“Home”

It feels like yesterday, I was sitting on the floor in my mom’s dining room in Fort Mill, Stacy sitting on top of my already full suitcase, as I tried to stuff in every last bit I could. Chatting away as if I were going on an exotic vacation, not moving away.

“I bet you’ll be back before the three months is up,” all my friends joked. Silly Americans, thinking South Africa was more rural and undeveloped than it is, like lions roam the runways, and rhinos graze in your back yard. If only they’d known it was more like America with just a lot more potholes and less choices in the grocery store. That we actually have fire and electricity in our village. Or if they’d known I’d find Johan on the other side, they probably would have known I wasn’t coming back.

My parents cooked my favourite meal that night, sticky barbecue ribs and steamed shrimp cooked with Old Bay Seasoning. Old Bay, something we never leave America without.

We all chatted about the good old days and the trouble Stacy and I use to get into. What I’d do once I arrived and where I was going to live. My older sister, Amanda had left for South Africa two weeks earlier, she’d been living here for quite a few years already, but they were moving and needed to get settled in before I arrived.

If I would have known that was the last time I’d see the Fort Mill house I would have tried to soak in more memories. Our family shared a lot of great times there, and unfortunately, my parents moved on from that house before I came home again for a visit.

I was 26 then, and my wild and reckless heart needed a new start. So the next day, I boarded the plane and never looked back. Still haven’t.

Two years after I moved here my parents decided they also wanted to come over to South Africa to live. I was heartbroken. It’s so weird to say, but I truly was. I felt that without a “home” to visit, all part of my former life would disappear. The old Blair would go silently into the night and I would never have a “home” to go back to. I begged them to stay. Not to come to this crazy country. They’d never fit in here. They were too old for such a big change.

But they came, and they conquered. They moved around until they found the most wonderful house, on top of a hill, over looking a macadamia nut farm. The farmer and his family embraced them as if they were family. They found friends in every corner of the woods. They met other Americans and embraced them as family. But most importantly, they were happy.

And these past few years I really needed them, and so did my sister. When times get tough, there’s nothing like going home and being around family that loves you. The house doesn’t make the home, it’s the people there.

Two weeks ago, my parents suddenly decided to move back to America. They made the decision and in a week, they were packed up and gone. It feels like a safety net has been ripped out from underneath us, Amanda and I, but we know it’s the best for them. My grandmother needs my Mom and that’s where she should be. We’ve been so lucky to move to a foreign country and have our parents be able to spend so much time with us and our families.

Good luck with your new life, Mom and Dad. Take care of Grandma. I know it will be great to be back “home” and we can’t wait to come visit.

Just know it’s especially hard in the mornings and afternoons, when I don’t have you to call.

I know this farm misses you.

I know this farm misses you.

 

And these girls, they really miss you. Ava waves at every airplane in the sky and says, "Hello, Grandma!"

And these girls, they really miss you. Ava waves at every airplane in the sky and says, “Hello, Grandma!”

Don't forget about this guy!

Don’t forget about this guy!

It’s not goodbye, it’s see ya later. Stacy taught me that.

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.

 

 

Being Vulnerable

Daring Greatly

I received the book Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown as a gift from my boss the other day. When given a “self-help” book one doesn’t really know how to take it. Does he think I need to see someone and doesn’t know how to come out and say it or what? I have one friend who states she can’t be friends with people who read “self-help”, considering she is one of my best friends, she’s screwed, because we are friends for life and I like to buy self-help, even if they just sit on my shelf gathering dust.

Fortunately for me, I know my boss well enough to know that his intentions weren’t subliminal. He only reads non-fiction/self-help type books and has a long list of said books that have changed his life, so this was purely a gift from his recent trip abroad. Me on the other hand, I have a long list of fictional stories and characters that have changed my life, which could be the reason for some of my issues that I need to address. Repeat after me, fictional characters are not real… As for self-help books, I sometimes struggle to get through them as they can put me to sleep faster than a sleeping pill. However, this book is different and I think, no I feel, like it really might change my way of thinking, and in turn change my life. I’m only on page 68, so that’s quite a bold statement to make, but so far it’s so good.

What I have gathered from Daring Greatly is that we need to open ourselves up and stop being afraid to be vulnerable and to accept shame. We all have shame. What is shame you ask and I was dying to know? She says, “Shame is the fear of disconnection – it’s the fear that something we’ve done or failed to do, an ideal that we’ve not lived up to, or a goal that we’ve not accomplished makes us unworthy of connection.” And by not letting ourselves be vulnerable to fail, we think we are keeping ourselves from shame, when in turn we are keeping ourselves from experiencing all that life has to offer.

