Friday, September 6, 2013

50th Birthday

Deanne asked me what I wanted for my 50th birthday dinner and I said Costco hot dogs and soda.  She rolled her eyes and said, "Come on, what do you really want?"  She just would not believe it, but that is what I really wanted.  I like the hot dogs and all you can drink root beer is never a bad thing, especially when the kids rarely get soda.  We limit them to just water when we hit a fast food establishment for the dollar menu.  That way we can keep our McDonald's tab to around $30 per visit.  It is very entertaining to go through the drive through lanes and order thirty 99 cent double hamburgers and 15 waters, then listen to that awkward pause in the speaker while the otherwise capable order taker tries to figure out if they heard you correctly.  As a side note - Did you know the digital display boards at most of the drive-throughs don't go to double digits?  Little things large families find out....  Anyway, back to my sophisticated birthday dinner.  
After many attempts to get a real answer out of me before I left for work yesterday morning, Deanne was just going to make what she knew I would like.  Then sometime during the day, I received an email wherein she relented to my wishes.  She said it was out of respect and if she told me something like that, she would want me to comply.  But it also might have been a busier day than she anticipated, so the Costco option sounded better and better as the day wore on.  Either way, she was a good sport and a fantastically supportive wife, as always.  I have to disclose here that part of my motivation for the Costco hot dog dinner was to keep her from having to make another large formal meal.  She has done a few of those lately.  

As we sat there eating Deanne asked how many fathers go to Costco for hot dogs and soda with 14 children for their 50th birthday.  That was easy.... just ONE!!
The kids were happy.  I was happy.  Mom was happy.  And we didn't get too many stares as the Walker family lined the wall taking up 4 tables.

$27.49 - not bad for a dinner for 16. Last time Deanne and I went out, we went to the new Longhorn Steakhouse by our house and  bought the Sirloin for two and I think that was $28.   After I ordered the 15 tube steaks and the chicken bake, I got the usual awkward pause by the cashier. Except this time, since it was not in a drive-through,  I was able to SEE the confused look on the cashiers face while she paused. Then she actually asked if I was kidding.  It was quite comical. 
I splurged on Deanne and bought her the Chicken Bake. 
She is not a big hot dog fan.  See what I mean about her always being supportive? 


Monday, August 19, 2013

God's Hand

Just to preface, I wish I was a better writer. These situations today were pretty profound but I just don't know how to do them justice. I wish you could have been there to see it.

Today was a day to watch the hand of God at work. We took the children to Temple Square in Downtown Salt Lake City. It was important to us to have Scott have a spiritual experience and hopefully find someone that spoke Mandarin that could communicate with him about God. Most children from China don't know that a God even exists so we weren't sure how to help Scott understand.

The very first thing we did was go see the Christus statue. There is a recording of many of the things Christ said like, "Come unto me, In my house are many mansions" and so forth. There is a strong feeling of peace and love in the room with the Christus. Some missionaries played the Mandarin version and then the English for the rest of the kids. I wasn't sure how much of it Scott was understanding but in the middle of the English version Doug told me Scott asked to have our picture taken in front of Christ. It was Scott's idea. We all stood in front and Doug took some pictures. A nice guy offered to have Doug stand in the picture and he snapped the camera.

In the Visitor Center there is a presentation on families and the importance of them. We were able to watch that and you could feel the Spirit very strong. While changing rooms Scott would stay right on Doug and hold tight. A couple of times he sat by me too. In one room I sat down next to him and put my hand on his knee. He took my hand and interlocked fingers with me. I have noticed that is a very personal thing for Scott and I was honored that he would trust me so much.

We decided to ask for Mandarin missionaries because we couldn't find any. They front desk texted some and we started looking around again. We were under the impression that the missionaries would find us because we were right in the same room. No one came so we assumed that they were all busy at the moment. We moved on to another building. About 15 minutes after we left the first building some missionaries asked if we had paged for them. Amazingly they had found us. They told us that they had waited but couldn't find us so they said a prayer and felt they needed to come to the same place we were. They were so impressed how they were led to us.

