The Scheepers – Dec 2011

On a perfect summer’s day in December, The Scheepers family met the brillant Melanie and Reinhardt of Creative Emporium at the Irene Dairy Farm.

These pictures are everything I was hoping for and more.

Out of 200 photos, I just randomly picked a few to post, that’s how perfect all her shots were. If you’re in South Africa, you must really check out Melanie and her team.

Now, which one should we have enlarged?

Ava’s birthday is on Friday! I am still in shock. She’s standing up all by her self these days. I keep waiting for her to walk. She took her first step last Thursday when her daddy was out of town and of course wouldn’t do again for him on Skype. Then Friday, she took two steps in front of both of us, but that’s about it. Will keep you posted.

Wish you could all come over and help me with the final touches on the birthday party.

Happy Week.

Blair

Holiday Wrap Up

As we settle back into the normal pace of things, I look back over the holiday season with great joy in my heart. God has blessed with much more than we could ever ask for. Our first Christmas as a family was so wonderful, even if little Miss Ava didn’t like Santa Claus, it was still a wonderful time spent with family and friends. Loads of good food and even more laughs.

The Advent calendar was a nice addition to our Christmas decorations and we are really looking forward to using it again next year. Johan and I will then have memories of this year and the bible verses we read. Best of all, Ava will be able to enjoy the treats and activities along with us. Even though we plan on spending December in America, I plan on taking the calendar with us, minus the red board, of course. 
Christmas was spent in the Free States with Johan’s family. I really love going there and have spoken about it many times on the blog. Here, here and here
There were about 47 of us, aunts, uncles, oumas, oupas and cousins, lots and lots of cousins. We made the trip down with Johan’s brother Hennie and his family. 4 hours, 4 adults and 4 children under the age of 4. That was quite an adventure to say the least. 
I am very proud to announce that my Afrikaans has come along way and I can now actually enjoy and contribute to the conversations around me. Still only responding in English, but understanding much more. Singing Silent Night and the other carols in Afrikaans was a wonderful experience for me. Finally, I am starting to feel less as an outsider and more apart of the family. It’s a bit uncomfortable when everyone is relaxed, and then you see that they have to switch to another language just for you. 
These photos are from Christmas Eve at Johan’s cousin, Charl’s house. Not too many pictures of the food, as Johan and I were too busy stuffing our faces. The starter was mussels in a white wine and garlic butter sauce with fresh brown bread. I ate so many, Johan’s aunt came up to me and told me I needed to save room for the main course! Red faced, I had to admit I thought those were the main course. They were so good, I could have eaten the entire pot, and almost did! For the main course, we had beef and chicken shawarmas, in the States we would call them gyros. Yum. 
singing Christmas carols

part of the clan

I love this little person!

Me, Ava and Juan searching for Father Christmas (Santa)

Keira shouting for Father Christmas

Ava, not so happy with Father Christmas 

Santa gave Ava her first tea pot for Christmas!

Christmas Day was spent at Tannie Igna and Oom Hennie gorgeous farm house. There was so much food, I wouldn’t even know where to begin with what we ate. From beef fillet to chicken breast, a smoked tuna starter of some sort and so many salads and side dishes. Beautiful desserts brought by my mother in law. All of it was so delicious. 
love the ornaments in the weeping willow

all dressed in red. 

Ava with her Oupa, my father in law

Toasting those who had passed or were far away.
ps: That’s you, Charl and Lee

just chatting about our future… 
We spent New Year’s at Zebula, a game lodge / golf estate with three other couples. Again, way too much good food was consumed. A bit more alcohol and loads of laughter. Zebula was our first family trip away with our friends and their families. It made us feel like real grown-ups. With 8 adults and 6 children, we all got along surprisingly well. The house was perfect, the food was perfect and the company couldn’t have been better. Looking forward to our next holiday with these folks.

Can we get in the pool now, Mom?

The Girls!

loving my chalk board bunting!

Happy New Year every body!

Blair

Back to Reality

Yesterday was back to reality and back to my first day at work in the new year. Traffic was a breeze as most of the country is still on holiday until next week. The office was even more quieter, as I think all of our minds were still in holiday mode.

