9.13.2020

Russians, Italians, Portuguese


I decided to put some of my goals up along with the kids’ when we put the Children and Youth stuff up on the window. I wanted the kids to see I’m doing stuff too. 

Possibly the biggest benefit to me is to realize that I do make goals. I’ve always hated talks/lessons, whatever, about goals because they’ve never made any sense to me. I hate the thought of making a 5 year, 10 year, 20 year plan, etc.

But the truth is I do make goals, almost constantly, but I never write them down as goals. Sometimes I write them down as revelation, but mostly I don’t think about them much. I just do them when I get the prompting for as long as the Spirit tells me. 
 

I knew that the kids were also working under the same “goal” plan as I was (probably because it’s what I’ve taught them), and I’ve always kind of disliked these external goal programs that are well, external.

BUT, I’m trying to be obedient and follow the prophet closely (big goal), so I had a prompting (little goal) that this would be something worth trying, so we posted our stuff on the window, according to the Children and Youth outline. 
 
And it has helped. Like I said, the kids and I are realizing that the things we are already doing are goals. Almost all the kids are remembering their small, daily goals better. Ruby was already pretty well self-sufficient. Herbie and Linus do many things on their own, but sometimes need a little extra boost to remember a new goal. Moses sometimes needs a little extra boost to continue a goal and see it through, and Penelope and Archie are still working on both those.

Also, it helped me too. In putting up my post-it notes, I realized I’ve been eating 1 piece of fruit so successfully for so long (over 2 years!), that it was time to up my game to 2 pieces of fruit a day. To no one’s surprise, in the past two weeks, I’ve found I have more energy. I notice it especially when I’m running intervals. 
 

Woo got a haircut this week. He probably would like everyone to know that he thinks it looks stupid, he looks older, more bald, personality-less, etc. It wasn’t his idea, and if it were up to him he’d still have several months of hair-growing to go. The only reason he did it was for me.

I am grateful that he did what he didn’t want to do only because I asked.

Herbie and Penelope keep telling him he looks younger and handsome, but he doesn’t believe them. (And he’s not going to believe you either, so best not to mention it.) 
 

A couple from our branch (he’s Portuguese, she’s Italian) bought a new house a couple months ago and invited us to dinner. One of their sons and his family (from Italy) were also there.

It has been probably a year (since we were in Utah) since we’ve been to someone’s house for dinner and the kids stayed up late playing with their kids. It doesn’t quite seem like summer without a few of these.

They had a pool and basketball hoop and swings and a looong strip of land (like down one valley and up the next rise), four orchard trees wide, from which they sent us home with a bunch of apples and pears. We all loved it. 
 

Every member here seems to have an amazing story of finding the gospel (against all odds) and then living it successfully for so many years (against all odds). I love everyone of them for it.

For this couple, he was one of the first baptisms in Portugal in the 70s, and almost immediately went on a mission (without ever having been to the temple). She also was a missionary in southern Italy... they met after their missions in the Bern Switzerland temple and the Spirit immediately told them that they were to marry.

It’s been a lifetime of living and working in small branches, long trips to the temple, raising kids in an hostile environment, not having the support of even their immediate family, etc.

Their son had gone on a mission and when he returned home, there’d been a new baptism in his home branch(?)... his wife. 
 

We had a senior couple visit our branch from Brazil that I was also so happy with. They had been baptized 20 years ago in Brazil (the same time Woo and I were on missions). And here they were, a senior missionary couple in Portugal. Probably no where near where they ever thought they would be 25 years ago. And here they were! Being awesome :).

We had a short period of a handful of missionaries condemning the members for lack faith (because of the lack of baptisms). Unfortunately, it really made me mad when I thought about it. If those missionaries had any understanding of what faith really is... they would have been honoring and learning all they could from these amazing members.

Anyway, back to the Italians... their two little girls only spoke Italian. Our kids could mostly understand them, but were powerless to answer them (and the Italian girls were too young to get the jist of Portuguese?).

The oldest little girl developed the impression that Ruby was really shy and didn’t like to talk, and we laughed to think that no one has ever thought that of Ruby ever. 
 

Someone told Herbie that Woo was the best surfer he had ever seen on a foam board. Mostly this was fun for Woo to hear, but also a frustration because Woo has broken all his foam boards and only has a fiberglass board that he was talked into getting almost 2 years ago as the next progression, but it hurts his feet a lot and is not as fun. He’d rather have fun on a beginner board and be in less pain.

In other events, Woo fasted for a personal concern last week, and as so often happens when God is blessing you, a bunch of humbling and trying things happened. I won’t mention any specifics here because they’re, well, humbling and trying.

Herbie chipped a tooth while surfing somehow. I’m not sure we have a kid that doesn’t have a chipped tooth now. 
 

