Sunday, December 10, 2006

Looking Forward to a New Week

This week has been a challenge to say the least. It started out Sunday, when we found lice in Jay and Eli’s hair on the way home from church. Well, that changed our Sunday from a relaxing one, into a “getting rid of lice” one. That was no fun! I cut Jays hair really short, and spent over 3 hours on removal from their hair. Then there was the washing of everything, and bagging…you know the routine! It wasn’t fun. Then, they stayed home from school on Monday. Eli certainly won’t let himself get bored! He found plenty to do while at home. Cutting pants and putting my make-up all over himself, are among some of the ideas he had. Tuesday, all were back at school!

Thursday morning, Caitlin and Rachel woke-up to water all over her bedroom floor. She could hear something coming from downstairs. We had a lovely wake-up. We have terrible plumbing, and terrible toilets. Rachel could hear water running, and it was all over her bedroom. (this was 5:00am) We came downstairs, and it was pouring like a waterfall from every light fixture. There was at least 2 inches of water everywhere, clear into the kitchen. I want to say, maybe 30 square yards. Also, we turned off the water from the toilet, and filled more than 10 5 gallon buckets as the ceiling cleared itself out. Did I mention it was pouring all over the entertainment center? The Big screen TV, the Sound system, DVD player...everything. It was lots of work. Apparently, the toilet mechanism didn't work right, and the toilet didn't stop filling. The pipe was clogged further down the drain, and the drain that is in the bathroom didn't work. It wasn't a really great day. I think we will all have a fear of toilets when we leave. Anyway, the owner came on Saturday to offer his kindness to pay half of the bill! So this is the big drama at the moment. I guess we see who has the most stamina! Yesterday, the heater broke, and we were very cold last night. But, they fixed it today. I’m hoping that is our third problem, as they say they come in threes, right? We should be good for at least a week!

Some really nice things happened this week as well. Mike and I were able to see Rachel play in a Basketball game. She did really well. Mike and I were able to celebrate our 16th anniversary. We had a wonderful evening. Caitlin, Jay, and Eli had a fun sleep-over at the school, and Rachel and Nicole had a dance. We are all excited for Christmas. The kids get out of school this Friday, and we will go over-night to Shanghai.

Some Photos...

Happy Birthday Caitlin!

Ready for the Christmas Ball. Doesn't Mike look great?

Cooking with Yulan and her friends

Saturday, December 02, 2006

It's December...

We've had a good couple of weeks. The girls survived their semester exams, Mike survived his "company bonding" trip, and Caitlin made it to eleven. Jay and Caitlin have been practicing hard with their circus training. They are actually pretty impressive. Especially Jay with his diablo (no idea how to spell that) which is like a Chinese yoyo. Now, we really will be the Wadley Family Circus. We got our Christmas decorations put up last weekend. We found a really big fake tree, and with all of the decorations and lights, it doesn't look too bad! We had a great time decorating it, and the kids decorated our last year's tree (remember the sad one?) upstairs. Back to Mike and his company trip. They went to an outbound resort, or that's what it called itself. He wasn't excited to sleep in the very short beds, and eat the very chinese meals. Anyway, he said it turned out good. One funny moment, was when he thought he was telling his Chinese co-workers he was too fat: Tai Peng le! Instead, he was saying: Tai Bang le, which means, " I'm really great!" Well, they kept agreeing with him, and when he found out he was saying how great he was, he was so embarrassed!!!

Caitlin had a nice birthday. Mike and I took her to dinner on Wednesday night, to a Lebonese restaraunt. Not your typical 11 year old choice! Things are different here. Anyway, it was fun. She is growing up so much. She had her traditional spaghetti dinner on Thursday (although, I have now been taught by my Italian friend, how to make Ragu official!) and Brownies with a chocolate chip cookie dough frosting. I'm still sick from the richness of it all. She got a rasor scooter, and a handmade Teddy that looks just like Mr. Bean's bear. Eli gave her a special gift: He asked her if she wanted a foot massage (he hears us talking about foot massages a lot as they are so cheap here!) for her birthday. She said, sure, and he gave her a very vigorous back massage with his feet!

Mike and I got a phone call at 1:30 am this week! It was my brother Todd, announcing his engagement to Jennifer. We are so excited for him! Now that I have seen a picture, I have to say,"Way to go, Oggie!" I am so excited to meet her.

Yesterday, my friend Yulan brought over a bunch of her classmates from the Chinese School of Medicine. They were very excited to learn some baking. They wanted to make an apple cake, some cookies, and some muffins. There were eight of them. They were all so much fun, and enthusiastic! I had a great afternoon. They want to come back and learn some savory dishes next time.

