Covid Strikes Again

Just when I’d almost forgotten about Covid and was feeling like this would be a pretty standard school year, a PE teacher at the middle school tested positive.

We got an email from Liney’s DT informing us that he was to stay home until we were contacted to go in for testing.

Later that night we got another panicky email without name of teacher or student, from a general school account.

Since Moses has the same PE teacher, we figured it was from his DT. It was.

Linus was excited; he’d prayed the night before for a day off of school, but he was thinking more of a trip to Lisbon to the US embassy for passport renewal (which Woo and I’d been discussing).

Moses was not happy, and assumed the worst.

Halfway through the morning Herbie surprised us at the door. His class had been let out immediately as news had come in that a boy in his class (the PE teacher’s son) had also tested positive.

So we had Moses, Herbie and Linus quarantined at home for three days. They weren’t able to be tested until Friday afternoon and were very restless.

Although, Herbie and Moses improved as time went on.

Linus had online school Thursday and Friday. Moses discovered belatedly that he did too. Herbie had nothing.

Ruby, Penelope and Archie went to school as normal.

I played Seafarers once a day with Herbie, Moses and Linus and read 101 Dalmatians (which we all found surprisingly delightful) and Rangers Apprentice 4 out loud when everyone was home for lunch.

Our biggest concern was that we had a temple baptism appointment scheduled for Saturday morning. We were not contacted immediately with a testing time, but did eventually learn that they’d all be tested Friday afternoon, which was theoretically enough time to get test results back.

We did get them all early Saturday morning—negatives. So we were safe for the temple appointment. (Of course we were praying for that.)

After the temple, all the kids went to the park to play soccer. After about half an hour it began to pour rain, but they didn't care, they just played and played and played and played and played.

Herbie and Moses head back to school Monday because they’re vaccinated, but Liney’s class is a bunch of eleven year olds. We think they have to be out 10 days. But at this point none of us know when they’ll start counting that ten days. He may be another week at home, even though it’s already been nine days since they had contact with the teacher who tested positive.

Penelope had a few sad moments. One, where I dropped her off at school and she quickly ran out crying to tell me that she’d had her art class that morning and she’d missed it. (Her teacher had never once come all year, and everyone had permission to come in late, but suddenly there was a teacher, and while most of her class got the message the day before, we did not.)

I gave her a big hug and explained it would be alright. One absence is not a big deal. (The kids are all very concerned with any absences. The school must make a big deal of it.)

The other was when she discovered right before going to bed that she did not know where her music assignment was. Again, I explained she would feel better and think better in the morning and likely come up with a solution. We said a prayer together; she calmed down, and yes, she had a solution in the morning that worked perfectly.

Ruby was a little disillusioned at the seminary get-together last Saturday. I don’t know what it was exactly, but almost like she’d been expecting dozens of kids just like her, and instead found dozens of kids a lot like everyone else. It also might have been that she wasn’t feeling great that day.

She said she felt out of place, and I wonder if she’ll have a similar feeling in college. At least until she has time to really get to know people as individuals.

That hasn’t stopped her from participating in morning seminary. Sometimes Ruby and Herbie are banned from answering too many questions. We can hear them laughing and having a good time with each other. Not necessarily with the rest of the class. They’re possibly the only other kids in the class so comfortable with being up that early in the morning.

We saw one of their seminary teachers (there are three) today at the temple. He's their favorite "crazy" one.

The temple was crowded (there were two buses in the parking lot), and every one had family names they wanted done. Some with large stacks of names that they were asking all the rest of us to help with, even though we had our own stacks of names. 

I ended up praying that somehow all of us would be able to get all our names done, either our personal schedules to open up or the temple's schedule to open up, or really anything. I'm not picky about what the miracle is, it just seems that some other solution is needed here.

Archie was more than happy to have all his brothers home whenever he was home. He read his President Nelson talk alone one day because he wanted to read it earlier than I was available. Then he immediately wanted to read another.

Woo asked someone else to plan the branch party for November, but ended up doing a bunch of the prep work himself. The reason was that when the question was asked, “Who can do this…?”

He immediately had said, “I can!”

He regretted that later, as he’d originally been trying to delegate.

He also manned repeated phone calls from the school and the health center to get all of Herbie, Moses and Linus’ info straight. (They still had Linus' phone number wrong and Moses' email wrong... It's a miracle we got their test results back... )

Woo was looking forward to getting a package on Friday--a new wetsuit, but the company sent the wrong one, and now it's turned into an obnoxious effort on his part. He didn't take the wetsuit to a place that could ship it back the first night because of a storm. He tried a place today after the temple, but they won't take it. He has to take it to the post office, which won't be open until Tuesday.    

Rain started on Friday. I wasn’t sure that Ruby had taken an umbrella, and I dashed out the door to meet her on her walk home and bring her one.

I shouldn’t have worried. I saw her at the end of the street, skipping a little, then tossing her umbrella up in the air, then spinning it and spinning it, clearly little more than a little girl having fun in the rain.