I am really looking forward to 2012 and the exciting times it will bring for our family. We have quite a few big events already planned.

Any day now, our newest nephew will make his grand entrance into the world. It’s a shame he is in New Zealand, but thanks to Skype we will get to see and talk to him often. Hopefully we will get to meet him sooner than later. This little guy is already loved by so many people all around the world, all who can’t wait for him to arrive!

stole the pic from Facebook. Isn’t my sister in law gorgeous?!?!

Ava turns one in a few weeks and I am still busy putting together her party. You’d think I would be finished, since I started planning in October. Yet, there is still lots and lots to be done. I still need to pay the deposit on the cake, which I am a bit nervous about as it’s not like the baker has made before the cake I have requested. But, I’ve seen her previous work and think she can pull it off. Fingers crossed as we wait and see.

As we get older and our friends begin families of their own, it means lots of more birthday parties to attend. Not sure what’s better? The first birthday party or the subsequent birthdays where they actually enjoy their friends and the excitement of the day. Ava’s first might be a little OTT (shh! don’t tell her dad), but hopefully our friends will brush it off as her mom just being a crazy American… Thank you over the top kid’s parties tv shows!

a little message in a bottle

In March, Johan will travel to China for ten days with work. I am so excited (and jealous) for him to see this part of the world. China isn’t one of my top places to visit, but nonetheless, I would jump at the opportunity to go. Not really sure how I will cope without him for ten days, but at least I have Ava and my iPad to keep me company.

We also have a friend who is planning on coming to visit in March from the States. Super exciting. I love getting people’s reaction of South Africa and where we live. It’s my norm now and I love hearing an outsider’s opinion and their questions. Watching them try new food and then coming to the realization that it actually isn’t so much different from home then they had imagined. Well, except for the Zebras they will see on the side of the road. Oh, let’s not forget all the goodies we get shipped to them to bring over for us. Going to start my Baby Gap wish list now!

I want this…
and this…
and she most definitely needs a pair of these!

The seventh of August marks my thirtieth birthday. SCARY! Hoping sparkles are still in style then, as I would like to wear something really sparkly on my thirtieth. Break out of my fashion shell a bit.

 like these pants, out to lunch with the girls

this shirt, on a surprise trip to Cape Town

or this dress, just dancing around the house*


All year we will be trying to save as much money as possible. So if you have any good tips on saving, PLEASE, please pass them along. I, for one, have never been a person who is good at saving. What are we saving for you ask? Our trip HOME to America in December! Oh I cannot wait to introduce Miss Ava to our family and friends!! By then she will be a proper little girl, full of life and personality.

Our plan is to stop in New York City to see my old friend Sherrill, travel down to Washington, DC and meet my brother to do some sight seeing. Then head to North Carolina for about three weeks of fun with family and friends. Really looking forward to Christmas with my brother and sister and their families. And hopefully a grandma or two, my aunts and uncles, and cousins too!

I am in talks with the BFF to organize a massive play date in December, at one of my favorite hangouts and her business, Kate’s skating rink. Will keep you posted on the details and let me know if you want to help out!

Well, those are the things we are BIG things to look forward to this year. What do you have planned?

Happy New Year!

Blair

PS: Will post pictures of our holiday soon!

*I found all these pics on Pinterest

Thanksgiving

After 4 years of living in South Africa, you’d think I would have acclimated to the weather by now; what each season brings and when they change. Yet, my body and soul still sing to the tune of the Carolinas’ glorious seasons.

When September rolls around, I anticipate a chill in the air, not a heat wave. In October, my body craves concession stand nachos and to watch a good old American football game. By the time November arrives, I am ready for cable knit sweaters, not bathing suits.

It’s hard to get into the holiday spirit when it’s 80 degrees (Fahrenheit) outside and a majority of your memories are leaves changing color and falling from branches. Of football games and sled rides, not laying by the pool catching tans.

This year, that all must change. My attitude toward a warm South African Christmas must change. Even though Ava is too small to remember, I will always remember her first holiday season and I hope to set a precedence for the year’s to come.