The sister missionary that spoke Mandarin got down on Scotts level and began talking with him. She had him writing, which he doesn't do for us, and she wrote on a paper for him. After some time she explained what she had been talking about and let us know they had a tour they needed to get to. I had asked the other missionary if they had time to take us to the viewing area of the Salt Lake Temple. They had a few more minutes so we hurried over there. We wanted Scott to know that we had the opportunity to be a family forever and that even after we die we will be a family. We wanted him to know that that ordinance is performed in the temple.

I was with the children and the other sister missionary so I didn't get to see Scott's reaction when she explained that we wanted Scott to be in our family forever. I wasn't sure what he would do knowing he would be in our family forever. There was a possibility that he could have reacted very negatively. When all was done the Mandarin sister told us that he was excited to be part of our family and liked what he had heard.

For the rest of the evening Scott was very attached and interacted well. After the children were sent to get PJ's Scott brought me a picture of Christ and handed it to me. I wasn't sure what to do. Did he want it or did he just not care? Creed said that he had given the picture to Scott after church. Scott came back to me and gestured that he wanted to hang it up and for me to come with him. I went and got some tape  and he took me to his room. He pointed to his wall just above his bed close to his pillow and had me hang the picture there. He had a very big grin and was so pleased.

I am so grateful for how receptive Scott is. He is doing so well! It has been very important to us to teach Scott about his Savior and for him to learn to read. The scriptures are where he will understand who his Savior is and feel His presence. If Scott can learn nothing else we pray he will gain a testimony of how much his Father in Heaven and brother Jesus Christ love him and the ability to feast on their words.

We will be going back in 2 weeks because all the kids want to see the parts we missed and go to the Church History Museum. We are excited to go.

In front of the Christus. Scott had to stand right by me
and pulled everyone in as close as he could for the picture.

Notice the guy in the background of the picture.
In this area there are wax figures of prophets of old.
Scott saw this guy in the back and tried to get his attention.
After failing he started waving his hand in his face.
Everyone laughed at that. When Scott realized what was going on
He laughed pretty hard.

Scott is always hanging on Pierce.
Pierce deserves the brother of the year award for his patience!
Scott told the missionary that he liked it here in our family and
that he has fun. That's good to hear.

Niya, Hannah and Emma.

I don't know who had the camera but Malia was being a ham.

The view from the window of the visitor center.
The Salt Lake Temple.

Crossing the street to go back to the bus.

After a very late dinner of hot dogs and watermelon we played Quirkle.
Scott beat us!
I helped him a little because I couldn't explain the rules.
I would point to a piece I would recommend he use
and he would decide where to place it on the board.
In some ways he is so smart.
About those hot dogs. We went through 25 hot dogs a full very large watermelon and a loaf and a half of zucchini bread for dinner and I still had kids asking for more food.
For the mom who could not cook in small quantities and always had
 leftovers I will need new recipes.The days of leftovers are gone.
I am now up to 3 lasagnas at a time and the next time we have hot dogs I'll cook 3 packages.
That equals 36 hot dogs. Maybe we will have a couple left over with that.
I'm going to have to get better convection ovens or a third oven.
I already am in desperate need of a larger refrigerator.

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Little Things

You want to take a guess why this picture is so AWESOME?
No?  Ok, I'll tell you then.
Those red flip flops are Scott's. Sitting right out in the family room with two other pair of shoes that don't belong there. Why in the world would I think that is awesome?
Well, this is the first time that Scott has left anything out of his possession or out of it's proper place.
He walked off to bed tonight and left his shoes out!!!
This means that he is feeling safer and more at home.
Beyond awesome!!
Since I already broke my rule of no two posts a day I might as well post more pictures of a boy that is transforming before our very eyes..
Tyler, Scott's oldest brother, so cool to say Scott has a brother, is in the production
The Scarlet Pimpernel.
We took all the older kids that wanted to go and met Ressa and Jason there.
Scott chose to sit by Jason, he loves older males.
Scott LOVED the play. He laughed and was attentive the whole time.

