Life in 4D

It amazes me how, in a world with billions of people, each of whom has a nearly identical set of genes, it can be so difficult to find someone on the same page as you when it comes to interests, beliefs, perspectives and priorities. I suppose each experience we undergo – every book we read, TV show we watch, childhood (or adulthood) interaction and life event, big or small – affects us uniquely, leading us to embrace or discard things, in order to build what seems like a sensible, enjoyable framework in which to understand and live life.

Throughout the course of three decades, but especially in the last few years, my own interests have diverged in three (or more) distinct directions, each of which seems to have increasingly less interaction with the other. I don’t like this, mainly because I feel as if nobody understands the ‘real’ me, but I’m not sure how to change it, or even if I really can or want to. I chose the title ‘Life in 4D’ not to suggest that my own life is particularly extensive on every axis, but because it’s how I’ve begun to visualise it: growing and stretching in different dimensions, with my identity becoming increasingly separated between them.

I recently imagined a scenario in which I came to a sudden and tragic end (don’t read into that too much), upon which my funeral was arranged. Realistically, I’d expect a few dozen people to show up here in Australia. There would probably be most of my church, a few friends from the school community, a few colleagues and maybe a handful from the gym. As representatives from each of these communities rose to share memories of how I touched their lives, I imagine the surprise that would be evident on some of the other’s faces as they heard about who I was from their point of view. I guess I thought by writing this blog post I could help clarify in advance, both for my own sake and that of the dear guests attending my untimely, hypothetical funeral, who I think I am and the various dimensions I occupy:

  • Fitness (The X Dimension): I’ve always liked sports, especially team sports of the not-too-serious variety. As my kids have grown more playful (and heavier), I began to realise that one game of casual soccer per week wasn’t going to cut it if I wanted to keep up with them; I needed core strength. This was my main motivation for starting CrossFit, because I wanted to build strength and CrossFit seems to be successful at achieving that, with the added bonus of having a team atmosphere, and no mirrors. I kept pretty quiet about my CrossFit involvement for a while, but as I’ve become more muscly and stuff I’ve had to explain it to people. I’ve achieved my initial goal of not being a pathetic weakling, but I continue to go a few times a week because I genuinely feel great after a hard workout. Despite all my gainz, I still hesitate to identity myself as a CrossFitter, or even a gym-goer.
  • Faith (The Y Dimension – see what I’m doing here?): I grew up in church. Some of it was pretty cool, some of it I didn’t like at all. I believed what I was taught, then grew up a bit and questioned it all, then grew up some more and chose to continue to believe that God is real, that there is meaning and purpose to existence and that Jesus is at the core of it all. He’s a fantastic teacher and his true followers can only be described as Top Blokes. He really demonstrated love in its fullness, being led like a lamb to the slaughter and forgiving those in the very act of doing it. I challenge anyone to read through the New Testament and find any ulterior motive to Christianity than love of the undeserving. If there is any quality you admire in me, it’s probably a result of my desire to be like Jesus. I identify as a Christian more than anything else, yet I rarely talk about this with people outside of Dimension Y, I guess because it’s kind of uncomfortable for many people.
  • Science (dangit, this one doesn’t cleverly suit the letter Z, nor does it start with an ‘F’): It can be challenging believing in God (particularly a fundamentally good one) and loving science, but I do. I love the study of nature, the pursuit of answers to perplexing questions, the beauty of physics and the eloquence of mathematical language. Professionally speaking I’m a geologist, which is how lots of people likely identify me; however, this is an aspect I consider relatively disposable, of least significance to me. Lots of people in Dimension Z and Dimension Y are sceptical of, or even hostile toward, one another, but I try not to be too hostile toward myself. There are so few people in my life with whom I share these two interests that I tend to mitigate the loneliness of it by reading like-minded bloggers like The Natural Historian and GeoChristian.

Fatherhood is the fourth dimension (Time), which suits it well because it keeps steaming forward no matter what I do, permeating all others dimensions. I knew from a young age that I wanted to be a dad, and now that I am one, I love it. Everyone knows this about me, and it’s the only dimension I feel perfectly comfortable talking about with anyone (even blatant kid-haters). The other great thing about having kids is that they know me and accept me and love me just as I am. To them, I am a CrossFitter and a Christian and a Geologist and they love all of it, because they love me. No topic is off-limits or uncomfortable (yet) and they see no reason why I shouldn’t read the Bible, collect rocks and swing upside down on monkey bars as much as I like. Eventually they’ll find me super embarrassing, but I’ll make the most of that too.

Have I gotten any further ahead by writing this out? I don’t know. It’s natural, probably healthy and wise in some respects, to be selective about which aspects of yourself you choose to reveal to others (or the entire internet), but it’s funny to think that your Tim is different to Kathryn’s Tim, who’s different to my colleagues’ Tim, who’s different to my church family’s Tim and CrossFit Tim. And I’m sure they’re all different to how I perceive myself.

How about you – do you feel like you’ve selectively withheld aspects of your identity and now can’t seem to bring them all together with any one person or group? Perhaps this is more normal than I’m aware of. If you’ve made it this far into the post I’d definitely be keen to hear your thoughts on the matter.

’til next time,

Tim the Patriarchal Angel of Science and Gainz

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Sculptures By The Sea 2015

Just a few photos of our Sunday at Cottesloe Beach the other weekend. Every year they host Sculptures By the Sea. We haven’t made it out to the event since we moved here, until this year. Unfortunately, we had to go on the weekend with a thousand other people, but it was still nice to see some of the Sculptures and spend time on the beach.

