July 31, 2008

We left our kids in Alberta

Well we are off. Our month long goodbye tour as a family of 4 has drawn to an end. We said good bye to Alex and Amelia and left them with my sister (Ann-Marie) until the middle of the month. After everything we have been through these past two months it felt so strange to say goodbye to them and it feels so strange to be alone.

My sister has five kids ranging in ages from 3 to 14, two boys and three girls. I was shocked when she said she would love to have my two for a couple of weeks. She even suggested we leave them til the end of August but we are still thinking on that one.

Ann-Marie home schools her five kids. She has strong opinions on many things but never pushes them down your throat. She quietly educates and thank god she does. She is the number one reason for so many great experiences in my life, home birthing, breastfeeding and attachment parenting.

She believes in the law of attraction and I have seen it at work in her life. She never settles and she and her husband Shane have begun living their lives with no fear. Instead of wishing for the life they want, they are living it! It is very inspirational.

Ann-Marie, Shane and the five kids are saving to meet us in Egypt. They have set their goal and we cannot wait for us to meet up and explore that amazing country together.

I will try and get the kids to write a couple of times over the next two weeks about their time at their cousins. As for Graham and I, we are about 3 hours outside of Chicago and excited about returning to work next week. We are both craving a bit of focused work time. We also can't wait to see our friends and Rob, and sit on a few patios with no worries of kids to run home to! Thanks Ann-Marie and Shane, Graham and I will enjoy these next two weeks alone.

July 30, 2008

Finding your inner strength

This story happened a few days ago but it really signified for me how we each need to find that little piece of something inside that drives us to overcome our fears and challenge ourselves.

Mom, Graham and I, my sisters five kids and our two kids, headed out for a picnic at the Discovery Canyon. Discovery Canyon is a little man made river and beach that kids tube down. When we got there mom and I quickly figured out that it was going to be a bit of an exhausting day. One of us needed to walk up to the start of the river with the kids and the tubes and the other needed to wait at the bottom at the beach and watch the two littlest ones (Joe 3 and Mandy 5). Now Alex and Zac were up and gone and of course needed no assistance. Amelia and Katie were also self sufficient. The problem was that Sarah needed a little bit of help in certain parts of the river. Mom or I would need to enter the river and give her a push in the right direction or help her out of a bind at various points. Not fun, so after quite a few runs, I asked Graham to take a shift going up with the girls.

After a few minutes I looked up the river and could see Graham standing on the side. From my vantage point I couldn't see Sarah but I knew he must be looking at her. He didn't look angry but right away I knew that he had decided that if she wanted to tube the river she was going to need to do it herself. Part of me wanted to run up there and smack him and tell him to get in there and help her but part of me also wondered if maybe his approach was the right one.

Amelia and Katie made it down the river and walked back up to the point where Sarah was stuck and Graham was standing. Graham told me later that they both begged him to enter the river and help Sarah down. Graham wasn't budging. Finally after a while, Sarah realized she couldn't do it and got out and climb up to where Graham was. She began to cry and Graham and her started walking back. She was walking behind Graham. I felt so bad but I thought better not to focus on it. I went to the picnic blanket and called everyone for lunch and mass chaios began, "Who wanted ham?..." ...."This sandwhich has mustard on it..."..."Where's my juice..." and then I came to Sarah's sandwich and I looked up to hand it to her and she was nowhere to be found.

We began looking and then I realized that one tube was missing. We were shocked, never in a million years would I have looked back up that river for her. Graham had already started over there and I was quite a few paces back but at the same moment we had scanned from the start of the river, all the way to the base and our eyes reached Sarah finishing the ride and getting ready to come to shore, at the exact same moment.

We were literally in SHOCK. We were witnessing, a child who I have known since the day she was born, find that inner strength that each of us has. She was NOT going to let the river beat her. She didn't need Graham, she didn't need Katie, she didn't need Amelia...she was going to do it all on her OWN. As she walked towards us I was surprised that she wasn't smiling or looking proud. She was crying and to be honest she looked angry. I think the anger and sadness truly signified the size of her accomplishment. We all erupted in a round of applause as she approached.

I asked her later who she was mad at...I was wondering if maybe perhaps her anger at Graham had driven her but she said...."I was just mad because I wanted to do it!"

There it was for me, my life lesson, from my beautiful, complex, brave niece. It doesn't matter if it is a river you tube down or sailing around the world....you just have to WANT to do it and anything is possible.

