San Antone’

This summer we were blessed to be able to go back to Texas for a three week visit with family. We spent the first half of our trip in San Antonio with Michael’s family.  His brother used some vacation time to come stay for a week and his sister’s soon to be husband came down from New York to meet us. We had a great time as time in San Antonio is always relaxing…from buying a bb gun to fire in the back yard, to Costco runs, to strolls through the park and long dinners over bbq…I love hanging out with our family there! I have SO many pictures…but here are some highlights….

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Oh my word. We had such a great time…these pictures don’t even show the half of it. From introducing the kids to lazer tag and blue bell bullets, a day at the zoo and visiting with old friends who have an awesome backyard, to shopping summer sales and enjoying amazing Texas food…to playing wrestling games on the xbox with uncles and getting hooked on American Ninja Warrior…to watching deer and hummingbirds from the comfort of the breakfast table, time in San Antonio is always a joy. I confess…though I am from Houston, central Texas is my absolute favorite and if God ever calls us back to Texas some day…I really hope that’s where we can land. I also confess that I’m thankful that our conviction to be in Portugal is strong because there is so much to love about our beautiful homeland, it can be tempting to want to return after a visit. I love the giant playgrounds available to kids, the friendly people and the new food-truck culture. Things like that make Texas that much more inviting. Anyway, it was a wonderful time and I’m thankful the family made so much time to be with us!

Lily bug turns 9

It’s true that our kids grow up in the blink of an eye. Day in and day out, we don’t notice it much, but pictures from their last  birthday make you realize just how much they’ve changed in a year. I can’t believe my Lily bug turned nine this year. We threw together a quick party for her since it was between school ending and us preparing to go to Texas for a visit…and Portugal’s first game in the World Cup (a big deal for all the guys). Here are just a few friends singing happy birthday to her around a Portuguese themed table :)

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For her birthday this year she got a facelift to her room. Colleagues of ours were returning to the states and selling off their less than a year old furniture. We bought Lily a day bed with lots of storage and the ability to expand to a king size bed. It’s awesome. And while in Texas we got new sheets…she’s got a new chandelier, etc. It’s officially a tween room.

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A quick interview with our girl:

What is your favorite subject in school?

Science

What is your favorite color?

Blue/Turquoise

What do you want to be when you grow up?

A photographer or a cafe owner

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Which language do you like better…Portuguese or English?

Portuguese

Who is your best friend?

Tirza

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(Together we simply call them “Tilly” and they both respond)

What is your favorite t.v. show?

Phineus and Ferb

What is your favorite thing to eat?

Chicken and crackers (a casserole I make)

Where do you want to go on vacation next?

Paris, France (city of love)

Who is your favorite singer?

Mumford and Sons

What is your favorite book?

The one and only Ivan

And this is a picture my friend Kim took of Lily this past week that I just love…

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She is really developing into a lovely, full of energy, kind hearted yet spirited, artistic young woman. She still makes little things for us all the time and leaves us notes that are terribly misspelled in English, but sweet none the less :)  She still has a cackle kind of laugh that is unrivaled by anything else in the world. She has a little devotional book that she reads every night before going to bed and has childlike faith. She’s great in the kitchen and is happy to make lunch and coffee’s for everyone. Her personality is still a good mix of Mg’s sister Kathy and me. She’s still timid around strangers and her teacher always tells her to speak louder. She is compassionate to those who get picked on. She’s still the messiest person in our family but we deal with it because she’s just pretty great all around :)  Thank You Jesus for this girly-girl of ours!

Let’s catch up :)

Well…I WAS doing a good job getting the blog going again. I blame summer for getting me off schedule once again ;) I do want to go back and document a few things though. More just for my family than for any readers. I want my kids to have a place to go back and see their childhood unfold a little bit. Even I enjoy going back and reading things that I have long forgotten had happened. That along with the fact that I am just constantly reminded that we lead a pretty wonderful life. All credit goes to God for the adventures we’ve gotten to go on and the sweet friends we get to share life with. That said…let’s catch up starting from after the Easter party to mid June when we left for a trip to Texas.

Mg and I went to a meeting in Prague. We spent a whole week kid free thanks to the amazing generosity of our friends Ana and Luc who kept our kids. Yes, we had meetings everyday, but we still had some time each afternoon to get out and see the city a bit and had fun catching up with some old friends. Prague is a city that’s been on my “must see” list for a while now. So thankful that I got to finally go and experience it’s charm first hand!

