Sunday, 26 June 2016

Noah's 15th Birthday in Heaven

When Noah was diagnosed with hydranencephaly at 9 weeks old, we were told that he may only live for 2-4 years.  The first twelve months of his life, that was all we could think about.  But as the shock wore off and his health became more settled, we no longer focused on that as much but just tried to give him the best life possible, no matter how long he was with us for.

Noah was actually born on my Dad's birthday so poor Dad always took the backseat on their birthday, as every one made such a fuss that Noah was able to celebrate another birthday.  When Noah turned 1, it was also my Dad's 50th and two days later it was my brother Chrish's 25th, so we made sure we had a big party that year, especially as we didn't know how many more birthdays we would be able to celebrate with Noah. 

Noah turned ten on his last birthday with us, and he actually slept most of the day.  I remember clearly thinking to myself that I wasn't sure if we would get to celebrate another one with him.  It was obvious that his body was becoming more and more tired, and he was very puffy for many months leading up to when he died.  I was looking at photos tonight from Noah's last birthday with us in 2011.  It's still so strange to see photos of Aaron, Noah and also my Dad and know they're no longer here as it can still remember Aaron's voice and mannerisms like he was just here yesterday.

Today Noah would've been 15! I can't imagine at all what he would be like if he were still here.  Yesterday the boys said the same thing. When I imagine him still being here I have such mixed feelings.  I miss him so much and would give anything to still have him here, but at the same time I feel so happy for him that he is no longer in his tired, disabled body.

This morning we had a special brunch, and then headed to the cemetery with 16 balloons - 15 for Noah and one for my Dad.

Kobe loved cracking us up, as he pretended to float away :)

After we released the balloons we went over to Aaron's grave.  
It was a freezing day, but lovely and sunny once the fog lifted so we could see the balloons for ages.

When I got home I found this sneeky shot on my camera! :)

After tea the boys were arguing about who should blow out Noah's 15 candles.
 Kobe thought it should be him as he is the youngest (and I agreed) but Harri said that isn't fair because when he was the youngest in the family 'no one was even dead yet!'.  We actually cracked up when he said that, and said that was a fair call.  Maybe he will get to blow out Aaron's candles for his birthday in December.

Happy birthday monkey. We hope that Dad was able to cook you and Grandpa a cake up in Heaven. We wish you were here to celebrate with us.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

First Job!

Since Jay was old enough to get a casual job, I have been encouraging (nagging!) him to apply for different jobs and go out and drop off his resume. He wasn't really keen when he was 14, and it didn't feel like it was very long since Aaron passed away (it still doesn't!) so I didn't nag him too much, but left it for a bit.

He was very picky about what kind of work he wanted - saying that he didn't want to work at a fast food store, but preferred to work at a supermarket or another retail place.  I kept reminding him that often you have to start somewhere to get to where you really want to be, and I'm sure that he's very sick of all my 'when I was way younger than you I was already working and had two jobs by the time I was your age!'.

Living on a flower farm and having uncles who also had flower farms, meant that nights after school, weekends and school holidays were full of hours of planting, picking and bunching hundreds and hundreds of flowers.  It wasn't easy work, but it taught me how to work hard and I appreciated my other jobs after that! My second job was working at a roadhouse/service station which included pumping petrol, preparing food and serving customers.

Other jobs I've had since then include being a nanny (while traveling the USA with my Uncle and Auntie), a child care worker, a child support worker at a women's shelter, receptionist, teacher, then a teacher aid and a teacher again.

I knew how good it was having money as a teenager, and not having to rely on Mum and Dad if I wanted to buy clothes or other things.  Over the past year Jay has been keen to buy different things that he's seen in town. I've actually enjoyed rubbing it into him about how good it would be to have his own money to buy want he's wanted. Every time we were in town he would hear me saying 'if you had a job you could buy that!'.  Jay applied at places online, but was never really serious about getting a job.  I kept telling him that I was worried that he had left things too late, and was worried that he was getting too old to get a casual job somewhere. 

