Thursday, October 18, 2007

Still livin' it up in Tianjin

I don't have too much to report today. I'll leave it to Kyle, if he wishes, to fill in the details of our October holiday vacation and any other noteworthy events recently transpired. On my front, the kids are still cute and demanding, nothing new. Ellie and Erik are now officially sharing clothes. And flashy accessories...

I've been taking the kids out more, and that means figuring out bus routes and carrying/dragging them around the city. It takes pretty much an entire morning or afternoon just to buy groceries or run a couple of errands. I can now resolutely confirm what my parents always said about the two ways to travel: first class or with kids. On the days we stay home, my stress level is much more manageable and I find myself enjoying my children and my life.

Also, as of this week, we have an ayi, which is a maid who we call "older sister." We are temporarily borrowing her from friends who are visiting the US for a couple months, and she was trained by an immaculate housekeeper, so my house is, well, let's just say she earns every fen (fraction of a penny)of her wages! She remakes our beds so there are no wrinkles in the sheets and organizes my jewelry and golly, she'll be color-coordinating the items in the pantry next! It's a little uncomfortable watching a woman twice my age scrubbing my floors on her hands and knees--actually, it's been unbearable, so I just leave the house with the kids. I'm no fancy lady, so even the idea of hiring someone to do what I could reasonably be expected to do still nags at my conscience. Alas, keeping a home in China clean and tidy is a formidable task--dirt and dust creeps in from the woodworks at all times, so floors truly can afford to be scrubbed daily. I am grateful for the burden of housework lifted, and am now dreaming of all the procrastinated projects and hobbies I can now resume, from scrapbooking to reading novels to tackling the fabric market to maybe even doing a little exercise! Probably not, though. I'd opt for a professional massage instead. Here's Ellie with her new friend Xixi (shee-shee) making a mess that our ayi will promptly make tidy.

Our branch (group of church members) moved buildings this week and the movers never showed up, so men of all ages got to participate in a piano and furniture-hauling fest. It was fun and rewarding to get to do something useful and helpful for others, for a change. Since our arrival here, it seems we have been constantly the recipients of service, and with two little kids, I need help pretty much everywhere I go. Here's Ellie with a pretty good hide-and-seek spot--inside the pulpit--but not too good that I couldn't track down her giggles.