Last Sunday Evening, Archie was struggling to behave. Moses sat next to him and encouraged him by his example, attention and suggestions to be great during bedtime scriptures and prayer. As I was kissing Archie goodnight, I thanked him for being good while sitting by Moses. He nodded and cried out, "I love him!!"

Moses continued his awesome streak the next day when Ruby left for school on her long day of school without a lunch. Moses handed over his 0.58€ ... all his free money, which he had other plans for ... so Ruby could get some lunch.

As they get money every week, Moses, Herbie and Ruby have been stopping in one of the many Chinese stores on their way from or to school to buy a present for a sibling. (Their favorite is Veja Ky.) Ruby even spent some of her personal birthday money on a few gifts.

I picked Herbie up from school the evening he gets out late and walks home alone. He spent the entire time telling me how he'd had plans to buy something for Archie, and while in the store he'd seen the toy of his dreams, the one he'd always wanted, the perfect color, everything... he'd had no choice, but to buy it for himself, even though it cost all the pocket money he had and couldn't buy anything for Archie now.

I didn't say much. Mostly just "ohs?" and "I sees," and he seemed completely happy with his choice, so I was surprised when he came home and wrapped the present up for Archie, telling me he'd changed his mind; he was going to give the present to Archie anyway. I guess just listening to himself talk helped him see the better choice.

Woo's inspiration for the thing he should let go to be happier (counsel from the visiting authority), was to stop nagging the kids about their bad habits. Instead, he held a family counsel that really inspired the kids and offered his help instead of nags.

Linus came up with the best plans for his two biggest bad habits. He did awesome the first day or two with one, but it's deteriorated by now. The other, however, is still going well.

I used to hate when after getting everyone in bed, and giving Penelope 5-12 goodnight hugs and climbing into my own bed, Penelope would begin to scream and cry uncontrollably because she couldn't remember I'd hugged her and she swore I'd forgotten.

It has not happened for a long time, but happened again this week, and was thankfully solved by Linus, who (while praying for revelation) had the idea to climb out of bed and give Penelope his favorite stuffed watermelon that he loves and never shares with anyone. It was just the sign of affection Penelope needed.

I'm feeling so much more Christmasy this year than last. One morning at scriptures I said, "I am getting too much revelation!"

I kept getting idea after idea for sharing Christ this Christmas, and I was excited about every single one. One was that we should go caroling with the missionaries every week in the city center. I don't know why I never thought of it last year, as it was the go-to Christmas contacting method of my own mission. It's one of my favorite things from my mission. (If I ever took the kids to Vienna, I would want to do it at Christmas.)

Last night was our first time. I would say that no one was very excited on our way to meet (except the missionaries, who would have had tougher plans for the evening without us), but we got there, the missionaries had assembled a couple other members and they also had two investigators show up. I don't know how effective it was in sharing the gospel (Archie did hand out several pass along cards), but its always fun to sing a bunch of Christmas songs in a row. I know we felt better.

Ruby, in particular, acted like she would hate it (as she often does when we leave the house on Saturday), but she ended up being one of the best singers, and even standing in front at times to lead us.

Penelope and I went to the Chinese store the morning she started late for her to buy presents. She was so pleased to pick up this braid headband for herself. (Penelope has plenty of money since she never goes shopping.)

One morning Penelope said, "I didn't get revelation, Mom! But I had a dream!" She was very excited about it, and she got a clear message--She needed to try as hard as she could to be like Jesus because he was coming soon, and she wants to be ready when he comes.

And then I reminded her that she had a talk in primary that week.
Penelope: What's it on? 
Me (looking it up): Um... "I Know That Jesus Christ Will Come Again" 
Penelope: That's my dream! 
Me: I know!

Woo was worried when we moved here and Archie still didn't know how to ride a bike that he would never learn. He spent some time with Archie in the basement yesterday, and after not much time at all, Archie had it!

Later we went to the park, and I was surprised to look across the soccer court and see Archie, all by himself, pedaling down the little sloped path on the other side.

Sorry about the pictures... we were really scraping the bottom of the barrel. I had to take a few of the kids eating lunch after church, sorry. It was especially painful for Moses who's been sick all day.

Well, that's all I have for this week.
I love you!

I did bear my testimony last week, but I forgot to add it.