To kick off the holiday season, I decided to introduce Thanksgiving to my in laws, a group of people of whom I am of the utmost grateful for. We have all now decided that the Scheepers’ Thanksgiving will take place on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, every year going forth. We’ve started a new tradition. YAY!

My mother in law had friends visiting from Cape Town this weekend, so they joined in the festivities. As all Southern’s know, the more the merrier. They made us eight adults and four kids. Upon arrival the guests received homemade lemonade in glass jars and were prompted to the crafts table to make their own Indian head dresses.

Johan successfully grilled (yes, grilled) his first turkey and it was delicious. Thanks to my obsession with Pinterest and Google, I was able to create a beautiful table, super cute welcome drinks, five dishes, and Pecan Bars – that are making my mouth water just thinking about them. Thanks to the help of my mother in law for making my favorite spinach and bacon salad and my sister in law for pitching in and making a yummy gravy. How all the dishes were finished in time and ended up on the table still warm, could only have been by the grace of God.

At dinner I explained the origin of Thanksgiving and we all went around the table and said what we were thankful for. Of course, Tria and I were crying.

Johan and I have so much to be thankful for this year.  Our health and our healthy little baby. She has brought so much joy into our life. We are thankful that God had provided us a home where we can invite our family and friends over and we have the ability to provide a meal for them.

I am thankful for my family in North Carolina and the many wonderful Thanksgivings we have shared together. For the Scheepers’ and our new tradition. For all of our friends, we are thankful for you, as they say you can’t pick your family, but you can pick your friends. I am glad we’ve picked each other.

Next up on the holiday calendar is the start of our Advent Calendar, which I mentioned here. So far I have only attached the ribbon, tomorrow (finger’s crossed) Johan will complete the board with the hooks to hang it from.

So far so good!

I am over the fact that Ava won’t have a real first Christmas tree, she’ll still have a tree. Plus next year, she’ll have an American Christmas, with a real American Christmas tree.

Here are a few photos from the weekend. Johan and I were both busy cooking and didn’t get many photos. Will have to get some from Tria.

Charl and Lee – We hope our new Thanksgiving tradition makes you so jealous you want to move home. Little Joshua would LOVE Thanksgiving with his cousins.

Shh! I am watching the birds…

Thank you Pinterest for the leaf idea, and the glass jars as vases and the Pick N’ Pay for the only sunflower I could find in Pretoria.

Gobble, gobble.

Thankful for the two of them!

Don’t you love all of our head dresses? Thanks Charl and Lee, took the Peacock feathers at your wedding last year. 
The only post worthy photo from the pool. Hectically, awesome! Surprised the pool survived.

Ava turned 10 months yesterday! She is so big, tears…

My favorite.

She just can’t sit still.

This weekend my mom returns from two months in the States and we have a family photo shoot at Irene Farm (weather permitting). Super excited. Week please hurry up.

Thanks,
Blair

Monday Blues

I woke up today with the Monday blues. Johan is out of town today, so this morning it was just me and Ava. Me, trying everything to get her to lay still so I can put on her clothes and then rushing about to get out of the house on time. I hate rushing about, as it never fails, I always forget something. This morning was a first, I managed not to forget a thing. But, I am down. What I would have given to spend the day with her?! It was a wonderful weekend, but it flew by so fast  and we were so busy, I feel like I didn’t get much time with Johan or Ava. One more day with them would have helped me avoid this funk.

And then, my grandma sends me an email about taking time to enjoy life and not working so much. Is it a sign from God? Should I quit work and stay home? Am I selfish to want adult interaction, to further my career and have more money rather then spend my days with my child? Why do I feel so guilty for working, when my mom did it and I am okay? Do dads also feel guilty for working? And why must I work? Why couldn’t I have been born rich like P. Hilton and just go galavanting around the globe with the hubs and baby?

On a serious note, I am starting to freak out as Ava is growing up so fast. I don’t want to miss out on anything and with a 40 hour work week, plus 10 hours of traffic I would much rather have that time with her. Ugh. The grass is always greener…

On a lighter note, our weekend was so, so very wonderful. It was filled with laughter, friends and most importantly, family. This past month, I’ve been working with my sister in law, Tria to plan a surprise party for our mother in law. Take note, OUR mother in law, as she is married to Johan’s oldest brother.

