Sunday, 21 February 2016

Back to School

I knew once school went back that life would be a bit crazy again, but I don't think I was prepared for how tired and busy I would be. We enjoyed our summer holidays so much and getting back to work and school has been a bit of a shock. 

All of us were a bit anxious about the new year. I knew that I would have new students to work with but was looking forward to meeting them. 

Jay kept saying he wasn't worried or excited about starting 'college' (year 11 in Australia) but because he was going to be at a new school he knew things would be different and wasn't very keen about things changing. It was good that all of his best friends or 'squad' were going to the same school though and he was looking forward to seeing them all.

Harri was very excited to be in grade 6 and is in a 5/6 class this year. He has two teachers and we knew one of them and was very excited about having her, and  was also excited about getting a new teacher to the school who was a male teacher. He's never had a male teacher, and I thought it would be lovely to have another good make figure in his life again, so he was excited but also a little anxious about starting school and having to get to know his teachers and new class.

Kobe is in grade 2 this year and is in a 1/2 class. He was very excited about his two teachers as they're lovely and I knew he would have a good year with them.  He was devastated that school was back though and was in tears about it. He kept saying he wanted to stay on holidays and I agreed with him :) 

This was their first day back - hard to believe it was 3 weeks ago already!
Everyone had a great first day of school, and after school we decided to drown our sorrows about summer holidays being over at Cold Rock, and lashed out on some very expensive ice cream. 
I've been enjoying being back at work, despite being busy and tired.  I am still teaching English as an Additional Language and at the moment I'm mostly teaching the Prep children. I love the variety and challenges in my job, and love the relationship I am able develop with the children. 

At the moment I'm working with children who are from a refugee background as well as children who are migrants and children who have been born in Australia, but who speaks another language other than English in their home. 
I'm so grateful to have a job that I love doing and think about Aaron every day that I'm at work, as I know he would've been going though the same emotions that I was when school went back, if he were still here.
Every year he would complain about summer holidays finishing, but would then love school once it was back. 

We are now in the routine of work and school and hope that we can have a great term before the next holidays in seven weeks (which we are already looking forward to!)

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Summer in Sydney

We spent the beginning of our summer holidays just catching up on things at home, and planned on going away later in the holidays.  After a big year at school, it was nice to just catch up on jobs around the house, and to do things close by so we could relax a little.

I actually had a major clean out at home and got rid of car loads of stuff - so many things donated, sold and taken to the tip. It felt so good, and I then felt like I could really have a break now that I knew that things were organised at home.

We grabbed some cheap flights a few months ago, so we could spend the last part of our summer holidays in Sydney with my brother Chrish. It's always a good holiday as we don't have to worry about transport as he lets us use his car, he has space for us, and there are lots of things to do around Sydney that doesn't cost a lot of money. Of course we mostly go to spend time with him :)

I decided to go up for nine days this time, which was the longest we've ever spent there at once.  I knew that it would give us two weekends with Chrish (he had to work while we were there) and I decided to buy season passes to Wet 'n' Wild, and wanted to make the most of having the passes.  Because it is only a 15 minute drive from Chrish's house it was easy to just go there for a few hours or so every day.  It meant we could do something in the morning, and then go later in the day or vice versa.

This was the only photo that we took at Wet 'n' Wild which was the first day we went there.  Mum took it for us and Kobe was complaining about the sun in his eyes, and Jay was obviously too busy checking out what was going on around us, to be ready for the pic :) We didn't take my phone in the other days as we just had too much fun racing around to get in line for the next ride. 

We loved the wave pool and would often meet there in between rides as the first couple of days Kobe and Harri weren't keen on going on any of the really big rides. 

We eventually talked them into it (and Grandma saying she would pay Kobe $2 to go on one of them helped a lot!) and once they went on one big ride, they couldn't wait to go on the rest.  It was so good as it meant we could all go on the same rides together, and didn't have to worry about anyone missing out. I love that my boys are now old enough, tall enough and brave enough to all do things together.  If only I was rich enough to take them to Disneyland now :) I always said that it wouldn't  be worth going until they were older so we could go on things together. Will have to start saving even more.

