No Longer Illegal, But Still Aliens

Yes, you read that right. We finally got our residency permits. We've only been here 21months, and they're good for the next 22 months.

Woo was super nervous going in. I hardly cared at all. I couldn't see how our lives would change much; although, I thought they'd probably give them to us this time.

We left the house on time, but turned around and came back home after driving for 15 minutes, because Woo thought there was a tiny, slim chance that they'd ask for something I'd left at home. Then we had to hurry to make our appointment.

All that rushing out, back home, and out again through multiple roundabouts caused Linus to throw up his breakfast. Luckily, I'd grabbed a plastic bag for such an event on my second time out the door. But it was Moses who had been threatening then.

When we finally got there Archie was happy to tell me several times that he almost threw up, but he prayed, and then he didn't have to anymore. He didn't want to throw up, he said, because he didn't want to throw up all over Penelope (which was the only option, I guess?), but still very thoughtful of him. Thank you, Archie.

And yes, they did find something completely new and out of the blue that they could've used as an excuse to deny us: documentation of my social security number.

But this guy was very nice and told us we could just email that in later. I don't know what the difference was really, other than Woo fasted this time. I don't think he's done that before. And also it was just time, I guess.

The wait for qualifying was even longer than for being denied. We were there for 4 hours? Woo was in doing all the actual talking and wrangling (and joke telling). The kids and I waited off in a little side room. Thank goodness we were in the middle of Goblet of Fire. I had plenty of material to read out loud and keep the kids' attention. Herbie helped out by reading the times I had to fill out forms or other stuff. (Ruby was busy either doing homework or recopying her already very neatly written notes.)

They had a few of these kiosks to take your picture and your fingerprints for your residency card. If you don't do it right, it takes the machine 2 minutes to reset... and almost everyone did it wrong, because the instructions given were so bad.

After a kid or two, Woo had it down though, and he gave the kids exact instructions on what to do, and what not to worry about... they all did it right the first time. The employees there were so impressed, one of them was like, we should hire this guy to tell people how to use the kiosks...

Woo asked two questions as soon as he got the okay. 1. What's renewal like? and 2. What happens if we leave the county? The guy was like, What? Why would you want to leave the country?

We went to celebrate afterwards by eating at Telepizza and drinking a few liters of Guaraná. In our excitement, we talked about visiting Morocco or Turkey. I came home and looked up taking a tour of maybe Greece, Turkey, Israel, and Egypt, with a week in each...

Woo said, "Sounds painful." And yeah, it would be. Our family is just not able to handle that kind of thing yet.

However Woo feels that a huge load has been removed from his shoulders now that we're legal, and his mood has shown it.

Penelope tries so hard to be perfect and gets her feelings hurt when we do have to correct her. She’ll often quip something too about how we don’t love her.

It happened once this week, but that same night we read Hel 15:3 in family scriptures ("for behold, they have been a chosen people of the Lord; yea, the people of Nephi hath he loved, and also hath he chastened them; yea, in the days of their iniquities hath he chastened them because he loveth them.) and she looked at me and said, “I get it, Mom. I get it.”

It is not conference weekend yet, but Linus was anxious to get his cut earlier. He got out of school early on Friday and I cut his hair and Penelope's and Woo's. Linus also spoke in sacrament meeting today. His talk was very short, but adequate.

Ruby got results for a bunch of tests back this week--a bunch of muito boms. Moses sounds like he's doing similarly well. Herbie worked exceptionally hard for school this week and did good work. Unfortunately, he was turning everything in a week late :(.

I've been busy this week sending plans to Josey to get bids. Archie has also been drawing plans with me. He sits near me with his pen and little notebook drawing. He says that his work is to be a house plan drawer, and two days ago he drew a farm for our future yard with a lot of venomous snakes in it: mambas, cobras, rattlesnakes, and so on.

And that's all I can think of now. Hope your week was great!


It's Spring!

Woo took pictures this week revolving around a theme: Because we don't have a TV. One TV-less thing we did that we don't have pictures of is the city pool's family fun day. The family fun day was not very well publicized and it got off to a rough start for our family, when we arrived in the afternoon, but still 2 hours early.

