Friday, 13 January 2017

Holiday at Grandma's

I can't believe that we are already half way through our summer holidays.  This year school finished just a few days before Christmas,  so it felt like a big rush with Aaron's birthday and then Christmas straight after.   From Christmas night we stayed at my Mum's house for five days.

Because we had just finished school and work for the year I just felt so tired all of a sudden. When I'm working every day and racing around I'm fine, but as soon as I stop I struggle to get going again (and often get sick, but touch wood I've been okay so far).   We had lots of time lazing around and having lots of nanna naps (test match cricket would put me to sleep even if I wasn't tired!) and it was so nice to have someone to share the cooking with for once!
Every day we headed down to the beach with the dogs for a walk and a swim. 
We love it when the tide is out and we can walk over to the island.  The little pools of water are always so warm, so we often just end up sitting in them for ages.
Milly and Josie just love being together. When we came home both of them were actually very depressed (very quiet and just lying around) for a few days.
Santa brought Kobe and Harri (Jalen is not a fan of swimming or the beach in general so Santa knew not to bring him one) a snorkel and flipper set each.  Kobe loved exploring with them. 
I always feel so good when I'm at the beach and could walk for ages.  I wish I had the same motivation when I'm at home.
One day we went into Devonport to go to the movies.  This time of the year is so pretty in Tasmania with all the poppies flowering.
I just had to stop to get a photo of this on the way. 
Another day Mum and I went out for lunch at the Tasmanian Food and Wine Conservatory.  We had heard lots of people raving about it and wanted to see what all the fuss was about. 
We had a platter to share and it was amazing! It tasted even better than it looked.  The flavours were incredibleMum went back today with some friends for her birthday, and I can't want to go again.
We had a lovely time at Mum's and had to get back home as Jay had to work.  It's always hard to leave the beach, but we also love being home in our own beds and have been busy doing lots of fun things close to home as well.  We just wish that school holidays would slow down!

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

School, Sport and Work

How good are school holidays!? We are loving them so much and they feel like they are going way too fast. It's so nice not to hate school holidays anymore. For a few years after Aaron passed away I dreaded them, as they were just so long and sad without him and Noah around, but now we really look forward to them. 

We have already done so much these school holidays and I just sat down to start blogging about some things we have done, when I realised that there's a lot that happened last year that I haven't recorded here. 

I was chatting to a friend last night about our blogs, as we have noticed that all of our friends who used to blog regularly don't blog anymore.  I think I'm at a bit of a crossroads with my blog right now.  I absolutely love having our family memories from the last 9 years in one place, but I just don't have the desire to blog like I used to. 

My posts are getting spaced out further apart and it's not because I don't have anything to write about, but life is just so busy now (especially as I've been working full time) and the boys are getting older and I'm becoming more aware of what I'm recording here. 

There's so much that I don't say on here because the boys and myself like a lot of things to be private, and I don't think it's fair on them to write about a lot of what they've gone through, but at the same time I don't want to forget anything.  It's hard finding a balance between recording memories (the good and the hard) keeping things semi private for the boys but also blogging just because I want to. 

That is one reason I have always kept my blog simply as a family blog without doing any sponsored posts or promoting anything - as it was just an outlet for myself.   I didn't want to feel pressured to have to write, but now I'm kind of feeling pressured to keep recording the memories because I don't want to have to look back in years to come and wish that I kept it up. 

I absolutely LOVE Instagram (my name is Lisa and I'm an Instagramaholic) and that has given me another avenue to record family memories which is so quick and easy which has actually made blogging seem more like a chore.

So for now I'll keep blogging and if one day you come back to check on us, and it's been a while since I posted it's probably a good thing and just means that life is busy and that I no longer feel the need to record memories on here.

So before I post what we have been doing on the holidays, there is lots to catch up on from last year. The boys all had a great year at school.  Jalen loved his first year of college (year 11 or what we call college in Tassie).   It was so nice that all of his close friends ended up going to the same school, so he had a really fun year and suddenly became very social.  I have to keep reminding myself of what I was like when I was his age and remind myself that hanging out with Mum all the time isn't as much fun as it used to be :)
I have been waiting for the 'horrible teenager' stage with him but it has never come. Of course he's not perfect (he would say he was!) but I'm very lucky that he's an awesome kid and he keeps me sane as he is lots of fun and remind me a lot of Aaron now.

