O Livro de Mórmon

We decided to dial up the missionary work this week after a goal-setting FHE by Woo. We gave out 5 Books of Mormon. 3 were accepted enthusiastically, 1 with a bit of confusion (I blame my Portuguese) and 1 outright rejected. (Sorry, Herbie!)

Penelope cried all the way to school Monday morning because we wouldn't let her give a Book of Mormon to her friend, Marguerita, who can't read yet.  But maybe we should have? Penelope gave her a card with the words to "I'm a Child of God" written on it instead.

Linus gave his to his favorite girl. He looked all over for her in the school yard as soon as he got to school, but didn't see her until the bell rang, then he threw it in her hands as she ran up the stairs to class. Reportedly she brings it out every recess, reads the little message he wrote in the front and her friends read a little bit out of the book.

Moses gave his to his teacher. He missed her birthday by a week (which had been his original plan), but after he gave it to her, she kept trying to read it in class and read during recess.

Ruby's Portuguese teacher took one look at her note in the front and ordered her to rewrite it in pen (pencil is not acceptable). Ruby, anxious to get home, rewrote it and re-handed her the book before turning to leave, but as soon as her teacher read the note, she called Ruby back for bejinhos (little kisses) and a muito obrigada!

Then the next day Ruby did the next thing on her goal list--stand up for a kid in her class that everyone else makes fun of.

Woo got to bear his testimony about Jesus Christ to a man outside the grocery store, which made his evening. Also the woman he wrote about visiting with the missionaries came to church this week.

And... this was a while ago, but I accosted a pair of Jehovahs Witnesses on one of my runs. (Because anyone out speaking about religion is fair game, right?) I apologized that I didn't speak good Portuguese, but I knew the Book of Mormon was true and that God loved them. They tried to give me a pamphlet, but I gave them a sweaty hug and ran away instead.

Herbie's friend didn't want his Book of Mormon and didn't want to take it for anyone in his family either, but he and Herbie are still best friends. He seems to have either been touched that Herbie tried to give him something or feels kind of bad, because he's been giving Herbie little trinkets since. One is a wallet shaped like a grenade that Herbie likes, but more as a toy than a wallet.

Other events of note:
  • Penelope lost two teeth. One while eating an apple, and one she pulled out herself with a napkin.
  • Archie gave Penelope several layers that I didn't even notice until I saw the hair in the garbage can. 
  • Archie and Linus were both sick one day and missed school. Archie took a cute nap.
  • Woo is suffering a lot of pain in his shoulder and from scrapes on his back and toes (and knees?). He's started doing pushups to see if that helps.
  • Woo spent most of Saturday helping Ruby and Herbie prepare powerpoint assignments for school.
  • Moses also missed a day of school because his teacher joined a strike. He had a mostly enjoyable time reading digital books from Utah's online library--which has been a really awesome resource that we use almost everyday.
  • Ruby memorized 98% of The Living Christ in a 24 hour period.
  • I went on a really fun run along cliffs to the lighthouse.
Hope your week was great!


Little Kisses, Little Hugs

The Portuguese are way more affectionate than we are. On one of his first days of school, Linus' little friend kept pushing up against him with his arms out, saying, "Little hugs! Little hugs!" (abraçinhos!)

Linus had no idea what was going on, until I said, "Give him a hug, Linus; he wants a hug!" After getting his hug, his friend was free to run off giving everyone else little hugs, including Woo and me.
Moses: I got kissed today. By a boy!
Apparently, he'd made a super exciting goal at recess and had been mobbed by hugs from everyone on his team.
"And then there was something squishy--it was a face!"

Woo getting off the phone with someone at the utility company(?).
"I'm trying to imagine that conversation happening in English--Goodbye, goodbye. Little kisses. Goodbye. Little hugs."
Technology-wise, the kids appear to be getting the education Woo and I got 30 years ago. Ruby is the only one learning typing. The youngest kids don't have any computer classes. Herbie has at least been in the computer room.
Herbie: It has bars on all the windows. And double doors. You have to walk through two sets of door to go in there. 
Me: Do they have super awesome computers in there? 
Herbie (snorting): No!

No smart boards, or even white boards. Every teacher uses chalk on a chalkboard. The kids were fascinated with those chalk wand thingies some teachers use to hold their chalk (that I haven't seen in decades).

And there are no electrical pencil sharpeners or even manual ones. Each kid carries around a small plastic one in their pencil box (which, for my kids, at least, leads to a lot of extra sharpening and prematurely short pencils).

Ruby and Herbie do a lot of writing, copying down in their notebooks what the teacher spends the entire class period getting up on the board--one reason why cursive is taught the very first year. Penelope comes home every night and practices her cursive letters in her little workbook. She feels pretty grown up and sometimes teaches Archie (and Linus).

We aren't worried at all. One of the things proceeding our decision to move to Portugal was a family fast to know what to do to improve the kids' education. Among other things, moving to Portugal was an answer to that fast, and while the kids aren't getting a state-of-the-art education, they're learning other things that simply weren't possible in Utah.

Anyway, that's all I have this week, except this picture of Woo and another new surfboard. It had to live on his side of the bed for a short time because I refused to let it live on mine.

