Week One

This was our first full week of school. Luckily, we don’t have kids getting home as late as we did last year, so we’ve been able to keep a fairly normal schedule. 

Linus and Archie each had a grouchy evening, so not perfect, but also way better. On the other hand it's also only been a week.

Ruby came home Monday super excited because there’s a new girl in her class. She’s from Pakistan, speaks Urdu and English (no Portuguese), and is Muslim.

Ruby was enlisted to help her because of her English skills, and they quickly became best friends because of their shared values and because of Ruby’s interest in the Qur’an.

Ruby and Herbie have been trying to be better friends now that they’re at the same school. Ruby often makes Herbie a sandwich during her lunch break and gives it to him to eat during breaks. (He has five hours of class after lunch.)

Herbie has also had a wonderful week. He has become more humble recently and feels a lot happier (and we feel a lot happier about him). He’s enjoying being at a new school with new teachers and many, many new people. (He only knew three other people in his class, and many of his old classmates he’ll never see again as they go to different types of schools.)

P.E. was an exciting class for him. They had everything out and available for the first class: roller blades, skateboards, giant chess, rock climbing, rappelling, ping pong, badminton… like a giant party. The school also owns surfboards, body boards and mountain bikes, but those weren’t used this time.

Herbie got out of one class before lunch ten minutes early, so he came home and made spaghetti for all of his siblings.

Moses is trying to be a good big brother. One day he came home carrying Penelope’s backpack and her carrying his because hers was much heavier. He took Penelope to the library and helped her get her card, then they checked out two books that they both wanted to read so they could switch when they were done.

Archie was having a hard time coming up with something to do the one afternoon he comes home forty minutes before everyone else. It was wonderful when Moses came home next, put his arm around Archie as soon as he came through the door, and took him upstairs for some car races.

Linus gets to help Nelpea at her new school too. He helped her find the papaleria (like a bookstore in the school) where she could buy a staff notebook for music.

Linus has also been playing soccer at the breaks. Apparently, the older grade kids won’t let younger grade kids in their game, but Moses snuck Linus onto his team? I don’t know exactly how that worked, and I guess it means Moses is able to play with the ninth graders, but Linus is always super excited when he’s had a good play with the older kids, making a goal or blocking shots.

Linus always wows the other kids here by how infrequently he gets hurt. He falls and jumps back up; he blocks a hard shot with any part of his body and keeps on going; he actively seeks for headers and never complains of his head aching. The Portuguese can hardly believe it, and Linus thinks it's no big deal.

Penelope has been reading or talking with friends at breaks. She’s a great athlete at endurance sports, but team sports are not something she excels at naturally. She makes (the popular) complaint that boys don’t pass to girls.

However, Ruby, I and her brothers know that isn’t true. Any girl who’s cutting or driving in and makes a call for a pass will get a pass. Any girl jogging along (or standing) with three defenders between her and the ball (even if she is standing completely alone), will not get a pass. I wouldn’t pass to that girl either.

We tried to explain to Penelope that it’s a matter of knowing what to do, but she didn’t believe us. We’ll have to show her physically some time.

Penelope has been a bit strained or overly sensitive at times as she takes in everything there is to know about this new school, but overall she’s having a lot of fun.

Archie has become my new walking buddy. He walks with me to and from the middle school four mornings a week, and he could walk with me to and from the high school four evenings a week (he’s only allowed if he’s been excellent during scriptures the night before).

These walks are fun for him, especially because we get to cross a huge construction zone each time. I’ve been slightly surprised, but anyone can walk through any point of the whole construction area at any time. We just watch out for heavy machinery ourselves, I guess.

Archie loves the mountains of gravel and looking down the open man holes and catching sight of a backhoe or road roller or cement truck.

Yesterday he found 8 cents in the road, which he was very excited about, and immediately handed over one cent to put in his tithing.

With seminary and only having one kid in the elementary school, we’ve had to move our morning scriptures up one hour earlier. The kids are fine with it. I would’ve been worried about Woo in the past, but he took it very cheerfully when I explained that I thought that’s what we’d have to do, and he hasn’t complained at all.

With the kids back in school, Woo’s been working more on his app. He gets to go surfing Friday morning with Herbie, since Herbie doesn’t start until after 10, and he walks to pick Penelope up from school at Friday lunch. (I get Archie and Herbie who arrive at roughly the same time.)

He often walks with me in the evenings to the high school too.

