The Book and Architecture Family

Moses and Herbie decided to write a graphic novel together (in answer to their prayer, "What should I do when I'm bored?"). They had so much fun and were so excited, they inspired Penelope to write a book in Portuguese about a magic closet with two main characters named Jake and Anie. Linus began a series of six books. The first called "The Super Watermelon"... other super fruits to follow...

And Archie spent about 3 hours Monday working on "Ae and the Sword," a ninja book with lots of fires and BOOOOOOMS!

I sat down to work on my book and he laid on the floor to work on his.
Archie: I know! We can be the book family! 
To Woo's relief and my chagrin, enthusiasm died quite a bit during the week.

Ruby's attitude seems to follow a predictable pattern: Monday-Wednesday absolutely awesome, Thursday-Friday mostly awesome, Saturday bad mood and Sunday is a toss up.

I think she just gets tired at the end of a long week, and on Monday she's fresh and ready to go again.

She's been studying hard, but the "muito bom" has so far eluded her on her midterms... except English, of course. Moses was the first to get a non-English "muito bom" in History and Geography of Portugal. Although, a straight line of "boms" is much better than their midterms at this time last year.

Herbie invested a lot of emotion into a valiant, but failed attempt to get us to buy him a phone (or let him buy one). He was not happy when he went to bed, but his revelation said what it always says when he has a disagreement with us (listen to your mom and dad... and how great that is!).

In his free time from school this week Herbie did family history (like he always does, by choice), and then went for a quick surf with Woo. They were the only ones in the water that early and came home cold.

Moses and Archie made cookies on one of their afternoons together. One thing I really like about the kids school schedule is that it builds relationships between the kids who aren't each other's natural buddy. (Moses and Ruby walking to school and back without Herbie a few times a week is another.) Archie LOVES hanging out with his big brother Moses.

Linus and Penelope both were invited to birthday parties this week. They were super excited and didn't sleep well. While buying presents, we found the kid sunglasses display, and everyone had to get some. Kids and sunglasses last about 2 days; although Linus has stretched it for like 2 months before, but they're so cheap at the Chinese store and the kids love them so much, I couldn't resist letting them buy some.

The metric system isn't 100% with some of us yet, apparently.
Penelope (holding up a milk carton): This weighs 2,000 kilometers! Did you know that? ... and I weigh 22.4 kilometers!
It's a long story (and Woo's better at those than I am anyway), but Woo finally went teaching with the missionaries last night. He wishes it happened more often; he always feels great after bearing his testimony about the Book of Mormon or any other gospel principle. I know he does a great job of explaining things when they are completely new to someone. He really loves companionships of missionaries who frequently invite him. I wish he could go more often too.

Today I'm fasting over President Nelson's talk in conference--"Tonight I urge you, with all the hope of my heart, to pray to understand your spiritual gifts—to cultivate, use, and expand them, even more than you ever have. You will change the world as you do so."

I was kind of surprised that right off the bat I got one: meekness. It's a gift for me obviously, but not perfect at yet. There's more work to be done and my mind was opened a bit in those ways last night. Another was faith. But these are the kinds of things I was expecting. The last one was not. I don't even know the technical term, maybe design?

But, I got the impression that I need to start designing a house for our family. And I'm not talking about sketching a few things, collecting pictures, color swatches and writing lists. I need to draw actual, functional house plans. I almost started to cry because I was tired; it was time to go to bed; and because I'm already slowly working on big projects I was inspired to do years ago (see book above).

Sometimes in the past, Woo's been hesitant when I talk about building a house, because I think 2 million dollars immediately flashed before his eyes. Other times, he has encouraged me by sending me links to rendering programs. But this time (maybe in response to my own overwhelmed feelings) he reminded me that I'm good at doing things a little bit at a time over long periods of time. And it's true; I am. Another spiritual gift?

Anyway, long story short, I did figure out when I can carve out a sliver of time in my weekday life, and in 2 or 3 years I'll have floor plans! Goal for next week: find a free CAD program I don't hate.

The kids were all super excited when I told them this morning. Moses has not been able to think of anything else. He, Linus, Herbie and Archie have already drawn quick sketches of their dream rooms for me. They all have a trap door or secret passageway, which I'm definitely not opposed to.

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


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!