Thursday, 28 May 2015

What will they remember?

It's crazy the things that you remember, and what you forget.  Today it is 34 years since my brother Daniel passed away.  He was nine months old and I was almost six, and I only remember a few things about him, but think I remember more about the actual day that he passed away.  It's hard to know now if I do remember things correctly, or if it's just how I think I remember it.
I remember my aunty and Pop coming to school to pick me up before school had even finished and knowing that something was very wrong, but they didn't tell me what had happened. I just felt very scared.  I remember my Pop being very sad and him buying me an icy pole, because he obviously didn't know what else to do to make things better.

When I got home I remember the lounge room was full of people and it was then that I learned that Daniel had passed away in his sleep from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.  I had never seen my Mum and Dad so upset and it scared me because I didn't know what to do.

I hate that even though I was six years old,  that I can hardly remember Daniel.  I don't know if it was because it was a hard time for our family, that my mind has blocked things out, or if it's just because I have a terrible memory and was young.   I feel really sad to know that Harri and particularly Kobe may not remember a lot about Aaron and Noah as time goes on, because Harri was only seven and Kobe was only three.  Seven and three! It's so young to lose your brother and Dad.

There are times when I want to look at old photos on my computer, and other times it's just too hard to.  Not long ago I was looking at some photos from the days leading up to Aaron's death.  This photo just hit me so hard.  It was about seven or eight hours before Aaron passed away and we had no idea how that day was going to turn out.  I just look at how innocent the boys were and still can't believe that their lives changed forever just after this.
I wonder if they will remember the fun that we had early that day, or if they will just remember the scary things.   It's so weird to see Aaron walking around in the back of this photo, knowing that in a few hours things changed.

There are still times now when Harri will say 'I just keep having flashbacks to when Dad was dying' or Jay will tell me something else about that night that I didn't know happened -  like that he ran outside and was trying to get away, but my brother Chrish was grabbing him to try to stop him from going.

Kobe still asks me about where he was when Aaron died.  I remind him that he was asleep and that I had to tell him in the morning that Dad had died,  and he says that he wishes that he was awake because he thinks he missed out on something that we all experienced.  We have been telling him how lucky he was that he was asleep because it was scary and sad, and he didn't have to see any of that. 

Harri seems to be the one who struggles the most with what happened that night. He talks a lot about waiting for ambulance that was coming to take Aaron's body away, and how he knew when I came in their bedroom that I was going to tell them that Aaron died. 

The thing that I remember the most was just being in disbelief and wondering how I could ring family and friends to tell them what had happened.  I couldn't even believe it myself,  so to actually say the words 'I have some bad news, Aaron just passed away' just didn't make any sense. 

I hope as the years go on that the boys won't remember so much the scary things, but unfortunately my own experience tells me that they will probably always remember those things for the rest of their lives. I just hope that the new memories we are creating together are helping them to deal with the trauma that they experienced way too young. 

I hope that I'm also helping them to remember the good times with Aaron and Noah as we talk and laugh about them every day.  We love to tell stories about Aaron being grumpy after work because the grade 8 girls were driving him mad, or him being very intense as he watched the footy, or Noah giggling as Jay would make funny noises at him.  What we would give for Aaron to just walk in the door after work.  I wouldn't even care if he was grumpy :)

Monday, 25 May 2015

Photos from Woman's Day

I'm sure that everyone is over the Mother of the Year posts, but this is our family journal so I'm making sure I add everything, so we always have a record of it.

At the state Mother of the Year ceremony we had some photos taken by a photographer who was with Woman's Day Magazine.  He waited around until all of the media had finished interviewing us, and all the other photographers had taken pictures, before he came up and told me he was with Woman's Day and that he was hoping to get some photos.

I totally thought he was joking at first, but he assured me that he was with Woman's Day and that we would be featured in a story about all the state finalists.  He was a very funny guy and had us laughing the whole time with his jokes.  I'm sure he was doing it just so we would relax and it worked as he got some lovely photos of the boys and I together.  This was the photo that the magazine used in the end. 
Barnados just sent us a disc with all the photos that he took on it. It's been fun to see some different photos from the state announcement.  There were so many people taking photos during the announcement that I didn't really notice him while it was going on.

 Just as it was announced that I was the state finalist.  My face says it all - I couldn't believe that the premier just said my name!  I love that the lady from Barnados has her arm around mine - she obviously knew the whole time.  I also love Harri's reaction and my friend Lisa behind him.
 I was so shocked but also happy to be the state finalist, but I couldn't help but feel sad for the other two amazing Mums who I think also deserved it.