Mum and Chrish had a gold season pass which meant they had access to their ride photos online.  These are just a few of them.    We ended up going to Wet 'n' Wild about 6 or 7 times while we were there, and it was great as the lines weren't that long so we got lots of rides in.  Because we went so often we didn't feel like we had to squeeze all the rides in at once, so some days we decided to just go on some of the smaller rides and float around in the wave pool.

Kobe's face would crack me up each time we went on one of the big rides. He would look petrified, and then at the end he would fist pump the air and yell 'yes!!' and would say how awesome it was.
Mum was keen to go to the temple, so we went there on one of our first days in Sydney.  It's where Aaron and I were married 20 years ago.

It was so nice to spend some time with Chrish.  He's used to living alone so I'm sure that having us there for so long was a pain, but he's always so generous with making sure we are looked after while we are there.   His backyard is looking so good now as he's done a lot of work on it. We loved having BBQs every night and sitting outside to eat.

Milly was staying with Alison (thanks again!) while we were away, and Alison would sometimes send me pics of her and when I would show the boys they would all go 'awwwww' and would say how much they were missing her. They loved having Chrish's dog Tess around though.
Chrish took Jay for a driving lesson one day while we were there, and poor Jay was very nervous about driving his manual car in the traffic up there, but did well.  He loved being able to go for a ride on the back of his motorbike one night.

During the first weekend we decided to we catch a train into city, so that we could do our usual ferry trip to Manly.  We couldn't resist taking a photo at this sign at the train station. Harri was the only one keen to volunteer for the photo. He's just like his Dad - very affectionate.
While we were on the train, I mentioned to Chrish that I heard it was fun to catch a ferry from Parramatta to Circular Quay.  As soon as I said that, he quickly googled the ferry time and within a couple of minutes we were jumping off the train at Parramatta.  We walked the few blocks to the wharf and jumped on a ferry which was a 45 minute ride up the river, and arrived in Circular Quay.  It was fun to see Sydney from another direction, and to go under the Harbour Bridge.  

We were actually sad to leave Tassie's beautiful weather behind as we have had the best summer weather that we've had in years. We've had so many beautiful sunny days, and Sydney was very humid and warm, but most days it was very cloudy and there were lots of storms.   We were lucky that our one really sunny day was Australia Day.  Even though the day looks gloomy it was so humid.

Once we got to Circular Quay we had a walk around the Opera House.  

Photobomb by Jalen.

I posted this pic on Instagram and added the location as the Sydney Opera House.  I later got a direct message from the Sydney Opera House who said they were surprising people who take photos of the Sydney Opera House to have a 'come on in' experience and said they loved my photos and  would like to offer me a special surprise.  It was very exciting, and they offered us a free breakfast at the Opera Bar at the Opera House.  Chef Matt Moran even posted a video on their Instagram about it, as he owns it.  We organised to have breakfast there later in the week.

This seal lying on the steps was attracting quite a big crowd. 
We then jumped on another ferry and went to Manly where we were hoping to have lunch and a swim.

When we got to the beach we were disappointed to see that it was closed.  The surf was really rough and we think that was actually the reason it was closed, but this sign was more of a deterrent to all the tourists.  Whenever someone would go in the water, the lifeguards kept telling them how rough the conditions were and that the beach was closed and would ask them to get out of the water.
Aaron always loved getting a slurpee whenever we went to the mainland.  It must've been before the days that you could get frozen drinks here in Tassie, as it doesn't seem as exciting to get one anymore, but we always make sure we get one from 7 eleven for him now. 
The harbour view on the ferry on the way back, never gets old. 
When we got back to Circular Quay there was a cruise ship just leaving, and one docked.  We kept talking about how great it would be to go on a cruise one day, and from then on the boys kept asking me when we can go. 
Whenever we go to Sydney we love going to Ikea and dreaming about all the things we wish we could buy, without having to get it shipped to Tasmania.  We cracked ourselves up when we saw these dress ups at the entrance, that you were allowed to put on.  
About half way around we lost Harri and Kobe who were busy running around to the different 'rooms' that were set up and fighting about which one was theirs.  I kept hearing them saying 'bags this room' and then they would run to the next one and plonk themselves down on the couch and yell 'bags this one!'.  Because of the way Ikea is set out I knew that we were all in the same kind of area, and just expected that we would find them around the next corner.

