5.09.2021

A Bunch of Answered Prayers


Covid numbers were rising in town, so Ruby was tested again this week. (This is going to be an every two week thing for the high school??) 

Ruby was nervous about returning to online school and said a lot of prayers as two kids went home feeling sick the day before, but no one in her class tested positive. At least six people in the school did though because six classes are now online for ten days.
Me (looking at the size of the Gilbert AZ temple): I’m always amazed at how many people live in Arizona.  
Woo: Phoenix has what, 3 million people?  
Me: I know! I always think of Arizona as this giant desert or something, but people live there!  
Woo: Your brother is one of them.  
Me: And your sister.  
Woo: Chelsey, this is going to surprise you, but there are millions of people living normal lives... living in houses, sitting on couches, access to hamburgers.  
Me (laughing because decent hamburgers—and couches—have become the unattainable symbol of the good life to us)  
Woo: I’m serious. Name one American that within five minutes can’t go out (or make in their own home) and have a hamburger in their hands.  
Me: ...filling their bellies...  
Woo: Name one! 
I couldn’t name one.
 

Woo doesn’t get a lot of opportunities to help people move here, but he did get to help someone move their boat for about four hours.

Me: How was it?  
 
Woo: Well, it wasn’t a cat owner who hadn’t packed yet… but I did get to sit in a car with a dog!
 

The morning Woo was leaving, I forgot my keys taking Archie to school. Halfway there I realized Woo wouldn’t be home to let me in after my run, and I needed to turn back for the keys right then.

I told Archie to give me a hug and run on ahead so he wouldn’t be late.

Archie: Mom, I’m scared!

I started to list some options for him, but before I knew it and before he’d given me a hug, he had torn off for the school as fast as he could.

I guess he’d decided that he could do it, and to sprint past all the dangers immediately, while the coast was clear. No kidnappers, dogs, or cars got him, and I got the keys.
 

Archie got an assignment to write a book for school. He had what he felt was a brilliant idea, that no one else had thought of, to write a comic book. He immediately got to work and wrote it that evening.

He took it to school the next day, and read it to his friends, who all wanted their own copies. He’s been working on little books ever since.
 

Linus finished covering all the upstairs windows with cardboard. The quality of his work and innovation took a hit with each window, but he got them all done. It is much, much darker up there now.

Linus still was crabby until Thursday evening.
 
Wednesday, as a family, we got the rebuke that we needed to work harder on contention and rudeness. Hard-heartedness was the culprit.

In the morning I had each of the kids pray about what they were hardening their hearts against (and did the same myself, of course).
 

Herbie, who’d been finding himself dragged more and more into Liney’s grouchiness, was excellent that morning. He talked about his soft heart and immediately did my every suggestion, and even some I didn’t mention, but he’d remembered me saying in the past.

Like he wiped up the sink and counter after Linus did the dishes instead of criticizing Linus and immediately dropped to his knees when we said it was time to pray.
 

But that afternoon, Linus and Herbie came home shouting at each other, in a big argument.

Neither one of them was able to let it go for a long time. I don’t know what finally helped them (other than prayers?), but that night they forgave each other, and decided to be friends. They even decided to hug, and Linus kissed Herbie, which Herbie acted disgusted about, but listed it as one of his daily blessings. They both mentioned being friends in their prayers and have been talking about their soft, squishy hearts ever since.
 

I overheard Ruby telling Moses(?) about her dream the night before. It had a pretty obvious interpretation, I thought.

Me: I can tell you what your dream means, Ruby.

Ruby (laughing, amused, but disbelieving): Really? What?

Then I told her in one or two sentences, and she stopped laughing and was dead silent for several moments as it was clear to her that I was right.
 

Ruby’s morning runs have led to morning showers, which have led to greater care in her dress. She even wore a skirt on Friday because of her friend’s shock that she’d worn overalls and then white pants and basically all the clothes that her friend would wear, but didn’t think Ruby ever would or could.
 

You know that old parent line: all I want for my birthday (or Christmas) is good kids?

Well, Moses took that to heart and was excellent all day for my birthday. Actually, most of the kids were great in the morning, but Moses was the only one able to keep it up literally all day.

He immediately got to work on his chore in the morning and proudly came and told me that he’d done the best job he’d ever done scrubbing the toilets. He seemed to have surprised and pleased even himself with his efforts.

