Wonderful Week

We had a good week. 

Sunday was the day Herbie, Moses and Linus would be ordained. It ended up being our family only, in a classroom, so we took off our masks and spoke English.

Woo read to us from the general handbook. We sang a song of two, maybe prayed, then Woo ordained Herbie.

Herbie was able to help ordain Linus. Linus sat with a wide grin on his face during the entire blessing. It would twitch to even wider at points.

Then Herbie ordained Moses, with Woo helping. Herbie got to give Moses a blessing, which was a surprise for him when he found out on Saturday, but he was very excited.

Woo was emotional afterwards as it was the first time he’d gotten to give a blessing with his son.

Ruby was very supportive and had a big smile on her face also, complimenting and congratulating her brothers.

Penelope and Archie were very reverent also, but they eagerly ran off to primary for the last twenty minutes.

For the next two nights, Herbie would say, “Goodnight to my favorite teacher!” to Moses before going to bed.

Herbie, Moses and Linus have all been noticeably trying to serve in little ways at home.

Herbie was watching out the window so that as soon as Woo and I came home from the grocery store, he ran down the stairs to help us bring groceries up.

Linus sacrificed his green settlers pieces (that he NEVER backs down on) so that Archie could have a color he liked.

Moses tried to encourage upset kids to forgive or leave the situation or come up with another solution.

Reading the general handbook had been such a hit before the ordinations that Woo read it again for his YMs lesson, and then read more to all of us (for a couple hours?) while we sat in the park, warming in the sun, until it got cold. It was surprisingly interesting for all of us.

Archie spent a lot of the time trying to stand up a piece of wood in the grass, but he eventually came to join us and stayed.

We were all fasting, which might’ve contributed to everyone sitting and listening so placidly. Linus asked again what a chiasmus is.

Archie gave what was in Woo’s opinion the “fast Sunday comment of the year”: Chiasmus is a sandwich!

I occasionally bring up chiasmuses during scripture study and had once described it that way. Archie and everyone else get it, but Linus has been perpetually confused. Finally, was able to draw him a chart after Archie’s explanation. He gets it now.

Archie turned nine! He’s now lived half his life in Portugal. As always, he was just thrilled to do anything on his birthday.

His car kit kept him and his brothers happy for quite awhile. Having his older brothers help is something Archie loves.

Archie (reading out loud): Caution. That’s the battery brand.

He, Ruby, Penelope and Woo went out to lunch for birthdays. (Penelope’s birthday lunch was long over due.)

Archie’s birthday dinner didn’t turn out perfectly, but he was happy anyway.

I went to a different store than normal and accidentally bought mini burgers and maxi buns. I’d also bought a new pan for the rice pudding and because we’d never used it before, gauged the cooking time wrong. It was a little under done, but we threw in some cooked rice Herbie had made in the morning, and it was okay.

We watched a virtual tour of Carthage jail. It was wonderful. Possibly the best one yet.

Woo (pontificating during Come Follow Me): blah, blah, blah Zeus—

Someone: Who’s Zeus?

Penelope (in a know-it-all voice): Don’t you know? Dr. Zeus!

We tried out some new beef sticks. We laughed about its claims of “noble mould” on the packaging.

Ruby took a big bite and chewed carefully. “This reminds me of Uncle Tyson’s wedding.”

Wednesday we all drove down to Lisbon. It would be Linus’ first time doing baptisms in the temple. Herbie’s first time performing baptisms. And Ruby’s second time as a 17 year old (Herbie reminded us.)

Moses had carefully coached Linus step-by-step from entering the doors of the temple to being confirmed. A concern was whether they’d have baptismal suits in Linus’ size. Another was whether the water in the font would reach to his neck.

Again, we were the only ones there. All other appointments had for some reason canceled. It was just our family and a handful of temple workers, who were excited about little Linus.

There was no XXS suit, although everyone thought there would be. Linus was dressed in an XS suit, which was gigantic on him.

Woo said the reveal in the locker room reminded him of the scene from Frog and Toad where Toad wears his swimming suit.

Linus (from inside the locker room): Don’t laugh.

And when he came out, Woo and Herbie chuckled (it was impossible not to) and Moses let out a laugh so loud, Woo feared it was heard throughout the temple.

All of the temple workers referred to the puffiness of Linus’ suit as “músculos.”

