flicker.
Dad picked out the cake, so it's only slightly smaller than a Volkswagen (showing my age here; I'm referring to the original Beetle), and about as chocolate as a chocolate cake can get. Again, I'm not complaining -- it's just that for only the 2nd or 3rd time in my life, I had to stop eating about halfway through my piece and I didn't finish 'til we had leftovers tonight! (In this case, "leftovers" is shorthand for "three largish slices from when I first cut it along with the untouched other half of the behemoth.") Miri didn't mind in the least, except for when the super-rich cake and an odd assortment of other things she'd insisted on eating during the day combined with the skin from a large grape she'd stuffed into her mouth against everyone's advice all combined for a bit of what is politely referred to as regurgitation. (Gotta admit AJ's reflexes are getting pretty good; even with her daughter in her lap, only part of her arm and a teeny bit of leg got caught.)
Of course, all that was forgotten tonight at the first mention of cake (we could literally hear the Pipsqueak's heartfelt "YAY!" two rooms away), and both evenings were pleasant, low-key affairs with plenty of family in attendance. I felt extra-special when my niece insisted on singing "Happy Birthday" to me alone tonight... and did a darn good job with both lyrics and tune!
Unfortunately, I have to get back into a regular work schedule (took Friday & Monday off) so I'm going to post this and hit the bed... But did I just hear someone in the back of the room asking about the weird title of this post...? That's easy: take the common vernacular expressions for the first two animals and the standard name for the last pair, then say it fast. Here, I'll lead off... hippo birdy two ewes, hippo birdy two ewes... (Dude, that joke is older than you are... and there's dirt in your front yard that's younger than you!) (Shaddup and help me finish this slab of cake!) (Oh, okay, don't mind if I do...)
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!