Thursday, December 14, 2006

"Ouch!" and "Ahhh"

So lately my back has really been bothering me. I often have lower back pain, especially as the day wears on and I get tired. I think it is a combination of factors--an old injury from a car wreck in 1999, abdominal muscles with the consistency of noodles from having two babies in 18 months, doing lots of lifting and carrying of my children, and also doing food prep in my kitchen which has limited counter space so I end up using my kitchen table, which is too low. My sink is also too low--I have to sort of lean over to do the dishes. Anyway, I have started doing some abs exercises to help improve this problem and I'm happy to say that it is helping somewhat. But my back is often still really tired and somewhat sore at night.

Then the other day, on a whim, we decided to weigh our children. Clara Anne was the first one on the scale, and she was even willing to stand still on the scale by herself so we could get an accurate reading. The result: 31 pounds! Wowza! She is tall for her age, I think, so we didn't realize that she is such a lug!

Chloe was next and we were interested to discover that she is around 17 pounds right now. So you can do the math . . . this means that when I take both girls out, with Chloe in the Baby Bjorn and holding Clara Anne, plus all of our assorted items and lately, with everyone bundled into winter clothes, I am lifting and carrying over 50 pounds! No wonder my back is tired!

Now, on to the "Ahh" part of the story. Previously, showering at our house is not a luxurious activity. For one thing, we don't have a separate shower stall, which is common here in this Asianese country. Here is a picture so you can get a visual of what our shower is like:

See the large tank hanging on the wall above my towel rack? Well, that is what we fill with water and then plug it in to make the water hot--it's not hot all the time and automatically refilling like a hot water heater in the States. This is a bit inconvenient, since you have to plan about 45 minutes ahead of time when you want to take a shower. However, compared to the dorm where we lived when we first arrived in this country, where the hot water is only on for a few hours at certain times of the day, being able to have a shower whenever I want is truly a blessing.

So you can see the tube for the shower simply comes out of the bottom of the tank and then the water comes out the shower head, like any other shower. The only problem is if you want to take a long shower, there is only as much hot water as fits in the tank and so you have to be careful not to end up all soapy and have no hot water to rinse off with.

Also, since as you can see, we have no separate area for the shower, every day, everything gets wet. The bad part is having to clean that up every time we shower, but the good part is that my floor gets mopped every day! As well, I know in some Asianese homes the shower is so crunched for space that technically you could sit on the toilet to take a shower, but our tube is not long enough so we have a small plastic stool to sit on while showering, since we found that standing really decreases the water pressure to a trickle.

So we have found ways to make our shower work fine, though as I said, it was never a luxurious experience of hot water cascading over you, creating a steamy environment. But last week, unbeknownst to me, my house helper took on a little project of her own. She noticed that the shower head was pretty grimy, so she took it apart to clean it. At first I just thought, oh, it's nice to have that clean again. But there was another benefit I hadn't anticipated.

Somehow in her cleaning, she managed to open up the nozzle more so that the water pressure was increased A LOT. I was surprised and delighted to find the next morning that my humble shower in my tiny bathroom was suddenly a luxurious experience! The hot water gushed out of the shower head and made me feel like I was staying at a nice hotel, not in my dinky bathroom! The downside, of course, was that I went through the tank of water quite fast, so I had to be careful to get all the necessary washing and rinsing done before I just relaxed under the hot spray. But, despite the time constraint, how lovely! It's amazing what a difference a small change (like a clean nozzle) can make.

The other truly wonderful thing was that I recently got a package from my parents in the States which included some Warm Vanilla Sugar creamy body wash from Bath and Body Works. So though I have no bathtub to relax in, my showering experience is now almost as good. Thanks, Mimi, (my house helper) and Thanks, Mom and Dad!



Sarah Wind said...

Ah - I can't wait to go back to China now and shower with your new and improved shower head. :) I always thought there was something cozy about showering in your bathroom. I liked it. Of course, it was only for a week and a half...


Jennfier said...

That sounds so wonderful...