Giant Hugs

Archie and Linus were very excited to make volcanoes in science this week. We made a special shopping trip one day at lunch to buy their "plasticina." They were very, very pleased.

Linus came up with a volcano design innovation that he told me about many times. Archie had science first on Thursday. He came home carrying his volcano with a proud smile on his face and poured vinegar into it a few times to show us all.

Linus was only more excited for his turn the next day. Woo and Moses went to pick him up from school (because Archie and Nellpea had already come home and I was in the middle of making omelets), but when he walked into the house he ran to me in the kitchen and shouted, "We didn't get to make volcanos!! Because only 3 people brought plasticina!!!" and then he burst into tears.

He was so disappointed, and a hug was not making him feel any better. I told him he'd just have to wait until next week, but he was sure that no one would bring plasticina next week either, to which I said that if that happened, we could make volcanoes at home.

That seemed to save him from the brink of despair and he slipped upstairs for his tried and true comfort: a pair of fuzzy pajamas, and then down to Ruby's room for a new one that Ruby had recently taught him: playing "Never Smile at a Crocodile" on the keyboard.

One of my favorite Herbie moments recently was when he got out of class early and came with Woo and I to pick up the younger kids at lunch. Penelope was already sprinting towards me, preparing to jump.
Me: She's going to knock me over someday. 
Herbie: Don't worry, Mom. I got this.
And at the perfect moment, just as Penelope's feet left the ground in a flying leap, Herbie jumped in front of me and caught Penelope in a giant hug.

Penelope was shocked at first, and maybe a little annoyed, but Herbie said, "I know you love me, Penelope. I know you love me more than Mom and are excited to see me."

And then Penelope laughed and laughed.

I also had a nice moment with Penelope when she ran to find me, crying, after an argument with some sibling. She was about to open her mouth to tattle, but I picked her up in a giant hug and said, "I love you so much, Penelope!"

She grunted a "Hrmph!" but didn't say what she'd been planning on saying, and walked off to do something else when I let her down.

On the afternoon when Moses was out of school, he and Woo looked through all the pictures Moses had taken in Poland and decided what to delete and what to keep. They had a good time together, laughing, and Moses felt loved and that his pictures were finally getting the attention they deserved.

He went with Woo (and Herbie) to drive to pick up Ruby from school in the van, which I asked him to do after Ruby stepped on a nail on her way home for lunch, and I watched her try to hobble after a jogging Herbie on the way back to school in the afternoon. And then about 5 minutes later, it dumped a ton of rain.

Here's Moses getting all that he can from an Almond Joy wrapper.

Woo has been trying to help Isaiah out with his prophecy by quoting Isaiah 2:3 word for word every time we step on the temple grounds. It starts with: "And many people shall go and say, ..." but Woo starts with the next part:
"Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths:"
He tries to look at us and say it naturally, but he's not there yet. Mostly he's reading it off his watch.

One day when we got to the temple and I handed Herbie his recommend (it's in my wallet for safe-keeping), he said, "Oh! I know why it’s called a recommend... because it can wreck you or it can mend you."

I accepted a call as Secretary of the District Primary Presidency last night at the adult session of District Conference, but in a surprise move, I was called as 2nd Counselor this morning.

And here's Nellpea and Archie doing some of the very important calisthenics exercises they've learned in school.

Lastly, I've been reading the older kids The Lord of the Rings, which has been mostly fun, and the younger kids The Wizard of Oz. I've never read the Wizard of Oz before, and I was surprised to find that it's not dead boring because it is so old. However, it's also not brillance (imho), and after two Oz books, I'm done. Linus still wants to read them, though.

Woo is teaching Ruby to make salsa. Finally he has a willing pupil, who can crave it as often as he does.

And I think that's all I have for this week. I hope yours was great!



This week had some good times and bad times... Ruby and Moses were surprisingly fine. I was expecting a tough re-adjustment period, but I guess they're just older, and they haven't needed adjustment periods in some time. I've just forgotten.

They both wrote some about their experiences. Both have been nice to have home. I can relax a bit more, and both continue to be mostly peacemakers and examples in the family.

Herbie was super excited to have Moses and (and although he won't admit it) Ruby back. He was exceptionally wonderful Saturday where he did the dishes and cleaned all around the sink and washed the water pitchers without being asked. In the evening he set the dinner table, again without being asked.


We had the primary program this week. I had been unmotivated up until about three days before, but that was enough time to get us ready for what we needed to do. Perhaps, the reason for my lack of motivation... a bunch of my time and energy just wasn't needed there.

We have to do our program a tiny bit different because we have only 5 kids in the whole primary. Linus and Moses prepared and learned great talks on short notice (Moses, Linus, Penelope and Archie each had 3).

I had a short thing for every month, where I ask the kids a question about the theme ahead of time, and I read their answers (Woo's suggestion). Penelope gave me the longest, most thoughtful and sincere answers to these. Archie did some good singing.

Woo and I fasted over our future options/ideas last week, but so far we still do not know. We each have mixed feelings about a lot of things. A stupor of thought might be what we are experiencing? Anyway, no news on that horizon.

I hope you all had a great week!


They're Back!!

Moses returned last night after bedtime. Ruby got home (an hour later than we thought because of luggage mishaps... and no one told us!) this afternoon. We didn't do our usual Sunday afternoon thing, but just listened to them and looked at everything they'd gotten from the other school and their host families.

So this will be a lazy picture-label email, but first I'll answer some questions some people have had.

