Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas Letter 2010

The Perry Family Review of 2010!

It's Christmas time again! And whether we like it or not we are going to enjoy it or I swear I am going to turn this year around and we can all go through it again. With the close of the year I get to sit myself in front of a computer to come up with a way to waste the lives of several trees and hand over a few more cents to the Ink barons. May these trees live on to become part of a package that says, “Made from recycled materials”.

As I sit and reflect on the year behind us I can't help but think, “Where did all the time go? What of note really happened? And, What can I say that won't make me feel like a lout and make others feel like I am better then them?” And although I know that I may not be able to answer all of these questions with much accuracy, and I will make up the parts that I think are lacking.

I for one this year am more proud of the things I didn't get done then the things I did do. I didn't take over the world or build a Death Ray. I didn't contribute to the national debt or did I cause anyone to lose a job. I didn't actively participate in strip-mining and I reduced my carbon footprint by throwing out all my carbon soled shoes. I didn't get fired or laid-off... yet. Oh, and my in-laws are still in town... This time there are more of them...

My wife thought that the homeschooling English I was giving her wasn't doing the trick so she decided to enroll in the ESL classes at UVU. She also graduated with a nice little certificate that will be filed, or framed, or something. Personally I think the best part was that we got a free dinner out of it. This little honor has been a long time coming since my wife has been taking her grandparents to the hospital for their checkups and translating better then the hospital translators. She has been spending lots of time with her family...

DJ is now in second grade, and if you couldn't guess, she also graduated from first grade. She also decided that she has come to that age where she will allow someone at the mall to hold a very gun-looking apparatus up to her head and jam a needle in her ear. She can't wait until she can wear the gaudy, dangling earring that are going to drive her Dad nuts. She is also practicing her morning bathroom time extensions and is currently up to 40 minutes doing who-knows-what. She continues to let her parents push her into learning French, English and Spanish at the same time, and loves to remind her Dad that she is smarter then him because she speaks French and he doesn't.

Big Dis becoming his own little man and learned that there is one quick way to win a fight with his Dad. One quick punch at his shoulder level will always bring Dad to his knees. I have taken to wearing a cup when I know that my little boy will be wanting to roughhouse. He has successfully joined in the ranks of kids whose parents can't wait to get them out of the house before they are even old enough to go to school, ie preschool, and is learning all those little things things that kids learn in preschool. For example, they have started to undo all the damage that Dad has done by trying to teach him his colors (Thanks color-blindness!). He has also learned all sorts of new things to ask God in his prayers, for example, “Dear Heavenly Father, please bless that Mom and Dad are nice and aren't mean to me because I've been good and they haven't been. And DJ has been mean. Name of Jesus Christ, Amen.”

We still have two dogs, Pimienta (Alias, 'la negra') and Comino (Alias, 'el gringo') and are a lot smarter then are previous dogs, since they are still alive.

As the end of the page creeps upwards and as my ability to recall the past year wanes. I will say that we wish you a Merry Christmas and that if your only present from us is that you don't have to hear from us more then once a year we will happily provide.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Been a while

I know it's been a while and the honest truth is that I stopped because I didn't feel like I had a whole lot to say. Well, that and I had some in-laws move in with us and, well, I didn't have anything good to say about it.

And to be honest I still don't have many good things to say about my inlaws. Except my grandpa and grandma-in-laws. They are fantastic.

Moving right along, I was inspired to write because I just got back from my very first political debate. It was a lot of fun. I live in Jason Chaffetez's district and that guy has always rubbed me the wrong way. So, of course I've been leaning the opposite direction, contrary to my Mormon/Republican peers.

Karen Hyer is Jason's opponent and honestly I think that most people should be able to see that she is the clear choice. She has years and years of non-government experience and is a little rough around the edges. She is certainly conservative, and so much so that she didn't even register as a Democrat even though she is the Democratic candidate (She's unaffiliated). She is very well educated and certainly knows how to express herself.

Jason, ooooh, Jason. He's a politician, and he's good at it. He knows how to make it work. He certainly knows how to play the voters here in Utah. BYU football kicker, part of the Huntsman campaign and a handsome guy. My wife says his wife doesn't look too bad herself, but I wasn't looking at her (What kind of man am I?).

