We're back in the USA!  My first bathroom visit back on US soil was nice.  It was at the LA airport.  If you're wondering why the first thing I would bring up is a trip to the bathroom, try spending ten days in China.  The LAX bathroom was clean, no strange odors, toilet paper and even papers to cover the seat!  Things we Americans take for granted.  In China, you never know if the bathrooms will have toilet paper when you're out running around.  Arden got tired of us not bringing our own TP and wanting hers.  LOL  Sometimes you didn't even have a regular toilet.  Often it is a hole in the ground.  I mean usually a nice hole.  : - )  After nine times to China I have learned to do the squat technique pretty darn good.  OK....tmi.

We arrived in Indy around 5:30 am.  More than 12 hours later my ears are still crackling and popping from being on planes for two days.  My voice is hoarse from sleeping in a too cold air conditioner.  Lael says it because I talk too much. We went through two night times flying home.  I would rather go through two day times.  

We walked in our front door to see Bret had done GREAT making the kids stay on the chore lists I left.  She even had my sheets all clean.  My friend,  Ginger, told me how impressed she was with Bret.  Bret speaks and the kids listen!  

We all showered and Mike, Lael, Arden and I slept most of the day.  I woke up in time to take another shower before the kids started coming home from school.  After my shower, Bret informed me I had been wearing my shirt wrong side out for two hours.  One by one, the kids started handing me Mother's Day presents.  Aaaahhhh.  

Then Bret tells me she'll come home after school and fix dinner.  I tell her I can get McDonald's, but she insists she'll fix it before she runs back to school for a tennis banquet.  Well, if she wants to. : - )) 

Mike actually wakes up and runs off to another town to watch Remi run in the Sectional track meet.  Mike calls me and tells me Remi did really well in the 100m dash and once again beat the girl who is normally the fastest sprinter on the team.  Looks like Remi is taking over that title.  

Remi:  "I beat Taylor."  : - )))

Remi also runs in the 4x100m relay.  Remi and her relay team did well and are advancing to Regionals.  Looks like Mike will be headed to Lafayette (home of Purdue University) next week to watch her run again.  He should be over the jet lag by then. 

Meanwhile, back here, I am pleasantly surprised at how good the house looks.

Me: "Cokie, Bret had the housed all cleaned."

Cokie"  "Well, you mean she made us do it."  

And then, just as I'm waking up, Stafan's teachers calls.  She told me we had met at church.  I meet too many people.  I'm not good with faces or names.  I'm pathetic...Okay!  But, the reason for the call was to talk about Stafan.  The school brought in professionals to do mock job interviews at the middle school.  Out of 408 students interviewed, Stafan was ranked by the interviewers in the top 25!  We didn't even know the school was doing this, so it's not like we helped Stafan prep.  It was all him.  I tell the teacher "Thanks for calling to tell me that!"  I'm thinking "That's my Stafan!"  Stafan is a good,  good boy.  I won't even talk about how handsome he is.  Guess I just did.  A gift from God. 

Cokie:  "I was interviewed by the woman who did my adoption homestudy!"   LOL  OK that was a little funny. 


But now to the first part of our journey to China.  We left Indy for Los Angeles at 7:00 a.m. Indy time.  That means I woke up around 3:30 a.m.  My brother-in-law drove us to the airport.  We landed around 10:30 a.m. LA time (LA is three hours behind Indy, so it was longer than a three-hour flight).  Other than short layovers in the airport, we had never been to LA.  So we intentionally booked a flight from Indy to LA to China with a 13-hour layover in LA.  After we landed, we stored our luggage and spent the rest of the day doing some crash touring.  We managed to squeeze in trips to Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Venice Beach.  


Since Lael and Mike are so cool, they decided instead of taxis we would tour LA using UBER!  I asked, "What the heck is an UBER!?"  Well I have to admit, the UBER experience was great!  Using UBER is  much cheaper than a taxi.  And the UBER drivers are screened, clean their vehicles, and once you book the ride using the UBER app, a driver will pick you up within about 5 minutes!  

Most of the UBER drivers actually wanted to talk politics!  I swear, they started it.  I didn't.  The first guy was from Russia, but he has lived here for 21 years.  He complained about lazy people on welfare and not working.  Guess who he likes?  Donald Trump!  He said he had enough socialism in Russia and wants no part of it here. 

The next UBER driver was a very handsome young black man with long hair dreds.  Age 27.  OK, I do talk a lot. : - )  I didn't figure out whether he has already graduated from college or is still taking classes, but he either took or is taking classes in history and was very interested in politics.  He was very sharp.   In the 25 - 30 minute drive from Beverly Hills to Venice Beach, he basically told us his philosophy on life.  To be fair, I gave him plenty of my philosophy too.  But as it turned out, there was no need to witness to this young man.  He kept telling me I sounded like his mother.  I took it as a high compliment, because two things were obvious:  (1) he really loves his mother; and (2) she sounded very much like a Christian who walks the walk.  She started a home for battered women and has taken in 25 women!  He told us his mother is his moral compass.  And he proved it points true north.  About 10 minutes after he dropped us off at the beach, Mike realized he had left his cell phone in the young man's car.  Fortunately, we had booked the ride with Arden's phone, so she had his number.  Mike called him using Arden's phone, and he drove all the way back to give Mike his phone!  I could see potential son-in-law material in this kind of guy. 

Long story short.  We liked our UBER experience. 







Lael:  "I want to sit by Dad.  He doesn't talk as much."


First stop in LA . . . Hollywood!








No...we are not in China yet.  This is us visiting the famous Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.

Next stop . . . Beverly Hills!


Even the fire hydrants in Beverly Hills scream "MONEY!"














After Mike took this picture of Arden under this really cool tree, a man walked up and started pointing at Mike's camera.  He didn't speak English but Mike thought he was trying to motion that he would take Mike and Arden's picture.  Arden tried to tell Mike she thought the man was weird, but Mike didn't listen.  Mike said "OK" to the weirdo and then to his surprise, the man started posing to have HIS picture taken under the tree.  LOL  I think women do have better instincts.



No...the weird man didn't take this picture.  While the person who did take it may have been normal, he is not a very good photographer ... he cut out the "Beverly" from the top, which was kind of the point of the picture.




Uh . . . no.





After we left Beverly Hills, we made our way to Venice Beach.




Loving God's beautiful blue sky!! We know in China for the next ten days we will see nothing, but dark smoggy gray. 










Lael and Arden had a blast playing on the beach and in the ocean.  We had to drag them away, so we could hustle back to the airport and catch our flight to Guangzhou.



The kids are all happy to back home in their own beds.  

Becki, my sister:  "Boone was so funny.  Boone told me everything was different.  I asked why.  Boone said because every morning when we leave for school my Mom kisses me and Pryor.  So I kissed Boone.  Then,  Pryor ran up for me to kiss him too.  After that, I made sure I kissed them when I dropped them off at school."