 No idea what we are laughing about here.
The boys having a chat with the premier after the announcement. I think I'm nervous about what the boys are going to say! ;)

 I love this photo. Kobe looks so happy and proud.
With my friend Reeve who nominated me.  Reeve said he actually just googled 'mother of the year' a while ago as he thought that I deserved something like that and found the Barnados Mother of the Year website.   It was such a kind thing to do, even though I still don't think I deserve it over anyone else.  I'm grateful to have such an amazing experience though.
  I can't believe my boys are looking so grown up. 
The best thing about the state announcement was that the boys were just so happy and proud all day.  It made my day to see them so happy.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Things Like This Don't Happen To People Like Us

I've had a lot of people ask me about the other state finalists who were also in Sydney for the national Mother of the Year announcement.  I keep directing people to  the Barnados Mother of the Year website to read about the other Mums but realise that eventually the page won't be there, so thought I would share why the other Mums were their state finalists on my blog, so I've always got it.

At the announcement they gave out lovely programs for the day which had a little bit about each of us. They are a lovely keepsake.
When we were together all of us said the same thing - that we are all just regular Mums so it was very overwhelming to have so much attention, as we just feel like we are doing what thousands of other Mums from all around Australia are doing every day.  This year we were obviously the lucky ones who were chosen.  As Leanne said before she was even named the national Mother of the Year  'things like this don't happen to people like us'. 

This is what Barnados put up on their website - it's a shorter version of each nomination that was sent in. All photos were taken by Magdelena Photography.

Leanne Robson - from Queensland (the national MOTY) 
Leanne Robson has put up her hand for the really tough gigs in life. The early childhood teacher has successfully raised two children to adulthood, including an intellectually impaired daughter, who also suffers from heart defects. Additionally, for the past eight years she has dedicated her life to being the care‐giver to three children with extreme disabilities.

Leanne was nominated by her husband Geoff, a police officer who works a 24‐hour rotational shift, for always being on call for her children and family. “Leanne’s day regularly starts at 5am, with dirty nappies and tantrums, and ends after 9pm, once school lunches are prepared for the next day and the house is put back together,” says Geoff. “On top of this, she is a great support for me, her elderly widowed mother, and her recently widowed sister.”

Leanne has twice been nominated for foster carer excellence awards and works closely with the department of child safety. She is a tireless advocate for the very best care for the three boys and is determined to give them the very best possible start in life. “She is an excellent mother and wife and would be embarrassed as all heck if she knew she was nominated,” Geoff says.

Chauntell McNamara - from the Australian Capital Territory
Chauntell McNamara’s heart knows no limits. Despite her long battle with IVF and the loss of her precious son, Jacob, who was stillborn, Chauntell chose to turn her grief into a gift for other children in need of love and care. Today Chauntell is the proud mother of three “blessings”, one biological and two adopted who came to her through the foster care system, seven years ago. She also provides emergency foster care of babies and is a passionate advocate for local children of asylum seekers, volunteering her time and teaching skills at an after school program. Chauntell is nominated by her friend Leilah Franklin‐Ayton, 34. “Chauntell opened her own home to me and my daughter when I was a new mum with no family in town, and gave us a home and unconditional support as we slowly found our feet,” says Leilah. “She has also raised thousands of dollars for local Canberran charities that support children at risk and young mothers. So many of the mums in our community are great mums because of the support they’ve been given by Chauntell,” Leilah says.

Chauntelle is in the black.
Sidona Hodge - from New South Wales 
Sidona Hodge is living proof that history doesn’t have to repeat – especially when there’s an amazing mum determined to write a better outcome. Growing up in poor conditions, surrounded by mental health issues, domestic violence and sexual abuse, Sidona determined to give her own kids – and others in need – a better childhood and future.

The proud indigenous mother of three adult children, and grandmother of three, has fostered over 20 indigenous children and currently has seven under the age of 15 years in her care. Sidona was nominated for Barnardos Mother of the Year by her daughter, Alison, 24, who admires her mum for making a difference to children in need. “Mum has a diploma in welfare and such a great understanding of how hard childhood can be, and she wants to make a positive difference in a child’s life. She wants to BE that difference,” Says Alison. “She is that mum that would give a child everything and be content knowing they had what they needed even if she had nothing.

She puts all her children first ‐ foster children and grandchildren, even the neighbours’ kids!” While kin care and keeping families and siblings together is Sidona’s priority and passion, any child that stays at Aunty Sidona’s house is considered part of the family. Sidona is considered a role model and mentor in her community and is often quoted as saying that the many kids in her life keep her young!

Jenne Roberts - from the Northern Territory 
20 years ago Jenne Roberts made the big decision to have a child on her own. She knew she had a lot of love to give and didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to make a difference in a child’s life. Her daughter Saveeta, now 17, has nominated Jenne as thanks for her unconditional love and for helping her through tough times and mental health issues.

