The Peculiar Family Among Us

Last year we missed all of the pro male world surf competition when it was here. This year we went way too many times.
Woo (on our way home yesterday): And now let us never speak of this again. Until next year.
Yesterday was nuts--way too many people. I ended up taking Archie and Nellpea a ways down the beach and just letting them play in the sand without bothering other people. They don't care it they get to watch people surf, and I don't really either.

But the other days there were fewer people and it was easier to see. Many pros were happy to take a picture with Moses (and his dirty shirt that I swore I told him to change) when they got out of the water.

Others were less happy (although, it almost looks like they're holding hands).

Herbie and Archie went on the day when they got to stand on the giant deck chair and where free buffs were handed out. Which meant that Archie went to school dressed as a ninja the next day. (Our kids think buffs make the best ninja masks.)

Linus came home from school and said they spent some time talking about the chores our kids do at home. We're an oddity, and the kids often say their teacher will hold a discussion centered around them about living in America or religious differences, but this is the first time (that I know of) they've wanted to talk about the kids' jobs.

I didn't even know Linus' teacher knew about them, but I did post them to Facebook, so I guess word got around. Linus was very proud to say that he does the laundry and he does it TWICE a day. The kids in his class were astonished.

Penelope taught our FHE lesson last week. One thing I can say is that our kids know how to ask good discussion questions. Once you know what they are; they're easy, and you can teach a good lesson with 5 minutes prep.

Penelope had more than 5 minutes prep. She wanted to teach a lesson on How to be More Like Jesus (her favorite topic). She thought of her questions, found a couple scriptures, decided on a testimony and then made one of those paper fortune tellers (my kids call them cootie catchers), with a bunch of suggestions (pray to be nice to brothers and sisters, make a friend who doesn't have a friend, teach people about the gospel, invite a friend to church, etc.) It was pretty clever and a fun lesson.

Woo had to pick Ruby up one day from school for lunch. She'd had PE... they were running lengths...  she had to get a certain number in a certain amount of time to get a "muito bom"... she twisted her ankle, and then kept running to get her "muito bom." When it was over, she couldn't walk.

To avoid traffic Woo parked quite a ways away, and had to give her a piggy back, but he got her home. Luckily she didn't need to go back to school that day, had less walking than normal the day after that, and then she was fine.

She didn't go back to school because it was a kayaking day. Herbie and Moses set off alone, but because of a storm earlier in the day, the swell was huge and the coast guard wouldn't allow anyone in the water. Instead, Herbie and Moses also spent time talking to their coach about our family (he asked them if Woo was a pastor :), and then came home early.

And Woo and I went out to eat for our 15th anniversary. Eating out here has been mostly a frustrating experience, and while the food was okay, mostly we just discovered another restaurant we never need to visit again.

And here I am licking off my plate for, I believe, the very first time in my life. I'm sorry Mom and Dad. I had my reasons...

That's about it. Hope you had a great week!


Hurricanes and Other Stuff

We dropped the ball on pictures this week, but the kids were much better. There were no problems at all, except the 3 or 4 tantrums Linus threw. Hopefully, he'll pull himself together next week.

Herbie and Moses are super excited because they introduced their two best friends (who are brothers) to the Sisters. They and their mom are now meeting with the Sisters and things seem to be going very well; although they have not been to church yet. Moses is working on a Book of Mormon cover for his friend right now.

We had heard nothing about a hurricane headed this way until Woo's dad texted yesterday afternoon. Then we found a lot of sensational headlines predicting the storm of the century. No one here was concerned at all. It turns out fishermen know their storms.

We did get some water and fill the house with food, just in case. Wind and rain started about 7pm. I moved all the kids sleeping on the upper level down to be with the rest of us around 9pm. Minutes after that the wind died and remained silent. The storm completely fizzled into nothing.

Here's kind of a cool thing Woo discovered a couple weeks ago... Svoboda is the name of the czech family line I've been researching, and we've been doing their temple work for the past two years. Anyway, Woo discovered that the word svoboda means freedom in English.

