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

Free from the Fear of Failure (or Why I’m Still Doing CrossFit)

Last night I listened to an episode of the TED Radio Hour podcast called ‘Nudge‘. If you’re a parent, or even just a human, I’d suggest listening to it. It’s no exaggeration to say that doing so led me to an epiphany; possibly multiple epiphanies, about myself and parenting. Allow me to set the stage:

I received an email recently congratulating me on my 18 month anniversary at RFX CrossFit. There are a few reasons I joined CrossFit back in February of 2015:

  1. I was coming to realise that I needed to get into better shape to keep up with my growing children (i.e. I was getting tired of nearly putting my back out at the age of 29 because my kids wanted me to pick them up)

  2. I had met a couple of CrossFitters who were quite fit, yet very humble about it. I’ve never had any interest in The Gym, but the way these guys talked about CrossFit made it seem sort of like a team sport, which I’ve always enjoyed

  3. A new CrossFit gym was being built around the corner from our house and I felt compelled, in a Gut Feel kind of way, to check it out. I’m a person who likes to go with my gut, regardless of how soft and weak it was at the time

I could write a lot about my CrossFit experience in general, but this isn’t the post for it. Suffice it to say that when I started I literally could not do a single push-up (which surprised me!). I’ve come a long way since then, having recently achieved such goals as squatting my own bodyweight, snatching over 50kg, stringing together 20 or 30 double unders, etc… To be honest though, I’m not that motivated by the numbers.

In the last few months I realised I had achieved what I’d set out to do: I could pick up my kids, lift them over my head, swing on the monkey bars with them, do handstands in the park, all without fear of getting hurt. So when I hit my one year anniversary, and again on my 18 month anniversary, the question arose in my mind: Why am I still here? Should I carry on?

The thing is, I’ve spent more money on fitness in the last 18 months than in all my life prior to that. I mean, the results have been great, but I’m still sometimes uncomfortable with the cost; after all, how much do I want to invest in a body that will eventually fail, no matter what I do? And it is hard work, especially getting up at 5am to go to class before work, in order not to detract from family time.

I know this is getting long, but stick with me because I’m nearly at the epiphany.

If you haven’t already listened to the podcast I mentioned in the intro, let me summarise a bit of it for you: when you praise children (or people) in a straightforward manner – “What a beautiful picture!”, “You’re so smart”, “You did so well at soccer today!” – something scary happens: having felt “the rush” of being complimented, the recipient develops a tendency to restrict themselves to doing only that which results in more praise. In other words, the praise they received gives them an incentive to stick with what they know they’re good at, and to avoid taking risks.

As I digested this information, I came to realise that most of my life I’ve been experiencing that very thing. I was always a pretty smart kid, reasonably well behaved, committed to doing a good job at work and generally fulfilled by words of affirmation (my #1 Love Language!). As interesting as this perspective was, this wasn’t the epiphany itself. The epiphany is this: the reason I’m still doing CrossFit – what I like so much about it, why I’m willing to pay a bit extra for it – is because it has become my safe place to fail.

I joined RFX all by myself. A new environment, all new people, new activities and challenges like I had never faced before. I was weak. Properly weak. I knew nothing about gymnastics (I broke my arm attempting a one-armed handstand at 17 years old), had never imagined that I would pick up a barbell, and I couldn’t understand 80% of the WOD (workout of the day) for the first few months without the coach explaining it.

I spent the first few weeks being the only guy doing knee push-ups. While the regulars did pull-ups, I referred to them as dangles because I could only hang there wishing myself upward (I learned some regressions, don’t worry). For the first little while I had to take 3 or 4 days off after every workout because I was too sore to move. And every time I thought I was getting a movement right, one of my dear coaches would point out yet another deficiency in my form or technique (with the best of intentions).

I have probably failed in CrossFit more times than I’ve ever failed at anything in my life. Possibly more than all my other failures combined. I literally fail every day as I push my body to new limits and build strength and skill. The box – as CrossFitters affectionately call their workout area – is my safe space to fail, and I love that. When I fail in front of the strongest and best – the legends – in the box, I’m not embarrassed, and they’re not critical; they’ve become the best because they’ve faced failure probably thousands of times more than me. More likely than not they’ll say an encouraging word or offer some nugget of wisdom that’ll help me nail it next time. If I fail in front of newer or weaker members of the box I can only assume that it’ll inspire them like it’s inspired me when I’ve seen it in others: that ability to reset, keep a positive attitude, focus and try again.

