Friday, 20 November 2015

He's My Cousin

was very lucky growing up as I had lots of cousins around.  A lot of my cousins lived really close to us, and we could walk to each other's houses and spent a lot of time together. Other cousins lived in 'town' which meant they were about an hour away, but we still saw them quite often.

My cousin Tim is my Auntie Wanda's son. He was one of my cousins who lived in town.   He is younger than me, but when Aaron and I were first married we used to spend a lot of time with him. Aaron and Tim used to love playing tennis together, and we used to love having Tim around at our house a lot.  I remember when Aaron passed away that I was worried about how Tim would take it. 

Tim has reminded me that at Aaron's funeral I gave Tim a hug and said 'Aaron loved you so much'.  Aaron not only loved Tim so much, but we all do.  Tim is one of the kindest people you will ever meet.  He is always so thoughtful and does lovely things for people all the time. His beautiful wife is Helene, who is just as lovely as Tim. They're a beautiful couple.
Tim is one of those people who is never grumpy, and if he is you wouldn't really know it.  He's lots of fun to be around and always makes us laugh.  He's always busy and keen to do things.  I often get texts from Tim asking if we want to go do something together.
This photo was taken by my friend Chelsea, just after I was awarded Tasmanian Mother of the Year. I have no idea what we were laughing about, but it was so nice to have my good friends there, including Tim and Helene. Tim always lightens the mood - especially when I'm nervous and overwhelmed!
Over the last year, it's been lovely to spend more time with him on my days off work, as he does shift work and often has the same day off that I do. 

We had been having regular lunch dates this year, and it's been lots of fun catching up with him, telling him all my dramas and having lots of laughs together.  Because we were having lunch at the same place all the time, I would often see people I knew there.  I started to get paranoid that people may think that I had a man, so I would always introduce Tim to them as my cousin.  He started to joke that I was ashamed of hanging out with him, but I told him I just don't want people talking and wondering who I'm always out with! :) This was a photo I posted on Instagram a while back. We were having a great laugh about him being my new man.

Last week on one of our days off work, we decided to go strawberry picking. They were half price for the day, so even though it was raining (a lot!) we decided to still go.  We were the only crazy ones there but we had a great time, and thought it was actually more fun picking in the rain.  Nice pose Tim!

I said we should take a selfie to put on Instagram, but said I was going to hashtag it as #hesmycousin just to make sure everyone was clear.  Since then he's been saying 'hashtag he's my cousin' whenever we are together.
During the week I got a text from him asking if we were keen for a swim at the Gorge (as soon as it hits 20 degrees and is sunny Tim is keen for a swim).  We met him and his kids there after school and two of my students were also there swimming.  One of them was so cute and kept calling out to me yelling 'Mrs King! Mrs King'. She then came over to chat and said 'is that your man Mrs King!?'. We cracked up and I told her he was my cousin and asked her if she understood what cousin meant. She did and Tim cracked me up and said 'hashtag he's my cousin'. 

Tim and Helene have even convinced me to give the Parkrun a go (5 km).  I absolutely hate running, but anything is fun with them, so Harri and I have started doing the Parkrun on Saturdays with them.  I'm very slow, but it's been fun now that the weather is warmer. Tim, Helene and their kids are awesome runners and have been doing it for a long time, so they put us to shame.
Today Tim and I had lunch and I told him I wanted to do a blog post about him. This was his reaction! He made me laugh today as I told him I wasn't feeling very well and he said 'oh yeah, that time of the month'. I had to laugh as there aren't many guys who would feel comfortable talking about that kind of thing with a woman. I laughed and told him it was just end of term tiredness, and feeling run down. 

Thanks for all the lunches, laughs, swims, walks, runs and chats Tim.   I'm lucky to have a cousin who will put up with me and all my dramas, and I'm proud to call you my cousin.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Ordinary Mums with Extraordinary Stories...Interview

Last week I got an email from a media agency (who works for Barnados) asking if I could be interviewed by a reporter for Mamamia/The Motherish online website. They were wanting to do a story to promote Barnados Mother of the Year for next year, and wanted to know if I was able to take part.  This week I was interviewed by phone, and the article went online yesterday.  Chauntelle who was the ACT Mother of the Year this year, was also interviewed.  This is the story below and it is online here. 
I love that it says I'm still 40 (I was when I was awarded Mother of the Year, so we will stick with that! :) I've cut and paste it from the online story and can't get rid of all the links.

The path to motherhood was a tough one for Chauntell McNamara.