We walked, got some lunch at Lidl, ate at some picnic tables, and came back when the pool was open and there was a line of people coming out the door. Woo asked me if we should just leave when the same family had been at the front desk for minutes and minutes... but we stayed and other families were quicker (our family being the quickest, because I took over the writing down of our names and ages).

And I'm glad we stayed. It was free, a lot of fun, and not too crowded. The pool had several roped off sections with things like paddle boards, bouncy houses, beach ball volleyball, slides and lots and lots of floaties. I was happy to see that after swimming "clicked" with Penelope when Grandma and Grandpa were here, she has made a lot of progress in her swimming class. She now has a pretty nice front and back crawl.

I'm beginning to realize that giving the kids an assignment on what to get revelation about every few nights is very helpful. This week I decided to concentrate on gaining cleaner habits. During the course of it I realized that Herbie and Linus are already pretty neat and tidy in everything they do--hooray! I'm not sure I fully realized that for them before. Although, they both came up with little ways to do better, like not complain.

Also I recognized that Penelope had already gotten revelation about her room at the start of the year, and has been keeping it much cleaner since. Also, Moses had started to get revelation along these lines a couple weeks ago and had already made some changes, but as our messiest kid, he still had a lot of work to go. Same with Ruby. He and Ruby did some extra purging yesterday--they are my collectors of garbage--and their rooms looked great!

Then they both went to the recycling place and picked up some styrofoam to work on some projects they both had in school. Less than half an hour after deep cleaning their rooms, Moses was scraping dried cement off some styrofoam in his room, and Ruby was chopping styrofoam all to pieces in hers. AGHH!! But they quickly swept up and it looks okay. Moses will continue his project in the basement tomorrow...

Archie made some progress also. Every once in awhile my revelation is to have the kids get revelation about a concern, and it definitely has the most effective results. I don't know what it is other than that getting your own answer to prayer is accompanied by the Holy Ghost which has the love of God for you personally, and understanding, and inspiration on how to go forward and a command(?) all wrapped up in one. I am confident they will continue to progress, although there is still a lot of work to do. They left a giant mess at the breakfast table this morning, with a lot of arguing about who got seconds and who didn't, for example.

Something Ruby got in the last couple weeks has helped her to be much more peaceful at home recently. She did say to me this week that she thought playing the hymns on the recorder and keyboard was helping her to feel the Holy Ghost more and helping her everywhere.

Herbie and Moses had a surprise basketball tournament that they didn't know about and had to stay at school all day without coming home for lunch. They came home upset because they hadn't eaten since breakfast (I realized belatedly that I could've run food to them also, if I'd have known it would be so long. I felt bad about that.) and because they felt that the other team cheat. Herbie was the most upset and was surprised by Woo's calm and empathetic response. It went a long way to helping Herbie calm down.

I walked into Moses' room one night and found one full page written about what heaven would be like. He later told me that he'd had a nightmare that revolved around the idea that there was no heaven, so he woke up, prayed and wrote down everything he received. It was a nice revelation for me too, assuming the things that are true for him are also true for me.

Linus has been extra-grouchy and Archie can't hear us say his name from 2 feet away... I think it's that time of year to blackout their bedroom windows again. I'll be happy when I can stop doing this.

I have been working hard on the house plans and I'm about to reach one degree of "done" (with several more on the horizon). Josey has been helping me a lot. I'm very grateful.

And that is all for us. I hope you had a great week!


Sunny and Occasionally Hot

We've been through a windy spell this week, which means the wind intensifies at night, and is really pretty loud in our apartment.

Herbie has it the worst and his sleep has shown it. He almost fell asleep during evening scriptures two days ago, which he's only done once before and that was when we first moved here and he was adjusting.

He has had some rough, lack-of-sleep moments, but the difference is that he's now self-sufficient in separating himself, getting revelation about what's bothering him and apologizing.

He and Moses had their multi-school track meet--MEGA Sprinter--this week. They were both really excited before, but felt not very well on the actual day. We were only able to watch Moses run the 40m before we had to go get other kids for lunch, but he did not do very well. He said his long jump went a bit better, and Herbie said his 1000m went well. He took 5th or 6th.