Moses came to say good night with a giant smile on his face. He’d just gotten the revelation to write a book. Then he said he was going to dream about it that night and get his story, and he ran off to bed eagerly.

When I checked on him before going to bed myself, I saw that he’d already written a flowchart with a title—Dragon Fight, and some character names (Incendoroar, Salascorch) with some arrows and rough drawings.

He’s spent a lot of time on it this week, and also illustrations. He didn’t want to share it with his siblings (I think partly for fear they wouldn’t like it), but I encouraged him to read it out loud to all of them and they were all so admiring (especially his younger siblings), that I’m sure it boosted his confidence. 
 

Linus built a dragon out of legos for Ruby and those two spent a lot of their free time together playing legos. This isn’t normal for Ruby. Possibly because she doesn’t have her own legos, but Linus was eager to share.

We’d heard from the teachers of all the kids, but Ruby. There was also nothing on the school’s website, so Ruby called. She spoke with someone who was very annoyed (too many calls with the same questions?) who told her to come into the school or check the website.

We checked the website again, and yep. There it was. 
 

One of Linus’s new goals is to give 5 compliments a day. One thing he is already good at is immediately after evening scriptures, going upstairs to pray, review his day and repent. This means that sometimes he comes back down in a rush, trying to get his 5 compliments out before going to bed. 
 

Penelope’s birthday blessing mentioned that she would help prepare Archie for baptism and she has taken that admonition very seriously. I overhear her talking to him about it sometimes.

I finally gave up on trying to get to a printer and hand wrote all the kids’ blessings I have for them in the last 6 or 7 months. It took me two evenings. Penelope read one from April (not her birthday) that I wrote out for her the first evening and she said, “Didn’t you forget something in my blessing, Mom? The part where I’m supposed to prepare Archie for baptism?” 
 

We have some very friendly Russian downstairs neighbors. They were closing an apartment (an Airbnb?), had a bunch of stuff, and gave us a few puzzles and games. 

Archie is old enough to no longer be a terror to any puzzle set up... I mean, people can actually do a puzzle in his presence. But, he also isn't helpful on anything over 200 pieces. He was in the way when he tried. Luckily, our neighbors also gave us a couple of board games. They are complete jibberish to us. So much so that we can't even google if the game exists in English, but Archie has had plenty of fun making up his own games with the pieces.


Ruby’s English writing and typing skills really improved with seminary last year. Now she’s writing entire discourses, quoting conference talks, scriptures, etc in her discussion questions. 
 

Herbie’s still excited about seminary and wants it quiet while he sings his hymn and says his prayer before every class. This makes me smile as I’m surprised he’s so dedicated to singing that hymn all alone in front of the computer.

That's our week. Hope yours was great!

9.06.2020

Another Week


We had a really great week contention-wise last week, but this week was not good. Almost all of us had a bad week. I don’t know what our deal was, but here’s our week anyway. 

Ruby and Herbie start seminary tomorrow. Herbie, as a first year student, had a few lessons this week that he was so excited about and enthusiastically started. (I suspect this is partly because seminary is a well-organized online class, and partly because it means in his eyes he’s growing up.)

On the second day, he was a bit confused, but started a strange lesson that required a lot of work from him (including writing and posting an entire talk). He had messaged his teacher and after struggling with that for 45 minutes, she answered that she hadn’t unlocked his actual lesson, which ended up taking 15 minutes.


On the bright side, we’ve figured out how school is supposed to work here normally. The kids and I went to the school when it was open (after September 1st), successfully went in and got our book vouchers without any confusion, the kids saw their classes posted, and I got all the books ordered without a problem! No lines! No multiple failed trips to the school! No Portuguese language fiascos!


Stopping by the high school for Ruby was not as intimidating as I’d imagined and Ruby was happy to see that she only knows 4-5 kids in her class, and one is her best friend.

Ruby’s on a science track, which I’m sure separated her from a bunch of kids, but also this high school merges kids from a lot of different middle schools. It will be a new start for her in several ways (assuming she’s actually going to school... ).


I finished memorizing the Restoration Proclamation. The kids and I have been repeating a paragraph together every weekday morning, switching paragraphs every few weeks. We’re on the last paragraph, so I figured it was time and took about 20 minutes of work alone to tie everything together.

When I announced I was done, Woo gave me a big smile and a “Good job, Chelsey!” every few minutes.

Woo broke another board this week. If you’re wondering how he has had so many boards to break... at least one of them was from a haul of tossed boards from a surf school Woo and the kids found when we first moved here. The boards appeared to be fine other than missing fins. Woo had put his own fins on.


Woo and Herbie had another short surf when Herbie stepped on a spider fish. Luckily they were only across the street and Woo had already been stung by one a couple years ago when a lifeguard was nearby to tell him what to do (soak in very hot tap water). The sting isn’t dangerous, only painful.

Woo was pleased to catch the end of his first barrel yesterday, and called us all into his room separately to watch it (he’s tiny in the shot).

