Quietest Spring Break Ever?

The kids had school off for Spring Break, but we stayed home. I don't know if it was because it was overcast and rainy or because we had no big plans or because we needed a break, but Woo and I were tired a lot of the week.

Many of the kids (Herbie, Moses and Linus) coming fresh off a trip to Spain were frustrated with our slow pace at first.

Others (Ruby) acted like they'd been waiting ages and ages for the chance to organize their school binder, and now finally had the time.

I also refused to let the kids watch a movie. They'd already watched more than enough when we were at the temple, and I knew it would do nothing to help those kids who thought there was nothing to do. It would, in fact, make their situation worse.

On about day two, Moses made it a matter of prayer. He came up with some game involving their matchbox cars and a piece of cardboard that intrigued all the kids (but Ruby) for entire days the rest of the week.

Once during a lunch break Moses said, "Mom! I love revelation!" He was so eager to get back to their game and so grateful that he'd prayed about finding something entertaining to do.

Penelope and Archie continue to be special friends. They'll often break off from the rest of the group to play their own game. They are always entertained whenever the other is there, and have been very pleasant and helpful to have all day at home.

Towards the end of the week, we did start to move around some. To local skateparks, mostly. Moses got a new bike with the rest of his birthday money. He didn't care that it was girls bike, he was just looking at the size. He had a ton of fun with it at the skatepark, and even Ruby, who stole it for a couple of minutes, couldn't deny that riding it around in the skatepark had been a lot of fun. Now she also wants a BMX type bike.

Herbie started to be able to not only drop into a bowl, but also ride up the opposite side, rest the truck on the top, drop in again, head for the next side...

Linus rode up and down grades while standing up for the first time.

But Woo was the indisputable star of the skatepark.

Woo and I met with teachers for most of the kids this week. They are all doing well, and thankfully these mid-year meetings are a lot shorter and less painful than the start-of-year teacher meetings.

I let Ruby trim my hair and I read biographies on Washington and Lincoln, which has been a little treat for me. I love so many of the stories of them that reflect their humility and good character, and I've shared some with the kids. I wish the Lincoln book I'm reading had more about Mary Todd in it, but I've already found more respect for her in this book than I knew I had.

I think that's it for the week. Hope your week was great!

Testimony Below:

Last night I was reading Elder Uchtdorf’s conference talk when he quoted D&C 64:34.
“Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind; and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days.” 
This seemed significant to me because earlier in the week I remembered a woman who had told me that after the birth of her last child she had told her Heavenly Father that she would definitely NOT have any more children.

Although it may have been true that this woman's family was complete, and probably it was, her story still made me sad because she did not have a willing mind.

I know that while we may be obedient in many things, we should not tell God we can’t or won’t or don’t want to do other things.

If we humble ourselves, we can ask for His help to do the things that appear impossible to us. That is what the Lord means by the heart and a willing mind.

I do know that our Heavenly Father does send us strength when we tell Him we don’t know how we can do a thing, but that we are willing. He has given me this strength many times. And He has helped me to do many good things that I did not want to do or didn’t think I could do. But I also could be better.

All He needs from us is our heart and this willing attitude. He can do all the rest to bless us and work miracles.

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


Ontem à noite eu estava a ler o discurso da conferência do Élder Uchtdorf quando ele citou D & C 64:34.
“Eis que o Senhor requer o coração e uma mente solícita; e os que são solícitos e obedientes comerão do bem da terra de Sião nestes últimos dias”. 
Isso pareceu importante para mim porque no início da semana eu lembrava me de uma mulher que me disse que, depois do nascimento de seu último filho, que ela disse ao Pai Celestial que ela definitivamente não teria mais filhos.

Embora pode ser verdade que sua família estava completa, a história dessa mulher deixou me triste porque ela não tinha uma mente solícita.

Eu sei que, embora estamos obedientes em muitas coisas, não dizemos a Deus que não podemos ou não fazemos outras coisas.

Se nos humilharmos, podemos pedir ao Pai Celestial por ajuda a fazer as coisas que parecem impossíveis para nós. Isso é o que o Senhor quer dizer com o coração e uma mente solícita.

Eu sei que nosso Pai Celestial envia nos força quando dizemos a Ele que não sabemos como podemos fazer algo, mas que estamos solícitas. Ele deu me essa força muitas, muitas vezes. E Ele ajudou me a fazer muitas coisas boas que eu não queria fazer ou não achava que pudesse fazer. E eu também posso ser melhor.

Tudo o que o Pai Celestial precisa de nós é o nosso coração e essa atitude de vontade. Ele pode fazer todo o resto para nos abençoar e fazer milagres.

Em nome de Jesus Cristo. Amém.


Purchases and Failed Purchases

I sent my last plan to Josey this week, and I had a vague idea of taking a few day off... maybe going for an extra long run or reading a book. Instead I spent two days getting a headache, trying to make a trip to Switzerland work.

Switzerland is amazingly beautiful, but it isn't my first choice only because I've been there a few times already--I wanted to see somewhere new. But on one morning run I realized that, like so many things about our lives here, it's not about me or what I want, its about others. There are people there we should visit.