Most of these pictures are not from this week. We went to a park in Caldas for our anniversary (which was a Saturday), and had the missionaries in the Pinhal a week or so ago.

Here’s another thing from last week: Kangaroo waterfall salad. 

We’ve never liked the beef here, but Woo snatched us up some kangaroo and ostrich steaks (some of the luxuries offered for the holidays at the Lidl) and also had a hankering for beef waterfall salad… it had been soooooo long since we’d had it…

Woo and I each had a taste of the kangaroo immediately after cooking and it was a bit strange, but doused in lime juice and fish sauce (and everything else in the salad) it was quite nice. The end.

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


Beautiful Weather

I went to bed Sunday night feeling a little stressed that Monday was going to be a very busy day, and I’d be lucky to get it all done. 

Then, Monday morning I read the invitation Sister Wendy Nelson had given in her talk that Sunday, and I dropped everything I’d previously planned to make a packet of talks for every single child (and Woo, who requested one when he saw them—I kind of wanted one too, but decided to stay digital). It took all morning. I did finish the other things too, but many of them waited until Tuesday.

When school started we were excited to see that all our temple baptism-aged kids had the same afternoon off to go to the temple. It was the same afternoon we’d gone to the temple before the pandemic. But when we looked at the temple schedule, it was closed that afternoon, and they had no plans to open at that time in the near future.

Woo, “When I was thinking of the kids’ schedules, I didn’t think the temple was the one that would be in the way!”

So we were left to schedule on Saturday, which is very busy, and we were only able to get one appointment for the kids for the rest of the year. Then after conference, every single endowment session on any day and at any time for the rest of the year was suddenly gone.

Part of our family fast for the month was for increased temple opportunities. In my mind, the solution was something along the lines of the temple changing its schedule or something even more drastic, like us moving, but the solution is never that.

We’ve had people invite us to their scheduled baptism sessions, and the temple contacted us to be the witness couple in an extra endowment session for temple workers (mostly women). My mind has also been opened to other, personal things, and suddenly walls blocking our way have become no walls at all, and we have increased our time in the temple.

Ruby was extremely excited about her packet and read something like 18 talks in the first two days. She took it with her to school and marked it all up, made all sorts of goals, and had overdone it by about Wednesday. Now she’s taking it more slowly, a talk a day like the rest of us.

I read Archie’s talk with him. We trade off paragraphs and he marks things that he likes. He enjoys it and sometimes reminds the other kids to read theirs before they do other things.

I should say we started by trading off paragraphs, but he keeps reading more and more and he read the whole last talk out loud to me.

Penelope’s class had their class elections. She was excited to be elected to secretary. Penelope has also spent a great deal of time writing backwards.

Some kid at recess to Penelope: What are you doing? Other kid before Penelope can answer: Probably writing backwards again, come on.

I finally had to tell her I wasn’t going to read anymore backwards-written repentance lists, and she hurried and whipped one out written correctly.

Linus got to work on his crocheted compass rose. His first effort turned out very badly, my idea for a second try was also a bust. Finally, we decided he could easily crochet four long, pointy triangles and connect them in the middle.

He crocheted a small square to attach in the center to cover the hole, and left that for the morning before school, which made for a stressful morning for him. He doesn’t usually do that, but Moses has come up with some new car race tournament that his brothers are all greatly involved in.

All brothers, but Herbie (who’s getting older and losing interest). During family prayer one night, Moses prayed for Herbie who was “dwindling in car races.”

When I came into their room after that, they were sitting on Moses’ bed together, pouring over Moses’ car race notebook with his spreadsheets.

Moses often uses scripture words when speaking English. “Inasmuch” and “heretofore” are some of his favorites.

All the kids are missing a lot of English slang.

Linus likes to say, “Yikes!” Which I think he got from the Hardy Boys? Anyway, all the kids say it now, and it feels like I’m living in the 50s when they do. For a long time Linus would also describe things as being “like a cow.”

Ruby, and I guess probably none of the kids, knew what “homies” were when talking to the Elders.

They do know Portuguese slang, though.

Archie was very excited to make a crown and wrap it (along with a rectangle of bright pink that Penelope had crocheted) as a birthday gift for his teacher.

Archie also got ahold of some heart post-it notes, wrote “I love you” on them and stuck them in assorted places for people to find them. He stuck one on the bottom of the stairs for Herbie to see when he laid down.

Herbie still sometimes makes lunch for everyone. He enlists his little brothers to set the table and put out napkins, and all the kids are excited to sit around the table eating a meal they worked on all by themselves.

You can't see the computer screen, but this is Herbie showing off 5,000 indexing batches + 5,000 review batches=10,000. A few minutes later he had 5,005+5,005=10,010. He was pleased with the pattern of the numbers.

Woo has been surfing a little more. Not as much as he once did, but more than he did over the summer. It’s still crowded in the water, and the waves aren’t always good, but he needs the exercise and diversion.

