3.29.2020

Encounters with Hecklers and More


Monday was complicated by our discovery that some of the kids’ school teachers were going to try to continue doing their job. Ruby, Herbie, Moses and Archie each were sent a bunch of assignments. 

Each of them completely obnoxious... Ruby had one sent Friday night, due Sunday, and she read the email about it Monday afternoon. (However, this turned into a great missionary opportunity as Ruby described to her teacher why she didn’t do homework on Sunday—Ruby is a natural missionary.) Also it seemed she needed a computer for an online meeting whenever a teacher called for one.


Moses’s assignments were all sent by WhatsApp group chat with all teachers sending assignments and all students answering on the same thread. When Moses read it, it was hundreds of texts long and completely overwhelming for him to find the actual assignments.

I was gone at that point. Someone needed the church to be unlocked to print something for their student visa (which of course needed to be done that very day before 3...). It was a female student, so I was the best person for the job, but I was in the middle of a logistics puzzle myself when I heard and couldn’t even think about it until I’d gotten in the shower and could take time to decide when to meet her.

So Woo patiently helped Moses navigate his WhatsApp mess.

Herbie had been checking WhatsApp and his personal email, but he had not been checking his class email, where on Monday afternoon he unpleasantly discovered many back assignments.

The actual work is not overwhelming... most of them are tiny assignments completed in a couple minutes, but seeing the huge number of messages in inboxes was disheartening.

The worst for me personally was Archie’s teacher (who is clearly the most tech savvy of all the elementary school teachers), who sent me about 5 online assignments a day last week, over the weekend too. We were not in a place for me to mention a single one to him until Tuesday, where he got them all done in an hour.

I realize everyone is doing the best they can in a difficult situation, and the teachers are only trying to do their jobs, but I really wish they would just leave us alone. (So I guess we’re still not isolated enough for me :)

Woo had to talk us all down from our alarm, and by Tuesday we had a handle on it. In the end the work from the teachers didn’t amount to much, so I was still glad that I’d made work for the kids myself.


We came up with a really fun game for track club... the original thing is for us all to jog in a line and the back person sprints to the front. Then they slow to a jog and the next person in back sprints to the front, and so on (still don’t have a good name for this, although it seems like there should be one right on the tip of my tongue... )


But this time, instead of only sprinting to the front, we also did things like skipping, running backwards, high knees, kicking-the-bum, running sideways, egg-beater legs, etc. and rotated through everyone getting a chance to pick what all the rest of us did.


I really felt like Maria von Trapp at that point.

The first time was more fun than the second time (although Herbie had some issues the first time). The second one Archie was super tired or something. On his turn he’d get overwhelmed and then completely give up. There was a lot of yelling at him to “Just GO!” until we finally figured out that WE should just walk during his turn so he could have confidence to get to the front.


Usually Penelope is Archie’s greatest advocate, but I guess this time she wasn’t.


I also enjoyed our last time in “the wilderness” as Herbie, Moses, Linus, Penelope and Archie all worked together to rehearse the Princess Bride movie script that Linus has been working on.

Ruby has had online seminary all year, but she’s supposed to do one lesson a week with a real person. She and I were doing that while sword and wrestling and wit duels were going on. Also, some excellent tracking by Prince Humperdink. Rolling down the canyon was too much fun and rehearsals were suspended so that all kids could take multiple turns. Ruby also joined in at that point.


I say our last time in the wilderness, because we are no longer allowed to go there.


Except one other thing to mention... Woo met us on his bike just as we were about to cross a street entering into town (so a group of all eight of us in close proximity on the road) when a guy in gloves and face mask drove by and was so clearly appalled by us that I almost expected him to stop his car and yell at us.

Some of the kids were afraid to leave the house the next day, but we went out in the morning without incident. We were not so lucky in the afternoon. While near a roundabout we had a few cars honk and one guy yell, “Stay at home! Stay at home!!” from his truck.

I had decided that the time had come for us to run around in the garage and play cards or read on our tiny balcony for sun, but Woo encouraged us all to go out to our last remaining safe place yesterday, which we did without incident.