I hadn't seen them for about 10 minutes and I kept hearing announcements over the speakers, and joked that the next announcement would be for me, because I hadn't seen them for a while.  It wasn't long after I said it, that there was an announcement for 'Lisa King to come to the entrance straight away'.  Chrish and Mum cracked up laughing and I was so cranky that they had taken off and obviously got stressed out and needed help (wasn't Mother of the Year that day!).  

When I finally got back to the entrance they were both sitting on chairs with one of the workers near them.  They both burst into tears when they saw me and kept saying sorry that they got lost and that I 'left them'.   I think I lectured them for about 10 minutes about staying close to me and not running off, and Harri kept saying 'okay Mum!! You don't have to keep telling us!'.  Harri said they were very worried when they couldn't see us for a while, so they asked a worker to help them. Kobe just kept hugging me and saying 'sorry Mum' which broke my heart as I knew they were both really scared and sorry, but I wasn't actually even worried as Ikea is set out so that you go from one end to the other, and I knew I would run into them eventually.  I think it taught them a lesson though, and I don't think they'll be racing around Ikea next time. 

Right near Ikea was a new Lindt factory outlet, so we couldn't resist going there.  There was so much chocolate there and it was a little bit cheaper than the shops, but probably not as cheap as you can get it when it's on special in the supermarket. We ended up buying some of the cheaper chocolate and enjoyed pigging out on Lindt the rest of the week.  Kobe is showing off his $2 from Grandma for going on one of the big rides at Wet 'n' Wild :)
We also made the most of being in Sydney and went to the DFO to do a bit of bargain shopping. The boys were excited to be able to get some new shoes for running and school, and I was excited about the prices :) Kobe loved testing them in the shop, and decided that these ones would be good for the Parkrun when we got back home.
One day while Chrish was at work, we decided to catch the train back into the city and to go to Bondi.  We hadn't caught the train to Bondi before, but had always driven there with Chrish. I was too scared to drive that far into the city, so we thought it would be easier to catch the train and then bus to the beach.  While we were on the bus we spotted this backpackers hotel.
It was a really warm day and we couldn't wait to get in the water, especially as we weren't able to go swimming at Manly. 
As we walked around from the pool to where the flags were to swim, we stopped to look at all the awesome graffiti walls along the way.
Mum enjoyed sunbaking on the beach, while Jay went for a walk and Harri, Kobe and I went swimming.
The waves were so good! They were big, but it didn't feel dangerous at all.  We had the best time there and didn't want to leave, but knew we had to catch the train before it got too busy at peak hour.  I think we ended up standing up on the train, most of the way back to Chrish's anyway but it was worth it.
The day before we left to come home, we headed back into the city so we could have our free breakfast at the Opera Bar.  It was such a cool place to sit and have breakfast. 
Photobomb by Grandma!
On our last day Harri and I convinced Chrish to join us in the Parkrun at Penrith Lakes. I still HATE running but love that Harri loves it and he's good at it, so as long as he's keen to do it, I'll keep going with him.  It was a really hard course as it was a cross country course. A lady who was running near me said they have two courses, and the cross country one is the harder and slower one of the two.  I definitely felt that and wanted to give up about half way around. It was a beautiful course though - it just seems SO long.
Chrish did so well and came 28th out of over 290 people!
We loved Bondi so much, that we asked Chrish if he could take us there before going to the airport.  We stayed there as long as we could before having to get changed and jumping on the plane.  We all had sand everywhere all the way home, but it was a great way to finish off our time in Sydney.
The boys were excited to have a go at a soccer try out that Puma had set up there.  They were trying to find a child to star in a Puma advertisement.   While we were watching we saw Adam Goodes walking past, but not being big Sydney Swans fans we didn't worry about getting a pic with him.
We had so much fun at the beach and it was hard to leave to come home, but at the same time we were ready to get home and in our own beds, and back in a bit of a routine.
While we were in Sydney there were lots of bushfires burning in Tassie (there still are) and then they had two days of storms and constant rain.  There was so much flooding and everyone was talking about it on Facebook and sending us messages about it.  It was nice to see when we flew in that everything had actually started to green up a little bit, because it was so dry when we left.  
My cousin Tim works at the airport, so it was fun to see him when we got off the plane. 
Milly was very spoilt at Alison's house, and was very excited to see us.  It was nice to be home but reality hit hard when I realised I only had one more day off, and then I was back at work.   I used to dread holidays, but now I wish holidays were so much longer.  If only summer holidays could last forever!

