Hiking the Fish River Canyon

Last week Johan and I travelled to Namibia to hike the Fish River Canyon. For those of you who don’t know, Africa is a continent, not a country, and Namibia is a country located north-west of South Africa, also a country. The Fish River Canyon is the second largest canyon in the world after the Grand Canyon.

During summer months, temperatures can reach up to 48°C (118°F) in the day and heavy rains can cause the canyon to flood. The Namibia Wildlife Resorts department only issues 1000 permits per year, between 1 May and 15 September. These permits must be booked a year in advance. Our friends, Natali and Wynand, booked for us last year. At the time, we were a group of 26 hikers but only ended up being 7. 5 guys, and two girls. Wynand, Jacques, Lindo, Dirk, Nadia, Johan and myself.

On the morning of the 8th of May, we met up with Dirk and Nadia in Kathu, South Africa, and travelled the rest of the way to the Ai-Ais Resort, the ending point of the Fish River Canyon hike, a 12-hour car ride from Pretoria.

The border between Namibia and South Africa was nothing like the border between Zimbabwe (another country) and South Africa. In Zim, there were thousands of people travelling between the two countries, on both sides of the fence. Some loaded down with all sorts of goods, others with only a few belongings, and I couldn’t help but wonder where they could be headed. At the Namibia border, we were 4 of 10.

When we stopped at a gas station in Namibia, we were easily identified as tourists by our license plates and were soon surrounded by kids begging for money. The exchange rate between the Namibian Dollar and the South African Rand are the same, so they happily took my Rands.

About 45 minutes from Ai-Ais, we came upon two trucks parked along the side of the road. This was literally in the middle of nowhere and nowhere. As we got closer we saw that one of the truck’s wheels was turned in under the body of the truck and knew these people wouldn’t be going anywhere soon. We moved the stuff around in our cars to assist in bringing passengers back to Ai-Ais. Carl from Cape Town got into our car and started to tell us about his adventure. He and his friends had just come up the 2nd emergency exit from the canyon on their 5th day of hiking and used their satellite phone to call for help. No one in our group brought a satellite phone. I knew about the emergency exits but thought they would only be used in extreme cases, but Carl’s story was the 2nd time I’d heard of them being used in a non-life or death situation. He continued to tell us it was the worst, most difficult experience of his life. The decent was terrifying; the heat, sweltering; his backpack threw him off balance; all of it, hell.

I have to be honest, I didn’t research the trip at all. I spoke to a friend and her husband who’d hiked the canyon and she said it was difficult but do-able. It didn’t register to me that she was in her 20s when she did it. In my 20s, I was also up to tackling difficult/crazy tasks like moving to Africa. Another friend did it with his family at 17. If a kid can do it, so could I. I skimmed one blog post to ensure we had all the right gear, looked at #fishrivercanyon images on Instagram, but really, I left the research up to Johan. It’s a hike, how hard could it be?

Carl’s story about his journey really freaked me out. As we walked into the reception area of the resort I saw a big “NO WIFI” sign and reality started to sink in. We were in the middle of nowhere about to embark on an adventure of a lifetime, good or bad I wasn’t sure yet, but one thing was for sure, there was no turning back.

Sitting around the fire that evening we discussed the hike with our friends. It’s actually a 5-day hike I found out. One that could be done in 4-days, but most people try to complete it in 5. Johan and I only packed food for 4-days, we could have survived, but this wasn’t good news. I needed to be back in Pretoria 1st thing Monday morning for work, so there was no way we could finish on Sunday. Why would people push it out to 5-days? It can’t be that hard, I thought to myself. I run 21 km in +/- 2 hours, 70 km (43.4 miles) in 4 days will be easy peasy, lemon squeezy. We will hike for half the day, then relax the rest of the day. I packed a book, two decks of cards, and a journal for all of our free time and of course my mascara. It’s so light, why not?