Last Saturday Woo thought roasting marshmallows in the pinhal would be a good idea, and he was right! The place was dead (everyone else out school shopping?). Afterwards we hiked in a bit to be really secluded and Woo gave us our back-to-school blessings.

This Saturday we where invited to a birthday party. They seemed to think it was low key, but it was plenty exciting for us.    

And that’s our week. I hope yours was great! We’re looking forward to conference next week!


School Starts

School started on Friday. It came much too soon, but the kids were mostly excited to start. Penelope was VERY excited. She’s in the middle school now with lots more kids and teachers, and a varied schedule. (She had the same teacher from grades 1-4.) 

Woo and I had the parent meetings this week. Those meetings are sooooooo painful, but thanks to Covid and only having Archie in elementary school, we only had three this year. I went to two and Woo went to one. Herbie went to one by himself for a tour of the high school.

Ruby and Herbie have seminary in the stake this year because it’s on Zoom. (Earlier they were doing on online international class.)

They seem to enjoy it. It has added some extra hoops to jump in our morning, but I think I’ve figured them out.

Ruby was more positive starting this year. She has Herbie at breaks, and really enjoys some of her classes.

Moses gets to play soccer again during breaks this year, which has pretty much sealed the deal as a great school year for him.

He’s the oldest kid at the middle school, and walked Nelpea to school that first days with plans to show her where her first class was and to help her get her library card (the last one didn’t happen yet).

Linus worked on beautifying and personalizing his school notebooks in the days before school. He carefully put his lion stamp on the front of each one (after testing a couple of colors on a scrap piece of paper). He glued other shapes and used stickers in patterns around that.
Me: Archie, I’m going to be able to read a book just to you this year. There are some books I’ve read to the other kids, but not you. 
Archie: Like what? 
Me (saying the first thing that came to mind): Um, the BFG? 
Archie: I’ve already read that. 
(Eyes lighting up) 
          Jane Austen? I haven’t read Jane Austen.

We ended up starting the Jungle Book.

Woo has hardly surfed at all this summer. The waves have been horrible. He told me he’d read that this year had the worst waves since they’d been keeping track (13 years). Also, it’s always crowded.

He went a couple times this week for exercise, but it’s not been satisfying. In fact, it’s sad for him. Like the last happy thing here has been taken from him and become a “meh” instead.

Seeing beautiful green landscapes on our virtual church history tours is not helping either.

I personally don’t know what to hope for anymore as far as places and homes go. Thinking about it feels like wasted energy as the only correct next move for us seems to be “Zion.” And we’re not there yet.

Anyway, I hope your week was great!


Boys Camp

Woo, Herbie and Moses were gone three days for YMs camp. 

Herbie and Moses were so, so excited. They packed everything last week.

Woo was… less excited, but he’d volunteered to help. Having once planned and executed a district YMs camp essentially by himself, he knew how valuable extra hands would be.

They all came home having had a lot of fun. Herbie loved the pool. His relay had won. Woo said he was probably the third fastest boy there, even though he swims with his head up (like they all did).

Herbie came home with scrapes on his chest and fingers from pulling himself in and out of the pool.

There was also a dance with the YW on one of the nights and Herbie surprised us all by asking four or five girls to dance (at the prodding of some of the leaders).

Moses danced the first assigned dance and then quickly escaped to the basement to play foosball with a group of other boys.

Moses’ favorite part was probably all the soccer. Returning his church clothes to the van after the dance, Woo was surprised to see Moses out playing soccer again! At midnight.

Moses won 10€ during one devotional for answering questions correctly. The questions weren’t particularly difficult, but Moses was sitting front and center.

Woo decided it was probably a truth of life that people who sit up front earn more.

Woo enjoyed getting to know other people in the stake, especially the other leaders. He texted home, “These Brasilian guys, I’m telling you; they get it. And they have been through a lot. Pretty inspiring, really.”

One thing he told me is that he and the Brazilians had sat around talking about what YMs camp was like when they were younger.

Woo was nodding his head in agreement when they were talking about hiking out into the wild and sleeping in giant army tents, but then he realized their experiences had been very different when they started talking about waking up in the morning to find two guys tied to trees that their leader had caught trying to harass the camp. Or obstacle courses that involved walking through rivers at neck height and spiders, spiders, spiders.

Ruby was sad and we were sad for her when there was no YW camp for the girls. Woo had the van with him and he looked into Ruby getting a ride or taking a bus to the dance, but it was impossible to work out.