We are not doing anything wrong. Families are allowed to go outside for bits of exercise, but no one else’s family is nearly as large as ours. People who don't know us assume that we are multiple families congregating.


Woo did not go surfing most of this week. Partly because of less than optimal waves and partly for fear it wasn’t allowed. He decided that it was allowed as long as the group was small enough, and he and Herbie ran out for a quick surf Saturday morning.

Woo’s always been frustrated by the church’s hymn app, and I guess he was finally moved to action after practicing parts with Ruby, Herbie and Moses during home church at the end of their lessons. 

He spent his extra time working on an app that allows you to adjust the hymn’s tempo and pull out the music for specific parts. We used it today and it worked great. With our extra 10 minutes after our testimony meeting we taught (or tried to teach) the kids the alto and tenor parts to Abide with Me.

Archie and Penelope switched bedrooms this week. Penelope has been complaining that she’s getting too big for hers (really a large closet), and Archie’s isn’t dark enough at his bedtime.

Archie was less excited about it, but changed his mind when Penelope listed all the pluses for him (the reasons she chose it herself in the first place), and they spent happy amounts of free time helping each other move their stuff around.

Woo recorded Archie singing nonstop in the tub. It’s part Portuguese and part English (with some German colors thrown in), but mostly English. It’s very cute 7-yr-old stream-of-consciousness and reflects almost everything going on in Archie’s brain and our family.


Linus needed a project to fill his mind during spare moments and he found it in building a marble Olympic park. Like everything Linus does, he thought deeply, planned carefully and built with precision.

All kids asked me to cut their hair this week.


Other tidbits:

Moses praying about his overwhelming load of homework (which turned out not to be) got the revelation to be writing everything that is happening to him in a journal.

Herbie praying about overcoming contention and rudeness got the revelation to make a scripture reading chart for Archie. If Archie reads great 7 times in a row, he gets to sit on Herbie‘s bed (something he’s always trying to do).

Penelope loves, loves summer schedule. Her favorite things have been Japanese and reading the Story of the Amulet.


We had a zoom call with everyone in Woo’s family. This is where rarely watching movies pays off—our kids were mesmerized (and it was not short).

This would be the end of Spring Break for us and we’re moving into homeschool next Monday. I’m excited and also glad we did summer schedule first because I knew what I needed to tweak for homeschool. I talked it over with the kids individually and told them that they were the teacher now and responsible for their own learning. The kids were very excited and Archie got up Thursday morning and immediately started to read JS-H for five minutes (one of the goals he’d set for himself during unscheduled time), even though we hadn’t started yet.

Ruby has been finding a ton of names to reserve for the temple.

Linus has a zoom call scheduled for his class on Monday and he feels very grown up to be having a zoom call already in fourth grade.
Archie: Mom, I like the book of Omni, because he let his whole family write in it! 
Me: Yeah, that was nice of him. 
Woo asked everyone their favorite animal.
Penelope: Pesaguses! 
That’s our week. Hope yours was great!

3.22.2020

Week One


Parts of this week were exhausting. I remembered the first week of the summer schedule last year, when I wondered if this was really going to work (and I remembered the promise I'd gotten the summer before that--that it would be the last hard summer... because the very first week of the summer schedule definitely wasn't looking or feeling easier).


This week was not as hard as the one last year, and I already knew that it takes time to deal to adjust to a new thing--deal with everyone's panic when they've forgotten passwords, other kids upset because they actually didn't want to do cooking (or some other thing). Also, as much as I wish all my kids could adjust to something different at the drop of a hat, some of them just naturally take more time.

Anyway, the end of the week was already much better. Woo and I believe this whole isolation thing is a great opportunity for us to overcome contention and rudeness as a family and to become one, and I continue to believe that.


There were many instances where a new awesomeness unveiled itself. Ruby and Herbie spent one evening giggling together and being best friends. That hasn't happened in a long time.

There were many times where all the kids played or worked together wonderfully on a shared game or project. Archie always seems to love, love, when everyone is home and he has so many big brothers and sisters to play with.