It brings to mind things like this: "The Messiah should be made manifest unto them in the latter days, in the spirit of power, unto the bringing of them out of darkness unto light--yea, out of hidden darkness and out of captivity unto freedom." or one of my personal favorites: "For the prisoners shall go free."

Ruby, Herbie and Moses made it to kayaking for the first time this week. They had a lot of fun; although, there was some complaining of Ruby ramming into or splashing her brothers on purpose, and they were exposed to the sailing team, who were all zipping around in tiny sailboats made for one or two people. They all wished that was what they could be doing.

Linus, Penelope and Archie went to the beach with their school to pick up garbage. Archie's teacher said he did a great job of actually picking up garbage while they were there (something I imagine might be difficult for 3-5 yr olds with the temptation of the sand and the dunes).

Linus wore his Elmo hat in anticipation of his morning on the beach. Looking at him, I realized I hadn't seen any Sesame Street stuff in Portugal.
Me: Does everyone know Elmo here?  
Archie: Do they believe in him?
Linus said no to both questions. Most kids think he's wearing an Angry Birds hat.

Penelope cut her hair once last week. Then she (or a friend--I haven't gotten a clear answer yet...) cut it again to attempt bangs. I've tried to fix it a bit. Anyway, this is what we have now:

I love conference, but the last couple, I've had kind of a weird feeling while watching it (never while reading)... attributed solely to my pride, probably... but where I feel lost in a crowd, listening to a speaker address everyone in the world, while I've wanted something more personal, something just for me.

Anyway, I said a little prayer about it last week and forgot about it. Then on the last talk I watched--President Nelson's talk in the women's session--three times he said something exactly the same as my back-to-school blessing from Woo. Then I remembered my prayer. That was the answer.

This is what I attempted to bear my testimony about today, but I completely forgot it was testimony meeting until it was about to start and my Portuguese was a bit of a mess. I'm not going to try to recreate it.

I hope you had a great week!


Crazy Kids Week

This week we were in the thick of the getting-back-to-school craziness and then we decided to do a bunch of things that would be tough with a bunch of kids, let alone crazy kids.


Attend a moving away party right before bedtime for a member moving to Angola, and expect the kids to stay seated or happy inside his living room sized courtyard.

Had a new member over for dinner in our apartment (also, right before bedtime, when the kids get their wildest).

Visited Óbidos, which is actually a pretty cute medieval town with an intact castle wall you can walk clear around. Unfortunately, there is no guardrail and I flatly refused to let the kids on it. (My fears were later vindicated by Penelope tripping and falling while crossing the street. Crazy kids=clumsy) Instead we walked down crowded streets with vendors where the kids wanted to touch and buy everything, or windy, maze-like streets where the kids wanted to run like the wind and get completely separated and lost.

Then lastly, we watched a session of conference we'd already watched, but in the church, in our church clothes, in a foreign language and Steven unavailable because he needed to help everyone with their technical difficulties. Actually, the kids were awesome at the one. I was the one who almost lost it.

This is the week I've remembered what it's like to be frustrated. Oh, how quickly I forget.

Anyway, here's the good news of the week:

I cut the boys hair! (And Penelope cut her own.)

Linus learned how to make melted cheese by himself and made it for him, Penelope and Archie several times this week for lunch.

Ruby is out of the crazy start-of-school phase. She was the calm and collected one for most of the week (so nice to have one, finally!)

Moses prayed about his two afternoons at home, and he got the answer that he should make a playing schedule with Archie. So far it's mostly dress up and play Star Wars or Avatar, but also a little soccer at the park.

Archie and I have two afternoons just us, and he wanted to do his favorite rotations for part of it, and park or library the other part.

Mom and Dad are coming to visit!

Penelope swept the patio at the moving away party.

The kids enthusiastically made their own Conference Bingo games that they played happily and kept everyone, but Archie quiet for 95% of the time.

