Limping into the Finish Line

We stayed home this week, skipped a few days at the beach, and scrapped rotations because I've had a bug that just won't go away and I needed rest. I took several naps, most without any intention of sleeping, just lying down, and when I woke up, I was always thrilled to see that everyone was still alive!

The spiritual message I keep getting is that we're limping down the last mile towards some sort of finish line right now. What's at that finish line I don't know. Maybe just the start of school.

The kids and I spent some time looking at our lives a year ago, two years ago, etc. Two years ago this week we fasted as a family for the kids education; something seemed to be missing. Also, the kids started doing all the housework, and I spent an entire day super excited, convinced this was all leading us up to moving somewhere overseas.

Woo had sworn he would never move again and had vowed to die and be buried in Huntsville, so it seemed like an impossibility, but I was convinced we would do it. Of course, I had somewhere in the UK in my sights, because I wasn't considering a language, but just a month or two later Woo started speaking about Portugal and soon we bought tickets. Here we are now, and learning a second language is definitely one of the most important parts of the kids' education here.

We did go out one afternoon to finish buying school clothes and backpacks. Ruby finally found the school clothes of her dreams... very studious button up shirts under sweaters, almost everything different shades of blue... she looks cute, and not even the hottest day will dissuade her from wearing them.

In the irony of the year...
Ruby:  Herbie. Stop being so literal!
The kids were super happy with their new clothes and spent a few quiet afternoons playing things like: "a rainy school day" (so they could wear their new rain jackets and pants) and "Christmas break" (so they could wear everything red... )

Herbie and Moses' prayer answers are increasingly concerned with family history. Herbie started indexing. He's been doing batches from Brazil, because he's only been able to find one from Portugal. Then he taught Moses; although, Moses does batches from the US.

These two love the beach the most because they spend almost the entire time we are there surfing. I felt okay letting these two go surfing alone with Woo while the rest of us stayed home, because they're taller, are better swimmers, and they have a surf board with them.

Penelope and Archie spent some time pouring over a store catalog together. After awhile they came down excited and chanting, "ZERO, ninty-nine, ZERO, ninty-nine!"

They quickly found me and pointed out the item on sale for 0.99€

"It's free! It's free! We found something for free!"

Woo attempted to explain the truth to them. When he was done, Archie turned to Penelope and nodded.

"It's still free, Nelps."

Here's some more of their reasoning:
Penelope: Arch, did you know Mom’s gonna have more kids? 
Archie: Yeah, in the millennium... in the Millennium Falcon!
Woo led a discussion on small and simple things, “... Another thing I thought of... Kids are small and simple and—“
Penelope (excitedly): They’re things!

Linus and Penelope have been getting along better. I think a lot of it is that we switched bedrooms recently. Now Linus, Penelope and Archie are all together on one level, and Linus has become a benevolent older brother, like he feels responsible for the actions and feelings of everyone on his floor. He also helped Archie write and memorize his talk for Primary today. I didn't have to do anything other than remind Archie and ask Linus if he could help.

The most exciting thing of the week?? Woo finally succeeded in opening a Portuguese bank account! He's been trying ever since we got here, and always getting rejected (because he's not Portuguese). But while in Leiria last week, he tried one more time with an international bank there, and this week everything went through. Now we get discounts on our car insurance, can pay tolls online, and a bunch of other labor and money saving things.

Most these pictures are from Saturday. We watched an open water swim competition and then the kids and Woo held their own races on the beach: long jump, crab walk, those sorts of things.

Alright, I think that's it! Hope your week was great!


Rome, Pedrógão and Casal Moinho

We started the week off very optimistic and excited because we bought tickets to Rome for the temple open house.

And then because that had been so easy and fun, we immediately started discussing flying to Morocco or the Azores (the two places we all show the most interest in), but didn't do anything...

Instead, we got an Airbnb in a little town called Pedrógão on the coast (to split up our trip to Aveiro to visit Woo's friend É--who was baptized by Woo, but taught by himself).

I think a Portuguese realtor would call our apartment "traditional," while I would call it "dated," and there were a few concerns, but mostly it worked pretty well for us because it was so dark. There was even a party with live band playing a block away, but they were not obscenely loud, didn't play until the wee hours of the morning, and the kids slept better than they have in any Airbnb.

We were further impressed with Pedrógão and it's clean beaches, streets and market; large signs with summer events and helpful tips clearly displayed; they even had a library with reading areas right on the beach! Unfortunately, the surfing there is no good.

The visit with Woo's friend and his family also went well. We first met at their favorite beach, then went to their very comfortable home where the kids played in their yard and they cooked us a delicious meal. We got home late and I (at least) paid for it with a constantly crying Penelope, and super grouchy Linus and Moses in primary. For some reason the other kids held it together, and Moses finally said a prayer for help at the very end of primary (actually the point of both his lessons today), and was able to turn around his attitude.

When I see pictures like these, I wonder how many years it'll be until Ruby won't actively try to sabotage a photo.

But then I see pictures like these...

And we still have the ones she doesn't know we've taken...

Herbie's surfing is improving a lot. He isn't the kid that stands out a mile ahead of everyone, but he's also definitely not a beginner. He very reliably catches waves and rides them all the way in. And along with his stronger skills, he's becoming more brave.