Testimony Below:

The prophets prophesied that Jesus would be born on earth, that he would atone for our sins, that he would die and be resurrected. All these things happened.

Prophets prophesied that Jesus will come again. I know this will also happen. It is our job to prepare ourselves, our families, and the world.

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


Os profetas profetizaram que Jesus nasceria na terra, que ele expiaria nossos pecados, que ele morreria e ressuscitaria. Todas essas coisas aconteceram.

Os profetas profetizaram que Jesus virá novamente. Eu sei que isso também vai acontecer. Nosso trabalho é preparar a nós mesmos, nossas famílias e o mundo.

Em nome de Jesus Cristo. Amém.


It's Almost Christmas!!

There are two words that will make Penelope’s eyes light up. Science and Japan. We were pretty surprised about Japan, and didn't understand why she loved it so much until we learned that she'd read a book about that dog, Hachiko.

She really loved it, but it did not increase her love for dogs; it increased her love for Japan. She wants to learn Japanese and it's her dream country to visit. She knows she has a cousin there right now on a mission, and thinks she'll go there too.

Her love of science started last year with a special and exciting science unit. She feels a special kinship to it now too.

I overheard Nellpea trying to compare where she is in the Book of Mormon with Linus.
Linus: We're not just supposed to READ it. The prophet said we're supposed to STUDY it... 
Penelope (quickly): I know...

Linus has been pretty belligerent this week. (Which is kind of odd because he's an awesome morning Book of Mormon reader, but Herbie told me this morning they've been getting up too early and working on Christmas presents in the bathroom...)
Me (walking the kids to school): Linus, you are off to a bad foot.  
Penelope (suddenly reminded of other idioms with similar meanings): AND he’s digging a hole! (That's one Woo likes to use.) 
Oh! AND he’s stopped rowing! --That’s what someone from conference said! 
Unfortunately, it did not make Linus feel better.

Herbie loves canoagem. He is always super excited to go, and is excited when their extra Portuguese tutoring session is cancelled and he can go an extra day.

Ruby puts up a fight every single time, but she's weakening. In fact this week she said, "I can tell I'm getting stronger since I started canoagem."
Me: Oh? 
Ruby: But that does not mean I want to go.
Last week Archie watched 101 Dalmations for only the first or second time. He really liked it and wanted to talk about it. I was kind of surprised, because it's usually been branded a "scary" movie by our kids that age, and I thought for sure Archie would be the same. But he said, "No. The only part scary is gorilla corilla... what’s her name again?"

All Herbie's Christmas surprises have already been ruined. One present he picked out himself. One, observant Archie, who had no idea Herbie wanted a sweater or why I would buy one, mentioned it to him. And the other was known by Ruby, who told Moses, who told Herbie... All that's left now is to wait until they're in his possession.

I keep plugging away at the house. It is not very big; however, I'm throwing everything I've ever liked in a house at it. Well, almost everything. I've let go of a thatched roof.

I'm also understanding why you draw them yourself. As I go, I see the problems I didn't know were there; I find solutions, then have additional ideas, etc. Yesterday I wrestled with a staircase (unpleasantly discovered while starting cross sections) that was not going to behave in the way I thought it was going to behave... Anyway, I did find a solution that preserves my goals for how the house flows, and will also be more exciting for the kids.

Moses has had a great week. He surprised me by following the instruction of the visiting authority in district conference and asked in prayer what he need to let go. The answer was the very thing that Woo and I would've said (thankfully, not the one Ruby suggested to him during the talk--that one ended up being hers, ironically). Anyway, the good news is he's made a lot of progress in that area already.

Here's the link to Woo's patent to those who've asked about it. I (and he) don't suggest anyone actually read it. Just scroll to the bottom and read: Inventor--Steven Woolley.

Well, that's our week. Hope yours was great!



I was in a funk today. While I was dressing for district conference I had a fleeting thought... I haven't felt this way in a long time, and I used to feel this way kind of frequently, didn't I? It was good that right off the bat I was able to see a blessing, but I still struggled all through district conference and the branch leadership meeting afterwards. I did a lot of praying for myself, and was able to survive, at least.

And I did okay at home until I didn't. There was tirade for a few minutes, and then I was done. And now here I am. I'll probably feel completely better after this email. I always do, as I get to look back on the good things that happened.

