Friday, 30 May 2014

Two hats

When Noah and then Aaron passed away, I knew I had to go back to work which was scary since I hadn't worked for so long, but the hardest thing was that I could no longer just go and watch the boys take part in things at school.   Because I stayed home for fourteen years after Jalen was born, I was very blessed to be able to attend things at school whenever I wanted to.  I could go along to school assemblies, watch the boys in their athletics carnival or swimming carnival, or could watch them run in their cross country.    I always thought about how hard it must be for other parents who worked, and couldn't come to school whenever they wanted to.

I knew I was lucky to be able to be a stay at home Mum, but I now think that I took those days for granted a lot.  I also think about all those hours I wasted at home!   The six hours that the boys were at school seeemd to fly by each day, but now I get things done in an hour, that used to
 take me six! 

I would love to have those days back, but I also know how lucky I am to be teaching where Harri and Kobe go to school.   Living close to school and having my boys close to me during the day, has been such a blessing, over the past year.  It's nice to be able to walk to school together (the basketball craze has hit both of them now!).
Even though I work at the same school, we actually don't see each other that much during the day, which is also a good thing, because I like to have my teacher hat on, rather than my Mum hat on if I can.  That can be hard when I walk past Kobe's class, because half the class say 'Mrs King, you're Kobe's Mum!' which always makes me laugh.   My students that I teach EAL to (English as an Addditional language) know that Harri and Kobe are my boys, and they often talk to me about them and say 'your Harri' or 'your Kobe', when they're telling me something about them. 

I have actually found that since started teaching at the boy's school, I talk to their teachers less about how they're going, and also spend less time in their classrooms.  Before I would make the effort to go in a few times a week, to talk to their teachers, and to see what they've been up to.  Now the boys often ask me if I can come in to see some work that they've done, and I have to remind myself that it's okay to ask their teachers how they're going.

Kobe wanted to show me a self portrait that he did last week, and I laughed when I saw the Hawthorn top, as I guessed that was his picture straight away.  I love the one big eye :)

I'm lucky that if I have non contact time, I can still see the boys participate in different things at school.  Last week I had non contact time and decided not to go to assembly as I knew that the boy's classes weren't sharing anything, and I had things to do.  Unfortunately it turned out to be the one day that both of them got a certificate from their teacher!   They were so excited to tell me about it after school. 

I'm also lucky to work some half days, as it means I can attend things at school in the afternoon, just as a Mum.  It is very hard to just wear my Mum hat when I can see my EAL students need some extra support, so sometimes I just put both hats on.  Last week Harri ran in his cross country and he was so excited to come third.  
I feel very blessed right now to be able to work where my boys go to school, and that can change at anytime (because I'm a temporary teacher who can only take on a fixed term contract, until I become a permanent replacement teacher) so right now I'm trying not to take it for granted.  I'm lucky that the boys don't mind having their daggy old Mum at school.  It can be hard to keep the teacher hat on the whole day, because it's lovely when we do see each other and they want to come and say hello, and even give me a hug and kiss before they run off with their friends. 

p.s: if you love children's picture books, please check out this blog for a great auction/raffle.  You could win one of two pieces of original art work by the author/illustrator Peter Horacek and help by raising money for a great cause at the same time.   Money raised goes to the Foundation for Prada-Willi research.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Better than the footy

As a kid and all through my teenage years, I played basketball, and loved it.  I don't want to brag (okay, maybe I do just a little ;) but I used to be okay back in the day.   My brothers used to watch some of my games, and I remember them calling out 'fluke!!' or 'go Jordan!' as I used to get a lot of long shots in.  I reminded them that if I was aiming for the shot and it went in, it was obviously skill rather than a fluke, but they still love to tell my boys that I used to 'fluke it' back in the day. 

When I met Aaron I loved that he loved basketball as much as I did, and when we were first married we used to play in a league every week, and for fun we would go and just shoot around together on the weekend or after work.   I continued to play basketball when the boys were younger, but stopped because I lost my enthusiasm for it.   I kind of wish now that I kept it up as I still think that basketball is the best sport to play. 

Harri has always been obsessed with footy and I have just learnt to go with it instead of resisting it, and actually ended up loving footy myself.   I never imagined he would love anything as much as he loves footy, but always suggested to him that playing basketball would be fun.

After Aaron passed away he did Auskick for one more year, but then decided to give it up, and didn't want to take up any other sports.  Last year I kept suggesting that basketball is fun, but he wasn't keen until a couple of months ago.   At school a lot of the kids have started to play basketball at lunch time and Harri has been joining in.

