Friday, 27 November 2015

20 Years

Last Monday Aaron and I should've been celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary together. We should've been planning some extravagant weekend away, or a special holiday...just something together would've been nice. Even if it was just going out for tea and to a movie. 

Instead I felt weird all day as I kept saying 'today would've been our 20th wedding anniversary'.  It still was our 20th wedding anniversary, but it was just a strange day as it wasn't really a day I felt I should be celebrating, as he isn't here.   It still was  our 20th wedding anniversary, but we only had 16 years together as husband and wife on earth, and 17 years together. 

Now that Facebook has the 'on this day' feature I have a lot of memories coming up every day. It's actually hard to see some of the memories - especially those from four years ago, because it was just after Noah passed away.  Even though I know what happened, reading our memories from that time makes me anxious as I'm anticipating Aaron's death in January.

On our anniversary this came up on Facebook.  It made me smile.

It was probably good that the day fell on a work day, as it meant I was at school and was busy.  The kids that I teach are beautiful and always cheer me up, so it was nice to be with them all day.  After work we went to visit Aaron's Dad for his birthday, and then went out for tea, to our usual favourite place.

Jalen was very excited about the colouring in ;)

 It was nice to run into some friends who were also having tea there, and I told them we were there because it was our anniversary...and then joked about how great it is to be able to celebrate my 20th wedding anniversary of my dead husband.  They all laughed and said that only I can get away with saying something like that, and I reminded them that you either laugh or you cry.  I actually didn't cry all day, and the day turned out to be okay. 

I did suggest to the boys that we go and get some dessert and sit and eat it at the cemetery and Harri cracked me up when he said 'I can't be bothered'.  I laughed and said 'don't worry about your Dad who died' and we all had a laugh together. The weather has cooled right down this week, so it probably wasn't a nice night to sit at the cemetery anyway. 
 When we got home there was a lovely surprise waiting for us from our friend Alison.
 It definitely was not the way I ever imagined our 20th wedding anniversary to be.  We had thrown around the idea of Aaron being on long service leave from work and going on a cruise, but instead it was a night off cooking and a steak with my three boys, and Pepsi when we got home. 

I miss my crazy, funny man so much.  He drove me crazy at times with his silly sense of humour, but I'm so grateful that I can see bits of Aaron in all the boys. I keep telling them that's not always a good thing though :)  I have been feeling him around a lot lately, but I just wish he were really here.  I love and miss him so much.

Friday, 20 November 2015

He's My Cousin

was very lucky growing up as I had lots of cousins around.  A lot of my cousins lived really close to us, and we could walk to each other's houses and spent a lot of time together. Other cousins lived in 'town' which meant they were about an hour away, but we still saw them quite often.

My cousin Tim is my Auntie Wanda's son. He was one of my cousins who lived in town.   He is younger than me, but when Aaron and I were first married we used to spend a lot of time with him. Aaron and Tim used to love playing tennis together, and we used to love having Tim around at our house a lot.  I remember when Aaron passed away that I was worried about how Tim would take it. 

Tim has reminded me that at Aaron's funeral I gave Tim a hug and said 'Aaron loved you so much'.  Aaron not only loved Tim so much, but we all do.  Tim is one of the kindest people you will ever meet.  He is always so thoughtful and does lovely things for people all the time. His beautiful wife is Helene, who is just as lovely as Tim. They're a beautiful couple.
Tim is one of those people who is never grumpy, and if he is you wouldn't really know it.  He's lots of fun to be around and always makes us laugh.  He's always busy and keen to do things.  I often get texts from Tim asking if we want to go do something together.
This photo was taken by my friend Chelsea, just after I was awarded Tasmanian Mother of the Year. I have no idea what we were laughing about, but it was so nice to have my good friends there, including Tim and Helene. Tim always lightens the mood - especially when I'm nervous and overwhelmed!
Over the last year, it's been lovely to spend more time with him on my days off work, as he does shift work and often has the same day off that I do. 