“Mum has supported me through my depression, suicide attempts, therapy and recovery and she has always put me first, making sure that I am cared for even when she is completely exhausted,” Saveeta says. “Even though she is a single parent she has never ever failed to provide for our little family and she works so hard and inspires me to work hard as well and to push myself in school and life. “I feel completely accepted by my Mum and I know that not everyone is lucky enough to feel that way.”

Jenne has also worked in Cambodia (where Saveeta grew up) Burma, Vietnam and other South East Asian countries creating policy for the prevention and treatment of HIVAids and on other public and sexual health projects.

Rachel Mayes - from South Australia
Rachel Mayes was already a busy mum of six – four biological children and two stepchildren – when her partner’s ex‐partner passed away, leaving three young girl orphans. Determined to keep the sisters together, Rachel and her partner became legal guardians of the three girls, two years ago.

Today Rachel is an even busier mum of nine children and wouldn’t have it any other way. Running the kids around to dance lessons or to work, organizing camping trips for the whole clan, or helping her 13‐year‐old manage her diabetes – it’s all part of the fabric of life in her family of 12. “What stands out the most to me is the fact that if you didn’t know the situation you would never know that they were not all her biological children,” Natalie says. “The love she has for each and every one of those children is beautiful. “I’d just like to show Rachel what a great job she does and how proud I am of her.”
Anne Caldwell - from Western Australia  Anne Caldwell raised her two children according to the Caldwell Creed: Try, every day, to do something nice for family, friends, a neighbour, a child, a stranger and an animal and you’ll live a happy life. Despite living below the poverty line, and experiencing the stress of the family court system, Anne instilled in her children the importance of character, above all else.

Today her two adult children call her ‘The Energiser Bunny Mummy’ because she never stops caring for others. Anne is nominated by her daughter Tammy‐Anne, 26, who credits her and her brother’s bright futures to their mother’s generous, selfless and loving nature. “Statistically speaking there’s a good chance we would have ‘poor outcomes across a range of dimensions of life’ and ‘entrenched disadvantage’. But thanks to our amazingly strong, resilient caring, loving, thoughtful, talented, creative mother we had one of the happiest, best, most interesting childhoods I can imagine,” Tammy‐ Anne says.

Tammy‐Anne and her brother were home schooled for many years, and now have two university degrees each. “Mum taught my brother and I about everything from animal care mechanics and bush survival skills to cooking etiquette and fashion sense. Mum has instilled in us both a deep awareness that you can achieve anything if you believe you can and are prepared to work hard to make it come true. “Because of Mum we are comfortable standing up for ourselves and for what is right and good in this world. As I say to my Mum: I wouldn’t be me without you.”
Dreena Lawrence‐Gray - from Victoria
Dreena Lawrence‐Gray was a single mum who already had a “lively, rebellious teenager” when she made the extraordinary decision to invite another one into her home. Lana Guest, then 17, was a trouble friend of her daughter’s. Born to heroin‐addicted parents, Lana was just 2 years old when her father died and her mother abandoned her to a life of mental, physical and sexual abuse. Lana, now 22, has nominated Dreena for Barnardos Mother of the Year for choosing to take her in and look after her as one of her own – baggage and all.

“I met Dreena when I was 17 after befriending her daughter, Rijana, who I had met out and about while I was living part time with my grandparents and part time on friends’ couches,” Lana says. “I was also struggling from drug addiction and had just dropped out of school. I started spending more time with Rijana and Dreena asked me one day if I wanted to move in. “I initially felt like a burden and wasn’t too sure but after much consideration I decided to move in and it turned my life around. Dreena took me in and made me feel like I was a part of the family and to this day I introduce her as my mother.”

Under Dreena’s watchful eye, Lana cleaned up her act, got a job and discovered the simple joy of family. “Dreena has opened so many doors for me and I hold her responsible for the positive changes I made to my life. Without Dreena’s huge generous heart and her beautiful family I would not be the person I am today ‐ I might not even be here today at all. “I am eternally grateful.”

and this is what was written about me:

Lisa King
As a mother and wife, Lisa King has endured unbearable hardship and loss but continues to be the rock of her family, and an inspiration to mothers from all walks of life. Lisa and her husband Aaron are parents to four boys: Jalen, Noah (who was born with a condition called Hydranencephaly), Harri and Kobe. Noah’s brain condition left him with the mental capacity of a three‐month‐old and a lifespan of just a few years.

However, due to the love and positivity of both parents, and the fulltime care of his school teacher‐trained mum Lisa, Noah made it to his 10th birthday before his tired body gave out. Just as the family began to cope with the loss of their “little monkey”, tragedy struck again – at just 39, Aaron suffered a fatal heart attack.

