Saturday, 25 April 2015

ANZAC Day

ANZAC Day is always a very special day to us because my Pop fought in World War Two.  We always make an effort to go along to the ANZAC march and usually go to the march in Deloraine as that is where Pop would march, before he passed away.  This photo is extra special now that Dad has also passed away
 Mum came and stayed last night and we all went to the dawn service this morning. It was the first time the boys had ever been to the dawn service, and let's just say they weren't too happy about getting out of bed at 5am! 

On the way to the cenotaph Kobe was complaining away about how he wished he was still in bed, and how he was cold.  I couldn't resist coming back with 'how do you think the soldiers felt when they had to get out of the boats in the cold, to go to war! They couldn't just go back home to their warm homes'. 

We met up with some friends at the dawn service, and Jalen and Lizzie laid a wreath on behalf of the youth from our ward at church.  It was awesome to hear a kookaburra while the last post was being played.

By the end of the dawn service the boys all loved it. I think they just needed to wake up properly - going to Maccas for breakfast afterwards probably made it seem even better!
This year Jalen said he was going to march with his school with the Student Leadership Board, so we decided to stay in town this year.  Because it is the 100 year anniversary since the ANZACs landed at Gallipoli, we knew it would be an extra special year, so Harri and Kobe decided that they would also march with their school for the first time.   They've never had the chance before, because we usually go out to Deloraine.  The boys met up with everyone from their schools before the march through town.
Jalen got to carry the wreath for his school during the march.
I marched with the school as well, and it was amazing to see thousands of people lining the streets. 
We spotted Mum taking pics on the way.
The boys had lots of questions about the robes the mayor had on.
I was excited that four of my EAL (English as an Additional Language) students came along.  We had been learning a lot about ANZAC Day and what it means, and how it's a special day to say thank you to the people who have fought in wars for us. 

I had a parent meeting with an interpreter at the end of last term, and explained what it was about and said I would love for them to join us in the march if they could. It made my day to have them there, and meant so much more because they come from a refugee background, and they know that Australians continue to fight to bring peace to their country.   They had lots of questions about the day and found the service a bit long, but really enjoyed the march.
It was moving to hear a student from Turkey deliver a message from the Turkish Prime Minister, and to know that we are no longer enemies.
This week I have received some lovely letters from a few different politicians, wishing me well and saying congratulations for being awarded the Barnados Mother of the Year for Tasmania.   One of the letters was from Andrew Nikolic and he spoke today at the service.  Afterwards I saw him, so went up to introduce myself and say hi.  As soon as I said my name he knew who I was and was so happy to have a chat and kept saying how happy he was for me to win the award. He told me that his Dad had passed away when he was 13, so he understood a little of what we are going through.

He asked us if he could get his photo taken with us, so we also took one. Harri thought it was cool that a politician was asking for a photo with us.
 Mum had fun with the boys on the way back to the car.  The leaves are looking so pretty at the moment.
It was a very special day, and it was really lovely to see so many people paying their respects this year.
I miss my Pop even more on special days like today.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Still Sinking In

It's been a big week after being awarded the Barnados Mother of the Year for Tasmania, and I think it's sinking in.   I didn't realise what a big deal it was going to be and it's slowly hitting me how huge it is.   I've been overwhelmed with so many lovely messages from people congratulating me including letters and emails from politicians, and strangers saying hi and congratulating me when we are out.

I got an especially lovely surprise when a florist delivered flowers and chocolates from the Hawthorn Football Club.  They have been so lovely and supportive of us since Aaron passed away and it touches me that they still reach out to us.  It's just one of the reasons why I love the Hawks so much.   I did joke with the boys that if the Hawks were already in town, I'm sure the lovely Hodgey would've delivered them himself. 
I went back to work on Monday after our Easter school holidays, and so many kids were telling me that they saw me on TV or in the newspaper.  I've had a few laughs with some things that kids have said.  One girl said she saw me on TV and then asked 'did you win the election Mrs King!?'.

Another girl in grade 1 asked me why I won the Mother of the Year.  I told her I wasn't sure but they must've thought I was doing a good job as a Mum and she said 'oh I know why! It's because you work at the same school as your boys and they think that's good'.  I agreed with her and told her that was probably it :)

Another girl yelled 'congratulations on winning 'mother of the month Mrs King!'. 

