Wednesday, 27 February 2013

The Move

I clearly remember the first time I seriously thought about selling our house. I remember it because it was Harri's birthday and I thought it would be a good opportunity to tell my whole family, as they were all coming in for his party.  I hadn't made any decisions, but was hoping to see what they all thought. It turned out that there was never an opportunity to talk to everyone together, and now I'm so glad I didn't, because I can see that it was a decision that I had to make on my own.

I know that if I had asked people what they thought about me selling our house I would've gotten lots of different opinions.  I didn't need lots of different opinions to confuse me. I just needed to think as clearly as possible about what to do, and decide for myself and for my boys.  

I had so many thoughts running around in my head for months:

Would I regret it?

Was I just trying to run away from the grief?  

Would moving actually make things easier to cope with?

What about my beautiful garden that the lovely landscapers just did for us? How could I leave it? The garden was actually the one thing that almost made me stay, because I loved it so much and was so grateful for what they did for us.

What about the cubby house that the kids from Aaron's school built?   I knew that if we left I would want to take it with us.

Could I afford to buy something I would be happy in?  I was so blessed to be able to pay off our mortgage because of Aaron's insurance money and the fundraising money.  It was such a blessing to have no mortgage for a year.  I knew I would probably have to have a mortgage again if I bought a new house, and was so worried about how I could cope with that financially.

How could I leave our beautiful new house which we built to suit Noah?  We loved our new home and we chose everything for it. It would break my heart to have to walk away from it. 

How would the boys cope? I knew they would be upset about it and didn't want to put them through more stress after what they had already been through.

Could I handle selling and buying a house on my own?  How could I cope with the stress of that, and would it be worth all the stress?

Should I just rent out my house and rent somewhere else, until I really knew what I wanted to do?

I had these thoughts running around in my head for about three months.  At first I just thought it was a silly idea and thought the idea of selling would pass, but the more and more I thought about moving, the better I felt about it.   I finally made the very hard decision that I really had to sell our house and it broke my heart, but at the same time I was looking forward to having a change and hoped that it would help all of us. It's an awful thing to dread going home and to hate being there. I used to love being home, but home was just a sad place to be.  

The nights and weekends were the worst because they were so long. I would usually only sleep for a few hours, and would then wake up and lie in the dark just thinking about how different things were, and wishing the sun would just come up.

I knew that I just had to have a clean break from it and knew that it wouldn't be a place I wanted to go back to, so selling was my only option as it would be cheaper to pay a small mortgage than to rent.  When I finally decided to sell I told my boys, family and a few close friends.  I was so worried about how the boys would take it and just casually mentioned it in the car one day that I was thinking that it would be a good idea to move.  As soon as I said it they all burst into tears and said they didn't want to move.  I knew that is how they would take it and we talked about all the good things and the bad things about moving.  They then started to see that although it would be sad, that it may be a good thing to move. 

I was so worried about starting the process, because it would mean that it was really happening, but I had been looking at houses on the Internet for a few months, just to see what prices houses were.  I knew which areas I would like to live in, and one house kept standing out to me.  I told my friend Lisa that I had my eye on a house on the net,but didn't seriously think it would be one that I would be able to buy, but she said there was no harm in just having a look and rang the real estate agent.  

The next day Lisa and I went through the house and I liked it even more in real life.  Lisa had told the real estate agent why I was wanting to sell my house, and had arranged for him to come and have a look at my house.  I was planning on meeting a few different agents, but when I met Dave (Hernyk) he seemed lovely and expained things really well, so I thought straight away that I would probably just choose him to sell my house. 

Two days later he came back to my house and told me how much he thought it was worth and explained the process of selling a home including all the costs involved.  He told me that Harcourts recommend that you get professional photos and even a video made as it looks a lot better on the internet.  As he was telling me that and the costs involved for getting them done, I was thinking that I could just take the photos myself and was about to tell him, when he said that he realised I was into photography. 