Woo's very first patent went through. I don't know exactly what it means, but it's an accomplishment of some sort.
Me: So... it's worthless, or you're going to be a billionaire?
Woo: Umm, somewhere in between?
I think skewed towards the worthless end.

Woo has talked a lot about being grateful for the beauty of the earth this week. There seems to be an actual rainbow season here, where we see more because of the position of the sun in relation to the water. We see one or two every day, and he sees even more while he's out surfing. He's done some reading, where we've all learned interesting things like that the colors in the 2nd rainbow of a double rainbow are inverted. We looked out the window, and there just happened to be a double rainbow to witness the inverted colors ourselves.

I'm not sure I ever mentioned(?) that Ruby did make the honor roll last year. There was some mistake, but they printed up and posted a new list with Ruby Lyn Apostol Woolley added--so still not correct. This week they had some sort of awards ceremony, but it started at 9PM. Woo and I couldn't imagine getting home at 11PM from something like that.

I haven't asked anyone (instead I'm going to spout it here), but I wonder if the Portuguese late hours came to be after working around fishermen. Are evenings a good time to catch fish? It seems like the fishermen I do know come home late, and then everyone in the community stayed up to welcome them home?

Herbie has put more effort into school. He was excited to bring home an "Excelente" in Geography, which I was not aware was possible. Herbie says it means 100%. He also put more effort into his school drawing assignment than I've ever seen him put into drawing.

We were in Caldas for lunch. Burger King seemed to be the quickest, safest, most popular option.
Woo: I guess we’re going to Burger King.
Herbie: YES!! I’m getting a salad!
Herbie's "backwards" carrot.

Moses is so excited about me planning a house. He was constantly thinking about it, and had some good suggestions for me. Houses are something he's always been interested in. Then he had a horrible thought: What if it never gets built? He was distraught, until I told him he could pray about it. He did, and got an answer that gave him peace: "It will be built, but not really soon, so you don't have to worry about it all the time."

Since then, I've noticed an interesting thing. Whenever I show the kids something, and a kid will show concern with some idea I've had, Moses will always speak up with a smile on his face. "No, no, it's okay."

Linus loves, loves soccer. His favorite position is goalie, and sometimes he says he's the best goalie in the whole school. Other times says he's the only one in the whole school who wants to play goalie. A lot of his excitement for the day ahead depends on whether it's his day to play soccer (the classes rotate days using the soccer court to protect the littlest kids), and he usually comes home and talks about how it went.

He's mad and depressed where someone's gotten in trouble and gotten the whole group kicked off the court for the day, or when they're rained out. In fact, one day I picked him up, and he ran to tell me about a kid crying and they all having to leave the court, and then he collapsed into me and started crying himself, he was so disappointed. But, usually he's had a ball, and he likes to tell me about the awesome saves he's made.

Penelope had her one sick day this week. She took one good nap, and tried to take another, but Archie was home, and he wasn't as quiet as she wanted him to be. Her older brothers thought she was faking it, but what do they know? When a kid would rather lie in bed under a blanket than run to gather around their dad when some sound blares from his phone, they're sick.

It's hard to eat flan when it keeps slipping around on your plate.

Maybe the highlight of my week was when Archie swore. That wasn't the good part. He was getting ready for bed, not being very obedient about it either, and when he was upstairs, and Woo and I were sitting at the table we heard him shout it. There was silence, where we looked at each other and wondered whether we'd really just heard what we'd thought we'd heard. And then we heard Penelope confirm it with, "You just swore, Archie!"

I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but all the kids here swear, and in English too. I'm sure he heard it at school even from little preschoolers.

He immediately started crying, I'm sure because he felt horrible. He got his mouth washed out, and then kissing him goodnight, Woo talked to him kindly, trying to help him feel better, while the Holy Ghost whispered to me this was a good time to teach him about repentance. I called it a "practice repentance" because he isn't 8 yet, and I told him he felt so bad because he'd done something wrong, and wouldn't feel better until he repented. But when he did, he would. He'd feel all better.

We discussed what he needed to do, and as part of his prayer, I suggested he ask Heavenly Father if He would forgive him, and then I left for the night. I felt good, knowing I'd done the thing I was supposed to do, and in the morning he happily told me, "He said yes!!" and that it had helped him feel better.