He thanked me graciously and immediately for any treat I brought home, or anything I did. He never argued with anyone or got distracted or told jokes at the wrong time. He was always on task. He remembered everything we asked him to do with no reminders.

Even in the evening when everyone else was tired or had forgotten it was my birthday after being at school, he was still on task. He set the table. (Linus cut the pizza.) He was the first one with his teeth brushed and ready for scriptures and prayer.

Ruby had big plans for what she going to do for my birthday (deep clean her room, make dinner, etc), but she got hit in the head by a volleyball during P.E. It was also the day after her covid test. She spent her afternoon off sitting in bed drawing and looking kind of miserable. She is, of course, forgiven.
 

At the end of January, we got an extra sweater in a package of clothes we ordered for Penelope. The sweater was on sale and I think 3€? When I emailed the company to tell them, we were fully expecting them to tell us to keep it. I told Penelope she could give it to one of her friends, and she was excited to surprise her.

But the company didn’t say we could keep it; they wanted it back. The options were to take it to a brick and mortar store (1/2 hr away) or to a drop off point at a cafe in town. Then everything shut down and neither was possible for about three months.
 

I wasn’t excited about the drop off point. I had to print a return (we don’t have a printer), I’d have to explain (in Portuguese) that I shouldn’t be charged for shipping, it sounded like a mess. A couple weeks ago Woo decided to take it to the cafe for me, but it also turned out to be more work than he was expecting, and the sweater remained in a box in our room.

So for my birthday, I decided to drive to the mall in Caldas, return the sweater, maybe take a look around… something reminiscent of the old “day off” I used to take on my birthday.

Woo made sure the van was in working order (but forgot about the gas), and pulled the van out of the garage for me. (It’s much trickier now that someone decided to permanently store a Jeep in the space in front of us.)
 

Anyway, long story short, I got lost without a working phone, was low on gas, said several prayers (to find the mall, a place to park, that the van wouldn’t be towed or ticketed or roll down the hill, to effectively communicate the return of the extra sweater, to not run out of gas, for everyone to be safe without me, me to be safe, etc.—all were answered), and got the sweater returned.
 

I tried to look around the store, but I spent less than a minute in there. I had to leave pronto because the Holy Ghost did not like the music (Woo had prayed that I wouldn’t lose the Holy Ghost when I left the apartment), and the rest of the mall held nothing for me either.

After some more prayers I found the grocery store (which was playing NO music!). I found a running jersey and high top sneakers on sale, bought dinner, treats, lunch and headed home.

At evening prayers Woo expressed thanks that the sweater was no longer plaguing us and that we’d gotten rid of that bit of debris bothering us :).

Woo was happy this week because Ruby’s new residency permit and his replacement bank card both arrived safely in the mail (answers to prayers, of course :)
 

Every school day without fail, Penelope returns home at lunch and runs to her room to read a little Doctrine and Covenants before I come home with Archie. It was a personal goal that had a few starts and stops as she tried to find the right time and to start a new habit, but she’s got it down now!

She’s also been writing poetry, and she’s working on a treasure hunt for her friend André’s birthday. It’s for him to do at recess.

Archie (tattling): Dad, Moses just took another nectarine! 
 
Woo: Did he really?! 
 
Will you go tell Moses that I love him? 
 
And that you love him?

Archie ran away laughing, I assume to follow Woo's instruction.

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

5.02.2021

Things Lost


Woo and I started teaching EnglishConnect in the stake last week. I was apprehensive about what we were getting into, and Sunday is not the day I would’ve chosen to add one more thing to, but it’s been fun. 

I had a little miracle this week. I had one, random thought about a sister missionary that served here a couple years ago, and I forgave her and loved her. I did not know that I needed to forgive her. I hadn’t even really realized that I was holding a grudge against her, but in that moment I realized that I had been and also that it was over. And so I continue to clear out debris :).
 

One morning Woo became convinced that he and I should register for our national health numbers (for easier covid testing, etc), but I’d already gotten mine years ago.

The school had wanted all the kids to get one for emergencies and while I was in the health center, the woman at the desk had convinced me to get mine at the same time... I remember the whole thing being uncharacteristically easy and pain free.

