More Coimbra

The little door

The real door


We had a fun week. The weather has been fantastic, like summer temperatures for us, and the next week or two are forecast to be the same.

Ruby, Herbie and Moses' school had a 3 on 3 basketball tournament this week. Herbie thought to invite his team to play with the Elders on Monday to practice, and they came. Everyone had a great time, and one friend was so impressed that one Elder could dunk a basketball, that he filmed it and watched it over and over again, even sometimes in class, according to Herbie.

Ruby was the high scoring player on her team again, but she lost the little kick up of one leg she used to have whenever she shot the ball, so she was less entertaining for us to watch.

She had a happy week where she got lots of tests back with muito boms and one teacher listed all her good student qualities for the rest of the class.

The rewards system we started last week have been helping a lot of us in other areas. Moses found a way to motivate members of his (out of control) class to behave better with rewards involving him and his Pokemon cards. He came home encouraged and spent a couple hours putting together card packages, because some kids had been really motivated.

I used almost entirely rewards in Primary, and a girl who refuses to give talks, accepted an assignment to give one next week. Also, Archie sat for long periods of time straight up in his seat with his arms folded... practically unheard of earlier.

Penelope has been doing lots of extra things for me like set and clear the table, pick up 25 things, etc... and then she rarely cashes in her rewards without a reminder. She's pretty self-motivated.

A reward Linus likes is an extra story night, and I award him more stars for his problem area: being grouchy, cranky, belligerent, etc. for evening scriptures. He's tired then, but he can still behave better, and he has almost every night.

There was a teachers strike on Friday, so we took the opportunity to drive up to Coimbra. We loved it. I think we would've gone sooner if we'd known. Almost half these pictures are from Portugal dos Pequeninos, a park filled with small versions of buildings around Portugal. Some were historical buildings, some were houses typical of different areas in Portugal.

The kids loved it, and could've spent all day there. If we lived closer and there was any concept of an annual pass here, this would've been the place to get it.

Coimbra is home to the one of the oldest continuously running universities in the world. I think the oldest in all of Europe, and certainly the oldest in Portugal. It was established in 1290. I was mainly interested in seeing the library, but for us it was kind of dud. It probably hadn't helped that we'd just been to Rome a couple weeks ago.

We did really like the science museum. There was a room or two with more modern, interactive exhibits, but there's still a lot of worth in old-fashioned natural history exhibits. Some of the displays were hundreds of years old.

The kids loved things like stuffed specimens of 2-head lambs or whale skeletons. Woo loved a lot of the fish and the personalities he imagined they had. I loved the old display cabinets.

Woo is less sick and has done some surfing, but has not managed to get a lot of rest between basketball tournaments during prime nap times and day trips to other cities in Portugal.

He was asked to give an extra talk for someone who fell through this week, but we had a surprise visit from a counselor in the district presidency and Woo didn't have to give a talk after all.

That's our week! Hope you all are enjoying your snow!

Smiling at a crocodile

These stairs are even longer than they appear. What looks like the end is actually an overhang you walk under.



Woo was gone almost all this week. He flew in Saturday morning. We were glad to have him back, and he was glad to be back. It didn't sound like he had that enjoyable of a time. He was sick and worked a lot... did team building things like ax throwing... but I think there were parts that were nice for him, like seeing family briefly.

He unloaded his treats and goodies for us, and while he might have had plans for a more exciting afternoon, he laid in bed and slept until dinner.

He missed Linus' birthday while he was gone. Linus was a little sad, but mostly fine. He's very easy to please for his birthday (in fact, all the kids are, now that I think about it). We have our birthday traditions that we do for everyone, and thats seems to be all anyone wants or expects.

But an unexpected and pleasant surprise for Linus was that he got out of school early (his P.E. teacher didn't show up), and he got to go to the park to play soccer with Herbie and Moses.

Archie missed three days of school because his teacher had a sick child. While I was exercising Archie asked if I could help him with a toy.
Me: I can’t help you right now, Archie. Can you say a prayer? 
He was silent and then I heard a click.
Archie: I got it! 
Me: Remember to tell Heavenly Father thank you. 
Archie (a few seconds later): Mom, I know how He does it. He gives you the strength. That’s how He does it. 
And then a few seconds more.
Archie: Mom, does He take the strength back, or do you get to keep it?

Motivation was lagging and we needed a change with our chore routine. One problem with Moneypants is that it is all connected to money. Woo and I are not big spenders and we struggled with rewarding the kids, but also not allowing them to buy everything in the world. Some kids had tons of money racked up that they never had an opportunity to spend... (Archie and Penelope).

Anyway, this week I made a few changes. Not with the chores or expectations themselves, but with rewards. I added a lot of non-monetary rewards, many suggested by the kids themselves, which have been very popular... things I was happy to give them and achieved my goals for re-motivated kids.

Here's Penelope cashing in two rewards she earned: nail painting and Settlers with Mom. We had a very enjoyable morning together, the morning she started school late.

One of Herbie's was an early haircut.

Anyway, I have a new app filled with a bunch of rewards the kids are working towards.

For Woo being gone, we really had a nice week. I already mentioned Woo's blessing and sleeping better. The first few nights, I encouraged the kids to get revelation on how to help me while Woo was gone. It's the first time I've had them pray about something so self-serving, but I felt it would help us all, and it did. Arguing and pestering went way down, helpfulness went up.

One thing the kids have been doing lately is to tell me in the morning that their revelation is a secret and then see if I can guess it when they do it.

Ruby's was to not argue with Herbie. Moses' was to be super good in primary and answer all the questions. I could tell a difference.

Moses had a school report on marriage. He did it on temple marriage and printed a few pictures off the internet of sealing rooms and couples outside of temples. Moses doesn't give a lot of details, but he said his was the only report that had questions afterwards, even a couple from his teacher, and the pictures were popular.

I started a new thing for the kids' story nights, I read them a few entries about them in my "daily blessings" lists from years back--the times I considered something they had done or said to be a blessing in my day. They loved it. Ruby was sure she would hate it when I started, but after a couple she stopped scowling and didn't want me to stop.

Herbie came home from lunch super excited because the Holy Ghost had warned him to not look at a friend's phone. The friend was looking at pornography, and Herbie, who is friends with this kid's older brother, told the brother, who called their dad and deleted the app the younger brother had. Herbie felt awesome because he'd not only avoided it himself, but also helped others.

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