Eden tripped on the way to the beach (we had to park at a bit of a distance) and scraped her knee, so it didn’t start out very well, but thankfully she got over it quickly!

I should note that there were signs everywhere that said don’t touch the art…..

This one was beautiful

This one was beautiful

Eden liked how the person on top was upside down (sorry...not in pic)

Eden liked how the person on top was upside down (sorry…not in pic)

Little poser

Little poser

It was really cool how big a lot of them were, it must have been quite a feat installing them in the beach.

I liked this little one

I liked this little one

It's too bad we all couldn't get in this one, as there were two more holes. There was just way too many people there though.

It’s too bad we all couldn’t get in this one, as there were two more holes. There was just way too many people there though.

The flock of flamingoes were pretty cool

The flock of flamingoes was pretty cool

There was a whole bunch of them

There was a whole bunch of them

It wasn’t really a relaxing day on the beach, but it was interesting none the less. I’m glad we went, but I wouldn’t go on the weekend next time.

Getting their toes wet

Getting their toes wet

Our favourite one and we almost missed it. Really interesting with the faces in the charcole.

Our favourite one and we almost missed it. Really interesting with the faces in the charcoal.

Having a little snack to keep us going

Having a little snack to keep us going

Such a beautiful beach

Such a beautiful beach

We live in a stunning place

We live in a stunning place

Inspiration for the week

It’s true that I probably spend more time online then I should. I’m much more productive in my life if I switch off my devices and tune in to real life. However, as a Stay-At-Home-Mum, life can get a little…mundane. I can think up creative things to do with my girls, crafts, lego, imaginative play. I can read an unlimited amount of stories until my throat is dry and all I want to do is fall asleep. I can make endless meals and snacks (the snacks are usually consumed more readily, popcorn anyone?). I can go to parks and play outside. Sometimes (maybe too often) though I just check out. I think it’s a form of survival really, from the boredom.

Don’t get me wrong I love my girls and would die for them. I want their lives to be enriching and interesting, I want them to love life, themselves, and God. I want so many things for them but I think you’d be lying if you said (as a SAHM) you weren’t bored from time to time or that you never wanted to escape your current reality. I am thankful that I’m not cleaning poopy diapers any more (though still wiping bums…does this ever end?).

So I read blogs and listen to podcasts to escape, to get a glimpse into someone else’s reality, to be inspired by the amazing work that people spend their lives doing. I hope that someday I will inspire others to be a better version of themselves, to serve others, to make the world a more beautiful place as Miss Rumphius would say.

Here are some of my favourites that I’ve read recently.

Revelation Wellness has been inspiring me lately I love what they do and their mission. You should follow them on Instagram and get their emails! I loved this blog post: Should I or Shouldn’t I Work out today?

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This blog post by Kelle Hampton, if you’ve never heard of her she’s a mum, one of her daughters has Down Syndrome, and she’s a champion. Just read it.

Inspired to Action is a must listen to Podcast for me. I recently listened to this podcast and was inspired to be more intentional with my girls. I’ve started Sense of the Resurrection with the girls to prepare for Easter.

My friend Melinda posted Making Ethical Fashion Choices, on FB recently. It’s written from a Christian perspective but I think it applies to EVERYONE living in first world nations. We are too quick to grab a deal, to buy junk from dollar stores without pausing to think of the actual cost, the human cost of the deal we scored. This issue doesn’t only have to do with fashion but with pretty much every industry. If you want to make better chocolate choices this Easter then check out Traffik Free Easter, their website has a wealth of information (not just on purchasing chocolate).

When it comes to human trafficking I feel sick. It’s easy to ignore global issues that don’t personally affect us but some of my friends back in Canada have recently become passionate about spreading awareness of this problem and trying to affect change. A21 campaign is actually freeing people who have been trafficked yesterday and prosecuting people who do it. This is something that I’ve seen first hand. I was in Northern Thailand with YWAM in 2003 and we were working in a village building some infrastructure and helping in various ways. I noticed that there were NO girls between the ages of 4 and …? old women. They were all sold to the bigger cities with the hope that they would be going to a real job so they could send back money to their families. In reality they were working in brothels and it made me weep, it still does. It’s easy to feel hopeless when sex and slavery is such a huge industry but I believe if one person is freed then it’s worth it.

The team

The team in Thailand

To end on a hopeful note, MercyShips is an amazing organization which provides medical care for the least of these. This video is one that I shared on Facebook but it worth sharing on here. It’s moving and full of hope. Women’s Health Program.

I almost forgot, you should check out this art. If you have Instagram you should follow Gracelaced. It’s beautiful and inspiring.

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So what makes you feel alive? What escape do you have from the mundane? What do you do to make your life not solely about yourself and satisfying your desires? Whether you’re a SAHM or not, I think there’s something in all of us that realises life isn’t just about us and we can’t just turn a blind eye to some of the major issues in our world. We are raising global citizens after all, what will their world view be?

Oh and if you’re wondering, I like reading the “hold in your hand” type of books too, but my children are neglected and household chores are forgotten when I get into a plot. So I try to “limit my intake” at this point in my life.

I’m looking forward to your comments.

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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Catching Up

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!

Fullness and Emptiness: Parenting

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!