Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Christmas over...Again.

Hi All,

Here's some pics which will hopefully make more sense after reading the text below!

Jack in his new Cub Scout uniform just after his Investiture.


Jack on his first air bed (tube) ride behind the speed (ski) boat. LOVING IT!!

Jack just about to go for his first ski lesson on the training bar besides Peta's boat. Dad was nervous!

Jack on his first jet ski ride!


Heading out for his first jet ski ride!


Nearly up!


Sorry! Had to put it in! Me getting up on the wake board at the training bar during my first wake board lesson! Jack was willing me to fall off so he would learn to water ski before I learnt to wake board! Hmmm....


Nearly up again!


He loved it and did manage to get up for a moment! Very proud Dad!


Well, hi All again,

Hoping everyone had a great Christmas and Happy New Year! It was generally pretty good here, although at times it felt like the first Christmas since Jen passed away and there were a few moments here and there. All to be expected I suppose. Last Christmas Eve was hard wrapping Santa pressies alone and at times I felt I couldn't do it, but we always get there, don't we? This Christmas Eve I thought was going to be easier as I had a few people staying and would have company for it all, but everyone crashed and headed to bed before it was all done, and there I was again, wrapping Santa pressies alone with vivid memories of Jen and I doing it two years ago! I survived again, wouldn't you know it!? Just needed a little moment outside and little chat to Jen in the moonlight and all was well. Jack had a great Christmas, a few quiet moments but generally just a great day. Jamie and his girlfriend, Makeo, came and stayed Christmas Eve, which was fantastic, as well as another friend, so Christmas morning was great fun.
The day itself was a little hectic! After Santa's deliveries were opened and other pressies distributed, it was off to my parents for an hour or so just before lunch (more pressies!) then the hour and a half drive down to Rosebud to Jen's Mum's (Sandra and Vaughan) and a terrific lunch and afternoon with the Darby family (Jen's maiden name - and more pressies!!!) It really was a great afternoon and Jack and I didn't feel like leaving but we were on a schedule. We had cut some roses from my Mum's garden and we took them to place on Jen's grave. We had a few minutes there but I have to say, I feel closer to Jen at the Palliative Care unit where Jen spent her last months (and Jack and I had dropped in there on the way to Rosebud. As soon as they saw Jack, we had 6-8 nurses and the cooks all running out to say hi and marvel at how much he has grown, etc!!! They were wonderful for Jen and they remain just absolute angels for Jack! we hadn't been there for months but they treated Jack (and I) like family and with such love!!)

Anyway, we headed back home (1 and half hours drive) and then packed and headed to the Gippsland Lakes, Paynesville specifically. (Look it up on Google Maps/Earth) The Lakes are beautiful and we will be staying here on and off for most of the school holidays (another 4 weeks yet) A friend of mine, Peta lives here and she teaches water skiing and wake boarding and lives on the Lakes themselves. It's an idyllic setting and we are having a ball! Jack has had a go at water skiing and managed to get up for a moment (similar for me with wake boarding) and he has been towed around on an air bed behind the speed boat and had a couple of rides on jet skis! He thinks it's Christmas all over again!

Last blog (or two blogs ago) I mentioned about going with Jack and Jamie (and a few others) to a Christmas Memorial service put on by Tobin Brothers, the funeral directors who did Jen's funeral. Well, we went and it was difficult at times but I'm glad we went, for a number of reasons. There was time in the service for family and friends of loved one's who had passed away to get up and say something if they wanted, and many did so. It was an emotional part of the service but Jack had decided he wanted to say something. For the two or three days previously he had been thinking about it and writing ideas down. I helped him put it together, but it was all his words and he typed it out. He asked if I would go up and stand with him and I did. Well, he made me prouder than I have ever been of him (and that, my friends, is saying something) I couldn't hold back the tears and neither could anyone else, but Jack delivered his short speech loudly and clearly and with expression and feeling. He didn't miss a beat and was so strong, yet expressive! It brought me completely undone! All I could do was hold him and try not to sniffle!!! Afterwards, many of the people there for other loved one's walked up to Jack, hugged him and told him how proud Mum would be of him. Jamie got to speak at Jen's funeral and I think Jack felt a little left out so this was his turn and he spoke so well. I was also rapt that Jamie was there to support Jack too. I'll add Jack's little speech at the end of this and some pictures of the last few weeks adventures.

There's lots more to tell (Jack has joined Cub Scouts and been away on his first camp, his school report was brilliant - other than talking too much (gets that from Jen!) and much more) but I will have to get to bed and leave it for another time.

