Things Settle Down...

Last year Archie had mostly a token chore: tidy up the living room and entry, but now that he's old enough to shoulder a real load (all things dining room table: clear, set, wipe, etc.), we ran out of jobs (well, that have to be done everyday--we'll never run out of jobs... ).

So I assigned Ruby dinner. My plan is to run her through 30 or so meals and repeat every month. So far it's gone well. She's done all the work while I oversee training, and so far she loves it. We've been doing all the prep work before school or her lunch break, but she's also completely willing to stand at the stove after a long day of school. Here she is with her first pizza.

I'm excited. Someday I'm going to have six kids who not only know how to do every household chore, but also how to feed a crowd day after day after day after day.
Me: Is that the face you would make if you were really standing next to Heavenly Father and Jesus?
And then she gave me this.

Herbie struggles a bit still with his first math lesson. We've been drilling him in that, but also, apparently he's behind in music. He did play the recorder last year, but no where near as seriously as the recorder is played here. We occasionally hear kids practice around their apartments, and I was unaware that a recorder can sound almost like a flute. He's expected to play some Eric Clapton song by the end of the year. Ruby's class is playing the theme song from Titanic.

Pokemon is not a thing at this elementary school. Instead, it's the free marine animal cards a local grocery store is giving out as a promotion. It's not a store we shop at, but it hasn't stopped Moses, especially, from amassing dozens. He's learned all the necessary Portuguese to get what he wants, and those cards are very dear to his heart.

I was dropping Archie off at his class when Moses barreled into me, heartbroken and bawling. His cards had fallen out of his pocket in the school yard while running and the other kids, like vultures, and snapped every single one of them up. Penelope walked up to him, gave him a hug and pulled her entire (smaller) pile out of her pocket and handed it to Moses.

Penelope reading Archie The Friend.

Linus is incredulous that the other kids in his class can't tie their own shoes. "My teacher is always tying their shoes!" And he’s in a class of mostly 3rd graders... "I hope we have a show-n-teach so I can teach everyone how to tie their shoes!" I wasn't sure I believed it, but then we walked by some very big kid having his shoes tied by his mother. "See!!"

Woo got a new surfboard--a smaller, more narrow one for more advanced surfers.
Me: Maybe your arm will stop hurting!
He used it once and instead hurt his back. He's spend a lot of frustrating time in pain. He's gone on some walks and some bike rides on the beach and some easy surfs on the old board... it seems to be slowly getting better.

I decided to forget about intervals and injuries and to just start running, for like almost 2 hours while Archie's in school. And it's been awesome! I didn't think I could do it, but I can--no soreness or tightness or plantar fasciitis or anything at all. I thank yoga and barefoot running on the beach (Woo suggested that one) and apparently (I've discovered from internet searches) it's a thing that I wasn't aware of. Plus, it's fun!

That's our week. Hope yours was great!



Yesterday we drove to the Algarve. We left our foggy town and got off to an exciting start when Woo took the first roundabout too fast. Our bald tires slid on wet road and we spun 270°. Good thing Woo has done plenty of donuts; he knew exactly what he was doing.

When we stopped spinning, Moses was screaming, Penelope was crying, I cautiously stopped praying in my head, and the people in the car behind us were horrified. We gave them a thumbs up and a smile, then we were both on our way.

The rest of the drive was not without event: we paid about 80 euros in tolls (total) and somehow google maps shifted, sending us down a road that added another hour to our trip.

But, we still managed to meet up with Rui, Woo's friend from his mission. Rui's from Albufeira, but he lives in the Netherlands. He doesn't miss Portugal at all he said, and then we proceeded to make him do a bunch of stuff he doesn't like. Like go to the beach.

After this beach, I was grateful for ours with its soft sand, good waves and lack of people. It doesn't bother me at all that it's cooler. This beach was way too hot, full of tourists (you know things are not headed your way, when you ride an escalator down to the water... ), rough on the feet and had hardly any waves.

The kids still had fun, though. Ruby and Penelope collected tons of sea shells. Herbie and Moses enjoyed kicking their soccer balls into the surf. Linus and Archie ran in and out of the water... Really, all kids need is some water and some sand.

At some point, we made the mistake of telling the kids that McDonalds is better in Europe. As soon as they saw one, they wanted to eat there. We did (somewhat reluctantly) eat there. Was it better than the US? I don't actually know. It's been way too long since any of us have been to McDonalds. I will say that the fries were good and the rest was meh. Although, Herbie thinks the opposite.

Really, the point of the trip was to see Rui, help him feel loved and remembered, and for Woo to encourage him to go back to church and make some changes. He did that, so mission accomplished.

Other than that, our week was pretty much the same as others, except I started running a lot more and feeling a lot better.