Kobe's teacher told me that for his news writing after the holidays he wrote all about staying at The Old Woolstore and how it had a fridge, a microwave and a bible in the room.  She said there was no mention of my award and she reminded him I won the award, and he then went off and wrote about that as well! I asked him later if he was more excited about the hotel than the award and he said he was equally excited about both! He cracks me up.

I was lucky to have my friends Chelsea and Alison taking photos at the state award for me, but yesterday I was emailed a link for the photos that were taken by official photographers on the day.  It was fun to see some different photos and it made me realise how much of the day is a real blur because I was just so nervous the whole day, and then overwhelmed when I won.  I wish now that I just felt more relaxed so I could've enjoyed it more, but at the time it was just very overwhelming.

These photos were taken before the announcement was made. It was funny as each of the nominees had their photo taken with a couple of different flowers before the announcement.  These were the flowers I was given after it was announced, and there were other beautiful flowers for the other finalists.  
 
All the media and photographers knew before hand what was going to happen, and they were all given a sheet of information with what Reeve had written in his nomination, but at the time I didn't realise that.  Later when they were interviewing me they kept pulling it out, to confirm different information.

I love that the photographers captured Jalen taking a pic of Reeve and I on my phone.
When I see these photos my stomach starts turning again and my heart starts racing, and all the emotions I was having that morning come back again. 
 It was such a lovely but overwhelming morning. 
Listening to Reeve read his nomination. 

Answering questions about how I felt about being nominated and how I stay so strong.

This photo shows so clearly the moment that it was announced.  Reeve is obviously very excited and looks like he knew it all along, but I'm sitting there stunned and in shock. I remember thinking at the time 'they said my name!  Did they really say my name!?' and then thinking 'I'd better get up to get it from the Premier'. 
I love this pic with the other nominees. They were such lovely ladies and I actually felt sad at the time that they couldn't also be awarded it.  
This time I'm holding the winning flowers after it was announced. 
I still don't think I deserve it, and I go between being embarrassed and then feeling very grateful for what has happened.  It's been a lovely boost for me and the boys and I wish even more that Aaron and Noah were here right now to be a part of it, but then I know that if they were here that this wouldn't have even happened.  It's very bitter sweet.   I've been missing them so much this week, but have actually been feeling them around a lot which has been nice.

I am grateful and overwhelmed with everyone's lovely comments and thoughts as everyone wishes me well for the national final.  There are some amazing women in the national final and I'm not at all expecting at all to be awarded the National Mother of the Year, and I think in a lot of ways that will make it more enjoyable as I will just look forward to the whole experience, without feeling nervous about it.  I'm excited that Jalen gets to come along with me for the weekend, and hopefully Reeve will be able to make it to the announcement as well. 

You can read more about the other state finalists here.  There are eight all together and they aren't all up on the website yet. 

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Barnados Mother of the Year Tasmanian National Finalist

We've had a huge couple of days and I still can't really believe what has happened.  A couple of months ago I got a call from a lady from Barnados which is an organisation which helps stop child abuse by finding safe homes for abused children, and working with families and disadvantaged children.

She told me that my friend Reeve had nominated me for the 'Mother of the Year' and that I was in the top six finalists for Tasmania.  I think I said something like 'What!? Are you kidding!?' before she went on to read out what Reeve had written about me.

I was blown away that Reeve would take the time to do something so nice for me, and what he wrote was so lovely.  Reeve and I were friends when we were in our late teens/early twenties and moved to Queensland from Tassie almost twenty years ago, and we have kept in touch over the years but only see each other every five years or so when he visits family in Tassie.

This is Reeve's nomination:


Lisa and her husband Aaron had four sons; Jalen, Noah, Harri and Kobe. Their second son, Noah, was born with a condition called Hydranencephaly”. Noah’s brain was under-developed and mostly fluid

Rather than feeling sorry for themselves,  Lisa and Aaron were an inspiration to many with the way they tackled this challenge. They were told that Noah would only ever have the mental capacity of a 3-month-old and would only live for a few years. He could do nothing for himself. Lisa (a qualified teacher) became his full time carer. Due to their obvious love and positivity Noah made it to his 10th birthday before his tired body eventually gave out.  
Most of us thought that Noah’s passing would be a release of sorts for the Kings but they genuinely struggled without their “little monkey.” Lisa and her family slowly learned to cope without Noah, but then horror of horrors - on a rare family holiday a few months later Aaron suffered a fatal heart attack on Australia Day, in 2012. He was only 39.  

