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May 1, 2012

week 17.

Sunday, April 22nd
After a fun-filled weekend away in Guimarães, my sweet husband surprised me with a little mini-party with four other couples, 3 of which we have monthly dinner/games/chats about life with, and another couple who sing with me in the local choir here, and who have connections to the Cerebral Palsy center where we work and to our American friends, whose daughter is in their daughter's class.  After hearing me mention at the Easter party that my mom always made Dirt Cake for my birthday growing up (as my birthday falls on Earth Day), Cristi made me her own version of a Dirt Cake... chocolate mousse with crushed Oreos and strawberries... so delicious!  Their kids joined in and helped me blow out my candles, and we delighted ourselves with mousse, chocolate cinnamon cake, and Pão de Deus, or "God's Bread", which I must admit was pretty heavenly-... pardon the pun!  It was a sweet time and reminded me that God is continually caring for us here -- ever so far from "home", but with the beginnings of a great community that I know He is only going to grow larger and deeper as our time here in Portugal continues!

Monday, April 23rd
My two colleagues in the Volunteer Department, along with our boss, one member of the board of directors, and our 4 European volunteers here for 6 months through the European Voluntary Service Program all pitched in to celebrate with some pumpkin bars I had made (in Portugal, the birthday girl always brings her own cake for everyone else to enjoy!) and another typical Portuguese cake that our boss provided.  I was graced with the Portuguese birthday song (sung to the same tune as the original!), some goodies that were made to look like American money, a poster with a very accurate looking drawing of yours truly, with kind sentiments and inside jokes from our volunteers, and a really cute ombre (look it up) scarf!  My colleague Carina was kind enough to add the afternoon celebration as an entry on our volunteer blog, and though it's all in Portuguese, you can at least look at the photos!  The one I'm including here is with our volunteers and some super fabulous sparkler candles that our boss found... shaped into a 3 and a 0!  Amazing!  Does she know me, or does she know me?!?!

Tuesday, April 24th 
Last week on a public library run (I love libraries!!!!), I remembered that a few months ago I found this on the English bookshelf and promised myself when I finished my most recent book, I would start this one.  My former roommate and dear friend Margaret was always trying to convince me to read them, but without much free time to read while living in Atlanta (can't believe I didn't allow myself time to READ!  The horror!), I stuck to life application books instead of novels.  One of the first things I did after moving to Portugal was to start a list of all the novels that I wanted to read this last year, and I finished quite a few of them!  Now that I'm halfway through the first Harry Potter book, I can't wait to go back to the library and get the movie!

Wednesday, April 25th
We slept in today to celebrate a national holiday in Portugal and did house projects, cleaned in preparation for weekend guests, read books while watching a grey cloudy sky become more and more grey with each passing hour, and rotated about 4 loads of laundry throughout the entire afternoon.  (Confession: being a newly married couple without children, sometimes we just sit on the couch and read books in our free time instead of doing responsible adult things like laundry).  We have a lot more free time since Christmas, when Luis's parents bought us a dryer, since we are not spending 30 minute a week hanging socks on individual clothespins!  I love it.  Though we still hang quite a few things that we don't want to shrink, like sweaters and jackets, it has been a huge time saver... though it has made our electricity bill go up! (Boo).  Since Portuguese houses and apartments aren't equipped for clothes dryers, we have to physically put the dryer vent out a window or a door to avoid the humid air coming into the house.  The other day, Luis realized that it's really only in the first 30 minutes of the cycle that the air is super humid, and for the rest it's pretty much room temperature.  It was at that moment that he came up with the brilliant idea to redirect the air being blown out of the vent up to dry our clothes that were hanging on the drying rack, using a simple plastic laundry basket without holes to reflect the air and an old shower shelf that was on it's way to the trash to hold the hose down.  We call it the Double Dryer: (forgive the grand mistake to shoot the photo with the glass sliding door as a backdrop!)

Thursday, April 26th
While taking a walk near our house the other day, I noticed this beautiful archway, and I must confess that I don't think I have ever noticed it before!  Sometimes I fear becoming desensitized to the beautiful European architecture that surrounds me every day, so I am trying to be more aware of beautiful things like these!  (Also note the orange trees in background... they are everywhere here!)

Friday, April 27th
Really happy that now I can officially use the "30" cheese knife that I brought from the States, a memory from Swoozies, one of my favorite boutique stores in Atlanta that closed just a bit before I moved. It's been sitting in my drawer for a while and I'm proud to say that I didn't use it until I actually turned the big 3-0! One or many of you should think about coming to visit, so we can visit beautiful places and use my cool new cheese knife while eating Portuguese cheese and drinking Portuguese wine.  Just saying.

Saturday, April 28th
Three cheers for American visitors!  As many of you know, my mom often takes care of teacher's children in our home, and has since we were young, so that she could work at home and still have the same school holidays and summer schedule as us.  It was a blessing to be able to have a mom at home when we got home from school, always available to pick us up, and because of her amazing work with the kids, we often became great friends with the families of the kids she watched.  It's really amazing to see their photos on Christmas cards each year, some that I hardly recognize!  One family that we have kept in touch with has a daughter, Kayla, who is studying abroad in Spain this semester, and after getting in touch with us, she brought two friends and came to visit Coimbra this weekend!  Here we are at the Roman ruins that are 5 minutes from our house!

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