Saturday, October 30, 2010

October 30, 2010

Well, since I lost my post from Sunday I will try to recreate it.  And then in my next post I'll give you the rest of our week.

First of all, I want to thank all of my family and friends who came to my rescue after my "cry for help".  You guys are all so amazing.  It has been such a boost to read your "comments" and personal e-mails.  I truly needed that.  I have to let you know that I'm feeling much better.  Several of you said you wanted to "give me a hug".  Just to let you know - I felt like I got many hugs from your words of encouragement.

So, now some technical stuff about the blog.  Several people have mentioned that they have had problems posting comments.  So sorry!!  I told you from the start that I am computer challenged (where's my niece when I need her?).  But, a few things I have learned (mostly from you all) is that when you try to post a comment it limits you to 300 words.  Your post won't show instantly.  What happens is that it should come to my e-mail (which I set up when I created the blog) and then I have to approve it and "publish" it.  I have done this with every one that has come to my e-mail (and I have made sure to check my "junk mail" folder in case it has gotten sent there).  So, if your post isn't showing I don't know why.  Very strange.  Trust me, after losing my whole (LONG) post from last Sunday I'm as frustrated as you.  Keep trying!! If you can't seem to get it to work you can always e-mail me.  Both my old and new e-mails work and come to me the same.  They are and

I think I'm going to go ahead and publish this part, just to make sure I don't lose the whole thing again; and, then in Part 2 I'll tell you about our experiences last Sunday...

Friday, October 29, 2010

Test #2 - October 29, 2010

So - I'm just checking to see why I lost my last post.  It may be due to this "pen" thing we use to get internet.  Sorry again!

Just checkin'...

Test - October 29, 2010

Since I lost my entire blog post for this past Sunday – this is only a test – to see if I can “cut and paste” from a Microsoft Word document – sorry J

Friday, October 22, 2010

October 22, 2010 - Part 2

Ok - So our friend, Fatocha, who has helped us with EVERYTHING just called Rick's cell.  She told him to get on Skype because there were 2 police officers at her house inquiring about us.  So Rick gets on Skype with them.  Turns out that they were from the immigration office.  They had been notified that we were in the country illegally.  Funny - we're illegal aliens!!!  Rick goes through some questioning, explaining that we are in the process of getting our visa's (which was supposed to have been done BEFORE we came) and that we have family back home that will mail the papers to the office in San Francisco and then mail it to us here when it's all taken care of.  Hopefully that will appease them for now - otherwise you might be seeing us sooner than was expected.  hmmm - how do I feel about that?  more to come...

October 22, 2010

Well, I don't know if I should title this blog "Meltdown #2"  or "The Explosion".

As you can probably guess - I haven't done well this last little while.  I probably would've blogged more except I had been feeling pretty negative.  It all came to an "explosion" on Sunday.  I figure I can share this because only a few people read this anyways.  I think I have been in a state of depression - well, I know I have been.  First sign of depression, for me, is lack of feeling, which I was definitely having.  I started noticing that I didn't really care about much - except for wanting to go home.  With sickness, lack of extended family, lack of friends, lack of being able to communicate, no permanent home, no cell phones, not much contact with people from home, feeling of insecurity, same problems we've always had, no fulfillment from church (due to the language & no callings) etc etc etc.  I guess I just let negativity build in my head until I couldn't stand it anymore.  Anyways, I feel much better and functionable (is that a word) now.  I really was ready to go home - as was stated very clearly over the weekend.  So, one word of advice - if you're feeling "non-feeling" try to take care of it early enough so it doesn't build to a point where you don't recognize yourself anymore.

Anyways - sorry so much info - but, this is kinda my journal to.

So - updates:

1.  WE GOT CELLPHONES!!!  I know that doesn't seem to be a big thing to you, probably.  But, for me - HUGE!!  It is really hard to be in a place where you really can't communicate with too many people - and be left alone.  Or leave your kids unattended.  We left them a couple of times and all I could think about was - what if they got hurt, what if they caught the house on fire, what if they locked themselves out of the house (Devan did that once and sat out in the dark/cold for about an hour), what if someone showed up at our house, what if they killed eachother.  I know my generation didn't have cell phones growing up (I don't know how our parents did it), but when you're used to be able to contact your kids and they're used to being able to contact you, it is hard to get away from that - especially when you are in a foreign land and you know it would be hard for your kids to get help.  I know I worry too much, but it's hard to change a feeling.