One night he came home from school and said that he thought he would like to play basketball, and it made my week!  I was so excited and rang up straight away to see what nights his age group trained and played.   He couldn't wait for his first training.  He has never played it before, except for at school but he is so natural with sport and is picking it up really quickly.

The best thing is that there are four other kids from his school who play in the same league, so he has been put into a team with them.  It's so nice for him to play with kids he knows and he hangs out all week for his game.  I love that the league is very casual, and is mostly about teaching kids how to play, and it doesn't put any pressure on them.  They don't even put the scores up on the board, so it takes a lot of the pressure off and I can see that Harri is just loving playing, rather than wondering what the score is. 

He's only played a couple of games but is already obsessed with it.  He is going really well and learning the rules quickly - last week he got four goals.  He's a great team player and is keen to pass it to his team mates, and just loves being a part of a team.  He always looks over to me to see if I have any advice for him, and nods his head and smiles as he's running up the court. 

He's desperate for all of us to go and watch him every week, and I'm trying to remind Jay how much it would mean to him for him to go and watch every couple of weeks.  Jay would prefer to have a quiet hour at home, but he knows how much it means to him and he has promised he will watch a lot of his games.

Harri told us this week that basketball is 'better than footy'.  I was shocked and loved rubbing it into him when I reminded him that I had told him a long time ago how fun it would be to play basketball.  I'm glad that he has found a sport that he loves so much, that he can play every week (and hopefully with a lot less injuries than footy).

He makes me laugh because he always said that he wanted to play for Hawthorn in the AFL, then a couple of months ago he decided that he wanted to be a teacher as a back up career, but now he's scrapped that idea and has decided that he's going to play in the NBA :)

Saturday, 17 May 2014

I don't want to forget

For about seven years,  I have been going to Kings Meadows High School's Child Studies class, to talk to them about Noah and what it is like to have a child with a disability.  This week I got an email from the teacher, who was also Aaron's colleague and friend, to see if I could come in and talk again this year. 

I was more than happy to because I love talking about Noah, and when someone gives me the opportunity to share anything about Noah or Aaron I jump at the chance.  I guess it's one way that I can make sure that people don't forget him, and I can help others understand the difficulties and joy of having a child with a disability at the same time.  

Yesterday I went to talk to the class and even though it has been two and a half years since Noah passed away, I couldn't hold back the tears in the end.   Out of all the years I have spoken about Noah, even after he just passed away, I had never cried during a Child Studies class.  I'm not sure why it hit me so much this time, but when I was sharing what Noah's last week was like, it brought back so many emotions.   

There were a lot of girls also crying by the end, and I'm sure many of them were also sad because they knew Aaron too.  I felt terrible that I had upset them, but hope that they knew that I would do it all over again if I was given a choice. 
I also spend a lot of time at the school yesterday, taking photos for them.  I always love being at Aaron's old school, and it feels like I could just walk around the corner and see him there with a group of students.  I still can't believe that it has been so long since he was here.  

When I left the school I still felt very teary.  I decided to go and drown my sorrows with Maccas (I'm sure Aaron would've been proud!) and went and sat at Aaron's grave and had a good old cry.  I am usually pretty positive about everything, but while I was there all I wanted to do was punch something and yell and scream about how unfair it all is.  It's my new normal now and I'm used to many things now, but I still hate it.  
I hate that my life has turned out like this.  I hate that my best friend isn't here anymore.  I hate that I can't walk around the corner and see him at his work, but instead have to sit at his grave at the cemetery.    I hate that I have to raise my boys on my own, and have to stress about whether or not I have a job and how I am going to pay the bills, because I'm now the only one earning the money.

I hate that when the boys go to bed I'm sitting alone every night, and wake up to an empty bed every morning. I hate that people think that the way to 'fix' things is to get remarried again, when all I want is Aaron.  I hate that I have been left to grieve for Noah on my own, when we should've been getting through it together.  The thing that I hate the most is that he had to go so soon after Noah.

I hate that I am forgetting doses of medications that I used to prepare every day for Noah, without even thinking. I hate that I feel like I have so much time on my hands now, when all I want to be doing is watching the clock for Noah's next feed or med, or nebuliser.  I don't want to forget what life was like when we were caring for Noah, but I am slowly forgetting.   

Thank you Fi for asking me to talk about Noah again.  I hope that you know that even though there are tears, I love being able to talk about him  There was once this amazing, chubby little boy who was here, who never said a word, but he changed my life forever, and that's something I never want people to forget.  

Monday, 12 May 2014

A weekend in Sydney

When the AFL fixture came out at the beginning of the year, we thought it would be fun to go and watch Hawthorn play Sydney, especially since Buddy had gone over to Sydney, if we were able to get cheap flights.  The bonus of going to watch them play would be that they were playing in Sydney and we could go and stay with my brother Chrish, and spend the weekend with him. 