So ends (almost) another diary entry!

Wishing you all a safe, happy and healthy 2011.

Love to all,

David. XOX
Here's Jack's speech:

MUM

Jennifer Ballantyne, my Mum, was the best Mum to me. I was shocked when, a year ago today, she died. Luckily I have strong memories of her today. For example, at Christmas I remember the way that from the first of December until Christmas she would have Christmas Carols playing all day, every day. I also remember that on Christmas Eve just before bed we would put glitter in the front yard so the reindeer would know where to land. I also remember lots of silly sayings that she used to say, like if I talked too much she would call me flabbergums.
During the rest of the year Mum would have other music on and she sometimes danced around the house with me, it was fun.

Mum was a fantastic person and you don’t know how much I miss her. I love you Mum.

Thank you.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Jen's Funeral

Hi All,

I've finally got round to trying to put Jen's funeral onto here for those who want to see it. Problem is, I'm not very tech savvy! I have a mate who is and will ask him but if anyone out there is aware of how to do it that would be great. At present it is on a DVD. I had a go at it tonight but no luck.

Anyway, if you can help, please get back to me.

Thanks,

David. XOX

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

12 months already gone

Down at the Frankston foreshore one hot summer night a couple of years ago. Too hot to sleep!

Christmas about 4 years ago. Maybe 2006? Need to keep better records now!

The last time Jen came to my house. September 2009, for Jack's birthday. About 3 months before she passed away.


Hi All,

This time I really do need to apologise for the delay! Sorry! I know I promised I would blog a couple of weeks ago but life just became too busy with all the stuff leading up to the end of the school year! My report s are all written for my students now and we have a week and a half to go til our 6 week summer/Christmas holiday.

This time I promise I will be back to tell you more about Jack's adventures over the last few months (and Jamie's and mine a little too!) As I sit here typing we are having a huge storm with torrential rain, thunder and lightning! Love storms!

But this is just a short post to remember Jen as we get to the 12 month anniversary of her passing away tomorrow, 9th December. It's been, in some ways, a tumultuous year, for Jack, Jen's family and friends and myself. In other ways it's been a year of creating a new beginning for many of us, this time without Jen physically in our lives, but she is ever present in our hearts and minds. It's been a time of adjustment for Jack and Jamie especially, but also for all Jen's family and friends and also for me as I become a full time single parent.

Being there for Jen during her journey through the last year or so of her illness was rewarding, difficult, heart rending and many other things, but most of all it was a privilege. Tomorrow, Jack, Jamie and I are taking the day off and going to the cemetery (hoping to meet some of Jen's family there) Then, in the evening, the funeral directors who organised Jen's funeral are running a Christmas Memorial service for all those families who have lost friends and relatives, so we are heading to that. They give everyone the opportunity to get up and say something about their lost loved one's and Jack has expressed a wish to do so and has been writing some memories of Mum down to read out tomorrow evening. It's probably not something we will be doing every year but I think this year, although not the first without Jen, it feels like it's the first Christmas without her.

I do have the dvd of Jen's funeral and am still planning on posting it here for people to view if they wish, I just need to organise a computer expert friend to come and do it for me!

Thanks again for all your love and support over the last few years, especially over the last two years. You have all been a tower of strength for Jen, and then also for Jack and I. Words can't express what your prayers and words of support meant to us here. Thank you.

Now that my work load has eased for the next couple of months I will be back here to get you all up to speed on Jen's and my boy's progress! And it has been huge progress! He is blossoming!!

Love to you all,

David and Jack. xox

Ps. Please spare a thought and prayer for a friend, Vicki, in America. She was a great supporter of Jenni and I on here and is nursing her Mum through her last days at the moment as the cancer finally beats her. A difficult time. Love to you Vicki. Dx

Monday, 20 September 2010

Jack's Birthday....among other things!

Hi All,

I'm going to stop apologising for my tardiness at blogging as I will just have to apologise every time otherwise! This is me and this is how often I seem to be able to get here with work, Jack and life filling most of the space in my life most of the time! Lol. It is what it is.

Well, it's school holidays here again, another two weeks off and my main aim is to give this house an enema! A little bit of a hoarder but was trying to work through that and was doing ok until heaps of Jen's stuff came my way when she passed away. So, now I have to start again and try to reclaim my front (spare - store?) room again! But I have to work through all Jen's stuff and think carefully, sensibly, sensitively about what to keep and what has to go. Jack had way too much stuff too (toys, clothes, STUFF!!! Lol) between his two homes, so now I aim to find a way to condense all the STUFF into , well, not so much STUFF!

