Christmas festivities

Over the past week we have been doing a few Christmasy things to get into the holiday spirit. Eden had her pre-Kindy Christmas concert where they sang songs like Aussie Jingle Bells and were generally adorable.

Eden as Mary

Eden as Mary

Santa and his wife in their "rusty holden ute"

Santa and his wife in their “rusty holden ute”

We made a gingerbread house to bring to church for the kids Christmas show.

Eden decorating cookies

Eden decorating cookies

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Kate watching me put the house together

Putting the house together

Putting the house together

A little video of the event.

Katie the sheep

Katie the sheep

Eden as Mary

Eden as Mary

The group of them

The group of them

Tonight we walked around the suburb looking for Christmas lights. There are a few roads in our suburb that are known for their lights and they didn’t disappoint.

Very aussie lights, notice the white boomer on the roof. Apparently 6 white boomers (male kangaroos) pull santa's sleigh in Australia.

Very aussie lights, notice the white boomer on the roof. Apparently 6 white boomers (male kangaroos) pull santa’s sleigh in Australia.

Eden and Kate wrapped in blankets...it was a little chilly. Every house on the street had lights up!

Eden and Kate wrapped in blankets…it was a little chilly. Every house on the street had lights up!

Sweet girls :)

Sweet girls :)

Posing in the love heart!

Posing in the love heart!

We have also set up our tree and this year we are doing Truth in the Tinsel, which consists of a craft, bible passage and discussion every day with the purpose of focusing the Christmas season on Jesus rather then Santa. If you follow me on instagram you will see more photos of our crafts. We’re very excited about Christmas this year as both girls are a great age for the excitement and magic of the season!

The time is always right…

To do what is right.

Apparently Martin Luther King Jr. is the man to attribute this quote to, but I first heard it from a colleague in no particularly inspiring situation. Nevertheless, it stuck in my head:

“The time is always right, to do what is right” -R. Blackall, Geologist

And the right thing for me to do right now is to get off my lazy proverbial butt and write a blog post. It’s a small thing, but it’s something I enjoy doing and I miss sharing my thoughts and experiences with my old buddy WordPress.

It’s been about 4 months since we last posted, which I thought was mostly due to a lack of events worth reading about in our lives, but then I remembered:

1) we’ve actually had a few noteworthy events in our lives recently

2) we live in Australia, so for many of our (former) readers, everyday life is still pretty cool

3) the people who read this blog mostly love us and would read every word I write even if it’s about my toenail, or even merely the cuticle thereof

So, without actually writing about anything yet, I’m going to prepare you mentally – psych you up!! – for the kind of posts that are soon to appear in your WordPress reader, email inbox (subscribers) or whatever other medium you use to access this treasure trove of edutainment.

Of primary importance are some pictures, because my PR agent (Kathryn) tells me that people like pictures. There will be pictures of the Pilbara (wrapping up my third and most spectacular field season yet as I write this), of our fantastic visit from Auntie Sarah, of the girls growing up and experiencing the wonders of life, and of our new house in Atwell and possibly the people who helped us move in to it. Most importantly, there will be no need for toenail pictures as of yet.

Secondly, there will be words. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but so is a thousand words, and you all know how easy it is for me to hit that target. I’ve got some thoughts about science, music, parenting, travel, Facebook (which I plan to rejoin by the way, when I get around to it), career – haha, just kidding, I don’t think about my career – and… well, whatever else comes up as I go.

So are you with me? Do you feel it coming in the air tonight, oh Lord? Your feedback on this post may be a critical factor in the forthcomingness of these posts, so bring it on. And for the record, to my surprise, autocorrect did not have any problem with the word forthcomingness.

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Come along for the adventure!

Adios.

Being Dad

When WordPress asked me to pick a category for this post it was a no-brainier: “Daily Life”, because that’s all we do these days! We live day-to-day, overcoming the tears and tantrums, celebrating the early and uncontested bedtimes, grinding away the weeks (or being ground away by them, as Newton’s Third Law suggests).

Parenting is hard, even when the kids are good. I (Tim) don’t even get a full dose of it, since I spend so many days either away in the Pilbara or in the Perth office. I come back from a swing (8 days) having had no tantrums to deal with – other than from drillers or fieldies – and relatively little emotional volatility inflicted upon me. Sometimes I’m a bit physically worn out from the cumulative 100 or so hours of work, but I always miss my kids and can’t wait to be with them.

