This past week has been simply beautiful, weather-wise. The skies have been clear and brightly blue with only a few high, puffy white clouds. The smog has been minimal, especially if I look off to the south where there are some mountains outside the city. We've been enjoying having the windows open, taking the girls out for walks, and I've especially been enjoying doing my laundry and having it dry the same day! It is amazing the difference the weather can make on life in general. I think that I'm not affected by it, but then we have a perfect fall day and I feel light-hearted and energetic again. What a blessing! This past week of weather is what we should have had, but didn't, during "Golden Week." No matter, a week or two late is just fine by me!
The past week has also been quite busy, so I apologize for the lack of communication on my end. It seems like the days stay pretty busy, caring for John and the girls, training my new house helper, and let's not forget, speaking/studying Asianese! Actually the studying has been pretty minimal, except for all of the new vocabulary I'm learning from my new helper (I'll call her Lou.) It's funny because Mimi (my previous helper) seemed to learn fairly quickly the words that I knew and didn't know, and so when we talked she stayed pretty much in that vocabulary of things she knew I knew. Lou has no idea so she keeps tossing in new phrases and expressions that then I have to ask her about--great for my language, but makes everything take longer!
In general I'm really pleased with Lou. She works hard, is willing to do anything I ask, and is very eager, though sometimes a bit too eager. Several times I've been trying to teach her something and she interrupts me and says, "I know, I know, let me do it!" But then I have to go back and correct something later. I am so thankful, though, because Lou is obviously the person the Father meant us to have. She seems to love her new job, cooks wonderfully, loves kids, and truly takes a load off my shoulders! Even better, she was already my sister before she came to work for me, but was longing to grow and learn more. So we are going to start meeting together with some friends of hers as well, studying the Word and praying together. I'm really excited about this opportunity, though it will certainly challenge my language as well!
Speaking of language, we're hopeful that having Lou around, and having her devote some dedicated time to playing with Clara Anne and Chloe each day, will help them to learn the local language. We tried one day last week having her read stories to Clara Anne in the local language, but it was a bit too much for Clara Anne. Lou kept trying to get Clara Anne to repeat words, and at first that was fine, but after awhile Clara Anne said "Mommy, that story makes me TOO tired!" So I think we're going to have to stick to some more informal playing. We may also have to make sure that Clara Anne understands basic phrases in Asianese before she plays with "ayi" (auntie); because right now Clara Anne seems to not understand and thus disobeys. I'm honestly not sure if she genuinely does not understand or if she is using that as an excuse. At any rate, I hope that Clara Anne will get more and more comfortable with Lou so that their playtimes together can be fun and enjoyable, rather than high-pressure work on language.
Training a house helper is really a manager's job, and I certainly don't have any "real" experience in management! It takes planning, patience, and organization to plan her days well and use her time effectively. Even little things, like asking her to "thoroughly clean the kitchen" involved quite a long explanation of what that entailed and how I wanted her to do it. But she is learning quickly and I am also adjusting to having someone in my house 40+ hours a week! She is easy to have around, though, and I don't feel bad if I need to take a nap when she's here! She's already learned to cook several western items (Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, my mom's Chicken Broccoli Casserole, Cornbread, Granola, and on Friday, my favorite Apple Cake recipe which is mostly apples!) and seems to be enjoying the western cooking more and more. We even tried out my friend Sandra's lasagne recipe--it didn't turn out as tasty as it looked in your picture, Sandra, but we enjoyed it anyway!
On another note, I just want to share how thankful I am that our family is in a great routine these days. Several of you have asked how that is going for us, so I wanted to share that it's going well! John has started school again, and we've both been faithful (well, he more than me) about getting up early for exercise and QT. I feel like we're really settled into "normal" family life with a good balance of work, play, rest, family time, worship time, etc. This is something that had been lacking for a long time, so I am thankful. The girls seem to sense it too and are doing well (except for the occasional squabble, of course. Why do two children always want the same one toy?!). So of course, though things are always changing, and tomorrow is unknown, I am thankful for this new rhythm of life.
And finally, thanks to everybody who sent emails and congrats after we announced our happy news about baby #3! It was really a blessing to hear from so many of you! The baby thanks you too. Though he/she is still causing me to lean over the toilet every morning, I haven't been so desperate for naps lately AND last night was the first night I didn't have any evening nausea! PTL! Thanks for all your prayers!