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!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Busy Times... and Happy New Year!

Wow, has that much time really passed since my last post?!? Yikes!

"Sorry 'bout, that, Chief!" I'll try to catch up... It's been extra-crazy lately, and that particular cupcake has been frosted with some technical difficulties that have me just about ready to start banging my head against the wall. (I won't share the unpleasant details, but after dealing with some really odd laptop behaviors I just discovered that a full terabyte of stuff on my external backup disk has suddenly ceased to exist... and the power plug for the new backup drive is too big to fit between the other plugs in the surge suppressor... and I really wasn't ready to add another $150+ to my credit card balance... ugh.)

So far, the RAV4 is working out great, it's actually fun to drive again (at least outside of rush hour). I filled up the tank for the first time last Thursday, and it was also the first time ever that I've gone seventeen days between fill-ups and the cheapest tank of gas in many years. (Dude, listen to yourself... when did you start thinking of $45 as "cheap"?!?) The Pipsqueak has gotten a couple of rides and likes it better than Mommy's car because she can see out the windshield & the windows on the opposite side. Of course, Mommy's "car" is actually a van and Miri has an absolute blast running around inside when we're trying to get her into her car seat, so liking my car more is really a moment-to-moment thing. The one thing she likes more about Uncle Brian's new car more than Mommy's on a fairly consistent basis is that mine is "shiny" (silver) and Mommy's isn't (metallic grey). Score one point extra credit for the Jiu Jiu!

The daycare situation seems to have been resolved; the Pipsqueak has started at a new place. There are some really good, really caring teachers at the original facility, but the corporate management seems intent on maximizing profits at any cost... every time AJ or our folks talked about it with other parents (or even a couple of the teachers!), they found that everyone is getting different, sometimes mutually exclusive explanations of the hows & whys of the changes... and most folks have begun echoing AJ's increasing level of frustration. Should be interesting to see what happens over the course of the current semester -- but at least the Pipsqueak's at a new place that's re-ignited her original happiness at "going to school" in the mornings.

As some of you may have surmised from the Pipsqueak's age, we're in the throes of potty training. It was rather difficult at first, with spotty (literally!) results, until my sister had a brainstorm: put the Pipsqueak into "real" undies -- over her pullups, of course -- and remind her that "big girls don't pee in their undies." Abracadabra, and presto, and voila: one almost-completely potty-trained little girl virtually overnight! We're still working on timing, since "I have to go potty" is usually announced only seconds from disaster, but my niece is now able to go several days at a stretch without an "oops" of any kind. We figure that at the current rate of advance, AJ & our folks will be able to stop buying all but a cursory supply of nighttime pullups before Halloween. Score one for the Pipsqueak (and one for her mommy)!

Miri did fairly well during Rosh Hashonah services (thus my "happy new year!" in this post's title, it's now officially 5773)... although she & Mommy still spent a lot of time out in the lobby. Even when she got a little fidgety, the Pipsqueak managed to charm everyone around us. At one point she was marching up & down in front of our seats with a baggie full of goldfish crackers, handing each of us one in turn and telling us we had to eat it or we'd get hungry during services; the woman sitting next to me had to repeatedly stifle her own laughter, and kept cooing, "oh, she's so precious!" until AJ decided she'd had enough goldfish & took her daughter out to the lobby for some recreation. We're thinking that next year she'll be old enough for us to take her to the kid-oriented "family" service in the early afternoon... vamos a ver...

This past weekend, AJ and Miri and I joined our group of China adoption friends for our annual "crabfest" -- thus named because of the food ordered, not our mood! A few families couldn't make it (including the last family in our group to finally complete their first adoption, returning from China less than two weeks ago) but we all had a pretty good time either smacking crabs with mallets or eating softer foods while catching up on each others' lives. All the while, a collection of little girls (and now a couple of little boys as well) was busy talking and coloring and stickering and sampling other folks' food and drawing and playing and just generally blowing away everyone in the group who remembered them as the quiet, bewildered little babies who started attending the group's get-togethers just 3-4 years ago. I'll try to post a little more about the event, and some associated thoughts, later this week.

This past week I got a lot of the, "hello, Uncle!" greetings at work that I had first gotten after returning from China. This is because we had our annual luau at work, and so many of the staff had reminded AJ that she hadn't brought Miri in to visit for a long time that she asked our folks to bring her when they picked her up from daycare. I didn't see them come in -- I had my back to the door while trying to set up a blender for (alcohol-free) pina coladas -- but I knew exactly when they arrived because there was a loud, "Uncle Brian!" and all of a sudden something smacked into the back of my knees and wrapped itself around my legs. Didn't mind it in the least. :-)

In closing (it's past my bedtime!), I'd like to share a short exchange between Miri and her Grandma from about a week ago. Mom & Dad met AJ & the Pipsqueak somewhere and then decided to return to AJ's house. When she found out everyone was going to her house, Miri said she wanted to ride in Grandma & Grandpa's car instead of with Mommy. After everyone checked to be really sure she meant it, AJ helped strap her into her seat in our folks' car and the mini-convoy hit the road. A few minutes into the ride, Grandma heard Miri say, "I love you guys!" and replied, "And Grandma and Grandpa love you lots, too!" There was a short silence, and Miri repeated, "I love you guys!" and her Grandma replied with, "And we both love you, too, and so does Mommy, and so does your Uncle Brian!"  There was a short silence, and then all of a sudden Miri sobbed out, "And I love Mommy!" It took her Grandma a moment to figure out why the Pipsqueak had suddenly started to cry, and then a bulb lit over her head. "It's okay, Honey, Mommy knows you love her and she said it was okay for you to ride with us." Immediately, the Pipsqueak stopped crying, gave a happy "Okay!" and began to quietly sing to herself and comment on the passing scene.

Amazing how a three-year-old's mind works, isn't it?  :-)

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