I am sure I have written about my in laws on here before, but honestly, I couldn’t have married into a more wonderful, loving and caring family than the Scheepers. All of them are so great, I thank God every day for them. If it wasn’t for these people, I don’t know how long I would have lasted in South Africa. From the moment I met them, they welcomed me into their family with open arms. I was treated like a daughter and a sister, not just some girl. They called and checked in on me. Invited me to dinner and really took an interest into who I was as a person.

The surprise party we planned for my MIL, is only a tiny token of appreciation for what she does for us, and our families. There were 40 people in attendance, from far and wide to celebrate my MIL’s upcoming 60th birthday. The women donned hats and the men suspenders. Everyone came dress up beautifully. A few of our cousins and friends helped us decorate and serve the food. 13 courses were served throughout the night and the wine flowed. It was a magical summer evening. And the best part, Ma was completely surprised!!

Working with Tria over this past month has been great. I know her well and we are quite close, but working together to pull this party off for Ma was so much fun. I have realized that we are more a like than I ever knew. I am so lucky to have her as a sister. She’s already been commissioned to work on the menu for Ava’s 1st birthday, just as long as she stays in the budget this time…

A few party pics:

My SIL and our gorgeous girls

love the whole family matching!! 

Big Surprise!

Stunning!

How gorgeous is my cousin and her baby?! 

My FIL and MIL can dance ya’ll!

We are family! – Sings cheesy song in her head… 

Love this one!

Where’s Charl?

Relaxing after a long day

~insert smiley face~

Love this little girl!

~Blair

Laid To Rest

Today was my first African farm burial. I thought it would be weird and creepy to take and post photos from today, but now I am disappointed I didn’t take photos. The whole experience was so moving. I wish I could share every bit of it with you.

Feisty old Oupa demanded to be buried in the cheapest casket they could find, so he was. It was a plain wooden box, with rope handles. The site was on Johan’s uncle’s farm, which was inherited by Oupa from his parents. A gorgeous farm where they raise sheep and sunflowers, amongst other things.

The warm African sun set the glorious scene.

Roughly a hundred people came out to watch the burial of this wonderful old man, who I hear was loved and hated by many.

Right before the ceremony started, farm workers from around the area, dressed up in their best, came around the edge of the house. About sixty.

There is still a lot of racist tension in South Africa. Daily, the news is filled with farmers being killed by their workers. The tension lying mostly with the “old” South Africa vs the “new” South Africa.

Seeing as Oupa lived the majority of his life in the “old” South Africa, I was shocked and moved to see a large amount of black people at the burial today. When they broke out in song, my heart swelled and the tears flowed. It was beautiful. One of the men said a prayer for Oupa in Sotho (one of our 11 national languages). I have no idea what he said, but you could tell it was from his heart and he meant every word. Crying right now thinking of that moment.

One of the younger girls stood out from the crowd and started singing a song in English which said, “Don’t worry, I am going home, where I will die no more.” Remembering that, always brings peace to my heart.

Later I found out one of the men had been living and working for Oupa for over seventy years.

I can understand a bit of Afrikaans. I don’t claim to be fluent. Church services are hard for me to follow. Church and old people. They use too big of words. So most of today I didn’t know what was said. What I do know is that I am so lucky to have married such an amazing and sensitive man, and to have married into such a loving and caring family.

Tomorrow we head back to the city and back to reality. Thankfully it is Friday and as always we have a super busy weekend planned. I’ll spend most if the weekend gearing up for a surprise party for one of my most favorite people next weekend, getting my hair cut and hanging out with some of my other favorite people. Ah, two whole days with Johan and Ava, just livin’ life!

Live

Yesterday a friend’s Blackberry status said, “Everyone dies, not everyone lives.” The ironic part is, Johan’s grandfather, Oupa rather, passed away yesterday. At 92, this man had lived. He’d been a farmer most of his life in the Eastern Free States of South Africa, but he’d traveled the world, seen two World Wars and inventions like the telephone and first heart transplant, all things we take for granted.