That night, we slept in our tent in the campgrounds of the resort, and I got a taste of the rock-hard floor I would be sleeping on for the next 3 nights. In the morning, we repacked our backpacks, and I wondered why was mine so heavy. We finished breakfast and loaded into the van that would take us to the starting point of the hike. There was a group of 3 older men who joined us in the van, also starting the hike that morning.

As I gazed across the canyon, the vastness was breathtaking and nerve-wracking at the same time. There were tourists taking photos of the canyon, a brief stop in their journey to wherever they were going. We put on our packs and were excited to get started, adrenaline pumping through our veins.

70 km (43.4 miles), here we come. I looked down at the rocky path and it’s chain handrail and thought about Carl, what a baby. Down we went, slowly and steady, but then the handrail disappeared and I was grateful for my walking stick. The walking stick makes one feel like a granny, but I’m pretty sure it saved my life a few thousand times during the trip. Down and down and down, we went. The nice path soon gave way to slippery rocks and boulders that one needs to jump to reach. Or climb, or scoot. The sun blazed and sweat poured from our bodies. My fear of heights overcame my body and my legs soon turned to jelly. With each step, I became more and more scared. Johan held my hand through most of decent, I slid, scraped and bumped my way to the bottom. It took us 4 hours to descend into the canyon. The longest, most strenuous 4 hours of my life. At the bottom, I started to realize why someone would decide to take the emergency exit and why Carl had described it as hell. My body was beat.

I like to think of myself as fit. I run most mornings, do yoga on the others, and run races with friends on the weekends. We started to juice. Fit and skinny are way different than strong. Way, way different. On day 1, I came to the realization that I am not strong. All those hiking exercises Johan and I found on YouTube, yeah, we should have done them more than once.

So here we are, 4 hours in and have only reached kilometre 0, the kilometre count only starts once you reach the canyon floor. After a quick break, we were off again. More boulders, more climbing, more fear. I was now stuck down there, no turning back until the first emergency exit.

We reached our first river crossing, and what should happen? Of course, I fell in, butt first, boots and all. I’m not the best rockhopper, so it seems. Only a few hours in and I had to change into my second and only other outfit I brought with. Happy camper, I was not.

Day 1 continued like this, climb, slide, hop, jump, keep moving until we decided to set up camp at kilometre number 5. 5 down, 65 to go (3.1 miles down, 40.3 miles to go). At this point, I think Johan started to get a little worried that I wasn’t going to make it through to the finish or even through day 2. My spirits were down, and if I had an easy exit, I would have taken. So, he stepped in, set up the tent, washed the clothes, made a fire and cooked us dinner and continued to do so for the rest of trip. Never once shouting at me to shape up, just jump already, went slower than the others to stay with me, took my bag to assist with the climbs or river crossings.

Day 2 was pretty much the same; sweated like crazy, so much that my pants didn’t want to stay up; tried my best to avoid falling in the water or off a boulder breaking an arm or leg which would have clearly resulted in death; force-fed myself for energy thus ruining my love for biltong; and drank water the colour of a bodily fluid of the same consistency.

We found the well known Vespa which was left behind in the canyon in 1968 and found the hot springs, 75°C (118°F) of hot water pouring from the canyon wall. The hot spring was like the sirens in Greek Mythology, beckoning us to come closer, sucking us into its warm embracing and refusing to let us go. A warm bath, after a long and gruelling day, was exactly what our bodies, and most of all, our feet needed. Needless to say, we camped there that night, the siren had won. Kilometre 16 of 70 (9.9 miles of 43.4 miles) and only 2-days to go.

That night we had a bit of excitement. Jacques, one of the guys in our group had packed his fishing rod in the hopes of catching a fish in the Fish River Canyon. And oh boy, did he. When Wynand shouted across the camp, he got one, it was hard to jump up and go racing over due to the throbbing pain in my legs and joints, so we slowly made our way to see what all the excitement was about. All fishing jokes aside, this was the biggest catfish I’d ever seen. We guessed it weighed about 8 kgs (18 pounds) and almost as long as the fishing pole. And he caught it in his underpants! Hilarious. Definitely one of the highlights of the trip.

