We had a lot of rain at the beginning of the week. I mean A LOT. I came home from picking up Nellpea: completely soaked after 5 minutes outside, so I started out to meet up with Herbie. I didn't want him to be completely demoralized, walking home alone in a downpour. I pulled on my rain boots and sopping wet coat and ran out the door, where I discovered that my rain boots and coat are as good as useless in so much rain. Then a car zoomed pass, hit a puddle, and scored a direct hit on my entire body. 

But Herbie was even worse. He was almost home, wet through, and not even trying to hurry anymore... just a plod, plod, plod in the right direction. 

This kind of thing happening once or twice, and especially on the way home, is not the worst thing in the world. But it kept raining, and the kids were running out of dry clothes, rain gear and shoes. We had our little electric heater running all one afternoon with shoes stacked in front of it and jackets hanging round, but conditions were getting desperate. 

I briefly considered ordering everyone a bunch more rain gear from Decathlon, but that of course was ludicrous. I was just going to have to drive everyone everywhere. I drove Herbie back to school after lunch, which was a good move... lots of rain. When I picked him up and then Penelope, there was significantly less. And when I picked up Ruby and Moses the rain had stopped. They were a little confused that I'd come to get them for no reason, and that was the end of rain for the week. (Except a surprise cloud burst that Ruby and Moses caught on the way home at the end of the week.) 

Herbie has set up a little indexing group consisting of his siblings. I occasionally see his messages to the others, and it's cute what a good administrator he is... handing out assignments, encouragement, etc.

Woo really enjoyed surfing in the rain. He says there's a neat effect where the water droplets sit on the surface of the water until they are absorbed into the rest of the swell, and he just had a lot of fun riding his bike in the rain afterwards and already being completely soaked. 

When Ruby has to take a phone to class she stuffs it in a gigantic fluffy sock to protect it.
Woo: Are you going to be embarrassed about that?  
Ruby (scoffing): I try NOT to seek the praise of man.
Also, good news, the fluffy sock did protect the phone from the cloud burst that got other areas of her backpack soaked.

Ruby really loves PE this year. Her teacher seems to be effectively challenging her and there's a small group of boys that are just ahead of her in running and sprinting that she's trying to catch. 

A branch member got a job at one of the fish factories. He gave us a bunch of canned sardines last Sunday. Woo has been strongly encouraging sardine eating, as he feels we should whittle away at the pile.
Moses: I’m not going to eat any sardines for lunch. Ruby told me her experience.  
Me: What? 
Moses: All through class she had to smell her own sardine breath in her mask.
Moses works hard on his school work on the mornings he's home alone. His name tag for art class was so good, his teacher took a picture for her personal files. 

Nellpea took a wellness quiz, where she got 16 out of 16. One of the questions that she thought was so funny was: When it's time to go to bed do you whine, complain, cry or say no?

If only Penelope knew how common that is... I honestly don't think she's ever seen it. For naptime (back when we had naptime), sure, but never for bedtime. We do have kids that are excellent at going to bed.

Penelope loved the rain. She'd greet me at the gate laughing, dancing, trying to drink in rain. Sometimes she'd cackle, "Everyone's scared of the rain!"

And it was true, the funcionarios would carefully walk out each individual kid from the school to their anxious parents under an umbrella. But they know us well enough by now to just send Penelope and Archie out the door to me where they tear out like being released from prison--laughing, shouting, and stomping directly into any immediate puddle they can find. 

Linus is also loving PE. He won vaivém for his class on Monday. Linus said he was the only kid to run enough laps to qualify for the "athlete" category, and only two kids qualified as "healthy." Woo was disappointed that there were no lower categories... he thought "slug" would be a fun one, but there is no shaming, only encouraging towards healthy and athlete.

Linus also won the situps and push ups and PE could not get more exciting for him. He's been extremely grouchy the extra hour of his day, but he's started to get a handle on that... just in time for another extended hour because of the time change. (At Woo's suggestion, he and I are united today in a special fast to combat--or at least survive--the headache to come as a result of this time change.) 

Archie has gleefully jumped into all puddles anywhere near his general path. He also had just been getting a handle on his loss of concentration and attention that came with the start of school. Woo made a diligent, persistent effort to get Archie reading his scriptures very well in the morning. Archie had been doing that, and when he did, his whole day was better, of course.

I love fasting. I don't know how many times I've been praying about a thing all week and then almost as soon as I start the fast, boom, there's the solution or answer. I almost can't wait to fast for a thing when I can see that a few prayers are not getting the job done.

