Sunday, 31 January 2016

4 Years

As crazy as it sounds, I'm grateful that Aaron passed away on Australia Day as it means we can spend the day with others as it's a public holiday. A lot of people also remember that it was the day he died, and it's nice to get so many lovely messages, comments, and texts from people letting us know they are thinking of him and us.

I like to keep as busy as possible on birthdays and anniversaries to make the day easier, so when I saw cheap flights to Sydney come up, we grabbed them a couple of months ago, knowing that it would mean that we would spend Australia Day and also the anniversary of Dad's death in Sydney with my brother Chrish, and also my Mum who was keen to come with us.

We had a lovely 9 days in Sydney, and the weather was typical Sydney weather with lots of thunder storms and showers at times, but we were blessed to have a beautiful sunny, hot day on Australia Day.  I knew I wanted to go to the beach on Australia Day, so I was so glad that it was a beautiful day.

I love Chrish's photos that he puts up on Instagram as he's always going somewhere new.  He recently put up a pic of a walk that he did to the lighthouse at Palm Beach (where they record Home and Away), and knew that's what I wanted to do on Australia Day.

I thought it was a good idea until we started walking up the steep hill in the hot sun.

Kobe drove my crazy by moaning the whole time as we walked to the top.

It was definitely worth the walk to the top though.

We were excited to see helicopters and light planes with banners flying behind them.  We thought for sure it would've said something like 'Happy Australia Day', but instead they were just advertising $2 Cornetto ice-creams and Coke.  We had to laugh that they were advertising Coke on Australia Day, when Pepsi was Aaron's favourite - he would've said it was very un-Australian!

After we sat the top for a while, and chatted to some of the locals, we were keen to get down to the beach to jump in the waves for Aaron.

Kobe was much happier going down, than going up!

We ate lunch at the surf club before heading to the beach.

 It was so nice to get down to the beach for a swim, after such a hot walk.

You can't tell from the photos, but the waves were so big and powerful, that it wasn't actually very safe to swim in there. We did swim between the flags, but Kobe kept getting knocked right down, and then dragged under.  We stuck very closely to the edge while the boys swam out a bit deeper with Chrish.

 Jalen hates swimming now, so it was a shock to see him actually get in (and enjoyed it!).   The water was so nice.

After we swam and played cricket for a little while (with some of the local boys who joined in) we then went around to the other side of the bay to go kayaking. Chrish now has two kayaks which was great, as a couple of us could go out together.

 We had to get Maccas for tea as that was Aaron's favourite.
Jalen has always like the singer Shannon Noll since he was on Australian Idol when he was little. He's not my type of singer, but Jay and his friends always go on about him and how he was robbed and should've won.  Chrish noticed during the week that he was going to be singing at a free Australia Day event in Penrith and as soon as Jay heard, he was so excited so I said we would go there after we went to the beach.

It was a great event with other acts as well, and even though I'm not into his music, he was great live, and he even sang Walting Matilda.   There was an autistic boy sitting next to us with his Mum the whole time.  I'm not sure what's cuter - Kobe singing along with 'Nollsie' or the Mum and the boy dancing together :)
 At the end of the event they had some awesome fireworks.
When we got back to Chrish's house the younger boys went to bed, and Chrish reminded us that we hadn't had any Pepsi for Aaron, so we made sure we had some before we went to bed.  I don't think he would've been impressed with it being in a Coke glass though!
Overall it was a nice day, even though it's a hard day. It was nice to have such beautiful weather and to get out and do something together that Aaron would've loved.   We miss him every single day and it's hard to believe that four years have already gone by without him here.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

We Can Do Hard Things: The Sullengers

Because of the things we have been through as a family, I have been able to 'meet' some amazing people online. It's my dream to be able to meet some of these people in person one day, but for now I just admire them and what they do from their blogs, Instagram and through becoming friends on Facebook. 