July 29, 2008

Mom's House

We visited mom on the same week that she was babysitting my sister's five kids. In total mom's 900 sq foot home with one working shower, had 11 people and 1 dog staying in it! The kids were over the top happy to have all of their cousins there and to be spoiled rotten by mom. She managed to take them all horseback riding, tubing, swimming, water parking, hot tubing, had a camp fire, to the park, rock painting, the movies, the farmer market, church, and the list goes on and on!!! You could tell that her goal from the get go was to "SPOIL"! Well.....goal was achieved.

Now the volume level in the house was way beyond acceptable, especially at meal time but Mom just kept on trucking. She is truly amazing. Graham and I were done on about day two :-).  I figured that the easiest thing to do was just to GO NOWHERE....but mom insisted on not letting the numbers intimate her. She even invited up Jason, Chantelle and Justin on Friday night to stay over (now we were up to 14 people) and she made a couple of roasts and a huge dinner. Ok, you get the point......this is one Nanny who isn't slowing down anytime soon.

It was funny to watch her parent young kids again. I realized that so much of who I am is made up of her. She has huge emotions. She doesn't mince words. She doesn't often hold her tongue. She needs to talk out any problems that appear, to death. She loves with such intensity that I have never seen it matched. It is the kind of love that you feel to your core. You never doubt it; you know there is never anything you can do to lose it. 

Mom's unconditional love is the super glue that binds our family together.  It hasn't mattered where we have lived (from Australia to Dawson Creek) we have all remained close. She has raised kids with both "Roots" and "Wings". I love you mom and I can only hope that I can follow in your footsteps and raise my kids with the same sense of security and strength that I feel from your love.

July 24, 2008

Candle Lake - by Alex

Over the past few days we heard a lot of great stories but I will only touch on to a few.

Our grandparents were fishing in September, when a flying saucer came overhead. They said it sounded like a flock of birds taking off.  Grandpa Elwood said he pointed his rifle at it but great grandma Donna said don't because last week a boat was recovered and people were missing on the same lake. Abduction?  Lasers? Who knows? But it disappeared in one zip.  They went back to town to tell people about their experience, but all they got in return was....are you drinking?

You might not think this but my Great Grandma use to hunt and fish. For instance she shot moose and deer from her boat. Actually she's won trophies for hunting and she catches pickerel a type of fish.

I was surprised when my Grandpa said that he could feed wild deer out of his hand. In a day or so we had pancakes and since we had extras we feed the deer out of our hand and we kept on going back for more pancakes.

Over the past few days in Candle Lake we have had something like a family reunion because we have been meeting so much family, some we have never met before. It was great to see my Great Grandparents alive and well. We even made some new friends like Matthew my cousin that I had never met before.

Well Candle Lake is going to be one of the highlights of our trip

Miss you all


July 23, 2008

History taken down a notch

Ok, so I have learned about WW2 in school. I have heard about it on TV. I have read about it in books and magazines but the truth is and I hate to admit this, it kind of bored me. It just didn't touch me close enough to home. It was a time that I just couldn't comprehend.

Well things are very different now. We were all at the kitchen table in Candle Lake, Saskatchewan and the kids and I were doing a puzzle and Graham and his Grandpa Elwood were talking. The conversation came around to WW2 and the allied invasion of Europe in 1944 and Elwood began to recount for us the Canadian invasion of Juno Beach in France.

"We arrived at Juno beach in boats and we were all unloaded into the water. We were in our full gear and boots and heavy packs and guns. The water was up to our necks and for some of the men it was over their heads. Right away we started to struggle. Trying to make our way to shore with all the weight on us, was hard. Several men began to drown and we were trained to keep moving and we weren't allowed to stop and help. We made it to the beach facing a hail of bullets from the German positions: there was no time to stop and catch your breath or take a break. Gun fire was on us and we had to "clear" the German bunkers on the higher ground at the edge of the beach. We fought in lines. The first line would go forward and fight and then drop and then the second line would go forward and drop. It gave each team a few moments to reload, etc. As your friends would get hit and wounded around you, you had to just keep running. Months of training had been drilled into us that if you stop you would never get started again. We fought for a week solid with no rest. We had a bit of reprieve from the gun fire at the end of the week, enough so that we could get a bit of rest. We ate biscuits that swelled up in your stomach and made you think you were full. We drank any water we could find and put tablets in it to purify. "

As we sat and listened, it became so real. History wasn't something we couldn't see, it was one soldier, telling his story. It hit us all. The kids had stopped their puzzle at this point. I had moved closer. We were pouring over pictures and memorabilia. Everything seemed so clear now.  The gratitude I felt was overwhelming.

Wouldn't we be lucky if all history lessons could be taught by someone making the history. Taken down to an intimate level that we can all comprehend. The kind of level that makes us ask all the questions that fill in the blanks because we are so drawn in.

