Three Years

This week we copied Karen’s revelation of last week to draw secret siblings (I remember doing this a couple times growing up also).

I changed it a bit to draw a new person everyday to keep it fresh and prevent anyone from getting discouraged... every morning was a new start.

The ground rules were that a minimum of three nice things had to be done, none of them could be notes, and if anyone tried to guess who you had, you just smiled and said: “maybe.”

I also managed to plant in the kids’ minds that they could do nice things for the people they hadn’t drawn to throw others off their trail, and all of them did do that.

I knew the kids would be excited, but they loved it even more than I was expecting.

The first day was a trial run. There were new topics for argument, but they all had fun and were anxious to start the next day. Everyone had ideas of what to do better the next day, and the next day was better.

Also, Woo and I put our names in the draw the second day. The kids were completely shocked at the end of the day when Woo confessed that he’d made Moses’s bed. They thought he was so sneaky!

Woo and I had only half of our bed made at different times by different secretive people.

Penelope was absolutely sure that we’d conquer contention and rudeness on Tuesday and I have to admit it was pretty close. In part because Herbie drew me and he worked extra hard to not be contentious as one of his nice things to me. It has been his best week.

Wednesday the squabbles returned, but they were pretty mild until Saturday.

Some things given as service were not recognized as service. Like when Archie kept trying to wrestle with Ruby after breakfast. But Ruby, trying to give service herself, was very kind in escaping, and never guessed that he’d drawn her name until the end of the day when he’d told her the “nice” things he’d done for her.

By Wednesday the kids were super good at fooling us all. Penelope and Archie each chose a pretend secret friend that they did very visible things for. They both completely fooled me. I was convinced Penelope had Woo as she helped me do some things I always do for him, and constantly walked in the room to brightly say hi to him and give him a hug. She had me.

I thought for sure Archie had me. He straightened a blanket over my legs very gently and gave me lots of smiles. When Ruby tickle tortured him he shrieked, “I have Mom! Don’t tell her! I have Mom!”

He had Penelope. I was his “pretend” secret friend.

Linus had Woo and no one knew because he did only one direct thing with Woo (a hug), but as he went about his day he did the things that his dad had asked him to do in the past, but he usually didn’t do, like picking up his scriptures off the stairs and not hanging on the faucet when he got a drink. None of us guessed.

Ruby enlisted Moses as an accomplice and he delivered all her services to her person.

Woo and I were starting get tired of it by Thursday or Friday (in part because I drew myself one day and instead of having everyone redraw, decided to do everyone myself. Trying to be sneaky, keep track of what I did for who and also do things besides what I normally do was a bit taxing). But the kids are still going strong and remind me to draw names every morning.

Our neighbors replaced their roof. It was hours of entertainment for our boys. Herbie is not too old to love watching this kind of stuff. It was only mildly interesting for Ruby and Penelope.

Saturday marked the Fourth of July and also three years in Portugal. We’ve been in Spain the last two Fourth of Julys/anniversaries, but had no real ideas for anything special this time, and almost didn't do anything.

But in the morning we enjoyed a parade (I think Herbie was the one with the original idea) with a military battalion, stunt vehicles, floats and an appreciative crowd.

After a couple of setbacks we went on a hike. Google maps showed us driving up a narrow dirt road to the trail head. It was flanked on one side by a deep canal and a stone wall on the other. Woo took it quite slowly, but after easing the van around the corner of a house built right on the road and seeing the road narrow even more into a climb, he decided this wasn't for us.

Unfortunately, we had to get out. There was zero space to maneuver anywhere, but backwards, around blind corners and the constant, unforgiving threat of the canal drop off. I said a lot of prayers and tried to encourage the kids to do the same. However, a couple of them looked out windows straight down into the canal and declared we were going to die, or asked if they could get out of the van.

Woo did a wonderful job, as always. He did tear off the right corner of the front fender on a stone plinth that was impossible to see. A small price to pay, in my opinion, for getting us out of the scrape we were in.

The kids loved the hike and were generous in their praise. About halfway through Moses learned that trees have spirits. He kept saying, "You mean they're alive?!"

And then he spent the rest of the hike praising the trees and plants for their appearance and smell; he thanked them for everything they did and told them he loved them. He apologized if he had to step on one.

He topped it off today by bearing his testimony about God's creations and knew we should treat them like people. This from the kid who's first reaction to a butterfly had always been to stomp and who's first reaction to a plant had always been to rip off a few branches for wands or swords or mustaches.

We had a picnic for dinner and each had a chance to say what we thought had been the best and the worst thing about living in Portugal. The most popular best thing had been working at the temple open house and the dedication. The worst things were all pretty varied.

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