Hope your week was great!


Stuff and Other Stuff

We ended daylight savings last week so I was all geared up for having the worst week ever, but it wasn't too bad. The kids were actually pretty tame. They didn't have school Wednesday and it was also overcast and probably the tiredest day for everyone. That day started out miserable, but we got out to look over some cliffs and check out a different beach, so everyone ended up feeling better.

I was sort of relieved to skip Halloween this year. No costume, candy or party burden and no overexcited kids.
Me: Did you miss Halloween? 
Moses: Nah.
In the aftermath of last Halloween Woo had sworn that we would never go trick-or-treating again, I'm not sure anyone really believed him, but we also never imagined we'd be in Portugal for the next one.

Another thing that probably helped is that the downstairs neighbors complained that we were being too loud in the mornings, especially on weekends and holidays when they want to sleep in (Of 16, I think, apartments in our building, only 3 appear to be occupied right now. One is us and another is directly beneath us... poor people.)

We put down a rug, changed rooms where we assemble for morning scriptures and the kids are trying to be more quiet.

I didn't realize until this week that the kids' language foibles are going to be all tied up in another language now.
Archie: Do you know how to say "high five" in Portuguese? 
Me: No, what is it? 
Archie: Mais cinco!
He went off by himself for a while, muttering about high fives and mais cincos and came back.
Archie: Actually, high five is olá cinco! (hi five)

Ruby has a crush on a boy here. She talks about him a lot... he's the son of Ruby's Portuguese teacher and also one of a set of twins, who are apparently still dressed in matching clothes by their mother. Ruby laughed a bit when she told me this, but I guess it doesn't hinder his attractiveness.
Me: So why do you like this one and not the other twin? 
Ruby: Well, this one is a little more athletic, well... they're both pretty slow... but he's a little less slow...
I haven't seen him, but knowing Ruby, I think his appeal must lie in his resemblence to Harry Potter.

A section of all the kids curriculum is reserved for catholic studies, but only members of the local diocese (?) attend the class. Ruby and Herbie come home early. Moses, Linus and Penelope go to a seperate art and morals class offered at the same time. Linus and Penelope have their class together. They both came home to tell us they'd sung "Sou um Filho de Deus" (I'm a Child of God) together over and over again in that class while coloring (which they'd both happened to memorize on their own in Portuguese two days before) and Linus had talked about the Book of Mormon when the teacher had talked about scriptures. They were both excited and Linus told me it was the favorite thing of his day.

Herbie's daily prayers for faith (and other things) he committed to a few months ago seem to be the only thing standing between him and insanity. Every couple weeks he'll throw a giant tantrum or two. I'll ask him if he's been saying his prayers; he'll admit that he hasn't and he'll recommit himself, for a couple more weeks, until the next time he gets lax.

Moses was worried about leaving the laundry to start the dishes (and let's be honest, the pile is intimidating), but he now uses it as his time to sing and sometimes swing his hips in a little dance. There is something therapudic about washing a sink of dishes by hand, if that's the only chore you have to do.

Woo took the van in for inspections, he was already dragging his heels and hanging his head as he went out the door, but it passed! His experience was further inhanced by the inspector being incredibly kind. It's about time something worked out for him the first time!

Yesterday was a surprisingly relaxing day. In the afternoon we all went to the park to play some soccer (except Nellpea, who was doing "exercises"). After awhile we joined Nellpea.
Woo: I can't do this one, Nellpea. It's too hard. 
Nellpea: They're supposed to be hard! That's WHY they're stretches!

Keeping my testimonies super simple seems to be the thing for me to do right now. I am telling stories in my talks and occasionally in my Sunday School lessons. I might start including those at some point.

Hope your week was great!

I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God, and also President Thomas S. Monson.
I know that the commandments bless us when we keep them.
I know that Jesus Christ loves me and I love him.
I know that when we are on the right path, we are safe.
I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Eu sei que Joseph Smith é propheta de Deus e também o Presidente Thomas S. Monson.
Eu sei que os mandamentos abençoam nos quando guardamos os.
Eu sei que Jesus Cristo me ama e eu amo o.
Eu sei que quando estamos no caminho certo, estamos seguros.
E digo isto em nome de Jesus Cristo, amém.

Ich weiß daß Joseph Smith ist ein Prophet Gottes und auch Präsident Thomas S. Monson.
Ich weiß, daß die Gebote uns segnen, wenn wir sie halten.
Ich weiß, daß Jesus Christus liebt mich und ich liebe ihn.
Ich weiß, daß wenn wir auf dem richtigen Weg sind, sind wir in Sicherheit.
Das sage ich, im Namen Jesus Christus, amen



Well, this week was a struggle. We did get Woo's residency permit, but for reasons I don't care to detail here, the rest of us did not get a family reunification visa. It's been tough, mostly because we don't know where to go from here.

At the same time--problems with the house in Utah, problems with the house here, problems in the branch and problems with customs feel like a lot at the moment.