It didn't look like we would be able to get any cheap flights until about a month ago, so we grabbed the cheap fares and we were excited to go and spend a few days with Chrish.   We headed up to Sydney last Thursday after school.   We couldn't wait to leave the cold weather behind. 

Chrish had the day off work on Friday.  The footy was at the ANZ stadium that night so we decided to park the car at Olympic Park, and catch the train into the city.  We had never been to Olympic Park before, so it was fun to look around.   The boys loved seeing all the bits of memorabilia from the Sydney Olympics.  
A lot of Kings competed in the Olympics.
The boys love the excitement and rush of the city, and always find it fun running to catch the train before it leaves.
The boys desperately wanted to go to Luna Park, but I was keen on a quieter day.  Kobe kept asking if we could go to the place with the 'big head and the rides' was so upset when I told him we wouldn't be going this time.  He kept reminding me that he had only been there once before, but I told him that we would go there on another trip.   Instead we jumped on the ferry and headed to Manly, for lunch on the beach. 
It was such a beautiful day, and was so warm compared to Tassie at the moment.
 It clouded over once we got to Manly but it wasn't cold at all. 
 I love the surfer smiling away at the camera as he walks past.
It was so nice to just sit on the beach for a little while - much nicer than going to Luna Park ;) 
Kobe ended up having lots of fun anyway.  
 He told me to take this photo so he could take it to show his class at school. 
Back at Circular Quay we had fun looking at the view and watching the buskers.

The boys were fascinated with this busker and how he was staying up on one leg.  He obviously had a little stand underneath his clothes, but he did look very cool. 
We had some time to fill in before the footy, so Chrish and I were keen to go to the market for a quick Chinese massage.  I never usually buy anything at the market, but always love having a massage.  As soon as they saw us they were yelling out 'Lady! One minute - you try!'.  They didn't have to ask me twice, before the guy was massaging my shoulders. After I finished having a massage, one of the women there said 'lady, your husband, he around there' and pointed around the corner.  I smiled and said 'he's my brother' and had to laugh because it would've been the best day ever, if Aaron really was around the corner. 
We caught the train back to Olympic Park and couldn't wait for the game.  
Harri loved running into 'Cyggy' the Swans mascot, and had lots of fun pretending to have a fight with it. 
We were surrounded by Swans supporters, but they were all really lovely.  The Swans supporters in front of us came up from Melbourne and kept laughing at Harri and Kobe's comments throughout the game, about how we could come back. 
It was fun to watch Buddy play against his old team mates for the first time.  It was such an intense game.  I thought it was going to be a thrashing at first, but luckily Hawthorn came back in the third quarter.  Harri and Kobe were so into it and cracking up everyone around us.  Even Jay got into it and said how awesome it was to watch. 
In the last five minutes of the game the boys realised that we weren't going to win and there were lots of tears.  Harri couldn't handle the screaming and cheering of the crowd and hated hearing all the Swans supporters.  He is so much like Aaron it's scary at times!  I told him that we had better not go to anymore live games if he couldn't handle it, and he kept saying 'but it's okay when there's lots of Hawks supporters!' :)   Despite the result it was so much fun, to watch such a great game live. 
The next day we went and did a little bit of shopping before heading to watch the end of Chrish's footy game.  At the shopping centre we saw this awesome Darth Vadar sculpture which was made totally out of Lego pieces! 
It was fun to watch Chrish play footy.  He can still play even though he's an old guy ;) 
The boys loved seeing Chrish's dog Tess again.  She had grown so much and she made us miss Milly, who was at home with Alison. Thanks Alison for hanging with her for the weekend.   Jay was so happy that he could play with Tess this time, without having to worry about a sore, broken arm. 
We had a whole day before we had to fly out.  We had lots of fun checking out Ikea, dreaming of all the things that we wished we could buy and bring home for the house.  Harri was in tears (again!) as he wanted me to bring lots of things home to do his bedroom up.  He then kept saying 'I wish the builders would just build one in Tasmania!'...don't we all Harri!.

