American Boy Demolishes Three National Treasures With One Boulder

The kids had three days off school for Carnaval, so we headed down to Sintra for one of them. It absolutely lived up to all of the hype. I would go there again (and probably will, if any of you visit--it's only an hour away). There are several castles, museums and historical sites, and we only saw one: the moorish castle.

We had no idea where we were going, but found a place to park and started walking. We entered a park, walked through that, entered an ancient part of town, and found ourselves on the trail to the moorish castle (built in the 9th century).

We were half afraid all of Sintra would be overrun with people because of the holiday, but it wasn't. I don't know if it was because of February or because it was Ash Wednesday, but it felt pretty lonely most of the time.

It was however, Valentine's Day and in the park, we kept coming across couples sitting in benches or standing in little alcoves.
Moses (shouting): Hey!! They're kissing!!
Woo: Everyone, trying to get a moment... and no one will get it... as long as we're here!
Woo and I did have Herbie take a few engagement style pictures of us to mark the occasion. This was the best one.

We stopped by Ericeira, the town we almost chose, on the way. I was happy we didn't move there. It was more crowded, more touristy, tougher beach access and there's no way we would've been set up in such a sweet spot with the schools, church and beach so close. Ericeira doesn't even have a branch, and they don't have an elementary school a block from the beach like we do... instead, they have stacks of high apartment buildings for blocks and blocks.

We did also go to the Carnaval parade on Tuesday. Woo and I drug our feet, but went for the kids. In the end, they weren't that impressed either.
Me: So, was that the best parade you guys had ever seen?  
Archie: No! It was the worst! We didn’t even get any candy!!
(He still can't get over that lack of candy thing)
Herbie: And everyone was drinking beer and smoking...
While some groups were fun--had lovely costumes, danced well and looked like they were having fun--there were too many groups of men, dressed up as women, with a cigarette hanging out of their mouths and a cup of beer in their hands. It made me kind of mad every time I had to grant them space in my head because they'd showed up on the road. (And now they are here in my email!)

It was good to be back in school. Ruby had another field trip to Lisbon the first day. She visited a hindu temple and the National Archeology Museum and enjoyed it. It was a long week for her, though, and fell asleep on the bus ride home.

Linus and Moses had their swimming class. Moses was super excited to use a kick board for the first time, which he called "the surf boards."

Herbie, as one of the top kids in his class, was invited to start extra work with Khan Academy. He's taking math, computer science and grammar (Portuguese and English). He's been having fun and has more to do in the afternoons.

Linus went running with me one morning and he, Moses and Herbie went another. I imagine it was a little bit like running with puppies. I ran my steady state jog and they ran here and there, looking at everything, and asking for pictures of themselves with washed up marine life.

Sometimes (more and more lately), Ruby buddies up with Penelope, and Penelope LOVES it!
Woo (listening to Penelope read in Portuguese): Perfect, Penelope! You sound just like a little Portuguesa!
Woo invited our new member, F--, to the church on a week day to teach him all about preparing and blessing the Sacrament; he printed out a list for him of the order, etc. Maybe that was all F-- was waiting for? Because he came to all of church for the first time in weeks and passed the Sacrament for the first time today.

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