Friday, 30 August 2013

A(nother) reason to get out of bed

A few months ago I was really struggling with my grief.  It's still really hard every day, but since I have started teaching again I feel like I have a reason (other than my boys) to get out of bed every day.  I was so nervous about going back to teaching after having fourteen years at home with my boys, but it has been the best thing that has happened to me in the past two years.  I didn't realise how much it would help me. 

As a support teacher I don't have my own class, but run small groups for kids that need some extra support.  I am also on class a few times a week, to give the classroom teachers time to plan for their kids with additional needs.  It has been the perfect way to get back into teaching.  Once a week I run a life skills cooking class with a small group of kids.  I love getting to know them and to see how much they already know as they've been participating in life skills cooking for a little while already.  It's nice to help them with skills they will really need and use in their lives. 
When I graduated from Uni (all those years ago!) I taught Kinder and Prep.  I did a little bit of relief  teaching but was so nervous about teaching anything above grade 1 or 2.   I now wonder why I was so worried about the older grades as I have spent a bit of time in the primary grades at school now and work with older kids in my groups, and love working with them.

One day I had to spend some time with a grade 5/6 class and got to be with them as they took part in a presentation called 'Gumnuts to Buttons' which was about the invasion of Australia.  It was a powerful presentation and really got you thinking about the impact on the Aborginal communities in Tasmania when Australia was invaded. 
Even though I don't have my own class I have loved going out and buying lots of resources 'just in case' or for my groups.  I have always loved buying children's picture books but now I have an even better excuse to buy books and resources.  It's fun to buy things to use at school or to put away because 'it'll be good for that one day'. 
When I was teaching fourteen years ago it was nice to come home from work and tell Aaron about my day.  It's hard now to come home and not have him to talk to after work.  Jay often asks me how work was which is nice, but it's not the same as sitting with Aaron at night and chatting about the funny things that happened at work, or the hard things that happened.   I miss talking to him at night so much. 

The boys love it when I bring home different things from school on the weekends - well Kobe and Harri do :)  I put them to work so I can take photos to use for instructions for the fine motor groups. 
Part of my role is to work with the kids with severe disabilities at the school. I love that part of my job.  This week I have been working on making a communication book called a PODD for one of the students.  I was adding in pictures of places that he often went to, and one of those places is Noah's garden at school.  It's so nice to be at school and see Noah's garden being used by the kids. 
I feel so blessed to be able to see my boys at different times throughout the day while I'm at work. Harri desperately wants me to teach him in one of my groups, or take his class sometime.  When I am on duty at recess he walks around with me and his friends, and they crack me up as they tell me what all the different rules in the playground are, and let me know when I should be speaking to different students.  It's nice that he isn't embarrassed that I work at his school, but loves having me there.

Life is far from what I wish, but I feel so blessed to love my work again and to be able to work where my boys go to school. When I started working last year as a Teacher Aide I thought I would be happy doing that for a number of years, and didn't imagine that I would get back into teaching so soon.  I'm so glad that the opportunity came up though because it made me get out of my comfort zone (although nothing has really felt comfortable in the last twenty two months) and has made me push myself.   It's nice to have something that I love doing again, as it gives me something else to focus on other than just my boys.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Starting to Walk

I often have dreams with Aaron in them, but lately I've had dreams which Noah has been in too.  A couple of nights ago I had two dreams.  In the first dream Aaron and Noah were both in it together (I usually just dream about one or the other) and the second dream I can't stop thinking about. 

In the dream I was in a wheelchair.  People were walking past me and had pity in their eyes because I was in the wheelchair, but I looked at them and told them that it was okay.  I was in the chair, but I was feeling better every day and my legs were getting stronger every day.  I even proved it to them that I was feeling better by showing them some tricks while I was in the chair. I flipped up my front wheels and did a wheelie and spun the chair around.

Even though I could do tricks, my legs felt really weak.  I wanted to walk and went to get out of the wheelchair, but my legs were so weak that I needed to hold onto a pole to lift myself up.  I was so proud that I could stand up, because I had been in the wheelchair for a long time.

