Only 8 Plagues Left???

It was hot this week—something we’re not used to. None of the buildings here have heating or cooling so we had to pull out some of our old Utah summer tricks—sleeping without blankets, keeping the blinds down during the heat of the day, opening the windows in the early morning and evening...

None of the windows have screens either. Ruby’s room and the laundry porch were flooded with tiny flies we’d never seen before.

Almost two months ago my ears perked up during Elder Gong’s talk in conference: “The book of Exodus relates how this deliverance came after plagues of frogs, lice, flies, the death of cattle, boils, blains, hail and fire, locusts, and thick darkness.”

Lice?? We’ve had lice! (I’d tried to decide if mold on the walls counted as a plague.) And now we’ve had flies.

Each of the kids decided in turn that it was their duty to get rid of the flies. We found them in one of those two rooms spraying copious amounts of vinegar or jumping around brandishing the fly swatter, or sometimes, pounding the walls or the window with just their hand.

It’s apparently the kind of game where once you get started, it’s hard to stop.

Moses decided to go surfing again. He’s been turning down Woo and Herbie’s invitations for months and months, but he seemed to decide it was what he needed to do to improve his relationship with his brother and dad (he’s been praying a lot to be one), and also decided the water wasn’t going to be *too* cold now.

We pushed back our school an hour and a half so those three could go surfing before it got too hot and too many people came out.

I was a little concerned because I’m a person who likes to do the work first thing in the morning and the play later, and I was afraid I’d lose everyone’s brains starting later, but I haven’t.

In fact, in at least one case it was better. Penelope and Archie read extra scriptures on their own(!?) while waiting and they were fantastic the entire class time. Archie worked harder and more diligently on school work that day than I’ve seen him work yet. After our classes he did a math assignment, a Portuguese test, and wanted to start his math test, even though it’s not due until next week, and got a few pages into that before it was time for lunch.

Speaking of reading extra scriptures... Ruby has been so happy, so willing to be a peacemaker... until Thursday. Then she was belligerent again. At the end of the day I went into her room to ask what had gone wrong. She sheepishly admitted that she hadn’t kept her goal to read her Doctrine and Covenants for 20 minutes every morning. And then she kept not doing it and not doing it...

I didn’t say anything else. It was enough for her to see the difference it made and she got back on track on Friday.

Ruby deep-cleaned her room, and then Moses, and then Herbie (who does it semi-frequently anyway). Penelope enthusiastically helped Ruby and then kept doing little things like clean out edges on the wash machine with a toothpick and dust the baseboard while I read stories.

Herbie has made a big jump in progress this week too. He’s been much more patient with his younger siblings and tries to get up and do something good first thing (besides read extra scriptures, which he also does), like set the table for breakfast or compliment someone.

He made a specific goal to not just stop arguing with Ruby, but to be her best friend. Like all new goals, there have been some setbacks, but every day has been a new day and he’s kept at it.

Linus has become the most excellently behaved student. He’s put on his primary face with a little smile, folds his arms almost constantly, and listens attentively. He gets to stay up for up to fifteen minutes for good behavior in class and this is extremely motivating for him.

One of the new classroom management things I started was to have all the kids meet in the entry with their supplies, and upon exactly following an instruction I give them, allow them into the living room to quietly start some copy work while the kids who weren’t exact get to try again.

Woo will often also do whatever I ask very enthusiastically, and by now everyone knows what is expected and does their best the first time. Usually I have them stand and give me a big smile or look directly at me or fold their arms or something like that.

Friday on a whim I said, “Please stand up, smile and say ‘Mother, I love you!’” which they all immediately did (including Woo) and I had to laugh because it was so ridiculous.

Two afternoons a week we’ve been trying to go on “Dad adventures”... for lack of a better name... the first one this week was not the kind of adventure you want to repeat.

The kids were all excited about our bike ride on Saturday and wanted to do that again. Woo, however, seemed like a bike ride was the last thing he wanted to do, but we got all the bikes out anyway.

As soon as the garage door went down, Herbie’s chain got jammed between the gears and the bike frame. It was many minutes before we freed that.

Then Ruby, who apparently still hadn’t gotten the hang of her brakes, went over the handlebars.

My pedal starting feeling weird. Herbie, who’d ridden the bike before, showed me how to kick it back into the bottom bracket. I did that a few times, but almost exactly at the halfway point of our ride, the entire crank fell off the bike.

There was no way to fix it there so I threw it in my pocket and said I’d ride home with one pedal, but I wasn’t very good at it. Woo traded me bikes after awhile, and he was able to ride it home okay.

But the next adventure was a success. It was very hot. Woo took us on a bit of a ride, a bit of a hike through sand, and to a very lightly populated beach. The kids loved it and were very, very high with their praise. Woo had a good time too, but that evening his back was sunburned and his arms were sore from throwing wet sand on a mound with Archie. The next day he napped.

Saturday we went on our longest ride yet. (This is the ride in the pictures.) We road on dirt roads through cabbage fields. Penelope was a good sport on her single speed. Archie was again terrified of dogs, but they were all behind fences.

And that’s our week! Hope yours was great!