Chinese People Sleep A Lot

Day 2 with our Chinese exchange students.

Last night I didn’t feel like cooking dinner.  And what happens when I don’t feel like cooking dinner?  Li’s Buffet!  But you knew that.

At 5:00 I picked up the students from their class and told them we were heading out to eat.   From my calculations I had had only 4 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period but they had had only 4 hours of sleep in a 36  hour period.  Within seconds, John was sound asleep and Justin wasn’t far behind.

As their heads lolled around I regretted taking them out to eat.  Maybe I should have taken them straight home, let them scarf down a meal, and sent them promptly to bed.  Too late now.  By the time I cooked a meal and we ate it, it would take just as long as eating at Li’s and driving home.

We got to Li’s Buffet and they stumbled out of the car.  Once inside, Jin greeted them warmly in English and asked them about some sort of dialect.  They stared for a beat and then Jin switched to something that wasn’t English and they had a nice chat.   Jin stayed with us through most of our meal talking to them and listening to them.  So did our server, but I don’t know her name.  As it turns out, Justin and John are from a city called Fuzhou.  Fuzhou?  I’ve heard of that before.  Oh that’s right!  That’s where Jin is from.  Well, of course.  (Heavy sarcasm starts now.)  By land size, America is the 3rd largest country in the world and China is the 4th largest country in the world.  So obviously, if someone comes from China to America and eats at a restaurant in the tiny hamlet of Gettysburg they’re just bound to meet someone from back home.

And it only gets better.  Are you ready?

The server.

Not only is the server from Fuzhou (and Jin is from Fuzhou, and Justin and John are from Fuzhou) but when the server lived in China, she lived in the very same apartment building that John lives in now.  

Did you read that?  I’ll say it again in case you weren’t paying attention:

The server lived in the very same apartment building as John! 

Of course.  Out of 1.3 billion people in China, next door neighbors are bound to bump into each other wherever they go.  They’re in DC on a field trip right now and are probably falling all over their neighbors everywhere they go.

(Sarcasm ends.)

We left and drove past some battlefields.  I explained about the Civil War.  Justin commented, “For independence.”  No…independence was with American and England.  This was between America and America.  “Oh.  For power.”  China has had about 50,000 civil wars for power, so Justin figured it out pretty quickly.

He was interested in the battlefields so I asked, “Do you want to stop and look?”  He said, “Wait, let me get the word…” and looked up the word he wanted on his phone.  The word was, “Yes and no.”  Ummm…  I looked in the rear view mirror and John was sound asleep again so I went with “no.”

As soon as we got home, John went upstairs and fell asleep again.  Justin stayed up to play with Boy8 and his Nerf guns.  Justin snuck upstairs to shoot John with the gun but John slept right through it.

Finally, we got Justin to relax for a few minutes on the hammock.


And that pretty much sums up day 2.  I probably won’t write anything about day 3 (today) because they’re on their field trip right now from 9-9 and we will barely see them.

P.S. This morning they smeared as much butter on their pancakes as you smear peanut butter on a PB sandwich.  I said, “No, too much!” and scraped it off, but they smeared it back on when I wasn’t looking.

A Shoulder Shimmy, Chunks of Brown Sugar, and the Mayor is a Werewolf?!

Being sick for 10 days has brought me a host of problems.

I thought it took 21 days for habits to form, but that’s just not true.  It took only 10 I’m-sick-so-I-have-to-lie-around-on-the-couch days for my habit to form:  obsessive television watching.

Oh, save me from the television!

No, actually it’s not the television that’s the problem.  It’s the iPad.

Oh, save me from the iPad!

See on an iPad, you can watch Netflix all day and all night. If it was just movies, that would be one thing.  But no, it’s the tv shows that are the problem.  Each season of a tv show is basically a 22 hour long movie.

Oh, save me from 22 hour long movies!

With an iPad, you can slowly shuffle through the house idly kicking aside the couch pillows (lots of fort building in this house) and piles of legos (I strongly urge you to keep your shoes on when you pop in for a visit), carrying your iPad with you everywhere you go, watching tv.

I manage to get our 4-5 hours of homeschool in and then spend 5 minutes making sure we have clean underwear and clean forks, and then the remaining 18 hours and 55 minutes of the day are dedicated to watching Netflix on the iPad.  I’m not even sure whether or not anyone in my family has eaten in the past 5 days.  I think a long time ago I used to be in charge of cooking the food, but I just can’t remember.  I’ve been subsiding on bananas, some withered cherry tomatoes and cheese sticks.  From what I can tell from the mess in the kitchen, the boys have been eating chunks of brown sugar and raw ramen noodles.

The other problem with being sick for 10 days is that there are lingering sinus issues.  Which means I can’t sing anymore.  Oh, I can sing, but it sounds like those dying giraffes I’ve told you about in the past.  When I try to hit the notes, my voice won’t work.  It sort of warbles and then slides into a wrong key–completely out of my control.  I’m afraid the kids might be scarred for life from hearing my pitiful attempts at song.

