With 2014 well under way – I’m not even accidentally writing “/13” at the end of dates any more! – I thought it was high time we take care of our 2013 review. I’ve had so many ideas to write about lately, but I’m struggling to put in the time and effort to develop them into worthwhile reading.
Kathryn and I were recently talking about our upcoming trip to Canada. It will be our first since we moved here over two years ago. Kate turns two 2 days before we fly out, and it will be her first time setting foot in Canada, or outside of Australia for that matter! One topic that came up in our conversation was how people will have changed since we were last home – you people, the ones reading this. How have you changed? This question naturally led to us wondering how we ourselves have changed in the last two years? It’s a tough question to answer, since most changes are so gradual, but I’m certain we’ve changed in a few ways. In fact, I think the nature of these changes may provide a good framework for our 2013 review.
Professionally, I’ve learned a lot this year. I’ve also been making a better effort to see the value in what I do, and to embrace my circumstances rather than dream too much! 2013 was the second year for us living a part-time FIFO (fly in, fly out) lifestyle. I worked a different roster this year, which involved spending 10 days away at a time, followed by 11 days in Perth, 4 of which were in the office. It usually went this like: fly out on a Wednesday, work ten 12-hour days and fly back the following Friday; Saturday to Monday off; Tuesday to Friday in the office; Saturday to Tuesday off; fly out again on Wednesday. I did 98 field days this year, mostly on this kind of roster. Last year I worked 8 day swings, so we did notice a difference having the extra 2 days away, especially since I spent more time in the office (long days for me). Kathryn found it pretty tough sometimes, without having me to provide relief at the end of the day.
Physically I haven’t changed much – still basically the same height and weight as when I graduated from high school – but Kathryn’s had some exciting changes! She’s been attending weekly (sometimes twice) sessions of a workout class called BodyPump, and the results are pretty impressive. Last night I went to lay my head on my pillow only to find that her arm was stretched out across it. *Thwack* “Who put that steel pipe there?!” I exclaimed, but it turned out to be her left bicep. A couple of weeks ago I tried to push her off the sofa in response to some snarky remark she made, but I couldn’t. I honestly tried my hardest, but I was no match for her. I wept silently that night in the dark, and resolved to improve my own level of fitness. Along those lines, I’ve been getting into some Wednesday lunch-time soccer games and playing a bit of squash with my colleagues, both of which have been great for my level of fitness, if not directly resulting in bulky biceps.
As parents we’ve changed a fair bit, along with the kids I suppose. I’m learning that you need to adapt your life to your children, and how far-reaching the consequences of that can be. For example, the relationships that your kids have with other children can have a significant influence on your own relationships. I mean, if your kids get along really well with someone else’s kids and they all play happily together, this naturally makes life – and your relationship with the other kids’ parents – more enjoyable. I’ve learned that the dynamics of children’s relationships are very confusing and unpredictable though. Kids behave differently in the company of different kids, as the social hierarchy changes with each combination.
As parents, we’ve had to deal more with drama between the girls: sharing difficulties mainly, but sometimes a bit of pestering and malicious behaviour. The whining and emotional volatility are the most tiring, but fortunately as adults we’ve got the capacity to see far beyond what our children can, so we generally outlast them in their little battles of attrition. Our skills of negotiation and reasoning at a 3-year-old’s level have definitely improved, so we can usually talk Eden down from a meltdown fairly quickly, often by handing some aspects(s) of the situation back into her control… parenting is a challenging and interesting path, for sure.
As a couple I feel like we’ve had a good year. It’ll be 10 years since year since we met, with our 7th wedding anniversary coming up in May. I don’t want to say anything too personal or awkward, so I’ll move on, but I often think to myself, “What would I do without Kathryn?” I think having the kids has strengthened our relationship, by giving us a huge challenge to work on together, even if the dating scene has shrivelled up a bit! Don’t worry love, there is a season for everything, one day I will sweep you off your feet again!
Spiritually it’s been an interesting year. We’re still involved with a small Newfrontiers church that we both feel strongly committed to, but it’s been tough losing a bunch of members/friends in recent months due to relocations and other factors. I’ve been wrestling with a few aspects of Christian doctrine too, mostly on my own, but occasionally with friends. If you have any interest in discussing such riveting topics as the inerrancy of Scripture (and the requirement for it), understanding the first 11 or so chapters of Genesis, the nature of homosexuality and its cultural prevalence in Biblical times, etc. let me know
Musically I’ve had a great year. I splurged and got myself a Martin DCPA3 (details here), after many years of playing inexpensive, mostly second-hand guitars. It’s a great guitar, sounds so rich and full, I really don’t do it justice. I’ve been writing songs, recording a little bit. Some of you would have seen Kate’s latest rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, but if not you should check out the youtube video here. Someday I hope to make music with the girls, so I’m excited to hear/see this potential! I feel like I have been growing musically and playing/listening to music continues to be one of my greatest sources of pleasure.
Last but not least, we’d be crazy not to mention how the girls have changed, since their growth is so much more obvious and significant than ours. Eden is definitely a little girl now. I’m pretty in love with her and find myself continually amazed at the imaginative ideas she comes up with. I love watching her try to piece together a world view out of all the crazy things that come her way (from both reality and TV, the line between which is blurrier for little ones). Sometimes I feel an aching sorrow over the knowledge that her beautiful and innocent perception of the world will eventually, bit by bit, be replaced with the knowledge that life involves a lot of hard work, “unfairness”, and problems that daddy can’t fix. Kate is also growing like mad, most notably right now in the area of vocabulary. She’s a bit more feisty than Eden and quite inclined toward climbing, throwing, snatching and grinning mischievously with her lower jaw thrust out. She doesn’t like vegetables or meat very much, but her cute belly seems to stay full in spite of that! 2013 has been very good.
Perth continues to offer us great opportunities for work and lifestyle, and by this time next year we expect to have acquired Permanent Residency and the benefits that accompany it. I hope you’ve enjoyed our update; feel free to pass it along to family and friends who may be wondering about us. Be sure to let them know that they can subscribe to the blog using the little ‘Follow’ button near the top right of the page. In conclusion, might I suggest that you make 2014 the year you visit Perth for the first time?!