Johan woke me up early on the morning of day 3. If we wanted to finish the next day, we needed to get a move on it. We had 54 km (33.5 miles) to go. So we said our goodbyes to the group knowing/hoping they would most likely catch up with us during the day. Thankfully this portion of the trail was a bit easier. A lot of river crossings, less boulder climbing and more crossings through the walls of the canyon.

Every once in a while we would come upon an arrow along the path made from stones, a path lined with stones or even piles of stones which gave us the security of knowing we were on the right path. Each time I saw one, I would say a little prayer, sending God’s love and light to all of those that came before us and all of those that came after us, which always made me feel a little lighter, happier.

As the sun began to set, we finally heard shouts from behind. Nadia and Dirk had managed to catch up to us and also wanted to finish on day 4. Man, they were a sight for sore eyes. I had taken photos of Jacques’ map earlier, but not far enough, we had travelled past the planned stopping point and had assumed the group would have caught up with us before then. Johan had a GPS, but it wasn’t as clear about the direction of the shortcuts as the map was. Thankfully, Nadia had photos of the map up until the end. Plus, as much as I love Johan, the change in conversation was most welcomed.

We walked a bit further and found the most amazing spot to camp at for the night. Close to the water, lots of firewood, close enough trees to hide behind for changing, etc. And so, the sunset on day 3, just the 4 of us. Kilometre 43 of 70 (27 miles of 43.4 miles). Roughly 11 hours of walking time. We were all asleep before our heads hit the ground.

No matter the situation, you can always count on Johan to be the early bird. Day 4, came fast and hard. At this stage of the trail, our bodies were aching. Dirk had a blister covering his entire heel; Nadia’s feet were wrapped, blisters popping up all over; I’d lost one toenail, had a nasty blister on top of my foot and on every toe in some shape or form. Johan, well, he had a bit of a foot ache. He’s a machine, that guy.

After coffee and breakfast, we set out to complete the Fish River Canyon in 4-days. Day 4 is one river crossing after another. The sun was out in all it’s glory, as there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and it was sweltering, again. The sweat pouring off, I had to roll my pants over 3 times so they would stay up. Do not buy Columbia or Adidas hiking pants, they are both terrible.

The 4 of us walked into Ai-Ais around 6 pm on the 12th of May. It felt a bit surreal. A few of the campers cheered as we entered, bringing tears to my eyes. Later we would learn they were leaving the next morning to start their journey through the canyon. We tried our best not to scare them as Carl and his friends had scared us, but we were brutally honest. Pack as light as you possibly can was my number 1 tip and brace yourself, it’s really, really tough.

I had plenty of time for internal reflection down in the Fish and I do hope the above doesn’t come across as too negative. I tried my best to apply all of the self-help tips I have learned over the years, and at times it helped, others it did not.

From the beginning, I was beating myself up for not being strong enough, but in reality, I am. I faced my fears, I didn’t get over them, but I faced them and survived. I walked 70 intense kilometres in only 4 days, I am strong.

I stressed over all the things that could be happening in the outside world; were the kids okay; did Trump start WWIII; has anyone died; did I forget to do something at work; and the negative thoughts continued and grew into these outlandish stories until I finally had to stop and  realised there was nothing I could do about what was happening anywhere else than in the canyon and with anyone other than myself. I had to focus on the now, and getting to the end. And guess what? All those negatives thoughts I had, not one came true. Not a single freaking one. No one forgot to pick up Ava; work was fine without me; Jake, he was fine; both sets of parents, fine; friends and family, all alive and kicking. By focusing on the now, one can surprise themselves with what you can accomplish and how you can adjust your attitude.

