Two years ago (July 10-11), AJ and I stepped off a plane and, after some (thankfully minor) airport misadventures, got our first look at Beijing. There were a few small glitches at first -- one family was delayed due to their stroller not arriving in China with the rest of their things, our Pandaphone wasn't at the hotel as expected, the entire front of the hotel itself was MIA, and we were so jet-lagged that we had great entertainment value for the main dining room's wait staff. Despite those problems, we were happy... no, make that thrilled! ...to finally be in China after so many years of increasingly tense waiting, and the problems were minor.
The next day (July 11th arrived in China 12 hours before Americans turned a page on their calendars) we somehow managed to get up early enough to tick off multiple items on my bucket list: Tianamen Square. The Forbidden City. The Great Wall of China (I think I'm still out of breath from that climb). The Beijing Olympic Green. I spent the entire day shooting photos and shaking my head at the unreality of it all. The day ended with a mad dash to get to our plan on time, resulting in one of the strangest flights I've ever been on. (That's with almost 86,000 air miles under my belt at that time, none while holding a meal in my lap during takeoff)!
The Pipsqueak was still just an idea, two years ago today; we had photos, we had medical reports, and we were actually in China carrying an assortment of baby/toddler clothing with us... but we still had never seen her firsthand, AJ had never held her, and we had no idea what kind of bonding issues lay ahead. We ended our day with the first real, physical proof that all that was going to change: walking into our hotel room in Nanning at 3:00 in the morning, we found a crib in the corner of the room.
One year ago, we were in the middle of arranging for the Pipsqueak's naming ceremony and for a special celebration of Dad's 81st birthday (the planned big party for his 80th was pre-empted by our China trip). We'd had an amazing, huge party for Miri's 2nd birthday, and she was already a fixture at get-togethers with family and friends. Memories of what life was like before she joined the family were rapidly fading, and memories of our experiences in China were themselves becoming a little fuzzy around the edges, with a few small details fading completely.
Today, I sit typing on my laptop (which has a few silly stickers on it, compliments of the Pipsqueak), and we're trying to figure out how to celebrate Gotcha Day & Dad's birthday on the 12th and Mom's birthday on the 14th. That quiet, almost bald little "China baby" we were still waiting to meet two years ago is an independent-minded chatterbox, a budding ballerina and gymnast, a greatly-loved little girl who takes great joy in periodically interrupting whatever she's doing to run up and hug Mommy, or one of her grandparents, or her uncle for no specific reason before running back to her imaginative, entertaining play.
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!