We already had a temple trip planned for the end of the week. Flights out of Madrid were cheaper and shorter. I could easily find 4 people to visit (1-2 still elusive). However, that was the only thing going for us. Switzerland does not loan itself to seat-of-the-pants, last-minute, spontaneous visits. It seems our choices were to spend thousands of dollars or dozens of hours in trains. Woo helped me search the last morning, but we just couldn't make it work this week. It will have to wait for another time.

The good news, was that after all that stress and imagining ourselves flying and traveling and watching conference in another ward or airbnb, our trip to the temple seemed amazingly simple. There was some crankiness at the end, and the kids spent very little time outside because it was rainy and cold. Woo did try to take them to the park once, but Archie got scraped in a fence almost immediately and Herbie and Moses were upset that their brand new shoes (that they're finally determined to take care of) got some mud on them.

On arriving home and getting the kids in bed, I was kind of exasperated about that last part. Then Woo reminded me that the kids had just driven 6 hours, spent a day and a half in our 2 room hostel, watching the same church movies they always watch at the temple, without any park time, then drove 6 hours back home. Looking at in that light, they did amazingly well.

Woo, however, was exhausted. He baptized Ruby and Herbie about 350 times in a row Friday morning, filling in all his watch's exercise rings. Also, he made it possible for us to listen to the first session of conference on the drive home, when I thought it was going to be impossible.

Linus is always a big help when we go to the temple. When we eat dinner in the cafeteria, he loves to come early to help me prepare the food and set the table in the dining room. (Ruby also always helps with this too.) He loves to vacuum when we leave our room, throw all the sheets into the bin, and run the garbages down to the dumpster in the garage. He always meets people on these excursions. One of the janitors considers Linus to be his special friend because of this, and this time Linus met an American boy about his age, living with his family in Spain (I think Zaragoza) for a couple years. Although, Moses and his lightning sprint across the garage is what I think first attracted this family's attention.

Because I'd been more concerned about going to Switzerland, I was not completely prepared for a trip to Madrid. I downloaded an audiobook seconds before walking out the door. Luckily, I quickly found a Rangers Apprentice available in the library that Ruby, Herbie, Moses and Linus really enjoyed. 

Penelope has been collecting stars and more stars from doing all her chores and good behavior. I thought she was just going to go on collecting them forever, but she finally cashed in 200 stars for an unopened robot that Woo had sitting in the closet. Woo spent some time helping her put it together while Penelope deciphered the Spanish instructions, and she's had some fun with that this week. And made Archie wish he had a robot.

Well, that's all for this week. I hope you are enjoying conference!


No Longer Illegal, But Still Aliens

Yes, you read that right. We finally got our residency permits. We've only been here 21months, and they're good for the next 22 months.

Woo was super nervous going in. I hardly cared at all. I couldn't see how our lives would change much; although, I thought they'd probably give them to us this time.

We left the house on time, but turned around and came back home after driving for 15 minutes, because Woo thought there was a tiny, slim chance that they'd ask for something I'd left at home. Then we had to hurry to make our appointment.

All that rushing out, back home, and out again through multiple roundabouts caused Linus to throw up his breakfast. Luckily, I'd grabbed a plastic bag for such an event on my second time out the door. But it was Moses who had been threatening then.

When we finally got there Archie was happy to tell me several times that he almost threw up, but he prayed, and then he didn't have to anymore. He didn't want to throw up, he said, because he didn't want to throw up all over Penelope (which was the only option, I guess?), but still very thoughtful of him. Thank you, Archie.

And yes, they did find something completely new and out of the blue that they could've used as an excuse to deny us: documentation of my social security number.

But this guy was very nice and told us we could just email that in later. I don't know what the difference was really, other than Woo fasted this time. I don't think he's done that before. And also it was just time, I guess.

The wait for qualifying was even longer than for being denied. We were there for 4 hours? Woo was in doing all the actual talking and wrangling (and joke telling). The kids and I waited off in a little side room. Thank goodness we were in the middle of Goblet of Fire. I had plenty of material to read out loud and keep the kids' attention. Herbie helped out by reading the times I had to fill out forms or other stuff. (Ruby was busy either doing homework or recopying her already very neatly written notes.)

They had a few of these kiosks to take your picture and your fingerprints for your residency card. If you don't do it right, it takes the machine 2 minutes to reset... and almost everyone did it wrong, because the instructions given were so bad.

After a kid or two, Woo had it down though, and he gave the kids exact instructions on what to do, and what not to worry about... they all did it right the first time. The employees there were so impressed, one of them was like, we should hire this guy to tell people how to use the kiosks...

Woo asked two questions as soon as he got the okay. 1. What's renewal like? and 2. What happens if we leave the county? The guy was like, What? Why would you want to leave the country?

We went to celebrate afterwards by eating at Telepizza and drinking a few liters of Guaraná. In our excitement, we talked about visiting Morocco or Turkey. I came home and looked up taking a tour of maybe Greece, Turkey, Israel, and Egypt, with a week in each...

