Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Here Comes the Summer!

Some great news! I somehow, accidentally, found the spot for changing everything on my blog to English! Now I can read all of the buttons, and I know what I'm doing! Just another part of the whole China experience. We daily have things happen that we just remind ourselves...We're in China. It really helps us to become more flexible, to look on the bright side of things.

Wow, it's been a big week and a half. Last week was the last week of school. It seems that the school wanted to fit everything in that last week! Between award evenings, good-bye dinners, and packing for the girls, we stayed pretty busy. Monday, we all went over to Jay's film festival. Each person in his class made their own movie on the computer using video clips and photos. They even served popcorn and gave us tickets. It was lots of fun, and Jay had a great time making his movie. Mike took the older girls to their award ceremony night, where students received certificates for participation and out-standing accomplishments. On Thursday, I went over to the school to play with Eli at his end of school party. It was supposed to be a water fun day, but it was a little too cold for getting wet. IT's been unusually cool here this June, which we are not complaining about. It's starting to warm-up now, and we hope it stays coolish for just another week! Friday, I went to see the end-of-school assembly, which was fun. Many of the teachers over at the school joke about the Wadley family taking over the school. When you have five involved children in a small school, they get seen a lot in the assemblies and activities. I am proud of the kids and their willingness to jump in and try new things. I have watched them grow and develop new talents, and I feel grateful that they have so many opportunities.

On Friday, I took Rachel to the doctor for her final check-up to be able to go to Tibet after last week's incident. She was just fine, and given the OK to head off to Tibet. Friday night we took the kids to get Pizza, and found Pirates of the Caribbean playing in English, for a celebration of the end of school. It was also the last family dinner before the family all split in different directions for the summer. We finished packing Rachel and Nicole for Tibet on Saturday, along with all of the other places they will be going after that...girls camp, EFY, and a visit with Utah family. We dropped them off to the train station on Saturday night at 9:45 for their 48 hour ride. Mom and Dad Nichols know exactly what that was like! I think they had a good time, and feel like the group is a fun one. Rachel called us Monday night right after they arrived, to tell us they were OK. She said it's amazing and beautiful there, and they sounded excited for the trip.

We actually got to spend Father's Day with Michael this year, which is a first in a few years now. It was great to be with him. He got an outdoor lounge-chair for father's day and was able to have a nice nap out on the balcony guilt-free as he put it (that makes it sound like I never let him rest! Not true, but maybe he would guilty if he sat there while I make dinner :-) Today, Michael left for Japan on business, and won't be back before we leave for Utah. We miss him already, but I'm excited that he will get to be there over a weekend and might get to actually see some things there. We will all look forward to meeting up in a couple of weeks in Utah for a couple of weeks of fun with our family.
Here is Eli with his good friend Domonik at the end-of-school party.

Rachel and her friends Katerina and Maria at the Award Night.

Nicole and friends Maggie and Isabella at the Award Night.

Caitlin graduated from the 5th grade this year and will head off to middle-school (upstairs) next year. Here she is with her friend Pauline.

I was walking down the hall, and saw this poster. I was surprised to see that Jay was the artist. I guess there are lots of frogs around the schoolyard, and some unfortunate endings for many...

Rachel and Nicole ready to head to the train station.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Wow, all of the instructions for this web sight are in Chinese, so you can imagine how difficult it is to navigate my way around! Apparently, I lost my password, and couldn't read anything, so I just spent 25 minutes trying to get on here! At least I'm here now! We've had an eventful week. On Wednesday morning, Caitlin had her open-house for a big fifth-grade project, along with a great assembly in which she acted, sang, and danced about preventing pollution. She did a lot of work, and a great job. She and her team had some fun things at their booth. Here is a photo of her in the skit about a family with great recycling skills, and next she shares the craft of recycling paper into...PAPER! She was also on the design team for the cute t-shirt she is wearing.

On Thursday, and Friday, we went to see the school Production. It was called In The Zone. Rachel and Nicole were both in it, and did a terrific job! We are so proud of them. Nicole had a huge monologue to memorize, and Rachel had a big part, and two songs. It was a fun play, very colorful as you can see, and there was fun dancing and costumes. They worked so hard on it, and I think, had a great time.