Scott learning to make bread.
We make it almost daily
 and when I don't make it every day I scramble to think of something for lunch.
I just can't bring myself to pay so much money for terrible bread at the store.

Scott sitting on Mom's legs and having fun.
Hyrum doesn't think it's so fun. Just look at his face.
I think that one got a
"Stop it Gui" out of Hyrum. :)

Scott on the tramp with the other kids.

Hannah and Olivia helping Scott keep his balance.

Scott was in the garage and came in with a pretty bad skinned knee.
I was in the other room and no one came to get me.
Who knows, maybe I was in the bathroom. :)
The girls cleaned the knee up a bit and put band aids on it.
It took all of 5 minutes for Scott to take them off.
A couple of days later we were playing tag in the back yard
and Scott tripped. This is what we found. Blood running down his leg in 3 places.
It was much worse than the picture shows and unless you think this kid is tough
the smile came for the camera only. :)
The next day Doug stopped at the grocery store to resupply our first aid materials.
Marshall has used them all up.

Scott loving life!

Scott loves to do art. We have a friend that brought over some art supplies.
Scott spent a few hours coloring this picture.
He was so proud when he brought it up to me.
I immediately gave his art the coveted space.
He went right back down to his room and colored another picture.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Blessing From Above

As moms we all have moments that remind us of why we do what we do. Why we give up our lives for our children and for the most part love it. Today I had one of those moments. Actually a few of those moments today.

I wanted to make bread for lunch and bring a loaf to some friends. I was in the middle of the process when Olivia showed signs of emotional distress. I kind of felt if coming but today I saw it clearly. (I don't say any of this to reveal Olivia's story but I have decided more openness is in order.) I was sitting at the computer while I waited for the next step in the bread making process. I called Olivia over. She didn't move. That is not like Olivia, she obeys quickly most of the time. I could see in her eyes that she couldn't do it. She couldn't emotionally bridge that gap between us. I tried to coax her over as thoughts of going to her crossed my mind. Immediately I knew I needed to stay put and have her come to me. She HAD to trust me. I said "Olivia, you are strong. You can do it". She got up and sat on my lap.

We talked for a few minutes and I reminded Olivia that she was a daughter of God. she was made in His image which meant that she had the seeds of God in her. She could and will overcome the hurdles in her life. As I said this and more I noticed Scott sitting in the corner of the couch slumped down in a position of either boredom or sadness. Sometimes I can't read him. It didn't take long to realize Scott was not doing so well either. To my right I could hear Hyrum crying over something very trivial. He too is going through some adjustment still since Gideon pushed him out of his place as "king of the family". Along with the three children having a hard time I had others that wanted to ask me questions.

I  gently took Olivia by the arm so we could sit on my bed and talk. I noticed my half done bread and decided to get it one step closer and have Olivia wait. Casey walked in at that moment so I asked him to help Scott get involved in Dance Party on the Kinect, hoping that would cheer him up. Scott was reluctant but went. I was sure once he saw what was happening he would be fine. Next, one of the other children took on the responsibility to help Hyrum work out his issues. I looked around and at that moment the Spirit filled me with peace and compassion for my children. I was filled with a love for my struggling children and their sweet faces and challenges flashed in my mind one at a time. I was filled with a love for the children that nurtured and cared for one another. Then the bread and the family that I wanted to serve came to mind . I looked at that bread and had to smile. I knew that my batch of bread would be ruined for the second day in row and my friend would just have to wait another day. (They don't even know they are getting it so no big deal.) It was the perfect moment. I wished that I had a video camera going to remind myself of the sweetness of being a mother and the gifts God gives to strength and keep us going.