This is the first time we haven't had to drive to Santarém for district conference; we got permission to get it broadcast into our building, which was a lot easier (especially for the adult session). A fun thing about district conferences here is that our visiting authorities all speak English, but with an accent. This weekend was British. Woo and I laughed watching the translator struggle with such words as "knobbles."

I hope you all had a good Thanksgiving! I think I would've completely forgotten Thanksgiving, if Woo hadn't reminded us. The weather just doesn't feel right, and there's nothing else here to remind me. That's all I've got.



This is Long and Probably Boring... Sorry!

It seemed like it rained all week, but maybe it was just the last couple of days. The kids were pretty happy playing their new "surf competition" game where they jump around on old cushions and rate each other. A lot of forts were also made. We met some friends in a little forested area, but got rained out.

Archie got what Woo had last week and stayed home from school one day. He read some books and took two naps. It was sweet for me to hear his little snore in the corner.

The day afterwards, he took his turtle toy to school (he takes a toy pretty much everyday), and it happened to be the perfect thing. He was able to play with it during the entire school day and during all activities because, unbeknownst to us, it was Day of the Sea, and once again it looked like we knew what we were doing, when really we had no idea.

Woo convinced Linus that he had a super power--the Gift of the Holy Ghost--that no one else in his whole school had. He left for school excited to use it. However, he's started to get sick and has been pretty grouchy yesterday and today.

Linus went on a field trip this week. It was just around to local sites where he learned a lot of local history, but he found it so interesting, that he came home and told me several stories.

Ruby is growing up. Sometimes she'll say something and then give herself the contention signal, because she immediately recognized it in herself. She announced this week that she no longer has a crush. Because she decided she needs to use her time and energy thinking about more important things--like her school work.

It's Ruby's goal to get straight "muito boms." It's rumored that only one kid in the entire school got straight "muito boms" last year, and that is because the PE (and a few other lighter subjects like art) teachers very rarely give any kid anything other than a "bom." Ruby, however, is one of those rare cases, and now that she's achieved the impossible, she's going for the rest.

Herbie checked out a book Diary of a Wimpy Kid (in Portuguese) that he hasn't read yet. He was so excited to read it, but we had someone over for dinner, and Woo asked him to help our guest get started in family history. Herbie put away his book and got up without complaining. The next morning he started school late, but he did everything he'd already personally committed to do (including some indexing) on his late days before finally reading his book. His back-to-school blessing had good promises for him as he "enthusiastically" does his personal and family history.

Moses has struggled for a few weeks with a bad attitude about a lot of things (almost everything?). Finally, he discovered (revelation) last Saturday that he had stopped singing. And it was true. He used to sing hymns and primary songs every morning as he did the dishes, and at some point he had stopped. He started singing again while doing his morning chore (sweeping), and at other times during the day, and it really has been the ticket for him. He is 100% sweeter, kinder, happier and a better worker.

Penelope has not been sick this week, but she has moved really slowly every morning. We've been late almost every morning because of her. Luckily, it seems almost impossible to be really late here... the bell is rung manually and is often rung late, not to mention that we almost always beat a few of the teachers.

Penelope was excited to have a school conversation revolve around her and the fact that she spends zero time playing games on electronics. Her teacher was pleased (and because she's seen my Facebook posts) told the class all the other things we do instead (although, it's not really that simple... ). Anyway, Penelope felt like a success.

Woo's spent some time learning about Tuvan harmonic singing. He really thinks it's fascinating, but has so far not tried it himself (or suggested a trip to Tuva). He's also thought about buying a better surfboard (his surfing buddy is always encouraging it), but he's overwhelmed by the shear amount of choices and not sure he should buy one. His talk today was on personal revelation and he told us all that this is something that's been bothering him and he's going to pray about it. We'll see how that goes.

This week at breakfast, I realized I'd never written about Woo's breakfast success.  It goes back a few years to when we ate cold cereal every morning for breakfast. This was not the ideal situation because the kids were eating more and more cold cereal, and they wanted to eat it at all times, and it's not that healthy, and it's not that cheap.

We decided to move to a scheduled breakfast, with a different breakfast every day of the week oatmeal, cream of wheat, toast, etc. with one morning cold cereal and another "choice" (which is another word for cold cereal).