I knew I still had a lot of work to do to make my legs really strong so that I could walk again, but I was so happy that I could get out of the wheelchair and pull myself up.
When I woke up from the dream it hit me that is how my life is right now.  I'm still feeling very weak, but my 'legs' are getting stronger every day.  There are days when I feel like I can flip up my wheels and do some tricks in my chair.  Athough my legs are feeling heavy and weak but I am pulling myself up slowly, and it's nice to feel a little bit of strength in my legs at different times.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Book Week

This week was Book Week at school.  There were a lot of fun activities for the classes to do and each class made a beautiful banner about space to display in the school foyer, as the theme for this year was 'Read Across The Universe'. 

Harri and Kobe were very excited about the Book Week parade.  Harri had thought of what he wanted to dress up as weeks ago.  His class have been reading Roald Dahl books this year and he has loved reading them at night time when he goes to bed.   He decided to dress up as Willy Wonka. 

Kobe wanted to dress up as a pirate from Peter Pan which was easy.  I quickly had to think of a costume, when I realised that a lot of the teachers dress up too.    Luckily Kobe has a picture book called 'Jackson's Footy' and we of course have a lot of Hawthorn clothes, so my costume was easy to throw together.

When I got to school I got a lot of 'Go Mrs King!! That's my team!' and a couple of 'Hawthorn are losers!' (which actually isn't true at all this year :)  

I wish I could post pics of all the kids from school, as there were so many amazing costumes.  It was really fun and so cool to see most of the kids and teachers at school dressed up.  I feel very blessed to be able to work where my boys go to school, especially as it means I don't miss special days like this, but also get to take part with them. 

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Milly People

I'm sure everyone is getting sick of all the dog talk, as it's kind of like when you have a newborn and all you start talking about is your new baby.  I promise every blog post from now on won't be about our new dog Milly

We've now had Milly for two weeks and it's strange how quickly she has become a part of our family.  I was really worried that having a dog would be a lot of work, but to be honest she has been so easy.  When we bought her she had already been trained a lot which has made it so much easier for us.  She does have accidents inside at times, but is also good at holding on all night and going on demand when we take her outside.  Next week we start puppy training with her which we are looking forward to. 

Kobe spent the first week up on the couch and wouldn't get down because he was nervous around Milly.  Now he begs to have Milly sleep in her crate in his room at night, and runs around the house with her calling out 'Miwwy, Miwwy!'.

He loves waking up in the morning knowing that Milly will jump up on his bed to have a cuddle.  He's given Milly the typical Aussie nicknames of 'Millzy' and 'Millza'. 
Even though Jalen was the one who started begging me for a dog to start with, I have been surprised that although he loves Milly, he hasn't been the one who pays the most attention to her.  He loves that she will just hang out with him while he's relaxing, and Milly always runs to his bedroom to see if he is in there and jumps up on his bed looking for him. 

It's nice to see the smile on his face and for him to be excited to walk in the door after school to see Milly.  I often hear him saying 'I love you Milly' which is lovely. 

The thing that has surprised me about the most is how much Harri is loving Milly.  He had been scared of dogs for so long, but he's the one who has really taken charge of playing with Milly the most and loves taking her for walks.  It's so cute when he walks in the door hear him say 'how are you going gorgeous gir?!' in a high pitched voice because he's copying how I talk to her. 

I wouldn't call myself a dog person at all, but I've definitely become a 'Milly person'.  When I was growing up with dogs in our family, I was never close to any of the dogs.  It's so strange to have this little puppy follow me around all day long.    Milly loves each of the boys, but she obviously knows that I'm her master.  She listens to me whenever I ask her to do something and is always so excited to see me.  It feels like I have a little toddler in the house again who just wants to be near you all day, as she comes over and just puts her head on my knee, wanting a pat. 

I told the boys that if we ever got a dog that it would be an outside dog.  Because Milly doesn't shed and is a small to medium sized dog I've been happy to have her inside.  She spends time outside when I'm at work and the boys are at school, but she is always waiting at the back door when we get home, wagging her tail to come inside.  

I have to admit that getting a dog was definitely a good decision to make.  We keep talking about how much Aaron would love that we have a dog.   He always wanted a dog, but because I wasn't keen we didn't get one.   It's nice to have some company at night when the boys have gone to bed.   It's lovely to have a little bit of joy back in our family again.  It doesn't take away the grief at all, but it's nice to see the boys smile and laugh again in between their sad days. 