Last night was the young women sleep-over here at our house. I think they had fun. It is now Saturday morning, and they have been busy in the kitchen making every kind of pancake you can imagine.

Tonight is the expat Christmas Ball. I am excited for it, as I will get my husband to dance with me! It's fun to dress-up, too! I'll post a picture.

Well, Nanjing is getting colder, though not unbearable yet. The kids are looking forward to Christmas, and we all can't wait for Kellee and Jared to get here the day after.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

We're back!

Nicole, on her 7Th grade trip...yummy! OK, more pretty than tasty.
"Look, it's a rare form of crow!" "Oh my! How educational!"

Additionally,Rachel and Nicole each discovered on their trip, that not all budas are fat!
Happy Birthday to Rachel!

Just driving down the street next to this guy...

I have not been able to get on my blog for almost a whole month! I'm so glad to be back! Here are a few things that have gone on while I've been away...

Rachel and Nicole went on their trips the first week of November. They each had a very memorable time. They came back with loads of photos, and some really fun stories. A couple of highlights we heard about: Rachel was the dumpling queen; eating the most dumplings out of all of the girls...17 dumplings. Mike was quite proud. The boy with the most ate 30 something. She also spent one evening ill (not the same evening as the dumpling contest) and made what was described as a "spectacular display" of vomit all over the bathroom floor. She really enjoyed seeing the Shaolin Monks, and visiting a martial arts school. She was quite amazed that they study martial arts for 7 hours a day, and then work on regular studies. She also stood on the mountain that is the "central point" of China. Nicole also had a great trip. They went to a small water town that she really enjoyed, and wants to take us there. Learning about the tea farms was not on her highlights list, though they did walk for a very long time to get there, and she has footage of a funny man teaching them all about tea. They also went to an amusement park, which I am a bit scared to think about. I sometimes feel worried about the mechanics in America, let alone here. All in all, I think they had wonderful trips. We were glad to have them home.

Rachel's 14Th birthday was on the 9Th of this month. Yes, we are getting old. She had a nice birthday. She wanted soup and a cake for her dinner. She got a digital camera that she has wanted for so long. She has been taking photos ever since! I took her and her two closest friends to dinner and for foot massages on that Friday night. We had a great time.

I had an experience recently that really sums up how things seem to work quite often, here in China. I was helping with a charity fundraiser, and having some place mats made. I bought trim at the fabric market, where the vendor told me there were 50 meters per spool. I paid per meter. Well, of course, there were only 25 meters per spool. I had to go back for more. I asked my driver to come and help me. I explained to him what it was for, and how she had cheated me the week before. We certainly knew she wouldn't just "give" us the rest, but hoped to get a cheap price for the amount we needed to buy. He played their friendly argument game for over 10 minutes, and finally got the cheaper price. He saved me 50 yuan. When we went out to the car, he had a parking ticket. Guess for how much???? YUP 50yuan!

We were driving home from church the other day, and saw a man with about 3 or 4 skinned animal carcases tied to the back of his motorcycle. Rachel got a photo (she always has her camera with her). The kids asked the driver what kind of meat it was, and he told us it was dog. Beat that in a grosser than gross joke! We were all disgusted and sad for the dogs, but couldn't act the part too much, because our driver feels it is a delicious specialty. Only served spice, of course.

One of the facts of life, here in China, is terrible plumbing, and constantly plugged up toilets. As all of our husbands had an over-night management conference last night, my two friends, Ginnelle and Julie, and I had a "girls night". They came over after the boys went to bed, and we snacked and visited. Just as they were getting ready to leave, Rachel came down and said the bathroom was flooded! I told them to run home while they could, but of course, they refused. The lucky girls got to watch me stand there in bare feet in two inches of toilet water, trying to unplug the bathroom drain, and unsuccessfully plunge the toilet. I think they were having trouble standing, they were laughing so hard. The best part is that Julie, had never heard of a plunger (how has she made it this long in China without one?). Well, one plungers was cracked, and the other turned inside out. Ginnelle was amazed, telling us she'd never seen anyone who had worn out their plunger before. Just as I was about to give up, Ginnelle found one more plunger in one of the bathrooms, and I tried one more time. It was a good plunger, but I was not! We finally asked Julie's driver to come in and help. After a long try, it finally worked! We were all so happy (of course, they didn't have to stand in the liquid). No worries, Julie brought me some paper towels to stand on so I could slide to the other bathroom and wash my feet and hands. I think the highlight of the evening for them, was when they found Rachel's camera, and took play by play photos! They wondered if they could come back next week for more excitement. They said they won't forget their cameras next time. What they didn't know, was if they'd just stayed a while longer, they could have seen Eli's vomit production! I think Mike arranged his "meeting" accordingly! And no, I'm not posting photos of the "potty party".

