Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The long long long way back

As you might know, we moved recently and our delightful little family had the fun of moving across Australia.  Well, 3000 km across it, anyway.

Because we moved around the time of Anzac Day, the movers packed up our things on the Wednesday and loaded them on the Thursday.  We were leaving on the Monday following.  I can hear you thinking that one through.  Did we camp with three youngens?  Are we experienced in the way of the air mattress?  That had been our intention, but a wonderful family from the church offered us their place in town (often farmers have a small apartment in town because the drive is long!), and so we moved in to that place on the Wednesday.

Tall says "new home, yay!".  No, Tall.  There is more driving yet to be done.  That whole last week was bizarre.  Adrian was still working, but we were also trying to do all the visiting we could.  3000 km is a long way and there are many people we knew we would (and currently do) miss that we wanted to catch.  We didn't manage to see them all.

Oh, how I miss that land.  I can see it in my mind's eye.

The boys were happy with the new place.  New things to explore, different toys to play with and Mommy driving them to the beach all the time...

The last days came.  We had decided not to start early on the Monday, but to leave after lunch, eating at our favourite restaurant in town.  It was a glorious, sunny, warm day and the boys and I went for a play date (wear the kids out before the long drive, no?) while Adrian ran a few last minute errands (one of those was to pick up a couple greeting cards which I finally filled out and sent two weeks ago.  Because I'm nothing if not prompt.  Waiting for a thank you card? Trust me, it's on the list).  I also got him to get me a little notebook so I could write things like fuel prices.  My mother does it.  His mother does it.  I was suddenly consumed with a need to do it.  Perhaps I will knit soon, too.

We went about 400 km the first day.  The way across the bottom of Australia is long and fairly straight.  If you look at the map, it looks like there are a decent amount of towns spread across, but when you actually get to these places, they are a roadhouse and servo.  Often with a motel component.  That's it.  I was nervous about driving into the middle of nowhere with three small boys and we thought easy days was the way of it.  Also, we'd heard okay things about that roadhouse (I'd heard much about most of them having mice and cockroaches).  We pulled up for the day before the sun set, had dinner and settled into the room.  The boys went to sleep well and Adrian and I tried to plan for the next day.  We crouched on the floor of the room, peering at the map by the light of the bathroom.  The trip had gone okay and the short days weren't seeming as necessary.  That, and I wanted to see a whale.  Four and half years beside the ocean and I hadn't seen a whale.  There was a place at the head of the bight where at certain times of the year they guarantee you to see whales.  We were a few days off that time of the year, but we thought we'd try.

This, however, gave us a problem.  If we stopped where we'd been planning, we'd have to wait until 8:30 in the morning to get moving.  That seemed like a lot of wasted time.  I started looking up reviews online about the roadhouses near there.  Not good.  We looked at the map.  We looked at each other.  We decided to get up at 4, put the kids in the car, hope they stayed asleep so we knock off some of the journey.

We hopped into bed very early (for us, so probably super early for you) and lay in the dark listening to the boys sleep, while we whispered and giggled like ninnies at sleep-away camp.  Who can sleep that early?

The morning came, as mornings do, and though I had listened VERY carefully, I heard no mice and saw no cockroaches.  We loaded the car in record time, put the boys and as Adrian said, should we check the room, I said no.  We'd be fine.  Had only brought in minimal luggage.

The boys woke up in the cold morning air.  We blasted the heat and drove away while Tall said from the backseat "Going to X-----, new home?"

200 km later when we sat down to breakfast (please, let me never not see a bacon and egg sandwich for a long while, the trip was full of them), I realized something that we had left behind.  Two safety rails for beds.  400 km trip to get them? Not so much.

The day went well.  We sang, read books, played with toys, explored a bit.  We caught glimpses of the ocean (this rested my soul), looked at cliffs, looked at signs, counted eagles (we saw: a lot.  What? My blue book is somewhere over there.) We paid for gas at $2/L.  We opened presents (special for the boys) and ate bickies (gifts from our old congregation).  Baby pooped explosively in his seat early in the day.  I cleaned it up as much as I could and then had to sacrifice a blanket to it.  There was nothing else to be done until I could get to a washing machine.  We ate sangas and drank terrible coffee (seriously terrible coffee.  Were I to do the trip again, I would make sure to pack the french press.  Adrian said we should, I thought it would be a bother.  He is a brilliant, brilliant man.)  We got to the whale place within half an hour of it closing.

It was a lovely, beautiful walk outside the car.  The ocean was spectacular, even if the sand was the wrong colour.  There was only one thing it lacked.

Whales.

