Thought I’d share this photo of the sunrise this morning; one of the perks of being up before the sun for work every day. Enjoy
It’s been a long time since we’ve been this slack with updating our blog, so apologies to any dedicated readers out there (mom). It all started with a nasty case of food poisoning I (Tim) had back in early May or so, which had me in the sickest state I’ve probably ever been in, for nearly two weeks. During that time I lost all motivation to do anything (I was in a lot of pain and lost a bunch of weight due to poor appetite), and it’s taken a few weeks to get firing again on all cylinders. Basic functionality came back quickly enough, but creativity was slow to follow.
So what have we been up to? Well, mostly in the swing of FIFO life again. I’m on my way to the airport as I write, just about to turn 5am. My roster this year consists of 10 days away, followed by 3 or 4 days off, followed by 4 days in the Perth office, followed by 3 or 4 days off, then away again. I don’t like it, to be perfectly honest; the 10 days drag on for just too long and the break is weird with that chunk of office time in the middle. Anyway, we survive.
Things have been a bit of a struggle with the church lately too. Basically since Don and Mark were appointed as elders we’ve been beset by an onslaught of sickness and people leaving. The other worship leader, who has been taking care of the administrative side of things, must return to the UK along with her dearly loved family. leaving me with more responsibility and one less adult male/father whom I really look up to…sigh. My heart is broken, really.
The girls are providing us with a good measure of both joy and grief, as always. Eden can be so disobedient and defiant sometimes, especially being rough with Kate. Other times she amazes me with her empathy and compassion.
Last night I was putting her to bed and Kathryn had already laid Katie down in her crib. As we went through the story/song/prayer routine together, Eden noted that Katie was sad, since she was crying while trying to settle (she was taking a bit more time than usual).
Eden said, “Katie’s sad, I think she wants to cuddle Humphrey [Eden's own favourite stuffed animal]“. “Actually,” I replied, “Katie doesn’t usually like to cuddle with toys – she probably just needs someone to rub her belly and tell her it’s okay.” After a couple more minutes, having finished our routine, I asked Eden if she wanted to cuddle for a bit, which she always does. To my surprise, she replied, “No… I think you should go rub Katie’s belly and tell her it’s okay – you’re good at that.” And so I did, wishing sweet dreams to Eden and giving her a kiss. Oh, my heart.
Anyway, times are crazy. I’m pretty stressed. I’m trying to do a million things and don’t want to give any of them up, but I don’t think it’s sustainable. We’ll see how the cookie (me) crumbles anyway, in the long run. Still loving Australia anyway, it’s mid-winter and the days are absolutely beautiful! Come visit us, please.
That’s all for now, a la prochaine!
Once again, I’m en route to the Pilbara to make a few bucks and earn some time off. The hardest part of the swing is either the early morning of fly-out day, when I say my farewells to two (three) sleeping beauties, or bedtime with Eden the night before, when I know I’m getting my last cuddle for 10 days.
Like many situations in life, I think a key to happy parenting is focusing on the positive aspects. Fortunately, when your kids are as young and cute as mine, there is an almost continuous barrage of smile- or laugh-inducing moments; however, they are often countered by a nearly equivalent number of moments that make me want to throw myself on the floor in a Kate-like tantrum (which is surprisingly satisfying).
For example, last night during supper Eden expressed an interest in going fit a bike ride. It actually went like this:
Eden: daddy, we went on a bike ride yesterday!
Me: yes, we did
Eden: mommy, daddy says we can go on a bike ride after supper!
Me: eh…? Well, ok!
So we went for a bike ride, her on her little seat in the back, chattering away and noticing all kinds of details to report to mommy upon our return. If there’s something really exciting, like a dog barking, she’ll squeal her delight loud enough that I can hear her over the windy ride, but mostly it’s just a muffled stream of quiet musings that reaches my ears.
When we got home, and after the detailed report to mommy, I got straight into the bedtime routine, feeling absolutely buoyant after our lovely sunset ride. Within minutes, after multiple demands to change jammies, one unproductive (requested by her) potty session, and numerous requests to hush since Katie was already asleep, I found myself lying face down on the carpet, exasperated by the volatility of my little terror. In those moments, I have to admit that I look forward to my swing away.
I always feel guilty about this of course, because I know that if I’m not dealing with this, it just means Kathryn is getting more than her share. But almost always, within seconds of wishing myself away, I recall the latest fun times, which are never far behind us. In doing so, I realise that these are much more significant that the petty frustrations of the day.
