For anyone who has expressed any sort of sentiment resembling "Wow Beck! I'm so impressed with your recent book projects with the boys!", let me go ahead and let you in on a little secret:
I'll whisper the coveted answer to the epic how-does-she-do-it?!? question...
Lean in close now...
There ya go...
I have a full-time house helper.
That's right. Someone who comes to my house every weekday to help me cook, clean, and grocery shop. All for less money than what most people pay for their data plan!
We've never had full-time help before, and I have to admit that I was a little resistant to the idea. It just felt so privileged to have someone else doing the things that I felt like I should be doing. Plus, I didn't know if having a helper would cause all the local people to think of me as the rich Western girl. But it turns out that local people would think less of my husband if we didn't have a helper. They would think he didn't value me enough to provide help for me. They would feel sorry for me too and wonder how in the world I remain standing at the end of the day with three kids.
So in a wonderful display of God's providence, our dear helper came into our lives. Her name is actually the same as the part-time helper we had before. It seemed a little odd to me at first, but then I remembered how many Ashleys and Rachels I have in my email address book.
This chick loves to talk. She talks so quickly that my head spins, inserting blank stares and awkward pauses in our conversations. She also uses a whole slew of new vocabulary that replaces words I thought I knew. She's younger than me, evidenced by the fact that she addresses me as older sister and uses a lot of hip slang words, like adding the Chinese equivalent to "super" to everything and comparing Hudson to a flash-sale on Chinese E-bay. Words like that are definitely not in my dictionary!
Micah & Sam are getting used to her and are slowly learning how to communicate with her. She admitted to us in the beginning that she found them a little frightening. With all their pent up winter energy, I can't exactly blame her.
But her favorite part of the job, as she reminds me multiple times a day, is Hudson. If there is a lull in her day and he's not sleeping, the first thing she does is swoop him up. She also asks me daily if she can take him home with her.
I let her choose a Chinese name for him: En Qi. It means "mysterious & wonderful grace." We call him Qi Qi for short.
She also has a son that is right about Micah & Sam's age. Like most toddlers around here, he wears split-bottom pants instead of diapers. When he came over to play at our house one day, both boys were captivated by his exposed bottom. They tried to touch it with toys and asked me if he has a "peanut" like them. It was so striking to Micah that during our prayer time that night, he confidently announced to me that sometimes Chinese friends don't wear underwear. No truer statement, my son.
We invited her & her family over for a pizza lunch last weekend. They had never seen nor eaten pizza before, so it's hard to say if they actually enjoyed their food. But thankfully, her husband speaks slower than she does, so we were able to have really pleasant conversation. In fact, both she & her husband individually told Kevin & me different ways she has changed since starting to work in her home. It was very humbling & encouraging to hear how God was using us (and hopefully will continue to use us!) to be a blessing to her, as she is a most certainly a blessing to us.
Spring Festival is now upon us, which means our dear helper got her nails all dolled up (hence her pose in all my pictures) and headed to her home town for three weeks. That means we're on our own for the rest of the month. I keep reminding myself that people have been raising three kids alone for centuries, so it shouldn't be that hard. But then I remember that this country really isn't designed for big families. Not only is going shopping by myself with all the kids terrifying, it's practically impossible. Long gone are the days of car seats and race car shopping carts! So feel free to check in on me from time to time to make sure that the dust bunnies haven't eaten us alive and that we're not eating pancakes for every meal (not that Kevin would object to that!).