Well, this is getting really long. I am hoping that we will have better luck with the website and I won't have to wait so long in between! We love you all, and hope your holidays are wonderful!!!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

October 29, 2006

Some Photos from the race last Saturday...

This is our picture of the TV tower. Eli is on Mike's shoulders.

We are professional Tai Chi people.
For the Race, we were supposed to find something very unique for 10 yuan and get a photo with the seller. He did not want his photo, and everyone around us thought it was so funny.

Here is our driver, Jiang, imitating our special "antique market" purchase.
We were supposed to have a creative photo taken in front of the Nanjing Lion Statue. We found a grounds-cleaner, and he got us, but not the lion.(???)
We needed a silly photo with at least 30 bikes. Not hard to find.

This last week, I’ve had computer problems, again! I wasn’t able to upload photos to my blog page. I’ll try to re-cap a bit of what went on. Last Saturday morning, there was a school activity. I had signed the family up to participate, and it sounded like a good idea, until we had to get up and be there by 8:00am that morning! Well, it was a “Race, Around Nanjing”. We were given a map, and a list of places and tasks to fulfill at these places. We were to leave at 8:00am and return no later than 1:00pm. We really had a fun time, and actually found some places that we had never been. One of the sights was the old International School. It was fun for the kids to see where it used to be. I think they were very glad that they have a nice new school. The old one wasn’t so nice. We had Nicole’s friend Maggie with us. We did really well, and although the boys started to niggle (a new word I learned from my Aussie friends) each other toward the end, it turned out great. We ended up with third place, and, lucky us, we won some gift certificates to McDonalds. We gave one to Maggie and the rest to our driver. We figured he did most of the work, anyway.

Rachel and Nicole are heading out today and tomorrow to their trip-weeks with their school classes. Rachel went to Xi’an and Nicole will leave tomorrow to Hongzhou. They are very excited, and are both taking cameras, so I’m sure I’ll have some fun pictures to put on the blog.

On Friday night, was the school Halloween party. I don’t know how we got ourselves into this, but we were in charge of a story room for the middle and high school. Yes, it is impossible to find a story that will actually scare that age-group without going an evil route. So, Mike and I used the startle-factor instead. We were in a sound-proof band room, and we covered the instruments and drums with black cloth. Mike told the “Hook” story about a young high-school couple and a killer with a hook. Well, it wasn’t really that scary, but it was dark, and I was hiding behind some instruments and we would scream as loud as we could at the end. We did this over and over for an hour and a half. Our throats were so sore at the end! Most of the kids weren’t scared, but they were good sports. The middle-school boys had to act tough and all made a point that they were NOT scared, but the best groups were the Korean girls. They were hilarious! I swear they were scaring themselves. They would scream and whimper the whole time. Mike could hardly even get them to come into the room! He had to tell them at the end, that the story wasn’t real. Anyway, Mike was a good sport, and it was much less work than a haunted house!

Eli turns 5 this week. I can’t believe he is growing up so fast! He has asked for Cheeseburgers for his birthday dinner. He also requested a transformer cake, but I talked him into a chocolate bat. Happy Birthday Eli!

A Few More Indonesia and Singapore Pics...

The view from our back patio at Club Med.
Here, Mike is standing at the base, I mean on the base, of a tree in Bintan.

The boys loved riding the elephant one afternoon.

At the Singapore Aquarium, Rachel and I get cuddly with a Japanese Crab.
Our guide took our photo at the Aquarium. The kids had a great time. They had some neat animals.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Photos From Trip

The three girls get kisses!

Eli dancing with the dolphin.
Here is the pier in Bintan.
Here is a group-shot of the trapeze performers.
Rachel, Nicole, and Caitlin were in a fashion show.
Lonnie's favorite spot.
A really big lizard-over 2 feet
I'm king of...this big rock!
The kids had such a wonderful time.

My man at the beach
This is little India
.Nicole will probably kill me for putting this in, but she spilled her curry on her lap. It didn't really look like that...

Monday, October 16, 2006

Indonesia and Singapore Favorites:

Last Wednesday, we returned home from a 10 day trip to Indonesia, and Singapore. We had such a lovely time. I thought I would write down some of the highlights.

The first thing that must be mentioned is the Singaporeair plane. Everyone was so happy and excited about this. The attendants wear pretty Singapore dresses, the food is edible, and everyone had their own entertainment screens. Happy flight!