Woo said, "Sounds painful." And yeah, it would be. Our family is just not able to handle that kind of thing yet.

However Woo feels that a huge load has been removed from his shoulders now that we're legal, and his mood has shown it.

Penelope tries so hard to be perfect and gets her feelings hurt when we do have to correct her. She’ll often quip something too about how we don’t love her.

It happened once this week, but that same night we read Hel 15:3 in family scriptures ("for behold, they have been a chosen people of the Lord; yea, the people of Nephi hath he loved, and also hath he chastened them; yea, in the days of their iniquities hath he chastened them because he loveth them.) and she looked at me and said, “I get it, Mom. I get it.”

It is not conference weekend yet, but Linus was anxious to get his cut earlier. He got out of school early on Friday and I cut his hair and Penelope's and Woo's. Linus also spoke in sacrament meeting today. His talk was very short, but adequate.

Ruby got results for a bunch of tests back this week--a bunch of muito boms. Moses sounds like he's doing similarly well. Herbie worked exceptionally hard for school this week and did good work. Unfortunately, he was turning everything in a week late :(.

I've been busy this week sending plans to Josey to get bids. Archie has also been drawing plans with me. He sits near me with his pen and little notebook drawing. He says that his work is to be a house plan drawer, and two days ago he drew a farm for our future yard with a lot of venomous snakes in it: mambas, cobras, rattlesnakes, and so on.

And that's all I can think of now. Hope your week was great!


It's Spring!

Woo took pictures this week revolving around a theme: Because we don't have a TV. One TV-less thing we did that we don't have pictures of is the city pool's family fun day. The family fun day was not very well publicized and it got off to a rough start for our family, when we arrived in the afternoon, but still 2 hours early.

We walked, got some lunch at Lidl, ate at some picnic tables, and came back when the pool was open and there was a line of people coming out the door. Woo asked me if we should just leave when the same family had been at the front desk for minutes and minutes... but we stayed and other families were quicker (our family being the quickest, because I took over the writing down of our names and ages).

And I'm glad we stayed. It was free, a lot of fun, and not too crowded. The pool had several roped off sections with things like paddle boards, bouncy houses, beach ball volleyball, slides and lots and lots of floaties. I was happy to see that after swimming "clicked" with Penelope when Grandma and Grandpa were here, she has made a lot of progress in her swimming class. She now has a pretty nice front and back crawl.

I'm beginning to realize that giving the kids an assignment on what to get revelation about every few nights is very helpful. This week I decided to concentrate on gaining cleaner habits. During the course of it I realized that Herbie and Linus are already pretty neat and tidy in everything they do--hooray! I'm not sure I fully realized that for them before. Although, they both came up with little ways to do better, like not complain.

Also I recognized that Penelope had already gotten revelation about her room at the start of the year, and has been keeping it much cleaner since. Also, Moses had started to get revelation along these lines a couple weeks ago and had already made some changes, but as our messiest kid, he still had a lot of work to go. Same with Ruby. He and Ruby did some extra purging yesterday--they are my collectors of garbage--and their rooms looked great!

Then they both went to the recycling place and picked up some styrofoam to work on some projects they both had in school. Less than half an hour after deep cleaning their rooms, Moses was scraping dried cement off some styrofoam in his room, and Ruby was chopping styrofoam all to pieces in hers. AGHH!! But they quickly swept up and it looks okay. Moses will continue his project in the basement tomorrow...

Archie made some progress also. Every once in awhile my revelation is to have the kids get revelation about a concern, and it definitely has the most effective results. I don't know what it is other than that getting your own answer to prayer is accompanied by the Holy Ghost which has the love of God for you personally, and understanding, and inspiration on how to go forward and a command(?) all wrapped up in one. I am confident they will continue to progress, although there is still a lot of work to do. They left a giant mess at the breakfast table this morning, with a lot of arguing about who got seconds and who didn't, for example.

Something Ruby got in the last couple weeks has helped her to be much more peaceful at home recently. She did say to me this week that she thought playing the hymns on the recorder and keyboard was helping her to feel the Holy Ghost more and helping her everywhere.

Herbie and Moses had a surprise basketball tournament that they didn't know about and had to stay at school all day without coming home for lunch. They came home upset because they hadn't eaten since breakfast (I realized belatedly that I could've run food to them also, if I'd have known it would be so long. I felt bad about that.) and because they felt that the other team cheat. Herbie was the most upset and was surprised by Woo's calm and empathetic response. It went a long way to helping Herbie calm down.

I walked into Moses' room one night and found one full page written about what heaven would be like. He later told me that he'd had a nightmare that revolved around the idea that there was no heaven, so he woke up, prayed and wrote down everything he received. It was a nice revelation for me too, assuming the things that are true for him are also true for me.

Linus has been extra-grouchy and Archie can't hear us say his name from 2 feet away... I think it's that time of year to blackout their bedroom windows again. I'll be happy when I can stop doing this.

I have been working hard on the house plans and I'm about to reach one degree of "done" (with several more on the horizon). Josey has been helping me a lot. I'm very grateful.

And that is all for us. I hope you had a great week!