If there had to be one word to describe the change I feel since becoming a parent, I’d have to pick “exhausted” (perpetually exhausted if that was allowed). If I could pick two, however, I’d add “delighted” to the list (perpetually!). I’m always delighted in the accomplishments, character, and simply the existence of my daughters. It’s easier for the exhaustion to take precedence, to manifest itself in short-tempered reactions and heavy sighs, but the delight is deeper and steadier, and what I meditate on while I’m away.
Time to board my plane, 550am. Wish me bon voyage!
Happy Easter Everyone! Here in WA many people go away for Easter because it’s an extra long weekend and, at least this year, the school children don’t go back until Wednesday, which makes it a perfect opportunity to get out of the city. As is our style, we didn’t go anywhere, but we really enjoyed out time together as a family.
Tim returned on Friday night from his first swing away since before Christmas. This year he’s on a three week roster: 10 days away followed by 11 days in Perth, with 4 of those 11 working in the Perth office. I think overall we did pretty well with him gone. Both girls asked for him lots and needed many more snuggles, cuddles, and general play time from me, but we made it through.
Friday morning we had a friend over for some Easter activities. There were three beautiful girls and two mammas just enjoying a calm morning at home. It was lovely.
Before Anna and Elise arrived I mixed up some Hot Cross Bun dough using this recipe and let it rise while we were dying eggs. After getting washed up we kneaded the dough and Elise taught us a song she learned about kneading at her Waldorf playgroup. Sadly, I didn’t think to take a picture of the girls kneading the dough, but this was the end result:
We had a lovely lunch together, followed by fresh hot cross bunnies, and then it was time for our friends to go home and my girls to have naps! The rest of the day was pretty normal, and then Tim came home at 7:30! I briefly considered going to the airport to pick him up, keeping the girls up a bit past their bedtime, but they both were in a state at 6pm, so I decided against that disaster.
Saturday consisted of a lot of Daddy loving. It’s so nice being together after being apart for so long. We went on a family bike ride to the park for a play and a picnic.
In the afternoon we headed out to Fremantle for some fair trade chocolate at the Oxfam Store; sadly, they were sold out, so we had to get a pack from Coles. We took in some of the Street Arts Festival but it was pretty busy so we didn’t stay long, we couldn’t really get close enough to any of the acts to see anything… well, Tim could see, but the rest of us couldn’t.
Sunday morning we celebrated Easter! I went out and hid some eggs while Tim changed both girls’ poopy bums – muahaha. Eden found the family basket straight away and was only interested in the chocolate eggs inside.
Inside the basket were winter pjs for everyone, undies, chocolate eggs and two books. I purchased “The Tale of Three Trees” by Angela Elwell Hunt and “Easter in the Garden” by Pamela Kennedy from The Book Depository, my favourite place to order books – shipping is free (worldwide) and it’s really quick! They are both really beautiful stories and I highly recommend them if you’re looking for Easter books that don’t focus on bunnies, eggs, and chocolate. Tim and I both got a bit misty eyed reading The Tale of Three Trees…
Eden went searching for eggs. She needed a bit of direction, but did pretty well.
Here’s a video of Eden discovering that there was chocolate inside one of the eggs. I must say I LOVE her expression! You’ll want to turn up the volume for this one.
We chatted with the grandparents, then read our new books, as well as the resurrection story from the Jesus Story Book Bible, then got ready for church.
Tim led worship this morning and these two “best friends” were standing and clapping during “Oh Happy Day”.
We had a lovely “bring and share” meal (pot luck) after church and some of the bigger girls showed me the Easter garden they had made in kids church.
Then we headed home.
Over all a fabulous day, and we still have tomorrow to enjoy together!
Happy Easter everyone, He is Risen!
On a different note, here’s a video of Eden’s rendition of Frere Jacques….the video isn’t great because it had to be done discretely, but we love it! It may correct some of the lyrics for those of you already familiar with the song.
I recently heard a bit of news on CBC about some research findings on how the experience of going to a public washroom is a very stressful, anxiety-provoking situation for many men. I didn’t catch the details, but I wasn’t surprised to hear about it, since I’ve certainly experienced a bit of anxiety, or at least awkwardness, at having to do my business in the company of strangers, or, even worse, colleagues. This semi-fictional account is inspired by the unfortunate and mildly amusing fear of public washroom usage… please note, it’s written from the perspective of a fictional person who suffers from what I’ve decided to call POOBAD (Paralyzing, Often Overwhelming Bathroom Anxiety Disorder):
0740: Arrived at work at my normal time. As usual, merely looking at the list of tasks ahead seems to have awakened my bowels. Will try to wait a couple of minutes, at least long enough to log on to my computer.
0743: Not gonna happen. Grab my water cup in case a diversion is required. Sure enough, just as I approach the bathroom, Bob from estimation rounds the corner. I subtly shift my trajectory towards the kitchen to buy myself time, smiling and nodding good morning to Bob as he enters the bathroom.