Ruby and Moses went with class mates and other students in their grade to Greece or Poland as part of a school exchange program. Each grade has a different project or theme and country destination, but the goals largely seem to be to practice English with each other (the common language of Europe) and learn about each other's cultures and countries.

Ruby's group in Greece had kids from Portugal, Greece, Lithuania and Germany. Moses's group had kids from Portugal, Poland, Italy, Lithuania, and maybe also Greece. And I guess American... they're both American :).

Ruby and Moses traveled with their class, stayed with a host family (both of which kicked a child out of their room or their entire apartment--to grandma's--to accommodate them), but spent almost all their time in school led activities that showcased the area and the culture and the project.

We did not pay anything except the 10€ to have the permissions filled out and notarized by a lawyer.

This is Ruby on a double-decker in Athens... Woo was curious to see that she'd only taken 15 pictures. On second look she'd taken over 200, but deleted almost all of them. She'd spent some time on her selfie skills. I salvaged the not too bad ones.

Herbie was very excited to have Moses back. Herbie was awesome while they were gone, with not one incidence of jealousy or feeling sorry for himself. He held down the fort here as a diligent son and an affectionate older brother.

Penelope, Linus and Archie made a traditional bread eaten on November 1 in their classes. (Pão por Deus) They all mentioned that it had sweet potato in it, so that must've been important.


Later in the week, Linus's class had an autumn fruit tasting party.


Herbie went to the temple with us alone. Woo stayed in the baptistery to do baptisms with him, which Herbie loved.

Woo said, "Everyone look fat!" And I guess I'm the only one who did.

Dropping the younger kids off into their schoolyard cage.

Herbie taught adult Sunday School for the first time. It was a good first effort.

My new apron from Greece.

Ruby with a few of her new things. (The bottom of the mug says 24k gold!! And the back of the picture says "handmade in Greece"... aka hand-assembled by Ruby in Greece as part of an hosting activity.)

Vacuum packed greek olives...

Doesn't Ruby's host-mom look familiar? Ruby also said she saw someone who looked just like Kurt.


Moses and his stash.

His fuzzy stockings that "everyone in Poland sleeps with."

His certificate for successfully completing his exchange to Poland. (We're so very proud.)

Moses packs like us--lightest bags there! But I think Ruby's was even lighter... she took fewer warm clothes.




Guess which glass is Moses's?



Moses's host family.


Moses brought Karol, his host friend, a Portuguese soccer jersey, which was apparently a big hit. They gave Moses a Slovakian soccer t-shirt later in return.


Moses being brilliant and confident with his English speaking skills.


A salt mine (that stretches clear from Krakov to Warsaw?)







And that's pretty much it. Both of them loved it and their teachers said they were great. They both had opportunities to share the gospel with their classmates, teachers, host families and kids from the other countries.

We are very happy to have them home. Hope your week was great!


The Week of Chocolate on Archie's Face (Archie's Title Suggestion)

We've had a fun week. According to Moses we had the "best Halloween of my life!" We had our two new Elders and a visiting Brazilian member over for dinner. After dinner one Elder slipped out of the room, and returned, leaned an elbow on the table, and started bleeding at the mouth (after swigging a mouthful of fake blood from the Chinese store).

None of us really reacted, but it definitely made an impression on the kids, who talked of little else afterwards. (Mysteriously, that Elder has been feeling ill the last couple days, and was not able to make it to church today.)

The same Elder also showed up with this sword on his head. Again, not much of a reaction from us, but Penelope had a couple seconds fun with it.

The next day was a holiday and the kids were home from school. Unfortunately, it was a dull, rainy day. Luckily, most kids went surfing with Woo in the morning, and Pedro, our new Brazilian friend, came over to take several pictures (although, Linus took this picture of Woo with Pedro's equipment).

Pedro stayed for lunch and entertained the kids for an hour or so? with some game on his phone. We (Woo and I) racked our brains for something better to do with a guest, but really we had nothing on a dull, rainy day.

Ruby and Moses took care of last minute details on Saturday. Moses wanted to do our family NT study on Saturday so he wouldn't miss it, so we did that. Woo gave them both blessings. Woo also spent several hours to get 2 old phones ready for them to take with them. They can message us, use the gospel library app, take pictures and use their language dictionaries.

Both of them left today. Moses's group met at 3:30AM at the school for a taxi. They arrived 2 1/2 hours early ... and their flight was also late.


Ruby woke up soon after we got home (4AM) and stayed awake, but luckily quiet. She was picked up outside our apartment around 9AM and is still in the air.


Herbie has been handling it very well, so far. I'm sure it would be disappointing to him to watch Ruby and Moses leave on an adventure while he stays at home (and helps move another load of junk for our hoarder member), especially after the other kids got phones, but he's been really great.

Archie woke up this morning excited about his testimony and announced he was going to fast two meals today for the first time. He ran up to the pulpit to give his testimony first, and has fasted the longest he ever has so far, although, he's less enamored with the idea now. Woo has been trying to keep him distracted.

And I think that's about it. I hope your week was great!

Testimony Below:

Last week I fasted with Ruby and Moses because they would be traveling today. We fasted for their safety.

Before our fast, I had many assurances that they would be safe and that they would do good, but I still sometimes worried. But after our fast, I felt complete peace. I have known at all times that they will be safe.

I know that fasting gives extra power to our prayers and that like President Nelson said, when we pay our fast offerings, we are obeying the second commandment to love our neighbor.

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.