Karen did really good at the beginning. Her ideas are strong and clear. She knows that healthcare isn't going to get repealed, but she knows that they need to fix the bad parts of the bill. She also knows that the major problem with immigration is that we have 12 million illegals here in the US. The problem that I really felt she had was that she ran a little negative against Jason. I agreed with her completely, especially the cot thing when she told him it was a publicity stunt, which I think it is. But, she doesn't realize that negative campaigning doesn't work where I live. Here, when you run a negative campaign people get turned off, and it gives the opponent the opportunity to not only dodge the question, but say, "She's so mean, she's attacking me!" Therefore the sympathy vote kicks in.

I was able to go with my Dad, the only guy that I can really talk politics with that doesn't shun me for my less then Republican ideals. He was turned off by Karen's negativity, but when I asked him about Jason he realized that Jason didn't really have any ideas. Karen had the ideas, and Jason was just showing off and feeding sound bites.

Overall I had great time and I hope that I might be able to make a bit of a habit of getting more involved and maybe a little more blogging would be useful.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Family Christmas Letter 2009

As we look back over the past year, and as I look to release my inner PR agent, I can only be glad that although this year was a good year, and I say that with all the flexibility that can be used with the word ‘good’. We can only hope that every year that follows this one can only be followed by better ones. With everything that has happened this past year it shouldn’t be hard, frankly just an extra scoop of ice cream would be a great improvement.

I of course exaggerate; this is of course the family Christmas letter and it could hardly be called a family Christmas letter unless an extreme amount of exaggeration were used, or, as most would like to say, creativity.

First, as most hadn’t wondered, we didn’t include a family Christmas letter last year. This was due to budget cuts. Sure, blame the economy, blame Barak Obama, I blame the leaky gas line in our furnace that caused our furnace to die thereby costing us a new furnace and heck, while your at it might as well replace the water heater. And our dog got ran over.

The big event this year was that Millie’s sister called her up saying that she was going to get married and since she was going to get married Millie was going to have to come down to Peru for a month. We booked all the flights, made the plans, we decided that I was going to stay behind since both kids were going to have to pay airfare and that my money had spent enough time in Peru that I don’t need to go and visit it. It’s too bad that things didn’t work out with Millie’s sister and her fiancĂ© like they had planned, err… until this upcoming February. We will save that until next year’s letter.

Being on my own was great, I was able to do all the things guys like to do when they don’t have a family around to bother them. Like; clean the house, play video games, take really long bike rides, go on hikes and cry themselves to sleep.

But, after a month of lonely bliss, they came back. And like Job, after his time of suffering, his blessings were doubled, but unlike Job, they didn’t feel like blessings. For our daughter’s birthday we had conned a neighbor into letting us have one of her Chihuahua mix pups, but when my wife went to go pick her up she brought back two. If you have told your wife that she can only keep one pup of two when the pups are sleeping in your lap, then you are a much better man then I.

As if the duplicity of blessings of dogs was not enough, then God thought that I should be blessed with the blessing of in-laws. Not just “close-by-in-laws”, but “come-and-live-with-you in-laws,” and don’t forget the kids. My wife’s aunt just immigrated to the US with her two sons (5-years-old, 6-years-old). The father had to stay behind due to some curious anomaly brought to you by the US government. He should be here in the next couple of months once we sign some documents with our blood and wave good-by to our eternal

Anyway, no Christmas letter would be complete until I proved that my kids were better than anyone else’s.

This year our little girl entered into first grade, since kids these days have it too easy, we had to walk to school uphill both ways, in ten feet of snow, barefoot. We decided that she was going to get involved in the French Immersion Program, in other words, she speaks English the first part of her school day, French the second half and Spanish when she gets home. We have finally gotten her to sleep in her own room through the ancient art of bribery. She now reads and can use the computer. Daddy now has to have a special password to use the computer.

Our son was attending a special pre-prechool program in Provo until he aced their test and they said he couldn’t go anymore. I never thought I would have to teach him the art of dumbing it down when he was three.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Silver Lining My Eye!

The water main broke just outside of my house last week. I got home from work to find a gaping hole in my yard where the water had pushed it's way up through the yard and the remains of a bush that had gotten in the way. My wife ran to a neighbor's house and got them to shut off the main valve, but I already could imagine how much water had already ran through that pipe before it was shut off.

Now, my first reaction is usually me throwing my hands in the air and screaming, very dramatically, "Why me?" But, I've been working on that. So, despite my stress I did my very best to just let the situation flow. My wife is so very good at it, honestly, she is, people should pay her to give them classes. She says it's because she has a bad memory that everything just flows past her, but I think she just has everything in the correct perspective.