You can check out a blog post by our friend Alison about the photos she took with us last weekend here.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

A Family of Seven

Last week I mentioned to Alison that it was probably time to update our family photos since Milly has now joined our family.    We were lucky to get a break in the rain this morning and sloshed through the mud at Waverley Lake while Alison took photos of us.

During the week Kobe has been asking how many people are in our family.  I ask him what he thinks and he counts all of us and says 'five!'.  I then remind him to count Daddy and Noah and he says 'there are seve people in our family now!'. 

I always said I didn't want to have a blog header without Aaron and Noah in it, but I really wanted to include Milly in it too, so I decided to include a photo collage of Aaron and Noah that I have near my bed.   I of course would much prefer to have Aaron and Noah's legs in the photo, but I love how it turned out.
Alison picked up a cool chair from the op shop just before we did the shoot which was fun to use. 
Harri has really fallen in love with Milly and wants to be the one who does everything with her.   Notice I said with her, not for her.   He's more than happy for me to clean up after her (if you know what I mean!) and take her outside early in the morning.  He's quickly finding out though that since he wanted a dog, he has to take responsibility with looking after her as well.  They're best friends already.
Jay got quite emotional about having another family photo shoot without Aaron and Noah in it.  Last time Alison took photos for us it was just two months after Aaron passed away.  I remember that day as I just felt so empty and sad.  The photos she took were beautiful but we were all just still in so much shock.  We had forced smiles on our faces, but our hearts were broken.

I still feel so sad and so do the boys, but we have adjusted a lot better to life without them.  It's very hard all the time but this photo shoot was a lot easier as I felt like our smiles were a lot more genuine.

There are a lot of other beautiful photos which I will share later.  Thanks Alison for taking them for us. 
I love them!

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

P!nk - The Truth About Love

I was so excited to find out that when TOFW was going to be in Sydney, that P!nk was also going to be touring there.  Aaron and I were so excited to go to her concert in 2009 and always said that if she came back we would definitely go again.  I tried to get tickets as soon as they went on sale, but they sold out really quickly.  

A few weeks before we were going to Sydney for TOFW I thought I'd just check back on the website that sold tickets for P!nk and couldn't believe that they had released some more tickets.  I quickly rang my Mum and brother and sister Nicki and Chrish to see if they wanted to come. I would've gone with or without them, but they were all keen.  Chrish pretended he wasn't that keen, but I knew he would love it :) 

The night before we went to TOFW we were so excited to see P!nk at the Sydney Entertainment Centre.  
I had to admit to the ladies from TOFW that I was actually more excited about seeing P!nk than going to TOFW, even though I knew that I would love both. 
I knew that there would be a lot of acrobatics like at the last concert.   It was amazing seeing her fly out of the floor.  The videos are (mostly) short because they are from Instagram.  This was her first song. 
'Raise Your Glass'
She did a few songs from her new album as well as lots of old ones which is good as I like a lot of her older songs more.

I used a beautiful version of the song 'Perfect' at Aaron's funeral, by Boyce Avenue.  Now whenever the boys hear the song it makes them sad and they tell me to turn it off, but I still love it.  I felt like it was what Aaron wanted his students to always remember, as he always believed in them, especially when they didn't believe in themselves.
This was my favourite song of the night - 'Just Give Me a Reason'. It is a duet which she sings with Nate Reuss and he wasn't there, but featured on the screen while she sang live.  It was awesome hearing the crowd singing along with her.  Excuse the small video quality.
I  had already watched the whole concert online so I knew what her last song was going to be.  It made me smile as it reminded me of the gym as 'So What' is one of our favourite bicep tracks in Pump.  It was amazing seeing her fly all around the room, singing the whole time, even when she was upside down.

We had parked in the car park behind the Entertainment Centre and there was a crowd of people gathering after the concert, hoping to see P!nk come out the back before she left.  Because there was such a long wait to get out of the car park, Mum, Nicki and I jumped out of the car while Chrish was driving out of the car park very slowly.  He ended up getting to the bottom level before we got to see her come out, so he parked the car and jumped out to see if he could see her too.  We were excited to all see her come out and wave to the crowd. I actually didn't even realise it was her at first as she had a beanie on. The crowd were screaming, but I was assuming it was just a dancer who had come out before her. I did capture it on my phone though.  

