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, February 17, 2014

Celestial Dandruff Instead of Dragons

Normally at this time of year I'd be writing about the FCC Chinese New Year event.  Over the last few years, I've taken lots of photos, watched the kids running around and having a blast just being kids, and even slung hash helping out with the lunch.

Well... welcome to "Snowmageddon II," everybody! (Ugh.)

We started hearing rumors of bad weather approaching over the weekend, with the rumors quickly morphing into a Winter Weather Advisory from the National Weather Service.  Remembering the winter of 2009-2010, I began worrying about getting stuck at work -- and proved to be a better fortune-teller than perhaps was absolutely necessary. The Advisory became a Watch, which morphed into a Warning, and we all began to worry about getting stuck at work.

On Tuesday night, I reminded our Nursing staff about the company's bad weather policy and reviewed safe winter driving tips with several of the more nervous staffers, then returned home (late, as usual) and made sure I had all my laundry done. Late on Wednesday afternoon, I packed my old carry-on, then decided to add a little more "just in case" -- again, doing a better job of foreseeing the future than I would like before heading out to work.

I'll let my camera tell the story of the next few hours...

Wednesday, February 12, 10:49pm:

 Thursday, February 13, 2:49am:

 Thursday, February 13,  6:54am:

The three photos above were taken looking out the front door at work. What they don't show is the repeated trips out & back on the main walk with snow shovels in a (vain) attempt to keep it clear; I remember one 30-minute sojourn where we cleared the walk all the way down to concrete, and yet it had a full inch of fresh snow on it by the time we reached the other end.

I wasn't alone staying overnight at work; in addition to the Nursing staff, I had the Administrator, Director of Nursing, Environmental Manager, Nurse Practice Educator, two Unit Managers, and even the Activities Manager for company. It may sound happy & chummy, but the result was that all the good spots for sleeping were taken -- so I ended up trying to sleep in my office chair. Let's just say the key word there was "trying" and most definitely not "sleeping" -- thus my strong, heartfelt desire to head home sometime during the day on Thursday.

Unfortunately, my boss said he did indeed expect me to return to work as usual that night, and within moments of digging my car free & leaving the driveway, I heard a weather forecast for more snow and freezing rain expected to arrive just at I was supposed to be driving back... so I reluctantly turned around and returned to work. Then...

Thursday, February 13, 2014 6:29pm:

Finally, after another nearly-sleepless night (I'll admit to sneaking a 70-minute nap in an empty bed on Thursday afternoon), and some more shovel work to once again get my car loose from Old Man Winter's snowy grasp, I finally returned home on Friday morning -- and promptly spent over two hours shoveling nonstop to clear a spot in which to park.  Notice how, in the photo below (taken at 12:30pm), the pile of snow is actually slightly higher than my vehicle...

Of course, I had to return to work on Friday night, which I did after logging a total of slightly less than seven hours of sleep (and slightly over five hours of shoveling snow) over the preceding three days. This left me not only thoroughly bleary-eyed, it also left me worrying about being able to wake up in time to get to Saturday's FCC CNY event.  My concerns became moot later in the evening when AJ called to say the event had just been cancelled because the forecasts called for even more snow.

Saturday morning (yes, I really did manage to wake up before noon!) dawned bright and sunny, and I began to wonder if maybe, just maybe, everything should have been left as planned... until this happened:

So, needless to say, there are no stories of feeding lots of hungry people in a very short time, or of interesting items found at the silent auction, or... well, no stories of the FCC CNY event for the Year of the Horse. We're hoping we can attend a rescheduled event (or receive at least a partial refund), but for the time being the score is Old Man Winter 1, Chinese New Year 0.

Oh, well... at least I got lots of exercise shoveling snow...!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Happy New Year of the Horse, everybody!

Sorry for the gap in postings; in between life in general, work in general, and this absofreakinglutely ridiculous weather, I haven't been able to sit & post until now.  (Dude, don't forget to mention that you've been at work since Wednesday afternoon and won't make it home until midday Friday...)

In any case, celestial dandruff or not, we've been enjoying our new year.  Of the three new year celebrations the Pipsqueak's family celebrates, this one is always the longest; different weekend events stretch the celebration out over several weeks -- literally a different new year celebration every weekend for the entire month!

One special CNY event last Saturday featured Miri's class from the CCACC school performing a ribbon dance at one of the big local malls that hosts a big week-long CNY event every year. I'd love to post photos but... well, I had weekend manager duty and by the time it was clear what time the Pipsqueak's class would be onstage, there was no way (short of teleportation) that I could get there on time. To say I was unhappy about missing my niece's first "real" public performance is something of an understatement -- but AJ and our folks got some nice photos & video, and a family friend has reassured me he has very good video that I'll be able to see soon. (I'll also have another chance to see the performance at the CCACC CNY banquet in a couple of weeks.)

The next CNY event for the family was the annual celebratory lunch that our group of adoption friends holds every year. (The very nice lady who organizes the event somehow manages to herd all the cats with seemingly effortless grace year after year, I have no idea how but she pulls it off each time.) The restaurant where we've met for the past several years didn't have a special CNY event this year, so we tried a new venue that worked out very well. (We had to laugh when, as the families were still gathering, the manager politely asked us to keep it to a low roar, and then the lion dance was so loud we were all covering our ears... but I digress...)  Our "usual" spot always had a dragon, and then a lion, sometimes two -- so almost from the moment we got into AJ's van the Pipsqueak was asking if there would be two lions this year. Mom explained that we didn't know but that it was likely there would be only one, so when we were joined by two, and then three of the beasts, Miri turned to her and said, "See, Grandma? I told you there would be two!"

We'll be attending the big FCC CNY event this coming weekend (weather & road conditions permitting), and then the CCACC CNY banquet the next weekend, and I'll try to post some photos... In the meantime, here are a few quick views of the herd (pride?) of lions at our CNY luncheon last weekend...

And, just to show how hard-working those performers really are, here's the jester (who actually did the Bump with one of the moms in our group!) as he made his exit...

So, as I forlornly watch still more of that white flaky stuff falling onto the walkway that I've helped clear several times (starting at 5:30 in the morning!), I wish you all a Happy New Year of the Horse!