Jay did drama last year at school and it was fun to go and watch his performances.  
Now that he's settled into work he can see that all the nagging from me to get a job was worth it, as he's loving having his own money.  He often comes home from school (he has to catch a bus home from town) with new clothes that he's bought after school.  I'm loving that I no longer have to buy him clothes and he loves that he can get whatever he wants, as long as he has enough money.
This year the boy's school had a school fair again and 'squad' came along with it to support Jay who was helping out for the night.  Not sure where Jay is in this picture ;) ;)
You would've thought that the school fair day was Kobe's best day of his life! He was so excited about it and talked about it for so long.
Jay was very lucky and actually finished school a month before the rest of us did.  I had the afternoon off on his last day of school and picked him up and asked him if he wanted to go out to celebrate and get something. He requested KFC :) 
Kobe had a great year in grade 2. He loved his two teachers and did so well at school.  Because I was working so much I hardly got into the boy's school this year, but his teachers were lovely and would often email me to let me know how well he was going and what a lovely boy he was in class. I would also get text messages with photos of what he was up to at school which was so nice.  

It would break my heart when he would have something on at school that I couldn't go to because I was working.  He was excited to share things in assembly at different times and would often say 'I wish you could come and listen to me talk in assembly'. He understands that I can't now that I work at a different school, but it does make me feel sad that I can't be there. He gets so excited when he is awarded a certificate at school. 
He's always loved reading, but is now obsessed with it and keeps saying 'I don't know what I would do if books weren't around Mum!'.
He's the funniest kid and makes me laugh so much. One day I went to make sure he was brushing his teeth before school and found him like this! What more do you need than a whoopy cushion and an iPad!?
 Kobe absolutely loved playing soccer this year.  He was so funny to watch and would either be day dreaming or tearing up the field as he would try desperately to get a goal. If he ever got a goal his celebration always cracked everyone up. He was so excited to get a trophy at the end of the year.
I can't believe that my baby is going to be in grade 3 next year! He's very excited about it and has some good friends in his class next year which is great.  
For Book Week this year the kids at the boy's school had to come along as something Australian.  That made it very easy as they were keen to go as a footy and cricket player (as did half the school) and we had books to go with it which was good.
Harri has kept me the busiest all year with running him around to soccer and basketball.  He is obsessed with sport and is so much like Aaron in that way and unfortunately his passion for sport is the same as Aaron which means there's often lots of tears. 
He has been in a lot of different things this year including the schools triathlon with his friends Henry and Harry.  Harri did the running leg and they did really well. I didn't get to go along as I was working but I pics sent to me during the day from Henry's Mum which was lovely.  He also did really well at the school's swimming carnival.  It those days that I really wish I wasn't working all the time, but I'm very grateful to have work and the boy's understand that as well.
Harri was also chosen to first of all represent his school, and then the northern schools of Tasmania in soccer. He got to play against schools from the North West and he had the best day (even though they didn't win overall).
Harri loved being in grade 6 last year and had two awesome teachers. I was so happy that he had a male and female teacher.  I had always hoped that he would get a male teacher before finishing Primary School so it was nice that he had that in his last year.  He was excited to get his Year 6 t-shirt which everyone signed on the last couple of days of school.
He had a great night at his leaver's dinner (I have lots of lovely photos but don't want to share photos of the other students on here) and even though he's really ready for High School he was very sad on the last day because a lot of his friends are going to private schools this year, so he won't see them as often.  He does have a nice group of friends going to school with him as well and he makes friends so easy, so I know he's going to love High School.
He loves chatting to Terry the crossing guard each morning, so I had to snap a photo of him walking across the crossing on his last day of school. 
Harri's male teacher was teaching part time and also doing post grad studies on teaching EAL (English as an Additional Language). He had to do practical hours of teaching EAL in schools and asked me if he could come and do them with me one day a week for five weeks. It was lots of fun working together and I loved getting to know him more, and hearing stories about Harri at school.  He would always tease Harri the next day at school and would tell him that I had told him different things about him.  