Anyway, so first thing was first. Assess the damage. I dug a hole, following the hole the water had created. After about an hour, maybe two I found the pipe. I guess at this point calling it a pipe is using the word loosely. At this point the "pipe" was more an example of rust collection. The neighbor (a Non-member by-the-way) that rushed over to shut the water off when my wife needed him told me that he could patch it, but, by the way it looked I would be lucky if it didn't just break in a couple of days someplace else. So we started calling plumbers and excavators to get bids. Thankfully the kids were in school still and we have a limited supply of bottled water in our food storage. Bids ranged from $1,500 to $2,400. I really wasn't surprised, I went with the guy that gave us the bid for $1,500, more because he used words like "That's my cost" and "I won't make a dime on labor" and so forth. He was the local ward member the people in the ward went to for things like this so I did the same. My neighbor came over a little later and asked how it was going and what the bids were. When I told him, he said that I was being taken for a ride, and that he could recommend a guy that could do it for $700, and he did.

The new guy isn't even in the yellow pages but as promised he gave me a bid of $700 and I took it. The next day he showed up as promised and began his work. Along the way he discovered that some of the pipe had already been replaced with copper and that he thought that we should just replace the bad pipe. He also discovered the old septic tank and an old sess pit, but he said that we could just continue to ignore those. Suffice it to say at the end of the day we only paid $500 for the whole job. I was very pleased.

Now for the moral of the story. First, I am a pessimist, I still don't like the idea that at the end of the day we had to pay $500. But, it certainly was a lot better then what the other guys told me and I would bet that any of the others would have had me pull out or fill the old septic tank and sess pit. This simple excavator was straight forward and didn't want to have me pay any more than I wanted to, no pressure, no fluff, just get the water back on. It's times like this that makes it hard to even see the black cloud past the silver lining.

Oh yeah, just because the guy is in your ward doesn't mean he's giving you the best price. He is first and foremost a business man.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Random Missionary Memories

More Random Missionary Moments. I am going to warn you ahead of time, they aren't funny or uplifting. Unless of course human suffering uplifts you, under which of course, you should probably see a doctor.

Within the first couple of months in the mission, my trainer and I went to see a family. Now if you know anything about the Latin culture you know that they will almost always offer you some kind of food or drink. Sure the mission rules were that we shouldn't eat or drink anything down there that we weren't sure of, but I honestly believe that the church makes those rules just to pacify parents that we aren't going to get sick. In other words, we would eat or drink almost anything put in front of us and prayed that Lord would bless us not to get sick. Most of the time he did bless us, I often wished he would turn the cow stomach into something I could stomach, but alas, those prayers remained unanswered.

When we went to see this family they served us a drink. A slightly orange hot water. I drank it and thanked the mother, she was a single mother of four kids. She replied to me, but since my Spanish could only be described as pre-pre-preschool level I didn't understand. My companion was a Peruvian and didn't speak English so he couldn't explain it to me right then. After we left I asked him what it was we drank, being the green missionary I was I was slightly afraid that it was tea. He explained to me that it was sugar water. Just water with a bit of sugar? Yep. That was all they could offer, but they offered it anyway. The mother had a small loom that she would make rugs with and that's how she would pay for food, but that was all she could do. I didn't realize it at first, but the room we sat in when we talked with her was the only room in what can only be described as a hovel.

Some months in the mission field, and with considerable improvement to my Spanish. I was stuck with a companion that was nearing the end of his mission and was already thinking of home, we call that Trunky. One day we were out looking for contacts, in my mind we were, in his mind we were strolling through the park. There were a group of kids playing soccer, for whatever reason one of the kids tripped and ran straight into my leg, then fell to the ground. He didn't really make an effort to get up. My companion knelt beside the kid and picked him up. I was just a dumb kid and my mind was conjuring up lessons of CPR. My companion sat the kid down on a bench and told the kid to sit there while we looked for his mother. No sooner did my companion release the child did he fall straight forward, flat on his face without making any movement to stop his fall, to the concrete. My companion was quick and picked the kid up immediately. I looked at the kid's face, it had the expected scratches, but what I didn't expect was a non-mucus white liquid coming out of his nose. Within seconds did his mother and a neighbor run up to us. The mother was freaking out, cursing at us she ripped her child from my companion's arms. My companion told her that she needed take him to a doctor, she cried and muttered that she couldn't afford it and that she'd take him home. The neighbor stepped in and said that it wasn't like it used to be, and that she could take her son to the doctor and that they didn't charge for children. I will always remember her face, the hopelessness disappearing and hope peaking through. She didn't believe it at first, but the neighbor insisted and flagged down a taxi. I never did hear what happened.