I tried to make things a tiny bit more fun at home, and she tried to be a good sport.

We didn’t have a car or anything new, but I took kids to the store right away to buy some snacks and favorite dinners. Linus wanted to eat pizza, spaghetti and hamburgers (just like the YMs camp menu), but we had pizza, spaghetti and kabobs (they’re easier to make and easier to clean up after).

We played a new scenario of Seafarers every day. Ruby won most of them. (A small consolation?)

We played croquet every day, and I read a fun book they all really enjoyed and had not read before. Also, they got to stay up later.

Linus found us these inflatable chairs at the store for half off. We bought two. The kids are loving them, and so far we’ve avoided major arguments, but I’m kind of regretting them. We have very little room in our living room/dining room now.

Before the older boys came home, Penelope and Archie spent a lot of their free time sitting in the chairs and reading. This isn’t odd for Penelope, but it is for Archie.

We took all the kids with us to the temple again. Linus, Penelope and Archie waited while we did baptisms and they much preferred waiting in the little building there for an hour to waiting several hours at home.

We also saw the tour of the priesthood restoration site, held our poetry recital (Ruby, Herbie and Moses had all of D&C 1), and Herbie and Moses got their second dose of vaccine.

Moses fainted when he stood after receiving his. He was fine after they elevated his feet, gave him some water and a little sugar, but still a more exciting vaccination than any of the others.    

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





Better Week

In ways that are difficult to describe, last week was a challenging week. 

I don’t really recall instances where I felt that Satan was full-on attacking me until we moved here, and last week was a hailstorm of attacks on the entire family.

Woo and I both felt that (for whatever reason) Satan did not want our talks in stake conference to happen. A little confusing to us because they were only talks in stake conference, but I at least, was desperately counting down the days until we could give the talks and get some relief.

I read two quotes last week that I remember.

I must not have this one quite right because I can’t find it now, but something like: If it feels like you’re going uphill, then you’re going in the right direction by Joseph F. Smith.

And this one by Winston Churchill, which made me laugh because it felt pretty accurate at the time: If you’re going through hell, keep going.

Anyway, like clockwork, we all woke up Sunday morning to sweet, peaceful feelings. We did our morning scripture reading and prayers and family history, ate breakfast, dressed and left without any problems, stress or contention from anyone.

We had a lovely drive to Oeiras on nearly empty roads with pleasant weather. Ruby, Penelope, Archie (and sometimes Woo) softly sang primary songs. Herbie, Moses and Linus sat amicably together in the back.

We arrived in plenty of time to stretch, use the bathroom, put our lunch in the fridge, take our seats, find out how to pull out the step at the pulpit for Archie, and quietly listen to prelude music.

I personally was not particularly nervous for my talk. I’ve given a million talks, but I was very anxious for our lives to get easier. As soon as Woo stood up and started (he was first), I calmed down even more, and by the time we were all done, I could relax.

The rest of the day was kind of daze. We had a lot of people compliment us and some people want to have us over for dinner, but it was something we all accepted with perfunctory nods of the head. We know it’s something like a circus attraction when we all speak.

Woo said, “If you think I went through all that for the praise, you’re mistaken.” And he was exactly right.

There was one woman who seemed sincerely grateful, that we both thought we might have really helped. That was a comfort.

Ruby spent a lot of time afterwards talking to other young women she’d previously only met over Zoom.

Moses said it was the best Sunday of his life (something about being in a real church building, full of members), even though Herbie says when they tried to talk to any of the young men, they ran away from them.

And yes, this week has been much, much easier. Whew!

We broke out the new Seafarers and played several games (to much less contention and yelling). We did the virtual tour of the Peter Whitmer farm, which was my personal favorite so far. We cleaned the church. Woo made everyone waffles for lunch afterwards.

Woo and I took the kids to Lisbon with us when we did an endowment. There’s a little building near the temple and behind the stake center with soft chairs, a kitchen, and bathrooms that is normally open, but it was locked this week for some reason, so the kids waited on the stake center grounds.

Afterwards we walked to Telepizza and then to a park we’ve never been to (under the Vasco de Gama bridge) that had a skatepark, a pump track and a bar workout area that were all a lot of fun for Woo and the kids.

Woo probably played the longest and hardest, unless it was Archie. Penelope RAN several laps on the pump track between the skateboarders and kids on bikes, and Linus is still amazing on the monkey bars.

Today we had the last branch party of the summer, and that’s our week!