Woo was the fire expert who got it started in damp conditions. Yay! 

Anyway, I hope you've all had a great week! 


Another Week Down

The kids seem to be doing well in school.

Linus ran in from school, excited: 
My Portuguese teacher said there was only one A on the test! 

And when she handed them out, it was MINE!
This earned laughs from all of us. Woo suggested he tell his class: “That’s okay guys, I’m sure you’ll all beat me on the English test!”

He also got one of two high scores on his history and geography of Portugal test.

Archie won two prizes this week from winning two contests (Woo wonders if the class is being bad that his teacher has to be more creative.) He won a handful of m&ms for writing numbers from 50-99, and a robot for some syntax exercise. (I like that his teacher is not giving out whole bags of candy and she also is gifting old toys from her own children... that she’s doused with disinfectant, of course) 

Herbie hasn’t gotten the score from his math test yet, but he thought it was easy, he was the first one done, and he checked over everything twice, just to be sure.

He also was excited about his sit-up test in PE. It sounds like they play some sort of metronome thing to keep track of kids sit-ups and Herbie did more sit-ups than were programmed... He described it as: “I finished the whole thing!” This is something he’s never done before. 

Moses asked me at dinner: 
Mom, has anyone ever been the class clown AND the teachers pet?
He smiled sweetly.
That’s what I’m trying to do this year. But with good jokes.
Me: Oh? Did you have some successes today?

Moses (blushing): Yeah, I had a few good ones... and the teachers already all like me....
The competition in that area, to be honest, is not fierce. You might remember that Moses’s class was labeled “the worst class in the school!” a couple years ago.

Although, Moses sometimes tells us that his class is much better, and that no one got any detentions last year. He seems to think that because he was class president last year, that he had influence there. 

Last week, I got a little nudge that I should talk about improving our family prayers during Come Follow Me. While talking, I got the revelation that we should wait a few seconds reverently before speaking, thinking about who we were about to speak to and maybe what we were going to say. We have been doing that and our family prayers have improved 310%. 

Woo took Pedro to the hospital for an appointment, which beyond the expected drive/Pedro/hospital adventure was made more exciting by being pulled over, reprimanded for still having a Utah driver’s license (no ticket or fine, thanks to many prayers), and losing Pedro in the hospital because Pedro hadn’t brought his phone and hadn’t remembered to tell anyone.

Woo also taught a Brazilian couple with the missionaries this week and picked them up for church today. And then he randomly picked up a hitchhiker driving them home. A first?

After hearing Ruby tell of kids in her school kissing with their masks on, Woo and I tried it for our anniversary.

We went for a little walk around town before dinner. Which was better for us, because going out after the kids are all home and settled is usually exhausting. Then we got take out for everyone because the sealing of our family is worth everyone celebrating. 

Penelope and Archie: Let's do that thing! Yeah!
And as they clinked cans of Guaraná together, they both shouted: "Cheese!"   

I sometimes ask Ruby and Moses who have classes after 6PM if the kids in their classes are tired. I envision a class full of kids in a dazed stupor or else crazy kids like our kids in that extra hour of our current day.

They always say, yes, everyone is tired, but I never get enough details, I guess, because I keep asking. 

Penelope has been reading her English textbooks out loud to Archie. They have little stories in them, and they both seem to enjoy it.

For the first time I remember, Ruby forgot to wash the dishes. She needed a phone for her biology class, and spent the morning with Woo getting Classroom and whatever else she needed on an old spare phone.

Penelope did them for her, and when Ruby came home she said: “Who washed these dishes? They did a really good job!” 

I’ve been trying to dress better... get out of my sweats slump. To be honest, I feel like kind of an idiot some of the time, especially when all the kids ask me why I’m dressed like that, and are so persistent about it.

I finally told Ruby I was dressing as a business professional for Halloween and trying out my costume. Ah Halloween... we barely remember thee... 

Here's Linus at the optometrist... quick and free... the line outside the store was horrendous, though, because of tightened COVID measures. Luckily we didn't have to wait in that!

And I think that might be it for our week. I hope yours was great!


The BigBoy Family (Herbie's title suggestion)

As I thought back on conference, before any had been published online and I could reread them, I kept remembering all the moments that the speaker seemed to kindly be saying: “Buck up and stop being babies.” 

Probably no one else heard it that way, so I guess that was the theme of the conference for me personally. I hadn’t thought I was being a baby, but in certain areas, of course I was. I resolved once again to live my favorite line from Gordon B Hinckley’s father: Forget yourself and get to work. 