This would not be the case for Woo. Long story short... before he left home there was a desperate search for a document, a desperate search for a bank card, which was never found (It had been eaten by the machine after paying Ruby’s residency fee... Woo had run off without it in his excitement?), a wait in line, a return home because he didn’t have his passport on him, another wait in line and then finally getting registered and told he’d get his number in about six weeks. (They wouldn’t call or send an email; he just had to go in again sometime and see if they had it.)

He also had a horrible surf, a lot of pain in his shoulder and foot, and trouble breathing. It reminded me of one of his old birthdays (which were always back-to-back trouble for Woo until Penelope was born).

All in all, it hasn’t been his favorite week.
 

Mother’s Day is today in Portugal. Penelope made a flower card for me with an adjective for each of my initials. The Fathers Day cards are in English, but the Mother’s Day cards are in Portuguese, and Penelope had a hard time coming up with an adjective that started with “y.”

Her teacher had to help, and she found one that was actually English and she wasn’t familiar with it either, but it had a definition both Penelope and her teacher thought was perfect for me: yuppie.

Nellpea usually gets out of class right on time, but one day I was a bit late, and there was no Nellpea. I could see kids in her class, but not Nellpea. I was starting to get a little worried that I’d missed her running home, but I saw her looking sad and rummaging through some bushes with a few other kids.
 

She’d lost her watch. When she saw me, she did leave the school to go home and eat, and resume her looking later. I dropped her off in the apartment and immediately turned around to get Archie. She was so late, I didn’t realize I was already going to be late getting Archie.

Archie was waiting and sprinted out to meet me as soon as he saw me, and the first thing he did when he got to me was pull Nellpea‘s watch out of his pocket with a giant smile.

“I found Nellpea’s watch!”

He’d found it on a table in the hall at recess. Somehow he knew that would be the heaviest thing on her mind, and he was excited to surprise her.
 

Archie cried Monday morning because he couldn’t find his notebook with his homework in it. He looked; Nellpea looked; I looked; Ruby looked; Woo looked.

Moses lamented the fact that Herbie had already gone to school because he’s the one who’s always willing to look and can find everything. (This is true.)

But we sent Archie off to school super sad, secretly (or not so secretly) believing he’d left his homework notebook at school. There really aren’t too many places it could be in our apartment.

At lunch Archie confessed that yes, he’d left the notebook at school, and no, he hadn’t had to do it at recess; no homework was even due. A lot of stress and tears for him for nothing.

Archie missed a day and a half of school by suddenly having an allergic reaction in one eye during lunch. We have no idea what caused it, but his eye is fine now.
 

Last Saturday Woo ordered five nerf guns and two hundred bullets on Amazon.es Two for Penelope (the smallest guns, in a pack of two), and one each for Moses, Linus and Archie.

Moses’ is the largest, and Woo talked him down from three or more guns. Moses was imagining himself in a jungle with a giant gun in each hand and one strapped to his back? I don’t know.

Anyway, the guns were to arrive in three shipments. Woo predicted that Moses’ gun would come last, and of course it did. You’ll remember that Moses was already chomping at the bit last week for his nerf gun? That only intensified this week, as he hoped his package would come first and it would be early.

The first package to arrive was Nellpea’s and Archie’s guns. The package came on Monday, two days early. Moses was disappointed it wasn’t his gun, but also was encouraged that his might also come early.
 

Linus’ arrived while the kids were in school. Moses arrived home first. He was very excited, because his was coming next and all signs still pointed to early! We laughed at him and went on with our work, when the next thing Woo and I knew, Moses was out in the hall shooting off a few rounds. Without thinking, Moses had torn open Linus’ nerf gun, loaded it and begun shooting.

When Woo pointed this out, Moses deflated like a balloon. He immediately slunk back to the box, laid Liney’s gun down in it and slunk out to disappear into his room for a few minutes.

When I asked him last night the best thing from his week he said, “I don’t know... school or something...”

Me: What about finally getting your nerf gun???

Moses: Oh, was that this week?

Woo thinks it’s already been a bit of a let down for him. He’s enjoying it, but it’s not quite the answer to all his dreams like he thought it would be. Something I guess we all have to learn as we grow up.
 

I can’t remember what the question was, but one evening at evening scriptures, Ruby got the revelation that the thing her teachers didn’t understand, but that they needed to understand was the family—that the family is ordained of God. Then she got a list of five things she needed to do. She started memorizing the Proclamation on the Family in Portuguese to prepare for that.
 

