First of all, we saw the temple, and it is lovely. It's in a great location. Anyone who visits the Ikea or the Decathlon (so... everyone... ) is going to see it rising up the hill on the freeway. We came by bus, and it was catching other people's attention too, not just ours.

Everything you've read about the temple is true. It is very Italian, and the grounds perfectly so. (We, of course, had to take a picture in front of an olive tree.) The curved walls were a favorite and the baptismal font is a bright blue oval. The kids loved that. They also loved the Creation Room, which is an hand painted Italian seaside scene. I loved the stained glass depicting olive leaves.

There were A LOT of Americans there. Many were even on a tour? Visiting Americans for the temple open house doubled the numbers of the ward we went to. Herbie helped 3 old, Italian guys pass the sacrament. Herbie felt like a failure afterwards because he made some mistakes. We tried to convince him that everyone was doing their best with the increased crowd, and he was not a failure. When we got to the temple, several people recognized him as the boy who'd helped with sacrament, and made sure to compliment him.


It's been over 20 years since I've been to Rome. Last time I was enchanted. I loved the tiny, winding streets, the smell of the food (last time I couldn't afford to actually eat anything except basics from the grocery store). It seemed everyone was a supermodel and also incredibly friendly.

This time the people were not beautiful. Everyone has aged 20 years and put on 20 lbs. There were very few children in Rome. I saw less than 5 tourist children, less than 5 Italian children and zero schools. In Madrid, there are playgrounds every couple blocks, and there are dozens of kids there. In Rome we found 2 rundown playgrounds that looked like they hadn't been used in years.

I was only in Rome 4 days, but I was already starting to feel like the entire world was overcrowded, full of garbage, run down, and all people led pointless lives. While I was grateful to visit, I don't think I ever need to take a sight-seeing trip there again.

However, it is true that the food is fantastic. We weren't there long enough to really discover our absolute favorites, but the pizza and gelato we did have were wonderful. We stumbled upon some delectable seaweed dumplings as an appetizer, and the olives and tortellini we got from the corner grocery store were the best we've ever tasted. Woo was missing those olives when we got back. He bought a few kilos from our market, but they weren't nearly the same...


Everything we read said, "Eat where the Italians are eating."

Well, we found them, thousands of them, in this huge McDonalds between the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps. It wasn't our plan to eat there... we were only visiting the bathrooms, but once we were inside, the ease, the speed, and the undeniable reality that the Italians clearly thought this was the best lunch deal in the area drew us in... we ate at McDonalds in the center of Rome. And it wasn't bad.


We did not get the best pictures in the world. It was overcast or rainy a lot of the time. We are not smiling often. But, I still think it would be easy to think this trip was more charming than it was. While the kids are at an age where we can often relax at home, they are not yet at that age while we travel. It is constant vigilance all over again... bathroom emergencies, bloody noses, losing their heads and jumping on all surfaces, fiddling with anything and everything on the plane, the bus, the train, shouting or laughing really loudly... breaks for parents only came when they were stuffing their faces, or playing at a park, or sleeping (where Woo and I were too tired to do much), or the train or plane. I actually took a nap on the plane, which I didn't think I'd be able to do yet.

I will say this, other than the first morning, there was not a lot of whining. Not really any complaining about walking or the rain or being cold. That was nice. Mostly their problem was what I would describe as being overly excited and acting like overgrown puppies.


Ruby was the one who did most of that first morning complaining. She was really pretty horrible Sunday after church, in the courtyard, where she yelled at us as loud as she could. We did our Sunday study after that, which happened to have some things for her situation. The next morning she also received applicable revelation during her morning scripture study, which went a long way to helping her be more pleasant the rest of the trip.


We had a couple of proud (to us) parenting moments... After someone told Penelope that Woo had ordered a Big Mac, she said, "What's that?!"

Herbie wanted a George costume... Curious George, George Weasley, and... Linus pipes up with: Michael George!

It took us several seconds before we realized he thought he was talking about Michael Jordan.


Ten points if you know what this is a picture of.


We were in Rome, but for almost all the kids, what we were riding on was by far the most exciting thing. They loved the bus. They loved the train, but wow! they loved the airplane.

Linus had spent the flight there looking out the window and apparently observing patterns and making calculations, because when it was Penelope's turn on the way back, he talked them over with her with the intensity of flying the plane himself. It was so cute, I had to give him a few kisses in the middle of his very serious discussion. He set his alarm on his watch right as the plane took off, and the second we hit ground he stopped it. He shouted, "2:55 exactly!" very proudly.


We flew Ryanair, which meant that we paid something like 40€ a ticket, and 5 of us had seats together, while the other 3 were randomly assigned. The 3 random seats were window seats and Moses, Ruby, and Herbie were super excited to have their own window, but when we got to Moses' seat there was a lady in his seat. She couldn't move, she said, because she needed the window to avoid nausea.

I told her it wasn't her seat, but she insisted, and Moses sat down in the middle, his little heart broken. You could tell because he was wearing his super, super sad face. And I left because he said it was okay, and also because I knew if anything would get to the lady, it would be his super sad face.