2.  Now that we have cellphones, Rick and I left the kids for a WHOLE day and went into Coimbra (big city) and had lunch with a friend (who speaks English - Sandra, the lady who got me into the doctor), and then went house hunting.  I think the more we look, the more confused/frustrated we get.  The day was good, even if it wasn't that productive (house hunting).  Funny thing, though - we get home and the kids were in a huge fight over the cellphone.  Well, at least I feel safer...

3.  We've spent some time down at the beach, the communtiy pool, bike riding, fishing (Devan bought a fishing pole and really likes riding down to the lake and beach hanging out by himself).  The weeks been a mixture of crazyiness and relaxation. 

4.  Kaylie and I went grocery shopping.  I know this makes me sound like such a wimp, but having a cell phone really makes me feel more secure.  This shopping trip was the first (or maybe second) step to independence.  I didn't have a fear of getting lost, because I knew I could call Rick and have him give me directions.  And, I knew I could call him if I had trouble in the store figuring out stuff or paying.  Kaylie and I took A LONG TIME.  We were there for almost 3 hours to buy about $150 worth of groceries.  It takes me about 45 minutes to spend that much at Walmart back home.  I was a little bummed that Rick never called to check on us - we are at different ends of the spectrum when it comes to worrying.  So, Kaylie made up this whole story about us knocking over a shelf in the store with our cart and no one would help us because they couldn't understand us, so we spent all this time cleaning it up...  it was funny - Rick totally fell for it.  Kaylie's a great liar - kinda scary!!

5.  Last night the power went out right after sunset.  We really weren't prepared for that.  One little flashlight,  one headlight from Devan's bike, the glow from our computers, and my watch.  Rick tried resetting the breaker box several times, but it made the house lights flicker a couple of times and then went completely dead.  So, it was an early night for bed. Needless to say I've been awake since about 5:30am.  I finally just got up to write this while the house is quiet. 

6.  Final update - our health.  We are all still in the process of getting over our sicknesses.  Tanner still has a cough and blows his nose constantly, Rick and Kaylie have had a stomach thing on and off (yesterday it was on again), I still have a slight cough and sinus infection, and Devan is still the only 100 percent healthy one - woohoo for Devan.  At least we've helped the economy in Portugal - no chance of the pharmacies going out of business.

Well, thanks for listening.  Please make comments, it helps me feel connected to you.  At least I know you're still alive if you make a comment.  I would probably e-mail more if I had a better internet connection, but for now this blog will have to do.

Love you and miss you (and my emergency preparedness kit)


Saturday, October 16, 2010

October 16, 2010

Good morning!! (for us anyways)

So, the last week has been alot of just hanging out doing school work.  I had decided that since we have been sick so much, maybe staying home and resting might be a good idea.  Tanner and I still haven't gotten over our coughs, Ricks body finally gave in and got sick, Kaylie got sick again (this time with what Tanner has).  Can you say - what the heck?!!!  But, Devan has been holding strong - no sickness yet!!    We've been down to the beach several times.  Rick and the kids have ridden bikes down there.  Kinda fun to call a recess from school work and go swim in the ocean.  The Portuguese people are really funny about the sea water.  They think it cures everything.  Got sinus problems?  Go to the beach and sniff the salty air.  Got a cough?  Go to the beach and breath the salty air.  Funny.  Hasn't seemed to help us yet, though.

It was kind of cool yesterday to hear Devan say "Hey Tanner, wanna ride bikes down to the beach?"  And they did.  Brotherly love (for the moment).  They rode down there and watched the fishermen bring in their giant nets to see what their catch of the day was.  Interesting process.  All across the beach they lay their nets out.  They use boats (really old fashioned ones - kind of like gondolas) and tractors to get their nets out.  They leave them out over night, I think, or maybe just all day, not sure.  Anyways, to get the nets back in, they use tractors to reel them in.  One guys works the tractor, two guys untangle and clean off seaweed from the nets, one guy gathers it, and one guy pulls it up onto a trailer and stacks it. When the net gets to the very end, it has buoys attached to it which makes it float up and bring up all the fish it has caught.  It's exciting to watch, actually.  The process is slow so the anticipation builds.  The day I watched them do it was kind of a let down.  Not many fish.  But, the boys said yesterdays catch was huge.  Devan told me a funny story about a guy in a speedo trying to steal some of the fish and the fishermen getting really mad at him, and a lady trying to sneak around Tanner to steal some of the fish.  Funny.  Devan wants to bring a bag next time, so he can steal fish to.  He actually said that the fishermen only take the sardines (which is a staple here - yuck!!), so he wants to gather up the other fish and cook them for dinner.  After the fishermen are done with the work, you should see the beach.  I have never seen so many seagulls in all my life.  It is feast time for them.

