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!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

'Twas A Busy Weekend, Indeed!

Sorry about the gap in posting, on top of a busy weekend (read on) I managed to catch myself a nasty summer cold (the patient will survive, he just won't necessarily enjoy it for a few days more).

Anyhoo, to recount our busy weekend...

The Long Island clan came down for their annual summer visit, arriving mid-afternoon Friday -- for which both AJ and I had prepared by taking the day off from work to have extra family time.  The Pipsqueak did her usual shy act for a few minutes upon arrival, but had the handy-dandy excuse of having just woken up. After some quick reacquainting herself with the foursome of cousins, she opened up and, just as in the past, hitched herself to Cousin A for the most time. (Maybe because she still remembers how Cousin A outlasted everyone else in the family for all those fun & exciting trips up and down and up and down and up and down the stairs back when she was first learning to walk...?) We all did the usual "family thang," just hanging out at our folks' while exchanging war stories, catching up on bad jokes (and worse puns), and enjoying each others' company. We made a relatively early night of it, with the LI cousins heading back to their hotel ten-ish while AJ & I headed to our respective abodes not too much later.

I had been looking forward to a good night's sleep -- my schedule over the previous several days had been crazy again, and I was already thoroughly sleep-deprived -- but it was not to be. Right about 3:15am, I was awakened by the blast of an air horn. Blearily looking out the window, I saw the following:

I padded back to my room, put on my glasses, and tried again:

It was a large flatbed car carrier's air horn I had heard, and the massive beast was being maneuvered -- right up onto the hill across the street! -- to drop off a car in front of a neighbor's house, complete with horn blowing to let them know about the arrival, loud backup beeper activating every time the driver shifted into reverse (which was often), loud engine revving to maneuver the oversize vehicle, and whining & buzzing of the lift bed and winch.  For over an hour.  (Sorry for the blurry photos; I was shooting 30-second exposures through a closed window.)

Needless to say, I was a bit late arriving at the folks' house the next morning, walking in to find breakfast pretty much done & over with. (Dude, you knew not to worry, someone's always willing to eat in this family!)  My stylishly late arrival was upstaged a little later when AJ pulled into the driveway... but after a few minutes, we realized she was still out there, with no sign of attempting to join us in the house. Everyone piled out to find my sister sitting bemusedly behind the wheel while the Pipsqueak dozed blissfully in her car seat -- having fallen asleep for a badly-needed nap just moments before pulling into the driveway.

We all visited that way for a while and then I took part of the group on a quick shopping trip, returning to find my niece wide awake and as active as ever. Shortly afterwards, more family began to arrive, and soon we were all catching up on more family events & statuses, ending up happily wedged in next to each other at the dining room table (a tad small even with all the extra leaves inserted) for an appropriately noisy dinner. Later in the evening (after Cousin J headed back to his house, the Virginia contingent crossed back over the Potomac, and the LI clan returned to their hotel) I caught Miri clomping around her grandparents' bedroom wearing Grandma's sandals, and then noticed a unique mix of toys she'd left on the dining room table.

"I wearing Grandma's shoes, Uncle Brian!"
I call this "Still Life with Doggie"

And then things got interesting. As AJ & I left, the Pipsqueak was first curious about, then frightened of, a large slug on the front walk. ("Grandma! A big lug! Yukky!") Mom picked her up, carried her past the slug...

...and then her foot slipped off the side of the walkway and the two of them went down like the proverbial batch of bricks, with Mom actually landing on the Pipsqueak.

It took Miri a few heart-stopping moments of silence to process what had happened before she began wailing, just long enough for the rest of us to think the silence was a lot more sinister; I never thought I'd be glad to hear my niece shriek out loud, but I have to admit that (just this one time) it was A Good Thing to hear.  AJ grabbed her daughter and quickly checked her while Dad & I checked on Mom, who wasn't doing quite as well as her granddaughter (whom, she was convinced, she had just killed or injured by falling on her).

To make a long story short, the Pipsqueak came away with nothing more than a little dirt on the back of her shirt (and a very small, very pale, small red patch on her back the next morning). On the other hand,  her Grandma's left knee and right ankle were down for the count, complete with 911 call and small convoy following the ambo to the nearest ER. (During which I actually caught myself silently repeating, Dear God, that wasn't funny, please stop, amen.) AJ & I waited with Miri while Dad went back into the ER with Mom, and were impressed with how well she was dealing with the whole situation. (She even told us, "I waiting well!" and we had to agree.)

Luckily, Mom somehow avoided any major damage, and only needed wrapping & splinting; the ER nurses and doctor were amazingly attentive & had great bedside manner, and even the ambo crew -- having a really busy night! -- checked in each time they walked past. Everyone thought Miri was being really good, and were surprised at her total lack of injury or concern after having played the role of airbag in Mom's fall. (The photo below was taken to make sure we knew how to position the ankle brace, but I figured it would be an interesting addition to this post. Strangely, Mom wasn't too keen on my taking her portrait, I wonder why...?)

The Pipsqueak continued to wow us all with her calmness, wanting to hold Grandma's hand and asking several times to kiss her to make the booboo better, being curious about all the interesting things in the ER cubicle, and eventually even dozing off for a few minutes in Mommy's lap. She started to get upset as the nurse began wrapping Mom's knee -- this was a lot more than the bandaids she was used to -- so AJ took her home a few minutes before I drove Mom & Dad back to their house. (There were a few moments of badly needed out-loud laughter at the ER exit when Mom couldn't climb all the way into my SUV's back seat and I had to shove her sideways with both hands while the nurse just gaped.)

I bedded down on my folks' family room sofa around 3:30am and spent the rest of the night sleeping in 45-minute stretches interrupted regularly by Tigger chewing on my chin until I'd wake up and scritch him for a few minutes.  Somewhere during that sequence I remember thinking my throat was a little scratchy & my nose a little more clogged than usual, but was too tired to pay much attention.

I was awakened (for the last time) by the sound of my folks negotiating the stairs with Mom's newly-acquired walker, and shortly afterwards the LI clan joined us for brunch before hitting the road for home. AJ & I each went back home to do some laundry & catch up on things, but then all five of us had an early dinner (of leftovers, since Mom tends to prepare food for the family as if the 101st Airborne is coming to eat) together later that evening.  The Pipsqueak had us all laughing and applauding when she commandeered Mom's walker as a stage, with different parts being "drums" and "pyanana" (piano) and "talking thingy" (microphone) as she put on a show complete with singing and dancing. Once or twice during a pause we'd begin applauding only to be told, "I not done yet!" but eventually we were told "You can clap now!" and we wrapped up for the evening.  Just before leaving, I caught Tigger looking ever so smug about having kept me awake almost the entire night...

"Wutchu lookin' at?"
Of course, by the time I got home I was feeling really good about how things had turned out, with my unscathed niece showing real care & empathy while my not-quite-unscathed mother's injuries were quite a bit less severe than we'd all feared... and then I realized my throat was really scratchy... and my nose was running... and... well, I didn't make it back in to work until this afternoon, but that's another story (and not really worth a post).

Oh, one (older) item I forgot to post before... One of the "Pipsqueakisms" I listed in a previous post was how a "bang" was actually a hammer. Well, Miri now calls the tool by its proper name -- but with the usual Pipsqueak twist. She was banging on a wooden flower box with a rock, and I admonished her to be careful so she wouldn't break anything. She replied, "I fix it with my hammer!" and proceeded to tap it lightly with the rock -- clearly enunciating "Ham! Ham! Ham!" each time it touched the box.

(Hey, you gotta admit it makes sense...! <g>)

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