Last week I’d decided that enough was enough. We should get furniture. We could sell whatever we had when we left, and Woo was willing. I did online research, went on a reconnaissance shopping trip around town with Linus and Herbie and after writing down what we’d need and best prices, I prayed about it.

The answer was: get your house now in order.

So I began to dejunk. When that was over, I began to wash walls. It was the most glaring problem to me in our current apartment. 

But then the kids began to help. Lidl is in the middle of a promotion where we get one miniature grocery item for every 15€ spent. I’d also bought a large bag of high chew-like candies on sale. The kids did a lot of mopping, wall washing and tidying for a chance to get one of those. 

I was seemingly out of things to do to put my own house in order, but then I remembered the nicks in the walls, the broken doorknobs (very cheap, many broke the first time we ever used them... the first day we entered the apartment and we had never replaced them), etc.

I began to touch up paint, take trips to the home improvement stores, replace door knobs, light switch covers, repair cabinet doors, and deep clean the fridge (Woo did the freezer last month).

On Friday I ran out of steam. Also I had an infection in my tear duct that was swelling my eye and making me feel less than fantastic. I rested, but it was still a busy week. 

Like most European apartment buildings, we have a locked entrance door that can only be opened with a key or someone inside buzzing the door open.

Anyway, since school has started, our buzzer is broken, which means anytime a kid returns home for lunch and at the end of the day, someone needs to stop what they’re doing and run down four flights of stairs (or five, if they’re upstairs in our apartment), and then back up to let them in.

We could drop a key from the balcony to the waiting kid, but we haven’t had to do that yet because Penelope is so willing and awesome at sprinting out the door and down the stairs as soon as she hears the bell, opening the door and sprinting back up. She’s hardly out of breath when she gets back, and we’re so grateful she’s doing that for us.

Penelope is putting a little more effort into her outfits this year, I’ve noticed. A little more matching, a little more planning. 

Ruby went through a couple of years of scowling or hiding whenever the camera was pointed her way. We took pictures anyway.

During the summer I registered the kids for school online. Ruby’s registration, being in a new school, required a new picture. I picked the best one I could find in 30 seconds. Of course she was scowling. 

When she got her new school card with her scowling picture right on the front, she wanted to know why I’d picked such a grouchy picture. Couldn’t I have picked one with her at least smiling? Well, those are hard to find.

Since then she has smiled intentionally every time a picture is taken, and I’m happy that a phase has passed. 

Herbie continues to prioritize his time very well. He liked the story of President Oaks’ law school friend in conference and has adopted a similar studying strategy himself now. He’s the one who tells Woo it’s time to come in from surfing, so Herbie can get to work on his other obligations. 

Moses was excited to finish his library book, return it, and check out the next book in the series. Unfortunately, when he got to the school library he found out he couldn’t check out the next book. Herbie had just returned it and it was still in quarantine.

Ruby holds the middle school Vai-Vém record. Vai-Vém is basically a shuttle run (which apparently Woo also was always good at), where kids run back and forth in the gym for a set amount of time. Ruby’s record is a hundred lengths. 

Both Herbie and Moses have wanted to break that record. Herbie was all set last year before the lockdown, but was disappointed when his teacher stopped him once he reached the A standard and wouldn’t let him run more. 

Moses has the same PE teacher Ruby had her past three years, but he also won’t let Moses go beyond the A standard, even on the push-ups record (which Moses was also trying to break). Instead the teacher calls Moses over to look at his watch once Moses has earned his A, so he can pontificate on the distance and pace of his own morning run while the rest of the class finishes up, and Moses wishes he was still there also.

BUT this week, Herbie’s teacher finally let him keep running to the end and he got 104 lengths. He said that and a barrel he surfed were the best parts of his week. 

We got the kids’ school books this week, and Linus has spent almost all of his free afternoon time carefully reading and implementing the directions in his art book. When he’s tired of that, he pulls out his music book and recorder and teaches himself how to play all the new songs. 

Linus had a couple bad days, but he came up with a plan himself which was obvious because he became more pleasant and every single one of his prayers included a plea to “não ser grouchy.” Apparently he doesn’t know how to say grouchy in Portuguese. 

Woo went on essentially three Daddy Days on Friday when he went on a bike ride with Moses, surfing with Herbie, and took Penelope and Archie on a store run. 

The bike ride with Moses was an adventure where they finally got to run through that tunnel Moses has always been fascinated by. Woo was sooooo sore the next day. Running at a crouch is not what his thighs are used to.