Our stay in the condo has been fairly uneventful.  The monster in the water heater/pipes finally got figured out (sort of).  We had a guy come check it out, who thought he had resolved the problem (until midnight hit and the monster came back).  He had another guy come work on it, but it never made the noise while he was here -so he didn't know if he fixed it -nope, didn't fix it.  Finally, the first guy came back, worked on it for a while, asked us if we needed heat throughout the house (luckily it's been warm lately), we said no, so he just turned that part of the water heater off.  Problem solved.  Hopefully it stays warm till the end of the month.  The heating system here, and in most Portuguese homes, is radiant heating.  You know, those things that hang on a wall in every room.  Hot water pumps from the water heater to each of them, which puts off heat in each of the rooms.  Well, something's up with our system.  We would have shut it off in the first place, but we thought it would shut off the whole water heater - and we weren't willing to take cold showers.

The only other excitement in the condo was when Kaylie went upstairs to her bedroom and yelled "My rooms flooded".  It had been raining quite a bit.  She has a balcony off of her room and water was streaming under her door.  Rick came up and climbed through her window to see why 4 inches of water had built up. He and Kaylie started scooping up the water with plastic bowls and dumping it over the balcony. Turns out, the great drainage system consists of a 3 inch hole drilled in the tile, no cover or anything.  Pine needles had clogged it up.  Rick cleaned it out with a coathanger and the water poured through.  Good thing we hadn't left for the day, which was the plan, or we would have come home to water pouring down the stairs.

Oh, one other thing about the condo.  So, it's late one night, Rick had already gone to bed.  Rick comes back downstairs and disappears outside with a flashlight.  He was gone for quite a while.  Turns out he went to give our neighbor a little "talking to" about her barking dogs.  Funny.  She was just sitting on her couch, while her dogs barked constantly.  Seriously - constantly.  It was like the barking chain from 101 Dalmations.  His talk worked.  Haven't heard much from the dogs since then.  Sorry to all my neighbors back home in Utah for Lucky's barking.  I know it must drive you crazy.  We'll try harder to get him to stop.

Well, we found the perfect home.  But Devan and Rick aren't sold on it because it's about an hour from the beach.  Bummer.  Kaylie and I fell in love with the set up.  It sits back on a private road with lots of land around it.  It has a heated pool, sand box area, fire pit area, covered patio, huge deck (for sleeping under the stars).  The house has 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, great kitchen, huge family room, 2 fireplaces, and even a grand piano (so Kaylie and Tanner can keep practicing).  The town is perfect.  Has the perfect ambience of Portugal, but modern things such as a banks, restaurants, parks, and even a public pool and tennis courts.  We'll see.  We will keep working on the men.  And maybe that's where we'll end up.  We still have another place to look at.

Well, I'll keep you posted.

Love you and miss you (and our own barking dogs)


PS - happy birthday sis!! (2 days late) 

