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, July 22, 2012

Looking Back - Plus Two (July 21-22)

Sorry for the combined post -- it was a very short weekend for me!

Two years ago today, on the 21st we had an amazing day. [First part of original post & photos here.] Despite the previous night not being one of the better ones, we had the morning routine down (mostly) to an art and after a good breakfast enjoyed touring the Guangdong Folk Arts Museum. The building itself is an amazing showpiece, and the variety of arts & crafts both on display and being created while we watched left us all impressed... and amazingly, astonishingly, sweatily hot as well. After one of our scarier bus rides through downtown traffic, we had a good lunch and then returned to the White Swan to prepare for CA (our Consulate appointment). [Second part of original post here.] In one sense, it was very anticlimactic; you sit in a big, noisy room filled with other adoptive families, listen for your name to be called, finish up some paperwork at what looks like a bank teller's window, and then once everyone is done, stand up and formally swear that all the information you've provided is true and accurate. It's not a citizenship oath, it's not a caregiving oath... but it is the event that seals the adoption, that brings all those years of high-stress paperchasing to an end and marks the beginning of your life as a family. To borrow an old cliche, there wasn't a dry eye in the house (literally). The two huge tour buses full of newly-minted families fought their way back to the hotel through some of the worst traffic I've ever seen anywhere in the world, getting us back just in time for a fast diaper change and then running out the door so our little minibus could get us to the evening river tour we'd scheduled. [Last part of original post & photos here.] We made it just minutes before the boat pulled away from the dock and were treated to some of the most amazing neon & lighting effect shows I've seen anywhere (e.g., entire multi-story buildings converted into massive neon animations). We went to bed that night with the bittersweet knowledge that we had only one more day left in China... but we were also feeling like it was time to go home.

On the 22nd, we had a leisurely morning that included discovering the Pipsqueak was a lot more mobile than we had realized, and then with a reduced group went downtown, first to the Temple of the Six Banyan Trees and then to Yuexiu Park where we saw the famous stories-high goat statue that is the city's mascot. [First part of original post & photos here.] We got caught in the rain but were rescued by our bus, and our driver then joined us for one last formal Chinese lunch at a fancy restaurant. I had an interesting epiphany-type moment while stuck in traffic on the way back to the hotel [Second part of original post & photos here] and then we got back to the White Swan with a little more free time than expected. After having a bit of an adventure attempting to exchange some money [Third part of original post here], we set out for one last round of shopping. We'd been pricing out luggage since arriving in Guangzhou, so our first stop was Jordon's to pick up a full-size suitcase for the Pipsqueak (you buy a full-price airline ticket, you get a full seat's worth of baggage allowance). I had an enjoyable & educational talk with Jordon himself and then we rushed to get a last round of souvenirs before meeting the group for the famous Red Sofa Photos and an American-style dinner with our guide Lucy and her husband. [Fourth part of original post & photos here.] We closed out with one last quick shopping stop, and then it was time to finish packing, lock up the suitcases, and take a quick nap before our 5:00am wake-up call for the trip to the airport.

One year ago today, on the 21st, I had a crazy day at work but was looking forward to spending more time with Miri; she had just discovered piggyback rides, so my post included a comment about looking for a good chiropractor (which, happily, I haven't needed despite the Pipsqueak enjoying many, many piggyback rides aboard her mommy or uncle since then). On the 22nd, I helped pick up the Pipsqueak from day care and she wowed the nearby mom of a 4-year-old who hadn't yet learned how to use a water cooler & disposable cups as well as my 2-year-old niece.

Today, on the 21st, we all took it kind of easy (hey, we're all tired!) but made a point of having our Gotcha Day dinner celebration at a nearby Chinese buffet we all like. Miri was impressed (""Biiig restaurant, Mommy!") and we all had both a good time and a good feed. We went shopping afterwards to find a new raincoat for the Pipsqueak, and I had fun collecting odd glances from passers-by at the mall while filming my tiny niece jauntily marching along. (Dude, you'd better work on that whole "watch where you're going" thing...) There were a few tense moments while AJ negotiated with her daughter over the purchase of a special party dress, but I really got a kick out of how AJ really dislikes shopping while Miri has a blast checking out all the clothing on all the racks (the kid's got good taste, she kept going for Ralph Lauren dresses and such), checking out all the shoes on display, and generally just engaging in some retail therapy while her mother tries to get out of the store with wallet and sanity intact.

And on the real "today" (the 22nd), it was my turn to be the fish in the barrel the weekend Manager On Duty, so between that and some really odd traffic I didn't get together with the rest of the family until around 6:00pm.  The Pipsqueak had an active day, starting with the birthday party of one of her little classmates and then going grocery shopping with her Mommy (one of her favorite outings). She "helped" serve salad and bread at dinner (oh, well, nothing's labeled "dry clean only") and then AJ & I negotiated with her for a special photo we like taking once each year in a special shirt -- it fit her like a dress the night we brought her home, but is getting progressively smaller; next year will probably be the last time she fits into it. I got some nice video of Miri dancing with her Grandpa in the family room, and then we watched some shark videos & a Barney video on my laptop before it was time for everyone to head to their respective beds.

Special Note: Jordon's store was one of the recent victims of the changes on Shamian Island, which is a real shame because he did many things for free that other shopkeepers would charge for, and remembered many of the families who were on return trips (or at least professed to do so). However, he is still available to do his special calligraphy work and can be hired at a very reasonable rate to act as a tour guide. If anyone is interested, contact me and I'll give you Jordon's email address.

And now it is once again Much Later Than I Realized on a Sunday night, so it's off to bed...!

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