0746: Bob’s not out yet and I’ve already filled my water, drank half of it, and read the first couple pages of the newspaper. I’m going to have to go for it. As I enter the double doors to the bathroom, I see Bob standing at the mirror, washing his hands. “G’day Tim, how you going?” he inquires cheerfully, and loudly. My eyes dart across the row of stalls; one is closed, and I think I hear the shuffle of feet behind it. Dangit, Bob!! You’ve just given away my identity!! I think, but the response that comes out is more of a mumbled, “Yeah, good thanks, you?” But Bob, having accomplished his mission of sabotaging my toilet run, doesn’t seem to have been listening for a response, and walks out of the room whistling a happy tune.
Well this is just great, I think to myself, entering the stall furthest from the one that appears to be occupied and closing the door behind me. Now I have to wait for that other guy to leave – or at least flush – before I can risk making any noises. Meanwhile, my innards are beginning to sound like a runaway Geiger counter. After a few moments of silence it becomes clear that I’m either the only one in the room, or me and my companion are in a stalemate, neither willing to break the awkward silence.
And then, hark!! A toilet flusheth! (I knew someone was there, he was probably so quiet because he was finished his business and catching up on Facebook on his phone. Disgusting, I think, while contemplating my next play on Words With Friends.). The toilet flush will be brief, so I immediately relax the death grip my sphincter has on my colon.
Abort! Too loud!!, I scream inside my head, panicked. I have no choice but to exercise the limit of my willpower in order to hold back any more trumpet blares that may escape between the end of the flush and the beginning of my workmate’s hand-washing. I know he probably heard that one, but still, I must try to retain a shred of my dignity.
The tap comes on, Then I hear a soap dispenser squeezing out its contents, followed by the familiar sound of someone lathering their hands for just a fraction of the recommended time. I’m sure if my colleague knew how much effort I was exerting at that moment – the discomfort his presence was inflicting upon me – he wouldn’t bother fluffing his hair or whatever else was compelling him to remain in front of that mirror for an additional 15 seconds, each of which stretched into minutes, even hours, of explosive tension.
Then finally, with the sweet sound of the exit door sealing shut in my ears, I allow nature to take its course. I momentarily hope to myself that the outer wall is soundproof, but this concern is quickly displaced by the euphoric sense of relief. And I wonder: Does it have to be this way? We’re all human, after all. We all poo, don’t we?
And yet, deep down, I know this is how it has to be, or rather how it will always be, in a society in which a front of perfection has to be maintained. We may all poo, but bodily functions are just so unprofessional.
But since we’re on the topic, how about we make a deal, from now onward? If you and I, through a series of unfortunate events, end up in neighbouring stalls one of these days, let’s save ourselves the pain and just go for it, like we would at home, in our very own bathrooms. Maybe, instead of leaning or manipulating our butt cheeks in such a way as to minimize noise, we could just let ‘er rip and have a good laugh about it all. Why don’t we just embrace one of the very few habits we all have in common, this fundamental aspect of our very humanity?
0752: I return to my desk and set my water cup down; the very cup I will ensure not to drink from excessively for the remainder of the day, so as to minimize the number of times I’ll need to pee later on. After all, at the urinal, there is no hiding…
The event occurred sometime late in the summer. I’m not exactly sure when, or where for that matter; my 9-year-old brain chose not to bother preserving such petty details in light of the circumstances. What I do recall is that it was warm, and getting close to the upcoming school year, grade 4 in my case. My family was on PEI for a get-together of some kind, and my dad decided to take advantage of the lovely weather spending some time on the motorcycle. I couldn’t tell you any details of the make, model, or technical specs of the bike (Honda?), but I loved to ride, so when he offered me the opportunity to come along I eagerly accepted.
For nearly two hours Dad and I cruised around the beautiful province of Prince Edward Island, enjoying every moment of the wind against our bodies and the rumble of the engine. We stopped once or twice to stretch, but even with the breaks I found my legs getting a bit cramped from being propped up on the foot stands. Along a pretty ordinary stretch of highway not far from the relatively new Queen Elizabeth Hospital, I lifted my legs once again, stretching them out and then letting them dangle for a moment before pulling them back up to rest. This time, my left leg rose smoothly into place as expected, but my right leg seemed to get snagged on something, and I immediately knew something was amiss.
When most people see my scars, and my misshapen right heel, they cringe and remark that it must have been so painful, but oddly enough it wasn’t. I now know about endorphins, but in that moment I was perplexed by the fact that my entire lower right leg had just instantly fallen asleep. My dad, noting a sudden loss of power from the bike, was attempting to change gears and apply more throttle when he heard me yelling out, “Dad! My foot’s stuck!”. At this point he realised something else was going on, and he needed to pull over.