The beauty in all of that was the peace and compassion given in a moment, that could be and many times is, chaos in my soul. I was being stretched in many different directions but Heavenly Father took over and asked only one thing of me at the very moment I needed it. I am reminded that each and every one of us acts as angels on this earth in the lives of others. Do my children know that they were on the Lord's errand today? Most likely not but they were none the less. Do my children in the moments of struggle know that they have blessed my life immensely? Surely not, but through their challenges I have learned so much about the love of our Father in Heaven for each of us. He has taught me patience, faith, compassion and greater love.

This moment I will count as one of my treasured teaching moments and blessings from our Father in Heaven.

I won't go into detail but I had another son that demonstrated great compassion and charity for a family that he doesn't really even know. Not once but twice expressed his willingness to give up a privilege in his life so that this other family could have things just a little easier. What a blessing this day has been.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Mom You're A......

Today Gideon was hiding from me in the corner of the couch and wall. I decided to play along and hide from him so I laid on the couch so he couldn't see me. The next thing I knew children were piling on. Gideon joined in on the fun and climbed on my back. This interaction then took place.

Bria, "Mom you're a Butt"

Pierce, "Mom Bria just called you a Butt." said as he is laughing his head off.

Time for some narration here. We DON'T use the word Butt in our home. I was raised that it was a bad word and though I know it really isn't that bad I just can't bring myself to say it nor do I allow my children to say it either. Now on to the rest of the story.

Mom, "You just called me what?"

Pierce, "A Butt" still laughing.

It dawns on me that Bria is pretending.

Mom."Oh, you mean a boat?" like in Finding Nemo.

Pierce, "No, a Butt"

Mom, "Wait, a Bus."

Bria climbs down and comes over to my head and I say. "So I'm a Butt?"

Bria, "No....... A different kind of Butt."

So there you have it. I have been officially called a Butt by my children! She didn't really mean a Butt but a BUS. Bria can't say the sound "S". :)

Sorry mom and dad. I'll clean up her language later. I just can't get that "S" or "R" sound out of Bria's mouth quite yet.

Singing Wheels on the Butt

Bria and Hyrum on the bus.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Home Safe and Sound

Well, Doug, Creed, Pierce, and Scott made it home safe and sound. Doug kept telling me he was going to post and catch up but he has been so busy trying to catch up with the other parts of life posting has not happened. So here I am. I will fill in the part since they came home and encourage Doug to do the rest.

The boys were scheduled to come home at 12:10am Wednesday night. I got a call at 6:00pm from Doug telling me that their flight was delayed an hour. The ticketing agent offered for them to go standby on the next flight that left at 6:30pm if there was room. Doug had checked on that option and was told it would cost $170 to change flights but because their flight was delayed they could try to get on for free. At the gate the agent let them know that there were about 20 people in line for the available seats but they didn't know how many they would get on board. Just a few minutes later Doug and the boys names were called to board the plane. Someone must have liked them because they were at the bottom of the list and were one of 5 standbys allowed to board. I picked them up at 8:40pm.

I was standing in a place that I could see behind the security. Doug saw me first and waved. Scott  noticed me and smiled from ear to ear. I was nervous not knowing how he would react to me. Over Skype I had crossed an emotional line for Scott and he rejected me, so I didn't know where I stood or how to act. When Scott saw me he ran to me and gave me hug. It was so good to have him be open to that degree. Sadly, that was one of two hugs for mom in the last 4 days but it will come.

Scott is doing very well. He loves men!  He latches on to them easily and needs a lot of physical connection. He hugs, holds hands, wrestles and touches as much as he can. It's not just those he has been with either. It's all men when they come to the house. At church Scott was very appropriate. He sat quietly when needed and smiled and said Hi when people in introduced themselves. We weren't sure what class to have Scott go to because of the language issue. We went to Primary where the children between 3-11 attend because Hyrum was reading a scripture. Scott relaxed and made it clear he loved the opening song. We decided to have Doug stay in primary for singing time with Scott while I took Gideon to nursery. Doug had to go to his class for the third hour so Scott sat with Marshall for the older kids singing time. The Primary president came out to tell me that Scott was doing so good. He tried to sing the songs and moved withe the music. I think we will have Scott go to singing and sharing time for a few weeks so he learns that church is a good place to be. I know he liked it there, he smiled more than I have seen him smile while we were at church. He is a pleasant person and likes to smile. We don't get as many smiles right now as we will when he is feeling more at home but it is clear that he is a happy person by nature. Scott knows a few words of English and his favorite is "No".  He also exhibits some behaviors of a teen though I don't know if it's orphanage behavior or teen things. He is not real interested in learning English at this point so I decided to wait for a week or two to let him settle in a little.