Johan and I had a favourite type of path, the one with the small crushed up rocks. Mainly the trails on top and through the canyon walls. It was amazing how one of these paths could immediately lift our mood. But just like in life, one moment we would be on top of the world (it literally felt like it), walking an easy path, and the next minute we’d be back to boulder hopping. Life had literally thrown a gigantic boulder in our way, blocking our path, slowing us down, making us stop and try to figure out our next move. Whether it’s in our relationships or careers, there’s always going to be ups and downs, rocky patches and smooth trails. Continuing to push through is key because no matter what, there will be a better trail somewhere along the way, you just have to find it.

As for my attitude, the trail was much harder in the beginning when I was angry at Johan for signing me up for this crazy adventure, but it wasn’t his fault. From the first What’s App invite, I was in. I signed myself up for this and my fits weren’t going to get me to the end. Blaming others for your problems gets you nowhere.

Surround yourself with good people, people who make you want to be a better person. We had a great group. Johan has known most of them since grade school, but it was nice for me to get to know them all better. Everyone helped everyone else. At times, I had to push myself to stay with the group as to not slow them down or laugh at myself to not let my attitude ruin anyone else’s trip.

This trip reminded me that Johan is my rock. He never left me behind, even though he is much faster than me. He walked the path with me and I am glad I get to walk the path of life with him. Plus, I am pretty sure any other man would have left for me for dead down there. 😉

I have to be honest, I will never hike the Fish River Canyon again. If I had done more research, I never would have gone, so I am glad I didn’t because it was one of the greatest adventures of my life.

“The only man I envy is the man who has not yet been to Africa – for he has so much to look forward to.”
Richard Mullin.

*Photo creds belong to the group, especially to Johan and his amazing selfie abilities.

I am a total fangirl for Taylor Swift!

Taylor Swift Grammy's 2016

Now this is the type of role model I want for my daughter. Hard working, confident and classy.

Well done Taylor! Please keep doing what you are doing.

Yes, I made this… Total fangirl, I know! Thanks for the picture Hollywoodtake.com.

The Scheepers – May 2015

 

Wow, 2015 is really flying by. I honestly cannot believe I haven’t blogged once this year! I am not even sure I know how to anymore.

Here’s a quick update on what I should have been blogging about…

Ava turned 4 in January. I will try and do a big birthday post for her, as I missed this year and last year. Last year I didn’t blog on purpose because I looked terrible, but thankfully we came to find out I was just pregnant with Jake!

My parents moved back to America at the end of February, which I didn’t realise would be so tough on my sister and I. We really took for granted them living here. There is nothing like picking up the phone and calling your parents whenever you want or hopping in the car for a weekend visit. Now that we are all on iphones, it’s a bit easier with Facetime, just not easy on the data bill.

In April, some of our best friends moved to Australia. Super exciting for them, super sad for us. Charlene will always be one of the best friends I have ever had. For not knowing each other that long, her and our other two best friends really stepped up and got me through some really tough times. I just couldn’t have done it without them. One day we hope to make it to Oz to visit, but in the meantime, we wish them all the best with this new chapter in their lives.

Also from that side of the world, Johan’s brother and his wife came for a visit during May and June. They live even further than Australia, they live in New Zealand. A 10 hour time difference, and it takes about two days of travel to get here. They came for three weeks which was too short, but we’ll take it, as it was so great to see them. I don’t even remember the last time they were here. Their oldest boy was still just a little guy then. Last year they also had a baby, who we’ve clearly hadn’t met yet. All three of Johan and his brothers had babies last year. It was such a blessing to have us all together and see what a difference a few months makes in the development of babies and just to give them all big hugs.

Last week, Jake turned 1. One year’s old, can you believe it? Time flies by so quickly when you can measure it against kids. This has really been the most wonderful year of my life. God has really shown me that he has the best laid plans. Through all of the heart ache of the previous years, I have come out stronger and more appreciative than ever. I cannot wait to see what the rest of life holds for us.