We had lots of laughs together and after a couple of weeks he was taking a lot of the lessons with my students so I missed him when he finished.
Even though it was very hard to leave my old school half way through the year, I have absolutely loved my new school.  It's an awesome school which values and celebrates diversity.  24% of the school are from an EAL background (my colleague and I had to run an EAL staff meeting and worked it out) and there are always new students arriving who are either from a refugee background or are migrants. It makes it very busy for me and my colleague as we are always settling in new students but I love it and especially love the pastoral care side of my job. 

Because there are always new EAL students arriving I was offered to increase my hours and went from working four days a week to working full time.  I'm very grateful to have the work and love it and had to quickly adapt to not having as much time at home to get things done here. I have had to just not expect the house to be as clean and had way too much takeaway for dinner, but I was happy to pay that price for full time work. 

I'm so happy to be at the same school again this year and will be working full time again.  I hope that these holidays will help me recharge my batteries before things get hectic again with work, school and sport starts back up.
This year we will all be going to four separate schools and I'm feeling a bit sad that it may be our last year together as Jay works out what he wants to do next year for Uni.  I just wish I could stop time right now and stop them growing up so fast. 

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Dear Aaron 2016

Dear Aaron;
I can't help but feel sad that it's been another year without you, but am also amazed as to how much has happened since you died.  It's just 26 days until you've been gone for 5 years and I'm not even sure if that sounds like a long time or a short time anymore.  It feels like forever, yet I feel like you could just walk in the door and things would be exactly like they were five years ago.  I think because I dream about you a lot, you still feel like you are close by. 

Last year was a huge year, and I didn't think there was any way that as much would've happened this year, but I think this year has probably been as busy and as big in lots of ways.  We've had some lovely times away again this year, visiting Chrish in Sydney. 

Even though we always have a great time away, you are constantly on my mind as I feel so sad that we never got to take regular holidays together while you were here.  Both of us would never have wished that we didn't have Noah, but I can't help but feel really ripped off because we never got to spend time together after Noah passed away.  It was just too hard to do too much while he was here, and as much as we loved him and wished he was here with us on earth forever, I get very jealous when I see families together on lovely holidays, or just doing regular things together.  

Even though my mind isn't consumed with thoughts about you dying anymore, no matter what we are doing I always think about you and what you would think, say or do in certain situations.  It's nice that the boys always talk about you - even if it's 'we have to get a slurpee for Dad'.

It's hard to imagine what life would be like if you were still here, especially without Noah.  When Noah was here you were always the one who would volunteer to stay home.  Half the time I knew it was because you were happy to watch the cricket or footy on TV, and half the time I knew you were just looking forward to some quiet time with Noah. 

I wonder if you were still here if you would love being able to just go out and do things without thinking about it, as much as we do.  When you were here we always had to think about whether Noah was well or happy enough to take out, or whether we could get his wheelchair to where we wanted to go.  It still hits me how easy it is for 'regular people' to just jump in the car and go somewhere whenever they want and now it's easy for us to do the same. 

I love that we can just text friends and say 'meet you for a swim?' and then 15 minutes later we are out having a lovely swim.  But then at the same time it's not the same because we wish that you and Noah were still here, so it's very bitter sweet.
I don't think people realise how lonely I still am even five years later.  It's easier to cope with your death day to day.  I no longer think 'Aaron is dead, Noah is dead' constantly and I can get on with my day without my mind being consumed with grief, but every day I come home to an empty house (other than just the boys) and it's then that the loneliness hits me because I don't have you to talk to about my day.

I am grateful for friends who put up with me being a third wheel, because without them I would really be going crazy. 