On Sunday night there was a story about her on 60 Minutes and we were excited to see that they had filmed it on the night of the concert that we went to, and they even showed this part when she came out. 

If I were rich I would love to go to Melbourne and see her again before she finishes her Australian tour, but I guess I'll just have to wait until she comes back again next time. 

Friday, 9 August 2013

Harri's Prayers Were Answered

Every night before bed we have a family prayer together.  Harri asked one night if he could say the prayer that night and during it he said 'please bless us that we will get a dog because it will comfort me and make me happy, and please bless that it will be a black labrador'.

He knew he was being funny and we were all cracking up laughing, and the next night he said the same thing.  At that stage I had already made the decision to get a dog, but was just waiting for our trips away to Melbourne and Sydney to get one so I hadn't told the boys we would be getting one.

Jay and Harri are both so happy about Milly and Kobe is slowly coming around, but he's still not really sure when he's around her.  He is learning to be more assertive with her and is excited when she listens to him.

Jay loves her a lot, but out of all three boys Harri is the most excited and spends the most time with her by far.

Harri wakes up as soon as he knows that Milly is awake and as soon as he's ready for school he asks to take her out in the backyard so he can play with her before school.  After school he can't wait to get home and wants to take her for a walk or play with her in the backyard.  It's so nice to look out the window and see Harri playing with her.
 Harri couldn't wait to take her to school to show his class.  He loved telling his class all about her. 
The next day I took Milly to Newstead Heights where I used to work to visit the kids.  Some of them were fascinated with her and others didn't care at all :)  It was so nice to visit and see the kids and staff who I miss very much, but I'm loving my new job.   Jack was so interested in her and kept reaching out to grab her, and when I would put her down he would drop his bottom lip as he wanted her back up again. 

 Milly also visited Kobe's Kinder class and the kids absolutely loved her.  They were all over her.

I'm not a dog person at all so even though I knew that it would hopefully be good for us as a family to get a dog, I wasn't sure on how it would go, especially as we've had no experience with dogs.  I grew up with dogs, but never really had much to do with them.

I was dreading the work that there would be in having to train a puppy, but I feel so lucky that we were able to get Milly.  Being five months old she is still a puppy, but has grown out of the young puppy stage.  She's the most placid little thing and has been trained a lot from the place that we got her from.   She sleeps all night and is 95% toilet trained.  She knows how to sit, and has lots of fun in the backyard retrieving toys that we throw to her.  The best thing is that she has a fleece coat so she doesn't shed at all. 

She's definitely not what I imagined when I thought about getting a puppy. It has been so much easier than I imagined so far.  I just hope we aren't in a honeymoon period, like when you bring a newborn home and they sleep all the time, but then they wake up and scream for three months solid ;)

It's so strange seeing a dog around the house.  Jay and I were laughing together last night, saying how strange it is that a few days ago all she knew was being around so many other dogs, and now she's very comfortable being inside a house with lots of noise.  She's so good at going to sit on her mat when we tell her to. Obviously she likes the Muppets!

Because I was never close to our family dogs growing up, it's so strange to have this little dog following me around all day.  She definitely listens to me more than the boys and wants to be wherever I am.  She loves to be cuddled and often just comes over to me and plonks her head on my leg to get a rub.   I guess I'm going to quickly become a dog person!

Milly has settled into our family so quickly. The boys loved putting a Hawks scarf on her tonight for Friday night footy. 
Harri keeps saying it feels like a dream and he keeps thinking that she has to go away again soon.  He's so happy that his prayers were answered. 

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

It's a Girl!

My boys have been begging me to get them a dog ever since Aaron passed away.  Jalen became really persistent about six months ago and kept telling me how much a dog would help him.  The debate about whether we should get a dog has gone on and on.

I'm not an animal person at all and have been totally against getting a dog.  I was mostly worried that the novelty would wear off for the boys, and then I would be caring for the dog all the time on my own.    Since moving to our new house, things have started to settle down a bit for me and I feel on top of things a lot more as I was feeling really stressed living in our old house with so many memories of Aaron and Noah there, which just made me feel so sad.   I then started to consider that getting a dog may be good for the boys and also for myself, and started to look up information about different breeds of dogs just out of curiosity.