A short rewind back to May, we met up with our favourite photographers for a family photoshoot. Which you all know I love. I knew that the photographers had just launched a new brand, AndStory, which was now only focusing on weddings, so I said a little prayer before reaching out to them. Thankfully, they agreed to help us!!

As with all of our family photos that AndStory has taken before, these are just as magical as ever. I love every last one of them, and I think there are about 200? These pictures perfectly capture the love our little family shares. The pure joy Ava stirs up from Jake, and the friendship that’s beginning to blossom between them. Absolute perfection.

Blair Family-1Blair Family-6 Blair Family-9 Blair Family-10 Blair Family-11 Blair Family-14 Blair Family-19 Blair Family-24 Blair Family-27 Blair Family-30 Blair Family-35 Blair Family-40 Blair Family-49 Blair Family-51 Blair Family-54 Blair Family-60 Blair Family-65 Blair Family-66 Blair Family-67 Blair Family-68 Blair Family-72 Blair Family-75 Blair Family-77 Blair Family-88 Blair Family-89 Blair Family-91 Blair Family-100 Blair Family-106 Blair Family-113 Blair Family-116 Blair Family-119 Blair Family-125 Blair Family-129 Blair Family-130

 

I am not going to promise I’ll be better at blogging, because I don’t like broken promises. However, I actually love Blairadise, and will try to do my best to keep it updated from here on out.

Have an awesome day!

Blair

 

Every day is the best day!

A1_EveryDayA new year is coming, but today is the BEST day!

If 2015 is anything like 2014, bring it. I started 2014 a bit glooming and good news changed me. Imagine if I had accepted life as God planned it and been happy? Good news would have just made me happier?!?!

My “New year, new me“, for this year isn’t changing from last year. This year, I still just want to read lots of books and be happy and do lots of things which make me happier. Happy is the theme, get it?

Happiness is being present. Put down my phone and jump in the pool with Ava. Who cares if my mascara is running all over my face? No one else cares, why should I?

I’m over weight, not for everyone, but for me, I am. For the first time in years, depression isn’t keeping me out of my bathing suit or the pool. I am sick of sitting on the side.

I am full of baby weight, cake and beer. Here I am. Same bathing suit you’ve seen me in for the last four years. But I am here, living life. Soaking up my time off work and pretending to be a dolphin and carrying Princess Ava all around the pool. Finding magical combs and fighting off gigantic snakes (pool cleaners).

I’ve spent lots of money on face cream, yet it, my sunscreen and years of tanning beds have let me down. My freckles are already in full force and I have yet to hit the beach. But I love the sun. Next purchase will be a hat and some tanning lotion. Don’t tell Johan. 😉

For me, 2014 has been a year to remember. First things first, Jake. Wow! Way to make an entry, dude! You’ve rocked our world in the very best of ways!

Oh Ava, 3. 3 is the best year ever. Johan says I say that about every year, and I do, but 3! At 3 she found her imagination and friends.  It makes me happy when you ask to play with friends and our family. When you miss Ouma and Grandma. Keira, Christiaan, Tannie Mia and Aunt Amanda. Isabella and Della Mae. Miya, Nikki and small Hannu.

Poor Grandma… Ava thinks you make everything! The fish tank, mermaid tails, pancakes, and all cookies… Sorry, Grandpa. We all know you make the pancakes…

This year Ava’s teacher told us, ” She’s not an artist, she’s an actress.” I believe her. Famous one day or not, you are a star in my eyes! Oh, but the stories you tell.

I am pretty sure (betting on it) that you are going to be famous one day!

Right now, today, is the best day of my life and I know, no matter what tomorrow brings, it will be even better. I have God, love and hope. That is what life is all about.