Still, when the first one rocks up to the bed at 630 AM after my first night back and begins our much-anticipated reunion with a kick in the head or a completely irrational weeping session, it doesn’t take long for the tension to build. I go from feeling utterly refreshed and full of adoration to clenching my fists and breathing deeply just to maintain control.

But it’s not controlling anger that’s the biggest challenge for me, it’s maintaining attention. There are so many things my kids want me to do all the time when I’m home that I just do not want to do.

I like to lay on the sofa and read the local newspaper, but Kate thinks it’s funnier to jump on my head and squash my face into the paper. “Look, it’s all bended!” she squeals delightedly, referring to either my nose or the paper.

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I like cruising on my bike. I love the wind on my face and hammering my legs up a big hill, constantly challenging myself to maintain my top speed. Almost every time I go cycling these days I’ve got Kate on the back and Eden alongside on her balance bike, with me constantly reminding (i.e. yelling at) her to stay close to the curb, to look up, to keep chugging along… all at a slow to moderate walking pace.

I love playing my guitar, but unless I instantly want my pick hijacked and two girls fighting over who gets to use it, it’s best left hidden until nightfall.

I like to play Words With Friends, a scrabble-like app, with old friends from around the world. Eden also likes “the letter game”, although she just shifts the tiles around randomly and makes nonsense words. It’s fun for 30 seconds, but then I want to play my game for real! When she gets bored of it, it’s never “Daddy, you can resume your leisure activity now”… Haha, more likely than not I’ll be asked to be a prince and get married (mostly involves dancing), be a horsey and give rides on laminate flooring, or be a student and learn ballet (or be a teacher and teach it), etc. To be honest, surprisingly(?), I don’t very much enjoy any of these things. I really don’t.

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But I’m so ridiculously in love with these little terrors that I just suck it up and do it. I play along even when the longing of my heart is to turn on the TV and go back to my paper, phone, game, whatever. This is so much of parenting for me: letting go of what I want most and doing what I believe is best for these girls. I may not like dancing in circles, but I live for those laughs and smiles. I must be addicted, because I keep putting myself through torture for another dose of them.

Sometimes I hit this point where I’m so filled with adoration that it makes me afraid of losing them. I think, “What if something happens while I’m up north? I need to get out of this…” But then I realise that I’ll never be able to be with them all the time, and the older we all get the more independent they’ll become. Oh, generations of humanity, how have you pulled through this exhausting, heart-wrenching process? And my oldest is only 4!

I don’t know if there is a theme to this post, but I felt like it was overdue and I needed a good rant. Thanks mom and dad for doing the hard yards and raising me to know what it’s like to be loved and to show love. God help us all to do it again, and let’s help each out too eh?

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A day worth celebrating

With thousands of years of humanity behind us, it’s safe to say that every day of the year has been significant at some point in history. The 19th of May is no exception, having been the day on which:

- In 1535, Jacques Cartier set sail for his second of three voyages to North America. That’s almost 500 years ago! He went on to spend a very rough Canadian winter in modern-day Quebec

- In 1743, Jean-Pierre Christin developed the centigrade temperature scale, freeing us forever from that ridiculous things-freeze-at-32-degrees scale our old neighbours in the USA still use (well, the non-scientists anyway)

- John Franklin and his doomed fellows set out to find the coveted northwest passage in 1845…

- Parks Canada, the first national park service in the world, was established in 1911! (Definitely grateful for that)

- Malcolm X (1925) and Jodi Picoult (1966) were born – did you know you share a birthday with them, my love?

Interesting bits of trivia, but obviously none of these events are as significant to me as May 19, 1984. I like parks and temperatures in Celsius perhaps slightly more than the average guy, but Kathryn – you mean everything to me.

I’ve known and loved you for 10 years. That’s a lot of my life, and your love is the best thing I’ve had over all those years. Your love and the vows we made push me onward to pursue and work for the best life I can give you.

I’ll never stop thinking you’re beautiful; it’s easy, because you just are. I’m fiercely proud of you and would defend you from anything and anyone who would try to cut you down or diminish you. I admire and respect you, and I know that in the moments when my resolve crumbles and my hope fades, you’ve got my back, and the strength to pull me back onto my feet.

You’re a great mom and, God willing, we’ve got a long time left to enjoy together. It kills me sometimes to be away like I am right now, but I know I can trust you with our kids and that our reunion is never far away.

Thanks for everything babe: who you are, who you’ve helped me become, and who you are teaching our children to be. Happy Birthday, from the bottom of my heart, and many more to come.