Friday, 5 February 2016

A Year Without Dad

January is a big month to remember men in our lives who we love and miss so much.  My Pop passed away on the 25th, Aaron on the 26th and my Dad passed away a year ago on January 27th. 

We were still in Sydney on the 27th and we knew we wanted to go to the beach on Australia Day for anniversary of Aaron's death, but weren't sure what to do for the anniversary of Dad's death. I know I wanted to keep busy and Mum was with us, and I knew it would be an extra hard week and day for her, so we were hoping we could do something fun.

My brother Chrish suggested that we go to the Blue Mountains as we have been to Sydney so many times, but never to the Blue Mountains.  I thought it was a great idea, and he showed me the website for Scenic World the morning that we were going.   As soon as I saw what you could do there, I said we had better get moving as I knew it was going to be a full day.

Chrish lives in the western suburbs, so it was only about 45 minutes to get to Katoomba.  We headed off in our shorts and t-shirts as it had been really humid all week, but as we got closer to Katoomba the weather changed and it was actually quite cool.  We ended up stopping on the way, so that Mum could go and buy some leggings and a jumper, because she was so cold.  Poor Chrish had to ride his motorbike all week as we were using his car, and we felt sorry for him as he had to ride in the rain and cold weather. 

The only thing I really knew about the Blue Mountains was that there was a rock formation known as 'The Three Sisters'.  
We got our photo taken in front of it and of course I had to make Dad jokes about the three brothers standing in front of the three sisters.
The first thing we did was jump on the railway. 

It's the steepest railway in the world and it is 52 degrees down, so you have to hold onto the seat in front of you to stop from falling forward too far.  The funniest thing is they play Indiana Jones music as it starts off.

I don't think we realised how steep it was until we saw the railway from the bottom.
When we got to the bottom we enjoyed a short walk around the forest.

We then caught the cableway (cable car) back up to the top, before jumping on the Skyway which took us across from one cliff to the other. 

The coolest thing was that part of the floor was see through, so we could see the forest floor below us.

The scenery was amazing as you went across, so it was a pity that the trip was so short.

On the other side we went for a short walk and saw some incredible rock climbers, climbing down the massive cliffs. If you look closely you can see Chrish perched up on the ledge as he tried to get some photos of them going over.

We went for a walk to Katoomba Falls and Chrish and Jay had a great time climbing up them. Harri attempted it, and ended up with drenched feet.

When Chrish was trying to take photos of the rock climbers, he found two hats and this was one of them! It cracked us up and the boys had a great time taking turns wearing it for the rest of the day. 
Before we left we decided to go on the railway again, and this time the boys and Chrish wanted to go right up the front.

 We then ran around and jumped back on, to go up this time (backwards).
When we got back Mum and I made Dad's favourite for tea - roast lamb.  It turned out to be a lovely day and one that Dad would've loved.  The last year has gone so fast without him.
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