Woo baptized Linus first. The water did not come to his neck, but was below his shoulders. Ruby and Moses were witnesses. Linus had a wide smile on his face except for when he was wiping water out of his eyes.

Woo baptized Herbie, and then Herbie baptized Woo. I thought Herbie would be all confidence, but he seemed a little nervous.

I thought Woo would be the most difficult for Herbie to baptize, but he said it was Moses. Moses’ head didn’t go all the way under once.

Linus was a witness at that point, but it was the recorder and Ruby who pointed it out.

Moses was thrilled to be baptized by Herbie. He looked way more excited about it than Herbie, who I assume was trying to get it all right. Then Herbie baptized Ruby.

Archie had requested that we go to the Vasco de Gama park for his birthday, but Woo was tired of a eating celebration every other day, so we ran to Lidl to pick up a quick snack and spent a lot of time at the park until it was time to drive home in time to make dinner.

Archie made it to his Covid vaccination this week. Because of a mistake I made, we sat there for an hour longer than we needed to, but Archie was a champion waiter.

When I got my first vaccination the health workers were kind of rude, but by the time they were on the 7-9 year olds they were bending over backwards in their kindness. They played happy music, had a dressed up cartoon character dancing in the front, a lady blowing balloons and twisting them into shapes. Archie received compliments on his lack of reaction to getting a shot (I had done the same thing!!), and then he got to pick out his favorite sticker.

Someone complained about not having seafood for New Years, so Woo bought a giant tub of shrimp, that all the kids ate some of, but Penelope was the real shrimp lover, who helped Woo finish them off to the end.

Also, Penelope and Linus got their glasses! Penelope is happy about hers. Linus’ gave him a headache.

One day at the park it started to rain pretty hard. There was even some hail in some part of the park? I was afraid all the kids would be mad, but no one was. Ruby, surprisingly, had had an especially fun time. She kept asking Woo and me if we’d ever rode a bike no handed in a hail storm, and was pretty pleased that she had.

Covid cases here continue to rise, but deaths and hospitalizations are very low. About 90% of the population is vaccinated and 90% of hospitalizations are those who haven’t been vaccinated.

So… restrictions are actually being eased. The kids are going back to school on Monday. They won’t be required to test on the return, and will not be required to isolate from school unless being positive themselves.

And that’s our week! Hope yours was great!


Leaving Babylon Behind

We had a nice Christmas. On Christmas Eve we read the Living Christ, Luke 2, Matthew 2, 3 Nephi 1… and the kids complained that we were staying up too late, and they wanted to go to bed. 

So we were going to only sing one Christmas hymns, then two, but I think we ended up singing them all. The kids went right to sleep.

Per our Christmas tradition, during the day on Christmas Eve I wrapped all presents, but one (for each kid), and they placed them under the tree. They knew what everything was (all our usual Christmas snacks and one book for each that I’d bought over the summer, but hadn’t given out).

I tried to convince them that that was all there was. And if it weren’t for Woo, that would’ve been all there was. Woo had grabbed seven RC cars or drones or helicopters during a grocery shopping trip back in November.

The kids refused to believe me. First, I apparently try this trick every year, and also, I asked Linus for his “oh happy day” sack (I planned to throw them in sacks as soon as the kids were asleep and call it a night). So he knew something was up.

It ended up being the perfect amount of gifts and excitement. Usually it ends up being too big, even though we try to keep it down. I guess the secret is to feel completely under the mark.

Even Ruby, who got a note with her drone explaining a trade could be made, was excited about it (a complete surprise to us) and decided to keep it.

I did include a note for books from grandparents and 25€ from us (a lot of them spent some of that on rechargeable batteries). On Monday or Tuesday we got that figured out.

Ruby gave me a fuzzy hat that reminded her of Grandma Marva’s hat from the 50s (?) that I used to wear in Huntsville. She and Archie also made nice cards.

Penelope crocheted a small thing with our initial on it. To save time and material she dismantled her compass rose for four of them.

Most of the kids got each other little hot wheels cars.

Herbie and Moses additionally gave lots of service and sacrifice for their gift on Christmas Day. Herbie was especially excellent and noticeable.

Woo gave us all Christmas blessings. A tradition he started last year.

We had a baptism on the evening of Christmas Day, a primary girl turning eight.

Archie, Penelope and Linus gave the talks. Herbie held the camera to Zoom for relatives in Brasil. Penelope surprised us by singing a duet with the primary president. She sounded very nice.

