Saturday, 18 October 2014

Running for a Wish

Today we went in the fourth annual 'Run for a Wish' event, which raises money for the Make a Wish Foundation.   Before Noah passed away we helped to promote the first run, and one of the first things we thought about when Noah passed away, was that the first run was just a couple of weeks after.  We found it hard to be there without Noah, but couldn't think of anything more we would want to do in Noah's name, so we still went in the first run and did it for Noah

It was really hard to do the run the next year without Aaron as well, but it's something that is very close to our hearts, because Make a Wish granted a wish for Noah, and we know how much a wish can help a family and child who has a life threatening condition. 

We are so grateful for friends who join us every year.  It means so much to us to know that Noah and Aaron aren't forgotten, so we look forward to any chance to do something for them.  
 Silly photos before the race. 
We love taking balloons to release at the beginning of the race.  I just hate having to tell the little kids that we don't know, who come over to ask for a balloon, that they aren't for the public, but is something that we have brought ourselves.

We wanted to get a family photo before the race, and a guy we know kept making us laugh as he kept trying to photo bomb us. 
My friend Simone cracked me up as I took this photo, as she yelled 'only photos from the top up!'.
The plan was to walk the 6.4 km with Kobe again this year, but last night he told me that he wanted to run it! I'm not a runner at all and actually hate running, so I thought I would be pretty safe with him as I knew he would get tired quickly, and we would probably be walking most of it.  

He surprised me and just kept on going.  He did complain a lot about how sore his back was, and how tired his legs were, but he's easy to encourage, so he would walk for about 50 metres and then would start running again when I would tell him how good he was going, how proud Dad and Noah would be of him and how we couldn't let the people behind us catch up.  
As we got closer to the finish line, he took off on me and sprinted towards the finish line. It was nice to see Harri and Jalen near the end, waiting for us.   They both ran so fast and did really well.
 
We are usually right at the back because we walk, so this year we were a lot faster than normal.  We only ran slowly, but I was so proud of Kobe for running so far and not giving up...other than the begging for a piggy back about half way around! 
We love Make a Wish and are so happy to be able to support them in anyway that we can.  We often have people send me lovely messages, saying that they think that our family is amazing.  It's lovely to hear that from people, but I don't think we are amazing.  I think we are just a regular family who has been through a lot, and are trying to make the best of it.  

If you really want to see an amazing family, then the Duffys are that! It was lovely to see them at the run today.  We met them after Noah passed away and have since become friends with them. Their son Jack is severely disabled, and like most families who have a child with a disability, they try to make the best of a situation they never hoped or wished for, but they do even more than that.  

They are an incredible family and don't let Jack's disabilities stop them doing anything.  They know Jack is one of the lucky ones because he has a family who is able to help him do things, and they want to do as much as they can with him while he's young, because they know it will get harder to do things as he gets older (and also heavier!).

Years ago Jack's Dad Chris, kayaked from Launceston to Hobart (600 km!) with Jack in the kayak with him, an hour a day.  All the money they raised from it was donated to St Giles, which supports children and adults with disabilities.  Since then Jack has 'run' in a couple of marathons with his Dad pushing him the whole way! 

The next thing they are going to do is walk the 65 km Overland Track with Jack in his Dad's pack and a team of people with them including police, firefighters, a paramedic, a teacher and a Parks ranger. They are hoping to raise $70,000 with all money raised going to Life Without Barriers.  
To donate to 'Overland Jack' you can click here.  You can also visit his Facebook page here.    Jack's Dad Chris is doing lots of training with Jack in the pack, to prepare to do the Overland Track early next year.  It was great to see them cross the finish line today.  They really are an amazing family!

Sunday, 12 October 2014

3 Years

While we were away in Sydney and Canberra, it was the anniversary of Noah's death, or Angel Day as we like to call it.   I had been thinking that it was coming up, but dates don't really mean much to me anymore.  For the first year I always knew when the 8th or 26th was coming up, and that it was another month since Aaron or Noah passed away, but after that I stopped thinking about it. 

Over the last couple of months I had been thinking that it was almost October, and that it would then be three years since Noah passed away, but I actually didn't think about it during the weeks leading up to it.
I probably would've gone past the day without realising what the date was, except that a friend asked me how I was going, leading up to the date.   I told her that I hadn't even thought about it, but I was glad that we were going to be away for it.

It turned out that we were in Canberra on the 8th, and I almost forgot again what the date was, but realised the night before when I was talking to my cousin Kristen about how I had been going lately.   I told her that it has taken almost three years to start to feel on top of things again, and it then hit me that the following day was Noah's 'Angel Day'.

On the day we were really busy visiting the Mint, The War Memorial and Questacon so I didn't really have time to think about it a lot.   It was lovely to get lots of messages throughout the day from lots of different people.  My Mum let some balloons off on the beach, and our friend Alison went to the cemetery to let some balloons off.

Our friend Di, who was one of Noah's carers since he was two, and also his aide at school, went to school to visit his memorial garden.  It's looks so pretty at this time of the year. 