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Yep, it’s about mom

This morning, as I sat in church, a series of memories passed through my mind, each of which made me grateful for what my mom has taught me over the years, both directly and by observation. I’m not a perfect son, and my mom’s not a perfect mom, but she has changed my life (and me) for the better so many times over the course of the years that I wanted to acknowledge her today, it being Mother’s Day and all…

I think the most important thing my mom has taught me about is communication. For those who know her, they are certainly aware of the fact that my mother is an avid communicator, or in other words – for those who aren’t great at interpreting subtleties – she talks a lot. Sorry mom, for the many, many times I’ve zoned out while you’re talking. I like to think it’s not my fault, that there’s some sort of built-in mom-frequency-ignoring mechanism built into all of us, but I have to accept responsibility for at least some fraction of the mom-ignoring I’ve done over the years. But well done for hammering home the lesson that open and honest communication is vital for a successful marriage. I believed you so much on this point that we made it part of our wedding vows, and I bet it’s the biggest contributor to the wonderful relationship Kathryn and I share now. We don’t let things slide, or fester, or pass them off as insignificant – we talk about and resolve our issues as they come up, and that is mostly thanks to your advice. I’m sorry you had to learn this in a harder way than I did, but I’m thankful for the lesson learned.

On another note, and I don’t need to go into details, but there was a time once – my heart rate increases and my adrenaline starts flowing when I even start to think about it, so many years later – when I got angry. I mean full-body-flushed, veins popping out of my neck and temples, murderous intent kind of angry. It’s probably hard even for my best friends to picture that, but it’s happened two or three times (two that I can remember). On this particular occasion you were standing between me and the subject of my wrath, and you stepped forward and blocked the way with your arm as I was about to pass you. Your arm wouldn’t have stopped me, but I looked at you, and you had fear in your eyes; whether for me or because of me I’m not sure, but you told me not to let it control me. I didn’t want to scare someone I loved. I didn’t like that look in your eyes. I stopped, breathed, considered the situation as well as I could have in that state, and subdued my anger. I had a shower, and while I was in there I vowed to myself that I would honour your request and not let anger control me, ever again. If anything has made me a better parent, it was probably that intervention and the outcome of it, so thanks mom.

There are so many things I appreciate about my childhood, looking back on it: the freedom we had to roam and discover nature (which likely played a big part in me becoming a geologist), the opportunities and encouragement to cook (even if my current palate has been heavily influenced by post-home experiences), and, perhaps most of all, the trust you had in me. I didn’t always make great decisions, but you were right to give me the freedom to decide, because I’m a strong-willed kid.  You kept my loyalty by giving me freedom and trust, and in the end I usually wanted to make the right choices, to honour your trust.

So Happy Mothers Day mom, too bad you won’t get this until after church.

Love you,

Tim

Sometimes you had to keep me in line

Sometimes you had to keep me in line (ca. 2006)

 

Further Thoughts on Evolution and Theology

I’ve been mulling over this topic for a long time, but not in the way I used to. The question of “creation versus evolution” is no longer a pivotal, no-compromise-allowed, authenticity-defining question for me, so I can tackle it much more peacefully. In fact, tackle isn’t the right verb at all, because it’s more like the topic and I stroll amicably through the park, sharing our differences and laughing about the fiery, perhaps misguided, passion we had in our younger days.

There was a time not so many years ago when, having recently read a few Creationist books, I nearly took the leap and said, “H E double hockey sticks, in spite of all the amazing things I learned and accepted after a great deal of scrutiny during my geology degree, I think I might just decide to become a YEC after all.” And that’s what it would had to have been: a leap of faith, and even more substantially, a leap of doubt in the many many discoveries (and interpretations) I had come to appreciate from highly respected, seemingly honest and sincere experts across many disciplines of science.

In the end, I decided I was most comfortable believing what I felt convinced about in the history of scientific inquiry along with the biblical revelation on the condition of mankind. I guess one could say I’m just believing what I want to believe, but surely everyone knows that deep down, that’s what we all do. We generally do what we think is best, and we believe… well, what we believe.

The beauty of the ancient earth framework is that it forms a fantastic context for describing so many phenomena we see in nature. The incredibly weathered, archaic appearance of the continental shields; the spreading of mid-ocean ridges at particular rates that can be calculated – in the hundreds of millions of years – and matched to reversals in polar magnetism; the fascinating and unique biogeography we find in isolated populations, even on the continental (e.g. Australia) scale; these all fit naturally and elegantly into an ancient earth framework, but result in awkward challenges for 6-day creationists. I can’t even be bothered starting on radiometric dating, because I usually find the YEC arguments against it unbearable to read.