Oh, and I also started teaching Sunday School. Luckily,  I already know how to teach a good lesson while saying hardly anything at all. All I need are some quotes or scriptures (read by other people) and a few good questions. I understood few to none of the answers, but Woo was in the room with me to tell me when I needed to regain control. And I'm good at interrupting people mid-sentence in any language.

Oh, and one more, the kids switched chores for the first time in a year. They've become little experts in their fields and I had each of them teach the kid who would be taking over for them. That made for a pleasant morning.

Hope your week was great!

Testimony Below:

I know that President Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God. I know that the Book of Mormon has the words of God. I know that I feel better when I read the Book of Mormon every day. It has many blessings for us. I have peace, intelligence and revelations when I read the Book of Mormon.


Eu sei que Presidente Thomas S. Monson é um profeta de Deus. Eu sei que O Livro de Mormon tem as palavras de Deus. I sei que eu senti me melhor quando eu leio O Livro de Mormon todas as dias. Tem muitas bencãos para nos. Eu tenho paz, intelligencia e revelacãos quando leio O Livro de Mormon.


Ich weiß daß President Thomas S. Monson ist ein Prophet Gottes. Ich weiß daß das Buch Mormon hat die Wörter Gottes. Ich weiß daß ich mich besser fühl, wenn ich das Buch Mormon jeden Tag lese. Es hat viele Segnungen für uns. Ich habe Frieden, Intelligenz und Offenbarungen wenn ich das Buch Mormon lese.


Chariots of Fire

This was the worst conference for me I can remember. It was because I was so tired. Not in the fall-asleep-during-soothing-talks tired, or even the I'm-raising-six-babies tired, but the I've-been-around-other-people-too-much-and-haven't-had-enough-downtime tired. I didn't recognize this at first. I spent a lot of conference wondering and praying about what was wrong, and over the course of the conference I felt better. And by this morning I realized, I'm just going to have to be aggressive.

I mean, I have 3 kidless daytime hours every morning for the first time in almost 13 years. I live across the street from a beautiful, long, nearly deserted beach. I also live across the street from a very nice running path. Why on earth am I not taking advantage of this? Things are about to change here. 

Ruby has been very successful in P.E. Like, they've never had anyone run 100 laps around the school during the class period before? In fact, they didn't believe she had done it, but I guess there's some sort of counter, and yes, she had. Also, she's won a lot of the games, and since she's finally been able to shine in P.E. (and at soccer in breaks between classes) she's suddenly made a lot of new friends.

Actually, ALL the kids come home and talk about how much faster they are than the other kids.
Me (not entirely believing it): Why do you think that is?  
Penelope: Because we're AMERICANS!
They've never been so conscious of being American before, but we definitely stand out. While returning a library book, one librarian called Herbie by name, then asked if he knew Franchesca. The librarian was the aunt of this girl in his class and had already heard all about him.

I'm glad Ruby and Herbie both seem to be getting their athletic needs met in P.E. and intervals because they aren't able to join any clubs yet. The Portuguese tutor comes on the same day as their clubs... just an added incentive to learn Portuguese quickly, I guess.

Moses has been plagued by scrapes and cuts in the most obnoxious places... right on his palm, where his pencil sits when he writes; on his hip, where his underwear band is; etc. He had to take all stairs backwards for a couple days because his knees hurt too much going down. He's been in a lot of pain a lot of the time and those bandaids just don't stay on him (nor does he quit tripping).

Every time I go to the elementary school a line of girls in Linus' class cluster in the schoolyard and stare me down. I know what they're doing. They're sizing me up as their future mother-in-law. I disarmed them the first time by looking right at them and smiling. I'm unsure of where to go from here. I guess I could continue smiling, but that wouldn't be me, would it?

Archie occasionally talks about moving back to Utah and being excited to go back to Utah. Why??? Because the week before we left he got a free stuffed dragon from the bank and he misses that dragon. He spent a few days with it and three months later, it's the only thing he talks about from Utah.

The beach is nearly deserted (because it's cold!), but the water is not. There are still surf camps going on and plenty of surfers, many of them on a surf vacation from other parts of Europe. One day Woo spoke to a man from Switzerland. When Woo told him he was from Utah, he asked where. Woo told him the western United States.

But no, the man wanted to know where in Utah... turns out the man had been a member of the Swiss ski team during the 2002 olympics and had stayed with his team in a house a couple blocks from ours. Crazy!

We didn't have a lot of pictures this week... like I said, we were stretched a bit too thin, but hopefully more next week!

Hope your week was great!


Chelsey and Her Weaknesses

This week was hard, but not the hardest week we've had here, and not because of kids hating school in Portuguese and throwing lots of tantrums, like I was expecting. The kids have behaved exactly like they do starting school at home, and we're used to that by now.