 I asked Kristen where we could get some helium balloons so we could let them off, and she said she would organise it.   It was lovely to go and let them off with them later that evening.
When we got home from Sydney there were some lovely packages and cards at our front door.  We love our new monkey (because we always called Noah 'monkey') and the other package was very clever with a drink to drown our sorrows, tissues to dry our tears, a banana for our cheeky monkey, chocolates to bring us comfort and glow bands to lighten our day. 
 
Often my thoughts are that Aaron isn't here, and that actually makes me angry, because I feel like it's so unfair on Noah that our grief and thoughts of missing him were taken away in many ways, because Aaron passed away so soon after he did.

I wonder what it would've been like if we were able to just grieve for Noah, and although I wish that he never had to pass away, I wish we had the opportunity to grieve just for him.  I have no doubt that Noah wouldn't want us to be sad, but feel like we didn't even really have the chance to grieve for him properly. 

It's crazy to think that it has already been three years. I hate that it's been three years, because three years sounds like such a long time.    I feel like when I say 'my son passed away three years ago', it doesn't explain the sadness and emptiness we still feel.  We are definitely coping better, but we are not the same people we used to be, and never will be. 

Even though the date doesn't mean as much to me anymore, I still miss him every single day. It's getting harder to remember what life was like when he was here - all the meds, tube feeds, physio therapy, lifting him into his wheelchair, suctioning, and dressing him in his splints every day, but we will never forget how much love he gave us and how he made us feel when we were around him, even though he never spoke one word.


Saturday, 11 October 2014

Canberra and Sydney


We've just about finished two weeks of school holidays, and go back to school next week.  It's been a very busy holidays, and we are actually all feeling really run down and tired, so hopefully the routine of being back to work and school, will help us catch up on some rest. 

We've been so busy the last two weeks, but it's been a good busy.  Last Saturday after a hectic three days of helping at a church youth convention, we jumped on a plane and headed to Sydney for a week.  

We always love going to stay with my brother Chrish and it's even better now that Wet 'n' Wild has opened up just 15 minutes from his house.  We were so  lucky with the weather and it was over 30 degrees when we went.  
It was very busy, but we got lots of rides in.  It was fun to have Harri and Kobe be a little bit more brave this time, and they came on some of the bigger rides with us.  At first they were both freaking out, but loved it once they did the rides once.  By the end of the day Kobe was yelling on the rides 'yeah boy!!!' as he flew down the rides. 
Every time we are in Sydney I see the signs to Canberra, and ask Chrish how long it would take to drive there.  This trip I decided to make it a little longer than usual, so that the boys and I could drive to Canberra for a couple of nights.  We tried to get Chrish to join us, but he has just taken a big holiday as he went to the USA, so we made the drive on our own.  It was only two and a half hours, and the road was very easy.    I hadn't been since I was in grade 6, when we went there on a big family holiday as we drove up the east coast of Australia, so I was excited to go again. 
Our first stop was Parliament House.   The Australian Federal Police were outside Parliament House and in the car park to make sure it was safe, as Australia just increased the level of alert for a terrorist attack to high.  We joked that we would be okay if it did happen, as it would mean we would be with Aaron and Noah again.
We were hoping that parliament may have been sitting, but unfortunately they weren't.
The boys still loved being able to go and see how it all worked. We decided to go on one of the guided tours, even though we could walk around on our own.  It was much better as she told us a lot of things we would't have known if we didn't do the tour.  Harri had a lot of questions for the tour guide and was so interested in learning about it all. 

 Selfie in the Senate :)
We loved going up to the roof top.  The views of Canberra were great from the top. 
We heard that you could send a post card from Parliament House and you could get a special post mark of Parliament House on it.  The boys were excited to send themselves a card and wrote 'Canberra is awesome!'. 
It was interesting to hear on the tour about the design of Parliament House, and how everything had a meaning behind it. 
This is often what happens when you try to get a photo of all three boys at once. Kobe is turning into such a clown.
After touring Parliament House we drove around Canberra a little bit.  The boys were so excited to see these flags, so we stopped to see which flags they knew.  Luckily each country was listed underneath, or we wouldn't have had much hope in knowing very many of them.
My cousin Kristen and her family live in Canberra, so we were excited to stay with them for a couple of nights.  The boys didn't know their kids at all, but I knew that they would get along well.  

The first night we headed to Costco which was very exciting.  We don't have Costco in Tasmania, so we were excited to check it out. It had a lot more than I thought it would! I just assumed it was bulk food, but was surprised that they had everything.   Jalen amused himself by going around finding the biggest things that he could, while we were there.
The next day we squeezed in as much as we could.  First of all we went to the Mint.  I remember going there as a kid, and being fascinated with all the money.   The boys each made their own $1 coin for the bargain price of $3 each!
 We loved the stairs full of 5 cent pieces.
The boys loved seeing how money is made, and hearing about how it has changed over time. 
After the Mint we headed to Questacon - The National Science and Technology Centre.  It's was really fun and interactive, and had lots of things to do and see.  This robot could be controlled by touching the controls on the screen.
Our favourite thing was the earth quake house, where you can go in and feel what it's like to be in an actual earthquake. 

