Wow... has it been that long?!?
Early Saturday evening, the five of us got together for a special dinner (Chinese buffet, of course!) Friday was Dad's 83rd birthday. Friday was Cousin H's 57th birthday. Sunday is Mom's 79th birthday.
And Friday was the 3rd anniversary of the Pipsqueak's Gotcha Day.
Three years ago today (Sunday), my sister and I were bouncing, rattling, and rolling our way from Nanning to Guilin with a still-unfamiliar baby girl on a bus ride we will remember (although perhaps not always fondly) for the rest of our lives, then had dinner by windows looking out on real-life postcard beauty.
Three years plus one day ago today, AJ swore to a Chinese magistrate that she would provide for the Pipsqueak's medical & educational needs as her parent, and then we adventured together into a very Western WalMart in very Eastern Nanning.
Three years plus two days ago, my sister got to hold her daughter in her arms for the very first time, and our family was changed in ways none of us could anticipate in that wonderful moment.
I've lost count of how many hundreds (thousands?) of times during a meal someone has asked, "What did we all talk about before Miri was here?" while marveling at how such a tiny person can occupy all the attention of a roomful of adults (and at how much entertainment value can be packed into such a small package). Not a day goes by at work when I'm not greeted as "Uncle Brian" or asked, "...and how is that little niece of yours today?" by staff and/or residents. Nary a phone call is made between family members without at least one story of the Pipsqueak's exploits, and if she is present it is a given at this point that she will want to say hello herself (sometimes literally saying "Hi!" and then "Bye!" and giving the phone back to a grownup, other times babbling on until the adults at either end have to beg to be allowed to speak with one another).
In short, that quiet, nearly bald little baby being handed to my sister in the photo above on a hot July day in 2010 is such an integral part of our lives that none of us can imagine what life would be like without her being near the center of it all.
Happy Birthday, Dad!
Happy Birthday, Cousin H!
Happy Birthday, Mom!
Happy Gotcha Day (plus), Pipsqueak!
We're all looking forward to many, many more.
Another major milestone was reached on Saturday evening after dinner. Upon returning to AJ's house, while our folks helped her with another project, I took down all but one of the remaining baby gates. Yes, those baby gates. The ones that were so difficult to mount that they earned their very own post back in 2011. Even more milestone-ish, unlike the last time my niece "helped" me with the gates (see the old post for details), at her insistence she actually did a fair portion of the work herself this time.
Oh, sure, there's still one in place at the top of the main stairs (AJ is worried about the Pipsqueak starting to wander out into the hall at night in the dark, too tired to clearly see the 1st step down onto the landing), but to quote Miri when I told her I was going to take down the baby gates: "Yay! I a big girl now!"
They may be a touch bittersweet, but we all have smiles on tonight.
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!