Sunday, January 29, 2006

Chinese New Year

For weeks now the anticipation of the entire population of China has been building up. Special decorations have been for sale. Firework stands have gone up. Each family has hung out their rows of various animal parts to be cured for the big celebration.

The Lunar New Year marks the start of Spring Festival. In ancient times, a lion-like animal, is said to have come down out of the mountains on the last day of the year. He was very hungry, and would eat anything in sight, even humans. Eventually, the people figured out that they could scare him away by making loud sounds and with fire. The Chinese people spend New Year's Eve lighting fireworks, and the lion doesn't come.

And wow, do they do fireworks! I probably don't have to mention that my pyro husband had a great time with this whole firework thing. He went with the boys to pick out some fireworks from our little neighborhood store. He came back with quite the assortment! He had a ten foot long string of firecrackers. Also, for about 15.00 US, be bought this big square thing about a foot each way. We had no idea what it was, but Mike lit it, and ran the 80 yards it suggested. It was right up there with the Fourth of July Lagoon Firework finale! Wow! That was a pleasant surprise. I included a couple of artistic photos by Nicole. Also one of Eli watching them from the window. He prefers to watch them from the INSIDE. At midnight, it sounded like a battlefield. Mike and I went out on our balcony and watched fireworks all around us. It was like the Stadium of Fire times ten! It went on for over a half an hour, with everyone lighting all of the fireworks they had been saving for the big occasion. Well, at 6:00 am this morning, it started all over again, and the booms went on all morning.

The tradition is for everyone to travel home to their family. They spend New Year's Eve preparing food, and New Year's Day eating. On Friday alone, over 38 million people traveled by train (not including bus, airplane, etc). Please note that Saturday was the big travel day.

Yesterday, our driver was off. Michael and I were out running some errands, so we took a taxi. We had taken a taxi from the Sheraton Hotel. About an hour after we were dropped off, I realized that I had left my camera in the taxi. We knew it was gone for good. Well, we had to go back to the Sheraton, because Mike left some stuff at work. We decided to just see if the hotel could call the taxi company for us. To our surprise, the taxi driver had turned our camera into the police, and had called the Sheraton and left a message. This is unheard of! We were so relieved! The concierge at the Sheraton came with us to the police station to translate. There were about 5 or 6 policemen there. I went in to get it. They took around 20 photos of me, of the policeman handing the camera to me, etc. I wrote a thank you note to Mr. Shen, the taxi driver, that he will probably never know the content of (as I can't write in Chinese). It was quite the occasion. It was our own New Year Miracle! I've included a photo, taken with our camera, of a couple of the policemen with me. They insisted I give the thumbs-up sign!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

January 22, 2006

We have been our busy selves this last little while. The kids jumped back into school, and are busy as ever. The big news of the week is that there is now a Dairy Queen in Nanjing! With blizzards and everything! Ok, not everything. It only has hotdogs and fries. But it has blizzards. We are happy!

We started having church in our home this last week. All went as smooth as possible(hey, at least this time we didn't run out of tp!). It was a bit hard for Eli to figure out that we have to behave as we are in a church building even in our home. He kept trying to run upstairs and grab toys.

Earlier this week, I went to Walmart. There was a man there, who said "Hello". I said hello, and he stood there while I was checking something out. I said good-bye. He said good-bye. He left his cart. He stopped mine, checked out EVERYTHING in it. The said in Chinese that it was all very good. He put his bag in my cart, and started pushing it. I tried to tell him that I didn't need his help. I was starting to get a little nervous (not that I couldn't have taken the guy out! I just didn't want to make a scene!) Anyway, I finally got the point across and he left looking a bit hurt. I just didn't want him coming with me to do my grocery shopping, having him check out everything and trying to tell me good stuff to buy! Jiang (my driver) and Mike both thought it was extremely funny. I don't think they would have thought it so funny if they would have seen his teeth!!!

I was able to go on a "ladies" outing to Suzhou this Monday. I dropped Eli to school, and asked Benjamin and Caroline Yu to watch him for me. They picked him up, and took him home for the afternoon. It was a fun trip. We went for the pearls. We drove straight to the pearl shops, spent a couple of hours there, and then were taken to lunch by the owner of the pearl shop. It was a good meal. I'm thinking she did ok, if she felt she could take 8 ladies to lunch afterward...What do you think? I tried a couple of new things...Gingko nuts, and batter-fried corn. They were both very good. It was a fun day!

We had a chance to see our good friends, the Larsens, this week. We were able to watch their children while they went to Hong Kong for a couple of days. It was so wonderful to see them. Our children loved playing with Emma, James, and Eliza. We will miss them very much. It was great to watch the children all play together so creatively.

Nicole baked an Austrian cake today. Her Austrian friend Issabella's mother, taught her how to make it. It was delicious.

Eli went to a birthday party last Saturday. At the party, it was hilarious to watch the children play the telephone game. First, they were four years old. On top of that, there were two Chinese children, two American children, and a German child. As you can imagine, the message did not make it anywhere close to it's original form.