 

 

 

 

What a Difference a Year Makes

A year ago Saturday, I was laying in a hospital gown on a cold hard bed in a room with three other strange women. Women much older than me, with struggles and stories of their own. Stories I’ll never know nor care to. I remember the one’s husband was talking so loud on his phone the entire time I had to lie there, I just wanted to shout, shut up! Don’t you know some of our souls are busy dying here?

The nurse came to book me in and take my vitals. What are you in for, she asked. Why do they ask that? Isn’t it right in front of their faces on the chart that has all my life’s information? I had a miscarriage and am here for the D&C, I responded. Oh, it will be all right dear, just pray a little harder next time, she said. I couldn’t respond.

I had prayed. I had prayed long and hard for this baby. I had gotten on my knees and prayed. And I am pretty sure we had lots of people praying for us and this baby as well. Pray harder? Who says that?

Thankfully my best friend Mia walked in or I may have slapped that women out of shear anger. See, seeing Mia was a shock. I didn’t know she was coming and I definitely didn’t invite her. When I walked out of the doctor earlier that week with all my hopes and dreams shattered, I turned off my phone. And by turning off my phone, I shut out all my friends and family. I shut myself off of Facebook and Twitter and all the happy people with their perfect lives. I didn’t want to hear I’m sorry or I wish there was something I could do. I didn’t even want to go for a drink. I wanted to be alone. I wanted to hide away from the world and be alone. I think I have mentioned before, I like to lock myself away in closets and cry. Well I couldn’t even do that as there were workers here installing new closets, so I had to lay in the guest bedroom, with strange men walking through my house, and cry my eyes out. Again, I was broken.

As I sit here and type this, I have the sweetest almost five month old miracle sitting on my lap. He’s drooling all over the place, but this little guy has made me whole again. One friend said it perfectly, so many things had to go so wrong before all this could go so right, and that’s the truth. Some times life has to go really wrong, before it can all go right again.

So my advice to you is to never lose hope, because you never know what a difference a year can make.

Photo on 2014-12-03 at 4.52 PM

 

 

1 month and 32 years

It’s been exactly one month since Jake’s birth, and 32 years since mine. My how time flies!

Even Google remembered my birthday!

Even Google remembered my birthday!

My mom is always one of the first people to call me on my birthday.  Every year she reminds me that I was born 12 minutes after walking into the hospital. If they’d had stopped to get that biscuit for my dad at Hardee’s, I would have probably been born in a parking lot somewhere. In my mind, that would have made for a pretty awesome story, but I can hear them both now, Jim shouting that he wants/needs a country ham biscuit and Anita calmly tell him to shut the hell up and drive…

Jake’s birth was a scheduled c-section, so no bumps or surprises. When the doctor pulled him out and showed him to us, Johan and I just stared in awe at this perfect little baby that we had waited desperately for. We just stared at him, until the point the doctor asked if we didn’t want to take a picture. Oh yeah… That would be nice. Thanks doc!

This post is going to be mostly pictures as my brain isn’t quite functioning at 100% today, or on most days.

This parenting is tough stuff. The toughest thing I’ve ever done. Feeding every three hours doesn’t mean you actually get three hours of sleep. No, sir! Johan helps out a lot, as I am not afraid to wake him up to change a diaper or two, or three in the early hours of the morning, but an hour here or there of sleep does not fill up the sleep tank that one needs to function at full speed.

Sleep when the baby sleeps, they say. That doesn’t work. It just doesn’t. That’s the time you can use the bathroom, call a friend or shower.

Ah, showering. There’s nothing like a hot shower, to only be pee’d on minutes later. I am not complaining, because it is quite funny. Ava never did that, but Jake! Man, he can getcha good. It’s like he was born with perfect aim and hits mom every time.

Once I have time to do a little research, I am going to look into the benefits of baby puke in your hair. All those vitamins and minerals just soaking in, there must be some kind of benefit, right?

Please don’t take this as complaining, I am laughing as I write this. I couldn’t be more happy than I am at this very moment in my life. This is my best birthday ever and the day has just begun.

