Sunday, January 28, 2007

More Crazy Times...

Well, it's been a while. Life is never dull. At the moment, we are packing our boxes, again. Unfortunately, we have had many problems with the current landlord. The flood that happened from a malfunction in the toilet, the end of November, has caused some disputes. The owner refuses to fix the problems unless we (or our company)pay half of the bill, though it is clearly his responsibility in the contract. We tried to be patient, and work things out, but he doesn't want to take responsibility, and insists on forcing the issue. He feels the contract is unfair, and though he says that he doesn't feel it's our fault, he didn't use the toilet, so he believes it isn't his fault either, and we should pay half. He feels that our approach is not the Chinese way, but since he is taking American rent (or more) this is unfortunate. He wants to take our company to arbitration over this, and we told him that if he does this, we will move, so he will not have renters paying rent for the next six months (easily six times the amount of the total repair bill!). It can be difficult to find renters for these houses. Because he has broken his contract by not making repairs in a timely fashion, we can leave without penalty. There is mold under the floor-boards in the girls' room, and we feel it is unhealthy. It has been a very stressful few weeks, especially this last weekend, realizing that he was not going to come around, and that we really were going to have to move. There wasn't much available, and it was hard to find a house best for all of the kids. We were very blessed, and feel we have found a good solution. We will move to Dong Jiao Guest House, a nice complex on Purple Mountain. It isn't too far from school, and it will be a nice place for us. Unfortunately, we will need to move into 2 apartments until sometime in April, when the house becomes available.

Yes, we will be moving, again, this Thursday. Wish us luck! This is short, but there is too much going on for the moment. More to come next week...

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Yangshuo, Nanjing, and Beijing

We had a rough start to our trip to Guilin. We were so excited to meet Jared and Kellee, but there was fog, and apparently, there is no taking-off in fog. We would ask them about our flight, and they would tell us it was delayed. When we would ask for a time, they would say,"No time".(???)We waited at the airport from 6:30pm-12:30am when we were finally told we needed to pile on a bus and go to a hotel for the night. We tried to explain that we lived here, and would rather go home and return in the morning. Apparently, that was not a possibility. We were taken to a not so great hotel, where we slept and were to wake-up at 6:00 to go back to the airport, and given a fried egg and hot milk. No worries, they gave us a free meal at the airport on Tuesday evening! (the middle is a sort of bone-soup)

We were worried because we had no way to get in touch with Kellee and Jared. I didn't find out until the next morning, that the driver I had arranged to pick them up somehow (suspiciously) missed them. They found their own hotel, and I finally got in touch with my Dad. I was so relieved to hear they had heard from Kellee and we finally talked to Kellee about 12:30 in the afternoon as we were still sitting in the airport waiting for our plane. At this point I saw an amazing thing...the people on our plane had enough! They were tired of our plane being delayed and got really angry! I thought some of them might hit the airline workers. Suddenly we were on our plane, and heading to Guilin. We got to our Yangshuo hotel at night. Here is the unbelievable surprise we saw out our window the next morning!

We had such a great time in Yangshuo. The first day we rode bikes for 6 hours! Eli was on the back of the tandem, and the rest of us had our own bikes. Jared rode with Eli and was a trouper! Eli did great on the back, and Jay rode by himself. There were beautiful mountains, rice-farms, and beautiful people with a simple life.

One of my favorite sights was this man with his water buffalo. Do you like the pink bow?

Here is a power station. Instead of fencing it for safety, they have hung CPR instructions...

We climbed MOON HILL of course (for Kellee and Jared Moon)!

We saw such gorgeous scenes.

Jay and Eli thought to take a pit stop, but after inspection of the facility changed their minds!

The second day we decided to walk to Dragon Bridge. It was great. We saw so many beautiful things. But, it took us 4 1/2 hours. Even the boys walked the whole way. Oh, a girl offered to take us a pretty route if we payed her 5 yuan, and she let each of the boys sit on her bike as she pushed it for 15 minutes each. This is not Dragon Bridge, but she told us this bridge was built in the 1200's

Kellee, Caitlin, and I got a lesson in making ba bas from some really sweet ladies. It reminded me of cooking together with my mom and sisters when we watched them. They insisted we try some, and let us take pictures. They wouldn't let us pay them.

