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!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Trying to Catch Up...!


I just read back through my last few posts and realized that a) there aren't that many of them, b) they weren't as Pipsqueak-centric as I'd like, and c) they left out a whole heckuvalot of what's been going on 'round these parts for the past couple of months!

So, with apologies, let me see if I can fill in at least a few of the blanks and get back to creating a chronicle of my jiujiuhood instead of repeatedly promising I'd post more... sometime soon... maybe... <sigh>

(By the way, items below will not necessarily be presented in chronological order; please bear with me, my internal calendar hasn't been working well since before Halloween!)

Back in November, I made a comment about the Pipsqueak sometimes sounding "like Alannah Miles due to allergy congestion" but it turned out to be a combination cold and ear infection. Of course, when AJ took her to the doctor because the "allergy congestion" just kept refusing to clear up, she knew Miri had been exposed to some pretty serious bugs at daycare -- thus the pediatrician got a surprising, "Oh, good!" when delivering the news that the Pipsqueak's problem was "only" an ear infection and she would have to take antibiotics for ten days. Happily, everything cleared up and since then Miri's only had to deal with the occasional cold air related boogers... which, of course, are objects of great amusement to her. (Aah, to be a little kid again...!)

Unfortunately, the rest of us seem to have been passing something around -- actually, a series of "somethings" -- and Mom wound up with the worst of it. She's finally at long last feeling better (now that she got a 2nd opinion and that doctor really checked her out instead of making a few assumptions) but spent a couple of hellacious weeks where events conspired to have her taking care of the Pipsqueak while feeling absolutely, totally, completely, 110% crappy. Miri rose to the occasion almost as well as her Grandma did, though; without anyone asking or  telling her, she did her best to "take care of" Grandma and toned down her usual level of hyperactivity (at least as much as one can expect a 3-1/2 year old to "tone down") and repeatedly lectured Grandma on how important it was for her to take her medicine like the doctor told her to, making sure she took it for the full 10 days and not less, and explaining that even if it didn't taste good it was important to take it like a big girl. Every now and then she'd also interrupt her play to stroke Grandma's arm or knee and ask if she was feeling okay. (If I sound like I'm kvelling... well, you betcha!)

Back in this post I overheard Miri saying "it only fell a little bit" and AJ hoping out loud her new coat rack would last long enough to actually be used. Well, I'm happy to report that it did indeed survive and is now regularly used by my niece to hang up her coats (at least when she doesn't drop them on the floor because she's already gotten distracted by a particular toy, or interest in seeing what's in the refrigerator). Unfortunately, the old Baby Gate Curse held true -- so there are several holes in the wall where AJ originally asked me to hang the coat rack, a few feet away from where it's actually mounted now.  I think these holes (just out of sight off the left edge of the photo) are actually a nice counterpoint to the holes in the wall (just to the right of the coat rack in the photo) left behind when the largest of the baby gates was taken down back in October (or was it September?); it was sort of a rite of passage for Miri, since we waited until we were all sure she was able to safely navigate her way to the edge of the steps without falling down. (You'll notice, however, that the gate blocking access to the basement is still in place; the Pipsqueak's a bit too much of an explorer for those to be taken down just yet.)

Back in this post, I talked a bit about the Pipsqueak's propensity for photography. She's taken numerous photos with my camera (and I've even let her hold it herself the last few times... nervously, with my hands hovering beneath...), and she will often put her hands up in front of her face and tell us, "Say cheese!" then loudly go "CLICK!" with a big smile. Sometimes her (real) photos are kind of interesting; for example, she got an uncle's-eye-view of my drilling pilot holes in AJ's bathroom cabinets so I could mount the long-overdue safety latches. (Did I mention my niece is a bit of an explorer?) We bought her one of those special "little kid cameras" early this past spring, and she was so excited that she took it to bed with her for the first couple of nights. However, she very quickly realized it didn't work like a "real" camera and wouldn't let her show off big color images -- plus we learned the hard way that four AA batteries can only last so long, with "so" usually being several hours less than needed. The result is that the (somewhat expensive) kiddie camera has fallen out of favor, and is only used when Miri is unable to convince any of her grownups to loan her their camera or iPhone. Things actually got to the point where she went back to using her old toy camera to take pretend photos instead of using the real thing... so Uncle Brian was re-drafted to re-research the topic of cameras suitable for a young lady of less than four years of age.