Last Sunday, while watching the Casper movie as a family, the power went out in our neighborhood. It was pitch black, so we all went to bed at about 6:30pm. When Emma wanted to watch Casper this week, Jay said,"No, Casper makes the electricity go out!"

Sunday, January 08, 2006

The first week of a new year...

I thought I'd mention a couple of things that happened this week...

I went running in the rain. Everyone actually stopped whatever they were doing. Construction, walking, sweeping, etc. to see the crazy white lady who runs for no reason, in the rain. I also realized that I have been spoiled in my life thus far, not ever having seen a rat before moving here (except a white pet rat that a friend had and I thought disgusting). I ran by a pile of garbage with several rats rummaging through, and really no big deal for me. I've come a long way.

We finally discovered why our driver has a piece of wire dragging from the back of the car. We've been driving around for at least a week with a horrible sound coming from the back end. When we realized what it was, our driver told us why, but we couldn't understand. Today we learned that he put it there as a ground, because we were always getting shocked when we opened the car door. That was very considerate of him, and now, I'm sure everyone in Nanjing knows that crazy family with the five children is coming, miles before they see our huge Transit approach!

Mike came home late one night after a work meeting. It was 11:30. So he came to bed, but was hungry, and came downstairs for some food. He saw lights outside, and walked to the window to see one of the security guards checking out our bikes, or so Mike thought. Suddenly, he looked around, and jumped on a bike, and rode off. Mike thought this was very interesting, and sat in the dark for a while to see when he would come back. After half-an-hour Mike gave up and went to bed. The bike was back in its spot the next morning. We were wondering if he needs us to buy him a new bike.

On Saturday, I celebrated my 34th birthday. The family did a good job helping me to enjoy it. I slept in, and we all went to lunch. I ordered my own cake last week at the German Bakery. I told Mike to pick it up yesterday. I figured it would make everyone happy. We had our fun little family party, where I received cute home-made jewelry, and a beautiful jade necklace from Mike. Mike took me for a massage, Italian Food, and Hagen Das Ice-cream. I can barely walk today after eating so much!

So...We are all well on our way in this 2006. I heard Nicole say her goal was to be able use chopsticks at every meal. Rachel hopes to learn all of the words to the Sons of Provo song "Miss Me, But Don't Kiss Me", and I'm pretty sure that Jay's goal is to see how many times he can get his Mother to let him watch Star Wars. Eli wants to see how many times he can find his sisters' secret hiding spots. Caitlin has a lofty goal of sucking on her hard-tack candy without chewing it. My goal is to help Mike come up with a goal:-) We Wadley's really reach for the stars... But hey, at least there isn't a high probability of failure!

Monday, January 02, 2006

2005 was a great year for us...

Wow, this was an incredible year for our family! We are so grateful for the many blessings we have received. Especially the amazing experiences we have had here in China thus far. It has been one of the most challenging, and most rewarding years of our life. Thinking back on the events, there were times that we didn't think that we'd make it. I had a feeling that if we could survive the preparations for the move, that we could survive anything. My intuition proved right. Anything would seem like cake compared with that! And this from a woman who has moved...I'm counting now...Nine times since I've been married. We are so proud of our amazing children who have had wonderful attitudes, and been incredibly resilient. Yes, 2005 will always be a year that stands out in our memories!

Our children spent New Year's Eve, as Mike and I did growing up...At home. We figured that since we both spent the New Year's Eves we can remember babysitting and having an "at-home party", that our children could do that too! They had snacks and DVDs and had their own count-down. Michael and I went out with some good friends. We enjoyed a meal at a Japanese steak house. Next to us was a group of Canadians, who felt the need to dress-up for the new year. There were two guys dressed as girls, who got more entertaining as the night went on, and they had more to drink. They even begged a photo with a policeman who was standing outside. I was relieved to see that they could not talk him into a drink. We were, however, glad that we were going to the Mullen's home for dessert, because there was still two hours left of drinking before the new year rang in, and they were getting awfully "happy".

Mike was off today, because of the New Year. We had a great day. First we went to a restaraunt, where we were the only people there! That is definitely the best situation for our family to be in. We went to the Nanjing Folk Museum after lunch. We all had a really nice time. Mike and I were able to buy a wonderful painting from an artist there at the museum. There were a lot of neat things to look at. We are sad that Mike has to go back to work tomorrow, but we had a very nice weekend.

The children still have a week left before they have to go back to school. They are enjoying their time relaxing. We hope that you all had a wonderful Holiday, and that your 2006 is the best year for you yet!

2 Christmas Photos

I found exactly two different shots of our Christmas party. They are the only ones we took, I guess. But they are good, because one shows me sitting next to our Chinese tutor, May. She is a sweetheart who is incredibly patient, and a great teacher. I don't know how they worked it out, here in China, but her parents have four children. She is the oldest. She is going home for a visit this month.
It was fun to have her to our Christmas dinner and party. Everyone included her and she loved the white elephant game. She wants to teach it to her family when she goes home. The other photo is of Yvonne Yu. I just love Yvonne. She just got this great hat for her white elephant gift and is modeling it. The next thing she pulled out of the bag were my cheerleading trunks! Though she did not model those, I'm glad they aren't in the photo:-)