When we went to stay with my brother Christian in Sydney recently Harri absolutely fell in love with his labrador puppy Tess.  He was devastated when we had to leave her and has been begging me since to get him a dog for his birthday which is in September.  He would crack me up as he would send me funny messages from his iPod when I was out asking me to go to the pet shop to buy a dog.
After getting back from Sydney  I really started to think about getting a dog seriously.  I saw how happy the boys were when they were spending time with Tess in Sydney and knew that even though a dog may be a bit of work and we would obviously have expenses associated with having a dog, I could see it would (hopefully) be worth it all to have another member in our family who could bring us lots of joy.

When looking at breeds of dogs I kept going back to the labradoodle.  I did a lot of investigating and decided it was time to seriously take a look at them.  I told our friend Alison that I was thinking about getting one and asked her if she wanted to come and look at them with me, at the Tasmanian Labradoodles breeding facility.   

The owner Paul was really lovely and spent about an hour with us showing us around and showing us all the different dogs. We were very impressed.  They look after their dogs so well and he knew all of the parents names, even though there were so many of them.

He showed us where the smallest puppies were kept while they were still with their mothers and showed us some puppies that had just been born before we got there. They were so tiny and cute.
 Kobe was with us and had no clue we were looking to buy a puppy for us as we kept telling him Alison was thinking about getting one.  He kept saying 'all of these puppies are so cute Mum! We should get one!'. 

I saw a few older puppies on the website that had been discounted and were interested in having a look at them.  At first I was thinking that I would like a cream girl, but when we got there I actually loved the look of a beautiful older brown girl.   As soon as I saw her I could tell that she was much more placid than a lot of the other puppies and knew straight away that she was the one I wanted.  I organised with the owner which day I would come back to pick her up and Kobe still had no idea that we had just bought a puppy!   All week I was busting to tell the boys that we would be getting a dog, but I wanted to surprise them and I had to wait till I got back from Sydney to get her.

It was strange seeing on their website that they had updated their page and had put my name next to the puppy I had chosen. This photo was taken when she was six weeks old, but she is now five months old. 

Yesterday they emailed me an updated photo of our puppy and I was so excited that I was tempted to tell the boys last night. I just couldn't wait to see their reaction when they realised we would be getting a dog.  All week I had been sneaking out buying different things for her and hiding them in the garage.  I had definitely come around from never wanting a dog!
Last night I told the boys that I had to drop off Alison at a friend's house after school today as she had to leave her car in town for her sister.  I told them it was out of town a little way, so I wanted them all to come with me for a drive, rather than staying home.  Both Harri and Jay were complaining as they wanted to stay home, but I told them they had to come. 

Once we got to the Tasmanian Labradoodles property Kobe recognised where we were and said 'this is the labradoodle place!'.  The boys still didn't catch on and were still thinking we were dropping off Alison at 'her friend's house'.  When we got out of the car Alison started her camera rolling and I told the boys what was happening.  This was the result :) Kobe was worried about the dogs barking and at first he said he didn't want her, but when he realised she was quiet he decided she wasn't so bad.  He was also worried because they 'cost too much money' as that's what I kept telling him last week when he said he wanted to buy one. 
We are now the proud owners of a gorgeous five month old female labradoodle.  There was a lot of debating on the way home about what her name would be, but we finally agreed on 'Milly'.  She is beautiful and so placid and happy already.  Because she is older she has had a lot of extra training which I think is going to make settling her in so much easier. 

There are some very happy boys in our house tonight.   It's so nice to see them smile.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Time Out

I had been looking forward to this past weekend for about nine months, when I found out that Time Out For Women was coming back to Sydney.  I loved it so much when Mum and I went two years ago.  I just wish I could rewind back to August 2011 and have everything the same as it was then.  It's so hard to believe that my life is so different now.  I definitely needed a weekend away to have some fun and be uplifted.  

I was anxious about leaving my boys for the weekend as we haven't been apart since Aaron passed away.  My sister in law Steph took their kids up to Sydney to spend some time with her family before TOFW, so my brother Eden was home on his own for a week or so.  I had asked a while ago if he would be able to look after the boys, but expected he would be home looking after his own kids as well. 

