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!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Busy (Summer)Times

The problem with being busy and tired is that I tend to not get around to posting as often as I should... so, without further ado, here's a whole bunch o'fill-in from what seemingly overnight became "last month" when I wasn't looking...

My "tired" actually started before my last post. Having replaced a few widely scattered "squares" of the sidewalks in my neighborhood last year, the HOA finally wised up and just went ahead and had entire stretches of the chewed-up concrete replaced. Thus came the sudden sprouting of signs like the one below:

Since my schedule often has me just falling asleep not too long before the cut-off time to avoid getting towed, I parked at the neighborhood pool and walked home from there for a couple of nights. It was minor inconvenience, but after looking out the front window several days in a row during what was supposed to be "work time" and seeing the scene below, I was slightly less than thrilled...

Well, someone must've gotten my mental memo because sho' nuff, I was awakened by jackhammers the morning after I took that photo and was presented with the scene below:

Not much of a big deal... until you factor in my getting home a few minutes after 3:00am and the jackhammers starting at 7:45... Ugggh.... I've been thoroughly sleep-deprived for about three weeks now, and the photo above marks the beginning of that. In any case, there's now a bright new sidewalk all the way down my street. The Pipsqueak hasn't seen it yet, but is curious to see the white cement.

There have been bunches of critter sightings this summer, the kind that go beyond the usual squirrels, feral cats, and bunnies. I don't know what they fuzzy guy on the left might be, but I spotted him rooting around in my backyard early one afternoon. (Sorry for the photo quality, I shot through a double-pane, gas-filled 2nd floor window at close to maximum zoom.) The shot on the right came when I was at my folks' house the next day; I had gone to close the back drapes when I noticed someone taking advantage of a shady spot in the yard.  (Also shot through double-paned glass, this time with my iPhone.)

We didn't want to spook the deer so we told Miri she had to be very quiet when she was watching it through the window... so of course we spent the next several minutes getting loudly and actively shushed even when whispering as quietly as possible.

Our Long Island cousins came down for their annual visit/joint birthday celebration (Cousin H and Dad share the same birthdate, although quite a few years apart) and we all enjoyed the time together. The Pipsqueak is especially fond of Cousin A (who is making me feel very old by getting ready to start her last year of college in a few weeks), so she especially enjoyed the interlude and kept asking me if we could go visit New York sometime soon.

Among the activities (after the Lawnguyland clan attended a Nationals game decked out in full NY Mets regalia) were time watching the Pipsqueak play in the little inflatable pool our folks keep on hand for her. Of course, it's not just any old kiddy pool; it's got a separate inflatable staircase/slide (with an inflatable cushion permanently attached to the bottom of the pool with an inflatable giraffe head that hooks up to a hose and sprays the slide to keep it slippery. (At least, it's supposed to; Miri had to periodically aim the darn thing at the slide because it really just sprays water into the pool.)  Of course, it took at least three adults and an electric air pump to get the darn thing inflated, and then AJ, Cousin A and I took turns (at times determined by the Pipsqueak) helping Miri climb the steps and slide into the pool over and over and over and over and... Okay, it may have left me with a sore lower back, but it really was fun to see how much fun the Pipsqueak was having.

After AJ decided her daughter was sufficiently waterlogged (and had herself been splashed several times... you'd think by now she'd remember to bring along a change of clothing for herself as well as for her daughter [grin]), all the cousins piled into a couple of cars and headed for the nearby park.

In addition to riding on the train, the Pipsqueak was drawn to the carousel like iron filings to a magnet. I don't have any decent photos of her two carousel rides because she decided that her uncle, and only her uncle, would be a proper companion each time. (And don't you dare mistake that for a complaint -- it was an honor I thoroughly enjoyed!)

After getting a call that more cousins were at the house, we returned to the folks' and had a big multi-birhtday dinner. It was supposed to be for all the July birthdays, but as soon as the Pipsqueak heard "birthday" and "cake" we had to expand it to include June.  Miri helped Mommy frost the cake... correction, the cakes (plural).  It was supposed to be a layer cake, but she objected so vehemently and loudly to stacking the two cakes on top of each other that we simply went with spreading the candles out over a wider area. (I'm quite sure that in the Pipsqueak's mind, two cakes is better than one cake. It's hard to argue with logic like that...)

Oh, and despite it taking three adults (with several others kibitzing) almost five minutes to get all the candles lit, Miri blew out about half of them on her own in about five seconds.  I think she was just trying to fast-forward to the "eat the cake" part of the festivities.

Things began to return to what passes for normal 'round these parts, but AJ and I had to suddenly cancel long-standing plans to take the Pipsqueak to a kiddy park in PA (and hopefully meet up with one of the families we'd traveled with in China)... and then I had to keep staying late at work to prepare for training and/or meetings that kept getting rescheduled (usually after I'd gone in early!)... and then, after getting home just after 3:30 in the morning, I was awakened at 8:15 by something hitting the side of the house and I looked out the window to find...

Apparently the HOA finally got tired of all the complaints about debris not picked up after the last big storm (complete with EF0 tornado!) leveled a lot of trees, so they hired a contractor who drove their truck & industrial-sized wood chipper up onto the grass outside my bedroom window and began grinding wood... all day... <sigh>

The bottom line is, sleep deprivation or no, we've all made it through another round of birthdays with everyone relatively intact and in decent health, and my niece continues to amaze us all with new vocabulary and new dance moves on a near-daily basis... Things is pretty good, as they say.

And on that note, I'm going to sign off and go to sleep!

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