That worked okay until we moved here and the food was a little different and several kids started to complain. Suddenly, I was blamed for every one's breakfast unhappiness, which is a situation I really hate, because I am not responsible for anyone's happiness (but my own). I had to throw breakfast back into the hands of the kids, but we also didn't want them to disappear into the bottomless cold cereal pit.

Anyway, Woo came up with the idea that the kids get a box of cereal a week of their choice (from pre-approved selections), and when their box is gone, they come up with some thing else. I think it's really worked well. It's certainly a lot more peaceful for me. That is all.

I continue to work a lot on the house plan. I've set up a pace that I sometimes wonder about, but keep getting answers and encouragement from the Holy Ghost about work, how good it is, and to avoid idleness. I didn't think I was idle before, but I did have a couple minutes here and there to wonder what I could read that would be productive. That isn't happening anymore.

Well, I think I'm finally done. I started out thinking I had nothing to write--turns out I had too much. Hope your week was great!


Another Week

We really dropped the ball on pictures this week. Sorry. All of these were pictures the kids wanted us to take: Herbie's cardboard surfboard before he tossed it, Archie with his primary program talks, perfectly made beds (or mattresses on the floor) by Linus and Penelope, Linus and Archie's tie tying efforts, and Archie's pillow surfing.

Bickering has been a problem since school started. Our last two FHE have concentrated on it. And despite this, Ruby could not get the ending of the word contentious correct. She said things like contentual, contentuous, etc. (Reminds me of my Portuguese.)

Anyway, last week Woo led a family council where we finally made progress when we decided the biggest problem was that the kids just didn't recognize when they were being contentious. We decided on a silent signal to give whenever anyone observed anyone else being contentious. The effect was immediate. There was absolutely no arguing for probably 3 days. No one wanted the signal pointed at them, and when they forgot, the signal would cut off any arguing kid right away. We still are having much more peace.

Except in the case of Herbie and Moses who didn't show up for dinner two nights in a row. We knew where they were both times, but this has never happened before--to them or to us. They definitely know now how we feel about it.

Ruby, Herbie and Moses had a kayaking race. We didn't go to watch because it was 6 hours long, we had no idea when they were racing and the other kids come home for 2 hours at lunch. But it was the most pleasant day of the week, a great day to be outside on a lake, and they enjoyed themselves.

Penelope got her first Book of Mormon revelation (that I know of). I often try to encourage her to pray and get revelation when she's upset, doesn't think something's fair, has her feelings hurt, etc. but she always resists, saying she won't get revelation about those things. Anyway one morning, she recognized herself in Laman and Lemuel in 1 N 15 when Nephi asks, "Have ye inquired of the Lord?" and they say, "we have not, for the Lord maketh no such things known unto us."

She apologized to me and told me she was going to do better.

One night Archie told me the worst part of his day was "the music."
Me: The music?  
Archie: Yeah, people were laughing at me during the music. 
Me: Why would anyone be laughing at you during the music? 
Archie: Because they didn’t like my dancing, (matter-of-factly) which was the best dancing.

Woo had the flu this week, the shortest flu I ever remember him having. To me it lasted a day and a half. (It was probably a day longer to him.) He used to get sick for weeks whenever he would get sick. He also worked towards renewing the registration on the van, went surfing, did a bunch of work, family stuff and church stuff.

Saturday Linus helped me make cookies and he led Penelope and Archie around the neighborhood to deliver them to friends. They came home a third of the way through to resolve an argument of who to deliver cookies to when someone wasn't home. Left again. Came home again to grab more cookies for a bunch of friends they'd discovered at the park, and came home in the end, feeling they'd done some good in the world.

I made sure everything was in place for the primary program. I kept it as simple as possible and I only have 5 primary kids, but there were still some stressful moments. Mostly this week I worked on floor plans, which is too much fun for me right now.

That's all for now. Hope your week was great!


Some Stuff and Other Stuff

This morning Herbie and Moses picked up their best friends and brought them to church! It is the first time we've ever been able to get anyone here to come to church with us. The friends enjoyed themselves and Herbie and Moses were great hosts. Moses even encouraged his friend to help him pick up hymn books with him after sacrament meeting by making it a game.