I can't stop thinking about how tiny the boys were when you passed away and how much they've changed and grown up in the past five years.  Kobe was so excited about his birthday this year.  He said it was the 'best day ever' because he got baptised, played soccer, had a party and Hawthorn were playing!
Harri was excited to have a party with his mates again this year, but I think I had forgotten how noisy 12 year old boys are, or maybe Jay and his friends were a lot different to Harri and his friends when they were the same age?   
It was much  more civilised going out for Jay's birthday with his friends.
You would absolutely love their stages and ages right now.  Harri is sport crazy just like you.  He always says things like 'I wish Dad was here so I could talk about the NBA or soccer with him'.  Kobe started playing soccer this year, and he is absolutely hilarious to watch - half the time he's in a dream and the other half he's dancing around or dabbing when he gets a goal! I hate the cold Saturday mornings, but I love watching the boys as they love it so much.
Harri picks up most sports so easily and loves it.  This year he has been really interested in hearing more about you and how you were at sport.  I know it's because he's imagining what it would be like to play against you.   I wish you were here to go over to school with him on the weekends, to shoot the basketball with him.  
Jay still isn't into sport but it's been fun watching him get into skating more this year, and become very social. 

I'm glad that he has good friends, and can't believe that he's only got one year of college left before he has to really figure out what he wants to do with his life.   We've been so, so slack with driving practice and I actually get angry with myself about it because I don't want him to end up not having his license for ages (like you!) but it's hard to find the time and energy to go out. I just need to do it.  He's lucky that two of his friends now have their Ps and cars which means he's out a lot, but I've had to remind myself of what life was like when we were his age, and know that needs time with friends, and just hope that he makes good decisions. 
You would absolutely love hanging out with him now - he's hilarious just like you were and loves so many things that you used to love - including the same type of movies and music. 

I'm so glad that Jay finally got a casual job this year.  It's taken a while for me to convince him that the positives outweigh the negatives and he's now settled in and says he is confident doing whatever he is put on during the shift, and loves having his own money.   The boys love visiting him while he's working. I know that you would love that he's working at Maccas.
We still go to the footy for you.  I'm not sure what you would think of Harri has he's decided that Hawthorn aren't his team anymore.  I go between thinking you would be turning over in your grave in disgust, or you would be happy that he has his own strong opinions.  He's very stubborn, especially when it comes to sport. I wonder where he gets that from!?
I still stalk the Hawks for you when they're in town and always have a laugh as I think how proud you would be that I'm following footy players around.   I'm still not sure why Hodgey hasn't married me though! ;)
This year we went on our first camping trip.  Jay reminds me so much of you - all the complaining about how he didn't want to go, how he hated camping.  It was just how I imagined you if we were all going together.  Despite the thousands and thousands of wasps, we actually had a great time - Jay included and I think you would've too. It was nice to have Chrish come down from Sydney to camp with us.

It was so nice to camp at Pop's river and to tell the boys about all the amazing times that we had as kids.  Life was so much simpler back then.
We actually went camping twice this year, although the second time we went camping was a lot more glamorous than the first time, and not just because there weren't any wasps.
I thought that last year was the biggest year for exciting things to happen after being awarded Tasmanian Mother of the Year, and I knew that nothing could top that this year.   We couldn't believe that articles were still being published in the media even this year about it.

It was nice to help out at the Mother of the Year ceremony in Hobart this year, but kind of felt sad to be 'handing the crown' over because it was the biggest high we've had since you died. 

So it was extra special when Barnados got in touch with me and invited me to go along to a special Mother's Day luncheon which was put on by their new sponsor - Sportscraft.  I didn't realise how fancy it would be until I got there.  It was overwhelming to be there surrounded by celebrities but it was an amazing day.  All I could think about though was that I would not have been there if you were still here.  I would trade all these amazing experiences just to have you and Noah here with us.   
The highlight of the day though was meeting Gloria who was the national Mother of the Year in 2014.  We spent the whole day just talking about you and Noah and her daughter Cassie who passed way from cancer.  It was so nice to be with someone who just gets it. 

Can you believe that you have a whole oval named after you now!?  I still can't really believe it and everyone says how much you would love that you have your own oval.  I love how Kings Meadows High School still do such lovely things to remember you.  It means so much to me and the boys to know that you aren't forgotten, and to know that we aren't the only ones who love and miss you. 

I used to feel sad whenever I would go back to your school, but it's not as hard now. 
I love being able to donate and present memorial awards for you and Noah and know that you would be proud of the students who won them this year, even though they weren't at school when you were there teaching.

