March 14, 2011

Stop the Counter

Well it is time to stop the counter at 2139 days. This is how long it has been since this adventure began, since we left our home in Lacombe and moved to the big city of Toronto to learn how to sail. Can you believe I am actually at a loss for words?

We have arrived back at our home in Lacombe and it is so strange to be back at the beginning. All of our "things" are just as we remember. Funny how they just seem like things now. I guess this happens when you live without them for so long. We feel like we are in a bit of a time warp but we are thoroughly enjoying it. My favorite thing is my king size pillow top bed.

Everyone seems so excited to see us and I feel like a bit of a let down. None of us are quite sure how to describe this journey in a conversation. There just doesn't seem to be the words. Everyone does seem to ask, "How could you do it?" and "Weren't you scared?" and it is funny because I am always reminded of a day with my niece Sarah in Red Deer, Alberta. I actually wrote a blog about it and it still remains my favorite blog post. I think it sums up exactly "How we were able to do it!". I have decided to post it as my final blog below.

Thank you to everyone who has followed our adventures. It always touched my heart to hear that so many of you were enjoying reading along. I loved it. It would be great if you have been reading if you can leave your name as a comment on this final post. It will be a nice log for us of everyone who crossed the ocean with us.

Words escape me....enjoy the post below and don't forget.....BITE OFF MORE THAN YOU CAN CHEW AND THEN CHEW IT!!



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 just have to WANT to do it and anything is possible.

March 01, 2011

The Navigator

The next stop on the Lord of the Rings tour was of course the spot where the four hobbits are hiding under the roots of the tree from the Black Rider. Now I could just describe the moment when we arrive and hike via gps coordinates to the exact spot and excitedly crouch under the roots and snap a bunch of pictures.....but hey don't you wonder about the blogs you never read. The dysfunctional family moments that all of us have.

We spent the morning at a really cool museum in Wellington that had an area within where they simulate an actual earthquake. It was pretty neat to experience this so soon after the Christchurch event and be able to see a bit of what they must of gone through. From the museum we made our way to the grocery store. We bought stuff for lunch and dinner and then hopped back into the overstuffed car to find the Lord of the Rings location.

My job in the car is "The Navigator" and god help the woman who doesn't have a firm handle on exactly where we are going! The Wellington map we have is a free one and is more than a little challenging. After more than one...."Do you know where we are on the map?" and a few "I can't drive and navigate."....we finally arrived at the lookout point for the city. We had thought we would have our lunch here and then proceed via the gps coordinates to the spot.

Lunch sounds easy right...?? WRONG....we pack up our car so tight. I put the air mattress and chairs in and quickly close the hatch and then we stuff pillows and sleeping bags from the back seat into the opening the trunk and finding the peanut butter and jam is a full on sweat fest! You can just imagine the great mood I am in once I have located both of these items. I then get the pleasure of balancing all the groceries on the roof of the car in the blowing Wellington wind and trying to make sandwiches as the peanut butter slides away......this is the point that Alex decides to be a witty teen and says..."Mom, I think you just need to breath."....I think I may kill him....I tell him to take his sister up to the lookout and give me a few minutes. Amelia decides she doesn't feel like it. I reply, "Fine get in the back seat and buckle up and prepare for the worst!" Remarkably all of a sudden they both feel like a short walk to the look out! lol.

I get my few minutes to breath and eat my sandwich and Graham reviews the map....I know that soon enough it will be my task to figure out as we drive if we are heading towards the gps spot and watch for signs and review the map.....I try to just enjoy my p&j on the curb in the wind. Soon enough we are all in the car and I catch a break and take us in the right direction and even navigate us into the closest car park.

We all exit the car happy and excited and we hike through the bush watching as we get closer and closer. We all review the pictures in the book and compare to our surrounding and then finally....YIPPEE...we are there. Just exactly as we remember from the hear a bunch of..."Frodo must of stood right here...." and "Man, look it is just like the movie."......All of the dysfunctional family moments wash away and we are left with only a fantastic memory.