I feel ill when people say that they "understand" poverty. Or when they say that poor people just need to get a job. There are times I can't sleep at night thinking about some of the people I've seen. I sit here with a computer in front of me with high-speed internet, while I know that there is a family that has had their livelihood taken away from them and there is no one that will plead their case. I get to decide what I eat, while some have to wonder if they are going to be able to. The worst part is, I have seen their faces, I know their voices and they are my friends.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Smaller Moments that change you.

Growing up in Utah was great and at the same time bad. Great because I never felt threatened, except for that time a car pulled up next to me and a guy asked me to come over and give him directions to some place; of course I told him to buzz off, thanks McGruff! Bad because I never really got to see a world that I didn't even know existed. Okay, I am probably generalizing, and it happens to every kid, but I like to think I am special and it only happened to me.

Anywho, my mission was a big wake up call on a lot of things. Most of which I won't talk about right now, but in the future. Even then I didn't really get it. It wasn't until a few months after I got home off my mission did I realize some things.

For some reason I didn't like the idea of donating blood. Upon reflection I think to myself that I didn't really want a person sticking needles in me and so I searched for rationalizations to not donate. My rationalization was that we donate blood for free and the Red Cross and others turn around and sell it for buko bucks. No way am I going to contribute to a system where they sell something that they get for free. Not once during my whole life did I find anyone that would say I was wrong. Sure there was a person or to that said they would do it anyway, but on the whole I was never challenged. One day while I was working a friend of mine and I got onto that discussion. I spewed out my very well practiced speech of being a moral human being and not supporting a greedy system. After which he responded, "well, I think it's a karma thing. I did my part, what they do has nothing to do with me."

That stuck with me. For some reason it had never occurred to me that I should do the right thing no matter what others did about it. Salvation is personal after all. I don't think God will throw me down to hell because I gave money to a charity that was corrupt, but we will be very disappointed if I didn't give money to charity at all. I gave blood at the very next opportunity, although it lead to a lot of laughs and incriminating pictures. I now look for more opportunities to give blood, I don't go as out of my way as I should, but then again there are a lot of things I don't do as well as I should. At least the intention is there, let's see if I can do anything with it.

Monday, November 9, 2009

More Moments that Change you

Like many Utah born Mormons. I've have very little exposure to widespread sin. Or what we consider sin. Alcohol, Porn (although Utah is the biggest subscriber to online porn), Coffee and the like. It's easy to grow up with an idea that people that do these things are depraved, or like I thought some time ago, were just plain evil.

When I was courting my wife I went down to Peru for a time so we could actually spend some real time together. She is related to half of the town were she lives. It's a small town. One night her "Brother-in-law" came to meet her new boyfriend. (I put 'brother-in-law' in quotes because he's old enough to be her father, did I mention that my mother-in-law and my father-in-law are separated by almost 40 years?) Anyway, he had a beer bottle in his hand and had just started drinking. So, he had a buzz but wasn't drunk. I didn't want to talk to him, I just looked at him as if he offended me. My soon-to-be wife pulled me aside and told me, "Why aren't you talking to him?" I responded, "He's drinking" as if that was all that needed to be said. "Yea, and?" was her rebuttal. I was dumbfounded, I didn't understand. Shouldn't she try and hold people up to her standards, shouldn't she let people know that it's no okay to drink?

Being the intuitive person she is she explained, "Look, he's not Mormon. Drinking doesn't make him a bad person. He is very nice and has never hurt anyone. People drink, it's part of the culture, it's something they do. I could isolate them or myself from them, or I could accept them for who they are, just like they accept me for who I am. Please, just talk to him." and I did.

As I look back, I can't even realize why it never occurred to me before. People are people. Just because you don't hold the same ideals, principles, religion or anything else, doesn't make you a bad person. I can have fun with a person who drinks, just like a person that drinks can have fun with someone who doesn't.

I really don't know how to put it into words properly, but I will try. Jesus went among the poor and downtrodden inviting them to repentance and offering solace. He chided those that should have known better. He made people feel at home, he made them want to be like him. He didn't go around calling people sinners.

Well, I really don't know if I got my point across, but there you go.