This drum beats in time with your heart rate.  Jay and I loved trying to get our heart rate to go up and down.

 The boys also loved the free fall slide where you free fall for a few seconds, before hitting a 6 metre slide.
Harri has been learning about sustainability at school (and has been giving us all lectures about how we aren't being sustainable with water!) so he was loving the last section which was all about that. 
There was a section for 0-6 year olds, but Jay and Harri had just as much fun playing in there as Kobe did. 
I was very excited and impressed that they had vocabulary boards in each play area, using Boardmaker pictures, which is something we use at school to help our kids with disabilities to communicate.  I have also been using it with my EAL students, so it was exciting to see it out in the community.
After Questacon we went to the Australian War Memorial.  I remember going there as a kid, but I think it has changed a lot since then.   When we first got there Kobe kept looking at things and saying 'that's cool!', but when I started to explain to him what it was about and that it actually wasn't 'cool' because it was about war, he quickly became really quiet and respectful. 

Harri was excited to get his photo taken with the statue of Simpson and his donkey as he had read the story about it at school.  
The boys were very quiet as we looked at the roll of honour on the walls.
Kobe desperately wanted to buy a poppy to put on the wall.  We were hoping to find my Pop's name, but I couldn't remember what battalion he was in, so he just put it where he could reach. 
The tomb of the unknown soldier was very impressive, and such a quiet and reverent place. 

Looking out of the tomb.

You could spend days at the War Memorial, but we only stayed for a few hours.  There was so much to see and even things for the boys to do.  They loved being able to dress up, and pretending they were going to war.  Jay knew how crazy it was to have fun while pretending to be at war, and kept asking why Pop would lie about his age, so that he could go and fight.





Kobe could not work out why a nurses uniform was there, and kept saying 'they didn't have nurses at war!'.  We explained to him why nurses were there and he said 'that's funny that that ladies would be at war!'.

Throughout the memorial there are a lot of different videos that run at different times.  We sat down to watch the one about helicopters.   During the video it feels like the helicopter is really going as it's so loud and has flashing lights, so it looks like the helicopter blades are rotating. 

I could tell during the different videos that the boys were feeling really somber. 
My favourite section was the Afghanistan section.   Because all of my EAL students are from there, it really hit home to me about how important it is that Australia is there.  We sat down to watch videos of different soldiers who are over there fighting, and I felt quite teary the whole time, knowing how my students have had to leave their own country, because of what's going on over there. 
We could've spent a lot longer at the War Memorial, but we were there till it closed and were very tired by the end of the day. 
As we were leaving Kobe told me that he felt like crying. I asked him why and he said he felt sad 'because of all the people at war'.
We had a lovely time staying with my cousin and her family, and by the end of the second day Harri had a new best friend - Lachie.   The second night they asked if they could sleep together, and when I said goodnight to them Harri asked me if they were cousins. I told them that they were, and they both did a fist pump and yelled 'yes!!'.  It cracked me up.  It was lovely to get to know Kristen and Steph's kids and we hope that go back to stay with them again sometime. 
Before driving back to Chrish's we wanted to do a couple more things in Canberra.  First we went on a tour of the Australian Institute of Sport.  It was cool to see where some of Australia's top sports people train. 

There were some really fun and interactive things to do there. It reminded us a lot of the Scienceworks Museum in Melbourne.



Harri cracked me up when he posed for this photo.  He kept looking down and looked sad, and I told him to smile and then he said 'but I won the bronze medal Mum! I'm not happy!'.

After the Institute of Sport, we went to the National Museum of Australia. 

We could've stayed a lot longer than we did, but just had a quick look around.  There was a lot to see and it was all about Australia through the ages.  When you first go in you can watch a video which is on four different screens.  Each section is about a different time in Australia, and after each section the chairs rotate around to the next screen.  

Different areas of the museum were about the different ages throughout Australian history. 
The boys loved pretending they were on radio. 
We were dreading the drive back to Sydney, but it wasn't too bad and seemed to go quite fast.  Before we left Harri was desperate to go back to a suburb called 'Harrison' to get his photo taken with the signs there.  He was very impressed that they had named a suburb and school after him! ;)
We had one more night back in Sydney before we had to come home. It was good to see Chrish again, and I think he is either hating or loving that we came up, as we convinced him to have a big spend up, and helped him to choose a new rug, new bed and new couch for his house!
 On the way to the airport we made a quick stop in the city and Bondi Beach. 

The boys decided that Bondi was a good spot for a bit of wrestling.  That was until Harri and Kobe both got sand in their eyes!


We had a great week in Canberra and Sydney, but it's good to be home - especially now the weather is starting to warm up.  I just wish we had another week of holidays to catch up on some rest, before having to go back to work and school. 
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