Then again it might not have been the singing that scarred them.  It might have been the dancing.  Hey, the theme song for the Iron Man cartoon is pretty catchy.  (Really.  Listen here.)  I sang along and couldn’t resist adding a little wiggle.  Boy10 turned an embarrassed shade of red, but it wasn’t until I got to the shoulder shimmies that Boy10 finally put his foot down and said, “Mom!  Never do that again!  Never!”  Boy7 just turned his head to the side and wept.

Speaking of singing, last night at Hair Cut Night, one of my friends was talking about going to a seminar for people who lead the music in churches.  At the seminar you learn how to sing prayers.

Which reminded me of my invisible friends.  Yes, I have invisible friends, what’s it to you?  There’s a homeschool forum website I used to liked to visit until tv took over my life.  After a while you get to know some of the people who post on it.  I call them my invisible friends. (

One of my invisible friends started a thread about how it bothers her to pray in front of other people. Someone else responded with…well, hang on and I’ll get the exact quote:

**I got asked to pray and was caught flat-footed at a district BSA meeting. Fortunately, this song popped into my mind:

So, let the words of our mouth

And the meditations of our heart

Be acceptable in Thy sight.

Oh, verai!

I actually sang it! And they’ve never asked me since…  **

I love that story, don’t you?  Can you see her sitting in her seat minding her own business, probably slightly bored, watching the meeting unfold? And then, someone turns to her and says, “Brunhilda, will you please lead us in prayer?”

And her eyes grow slowly wider and she stammers, “Uh…sure…” and closes her eyes.  There’s a beat of silence as she scrambles for words.  But instead of any intelligible words forming in her brain, all she can think of is the song.

So she sings it. Out loud.  Even the Latin bit.  In front of everyone.

And when she’s done, can you see everyone giving her sidelong glances, some confused, some amused, and her looking defensive yet trying to pull it off as if everyone sings when they’re asked to pray.  Can you picture the leader of the group quietly crossing Brunhilda’s name off the Lead Us In Prayer list?

Speaking of praying for people, those of you who attend my church know that Darling Husband is on the church board and this past Sunday the board members and their spouses prayed for people during the church service.  This was our last time praying though, because Darling Husband’s term as a board member is up and he wasn’t voted back in.


No, no, he’s ok.  We’ve done more jobs in churches than you can shake a stick at.  He’ll find something to do to make himself useful.

Back to Sunday:  after we prayed for people, the pastor thanked Darling Husband for his time on the board and unexpectedly handed us a little envelope as a “small token of thanks.”

I’ve always wondered what was in those little envelopes. I don’t know what’s been in other people’s little envelopes, but you’ll appreciate the love and care that went into picking out what went into our little envelope.  We waited until we got home to open it. Look at what it is:


A Li’s Buffet gift certificate.  (!)  Incidentally, we already had plans to eat at Li’s Buffet that very afternoon.  See:


And now I have to go because Katherine is back and she looks just like Elena and is doing Very Bad Things pretending to be Elena and trouble is brewing.  Big, big trouble.

A Chaotic Christmas Dinner and A Field Trip to the Radiologist

Darling Husband and I have eaten Christmas lunch or dinner in a Chinese restaurant every Christmas for the past 19 years.  It’s tradition.

It’s the best holiday meal of the year.  Better than Thanksgiving because we don’t have to clean up the Bob Evan’s mashed potato packages or put clips on the bags of Doritos or anything.  We just eat, tip well, and go home.

But even more than the laziness factor, what we like best is that Chinese restaurants are pretty empty on Christmas day.  Whether it’s been The Hunan, Bruce Lee, or Li’s Buffet, it’s always the same: no customers.

And that means that we can sit there and sit there (and sit there), jabbering for hours.  And that’s the best part about eating Christmas dinner at a Chinese restaurant.

But last year!  Last year was just horrible.

A week or so before Christmas we were at Li’s Buffet and I mentioned to Jin that we’d be back on Christmas day with some friends and family.  Ten of us total.  He said, “You’d better make a reservation.”

Huh? I thought it was a little silly, but to humor him, I agreed to make a reservation.  Not that it was necessary, but if it made Jin happy, what harm was there?

We’ve lived in this area for 9 years and have eaten a good 7 or 8 Christmas lunch/dinners at Li’s Buffet and I expected it would be much like any other year.  Empty.



Last year, we arrived to a packed parking lot.  We walked through the hallway from the main door to the restaurant door, and saw people lined up waiting to get in.  Every single table was filled.  They even had to open the employee break room and put customers in there with the big piles of green beans and raw wontons.

And our table for 10?  Due to the language barrier, the girl accidentally gave it to someone else.  We had to wait for 15 or 20 minutes, with poor Gerhard’s 900 year old mother about to topple over.  They eventually found a chair for her.  I think they had to run home and bring back one of their own chairs for her to use.

