Sunday, 27 July 2014

'Long weekend' in Melbourne

I find that having something to look forward to helps a lot so when the AFL fixture came out at the beginning of the year, I looked at the games to see what would be a good game to take the boys to on the mainland this year.  I knew that the games between Sydney and Hawks would be big ones, and I was lucky to get cheap flights to take the boys to both the games - first in Sydney in May and then cheap flights came up for the game last night in Melbourne.  

Having my brother Christian in Sydney and sister Nicki in Melbourne is handy as it means we can have a nice cheap holiday as long as we can get cheap flights, and can catch up with them as well.  Having Fridays off work is great as it means we can have a long weekend and make the most of it.  I don't think having a day off school now and then hurts the boys, when they are getting to experience different things.

We flew to Melbourne after school on Thursday and stayed with my sister and her family.  My niece Maddi was so excited to see Jalen as she loves watching his videos on his YouTube channel. She is his little fan, and keeps asking him to do a shout out to her on one of his videos.  When we arrived she was watching his videos and was so excited to see him.
On Friday we got to see Maddi and Alex's classrooms at school. They were so excited to have us at their school and to show us their classrooms.  My EAL kids that I teach really stand out at school, but at Maddi and Alex's school probably half or more of the class are from backgrounds other than Australia.  
After we dropped them off we headed to the Scienceworks museum with Nicki and my nephew Linc.
We went there last year and ever since Kobe has been begging to go back.   I was glad that we did, as there were a lot of new things since we went last time.  The new exhibit was to do with the future. 
There was a room where you could choose which kind of music or sounds to make, and then people had to press buttons according to what mood they felt.  The colours of the room would then change according to the mood. 
 There were a lot of interactive exhibits which the boys loved.
 They loved making their own car for the future. 
 Jalen loved the sci-fi section. 
 Harri was excited to see the interactive sports section was still there. 
 Kobe couldn't wait to get to the kids section as there is so much to see and do. 
We have been in touch with one of our favourite missionaries - Elder Hosman since he was transferred from Tasmania.  We caught up with him in Melbourne in December, so we emailed to see if he was close to Nicki's area to see if we could catch up quickly while we were there.  We were glad to hear that he wasn't far away and organised to meet up to have lunch at a shopping centre.  He let me know that Sister Vermuelen was also in his area.  We loved her so much and she even spent Christmas morning last year with us, so we were so excited to hear that we could also meet up with her.
Elder Hosman had a lovely companion - Elder Davis who is going home to the USA in a few weeks.  The boys loved having arm wrestles with them. 
It was so lovely to see both of them and to meet their companions. We loved having them in our home so often, and their weekly visits really brightened our day, so catching up with them was like catching up with my own kids.   We loved having the Elders visit because the boys love having some older males in the house again, and I loved having some girly company when the Sisters would visit. 
We just had to take a few selfies before we said goodbye :) 

It's always sad to say goodbye, and we knew this was probably the last time we would see them before they go back home to the USA and South Africa.  It'll be great to be able to stay in contact via Skype and Facebook though once they're home.  At the moment they are only allowed to email family and friends once a week, so we usually just send snail mail every couple of months because they don't have a lot of time to read emails.
Yesterday morning Nicki and Alex took us to an awesome place called Watermarc.  It has pools and a tipping bucket area, which is very similar to our Aquatic Centre we have here, but it also has two awesome indoor water slides (photo taken from their website).   Once you pay the entry free you can go on the slides as many times as you want. 
The bigger slide was called Tantrum Alley and is similar to the rides at Wet 'n' Wild and 'White Water World' on the gold coast where you fly down a tunnel, and then up the sides, but it is a much smaller version and is all indoor.  It was really fun as part of it was dark.  It was the first 'big' ride that Harri has been brave enough to go on and he freaked a little the first time (especially as he was flying down in the dark, backwards!) but he loved it and went on it many times during the day. 

