This week the weather was nice; it even got hot a couple of times! In a surprise development, Woo started reading Pippi Longstocking to the younger kids during lunch. Linus whined and complained. He was sure it would be boring. (All books with girls in them are dumb.) Woo told him no one was forcing him to listen; he'd read to Archie and Penelope while Linus took his bath.

Of course, Linus couldn't help but hear from the bathroom, and after his bath he crept into our room (where Woo was reading) with a sheepish look on his face. He has listened eagerly ever since.

The Lord of the Rings has been put on hold while I read the Princess Bride to the older kids (slightly edited by me, while I read). This has been all consuming for Moses, who has thought of nothing else and let a lot of other things slide in his desire to hear more of the story. He has been slightly sick (canker sores, mostly) also, so not his best week.

Herbie learned that he was not chosen to go to Croatia (with the same program that took Moses to Poland and Ruby to Greece). He handled the disappointment very, very well. Something he used to struggle with a lot. It helped that he'd previously had a dream that he wasn't going to be chosen, but would have other opportunities at a later time.

Carnaval started this week, which is easily my least favorite holiday ever. We've separated ourselves from almost all of it, but let the kids try the school parade again. This year it was too hot (other than cold and rainy the first year), and Archie still told me it was the worst thing that had happened in his day. He said the music was too loud (and it was), but I could also tell from watching him that he was stressed from being packed like sardines and not moving anywhere for 90% of the time. In fact, 90% of the kids looked miserable to me--sweating in their wigs and squinting into space. Only the teachers and a handful of kids were dancing and trying to have (actually having?) fun.

Penelope was one of those. She said she likes singing and dancing now.

Woo and I did not stay for the parade, but swooped in for a picture, than left with Herbie and Moses (who chose to skip their own school Carnaval party) to pick up some groceries. We each got a donut, the weather was sunny, and we were on bikes--much more enjoyable for us.

Linus and Ruby have had opportunities to talk about their beliefs extensively with friends this week. Both have come home excited to tell me about them, and I noticed that Ruby has been praying for it in her family prayers.

One day Ruby told me that she'd been inspired to take extensive notes and do a very careful reading of Jacob 5. It took her a couple weeks, but she finished on Thursday. She was quite pleased with her efforts, and she learned a lot.

Following Linus's example, Penelope started to read a chapter in the Bible everyday. She's also been excited about the things that she's learned.

Linus, Penelope and Archie got to dress up for school (similar to Halloween). They all came up with their own costume from things we had around the house and I painted their faces (but Penelope and Archie's after lunch, since they had swimming in the morning). Linus was a zombie. Penelope was a robber princess and Archie was a robber.

Woo convinced us to go for a winter beach walk, which turned out to be very pleasant; although, most of us left the house not very excited about it. And this week I finished reading Saints 2 and disinfecting the house.

So that's our week! I hope yours was great!


The Effectual Struggle

One of my favorite scriptures is Mosiah 7:18
"Lift up your heads and be comforted; for the time is at hand, or is not far distant, when we shall no longer be in subjection to our enemies, notwithstanding our many strugglings, which have been in vain; yet I trust there remaineth an effectual struggle to be made."
Every time I've read it after my first "discovery", I get excited because it means that I'm about to be freed from some thing I've struggled with (previously with little success) after a last effort.

A couple of days ago I decided to read my revelation and inspiration notes for the last part of 2019. In November I read that scripture 3 different times in less than 24 hrs, and then Archie read it out loud to me during his reading. He liked it for some reason. In November, I recorded all that, but I didn't know what was about to end. But when I re-read it, it was obvious--Archie was about to be dry at night. I checked my daily notes, and sure enough, very soon after this Archie was re-motivated to try again, a month after that he agreed to use the alarm, a month after that he had done it.

Anyway, we all read this scripture as a family last week. We're still in the midst of our struggles that often seem to be going nowhere. We've all had some great moments and some bad moments.

Linus was absolutely fantastic this morning. He wrote and gave a good talk. Before church, Archie kicked Linus's scriptures, but Linus did not get mad. He remembered something that I'd told the kids last night: try to make the person struggling feel better. Do something nice for the person being the most contentious.

So he immediately helped Archie get ready for church and helped him walk to church with his arms folded. They were singing "Love at Home" as we left the house (NOT a song I ever suggest they sing) and from there other primary songs.

Archie was fantastic in all of church, thanks to that, and then Linus complimented a recently reactivated man on his talk before turning his sights to a new boy in our primary that he helped teach how to behave in primary.

On the walk home, I told Linus that he'd learned a new way to stop contention because he'd been so good at doing the other things he'd learned: reading his Bible and blessings, controlling his temper in the evenings and participating better in family scripture study.

And then... a giant fight broke out over licking spoons while Herbie made Oreo mousse for dessert.

Linus kicked Archie, who screamed, and I had to send them, and also Herbie and Moses, who'd gotten involved, to separate areas of the apartment to regain control of themselves.

Really, I'd already been warned that struggles were coming before we kicked this contention and rudeness thing and got a special blessing.