But Woo and I found ourselves under a lot of stress, which at the time had us wanting to pull our hair out. The specifics are, by now, kind of trite, but there were lots of hours spent on the phone getting no where, lots of hours standing in lines in crowded shops getting nowhere, and little to no time to do the stress-reliever things we enjoy (and kind of need for sanity).

On one of my busiest days someone from the branch invited me to hang out in a cafe, which I reluctantly accepted. I was reluctant because hanging out is close to the last thing I want to do. Ever. And on a busy day it was pretty close to torture for me.

Ruby was confused, mostly because she's never seen me doing something like that before and also because she associates going out with dating.

"But, Mom. She's another woman--"

I started to explain, "Ruby it's not all about dates, and hooking up. Sometimes it's about being friends... "

I would've explained more about how I personally never felt that way, but most people did. I never got the chance because Woo was doubled over laughing. He couldn't believe those words had just come out my mouth.

By Friday some things had been accomplished. The last of Linus' books were available at the book shop. Herbie's last book came in the mail (and we were here to get it--we didn't have to wait in line at the post office). And Woo finally reached someone who understood our gas company conundrum and did something about it. (We think!)

Ruby comes home and tells us the interesting things she's learned in her classes. She rarely did that in the US. I don't know if it's because the bus ride home distracted her, or because now she has to work harder to learn through the Portuguese and there's a greater feeling of accomplishment when she does. She's really enjoying astronomy and French. She read ahead in her French book and did pretty well on the pre-test, but missed the one that had a line up of celebrities and asked which one was French. Most were American and she'd never heard of any of them.

Herbie's math class is already beyond what he's learned. He and I worked on it together. There was one symbol in it I didn't recognize. Reading the book led me to believe it meant one thing, but that was wrong. The internet showed me it was another. Still, we weren't getting it quite right. Woo came to the rescue, and I, at least, understand what's going on. (I did 8 more problems just for fun :). Herbie is still shaky, but now that we're teaching him the right thing, should get it.

Moses' proudest moments are when he makes a new friend. That's always a good day for him, and something he's excited to tell me when he comes home. He's made a few friends this week. He is loving recess. It's longer here and as the oldest aged kid in the school, he's feeling pretty successful on the soccer court. He was very upset when Penelope got a scrape and he, as her oldest brother, had to miss some recess to help her. Woo tried to help him see that he should be happy to help his little sister, but it was a miss.

Linus is also excited about new friends and thought it was fun to have girls chase him all recess and not catch him. It became less fun when everyone decided to be on Linus and Moses' team and there was no one left to do the chasing. Linus is a second grader in a merged class of mostly third graders. The tallest third grade girl in the class has decided to be his girlfriend. And he has one more, he says.

Linus' teacher said, "Copy this exactly." And look at the q's in the first few words Linus wrote. He's coping the printing exactly!

One morning Penelope's teacher said (in Portuguese), "Penelope doesn't speak. She sings. But she doesn't speak." Woo told her to pretend she was singing when she needed to talk. Penelope giggled and I guess it worked. Her teacher says she's speaking now. Penelope smiles and waves at all sorts of kids when we're leaving the school, and they say, "Tchau, Penelope!"

Archie loves, loves school. He's finally lost the bags under his eyes he had the first few days because he couldn't sleep for excitement. His teachers say he's repeating some Portuguese after them. He's also teaching himself how to read and write. He wrote this note for me, which says "Archie" and "I love mom." Then he drew a picture of us walking over a bridge together. And of course, I think it's a masterpiece.

Saturday we had a baptism. It was in the ocean. We walked through tiny, cobble-stoned streets from the church to the beach (Ruby regretted wearing high heels). The water was rough and cold. I thought Maria Julieta was very brave, and this proved to be true when after being immersed in the water, the waves knocked her back down, and then the Elder too, on top of her. I laughed. The kids watching on the rocks laughed. Woo claims he did not laugh. He was too concerned for our newest member. I paid for my inappropriate laughing while waiting to drape Maria Julieta with a dry towel. A fast wave came in and soaked my shoes and sprayed my dress.

Walking back to the church, Herbie slapped a random door. Much to our surprise, someone opened it immediately. Even more surprising, they knew Penelope and were thrilled to see her. They called behind them for their daughter and a little girl in Penelope's class came to the door. "Olá Penelope!" It was too crazy to be coincidence.

I think I'm finally done. I'm just going to leave with this public service announcement: Smoking kills.

Hope your week was great!


Escola! (Or, more than you ever wanted to know about school in Portugal)

School started! The good news is the kids love it, even in Portuguese. Everyone has someone who speaks a little English (except Archie and Penelope), but they all seem to feel comfortable and are excited to go back every day.

There is a lot for me to like. Mostly the schedule. Everyone comes home for lunch. Moses, Penelope and Linus have an hour and 45 minutes off at noon (Archie is done), and about an hour later Ruby and Herbie show up for two hours.

