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!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Two New Milestones

Hey, wow, lookit this -- two posts in just a coupla days! (What better way to avoid finishing the longer posts that would get this poor, neglected blog caught up on January and February...?)

This week, we marked two new milestones in the Pipsqueak's ongoing saga, one expected (but of unknown timing) and one her Mommy has kinda-sorta been hoping for since the first "I hep" so many years ago.

The former is that we might have just left the Era of Velcro[1] Shoes. Miri's never been big on footwear of any kind, but to date it's always been sandals or buckle shoes or Velcro sneakers. Pink velcro sneakers. Dora the Explorer Velcro sneakers. Sofia the First Velcro sneakers. Light-up Velcro sneakers. Disney's "Frozen" Velcro sneakers. Disney's "Frozen" Velcro sneakers that light up with flashing red & blue lights with each step and leave prints in the shape of Olaf.

However, it had not escaped my niece's attention that most of her friends and classmates had graduated to wearing lace-up shoes & sneakers. A quick search by Grandma & Grandpa last week led to the discovery that the Pipsqueak is actually in between exact shoe sizes. I tried boosting her morale by telling her about all the times in junior & senior high when my feet weren't quite the right size for standard sneakers but fit just fine in some of the el cheapo off-brand footwear sold out of bins at Dart Drug and the like. (Dude, d'ya think anyone else is gonna remember Dart Drug?) Sure enough, just a couple of days later, a similar off-brand purchase (pink, of course!) had my niece in her first pair of "real" lace-up sneakers. She still gets help from various other family members from time to time, but it only took her a day to learn how to tie them all by herself. (Happily, when I told her she's getting to be a big girl now, she reminded me that she isn't even seven yet so she's only on her way to becoming one.)

The latter milestone was a pleasant surprise on Sunday. We were waiting for Cousin E and her SO to come for dinner to help celebrate my birthday (I am not, cannot be, cannot count as high as 57. I'm still only 16, dammit! Aren't I...?) and since AJ had drawn short straw for Weekend Manager duty, Mom & Dad had Miri at their house -- which pretty much guaranteed there would be nearly zero chance to do any cleaning to prepare for said dinner so I was "invited" to come early to keep the Pipsqueak occupied while Mom scrambled to finish cleaning & cooking.

As soon as Mom unlimbered her cranky, heavy, hard-to-maneuver 900 year old upright vacuum[2] I realized there was no way I was going to let her fight with the darn thing. I told Miri that I'd paint watercolor pictures with her in a little bit but first was going to vacuum for Grandma, who then warned Miri the machine was about to start making a lot of loud noise and turned it on.

Now, ever since Miri came home, she's had a serious dislike for the loud noise made by vacuum cleaners. Old, new, upright, canister, big, small, even handhelds -- she dislikes them and usually makes herself scarce while they're running.

Well, my niece sat on the family room couch and watched me start working with the crevice tool. Then she came over and stood beside me while I worked, carefully watching how I maneuvered the hose and vacuum.

And then she insisted that she wanted to do the vacuuming.

I spent the next 15 minutes or so watching in amazement as the Pipqueak (tentatively at first) maneuvered around first one room, then another, with a machine that literally weighs as much as she does, periodically giving her pointers on how to keep the crevice tool from jamming while clicking away with my camera. Then I disconnected the hose and began running the vacuum over the floor, and she again insisted on doing it herself, so I was treated to the sight of a little girl in monkey pajamas (long story) who normally would leave the room if a vacuum so much as came out of the hall closet pushing & pulling a big ol' beast of a machine around with a big smile on her face, calling out, "This is SO COOL!" every time it sucked in a particularly big bit of paper or clump of cat hair.


Needles to say, AJ was thrilled when I told her, and has high hopes that this big turnaround in Miri's attitude toward vacuuming will help her at home. Stay tuned...!

[1] Velcro is a registered trademark of Velcro Industries B.V.  It's also much easier to type repeatedly than "hook and loop cloth tape fastener" so I figured I'd better include proper attribution here. :-)

[2] Mom's had canister vacuums, tubular vacuums, rechargeable vacuums, even one of those fancy rides-on-a-sphere vacuums, and none of them has worked nearly as well or been as easy to use as the circa 1950 Electrolux my grandparents brought down from New York forty-some years ago.

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