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!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

I Shoulda Known...

...that I would be late with my last Chinese New Year posting. Just like last year, we closed out our month-long(!) CNY celebration(s) with the annual CCACC luncheon. Since last year's venue was temporarily shut down a couple of months ago by the Health Department (yikes!), the event was held at a somewhat smaller restaurant that seemed hell-bent on making up for the lack of space with an overabundance of really good food. (Dude, I get the feeling you're not complaining... <burp>) In addition to the good food & good company, a big added bonus was finally getting to watch my niece perform a ribbon dance with three of her classmates from Chinese school. The ribbon may have been several feet longer than Miri is tall, but the girls did a fine job. Heck, I even won an Amazon gift card in the raffle! The event closed out with the usual bubble wrap "firecrackers" that rapidly morphed into a group of very happy, very loud young girls running around holding the long strip of bubble wrap over their heads like a miniature version of the Chinese dragons who'd performed at the end of the meal. All in all, a very nice way to close out our family's celebration of the Year of the Horse.

...that the Pipsqueak would continue to become less of a pipsqueak.  Several people have recently been heard to comment, "Wow, she's getting big!" and even Miri herself has begun taking some umbrage at comments including words like "little," "small," and so on.  There have been a few times lately where, in conversation with Grandma or Mommy or Uncle Brian, she's asked about the ladybug references that periodically come up. She seems to like the idea, so I'm probably going to begin using "Ladybug" as much as "Pipsqueak" as my niece's nickname... partly because it's become a better fit, and partly because she seems to like it more. :-)

...that my closest relatives are excellent conspirators. This past week, my year count hit the double-nickel mark. (Dude, you gotta stop joking about that matching your bank account... Um, it is a joke, isn't it...?) My actual birthday was a very low-key affair, celebrated primarily by my taking the evening off from work. The original family dinner plans were shelved when Miri got sick early in the week (happily, just a short bug), so my folks picked me up and we brought some fast food over to AJ's house where we had a heart-shaped birthday cake (chosen by & baked with help of Miri) and then watched Frozen on cable. (A pretty good movie, by the way!)  I was satisfied just spending a quiet birthday with the people most important to me while staying home during a week of really crappy evenings at work, but my sister and mother apparently had other ideas.  I shoulda known; they've staged highly successful surprise parties for my birthday several times in the past.

Talking with Mom when I got home Friday night, she reminded me some of our out-of-state cousins were in town and -- since Miri had been sick a few days earlier -- were getting together with us at AJ's house on Saturday. First clue: Your mother told you to "try to look a little nicer" when you asked if just jeans and a tee were good enough.  Saturday rolled around and I was very proud of myself when I was actually ready at the arranged pick-up time... and then surprised when I didn't hear from my folks for another 20 minutes, and then to say they were running late. Second clue: Your mother calling 20 minutes late and very calmly saying she & Dad were just running a little behind, no big deal.  We got to AJ's and my cousins hadn't arrived yet. Unusually, Miri called out "hello" from upstairs but didn't come downstairs to greet us... and when I heard her excitedly talking & playing with someone, AJ said one of the young children in the neighborhood had come over to play. Third clue: your niece ALWAYS comes to say hello to you... and that other little kid's voice sounds familiar. Strangely, none of the food Mom had spoken about bringing to the house was in evidence, and there was no talk of the family going out to eat together. Finally, after quietly conferring with AJ in the kitchen, Mom asked me to take something upstairs to Miri's room; I was met at the top of the stairs by an even more-hyper-than-usual Pipsqueak who excitedly blurted out something about "Mommy and I are making a surprise for you but I'm not supposed to tell you because it's a surprise!" before running and shutting herself into a nearby bathroom. Fourth clue: Your niece can't keep a secret and if she's talking about Mommy making a surprise, then Mommy is making a surprise.  AJ started to close the door to Miri's room but when I told her Mom asked me to put something in there, she just grinned and opened the door -- revealing one of my oldest friends (the familiar voice!) sitting there with a smile. My discovery of Janet was quickly followed by the arrival of my cousins... and then some unexpected friends... and more unexpected friends... and then even more unexpected friends... a pattern that was to be repeated until AJ's house was packed with a loud, happy crowd of friends & family (and food, lots of food, all hidden in the trunk of our folks' car until the right moment).  One of our friends had even prepared a game of "Brian Jeopardy" that had everyone laughing (and my friend Karel, who's known me for more than four decades, laughingly threatening to tell all present stories about Brian's Dark Side). The last folks left after 10pm, and a wonderful time was had by all. Definitely one of my better birthdays... thanks, gang!

...and that I'd be writing this when I shoulda been asleep in bed, already. So I think that now I'll just say goodnight.

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