“We all wondered how Lisa would cope with this double tragedy,” says Reeve McLennan, Lisa’s friend and nominator for Barnardos Mother of the Year. “She has however continued to be inspirational. Lisa is always upbeat and positive and thinks of others. Even while she had Noah she spent time with a family based care group that took families with disabled children on outings.”

Lisa is also a regular blogger and has inspired many people around the world with how she has remained positive throughout her ordeals and has twice been voted Australian Mum Blogger of the Year.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Back to Sydney

Because my brother Chrish (Christian) lives in Sydney we try to go up at least once a year, whenever we can get cheap flights.  A few months ago some really cheap flights came up, so I booked some tickets so that we could have a weekend away, and could also go to a good AFL game while we were there.  I was hoping to go to a Hawks game, but the flights weren't cheap for that weekend.   

I was telling my EAL students at school that I was going back to Sydney for the weekend and one of them said 'lots of money for plane?'.  I told him it does cost a lot of money to go on the plane and then he said 'you have lots of money!?' which made me laugh. I told him I didn't have any money now, because I had been going to Sydney too much!

Unfortunately the weekend I planned in Sydney turned out that the weekend I planned away, fell the weekend after the national Mother of the Year announcement, so it meant we would be going to Sydney two weekends in a row.  Mum stayed the week in Sydney with Chrish after the Mother of the Year announcement.  I shouldn't complain because I know how lucky we are to go to Sydney so often, but we were still all feeling really tired from last weekend.

We headed back up to Sydney on Thursday night.  On Friday we caught the train into the city.  
 We always love going to Circular Quay to catch a ferry to Manly for lunch. 

We were excited to spot Kirribilli House from the water (the big yellow house on the right) and laughed again about the boys rolling down the hills in the front of the house.
It was a beautiful day, but just a little breezy.

 It was lovely to sit on the beach and have lunch.

That was until the ferocious seagulls starting stealing food right out of our hands!  I was screaming and Mum caught this hilarious (and very ugly!) photo of me after a seagull came and pinched some chicken straight out of my kebab!
I had to pay Mum back and captured this photo as she was trying to feed the seagulls a chip.  It cracks me up every time I look at it.
We caught the train back into the city and decided to go to Martin Place as I wanted to show the boys Channel 7 which is where Sunrise is filmed. 

We were excited to find King Street in the city!
 Outside Channel 7.
 We were excited to see that they were filming the 'Daily Edition' show in channel 7 at the time. 
Tom Williams and Monique Wright (who interviewed me on Sunrise) were hosting and gave us a little wave through the window.  Of course she would've had no idea that I was on the show just a few days before. 
The Lindt cafe is right across the road from channel 7 and Harri got very emotional as he thought about the seige and deaths that happened there last year.   He said he was feeling scared, and I didn't want him to walk away from there still feeling scared, so we decided to go inside to buy some chocolate.
He wasn't sure about going in, but I'm glad he was brave enough to.  He was very quiet while we were in there, but I'm glad he did because even though we kept thinking about what happened in there, it was nice to walk away not feeling scared about it anymore. 
 It was nice to see that people are supporting it more than ever, as it was packed out.
The next day we went to some outlet shops in the morning.  Because Mum was with us this time, we couldn't all fit in the car so Chrish rode his motorbike and I drove his car.  I was petrified about driving in the city with all the traffic and couldn't believe that Chrish made me go across the harbour bridge! It's easy for him when he drives trucks around the city every day.
One of my prizes for being the Tasmanian Mother of the Year was a $300 voucher from Simone Perele. We don't have any of their stores in Tassie, so I was glad I could go and choose some things myself, rather than just ordering them over the phone.  I felt very spoiled being able to spend up big without feeling guilty about it!
 On Saturday night we went to watch the Cats v Swans. 
 It's so weird when we go to a game that Hawthorn isn't playing at, and to see so many Sydney supporters everywhere.  We just had to get in on the action.
 Harri and Kobe trying to win $1000 during half time by showing their Citibank sign. 
Chrish has been doing some renovations on his house and it's looking really good.  He's now getting around to doing the backyard and my brother Jared recently put up a pergola for him.  The boys loved helping him paint it (notice they have Chrish's clothes on, tied up by a rope!).
 Kobe looks like he is about to go into surgery.
We always love visiting La Perouse and went there before we flew home.  When I looked back at my old blog posts I realised that we were in Sydney for the same weekend last year.

 My boys are all crazy!

Cue 'circle of life' music.
 Kobe dancing away.

We had a lovely weekend with Chrish and Mum, but were so glad to get home.
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