I was surprised but he explained that he was actually at the landscaping awards dinner and saw me there, and hoped that I didn't mind, but he had read my blog before.  He then told me that he had spoken to the company that did their professional photos and video and explained my situation to them and said that they agreed to do the photos and video for free for me! I couldn't believe it and was blown away that strangers would do something so nice for me again.  I feel like so many people have done so much for us, and couldn't believe that almost a year after Aaron passed away, that people were still helping us so much. 

Dave then said that he felt so much for us because of what had happened, and said that if I chose him to sell my house, that he would like to offer his time to sell it. I had no idea what that even meant, but he then continued to say that he had gone to the director of Harcourts and told him of my situation and said that Harcourts wanted to sell my house for me for free - charging NO commission!  I felt like crying and could've hugged him, but didn't want to scare him! I could not believe what I was hearing and was so, so grateful that such a big company and that Dave would do something so amazing to help me.  

I knew straight away that things were really meant to be and was so grateful for the blessings that were starting to come my way.  Things started happening within days and photos and video were taken and my house was listed on the internet and in the newspaper. 
I had looked at a couple more houses to compare them to the one I really liked, but I didn't like any as much as the first one I looked at. I made an offer on the house and a couple of days later I was signing a contract to buy the house I liked, but it was subject to sale of my house. Dave told me to be prepared to wait around four months for my house to sell, as that's how long on average that houses were taking to sell right now.  Two weeks later Dave rang me to tell me that he had two offers on my house!

At the end of December our house sold.  I was so grateful to know that I could relax during the summer holidays and not have to stress about whether or not our house had sold, and didn't have to worry about keeping it clean all the time. 

I was so happy that it had sold, but so sad at the same time. It's such an awful situation to be in, to have to sell a home that you love, because you now hate being there.  The boys were excited when I told them that our house had sold, because they knew that the house we were moving to was going to be nice and it was also close to their schools which meant they could all walk to school. It was nice that they could see that it was going to be a good thing to move.

The last few weeks I have been coming home from work and packing boxes all night and doing the bigger cleaning jobs.  
It was a good chance to do lots of sorting and tossing out things we didn't need anymore, and it was easy to get rid of a lot of the boys and my stuff, but I couldn't get rid of any of Aaron's things.  I told him I was sorry as I threw away a lot of his old sports magazines, but I kept a few for the boys that had a label on them with his name and address on them. I just didn't think I needed to take hundreds of magazines with us.  I had moved his clothes to the top of our wardrobe, and couldn't bear to part with any of them, so I just packed them into boxes to move to the new house.
I left the pictures and wall stickers up as long as possible and hated having to take them down. 
The week before we moved was really hard.  Jay was so sad to know that we would be leaving soon and was so upset.  Kobe also started crying a lot more than usual and kept saying that he didn't want to go to 'the new house'.  Although I knew that moving was the right thing, I was also feeling really sad about leaving and started wondering whether I was doing the right thing. I knew deep down that I was, and that things wouldn't have worked out how they did, if it wasn't right, but it was still so hard. 

As soon as I decided to sell, I wrote to the lovely landscapers who did our garden for us, and told them what I was planning.  I told them what a hard decision it was, and how I had planned on staying at the house and enjoying the garden for many, many years but how it just became too hard to stay there.  I was so glad to get a letter back from them, letting me know how glad they were that they could do our garden for us and to know that we loved it so much, and wished us well as we moved and said they hoped that it helped us. I know that without having the garden done it would've been so much harder to sell the house, as it wasn't finished off.  I felt so sad having to leave our beautiful garden that meant so much to us. 
I had considered taking the Japanese maple tree that was given to us by a friend, and the buyer said it would be okay to take it, but when I thought about taking it away from the garden at the front of the house, I felt sad that it mean that the garden wouldn't mean the same thing.  The tree had represented Noah and the rocks the boys, and I and the other tree was Aaron, so I felt like it all needed to stay together.  I thought it would be nice to drive past now and then and to see how much it has grown as time goes on.  On Saturday the boys sat on their rocks one last time.  Harri was too sad to come back up to the empty house with us.

