...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]
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!