We were a little concerned Moses would get scared and not perform (well) at the branch talent show with his crocodile attack skit, but he did great. He further used his comedic acting skills to win over the heart of Élio's 4 yr old son, who LOVED him.

Linus was also a hit at the talent show. I don't know if he constructed his props better the second time around, or his tricks just looked better with a little more distance, but there were several gasps and plenty of people who had no idea how he pulled off his tricks.

Penelope made fast friends with a little girl named M. Amelia (our branch member who was watching her) told us she thought M could speak English, Creole and Portuguese, but didn't know for sure. Penelope spent the whole time speaking Portuguese to her, which made Archie mad.

Archie: She speaks English! 
Penelope: No! She does not! 
M: I do too!!
And because M spoke with an accent, Penelope had no idea what she'd said and continued speaking Portuguese, convinced she was right.

Woo brought his surfboard with us to Pedrógão and Aveiro. Luckily, it wasn't too obnoxious in the car. Unluckily, he never got a chance to use it. He did go surfing earlier in the week, once or twice in the evening, when the fishermen also come out.
Well, I had a fisherman yell at me... that’s something new. 
Apparently the ocean isn’t big enough for all of us... 

Moses got invited to a birthday party. We all drove to pick him up, but Woo sent me to the door because I'm so good at getting out of other people's house quickly. Usually...

The hostess invited me to stay because they hadn't yet done the piñata, or sung, or eaten the cake (or anything?) yet. I told her I had the whole family with me, and she said that was fine (possibly having no idea of what having the whole family would mean??). I asked her how long she thought it would be. 20 minutes.

And I, for some reason (I assume because I was on the spot) believed her and we all traipsed through the house to the back patio and our kids hacked at a piñata with about three other kids for over an hour. That piñata was so tough... those other kids never would've broken through without Herbie and Mosey's well-aimed, powerful whacks... Really, it was fun, and we did finally escape before it was too obscenely late for the kids and impossible for Woo to get work done, but not before they'd sung or even looked at the cake.

And that's our week. Hope yours was great!


Crocodile Attack!

(Ruby studying French at the beach)

Yesterday I read S. Oscarson's talk "Young Women in the Work" and thought of Ruby. This week she taught primary, did doors with the missionaries and translated in Sacrament Meeting for a woman visiting from California.

The missionaries teaching appointment was a no show, so they took Ruby with them to do doors. They said she was great, and I believe it. Ruby's always enjoyed talking to strangers. At one door a girl said, "Ruby!" Ruby didn't know her, but the girl was in one of the younger kids' classes and knew Ruby. The parents had also seen us all dressed up. Ruby explained we were going to church and they accepted a Book of Mormon.

She's also the perfect translator. She's always had the amazing ability to hear everything while talking constantly herself, which is pretty much the secret to translating success.

Archie (describing his first loose tooth, as if he could hardly believe it): It moves! It really moves!!
And when everyone burst out laughing...
Woo: Archie, you’re saying this to a table full of people who’ve already lost their teeth.
He was very proud, of course, and when I kissed him goodnight he had an idea.
Archie: I have an idea for my next talk--about how I lost my tooth!! Can I give my talk about that and not what the paper says? Can I do that, Mom??

Our branch member, Amelia, had us over for our annual lunch and swim in her little patio. While there Moses staged a life and death fight with her rubber crocodile that we all found very funny. And then, when he started giving the crocodile CPR (and a few seconds later the crocodile gave him CPR... ) we also realized how clever. Woo and I encouraged him to stage the fight again for our branch talent show this week.

We had a family home evening on honesty. It moved Penelope to a confession (her little face was pretty miserable to admit it) and immediately afterwards, Linus returned 4 or 5 little tissue packs that he'd taken from my closet.

Penelope's left her comfort zone a few times this week, playing soccer with her brothers and their friends (even making a couple of goals!... on accident... ). And sword fighting with Archie. She really enjoys that one.

Herbie and Linus decided on their own to completely clean out their rooms (and Moses was dragged into it, since he shares a room with Herbie). First they emptied out EVERYTHING, swept, mopped, and returned the most important things, until they were left with a bunch of junk that they gathered up and threw away.

The kids are getting excited to start school again (in about a month), and we also went through everyone's clothes to get rid of stuff that isn't working to list what is needed.

A few years ago, I noticed the Spirit would leave when I tried to shop for clothes online. I didn't really understand why, but I tried hardly ever because it was so painful. There were some things I needed, so I tried again about 2 months ago, but felt horrible. When I prayed about it, I learned that Satan waits for me there (don't know the reason??). This week, I thought I might be able to shop for the kids' clothes online (it would be so much easier and I found a great sale... ), but it also, for me, is the wrong thing to do.

Woo's wrestled with some new stresses... we learned we had to change home insurance a couple months ago, and after finally figuring that out, learned last week(?) that we had 5 days to make some repairs on our house. Woo was able to contact the new insurance company, get an extension and his dad is being very kind to help with that.

I don't do a regular surf update, but Woo is still improving and enjoying it a lot. This week he started to be able move his board up and down the wave (I am obviously not using correct terminology :).

Anyway, that's our week. Hope your week was great!