The waves were not good this week, so Herbie had some extra time on his hands. What did he decide to do? He cleared the mud and sand off of our two decks and scrubbed them. He obviously had a good time, and Woo and I were reminded of how much Herbie loves yard work.

I was wishing we had something for Herbie to weed whack, and Woo was remembering his own pleasant moments of uprooting dandelions by hand in Huntsville.

We did get some planting pots and planted a few vegetable seeds on Saturday, but I don’t think it’s going to be enough work to keep Herbie happy. Besides, all the kids want to do the watering.
 

Herbie had his parent meeting with the school counselors to discuss his future education (it looks like he’ll also be doing a math and science track like Ruby).

The more I understand about European college entrance requirements, the more I understand why overall GPA doesn’t seem to be a concern to anyone.

It appears that (for most universities??) only the grades of one to three classes, important to your chosen field of study, are needed. Also, it appears that this grade can be taken from the average from your 10-12 grade years, or the results from the final high school exam.

Our kids are not getting the college prep we got, and what college prep they are getting is not clear to us yet. We’re following the Spirit for specific instructions here and there, and trusting that God has a plan and knows what He’s doing.
 

Linus has a new nickname at school, which is “Google” because he knows everything. He continues to get the class high score in everything.

I’m pretty sure he doesn’t speak Portuguese better than everyone, but he understands the grammar being taught and how to take tests better than everyone.

At home, Linus had some good days and some bad days. Saturday was a bad day. As I was escorting him home from the park (while Woo stayed with the other kids), I thought that his room was probably just too light at night for him to be getting a good nights sleep.

Linus has a skylight in his room with no blind. Every year (but this one) when the time changes, I’ve worked up a cardboard/blackout contraption, but really I’m just tired of it. I’ve been rigging up a simpler blanket thing every night that only puts the room into semi-darkness.

It occurred to me that Linus could probably do a cardboard covering (and do a better job with it than I would). I gave him the assignment when we got home and threw a roll of duct tape and some scissors into a box for him.

He was NOT happy and did a lot of complaining (which he’d already been doing...), but I ignored him and hopped into the shower. When I got out, he was in his room busily cutting and measuring and so absorbed that he didn’t even notice me.

I came back an hour later to find it all hung in the window with him putting on the finishing touches. He’d designed a “hatch” with hinges and dead bolts for a lot of light, and a smaller hinged opening in that for a little light. And of course, it all closes up to make his room nice and dark.

He told me that making it was the best part of his day. Now I’m excited for his next cranky bout, so I can have him make another one for Penelope’s window.

And that’s our week. Hope yours was great!
Love,
Chelsey

4.25.2021

URGENTE, or Answered Fasts


Woo really felt that we would never hear back from SEF about fixing Ruby’s account to renew her residency permit. He called and had been told to send emails. He’d sent emails... where they would disappear into a black hole of cached emails... then SEF was disbanded (long story involving police brutality). There was nothing we could do. 

So we made that our April fast. The kids were very sincere (as we told them there was no way we’d be visiting the US this summer without it). Archie fasted two meals (with encouragement and distraction from Ruby).

Tuesday Woo tried again. He used his nerd skills to find the email address of a SEF employee and sent another email to the same old email address with the subject line we learned from Ruby’s teacher (URGENTE).

Both were answered within a couple of hours. The problem was fixed!

I praised Woo for his nerd skills in getting the problem solved, but in reading scriptures with Ruby and Moses we were both called to repentance. Jesus Christ had been the hero. He inspired Woo with what to do, and there had been work done on the other side (with those receiving the emails) in which Woo had no influence at all.
 

After that, Woo was able to get online and renew Ruby’s account. We’re all legal for the next three years. It was a miracle.

After two days the renewal was clear to pay the fee at any ATM. The other seven were very easy, but Woo wasn’t able to pay Ruby’s on the first try because there wasn’t quite enough money in our Portuguese bank account.

He transferred money, and when that was clear the next day, he left the house to go pay. But for no reason his phone died on the way (important because it had the ID code). He got it up and working, continued to the ATM, when it died again!

When he got home, Woo was breathing hard from stress, but he did get it paid!

