Last night I read Luke 13:7, the most important parts to me are "Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none... Let it alone this year also...And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down."

And I was reminded that four years ago was 2015. 2015 was a big year for me; I remember waking up January 1st and being very excited for what was coming that year. I have never had that feeling on January 1st before or after. That was also the day and year I started writing daily blessings every day, so I was able to look back and read my year in about an hour.

The year started poorly. January is never the easiest month, but many days I had only one or two blessings for the day, and they were big sweeping, general things, like "no one died today."

Whenever I read those times, I remember and feel a lot of things, mostly gratitude. I'm grateful that my life is much easier now. I'm grateful that I knew God was helping me and made things easier for me over time. I'm grateful that at the time, I really didn't even know how hard it was; I just kept putting one foot in front of the other, and I'm grateful that I didn't complain or give up.

I began a lot of things in 2015 that I'm still doing today to improve my relationship with my Heavenly Father. There was an immediate improvement then, and more over time. I think these were what my feelings of excitement were foretelling. I also struggled to accomplish a lot of things then that I still haven't done today. Those are a little painful to read, mostly because I had so much hope and I now know that hope never panned out. I still haven't given up hope, but that hope has changed. It's a more patient, mature hope, maybe?

Anyway, last night I was reminded that anything I started at some point during 2015, will be ending its 4th year at some point during this year, and even though I've already seen a lot of fruit, there is a harvest coming.

It has gotten colder here. We wear our jackets and usually pants (Linus is still wearing shorts, and we're fine with that). The Portuguese wear big, puffy coats. I think we'll start to see snow pants when it becomes rainy in Marchish?

Anyway, our apartment is not heated. The school is not heated. The chapel is heated, but the classrooms at the church are not. Most people just wear their coat and hats all through school and church. Dropping off our kids to school one morning, and noticing the teachers greet the kids from their classrooms in their coats, Woo tried to imagine this scenario happening in the US. Of course, it would be truly freezing in Utah with no heat, but having to wear a coat in a building for a couple months is something not everyone could accept.

We asked Ruby to play prelude music before sacrament meeting (no one else was doing it), and today she sat down and played, "He is Risen" with the accompaniment, without any music. I had no idea she could do that. The keyboard is really paying off.

I bought some resistance bands with my Christmas money. The kids were fascinated by the giant rubber bands. Ruby was confused by the mini ones until she slipped one on her head.

"Oh! It's a headband!"

Herbie's skateboard has had some problems with the bearings, but we have a spare pair of roller blades someone gave us, and Woo thought the bearings in those would work. They do and Herbie's been replacing those by himself. It's nice having kids old enough and able enough to make repairs. Moses was also able to fix Herbie's broken remote control car... mysteriously not working after Moses drove it down the stairs...

Linus, Penelope and Archie are still young enough to display typical January behaviors... shouting for nearly all communication, wild laughter alternating with unconsolable tears, a complete inability to hear anything their parents say... But unlike the US where my January day with the kids consisted of getting them off to school and then wrangling crazy, tired kids at the end of the day through dinner, scriptures and bed, I get them for 2 hours at lunch, where they behave fairly normally. (I'm going to miss this long lunch at home when we move.)

I always read to Linus, Penelope and Archie during lunch for 45-30 minutes, depending on how quickly they can get their chores done. This year, I've mostly been reading Magic Tree House ebooks from our library in Utah (they prefer the Merlin Missions). Lafayette, the latest Hazardous Tales, was another hit, but one day without an internet connection, I read a book I already had on my phone--The Chamber of Secrets.

Linus cried and whined and jumped up and down. He did not want to read it! I started reading anyway. After about 4 sentences he went silent, and then he was hooked. He is now its biggest proponent; although, Ruby, Herbie and Moses catch the end of it when they come home, and they've been asking me to continue while they eat.

Penelope started her swimming unit this week. She was very excited and packed all her swimming gear the night before, even packing an extra cap in case someone forgot one (someone did). She is excited to have progressed from last year.

Archie is still loving his bike riding. Woo took him and Penelope on an official bike ride, and Archie came home and said he rode his bike "sooo far!!" Farther than he had ever ridden it before. He told me his favorite sport was now biking and in his prayer that night he asked that he could get even better at bike riding.

Woo finally bought a new surf board. I think he likes it? The waves haven't really been ideal to tell. He bought some lamb they were selling for Christmas and I finally got around to making lamb saag. We all liked it, but Woo LOVED it (the fennel in the rice at his suggestion was a nice touch). He ate 4th or 5th helpings? Well, he finished it all off.

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