The buyer of our house was happy for us to take a couple of special things from our garden which Aaron had planted, which I was so grateful for.  Our lovely friends Nettie and Kelvin are awesome gardeners so when they offered to help, I put them on transplanting duty.  It's not a great time to be moving trees but hopefully they will survive in my new garden.
 Last Friday night my Mum came and stayed and helped me finish off the packing and then on Saturday about twenty friends from church and family turned up with trucks, utes and trailers and had moved everything by lunch time.  It was incredible to have so much help, and I was so grateful that people could help so much.  While the guys were doing most of the heavy lifting, the girls were inside cleaning. 

My brother Jared pulled the cubby house apart (as there was no way we could get it to the new house whole) and put it back together at our new house. I was so glad that I could bring it with us.

Once everything was in our new house, Jay, Kobe and I went back to our old house to have a look and to meet the carpet cleaner. Harri didn't want to come and see it empty as he said it would make him too sad.  As we drove there Jay had tears streaming down his face and he told me he didn't want to leave because he felt Dad and Noah there. I told him that I don't think that they were there because of the house - they were there because of us, and I said that I really thought that they would be with us wherever we go.

When we got to the house Kobe and Jay went straight to their empty rooms and just sat in them. It was so sad and made me cry. 

It was really sad to see the house empty.  Jay and I sat outside and had a good cry together and talked about how hard it was to leave, but how our new house would hopefully be a happier place to be.

I felt so sad for the boys and wondered whether I had done the right thing.  Jay was so heart broken and I just wished that I could fix everything for him, but I told him that this was the start of a new chapter and we weren't leaving Dad and Noah behind. They were still a part of our lives and would always be with us.

We left the keys behind and walked out and shut the door.

We were both so sad when we shut the door for the last time and had a good cry out the front, and laughed as we took a photo together because we were a wreck.  We knew it would be a time that we would want to look back at, later on.

As I drove away I felt at peace about the decision and knew that the move would be a good thing for us. I stopped at the supermarket and left Jay and Kobe in the car, and when I came back Jay said 'I've just been thinking that I am silly to be upset. It's just a house and Dad and Noah will always be with us'.   I told him it's not silly to be upset and it's okay to be sad about it, but that he was right.  We were only there for a couple of years together as a family and it was a lovely house, but it wasn't lovely to be there anymore and hopefully our new house will be a happier place to be. 

The morning after our first night in our new house, I opened up my bedroom curtains and saw this....two rainbows! It would've been amazing to wake up to one rainbow, but two!? Surely it is more than a coincidence!?  I really believe that Aaron and Noah were letting me know that they were happy with my decision and were letting me know they were still watching over us.

Thank you so much Harcourts, Dave Hernyk and S Group for being so kind and generous, and helping the boys and I to have such a positive experience with selling our home and buying our new house. If anyone is looking for an awesome agent then I know who you should call :)

Thank you also to everyone who helped me move and clean on Saturday.  I am so grateful to have such amazing family and friends. 

We are already feeling at home and happy in our new house.  Jay said yesterday 'it's official! I love this house!' which is a huge change to how he was feeling on Saturday.   Photos of the new house will come once everything is unpacked and it doesn't look like a bomb has gone off :)

Monday, 25 February 2013

The Change

My beautiful garden has been letting me know that the seasons are changing.  I love summer, but also love autumn as it brings relief from the hot days (yes Tassie does actually get some now and then) and it's not as cold as winter so I don't dread the change.  

Not only are the seasons changing, but my life has also just gone through a big change.
This year has obviously been a very hard and stressful one.   I've heard that there are three things that are the most stressful things in life - losing a loved one through death, going through a divorce and moving house.  I've now been through two of those things in the last 18 months...or really three because I lost two loved ones. 

On Saturday we moved out of our house and into our new home which we bought. It's been a very stressful five months or so, as it took me months to make the decision to sell our house.  Deciding to sell was one of the hardest things ever, but then having to go through the process of buying and selling my house on my own was also very stressful.   