IMG_2987IMG_2986IMG_2968My cute kids at our local fair. Don’t mind Cal…he was having a good time, he just doesn’t like to stop for pictures :)

DSC_1821Our friends Kim and Luis had their first baby. Sweet little thing!

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A free Academica game?! Yes please.

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A lazy dinner while watching three stooges in 3-D. So thankful that they are still stooge fans after all these years!

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Mg and I could finally get downtown more now that the rain had stopped. This is from a date we had one day…finally trying a cute restaurant that’s been on my radar! (Sometimes he likes taking pictures as much as Cal.)

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My boys spent the spring and majority of the summer collecting stickers for their World Cup book. This is the day they FINALLY got Cristiano Ronaldo’s sticker. So exciting!

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Dropping Henry off for a birthday party at the science museum. Sometimes I realize I have started taking my city and the beauty around me for granted, then other times I have to stop and remember how cool it is that I’m dropping my 10 year old off at a party in this historic old building. Things that wouldn’t be happening if we still lived in Texas.

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We spent a whole day amongst incredible company. Henry had his annual basketball tournament where there are normally lots of inflatables for the kids to play on. We invited two of our favorite families to join us. While normally I have tons of pictures of the kids, this year I don’t for some reason. Partly because they ran off all over the place. Also because it was so windy the inflatables weren’t up half the time. While my tendency is to get frustrated that things aren’t going like they should, our friends have such a great, go with the flow attitude and made the day fun even if we just sat in the grass most of the day. Below are two of my dearest friends, Ana and Sofia.

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Man. I must be used to living here. I’m noticing I am taking fewer and fewer pictures as the novelty of things has worn off :/ Here are the few pictures I captured from our kids’ end of year parties at school. I just love them and all their little friends SO much!

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We only made it to our local medieval festival for about an hour before the sky unleashed, but it was fun while it lasted!

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Well, that about sums up our spring. Next up, summer!

1,000 Gifts (numbers 600-650)

607. Calvin’s crazy dance moves

610. finding old notes/reminders tucked away in books

611. worship songs that move me to tears (currently “oceans” by Hillsong)

615. my family in hoodies…they’re so cute and cuddly

618. the West Point Cadets that come to Coimbra

621. Bright colored patio charis

627. encouraging Lily’s creative side (via art lessons) and the beautiful paintings she brings home

630. my daddy’s salvation…proof of God’s faithfulness to pursue us and answer prayers

631. my husband in the kitchen…watching Jim Gaffagan’s “hot pocket” video over and over again while he cooks

632. the beautiful sunsets against the thousands of spires in the Prague skyline

634. my boys’ collection of futebol scarves

646. the rumble of thunder and summer rain

647. little polka-dotted deer

648. the scratchy wet kisses of dogs

649. Texas fields with hay bales scattered about

Easter Parties

We had a wonderful weekend celebrating Easter (just a week early). We were blessed to have three of our friends from Texas come with lots of supplies in tow to help us host 5 different Easter parties. We did a small one for café inglês, a special dinner for our Bible study group, then we did two BIG family/kid parties on Saturday and helped the local church we attend host one in their neighborhood on Sunday. We had an absolute blast just getting to love on so many kids over the weekend. Below are a bunch of pictures so you can get an idea of the fun we had, from making bunny ears, decorating cookies, playing pin the tail on the bunny, a bunny sack race, doing crafts, listening to the Easter story and of course hunting for eggs. We just love all of our kids’ friends and feel blessed to be able to host things like this for them. Hope you enjoy the photos!DSC_0981

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10 year old Henry

Henry is at such a great age!   Just wanted to highlight some of the things Henry is into these days.DSC_0914

Above he is showing off his “big” birthday present…a kindle fire.  Mg and I are both happy that he has turned out to be a reader (a child after our own hearts) and thought this would be a great way to keep him stocked with books in English since they are harder to come by over here.

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He is going on his third year of basketball and it has been really fun to see how much he has developed in his b-ball skills!

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He is still an animal lover and when we told him we were going to skip throwing a big party this year but told him he could pick a fun activity to do, he chose the Lisbon zoo.  Here we are with the friends he decided to bring along.  It was such a fun day and I loved the random animal facts he was able to share throughout the day.  (He also still loves watching Nat Geo Wild…just yesterday I picked him up and he said, “I have to hurry and do my homework because “America the Wild” is coming on at six.”)DSC_1799

In case you were left wondering how far we’ve come from him living in the corner of a purple bedroom, just wanted you to see that he has come a long way.  He still has to share a bedroom, but it is an all boy bedroom and I just love it!  (you can even see the duct-taped basketball hoop hanging on their bed!)