We went to a Club Med Resort on Bintan, and Island of Indonesia for one week. It had a beautiful private beach, good all-you-can-eat buffets, and plenty of things to do. What more could we ask for?

Jay and Eli spent the week playing for part of the day with the children's club. They did all sorts of activities, like swimming, playing at the beach, and one day there was even a parade and real elephant rides. They did archery and trapeze as well. But, I think their favorite part was learning to snorkel with Mom and Dad, and swimming, swimming, swimming. They were fish! It is fun to see how well they can swim, now. Better than me, I think.

Rachel, Nicole, and Caitlin had a wonderful time with the teen club. They had so many fun activities. They spent many hours perfecting their trapeze skills, and got quite good. Rachel and Nicole were in a show one night with their trapeze tricks. They did a lot of snorkeling, sailing, and sports. Even some Yoga. They were very involved with the performances as well, which included a fashion show, singing on-stage, and a play. The staff were very sad to see them go because of the great help they were in making things fun.

Mike and I, as you can see, actually had some free-time to relax, and get to know each other again:-) What could be better than that? We did snorkeling, sailing, and Mike taught me how to play tennis. It was fun for us to do things with the children, like snorkel, and watch their shows. There was even a chance for a walk along the beach in the full moon.

One morning we signed up for an excursion. I think because I always wanted to do this when I was young, we went to "swim with the dolphins". We were picked up at 8:00am, and drove on the very windy roads of Bintan for about an hour. This was an adventure in itself. The people of Bintan are very poor, and we saw some very humble circumstances. We also saw a bare-foot, bare-chested man with very large hair walking down the street with a machetti!! Every time we went into a town, we stopped at security, where they used mirrors to check for bombs under the cars. Wow, it was a different world! Well, we finally made it to this sad little dock, and climbed in a boat. It was a fiber-glass boat. Most of the chairs were broken,and there was hydraulic fluid leaking from the steering-wheel. We went very fast, over lots of choppy waves to a small island. It was a very exciting ride. Almost too exciting! Well, after all this, we arrived to our destination. A very run-down tired looking beach where they kept the dolphins. We actually got to get in with them for about an hour, though. We had a wonderful time playing and interacting with the dolphins. They kissed us, hugged us, and even danced with us. They did tricks for us, played catch with us. We even held one (they are very heavy). I think it's something we will always remember!

We had a wonderful experience attending Church in Singapore. We met with a branch the first Sunday, and it was terrific! We had no idea if we were going to find it or not, but we did. And the next Sunday, we went to a hotel, where they were playing Conference from the week before. It was really neat meeting with the Saints in Singapore, hearing the same thing we would hear in the U.S. or anywhere else in the world, like China.

Singapore is a huge beautiful country/city, with 4 million people and a huge Asian mixture of people. The stronghold the government has, is paying off as far as a nice, clean city goes. This is the place that will flog you for chewing gum, or not flushing a public toilet. There is a death sentence for drug possession. We weren't afraid of that law. We felt safe in that we brought no gum, and prayed the toilet wouldn't have flushing problems...just kidding. We really didn't worry about it. We'd heard it referred to as Disneyland with a death penalty. It sort of felt like Pleasantville. We had fun shopping, and we did some sight-seeing. A really fun thing, is that we were able to meet with a couple who served with Mike on his mission in Korea. Mike and I went to dinner with them, and I heard a lot about that time in his life. We, of course spent way too much at the bookstore, and stuffed a couple of food items into our bag, though they didn't have as many items as I'd hoped. I think the true highlight of the trip was eating at Carl's Jr. Not once, but twice. We ordered Hamburgers, fries, and a shake. YUMMY!

We all had a wonderful vacation and are now trying to get back into life!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Pearl Farm Day Trip

I went to see how they grow pearls with the International Club. It was very interesting. This photo is how they implant the pearl with tiny pieces of membrane from another clam to start the formation of pearls. They plant several into each pearl. Its is a pain-staking process. In one full work-day, 2 people can do about 120 clams.

This photo is the farmer lifting a rope to show us the implanted clams. They put 2 or 3 three clams in a net bag and hang them from a rope going across a pond. Each clam must wait for 5 to 8 years before the pearls are ready.

Here are some opened clams. People sit on small stools and remove the clams from the shells into buckets. Men come by and scoop up the clam shells and carry them to big piles.

These pearls are not polished or cleaned. They are in a bucket a worker has just dumped pearls into.
This little boy is one of the farmers child. He was very interested to see his photo.
Here is a mature rice field almost ready for harvest.