I wrote about our last vist to Ouma and Oupa here, when Ouma had fallen and we went to visit her in the hospital. Only three short months ago and now Oupa is gone. I remember the day I first meet Oupa, at Johan’s cousin’s wedding. From across the lawn I heard a shout, “Where is that American girl? I want to talk some English to her!” I spent the next hour or so with him, hearing about his travels, telling him about my home. He flirted with me like you wouldn’t believe. At 89, he was still charming the ladies. 

I love how she is holding his hand – big tears!

My most vivid memory of Oupa is from our last visit. I wrote this in To Ouma We Go:


Ouma lay in her bed, thin, pale and weak. When she saw Oupa she started crying, she had thought he was dead. Lying in the hospital is making her lose her mind a bit. Oupa touched her face and told her she was silly, he wasn’t going anywhere. I thought I saw tears in his eyes. He probably won’t go anywhere. He will loose her, before she looses him. As I watched them interact with each other my heart swelled up. 


She is still in the rehabilitation centre and he was at the nursing home. Fortunately, she has gotten better. Unfortunately, we lost him to pneumonia. When Johan’s Uncle broke the news to her, he said it’s like she already knew. I think she did. 


Everyone dies, not everyone lives. Johan, Ava and I have a lot of livin’ to do. 


Speakin’ of living, we’ve been super busy lately. Celebrating friend’s 30th birthdays on the Vaal River, baby showers, Ava turned 9 months, won her first gold medal at the school sports day and much more. Here’s a few pics of what we’ve been up to. 

The Vaal makes me miss Lake Wateree/Norman and the many, many good times had there.

Ava and her Oupa

Sports Day 2011 – Mommy and Ava, taking up the lead!

Ava trying to eat her first gold medal!

9 Months – YAY!


Loves her new pool!

~live life to the fullest~

Blair


Left Behind

I just put my grandmother Kernodle on a flight back to the US. She has been here for a month now. Two weeks with me, two weeks at my sister’s house. When she was with me, I was super busy with work and didn’t get to see her much. Just knowing she was spending the days with Ava was enough. Grandma is 86 going on 70. You wouldn’t believe her age if she told you, she is so busy all the time. I know I’ll see her again. Her and my grandmother Thomasson. They’ll both be there when I get home next December. I know it. Knowing, doesn’t make it easier to say goodbye.

When I decided to move to South Africa, I honestly didn’t think I would stay long. Neither did my family and friends. We all thought I’d come over for a year or so, travel around, then come home. A short adventure that turned into four years, and counting. 
At 25, I was heading out on my own adventure, not thinking of what I was leaving behind. Not thinking about the people whose routines would stay the same, just without me. Never realizing the emptiness felt by those I left behind. 
Johan’s older brother Charl and his wife moved to New Zealand this time last year. For those of you who don’t know, it’s freaking far from South Africa. Like really far. Plus the time change is super annoying compared to America. They are going to sleep when we wake up. 
When they moved, only then did I realize what it felt like to get left. For someone to embark on their own adventure, without you. Every Tuesday night we eat dinner at Johan’s parents house. All the kids and their kids. It’s a bit chaotic, but it’s so wonderful. Every Tuesday night, we are reminded that Charl and Lee are far away. It’s become the norm now, but it doesn’t make it easier. 
They are home now for a short visit. His first since the move. She’s pregnant and super cute, of course. Due the same day I was due with Ava. Their having a boy. I don’t know when we will get to meet him, as we don’t have any plans to visit them and they haven’t planned further than this trip. So I am left to day dreaming about him and little Ava, defending themselves against the other Scheepers’ trio. 
We will all be together one day, I know it. 
~Blair
Newest addiction, other than my iPad, Instagram. Love it. 
Della Mae behaving!

Playing by herself

Ava behaving!

Dear Apple,
Please put a better camera on the next iPad.
Sincerely,
Blair Scheepers
Ava Lou, I love you!
Me, Grandma and Ava
My loves

MIL and Lee

Ava and her Oom Charl

We are going to the States!

The Free State! Actually we went last weekend. Johan loves saying that we are going to the states! The Free State!

