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, February 26, 2013

In Which I Throw Myself Upon the Mercy of the Jury


Three weekends in a row, we attended a Chinese New Year event with the Pipsqueak. I picked her up at daycare a couple of times, with lots of conversation in the car on the way to Grandma & Grandpa's. I remembered to write down a couple of cute new Pipsqueakisms. I read an excellent fiction-but-very-realistic book about a young girl adopted from China. There was other stuff, too.

But did I post here?


Aside from my "Little Schoolmarm" post, I've typed nary a word about any of it. So...


I don't even have the excuse of technical difficulties -- my laptop's been healthy, my home broadband connection's been healthy, the semi-public WiFi at work's been healthy, even the Blogger app on my iPhone's been healthy.

I have begun putting together a post that will cover a whole bunch of the aforementioned stuff... I just need a few more hours of sleep so I can think clearly again. (Been a bit more sleep-deprived than usual; Monday mornings Big Deal was making a mid-March appointment for cataract surgery. First time I'll be under the knife since losing my tonsils fifty-ump years ago... so no, I'm not sleeping as well as I should. Definitely my mother's son.)

I will do one little itty bitty bit of catching up, wishing everyone a (horribly belated) happy, healthy & prosperous Year of the Snake!

(Yes, I know that's a dragon and not a snake.  AJ wanted me to make her a new year's banner for decoration and said she wanted a Chinese dragon and not any other animal. I'm rather proud of the final product.)

Xin Nian Kuai Le  and Gong Xi Fa Cai to one and all!

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Little Schoolmarm

AJ has, on occasion, lovingly referred to her daughter as The Little Dictator. It's not that the Pipsqueak is a nasty, pushy, whine-until-I-get-my-way kid (she's really not!), it's just that she knows how the universe is supposed to work and it is her mission in life to ensure that her grownups all know and follow The Rules.

Over the past few months I've noticed a slight mellowing of the enforcer, a little extra fuzziness of the dividing lines between The Way Things Should Be and the way they are, even an increased understanding on the Pipsqueak's part that sometimes it's okay to bend, or even break, The Rules.

But that hasn't changed the fact that she knows How Things Are Supposed To Be. Oh, no sirree, not one bit. What has changed is that extra bit of mellowness, an additional touch of grownup understanding... and I've seen a new character emerge.  I call her "the little schoolmarm" because Miri's voice will take on the inflection and emphasis of an exasperated teacher trying to patiently & diplomatically get a point across to a difficult student without letting them forget who's in charge in the classroom.

I now present below for your reading pleasure two of the little schoolmarm's most recent appearances.

1) Grandma & Grandpa are driving Miri home from daycare; as usual, the radio is on (Miri is famous for repeatedly telling us to "make it louder!" no matter how high we turn the volume up -- the kid's gonna be a headbanger someday). Equally as usual our folks are having a little trouble hearing each other clearly so they began to raise their voices... then a little more... After another request to repeat something makes Grandma speak even more loudly, a very grown-up, matter-of-fact voice can be clearly heard coming from the back seat.

"Grandma, Grandma, Grandma... Settle down, now. You know you're supposed to use your inside voice in the car!"

2) The Pipsqueak is very fond of a particular brand of yogurt-covered granola bars, which luckily can be bought in large-ish boxes at a very reasonable price at Costco. So of course Costco stops carrying the darn things... and Grandma's stored supply finally, inevitably runs out, making an apologetic explanation necessary.

"I'm sorry, Honey Bunny, but I don't have any more yogurt bars. The store where we buy them doesn't have them any more."

The Pipsqueak rears up to her entire thirty-something inches of height, puts her hands on her hips, cocks her head to one side, and... "Well, Grandma, you know there are other stores...!"

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I love my niece dearly, but I fear her as a teenager...! (And before I forget again: Xin Nian Quai Le, y'all!)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

As If There Was Any Doubt...

Family is a pretty special thing for me. Being a TCK, it's roughly synonymous with "home" and comprises a collection of The Most Important People In The World for me. We drive each other to medical appointments, up the wall, crazy, and in circles; talk to each other, at each other, about each other to each other; keep secrets and break secrets and divulge secrets and guess secrets; and generally alternate at 30-second intervals between wondering about our own sanity and each other's... Amazingly, we actually like each other, respect each other, and enjoy each other's company -- and when the chips are down, we've got each other's backs, no questions asked, no score kept.

We all feel the same way, and -- by design, by accident, by osmosis -- are passing those feelings on to the Pipsqueak. We'd long ago tossed away any concerns about bonding issues, and Miri repeatedly has shown she cares about Mommy, Grandma & Grandpa, and Uncle Brian more than pretty much anyone else, but we didn't know how solid a definition of "family" she had developed.

Working my crazy hours, I rarely share dinners with my folks, AJ and the Pipsqueak during the week -- so Mom fills me in on things I missed that she knows I'd like to (or need to) know about. The latest story was from dinner on Tuesday night, and it shows my niece has as solid a definition of "family" as her uncle does.

The Pipsqueak had a pretty full day, complete with daycare and time at the gym, topped off with Grandma & Grandpa staying for dinner when Mommy got home. As usual, she was ready to return to play a bit earlier than any of her grownups, so she began marching around the table counting chairs out loud as she pointed to each person in turn.

"One... two... three... four..."

A pause.

"Grandma and Grandpa are my family. Mommy is my family."

Another pause, then pointing to an empty chair:

"Five. And Uncle Brian is my family, too! This is my family!"

And some folks at work this evening wondered why I kept smiling.