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!


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 F--a. The librarian was the aunt of a 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!