Ruby and Herbie have had 5 hours of school before lunch and sometimes head back for another hour and a half, but sometimes don't (That will probably change in a week or two. Ruby wants to join the sailing club and Herbie the basketball club, and the school is arranging for a Portuguese tutor, so that'll take two more afternoons).

Ruby and Herbie's schedule is kind of fun. It's not like the junior high or high school schedule we're familiar with. It actually reminds me more of college with different classes each day and on a small campus with several buildings.

I like it because we spend time together during the week besides the get-ready-for-school rush in the mornings or the everyone's-had-a-long-day-at-school evenings. Also, the kids' time at home is kind of staggered. I get a few at a time and I feel I can address their individual concerns better.

The night before school started Archie and Nellpea wanted to go to bed early so they could go to school sooner. "Mom! Do bedtime short!"

Penelope always has someone holding her hand or her shoulder on her way out of the school building, but then she says she hasn't made any friends. Until Friday. She came home feeling like she'd successfully communicated at recess and spent the rest of the afternoon speaking half Portuguese, half English.

Linus and Archie had false starts. I sat in on Archie's class presentation for back-to-school night and thought I knew *mostly* what was going on. I did ask his teacher at the end about something she'd said about the first day of school that I didn't quite get. She said just bring him in the morning (which is all he's doing anyway). But then when we showed up, she didn't want him until the second day. So... I missed something there.

Linus was the last kid we took to his classroom and it was completely empty. No teacher, no kids, just a few bags of school supplies on some desks.  And... we could not get anyone to tell us what was going on! Until, finally, we learned that Linus' teacher was sick and there would be no school for him. He and Archie walked back home with us, fortunately not too sad.

Apparently, a teacher has to be gone for 30 days before they can hire a substitute. (Ruby's English teacher got married the first day of school and will be gone for 15 days. The whole class goes to the library that period.)

When Linus did get to go to school the second day he was excited to sit by a super friendly kid he'd met before and hoped was in his class. But, it's not like Linus has trouble making friends. Woo heard some excited kid point at Linus and say, "That kid is in our class?!" as we were leaving.

Moses' teacher had him stand up and tell his class about Utah and his school (in English, she translated). It was a huge hit. His teacher showed pictures of our house and the school from google maps as he was talking, and the Portuguese kids thought they were so huge, someone asked Moses if he owned a Ferrari afterwards.

Moses was excited to learn cursive this year, but the Portuguese learn it in first grade, so he's behind there. Also, our kids know next to nothing about the metric system and lots of math problems want them to do things like add 10m to 15 dm to 5 km. Thank goodness the metric system is easy!

Herbie seems to be experiencing instant popularity. There are 18 kids that he has all his classes with and according to both Ruby and Herbie all the girls follow him around and the boys are always hanging out with him at breaks. He dribbled a soccer ball like a basketball at one point and there were audible expressions of awe. Predictions of him being the best basketball player in the school may be accurate.

Ruby does not seem to be making as many friends (she spends all her breaks with Herbie and his friends), but it doesn't seem to bother her and she is really loving her classes. Her teacher in Physics and Chemistry started off having the class guess what she was talking about. Ruby was the only one to know she was talking about black holes, but didn't know how to say it in Portuguese. She is loving the independence of walking across town, getting her own library and student card, and she's reading ahead in her school books.

Which brings me to school supplies... Ideally, Woo and I would have 3 hours in the morning to ourselves, but so far it hasn't worked out that way. Where at home, school supplies would take me one outing to Walmart, here it takes several trips to mom-and-pop shops where we wait (literally) for hours, spend hundreds of euros on books and we're not even done yet! Unfortunately, exactly what each child needs is not exactly clear. Hopefully, we'll get everyone supplied this week.

Archie: Yay! I'm going to school! 
Me: You're going to leave me all alone? 
Archie: You won't be alone. You'll be with Dad. 
Me: But what will we do? 
Archie: You guys will work.
Or you can play with my toys in my room!
I'll go get them for you! 

And... this picture above is part of our junk food dinner we had to celebrate a successful start to school. (Our first ever.) NO ONE is feeding our kids candy at school or church or anywhere else anymore; we finally feel we can indulge in that sort of thing occasionally ourselves!

Instead, people are giving us clothes and clothes and clothes. On Saturday, we visited an inactive, sang her a song and then her neighbor (sitting next to her on the porch), of all people, got up and brought out a box of clothes she'd been hanging on to for just the right family with kids.

Woo attempted to find the best plain potato chip (alleged traditional Portuguese food) through a blind taste test, but results were inconclusive.

And the rest of these pictures are either from Lourinhã, the dinosaur (obviously) capital of Portugal, or around town.