Kobe was tall enough to go on the bigger slide and absolutely loved it. It was a tube slide which was also dark in places, and was very long and very fast. 
We had a great morning and had fun going on with Nicki and Alex and the kids too.  Poor Linc was sad because he was too short to go on the big slides.
Yesterday afternoon we spent a few hours in the city before heading to the MCG to go to the footy.  When we got to the city we saw a homeless man begging and it really upset Harri.  As soon as he saw him he looked so worried. I asked him what was wrong and he said he wished that everyone had a home.  I told him that we could give him some food or some money, and Harri burst into tears and said 'I just want you to give him your whole credit card, but you can't do that can you!?'. 
Harri was so sad he refused to get in this photo with the boys. 
He cheered up after a little while and the boys had fun going to their favourite shop in the city - which is a massive EB Games store.  There was a new section downstairs which the boys freaked out about - they are all obsessed with the Pop Vinyl figurines and have just started collecting them, so they so excited about how many were there. I let them choose one each and it took them forever to work out which one they wanted. 
We met up with Nicki and Alex and squeezed onto a tram to go to the MCG. 
Whenever I'm in Melbourne I think about how much Aaron used to love it there. 
Nicki got us awesome seats - three rows from the front up near the goals. 
Before the game Harri thought he would be funny and went up to the Sydney mascot and pretended he was going to give him a high five, but then pulled his hand away.  Everyone around us was cracking up, and a hawthorn supporter a couple of rows behind us yelled to him 'that was awesome mate! You deserve a high five for that!' and reached over and gave him a high five.   Harri loved that he kept everyone entertained and it reminded me so much of something Aaron would've done on one of his school footy trips, to get his students laughing. 
Whoever was in the Hawka costume was hilarious.  He was dancing and posing, and pretending to shoot the swan.  He had us laughing so much. 
It was a very exciting game and it was fun to be up so close. 
I told the boys that if anyone of them marked the ball I would give them $50.  I knew my money would be safe, but started worrying when the ball would come towards us!
It's so fun to see the boys get into the game so much.  Harri had me laughing the whole time as he commentated the whole game and got very excited whenever Hawthorn got a goal.  Even Jay was loving it and was screaming as much as we were.  The result was much better this time, with Hawthorn winning by 10 points.
We got home this morning and are all very tired.  It was worth it though to have such a fun weekend away.   I bribed Kobe into jumping into bed with me this afternoon to have a '10 minute' nap as I knew he was very tired.  He didn't want to, but I told him it would just be ten minutes and that he could have a chocolate when he woke up.  Three and a half hours later he woke up and asked for his chocolate :)

Thanks Nicki and Alex for such a fun weekend, and Alison for looking after Milly for us.  The boys were very happy to get home to her today, and she has been following us around since we walked in the door.

p.s: Hello to the lady who said hello on the plane.  It's always fun when people say hello and say that they read my blog, even when we don't know them. 

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Back to School

Our two weeks of school holidays are over, and I start back at work tomorrow.  The boys are lucky to have an extra day of holidays because it is a student free day.    The end of each term is very stressful, wondering if I will get a contract to teach again the following term.  It's hard because sometimes even when you are doing a good job, there is no guarantee of work teaching in Tasmania, until you are a Permanent Replacement Teacher. 

I found out during the last week of last term, that I have another contract for term three teaching EAL (English as an Additional Language).  I'm very excited because I not only get to continue in a job that I absolutely love, and I am getting a new student who has just arrived in Australia.  He is also a refugee like my other students, and speaks the same language as them. I'm nervous about starting back at square one again as he doesn't have any English at all, but I'm also excited and I know that my students will be able to do a lot of interpreting for me which will be great.

We were all looking forward to school holidays because we were very tired from school and work.  This was taken just after we finished school on the last day of term.

As much as I was looking forward to a break, I was also dreading holidays a little because they're often hard as the days are long without Aaron and Noah.  Each holiday though is getting easier though and I couldn't wait for some sleep ins. I'm very lucky that all of my boys now sleep in (give me older kids any day!) and I was happy to be woken up on our first day of holidays by Kobe after 9am!

Every day the boys slept in till at least 8.30 or 9am (or 10.30 if you are Jay!) so it's been a lovely relaxing couple of weeks.   We are going to struggle to get up at our normal times again!

My boys would be more than happy to stay at home all day, every day so I had to make sure I had planned some things like our trip to Guide Falls and Hobart, so they didn't stare at screens all day.  We had some quiet days, but also planned a few things to keep busy.  The boys loved catching up with their cousins.
While my sister Nicki and her family were down my niece Maddi was baptised.  It was lovely to be able to be there for it. 
Milly hasn't known what's hit her with having us home every day.  She is loving all the attention and long walks. 

The boys were excited to find a treat at the door one day, after Aaron's friend Kristy paid up (with interest) for her ongoing bet she had with Aaron whenever Hawks played against Collingwood.  She's paid up a lot of Pepsi since Aaron passed away, and it doesn't look like we will owe her any time soon :)

One day while we were driving to Mum and Dad's we spotted this rainbow and decided to see if we could get to the end of it...hoping of course for the pot of gold at the end.  We didn't feel like a swim to check if the gold was there ;)
It's taken almost three years, but I'm finding that I'm starting to feel like the old me again.  I'm starting to want to do things that I used to do before Aaron and Noah passed away, like playing the piano and playing basketball. 

When a friend at church mentioned that they often need people to fill in on their team, I said that I would be interested in filling in.  They still have my old team name of 'the mollies'.  I haven't played since Kobe was born, so I was very nervous about playing again and thought I was going to vomit from nerves the first night!  I have played every week for the last month or so, and am absolutely loving it. 

The first couple of games I thought the boys were going to end up as orphans because I am so unfit.  Even though I'm only playing once a week I am already feeling fitter and don't feel like I'm going to die anymore - luckily for the boys! 