Anyway, we drove on and by the end of the day we had three boys who wanted out of the car now and two parents who wanted to eat something and not be sitting anymore. This is why we ended up sleeping at a pub.  Because at 980 km and a 14 hour day, we were done.  But still, no mice or cockroaches.  And cheap as.

The next day was a good time.  We were back to not pushing it as we neared civilization.  We had about a two hour break at Wudinna, which is a great place for a stop.  Good coffee, good egg and bacon sandwiches, and AWESOME playpark.  The jumping pillow!  The random stranger who grew up Lutheran, but converted to Catholicism as her husband was Catholic, but who still knew lots of people Adrian did.

Seriously, the man knows everyone in Australia.

We stopped early that night so the boys could play before dinner.  They were okay with that.  You would think after the third day in the car, they'd be busting to be out of the car, right?  Okay, so when we went to have a break at one point in the afternoon, the two big boys threw a collective huge tantrum as they didn't want out of the car.  It was one of the funniest situations of all time.  "No play with ball, stay car!"  But we all got happy again.

The drive to the Barossa was lovely, the winding hills and roads that curved a nice change from the flat outback.  The outback is very cool, but it was nice for a change.  We spent a couple of night with good friends in the Barossa, played in Adelaide, went to the zoo on a cold and wet and windy day, saw planes and basically ran around like crazy people.

Then we went to Adrian's folks's place for a visit, where, for the first time on the trip, we had no cell phone reception.

We came to the new town a few days later and waited for our furniture to arrive.  As we waited, we got to know the town.  We played a bit.  We experienced frost.  It was great.

And here we are.  Settled (mostly) into the new home.  We pushed really hard at unpacking for awhile and then the last couple of boxes took a long time.  There are still a few things waiting for homes, but soon, soon, soon, I'm sure it will all go away.

The frosts in the morning are great.  Going from a land that was in drought to a land where the grass did not dry for a month (no exaggeration) was unusual.  I miss the ocean, though we have managed to visit it a bit.

So that's how we made it home.  Though for the first month, Tall kept asking when we'd get there.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Running Commentary

Say what?
Mom:  Tomorrow we're going to go on an adventure!
Tall: Tall go on adventure? And Small?
Mom:  And Baby and Mom and Dad.
Tall: And chairs.
Mom: And chairs?  You'd need a lot of packhorses.
Tall: Pack horses? Yay!

Wherein there was spaetzle in the chicken noodle soup.
Dad:  Wow, this spaetzle really soaked up the moisture.
Mom:  It's like a camel.
Dad: Camels' humps are actually full of spaetzle.
Mom: Camels were invented in Germany?

Colloquially speaking
Mom: The spoon's in the curry.  That's sounds like a phrase, doesn't it?
Dad: What?
Mom: You know. [Affects broad Australian accent].  The spoon's in the curry; it's off the table, mate.
[Speaks normally] That sounded like an Australian phrase, right?
Dad: So Australian that I couldn't understand what you were saying.
Mom: No, no.  The spoon's in the curry: it's off the table.
Dad: That just sounds like you're describing an event.

Dinner Manners
Dad: [Sternly] It's dinner time.  You should be sitting in your chairs eating or you should be dancing!

Poops-a-doozy
Mom:  [Upon discovering a nappy rash]. You really need to tell me when you poop so this doesn't happen.
Small: [Toots in Mom's face without nappy on] Poop!

A Miracle?
Dad:  [During evening devotions] His legs weren't working and Jesus made his legs better so he could run.
Mom: Where's he going? [Referring to a picture where the man was running]
Tall:  To watch TV!

Imaginarium
Small: [Spies a ute canopy on the ground]. Quack, quack, quack! [Like, crazily excited]
Mom:  Do you think ducks live in there?

Who needs school?
Tall:  Tigers live down in the trees.
Mom: They do? In the trees in the jungle.  What do they eat?
Tall: Tigers eat rocks.

Tall: Tall is a farmer.  Makes cows out of horses.
Mom: What?
Tall: Makes cows out of sheep.
Mom:  How?

Mom: What do crocodiles eat?
Tall: Bugs
Mom:  Crocodiles eat fish and...
[Tall's eyes bug out.  He runs into the kitchen to look at the fish tank]
Mom: Not your fish!

Say it again, Sam
Dad:  And this story is about Jesus.  Can you say "Jesus", Small?
Small: [nods]
...
Dad:  And they were on the water.  Can you say "water", Small?
Small: [nods]

A long time ago when we were working on word clarity.
Mom:  Say "water".
Tall: Wagain
Dad: "WaTER"
Tall: Water
...
Tall: Train-car
Mom: Train track.
Tall: Water!