A few months ago Jay came home from school and told me that his friend Sophie works at McDonalds and told him it wasn't a bad place to work. I told him that I agreed and had heard a lot of good things about working there - that it was very flexible, that the pay was pretty good, and that they had really good training.  I knew because he brought it up with me, that it meant he was coming around to the idea of working at a fast food shop.   I suggested he apply online, but he told me to not get too excited as he wasn't saying he wanted to apply just yet.

It only took a few weeks of encouraging (nagging again!) and he finally agreed to apply. He actually has a few friends who work there, and all of them told him that it wasn't a bad place to work, plus the idea of having his own money finally brought him around to applying.

He applied at a couple of different Maccas a few months ago, but didn't have any luck the first time, so he applied again a month and a half later.  One night I was cooking tea and he came into the kitchen and just casually said 'so yeah, I have an interview at Maccas'.  I was so excited but he was very laid back about it! I think I was a lot more nervous and excited about it than he was!

He booked the interview which was about 5 days later and I was so nervous when I dropped him off. He said he was nervous, but didn't seem like he was. I kept telling him to 'smile, be friendly, act confident, be yourself' and he just kept saying 'I know Mum! I know what to do'.

The interview was at Maccas and I just sat in the car and waited for him.  It was very short and sweet and he came out and said he thought he did okay and that he may find out that night.  A couple of hours later, he got an email to say he got the job! I was so excited for him.

Over the next week he had to complete some online training modules, before going to an orientation to get his uniform and he was scheduled to do few training shifts a week for three weeks.   You actually have to wear your regular clothes to work, and get changed at work but I was keen to see him in his uniform when he got it, so he tried it on for me. 
Apparently this is what all the cool kids do now - put their thumb up in front of their faces! I made him move it slightly for a pic, and he wasn't impressed :)

At his interview he was asked why he wanted to work at Maccas. He said he had been told by friends that it was a good place to work, that the money wouldn't be bad, and that he knew that Maccas was a great support people in the community through things such as Ronald McDonald House, and that we had experienced that firsthand as a family (or something along those lines).    This was the packaging for his work shirt.
I'm lucky that the Maccas that he's working at is very close to home, so it's not too much of a pain to drop him off and pick him up, but I'm sure the novelty will wear off quickly.
Jay has now done 5 training shifts and still has some more to go, but so far he said it's been going well. He said all of his trainers have been really nice and he cracked me up when he said 'kids are awesome hey Mum!?'.  It made me laugh as he always tells me he hates kids (probably because he's so much older than his brothers and cousins and it's a pain when they have their friends around and there's lots of noise).  I asked him why he said that and he told me two cute kids came in and ordered from him and he kept saying how awesome they were.

This was the view at drop off last night. We've been getting some beautiful sunsets lately.
Tonight was our busy  night with both Harri and Kobe having soccer training.  It always means we have a late tea, and the boys are always in bed late on Wednesday nights.  Tonight Jay was working and Harri was at soccer training, so it was just Kobe and I having tea together. Kobe was so funny as he said how quiet it was and said he should sing 'all by myself!'. I told him that's what it's going to be like in about 10 years when both Jay and Harri have moved out of home - that it'll just be the two of us. He wasn't very keen on that idea!

Jay had warned us all week not to come in during his first few shifts, as he was nervous and just learning and didn't want to have the stress of us watching him.  I figured that he may be okay with us coming in tonight, so we went in before his shift finished to get a special treat for dessert. He cracked me up as he acted like he didn't even know us and just took Kobe's order :)   Harri obviously thinks it's pretty awesome that Jay is serving him (and yes we were being bogans and let Kobe wear his pyjamas to Maccas! It was past his bedtime, and I was keen for him to get into bed as soon as we got home :)
Jay is enjoying the discounted Maccas and is looking forward to his first pay.  I think once he's used to it all and not so nervous about knowing everything, he will be glad that he finally has a job.  We can't stop thinking about how awesome Aaron would think that he's working at Maccas.  When I met him I couldn't believe that a 20 year old could like Maccas so much!  No doubt he pulled some strings to get Jay working in his favourite place ever.