In the end, we had to sit the 8 adults at one table and Boy10 and Boy7 sat alone at another table.

And instead of sitting at the table for a couple of hours and making jokes and enjoying each other’s company, we had to fill our plates with our elbows being jostled by the crowds and gobble down our food.

By the time we left, the line of people waiting to get in was all the way into the cold parking lot.  They were standing by the windows dressed in rags with their noses pressed against the glass, following our chopsticks with their eyes.  I gave one famished orphan a sweet and sour chicken nugget on the way out.  He said, “Thank ya, guv’nor ” as he broke it in two to share with his sister while they waited.

My plan this year was to go to the restaurant in town that never, ever has any customers (except for take out) and eat our lingering Christmas dinner there.

The problem?  Gerhard, Janet, Gerhard’s 900 year old mother, Mom, Dad, Michael, Kim, and their two children are all insisting that we eat our Chinese Christmas meal at Li’s Buffet.  That would mean a party of thirteen!  Thirteen!!

I’ve tried to talk sense into them, but they won’t listen to reason.  It has to be Li’s.

So, what do I do?  Put my foot down and take my family to a quiet restaurant, all alone and lonely?  Use the force to bend my friends to my will to join me at a quiet restaurant and then feel bad about being bossy and selfish?  Or let go of the past and embrace a new tradition of jostled elbows and gobbled food at Li’s Buffet?

Yeah.  I agree.  Guess I’d better coordinate a time and give Jin a call.


Boy10 has had a cough for 13 days and a fever for 10 days.  Today he had a chest xray to rule out pneumonia.

Being that we’ve had to do light homeschool for the past week and a half since he’s been feeling so bad, I asked the xray guy, “Can you tell us something educational about xrays?”

He was happy to oblige.  He told Boy10, “When I was your age, I had a hand xray.  That’s what started me on the road to where I am now.”  It was clear he loves his job.  We learned a lot, and the xray guy was sad that we didn’t have time for a longer lesson.


Dry Lips, A Shoe Factory, and Headless Chinese Warrior Ghosts

Imagine the scene:

It’s a boring old Thursday in November.  Everyone has dry lips from the heater being on and the stash of chapstick from our Christmas stockings is dwindling.  But the grapes are good.

So…there we are, bored, dry, decadently eating grapes, when we crack open the history books.  Boy10’s history was about Chairman Mao taking over China after WWII.  I peek into Boy7’s history book.

My little heart flutters and my eyes goggle!  Boy7’s history is about the first emperor of….China!  Two entirely different history books, and they’re both about China on the same day?  It’s a sign.  This cannot be ignored.  Obviously, we were meant to learn about China today.  In great depth.

And what’s the best way to learn about something?  To immerse yourself in it: to inhale its scents, hear its sounds, eat its foods.

Obviously, there’s no other way to immerse yourself in China in the middle of the Pennsylvania cornfields than to head to your favorite Chinese restaurant for lunch:  Li’s Buffet.

I told Jin (the owner’s son) that we were there for a field trip, and had just learned about the terra cotta warriors and the Great Wall of China.  I said that if only JJ’s Habachi (the other restaurant the family owns) wasn’t closed for the season, we’d have gone there to gaze at their terra cotta warrior replicas.

Jin said, “I can take you there.  You want to go?  Let’s go!”

And so after we ate, we went all the way to the other side of Gettysburg to JJ’s Habachi Buffet and Jin let us in so we could stare at the terra cotta warrior replicas.  There are two of them.  One of them is headless.  He’s not supposed to be headless.  No.  Someone stole the warrior’s head.  That seems like a Bad Idea, especially in Gettysburg.  You can’t spit without bumping into one of those ghost tours. Apparently, all the ghosts on the entire east coast come to unrest in Gettysburg.  With all those ghosts floating around, you’d think the thief would think twice before taking the head of a replicated Chinese warrior.  Sure, he’s just a replica of a replica, but still. You don’t want a headless Chinese warrior ghost haunting you.  “Give me back my heeeeeaaaaad!”

Jin gave us a little lesson on the parts of Chinese history we read about in our books.  That was so awesome.  I appreciated that very, very much.  It’s one thing to read about it, but it’s so much better to learn a little of Chinese history from someone actually from China.  Jin disagreed with our history book that the First Emperor was the first emperor.  Jin said he was just the first emperor who united all the city-states.

Speaking of city-states, I was reviewing with Boy7 what city-states are: each city was its own tiny little country with its own king or warlord, and each city fought with the other cities.  I told him it would be as if Hanover and Gettysburg each had kings and were fighting with each other.

We all agreed that Gettysburg would totally win, because they have all the cannons. Hanover wouldn’t  stand a chance.  All Hanover has is a shoe factory. 


We seriously need some more chapstick in this house.