I already had a strong sense that something was wrong, but when my dad climbed off the bike, took one glance at the rear wheel and then immediately jumped onto the highway, frantically waving his arms for help, I knew it was serious. I managed to arch my body around far enough to see my foot, and that’s probably when I began to go into shock. I couldn’t tell exactly what had happened, but my foot was lodged into the spoke of the rear wheel, which was itself clearly driven through my heel, having cut a rough slice through my sneaker from the base of my foot through to the back, just below where the Achilles tendon attaches to the heel. Blood was pulsing out of the wound and running down the wheel, pooling on the pavement below. My memory is a bit fuzzy on the details, but I know I began to gasp for air and I’m sure I was panicking.
Then something quite incredible happened.
It didn’t take long for the first car to pull over, or the second (there may have been more, but I only remember the first two distinctly). The first belonged to an orthopedic surgeon from Montreal who just happened to be on vacation in PEI. He also just happened to have a bag of ice he’d just purchased, as well as clean rags in his back seat. In case you don’t know, orthopedic surgeons specialise in the treatment of trauma to muscles and bones, both of which I was in the midst of experiencing! The orthopod immediately began the delicate work of undoing the close bond recently formed between my heel and the spoke, during which time the driver of the second car approached.
The second good Samaritan on the scene was a cowboy, from what I recall. He was wearing a cowboy hat anyway, and he had a massive beast of a cellular telephone. I remember it folding open, and the antenna being drawn out, and the wonder of it all temporarily superseding the trauma. He phoned for an ambulance while the good doctor, having freed me from my unlikely captor, transferred me to his vehicle and began cleaning the wound of the worst of the particulate matter. Satisfied that I was stable, he then drove partway to meet the ambulance along the highway.
They rushed me into the hospital through the emergency area, and they cut my new jeans right off my legs! I was horrified! My mom had just bought those jeans, and the last thing I remember feeling before succumbing to the anesthetic was a mixture of sorrow and guilt at being somehow responsible for their ruin.
And that’s the best of the story, really. They cleaned up my foot, stapled me up, I healed, and now I walk and run just like a normal human being. During the remainder of my growing years, while the rest of me grew, my heel did not; this is a result of having lost the growth plate of my heel, and the reason why my heel now looks rather pointy. I’m a 27 year old man with a 9 year old’s heel – how embarrassing! Nah, I think it’s cool.
A couple other details: we never did find out who that doctor was, despite some searching (Montreal is a big city!). My mom speculates he was an angel, and maybe so – the circumstances did turn out rather miraculously.
I hope you enjoyed the story, whether it’s the first time you’ve heard it or one of many (I’m looking at you, former roommates). If you’re interested, I may just write a similar one for my Grade 12 broken arm incident! It’s almost as bloody, and definitely funnier.
“This is a daddy finger”, Eden said yesterday, wiggling her index finger while seated at the supper table. She then began inching it up along her sippy cup, all the way to the spout, finally proclaiming, “He climbed aaallll the way up north!”
It was a cute reminder that Eden, along with rest of us, was thinking about the fact that today is my first day back in my FIFO roster. This year I’ll be away for a slightly longer 10-day stretch, then back in Perth for 11 at a time, 4 of which will be in the office. That means I have a minimum of 7 days off out of every 3 weeks, including 2 out of 3 weekends. Better for church, hopefully better for life! But we’ll see.
Many people can’t imagine doing the FIFO thing, and some people almost inadvertently (or blatantly) make you feel guilty for even considering it (“Oh, I couldn’t do that to my children”), but it has its perks. For one, not many Monday-Friday jobs allow 7 days off at a stretch without having to use up any vacation (or annual leave, as they call it here). If I use just 4 days of my 4 weeks of annual leave, that gives me 11 days off at a stretch, which is pretty good bang for your buck.
At this point in the kids lives, this roster actually gives me the most time with them possible, and good quality weekday time; time to attend dance class and go shopping with them, and hopefully soon start having dates with Eden. The days away can be challenging and the farewells a bit heartbreaking (they happen early in the morning while everyone else is asleep), but there is a cost to everything.
Once the girls are in school things may change, since they’ll be away then during the days when I’m home, and then my weekdays off will become less valuable. Until then, we make the most of our situation and appreciate the fact that my wage allows Kathryn to stay home without any financial concerns. And I’m grateful for a strong and capable – not to mention ridiculously beautiful – wife who is up to the task of raising two rambunctious kids on her own for what adds up to several months of the year!
So here’s to another season of Pilbara heat and perpetual sunny skies. Thanks for keeping up with us via the blog; it all helps to stay connected to family and friends afar.