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, May 31, 2015

Catching Up on a Chaotic Month

Whoa, it happened again... that loud "whoosh" I heard must've been the month on May zooming past, because as I type this we're less than 24 hours from June!

I've been quiet here on the blog because, while this hasn't been a really horrible month, it's not exactly one of our better ones either. Several family medical misadventures, many a scrambled schedule, and sleep deprivation at least as bad as back in July 2010 but without the happy cause... Yeah, we've had worse, but May 2015 is not going into the history books as one of my favorite months.

The big medical news was that the Pipsqueak's Grandpa has (much to his own chagrin and occasional horror) been keeping us all on our toes lately; the big good medical news is that he now has a pacemaker and in general things are getting back to what passes for "normal" around here.

Still, you need a cloud in order to have a silver lining, so it hasn't been all bad... (although most of it has been exhausting)...

One result of all those appointments, implants, tests, and other etceteras was that Dad wasn't allowed to drive on & off since back in mid-April, so I ended up with a lot more "uncle duty" than usual.  I'd zoom crawl slowly with the rest of rush hour traffic up to Miri's school and pick her up at the after-school daycare, then either drop her at our folks' house or take her straight to work so AJ could then turn right around and take her back home.  The former was OK with the Pipsqueak (and she was really, really good about helping Grandma make sure Grandpa behaved himself!) while the latter would often elicit a happy, "Today is my lucky day!" or "YAY!" or similar outburst, often accompanied by something approximating a happy dance.

Sometimes she talks aaaalll the way to work -- sometimes expressing ideas in ways far beyond her age... Sometimes she spends the entire trip practicing for her teen years by ignoring "So what did you do in school today?" in order to better listen to her iPod... and sometimes she just conks out for a refreshing nap (leaving her uncle a little jealous -- although when I've told her she should drive so I can take a nap, she insists we can't because she doesn't know how to drive yet).

One of the more involved tasks I carried out was getting Miri to dance class. This requires getting to daycare at least 30-45 minutes earlier than usual (and I can hear anyone who knows me well laughing at the idea of me getting anywhere early, much less on time) and convincing my niece that she doesn't need to go down the hall to the water fountain or bathroom one more time before getting her home. Once there, I have to get her fed and into her dance duds while she insists on watching "Dancing with the Stars" with On Demand, all in under an hour.  (Miri has told me I'm doing a good job because, unlike her extremely tired Mommy, I have yet to forget to put water in the mac&cheese cup before heating it.)  I've even gotten good at navigating the weird traffic patterns at the tiny strip mall where the studio is located, and she has been ON TIME(!) every time. Take that, all you doubters!

Of course, there's also a lot of procrastinating that occurs when Miri joins us at work.  AJ is rarely able to leave at anything approximating a normal hour these days, so the Pipsqueak is free to bother  interfere with  engage either or both of us for quite a while before she & Mommy head home. She's gotten very good at politely asking our Dietary Director for orange juice, and will usually steal a cookie or something from Mommy's snack drawer... and then take it all down the hall to my office where she insists we have to use my laptop to watch YouTube videos until Mommy's done with her work. (Um, kiddo, your uncle has work to do, too...)  Then, assuming the weather's good, on the way out to her car Miri always takes time to check out the landscaping out front and see if the frequently-changing flowers smell good. (Upon inspecting her backpack, you will note that despite all the pop music she's asked me to put on her iPod, the "Frozen" soundtrack is still a fave.)

The Pipsqueak also has fun on those days I drop her at Grandma & Grandpa's house on the way to work. Sometimes she'll run in and make sure both get big hello hugs, and sometimes she'll leave me to carry all her stuff in from the car while studiously ignoring her grandparents on the way to see what's on TV, but most of the time is spent fully engaged with them in reading, drawing, talking, or even helping Grandma in the kitchen. Miri also usually takes time out to make sure I get a nice goodbye, even if sometimes she decides to be a scary monster (left below) or insists on showing me she can shake her tush just like they do on "Dancing with the Stars" (right below).


Lucky for us all, the craziness has subsided and (except for a few follow-up visits with this or that surgeon, specialist, et. al. for Dad) everybody's schedule is slowly but surely returning to our version of normal.

It's OK, I was stopped at a red light.
On the somewhat unfortunate side, it's going to be a while before all the Pipsqueak's adults manage to get over the sleep deprivation that's gone hand-in-hand with all the "adventures" we've been having. Since Miri's able to take naps (and is apparently powered by a fast-recharging nuclear reactor), she's been less affected by all the odd hours and schedule shifts, but even she is showing some of the side effects of a disrupted sleep schedule.  It got so bad for a while that AJ texted me this pic of Xuan with the caption, "At least ONE of my girls knows how to sleep!"

Still, all is good, especially considering some of the possible outcomes we've been dealing with. Earlier this month, Miri's Daisy troop marched in the annual Olney Days parade (and learned the valuable lesson that one should carry hard candies to throw to the crowd on a hot, sunny day and not chocolate). Even though I missed the parade -- guess who had weekend MOD duty and couldn't find anyone to swap dates with? -- we all got together the next evening for the closing fireworks show and a grand time was had by all.


We also had a big (informal) family get-together to celebrate Aunt D's birthday and a belated Mother's Day, and Miri had a wonderful time putting on a show and having Mommy, Uncle Brian, and Cousin E dance with her. (Fun but exhausting. But fun. <g>)  She also spent some time engaging in one of her all-time most favorite activities, making bubbles, made all the more fun by the presence of an appreciative audience cheering her on in her search for The Perfect String Of Bubbles.

To cap off the month, just this past Friday AJ was able to take Miri and our folks to see the old-style traveling circus that's in town!  I had to work but my sister helped make up for it by texting me a bunch of photos... and unlike last year, the Pipsqueak stayed awake for the entire show!  She apparently decided to skip the after-show pony rides out front, but is now well on her way to becoming an experienced camel wrangler and dahout...!

So there you have it... a chaotic, tiring, occasionally downright scary month is now just about past us, and I'm heading to bed (it's after 2:00am).  AJ was checking out booster seats today -- the Pipsqueak is FINALLY large/heavy enough for one! -- and I think I'm going to be taking my niece to a Brownie/Girl Scout event Sunday afternoon -- so I have a feeling the month's going out with a bang instead of a whimper.  We're all looking forward to a less chaotic and less harrowing June, so I'll be posting again here soon.

See y'all again soon...!

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