There were also huge blessings along the way which I plan on blogging about, as I can see that it was all meant to be and confirmed to me that I was making the right decision.

When I woke up on Saturday morning I saw the first of the autumn leaves on my lawn at our old house.  It was so symbolic and I knew that the change would be a good one, even though it was so hard.
I didn't tell my family, friends or even the boys that I was thinking of selling for months as I wanted to make the decision on my own. I literally thought and prayed about it for months and didn't want to be stressed or confused about what to do, because of the opinions of other people.  I know I have made the right decision for the boys and I, and know we will be happy in our new home, or as happy as you can be with the situation that we are in.  

Saturday was a day full of mixed emotions. We are happy to be in our new home, but so sad because of the reason why we had to move.  It's not something at all that I thought would happen and planned on staying in our home for many more years, but things just got harder and harder as the past year went on and I wanted my home to be a place I wanted to be again. 

I will share more about our move when I'm not so tired and have done more unpacking.  We have been so blessed by so many amazing people, and without them our lives would be a lot different right now. I feel like I can finally breath again and am not so overwhelmed with feelings of sadness and grief like I was in our old house.

Friday, 22 February 2013

{Not at all} Athletic Carnival

Twice a year our church has a conference, where all of the congregations in northern Tasmania meet together over the weekend for activities and meetings.  During summer we often have a swimming night.  Other years we have had talent nights which were always a great night, but not necessarily full of talent :)

This year we were excited to hear that the activity for conference was going to be an athletics carnival.  When I was young  I remember having lots of fun at church athletics carnivals, so I was hoping it would be as much fun as I remembered.  Each of the congregations (wards) were a team so my ward - Launceston East (we were white) was competing against Launceston West, Deloraine, Devonport and Burnie.
Jay decided that to wear his Batman mask and cape for some reason - probably to put off his opponents. I don't think it helped at all! 

Before we left home Harri searched the house for Aaron's old sweat bands.  He was so excited about the night until he realised that the footy season was starting that night, with the first game of the NAB cup being played.  He was in tears because he didn't want to miss it, and he reminded me so much of Aaron, who would've been complaining about the same thing. I often catch myself saying to Harri 'are you right Aaron!?' because he is so much like his Dad - not necessarily always a good thing! :)  Once he realised that there was no use arguing as we weren't staying home to watch it, he couldn't wait to go in some races.

It was great to have so many people come along and it was such a fun night.  The best thing was that everyone just went in it and had fun and didn't care if they were athletic or not.
The first event of the night was the husband and wife wheelbarrow race.  When they announced it Harri looked straight at me and said 'you can't go in that Mum'. No I couldn't, but I didn't mind at all - it was hilarious to watch.

Everyone loved watching the young guys competing, especially in the high jump. Some of them were so athletic.

One thing for sure is that you can be semi fit but that doesn't mean at all that you are athletic.  My mind would want to do something, but my body just would not co-operate. In my mind I see myself jumping far in the long jump or running fast, but my old, tired, overweight body would not do what I imagined in my mind! 

I competed in the 100 m, 400 m, long jump and relay in the 'Masters' category which was aged 35+ . I thought I was going to die in the 400 m!  I wanted to hug my cousin Toni's husband Jaron, when he told me off for lining up for the long jump with the 'masters' as he thought I was too young for that category! Thanks Jaron! I'm not sure if you were just being kind to me, but I'll take it anyway.  

I was obviously so fast that I was just a blur! ;)
The boys had such a great night and were so excited to be able to go in events...well Harri and Kobe were - Jay had a good night too, but wasn't keen on racing, but went in it anyway and had lots of fun.