In one of the studies she mentions in the book, she asked a group of people to finish the sentence: “Vulnerability is __________.” Some of her responses were, “standing up for myself”, “asking for help”, “saying no”, “initiating sex with my wife”, “initiating sex with my husband”, “falling in love”, “trying something new”, “exercising in public”, etc. The one that hit home with me the most was, getting pregnant after three miscarriages. I actually started crying when I read that one. It made me realise how vulnerable I am right now, in this very moment. As much as I smile and tell everyone I feel great, that the baby is so busy, and how excited I am, I am also so freaking scared of these next few weeks and something going wrong. I am so scared of being in Joburg and going into labour, of the baby not surviving birth, of me not surviving birth, and the list goes on and on, and on. But the reality is that the only thing I can do right now is to dare greatly. I have to accept my vulnerability and face all 75 days left of this pregnancy with hope and faith in God’s plans for us.

loving ourselves

I am only realising it now, but I think the vulnerability of bloggers or anyone on social media for that matter, is what I love the most about the internet. By posting any art, blog, status update or ‘gasp’ a selfie, you are putting yourself out there for others to see and most probably judge you by and that is very brave, that’s daring greatly. Should we care so much about how many likes we get or page views, no, we probably shouldn’t. But, we should applaud ourselves for having the courage to open up and share our emotions with others.

The next chapter in the book is Understanding and Combating Shame and I am really looking forward to it as I for one know I feel shame for things I have done or failed to do.

Vulnerability

Lastly, realising that it is okay to be vulnerable has already helped me be a bit braver when facing the world. I submitted a short story for a magazine competition last week. Thank you, Mia for your encouragement. Even if I don’t win a prize, the rush I got from a) finishing a fictional story for the first time since college and b) actually submitting my work for a competition was enough of a prize for me. Also, over the last two years I have really struggled with writing blog posts as I felt ashamed for sharing too much of the emotional pain I was experiencing, but now, I hope to put the shame behind me and accept my feelings and get back to sharing more frequently here on Blairadise.

If you have read  Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead or any of Brené Brown’s books or watched her TED videos, I’d love to hear about your experience. Is there a self-help book that changed your life? I love to hear about that too.

*Daring Greatly pictures were found on Pinterest.

 

 

 

New year, new me

Growing up my mom always told us that you can feel as good as you want to feel. To this day, I still believe that. During the last year and a half, I wanted to feel sad. I liked feeling sorry for myself. I enjoyed hiding in dark closets crying my eyes out with tissues all around. It felt good. It felt good to be angry with God. I liked shouting at him, and blaming him for my pain and depression. And didn’t I have a lot to be depressed about? Wasn’t my pain justified? Wasn’t it all His fault?

I lost the first baby, when I was 5 months pregnant. Almost half way there. I lost the second one 8 months later, on Mother’s Day weekend. Wasn’t I a good enough mother for a second baby? I lost the third one, right before Christmas this past year. An operation before Christmas? Really, God? Why even give me the baby if you are going to take it away? At least let me enjoy Christmas!

New year, new me, isn’t that how the saying goes? Well, the new me, in the new year decided to change my outlook on life and get over myself. I owed it to Johan and Ava to not waste another year sad or angry. If that meant getting on birth control to avoid any disappointments, then that’s what I’d do. We decided to look at booking a holiday with some friends to Thailand and just use 2014 to relax and enjoy life.

The first thing I had to do was to stop fighting God. I had to accept the past and begin trusting in his plans for me, for us. I needed to get back to reading His word and listening to Him. To thanking Him for all that we do have. Back to focusing on love and laughter. Isn’t that what life is all about?

As I started working on my happiness, I noticed my health was beginning to deteriorate. Since the operation in December, I just didn’t feel right. Like my body wasn’t going back to normal. I was gaining weight faster than I had ever before. I was tired, agitated and overall uncomfortable.

Last Friday I went to see my doctor. She starts every appointment with this sad face and “how are you“. She’s been with me since the birth of Ava, so she knows all my ups and downs. I told her about taking a year off of trying for a baby and that we were coming to terms with the thought of only having one child. We talked about our trip to Thailand and just trying to make 2014 a happier year. She agreed that if that’s what I wanted, then we should go for it. Especially, if it makes me happy.

As I began to explain my ailments, a smile slowly crossed her face. “You’re pregnant”, she said. Impossible. My cycle hadn’t even gotten back on track since the last miscarriage, so how could I possibly be pregnant? She insisted we do an ultrasound to check.

When the cold gel hit my tummy, visions of my last visit soared through my head. Back to that day when Johan grabbed my arm, pointed to the ultrasound screen and said, “oh good, there’s the baby”. Then the doctor’s shoulders shrank and she grabbed my other arm and said, I’m sorry, but no, we’ve lost it”.

Back to last Friday, as the black and white ultrasound screen flickered, and then settled into focus, there on the screen was a baby. A big baby. A 15 week old baby. A bomb could have gone off around us and my doctor and I wouldn’t have noticed. We sat in silence for a few minutes. Looked at each other. Laughed. Looked back at the screen and basically stared in shock.

I had a D&C after my miscarriage in December, it’s where they scrap the uterus, in case you don’t know. How this baby survived, we don’t know. I have seen my doctor again, got a second opinion from another doctor and even went for a 4D scan. Not one of them can tell me how this happen, but I know. I know it was God. Only he can perform miracles and this little baby is our miracle. He survived a D&C. He’s a fighter.

Johan and I are still in shock. It’s weird to go in for a checkup and come out almost 4 months pregnant, but we couldn’t be happier.

What I’ve learned so far this year, is that when I finally gave up on how I thought my life should be and gave into trusting in God’s plans, he answered all my prayers and more. He’s given me hope. He’s given me strength.

strengthened

 

Oh, and it’s a boy!

babyS

 

 

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