My friend Simone would often talk to me about Ashley Sullenger even before Noah  passed away. Ashley and her husband Pat have a beautiful daughter who died after falling into a canal when she was very young.  Since then they have had three bery cute boys, including twins. I love reading Ashley's blog as it's so real and she shares a lot about what grief is like for them. 
I have done a guest post on Ashley's blog before, and when she asked me again if I would like to take part in a new idea for her blog, I was more than happy to as I hope that what I'm able to share, can help others who are going through similar things.  

Ashley has started a section on her blog called 'We Can Do Hard Things' and every week she is putting up ideas of how to help someone who is going through a hard trial - including death of a spouse or child, financial difficulties, having a child with a disability, infertility  or illness.  

Unfortunately I had a lot to contribute, but I told her I'm happy to do it as I wish that I had been able to read something like this, to help others.  
You can read my responses to Ashley's questions about the death of a spouse on her blog at

She even had a friend of hers create this lovely card, after I mentioned how nice it was when people remembered that Father's Day and Mother's Day are now extra hard, and sent a card or message to us.  You can download it from her blog. 

Thank you for asking me to take part Ashley. 

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

In the Media

When we got home from Hobart a couple of weeks, one of our neighbours had put a note in our mailbox with this newspaper clipping. When I first saw it I thought it was an old clipping, but then I read the note and she said that we had been in the paper again, as a part of a wrap up of news from 2015.  I was very surprised that our local newspaper had put it in again, but it's so nice to have so much community support.

In December I got an email from one of the women who works for Barnados, who ran the Mother of the Year awards. She wanted to know how I felt about doing another interview for Woman's Day magazine, as she felt like we had a great story and it would help promote the Mother of the Year awards for this year. I told her that was fine, and a few days later I did a phone interview with a reporter from Woman's Day.

Last week the article was in the magazine, and we kept stopping at different service stations on the way home from Hobart to buy it, but the new edition hadn't come in yet.  At one service station I asked the guy at the counter if he had this week's edition yet. He said he didn't and then said 'what do you want it for? The crosswords!? Everyone tells me they want it for the crosswords, but I know they really want it for the celebrity gossip!'. I laughed and told him that I didn't want it for the crosswords, but wanted it because I was going to be in it. The lady working with him looked at me with a big grin, and then he said 'really!? What for? Some scandal!?'.  He was very funny. I then told them that I was awarded Mother of the Year last year and they were doing a story about it.  He didn't ask me why, and I didn't want to say anymore, but he said he looked forward to reading it, when it came in.

Mum was with me on the way back from Hobart, and we finally both got a magazine at the IGA supermarket in Campbeltown.  We flipped it open to see if it was in and had to laugh at the heading. Mum said 'that would be right! You're not just Mother of the Year, you're now the bravest Mum in Australia!'.  I've been saying ever since, that I'm not that brave, as I'm not brave enough to climb to the top of the rock climbing wall! You can read the article online at the Barnados website here

This morning we had an appointment and they had some magazines in the waiting room. Kobe was excited to find the one that we were in, and sat reading it.
It's still strange to see ourselves in magazines and the newspaper, but it's so lovely to have so much support. 

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Summer Holidays So Far

School holidays are often hard as we are out of routine, and the days can be long without Aaron around to help fill the days, but we have been loving these summer holidays, and they are going way too fast!

It's been so great to finally feel like we are having a decent summer in Tassie.  So much so that Harri has been saying that he wishes we had days where it would rain so that we could have some cooler weather.  We laugh now that we are so used to hotter days, that when it's 25 degrees C we are complaining that it's cold.
I was glad to get through Christmas, and felt like I could then try to start enjoying holidays more.  It was hard though up until New Years Day because our good friends Lisa and Gary and their girls were moving to the mainland, so we knew that we had to say goodbye to them.   We've been friends since we all got married and it was hard to say goodbye to them when they went to the USA for a year, but we knew they were coming back then. 

We spent as much time with them as we could before they moved, which probably made it harder to say goodbye.  Before Christmas we went to Bridport with them and my cousin Tim and his wife Helene and all the kids.  It was a really hot day, and we had fun jumping in the waves for ages.  The boys and I kept saying how much Aaron would've loved it.   

The kids loved exploring on the rocks.

No beach day is complete without a game of cricket.