Famous Friends, A Mysterious Painting, and Food Art

My friends Michael and Kim are local celebrities, as some of you may recall.  You can see them here in the Gettysburg Visitor’s Guide.  They’re in the banner at the top of the site, and in the magazine as the pages are flipping. (Updated 4/13–they’re not on the website anymore.  New pictures are on it now.)

They are The Happy Family in the Visitor’s Guide.  Every now and then, they get recognized by a tourist.  The last time was about two weeks ago when they were eating ice cream at Mr. G’s. The tourist bemoaned the fact that her Visitor’s Guide was back at the hotel and she couldn’t get an autograph.

Somewhere along the line, Michael’s sister, Kelley, started reading The Blog.  Due to the subliminal messages I hide in The Blog, she got addicted to it, just as you have. So when she planned to leave her home in Detroit to visit her brother Michael, she knew what she had to do:  get off the airplane and head directly to Li’s Buffet with The Happy Family and her favorite blogger, Dustylizard.

Look at this picture:

This is Tom.  Who is Tom?  I don’t know!  But doesn’t he look familiar?  When Michael called to say that he and Kelley were on their way from the airport, he said, “A surprise visitor will be coming, too.”  When we arrived at the restaurant, Michael said, “Here’s the surprise visitor: Tom.”  And for a moment, I was thinking, “Oh look!  It’s ol’ Tom!  Tom and I go waaaay back.”  But then I remembered that I’ve never met Tom before.

But that didn’t stop us from having a great time.  We spent a great deal of energy trying to sort out this painting:

This is hanging in the room with the tables that seat 8 and 10.  Whenever we come with a group, we’re put in this room with this mysterious picture.

Are these babies?  If so, how are they strong enough to row?  Or maybe they’re unwrinkly old men.  But if they’re old men, why are they naked?  And what are they singing?  They’re clearly singing.  I’ve pondered these questions through many a meal at Li’s Buffet.  If you have any insights into this painting, I’d love to hear it.

There was only one thing missing from our experience at Li’s Buffet.



Jin was missing.  Jin is the owner’s son and always takes the time to stop and chat with us whenever we eat at Li’s Buffet.  But today is Jin’s birthday, so he had the day off.

As you all may remember, whenever we celebrate a birthday at Li’s Buffet, Mr. Li will make food sculptures for us and the staff will sing a sedate “Happy Birthday.”

How could we let Jin’s birthday go by without a food sculpture?  We couldn’t!  Of course, no one had a clue how to create a food sculpture, but then Darling Husband had the idea that we could spell out the words Happy Birthday with rice.  Fortunately, Kim is an artist and Kelley was a floral designer, so the two of them were on the job.  Here they are:

And here is their masterpiece:

Happy Birthday, Jin!

It was great to finally meet you in person, Kelley.  And you, too, Tom!

A Vamp, A Cook, A Baker, A Stylist, A Photographer, And A Trouble Maker

Today was the Last Soup Day.

I’ve eaten soup for lunch at Barbetta’s house every other week for about 80,000 years.  That’s a lot of soup!

I thought Barbetta was getting her Nurse Practitioner degree so she could use the diploma as a snazzy decoration for her wall, but nope–she got the degree so she could get a job as a Nurse Practitioner. Go figure!

She starts her new job on Monday, which means she won’t be hosting Soup anymore.

And Wendy started up a daycare business, so she’s not available either.

And Kris went ahead and put in for more hours at her job, so she’s not available either.

Instead of soup, we’ve decided to have Hair Cut Night every 6 weeks so that Sandy can still cut our hair. Plus Bunco nights at Wendy’s every other month.

Hey!  Guess what I found out today about Sandy!  Turns out that Sandy cut some famous guy’s hair.  Oh, what was his name?  I can’t remember!  Doesn’t matter.  I’ll tell the story anyway:

Ok–so there’s this guy who has a show on MTV.  He’s a dirt bike guy with his very own show.  Well, Sandy had never heard of him, but he comes into the salon where she works.

He sits in her chair with his dirt bike guy hair and she’s chit-chatting with him and finds out that he rides around on his dirt bike all day.  So, she tells him, “Dude!  You need to settle down and get yourself a real job!  You can’t make money riding a dirt bike all day!”

He just chuckled to himself, because he knows he’s making MILLIONS with his MTV show, riding around on his dirt bike all day, and here’s this hairdresser giving him career advice and she has no idea who he is.

Apparently, he found it refreshing because he always went back to Sandy after that for all his haircuts.

Isn’t that s a cool story?!  I can’t believe I been giving her such a hard time about my bangs.  “Sandy! Don’t cut my bangs too short!”  She’d roll her eyes at me and say, “Jackie–why do you doubt me?  We have this conversation every single time and I’ve never cut them too short.”

I guess if she’s good enough for Millionaire Dirt-Bike Guy, she’s good enough for me.  And I’m positive she doesn’t charge me as much as she charged him.  So, nyah to you, Mr. Millionaire Dirt-Bike Guy.