It has been a very busy term here. Jack has started Cubs (Scouts for kids between about 8 and 11 years old), he has been doing basketball coaching twice most weeks and has had youth group every second Friday night! I have had precious little social life! lol. The lot of any parent methinks!

Jack also had his 9th birthday last week on the 13th of September. We went down to Jenni's Mum's last Sunday and had a family gathering there for him then went to my parents the next night (his actual birthday) and then yesterday (Sunday, 19th) had a party at an indoor play centre (wet, miserable weather here lately) with his school mates, a couple of old school mates from when he was with Jen and some young cousins from both sides of the family. About 14 kids in all, aged between 4 and 9. And Dad was exhausted afterwards! lol. My parents put on afternoon tea at their place for Jenni's family and a family with Jack's old school friends, who all travelled about an hour and a half to get here for the party so it was a busy but lovely day. And most importantly, Jack had a ball and was often seen to be organising the whole crowd of kids at the play centre! (Must be something he got from Jen!)

It has been a tough week though, as Jack has had a tummy bug (gastro) since Sunday night (the night before his birthday. Started getting crook (sick) down at Sandra's and only finally came good on Saturday, the day before his party. The worst part was he was supposed to go on his first school camp from the Wednesday to the Friday so he had to miss that! He was shattered (and I was looking forward to a couple of free nights! lol), but there was nothing we could have done. His best friend at school, Steph, was also sick but with the flu, so she also couldn't go, so her parents and I are planning to take them to Phillip Island (where the camp was - about an hour away) next week and do some of the activities they were going to do on camp. Things like see some koalas and the penguins. I also have contacts at other school camps where I can take them to do things like the flying fox, etc. It's not the same but the best we can do and then look forward to the grade 4 camp next year!

We are still muddling through the year of firsts without Jenni. This was Jack's first birthday without her and I wondered how he would go but he was fine. I think it may have been in the mind of everyone else but as I said, Jack had a great time. We still chat about Jen from time to time and he misses her but he is managing really well. His mid year school report was fantastic, he is now ahead of most other students in his grade and Jen's best friend commented after his party yesterday that she noticed his social skills are so much better now. Last year he was just playing alongside the kids whereas this year he was a part of it all. He just needed time with others and getting to school every day. I'm so proud of him and so would Jen be.

A question for you all. And I don't know if I can deliver if you say yes, but I will try. Jen's Mum gave me the DVD of Jenni's funeral. It was a simple service, no photos and only about 24 minutes long. Jenni wanted it that way so Sandra honoured her wishes. My question is: would you like me to post it here? I don't know if it's possible or even if I have the ability to do so. If you want to see it, I'm sure we can work out a way of posting it either here or in some other place so you all could view it.

I'm still trying to learn how to download pictures from my new phone/camera (the old one was so easy!) and when I do I will post some new ones of Jack and his birthday.

There always seems to be so much to tell, even though I start off wondering what I will write. One last thing. Jenni's two sisters are both due to give birth in the next month so some exciting days ahead. It reminds us that there are always new beginnings. We will always remember and honour Jenni but we will also move forward into new beginnings.

Take care All,

Love,

David. XOX

Sunday, 8 August 2010

My usual tardiness! Sorry... Again!

Hi all,

Once again, sorry for the long break. Life as a single (only) parent gets fairly busy and I find that when I have time to update this late at night I'm not in the right frame of mind. Anyway, here I am for a relatively quick update (maybe!)

So much has happened since the last time I was here. Most importantly, Jack is doing spectacularly at school (most of the time! lol) I received his mid year report a few weeks ago and after being about 12 months behind in most areas a couple of years ago, he is now considered about 6 months ahead in half the areas of schooling and where he should be for the rest! He's a star! Lol. Jen would be very proud. Jen and I knew he was bright and had potential, he just needed stability and to get to school regularly. Nothing against Jen, she couldn't give those things. I'm just glad he didn't get too far behind so he couldn't catch up. Hi teachers are rapt with his development and Jack has one very proud Dad!