It's been a long time since I'd posted and I have too many things to say and no idea how to start, so I thought you should just get to hear some of what goes on here.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Fare thee well


Today is Adrian’s last day of work here.  Tomorrow we leave and start our 3000 km journey to our new home.

I don’t want to go, but I know we have to.  We are called to move.  While we deliberated the call, it was easy to see how God was calling us onward, yet when we said yes, it suddenly became a much bigger deal.

Though I have moved 9 times in my life (4 of which were large, either across Canada or to Australia), I find this place harder to leave.  It has become my home.  Maybe it’s because we started our marriage here, or because our three sons were born here.  Maybe it’s the stage of life.  Maybe it’s the beauty of this place or the people who live here.  Maybe it’s the memories that crowded the empty house we cleaned yesterday.

All I know is that it is time to say goodbye, or rather “farewell”.

Fare well, my beautiful town with your lovely, pristine beaches. Fare well, first house of our marriage – the place where our children grew, where I painted a tree on the wall, where we played and danced and sang, cooked and cleaned and worked.  Fare well to the place that was sometimes unbearable for me – the distance away from nearly everything like when I couldn’t even contemplate going to my grandmother’s funeral.  Fare well to silly poetic thoughts of the glorious and terrifying ocean.  Fare well to friends met and made by all of us.  Fare well to two lovely congregations who have cared for us and challenged us.  Fare well to some of the best coffee.  Fare well to shops where the keepers know me (and the children) by sight and ask after them if they are not with me.  Fare well to windy days and middle of the night towel banks by the front windows in rough rain. 

Fare well to long drives north and west.  Roads known so well, filled with conversations and silly things.  Fare well to walks in the bush and on the beach, around the neighbourhood and over rocks.  Fare well familiar sights and smells.   Farewell lovely people whom I will miss.  Fare well habits and schedules, birds and trees.

Fare well to dreams unfinished, hopes unrealized and plans undone.

I love you, my little house of dreams; goodbye. May God bless this place and these wonderful congregations that made this place home.  We pray God will bless you with a faithful pastor.


Hello to the future, to not knowing what’s around the corner but going boldly where God has called us.  With our home in our hearts (and future vacation plans) we go forward to new dreams, new hopes, new plans. 

Farewell.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday

Today has been a very difficult day for me.  From a mishap before the grocery store this morning and large frustration afterward to little boys acting up in church and being rough so that they were disruptive through service this morning to spew in my hair, it's just been a full on, hard day.  As I sat in church with my head in my hands, wondering if all this congregation will remember of me is this moment where I feel like the most useless parent, a new thought strikes me.

No matter how hard this day gets for me, it is Good Friday.

The Good is mine.  The Good is done.  The Good was because this was Jesus' worst day ever.  As I sit with the weight of three little boys wrestling in my lap on and off, he had the weight of the world on his shoulders.

Have you ever had a sin weigh on you?  You know you did something wrong and you can feel that weight pressing you down?  Jesus had that sin on him.  All of the sins of all eternity, of every person, he took on all the guilt, the shame, the wretchedness, the pain and suffering of all and he broke it.

He died and took to death all of that sin.  He was crushed for our iniquities.  By his stripes we are healed.  It is finished.  He has died for the sins of the world.  The sins of a world that does not acknowledge him, a world that constantly mocks him - he even bore that sin.

And he did it uncomplainingly.  He did it because he is love.

And you know what else? He is risen.

As I tucked my boys into bed at nap, my anger and frustration were gone.  Jesus' love and sacrifice has healed my soul, not through any deserving of mine, but because of love.

Let us love one another.  Not be tolerant or stupid, but actually love.  Care for, build up, encourage each other to go the right way.  Not the way of the world, but the way of our Saviour.  Trusting in his mercy, holding fast to his promise to never leave us or forsake us, clinging to the cross.

Come Lord Jesus, come into this weary world.  Oh, how we long for you to come, Lord, come.

Themes taken from Isaiah 53, 1 John 3 and a song by Robin Mann.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Song

Jesus, I Will Ponder Now
--Sigismund von Birken


Jesus, I will ponder now on your holy Passion; with your Spirit me endow for such meditation.  Grant that I in love and faith may the image cherish of your suffering, pain, and death that I may not perish.

Make me see your great distress, anguish, and affliction, bonds and stripes and wretchedness and your crucifixion; make me see how scourge and rod, pear and nails did wound you, how you died for those, O God, who with thorns had crowned you.