We had been having regular lunch dates this year, and it's been lots of fun catching up with him, telling him all my dramas and having lots of laughs together.  Because we were having lunch at the same place all the time, I would often see people I knew there.  I started to get paranoid that people may think that I had a man, so I would always introduce Tim to them as my cousin.  He started to joke that I was ashamed of hanging out with him, but I told him I just don't want people talking and wondering who I'm always out with! :) This was a photo I posted on Instagram a while back. We were having a great laugh about him being my new man.

Last week on one of our days off work, we decided to go strawberry picking. They were half price for the day, so even though it was raining (a lot!) we decided to still go.  We were the only crazy ones there but we had a great time, and thought it was actually more fun picking in the rain.  Nice pose Tim!

I said we should take a selfie to put on Instagram, but said I was going to hashtag it as #hesmycousin just to make sure everyone was clear.  Since then he's been saying 'hashtag he's my cousin' whenever we are together.
During the week I got a text from him asking if we were keen for a swim at the Gorge (as soon as it hits 20 degrees and is sunny Tim is keen for a swim).  We met him and his kids there after school and two of my students were also there swimming.  One of them was so cute and kept calling out to me yelling 'Mrs King! Mrs King'. She then came over to chat and said 'is that your man Mrs King!?'. We cracked up and I told her he was my cousin and asked her if she understood what cousin meant. She did and Tim cracked me up and said 'hashtag he's my cousin'. 

Tim and Helene have even convinced me to give the Parkrun a go (5 km).  I absolutely hate running, but anything is fun with them, so Harri and I have started doing the Parkrun on Saturdays with them.  I'm very slow, but it's been fun now that the weather is warmer. Tim, Helene and their kids are awesome runners and have been doing it for a long time, so they put us to shame.
Today Tim and I had lunch and I told him I wanted to do a blog post about him. This was his reaction! He made me laugh today as I told him I wasn't feeling very well and he said 'oh yeah, that time of the month'. I had to laugh as there aren't many guys who would feel comfortable talking about that kind of thing with a woman. I laughed and told him it was just end of term tiredness, and feeling run down. 

Thanks for all the lunches, laughs, swims, walks, runs and chats Tim.   I'm lucky to have a cousin who will put up with me and all my dramas, and I'm proud to call you my cousin.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Ordinary Mums with Extraordinary Stories...Interview

Last week I got an email from a media agency (who works for Barnados) asking if I could be interviewed by a reporter for Mamamia/The Motherish online website. They were wanting to do a story to promote Barnados Mother of the Year for next year, and wanted to know if I was able to take part.  This week I was interviewed by phone, and the article went online yesterday.  Chauntelle who was the ACT Mother of the Year this year, was also interviewed.  This is the story below and it is online here. 
I love that it says I'm still 40 (I was when I was awarded Mother of the Year, so we will stick with that! :) I've cut and paste it from the online story and can't get rid of all the links.

The path to motherhood was a tough one for Chauntell McNamara.

The 35 year old, from Murrumbateman, ACT, endured a long and painful battle with IVF before losing her precious newborn son Jacob, who was stillborn.  But despite all that grief, Mrs McNamara never gave up.

Today, happily, she and her husband Andrew are proud parents of three kids – Brodie, 13, and Annabella, 9, who they adopted, and Cooper, 7, their biological son.
Mrs McNamara 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.

The mum of three is the 2015 Barnardos Mother of the Year (ACT) and was nominated by her friend Leilah FranklinAyton, who said she had also raised thousands of dollars over the years for local children’s charities.

Mrs McNamara said the win was a “lovely acknowledgement of my everyday work as a mum” and that she survived the tough times thanks to her friends and family.
“My family and my husband especially gave me the strength to keep going, and to keep pursuing my dreams,” she said. “I truly believe in doing things for others and I want to make a small difference in the world and set a good example for my kids.”