The kids usually bring their grades home for us to sign, but we got Moses' in the mail. I don't know if too many kids never showed their grades to their parents last term or what. Moses' grades all improved and looked good. There were no odd low ones to be blamed on the horribleness of his class. I do think they are getting better, at least Moses never complains anymore, but he does sometimes mention what he's done to encourage better class behavior from his friends.

Ruby is excited for girls camp. (This is the first year they've separated the boys and girls camp here--Woo and I are organizing the boy's camp... ) She and I printed out a bunch of invitations and permission forms and she gave one to every girl in her class.

The response was overwhelmingly positive. Unfortunately, Ruby handed out the invites right before history class and all the girls kept asking her more and more questions and making plans with tents, etc. in the middle of class. The dress standard, among other things, was a curiosity for most of them, but she feels that almost all of them are coming. However, we will see what their parents say.

Almost every day for Linus is an awesome day and a bad day. He wakes up feeling great! He does his homework, makes his bed, reads his scriptures, finishes his chore so fast he often will do an extra or two, and then he is off to school. He's usually pretty good at lunch too; although slightly less enthusiastic. But in the evening he is cranky and rude. He is working on that and getting better, but if you forget about his mornings and only think about his evenings, you don't get the complete picture. 

Last week after church I had to hustle all the kids together and leave immediately because Archie was throwing a fire engine red tantrum. Penelope had thrown one in the first part of primary, with a lot of shouting and crying because while she was very reverent and sang very well, I had to chose someone else who was singing louder and smiling to pick the next game.

And then near the end of primary, a similar thing happened to Archie and he didn't get as many pompom balls as he felt he deserved and screamed and bawled all the way through the church and several meters down the street.

Anyway, this week I learned to make extra sure that everyone felt like a winner. However, someone in the branch had given me two little toys when I walked into church that I decided to use as rewards. There are five kids in primary and everyone wanted one. I gave away one, but I couldn't chose a kid for the second one; they were all being awesome.

So I told them they all won, and asked if anyone would be willing to accept pompoms instead of the toy (we have a huge jar of them left over from an activity last year). Three kids accepted that. We were singing "Did You Think to Pray?" so I asked the other two to share a time when they had been in a situation like those in the song and prayer had helped them. Three kids shared experiences.

The last two holdouts (Penelope and Archie) were still standing firm in wanting the toy for themselves. I had them leave for a minute to pray about who should get the toy. They returned, Penelope first, who whispered to me that Archie should have it, and Archie, a second later, to say that Penelope should have it.

Finally, everyone was feeling generous and unselfish! So I gave Penelope and Archie the choice of sharing the toy or getting pompoms. They smiled at each other and chose to share, and they were very good about it too.

Four or five years ago I started to spend 15 minutes midday reading whatever standard work we were studying in Sunday School. So four years ago I read the New Testament over and over again (it's not very long). And I'm reading it that way again this year too.

Anyway, this morning after we'd had our family study in Luke 7 and 11, the Holy Ghost whispered to me that all that earlier reading I had done was preparing me for this moment. I've had personal experiences with so many of these verses. I've thought about the stories. I've wondered about differences. I've drawn connections between similarities. I'm able to go beyond the tired, re-hashed verses and topics we always seem to hit in Sunday School because I've read and had epiphanies about verses I've never, ever read in any class or manual, only in the scriptures. And now I'm able to share that with my family.

Some of the kids are very good at recognizing symbolism and drawing connections from the scriptures to their own lives. I don't know if that's because they are still kids, or what. But even Archie gets stuff out of reading straight scripture like, "That's from the Living Christ!" and "Jonah was in the whale 3 days like Jesus was in the tomb!"

Woo had the kids most of the day Saturday while I went to a district Relief Society activity. When he has the kids alone, he always makes it a point to get them out of the house doing something new and exciting. Also, eating fresh produce is usually a goal.

This Saturday, he first took them to the park where they played a spin-the-bottle, truth-or-dare game where Woo dared Ruby to stand up and smile for a picture and she did it!