The Free State is a province in South Africa. Provinces are sort of like our states, but not really. Johan’s parents are from the Free State and most of his uncles and cousin still live there. I wrote a post about visiting his cousin Charl and his family, plus we saw his grandparents. Ooh and played with lions, you can read about it here.

This weekend we headed to the FS for one of Johan’s cousin wedding. The venue was gorgeous and the bride breathtaking, of course. Greta always looks beautiful, so it was no surprise that she’d made a stunning bride.

The venue

The Scheepers
Me, Greta and Ria
Ava and her daddy

I always get a laugh thinking about the time we were invited to his other cousin, Ria’s wedding.

Johan and I at Ria’s wedding. 

Johan and I were only dating at the time, and he asked if I would like to join him to his cousin’s wedding. I agreed and asked where it was, Paris, he said. PARIS?!? For a wedding?!? AWESOME. He gave me a look like I must be crazy. I even called my sister Amanda to tell her the good news. Me, Paris and the love of my life, for a wedding? Sounds perfect. I asked how much the plane tickets would cost… Then the laughter began and I was afraid he’d never stop. Not Paris, Parys in the Free State. Lost in the accent.

The good news, is that the bride and wedding was just as beautiful and fun as if we had been in the real Paris.

I actually love the Free State. Whenever we are driving there or through there, I get the same feeling I get when heading up I77, past Statesville, toward Hamptonville. It’s a feeling of belonging and yearning to stay forever. Unfortunately, it’s not my family we go to visit but, if I had to choose anyone else, it would be Johan’s family.

Ava turned 8 months last week. She is so close to crawling, that I think she actually made one tiny movement forward tonight. She is, however, a pro at moving in circles and backwards, rolling over and falling over. Ava definitely does not like to sit in her car seat or highchair.

Her daddy went out and bought the cheapest highchair made (without mommy), so I like to blame him for her not wanting to sit in it but, we have a Peg car seat, which isn’t cheap, and she hates that as well. So there goes my cheap theory. Don’t tell Skip. I need someone to blame for my child’s misbehavior.

I can’t choose which picture I love the most.

Maybe this one…

The sweetest thing!

Did I tell y’all I got to meet Al Gore? Yeah, the first year I was old enough to vote, I voted for him. It was awesome. I’ll probably tell you again at a later date.

Al, if you’re reading this, you’re the man.

In case you didn’t see it…

Skip, if you’re reading this, you are my favorite man. And I won’t let you forget that you promised to take me back to Clarens or to the real Paris.

Blogger, if you’re reading this, get a new iPad app! It’s almost 2012, bru!

On the way there. I just love Instgram.

Night ya’ll,

Blair

Life Update

At the moment Johan, Ava and I are on the way back from dropping my mom off at the airport. She is heading home to the US for two months. Johan and I are so jealous. Would love to be boarding a plane right now, destination Charlotte.

Yep, writing this post on my brand new iPad! Love it. I should say Johan’s iPad as he uses it way more than I do. We definitely need two.

My big work event is FINALLY over and we can finally get our life back to normal. (I met AL GORE!) However, it has been so great having my mom and grandma at my house this week. But now, back to normal.

This weekend we were supposed to have family photos taken, the weather obviously had different plans. If I tell my sister it’s warm in Pretoria, by the time she gets here, it will be raining or freezing cold. Shame.

Thankfully the sun came out and today was beautiful for Ava’s baptism. She was such a doll in church. When the preacher placed the water on her forehead, she gave the biggest smile of her life. It was almost like she knew what was happening. My heart swelled up. There aren’t words to explain how happy and proud I was of my little family today. And that my grandmother could be there to witness Ava’s baptism, made it even more special.

For my wedding dress, I used my mom’s wedding dress and had it updated a bit. With the left over fabric, the dress maker made a baptism dress. Della Mae wore it first and now, Ava. My mom bought a blanket and stitched each of the girls who used the dress name onto the blanket, so we have now created our own heirloom. Very special.

This week has been hectic to say the least. Monday I started an events management course online. Not sure why I thought because it was online it would be easy. Ha. Wednesday was the event. Thursday Amanda and the girls arrived. Friday Ruben arrived! Saturday is rained out our plans. Today the baptism… Like Johan says, I need a weekend.

Cherrio!

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