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!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Maryland is for Crabs...

...or (at least for our group of China adoption friends), getting together in a place that offers crabs on the menu, everyone orders whatever they'd like.

Sunday was our annual "crab feast" get-together with the group of families who all helped each other through The Wait, and although a couple of my fellow Y chromosome carriers were missing, there was a pretty good turnout. Since Mom & Dad needed to go on (unplanned) safari for a new washing machine, AJ thought it would be nice for me to drive while she just sat back for a change (her van is the only family vehicle that can carry they whole family comfortably, so she often ends up chauffering). I got to burn a bit of carbon out of they cylinders on the four-banger, and my GPS actually agreed with Google Maps for a change, so even the getting there & back was enjoyable.

I don't know how impressed I am with where we met this year; the food was good, but the crab cakes were a tad on the small side and all the food took forever and a half to get to the table, with orders filled in seemingly random order. Even with AJ temporarily slipping into Mama Bear mode and chewing on a couple of the wait staff, Miri's order was one of the last delivered -- so late, in fact, that some of the group had already finished their meals. For those of you who've tried dining out with a hungry little one who can only sit & watch the people around her eating while her mini-pizza remains MIA... well, you know what that can be like.

But enough of the complaining (we've experienced plenty worse). The important thing is that we all had a really, really nice afternoon. There was the usual catching up, the comparing of heights and hair lengths and such, and generally just A Good Time was had by all.  At times dealing with all the kids was a bit like herding cats... who were hungrily chasing flying fish... that were zig-zagging among other tables on the restaurant's outside patio... all accompanied by an assorted collection of motorcycles, drag racers, jet engines, and megawatt stereos all trying to drown each other out. (I'll repeat a question I've asked since we were in China: How can anyone that small make such a big noise?!?)

One "waitaminit" moment came when the mother of the youngest & most recently adopted little girl mentioned that they'd just had their one-year checkup with their social worker; when did an entire year go by (and how did it slip past unnoticed)? Yikes!  I had to look at the Pipsqueak's long hair & long bangs, her sure-footed running and marching, her (loud!) participation in all kinds of shenanigans with the other kids, and her carefully-crafted artwork (well, we call it "art" [grin]) to realize just how far we've all come.  I know it's not just me noticing the changes; I caught bits of "should we try another mommies-only get-together, or just go somewhere that's OK for the kids" and such during some of the lulls in kid noise... This in a group of families that started as a bunch of mommies-to-be banding together for support & information as they began their respective paperchases.

But it's all good; those nearly-unherdable kittens are all growing (seemingly in leaps and bounds), and even the littlest seems to have no trouble finding a comfortable niche in the all cacophanous action. I ate far too many carbohydrates (along with several bites of Miri's mini-pizza) and drank a lot of very sugary soda without even pretending to try to include anything remotely green and/or healthy, but it was just good to sit with Friends Who Know and catch up on all the usual stuff that families go through.

And I know deep down inside that somehow the day after tomorrow, or just one day after that, the group will be smaller, the kids won't really be kids any more, and much of the China experience(s) we all talk about will be dim, blurry memories.

But today was a beautiful, sunny day, and AJ, Miri and I got to spend it with some good friends who really understand all the bits & pieces of what this family went though...

...and it was good. [smile]

Monday, September 16, 2013

Something Else Worth Remembering

As part of the follow-up to the recent multi-day Comcast outage, I've been reviewing the contents of the blog and found a few draft posts that I thought were actually published. Most of them are unlikely to ever see the light of day (Dude, that's why they give you that pop-up "delete" link!) but a few will show up later on after I've rewritten them. However, the most recent of the unpublished drafts is a complete post that I really did intend to publish. Although it's now 2-1/2 months old it says some things I still want to say -- so I'm publishing it now, verbatim, as originally written.  Assuming my Internet connection doesn't "go away" of its own accord again, I'll be posting more current info & photos soon... but please read what I intended to post back in early July.

Note to New Visitors: If you're looking for my post about Teresa Bartlinski, it's the one from July 2nd. Ann Bartlinski has also posted it to her blog, and I've left the link on the Pray for Teresa B. group on Facebook.   Now that I know what I wrote is OK with Ann & Ed, I plan to leave the post here on my blog both as a memorial to a very(!) special little girl and as a reminder for yours truly to review as needed to keep things in the proper perspective.