We all wondered how Lisa would cope with this double tragedy. She has, however, continued to be inspirational, upbeat and to think of others. Lisa is a regular blogger” and has inspired many people around the world with how she has remained positive throughout her ordeals. She has twice been voted Australian mum blogger of the year”.  

Lisa often gets recognised in public and thanked by someone who has been inspired by her story and her fortitude. Lisa has returned to work as a teacher for refugee children who have English as their second language. Lisa's dedication to making sure her three remaining sons enjoy life is nothing short of an inspiration.
 

She wanted to confirm that all the information was correct, and then went on to ask me if I was to make the top three for Tasmania, if I would be able to come to the awards ceremony in Hobart in April.  I remember laughing and saying 'I'll say yes because I know I won't have to, and if I need to I'll work it out' before she told me she would email me all the paper work I would need to sign and send back. She asked for someone to be my referee, so I told her to ring my friend Simone, and then quickly rang Simone when we hung up and told her about the call.  Simone laughed and said she knew that Reeve had nominated me a long time ago, because he had contacted her about it. 

I was in total shock all day and told my family, but I have to admit that I actually felt a little embarrassed about it and just couldn't bring myself to tell anyone else.  I was honored that Reeve would nominate me, but just didn't think I deserved it at all, because there are so many amazing Mums out there, and I guess we all feel like we could be doing a better job.

I had to get my paperwork signed by a witness, and went over to school on one of my days off to ask a friend/colleague to sign it for me.  I remember walking into her classroom and feeling so nervous to tell her what I needed her to do, because I felt weird saying 'I've been nominated for Mother of the Year'.  I told her and she started screaming and said 'I just said the other day that you deserve a medal! You're totally going to win!' which made me laugh.  I told her I didn't deserve it and I wouldn't get any further than sixth and not to tell anyone else.    She was just a little bit excited about it, and I slowly started to learn that she couldn't help but spread the news, and had told some of my other colleagues! Thanks Jacky! ;)

A few weeks ago Reeve rang me and was very excited because he had just seen an email from Barnados saying I was in the top three for Tasmania. I thought he was actually joking but got the same email, with all the details about the awards ceremony for Tasmania.  We were told that the Premier Will Hodgman would be presenting the award and that Reeve would be flown down from Queensland for it. 

When I found out I was in the top three finalists, I realised I then had to tell my friends about it as I was able to invite family and friends to it.  Of course when I told them, they were all very excited about it and couldn't wait for the award ceremony.

On Tuesday we traveled down to Hobart with Mum, and were lucky enough to spend the night at The Old Woolstore as they are one of the sponsors of the awards.
We had a two bedroom apartment, so the boys and I slept in one room, and Mum had the other side.

Kobe cracked me up when he found a bible in the drawer.  He yelled 'how do they know we go to church!?'. 

 The boys were so excited - especially about the free wifi!  I reminded them that they could get that at home, so we didn't hang around long in the room.
We walked into the city and I couldn't help but think about our last time in Hobart as it was when Dad passed away
Reeve arrived at night and we met up with him and went for a walk around the wharf, and had tea together.  He has three boys, so he was good with the footy and gaming talk.
I felt so nervous about the award ceremony and hardly slept at all. I wasn't worried at all if I got the award or not, because I really didn't think I would, but I just was nervous about all the attention and having to speak in front of people including the media, who we knew would be there.

It was held yesterday at the Premier's reception room which had amazing views. 
Everyone from Barnados were so lovely, and wanted us to just relax and enjoy the day.  I spent some time chatting with the other two nominees who were really lovely.  They have amazing stories and are awesome Mums and I was sure that one of them would win.

