7.31.2017

Olha!


This week we hit the summit in terms of time adjustment. I started out the week with several heavy bedwetters. Now I have one or two light ones, who should taper off soon.

Also on Monday, Ruby, Herbie and Moses did the dumbest thing they've ever done. We live on the fourth and fifth stories. While I was playing chess with Linus and Woo was on a conference call, they climbed out the skylight of one room, over the ridge of the roof, and into the skylight of another. I was so exasperated I couldn't speak. And then I accidentally let Linus beat me (the first kid to do so). It was like I couldn't leave them alone for a second. I haven't felt that way in a long, long time and when they all went to bed I was exhausted.

Thankfully that stage seems to be over.

Herbie, Moses and Linus were hoping to take surf lessons this week, but we had very strong winds and crazy waves. They were about right for Woo and he had a lot of fun, but not good for kids who've never surfed before.


Herbie was the most put out. He got up every morning, cleaned his room and did his chore before anyone else was even done with their room, because that morning might be the morning. But it never was. Finally, Friday had mild waves but the fog was so thick, we couldn't see more than fifty feet. Woo did take Ruby, Herbie, Moses and Linus each out for a turn on his board on the nearest breaking wave to shore and they all loved it.


Penelope and Archie each discovered the Book of Mormon for themselves. Penelope spent a lot of time Monday morning in her room reading verse after verse and was so excited when she got to 1 Nephi 3:7, she ran out and said, "Mom! I know this one! I know this story!"

She felt great all day and told me she was always going to read the Book of Mormon in the morning and she has. (Earlier she would often just look at pictures.)


Then, on Saturday, Archie studied the front page of a Book of Mormon during morning scriptures, found the word "the" and identified a few other letters and their sounds. He was so pleased; he talked about it for hours.
Archie: I don't need to go to preschool now, Mom. Cuz, I know how to read. I can go to kindergarten.
And Penelope was very excited for him and told him she'd set up a school for him in her room just like her kindergarten teacher and teach him sight words.
Archie: I feel good because I read the Book of Mormon.
And...
Archie: I'm excited to go to bed, cuz in the morning I can read the Book of Mormon.

Woo gave a very rousing speech around the breakfast table about how the kids were the only ones in the entire city who had the Gift of the Holy Ghost and how special that was. (And also how they were the only ones in the entire city sealed to their family forever.) And that was why we were here, to share those things, talk to people.


The kids were all visibly affected, but especially Ruby, who immediately started talking to all people again, using the little Portuguese she knows, her hands and English. Woo handed the four oldest kids a pass-along card before our walk today and she was the very first kid to hand one out. After she'd shown them how it was done, the other kids did the same.


Linus screamed because Herbie had gone on a lego-smashing rampage.
My airplane! My airplane! 
What's in your hand, Linus? 
What?
And then he was laughing. He'd been holding his own airplane the entire time.


There was A LOT of whining and complaining by tired kids before bedtime prayers. I looked over at Moses who gave me a huge smile and whispered, "I'm not complaining, Mom. Like Nephi!"
Archie (walking past a school): ... And there's a tennis hoop!
Overheard--
Nellpea: ... and you shouldn't scratch anyone unless they're a robber. 
Archie: Yeah. (nodding sagely) Or a shark. 
Nellpea: Yeah.
And that's our week!

7.24.2017

Surf-n-Sleep


Some little tidbits from earlier I forgot to include (but Woo thinks are important):

Our first Sunday in church, we walked into the chapel, sat down and prepared ourselves to take the sacrament by listening to the prelude music... Chopsticks. It was being played by the best piano player in the branch--a 9 yr old girl--and it made Woo's Sunday.

Also, the branch has had triple the normal numbers since we've been there. Not just us, but lots of visitors and some investigators.

And... we live in a veritable sandbox. The kids sweep twice a day, but we're constantly tracking it in. The bad thing about sleeping on mattresses on the floor is that they're full of sand. The good thing about sleeping on mattresses on the floor is that just we lift them up and shake them out before lying down.


Penelope was very excited approaching this monument. "Mom, who's that?! Is it Captain Portugal?" A good guess, but it ended up being the patron saint of fishermen.


I've mostly mastered my mother-of-six-about-the-town Portuguese. It consists of phrases like: Let's go! Hurry up! Watch out! and Look at that!

Oh, and we all know "seis" like the back of our hand, which is the number (6) passersby always say after they finish counting us.


Woo life this week could be summarized as surfing by day, missionary work by night. Except that he also has a job that he tries to squeeze in. Sleep has been the first thing to go. He was called as branch mission leader today and spoke in sacrament meeting on missionary work.


One night I was helping Teresa get started on FamilySearch while Woo got the kids settled in bed, and she turned to me and said, "He is a good man." Yes, he is.
Woo: So you liking Portugal? 
Me: Yeah. 
Woo: Me too. 
Me: I've always believed and I now know it to be true--Europe is best done with your family.
The other times I've lived in Europe I moved to a different country AND I suddenly lived with strangers. I think the being all alone with strange people was always the worst part for me.