Harri cracks me up as he loves watching and analysing the game afterwards.  He always tells me how many goals I got, and loves putting the score up on the board during the game.  The boys are surprised that I can actually play okay.  Jay told me I'm 'not bad for an oldie'...cheeky teenager!

Every couple of weeks we have been booking out an indoor pool for an hour with our friends Simone and Simon and Pip and Ben and their kids. It's been a fun thing to do during winter.

We finished off our holidays having tea together last night.  I feel very lucky to have such great friends, who I can just be myself around. 
Today we went to the cemetery after church and put a new solar butterfly at Noah's grave.  Kobe was too sad to get out of the car, and Harri doesn't usually like getting out, but he decided to get out to do it.  His face made me sad as he looked like he had just so much on his young mind.  We laughed that he had Aaron's hawthorn scarf on there, and I said that Dad would've loved seeing him with it on. I had used it at church as a blindfold for something I was doing with the kids, and afterwards Harri didn't want to take it off. 
I hope that Aaron and Noah are both looking down on us, seeing that we are trying hard to continue without them in the best way that we know how. It's never easy, but I can see we are getting stronger every school holidays as we adjust to life without them. 

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Holiday in Hobart

School holidays are slowly getting easier without Aaron and Noah, but they are still really long if we don't have anything planned.  My boys would actually be quite happy to stay at home all day every day, and would just sit in front of the computer, TV or DS screens if I let them.  I don't mind a couple of days like that over the holidays because we are all tired and need some time to just catch up, but if I have more than a day or two like that I go a bit crazy.   I have to get out and keep busy, or the reality of life right now hits me again, and makes school holidays so much harder.

Going to Hobart during the school holidays seems like our regular thing to do lately.  It's so nice and easy to just jump in the car and drive a couple of hours, to have a couple of nights away from our regular routine.  It's always cheaper in the middle of winter too which is great, because it's still fun to get away in winter. 
As we headed into Hobart I mentioned to the boys how we had been there so many times since Aaron had passed away, and how Aaron had said that he didn't want to go back to Hobart because Noah passed away there.   We did end up going back once after Noah passed away, but Aaron found it very hard.  I asked the boys if they ever feel sad about going to Hobart, but they said they didn't and even though I think about Noah whenever we drive past the hospital, I'm glad that Hobart isn't a sad place for us to be.   I think going back a lot since Noah passed away and having there has really helped. 
We were hoping to see some snow, so we went up Mt Wellington and there was just enough snow to keep the boys happy. 
 Kobe obviously put two fingers in one hole in his glove! :)
Kobe desperately wanted to build a snow man, but we didn't expect it to be so cold.  We were all rugged up, but the wind was so cold that it stung our faces.   Kobe kept yelling 'my chin hurts!!'.  It reminded me so much of when I lived in the USA and how cold it would be as I would walk to school in the snow each day. 

Luckily someone else had already built a snow man, so Kobe was happy with that.  Every man and his dog was getting their photo taken with it. 

We ran into the observation area just to escape the icy wind. 
We were lucky to be up there on a clear day. 

Harri was sure he was going to die from the cold or by being blown off the mountain and kept screaming 'I'm going back to the car!!' and left us out on the mountain while he sat inside the warm car.
We were so excited to hear that one of our favourite missionaries from church - Elder Sargeant had been transferred back to Tasmania.  We have kept in touch with him since he left Tasmania, and he has always been so lovely and has written to the boys.  Harri has especially missed him and was so excited to hear he is now in Hobart. I promised him we would try to see him before he is transferred again, so it was great timing with school holidays to catch up with him.

We arranged to meet at a nice fish and chip place at the wharf, which was close to our hotel.
It was so funny when he got out of the car and saw us.  He yelled 'my family!!!!' and ran over to the boys and gave them huge hugs.
We had a lovely lunch together.  It was fun to hear about his experiences since he left Tasmania last year. He is now the 'zone leader' in Tasmania which means he is in charge of all the missionaries here
He is from New Hampshire but we noticed how much he has lost his American accent, and how he says a lot of things with an Aussie accent now. 
It was sad to say goodbye again, but we know we will see him again before he goes back home to the USA next year.
We had a lovely couple of days, and as usual one of our favourite things was just being able to swim at the pool whenever we felt like it.  Whenever we are there we imagine how lovely it would be to have an indoor pool at your house.
Last week my friend Sarah had put up some photos on Instagram of an awesome long slide in Hobart, so before we came home today, we met up with Sarah and another friend Hannah and their kids at the slide. 
It was a freezing day, but some of the boys insisted they were hot after playing soccer and wanted to just wear T-shirts.

Before we drove home we went to a gourmet restaurant for lunch ;)   It was lovely to catch up with them and it was nice to have some laughs together. 
It was nice to break up the holidays with a couple of fun days away. Kobe has been crying tonight because we are home again and he is 'missing the pool'.  Me too Kobes, me too :)
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