Yet, O Lord, not thus alone make me see your Passion; but its cause to me make known and its termination.  For I also and my sin brought your deep affliction; this the shameful cause has been of your crucifixion.

If my sins give me alarm and my conscience grieve me, let your cross my fear disarm, peace and pardon give me.  Grant that I may trust in you and your holy Passion; if his Son forgives anew, God must have compassion.

Jesus, Lord, my heart renew, let me bear my crosses, learning humbleness from you, peace despite my losses.  May I give you love for love!  Hear me, O my Savior, that I may in heaven above sing your praise forever.


Tune: Jesu Kreuz, Leiden Und Pein (Melchior Vulpius)
1st Published in: 1646

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Aware

I've tried to start this post about 10 times and every start just isn't right.  Too pithy or silly or whatever.

I was asked to promote this site on my blog.  Please check it out.  Sure, the official week has passed but we all need to be made aware of things in life.  Be careful.  And help get rid of dangerous things.

http://www.mesothelioma.com/heather/awareness/

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Hospital Visit

Like Fleming McWilliams and David Bowie before me, I find that I am afraid of many things.  Not Americans so much (although I wouldn't want to run into Scarlett O'Hara in a dark alley. She be crazy.
), perhaps, but a lot of little things. Driving on ice.  Snakes.  Singing in public.  Singing in public while driving with a snake on ice.

What really scares me though, is not being able to help my boys.   A few weeks ago now, when Baby was just three weeks, the dreaded gastro bug that has been circling the town (nay, the world it seems) hit the boys.  We caught vomit, both with our clothes and our hands.  Baby somehow got it too.  One day he vomited so often that I had to change my clothes more than ten times and Adrian at least four.  We took him into the hospital as he had gotten jaundiced too.

I hated being at the hospital.  I have great respect for (most) doctors and nurses.  I am impressed by that which they have to contend.  They checked out my boy.  Thoroughly.  They watched as he vomited on me again and again (on special occasion, he managed to vomit across the room and into my open handbag).  They brought him blankets and towels to be rugged up in to get away from the vomit.  They ordered tests and admitted us.

It is a bizarre experience to be admitted into a hospital as a companion. There was nothing wrong with me and yet I was in a hospital.  My boy was that sick.  And I couldn't fix him.  Neither, it seemed, could they.

That's when it got scarier.  They took obs. they checked his blood sugar. He screamed whenever he got hit with a needle. He screamed in general really.  Definitely if I put him down or someone else held him.  When I'd run off to have a shower, I could hear him scream from down the hall and tried to hurry back as quick as I could.  I could not stand to see him in distress.  Heck, I was in distress.  I wanted to be home, especially after a night of less than two hours sleep holding my sad, sick, loud baby.  Home would mean he was getting better. Yet, the spew kept coming.  I gave up changing until I was entirely covered. They came to take blood and had to stab him four times to get it.   I was ready to punch everyone in the face and run off with him, even as I knew that they were doing their best to help him.

We had to stay a second night. I cried.  It meant my family was still split apart (and yes, only for a couple nights), but because of terrible sickness and unknown.  They would not let him go because he was not stable. Not stable? Were his obs. not fine every time they checked him? How was he not stable?

Babies are fragile.  We all know not to shake them and to support their tiny necks, but I've always been impressed with the strength of newborns.  Birth is not the most gentle of times.  Babies, I thought, were highly resilient.  Babies, it seems, can go downhill incredibly quickly when they are sick and he needed to stay.

I cried.

I cried so much in those days.  I cried when he cried out of pain in his belly.  I cried when they took his blood.  I cried when they told me they had to take more blood later that day.  I cried when they took it.  I cried when my boys visited and asked me to come home with them.  I cried when Tall told me he loved me.  I cried when he had blood three days later and five days later at his ultrasound when he wailed (at that age, the vomiting could mean a problem with his digestive system and needed to be checked out).

The boys visited a few times in those couple days, but even though they enjoyed the toys in the paeds. department, they were a bit too active for the ward.  I missed them.  I ached for Baby.  I longed for the comfort of being with Adrian.  I read the Word for strength.  I worried and prayed and fed and fed and fed and prayed it would stay down.

Those days are past now.  Baby is fine now, praise God.  He still vomits occasionally, in the way that babies do.  He is content and healthy according to all tests.

It was a scary time and it was short.  My heart goes out to all of those families for whom hospital visits are long and prognoses not good.  I know some of you are going through this and that you have pains you are suffering: you are in our prayers.  May God our Father grant you comfort and healing and may you ever trust in the gifts He has given through His Son - life everlasting and forgiveness bought through His own suffering and loss.