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!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Happy Celebration Day!

Whoops... falling behind again... gonna have to do something about that one of these days... :-)

In any case, yesterday was an important day. I mean, a really important day. It was the Pipsqueak's 4th Gotcha Day, and it was her Grandpa's 84th birthday. (And, just to make sure another very important day doesn't get lost in the mix, tomorrow is her Grandma's 80th birthday!)

Miri thinks all the special dates are important... mainly because they involve cake and presents, but also because they mark special events in the lives of her family. We started hearing about Grandpa's birthday and her Gotcha Day (not always in that order) about two weeks ago, and the reminders came with increasing frequency until last Thursday evening when she ran over to her Grandpa and told him, "Saturday is my Gotcha Day and your birthday!" and then immediately turned around to Mommy and Grandma and told them, "You can't celebrate because it's my Gotcha Day and Grandpa's birthday, only we can celebrate!" Of course, there was that big, teasing smile on her face, and she laughed and went back to occupying everybody's time in whatever way she felt best.

On Saturday, I got to the house a little later than planned, and Mom told me that Miri just couldn't wait so she had already opened the small gifts we'd gotten to mark her Gotcha Day. (Dude, you better let everyone know you didn't ignore your folks; they enjoyed "The Pirates of Penzance" at a nearby dinner theater today compliments of their kids.) My niece was, to be understated, absolutely wired; talking nonstop, running around nonstop, telling stories about when she was a baby in China nonstop, and sometimes literally just bouncing up & down in place to burn off excess energy. (At one point, watching her daughter do a passable imitation of a basketball being dribbled, AJ commented, "And I was afraid she wouldn't learn how to jump...")

Then things got a little complicated.

We had been trying to coordinate with Uncle M, Aunt D, and Cousin E down in Virginia to spend some time together to celebrate our folks' joint birthdays and Gotcha Day, and when you're trying to squeeze that many people with complicated schedules into a small window of opportunity, well... You know what I mean. We had finally come up with a plan that worked when it occurred to me that no one had called the restaurant. Sure enough, they would be able to seat our entire group... at separate booths. Mom's quickly-developed Plan B fell apart the instant I tried to call the (closed) restaurant, and Plan C fared no better. Happily, after several "adventures" with the 411 system, the nice lady who answered the phone at the Chinese restaurant where we'd attended this year's CCACC Chinese New Year banquet said, "Of course! Party of eight? No problem!"

We phoned in a mid-course correction to aunt, uncle and cousin (cell phones do come in handy sometimes!), then scrambled to get out the door & get to the restaurant not too long after they did. I won't go into detail on the food (it was all good, and I've got at least one more meal's worth in my freezer) but we all had a pleasant, unhurried block of family time before temporarily breaking up. Miri's contingent stopped to buy a birthday cake while the VA contingent stopped at a nearby furniture store to buy a table (long story), and then we all had some more family time at Mom & Dad's house complete with birthday cake, blowing out of candles, and another demonstration by my niece that China does indeed produce nuclear-powered kids. (To be fair, I have to mention her 15-minute recharge nap in the car on the way back to the house.)

After UM, AD & CE headed home later in the evening, we watched the video I'd made last year about AJ & Miri's Red Thread Story... and then watched it again at Miri's insistence. Sometimes she talked through it, sometimes she insisted I read the scrolling text to her, but mostly she watched, laughing at some pictures and asking about others. A couple of times she failed to recognize herself as a baby (a little surprising, since usually she doesn't have a problem with that), while a few other images gave rise to stories about things she "remembered" doing while we were in China.

It was interesting to see how different her reaction was to the video this time (last summer she was just enthralled to recognize her name on the TV screen), and how it triggered stories about things she did with Mommy and Uncle Brian that we both knew were on-the-spot inventions... but important to her because they involved her doing things with Mommy and Uncle Brian even when she was very little. I think I detect that sharp little mind of hers beginning to work on wrapping itself around aspects of adoption that have so far been quietly laying in the background. Even so, Miri just seemed to want to watch (and comment on and laugh at) the photos of her first 3+ years with us.

AJ & Miri headed home around 10:30 (with yours truly following them out the door), with everyone feeling content after a pleasant, low-key family day spent celebrating together.

PS - Sorry for the lack of images, but despite having my iPhone and a regular camera with me, I actually didn't take any photos!

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