Her advice for fellow mums? “Trust your instincts, and ask for help when you need it. Don’t be afraid to admit when you need help,” she shared.
2015 Barnardos Mother of the Year (TAS) Lisa King, 40, from Newstead, Tasmania, has also lived through unbelievable tragedy.
Mrs King and her husband Aaron had four boys – Jalen, Harri, Kobe and Noah, who was born with a severe brain condition called Hydranencephaly.

Noah’s condition left him with the mental capacity of a threemonthold and he was only expected to live for a few years. However, he defied the odds for almost a decade, before passing away aged 10.
Then the grieving family lost Aaron, who suffered a fatal heart attack. But despite her grief, Mrs King, a blogger, always remained positive.

 “You can collapse in a heap, and say life isn’t fair – and it isn’t – but if you do that, the rest of your life it’s going to be pretty miserable,” she said. “I teach my boys that it’s ok to feel sad and to grieve….but you’ve got to pick yourself up. You have to find a way to keep going and see the positive things.”

She urged all families to make the most of every day, and advised mums to admit when they need help. “My son Noah was born with a severe disability…and that’s how we got through…we were grateful for the little things. We knew we wouldn’t have him for very long so we appreciated every moment,” she said.

 “It’s okay to acknowledge that things are hard. Sometimes we feel we have to put up a front and pretend everything’s okay but everybody struggles at some point in their lives and it should be okay to say you need help and support,” she added.
Both women said they were overwhelmed and honoured to have won and praised Barnardos for the organisation’s ongoing support of vulnerable kids.
Barnardos Mother of the Year is the largest and best-known national awards celebrating mums. Now in its 21st year, the awards are held to showcase mums and women who go above and beyond for our children and our communities.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Dreaming of Summer

I can't believe we are almost half way through the last term of school already.  It's that time of the year when there's lots of events going on in schools, which was the time when Aaron was always very busy.  He used to love being the MC at his school's athletics carnival, loved all the end of year assemblies and getting ready for the grade 10 leaver's dinner.

I see things popping up on his school's Facebook page and think about how much he would be loving the things that are going on (and probably how also stressing about next year's timetable :) On my days off I often take the chance to just go and sit at his grave for a little while (and have a Pepsi for him).  I don't know if I'll ever get used to the fact that he's not coming back.  I have been feeling him around a bit lately, and it's nice to know that he knows what's going on, even though he's not with us.

My days at work go so fast, as I'm so busy and the boys are coping okay with my new job.  I hate that I don't get to walk to school with them or see them during the day, but I love seeing them walk to school together.  Aaron would love that they are sports mad like he was.

The weather has been teasing us lately, and we are getting grimpses of summer.  It's nice that things are so different now, as I don't dread holidays like I used to.  I  now look forward to the break from work and can't wait for lots of swims, trips to the beach and long evenings.  It feels like we have already started summer holidays, because the weather has been so nice, and we enjoyed our first swim of the season last week. 

It was quite fresh, so we are hoping for lots of hot days so that the pool warms up.
I am excited to already have strawberries in our garden.  I accidently let slip to the boys that there were strawberries growing, so I'm not sure if many of them will make it into the house now!
The boys love eating tea on the deck on warm nights, and finally we are getting some nights where it's warm enough (and not too windy) to eat outside.

The boys are loving that it's icy pole season again. 

We are loving daylight savings and have been having tea very late as we are out enjoying the evenings. 

It was lovely to catch up with my cousin Penny, who I haven't seen for six years as she now lives in the USA with her husband and kids.   She has brought the kids to Tasmania for an 8 month adventure of living in Australia, so it will be nice to catch up with her a lot before she goes back.  Everyone always said we looked alike when we were growing up, and we probably do even more, now that I have glasses too.

 Nothing beats fish and chips on a Friday night. 

We are looking foward to the next five and a bit weeks flying by, so we can enjoy a lot more takeaway teas, trips away,  swims at the Gorge, trips to the beach, long walks with Milly and hanging out with friends till late. 

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