On Saturday things got a little crazy. We had a bit of a scare. We met Saturday afternoon to pack up the bikes to send to Tibet. Afterward, we had lots of extra bubble-wrap, so the kids going on the trip thought it would be fun to wrap themselves up in it and sort of wrestle. Of course they had no arms, cause they were wrapped in. Well, one boy dived at Rachel, and knocked her over, and she hit her head on the ground. She was unconscious. We thought everything was OK, but then she couldn't remember anything and was FREAKING out. She couldn't remember anything several days before, and nothing of that day. The strangest thing was she had the shortest memory ever. She would ask what was wrong with her, and we would tell her, then she would proceed to ask about 20 questions about it. About 15 seconds later she would start again with all of the questions. Lots of things would make her start crying, like when she would remember that she was Pio (yes, a weird name) in the play and she would ask when is her play? We said last night, and she would start crying...I missed my play? Then we would tell her no, you did really well, etc. Pretty soon we just started telling her everything after she asked the first question. She did this for about 4 hours, until she finally went to bed. Anyway, we were at the doctor office, and hospital for a ct scan. She doesn't have any swelling or bleeding in the brain, so that is good. She had a level 3 concussion out of 3, though of course there are different levels of 3, she wasn't unconscious for a really long time. The good news is she is remembering things today, and last night and this morning she had all of her motor skills. The doctor was happy with her progress, on Sunday, and especially today. She still doesn't remember it happening, or for about 4 hours after, but she remembers most everything else. She just has a huge headache now and slept all Sunday afternoon. We are very hopeful that she can go on her trip, and he will check her on Friday to give the go-ahead. She needs to rest lots this week. On the way home from the hospital she threw-up in the car, but I think it may have been because of the Tylenol they had given her. It was pretty scary, and I was glad Michael was with me. She has recovered really well so far, and the doctor says if she takes it easy and continues to do this well, she should be OK with her trip, but HAS to wear her helmet at all times! We are really grateful that things are working out so well, and are really praying for her to be well enough for this trip she has been training so hard for. She is so mad to miss school today because it is the last week of school. Here are some photos of packing up the bikes to put on the train, and some of the "bubble-wrap sumo-wrestling" as they called it. It all seemed like such a cute, innocent game! Next time we'll insist on a bubble-wrap helmet, or maybe leave the arms free???

Monday, June 04, 2007

What a great and busy few weeks!

Wow, it's been so long since I've written on the blog! We have had wonderful visitors, and moved house, along with all of the things life brings. Starting the end of April, Mike's Mother and Father visited us. They first went to Beijing, and then rode a train to Tibet. The train was 48 hours, after which they stayed in Lhasa for a day. They then flew to Xian for one day before coming to Nanjing! I think they were probably worn right out by the time they got here. But we were so happy to see them, and really enjoyed showing them around Nanjing, and just spending time with them. The kids took turns showing-off everything they've been doing, and of course, Grandma and Grandpa were appropriately impressed! We had a fun trip to Suzhou to show them the beautiful gardens and the water canals. I think that they may have been traumatized by the driving here. Dad's knuckles were pretty white. He didn't want to take a taxi, as he was just getting used to our driver. Then, we ended up needing to take a taxi to a BBQ last minute while our driver was off. It was the May holiday, which means Purple Mountain was crazy-busy with Chinese tourists. The only thing we could find was a small, beat-up, Changan van. I swear they are smaller than a Volkswagen bug! Anyway, all nine of us shoved in and spent 60 horrifying minutes getting to the BBQ. We were only 2 hours late! They were good sports about it all. We had a wonderful celebration of Nicole's 13th Birthday! She has grown-up so much this year. We had a fun day and even tried out big blow-up balls you climb into and roll around in on the water. Then we got stuck on a malfunctioning mini tidal-wave, and got really dizzy! It was a fun day, and great to have Grandma and Grandpa here for it. We loved every minute with them, and are so grateful they came. Here are a few pictures from their visit.

Here is Nicole's family party at the Japanese Tympanyaki restaurant. YUMMY!

This side-ways picture is of Mom on the over 500 long stair case that she climbed with me one morning! It's way more steep than it looks in this photo. Way to go Mom!

This is QiXia Mountain, where there is a Buddhist temple and monks.

Here we are in ZhouZhuang, the water-town.

