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, March 5, 2013

TRYING to Catch Up....!

Oohhh, I do hate being sick.

And stressed.

And overly busy.

And did I mention stressed? (Yeah, I know I did. Just trying for some emphasis, that's all.)

I've got little bits o'life to post about going back to Chinese New Year, and yet somehow every time I try to start typing here I either end up too sleep-deprived to keep my eyes open (I can now personally vouch for the fact that the forward edge of a MacBook Pro hurts if you fall asleep with it on your chest and it slides forward into your face), too stressed to type anything pleasant to read (one of these days I'm going to get a boring job, dammit!), or too busy honking, snorting, coughing, and post-nasal-dripping to even breathe, much less compose English prose. (Was that last bit TMI?)

Anyway, life is what happens while you make other plans, so I'm going to try to get on with what I can before anything else goes wrong... Here (in the Cliff's Notes summarization of the Reader's Digest version of the executive summary's contraction) is some of what's been happening recently in the Pipsqueak's world...

Chinese School  - The Pipsqueak's actually been enjoying her Saturday mornings at the CCACC school (the presence of several friends doesn't hurt), and while continuing to astonish us with the speed at which she groks & uses the English language (and Spanish, thanks to Dora the Explorer) she's also begun to randomly let us know how to say such-and-so in Mandarin. At the CNY event, she enjoyed pretty much everything; aside from running around the room with her friends at the end, one of her favorite activities was the hands-on seminar on moon cake preparation... even though, as usual, she turned her nose up at actually eating any (bean paste ranks rather low on Miri's List Of Good Stuff To Eat).

FCC of Maryland's Chinese New Year Celebration - Third time was the charm; we finally attended an FCC CNY event at which the Pipsqueak was not running low-grade fever, sniffling, or feeling generally cruddy -- and she loved it!  Of course, all the questions about "where is the dragon?" and "is the dragon coming?" started only moments after the garage door went down, but it was more happy anticipation than fear or worry. An added bonus for the family was watching Miri participate in a group Kung Fu exercise; when her pretty long silk Chinese dress got in the way of a proper spread-leg stance, she simply hiked it up around her waist! (Mommy knows her well enough to have had her wearing a lightweight pair of pants underneath.) She got to spend a few moments as part of a small group making the big yellow lion dance, and even got to bang on the big drum by herself, something of which she was very proud. Of course, she also reinforced earlier suspicions that of all the ethnic foods available to her, my China-born niece does not like most Chinese food...!

Chinese New Year at Lakeforest Mall - Over a couple of weekends, the CCACC shared the advent of the Year of the Snake with the public by presenting a series of performances by students & professionals at one of the larger local shopping malls. We were interested in seeing what they offered, and made sure to be there in time for the performance by Miri's friend Sarah (who did an excellent job of singing in front of a ginormous crowd while accompanied by only 3 of her classmates). There were dances performed by groups of girls & boys of various ages, some Chinese opera, and an absolutely astonishing performance by a very young girl playing a stringed instrument larger than she was. (In addition to watching the performers, the Pipsqueak spent several minutes happily riding up and down and up and down and up and down the nearby escalators with her increasingly pooped uncle.) One of the groups performing was an aerobics/dancercize class whose routines were set to driving, catchy hip-hop beats. I don't have much video of their routines -- but I do have a couple of gigabytes of video of my niece enthusiastically freestyling & mimicking some of their moves in a play area off to one side. I tell ya, the kid's a natural!

CCACC/CLAPS CNY Banquet - This event was held at what is normally a dim sum restaurant not too far from the CCACC. In addition to a lot of very good food, the crowd was treated to Chinese dance, yo-yo acrobatics, singing, calligraphy talks, and more performed by the school's students, faculty & associates. There were several raffles throughout the event, and AJ won a couple of containers of homemade moon cakes & curried meat pastries; she sent the Pipsqueak up to the emcee with the raffle ticket, and Miri won rave reviews for cuteness (especially when, after handing over the ticket, she high-tailed it back to our table without collecting the prize... which she gladly went back up front to pick up, thinking it was some kind of a present for her). We were a little slow getting back on the road at the end of the event, so we got to see a little of the staff's preparation to host an afternoon wedding reception for 500 people... yikes! (I've always chuckled when passing the site -- at night you'll see the big, red "New Fortune" sign immediately next to a big, green "H&R Block" sign... Well, I think it's humorous...)

Buffet Lunch with Mommy, Grandma and Grandpa - Unfortunately, I couldn't join the rest of the family, but my normally "picks at restaurant food like a little bird who's already eaten" niece finished off a fairly impressive volume of food this time 'round. The only problem was that I was expecting a call from my folks when they'd gotten back home, and it kept getting later & later until I finally heard from Mom. They actually wound up spending almost an hour after they'd finished eating just sitting and talking with an older couple who just had to find out about the well-behaved, cute little Chinese girl talking and singing and dancing nonstop at the next table...!  We also shared a chuckle when Mom said she was carrying Miri as they were leaving; while negotiating her way between tables with squirmy granddaughter in her arms, she accidentally (but with some force) ran into a big, hulking guy with big, hulking tattooed biceps who looked positively scary -- and who immediately gave Miri a big smile, told her she was really cute, asked her age, and told Grandma & Grandpa that she was the sweetest little girl he'd seen in a long time before heading back to the buffet with a smiling "bye-bye!" just for the Pipsqueak.

Women's Passover Seder - This past Sunday, Dad & I shared a boy's night out with Miri's Great-Uncle M while she, Mommy, and Great-Aunt D attended a women's seder. (It's not quite Passover yet, but some holidays are a bit more flexible than others.) The event lasted almost twice as long as expected so we weren't sure what state the Pipsqueak would be in when she got home -- but we needn't have worried because she came running into the house in high spirits, telling me (in her own rather unique way) all about the seder while her grownups filled us in on how she danced in the circle dance, and sang some of the songs, and even played the tambourine ("And she was on the beat!" exclaimed Grandma proudly).  Eventually we were back to the usual, "Can I see your phone for a minute, Uncle Brian, pleeeeease?" and playing "the green pig game" but it's fun to watch Miri develop her own "take" on the major holidays. (Note: Nope, it's not Angry Birds -- if you have an iPhone, download the "Gesundheit!" app and prepare to be puzzled, and eaten by monsters, and deal with mounds of green snot... Play the game and you'll understand... and probably be addicted, too.)

New Pipsqueakisms - Okay, so this isn't an event, just some more cute twists of English that my niece uses regularly. A few of the older ones have (sadly?) been replaced with the "proper" version of the word, but some of her newer creations include, eye run bars on a jail window; a pendulum swinging brackers and foreways; a zoo full of aminals; asking Uncle Brian to give her a pick pick ride; walking past Mommy's old mentary school; and using a marmeter to check Grandpa's fever (although somehow she has no problem pronouncing "stethoscope"...!)

And there you have them, a few short(ish) blocks of text that were each originally going to be a full post on their own. I have an additional item related to the FCC CNY event that I'd like to talk about, but I'll save it for a post of its own (really, really soon, I promise!) so that I can get this one published and finally get myself (mostly) caught up.

Zai jian...!

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