* Dad wasn't in the mood for a party on his birthday, but Paul and Mindi brought cake and ice cream and we did our best, given the circumstances. There was one period of intense laughter which was such a welcome respite from the overall mood of sadness. You see, that morning Mom's nurse, Rebecca, had visited. Upon finding Mom's blood pressure to be too low, she advised Dad to purchase a blood pressure thing-a-ma-jig and keep a daily record of her numbers. Dad dutifully drove to Walmart (AGAIN!) and purchased the proper thing-a-ma-jig. Dad then decided he wanted to practice his newfound medical skills on all of us, so he went around the room taking everyone's blood pressure. Someone, I think it was Mindi, said "this is what you do at 80th birthday parties, you take everyone's blood pressure." That struck us all as funny and we began to laugh. Then someone said "next we'll all drink some Metamucil" and we laughed some more. Dad said " just wait 'till the guys at the field ask me what I did for my birthday! I'm going to tell them we all took turns taking our blood pressure! Ohhh, I'm going to have to practice saying that with a straight face!". It felt so good to laugh, really laugh.
* Warning! This story is gross but seems funny to me: On one of my return flights I decided to use the lavatory. I rarely do that on airplanes for a variety of reasons, but this was the long flight so it was necessary for both my bladder and my legs. When I got to the lavatory door it partly said "occupied" but mostly said "vacant" so without thinking too much about it I tried to open the door. I pulled on it a good bit before I realized that I should probably heed the partial "occupied" portion of the indicator. I backed away. Within seconds the door opened and the occupant bolted in the opposite direction of me. Without giving unnecessary and gory details, I will say that when I entered the loo I was disgusted by what appeared to be (and I think was) pee everywhere. It later dawned on me that the mess was probably my fault. I bet I scared the poor guy so badly that... Well, you know. I said I'd skip the details.
* I had a nice time with Anna and Ethan yesterday. While at lunch I asked them how they feel about being in Taiwan and they both said they love it. I asked for their reasons and steeled myself for the anticipated answers. I was SO pleasantly surprised when Ethan told me that he likes being surrounded by people who are not like him and Anna said she likes discovering how other people live. That, in a nutshell, is exactly what we hoped the kids would gain from this experience!
* Jet lag kicked in for me about 2:00 p.m. yesterday. I told the kids I had to take a nap and headed for my bed. Due to thunderstorms and dropping legos It took awhile to get to sleep, but eventually I slept hard. Upon forcing myself out of bed at 6:00 p.m. I found the kids in the kitchen eating pringles, marshmallows and candy and drinking apple juice. No problem, we have a rule around here that if Mom can't take care of you you get to eat whatever you want! And besides, they both ate dinner later. (MUCH later.)
* Speaking of food, three final tidbits wrapped into one. We had lunch yesterday at "L.A. Cafe". Here's what we had: a waffle, a chicken quesadilla (served with rice!, which Ethan ate) milkshakes and cola. Great combo, huh? In my new international status I have learned the following important information: I grew up drinking pop. When I moved to the south I learned to ask for soda because southerners don't know what pop is. To the rest of the world soda is, well, soda! As in soda water! So now I drink cola. And I have decided to abandon any hope of experiencing the food culture of Taiwan. There was never much chance of my experimenting much with food, but I have now decided that the past few weeks have drained me of any inclination toward new and different. I need some old and comfortable around me, so I plan to stick with food I know for the duration of my time in Taiwan.