Now, on to some pictures…

 

Happy Birthday, Dude!

Happy Birthday, Dude!

Who wants a knuckle sandwich?

Who wants a knuckle sandwich?

Ava’s new favourite thing is to tell me a story and I illustrate it. Here we are “working”.

me and kids

 

And when your child asks you to draw a bear, you draw the best bear you can…

braveI am really proud of the way Ava has made the transition into big sister. Not to say we haven’t had our issues, but I think that’s her age. Just trying to feed this kid is a daunting task. Today she likes strawberries, tomorrow she doesn’t. Then last night we bribed her into eating our dinner of chicken and pesto pasta and she’d devoured it. So it’s up and down. But she is a real doll and loves her brother to bits.

There’s a whole lot of this going on:

AVA&Jand this:

20140801_181709Ava and I went to Disney on Ice with some friends. She sat in awe for the entire show. I cannot wait for the day I get to take her to Disney World. We are hoping for 2016. Bailey’s graduation and throw in a little Disney. Sounds like a great plan to me.

IMG_0093IMG_0096Tim McGraw’s song, In My Next Thirty Years, just came on Songza. Nothing could be truer, because in my next thirty years, I’m gonna have some fun!

Gotta run, going out to lunch with my friends!

Happy birthday to me and Jake!

 

 

 

 

We’d like to announce…

Jake announcement

 

designed by the talented Fathima Kathrada @ Happiness is

6 Days and counting

As of today, we have only 6 more days until Jake’s arrival. My actual due date is the 18th of July, but since I have already had two caesareans, the doctor doesn’t recommend natural birth. So, my scheduled caesarean is for the 7th of July, at 7:30 am. He can, of course, come at anytime… I am not quite sure which is scarier, not knowing when you are going into labour or knowing?

When I started Blairadise back in 2011, I never realised how much my future self would need this site. It’s easy to forget what happened on Monday, nonetheless how I was feeling when I was pregnant with Ava. One of those posts that I like reading is The Girl Who Cried Baby. I am pretty sure all my pregnant friends can relate to this one, especially the women sitting at 40+ weeks. Starting around 34 weeks, I really tried to tune into my body and look for any signs of early labour. Every morning I wake up thinking, what if today is the day? I try not to tell Johan about the tiny cramp I just had that may or may not have been Braxton Hicks, but I am also too scared not to tell him in case it’s the start of something more. So I go with the latter, and just like the Boy who cried wolf, I am the Girl who cries baby!!

It’s Time, maybe my favourite of all time…

It’s 9:27 in the evening and the Skipper and I are about to head to the hospital. I went to the doctor today and was dilated 2 centimeters. She told me to report back at 10:00pm so they can start monitoring my progress. The below isn’t so pretty. Then again it is. We are two young people whose lives are about to change. Lovers embarking on a new adventure. Best friends starting a family. It’s time…

birth, lovers, family

So short, but makes me cry every time I read it. Hard to believe that was three years ago and oh what an adventure it has been.

There are lots of days when it hits me and I can’t believe I’m pregnant, about to give birth. And again, I am thankful I can come back here and reread posts, especially the one where I share Jake’s story, as it still amazes me.

A small update on that story, at that time we didn’t know how he survived a D&C. The only explanation the doctors finally agreed on was that I was pregnant with twins. We lost one and by the grace of God, this little guy, who we didn’t know about, made it through. I try not to let the thought that Jake was “maybe” a twin get to me. I feel like I mourned the loss of that baby and I will always have a special place in my heart for all of the babies we’ve lost. Right now is the time for me to trust in God that everything will go okay and just be thankful for all that I do have.

It’s also good for me to go back and read the not so good posts. The heartbreaking ones. I wish I could go back in time and give that girl a hug and tell her it will all be okay. That lots of things will go wrong before it all goes right again. Again, just trust in God, he knows what he’s doing.