As his mother I am doing a lot of observing. I want to know as much as I can so I can create a game plan. Scott is doing so well with the transition. He really does desire to have a family and be part of it. He still doesn't understand all that it means but I know he will find great joy in HIS family as he trusts and allows us to nurture and love him completely. I think that his trust will come quickly. Scott's heart has been prepared by God for this moment and the Lord is giving Scott strength and blessings to help him succeed. We are all blessed in this adoption as all the children are opening their hearts and reaching out to make Scott feel welcome and loved. The gifts we receive are many as we do what the Lord asks us to do. Being in a large family with having special needs and adding members of the family at older ages the children become compassionate and accepting.

The other night Scott sat on the couch as far from the family as possible but still present. I could see he was struggling. I went and sat by him and immediately the tears fell. He was so brave and tried so hard to control himself. The tears still came so Doug go out the pictures Scott had from the orphanage. I sat with Scott not knowing if we wanted me there or not while he watched pictures of those people he called family. All the children wanted to see too and didn't realize what was happening. We asked them all to give us space and wait another day to see the pictures. About an hour later Clayson, our 9 year old, was sobbing. I asked what was wrong and he expressed he was sad for Scott. What a tender little heart he has.

A great friend of ours brought over a cake to welcome Scott home. We were going to make it a birthday party too but I felt like we needed to make it a little lower key. I'm glad that I chose to eliminate the gifts. Scott was overwhelmed and didn't even eat the cake that night.

Scott took three tries to blow out the cake. It took us a bit to help him understand what he was supposed to do. He kept telling us no but finally did it. The next day Scott was feeling better and he had some cake.
He loved it!

A very handsome young man.

Hannah had a craving for brownies from a box. She invited Scott to help her make them.
They did great together and had a lot of fun. The brownies turned out great. If you ever want a great mint brownie use the dark chocolate mix and add a drop or two of peppermint oil.

Casey, in the pink, is on a crusade to earn enough money to buy a penny board. He asked if he could scrub the grout. I came in and saw Clayson and Scott helping. Scott was very meticulous! I hope he didn't think that is what is expected of him in his new family.
Scott is a great help and tries to get the kids to keep their stuff more clean. Hopefully that will continue.

The boys started scrubbing with old toothbrushes. Next thing you know Gideon has his toothbrush in the 409 scrubbing the tile. Scott was grossed out by it. :)
At least Scott knows what to do with a tooth brush.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Struggles and Triumph

There has been a lot going on here at home while Doug and the boys have been in China.
Great opposition and darkness have surrounded us. It might have been good to list all the things that have happened on the negative side of life just so I could remember but I got to the point that I had to just forget it and move on to the next challenge. I began to get very overwhelmed and I don’t do that easily. Many voices of fear and negativity continued to pound my soul. The things that would normally have been just something to take care of became insurmountable obstacles. Some days I could just barely hold on.

Unlike the proud person I am, I cried out for help. Family and friends came to my rescue and kept my head above water. People checking in on me. Others stopping by to visit and invite me to get out of the house. I had people come to my rescue in so many different ways. There are no words to express my deep gratitude for the kind words and acts performed on mine and my families behalf. I have people ask me how I’m doing. My initial reaction is “good” because I have now been blessed to have the dark disperse and be replaced by the light. For a split second I think why would you ask? But very quickly I am reminded of the moments I need all of you. My heart is full because I know I have friends, people I can turn to and a family that is incredible. I get teary just to think of it. I am so incredibly grateful to my Father in Heaven. For his tender mercies upon me and my family at home and abroad. He has been ever faithful. Not for one moment did I wonder if he was aware of me or if He cared. I knew my Father and my God was there. In due time the darkness was dispelled and the light filled my soul. Understandings came. Answers that I had been searching for and some for many years were given.