We also spent lots of time with them at the Gorge before they left. 
We spent New Years Eve with them and my friend Simone and her family.  The kids went swimming at the Gorge (none of us adults were brave enough as it had cooled down to 25 degrees!)

We then headed to watch the early fireworks in town.  Kobe and Eden have been friends since they were babies and it's crazy to think they're only 6 months apart, as Eden is so much taller than him. 

Some of Jalen's friends (or 'squad' as he calls them...although apparently it's not cool when I say it as I'm old ;) met up with us as Jay was going to watch the midnight fireworks with them as well.  Harri and Kobe love them, so it's lucky that the girls love them too as Jay is nice enough to let them hang around with them.
I still find New Years Eve hard as I always wonder how I will cope another year without Aaron and Noah.  2015 was such a huge year in so many ways - I was awarded Mother of the Year, spoke at Time Out For Women and was transferred to a new school and experiencing such big highs makes it extra hard to come back to reality again and makes me even more nervous about the year coming up. I can't imagine anything happening as big as last year, but hope that it'll be a good year even though Aaron and Noah aren't with us.
Because all our family were away on Christmas Day, and my sister Nicki and her family were down from Melbourne, we caught up with them and my brother Eden and their family after Christmas.  Jalen is the oldest grandchild out of 16, and Hyrum is the youngest.  Out of the 16 grandkids, there are only 4 girls!
One day I found Kobe in the garage lifting weights! I cracked up and asked him what he was doing and he said he was 'trying to get some abs'.   Think he's got a few more years of lifting before that will happen.
We have stayed at 'our beach house' (Mum's!) a little bit and the boys and Milly love all the space to ride bikes and run around in.  Whenever we go on a little road trip we grab a frozen drink for the drive and have been having way too many these holidays!  We are definitely keeping Maccas and Hungry Jacks in business!
It's so nice to be so close to the beach, and then to be able to go back and relax at her beautiful house.   I could stay there for ages, but my boys only last a few days at a time, before wanting to get back home to their own beds and things.

Another great thing about staying at Mum's house is that because she lives in a new subdivision, the block (more like a paddock) next door to her is empty. It means I can take Jalen for lots of driving practice there, without stressing about being around traffic.
While we were at Mum's we caught up with my old school friends Bec and Melanie. Mel now lives in Queensland, but often comes 'home' over Christmas with her family to see her Mum.  It's so nice to still have friends who I went to Kindergarten with.  Even when we don't see each other for years, it is always still the same...except now we have 9 kids between us!  

While we were at Mum's we caught up with lots of my cousins and friends at the beach.  I loved seeing my cousin Carli who was down from Sydney.  Everyone made up a different game of cricket where you had to catch the ball or else move to the end of the line.  It kept them occupied for ages.
It's so nice to have no routines and to be so relaxed at night.  When school is on it feels like we never have a chance to just sit down and have fun together, so we have been enjoying late nights, and sleep ins.  We have taught Kobe how to play Gin Rummy as we used to love playing it with Aaron.  It's what we were actually doing when Aaron had his heart attack and passed away.  We have been playing it a lot over the last few weeks.
Jalen has discovered that it's cool to sit on the roof outside his window.   At first I freaked out when he told me that he climbed out there, but it's very safe and it is a lovely view, so I don't mind him sitting out there now.  I figure at least he's getting out of the house and getting some vitamin D :)