I’ve been hesitant to compete again since attending my first competition back in February 2016. I did pretty well (in my opinion) but ended up feeling aimless afterwards, having a bit of a ticked-that-box mentality. My epiphany – the nudge I got from TED radio hour – has made me realise that I do want to compete again. Not to win, but to fail. Sound weird to you? Maybe it is, but I want to compete again and I want my kids to watch me do it. I want them to see me go as hard as I can, laid out on the floor until I physically cannot get that next rep. I want them to see me push myself to the limit and almost certainly fail to reach the podium because, hey, I’m honestly not the best out there. But when that happens, they won’t see me sulking in the corner. I’ll be attempting a smile through my sweaty, oxygen-deprived grimace; after all, I’ve given it my best, I’m in the best shape of my life and I’m free. Free to be a nerdy CrossFit misfit and free to fail.

10 year letters

This is Tim.

When Eden was almost 3, and Kate was just a wee little 1-year-old, I often thought about how the girls and I had such a special relationship, and how it was a shame that they wouldn’t remember any of it. I mean, sure we can all have a general sense of a positive or negative childhood, but nobody really remembers details of when they’re a baby or a toddler. Some people hardly even remember older childhood – my memories are pretty hazy before about middle school, except for a couple of exceptionally emotional/intense experiences.

I also began to think that it was a shame that these adoring daughters of mine would soon become teenagers. I do remember what it’s like to be a teenager, though not as a girl, but I know your relationship with your parents tends to change dramatically over those years. It’s probably inevitable that there will be tension between parents and children during the teenage years. Parents will remember the special bond they had with their young kids; the nights they carried them to bed, out cold and all floppy, then laid them down and just sat and watched them sleeping, filled with inexplicable adoration. We’ll remember when we walked in the door after work every day and they ran full speed into our arms, shouting “Daddy!!” as if we’d been gone for days, or weeks (which I also get to experience – the greeting is pretty much the same in both cases). We’ll remember when they thought everything we did was AMAZING; when we could induce fits of laughter simply by adding the word “poo” to a joke or story; when we taught them to ride a bike and our hearts were filled to bursting with pride and delight, even as theirs were.

But they probably won’t remember much of that, which made me a bit sad… so I came up with an idea, which I want to share with you because I think it’s a good one and you might want to do it too. I call it the 10-year letters, and it’s pretty simple. On Eden’s third birthday, or within a week or two of it, I wrote her a letter telling her about where we live, who her friends are, what kind of things we like to do together, where I work/what I do/how I feel about it, a funny story or two about her and I, and what I wonder or hope or pray for her at the age of 13 (about how boys are trouble, you know). Then I sealed it up, wrote “Eden – 13” on it and filed it away. In 10 year’s time, on her 13th birthday, she’ll get her first letter. Kate will get her first letter when she turns 12.

It’ll be a snapshot of the relationship we had 10 years earlier, and by the time she turns 13 I’ll have a stash of letters for her all the way through to her 22nd birthday. All through the teenage years and into adulthood my daughters will be reminded  each year about – or perhaps learn for the first time about – what we’ve been through together. I won’t remember the details I’ve written in those letters, but I’m sure they will provide some insight into how much my kids have always meant to me; something I am only beginning to grasp about my own parents now that my girls are growing up. Mom and dad, did you really feel the way about me that I feel about Eden and Kate? I find it hard to believe, and I wish I could remember it. Thanks for taking care of me.

So, fellow dads (or mums), if you like the idea: get on board! It’s easy, and I’ve found that the process of reminiscing over the previous year and writing about it by hand is beneficial in its own right. Based on a Google search, I’m not the only dad (or mum) who’s written letters to his or her kids for the future, but I just might be one of the only ones doing it as systematically as I am (systematic: how’s that for a romantic word?). Stay tuned and I’ll let you know how it all works out, starting in about 8 years 🙂

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?

IMG_8271

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.

Rooted+and+Established+In+Love+WEB

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.

Proverbs 26:11, or not

“Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.”

I’ve always been prone to a touch of drama, but this verse often came to mind over the last 2 years as I considered reactivating my facebook account. For those of you who have previously deactivated your accounts, you’d know that it sends you off with a little farewell message along the lines of “Sorry to see you go. If you ever change your mind, simply log on again with your old details and all your data will be restored.” Kind of creepy, but okay.