I guess the next big thing this month was our move. Yes, we finally moved to the house we plan on STAYING in until we leave Nanjing! We moved 2 days after Mom and Dad left. It was crazy! But, I was so grateful to Mike for taking a personal day. I don't think I could have done that again on my own! Moving is just plain work! You would think we are pros by now, and maybe we are, but it just takes so long to unpack!!!! Now that we are here, we really love this house. We've actually got pictures on the walls, so we are feeling pretty settled. We have the best view in our backyard to the bamboo forest, with a small patio and a BBQ.

Here is the moving crew that moved us both times. They are called the Ant House Moving Company, and it's amazing what these little guys can do!

In the mean-time, the kids have been busy. Eli had is last swim-lesson for the year, and Jay is finishing up his Kungfu lessons. He is now working on the rope. This makes nunchucks (how do you spell that?) the bamboo staff, and now the rope. He should be ready to protect us all, or maybe just be in a kungfu movie? Caitlin gave a wonderful performance of her tap routine in the school cultural assembly, and Rachel did a great job with a modern dance. Rachel and Nicole have been training for 6 months now for their big bike-trip to Tibet in two weeks. They will stay for 22 days, cycling for 15. They will camp at the base of Mount Everest! We are so excited for them! What a great summer they have planned, with this trip, and girls camp, and then Rachel to EFY. Then, they get to hang out in Bountiful with family. What lucky girls! They are both working very hard on the School Production that will be this week.
Here is a picture of Caitlin with her friends that did the tap routine with her.

On May 19th, I had the awesome opportunity of traveling to Beijing with a group of people from Nanjing (we were from 11 different countries) to run in the Great Wall Marathon. What a fantastic experience it was! I have never run more than a 10k, so Last fall, when I decided to train for it, I wasn't sure if I would be able to do the whole thing. I've been training since January, and it's been such a good growing experience for me. With this race, the first part is on a steep portion of the Great Wall, in a beautiful location, and then it goes through small farm villages, finishing with another big wall section. It was SO HARD!!! But so much fun. At the 1/2-way point, I wondered why I had not done the 1/2 marathon, and didn't know if I could do another half! It was a terrific feeling when I called Mike, who was at home taking care of the kids, to tell him I actually finished! Some of the high-lights of the race were the view on the wall, the village people lined-up to cheer me as I ran by, the children who all wanted high-fives and gave me wild flowers, seeing goats, pack-mules, and beautiful gardens, 4 from our group who waited for me after their half-marathon so I wouldn't be alone at the end after all of that training, and the amazing support and congratulations I received from the Nanjing Group, and other friends back here in Nanjing! Not to mention great family support. I think the most special thing about the race, was the miracle of no pain in my hip. I haven't run without pain since last August, and I didn't feel any pain during the run. I know it was a blessing, and not the only one of the day! It was truly an awesome experience for me, and I'm so glad I did it. The two people who got me through all of that training, were my awesome husband, who believes I can do anything, and then encourages me to do everything...And my sister Lori, who was my e-mail coach! And now that this has turned into a note of thanks...I guess I need to thank my IPOD...who ran with me every step of the way!!!

The day after the Race, my cousin Misha met me in Beijing. It was so fun to see her! We stayed for 2 1/2 days in Beijing, and had a great time! We stayed in a really cute Hutong hotel with a nice garden, and explored the city. The day we went to the Great-Wall poured rain. It was pretty, but extremely wet! We then came back to Nanjing where I showed her around the city, and we took lots of walks around Purple Mountain seeing the historical sights, pagodas, the city wall, and some really pretty gardens. She discovered she enjoyed the back and foot massages, so we were sure to fit in some of those. We went to a relief society Chinese cooking class, which was lots of fun. We then made Chinese food at home, and got a little carried away, making enough food for days! We had lots of fun on a day-trip to Suzhou and took some great pictures of the canals, and lots of crazy signs. Misha left this morning, and I miss her already. I tried to talk her into staying longer, but she seemed to think she needs to work or something! Well, now I have to get back to real life for at least a couple of weeks, until I get to go to Utah with the kids and play for the summer!

Here, Misha is posing with one of the many people who asked for a picture with her:-)Actually, there were quite a few real people who did ask!

The Suzhou canal is so interesting, it's hard to pick photos to share.

I don't know about you, but I would personally rather retire somewhere sunny, rather than to a closet! I wonder what the age of retirement is here?

Sorry for the incredibly large entry! It's been far too long!