Note from the editors: I sent this out as an e-mail to a lot of people, but because I don't have a lot of your e-mails and also to make sure everyone got caught up, I decided to post it as well. Sorry if you got this twice!
Hello to all of our friends and family, Happy New Year! It has been a great year for us and I wanted to take a moment to write all of you at home to get you caught up on our lives here in China. This week marks our 6 month mark since arriving and it has been a full 6 months for sure. All of us in our family have seen our language make huge strides since being here. Also, we have been able to build some strong friendships with some Chinese people. We hope to continue to see these relationships grow. Here's a little glimpse at each of us.
Heather has been really enjoyed being tutored, her schedule has a really good pace and she can easily communicate with her tutor. They have become good friends and she has also taught Heather how to cook a few Chinese dishes. When we first moved here we didn't get a lot of stuff done in our apartment to really make it ours and this month Heather will be doing a lot of decorating (which as you can imagine, she's super excited about).
Sydney is also making some language leaps of her own. When Heather's tutor comes over to our house we also have a lady come to watch the girls to give Heather a chance to focus on her lessons. Sydney calls her Ai Yi (which means Aunt) and they have a lot of fun together. Ai Yi only speaks Chinese and has been teaching Sydney some words, also Heather and I will use Chinese with Sydney around the house and when we are playing games. Her two favorite words are; "Ni Hao" (which means "hello") and she typically uses it when we are on walks also she will say "Xiao Xin" (which means "be careful"). One thing that is funny is that each time I ask "where is my cell phone?", I ask it in Chinese, and she will run and get it for me. She is learning and changing so much and it is really fun to see.
Aubrey actually has said a couple of words for the first time this week! She has said "mama" and "hi", but we don't think that she knows what they mean. Either way it is cool to hear her start to utter her first words. She hasn't started to crawl yet and we will see if she starts soon. Lately, she has started to throw little fits when we take something away that she shouldn't be playing with... I'm sure we have some good days ahead of us with two little princesses.
I (Matt) will be finishing my first semester in about 2 weeks and have seen my language go from absolutely nothing (and worried about learning the language) to a place where I can communicate in taxi's, stores, and around my neighborhood. I really enjoy the difficulty of learning a new language and the joy that comes with accomplishing it. When you are able to communicate without pointing or using hand motions it is really satisfying. I'm looking forward to my next semester, but I have a 5 week break between semesters that I'm going to enjoy.
THIS YEAR OF 2009, we feel its important that before we make our next step here that we continue to learn the language, adjust to Chinese culture and life here. We also feel that taking a family vacation this next year is a high priority to us, which we are hoping to do this summer. This is important to us because it will be time away from the pressures here and to re-charge. Our options are; Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia, but we'll see what it ends up like. I will keep you posted on our vacation plans. We will need some financial help to be able to do this, so if you could be thinking about helping us that would mean a lot to us. We miss all of you and wish you the best of years in 2009.