September 19, 2006

I thought I'd first share some of the "Do you know what I saw" conversation my friends and I have had this week:

In an airplane in China, they tell you what is going on in Chinese, and then they read a card in English. You can rarely understand it, but my friend heard this in the middle of the flight," Please sit down and fasten your seatbelt. We are preparing for take-off." A while later, everyone heard " We will be arriving somewhere at sometime." obviously, they were supposed to insert the correct city and time!

There was a lady mowing her lawn in a fancy skirt and sandals.

There was a woman driver with her car stopped in the middle of a busy road. Cars were making their way around her. Getting closer to her, you could see why she was stopped. She was busy text messaging, of course!

A truck was stopped in the middle of an intersection, under the power line. They were repairing a traffic light. The power was still on. There was a man balancing on a 20 foot ladder sitting inside the bed of the truck. The ladder was being held up by the electric cable.

Always something exciting.

Back to our life. Last week on Thursday, I was in my friend's car. I'm used to being in our van, with the sliding door. So, I didn't think to check before I started opening my door. A motor scooter was driving past very close and very fast! My door touched her bike. She over-corrected and tipped it over, breaking the mirror, and she scraped up her leg a little bit. I felt so bad! I got out, and wanted to tell her I was so sorry, and of course, pay for any damage. Well, she just kept yelling and yelling at me. Her friend came, and they spoke such rapid Chinese, I had a hard time understanding. They told me that they wanted a little bit of money to start, and I should give them my address and they would come for more. I said I wouldn't give them my address(I've heard horror stories about that) but that if they took official receipts to my husband's office, I would pay them. The little bit of money they wanted was 2000rmb! That is a HUGE amount of money! I laughed. They could easily by a new motor-scooter with that amount. Anyway, My driver and my friend's driver eventually settled on 500rmb. This was also very high. But, I had been standing there for over an hour, and needed to pick up the children. I couldn't see how to get out of it, so I paid. I cried all the way home! But I didn't cry in front of them, so I thought that was pretty good. I decided later that it could have been so much worse, and that I learned a lesson, and they had a really nice shopping trip with the money I gave them!

Well, you would think that was enough! But, for the first time of the week, Mike was coming home at a decent hour. It was raining, and the person behind them rear-ended them! And...It was in that same friend's car! We had traded, so that she could take some company around town that weekend. Mike spent over an hour at the police station, and didn't come home early. I'm just grateful he's OK.

The good news is, this week nothing has happened so far!

The kids have been so busy with sports. Rachel went to Shanghai this last weekend for Volleyball,and Rachel and Nicole go this weekend for Rugby. The girls and I are still at our morning runs. They are getting better and better. They will outrun me, I'm thinking, by the end of the year. Eli's favorite after school activity is cooking class, on Wednesdays. He comes home with yummy treats. He feels so big when he makes them (there isn't any real cooking involved). Jay loves basketball day. He was a lion in an assembly today. He really did a good lion imitation. Caitlin and I have started writing back and forth to each other in a journal. She saw this idea in the Friend, and it has been lots of fun!

We have been to the tailor the last couple of Tuesdays. The boys are having suits made. Those of you who know Jay, will know how very excited he is to have his suit. Eli is also excited, and can't stand that he has to wait. He really wants to watch them make it!

Well, just over one week to our big trip to Singapore and Indonesia! I think we are all very ready. Especially Mike. He has been working so long and hard these last few weeks. He will be so ready for a break!

Love to all of you! We miss you.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Please take a walk with me...

On a Thursday morning last week, a group of ladies from the International Club went on a walk to "explore" Nanjing. It is a monthly outing that I have wanted to join, and since Eli is now in school, can. It was a two hour plus walk, starting out along a river, and ending up at Lion Tower Hill. We saw so many incredible things, I thought you may like to see some of them:

These ladies are separating the good veggies from the bad at the wholesale vegetable garden we saw.

And the owner of this bike is ready for his delivery.
These men are laying cement for this road.
I absolutely love this picture. Chinese doors are so intriguing to me...What is behind it?

There was so much to see and purchase, if we wanted, at this market.
Meat anyone?
Dumplings for sale

A man offered the 7 of us a ride in, vehicle, so how could we refuse? We tipped him nicely. Can you see the crowd we drew?

After cheating a little (because of our ride) we arrived at our destination...the foothills of Lion Tower, to eat our packed lunches, and talk about our very adventurous morning. It was a wonderful morning. Thanks for joining me!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Lucky Eli gets to add the chocolate chips.
Here, we are making those yummy cookies.
The breath-taking view that makes the stairs worth it.
Here is the mausoleum.
Heading down for my second climb.
Mike looking like a "biker" on our bike ride. It is VERY HOT and HUMID