Friday, October 8, 2010

October 8, 2010

Well, it's official - my immune system is the weakest in our family.  Let me get you caught up.  The one thing I was trying to avoid here, in Portugal, was having to go to the doctor.  I even took extra measures before we left Utah.  All the kids had physicals/checkups at the pediatricians and I got all my doctor stuff taken care of to. I figured we were good for the next solid year.  Well, because I had that flu really bad it caused a little complication (that I won't go in to).  So, I had to see a doctor.  There is this really nice lady, named Sandra, that lives in the condo complex that we're staying in.  She speaks English fluently because she lived in New Jersery from age 4 to 16.  She called several doctors and got me an appointment for that evening.  The doctor was a very nice lady, but her facility was pretty much the reason why I had wanted to avoid going to the doctor here.  It was this little hole in the wall place.  The reception area consisted of a lady standing behind a counter - no computer, no desk.  She had me write my name and address on a piece of paper.  When the doctor got there (she was stuck in a traffic jam) she brought me in her office which was attached to her exam room.  We had a nice little chat (with Rick interpreting), she locked the door, took me in the exam room - which consisted of a wall shelf with all her stuff on it and an exam table that looked like it was from several centuries ago.  Let's just say that if it was Utah, the office would be shut down.  So weird - she didn't even have a nurse.  Just me, Rick, and the doc.  Well, at least I got my problem taken care of.  But, now I got what Tanner has.  I spent all day yesterday on the couch with ache/chills, sinus headache, cough, stuffy head, runny/stuffy nose.  Not fun.  Tanner coughs all night long - so he hasn't gotten a good nights sleep in about a week.  Let's just say I'm sick of being sick!!!!!!  Rick's been great - poor guy's been taking care of me non-stop.  In fact, he just left to go to the pharmacy once again.

Well, let me tell you about something cool we did.  Tuesday was a holiday for Portugal.  It was the day that they celebrate Portugal becoming a Republic.  Because it was a holiday our friends, Fatocha & Luis, didn't have to work.  They took us to this really cool place.  It's known as one of the 7 Wonders of Portugal (I think).  It's these caves called "Grutas de Mira de Aire" (google it - they're pretty cool).  They are about an hour away from Fatocha's house.  Getting there & back was quite an experience.  There is tons of road constuction right now and we were following their car.  We got separated from them - and remember we still don't have cell phones - so Rick had to go to a mall and call them.  The pay phones are funky and I guess it cut him off.  So he called her back and it went to voice mail so he left her a message telling her we'd meet them there.  Well, after stopping to ask for directions a few times, we finally made it.  We ate lunch at the restaurant above the caves (I'm telling you - eating is very important here) and then we toured the caves.  What a cool place.  If any of you decide to come visit us we will definitely take you there.  I'm very claustrophobic, so I was a little leary to go (heart palpitations).  But, inside the cave is huge and very well lit.  Portugal put tons of money into making the cave tourist friendly.  They even have pretty water fountains in it. It's a very beautiful place.  I was impressed.  The only bummer thing was that the tour guide spoke in Portuguese (of course) so I couldn't learn much. Afterward, we went to a mall with Fatocha's family to try to get cell phones - finally.  But, because it was a holiday the store was packed.  We called it quits because we were there forever and never got helped.  We grabbed something to eat with them and they headed back to their home.  We still wanted to shop for a GPS - so we headed to a couple of stores.  By this time it was almost time for the mall to close (11pm, by the way).  Oh - I forgot to mention - Devan had stayed in the car because he didn't want to shop - so he'd been in the car for probably 2 hours.  The mall closed and we headed for the parking structure.  I hadn't paid attention to where we had parked because I assumed we'd be leaving with Fatocha's family and they always new where they were at.  The mall is several stories tall and the underground parking  has several levels.  Let's just say we spent the next 1/2 hour looking for Devan and our car.   Funny!!  Rick jogged the parking structure with Tanner while Kaylie and I stayed inside the mall doors (because they would lock from the outside).  Nothing seems to be easy here!! haha

We always said we expected this to be an adventure - isn't that the truth!!!!!

Hopefully I will be able to post pictures soon.  I have some pretty fun pictures that go along with some of my stories.  The problem is, because we are using that "pen" thing to get internet - it charges you per megabyte to download/upload.  Rick was going to download a movie for the kids to watch last night, until he figured out it would cost about $200 to do so.  So, I have to wait on the pictures - sorry!!

Well, pray we find a home soon.  I'm thinking one of the reasons we keep getting sick is because all the houses here have mold.  They call it "humidity" problems.  Their homes are built out of block which holds the moisture inside the homes.  Most of the homes smell musty - like old, wet concrete walls....hmmm

Love ya & miss ya (and our wireless router)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

