West Coast.

#2 Ready. Set. Go.

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Patrícia Mota
Patrícia Mota

Hello, everyone!

To see if I can calm down, I'm here to report on this week full of news.

First of all, I'd like to thank you for your messages to this blog and all the good energy you've been sending us. I can't tell you how good it feels to have you with us on this adventure.

Not to single anyone out in particular, but the winners of the most creative support on the planet are Rodrigo's friends. They've already won! You can see for yourselves...

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This past week, we finally managed to take care of a lot of paperwork, both at social security and at the foreigners and borders service, etc etc, to ensure that we are all legal and ready to get to work.

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Always with the whole family in the back, patiently in the car or waiting to be picked up. We managed to get everything set up in the 3 schools with parents' meetings, pupils' meetings to get access to gym equipment, lockers, free food forms for lunch and snacks for the 3 of us, etc. Now that I mention it, there have indeed been a lot of balls spinning, but at the moment I dare say that everything has been taken care of.

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And so, on the only day we had without commitments, we decided to offer our boys a trip to Legoland.

When we told them, the sisters' reaction wasn't what we expected. They stood still and, after looking at each other, Maria said, "But are you sure we can go? because you guys keep spending money, and I know you're worried about it... maybe going to Legoland is another big expense, right?" and Mercedes said, "Sis, I think Dad must have thought about this before... We'd better be happy and leave the worries for later..."

And so we realized that walking with the whole family always behind means that they hear our conversations, and feel our concern with so many open fronts, but we followed Mercedes' advice and headed for Legoland!

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On the way to the park I realized that I had been accepted into a private Facebook group, where Jenny had included me: "Buy nothing Seal Beach", which is based on the gratitude of people who want to offer something and/or request something from the members of the group.

So I wrote a little text introducing ourselves to the community, offering our consultancy services, which means tips, to any family looking to move to Portugal or Spain, or just travel to any country we know in Europe. And asking for basically everything a family of 5 and a Mel might need to set up an empty house in record time. And because I got seasick during the trip, I never looked at my phone again.

At the entrance to the park we received a call from the condominium where we were trying to rent a house, confirming that they had verified that we were not rascals, and that we could move in on the 11th! And we were delirious, because we'd have 2 days (glup!) to move our suitcases and find everything we needed to set up a house! Shortly afterwards, Rodrigo received the news that on that same Friday we would also have access to our car, as we had also been accepted as non-scoundrels in the car rental company for 12 months! And we felt that this project was in the bag, everyone happy!

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The kids were ecstatic at Legoland the whole time, and at one of the prize stalls (fairground style) we tried our luck because we saw some mallard chameleons that we'd like to bring home.

As there are so many of us, and we speak languages that are unknown to these parts, it's inevitable that we'll be asked a lot of questions, and when we explain a single one of our stories we always hear "amazing and wooowww" several times.

Then the man from the mallard chameleon stall explained the game, which consisted of catching ducklings with a fishing rod.

They had to catch 8 ducks. I asked them for their best, and the 3 brothers organized themselves strategically and caught 23.

All they had to do was throw themselves into the duck pool. When we added up the dots underneath each duck, we realized that we were entitled to a cute little one-pound chameleon! Hooray!

However, the gentleman, moved by the brothers' strategy and the story we had been telling them, decided that today was a nice day and so he offered them nothing less than the top prize, a giant chameleon in color! And it was as if they had won the whole lottery!

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We laughed and jumped, and now we have another member of the family who has a name and everything, but I can't remember the exact name. Anyone who transports everything we've brought here can transport another giant chameleon without a problem.

Meanwhile, on this magical day, while waiting in line at the amusement rides, I opened the "buy nothing" community group that Jenny had added to me, and my post had literally 43 replies. Suddenly there were people saying that they were offering us basically everything. From pans and toys, to tables, chairs, sofas, vacuum cleaners, everything! And it was hard to find the words to thank all those people who made themselves available to welcome us home to pick up what we needed!

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In the living room, all I bought was Matias' high chair and a large pot and hand blender to make soup, as my children wouldn't shut up about it. Matias was always saying that he hadn't had soup again, and it was urgent that we dealt with it.

We bought the beds for the rooms and everything else was given to us, just to "pay it forward". And I went to bed on Wednesday thinking, if everything went wrong now, no one would take this wonderful day away from us.

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In the meantime, we bought everything we needed for the start of the school, and spent the weekend setting up beds and transporting all the gifts we needed to call this spot home. I think we did it! In addition, during the weekend we did all that, we went to Jenny's daughter's birthday party, and we were faced with a mega stress, that I couldn't drive our recently rented car, so we were fighting with that system all weekend!

But in the meantime, Rodrigo also managed to get around the car rental challenge, worked his magic, and spoke to the whole company via various social networks, including the product manager of this company, who insisted on whining and not adding me as a second driver! The solution was around €800, but we've just realized that I've got independence of movement again and I can drive! Thanks Rodrigo, it seems to me that with the arguments of someone who knows how to manage products, they'll still call you for advice as a "user experience" geek!

We're already settled in...

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And this morning was the first day of school!

Our daughters held on stoically until they saw the doors opening, but they started crying as soon as they had to go in, each to their own school, as they walked in an orderly fashion in the right direction, looking at us and asking for help with their eyes... and we held on stoically too, gesturing that it would be good, and right now we're counting the minutes until we can pick them up.

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Matias hung up his backpack, peeked into the room that looked more like an amusement park, met Miss Megan, and when she asked him, "do you want to come in?" he replied in his best English, "YES!" and I had to ask him for a kiss before running off inside.

Then it was my turn to go with Jenny to my school.

I confess that I didn't prepare myself in terms of nerves, but it really hit me when I saw the facilities and the butterflies in my stomach multiplied.

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I met one of the "lab technicians", and when he asked me what the facilities in that lab looked like to me (there are several!), I just replied: "this looks like Disneyland!"

I know my Biomechanics geek friends will understand why when they see the photos.

He replied: "Yeah right? Happiest place on Earth!"

And then he added, "let me know what you need, I'm here for you", and I felt like crying with emotion.

I hope that the harshness of this first day will be overcome quickly, and that we can all realize that fear is part of it, but that we can take a few bites out of it, and then swallow it all.

That's it.

And we hope the kids will want to come back tomorrow. And the day after.

I think that if we see them well, we can understand the fear better. That's it.

Please keep sending good energy as today is an epic day. To everyone.

A huge kiss from here to there.

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