We tease him that it's a miracle when he's out of his bedroom, but it's been nice that he's wanted to get out to hang out with his squad a bit over the holidays.  He absolutely hates swimming and doesn't come with us whenever we go swimming (unless we are going to the beach) but he was quite happy to go with Skye and Zoe - I wonder why!? ;)  They're actually just all good friends and there were two other guys with them before we arrived.
We also got him in the water as the boys from church had an activity where they went on the ski biscuit. There are only four boys, so Harri and I were lucky to have a turn as well.  It was so much fun! This is Jalen and Henry.
We've spent heaps of time with my cousin Tim and his wife Helene and their family over the holidays.  It's been so nice as it has helped to fill our days, and it's so much more fun hanging out with them than being on our own.
We have been swimming pretty much every day and sometimes we will get home after a swim, and Tim will text me saying 'I want to go swimming again!' and I was just about to text him saying the same thing.  I loved swimming as a kid, and have gotten my love of the water back this year.  Straight after Aaron passed away I took the boys to a child psychologist, and she told me to take the boys swimming as much as I could as it was great therapy for them.  I totally agree as I always feel so much less stressed after a swim. 
One day we went to Hawley with a big group of friends and family, and it was so hard to leave.   My cousin Penny was there who is here with her kids for about 8 months.  They live in the USA and I find it so fascinating to hear the differences between school there and here.  Even though I lived there for a year, I didn't realise that school hours and holidays were so different. 
Helene and I stayed in the water for about an hour and a half, and the kids had the best day together.
Harri and Kobe kept asking me if we could go to the cricket again this year, as we went to a Big Bash match last year and they loved it, so we booked tickets and stayed with my friend Sarah and her family.  Tim and Helene also came down and we had lots of fun together.

Jalen hates sports and especially cricket, but I made him come along since we were going to Hobart overnight.  He pretended he hated it more than he actually did.  We always crack up at everyone with their KFC bucket heads, but Kobe was very excited to score a bucket this year. We missed out on getting one last year.

The game wasn't very exciting as the Hurricanes lost by a lot, but it was a lot of fun anyway.  There is a great atmosphere with the music and fireworks going off all the time, and Harri and Kobe loved it.   Arden has this awesome hat which has a beard on it, and he went down to the fence and they actually interviewed him on TV! Kobe was also on, and they were so excited about it.
The boys were so excited to get some autographs from the players after the match.

The next morning we went rock climbing with Sarah and her boys and our friends Dan and Lou and their kids who used to live in Launceston but are now in Hobart.  It was so nice to catch up with everyone. 
The kids (and Helene) had a great time rock climbing.  I tried, but freaked out about a quarter of the way up, even thought I knew I couldn't fall.  I just didn't think I had the strength in my arms that I needed. 

Taj, Harri and Jai get along so well and are very alike as they all love sport so much. I wish we all lived closer so they could hang out together more.

Because it's been so hot I've felt sorry for Milly (even though she has a padding pool outside and inside a lot with us) so we took her to the dog exercise area for a paddle last week. She loved it and the boys loved having a paddle as well.

We were too tight to buy a ticket to the Basin Concert, but it was such a nice night so we decided to go for a walk with Tim and Helene to listen to some of the music.  Mum was staying with us the night, so she came along as well. It was fun except for the mozzies!

Last weekend we headed back to Hobart for my nephew Alex's baptism at church.  It was nice that he was able to be baptised here while they were down for Christmas from Melbourne, as it meant the whole family could be there. It was the first time in a year that all the cousins had all been together.  We wanted to get a photo of all the cousins together but Ezra was upset, so my brother Eden had to jump in there too.
Afterwards we had a lovely BBQ with all of Alex's family on both sides.  It was such a nice afternoon. The kids had a great time playing together, and it was so nice to catch up with my siblings and sisters in law and brother in law as we don't see each other very often anymore.   We missed my brother Chrish, who wasn't able to come down from Sydney.

We stayed overnight and before heading home we made a quick stop at MONA as Mum had never been there before.
We were excited to see 'King' and also 'Triffitt' (my maiden name) come up on the word waterfall. 

Jay just kept walking around with this expression saying 'I don't get art'.

We had a lovely afternoon yesterday as Sarah and her boys came up from Hobart with her husband Joe as he had work up here for the day. 

Tim and Helene joined us and the kids all scootered.  As you can tell Jalen loves hanging out with kids ;)
We decided to catch the Tiger Bus back - I'm sure they've never had so many scooters on the bus at once!

We introduced them to Burger Junkie before they headed back to Hobart. 

So far we have had a lovely holiday and that is mostly because we've had family and friends to help fill the days.  I can't believe we only have a couple of weeks left, and I know they are going to go way too fast. It's nice to feel like they're going fast though, instead of dragging like they used to.

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