Sunday, 19 June 2016


It was my birthday a couple of days ago, and it kind of just crept up and then seems to have gone just as quick.  I don't care at all about birthdays but it was fun to tell the kids at school that it was going to be my birthday later in the week, because I know how excited they get about birthdays.

I told one of my Prep students that it was going to be my birthday on Friday and he said 'where's your class!?!'. I said 'what do you mean where's my class?! You're my class! I teach you and lots of other students English, so I don't have a whole class'. He then said 'but when it's your birthday you have to bring cake!'.  It cracked me up, as he was obviously hoping that I would bring along cake!  I reminded him that I don't work on Fridays so I was lucky that it was my day off, but he didn't look very happy about that :)

Jay was lovely and told me that he was going to get home late one day, as he wanted to go into town to buy me a present.  Harri and Kobe then got a bit stressed and said that they hadn't got me anything yet, and asked me if I could take them shopping (with my money of course!). 

After work one day I was just so tired, and didn't want to go where it was busy so I told the boys we were just going to Coles down the road.  I reminded them that there are lots of things in Coles that I would like (meaning chocolate!) and sent them in on their own. They were so cute coming back to the car, as Kobe was doing a little dance on the way back!

On Friday morning before the boys went to school, they gave me their pressies.   Harri had written in the card for me :)    Harri asked me that morning if I was 43 and I told him not to be rude! I'm not quite that old just yet.

Jay had picked out the frame for me, and when I got home yesterday he cracked me up as he had put a picture of Shannon Noll in it, and left it near my bed! I don't even like him (like that!) but because Jay is obsessed with him and we saw him sing live earlier in the year, he is constantly talking about him, and how he was robbed in Australian Idol as he came second. It cracked me up.

Harri came second in his school cross country a couple of weeks ago, and was therefore in his school team to compete in the LSSSA (inter school cross country).  It was supposed to be held last Friday, but because there was so much rain when the flooding happened, it was postponed until my birthday.  My cousin Tim and Helene's boys Jai and Arden were also competing for their school, so Tim said he would come and pick me up so we could go up together, as we had planned on having lunch together after with my friend Simone.

Unfortunately it was pouring with rain all morning, but because it had already been postponed they decided to go ahead with it.  Tim came to the door to get me and looked really upset when I opened it. I asked him what was up and he said that the bad weather had ruined my birthday plans. I asked him what he was talking about, and joked that we were going to go to the beach (even though it's winter).  He then told me that he had organised to go in a light plane with Simone, to Lost Farm restaurant at Bridport!

I was like 'what!? Are you serious!!". He was so disappointed about it as he had planned it for a couple of weeks.  He works at the airport so has lots of connections out there. Apparently the pilot said to him that his wife would be excited about it, and Tim then told him it was actually for his cousin and the pilot said something like 'that's a bit extreme then!'.  I told Tim I agreed and he said he told the pilot that I had a rough time and he thought I deserved some fun.  It would've been more than fun, but when he told me the pic of the plane I told him I would probably have freaked out, but it would've been so amazing if it did happen.  He said that they fly quite low so that you can see the scenery along the way.

He was so disappointed that the weather ruined our plans and Simone was also upset as they thought it was the best birthday surprise ever. Instead we sat in the pouring rain watching the cross country.

 Despite the rain though, it was fun to watch the three boys run. They were absolutely drenched and covered in mud by the end of it.
Harri did so well and came 5th overall!
Instead of flying to Bridport we still had a lovely lunch with Simone and her son Flynn at Stillwater Restaurant.
Tim cracked me up when dessert came out. He said 'come on, take a photo! It isn't going to Instagram itself!'.
After lunch I went and had a beautiful long massage (I'm keeping the Chinese massage place close by in business lately!) before the boys got home from school.   Harri had basketball that night, and there was no way that I was going to cook on my birthday, so we went and got takeaway in town before he played.