Portugal moved into a state of emergency with many movement restrictions last night. Woo paid the rent this week (in case it got more difficult later--it has to be done at the bank), and he and I went grocery shopping yesterday. It looked like they already had the restrictions in place, except they let us in during the time that will be reserved for people 65+.

There was a line outside (all of us standing 2 meters apart), and all the carts were removed. You could only enter the store with a cart, when someone else came out with one and passed it on to you. We all wore gloves; there were new plastic guards in front of the cashiers; they frequently sprayed stuff in their area down; and other than that it seemed largely the same. The store was fully stocked.

Woo and I always fill up two carts when we go shopping, but we checked out separately and generally tried to not look like we were together to avoid scaring everyone else into thinking we were hoarding and emptying out the store.


Monday we learned that all parks and beaches had been closed, but we were still able to get outside for track club and play at other times by going to parking lots or deserted jogging trails. Group athletic activity was restricted to 5 people to a group, then down to 2, so Woo and Herbie are still okay to surf together. They just make sure no one is there first, and there usually isn't. The entire town largely feels deserted.


Also, we are lucky to live on the edge of town, and can easily walk to a large expanse of dunes that the kids call "the wilderness." Every time we went, I thought of Maria packing up and taking the Van Trapp children on an outing in the mountains, and I felt like her (even though there were no other similarities). Many years ago when we watched the Sound of Music, Linus said, "I wish that girl was my mother!" This may be the closest you're ever going to get, Linus!


And when it's raining, we have a completely empty garage to run around in.


Penelope has a very cute and surprisingly accurate British accent that she learned from her English teacher. (She was very excited to start English this year, and I guess she did learn something after all). She and Ruby linked arms one walk back from the wilderness and tried to talk like they were from "1987" (Penelope's year). When they got home they sat in Ruby's room and read Emma out loud to each other in their British accents.

Another fun moment was when Herbie, Moses and Archie all tried to speak German with each other, and then later, when Ruby, Herbie and Linus spoke French.


Penelope and Linus take their language study very seriously, frequently pausing their app to take notes. Penelope even gets her notes out to study Japanese on off days from the summer schedule.


One day at lunch, I took a break in bed while the kids were in the living/dining room. I surprised them by playing some of the youth music through that speaker. That music (or any music) has a powerful and instant effect on Moses. He started from that moment on to be a infallible peacemaker and motivator of his brother's and sister's to do what they're supposed to be doing. He gobbled down his food, started and finished his chore, and spread the news that anyone who finished eating and doing their chore could play with him and his Pokeman cards, the sooner the better---singing out loud all the while.


Archie didn't get to read Frog and Toad or learn German one of the earlier days because he hadn't finished his morning chore in the allotted time. He was very upset, and even more upset when he learned that he got to do his homework from his teacher instead. (This kind of thing makes the first few days exhausting.) However he did much better the days after that.


Oh, and Linus tripped and hit his eye on the stair. He has a nice swollen black eye.


And that's all I have. I hope you're all doing well!



3.15.2020

We are in Quarantine, NOT on Vacation.


We have been paying more attention to the news this week. The title is my favorite Portuguese headline and this picture--taken on one of the Lisbon beaches the day after their schools closed (a few days before ours).


On Monday I started talking to the kids about our summer schedule. I was thinking it would be good to do it over spring break since we wouldn’t be going anywhere. At that point, it was still 2 weeks away.

The kids were quite happy with the old schedule still. The biggest changes were that Herbie, Moses and Archie are now doing German, and I found a new resource for Ruby’s Latin and Greek. (Linus is still very satisfied with French and Penelope with Japanese.) I had to make very few adjustments and purchase nothing. (I’d already bought an additional kids’ cookbook in January.)

I also added a classics reading section (as it’s so easy to find these on archive.org or gutenberg.org) where kids picked from a list I made for each of them (to start Ruby picked Jane Eyre, Herbie—Tarzan, Moses—Peter Pan, Linus—The Borrowers, Penelope—The Story of the Amulet, and Archie—Frog and Toad).