I want to thank everyone who's read my post about Teresa Bartlinski for all the wonderful comments. All I did was put my feelings, perhaps clumsily, into words. She was (as AJ and I and our folks have been saying to each other repeatedly for the past day) a very special little girl and the kind of human being there are far too few of in this world.

I've seen an astonishing jump in the readership of this blog, and I hope that anyone who chooses to keep visiting isn't disappointed by future posts; I'm not always the most erudite writer, and the majority of my posts are quite a bit more prosaic and less philosophical... but you are all very welcome to follow along on the adventure of the Pipsqueak's life (interrupted by the occasional philosophical treatise or even more occasional plain ol' rant).

While looking at the Blogger stats, I noticed that while a number of my more recent posts are getting a lot of hits, one in particular from this past April just doesn't seem to be attracting much attention... but I think it ties in well with some of what I've been seeing in the extended adoption community for the past few days. It's titled, "No Smoke or Mirrors Required" -- note that it was composed during the wee hours of the morning so please forgive any grammatical oddities or stilted/cliched presentation of ideas.   (As an added bonus, it's short... at least in terms of my usual ramblings!)

And remember -- as I once told a friend on a particularly dark day in September 2001 -- always remember to tell someone you love that you love them, because you never know when you'll get another chance.

Thank you again, Ann, for such a gracious acceptance of my post in your family's time of pain. Refuah Shlemah. Thank you again, Teresa, for the amazing example you have set for us all. And thank you, my beloved niece, for seeing me as such a special person; you've set the bar high, and I'll be a much better person for even just trying to live up to your expectations.

Sunday, September 15, 2013


I'll keep this short...

Since my last post, the family's had a series of adventures & misadventures (e.g., Dad very unexpectedly spent 3 nights in the hospital) and all kinds of other "stuff" has been going on, capped by Comcast "going away" for about 2-1/2 days for no apparent reason just as all the dust seemed to be settling. I have a few things to catch y'all up on but right now it's about 3:15 in the morning (I suddenly popped wide awake a while ago & decided to catch up on all the email & blogs that piled up) so I'll just say "it's not my fault this time!" and let it go at that.

<sigh> <yawn>

A "shanah tovah" to one and all, and here's hoping everyone is healthy, happy, and well-rested!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Just A Coupla Quick Pipsqueakisms

It's Rosh Hashonah so I'm keeping this short -- I have to get up early to make it to morning services but wanted to share a couple of things Miri came up with this evening.

She's got something against socks; always has, probably always will. Any chance to not wear socks with shoes is A Good Thing. So... fast-forward to the ride home from services this evening, for which she had donned a pretty summery frock (with a pair of shorts underneath "just in case") and a brand-spankin' new pair of shiny black party shoes. AJ had convinced her daughter that she would be wearing socks under her new shoes, but on the way home both shoes & socks were (as usual) moved to a location geographically separate from the general environs of the Pipsqueak's feet.  When told she had to put her socks back on to get out of the car & walk into Grandma & Grandpa's house for apples & honey, Miri insisted she did not, would not, could not need socks... and proved it by putting on both shoes and (with a big smile) saying, "See, Mommy? They cumpatle!"  (The best part is listening to AJ try to reproduce her daughter's version of "comfortable"!)

The other Pipsqueakism came not too long afterwards as I was strapping Miri into her seat. Suddenly, out of the blue, she looked at me, smiled, and said, "Uncle Brian, you are the right size for your head!"  Even the Jiujiu can't figure out where that one came from... but I'm taking it as a compliment. :-)

PS - I had one of those omigawd moments walking back to the car when the services had ended. There are several concrete benches outside the entrance, and as I watched my graceful, long-haired niece nonchalantly plop down onto one for a moment I flashed back to our first Rosh Hashonah with a semi-bald little toddler who walked like a drunken Frankenstein, when the same bench was roughly chest-high on her and she had to be lifted up to wobble up & down its length. To quote a newspaper cartoon Mom cut out & saved a while back, "The days are long but the years go fast!"

A "shana tovah" to one and all...!