I received a beautiful Christmas letter from some Lab City friends recently and it inspired me to get my act together and work on this blog post. I love receiving Christmas letters from people I don’t keep in close contact with, because it’s a great way to keep connected and share the highlights and important events of the year. Writing is also a great way to reflect on the past year and plan for the one to come. My plan was to use our blog archives to spark my memory as to what happened in early 2011…but apparently we didn’t blog much in early 2011 (not one post in January!), so we’ll see how this goes.
January 1 I ran a 5km race after training for a few months with the Running Room. I had decided in September 2010 that I needed a fitness goal if I was going to lose any baby weight and found out I really enjoyed running! It was a great way to start off the year!
Throughout 2011 we focused a lot on nutrition in our household. Since moving to Australia, we’ve kind of fallen off the bandwagon (for a number of reasons), but hopefully we’ll be back on track soon. I did a lot of reading on portion sizes, altering recipes, and healthier alternatives to much-loved treats, and we actually implemented a lot of those in our everyday lives. I discovered Chia seed and used it as an oil substitute in many recipes. I really enjoy baking, so this was a great way to experiment! Tim didn’t complain about it, and usually ate even the things that didn’t turn out as planned.
One of the habits we implemented that seemed to be most effective in helping us eat healthy foods was to create a meal plan every week. For a while I was doing really well at it, sitting down every Sunday evening or Monday morning and writing out a plan for the week, along with a grocery list. I was trying new recipes and new foods, and eating (and cooking) became one of my greatest pleasures. With the recent move, things have become really disorganized, which has had an impact on what we eat. The fact that I still don’t have any of my own kitchen supplies doesn’t help either. Hopefully over the next few weeks I can pull it together and resume consistently writing meal plans at least!
Eden was involved in a program called Roots Of Empathy where once a month we visited a local school and the grade 3/4 class learned all about her development.
Tim had an interview for MUN med school in January, finally arriving in St. John’s after several days of being storm-stayed in Halifax. Thankfully, we have wonderful friends who live close to the Halifax airport and visited him during that frustrating episode. He finally ended up having his interview after several cancelled flights and just 4 hours of sleep; needless to say, he didn’t get offered a seat there. He did, however, end up getting waitlisted for Dal med school later in the year; a hope we held on to for months afterwards, to no avail.
Tim continued working for Radian6, where he really enjoyed his job and his colleagues. After about 8 months of working a mix of days and nights (weekend nights, every weekend!), he even managed to get into an all day shifts schedule. That was a big improvement, since he had been missing many hours of sleep each week due to irregular hours.
Eden grew a couple of teeth in February, and we also welcomed a new niece to the family! We made it down to Moncton to meet Awna early in March, which was great. It’s pretty cool to think that Eden and her are so close in age, so if we happen to live close by again someday they may get along well. We spent heaps of time every week with Charlotte and Lila, Pamela and Tim’s girls, and it was such a blessing to have that family tie in Fredericton. We – including Eden – definitely miss them daily and look forward to the next time we can play/chat together.
[Tim is taking over the writing now…]
March 1 was the day we moved from our “little house” in New Maryland to the “big house”, on the same property. Those of you who visited us there will recall that it was basically a mansion. It had 4 large bedrooms, a massive kitchen and living area, a two-car garage, a huge barn, heaps of land, a beautiful back deck with perfect anchor points for my hammock… it was pretty luxurious, but having lived there and done that, we learned early in life that having a big house is more of a hassle than anything. It was great for hosting events, but for daily living it just seemed like so much to clean all the time! We found ourselves visiting smaller, 3-bedroom bungalows – the kind of house we’re living in now – and thinking, “now this is nice!”
It was during our stay in the big house that a few important events unfolded. First of all, in the month of May, I was offered a seat at a medical school in the Caribbean called St James School of Medicine. Like most Caribbean schools, this one conducts their first two years of classes on an island – I had applied to the Bonaire campus – then 2 years of clinicals in the United States – this school had affiliations mainly with hospitals in Chicago – which is where most students go on to do Residency. Students end up writing the same qualifying exams as American/Canadian grads, so in the end have virtually the same knowledge and capabilities, although word on the street (i.e. forums) is that you don’t have quite the same level of support at most “carib” schools as you would at home, so you need to put a lot of effort into supplemental studying if you want to ace the exams. But it can definitely be done, and I was more than excited about the opportunity. Kathryn and I were stoked about the prospect of overseas adventure (as always), and I was going to fulfill my long-held desire to study medicine!
