Happy Birthday to Me!

I turned 30th last month. Hard to believe, I know. I, myself am still in a state of shock at the news. Deep in my heart, I feel I shall stay 25 forever…

Anyone who knows me well, knows I like parties. And for my 30th, I wanted to plan a nice big birthday party and invite everyone we know.

I contacted the gorgeous girls over at TwoDelighted and enlisted them to help me come up with some ideas. Since August is during the winter in South Africa, I imagined a big fire roaring in the backyard, surrounded by a few hay barrels covered in flannel blankets, wine barrels here and there, cafe lights strung across the yard and inside the house. A rustic chic, country sort of theme.

Enter Colleen and Megan. They came up with this inspiration board and jammed packed it with gorgeousness. Just enough to get my wheels turning.

I booked the wine barrels, located a farmer with hay, picked out the menu, ordered the cake, TwoDelighted designed me a few printables, and then…

I found out I was pregnant…

Lil ole selfish me was not going to throw a bash, at my house, until all hours of the night and not be able to partake in all the festivities. Then have to clean up the next day? No siree. Not happening. So I cancelled the party. Pregnant women are allowed to do that from time to time.

But what now? My friends had put so much effort into helping me plan the party, I couldn’t just toss it to the waste side?

Thankfully, I remembered a few years ago my Aunt Ava moving to Chicago from Georgia. Seeing as she was so far away from friends and family and could not be with them on her birthday, she mailed everyone some tea to enjoy on her special day. Such a great idea and it gave birth to the idea of a tea party.

So, I changed my Big 30th Birthday Bash, to a calm tea party at my house with all of my favorite South African ladies, my mom and Amanda. I then mailed some of my dearest family and friends tea bags to enjoy alongside with me on my special day.

I had a LONG list of people to mail tea to, got to the post office and saw the price of posting, scaled it down a whole lot and off they went. Praying they would arrive in time for the party and not get lost on the way. If you didn’t receive any tea in the mail, you made the cut, yours just got lost somewhere in the mail… Promise. ūüėČ

The actual tea party went off without a hitch. Big thanks to my dear husband for keeping Ava busy for the day. My mom and sister for being AMAZING as always. Tria for always being there for me, if it’s advice for a sick child or whipping up delicious snacks for my birthday party, I can always count on her. My mother in law for her mouth watering sweets and all she does for us. The girls at TwoDelighted, even though they are thousand of miles away, they still helped make my party a bit more magical. All of my wonderful girlfriends that came to celebrate with me. I don’t know what I would do here, without any of you. And of course, everyone far and wide who shared a cup of tea in honor of me on my birthday.

One of my favorite parts of the day were the Mad Libs that Megan and Colleen created especially for me. In the US, we grow up playing them, but for my SA friends it was new. My friend Natalie was kind enough to video the girl’s Mad Libs. Will post the videos as soon as I figure it out.

My advice for anyone planning an event of any size, hire a photographer. I for one will no longer count on myself or others to take photos of special events. I will hire a professional photographer, even if it’s only for an hour. At least I will have that hour of photos. Hence, I do not have one nice photo from the party to share with you all. Not one even Instagram could save. It’s a shame really.

But, I do have a few photos from the US of tea drinkers!

Aunt Ava enjoying her cup of tea!

My pal Stacy, lovin’ her some Rooibus. Which I bring home for her every time we visit.

Cousin Leah drinking her Rooibus tea

My aunt Joy and cousin Morgan looking fabulous while sipping their tea.

Megan from TwoDelighted

To brighten your day or to read TwoDelighted’s sweet post about my Tea, click here.

Fast forward back to the present. At the moment, I am 13 weeks pregnant and getting fatter by the second. Some days I feel like one of those people from the People of Walmart website, with rolls overflowing from my skinny jeans. I keep telling myself I can still fit in them and can’t breathe by the time I get to work. One day I’ll learn.

Little Miss Ava is so darn cute these days. I call her my Pumpkin Pie because I really could just eat her up.

Today I stumbled across this picture from September 2011:

and to think a year later, that little baby has turned into an exuberant little girl:

;

Until next time friends…

Blair

Life Update 4.0

The Scheepers ~ 30 June 2012

At the beginning of May I read an article over at Hands Free Momma on How to Miss a Childhood.¬†In this world full of smart phones, laptops, iPads and 400 TV channels, most of us are missing out on our children’s childhoods.