Then he loaded up all the kids on bikes and skateboards with the goal of checking out an unattended, possibly wild, pea patch we'd discovered on our bike ride last week. The peas had been plowed over, but everyone was still able to salvage a few peas on the very edge of the field... to much rejoicing??

I returned at this point and ran to meet them (since I hadn't been able to go on a run earlier), and just in time. Archie was at the end of his rope, very ready to have someone exactly at his speed or slower. But the weather was great. It was a good day to be outside.

And that's all I've got. Hope your week was great!


Some Stuff and Some Other Stuff

I didn't check one of our phones for pictures last week, and inadvertently forgot to write about Moses' birthday because I didn't see any pictures. Whoops.

Moses turned 11 and he had a good day in that his least favorite classes were cancelled, so he got to play more soccer; he got all the food he requested, and went shopping with half his birthday money. He was patient and long-suffering in that the skateboard he thought he was getting fell through and we had a struggling member of the branch over for his birthday dinner, which mostly just meant we needed to speak Portuguese and we sang Happy Birthday in Portuguese and then English.

As always, it was fun to watch old pictures of Moses. He (and all the kids) were so cute, and still have so many elements of their baby personality. I guess because it really is theirs :).

Herbie loves Moses' birthday because it means his is coming next. He's already started planning everything he wants, and he might even be completely finished.

Possibly the biggest news of the week is that the Lisbon temple has an open house and dedication date. Open house in August, dedication in mid-September.
Herbie: So we're leaving in October?! 
We have started to discuss when we're coming home, but are so far inconclusive.

This is Ruby skyping her cousin downstairs in the garage to not keep anyone else up. She brought home her midterm grades and was very excited because while not every grade was a muito bom, it was pretty close. I think her last two pages were straight muito boms. For midterms there are 4 grades for each class: participation, behavior, homework, and course work.

I'm happy that her grades are reflecting her hard work. Woo is mostly concerned that she's learning things; I'm mostly concerned that she's doing her best; I wasn't sure that her grades would reflect that here, but it looks like they are.

Moses and Linus came up with a new game that has been very popular and taken up almost all of the kids free time: World Cup foosball. They have a sheaf of papers for keeping score and run upstairs to the foosball table yelling things like: I'm Spain! I'm Bulgaria!

The kids were home Monday through Wednesday for Carnaval. We took it easy, doing our own thing around home. Most of us have been a tiny bit sick. Linus was sick enough to stay home the first day back. He made this top hat after flipping through his magic kit.

One day at the park a school friend of Penelope's came over with some party horns--the kind that uncoil and fill with air when you blow into them. He offered one to Penelope and she said, "You know these aren't for playing... they're for people with asthma!"

When did the International Women's Day become a thing? (Or is it still not a thing, but the Portuguese think it is--I've been told by far too many of them that everywhere in the world celebrates Carnaval...)

Anyway, Woo talked about it all day, saying a lot of words like "solidarity" and "enabling," which he ended up changing to "empowering."

He saw a special exercise challenge on his watch for International Women's Day, so we went on a bike ride together (where we found this man-eating plant), however it didn't count for either of us because my watch didn't log our distance and we discovered too late that it was supposed to be a "walk, run or wheelchair" not a bike ride, and now it's as if we don't even care about women.

Several weeks ago I was inspired to read the kids that one poem about the three kids who all say they love their mother and two of them are generally pains-in-the-rear, but the last one, Fan, is genuinely helpful. It made an impression on all of them, and they asked me to read it several times, and sometimes still request it, but Penelope has really taken it to heart. She really wants to be that Fan, and although she's not perfect (sometimes she's tired or cranky), she's definitely trying to be as close to a real life Fan as possible. I can rely on her.

Archie had some bad dreams a couple a weeks ago, possibly because of being a little sick?? Anyway, his solution has been to not go to sleep for as long as possible. It doesn't bother us at night, because he lies quietly in his bed with his eyes open, but during the day he has a hard time staying on task, and has his feelings hurt by the other kids very easily. There's been a lot of running to me, bawling and shouting, "They're so rude!"

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



Too much happened this week. First, I went to the temple. It was weird to be in a airport and traveling by myself after so many years of traveling with kids. The flight is only an hour, but with waiting and everything else I had to take, it was still 6 hours from the time I left our apartment until I got to the temple grounds.