I felt bad that he was going to be having a quiet weekend and was then going to be lumped with my boys, but he said he was looking forward to having them and they were really excited that they were going to have a boys weekend with Uncle Eden.   They were all a bit sad and teary when I left them which made me sad, but I knew they would be okay and would end up having a lot of fun. 

We were excited to see lots of friends when we got to the airport, who were also going to TOFW.
It was nice to have my sister in law Becky come this time. 

 Carol had made up some cute little packs for her travelling buddies.

It was so nice to have my sister Nicki come this time as well.   We met her and my brother Chrish at the Sydney airport and headed out to Sydney Olympic Park first which is where the TOFW event was being held.  Since writing regularly for TOFW for a little while, I had gotten to know the lovely ladies who work for TOFW in Salt Lake City, Utah.   We knew it would be a busy day on Saturday when the event was on, so we organised to have a quick catch up the day before while they were setting up.  It was so nice to see them.
We christened the photo booth that was going to be used by the thousands of women streaming through the door the next day. 
We then headed into the city and jumped on the train to  Circular Quay and then on the ferry to Manly where we grabbed tea.
 We were just a little bit excited about being let loose in Sydney with no kids! 

The sun was setting while we were on the ferry and it was so beautiful.
When we got back to the city it was dark, and we were so excited because we were going to see Pink that night (more about that later).

We hardly got any sleep as we were buzzing after seeing Pink, but we had to be at Sydney Olympic Park at 7am for a 'team meeting'.  Nicki, Mum and I had volunteered to be 'team members' for TOFW which meant we helped to promote the event and helped out on the day.  I put my hand up to be the official photographer so I think I had the best job of the day!
It was exciting to see everyone coming through the doors. I was really looking forward to catching up with old friends that I hadn't seen for a long time.
 The theme of the event was 'Higher' meaning to 'think higher, believe higher and live higher'. 
The same presenters that came to Sydney two years ago came back this time.   I was really looking forward to hearing and seeing my favourite presenter Laurel Christiansen who I hadn't even heard of two years ago, but I now consider her my friend. She was so kind to me after Aaron passed away and I was so excited to know that she had gotten married since the last event.
Brad Wilcox is an amazing speaker and I absolutely loved it when he got a beautiful girl up on stage with him.  She has Down Syndrome and was such a beautiful person. She was so happy to be there.
When Hilary Weeks introduced one of her songs and told everyone that they were welcome to get up and dance, that's exactly what this girl and a few others did.   The crowd was cheering her and she was so happy up on stage.  It was one of the highlights of the day for me.  
It was so good to be around 2350 women who believe the same as I do, and who were just as excited to be there as I was.  It was so strange but cool to have so many women come up to me to tell me that they read my blog or follow me on instagram, and wanted to let me know that they always keep me in their thoughts and prayers.  I actually felt a little bit famous with people wanting to get photos together! It means so much to know that so many people care so much.   Thank you if you came up and said hello! It was lovely to meet you all.

It was so good to be able to catch up with old friends I grew up with, and who I haven't seen for many years.
It was also lovely to see my cousins and Aunty from Queensland.
The service project this year was to bring along food items to donate to a local food bank.  Mum helped out on the service project at lunch time, packing up the food items in bags.
It was amazing to hear how many meals were provided to those in need in the local community - over 375 bags, which equaled over 1400 meals.

I was mesmerized by the sign language interpreters and couldn't stop watching them all day.  One in particular was so expressive when she was signing and even rocked her body in time with the music to let the ladies with a hearing impairment know what the beat of the song was like.  I talked to her afterwards to tell her how incredible it was to watch her and she told me that she served a mission for our church and her mission was to teach people who has a hearing inpairment, which is how she learnt it and she now works as a professional interpreter. 

It was also incredible to watch another interpreter sign on a ladies hands the whole time as she was blind as well as having a hearing impairment.
Another highlight was seeing all the missionaries serving in Sydney get up on stage and sing with Sheri Dew.
 It was an amazing day and I was so happy that I could be there with so many amazing women.  I hope that TOFW can come back to Australia again very soon.  I will miss these lovely ladies, but it was also nice to get home to my boys and to hear about their fun weekend with my brother Eden. It was nice to know that although they all missed me that they were happy while I was away. 
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