We got a call midweek that I was off the hook for Sunday School and Woo was off the hook for his talk due to the District President teaching and speaking. It seemed like a blessing at the time, but now I'm not so sure. I almost always feel uplifted and strengthened after I teach.

The kids were actually incredibly patient during the four hour wait at the visa office. The only hiccup was near the end when it was clear they didn't need us and I took the kids outside. Someone threw a paper airplane straight into the large hair concoction of someone who had also clearly run into some frustrations. Whoops.

Our town was a stop on the pro-surfing world tour, but we didn't get to see any of it because of time and appointments and invitations we had already accepted. This was the biggest disappointment to Woo and Herbie, although, I think it would've been fun for all of us to watch.

The weather has been beautiful. Clearer and more consistently warm than all summer, actually. I've taken Herbie and Archie to the beach a few afternoons to play and watch Woo surf. Woo is getting quite a bit better (and has also toned up), but his new board often feels like learning all over again.

We did spend a pleasant evening gathered around my phone, reading old emails. Boy, am I glad we have those. The kids were so little and cute. There's no way I would've been able to remember so many ridiculous and funny things they did otherwise, and they love to read them too.

I taught Herbie to extract names from the Czech archives, just like I'm doing. I was thinking he could watch me for a month or so, and then pick a branch to do himself. I severely underestimated him. He was doing it all on his own, remembering all the steps and reading the Czech as well as I am, in half an hour. He has a few names reserved on his own account now.

Ruby continues to really enjoy her dinner chore and my load at home has definitely been lightened. Not only is she doing most of the work, things are planned and started earlier, so almost all the stress of that time of day is gone. Ruby continues to enjoy school and her new friends. She appears to be coming to critical decisions of who is good or bad for her to hangout with and what she needs to be doing to succeed in her classes here.

The old Moses is back. The one who tries to do everything right. He had one really exceptional day towards the beginning of the week and pretty good ones since then, which has been a big help.
Me: What happened, Mose?
Moses: I read about Nephi. And how he said, "Let us be strong like unto Moses."
That has to be his favorite scripture.

Linus also read about Nephi the morning before we went in for visas. He smiled at me and pointed out, "thou shalt be favored of the Lord, because thou hast not murmured." Then he smiled again when he showed me Laman and Lemuel (the "bad" guys) were the ones that were murmuring. He smiled because those scriptures were for him that morning, and his decision to follow them certainly were a help to us. The wait at the SEF office would of been a million times worse if Linus had been the cranky, whiny mess he sometimes is when waiting. Because there was definitely a lot of waiting.

If we ask Penelope or Archie how to say specific things in Portuguese, they never know, but they're learning it. Penelope started off our lunch date with a surprising, "Eu gosto de pão." And more than once I've caught them arguing about who knows the most Portuguese. "Oh yeah? Do you know what pato is? I do!"

Then to finish the week off we went to the district primary activity--a halloween party--which started off with... waiting in line!
Woo: They wait in line to celebrate.

Hope your week was great!


Chelsey-Centric Post

When I moved out of my parents house I vowed that I would never, ever again eat four things: seafood (or fish of any kind), bananas, raisins and hotdogs. I have on very rare occasions had to break that vow, but not since I've been married. Until now.

We made some new friends last week and imagine my surprise when they responded to our invitation to meet in a park for lunch by driving over at midnight with a tub of freshly caught sardines (picture included last week).

I did cook up those sardines. It was the first time I have ever cooked fresh, intact fish (Woo usually has to do it). And there were a lot.

You might think that my bad never-eat-fish example would influence the kids, but Woo's anything-goes example has been more powerful. He ordered octopus in Albufeira. Moses and Herbie were super excited about it and ate anything he offered them. "It's like gum! Salty gum!"

And somehow he motivated them to eat through sardine after sardine. Penelope and Herbie even decided to start eating the eyes... "Crunchy!"

Still, it was too much for us and Woo had to finish off like 15 by himself the next night for dinner.

But... the reason those friends brought over a tub of freshly caught sardines is because the husband is the captain of a fishing ship. He invited Woo to go out with them the afternoon after he'd finally eaten all our fish. Woo had fun, took a lot of selfies surreptitiously, and as a departing gift, the captain handed Woo a big bag of fresh sardines. Which we promptly put in the freezer and offered to a family in the branch, who have invited us over for lunch next Saturday to eat... you guessed it, our sardines!

So no, I didn't eat any sardines, but I did eat dried codfish. It happened this way. A member of our branch used to be a chef in a hotel. He has a signature dish he wanted to share with us, but he's largely confined to a wheel chair, so what better way to teach us than to have Ruby and I make it under his direction? We made the signature dish (delicious) and an additional dish of bacalhau (dried codfish), and to be polite, I ate some.

For those hoping I'll be converted--it tasted exactly like I thought it would. I can smell after all, and I've eaten several types of fish in my lifetime. I know exactly what I'm rejecting. Anyway, Woo took a picture to mark the occasion and I was rewarded for my sacrifice with an ice cream cone immediately afterwards.

Oh, and all the kids helped carry groceries when we stopped at the store on the way home. Linus demanded the yogurt, Archie a package of cheese.

And that's it for now. Hope your week was great.

The beach during my run.