Alas, when it came down to it, I couldn’t come up with the funding. I was going to require a pretty astronomical loan, which we couldn’t secure on the income of a stay-at-home-mom, so I had to turn the seat down. I should have foreseen this, but even so, it was really… just… depressing. The day I called up the admissions rep to tell her I couldn’t accept the offer, I spent a lot of time brooding. Kathryn and I went for a drive out to the country, just to take our mind off things a bit, and we ended up talking and praying about the future. I confronted God about why the door to international opportunity always seemed to open just enough for us to get excited, only to slam in our faces. Did he want us to stay in Canada forever, even though that wasn’t our hearts’ desire? Nothing against Canada, there’s just so much to see and do around the world, and we’d been talking about travel and life overseas since we started dating!
The very next day I got an email, followed shortly by a phone call, from a friend and former IOC colleague, currently living in Australia. I hadn’t even spoken to this guy in at least a year, and he knew nothing about our recent events.
“Look, I don’t know if you’d be interested, but we’ve got a few vacancies for geologists based out of Perth, if you want to think about it and let me know”
Needless to say, we thought about it, and acted on it, and this time around it all came together. The second half of 2011 was dominated by the application/screening process, then the visas, then the move itself. We also found out we were expecting our second baby around the same time – interesting timing, to say the least (refer to this post for more info), but we decided that pregnancy wasn’t going to stop us from an international adventure this time.
Eden had heaps of milestones along the way, of course, being at that age in which new skills are acquired almost daily. She learned to bumscoot, we weaned her from nursing – there’s no way I could have anticipated how much of an improvement this led to in her sleeping habits – she turned 1, and then one day she just started walking like it was no big deal! It was so exciting. I love her.
Watching Eden grow has been incredible. I mean, it’s not like one should expect otherwise, but it is so awe-inspiring. To think that this kid simply did not exist before, and is a unique combination of you and your lover, and just figures stuff out all time on her own, and has a unique personality, and is so unbearably cute. Ahhh, being a dad is the best unplanned thing that ever happened to me. In fact, I think I never could have made a plan so good! Sorry to steal your line, Tim and Melissa Winsor, but as you said in your Christmas letter, “no matter how the day goes, looking at her asleep at the end of the night makes everything right.”
Eden’s taken the move to Australia pretty casually. For all she knows, we’ve gone back across the driveway from the big house to the little house, and it just got really hot. She’s been sleeping in a single bed (actually, a trundle bed from underneath a single bed), which sometimes results in hilarious sleeping postures, as some of you have seen on facebook. My favourite is when I get up in the morning and find her sprawled out completely flat on the floor. She comes to breakfast shortly after with nice carpet textures on her face.
For all of us, moving here has been a great experience so far. There have been days where it’s hard to be so far away, especially for Kathryn, but the seemingly endless sunshine and mostly pleasant temperatures help. My colleagues at Rio Tinto and the people from the church have welcomed us so well, and there are lots of playmates for Eden. She always has a great time when other kids are around, and she’s been asking to go to the beach more and more, which is great considering she wouldn’t put her feet down on the sand on her first visit!
Our Christmas could best be described as low-key. It’s hard to get into the Christmas spirit when it’s hot and sunny, and family is on the opposite side of the world. We actually didn’t even get each other a single present, so on Christmas day the only gift we opened was Kathryn’s “sister gift” from Charlotte. That was it! Many nice cards and even some gifts have trickled in via mail since then, so thanks to all of you who’ve had a part in that. We’ve been spending so much money getting settled in, the thought of Christmas shopping was just a burden! We did, however, enjoy a wonderful, three michelin star Christmas dinner at one of the church leader’s homes, which helped us feel a bit of holiday spirit. The host even lit a few candles in the fireplace to make us feel at home 🙂
So that’s basically it, a summary of 2011. The big move has been exciting, but to be honest I have to suppress a feeling much like grief every day, when I think about the fact that I’ve set my desire to study medicine aside for a time. I’m trusting God that it’s the right thing to do, and trying to believe people who tell me I’m still young.
On the 30th of January I fly up north for my first full roster (10 days) in the field. It will be the start of a new season for us; one in which Kathryn has to basically fulfill the role of a single mom for almost 9 months of the year (field season goes until end of October, tentatively). We’re grateful for the friends we’ve made here and the many resources available to FIFO (fly in fly out) families, but I’m sure your prayers, skype calls, encouragement, emails, letters, and blog comments will remind her of all the support she has all over the world.
Thank you for keeping up with our blog, especially to all of you who’ve been engaged so much lately in commenting! It is a huge motivator to keep on blogging, and even to make an extra effort to experience the life Perth has to offer – we want to keep our content interesting, after all. Good on you for getting through such a long post, and I hope you feel the love and best wishes for 2012 that we’re sending your way.