I'll open with an apology for the combined multi-day posting; let's just say that it was a Monday in many ways and leave it at that. [insert deep sigh here]
Two years ago today, on the 16th AJ, the Pipsqueak and I (along with the other two recently-enlarged families that comprised our group) took a boat trip on the Li River, boarding the boat (one of an apparently countless number of such vessels) at Zhujiang and traveling upriver for several hours to Yangshuo. Along the way, the Pipsqueak really opened up -- laughing, burbling, playing with Mommy and our guides, even sitting happily on my lap for a while while doing horrendous (but apparently very fun) things to any piece of paper or disposable cup within reach. The scenery along the river was often truly otherworldly, at times looking almost exactly like centuries-old Chinese scroll paintings. My original, photo-laden post is here, but (as I said back then) the photos simply cannot do the scenery justice. After navigating through an actual traffic jam on the river at Yangshuo (the destination for many different tours as well as a regional market town -- and a "base camp" for many international bikers & hikers visiting China) we made our incredibly hot, bustling, hot, crowded, hot, interesting, and hot way along West Street to the other side of town, where we caught a tram ride to where our bus was waiting. [Original post & photos here.] In addition to a couple of moments of abject terror as huge tour buses came within a couple of feet of our open-sided, slow-moving tram, there was a quick moment when a tall (American) Caucasian man accompanied by a young Chinese girl noticed us just as the tram began moving, and called out "Congratulations! How old is she?" but I'm not sure he heard my reply. (I'll probably always wonder who he was, and what his family's story was... does anyone out there know somebody visiting Yangshuo on July 16th, 2010?) On the way back to Guilin, we first stopped on the side of the road for a photo op with some rice paddies, then visited an art gallery (and picked up some souvenirs) before finally returning to the hotel. [Original post & photos here.] Dinner was a lot of fun, with the Pipsqueak putting on a real show -- even apparently telling herself jokes that she would then laugh at! -- and we all dozed off for the night with smiles on our faces.
On the 17th, we visited the Reed Flute Cave, where colored lights and a little imagination turned an interesting set of deep caverns into a truly magical place. [Original post & photos here.] Leaving the cave, we simultaneously had our first Emergency Diaper Change (EDC), learned that AJ had bought diapers at least one size too large, and learned that one should never leave one's hotel without bringing plenty of diapers, the package of baby wipes, and the folding changing pad... but our companion families stepped up to the plate and a potential disaster quickly turned into an amusing incident. We dodged some passing cattle and re-boarded our bus for a ride to the South China Pearl Factory, where we did some more damage to AJ's Visa card, the Pipsqueak charmed the sales staff, and I had an "only in China" restroom experience. [Original post & photos here.] We then made an impromptu stop in town at the famous Elephant Trunk Hill (a bit underwhelming but interesting) and then had lunch at a fairly swanky restaurant... culminating in the day's second, and extremely odiferous, EDC. Back at the hotel, plans for a shopping trip were shelved by a truly spectacular monsoon-style rainstorm... and the Pipsqueak scared several years off my life by diving headfirst off one of the beds. (She got her revenge for being "allowed" to fall a little while later by peeing on her uncle, all the way down my right side from armpit to foot.) One of several happy surprises accompanying dinner that night was everyone's receipt of all the official Provincial adoption paperwork and the kidlings' Chinese passports. We finished dinner with a round of group photos and then went to bed early; we had to fly out to Guangzhou the next morning, and our wake-up call was scheduled for 5:00am.
One year ago today, on the 16th, we shared a double big event with family and friends. Early in the day, we had a special naming ceremony at which Miri received her Hebrew name. In addition to the Long Island cousins (who came down a day early and worked really hard to help make sure everything was ready & that all the events came off without a hitch), we had relatives and friends come from far & wide to attend the ceremony and help us celebrate afterwards. I had to read the family story that Mom had written because she was too choked up, and AJ came this close to crying when she closed things out by describing how this was also a ceremony that effectively gave her a new name as well ("Mommy"), but any tears were happy tears, and everyone had a lot of fun at the party afterwards. There was a short break during which we kinda-sorta shooed people out of the rented party room and scrambled to redecorate & rearrange, and then we had a big bash for Dad's 81st birthday. Once again, visiting family put in a heroic effort to help pull things off, and they succeeded admirably; when the party finally wound down, everybody left with a smile on their face. Throughout the celebrating, I kept flashing back to how happily surprised we had been a year earlier at the Pipsqueak's sudden opening up -- and comparing it to the verbal, active little girl riding piggyback around the table with her Mommy, dancing to the music, and preening in her special new party dress... a little girl whose presence had completely changed everything for all of us, all in positive ways. On the 17th, we all just spent the day hanging out together at Mom & Dad's, with the Long Island clan comparing the happily hyper little girl running in & out of the family room and insisting we play "Catch Me!" with her to the little toddler who they had watched walk unsupported on her own for the first time during their previous summer's visit. As weekends go, it was one of the best in many, many years.
Today... Well, the Pipsqueak's sick. We weren't too sure about it on Saturday, but on Sunday we all began making plans to adjust the week's schedule to allow for a doctor's visit, maybe some time off from work for AJ, maybe some juggling of appointments... and in the morning the pediatrician confirmed our worries. It's nothing serious, just "a passing virus that's going around" that usually only lasts 4-5 days. Miri's not doing too badly, and the Children's Tylenol knocks down any fever within minutes of her taking it & keeps her feeling better for hours at a time, so it's (thankfully) only a minor speed bump in the road. Meanwhile the pediatrician noted that she's grown a bit (but is still less than 3 feet tall!), has gained a little weight, and if one overlooks the current bit of sniffles & barf is actually a very healthy and very engaged little girl, so life's still good.
Now, if the special "unusual plastics" super glue I bought actually works as advertised, the Pipsqueak will finally get her princess crown (which is again sitting on my kitchen counter because it promptly re-broke itself within seconds of my giving it back to her this past weekend) back in a couple of days.
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!