Today already marks one full week that we have been back in our city in Asia! I apologize for the lateness of this update; our internet only got connected yesterday and I had a busy day with no time to blog. But, thank you all so much for your thoughts for us--our traveling, once finally started, really went smoothly. We arrived on schedule and so did ALL of our luggage, and truly the trip went quite well. Though it didn't start out quite so smoothly . . .
Our plan the morning that we left was to arrive at the airport 3 hours before our scheduled flight, check in all of our luggage, and then go out for one last American breakfast (Cracker Barrel has great breakfasts!). However, when we arrived at the airport and began to unload our luggage, the airline personnel began to weigh our luggage and found that almost all of it was slightly overweight, a couple of them by as much as 10-15 pounds. And since we were traveling internationally, the charge for an overweight bag was more than $300! So we quickly determined that it would be much cheaper to simply go and buy another piece of luggage to put the excess poundage in. I hopped in the car and sped off to Walmart, my dad stayed with the girls, and John began the laborious process of unpacking each trunk, one by one, and taking out items until the luggage was within the 50 pound limit. When I arrived back, 45 minutes later, I knew my hope of breakfast was dashed, but at least I had the extra luggage in hand! John loaded the extra items in it, pulled it up to the counter, and IT was more than 50 pounds! So at the last moment we were stuffing children's books into our carry-on luggage and sticking things in wherever we could find a little space! Thankfully, no one ever asked to weigh our carry-ons!
So once we got past that little drama, we ate a quick bite at the airport cafe before getting ready to board. We said a sad farewell to my dad, who needed to get off to work, (we had had a tearful goodbye with my mom early that morning; she didn't travel with us to the airport) and then got through security with no problems. Happily, our flight left just a bit early and went faster than expected, so we had slightly more than an hour, instead of just 40 minutes, to connect in Chicago. PTL! Also thankfully, our connecting flight was just a few gates down from where we came in to Chicago, so we didn't have to dash madly through the entire O'Hare airport.
The long flight went well; only a few moments of desperate crying from Chloe, and Clara Anne really did very well. They slept for probably 6 hours total and that was great. I had brought along some Dramamine to encourage them to sleep, but silly me, forgot to check the appropiate dosages and so was afraid to give them too much, or not enough!
So we arrived in Asia without incident and then had a six-hour layover until our final flight. We had to claim our luggage and then recheck it in, and so it doubled as furniture during those hours when the check-in was not yet open. We even got out Clara Anne's Dora tent and sleeping bag and at one point, I had a short nap inside it while John read books to the girls! (You know, all of those books that we couldn't fit anywhere else . . . they were right at hand!)
Arriving back in our city was great. My friend Rachel picked us up from the airport with a huge van and we made our way to our apartment. To my delight and surprise, opening the door and going back inside was truly like coming home. Rachel had organized a huge cleaning project, to get everything ready (they even washed the windows and curtains!), including stocking my frig and pantry! There was ready-to-eat food in the frig and even hotdishes and cinnamon rolls in the freezer! She had also put my rugs back down on the floors, put back up some of our pictures, and got my kitchen ready to be used again. What a HUGE blessing! I thought they were just going to clean, but they did so much more . . . the fact that our house was ready to be lived in again made it truly seem like HOME and we were able to settle in very quickly. By Tuesday evening of this week we were totally unpacked and organized, our luggage put away and back to "normal" life again. THANK YOU to Rachel, Mimi, Amy, and everybody that helped. It was truly a huge help.
We dived back into life and work here as soon as we arrived back--John had a (pre-scheduled)meeting the next day at 11:30, after having been back less than 12 hours! One of the results of that meeting was that it looks like we will not be moving from this apartment for at least six months. So instead of just "unpacking to move in the next 6 weeks or so" we fully unpacked, planning to live here at least until after the new year. But that feels good too--we like our home, despite its shortfalls, and so it will be good to be here awhile longer.
My house helper Mimi has been here a few days and so my Asianese has had to get refreshed in a hurry! Wow, she talks fast! We've had some good talks already, and boy can she cook great food. We've had all my favorites this week! :) Mimi will not be with me for too much longer, though, she's just on loan to me since she works full-time for Rachel now, so I'm looking for a new helper. We're hoping for just the right person to come along!
So that's our news! We're happy to be settled back in, I'm happy to get the girls in a good routine again, and though we're all struggling with jetlag still (waking up early in the morning), we're glad to be back. On that note, though, please keep thinking of us. In many ways, a lot of things have changed since we were here last. Particularly, some of the people we had a lot of contact with have moved away, gotten new jobs and become very busy, or for other reasons are not in our lives now. So in a way it is like we are "starting over." I feel excited about that, and yet a little nervous too. We shall see what He has in store for us!
One final story to give you a good laugh: the other morning, just shortly before nine, there was a knock at my door. I opened it to find an older woman with a baby boy, about 1 year old. She immediately said, "where are your kids?" I gestured to the bathroom where they were both brushing their teeth. "Oh, how cute! Look at the little girls!" she said to her grandson. "You can be friends with them and they'll teach you English!" She sort of edged her way in and all the while, I was racking my brain to think of who this was! She didn't introduce herself, and though she looked vaguely familiar, I just couldn't place her. But since I felt like I should be friendly, I sort of invited her in (she sort of walked in on her own) and offered her something to drink. Fifteen minutes went by of me making small talk, her trying to give my children a particularly messy snacky-sort of bread, her grandson being extremely possesive of the play stroller that happened to be nearby, etc. I still could not think of who she was!
Finally, at the end, I asked her where she lived, and she jogged my memory, saying how we had met once at my ladies' salon. I then remembered another incident, where she asked the salon ladies where I lived so she could visit after Chloe was born. They did come over, and that day she had said, "Oh, I have a new grandson. He and your daughter can get married, don't you think that's a great idea?" She was serious. So I guess that's why she came to visit; she wanted to see if her grandson and Chloe would hit it off. Unfortunately, I'm not so interested in marrying off Chloe when she's only 15 months old. But there you go, who says arranged marriages are an outdated practice?!
Ahhh, yes, we're back in Asia again!