We were a little afraid the baptism might be a super spreader event as it was originally announced to us as a party with like 50 people, but we were relieved that they’d followed the stake leaders’ counsel for gatherings this season.

There were about 30 people there, all wearing masks, keeping distance, and cake was handed out in little tinfoil packets to go.

We had an hour of church the next day. Moses stood up and sang a solo (The First Noel). It was very sweet.

The next morning (Monday) the kids ran off to the park with their new toys and returned looking very solemn.

Moses had flown his quadricoptor as high as it would go; he couldn’t see it. Nor could he control it anymore. It had flown from the park, over the neighborhood behind us, over our building, and fallen in the street in front of the dunes, where it was promptly run over by a car. It was totaled and a tough lesson for Moses.

We’ve done a few virtual tours. During the summer they were all done by sister missionaries. Now they’re all senior missionaries!

I personally prefer the senior missionaries. They’re all sweet, but a couple are awesome! One old guy at Liberty Jail had all the kids riveted for like 20 minutes showing nothing but a black and white line map.

We did finally get the five remaining passports. The embassy was dead and so was traffic. I guess everyone’s out and frantic before Christmas, and everyone’s relaxed and at home after Christmas.

Woo had taken Ruby, Herbie and Moses camping one night in the Pinhal over the summer, so he still owed Linus, Penelope and Archie.

Now was ideal as the weather’s been pretty nice and it’s still getting dark early. Woo asked if they’d be happy with a campfire and “late” night, as the sleeping and morning are the worst parts for him. They readily agreed.

Ruby, Herbie, Moses and I played Seafarers while they were gone. Herbie manned the youth music and all three felt like they’d been given a treat of a night too.

This will probably pain Woo a bit…

Herbie: Dad doesn’t like youth music. He likes… actually I don’t know what music Dad likes.

The others didn’t know either.

Herbie: He likes that music like he played when Ruby was a baby.

We have watched a bunch of old videos of Ruby as a baby in honor of her birthday. A couple have music playing in the background that Woo and I know, but the kids have no idea.

Sometimes Moses mixes up his name meanings.

Moses (about to win Seafarers): Yes! Israel!! Destruction is eminent!!!!

The three younger kids and Woo came home about 8:30PM. Linus, Penelope and Archie were all elated and smelled strongly of campfire and hotdogs.

Woo: I told scary stories about giant balloons popping (for Archie), and big, scary dogs (for Linus), but I didn’t have anything for Penelope. Nothing scares Penelope. Well, except H-E-double hockey stick. That scares Penelope. I tried to incorporate a little of that into my scary stories…

Woo got this as reward for his efforts.

“Good thing I wore two pants, Dad.”


“Because I peed my pants.”

We’ve been doing some cleaning. We found an old keyboard of Ruby’s in a closet that we handed to Penelope. She’s really loved it, figuring out all sorts of songs. She said yesterday that it was her favorite Christmas present.

One post Christmas order came in and we got a book shelf! All these books were previously living on the floor.

We’ve had some really nice family scripture studies lately in the book of Ether.

Arguing over chairs is a problem before scriptures for Herbie, Moses and Linus and sometimes Archie.

During one discussion, Linus surprised me by offering to give up his chair and sit on the floor. I never would’ve dreamed he do that.

The next day Moses, Linus and Herbie worked out a system themselves that they’re happy with and Moses happily sacrificed for a day or two until the system comes into effect.

We ordered glasses for Linus and Penelope before school started, but customs laws changed within the last year and the back up there has become even worse.

We learned their glasses had been sent back about a month ago (?). I looked for another online place that would sell discount glasses, but all of them were coming from outside the EU, so I never made any orders.

This week we finally just went to the optometrist and ordered them glasses. They cost six times as much, but they’ll be here next week.

Covid cases are extremely high and growing. Deaths are not exorbitant, and there are currently no plans to close schools… we’ll see…

We’ve had a tough morning today. Hopefully, we can keep everyone happy if we’re locked down again.

Herbie, Moses and Linus will be ordained this week. Linus is super excited to pass the sacrament and even more excited to do baptisms in the temple.

Herbie has been counting down the days until he can perform baptisms in the temple.

He wanted to baptize Linus, but so did Woo. I think it’s been agreed that Woo will baptize Linus and Herbie will baptize Woo.

And I think that’s our week! Happy New Years!