I've said it before, but I still like Madrid. I've never had (and still don't have) any interest in Madrid's sights, but as a large city, I admire it. The subway is so clean and easy to understand. I didn't see a single cigarette butt or piece of garbage anywhere, and it's ridden by everyone: mothers with strollers and small children, teens on their way to school or other places, businessmen and women, and all the rest of us.

At the temple hostel, I shared a room with a sweet, little old lady from southern Spain. I knew it the second I entered the room because of her slippers laid out neatly under her bed. I got about the same amount of temple work done as when we go as a family because I could just go straight through, instead of trading off with Woo. Overall, it was a good temple trip, and not too exhausting.

At the end of the week, the kids had school off for carnival. The school part is mostly okay--Archie got to dress up every day this week--but we skipped out on the parade, which involved a lot of standing around last year that the kids didn't enjoy too much.

As for the adult portion--I was hoping to get everyone out of town, but the temple hostel didn't have room for all of us (another reason for my solo visit). But we haven't ever visited any of Woo's old mission areas, and decided this was the time.

We drove north to Guarda, where he spent about 6 months, but remembered hardly anything. We have some pictures of what *might* have been his apartment and where the church *might* have been. The post office is the post office he remembers, though.

There is no branch there today, but Woo is grateful for the things he personally learned there. Here he is looking out over Guarda through a rose-colored window.

We visited a couple castles that he remembered as being less safe and less tourist friendly. They have been cleaned up in the last couple years and the kids had a good time running around inside.

We stayed in a little house in a mountainous area. Switzerland is apparently the quintessential mountainous country for Portugal, because we passed villages with names like "little alps," and our house made some attempts at being a Swiss chalet. It was probably our favorite Airbnb we've ever stayed in because it was so clean and had fun little rooms with angled ceilings, etc.

The kids snuggled right in and went right to sleep. Moses and Herbie did no whispering or wrestling before falling asleep, which is kind of a miracle. Ruby got a bed and room to herself because Penelope was happy to sleep on the couch in front of the pellet stove. It was only a bit chilly, but it was nice to feel like it was cold and we needed a fire.

Also, there was a soccer stadium at the foot of it, and we went on a little mountain walk where we saw sheep and old men out tilling their section of terraced mountain. The kids, or I should say we all, miss mountains.

Whenever anyone mentions snow, all the Portuguese bring up Serra da Estrela, which is their highest point, and gets some snow. We drove there on the way home and it was crowded! There were some patches of snow, which the kids were really excited about, and so were all the Portuguese. We saw many people in full snow gear (suits, goggles, boots) even though you had to go way out of your way to even touch snow and it was at least 65 degrees, probably warmer. Someone was making a killing selling sleds on site. There were barely any hills, but everyone had to try sledding at least once, it appeared.

We stopped in a town with a nice, large, new city park to pick up a bike for Linus, which he was excited about, and headed home.

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

Testimony Below:
Some of my favorite scriptures are in Isaiah, talking about the blessings that come to those who fast and pay a generous fast offering:

Isaiah 58:8 Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward. 9 Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. 10 then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday: 11 And the Lord shall guide thee continually.

I know that it is a privilege and a sacred opportunity to fast every month and pay a generous fast offering, because I know that these blessings are sure. 

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen


Algumas de minhas escrituras favoritas são em Isaías. Eles falam sobre as bênçãos que recebemos quando jejuamos e pagamos uma generosa oferta de jejum:

Isaías 58: 8 Então romperá a tua luz como a alva, e a tua cura apressadamente brotará, e a tua justiça irá adiante da tua face, e a glória do Senhor será a tua retaguarda. 9 Então clamarás, e o Senhor te responderá; gritarás, e ele dirá: Eis-me aqui; 10 então a tua luz nascerá nas trevas, e a tua escuridão será como o meio-dia. 11 E o Senhor te guiará continuamente.

Eu sei que é um privilégio a jejuar e uma oportunidade sagrada a pagar uma generosa oferta de jejum, porque sei que essas bênçãos são certas.

Em nome de Jesus Cristo, amém