I decided a few months ago to take facebook up on that offer but, like most things, it took me a while to get around to it. Last night, after enjoying New Years Eve festivities with a few Aussie (well, ex-pat) friends and their families, followed by a couple good games of Catan, the time seemed right. Some of you may recall reading my blog post called Farewell to Facebook, in which I detailed my reasons for leaving. Looking back on that post, I can’t say I feel much differently now than I did then about Facebook’s capacity to waste time, but I guess I neglected to consider one critical factor: I like my friends.

I’m not a super nostalgic person… I mean, you’ve got to have some capacity to move on in order to uproot and move across the planet with your young family. Lots of ex-pats seem to suffer homesickness more than I do though, which is probably related in part to the fact that many retain mostly old-country interests (e.g. Canadians following ice hockey) instead of trying to get into local interests and culture (e.g. AFL, known affectionately as footy by most West Australians). I have found however, after almost 2 years away, that I’ve been thinking and wondering more about the old friends with whom I’m no longer connected in any way.

The turning point was about 3 months ago, while talking about music and jamming with some colleagues up north. The scene provoked a memory of the 2009 Relay for Life in Lab City and a somewhat ill-fated performance by The Iron Clad Commitment, a trio consisting of me and two IOC colleagues. I managed to develop a case of laryngitis that night, which caused my singing voice to deteriorate rapidly through the course of the set, but we had a blast despite the embarrassing pre-pubescent squeaks I was emitting on most high notes. Preparing for the set had been a lot of fun too, and as I dwelt on that memory I thought to myself, “I miss Louell” – Louell, if you are reading this, you can pretty much take credit for initiating my return to facebook.

There are lots of you out there though, particularly the ones who aren’t friends on facebook with Kathryn, who can share that credit: Radian6 friends, childhood/school friends, geologists and IVCFers, Labradorians and Kiwis. There’s nothing profound here, it’s just that I like you guys and I’ve missed you. Besides, I thought freeing up facebook time would have resulted in better blogging and creativity, but I’ve blogged less and arguably been less creative than ever before in 2014. Instead of my news feed, I’ve sunk more time into ABC, BBC, and CBC news. Rather than clever memes, funny videos, witty comments and (sometimes) valuable insights into my friends’ minds, I’ve read about terrorist plots, tragic murders and fiscal woes the world over.

I can’t say I’m happy to to associate myself with facebook again per se, but as I laid in bed last night in the wee hours of the 2015, scrolling through my news feed and seeing the faces and words of old friends – some with new beards and new babies – I’ve got to admit: it made me happy. I don’t feel like a dog returning to its vomit at all; more like one returning to a buried bone, rediscovering the pleasure of that familiar old flavour (haha, don’t overthink that one). It’s nice to see you all again.

Happy New Year, and keep an eye out for our upcoming annual Year In Review.

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.

2013: A Year in Review

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.

Australia Day 2013, January 26

Australia Day 2013, January 26

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.

Tim’s mum came for a visit in Feb/March

Rockingham Beach

Rockingham Beach

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.

Kate's First Birthday, March 3

Kate’s First Birthday, March 3

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.

Bush walk in April

Bush walk in April

Enjoying the neighbourhood park

Enjoying the neighbourhood park

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.

Tim took my to Jamie's for my birthday dinner!

Tim took me to Jamie’s for my birthday dinner!

My Personal Trainer aka Bestie Emma

My Personal Trainer (aka Bestie) Emma

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!

Some lovely friends who have since moved back to the UK, June

Some lovely friends who have since moved back to the UK

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 🙂

Eden turned 3 in July!

Eden turned 3 in July!

Cake Time!

Cake Time!

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.

Train into the CBD with Roman

Riding the train into the CBD with Roman in August

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.

A nice little Joey the girls befriended, September

A nice little Joey the girls befriended in September

Syngery Parklands, Kings Park, September

Syngery Parklands, Kings Park, September

Camping with some lovely friends, October

Camping with some lovely friends in October

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?!

Tim working hard in the Pilbara, October

Tim working hard in the Pilbara, October

Look how they've grown! December

Look how they’ve grown! December

Tim's birthday flight.

Tim’s birthday flight.

Enjoying Christmas Day 2013

Enjoying Christmas Day 2013