The 35 year old, from Murrumbateman, ACT, endured a long and painful battle with IVF before losing her precious newborn son Jacob, who was stillborn.  But despite all that grief, Mrs McNamara never gave up.

Today, happily, she and her husband Andrew are proud parents of three kids – Brodie, 13, and Annabella, 9, who they adopted, and Cooper, 7, their biological son.
Mrs McNamara also provides emergency foster care of babies and is a passionate advocate for local children of asylum seekers, volunteering her time and teaching skills at an after school program.

The mum of three is the 2015 Barnardos Mother of the Year (ACT) and was nominated by her friend Leilah FranklinAyton, who said she had also raised thousands of dollars over the years for local children’s charities.

Mrs McNamara said the win was a “lovely acknowledgement of my everyday work as a mum” and that she survived the tough times thanks to her friends and family.
“My family and my husband especially gave me the strength to keep going, and to keep pursuing my dreams,” she said. “I truly believe in doing things for others and I want to make a small difference in the world and set a good example for my kids.”

Her advice for fellow mums? “Trust your instincts, and ask for help when you need it. Don’t be afraid to admit when you need help,” she shared.
2015 Barnardos Mother of the Year (TAS) Lisa King, 40, from Newstead, Tasmania, has also lived through unbelievable tragedy.
Mrs King and her husband Aaron had four boys – Jalen, Harri, Kobe and Noah, who was born with a severe brain condition called Hydranencephaly.

Noah’s condition left him with the mental capacity of a threemonthold and he was only expected to live for a few years. However, he defied the odds for almost a decade, before passing away aged 10.
Then the grieving family lost Aaron, who suffered a fatal heart attack. But despite her grief, Mrs King, a blogger, always remained positive.

 “You can collapse in a heap, and say life isn’t fair – and it isn’t – but if you do that, the rest of your life it’s going to be pretty miserable,” she said. “I teach my boys that it’s ok to feel sad and to grieve….but you’ve got to pick yourself up. You have to find a way to keep going and see the positive things.”

She urged all families to make the most of every day, and advised mums to admit when they need help. “My son Noah was born with a severe disability…and that’s how we got through…we were grateful for the little things. We knew we wouldn’t have him for very long so we appreciated every moment,” she said.

 “It’s okay to acknowledge that things are hard. Sometimes we feel we have to put up a front and pretend everything’s okay but everybody struggles at some point in their lives and it should be okay to say you need help and support,” she added.
Both women said they were overwhelmed and honoured to have won and praised Barnardos for the organisation’s ongoing support of vulnerable kids.
Barnardos Mother of the Year is the largest and best-known national awards celebrating mums. Now in its 21st year, the awards are held to showcase mums and women who go above and beyond for our children and our communities.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Dreaming of Summer

I can't believe we are almost half way through the last term of school already.  It's that time of the year when there's lots of events going on in schools, which was the time when Aaron was always very busy.  He used to love being the MC at his school's athletics carnival, loved all the end of year assemblies and getting ready for the grade 10 leaver's dinner.

I see things popping up on his school's Facebook page and think about how much he would be loving the things that are going on (and probably how also stressing about next year's timetable :) On my days off I often take the chance to just go and sit at his grave for a little while (and have a Pepsi for him).  I don't know if I'll ever get used to the fact that he's not coming back.  I have been feeling him around a bit lately, and it's nice to know that he knows what's going on, even though he's not with us.

My days at work go so fast, as I'm so busy and the boys are coping okay with my new job.  I hate that I don't get to walk to school with them or see them during the day, but I love seeing them walk to school together.  Aaron would love that they are sports mad like he was.

The weather has been teasing us lately, and we are getting grimpses of summer.  It's nice that things are so different now, as I don't dread holidays like I used to.  I  now look forward to the break from work and can't wait for lots of swims, trips to the beach and long evenings.  It feels like we have already started summer holidays, because the weather has been so nice, and we enjoyed our first swim of the season last week. 

It was quite fresh, so we are hoping for lots of hot days so that the pool warms up.
I am excited to already have strawberries in our garden.  I accidently let slip to the boys that there were strawberries growing, so I'm not sure if many of them will make it into the house now!
The boys love eating tea on the deck on warm nights, and finally we are getting some nights where it's warm enough (and not too windy) to eat outside.

The boys are loving that it's icy pole season again. 

We are loving daylight savings and have been having tea very late as we are out enjoying the evenings. 

It was lovely to catch up with my cousin Penny, who I haven't seen for six years as she now lives in the USA with her husband and kids.   She has brought the kids to Tasmania for an 8 month adventure of living in Australia, so it will be nice to catch up with her a lot before she goes back.  Everyone always said we looked alike when we were growing up, and we probably do even more, now that I have glasses too.