Now hold your horses. We’re not immediately buying tickets to the US. The current flight restrictions (and other concerns) make getting all eight of us on an international flight sound... ugh.

The current conversation between Woo and I goes something like this:

Woo: What do you think? Me (with a sigh and a grimace): Difficult. What do you think? Woo (with a sigh): Yeah.

Then we roll over and go to sleep or talk about something else to avoid having to think about how difficult it would be.

The kids are still praying for it though. Maybe something will change.
 

Ruby was tested for covid this week as part of her return to school. (All high schoolers were tested.) She received the deep, double nostril test, which is the only one I’m aware of here.

It wiped her out for the rest of the day. She was on edge and had a headache and a sore throat and fell asleep about an hour early.

This was on her third day back to school. She was super tired after the first day back too. She built up strength for a full day of online school and now has to readjust to a long day of in-person school.

We got Ruby’s test result back just before she fell asleep (negative), but in the morning she anxiously asked me if any URGENTE emails had arrived from her teacher during the night. She was dreading someone in her class testing positive and the whole class returning to online school for the next 10 days.
 

Herbie already has two teachers in quarantine and has missed a few classes. He came home and went surfing two times, I think. One missed class was in the middle of two present classes, so he waited that one out at the school.

Herbie has enjoyed being back in school and talking with his friends during the break. Also, his teachers. Art is his nemesis, though. He can never seem to figure out what his teacher wants.

On his latest project, she didn’t like any of the ideas he had, but on the next day of class, she suddenly liked one of the ideas she’d rejected the class before.
 

Herbie turned fifteen! Moses followed him around talking about how he couldn’t believe Herbie was FIFTEEN! I could hardly believe it either, even though Ruby’s already sixteen.

Herbie requested an Oreo mousse that we once had at a branch party and Herbie’d loved it so much, he got the recipe. He (and Woo?) thought it would be a good idea to double the recipe, but at 4 cups of cream I thought not.
 

However, whipping it up I began to doubt myself; it looked so insufficient. There were some disappointed looks when I dished it out, but in the end only a third of us were able to finish it; it was so rich, and Herbie still loves it.

Also Herbie has already broken two fins on his new surf board. We can easily buy replacements in a 3-fin set from Decathlon, but still more of a pain than never breaking them.
 

Moses has been waiting two months to get into the Galina Gorda (store name) and buy a nerf gun for his birthday. He and I went on Monday. I tried to warn him ahead of time that this was a reconnaissance shopping trip—that I didn’t think he should buy anything right away.

We did find some nerf guns and Moses did find one that he felt was a good price and wanted to buy right away. I almost let him because what do I know about nerf guns??

But I do know that that “I MUST have this thing right NOW” feeling is not good. So I took a picture for reference and convinced him to wait.
 

Woo found the same gun on Amazon.es for a third of the price later that afternoon. Moses was not really happy with us because he felt that he had already waited for sooo long. (I DESERVE this!—Another bad sign.) But I had him go in his room and pray about it, and he came out with a sheepish smile and said he could wait.

Patience was the lesson for him this week. We ordered a few needed clothes from Decathlon and several times a day he asked if I’d gotten the email that the package had been sent yet. And then when we knew the day the package was coming, he desperately wanted it to come in the morning so he could wear his new things to school in the afternoon.

The package not only wasn’t there, but the bell also wasn’t working. He’d run home to be early and get his things, but he ended up waiting outside a few minutes LONGER until Woo and I came down the stairs to pick up Nellpea.

The package came on one of his late nights when he had about five minutes to look over all his new things, and then the next day it was raining, so there was the tension of: ruin my new clothes or wear them? He wore them.

Moses also finally ended his two week streak of lying awake in bed for two hours. It was worrisome as some nights he was getting less sleep than me!

But I fasted for him and had the idea to have him drink a warm glass of milk before bed, and he’s slept great 6 out of 7 nights since.
 

Penelope took a bunch of her perler bead creations to school where they were a huge hit. Only two other kids had ever seen them. She made a trade with one friend, who made a stress ball for Nellpea out of a balloon and some couscous.

Nellpea was very happy with this trade as she and Archie always envied Woo for the stress balls they’d made for him for Fathers Day.
 

In fact, Archie broke one of Woo’s a few weeks ago, sneaking in a few squeezes when Woo was out of the house. It was the flour one, of course, and left a telltale flour residue over our bed and floor that Archie had to clean up three times before Woo was happy with it.