After a few minutes she traded Moses (turns out she really wanted to take a pictures and once that was done, she could move). She spoke Italian, but Moses could kind of understand her, and she and Moses became friends. He pulled out his Book of Mormon and showed her his favorite verses, she shared with him her rice cakes, and they laughed together when their row mate left right away to sit by his girlfriend. I was glad it turned into a good experience with him.

The most unpopular seat on the way back was a similar story. It was Ruby, who got a seat far from us in the back, in the middle. There were lots of arguments because no one wanted to sit there, but I let the kids work it out, and Ruby ended up taking it for an extra granola bar of Moses'. She ended up sitting by a lady returning from her mother's funeral to her family in Lisbon. She showed Ruby pictures of her kids, which Ruby loved.


The temple tour seemed really quick. We saw the visitors center, and we could've spent more time there, but our bus tickets were good for 100 minutes, and we'd neglected to buy anymore. We got turned around, missed the bus we could've taken, and found ourselves on the complete opposite side of the city, without any tickets or way to get to the train station.

At that moment it started to rain really hard. Also, it was now dark. Thanks to Woo, we had a bunch of rain ponchos on us, so we pulled those on, and while I couldn't seem to get worried, Woo convinced me something needed to be done. (I mostly was just happy we didn't have to spend a night in a train station, which I've had to do before, but with a friend, not a bunch of kids.)

So we set off walking. The route took us right along the freeway, and under underpasses, and after not too long, we were walking into an underground garage, completely lost. The gps on my phone is worthless in Europe, so Woo had to take the lead, even though his phone was mostly dead. He got us out of our tangle and on the right track.

The kids did not complain at all, which was kind of surprising. I mean, it wasn't really warm, we were still in our church clothes, and we were slowly getting soaked. Moses told me later he was terrified, but he said lots of prayers until he knew it would be alright. Also Woo's phone was on 1% battery for about an hour, dying immediately after taking this picture in the train station. Another answer to Moses' prayers.

After walking/sliding down a grassy hill in the dark and walking through a homeless camp under an underpass, Archie asked me if we were lost. I said no, but a few minutes later, he asked me again. I encouraged him to pray about it and get revelation. He was quiet for a few moments before he said, "He said no." And he didn't say anything about it again.


At one point Woo and I had to admit (but without earshot of the other kids), that Penelope might be the perfect traveler... she was pleasant, patient, easily entertained, never in trouble... and then soon after that, she became a tired and overly excited little kid, who would giggle raucously with Linus or Archie and jump around like a nut if anyone even looked like they might tickle her. I had to physically keep her and Archie separated for the last two days. The last day I knocked down Woo's phone, while trying to pull Archie to a seat away from Nellpea on the bus. Luckily, it was okay.


I can only remember two things from the week before. Ruby, Herbie and Moses had their "state" cross-country race. That morning Moses told us all he wanted to get fourth. I thought he was setting his sights a little high, but didn't say anything. Woo went to watch them (I needed to be home for the younger kids at lunch), and sent me periodic texts.

First he said Moses got 4th. I couldn't believe it. Later, I learned Moses had led most of the race, but was passed at the end by 3 other kids, the last one at the very last second, while barfing. (The top 3 go to nationals.) Moses' legs lost strength right after crossing the line, and he says he fainted, so he did try his hardest too.

Herbie took 38th. He was in a huge field of over 200, and said he couldn't ever get to the front, he was pushed and shoved too much. However, that night he prayed about it, and learned he could've done better if he'd tried harder.

Ruby took 13th, which was better than last year. She stayed with the girl who beat her at the race in December also, so she was happy.

The other thing is that Ruby's Greek Book of Mormon finally came. She loooves that book. She has been spending a lot of time figuring out the Greek alphabet, the vocabulary, everything. Maybe she's the one who will finally crack the Greek side of our family history.

Well that's all I have. Hope your week was great!

Testimony Below:

Since President Nelson’s talk last April about receiving revelation, I’ve been trying to write down every nudge of inspiration I receive.

And about two weeks ago I noticed something. When I write inspiration down, I think about it as I’m writing it and then I often get more revelation while I’m doing it.

The act of writing revelation down is a combination of pondering and obedience that qualifies us for further revelation.

I know that following even the smallest instruction of the prophet blesses us because he speaks for Jesus Christ and the words of Jesus Christ are important.

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


Desde o discurso do Presidente Nelson em abril passado sobre o recebimento de revelação, estou a tentar escrever todas as inspirações que eu recebo.

E cerca de duas semanas atrás eu notei alguma coisa. Quando escrevo inspiração, penso sobre as coisas que eu escrevo e muitas vezes recebo mais revelações enquanto eu escrevo.

O ato de escrever a revelação é uma combinação de ponderação e obediência que nos qualifica para mais revelações.

Eu sei que até mesmo a menor instrução do profeta nos abençoa porque ele fala por Jesus Cristo e as palavras de Jesus Cristo são muito importante.

Em nome de Jesus Cristo. Amém.