 Nothing beats fish and chips on a Friday night. 

We are looking foward to the next five and a bit weeks flying by, so we can enjoy a lot more takeaway teas, trips away,  swims at the Gorge, trips to the beach, long walks with Milly and hanging out with friends till late. 

Saturday, 31 October 2015


Halloween continues to get bigger and bigger in Tasmania.  Years ago only people who planned their own parties seemed to celebrate Halloween, but now there's lots of Halloween things in the shops, including pumpkins that you can carve.

Kobe keeps asking if we can do something for Halloween, but we didn't have anything planned this year.  My friends - Bec and Tony live in a new(ish) sub division and Bec is one of those people who just gets out there and gets things happening. When they first built their house, there were lots of other new families around.  Bec decided to drop a note in everyone's mailboxes, to suggest that having a little Christmas get together at the park would be fun. 

Since then they have gotten to know everyone, and as more families move in, they have continued to get together for Christmas, Easter and now Halloween.  Yesterday in our local newspaper, they ran a little story about how the homes in the subdivision has organised for the families in the area to go Trick or Treating to each other's homes.

I knew that Kobe and Harri would love it, so I invited myself along and Bec was lovely in letting us join in on the fun.  Luckily we have a heap of dress ups at home, so the boys chose what they wanted to be this afternoon.  Kobe went as Ironman and Harri went as Darth Vadar. Jalen was at a friend's birthday dinner, which I'm sure he was happy about, but I have no doubt he would've liked to join in with the little kids ;)  The boys loved being able to join in with Annie and Thomas, although earlier in the day Kobe started crying, saying he felt nervous about it.   I think he was just worried as he didn't know what to expect, and knew that he wouldn't know many people there. 

All of the houses had been given orange balloons, and if they wanted to join in, they put the balloons outside.

Kobe checking out Annie's stash!

There were lots of witches walking the streets!
Harri was very impressed with the homemade Batman cookies :)  Both boys came home with their buckets full of lollies.

Thanks for letting us for gate crash your lovely neigbourhood's fun Bec.  Kobe is already asking if we can do it again next year!

Thursday, 29 October 2015

A Good Change

It's been a stressful couple of months as I had been told I needed to transfer to a new school, and even though I knew it wasn't the end of the world, it's not something I would've chosen to do as things were really good where I was working before. I knew how lucky I was to be teaching at my boy's school, and I was devastated that I had to move. 

Unfortunately though in the Education Department, you've got to go where you are told to go.  I knew I was lucky to be going to a great school, but there are lots of reasons why it was hard to move, as it not only affected me, but other people as well.

I was lucky that I already knew about five people who work at the school I was transferred to.  The other EAL (English as an Additional Language) teachers there have been so lovely in welcoming me, and making me feel like a part of the team, even though they have been the only teachers there all year.  They even bought me flowers! At first I had a secret admirer! ;)

Everyone at the school have been so friendly and have made me feel really welcome. It's a very multicultural school, and I love walking around seeing all the Afghan students everywhere, as well as all the other nationalities.
I was anxious to get the first week over with, so that I knew the boy's were okay without me around at school, and so I could get to know the kids and routines.

I have gone from teaching nine students on my own, to teaching twenty students (but having to get to know forty students as we work together a lot with all of the students). The first week was a blur of kids, and names that all sounded and looked similar, and I never thought I would get to know them.   I'm into the third week and feel like I know most of them now.  Now I just have to get to know all the staff's names!

I've already fallen in love with the kids. They're all so friendly, and happy despite what they've been through.  The girls are very cute and always come in with new drawings or notes that they've written for the teachers.  I'm already getting a little collection.
The kids make me laugh all the time, and yesterday I had to smile when a young girl looked at my bare legs (I had a skirt on to my knees) and she pointed to them and said 'no this!!' and then showed me that I should be wearing tights like she was.  She then pointed to her head scarf and said 'and this!'.  I reminded her that she was an Afghan girl and that they wore tights and head scarves, but I am Australian and I don't wear them.  She then smiled at me and said 'I bring you scarf!'.  I couldn't help but have a little chuckle.  

On one of my days off work, I took the boys up to my new school after school was over, to show them around. I thought it would be nice for them to be able to picture where I was working.  They loved the school, and were especially impressed with the oval area as it has so many things to do in a small area.   Kobe and Harri were excited that it has soccer and footy goals permanently set up, and also a basketball court.  Since I took them there, they had been begging me to take them up for a play on the weekend. 