Elwood went back to Juno beach for the first time in 1995. He had a picture of it. It looked beautiful. He described how strange it felt to stand there. He also had a picture of the endless rows of graves of all of the Canadian soldiers. He said that this is when his emotions really rose to the surface, as he walked around and saw so many of his friend's names.  

I can't thank Elwood enough for sharing his stories with us. It was a couple of hours that none of us will ever forget.

July 18, 2008

My little sister

We just had an amazing visit with my little sister Chantelle . She graduated high school last year and is now living in Edmonton with her boyfriend Justin and dog Whiskey and going to school. It is so neat to see her transition from kid to adult.

Graham and I couldn't help but think about when he and I moved in together when we were 18 and started making our life together. First TV, first set of dishes, first couch, first matching sheet set, grocery shopping, paying bills, making dinner, being responsible for everything.........all exciting but also a little bit scary. She is making it all look like she has been on her own forever.

Their place is really cute. They have it set up really modern. Big comfy couches, flat screen TV and little touches, like candles and such.  We were the first family members to stay with them. Telly made us feel so welcome. We fell in love with their dog Whiskey. He is a cross between a Golden Retriever and Great Pyrenees. He is HUGE with big, big eyes and a gentle spirit. He is kind of quirky to. The kids would throw his squeaky toy and he would run and get it and then retreat to the bedroom to play with it. You could never throw it more than once. He also didn't like to eat in front of you. Even when we put yummy scraps in his bowl, he would wait til we weren't looking to eat them.

Being so far away from Chantelle, I often wonder if everything is good for her. Ok, I worry. I just feel really, really good now, knowing that she is way more than fine. It also felt good to know that she is still the same little sister who use to run to the door when we visited and yell "Julie", "Julie"......fyi...she was running to the door when we got there. Love ya Tel. Thanks for the visit. Think about you and Justin coming down to the boat next year for a holiday.

July 17, 2008

BC Halleluiah! - by Amelia

A few days ago we were in BC at my Grandparents house. We got to their house before they arrived. My Dad made yummy crepes for us all for dinner. The next day I had my first motorcyle ride. Papa took me all the way to Lumby to see my cousins Danika and Jayden. They looked so old. They even have a pool and trampoline in their backyard.

The motorcycle was fun. It is like going in a car, except with all the windows open and no doors. The helmet that Papa had for us was fun, since it had a micro phone in it and I could talk to him without screaming. The rest of the time we were there it was fun, fun, fun. Nanny Judith taught me how to knit again and we did a bunch of wrapping for Rotary. My Papa is the District Governor of Rotary. I even saw my best friend Ally in BC. She came from Toronto on a holiday and it ended up we were in the same place at the same time. Ally and I got to go tubing in the lake.

We also spent a couple of days in Lumby to visit my Aunty Tricia, Uncle Dwayne and Danika and Jayden. We played "Singing Star". It is a game where you sing into a microphone and battle other people. The pool was so FUN. We played in it all day. At dinner time it was just like a buffet. They put things out on the patio and we just grabbed at them and ate them.

The trip to BC was such a fun time. I got to see alot of my Dads side of the family and that was FUN. So I hope you all like my blog. Bye for now. Amelia

July 10, 2008

Goodbye's suck

We drove up to Jason's new condo in downtown Calgary and the excitement was building. We were all frantically grabbing bags from the car and running for the door. The elevator seem to take forever and then...we opened the door to his place and "WOWEE"....my littlest brother had moved from minimalist to metroman! I really couldn't believe my eyes. This was a guy who not too long ago took pride in being able to fit his life into a suitcase. Not only did his condo look amazing...couch, comfy chairs, TV, KITCHEN TABLE???, first aid kit, coffee, wine but he also....are you ready for this....cooked us dinner! I looked on in surprise as he pulled the salad from the fridge that he had made up and tossed in balsamic vinaigrette dressing. Ok, I was shocked!!

We had such a good visit. We watched the stampede fireworks from his balcony and played "Rock Band". Amelia on the drums, me singing, Graham and Alex on guitars. Man it was fun. Maybe our next dream will be the "Perry Band". We slept great and Jay had coffee and oatmeal for us. I told Jason he better be careful or we would stay for a week.

I couldn't help but think about once we leave in September, how long would it be until we see Jason again. It literally made me feel sick. This leaving family thing is going to be hard. I begged Jason to visit on the boat and laid the best guilt trip I could (you would be proud mom)!

This road trip is fun but saying goodbye sucks.

