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!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Congratulations and Happys to One and All

Nope, there aren't any typos in the title; I meant to type "happys" no matter how redly the editor underlines it.

(Quick note: Yes, I'm terribly horribly awfully behind on posting... again. I'll point an accusing finger at Messrs. Exhaustion, Todo, and Havoc and let them explain -- or try to once they stop guffawing evilly at me. I'll be hopping almost randomly around the calendar over the next few posts so please just bear with me. Thanks.)

July 12 is a special day in our family.  It's Cousin H's birthday. It's Dad's birthday. It's just 48 hours shy of Mom's birthday. And it is, and forever shall be, the Pipsqueak's Gotcha Day. Add in a few assorted happy milestones among other close relatives, the Long Island clan's annual visit, and a rare visit by some of the Florida clan, and what better reason for a big family party?

Actually, it all started on the 11th, when the northern batch of visitors (who'd actually spent the night in Bawlmer to watch the Nationals lose to their favorite team at Camden Yards) came to our folks' house to just chill, spend family time, and try to catch each other up on all the craziness that's become our daily lives. I'm not posting photos of the "event" because most of them would show us in ones, twos, and threes in various poses of either repose or consumption of edibles, usually with arms at odd angles and really funny but embarrassing mid-exposition facial expressions. However, there were a couple of surprise guests that spent some time in the backyard, so their photos are posted below for your perusal.

First, Mom said, "I think I see another deer in the yard!"

Then several of us realized there were two deer, a mama and this fine-looking youngster:

The two posed for a quick family portrait before heading off across the street...

We all watched to make sure they got across safely (they did), and then a neighbor approached with their dog on a leash and even the spotted fawn put on a surprising burst of speed out of sight. The rest of the day & evening were pleasant and noisy but uneventful, and we parted with pleasant anticipation of the next day's family get-together.

Since I have the only feline-free house and a couple of cousins are allergic to said four-footed family members, I had spent most of the previous week scrambling furiously to get my house ready to host a bunch of people.  (I won't go into the embarrassing details, let's just say I'm a single guy, usually very tired, not much interested in housework, and I live alone. There's a reason I often wonder aloud if it would be easier to run a vacuum or just drive a bulldozer through the place... so when I say "scrambling furiously," I mean it!) Since I was going to be hosting close relatives who know me well instead of "guests," I had a little extra wiggle room -- and I stretched that to its limit, but everyone admitted the place looked darn good. It didn't hurt that I'd just had a 20-plus-year-old sleep sofa and the dead 32" TV that had spent a few months in the middle of the living room hauled away on Friday... but that's all for another post.

The last stragglers had just arrived when again Mom said, "I think I see a deer in the yard!" and sure enough there was a doe cautiously poking its head out of the trees that mark the edge of the neighborhood no more than 20 feet from the back of my house:


If the deer looks like it's looking right at you in the 2nd photo, that's because Miri had run up to the window and was busy waving hello. The doe stared at my niece for a good minute before slipping back out of sight into the trees, leaving the Pipsqueak wondering aloud why it didn't come closer to talk. (I wasn't quite as disappointed; I've lived here since 1988 and it's maybe the 5th or 6th time I've seen deer in my backyard.) The excitement over, everyone spread out over the 1st floor of the house, doing the usual things my family does.

Cousin Brian (our only licensed pilot) helped Dad reminisce about his flying days in the Navy...

The Long Island clan's radio-control car served its usual obstacle-blasting duty, piloted for the first time by young Cousin S...

Cousin Brian & daughter demonstrated that the Pipsqueak's not the only member of the family who has a unique relationship with gravity...

And eventually it was time for the cake!

Of course, some of the happys referred to in the pink script were birthdays, so candles were de riguer. In fact, they seemed to magically multiply, with those of us at the dining room table calling back to the candle sorters in the kitchen how many of each color had already been placed until we basically ran out of cake to put candles on:

Lighting that small forest proved difficult, since two people started lighting candles from opposite sides and very quickly left each other with no angle at which to hold a match that didn't require one or both to basically roast their hands in the flames of the candles that had already been lit. We settled on using the one remaining long-ish candle to quickly transfer flame from wick to wick, but the heat was so intense it almost melted the candle before its task was done (look closely at the photo and you'll see several yellow patches where wax had dripped from the candle onto the cake).

There was some discussion over who should be blowing out all the candles (and several comments during Mom's "roll call" of all the events being celebrated along the lines of, "They'll all burn out before we're done!" or "We'll get to eat the cake tomorrow, right?") until it was decided that the two birthday boys and the Gotcha Girl whose special date was that day should all blow out the flames. There was a loud group count from one to three and then with several loud huffs and puffs the conflagration was safely extinguished.

The cake proved to be an excellent chaser to pizza, chips, salad, and the assorted snack foods spread around the house, and the entire event ended with all heading in their respective scattered directions laden with "care packages" of cake and pizza. (The huge bag of frozen BBQ chicken wings unfortunately remained forgotten in my freezer until Wednesday, but we were all too full to care.)

And that is how we celebrated the Pipsqueak's 5th Gotcha Day, with congratulations and happys to one and all!

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