Woo’s still having fun with his app. It’s *almost* ready to release, however it’s a niche market, and really only for Woo, which doesn’t mean income, but makes it the most fun to work on (which is important too :). 

Archie must learn something in school, but I never hear about it. Penelope has told me about several class discussions this week, but all Archie talks about is Pokémon cards and who has them, and how one kid slid one across the floor to him just before class got out, and what he’s going to trade at recess.

One evening I complimented him on following someone else’s scripture verse reading so well, with his finger and everything, and he looked up and complimented me on complimenting him so profusely that he stopped reading along, and it kind of backfired. 

Starting school has shaken us up, like it always does. The younger kids are also going to bed an hour later with the new staggered schedule, and not always sleeping in an hour more. However with repenting everyday and our emphasis on overcoming contention and also our prayers, we were having our best back-to-school ever, until I would say the last two or three days. There has been a lot of bickering these days :(. 

Luckily, next week is a new week. I hope your week was great!



I guess we didn’t take many pictures this week. Sorry about that. (Archie is still alive, even though we don't have a picture of him.) 

Herbie has been working hard to overcome several weaknesses over the past couple months. He’s made a lot of headway against anger and towards speaking softly in the last couple of weeks.

I was pleased to discover one morning while dealing with a grouchy Linus that Herbie was quietly doing one small act of service for him after another, silently helping to ease Linus’s burden and help him get ready for school. The remarkable thing is that Herbie was not taking anything Linus said or did personally and reacting angrily, but was recognizing that Linus’s grouchiness was a signal that Linus was feeling stress and was in need of help.

Herbie is excellent about thinking ahead and preparing early and he was doing that for Linus as well, fixing Linus a snack before Linus even figured out he hadn’t made one yet, and so on.

When I pointed out what Herbie was doing to Linus and said he was doing it because he loved him, Linus softened considerably and they were both able to take off for school in a pleasant mood.

Herbie and Linus are now recognizing the vast height difference between them. Herbie’s grown rapidly the last few months, but also Moses had usually been walking with them to bridge the gap. With him gone, they now recognize just how far the divide.

Linus’s legs have been sore all week as he adjusts to the longer walk to the middle school. He also used to have more time in the morning, but he’s always been good at keeping focused on what needs to be done to get out the door, so that’s not been much of a problem.

[Insert long, sad tale of misunderstandings, misdirection, unreliable mail service, taxes, tariffs, and so on] ... and that is why Ruby got her first pair of glasses just before leaving for class on Friday. She reacted like all people with poor eyesight do when putting on something to correct their vision, but it was still fun to watch.


*giant smile, and looking at our signs up on the window* 
“I can read that!”

Archie and I walked out the door with her where she looked all around with wonder and headed off for school.

She later told me, “I thought when I got glasses I’d only be able to read things far away better. I didn’t realize I’d be able to see EVERYTHING better!”

I’m only sorry it took so long.

Soccer is not allowed at breaks anymore, and it really was depressing for Moses. He was feeling like school wasn’t worth going to anymore, but then a new game emerged.

I think it’s called Inverno(?), and it sounds like it’s a type of tag. It’s pretty much the most exciting thing of Moses’s day. He likes to get to school a bit early to play. (And also he’s super worried about being late and likes to leave early anyway. We have to help him calm down a little.)

But on Wednesday he tripped and fell. He came home covered in several big bandages. Things like walking and kneeling and getting patted on the shoulder have been painful for him.

Penelope and Archie are tired. They’re going to bed an hour later with the new school schedule, and have started sleeping in more, but still aren’t adjusted.

This year I didn’t sign them up to attend optional classes like PE and a couple others that seem to revolve depending on what teachers they can get. They’ve done them in the past, and generally enjoyed them, but I wanted them to have extra time at home this year.

I expected them to play more together during this time, but they haven’t been. I sneak up on them upstairs because it’s completely quiet and they’re in different rooms. Penelope’s lying in bed reading a textbook and Archie’s building something with legos. This almost never happens. They’ve really needed the down time.

Woo continues to work on his surfing app. It’s fun for him to be working on something that excites him again (other than someone else’s project).

He worked maybe too hard last week and has been falling asleep early most of this week.

Either I’ve lived here long enough or there was a greater drop in temperature this year... I actually feel like I’m getting an autumn! Which has been kind of fun.

We’ve listened to one session of conference, which was excellent and are looking forward to more. I hope you all had a great week!