July 08, 2008

My First Kill - Alex

Two days ago I shot my first gopher. To tell you the truth I was a little sad killing one. My weapon was a special rifle. There are specific reasons for killing these animals. Among them are that they break the livestock's legs when they dig their holes and they eat our gardens and crop's. We need to save our crops and garden's, so read on.
A mixed bag of emotion
Since I have never killed another mammal before, I knew that it was going to be a little hard, but I got past it. After a while I shot one because I knew it was for the livestock and the crops. The sadness was not too bad because I continued to kill some more after that.
The rifle
My cousin Nolan brought a rifle to the farm. It was the same type that my Dad had as a child. It was a .22 Cooey single shot model 75. When you are loading you put a bullet into the rifle. Push the lever forward and down. Pull back another metal bar and then you are loaded.  You aim by finding the spec at the end of the rifle and line the shot up with the target. Finally you pull the trigger. That's how you shoot a rifle.
The circle of life
We take good measures against animals that eat our gardens and crops other than cows. We shoot, poison, fence, etc. We don't shoot animal like squirrels, chipmunks and birds because they do no harm. We do what we have to do to keep animals out of our farm.  We use dogs for larger animals and cats for small rodents. It's the circle of life.
This experience shows the circle of life in the barn yard and we are at the top.  It was a little saddening having to put a gopher out of his misery after I already shot it. The rifle is the all time killer of the gophers. The land and crops are going well and the gopher population dropped by 14 over the last few days. Now every night I hear a coyote and the next morning the dead gophers are gone!
By Alex Perry!

July 07, 2008

Every paradise has a downside - TICKS!!!!

Well we did get out for that hiked I mentioned but it wasn't exactly the picture perfect hike that I imagined. We hiked out and arrived at the electric fence and Graham carefully pulled it apart for us to exit into the hills. We managed to avoid the cows and up the hill we hiked. My first thoughts were of our conversation the night before about the growing bear population.

I began to talk VERY LOUDLY and sing. We hiked up three small hills referred to as the "Three Sisters". We then headed out across some farm land to get to a raveen that would take us down to the creek. I was walking behind the kids and I could see the back of Amelia's neck but Alex's neck was hidden under his hat. I thought that maybe I should have a peek and see if there were any ticks on him.

I lifted the back of his hat and holy crap, there was a tick embedded on the back of his head. YUCK. Of course I did exactly what you all would expect of me....I yelled and left it there and called Graham to come take it off. Of course they were all over us!! We tried to get most of them off of us but it seemed like a losing battle so we decided it was time to run for home. It was a quick hike home. We got to the front door step and we all stripped down to undies and Graham picked all the ticks of us. We then ran into the house to the bathroom to shower. Nanny Mrytle was sitting in the living room and got to see the Perry streak show! She got a good laugh. Graham stayed out on the front step with our clothes and continued to kill the ticks stuck to them. The count was way past 40 when he was done!

Definitely an adventure.

July 04, 2008


I know I said that I wasn't going to write about our trip across Canada but we are sitting in paradise and I have to share how amazing it is.

We are at Graham's Grandmothers house on a farm in the Qu'Appelle valley in Tantallon, Saskatchewan. I put the kids to bed last night and as I tucked them in, I told them to just take a moment to let the warmth embrace them. I said that it isn't often you can sleep in a room that you slept as a baby, that your Dad slept as a baby and that your Nanny slept as a baby and that your Great Grandpa slept as a baby. Of course I teared up, it felt so good.

In the morning the windows were open and the breeze blew the curtains open and closed. The wall paper is blue with little white flowers and the curtains are white with blue lace trim, the quilts on the bed are handmade, the doors are white and the door knobs are painted brass. Each door has a big block trim header on it. It feels so safe and good here. Everything is just as I remembered it. I could hear Graham and his Grandmother talking in the early morning. They both got up as the sun rised. The sound of Nanny Myrtle's voice was so soothing that I fell back asleep for awhile longer.

As soon as the kids got up and had a quick bite, they were off adventuring on their own. It felt strange to just open the door and let them run. Granny Mrytle told them the direction of the creek and the bridge and that was it. Their eyes lit up and they were gone. They have been working on building their own bridge ever since. I just looked out the window from the upstairs bedroom and saw the back of the two of them, heading across the green, green yard, dragging a shovel behind them to the creek. I just wanted to freeze time.

We have all been inspired to cook and bake. We had a hearty roasted chicken meal last night with strawberry rhubarb pie and Graham's cousin Nolan showed up and the neighbour Debbie came over. The conversation just seems to flow more easily here and the stories just pull us all in. We stayed at the kitchen table til almost 10.
We are going out to hike the family land today. Graham has told the kids stories since they were babies of his adventures on this land. They are looking forward to our hike.

We have been many places in this world but this farm inspires pure happiness and relaxation. It is like being able to crawl back up on your mom's lap as an adult and get that safe, safe comforted feeling you got as a child.

The good news is that we have 6 more days here!!!