Kobe cracked me up when he saw this photo. He looked at it and said 'I didn't know I could jump so far Mum!'.
While the boys were competing I was also competing, so they would finish their event and be so excited to come and tell me how they went. 
It was a great night and hopefully something we will do regularly now.  Unfortunately we came second by only 6 points to Launceston West Ward. The challenge has been set for next year :)

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Six Plates and Selfies

Although we were in Queensland for ten days, we still didn't have enough time to do everything we would've loved to. I blame Cyclone Oswald for cutting our trip short by two days, and ruining a lot of our plans!  We wanted to drive up to Brisbane as we haven't really spent any time up there.  I really hoped to catch up with the beautiful Naomi, who helped change our lives so much, but unfortunately we ran out of time. There are lots of other old friends and new (who I haven't met yet) who we would've loved to have caught up with. I think next time we go to Queensland we need to stay at least a month!

We did get to spend a lovely night at my cousin Konnie and her husband Colin's home.  My Uncle Howard and Auntie Marilyn joined us and also my cousin Lanai and her husband Gavin and their kids.  The boys were so excited to see their cousins again, and think that it's really cool that we have cousins in Queensland.  They still talk about the time they came down to Tassie and we spent some time with them at Bicheno, just before Aaron passed away.

Uncle Howard is my Dad's brother and is the eldest in the family out of five boys, and one girl.  He is lots of fun and showed us how to play 'six plates'.  He would go out of the room and someone would hide a coin under one of the plates and he 'magically' knew which plate it was under every time. The boys thought it was awesome, and we finally figured out how he did it and loved being able to do it ourselves. Now we feel very clever!
Chrish's best friends Dave and Ande used to live near him in Sydney, but now live in Queensland.  On our trip to Queensland last year, I finally got to meet Ande after hearing so much about her, reading her blog and becoming her friend on Facebook.  I was looking forward to seeing her again and her beautiful girls, and was glad that I finally got to meet her husband Dave.  
The night before we came home we decided to go back to the boys favourite place for tea - Sizzler.  Dave and Ande and the girls drove down and met us there and we had lots of fun, filling them in on what we had been up to during the week.  Ande and I are so alike and have a similar sense of humour. We were laughing with Jalen about all the selfies that teenage girls put up on Instagram all the time and were laughing about the duck faces, peace signs and how more often than not, they are very classy and taken in the mirror in the toilet.  

We must've been very overtired because we were having fun being really silly and couldn't stop giggling like teenage girls, as we decided to go and give it a go ourselves.  We locked ourselves in one of the cubicles and just about died when my Mum came in knocking on the door! We knew it would look a little dodgy with two grown women (very immature ones at that!) coming out of the loo together, and was so glad we saw Mum outside, and not some stranger!  It was a very funny night, and it was fun to just act silly for a little while. I miss feeling carefree like that all the time.
Kobe got along with Dave and Ande's daughter Poppy really well. They were so cute together.

Just a couple of hours before we had to fly home, we decided to go to Max Brenner.  We sent Ande a text to see if she was keen to join us, and she arrived saying it wasn't a very hard choice between vacuuming and having chocolate for lunch. Check out Chrish instagraming his food, while I'm instagraming at the same time.  Call Instagramers anonymous! ;)
Thanks Ande for the laughs, and my beautiful cousins and Uncle Howard and Auntie Marilyn for your amazing hospitality once again.  We miss you and wish we lived closer, but it's always lovely to visit you.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Theme Park Junkies

We love going to the Gold Coast because of the beaches, the weather and the theme parks.  Unfortunately because of the crazy weather and Cyclone Oswald, we didn't get to enjoy the beaches at all this time.  We were so glad though that we had enough days of good weather to get to the theme parks as we had the best time there.

The first one we went to was Sea World.  It was still school holidays in Queensland and other states when we first arrived, so we thought we would brave the crowds at Sea World, because it's our least favourite theme park.  We love the animals and the shows that they have there, but we enjoy the theme parks with big rides more.  We weren't keen on waiting in massive lines for rides all day, so Sea World seemed like the best option before school went back in Queensland.

We were surprised when we got there, that there weren't really that many people anyway. We only really watched the dolphin show and loved watching the polar bear play.

 It was a really hot, humid day (we are not at all used to humidy in Tasmania!) so we were more than happy to get absolutely soaked on a ride where you shoot water out of guns at other people and ships (and they shoot you back). 
I didn't think very carefully about what I was going to wear that day.  Let's just say it was lucky it was hot and I dried off fast!