I would like to say that the challenges have ended. They haven’t, but they aren't so hard. In one week I took Britton, our 22 year old son to the doctor for an infection. Two of us had a very bad and unusual flu that caused severe headaches for 3 days. Headaches that caused me to dream my head blew up and that a creature had invaded my head and was moving around in my brain. I woke up when I heard a snap in my head. (I don’t have the luxury of taking Ibuprofen to ease the pain because of medical reasons. Like cause me to die. I’m not going there, at least not yet. J) Things in the house have gone wrong and will need attending to. Things that I can’t even remember until I need them. 5 Children woke up with yucky colds today, Marshall is feeling achy and Clayson has a bad ear infection that has been brewing for a week and home remedies aren't working. Hyrum’s stomach is now constantly hurting him. I have two guesses on what it is and neither are easy to fix. I even went to the Pediatrician for a weigh in on Gideon. The doctor thought it was great news but as a mom I’m not at peace. Gideon has been eating more than Hyrum and Bria combined in the last few weeks. One day he ate 5 eggs for breakfast, 6 chicken nuggets for lunch and 3 hotdogs for dinner. With all of that he ate more watermelon than I can remember and some veggies and snacks. That has been his typical diet and he only gained ½ a pound. I don’t think that is very good weight gain. If I had eaten like that for 3 weeks I’m sure I would be a good 10 pounds heavier. And yet, through all of this and the normal life circumstances in a family with 12 of us in the home, all is well.

A friend reminded me of this quote.

I have been blessed by so many with their strength added to my "widows mite" that I have been able to "stay the course". We all experience trials in life. Some seasons are more difficult than others but I have found that when we are on the right track, doing what the Lord would have us do Satan pulls out all the stops. It is so important to remember to cast not away our confidence. I now am seeing the beauty of life unfold. Attending the temple and being at church have given me even more strength. Talking with people that I LOVE at church and others coming to our home to assist in a blessing and bearing gifts for Scott with words of love and friendship have been just the cherry on top. 

I now feel ready for the trials and challenges to come as we walk the difficult road ahead with Scott. He has great potential and will succeed but this will be hard for him and the family. One week ago I was so depleted I could not even imagine being able to be anyone's strength, let alone a hurt child and all the children that will go through change and growth. Today I am ready. I know my Father is there for me and each of His children. We are of noble birth made in the image of God. We have royal blood. All that we need is already within us. We can do all things we are called upon to do! We will struggle we will be weary at times but if we press forward we will succeed!

I thank all of you for prayers, help and support. I thank you for those things that you don't think were of value, they did make a difference, including the promptings to do something, not doing it and then telling me about it. Even that helped. Mostly I thank my Father for His love. For the inspiration given to others to be my angels in my time of need. I thank my Father for countless angels that surrounded me and my family. I know Doug has a story of struggle and challenge. A story of struggle with darkness. He too has been blessed by angels and perfect strangers. I mean perfect in their love and charity towards my family while in China. People that are no longer strangers but friends that we hope will be friends for life no matter where on the globe we reside.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Cool Buildings

More festive photos of last night.  Bubble machines and LED light toys were everywhere!

The part of Guanzhou called New Town accross the river from the Canton Tower.  It's definitely the hot spot of the city. There are about 8 new high rise buildings still under construction.  The new US consulate is in the middle of this area.

Statue in front of a building.  Fat chinese ladies in a tug-o-ward. 
Scott stepped right up for this photo.

The new US consulate building.  It took me a minute to realize where we were and that the American flag was out of place.

Guangzhou library.

The spaceship looking building is the Guangzhou Opera House.

Just a cool building.

We had to buy one of the more traditional Chinese toys.  Scott made it look easy.