Since it was the Last Soup Day Ever, I took pictures.  Wendy wasn’t able to come because she had daycare kids.  I am so upset about that!  Wendy isn’t in any of the pictures!

Lisa and Traci came totally unprepared for portraits, but were good-natured about it and let me take their pictures even though they didn’t feel confident that they looked their best.  Thank you guys!

Well…here are the pictures.  As you all know, I’m very new to the whole ‘group shot’ thing and all I can see are the flaws in the pictures, but I’m learning.  Hopefully, you won’t notice the flaws as much as I do.  (Mostly to do with lighting and sharpness of the images.)

Each picture is of the same thing, but I made them move from location to location so I could get some practice.  In each shot:

Barbetta is holding the soup pot.

Traci is holding the (chocolate with peanut butter frosting) cupcakes that she brought.

Sandy is holding her scissors and a comb.

Lisa is getting her hair cut.  Lisa is the one who tells all the silly jokes, but also gives really wise advice.  How do you take a picture of that?  So…she’s getting her hair cut.

Kris is vamping it up for the camera.  I made her do it.  She doesn’t normally vamp for the camera.  But since she loves fashion and her hair was all fluffed up today, she got the role of “vamp.”

I’m the one with the little camera.


Picture of the Day:

Took some new friends to Li’s Buffet.  They’re from Buffalo, New York and needed to go to Li’s.

P.S.  Michael pointed out that if you google “Li’s Buffet Gettysburg” images that quite a number of my Blog Pictures show up.  Not all of them are mine, but 19 of them are!  (19!!!)

Apparently, whenever I tag something “Li’s Buffet” it pulls one of the pictures from the blog and puts it in Google images, even if it’s not a picture of Li’s Buffet.  That’s how the picture of my wooden table got in there.  Isn’t that a great table?


ETA:  If anyone’s interested, it looks like the Millionaire Dirt Bike Guy must be Travis Pastrana.  He’s from Annapolis, MD, and Sandy was cutting hair in Annapolis at the time.

Shoes as secret weapons and Why haven’t I seen you at Li’s Buffet?

No one came to Soup Day today.  Sort of.

For those who don’t know, every other week a group of us get together at Barbetta’s house and she feeds us soup for lunch.   In the five or so years we’ve done this, I have never missed a single Soup Day. 

And today was no exception.  I was there, as usual.

But no one else was.

Well, Sandy showed up for a few minutes, inhaled some soup, cut my bangs, and left.

But really, it was just me and Barbetta.

Now, if you didn’t know any better, you might think that only two people at Soup Day would cut things short because we’d run out of things to talk about.

But you would be wrong.

When Barbetta and I are alone together, we talk non-stop.  For hours upon hours.  And it’s only with great reluctance that we end the conversation and part ways.

Barbetta’s husband, Jeff, knows this and uses it to his advantage.  Remember Jeff?  He wrote the story about Dusty Lizard selling secrets to the Chinese government at Li’s Buffet.  Here are the links to the three part story:  Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

Barbetta turned 40 last year and she wanted a party.  Barbetta loves throwing parties and is always looking for excuses to do so.  As soon as she turned 39 she announced to Jeff.  “I want a surprise party when I turn 40.”  And every few weeks, she would remind Jeff, “Don’t forget my surprise 40th birthday party.”

And so Jeff quietly started planning the surprise party.

It worked, too.  You’d think she’d have caught on to when the party was, being that she knew it had to be coming right around her birthday, but she didn’t.  In fact, the night before the party, she actually cried on the shoulder of another Soup Day member saying that Jeff had apparently forgotten to plan her party.

But he hadn’t forgotten, and the party was on its way.

What was my role in this?  My role was to stall her before the party began so that all the guests could arrive at her house before she got home, and yell “Surprise!” when she walked in the door.

But Jeff was a little disappointed to realize that if I was going to stall her, it would have to be for a full hour and 15 minutes.  The plan was for her to pick up her son from my house, who was visiting with my son, and that’s when I’d stall her.  But the timing was a little messed up.  And she would be at my house a full hour and 15 minutes before she needed to be.

So, Jeff told Darling Husband and me, “Well, stall her as long as you can, but it’s ok if she gets home before the guests.  At least she’ll be able to freshen up before they arrive.”

But I was confident I could do it.  Yes, Barbetta may have liked to freshen up, but she also wanted a Surprise Party.  And what’s a surprise party without someone scaring your hair grey by jumping out from behind your couch yelling, “Surprise!”?

So, I made plans.  First, we deliberately hid her son’s shoe.  That way, when she arrived we’d have to “find it.”  I figured that could go on for 15 minutes, if I distracted her with conversation, before she’d say, “Oh, forget the shoe.  Give it to us later when you find it.”

