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, April 24, 2013

Princesses and Families

Wow... Tuesday's over already? Whattheheck happened to the weekend?!?


Okay, looks like I'm late again. (Dude, at least you're consistent!) This past weekend was nice, with my having "Uncle Duty" on Sunday due to AJ's having to work... but I actually got to our folks' house a bit after AJ got there, so the Pipsqueak's Grandma & Grandpa were a little more tuckered out than they usually are when I begin a round of UD.

Of course, Miri helped meet me at the door and (of course) after yelling my name a couple of times and bouncing up & down like a paint-shaking machine a few times immediately broached the subject of my computer. More specifically, did I bring it with me? I did indeed have it slung over my shoulder, so the conversation immediately switched to wanting to see Ariel songs on my 'puter right now, come on, Uncle Brian (all said while firmly pulling me through the foyer into the family room).

After begging for enough time to take off my jacket and say hello to everyone else, I was happily surprised to find a couple of songs from The Little Mermaid on YouTube that I'd missed in earlier searches, and my niece and I had a pleasant interlude on the family room sofa in front of my laptop. At one point I got up to go potty (if one just says, "go to the bathroom," one is likely to have the Pipsqueak invite herself along just to see if there's something interesting in there) and Miri asked, in a very grown-up and matter-of-fact voice, "Brian, could you do me a favor and pass me that blue cup with the pretzels, please?" I handed her the cup without thinking about it, but later on Mom pointed out that I had just gotten a completely adult request from someone whose fourth birthday is two months in the future... sometimes the Pipsqueak stops us all in our tracks.

We also looked for pictures of Ariel and company, and Miri enjoyed some of the fan art on the web. I had to laugh at how easily she identified each of the Disney princesses ("No, Uncle Brian, that one is Cinderella and that one is Sleeping Beauty!") even when fan renditions of the famous ladies as slacker teens, in Halloween costumes, as anime characters, as mermaids, or as goth chicks stymied the grownups in the room. The only pictures she declared "silly" were one in which each of the Princesses was dressed as her primary antagonist ("That's silly! Why did they do that? Oh, look, Ariel's dress looks like Ursula!") and one heavily Photoshopped picture that had some actual people's faces superimposed on a picture of Ariel with Prince Eric, a fan opus that literally had Miri laughing until she choked.

Soon it was dinnertime, and after being given the choice of sitting next to Mommy or next to Uncle Brian, the Pipsqueak decided she wanted to sit in my chair so the table setting was rearranged. I asked Miri what would happen if I decided that I really wanted to sit in my original seat and AJ laughingly pointed out that I would have been out of luck; Miri reinforced that statement with a definitive, "but I want to sit here now!" and that was that. (It wasn't like I doubted the outcome; I just thought it would be an interesting exercise to ask.) After the usual round of, "Uncle Brian, are you done eating yet?" we played a couple of rounds of "the piggy game" (iOS users, check out "Gesundheit" in the App Store) in which the kid managed to unlock an entire set of levels I didn't even know existed. Eventually, after a round of bouncing & playing "hide in the cave" on Grandma & Grandpa's bed, it was time for Miri to take Mommy home and for Uncle Brian to go to his house ("Uncle Brian, can I come to your house soon?" -- I gotta get the place cleaned up!) and our pleasant evening came to a close.

But before I go (and I actually haven't been to bed yet tonight, so I'd better type faster), I also wanted to share something that happened a full week back.

As usual, we got together for dinner at our folks' and the Pipsqueak was in fine form, making up songs & stories and engaging us all in a vivid round of constantly changing intermeshed make-believe events. All of a sudden, she announced that she wanted her whole family to take a picture on Grandma and Grandpa's stairs. (It's a tradition for us to periodically take family photos, especially with visiting cousins, stacked up on the stairs in Mom & Dad's house.) Not only were we going to do that, but we were going to do that RIGHT NOW, no questions permitted, hop to it! Miri rounded us all up, herded us all into the foyer, and began directing who was to sit where on the stairs. (The Pipsqueak is definitely a pipsqueak and won't turn four until June, but when she directs you... well, you know you're being directed. As in, follow her directions and no one gets hurt. <grin>)

I have a camera app on my iPhone with a timer function, so (after thoroughly amusing our budding artistic director with my attempts to actually aim the darn thing while setting the timer without knocking over the carefully-balanced phone) I managed to get an "okay" photo of the five of us on the stairs. And then a second, and then a third. And then, because I didn't think that photo was good enough, a fourth... a fifth... Yeah, we all got into it (and I even got a couple of good pictures out of the experience). Then, just when we thought it was safe to get off the stairs, Miri announced that now she was going to take a picture of her family (with a heavy emphasis on "HER"!) and promptly used my iPhone to fire off another five or six photos. Eventually the Pipsqueak decided we now had enough family photographs and it was off to the family room for a round of her favorite game on my phone.

Just another couple of what-passes-for-normal family weekends... But I don't think I'm ever going to forget the proud, happy smile on the Pipsqueak's face when she announced, "I'm taking a picture of MY family!"

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