Our water bill has been in the landlady’s name all this time, but Woo had to change it to ours this week. It was promising to be an annoyance, but went better than expected.

Despite taking everything he might possibly need, he was, of course, missing a document that he needed, but the lady at the desk miraculously waved it, and he got to share the gospel a bit with her too.

Unable to find any at the grocery store this week, Woo whipped up a delicious marinaded olive mixture. After letting it cure in the fridge for a couple of days, we were all very pleased with his work.    

This was a while ago, but Woo transcribed Archie reading the states out loud (most that he’d never heard of, and reading some letters as if they’re Portuguese)

VOMIT? (Vermont)
MISS-EARIE - oh missouri
AWA (Iowa)
IDUH (Idaho)
ORZANA (Arizona)

Saturday we had a big group of seminary students from the stake here for a Super Saturday activity that all of us hung around with, and Woo and I ran a few errands for. 

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


The Marquis' Son

Last week Linus, Penelope and Archie had a primary activity at the stake center. They were very excited, and it proved to be everything they’d hoped for, I think. At least there were bouncy houses at the end (representing Utah at the end of their pioneer trek), and they were some of the last to leave them.

The stake center is an hour away, and someone in the branch asked for a ride. This would mean half the family would spend a dull and likely depressing Saturday without the other half. Woo let me decide.

It was a tough decision, but I decided that at this point the family’s need was greater. (Or at least I had a greater responsibility for their need), and other than greeting a few stake members before and after, the rest of us explored Oeiras. The Palace of the Marquis of Pombal was within walking distance, and we walked right in.

Herbie and Moses had fun imaging what the Marquis' son would do. Ruby reverted to her old grouchy-about-family-outings, but she thawed eventually.

There were a lot of workers sprucing the grounds up and a lot of tents up on the grass; they were obviously preparing for some event. Many workers looked at us strangely, but no one stopped us, and when we were done, we found that we were locked in. We never should been allowed in, but we escaped when a service vehicle entered.

(Admittedly, we’re not super familiar with machinery, but we always laugh at the ones that appear miniature or strange to us.)

Archie remembered he could make popcorn on the stove one lunch break and he’s been making that, which turned into him taking a baggy full of popcorn to school for a snack, which turned into him taking several baggies to school for his friends, which turned into him taking requests from the rest of his class.

He started the week feeling like the other kids weren’t interested in being his friend anymore, but he prayed about it, and this might have been the answer to that prayer.

Linus has a history project that he’s working with a friend on. They’re supposed to make a compass rose and there’s a contest between all the 5-7 grade classes.

Linus spent an afternoon with his friend planning in the library, and among other things, Linus is going to crochet part of it and his friend is going to make part of it from the traditional lace Peniche is “famous” for. I bet the judges will like that.

Moses has a “fun” thing for himself planned everyday of the week. Monday is his cooking day. Wednesday is not a fun day, but the day he does the bulk of his homework. Thursday is the day he plays soccer with one kid and Friday the day he plays with another kid (during school breaks).

Moses is getting tall. He’s as tall as Ruby and gaining fast on me. I guess maybe it’s been a blessing that we live in a place where our boys wear shorts all year long? We’re not constantly buying pants. When Moses does wear pants, they’re joggers, so they’re pretty flexible in length.

Penelope also worked on her compass rose, but unlike Linus, she did not ask for a pattern, or get a partner, or hold planning sessions. She whipped it all out in about an hour and was done. Penelope is definitely a speed over precision artist.

Penelope has enjoyed PE. She had a lot of fun playing table tennis. She has not done her first vaivĂ©m yet, but we are all anxiously awaiting to see how many laps she’ll get. It’s a hot topic amongst all the older kids. (Especially this year, when Moses stopped at 84 because someone told him he was at 94, and then Linus got 96 the next week!)

Penelope went on a quick shopping trip with Woo. It looks like they snuck in a peek of the beach and a trip up the elevator.

With Herbie in high school now, he and Ruby are sharing the school phone. I wasn’t sure how that would work, but apparently fine. Ruby’s only needed it once or twice, and Herbie needed it for the first time on Friday. They are also sharing the graphing calculator, and I haven’t heard of any conflicts yet.

Ruby has had a few online assignments that we’ve just printed out. She said several other kids in her class do this, and she prefers it.

Herbie started surf club again. He said he wasn’t going to do it again, and the night before he decided to. I think there will be competitions this year.

Woo went surfing in a new place a couple times with a few acquaintances. The first time was super gross as workers were sledging the bottom of the bay. The water was yuck and stunk. Woo was not impressed.

The second time he went with them and ended up there again, but this time it was more fun. Except he couldn’t figure out why both guys he was with were taking sooo much time, and being so indecisive until he learned that both their wives and children were out of town visiting the countries their wives families live in… they were killing time.

This week I realized that I’m the leader of the Relief Society, and I can actually ask the sisters to do stuff. I’ve been trying it out this week.

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