They are so, so excited for this. And I am too :).
Woo: I don’t know who’s more excited... you or the kids! 
And then as rumors started to float in that spring break was going to be moved up two weeks because of Covid-19 concerns and start on the next Monday, I thought, “Great! We’re ready! And also—“

Last year, around this time, I was inspired to plan and chart out an entire homeschooling curriculum for each kid. I decided what philosophy I liked (mine, basically :). I researched what the older kids needed for college. I researched resources, mapped everything out, etc., etc.


Then when I was done, I was like, when are we ever going to use this?? And I never got a clear answer, more of the “just have faith” variety, so I forgot about it for about a year until this week.

I opened up the files, cleaned up a few things, made sure I hadn’t double booked an iPad or computer or anything, and in a day I was ready to go with that too.

On Thursday we learned that school would be closed and on Friday I learned that it would be for at least 4 weeks, so when we reach beyond the time of a regular spring break, we’ll switch right over to the homeschool schedule! Luckily, the kids’ teachers sent all school books home, (and we have several extra from past years), so we won’t have to rely too heavily on our computers either.


Woo and I did our “prepper” shopping trip Thursday before dinner. The parking lot was jam packed and we had to park out on the street with a bunch of other people.

We were envisioning empty shelves, long lines, no shopping carts. But it wasn’t that way at all. There were a lot of people in there, but they were buying what Europeans always buy when they go to the grocery store—a handful of random stuff.

The only completely sold out thing was the bigger bags of rice (which they don’t always have anyways), but I’d been inspired many months ago to stock up on that, and had been doing so slowly (dried beans and canned goods also). About the last month, Woo had started to get promptings that he’d pass on to me, and I’d buy a little more. In fact, I’d bought two more big bags of rice 10 days before, because of his comments.

So anyway, we zipped through the store taking all that we liked: canned goods, frozen veggies, lots of potatoes, oranges, even vitamins (getting vitamins, especially vitamin C is my main concern, for some reason, if we were ever to get down to only rice. But yes, we definitely have enough food for 2 weeks).


Woo laughed when I loaded up a whole case of canned spicy tomato sardines (for everyone but me, btw), but he was proud when we got home and had one for breakfast. I guess I have some case lot sales in my background.

I commented to Woo that we were the only ones here that were preparing, and he said no, they were too. It was just that they only had one or two people to shop for.

Also, when I looked around at the things we were buying, and the things they were buying, I recognized that Woo and I are sitting on a huge store of food storage and emergency prep knowledge that we hardly recognize and that none of these people even had. Thanks to many of you for that. (Although, Woo ran in a store the next day for the garlic cloves we missed--very important--and he did see one cart with a bunch of toilet paper. There was still plenty in the store, though.)


Woo made all the kids their own jump ropes yesterday from broken (surfing) leashes or rope. It’s still a new enough fad for them to be super excited and entertained for several weeks in the movement area. (And appears to be less injury prone for Woo.)


Our branch is already almost entirely our family (we already had talks and lessons prepared), so the biggest change there is the location—and more English!
Moses: That was my best time of church ever! 
Linus spent half of primary weeping over a story that really touched him in sacrament meeting. He later received revelation about what it meant for him.


We also already know what to do when we can’t go to the temple as often as before. President Nelson said this in Oct 2018:
"For those of you who don’t live near a temple, I invite you to study prayerfully about temples in the scriptures and in the words of living prophets. Seek to know more, to understand more, to feel more about temples than you ever have before."
Also to do more family history work.

So long story short, we’re holding up tight here feeling well prepared and looked after, and ready to seize all the opportunities that come from this challenge.


Here’s a few things from the kids:

We fasted for the WELFARE of those who knew not God (Alma 6:6). Linus prayed for days for the FAREWELL of those who knew not God.
Linus (eating cashews—for the first time?): Are these just burnt macaroni noodles?!? 
   
Archie: Mom! If you were a storager would you sell beer?? 
For those of you who didn’t get that (and we didn’t at first), storager=store owner.

Ruby was excited to find and check out several books she recognized from the US in the school library: Indian in the Cupboard, His Dark Materials and a few others I don’t remember. 

Unfortunately, she burned right through them and has already finished them all even though they were in Portuguese.