A few other things you can see in this picture…we just recently got through to him how handsome he looks when he does his hair…he is a leftie (notice his watch)…his favorite color is currently orange…and he’s such a cute, “euro” boy…I just love his skinny jeans!

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 Just this past week he finally mastered the art of blowing a bubble and he is so excited!  I suppose that’s a type of right of passage for kids :)

He is also an avid lover of board games (we are excited he can play strategy games like Catan with us).  I can see bits of my grandfather and brother in him…he loves, and is so GOOD, with little kids.  I can see bits of Mg’s brother in him in his love of all things computer…even taking things apart and putting them back together.  I still LOVE when he gets to laughing about something till he cries.

One last pic…here he is making our friends little girl crack up.  I just love it.

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A quick interview with my 10 year old:

What is you favorite subject in school?

Math

What is your favorite thing to watch on t.v.?

Nat Geo Wild

What is your favorite board game?

Ticket to Ride

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Zookeeper

What is your favorite color?

orange

What is your favorite food?

spaghetti and meatballs

Who is your favorite futebol player?

Calvin :)

Portugal vs. USA…who do you root for?

Portugal

Where do you want to go to university?

A&M (we’re doing something right at least ;) )

What is you favorite drink?

root beer (poor guy…he can’t get that here)

What is your favorite animal?

otter

What is your favorite book?

Harry Potter

What is your favorite place to go on vacation?

Disney World (well…he’s got some Burkhalter in him ;) )

Serra da Estrela

 One other great thing we got to do this winter was go on a mini-vacation with friends!  We are SO grateful for the families in Calvin’s class including us on their getaway to the mountains.  We’ve gotten to experience lots of different things with Portuguese people over the years, but I don’t recall ever actually having an overnight trip with any.  This was SUCH a fun way to delve into the culture a little more.  For starters, I have to say that our friends are some of the most patient, laid back, go with the flow people I’ve ever met.  The weather was anything BUT cooperative this particular weekend.  No way we could do our peaceful outdoor picnic like planned, so instead we borrow someones garage and turn it into a fun and at least, dry, haven :)  When we get to our house, the power goes out.  Everyone keeps their cool and maneuvers a way to eat in the dark.  I was amazed at their skills!  We tried waiting out storms in cafés and when that didn’t work, we moved to the mall and saw a movie, etc. etc.  Nothing seemed to get them down and I was really humbled by that!  We also learned other fun things, like how different our typical breakfasts look, how much more they drink milk, how they worry a little bit more about things causing their kids to get sick…but all such fun stuff!  I even fell down the flight of stairs (so embarrassing) but aside from getting picked on a little bit…everyone was so gracious!  Even though nothing this weekend went according to anyone’s plans…I really, truly had a great time just getting to feel like a part of the gang!  (oh, and we did FINALLY get to play in the snow for a bit…the whole point of the trip…but we didn’t stay long because the wind was brutal!  got a few cute pics though!)

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Portugal dos Pequenitos

We had a few sunny days this winter and for one of those we finally took advantage of some coupons we had to go to Portugal dos Pequenitos.  This is a landmark in our city that was built by the old dictator as a means of building a love for Portugal and it’s colonies in children.  My kids always love visiting, but it’s a little pricey so it’s been years since we last visited.  It was crazy to realize how BIG my kiddos have gotten since the last time.  Instead of having to stay on top of them (like last time when they were little), we were able to play a nice game of hide and seek.  Henry was impossible to find…he was tucked away in some tiny house and finally had to surrender himself because we couldn’t find him!  It’s just little family days like this that do my heart good!

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Lyon

I never got around to sharing about our trip to Lyon, France.  I figured after my cranky post I needed to focus on some of the good things that took place this winter.  By far my favorite thing was our families quick little getaway to France for a Christmas festival.  It was a lot of fun to see how another country celebrates.  We were pleasantly surprised at how kind and helpful the French people were.  We didn’t know a thing about Lyon before going but had a blast touring it’s history museum, puppet museum and miniature museum (we had no idea it was the birthplace of marionette puppets and different lighting for theater/films).  The food was amazing.  Nothing better than festival/street food.  The light shows were spectacular!  Definitely a memory that will last for a lifetime!  (I don’t have many pictures from our night time outings because they didn’t turn out too well :( but trust me, it was amazing to see!)  It was simply a fun time to be together as a family, hang out, splurge on a few things and take lots of fun pictures.  Here are just a few of my favorites…and I’m trusting that the pictures will describe our trip better than my words!

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