Woo had his own frustrating week, spending a lot of time at the church trying to fix the computer for the Sisters to watch conference. He gave up everything he wanted to do (surfing, getting a break, etc.) for two days, either hanging out with us at Óbidos or doing that for the Sisters... who he also had to run off to help 30 seconds before the first Saturday session started and leave us to fend for our own with the projector (which we--Herbie mostly--had no trouble).

Anyway, I'm excited for the 2 sessions of Conference I still get to watch (still haven't watched the Women's Session because it was the middle of the night for us. Although, Woo's watching it right now... ) I hope you all had a great week!


In Which We Keep On Keeping On

Woo gave us back-to-school blessings last week, which means this week has been that period where it looks like the exact opposite of everyone's blessing is happening. For example, Woo blessed me that any feelings of failure I've had will go away.

I thought, "Failure? I don't ever feel failure... "

But this week, I suddenly did. I know they'll go away because of the blessing, but we're all in that testing period right now.

One thing I did for the first time is transcribe and print each of the kids' blessings for them to keep a copy in their scriptures. I've always recorded them (per Elder Maxwell's and Elder Oak's--and probably others'--instruction to keep a family record of blessings given), but never made them so accessible to the kids before (and no, it wasn't my idea, just one of my revelations one night... ). I know it's already helped Moses and Herbie during tough moments. Not sure about anyone else yet.

We went to SEF again. I could not get worked up about it. We had the documents we'd been told to bring last time. If we got residency... great, if not... also fine. I couldn't even be scared of being kicked out of the country. We've been here 14 months, enough to satisfy my sense of adventure (although I know we're not done here)... Anyway, we did not get residency and Woo's residency was not renewed.

Woo was super frustrated because he was the one in talking to an official, who had obviously already made his decision and marked us all for another appointment (Woo in 4 months, the rest of us 6), on arbitrary grounds.

I was actually having a pretty pleasant time with the kids in the waiting room. SEF was kind enough to have some big machinery operating right below the window and Ruby decided it would be a good time to draw a million tiny scales inside her outline of a dragon. So yes, the residency saga continues.

The kids are tired, getting back into school, and they can usually be excellent in the morning or the evening, but not both. Linus is the one having the hardest time in the evening. He threw a tantrum one night because he hadn't decorated his fish or done his math homework and it was time to go to bed.

In the morning he was fresh and ready. He cleaned his room, ate breakfast, did his chore, his math homework and made "the BEST!" fish in his "whole class."

When we moved here Moses and Linus were super excited to have a bathroom with a shower head so they could start taking showers, but this week they rediscovered baths. "They're SOOOO comfortable!"

Showers has been a hot topic with Moses and Herbie for PE class.
Me (watching Moses load up for school): Are you going to shower? 
Moses: No. 
Me: Then why are you carrying a gym bag with a towel? 
Moses: Because I want to. I like carrying a ton... it’s fun! 
Some other happenings:

Ruby used a toothpick to clean out the dish drying rack.

Herbie with another batch of guacamole

Archie discovered on his own how the US got its name, "because it has a lot of states in it!"

Linus filled the laundry soap perfectly to the 50 mL line (something, I guess, he's been trying to achieve since he started this chore)

Herbie arm wrestled Penelope and Linus

Penelope and Linus made faces at Archie in his class

Archie read books for his friends for the the first time in class

Woo made another delicious batch of salsa (pico de gallo for you purists)

Penelope changed her favorite color from pink to blue (but not one of us believes her)

Archie really thought this chair and mirror outside the garbage were perfect for us

Herbie made his goal of 65 indexing batches this month

We caught the tractor parade on the way home from church for the second year in a row

We found most of my initials outside SEF

And Woo took Ruby and Herbie (and the missionaries and an investigator) to a showing of the Face2Face with Elder Cook at our sister branch, where it started an hour late, and a lot of ping pong was played

I think that's our week. Hope yours was great!