 Kobe couldn't wait to get home from basketball as Hawthorn were playing footy and it was on TV. He is the only one who is really interested this year and was so into the game. He was so cute getting excited about it.
Because we couldn't go out for tea on my birthday, Tim and Helene joined us at Hogsbreath for tea last night.   Kobe and I both got a free meal for our birthday month, because we have VIP cards.
 Arden was so cute as he was so keen to sit next to Jay as he thinks he's cool :)
 Showing the kids how face swap works :)
Even though it's not the same now that Aaron and Noah aren't here, it was nice to have friends and family send me cards, texts and messages all day as it makes it a lot easier.  Thanks Tim and Simone for hanging out with me, and wanting to do something very cool! Maybe we will have to plan it for my 50th instead.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Launceston Floods

Last weekend there were severe weather warnings for early this week. There had been a lot of rain and storms on the mainland and it was heading down to Tasmania. I didn't think too much of it, except that I knew it was going to be an awful few days at school as it would mean that we would be getting a lot of rain, and that would also mean that the kids would be stuck inside for days.

It rained a lot on Sunday night, and all day Monday.  By mid afternoon we heard that part of a suburb close to our school was being evacuated because the river was rising very quickly.  Four of our families that I teach live in the area, and luckily at the time we were having a parent meeting with an interpreter.  Through the interpreter we explained that they needed to evacuate because of the risk of flooding in their homes.  Not long after we started to explain it to them, some of the families began getting phone calls from other family members who had also heard the same thing.

It was almost the end of the school day, and already other students were being picked up early as they were needing to either evacuate, or get home before they wouldn't be able to get through because of the floods.

We got all of our students together early, and explained to them that they would need to leave school early with their parents, and made sure that they all got home safely.  At the end of the day I got a text message from Jalen's school saying that all the students had been moved to the gym and that students could be collected from school earlier they needed to be.

I sent him a message to say I would come and pick him up from school as we heard that traffic was going to be crazy, with roads shutting down and people leaving school and work early to get home.   When I got to his school he said that the floods had come right up to the school car park and was about to reach the building, so they got all the students to leave their classrooms.  I took him and his friends Zoe and Skye home and saw some of the flooding on the way home.

We are very lucky as we live away from the rivers in our city, and also on top of a hill so we were very safe.  I knew that the Gorge would be in flood and because of the part of town we live in, I knew the traffic wouldn't be bad to get there so after school we went up to see what it was like.  It's our favourite place to hang out in the summer time - we literally go there almost every day.

There's usually a beautiful pool in the middle of a beautiful grassed area, BBQs, and a playground with swings and a slide.   When we got there it was ALL under water.  The Gorge often gets flooded in the winter, but we had never ever seen it this high before.  It had reached the bottom of the toilet block and it was so powerful that it was like the ocean - with waves lapping up on the footpath.
 Half of Launceston were also there to check it out.
We were able to walk up the path towards the swinging bridge, but weren't able to stay there long as they had council workers and security workers moving everyone back up the path and were blocking off the path.
The water was so noisy and powerful!

 It was an unbelievable sight to see that everything was covered with water.
  This is how it usually looks! 
We followed what was going on with the floods all week as it was all over the news, some of our students weren't able to return home for a couple of nights, a friend's home was flooded and a lot of roads around our city were shut down as they shut all the flood gates.  It was all everyone was talking about as our city waited to see if the new flood levies could hold off most of the water and save thousands of homes from being flooded. It was the biggest flood we have had in our city since 1929 so it was pretty big news.

Our local council was posting a lot of photos as the flood went on, on their Facebook page and I couldn't believe how badly flooded our local club's soccer grounds were! You can just see the goals sitting out of the water on the left hand side.  No wonder soccer training was cancelled!
Jay was excited to hear that his school was closed on Wednesday as there was another threat that the flood waters were going to peak again.  On Thursday after school we met up with my cousin Tim and his kids, and went to check out the flood waters at another part of town.  These waters are gushing down from the Gorge to Kings Bridge.
We decided to walk to the lookout on the zigzag track.
From the track you could see how high the water was towards the Seaport.
 Lots of people were out looking at the floodwater and it was fun to run into Jay's friends Zoe and Edina (who he went to the Leaver's Dinner with).
We then walked along to the Seaport. Stillwater Restaurant had already been flooded, and the water was peaking again and was lapping at their door.
The newly planted Peace Garden took a bit of a battering.
There was so much foam in the water.
Hallam's had also been flooded already and the water was slowly rising back up again.