I myself learned an awesome thing for myself on Wednesday that I felt was probably going to change my life, and then Thursday I was so sad and depressed. I actually rolled over in bed and cried a little bit when Woo came to talk to me.

I had been trying to plan a trip to the UK, that was not working out, and it suddenly felt like I had nothing to look forward to in life (other than clean more mold off walls). Later that day two other spirit-dampening things happened, but in the end my sadness was all in my head and finally I was like, "I'm tired of being sad. This is dumb." and I was done.

Herbie had a group project due that was extremely stressful for him because the other members of his group were not reliable at all. He kept waiting for them to do stuff that they didn't do, so he had to do it himself. And that work, of course, after waiting in vain for others, was last minute.

Also, the part that was his responsibility didn't work out the way he had envisioned it. He was in tears when it was clear that his flag was too big to stay upright on the stand he'd made for it. Woo helped him out with an idea, and Herbie had a better stand that evening.

Last Sunday Ruby took a shot at playing all the congregational hymns herself. Some of them she knew better than others, and the first hymn was very slow. It had four long verses.

My first thought was, "This is going to be a loooooong song!" but then I was proud of Ruby for trying new things, not being embarrassed of learning or making mistakes in front of others, and of not giving up. I decided I was going to give her a giant hug and kiss as soon as the song was over.

The problem was, Ruby is not a hugger or a kisser; there was a possibility that she could react very negatively--push me away or get up and run away. So the whole last verse I slowly edged closer and closer to her, so that by the final note I was able to hug her and plant a big kiss on her cheek so quickly that she was too surprised to do anything but laugh. (She later said she noticed me getting closer, but she expected me to tell her to stop playing.)

She was also sick and stayed home on Friday. She read a lot of Saints 2, and felt all better the next day.

We got a new kids' baking book and Moses has been the most excited to try the new things. He and Ruby made a banana custard that they both enjoyed. At least, I left for a run before it was done, and when I came back there was not a crumb left. It did smell delicious.

Another time he made a berry cake, but added too much baking soda? I believe this is a picture of that? I never got the whole story, and apparently there were some flaws with his cake, but it all got eaten also.

One of Moses' revelations was that he needed to treat Penelope like it was Valentine's Day everyday.

Penelope has not enjoyed swimming this year, which is kind of surprising because all the kids have always loved it. She was even excited the week it was cancelled because no bus was available.

She always complains that she feels sick during lunch afterwards. After several conversations, I've finally figured out that she feels sick from the bus ride, and that one little boy throws up in the bus every single time, and no one has seemed to be able to figure out how to handle this without a mess getting over a large part of the bus. That does sound like an unpleasant experience.

We had a fun day yesterday, where we didn't go anywhere new, but drove a bit to visit a couple things we felt were worth seeing twice. The waves were pretty big at Nazare. Everyone (but me) enjoyed that, and then we went to Nazare's skatepark, and because AlcobaƧa was so close and had such a wonderful park, we went there too.

The weather was fantastic and some kids fell asleep on the drive home. I was not going to have a lot of time to make dinner, so Woo let us eat his salsa. He'd made a giant bowl the day before, and it's precious because it's Woo's favorite food and also it takes him a long time to make to perfection. I was very grateful.

Woo has been extremely upbeat and chipper all week. This is really a past weakness become a strength for him. And his week has definitely not been perfect. For example, he always has a painful wound on his foot that is not healing because of salt water. He's pretty sure he's getting arthritis. Surfing is frustrating without his favorite board. His work situation is not ideal, etc. etc.

I know all these things because I live with him, not because he is complaining about them and moping around. He has really come a long way. Luckily, he was there to be positive and try to be helpful during my low moment during the week.

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


Quick Weekly Recap

Ruby: Drew the best human models in her art class. Found an antique toy ship with Moses that they cleaned and repainted together. Is enjoying seminary and becoming a true student of the scriptures.

Herbie: Surfed the first tube in the family! Is doing extra chores to earn money for some surf boots. He hurt is knee slipping and falling down the stairs while wet (post surf).

Moses: Read a book on John Wesley Powell. Went surfing with Herbie and Woo then came home early and played soccer in his wetsuit. Is the only person not currently bored with the Lord of the Rings. (It better pick up soon!)

Linus: Turned 10! Got a new scooter and helmet and pads (that he wore while reading the Book of Mormon). Turned in his solar system model.

Penelope: Got the revelation to think before she says anything. Was the only kid to give Linus a birthday present--one of her favorite books and a frisbee toy. Did some extreme walking at the skatepark.

Archie: Did his chores more diligently than he has in awhile. Staunched a bloody nose with a piece of Lamb's Ear on a walk. Has been tying his shoe more carefully thanks to Woo's instruction.

Steven: Busted his favorite surf board. Sprained his ankle skateboarding. Led our discussion of President Nelson's last conference talk in this lovely local.

Me: Read On Wings of Faith about Ezra Taft Benson's mission to Europe immediately following WWII. Read a short book on Joan of Arc. Disinfected a large portion of the house (with Herbie's help).

Contention: Doing better. Thank you for your prayers.

Hope you had a great week!