Archie also gifted one of his friends a ninja perler bead creation of his, and gave another friend all of his “fossils.” They aren’t really fossils, but a collection of rocks with scratches or funny-looking sections. It was cute how excited Archie was to discover that his friend liked fossils and to generously bestow upon him his own entire collection.

I woke up in the middle of the night this week with the urgent (URGENTE?) thought: cut Nellpea’s hair!
 

She’d asked me to cut it, and I had plans to, but it kept not getting done. I cut it that very day during her lunch break.

Nellpea is a very diligent mask wearer. She often wears it in the house until Woo or I tell her to take it off.
 

Penelope enjoys our family scripture routine so much that she’s started to do the same thing in her personal reading. She writes down a question in her notebook, then writes down all the answers she gets. The question she first showed me was: how can I feel more success?

Her question on Herbie’s birthday was: how can I better celebrate other people’s birthdays? And she had some good answers that I should probably consider.

Our family questions now are all questions we’ve pulled from talks in the last conference. I’m really enjoying them. The ones teaching us about Jesus Christ are not quite as expected. At least not for me. Many have been delightful. Others have made me a tad nervous. I’m sure that this (along with our repentance) are an answer to our education fast we had for the kids a few months ago.

It’s always fun for us all to see that the question chosen (usually at random, each of us taking a turn) has been the exact right fit for the verses read. Often the primary song we sing afterwards is a perfect match too.
 

Archie has really taken off here also, especially after Woo insisted that Archie use lined paper and write more neatly (Woo bought him his own little notebook for this purpose.)

Archie is following along intently and is getting too many answers. We have to limit him on how many he shares.
 

Woo and I had some concerns about Linus. He wasn’t being his best at home. He seemed to be skirting along, doing the bare minimum, frequently tripping into rude and contentious territory.

I had him pray about it one night and in the morning he told me that he wasn’t being his best and that he needed to help his family. So I’ve been reminding him of those two things, and he’s been praying for them every prayer he says, and there’s been some immediate improvement!

This is the best repentance list he’s ever written and he went around to everyone after he’d written it, saying his apologies with a smile on his face.
 

I believe that him recognizing all these things and praying for help to stop them will help him improve even more.

I walked Linus to school one morning when Herbie was going in late. On our way there, one of his friends stopped and offered him a ride (it was sprinkling). Linus said no and refused, even after I told him it would be okay.

When I asked him why he hadn’t gone with his friend he said, “Because I wanted to keep talking to you.” 😊

Linus (bragging about how tall he’s going to be when he grows up): I’m going to be FIVE feet tall!

But when we laughed, he realized that couldn’t be right and quickly changed his goal to six feet and beyond.

Woo surprised me with a new, fancy power strip this week, and a few other adapters, and set it all up to make my charging life much more convenient.
 

Ruby was a youth speaker today, but she gave an adult talk. She should’ve been the last speaker.

And I think that’s it. Hope your week was great! 

4.18.2021

Easing of Restrictions

The split evening scripture study is helping us. Instead of being super cranky all week, Linus was only kind of cranky Thursday, Friday morning and super cranky Saturday. Yay! He also became more affectionate with Woo and I and more willing to do things with the rest of the family.

Archie was also a lot better. He stopped making his I'm-being-bad-face, which we call the I-got-in-the-flour face, because of a video Woo took of 18 month old Archie after he pulled off the lid of the 10 gallon bucket of flour and played in it. Archie still makes the same face when he's doing something he knows he shouldn't, which happens way more often when he's been going to bed too late.

Archie prays almost every morning before he and I leave the house for school, and he always prays to be a good missionary and to stand up for the right. No one told him to pray for those things. Those are his personal goals.

We eat a lot of carrots. It is the number one snack for Herbie, Moses and Linus, but everyone else eats them too. We buy several large bags every shopping trip. Anyway, we got a bad batch or something because three bags of carrots got moldy seemingly in one day.

If we'd had a carrot peeler, it would've been an easy fix, as all the mold was on the outside, but we don't own a carrot peeler because we never peel carrots (or potatoes for that matter).

