This week has been a mix of mid-summer fun and relaxing, and being able to stay home with the family has been very recharging for Steve.

In preparation for the new school year, Erin contacted one of the parents of a student going into the  5th grade at St. Peter's school and will be Henry's classmate. They met up for a play date at Castelo Palmela and hopefully will be fast friends come the school year.

A brand new donut shop recently opened up in Setúbal and we took the opportunity to check it out this week. It's heavily Simpson's themed and the donuts are awesome. One of our new favorite things is the mini-donuts they offer that are ~2/3 regular size and are the perfect portion for kids that have already had breakfast without ruining their appetite for the day.

We've slowly been adding some color to our apartment. A couple of throw pillows and a TV stand were the additions this week, and it's nice not to have the TV sitting on a folding chair anymore. On the topic of TVs, we didn't really expect we would get one at all. After all, we are keeping busy, as well as doing a lot of reading. That said, one of the things we've learned is that in Portugal the connectivity services are fairly inexpensive. 2 lines of cell service, 200Mb fiber internet, and cable TV programming is ~60€/month from MEO as a package and so we went for it. One nice part is that we've been able to watch the Portuguese news as a 2nd language learning activity.

We finally heard back from the group that runs our apartment that we cannot have a grill of any kind on our balcony. Steve had his sights set on a small Weber propane grill for chicken and steak but alas, it's not in the cards. Instead we're forced to go with an electric countertop grill. (Yes, this is a first-world problem)
Pros: It cooks just fine.
Cons: It's a pain to clean. I bought the 2400w version and it pops the circuit that it's on every time I use it. I don't get to drink my beer on the balcony while also standing over cooking meat - maybe it's time to invest in an extension cord.

Another food-related difference between the US and Portugal is the lack of premade pasta sauce. If you look hard enough you may find one option for fully prepared sauce (Prego original/plain flavor, usually) but the price per jar is way more than you would expect. Instead you'll find jars of low-preservative tomato sauce, tomato pulp, tomato paste, diced tomato, etc. Steve's father in law has been telling him for years that it's easy and cheap to make your own sauce from scratch, so we've been leaning in to experimenting with different seasonings for our sauce.

An entire post about food differences between the US and Portugal is probably warranted. It's a constant source of fun and contemplation for us :)

In a prior post we mentioned that we'd made friends with a family of expats from Florida. They have a daughter that is Henry's age and is very compatible as a playmate with our kids. Originally this was to give the kids opportunities for play dates but has evolved into our entire families becoming good friends. We frequent the pool, the beach, and the park.

In final news for this week we spent some time researching the in-and-outs of car buying here in Portugal. We're needing a car by early September since the kids are going to be going to school ~15 minutes drive from our apartment and we would like to transition to longer day trips around Portugal before the summer ends. After several days of fretting over the details of making a big purchase, we  finally took the plunge and drove to Lisbon to start the process of buying a used Renault Grand Scenic!
The process here is a bit different from the States. You don't go to a dealership with the intention of driving home with a used car. Once you make a sale and put money down the car has to be inspected by the shop (most used car dealers have a 12-24 month warranty on the cars they sell) and all the paperwork for transitioning ownership begins. Commonly it's the dealer's responsibility to handle the ownership change and they work through a lawyer in order to complete the transaction. It's the buyer's responsibility to secure insurance before the delivery date, which seems to be typically 2 weeks from the time of down-payment. Here's a sneak peak of what we're buying!

Family movie night:
Sonic the Hedgehog - Family rating 8.4

Highs and lows:

Highpoint Lowpoint Learned this week
Steve Going to Captain Taps with Matt The stress of trying to buy a car without speaking Portuguese Learned there was a big fire in Palmela a year ago - reason why the hillside is all charred
Erin Going to the Parque de Albarquel and the little beach nearby Too much time in the apartment this week! I got stir-crazy Ordering books in the summertime for the kids’ school year
Nora Going to Praia de Alberquel and Daisy’s Donuts Sitting at the car dealership waiting for mom and dad to be done We saw an Asian Hornet in our apartment, which is really big and an invasive species here!
Henry Getting doughnuts at Daisy’s Donuts Maggie being sick That I really like living in Portugal
Junie Going to the beach by Parque de Albarquel with Maggie Sitting around at home while Maggie was sick The fire in Palmela

Até logo!
Steve and Erin

Week 5: July 9th - July 15th