We only went on a couple of rides and decided we had enough.  I think if we had to pay to get in we would've stayed longer, but we were glad to have theme park tickets till the end of June, so it didn't feel like we were wasting money by just spending a short amount of time there.  It was really hot and we were keen to get back to our hotel to go swimming.

We couldn't resist a snow cone before we left though.

We waited until school holidays were over on the mainland, before going to our favourite theme park - Movie World.  We could spend the whole day there, and still wish it was open so we could spend longer.  We arrived before it opened and left right as it was closing. 
Mum, Chrish and I took turns going on the big rides with Jay, while one of us spent time with Harri and Kobe. I wish so much that they were brave enough to go on some of the bigger rides with us like the Scooby Doo coaster, but as Harri said 'he's the most un-bravest boy'.  I actually disagree with that because he has been through so much in the last eighteen months, and has been so brave with what he has had to deal with.  Hopefully he will be braver next time we are at the theme parks and will come on the bigger rides with us (which probably won't be for a while now).
The first thing we did was watch the Hollywood Stunt Driver show.  We love it so much and never get sick of it.  Even though we know they are acting, it's hilarious every time.  I had a play with the new app 'Vine' while I was up there, so have some short 7 second videos that I made but I'm not a fan off the app so I've since deleted it  (I don't like that the videos are so short and that you can't upload videos you've previously recorded, plus I find it so long for the videos to load up on my feed).  I do love though that you can make cool looping videos - I just wish they could be longer and that there was more editing features.

 There was a great new ride open called 'Justice League' where you sit down and are taken around and have to shoot at the aliens and score points.  Jay and I checked it out first to see if it would be okay for Harri and Kobe. It wasn't scary at all (unless you are scared of 3D images of starfish aliens coming at you) so we raced off to get Kobe and Harri to come on it with us.  We were so excited to have a ride that all of us could go on together. 
Poor Harri freaked out and didn't want to go on it. He was sure that we were tricking him and that it was actually going to be a scary ride, with dips and fast turns.  We got him into the entrance and he just kept crying.
We finally convinced him to get on the ride and he absolutely loved it! We were so happy to have found something that one of us could take the boys on, while the others went on the bigger rides.  It was very boring hanging around in the Warner Bros. section with them, waiting for them to get off all the little kids rides.

All Kobe and Harri wanted to do for the rest of the day was go on the Justice League ride. 
It was good though as it was quite relaxing just shooting laser guns while you sat down, but it got very boring after about the tenth time :)
Mum, Chrish, Jay and I had a great time going on the bigger thrill rides. The Batwing Slingshot is one I just couldn't make myself get on. This is Chrish and Jay on it.
I actually was brave enough to go on the Superman Escape twice this time, and was excited to get Chrish on it with us. Jay and I also braved the Arkham Asylum roller coaster this time with Mum and were glad we did, as it wasn't half as bad as we thought it would be. I wish I could go back to Movie World again and go on the Superman Escape over and over.  It's a pity the line to get on is always so long.  I now know why Aaron said it was his favourite ride there.
We loved going on the Scooby Doo Spooky Coaster again and the Wild West Falls. It was nice to get wet and cool down.

This is Mum, Chrish and Jay on the Wild West Falls. I never get sick of the splash at the end and could watch other people ride on it for hours!
 We were really looking forward to going to Wet 'n' Wild as it was too cold to go last winter, but I wouldn't be rushing back.  It had some fun rides and we had a fun day, but I would much prefer to go back to White Water World where the lines were a lot shorter and you didn't have to carry your own rafts up to the top of most of the rides.

We loved the wave pool (where Kobe and Harri spent most of their time) and we all loved going on the river ride where you get to sit and float on the tubes as we could all do that together. 

We've definitely become theme park junkies and could go back again and again.  I can't wait for the boys to be older and braver so we can go back and go on the rides together. 
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