I cut up a few of the larger carrots for two dinners, but my I'm-happy-while-slicing-vegetables threshold is very low. (And so is Woo's.) So Penelope managed to cut the mold off of several carrots and placed them back in the fridge in a plastic bag to share with anyone who wanted them. Thanks, Nelps!

Ruby was uncharacteristically cranky Wednesday night. Oh, by the way, I'm sorry I sent the picture of Ruby glaring last week. She really was having a good time working on her dugout, and the sentiment the picture caught was not accurate.

Anyway, Ruby was uncharacteristically cranky Wednesday evening, and we knelt down to repent and all I could think about is that I hadn't gone on bike rides with Ruby, and she hadn't left the house in almost three days. I kept trying to repent and kept getting, "Ruby needs to exercise!"

So, that's what I said the second we were done, but she was too cranky to accept that idea. Herbie offered to go with her, and then Woo did too, as soon as we were done with scriptures, but Ruby would not hear of it. They did not give up though, and finally, she changed her mind and ran out the door ahead of them, hoping to lose them. They did find her in the park, where she tried to keep up her crusty demeanor, but by the time she was done, she was clearly feeling much better.

Since then she's been walking (really they jog) to the middle school with Herbie or Moses or Linus when it fits her schedule and then she runs home. Also she went on a bike ride with Woo. Danger averted!

Ruby also had an experience where the teacher said that the kids with the highest scores had almost certainly cheated. He had purposely made a test very difficult. Ruby had not even been able to finish in the allotted time, so she was encouraged when she heard that. Also, the teacher will be giving an oral test to all kids suspected of cheating next week. (When they go back to school!)

Ruby also made dinner rolls Saturday, something she's been wanting to do for awhile, and proud of herself for finally accomplishing.

Herbie continues to be fantastic. He was good to offer to help Ruby get outside on Wednesday night. On Thursday, Woo was talking with Moses while Moses finished his dinner and I put younger kids to bed. There was a small bowl of sliced onion sitting in front of Moses (for pulled pork sandwiches). When he was done, Woo jokingly asked Moses if he was going to finish off the onions.

And Herbie, who thought Woo was serious and wanted to help Moses, said he would do it and immediately stuffed about 1/4 of a pretty strong onion into his mouth. To Woo's surprise he finished it all off without a complaint. He did brush his teeth a couple times and took a mint to school with him the next day to keep from overpowering people. But otherwise no ill effects.

Herbie bought a new surfboard for his birthday. He's excited about that, and also he was happy because the person he bought it from was very grateful because they said they needed the money.

We went to a skatepark for the first time in over a year. Linus is happy to retreat to some area and quietly work on his technical skills for as long as we'll allow. At the park he is always trying to ride his bike backwards.

At the skatepark, he rode up and asked Woo how it was supposed to feel when you dropped in the bowl on your bike. He could tell something was wrong with the way he was doing it. Woo and I said some things, but he quickly decided we didn't know what we were talking about (which we don't), and he rode over to ask Moses.

Moses hopped on a bike himself, dropped in a few times, described it to Linus, and when Linus tried again, he had it!

Moses spent a lot of time on Saturday, carefully measuring every key and space on my laptop and reproducing it for a laptop on his own. Moses is not careful in a lot of things, but he is extremely careful whenever he is constructing anything and on all his art and craft projects.

Penelope learned how to make popcorn on the stove this week. She was very pleased and has made it a few times for herself and Archie, and offered to make some for Linus too, but I just told him how to make it also.

One day Ruby and Moses read their journal entries out loud to each other. Penelope was also in the audience and it had a big effect on her. It opened her eyes to how a journal entry could sound, and she's completely changed how she writes in her own journal. Instead of writing a dry list of events, she now tries to pretend she's talking to someone. She seemed to feel this was significant and told me about it several times. She also said it was the best thing that had happened to her all week.

Woo decided to try some mild intermittent fasting. He forgot on the second day, and considered giving up, but copied the kids' idea and wrote a reminder on his cereal box. (The kids' cereal boxes all say "PRAY.") The waves weren't wonderful this week, but the weather mostly was. Woo went on several bike rides, walks and runs on the dunes with, I believe, every member of the family at different times.

He thought his skatepark skateboarding was slightly better, thanks to his skateboarding time in the parking lot (when we used to go there every day).

He had a fantastic night of sleep last night, which he attributes to having a talk in the morning and not being prepared for it at all.

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