The museum.  We actually went back to this area specifically to go to the museum, but there were hundreds of people in line to get in, so we bagged it. 

There is part of the line for the museum.  It continued around the corner.

More cool buildings.  Deanne doesn't like it when I take pictures of just stuff without people in it....

So I had Creed and Pierce stand in front of the opera house.  Don't they look relaxed??

You know Pizza Hut has reached new levels when it is the only restaurant in the opera house.  With a red carpet entrance no less!

I don't know what the age limit is for the acceptability of this practice, but it seems that this little boy was approaching it.  Toddlers squatting with split-pants is one thing, but this was a little over the top.  This photo was taken as a hip shot - not bad huh?

We saw a bunch of people riding these skateboard things.  There were kind of like a separated rip-stick.  I spoke with the guy in charge who was from Germany and spoke English really well.  He said the cheapest set was about $50 and the most expensive was $160.  I was ready to buy the cheap set thinking it was a Chinese company and I needed buy them right then, but then he said the company was based in Irvine, CA and we can buy them online.  Creed reminded me that his birthday was coming up.... 

Scott refused the ice cream cone I bought him a few days ago.  He must be becoming more Americanized already.  By the look on his face and the mess he made of it, I am guess this might have been his first 
ice-cream cone. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Good times. We just wish mom was here....

Scott has been very smiley the last couple of days and has had a lot of fun teasing Creed and Pierce.  Of course, he is having a hard time with limits and boundaries, so it is hard to be patient when he takes things a little too far once in a while.  I have had to remind the boys he has to learn how to be in a family and we need to not get frustrated or annoyed with him.  It’s a balancing act to know how to set the limits with him and tell him when to quit without throwing him into an emotional downer.
He is very easy to take care of on his personal needs.  He takes showers twice a day and changes his underwear each time.  I have to recycle some without him knowing.  If he doesn't unroll them  himself after I give him a new pair from the package, he is suspicious of them and will smell them to see if they are clean.  The ones he wears just for one night after a shower still smell clean so I just roll them up and fake him out.  I hope that is not being a dishonest parent - I am just being practical.  He brushes his teeth mostly on his own or as soon as I prompt him if needed.  We bought him an electric tooth brush and at first he didn't like it to be on when he used it - now he leaves it on.  He understands most everything with very few words and sometimes even gestures.  It makes me wonder how much he might be understanding.  He is just very perceptive. 
He likes McDonald's.  He chose a breakfast burrito that is served more like a taco with a floppy tortilla folded in half.  It made it hard to handle for hi, so I rolled it up and closed one end and he could do that fine.  After we were finished he wanted to clean up the tray before I knew where he was headed with it he brought it to the cashiers counter and set it down.  I was right behind him at that point and had to grab it from in front of someone ordering food.  I showed him where to put it so I am sure next time he will take it to the right place.  He only needs to be shown things once and he gets it.

A dinner party with two other families here.

Scott with Judah.  He was adopted just over a year ago, so he has been a help to have around.  Scott laughs at Chinese cartoons when they are just speaking, so he must understand Mandarin quite a bit.

Getting some exercises on Shamian Island.  The road signs at the off ramp had Island spelled Lsiand.  I guess if all the letters are there, that's all that counts.

The stack of authentic Disney movies we bought in Chinese for 20-25 yuan, which is about $4.

One of the famous statues on the island.


The river front by the Canton Tower with a dinner cruise boat in the back ground.

Looking up at the tower when the lights came on.

Totally cool tower.  1,800 feet tall.  The tallest TV tower in the world.  It costs over $20 to go up to the observation deck.  We just marveled from below. :)

The wind and mist coming off these water falls got us wet 15 feet away.  It was a lot of water.

Girls wanting pictures with Creed and Pierce while we were walking around the plaza Friday night.

Fun evening.  Those are lights in the cement - it was a huge plaza with lots of people.  We bought these LED twirly birds that you shoot in the air with a rubber band.  Creed got really good at it.  Pierce made his finger bleed. You can see one to the right of the tower.

The tower constantly changes color.