That would leave only an hour.  I could ramble on about stuff for another 15 minutes, minimum, after the shoe was found, and she wouldn’t even realize the time had gone by.  My plan was to push that 15 minutes of rambling as loooong as possible, and just when she was realizing, “Oh, I have to get home,” I would pull out my secret weapon.

More shoes.  New shoes.  (Red shoes, blue shoes.)

Barbetta’s great weakness is shoes.  She has magic feet.  She can walk into any store and buy any size 6 pair of shoes and it will fit her foot without pinching or falling off.  Any pair at all.  And because it’s so easy for her to find shoes, she likes to find lots and lots of them.  It’s not easy for me to find shoes that fit right, so I don’t like to buy a lot of them, and don’t have any particular fascination with them.

But I had just bought a pair of new shoes, and Barbetta loves to look at people’s new shoes.  So, my secret plan was to say, “Wait!  Before you go, take a look at my new shoes!”  And when she was ooo-ing and aah-ing over them, I’d say, “I wish I knew exactly what to wear with them.  Wait!  While you’re here, let me try on a few outfits and you look at them with the shoes and tell me if they look ok!”

She wouldn’t have been able to resist!  Someone asking for shoe fashion advice?  That’s her specialty.  No way would she be able to leave.

And then, I would take my sweet time trying on a bunch of outfits until the full hour and 15 minutes had gone by.  She would leave, the guests (all except me, who’d be behind her on the road) would yell, “Surprise!”, her hair would turn grey, and everyone would be happy.

But poor Darling Husband didn’t understand.  He didn’t understand that Barbetta and I can go for a solid 4 hours (as we did today) talking non-stop and still feel that we’d barely even scratched the surface of the conversation.

So, Barbetta arrived to pick up her son and we looked for his shoe.  (15 minutes.)  We jabbered for a few more minutes (10 minutes.)  I, very suave and off-the-cuff, said, “Why don’t you sit down for a moment?”  Once she was sitting, it would be harder to leave.  We talked some more (15 minutes).

And here’s where poor Darling Husband didn’t know any better.  Because Barbetta sort of acted like she was going to stand up. But every time she did, I’d bring up a new topic of conversation that I knew she couldn’t resist, and she’d settle back down.  I knew she didn’t want to go, but she was afraid she was infringing on my time.  But Darling Husband didn’t know that. 

So 45 minutes into my hour and 15 minute stall, he said, “Well, I’m sure Barbetta wants to go home now.”

Which she, obviously, interpreted as, “Barbetta!  Get out of our house!  Why are you hanging around?  I’d like some time alone with my family, since we watched your kid all day.”

I tried to recover from his gaffe and said, “No, no!  Stay!  We were having such a nice chat!”  But she didn’t want to upset Darling Husband, because he so obviously wanted her gone, so she left.

I gave Darling Husband a ????? look, growled at him, and we got dressed to get to her party, where Barbetta, all freshened up, greeted her guests at the door.


Picture of the day:

At one point during our 4 and a half hour visit today, Barbetta got up to use the bathroom, and I took the chance to take a quick picture of me sitting alone at the Soup Day table.  I guess the picture could have been better, but Barbetta came back and, strangely enough, I wanted to talk to Barbetta more than I wanted to fix the picture.


Oh!  And we went to Li’s Buffet today.  I used to post a picture on Facebook every time we’d go to Li’s Buffet.  This would drum up a lot of business for Li’s, because people were so intrigued by the fact that I posted a picture a week (or twice a week, or even thrice a week) of the same restaurant.  People started going to Li’s, just to see what the fuss was about, and also to see if they’d catch us there.  Like a tourist attraction.  Or the Loch Ness Monster.

But I haven’t posted pictures from Li’s in a while, and I haven’t seen anyone I know at Li’s lately, so I’m starting up my Li’s pictures again:

In the above shot Jin is at the cash register behind me.  There are three guys sitting at a table speaking what sounds like French.  They were fascinated with us because later Jin came to our table and started telling us little puzzles for us to figure out.  (6 tigers have to cross a river in a boat.  Only two tigers in a boat at a time.  A tiger must always be in the boat for the return trip.  But if you leave some tigers alone together they eat each other.  How do you get all 6 tigers across the river without some of the tigers eating the others?)

The French guys kept staring.  Probably wishing they had puzzles to do, too.

Right before we left, there was a lovely patch of sunlight that fell right across Darling Husband’s face, so I practiced a window-light shot.

I Finally Got My Expensive Gift from a Man, Women are Trouble, and I’m Going to have Purple Eyes From Now On.

I told Mom (Darling Husband’s mother) that Darling Husband bought me Alex (my new camera) for Mother’s Day.  She just about popped with pride.  She’s always telling Darling Husband to, “Take your poor wife out to a fancy dinner!”or “Buy that woman something nice for her birthday for a change.”