Some days are still much harder than others.  We miss you and Noah every day, but hope that it's okay that we don't go to the cemetery as often. It's actually nice to be at a stage where I don't feel like I want to be at the cemetery so regularly. 
I'm grateful for good friends who still do things with us even five years later to remember both you and Noah.
I always find it easier if we escape to the beach on the harder days.  I really need to move to the beach, but then I would leave too many things that I love about living here.
It was a shock to be asked to take part in a Mental Health Week event, and to share my experiences with grief and depression. 
I never could've imagined five years ago that all of this would've happened and that I would be sharing my experience so publicly, but it's nice to know that I may be able to help others in some way. 
My mental health is so much better than it was a few years ago, but I have to continually work on it.  Every year I say I'm going to get fit and lose weight, but stress does awful things and my physical health is still a work in progress.  Hopefully I'll get on top of it in 2017. 

What I miss most about you is just talking to you about my day, and hearing about yours.  I wish so much that you were here when I get home from work.  I have so many stories to tell you about the gorgeous kids I work with and also the friends I've made at work.  I'm sure you saw how hard it was for me to move schools half way through the year.  Just as I was feeling really happy and settled, I had to move again and that really didn't help my mental health at all.  It's frustrating having anxiety at times, when I was never an anxious person five years ago. 

Saying goodbye to my beautiful Afghan students was very hard. I got so many beautiful cards, letters and drawings from them and I love it when I run into them and their families when we are out and about. 

I'm sure that you have also seen how much I have grown to love my new school, students and colleagues.  I love learning about different languages and cultures, and I feel so blessed to have a job that I love.  It makes it easy to get out of bed every day.  

It's always hard to start working somewhere new and to have to share my 'story' again.  I don't want people to feel sorry for me, but I also want them to know about you and Noah and to know that this is a part of me, so I'm grateful when I can talk about you.  There's been a few times this year when someone has said 'you look familiar' or 'oh I know about this! You're that lady!' and it's so touching when some of my colleagues have gotten tears in their eyes when they realise what we've been through.  It's lovely when I hear things like 'he was an amazing teacher'.  I hope that I can one day make a big as impact as you did on your students.
It's hard to believe that it's almost two years since Dad died, and I'm sure you're up there telling him inappropriate jokes to make him laugh.
I haven't felt Dad around at all, but am grateful that I still feel you around at times and that you come to me in dreams.

I still can't ever imagine being married again.   Most of my widow friends are now in other relationships and I'm so happy for them, but I still find it hard to imagine being with anyone else other than you, and can't get my head around what it must be like for them and their new partners. 

To be honest I don't even know how I would even meet someone even if I wanted to get remarried! That actually cracks me up as it's not like there's a lot of single men in my circles (or anywhere!) who would want to marry a middle aged, very independent widow who is still in love with her husband, and who has children.  I have enough of my own baggage to deal with, and am not keen on taking on anyone else's! I think I'm just way too used to the 'single' life now and would rather be on my own that have to deal with any drama that would come along with having another relationship.  

I am lonely and the nights are long, but my days are busy and full with work and the boys and I'm grateful for that.

It's taken me five years, but I think this year I finally got to the anger stage of grief.  I don't even know what or who I'm angry with, but I was angry that our time together was cut so short, especially so soon after Noah passed away.  I know that everyone deals with hard things, and that many people go through harder things than us (and my work reminds me of that every day) but I was angry that I'm always so physically and emotionally tired and that even though I feel happy at times, I can't ever imagine feeling true joy again.

I no longer believe that 'everything happens for a reason' or that my 'reward is going to be great in Heaven' or that it's 'God's plan'.  I actually feel angry when I hear that, because if it is God's plan then his plan is pretty crappy.   I don't think that there's anything worth taking you away from your boys and wife on earth.  I just believe that people get sick and everyone has to die at some stage.  I just know your heart was broken when Noah left.   

I'm actually doing well as I've worked through things and I know that you are around and that keeps me going.  I have no idea what 2017 will bring and it's always sad going into another year without you, but I hope that we all make you proud as we continue working out how to live without you and Noah.  We love and miss you both so much.

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