October 2, 2010

So,  turns out Kaylie's carsickness wasn't altogether carsickness.  She ended up having the flu and we just happened to be driving constantly (looking for a place to live).  She is our carsick child, so we just assumed that was it. She didn't have a fever or anything and would feel better after she threw up, which is how she is when she's carsick.  But, Monday I started feeling achy as we were driving home.  By that evening the flu had hit full on.  Not fun to be in a different home, bed, country having a fever, chills (so terribly that I had my clothes, Ricks thermals, Ricks sweats, Ricks socks, Kaylies blanket, 1 sheet, 2 comforters, and Rick laying on top of me), stomach cramps, and lots of disgusting things going on with your body.  Hopefully we are over it and it won't come back.  Rick had started feeling achy that day also, but for some reason he was able to fight it off before it hit.  Devan's been the healthy one so far.  I guess all those "green shakes" at home in Utah paid off.  (Jared - if you're reading this - keep drinking those nasty shakes that Rick made you).  Tanner's been sickly to.  But, not the flu.  He's had a pretty bad cough, sneezing (not fun when you're being sprayed - sneezed on - in the car constantly), sore throat, and headache.  It would be a whole lot easier to take care of us if we could read medication labels.  I'm now realizing more things I should have brought from home.  Hopefully we're all on the mend and won't be needing a pharmacy much longer.

Another exciting thing that happened this week...

Rick has been putting off getting cell phones (he's really enjoyed the lack of communication with the outside world), so when he's gone into town for something we're left in a little bit of insecurity.  So, on Wednesday he went in to town to take care of banking problems, go to an internet cafe to get faster service and look up places to live, and take care of some other junk.  He's usually gone for several hours when he does this.  I was in bed sick and all of a sudden I hear Kaylie fall down the ladder/stairs that lead to the loft.  I jump out of bed, Devan comes flying down the ladder with Tanner, Kaylie's at the bottom with her leg wrapped around the last ballister and handrail, screaming.  She had fallen from top step, which is about 8 feet up, hit her elbow and her tail bone really hard, twisted around a couple of times hitting most every other part of her body, and tried to catch herself before she nailed the tile floor and the wall in front of her.  Devan and I unwrapped her leg from the handrail and carried her to a chair.  I think she went into shock because she turned white as a ghost, was shaking and sweating, and was cold.  So, being the Young Women certified medic that I am (haha), we covered her with a blanket.  It was pretty bad, though.  I thought she had broken her elbow and forearm, for sure.  But, no bones were sticking through the skin, so we waited, and waited, and waited for Rick to return home.  We did manage to move her from the chair, to my bed, so we could be miserable together.  To make this long story even longer...  Rick ended up taking her to the "hospital" which actually was the government "clinic" where the "doctor" squeezed & straightened her arm (not fun when you think it's broken) and recommended that she get it x-rayed at the "actual" hospital.  Boy, that was helpful.  Good thing that only cost 3 Euros (which is about 5 bucks).  Whoo hoo for government run medical programs (spoken sarcastically).  Rick and Kaylie opted to wait till the next day to see if it would improve because driving a 20 minute drive to the hospital could turn in to an hour or two because the roads (and our GPS) are absolutely rediculous.  Well, it's now been a few days and she's finally using her hand and arm, so I guess it's not broken. The hospital visit never happened (I think Kaylie was probably a little fearful to go there).  Anyways - all is well in the end!!

Last thing for this update...

We moved out of our cute home in the country.  Kinda sad.  We really did like it there.  Although the church bell that chimed every hour, on the hour and the half hour, was a little much to handle when you're sick with the flu. The lady at the market across the street, Carla,  had become our friend and gave us figs from her tree when we left.  The lady at the bread store, where we bought fresh bread every morning, gave us free stuff several times (I think she loved Tanner's red hair).  Rick will miss the bread store the most, I'm sure.  Tanner loved the frog hunting in the stream behind the house.  Devan and Tanner will miss the neighborhood dogs - Kaylie named them Peaches and Diego.  Kaylie will miss the quaint little kitchen where we sat as a family and stuffed ourselves full of "Pao" (our favorite type of bread).  I will miss the small town atmosphere.  We are now further south, on the coast, in a complex called Mira Villas.  We will be staying here for the next month in a condo, while we continue the search.  We are about 1/2 a mile from the beach.  I think we'll end up somewhere close to here.  I really enjoy the mountains of Portugal and Duoro River, but I think the straighter/flat roads and the warmer climate are going to win out over the picturesque scenery.  That's okay, though - no kids throwing up in the car will make the experience a much nicer one.

Well, once again this is really long - SORRY!!  I'll try to be better.

Love ya & miss ya (and my king size bed)