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!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Happy New Year! (?)

Ooh, I'm late. Like, LAAAAAATE in wishing everyone a happy new year.

It's the year of the sheep... or perhaps the goat, or maybe (according to some sources) the ram.  Maybe I'll just refer to it as Year Of A Hoofed Mammal That Says "Baah" or something like that. Yeah, that'll  work.

I haven't posted for a while because life, already a complicated proposition, has become much more complicated of late. That's the cupcake; the icing is a healthy dose of exhaustion, and that pastel-colored pleated paper cup that you bake the cupcake in is just a big ol' dose of stress. There's a limit to how much up-close-and-personal family information I'm going to run up the flagpole, but not everything is going smoothly in Pipsqueakland.

For some time now, Miri's Grandpa hasn't always been feeling well. Sometimes it's pain, sometimes it's just plain ol' feeling extra-super-duper-cruddy. There've been a number of doctor visits, several specialist visits, and more are planned... but as I type this, he's in the hospital (for a couple of days now) and is doing "okay" but that's about the best way to put it. He's expected home on Wednesday (an extra relief for the Pipsqueak's Grandma, who's been sleeping in a chair next to him the whole time) but we all suspect life's going to be a little different from now on... and those few words are hiding several gigatons of stress, worry, concern, and sleeplessness for all the Pipsqueak's grownups (and even a bit for the Pipsqueak herself, thanks to that amazingly big, open, loving heart of hers). I'm not going to go into any more detail for the time being, but it's been a hell of a way to start off a new year.

All has not been horrible and hospital since my last post, but I'm fighting to keep my eyes open so I'll let my camera do some of the talking for a bit. First up, the annual FCC-Maryland Chinese New Year celebration (the one that got snowed out last year):

Miri's in the foreground (in pink); she always has fun feeding the lion!
After "feeding" the lion, Miri noticed a few red envelopes that had dropped to the floor and was worried the lion wouldn't get a chance to eat them, so she made sure to pick them up and had me help her chase the lion around the room with the dropped envelopes...

That's me in the checkered shirt; we're trying to feed the lion several envelopes it had dropped.
AJ got several good shots of us with my camera despite us chasing the lion all over the place.
I had to laugh out loud at one point; after feeding the lion several times with dropped envelopes picked up from the floor, Miri decided other people should have a chance to feed him and began waving a handful of envelopes in the air while calling out, "Does anybody want some money?!?"

As usual, the Tai Yim Kung Fu group did a great job with the lion dance!
To close out the celebration, we couldn't use firecrackers indoors so several large rolls of assorted bubble wrap met their happy, noisy demise under a small herd of jumping kids.

The Pipsqueak got a little help from Mommy after she (as usual) took off her shoes.
Unfortunately, Old Man Winter decided he'd skipped over our area one time too many, so it wasn't too many days after the photos above that I took several photos very much like the following while spending the night at work:

This was around 10pm; there was a whole lot more white stuff by morning!
You'll notice is said "spending the night at work" and NOT "sleeping at night at work" -- I dozed for maybe 30 minutes all night, and after shoveling the front walk twice during the night was outside at 6:30am with our Environmental Manager and one of his intrepid crew working to clear the walkways & parking lot and dig out the cars of the staff who'd overnighted with us. I got home around 10:30, dug out my parking spot & front walk, took a nap, and was back at work the next evening. (Ugh.)

All that mess (and some additional wintery goop) caused postponement lion dance luncheon that our "MIT Group" had planned to attend, so we kept hoping things would improve. Unfortunately, the weather seemed to have found a new groove...

I've got waaay too many photos that look like this one...!
Luckily, there was enough of a break in the unpleasant (I'm being understated) weather to allow everyone to attend the annual CCACC CNY celebration at Lakeforest Mall where -- unlike last year, when I had to work -- I got to watch Miri and her classmates perform a ribbon dance. The girls did a fantastic job (even though the Pipsqueak was shorter than everyone else, including the ribbons) and got a nice ovation from the crowd. We were especially proud of Miri's performance because about halfway through she had a bit of a wardrobe malfunction as her decorative belt dropped off and got tangled with her feet. She handled it like a pro, getting right back up and (after my sister practically teleported to the spot to take the errant belt and then teleported back to her seat) picking up her next move right on cue with nary a misstep. Later, as we sat watching some of the other groups perform, she said something to me about being unhappy her performance hadn't been perfect, so we had a long talk about how that type of thing sometimes happens even to professional dancers, and about how what was really important was that she got right back up and continued dancing and how proud we all were of her for being so grown-up about it and not letting the problem stop her. I know she got the message because her smile could've lit up the whole mall.

My niece's budding prowess as a dancer notwithstanding, Old Man Winter came back into the picture with even more slop, goop, and general yuck, so the postponed lion dance luncheon ended up being a total washout. It might have been just as well, because along the way Dad had a couple more of those unpleasant episodes, and then the Pipsqueak herself came down with a really, really ugly stomach virus that's left AJ's van smelling slightly of puke and Lysol. (Not exactly the world's loveliest scent, in case you were curious.)

Then Dad came down with the same virus... and then came the evening I actually crossed paths with the ambulance taking him (with Mom in tow) to the hospital as I took the Pipsqueak to work so AJ could take her home from there... So now here we are, hoping to be able to attend the CCACC New Year banquet this weekend (Miri and classmates are scheduled to repeat their dance at the event) and keeping our fingers, toes and eyes crossed waiting to see how Dad's going to be faring.

Hell of a way to start a new year, but we're all still together, and that (for this family, at least) is What Counts.

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