And he’s been putting extra time in on his own programming project the last couple weeks. He’s kind of excited about it. At least he’s enjoying it.


After Linus cut my hair, I realized there was no reason why I should be cutting everyone’s hair. It’s not like using a buzzer is hard. Also, it’s super exciting for kids. Moses and Herbie cut each other’s hair with a little supervision and instruction from me.

I’ll still do Archie’s for awhile because he’s very wiggly while getting his hair cut, which is probably beyond the patience of most of the kids.


Moses shared his secret ambition with me: attend every temple in the US.

Archie has started reading a chapter in the Bible when he first wakes up. He’s done it every day this week. I was pretty sure he was encouraged in this by Penelope, but Archie says no one helps him remember, and Linus says he reminds both Archie and Penelope.

We finally got a Portuguese chapter book from the library that Archie was excited to read—Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.


Archie says he is not excited to go back to school. He is sad to split up with his brothers and sisters.

Penelope is excited to see her teacher again (they have the same teacher throughout all of elementary school), but not her class. She says they’re crazy.

Linus is excited to go to a new school with Herbie and Moses.


Moses is kind of excited to go back to school. He looks forward to doing something different.

Herbie and Ruby are mostly meh about going back to school. They think the masks and other restrictions (whatever they may be) will not be fun.

But they are all excited for our pre-school Decathlon shopping trip! This is something for us all to look forward to next week.


Penelope had a good evening Saturday night. She washed the dishes, tidied up the kitchen and started a fast.

And I think that’s it. Hope you all had a great week :)

8.30.2020

Águeda


We've still been doing class together for 1 1/2hrs MWF all summer. The kids resented it the first couple weeks they were out of school, but I knew we had to keep something up to keep us all sane. They've settled down now and it's pleasant. 

The kids are appreciating it and retaining things from our classes (poetry, history, Shakespeare, geography, Old Testament, literature, church history and temples). It's a little bit strange to have Archie ask me random things about say Martin Harris or the Rosetta Stone during the week when he's been thinking about them, but I think it's probably a good thing.

We're coming to the end of Oliver Twist (reading for 30 minutes twice a week). At the Back of the North Wind is our next read for literature and I'm excited, partially because I've never read it before. As a general rule reading to the kids=good, reading for my own personal entertainment=bad.

For example, I had started to read Bleak House a couple of weeks ago. The book was interesting enough, but it was bad for me. Apparently, I don't wind down well by being a consumer (I was getting depressed--not to mention staring at the words Bleak House every time I opened the book). I have to be a producer. Even when it seems like vegging out is exactly what I need, creating something myself is in reality what I need. It takes some mental work that I balk at, especially those first few minutes, but maybe that is exactly the point. After I'm done I feel refreshed and something else that is good. Maybe enriched is the word?


Anyway, our Tuesdays and Thursdays are pretty free, and this Tuesday we went to Aveiro and Águeda! Aveiro is like the Venice of Portugal, lots of boats in a series of canals. The kids really wanted to ride one, but we stalled them by getting pizza at the Telepizza, and then the kids got to ride in a train! (I think it's an equivalent excitement level in most of their eyes.)


We started out sitting quietly, but we were practically alone and it was hot under those face masks. The kids ended up putting their faces right up to the windows and thoroughly enjoyed themselves.


We rode to Águeda, which was one of Woo's areas on his mission. He remembered quite a bit more than our visit to Guarda. He found a building he did doors in.


His old apartment.


And the house of a member.


Águeda is apparently home to a few bicycle and umbrella factories? Several of their street lights were oddly hung with tarps like folded up umbrellas.


Herbie worked a lot on his house plans he's drawing up for his future house at the end of the week. He asked me a lot of questions because he wanted to get them just right.


Moses also often works on house plans. He is less concerned with exactness, and sometimes finds tiny toy figures and has them play on the paper in his house plan.


We put our Children and Youth goals up on the window. I was hoping it would help us to be seeing them more frequently, and also to see accomplishment by pulling a finished goal down and saving it for a future awards ceremony. (I mostly was inspired by a family in the Church News.) 

I did tell the kids they could keep private ones private by only writing a code word for them to remember what it was personally. No one took me up on that except Penelope, who's code words pretty much told all. I will have to coach her on that a bit better.


Ruby and Herbie have been fulfilling assignments for their youth thing and sending in clips. Ruby's push ups were apparently so impressive (along with Linus's filming where he insisted that he show her whole body so no one would think she was cheating), that there were comments about why Americans always won all the olympic medals and so forth. (FYI the athletic bar here for anything outside of soccer is pretty low.)


We all went to help Woo's friend flip his sailboat for smearing fiberglass on the bottom.


Archie got jumping jacks!


And argued with Moses over an article titled "Love in our Family."


And I think that's our week!