Herbie laughed when his teacher pulled out a t-ball tee for his PE class’s baseball unit, and then even more when they used a cricket bat (because it’s easier to hit with).

He and one other sporty kid were able to pitch and hit with each other with a real ball and bat and Herbie was pleased with the hits he got.


While taking his turn spinning the jump rope, Moses sang a few rope skipping ditties in Portuguese (mostly one about a witch). I asked him how he knew them, but I couldn’t hear his embarrassed mumble.

When it was his turn to jump, he got frustrated with the silence and since he was facing me, yelled at me to “SING IT!”

I kind of shrugged, “I don’t know it.”

And he smiled because of course I didn’t, and it was ridiculous to imagine that I did :).


Penelope was crazy and high-strung a lot of the week (probably coronavirus excitement at school). However, whenever we would ask her to stop doing something, she would immediately stop (because she tries to be immediately obedient), but then she would just go on to do some other crazy thing. 

Here’s a sweet thing from my week: When the temple was closed I was grateful that we’d been allowed to go immediately beforehand, but then I got a nudge that that wasn’t quite right. The right idea was more personal and helped me to feel more loved... the temple hadn’t been allowed to close until we had been.

3.08.2020

Dreams


There seemed to be a lot of dreams this week. Woo dreamed Moses died. He had to check on him in the middle of the night to see if he was still alive, which he was. And the day after that, and the day after that.

A night or two later, Moses dreamed that Woo died.


Herbie asked me one morning what he should do with his surfboard when we moved. He said he'd had a dream that we'd moved and he had to leave his surfboard out on the side of the road. But in the end it was okay, because when he came back on his mission, his surfboard was still there, waiting for him on the side of the road. I told him that parts of that dream were likely symbolic, but he didn't seem to be able to wrap his head around that.


One night Linus asked what he could give or share to feel more of the love of God in his heart. His answer was to tell anyone trying to contend with him that he loved them. Then he fell asleep and had what he clearly thought was a wonderful dream where he always used this new bit of revelation, never contended with anyone, not even at school, and had the love of God always in his heart. Also, I thanked him for stopping contention. In the morning he was super, super excellent, and it was clear that he felt the effects of that dream all day long.


Earlier in the week Linus had a dream about his music teacher, the result being that he needed to make him a card. He started on it that morning after he finished his chore (a pop-out of a guitar), and delivered it the next time he had music.


This week I got to work on my own projects again—it sure felt good. Also, I'd cut down my running in early January when I developed a pain on my left foot. I slowly worked back up, and this week was the first week back on my old schedule--no foot pain in sight.

Ruby went running with me three times. It was fun to talk with her a little bit more, and also she's a waaaaay faster sprinter than I am. That might help my intervals. (Or maybe I'm too old to improve my speed work?)

Woo also started a new project. It’s ... super secret... no, I'm sure it's not. I’m just not good at describing these things. You’ll have to talk to him if you want to know.


Here's Herbie and Moses showing off their Sketch projects.


Ruby, Herbie and Moses are baptized for about 100 of our names every week. They often also are baptized and confirmed for the temple workers' names. Herbie said it was 150 extra this week, but I think the truth came out to being closer to 45 for all of them. Still, moving into a temple district that will only allow 4 baptisms per person per visit worries me a bit. Especially since lately Ruby has found over a 100 names a sitting herself. Herbie is finding more also.


As a favor to me, Woo cut his hair this week. He thinks he looks terrible. I think he looks great. I didn't think there would be a picture for you to form your own opinion, but maybe there is.


Jump rope is the new recess fad at the elementary school. Penelope and her friends started it and Penelope has really gotten into it. Linus cried one morning because he didn't think Penelope would let him jump rope with her and her friends (I guess it's caught the envy of the entire school??). Which was ridiculous. He might have teased Penelope, but no one is quicker to forgive and be a friend than Penelope.

Archie is also excited about it. He sometimes tells me a new skill he's learned, but always, Penelope is held up as the expert. Mostly, I like to think about how universal jumping rope in elementary school is.

And that's our week.