Each of the nominators had to read out their tribute and then each of us were asked a couple of questions.  I was asked how I remain so strong and how I felt when I was nominated.  I didn't expect at all to get emotional, but when I looked up and saw all of my friends and family with tears in their eyes, I couldn't help but get emotional as well.  I said that I just try to live my life to make Aaron and Noah proud of us, and that they wouldn't want us to give up.  I also said how shocked, humbled and honored I felt to be nominated.
 After the three nominees had our tributes read, the Premier gave a speech about how important it is to recognise good mothers, and how much his mother influenced his life.  He then announced the winner and I couldn't believe that it was me!
The three of us were given some beautiful flowers, as well as some lovely prizes including gift vouchers, kitchen items and gift packs. 
As soon as it was announced there were so many cameras everywhere.  
The boys came straight up to me and were so excited and gave me huge hugs. 
 Everyone was very excited for me and there were lots of tears. 
There was a morning tea afterwards but  I was taken away for photos and interviews with the media.   There were so many people taking photos and videoing that I joked that it felt like my wedding day.
This is with the Premier, the M.C. Georgia Love who is a news reporter for WIN Television, a lady from Barnados and Jacquie Petrusma who is a politician who I had actually been in contact with before Noah passed away.  We were really struggling to provide Noah with all of his needs because of the lack of funding, and Jacquie had been so kind in taking our story to parliament.  It was so lovely to finally meet her.
While we were getting our photo taken with the Premier, Jalen heard him say to one of his 'people' (they have people right!?) to upload a photo onto Twitter.  We were very excited to see it up on his Twitter and Facebook page not long after.
After photos inside we were taken out to the courtyard for interviews. 
The boys were asked questions as well, and said some lovely things but kept cracking up at each other's answers.  Kobe was asked what he thought of his Mum and he said 'she's pretty good' which absolutely cracked everyone up!  I said to him later 'I'm pretty good am I Kobes?' and he said 'I meant to say you are really, really good but I forgot what I wanted to say!'.

The reporters kept saying how awesome the boys were, and I told them not to quote them too much! ;)

While I was outside I had no idea what everyone else was doing, but my friends Chelsea and Alison were taking photos and these photos make me laugh.  Simone and Bec were obviously enjoying the morning tea, sitting up in the Premier's reception room!
This is why I love my friends so much. They definitely keep me laughing!
 
After some media interviews in the courtyard, we then had to go to a park nearby for photos.  We had photos with the Mercury and then another photographer told me he was from Woman's Day magazine, and that there was going to be an article about all of the state finalists, so we then spent a while with him.   He was actually very funny and was great with the boys.  This morning a writer from Woman's Day rang up to do a phone interview with me, and told me it will be in the magazine on the 27th April.
All of my friends came to find me once the morning tea was over, and were making me laugh as they kept saying 'oh has the Mother of the Year got time for her friends now?'.  The lady from Barnados who was organising all the media thought they were very funny.  Barnados put up their announcement on their Facebook page not long after the ceremony.
Kobe was so excited and totally thought he was famous, and was very happy to give everyone his autograph.
When all the media interviews and photos had finished we all had lunch together before heading back home.  

 
It was all still sinking in and I was getting so many phone calls and messages from friends and family who had heard the news, as it was all over the media already. I don't think I realised what a big deal it would be.  My cousin Toni rang me saying she had heard it on the news on the radio!  

While we had lunch I was still getting phone calls asking if I could do a radio interview via phone while we were driving home.   We had to pull over on the side of the highway to do the interview. 
On the way home Mum was reading the online articles that were already put up.  The articles from The Examiner is here, The Mercury is here, and the ABC is here.  When we got home we had a photographer from The Examiner come to our house to take a photo, as they wanted to put it on the front page, as they didn't have a photographer in Hobart.  Mum got to be his assistant :) 
It was on the news on two TV channels last night and I just recorded it using my phone so my brother and sister could see it as they are on the mainland.  Hopefully I can get a proper copy sometime.  I crack up laughing every time I see the boys interviewed as they kept giggling at each other.

Last night Kobe kept saying 'I just can't believe it Mum!' and Harri said 'do you feel different now Mum?  You were always special, but now you're even more special' which was so lovely.  This morning I started getting messages early from people who had seen it in the paper. The photo turned out really nice.  You can read the article online here.  It's nice to have Mum included in the photo online.
 I love the photo that the photographer from the Mercury took. 
We were able to grab the newspaper stand headline from a takeaway shop that we always go to.  I asked the lady if I could have it tomorrow, as I was on the front page of the paper and would like it for a keepsake, and she said she thought she recognised me as a customer and was so lovely and kept congratulating me, and was very happy to let me take it home today.  Kobe said he wanted to put it up in his bedroom.

It's been a crazy couple of days and I feel like I still haven't caught up on all the messages from so many people.  Thank you to everyone for all of your support and love, and thank you especially to Reeve for being so kind in nominating me.   I still don't think I deserve it, but it's lovely to be recognised for something that I love doing and for something that is so important. 

I still can't really believe it and am very nervous but excited about going to Sydney for a few days for the national award with the other state finalists, which will be announced on Mother's Day.
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