And adjusting to the foreign language and country isn't the hardest thing now. It's working with the kids as they move through their sleep adjustment period. It's a process that I understand by now and don't get too worked up about anymore.

We're in the stage where a kid (very frequently Linus this week), will be super cranky and argumentative, and then suddenly fall asleep.


Also, its sister stage where the kids completely lose their heads and I fear for their lives. Like the time this week, when Moses dumped a bunch of legos out of his fourth story window. I found the kids in his room, on a chair, hanging out his window to see what had happened to the legos.


They had fallen into the private patio of a downstairs neighbor. Moses was too terrified to ring their doorbell and talk to them, but I convinced Ruby and Herbie to do it. We figured out what to say in Portuguese, Ruby blurted the first word out then forgot. Herbie finished the sentence and to their surprise were understood. A few minutes later the man of the house came out with the legos in a napkin. He started yelling right about the time Moses had worked up the courage to go down and join them. Instead, he ran back into his room. I'm pretty sure it's not going to happen again :).


But for the most part the kids seem to be enjoying themselves. No one has complained about being here or said they wished they hadn't come. Although, Archie, who's never complained about anything here asked me, "Can we move back home next month?"

So that's all I have this week. Hope your's was great!

7.17.2017

Happy, Happy Birthday!


We kind of crashed this week. It didn't quite seem like jet lag, but it must've been. I mostly felt like I'd been going non-stop for several weeks (without ever getting a full night's sleep), which was also true. Moses complained of a headache. Ruby had severe pain in her foot. Linus felt feverish. Herbie had an accident outside the Lidl. Pressing deadlines at work had Woo cutting short his vacation days and tap-tap-tapping at the computer into the night.


Unfortunately it all coincided with Penelope and Woo's birthdays. As far as Penelope was concerned, her birthday was awesome. Woo dubbed it the second worst birthday ever. Other than opening presents and eating ice cream and singing "Happy Birthday" several times, we did pretty much what we've been doing every other day this week (but way crankier)--going to the beach, walking around town, playing soccer and attempting to stock the kitchen with food.


The kids are ravenous and are tearing through everything we're able to lug home within a day. We're just now making headway. Today Woo announced he thinks we might only have to go shopping two or three times next week.

Some highlights of the week:

We now have a washing machine!


We found the library (in an old villa--this one room is the entire children's section)!


Ruby, Herbie, Moses and Linus now have regular friends at the soccer court, who wait for them to come and play.

We're all speaking and understanding a bit more Portuguese.

We had Teresa (who's been baptized three weeks) over for dinner and I helped her set up a FamilySearch account and we reserved the baptism for her mother who had passed away. That's when I thought: Ah, this is why I'm here.

The missionaries brought a woman into church on the pretext of meeting the American family (she really wanted to speak some English) and she ended up enjoying the meeting a lot and spoke with the missionaries about learning more.

We have hot water as of Friday night!

I think the kids are pretty well settled in their chores now. Herbie, as dishwasher, is washing all of dishes by hand. We don't have a lot of dishes here, but still... If only he knew how rare that is for an 11 yr old boy these days...


Linus had an attitude change on Tuesday. He'd been pretty whiney up to that point, but during morning scriptures, he somehow turned to Alma 60:4 "But behold, were this all we had suffered we would not murmur nor complain."


He knew it was meant for him and read it every morning afterwards, mentally going over situations where he might want to complain, and how he would react instead. He even wrote about it in his journal today.

Unless Ruby is out bodysurfing with Woo at the beach, she is taking care of Archie, which I appreciate and she loves. She really is a great babysitter.


I taught the kids to play Clue for the first time one night. Moses LOVED it! He also loves chess (new to him since a few months), and he's always challenging Ruby to a game. The good news is: despite being very tired, Moses has only dissolved into tears once and that was today after church. The branch had a little surprise celebration for Penelope and Woo's birthday and Moses only got one slice of chocolate cake (some other people got three).


Penelope has such a cute "little girl" run that I love to watch when we're at the beach--because she is running everywhere! Into the water, out of the water, to Archie, away from Archie, etc. So far, my favorite beach memory is watching Linus take Penelope and Archie over to the life guard flags, lining everyone up and then all three of them sprinting into the water. So cute, those little kid sprints!


Today we noticed that our refrigerator had been unplugged for a few days (unplugged by the gas installation guys?) As I've been writing, Woo's been trying to contain himself about the three cartons of ice cream that he bought for his birthday, but are now ruined. He had almost gotten over it until he learned that today is National Ice Cream Day--just more salt in the wound.


When I crash, I really need to read, so this week I read The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, A Horse and His Boy and The Last Battle and throughly enjoyed every second of them.

Also, here I am wrestling with substandard plastic wrap. Just one of the many heinous sacrifices I must make to live in Portugal.


I think that's it. Hope you all had a great week!