The water is usually back below the fence.
Royal Park was covered with water.  There is usually footpaths and boardwalks here.
We joked about throwing a few sausages on the BBQ :)
I don't work on Fridays and if my cousin Tim doesn't have to work (he does shift work) we often catch up for brekky or lunch.  Kobe had complained on Thursday night that he felt sick, and in the morning he was still complaining. A lot of people have been sick at school, but Kobe often complains he is sick when he gets really tired (usually towards the end of term).  I think because he knew it was my day off, he thought his chances of being able to stay home was better than usual.

I told him he had to go to school and that they could ring me if his tummy got worse (he was complaining of a stomach ache) as I could tell that he was okay to go.  He started crying straight away and said it was really, really bad, so I felt like an awful Mum and told him that he could stay home.

Within ten minutes though his stomach ache didn't seem so bad and I was cranky as I knew he really could've been at school, but instead was going to be at home with me all day and it was my day off work! (see definitely not Mother of the Year anymore....I love my kid free days!).   I told him that if he was staying home he would have to come and do a lot of jobs with me, and he was fine with that.

It was actually nice to have the day with him as he really wasn't that sick (I do believe he had a stomach ache but he would've been totally fine at school)  and we met up with Tim and had brekky and then decided to go up to the Gorge to see if the floodwater had gone down very much. 
This is how the Gorge usually looks:
We were surprised that you could now see the top of the playground (sorry for the dodgy phone photos here).

We were surprised that the chairlift was back up and running and Tim suggested that we go on it.  At first I thought it sounded very exciting and thought it was a great idea, but after we bought our tickets and I realised I was about to dangle in the air over floodwaters (and the seats really don't feel very safe as it just has a little bar holding you in, that flips up and over very easily and doesn't lock in place) I started to panic! I thought Kobe would be just as scared as I was, but he was so excited and couldn't wait to get on. 

Kobe and I went on the first chairs, and Tim went on one on his own behind us.  
I absolutely hate Ferris wheels because I hate the feeling of dangling up high and moving so slow at the same time, and I had the same feelings as being on a Ferris wheel when I was on the chairlift!   I was so nervous I couldn't even lift my hand to touch my phone screen to make it focus properly! :)
There were a few moments when it was okay, but then I quickly started having irrational thoughts that I was going to drop my phone in the water, that I was going to fall in the water, that Kobe would drop down and I wouldn't be able to save him, or that the whole chair would just fall down.  I then started to think about what would happen if the chairlift broke down!  No need for exercise that day as my heart was racing just sitting there!

Kobe loved it and kept turning around and waving to Tim.  I was freaking out saying 'keep still Kobe! Stop turning around! Hold on Kobe!'.

The water is a lot further down than it looks.

I was so happy to get to the other side, but started to panic when I realised that the only way back was to get back on again (all the paths out of the Gorge and the suspension bridge was closed because of the flooding).
We walked to the top of Alexandra lookout to get a different view of the flood.

The suspension bridge is closed until Engineers give it the all clear. 
The ride on the way back wasn't as bad as the way over, but I did go into a panic when the chairlift stopped for a few seconds! 
When we saw the floods on Monday the water was almost over the top of the roof of the BBQ area.  It did get higher the next day and went to the top of the toilet doors.
This morning we met up with Tim and Helene and their kids and walked up to the Gorge from Kings Bridge.  We could see how far the water has already gone down, but it was still flowing very fast.  
Teenagers! I freaked out when Tim pointed out where Jalen was!  Apparently he was 'very safe' but I still yelled at him to get down!
The water had gone down a lot since yesterday and you can now see some of the grassed area, but it had lots of massive boulders all over it.
It's been a crazy week, and I wish that something so incredible and fascinating wasn't also so destructive.  We were lucky in Launceston because the floods could've been a lot worse, but the new flood levies worked well and saved thousands of houses and businesses being flooded.  In Tasmania there has been a number of deaths and there are still two men missing, and also hundreds of animals  have died.  We are thinking of those who have been affected by the flooding and hope that our beautiful city returns to normal very soon.
This is the usual sight we see in the summer time. 

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