I just sit there and nod and try to look needy.  Mom is laboring under the delusion that Darling Husband is the only cheap one in our house and that he’s denying me things that I’m pining away for.  She hasn’t caught on that we’re both equally cheap.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve tried to tell her, but she just won’t listen.  Honest. I’ve told her, “I don’t want him to spend the money.”  But she’s not convinced and I’ve given up trying.  Instead I sit there looking noble and sacrificing.

It drives Darling Husband a little nuts.

But today Mom was so proud of her son.  Finally (!) he bought his wife a nice and expensive gift.  She told me I was worth it.

I don’t think she’ll be happy with any future gifts that Darling Husband gets for me, however, because I’m pretty sure I’ll be getting a boring old camera bag for my 20th anniversary in June.  Here’s why:

Today, I slid into the passenger seat of the car…yes, slid.  That’s how it goes down around here on Sunday morning.  We’re in a bit of a rush, so Darling Husband opens the window and I take a ninja leap in the air and slide into my seat.  If we’re in the Subaru he opens the sunroof and I somersault through the roof.  No wait.  That wasn’t me.  Sorry, that was Scarlett Johansson in The Avengers.  I just wish I was her.

So…when I slid into the passenger seat of the car, I had my bright orange insulated lunchbox with me.

“What’s in the lunchbox?” asked Darling Husband.


For some reason, Darling Husband thought that housing Alex in an insulated lunchbox was the funniest thing he’s seen all week.  He laughed the entire way to church.  Well, it is only a 4 minute drive.  And when  I said, “Scott and Kevin thought it was funny, too,” that made him laugh even more.  I don’t see what’s so funny about it.  I thought it was pretty clever.  It’s padded.  And I wrapped Alex in a dishtowel for extra safety.  When I took Alex out of the lunchbox to show him to everyone after church, Darling Husband looked a little embarrassed.

So that’s why I’m thinking it’ll be a boring old camera bag for my anniversary.  (Unless anyone has one they want to give to a good cause?)  Mom will be so disappointed.

We took Mom to Li’s Buffet for lunch today.  If you recall, I’ve taken pictures of most of the restaurant, so now I’m taking picture of the people who work there.  This is the owner’s daughter, Yen.  It was easy to get a nice picture because  she’s so pretty.

After lunch at LI’s, I was exhausted, as usual for a Sunday.  I told the boys that for Mother’s Day I wanted to sit on the couch and watch a movie with them, my choice.  We watched Star Wars Episode III because they haven’t seen it before and I was hoping they’d be quiet through it so I could nap.

I got misty-eyed in the sad parts and Boy7 covered his eyes during the Anakin melting in the volcano parts and Boy9 made sarcastic comments through all the parts.  Gee, I wonder where he gets that from?  *cough*darlinghusband*cough*.

I think it’s just so sad the way that Anakin turns to the dark side so that his wife won’t die, but in the end he’s the one who causes her to die.  Very Greek.  Lesson learned from Star Wars:  women are trouble.  And the boys were astounded to learn that Yoda is actually Miss Piggy.

And what would Mother’s Day be without gaining a good pound or two?  So I made Chocolate Bolacha to round out the festivities.


What a nice clear picture Alex took of my eye.  I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to resist changing the colors of my eyes in all my pictures from now on.



Karma Strikes Again: I Was The Rotten Friend Today.

Mom came by and said, “I want to take the kids to GameStop to exchange some games.”   Woot!  One whole hour in the house All By Myself!   But then Mom said, “After GameStop, I’d like to take the boys to my house.”  Woot, woot!  Two whole hours in the house All By Myself!  And then she said, ““I’ll keep them late so you and Darling Husband can go out to dinner.”  Yippee!  Free Li’s Buffet for dinner with my ‘buy nine, get one free’ card.

Wanted a picture of the day at Li’s Buffet, but I’m getting tired of taking the same old shot of my food.  I’ve taken all the obvious pictures, like of the buffet table, Jin, light fixtures, etc.  What is something clever to take a picture of, that looks like a Chinese restaurant?

Here’s the picture I ended up taking:

I’m pointing the camera at a window with etchings on it, which is showing a reflection of Darling Husband and me and a second window.  I love how I got Darling Husband eating with the chopsticks with the bit of food on the end.

To get the shot, I had to stare down the guy who was sitting in front of one of the windows, blocking my shot, and wait for him to move.  “C’mon!  You want ice cream, you know you do!  Get up!

Once he was out of the way, I propped myself up on my leg on the chair, camera at the ready, teetering, looking like a loon, and waited for people at the buffet table to move out of the shot.  When they did: snap, snap, snap!  I’m very happy with the results.


I brought a board game with me to the restaurant for Darling Husband and me to play.  I miss playing board games.  Unfortunately, even though I had two sets of visitors this weekend, we never got around to playing board games.  When I said, “Hey, let’s play a game!” they demurred and I didn’t press the issue.  I should have.  I am an only child, after all.  Only children are supposed to have amazing super-hero powers of self-centeredness, unmatched in people with siblings.  I should have used my super-hero powers to force them to my game-playing will.