One thing I can’t wait for is to see Ava in her new role as big sister. Not that I am 100% sure she fully understands what’s about to happen, but I know she’ll do great.

She’s so funny, she keeps asking when the doctor is going to cut off mommy’s belly?!? Soon Little, very soon!

Ava at the movies

 

 

The Scheepers – April 2014

I have to be honest, we rarely take any photos with our camera anymore, Johan and I mostly use our phones instead. It’s just much easier and always on and near by. Especially when taking photos of kids, the moment is usually gone before you can capture it. Another confession is that we rarely print photos either. I have folders upon folders of pictures that need to be printed. “Make a Photo Album of the Past Year” is on the top of every one of my New Year’s Resolution lists. I don’t think I have made one. Thankfully, we do have a least a few of our family portraits printed and hung on the wall.

Because of this laziness, I insist on getting family portraits taken every year. Last year, I was a little under the weather so we skipped it and I really need to stop beating myself up over it. There’s nothing I can do now. Well, other than make a photo album of the year…

We chose to go with Creative Emporium again because they have always given us the most beautiful pictures. I just love our 2011 pictures and the 2012 pictures with Johan’s family are just as special. All days we’ll never forget.

In this year’s photos we wanted to capture our little family just the way it is, right before we add the newest addition. Ava in her gold “princess dress”, portrays exactly who she is at this moment. She wakes up and puts on a princess dress, she gets home from school and puts on a princess dress. If we would let her, she would sleep in her dresses and wear them to school. I love that about her. She is such a girly girl with so much personality and heart. I can’t wait to see her in our next chapter as a big sister.

When Melanie wrote and said they had gotten “some magical ones”, I didn’t know what to expect. But they really did. These photos make me so happy and are magical. Enjoy.

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May Update

As the sun is slowly slipping beyond the horizon on day 8, I pray the next 9 will go just as fast. Johan has been traveling with work since the 8th of May and it has felt like eternity in one sense and passing like a flash of lightening in the other. For once he gets home, May will almost be over and after May, comes June, and after June comes Jake.

At 30 weeks pregnant, keeping up with a 3 year old all on my own is quite a daunting task. I am trying my best to unplug and soak in this alone time with Ava before Jake arrives, but man, I am tired these days. We’ve spent the afternoons strolling the neighbourhood looking for pine cones (shame, there are none), building forts (Johan is much better at it than me), making paper snow flakes (I am very proud I remembered how to make these), and having tea parties (which I am close to mastering), but I am beginning to run out of ideas and I feel guilty when we plop down in front of the TV. So if you have any easy, low maintenance activity suggestions, please send them this way!

I was a bit worried about spending Mother’s Day alone, as I was afraid it was going to be hard on me considering last year, but thankfully it passed by without a tear. My husband hid a special gift for me under my pillow before he left and Ava and I spent the day with my in laws, which is always a pleasure.

The best gift of all was logging into Facebook and seeing two separate posts, from two American girls, who don’t even know each other. One still living in South Africa and the other living back in the states, but both of them thanking my mother for making them feel at home and part of our family while being here, half a world away. That my friends, is my mom. She’s so special in so many ways, I don’t know where to begin. She listens to understand you, not to respond. She’s always helping someone or crafting something. If you’ve seen something cool at Ava’s birthday parties, chances are, she made it. If you’d laid on a comfy quilt at my house, she also made it. She is the hardest worker I know and truly one of my best friends. I really couldn’t be more proud of my mom and can only hope that one day I can be half the mother she is.

Thank you mom, for all that you do for my family and for everyone else. You are such a special person!

December 2010 while I was pregnant with Ava.

December 2010 while I was pregnant with Ava.

Tea Party with Mom and Ava.

Tea Party with Mom and Ava.

Me, Mom and Amanda at Ava's 2nd Birthday.

Me, Mom and Amanda at Ava’s 2nd Birthday.

mom and wedding

Mom and I at my wedding.

 

 

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