The boys cracked me up as they were pretending they were in a psychologist's office.  Jay was the psychologist and was asking the boys what was wrong.  They've obviously had too much experience with that sort of thing :) 
Before we caught the plane we went to Bondi Beach.  The boys were hoping to see the film crews there, filming for Bondi Rescue but I guess it's not the time of the year for filming.  We did see one of the lifeguards from the show though.  
I love Jay's photobomb during Chrish's selfie :) 
While we were at Bondi we rang my Mum for Mother's Day.  I don't think she was very happy when she heard where we were ringing from, as I'm sure she would've loved to have been with us.   Chrish just needs to get a bigger car so we could all fit in at once.  
Just before catching the plane we went to La Perouse again.  It's so beautiful there with the sandstone cliffs. 
I had to get the annual Mother's Day photo with my boys.
Kobe cracks me up. He always wants to be the star of the show, and loves the attention.  He wanted to be right at the front for a photo with Chrish.  Harri had just knocked his knee before this pic, so he was complaining about a sore knee, and I did the usual 'just get in the photo and hurry up!'. It was Mother's Day after all! ;) 
Thanks Chrish for the fun weekend and for putting up with us.  Hopefuly we will be back soon!

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Once In a Lifetime Cruise

Over a year ago my cousin Toni told me about a great cruise that they went on.  Since then I have wanted to go on one of the cruises run by the same company. I knew it wasn't cheap, but thought it would be an extra special thing to do sometime. 

Last year when we went to Port Arthur we went to see if we could do the Tamar Island cruise, but the cruise had left a couple of hours earlier.  At the time Harri and Kobe weren't keen on going on a boat, as they had bad memories of being in rough water in my brother Eden's boat, so they were relieved to hear we couldn't go on it at the time.   

When we went to Hobart last week, I was pleasantly surprised that the weather was pretty nice.  We have never been to Bruny Island before and I often see friend's photos from there and think how pretty it looks, so I told the boys that if the weather stayed good that we were going to catch the ferry to go to Bruny Island.  I think they expected that we were going to go on a ferry like we do whenever we go to Sydney, so Kobe couldn't believe that we were driving our car onto the ferry, and still doesn't really understand that we were on the ferry as it travelled to Bruny Island.   All day he kept asking when we were going to get on the ferry, and I realised later that he didn't realise that the ferry actually travelled to the island as the trip over was so smooth. 

While we were on the ferry over to the island I rang the company who ran cruises, to see if we could get on the cruise that day.  They said we could, so on the way over to Bruny I told the boys we were going on a cruise.  Jay was excited about it, but Harri and Kobe weren't that keen.  I told them we were lucky to have such a nice day, and that we didn't know when we could do it again, so they just had to deal with it :)

There were three cruises that day, with about forty three people on each boat.   There were two guys on each boat - one who did most of the driving and talking and another guy who would drive at different times and also did some talking at different points throughout the cruise. 

While we were getting on the boat we were told that a good place for us would be at the back, because those at the back could stand up at anytime during the cruise, so we happily went to the back.  Everyone was given red waterproof and windproof jackets to put on. 

Just after we got on the boat the driver told us that for the past ten days there had been a whale that had been sighted in the bay.  He said that the week before he went out with some scientists and they confirmed that it was actually a blue whale.  He asked everyone if we wanted to go to see if we could find the whale, and of course everyone was excited to.  It literally took about five minutes before they found it.  It was incredible to see it up so close to the boat. 

We spent about half an hour just watching it go up and down in the water.   The driver told us it was about 25 metres long and would've weighed around 160 tonnes.  He kept saying to the boys 'you are seeing the biggest creature in the world!'.

The driver was so excited and told everyone that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity.  He said that there are people that work in Antarctica that look for years for a blue whale, but never get to see one. 

 Once the boat started moving the boys realised it wasn't going to be a rough ride at all, and really started to enjoy it - especially once they saw the whale!

After seeing the whale the driver joked that we had seen more than most people see on a cruise, so we should just turn back and go and talk about it.  The cruise was usually three hours long, but because we spent time watching the whale it went for three and a half hours.  It travelled down the coast of Bruny along the cliffs.  The scenery was so beautiful. 
Our favourite part (other than seeing the whale) was going really fast between these two cliffs.   We ended up doing it three times in the end. 
We got to see lots of caves along the way. 

I'm sure the guys who do the cruises get bored of doing them every day, but they were so great and made it a lot of fun.  They had some awful dad jokes, but they were really funny and told us a lot of information as we stopped at different spots along the way. 
Another favourite spot was at the 'breathing rock' which was a big blow hole.  At each spot we stopped at they would make sure the boat would turn around a few times, so that everyone could get a good look at it. 

We went as far south as the island went, and hit the Southern Ocean.  When we did the driver blew the horn a few times. 

At the southern end there were hundreds of seals lying on the rocks.  It was Harri's favourite thing to see, but the smell was terrible.
The way back to the jetty was a lot colder as we were heading into the wind, but the jackets we were given to wear helped a lot.  We had such a fun day and were so glad that we finally did it.  It was definitely worth the money, and we were so lucky to see the blue whale.  Hopefully it's something the boys will never forget. 

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