Considering Miri's experience and skill with real cameras and our iPhones -- "Uncle Brian, can I see your phone a minute? Pleeeeeease?" is a constant refrain -- I decided to go whole hog and took advantage of Cyber Monday to get a good deal on a 4th generation iPod Touch for her as a Hanukkah gift from all four of her grownups. (That day's second online purchase was an Otterbox Defender case for the iPod -- in bright pink, of course!) Unfortunately, I tried a little too hard to save some cash -- I bought a refurbished unit from an online vendor.  To make a long story short, I (finally) received an email from them a couple of days ago that my refund for the unresponsive unit should be showing up in my credit card account shortly, at which point I will walk into the nearest Apple Store and buy her a new one. I now know that my niece is comfortable with advanced electronics and cares for them properly, but secondhand units were originally returned to the manufacturer for a good reason... and by the time I was done with the "discounted" UPS fees for the return, I could've gotten her a brand-new iPod Touch for only about $20 more than I've ended up spending at Cyber Monday prices. Lesson learned (and she'll have the new "phone" this weekend).

In addition to becoming aware of the Pipsqueak's skill with electronics and interest in providing medical care (Miri's second-favorite Hanukkah gift was a toy "vet set" from Uncle M and Aunt D, and she's very into giving meds to her sick stuffed doggy), I've recently noticed something else: the Pipsqueak is quite a bit less pipsqueakish than she used to be. Many of her peers (and even younger kids) are still flying at higher altitudes, but Miri is really growing; so much so that I recently had to ask AJ when she replaced her bald little baby with a fast-moving little girl. The little doll-sized toddler who could barely reach the bottom of the refrigerator door and who used to take up slightly less space on Mommy's bed than one of the pillows is now able to retrieve items from the kitchen counter entirely on her own (uh-oh!) and has somehow found a way to occupy the majority of a queen-size bed by herself.

One thing hasn't changed, though: just like her Jiu Jiu, the Pipsqueak suffers from sleep inertia. (Nope, I didn't make that term up; you can Google it.) Sometimes she'll wake up pretty quickly and be her usual active, cheerful self -- but many times, especially if she's been running at full bore until her body says, "enough!" and forces her to sleep (another unfortunate trait she shares with yours truly), she'll be a grouchy, grumpy, withdrawn little bundle of annoyance until she can shake off the last vestiges of naptime. Don't let the seemingly cute game of peekaboo fool you; she's not playing, she's letting me know in no uncertain terms that I am to leave. her. alone. and she means now. Luckily, if Miri's someplace with lots of distractions (in a car, at an event or a party, etc.) she'll usually get interested in what's going on around her right quick... and, much to her Mommy's distress on weekend & holiday mornings, if the Pipsqueak decides it's time to get up, then she's up and that will be the end of any further sleep until sometime in the afternoon.

One more thing, and then I promise I'll stop growing this post. Just before the holidays, Miri and AJ went to a party where everybody had a chance to build their own gingerbread house. Of course, everyone else there was building Christmas-themed houses, but (with just a little help from Mommy) the Pipsqueak was able to create an admirable winter-themed house with Hannukah gelt on the walls and dreidels & stars on the roof (and even a little Israeli flag over the door, which absolutely cracked me up for some reason). I don't know who was more proud of the finished edifice -- my niece or my sister -- but I have to admit I was more than happy to record its image from eleventy-seven different angles. (I'll be merciful and only include one photo here.) Of course, in typical Pipsqueak fashion, the house very quickly receded into a pleasant memory because there were so many other toys to play with, games to play, stories to tell, books to read (okay, she makes up stories based on the pictures, but she calls it reading so I will, too!), photos to take, and adventures to share.

And, despite not always posting here in a timely manner, her uncle's looking forward to every last bit of it. We may not sing her customized version of "Big Red Car" any more, and I can't hold her as long as I used to when I hear the famous, "Up!" but I have a grand ol' time playing and talking with my niece so I'm sure there will be lots more posts in the coming weeks. (I'll keep 'em shorter than this one, I promise.)

Until next time...!

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