At the restaurant, Darling Husband didn’t say anything about the board game, but sneakily distracted me by saying, “So…if you did get a new camera, what would you want to get?”  Oooo.  I get all shivery when he sweet talks me like that.  We spent a happy half hour looking up cameras on Stella (the iPad) and ran out of time for a game.

All in all, it was a lovely evening.  Until we got home.  At home, there was a message from Vince on the answering machine.  “Umm….we were supposed to meet tonight, but I guess you forgot.  I’m sitting outside your house right now, looking tragic and pathetic.  You probably found new friends, like last time, and forgot all about me.  It’s ok.  I’ll carry on.”  Cringe.  Ahhh!  Sorry, Vince!

Boy7 was only Mostly Dead and Eye Patches are Cool

Remember those kids I babysat a few days ago?  As they were leaving, Boy7 got into a fight with Boy9 and barricaded himself in the bathroom.  He refused to speak to anyone and sat there fuming.

I’m not sure exactly how to handle situations like this.  The kid is in the bathroom, angry as a wasp, and refusing to say goodbye.  What is The Mom supposed to do?  Let the child mope and barricade himself in the bathroom and be rude?  Insist that he say good bye to his friends?  This is when you think, “Gee, I wish I had some sort of child psychologist nearby to ask for help on how to handle this.”

Right.  The woman whose kids I was babysitting?  Yup.  Child psychologist.  Why is it when the child psychologist is standing right there in your hallway looking back and forth from you to the barricaded bathroom door that you don’t think to ask for advice?  Sigh.  Missed opportunity, yet again.

Anyway, she called yesterday and left this message on my answering machine,  “Hi.  Um.  When Boy7 didn’t say goodbye, Girl3 thought that it was because he died.  Can you have him call us so that I can prove to her that he didn’t die?  She’s been pretty upset….”

Apparently, Girl3 witnessed Boy9 stabing Boy7 with a lightsaber in the chest during their argument, and she thought the wound was fatal.  Hey, lightsaber wounds to the chest generally are.

And this is why when we were at a yard sale today and Darling Husband and the boys saw a Samurai Sword set that they wanted to buy, I said, “No!”

No!  I am not going to buy my 7 and 9 year old boys samurai swords to play with.  Yes, the edges were blunted, but the tips were sharp enough to poke a brother’s eye and then pull it out of the socket like getting an olive out of a jar with a steak knife.  They all said, “Oh, that won’t happen!” Oh no?  Am I the only one in this family with any imagination?!  Because I’m thinking that if you give two boys a samurai sword each, they’re gonna fight with them.

Just like Darling Husband and his brother did when their (childless) uncle gave them samurai swords when they were kids.

Look at Darling Husband’s samurai sword from when he was a kid.  I can assure you, it didn’t have those dings in it when Uncle Bob gave it to him.

Ding! Ding!

Bent metal. Bent metal, people!!

Oh, and get this:  Later we were at GameStop letting the boys spend their allowance money.  Boy7 realized he’d saved up enough money to get a 3DS, which plays games in 3D.  But Darling Husband said, “No.  The warning on these things says that if you’re 6 and under, playing a 3DS can cause eye damage.  You’re too close to 6.  We don’t want to damage your eyes.”  We don’t want to damage your eyes??

Darling Husband just read that last paragraph over my shoulder and said, “No, you don’t understand.  If you play the 3DS and get blurry vision, you have to wear glasses and get teased at school.  But if your eye gets poked out, you get to wear an eye patch and that’s cool!


We were in Hanover today and we got hungry.

There we were, at A.C.Moore and we got hungry.

And you know what’s in the next parking lot over from A.C.Moore, don’t you?

Lu’s Habachi Grill.  A Chinese buffet, and it’s not Li’s Buffet.

We’ve been avoiding going to Lu’s.  We are die-hard Li’s Buffet fans, not Lu’s Buffet fans.  Going to Lu’s feels disloyal.  But we were hungry and Li’s was a half hour away and we still had more errands to run in Hanover….

…so we went.

Now, first thing I’d like to say is that we got all European and actually walked from A.C. Moore to Lu’s.  Walked!  Americans do not walk from one shopping center to the next.  It’s Just Not Done.  But we did it.  We’re rebels like that.

Here’s a picture to show you how far away we were:

Not far at all.

It’s silly to jump in a car to move it from one shopping center to the next when they’re less than a city block from each other.  Unless you’re going to be buying bagsful of heavy things, just walk.  It’s good for you, trust me.

How did we like Lu’s?  Well, the décor was nice, but the food is better at Li’s.  Sorry, it just is.  That’s why we like Li’s so much.  They’re the best.

And Lu’s had tvs, which is bad-bad-bad.  Personal pet peeve: tvs in restaurants.      When you’re out with people, then be out with people.  I guess I’m just old-fashioned like that.