We had Jamie come down last friday night and he stayed the night. We all went to a place in Melbourne called Sidetracked on the saturday. They have Go Carts, ten pin bowling, Mini Golf, Laser Tag and many other things there and we had a ball. There were slow, electric go carts for Jack's first drive (and VERY fast one's for the two big kids, Jamie and I! lol) and we had a ball in our first go at laser tag. Great fun! Jamie is doing well. He lost his job a little while ago but within a few weeks had picked up another. Only part time at the moment but the boss says it will become full time. He's also being treated much better than where he was before.

Had a difficult moment the other night. Jack had a tooth pulled out by the dentist a couple of weeks ago (he had a super numerary tooth! An extra one for those who were slow like me at picking that up) and the dentist threw it out before I could ask for it! Not happy! So we wrote a letter to the tooth fairy explaining the situation. Jack requested the Tooth Fairy put blue glitter water in the glass with the water and money (Hmmm... yep, Jen and I started a precedent!) While I was searching through all the stuff I still haven't yet upacked and sorted from Jenni's, I came across a diary that Jack took with him when he and I went to Broken Hill a couple of years ago on a big holiday to see his cousins. Flicking through it (I helped him write some of the entries so I fugured it was ok) And the first one in the book made me cry. I hope Jenni never found it, it would have broken her heart but it showed some of the torment that Jack was feeling at times. It went something like this. "I cannot believe my Mum. My Mum is still sick. I like my Dad better, my Dad is never going to be sick. I cannot believe this. I went to Dad's and I went to Giggles." Giggles is an indoor playcentre where Jack always had a great time. I suppose it was a place where he could escape all the crap. I just so hope Jenni never saw this.

Anyway, this post started out positive and then went everywhere! Happy that those sort of thoughts for Jack seem to be well gone and we often chat about Mum, and all the good stuff about her. I need to head to bed and get some shut eye.

Interesting aside. Jack wanted and is having his 9th birthday party at Giggles. He still loves going there. As of yesterday he's been with me for a year now and this will be his first birthday without Mum, so will be a little bittersweet.

Take care everyone,

Love,

David. X

Friday, 2 July 2010

Three months late but here's Tasmania!

Hi All,

Sorry but the text is again at the bottom! One day I just may work out how to do all this the right way round! The pictures may make more sense if you read the text first. Then again, maybe they wont! lol.

Take care,

David. X


About to sail from Melbourne as we head off on our Tasmania adventure (complete with the Formula 1 cars buzzing around as background noise at Albert Park for the Australian Grand Prix. Boy, are they LOUD!!!

Meeting the other ferry, halfway to Tasmania after 5 hours sailing.

Cousins Daniel (I think), Matthew and Jack (I think! lol).

Cousins Matthew, Daniel (I think, oops!) and Jack.

Town of Stanley as we descend the chairlift from The Nut. (Is that the Nut on the left? Nah, the right!!)

Township of Stanley in the background. View from the lookout at The Nut.

Interesting rock formations everywhere!

And again!

Wineglass Bay, Freycinet Peninsula.

Wineglass Bay. After an hour walk up to the lookout, but well worth it.

Found a native monkey at the lookout at Wineglass Bay, Freycinet Peninsula!

On the way down from the lookout at Wineglass Bay, Freycinet Peninsula. Beautiful place!

Statue of a guard dog at the "Dog Line" at a place called The Neck, where a line of vicious dogs was the last line of security to stop escapes from Port Arthur.


The Church at Port Arthur during the daytime.


On the harbour tour to the Isle of the Dead at Port Arthur. All the prisoners who died here were buried there (including from the boys prison - down to about 7-8 year olds) Hundreds of prisoners died at Port Arthur.

Got him where I want him!


The main Church at night during the ghost tour!


The main prison at Port Arthur.

Jack as a Solitary Prisoner (just see his head just right of centre in the 2nd row). Prisoners were never allowed to see each other or talk at all. They wore sacks on their heads when around others and each of these cubicles in "church" were separated from one another. They were in their tiny cells 23 hours a day for months and months. Only time they were allowed to make a noise was singing hymns in "church"! Most went mad and ended in the asylum next door.


Jack giving the prisoners in the Solitary Prison their sermon!


The old hospital at Port Arthur.



Port Arthur.


Got him where I want him again!


Jack and cousin Jack and ........ can't remember the little one! Oops! At the Great Lakes.

Great Western Tiers in the background.


With the Great Western Tiers in the background.

Our cabin on the way home.


Asleep on the boat after a long, tiring holiday!


Hi all,

Thanks again for all the beautiful messages of support. This is just a quick post to show you some pics of Jack and my holiday in Tasmania during the Easter Holiday break.