In the face of evolutionists’ success at explaining so many facets of what we currently observe in nature, YEC’s fall back on the need to alter the very rules governing the universe as we know it, and this is precisely where they focus much of their effort these days: on historically (often radically) different rates of radioactive decay, tectonic plate movement, magnetic pole reversals, erosion and sedimentation, and even “microevolution”. This is what makes me uncomfortable, because so much of it feels forced, based on conjecture, although an entrenched YEC would definitely reprimand me for referring to the opening chapters of the Bible as conjecture.

At the end of the day I feel like the Bible is telling us a couple of big-picture messages: that we and everything in the universe were created by God, and as his subjects – who can only come willingly – we have certain privileges and obligations. It shows us a way to live that is higher than the rest of the selfishly struggling created order, and – after demonstrating repeatedly how awful we are at doing so ourselves through the course of history – provides us with an example and enabler in Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

I have no problem accepting that God’s mechanisms are different to how the ancient Israelites/authors perceived them. I think what He’s done is fantastic and that the people who have sought and served him as he’s asked us to have made the most positive, fantastic contributions to humanity throughout history. There have been a lot of misguided, terrible actions undertaken in the name of Christendom, but you’d have to be completely ignorant not to recognize that these were absolutely incompatible with the teachings of Jesus, and that many more atrocities have been committed outside of a religious context.

Accepting evolution and God means you can cast aside all statistical arguments against the former, along with a lot of unnecessary philosophy that stems from an awareness of those improbabilities. You can believe that God did it all intentionally; not just the big events, but that he set it all in motion, cradled the universe in his hands as it formed and developed. And not just the universe, but even you individually. That all of what may appear to be random chances through the course of ancient, primordial history was leading up to you, sitting and reading this blog post and marveling at the vast depth of God’s wisdom and love. In retrospect I hope it’ll be made clear to us what the order was behind all of what we can only now perceive as randomness. It’ll be another reason for us to bow down and give credit/worship to the mastermind behind it all.

So that’s where I stand these days. I enjoy science, I enjoy faith. If you like these kind of topics I suggest you check out the GeoChristian (http://geochristian.com/) and Naturalis Historia (http://thenaturalhistorian.com/) blogs, both of which I enjoy reading on a regular basis. To borrow from Kevin at the GeoChristian blog, I’ll close with a simple phrase:

Grace and peace.

A New Season

Today marks a new season in life. Eden started pre-kindy, also known as three year old kindy. It’s normally one day a week or two half days and is play based (at least where Eden’s going).

Getting so big!

Getting so big!

In Australia the School Year starts in February and the cut off if June 30 meaning when Eden starts normal Kindy she’s going to be one of the oldest in her class (and likely one of the tallest).

Showing off her new shoes.

Showing off her new shoes.

We decorated her Kindy bag together with iron-on badges she picked out.

We decorated her Kindy bag together with iron-on badges she picked out.

I got to make my first of  many lunches! I’m the novelty will likely diminish….

Pizza scrolls, carrots, cucumber, and a strawberry/yoghurt/coconut water pouch

Pizza scrolls, carrots, cucumber, and a strawberry/yoghurt/coconut water pouch

Her new lunch box from http://www.4myearth.com.au

Her new lunch box from http://www.4myearth.com.au

She started late today, 10:30, as they were staggering the start times on the first day. It was a LONG morning waiting but we finally made it there.

Checking out the bunny "Peppa" first thing

Checking out the bunny “Peppa” first thing

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Follow the leader

Making some new friends

Making some new friends

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Hanging up her Kindy bag

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Water/Ice/Salt play with her teacher

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Kate was very sad to leave her big sister

She only had a short day today, but she loved it! She will be starting a little earlier next week and then going from 9-3 after that. I’m excited about having some time with just Kate as well as giving Eden the opportunity to learn and grow in a different environment with some lovely teachers.

Telling me all about her time at Kindy

Telling me all about her time at Kindy

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First day celebration cake.

Yummy

Yummy

This time next year she will be starting Kindy which will be 5 days every 2 weeks (3 one week, 2 the next) and Kate will likely be starting pre-Kindy. It’s hard to believe these little munchkins are growing up.