After I learned more about my spiritual gifts, of course I encouraged all the kids to pray about theirs. I'm not going to list what everyone got, just a few notes...

Ruby: Music (kind of a surprise), and humility, if she wants it and works on it.

Moses: Sports and making people laugh (not a surprise), but he wasn't sure how those would help people. He prayed again and learned he could use those gifts to help people who aren't good at sports to feel better about themselves.

Penelope's was also not a surprise; it was love. But how she could do it better was. She learned that she should stop jumping up on me when giving me a hug. And she stopped. How much more pleasant her hugs have become, and I can stop telling her to stop.

Ruby got her first "muito bom" of the year. It was the first thing out of her mouth when she got home, and she gave us a blow-by-blow account of how the tests were handed out and everything everyone said. She was super happy, and especially because it was in history (of Portugal). One of her weakest subjects last year.

Herbie finished the Book of Mormon in Portuguese for the 4th time this week.

Linus has really been getting into the Book of Mormon during his reading time. He LOVES Captain Moroni, and he even sometimes laughed (?!) when reading about sneaky war strategy.

Our time changed last Sunday. Kids have been, well, like they always are when the time changes in the fall; although, I hardly think about it any more, and even Woo will say, "They're just tired," when they are constantly bickering. They seem to be okay in school, though.

I had to smile while picking up Archie from school. He was the only one sitting quietly on the rug, looking at his teacher. All the other 3-5 yr olds were wriggling, jumping, rolling around on the rug... with the teacher desperately trying to get them to at least sit. Felt kind of like my house.

We had a branch activity this week, on a day with no school. Woo ran the whole thing, organized it and us, kept us entertained and mostly happy, and I believe he stayed 5 1/2 hours! 3 hours is my absolute upper limit at a social event (which may go down to 2 as I lose my 3 hr Sunday conditioning?). I was about to throw a tantrum myself. I took the 3 younger kids home to bed, while Woo soldiered on and Linus threw the tantrum as I pulled him out the front door.

I wasted too much time looking for a CAD program before I realized that's not really what I wanted. What I really wanted was something more like Illustrator. (Sorry, everyone that's obvious to... it's been a long time.) I found a free program I really like called Gravit. I like it now, but took me awhile to find a work around to a missing tool I really like in Illustrator. But, after I got that, I was zipping along.

As I work, I realize I actually know quite a lot about drawing house plans, and I'm recognizing that Kurt taught me pretty much all of it. I'm pulling out of the back of my brain all sorts of measurements, associated with a memory of him telling them to me; also ways to save labor and money; and of course, the all important instruction to pay special attention to what wall you put the toilet on. No one wants to hear flushing while they're sitting down to dinner. At least according to Kurt. (And okay, all the rest of us.)

Here we are practicing for the primary program next week.

Woo is amused by this "Bad Cat college" jacket someone gave Ruby.

And most of the pictures are from exploring little caves with some friends, which was a fun Saturday activity.

Well, that's about it. Hope your week was great!

Testimony Below:

I love the Book of Mormon. I have prayed about it and felt the Holy Ghost witness to me that it is true.

I read the Book of Mormon every day and every time I read it and try to learn something or to feel peace, I receive the Holy Ghost again.

Over time, reading the Book of Mormon heals us of our weaknesses. This happens because the Book of Mormon testifies of Jesus Christ. We come unto Christ and we follow him when we read it, and his atonement has power to work in us.

I know that Jesus Christ lives, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is led by him.
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


Eu amo o Livro de Mórmon. Eu orei sobre o Livro e o Espírito Santo testificou para mim que é verdade.

Eu leio o Livro de Mórmon todos os dias e toda vez que leio e tento aprender algo ou sentir paz, eu recebo o Espírito Santo novamente.

Com o tempo, a leitura do Livro de Mórmon nos cura nossas fraquezas. Isso acontece porque o Livro de Mórmon testifica a Jesus Cristo. Nós nos achegamos a Cristo e o seguimos quando lemos o Livro de Mórmon, e sua expiação tem poder para operar em nós.

Eu sei que Jesus Cristo vive e que a Igreja de Jesus Cristo dos Santos dos Últimos Dias é guiada por ele.

Em nome de Jesus Cristo. Amém.