We went by ferry (10-11 hour trip during the day on the way over and came home on a night sail). The main purpose of the trip was for Jack to meet a heap of relatives he had never met. My Dad is from Tasmania and I have quite a few cousins over there and many of them seem to have children around Jack's age. He had a ball meeting all his "new" cousins! We also took a few days to travel around some of the beautiful sights of "Tasie", like The Nut, Wineglass Bay and the notorious convict penal settlement of Port Arthur. If you haven't heard the history of the place I will give you more details in the future. it's truly gruesome and unfortunately it also has a sad recent history with Australia's worst mass murder occurring there back in 1996. We spent a day there and it was fascinating and Jack also talked me into taking him on the ghost tour run at night there! It goes for and hour and a half walking around the crumbling ruins and old houses in a small group with a guide telling us all about the plethora of ghosts that inhabit the ruins! Lit only with 4 lanterns (one of which Jack volunteered to carry!) and we loved it! Jack was so scared and loved it all the same! Wasts to go back in the summer and do the other ghost tour they run in the other half of the settlement only in summer! lol.

Anyway, here are some pictures of our adventure!

Love,

David. X

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Put me in the naughty corner!!!

Hi All,

So sorry I have left this for so long. There are numerous reasons why it has happened but there is no excuse. Please forgive me everyone, as I know you all like to hear how we are going, Jack and Jamie in particular.

I think my last blog was just before the Easter holidays when Jack and I were about to head to Tasmania for a holiday and now here we are a week away from our mid year holiday!!!

Jack and I had a fantastic time in Tasmania and I will try to post some photos soon, however we have a new camera and I'm struggling to download from it. Will hopefully sort the kinks out soon. My father is from Tasmania so Jack met a heap of "new" cousins. Almost all my cousins over there have children around Jack's age and he had a fabulous time! Lots more to tell there but will add it to the pics when I sort them out.

Jack has had a great year at school this year. I get his mid year report in a couple of weeks but his teacher tells me is now well and truly amongst the brightest in the class! Jen would be proud and it just shows you what our boy is capably of, all things being equal. He still has nights when he's tired that he really misses Jen and it ahs been a little more often in the last week or two but I think that's just because it's nearing the end of a long school term and we are all tired. During the term I organised some counselling for Jack with a Psychologist (as I promised Jen I would - I also spent a few sessions with her which was hugely helpful) and after two sessions she said he didn't need any more at the moment. She says he is a bright young boy who is very well aware of how he feels and his emotions and only needs to go back to her if he feels the need to. All very comforting for me.

We have settled into a pretty good routine and as we enter winter here we are just chugging along and trying to make a comfortable life for the two of us here. Jen's two sisters became pregnant withing a week or so of each other in the month following Jen's passing so Jack is very much looking forward to meeting his two new cousins when they arrive in the coming months. Jack spent a weekend with Jamie and his girlfriend, Makeo, at Jamie's Dad's place and had a great time. Unfortunately we don't see much of Jamie but will make an effort over the holidays coming up to catch up. He seems to be doing ok and has a new job, one that seems much better for him than the last one. His former boss seemed to take advantage of him a bit and this new boss appears to look after him a lot more which is good.

Jack has also spent a couple of nights on separate weekends at Jen's best friend, Lee's place which has been great. They love each other and it gives Jack and I a break from living in each other's pockets! lol. We have also kept in touch with Jen's family and are off to Liz's on saturday for a birthday party for two of her boys.

Part of the reason why I have taken so long to post here has been that I am trying to decide what to do here. I have always felt this was Jen's Blog and I was updating it for her and then for as long as it serves a purpose for me to vent/chat as well as keep all of you up to date with Jack and Jamie's happenings. I still haven't decided but realise that unless I keep posting until I work out what I want to do here, I will slowly lose some of Jen's friends from following as you get frustrated with me thinking we have just "moved on". Phew, does that make sense? As I said ages ago, I have set up another Blog as my own in order to carry on into the future and would probably feel more comfortable with that but may stay here for the first 12 months from Jen's death.

Will get some pics organised over the coming holidays and make sure I am more disciplined with posting! Thanks again for all your support! I am blown away by it and was just re reading an email I got from Jen's brother, Greg, back in January. He asked me to pass on his gratitude for all your love and support for Jen over her difficult journey. I can't believe that I still received so many comments of support months after Jen's death.

Thank you all so much. Will be back here withing a week or so. I PROMISE!!!

Love to all,

David. X