11.27.2017

Thanksgiving


We did not really have Thanksgiving here. The kids didn't have school off and no one made a feast. Ruby did roast a chicken and made cookies. I mashed some potatoes and made some vegetables and gravy. For the kids it was a pretty exciting weekday dinner. For me it was fine (I completely lost all my Thanksgiving food memory during one meal in St. Louis, for some reason), but Woo suffered.


It was overcast and rainy. He was sick with the flu and homesick--for Thanksgiving food and his family. He and Herbie did go on a walk where they came home soaking wet. (And found a delicious orange tree growing in the middle of the sidewalk!) He also watched a lot of surfing clips, since he couldn't surf himself.


Moses went on his first field trip to... the local Museum of Lace!! It was more exciting than he was expecting, I think. He liked the "humongous things" they had for making lace.

A group of older kids challenged my boys and one of their friends to a soccer game at the park. I watched Moses move the ball all the way down the court through opponents, entirely by himself, and then score. Twice. He even has one fan, a boy at school a couple grades younger, who watches him play soccer from the sidelines at recess.
Moses (demonstrating his British accent): Bom dia, mate!!
And...
Archie: Mom, Dad was the first baby you had. But--how did Dad get taller??

Penelope has gotten really good at her super sad face which instantly pulls at the hearts strings of all Portuguese; they give her hugs, treats, purses, toys, whatever on hand (and frankly, I'm trying to convince her to stop). But there is one area she is not getting babied. One recess she dropped her pear on the ground. She took it to a recess lady with her super sad face (I can only assume), and... they washed it off and gave it back!

Germs just are not a scare here, nor are food allergies, which is nice in that all the kids are provided with a milk at recess and a box of in-season fruit sits at the back of the classroom for snacking; homemade birthday treats are totally fine, and disinfecting wipes and hand cleaners, etc. were conspicuously missing from the school supply lists.


Almost overnight Ruby has grown up (as in her daily behavior) and it has been wonderful. She has been praying for humility every prayer I've heard her say for probably three months, and that is definitely part of it. She backslides every once in awhile, usually when she's tired or not feeling well, but she is so much more helpful, patient, kind, and quiet and there is a LOT less pestering and arguing going on.

Her Thanksgiving was pretty great, in that she got one of the few completely successful packages we've gotten in the mail--a quilt from the YW in our ward back home.


Linus is cleaning our bathrooms now, and they are the cleanest our bathrooms have ever been! He really does his best job every morning, disinfecting and wiping down every inch. On Saturday, he also really loves to take out everything from under the sink in my and Woo's bathroom and organize it. It looks fantastic, but also takes quite a bit of time, partly because (I discovered yesterday) he's "smelling all of [my] chapsticks!" Peppermint was not his favorite, but he really loves the pumpkin pie one.


One of the grocery stores here is giving out little "guys" from various Dream Works movies as a promotion. It's kind of a pain because the kids argue about who has more, who has a new one, etc. Anyway, on one of our walks, Archie found a guy on the ground and was so happy. Singing about it and dancing... We stopped to talk to a crazy old man (we attract them just like real missionaries!) and Archie dropped his guy over someone's fence.

The kids rigged up a rescue effort while Woo and I tried to talk sense, Moses snagged the guy, threw it up over his head, over the fence, where it bounced off the sidewalk and straight into a gutter drain, where it was lost forever. Archie was devastated!

But a few days later we went to the grocery store and he got a special silver Captain Underpants that no one had ever gotten before and a VW van he bought with his free money, so I think the week ended up well for him.


Herbie got to talk about his beliefs and share his testimony with the big kid at the park who swears a lot and all my kids mostly try to avoid. He was interested to hear that Herbie had good reasons for not swearing, belonged to a different church than most people here, that we don't smoke, not even Woo, etc. Herbie and Linus (who also said a few things) were excited about it.


I did some stuff this week, but this email is long enough already. Here's a picture Woo took of me before starting my run, sharing the beach with a million birds.

Oh, and I found (but didn't try) these amazing "hand-cooked" sweet potato chips.


Oh, and I guess to be fair... after I point out other people's language foibles... I told another pair of Jehovah's Witness this week that God loves himself, instead of God loves them. Still true, but whoops!

Anyways, Happy Thanksgiving!


11.20.2017

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!

11.13.2017

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!

11.06.2017

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