A couple of months ago I realised it had been a long time since I had blogged, and to be honest I felt like I had probably blogged for the last time. Over the last school holidays Kobe read a lot of my old posts, and it reminded me of how important it is to record our memories somehow, even if it's once every six months or more.
Kobe and I often talk about our trip to Queensland in January, and I couldn't not blog about it. It was the first time we had all been away on a holiday to the mainland for a while (including Mum) and we had some extra special surprises up our sleeves for Mum as she turned 70 in January. We organised a surprise party for her birthday, but the best surprise was a week later, when we went to Queensland.
Kobe and I had already been up to stay with my brother Chrish in Queensland twice before we all went up together. Harri came up with in July, but we just couldn't wait for both him and Jay to come up in January, as we knew we would have so much fun at the theme parks and at Chrish's place together.
When my siblings and and I organised a surprise 70th birthday party for my Mum, it wasn't good timing for my sister Nicki to come over from the USA, or for my brother Chrish to come down. Instead, she was able to organise to fly to meet us in Queensland when we went up a couple of weeks later.
We kept it as secret from Mum, but it was so hard not to tell her as I knew how excited she would be to see her. We haven't seen her for a few years. When we arrived at the Brisbane airport, Chrish and Nicki were there to meet us. We love scaring Mum, so Nicki jumped out and scared her. You could tell it took mum about 10 seconds to register that it was actually Nicki there.
On Christmas day my cousin Konnie's husband Colin had a stroke, and we were so anxious about how he and the family were. He was still in hospital when we got there, but we had a lovely night catching up with my extended family including my cousins and their families and my aunty. We got to catch up with Colin in hospital, during the week. We are so happy that he is doing much better now.
We love staying at Chrish's house. He is such a fun brother and uncle and goes out of his way to make sure our trip is always extra special.
It was so good to have so much time with my sister. Mum and Nicki spent many hours every night catching up.
I've become so addicted to rollercoasters since going to Queensland last July and can't believe that I love them now. When Aaron was alive, I was petrified of them and there was no way I'd ever get on one. Now I just can't get enough. We are very lucky that Chrish lives so close to all the theme parks. We definitely made the most of our passes and I think we went to a theme park, at least for part of every day. We loved going on the new rollercoaster at Sea World together and even got Nicki on there (who isn't a fan of thrill rides).
Often in the morning we would go somewhere else, and then in the afternoon while we were floating around the pool, Kobe would check a website which would tell us how long the lines were at Movie World. It was often quiet in the afternoons and as soon as he'd tell us that the lines were 10 minutes long, I'd yell at the boys to get dressed and we would race down there. We'd often get in 4 or 5 rides in a couple of hours.
I look at photos like the one below and it hits me how different our lives are to 10 years ago. When you are in the early stages of grief with little kids, it's hard to imagine that you'll ever feel 'normal' or any joy again. This whole holiday was so much fun and I kept thinking how lucky we were to just all be together, having such a great time.
We only went to Wet N Wild for half a day. It was so busy and we don't love it as much as the other theme parks. Nicki and I enjoyed just floating around the lazy river while the boys did a few other rides. We do miss Wet N Wild in Sydney and loved going there when Chrish lived in Sydney.
This trip was extra fun because Kobe became really brave and went on the big coasters with us. At first, he was petrified, but after he realised why we all love them so much.
We loved going to Top Golf with Jay for the first time.
Australia Day means different things to different people, but to us it's always the day that our lives changed forever as it's the day when Aaron passed away. I try to make it a fun day and we spent our last day with him at the beach, so going to the beach is usually what we do. We were told by Chrish's friends Dave and Ande that the beaches get very busy on Australia Day on the Gold Coast and that they will shut down the roads at a certain time, so if we didn't get there early, we wouldn't make it.
We ended up literally going at 6:30 am and it was such a beautiful time to get there. People were just starting to arrive, and it was already hot (about 21 degrees when we arrived).
After everyone went home, we checked the length of the lines at Movie World and couldn't resist going down for a few rides.
The next day we were for a hike at Twin Falls, Springbrook with my cousin Konnie, her daughter Nikki and half of Queensland. It was such a beautiful place.
The water was absolutely freezing but we couldn't resist going for a swim.
This was around the time that Chrish saved a guy from drowning! He actually couldn't swim and was walking over, but it got deep all of a sudden and was splashing around and I realised he needed help. Mum saw it from a distance and thought that Chrish and the guy were fighting in the water! It cracked us up.
It started absolutely pouring when we got out of the water, and by the time we got back to the car we were drenched.
We had one more birthday surprise for Mum, and a couple of days before we left, her best friend Barbara and her daughter Sarah (who is my sister Nicki's best friend). Mum's reaction cracked me up (and my laugh is terrible!).
Nicki got to spend another 4 or 5 days on her own with them before she went home.
Before we left Tassie I kept a close eye on the Hamilton Australia website. It had just moved to Brisbane and the first shows were on while we were there. Unfortunately, they were sold out, but all of a sudden, they released more tickets. I couldn't really justify the cost of the tickets but desperately wanted to see it again and wanted Jay to experience it as well.
Harri, Mum, Chrish and Nicki weren't keen on coming so the three of us headed to Brisbane to see it without them. It was Jay's first time in Brisbane and he loved it.
I had heard that the actors often come out quickly afterwards, so I told the boys we will wait for ten minutes and if they don't come out, then we'd head off. A lot of the male actors came out straight away and they were very friendly and happy to get photos and to say hi. Jason Arrow (who played Hamilton) was really lovely.
While we were at Hamilton, Mum and Nicki spent time with Barb and Sarah and Harri and Chrish went and played some golf (which Harri said was much harder than Top Golf, but he loved it) and then they went to Surfers Paradise and went ten pin bowling and played some games together. Kobe was jealous that they were having fun without him, but of course wanted to see Hamilton as well.
We had such an amazing time together and it was hard to leave. We knew what a special holiday it was, especially having Nicki fly over from the USA for it and Chrish always makes sure that we have a great time.
When we got home and Jay left to go back to Hobart, I felt quite emotional, and it wasn't because I was sad he was leaving. I just realised how special it was having such a lovely holiday together and I was grateful that we had come so far.