Last Saturday we finally went up there, and not long after we arrived two of my new EAL students also arrived to play soccer.  They saw me and one of the boys said 'Mrs King! Your boys here!? Tell them play soccer!'.  I called the boys over, and they joined in on a game with them.  I love seeing my boys interact with them, and also my past EAL students.  
Some of my new students, are friends with my old students. The first week I was there one of the boys said 'you were my friend's teacher at Punchbowl - he said you are good teacher'.  That made me smile :) Yesterday I realised that one of the families, knew one of my families from my old school.  I asked a girl if she knew one of my old students and her eyes lit up and she said very excitedly 'she said she had very special teacher.....Mrs King!! YOU are Mrs King!!' when it clicked that I was the one she was talking about.

Even though it has been very stressful to move schools, I'm really loving the change.  Because there's so many kids I feel like I don't have a lot of time to get to know them very well as I only see some of them a couple of times a week, but I love going to work and seeing them every day.

It's hard to really settle in as I don't know what will happen next year, but for now I'm trying not to think about that too much and just enjoy the change, as it's been a good one.     

Friday, 23 October 2015

Run For a Wish 2015

Just a month before Noah died we were asked to appear in an article in our local newspaper, to help promote a new run in Launceston - Run For a Wish.   We were more than happy to do it, as Noah had received a wish from Make a Wish, and we knew what a great organisation it was, and how much hope it brought to children and their families.  Four years ago we took part in the first ever Run For a Wish with Aaron just a few week after Noah passed away.

I used to be a gym junkie, but after Aaron passed away my priorities changed dramatically, as life of a single Mum set in and I no longer found exercising fun or relaxing, especially as I had to go back to work, and couldn't spend my mornings at the gym with my friends.  

Instead it just stressed me out as I tried to fit exercise in, as it took so much time out of my days, which were now so long, but so short at the same time.  I've been very slack and hardly do any exercise anymore, so even thinking about running wears me out!

Running to me is considered the worst form of torture.  As a child and teenager I was actually a good long distance runner, but as an adult I absolutely hate it.  But since taking part in the first Run for a Wish, we have made sure that we do it every year as a family. Every year I struggle and say I'm going to get fit for the following year but it never happens, so about a month ago, I started panicking when I realised that Run for a Wish was coming back up very soon.

Last week we ran in our fourth Run for a Wish, and as usual it was a beautiful day. It was so nice to have so many friends and family running with us again.   Mum was a gun and came along this year, despite having a broken arm. It's finally healing up but is still very sore, so I didn't expect her to run at all. She did the whole 6.4 km!

Every year we take helium balloons to release at the start, and every year I feel terrible because I have lots of little kids that we don't know, coming up to me to get a balloon, but I don't have enough as I just bring them for our family and friends.
Poor Jay wasn't feeling very well, but came along and ran anyway.

Harri absolutely loves running and takes it very seriously. He was keen to beat his time from last year. 

And we're off!

The first year or two Kobe pretty much walked the whole way, but last year he ran a lot, so this year he was keen to run as much as he could. He did such a good job, and only stopped now and then to walk a little. I was glad he was my running buddy as he's slow and steady.  About half way around he said 'where's Simone!?' when he realised my friend Simone wasn't there for the first time. She was on a special family holiday with her family. 
Kobe has been asking me a lot of questions about Aaron and Noah lately, as he can't remember them very much.  The other day he asked me if I knew that Noah was going to be disabled when he was born.  As he was running, I kept telling him how proud Dad would've been of him, and he gave me the biggest smile. He makes me so proud as he's been through so much in his short little life, but just gets on with it as best he can.
My sister in law Steph pushed my nephew Ezra in the pram the whole way, and then let him out to walk over the finish line. He cracked us up as all he wanted was 'Mummy!' as he kept yelling at her to pick him up.  It was nice to have my brother Eden run it for the first time.

He was so cute at the end, giving everyone high fives!

I was so glad when it was over - 6.4 km felt like 64! Here's hoping I'll be fitter next year! ;)

After every Run for a Wish we have gone to Maccas for lunch, so Simone kept texting me saying how she was sad to miss our traditional Maccas lunch afterwards.   It was McHappy Day too which was nice, as we also spent a lot of time at Ronald McDonald House over the years, so we didn't feel too guilty about having a burger and chips for a good cause.

The run raised over $30,000 for Make a Wish which is wonderful.  I know what a difference it will make to not only a child, but to a families life.  We still talk about Noah's wish and Kobe gets very sad to know that he wasn't alive then, so he wasn't a part of it.  If only we could make another wish to bring Aaron and Noah back. 
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