The last day, we set out for a short bike ride. Our map wasn't very good, and we got lost. After 5 hours of riding all over, seeing small towns that I'm pretty sure have never had foreign visitors, we showed up again, at the Dragon Bridge! It was an adventurous day. We had a great time, and were so proud of the kids. They just kept going, and didn't complain. It was comforting that we knew where we were once we found the little village, but we also knew how far away we were! We had two hours to get back to the hotel if we wanted to eat before our ride came for the airport. Since we hadn't eaten all day, we rode like crazy, and made it just before dark. Here is a picture of Jared helping some of the local workers make cement! I think they thought they were being funny when they asked him, and were shocked when he actually did! (we weren't :)

We all came back and spent a wonderful five days with Kellee and Jared. We had so much fun! We did everything from hiking Purple Mountain, to museums, and of course, shopping. We had a lot of fun introducing them to our favorite restaurants. One of the more entertaining moments was when I took them to get a Chinese massage. The place I normally go changed owners. Boy was I in for a surprise. We decided it should be called a Yoga, rhythm (they slap your back to some great beats), heat, rock, acrobat massage. We laughed for hours afterward! Wan, our ayi, made lots and lots of dumplings for all of us on their last day in Nanjing. They were yummy!

Our first day in Beijing, we went to the great wall. It was gorgeous. We climbed around for about 4 hours! The air was so cold, but the sky was blue. A great day. Luckily, I had already sold Kellee on the Chinese long underwear idea! We stayed in a really fun hotel called a Hutong. Hutongs are the traditional Chinese housing common in Beijing. Many are being torn down for new high-rises. We had a great time touring the Forbidden city, and some other neat places. On my birthday, we went to a Peking Duck for dinner. It was quite good, and they bought dinner for me and even went around the table to say what they loved about me (a family tradition). We had such a wonderful time together. I will never forget

This is the point they wouldn't let anyone go further on the wall due to safety reasons.

Our Hutong used to be the home of a general. Kellee and I wanted to say good-bye to him.

Christmas 2006

We aren't good, but we have fun!

Special cookies for Santa!

Wadley Family Nativity

Our "Thanksgiving Christmas"

What a great few weeks we've had! The children got out of school the week before Christmas. We had a fun week checking out some fun spots in Nanjing. We went to a big indoor playground at a mall (where we were almost the only people there! Chinese students were still in school), a small indoor ice-skating rink, and finished up our Christmas shopping. Unfortunately, Mike had to watch us skate, as they didn't have any skates in his size. I got quite sick the week before Christmas, and the kids were very patient on the days they had to be stuck at home.

Christmas Eve was a great day. We had a one-hour church meeting at our house, and then all ate a ham dinner. We played our traditional (I can say that, since we did the same thing last year) white elephant game, which included a very popular huge box of bananas, a fought-over plate of brownies I added last minute because some people forgot gifts, and a coveted rooster made of sea-shells. Everyone was so excited about the meal, you'd think they'd been eating Chinese food for months or something! Oh, that's right,they have! After everyone left, we decorated our Christmas cookies. Eli was so much fun this year! He made special cookies for Santa. Amazingly, he didn't eat any frosting or candy himself! He layered frosting and skittles to make a very few very tasty-looking cookies! We then had our traditional opening of the love-gifts we exchange with my family each year. That is such a special time. It's great to see what each person does for another. The nativity had a few hitches. First, Eli cried and cried because he wanted to be baby Jesus. He finally gave in, but insisted on being an angel with Caitlin. Eli was on Caitlin's shoulders, and they wrapped a blanket around them. Don't forget the fairy wings. When we put the boys to bed, Eli was so excited he was shaking! He was laying stiff in his bed with his eyes scrunched shut. Jay came into my room at 2:30 and couldn't sleep. We got him back to bed, and Eli came in at 5:30. He climbed in my bed and tried to sleep for an hour. Finally at 6:30, he said,"Mom, I can't sleep anymore. Is it time?" How could we refuse that?

We had the most wonderful Christmas morning. The children were so cute this year. Excited about the gifts they were giving to each other, and really expressing their gratitude with hugs and squeals. We had a nice day, and even fixed a Thanksgiving dinner to share. Some of the kids used their treasured bottle of IBC root beer for their dinner. Others saved theirs. That evening, our friends, Paul and Ginnelle Mullins, and Warren and Julie Baker, traveled through the worst fog in 30 years, here in Nanjing, to visit us. We played a fun game with them. They had really wanted to join in a nativity play with us, but they needed to be quick because of the fog. What a wonderful Christmas. It was so wonderful to get gifts and cards from our family back home. It's wonderful to be missed, and terrible to miss, this time of year!