That’s me. I am guilty, guilty as charged. I have been addicted to the internet since our first introduction in the early 90s and my Blackberry and iPad only add fuel to the fire. I keep my phone with me 24/7. I couldn’t even imagine a life without an iPad in it. Every second I am zoned in on something else, I am missing the life going on around me.

So, I decided to make a change. I took Hands Free Momma’s advice and during the past two months, I left my computer at work, put down my phone and left the iPad beside my bed. Well, at least until Ava was asleep.

Did it happen every day? No, but I’ve tried my very best to be present.¬†And you know what? I didn’t miss being sooo connected all the time. I felt like I got to know Ava a little more, talked to Johan more and just enjoyed our little family, a whole lot more.

However, I did miss Blairadise and capturing our stories to share with you and for us to read in the years to come. So here I am, back at it, after both Johan and Ava are asleep of course…

Here’s a bit of what we’ve been up to lately.

In the last two months Johan turned a year older. Little Ava is now, closer to two than one.

And in a month, I’ll be thirty…

In less than nine months, our little family of three will become four!!

That’s right, I’m pregnant and we couldn’t be happier.¬†Our first doctor’s appointment is in the beginning of August, and then we’ll get a due date. Right now, we are guessing 4-5 weeks. So stay tuned.

my 1st purchase for the new baby!

It’s winter in South Africa, and the winter here does strange things to me. Considering, they (South Africans) all believe that winter only last three months, when in reality, it lasts five. Five cold months, April thru August, with no central heating, cool wind blowing and ice cold tile floors.

It is actually five months of torture, and it sends my body and mind into hibernation mode. Nights in front of the TV sharing our stories with you, has evolved into snuggling up on the couch in front of the heater, with a blanket almost covering my face, trying to stay warm. Have you ever tried typing with frozen hands? It’s not nice, not nice at all. Thankfully the end is near!

We’ve been cooking and baking up a storm to keep the house warm.

Ava helping Mommy bake macadamia nut chocolate cookies.

Ava helping Mommy make her 1st Creme Brulee. It was a disaster!

My parents have moved to a macadamia nut farm. It’s absolutely gorgeous there. A perfect Grandma’s house.

Last weekend we went up for Amanda’s birthday and Johan’s parents came with. It’s also the weekend we found out I was pregnant. I never get car sick, but I did and when I still felt sick on Saturday, I knew something was up. Off to the pharmacy we went.

As we pulled up the driveway my parents were holding the American flag. I loved this. Even though we choose to live in South Africa, we are still proud to be Americans.

Amanda and the girls, snuggled up on the couch. 

Love watching the sun come up over the mountain.

Her kisses are so sweet!

Loving her daddy!

On one of our early morning hikes with Ma.

Ava greeting me on my return from said hike.

Celebrating Amanda’s birthday!

 

Our little girls.

Ava with her Grandma and Grandpa.

Ava and I doing a little exploring and picking up rocks.

 

Della Mae, Isabella and Ava

Sunset on the farm.

On weekends we like to get out of the house and do a little exploring in our garden, not too exciting in winter, until the day we found a frog…

The Princess and the Frog – she chased this poor guy around the yard for about an hour.

Too cute not to include…

I’m a little tea cup…

Pigtails, enough said.

String Art – May Craft Party – Every time I see this sign, I hear Phillip Phillips song Home in my head. Love it.

It’s been an eventful two months. There’s lots I’ve left out, but will catch you up eventually.

Count down to America, 5 months. Rough countdown to new baby, 8 months. YAY!

Love,

Blair

Miss Bay

I remember the day as if it was yesterday. I’d come home from a basketball game at school and found my family in the living room. You’re going to be an aunt, my mom said. At 11, I didn’t fully understand the situation at hand. All I knew, was that in a few short months, there was going to be a real baby in my house and I could not wait. I remember Kendra was the first friend I called to tell the news.

Fast forward a few months, it’s 4:00 am and I wake to¬†commotion¬†in the house. It was time. My parents¬†were helping my sister gather her things and rush out of the house. Amanda and I had to stay behind and wait to hear the news.

Bailey Madison Kernodle was born sometime between 90120 and Melrose Place on the 27th of April, 1994. A little baby, with a head full of black hair. So tiny, so beautiful.

Fast forward 18 years and here we are. That tiny little baby has turned into a gorgeous girl. A smart, funny, confident, strong, did I say gorgeous girl? Yep, that’s my niece. Or rather sister. She’s more my sister.

You know I love my life in South Africa, but it’s days like these that it sucks. That I absolutely hate living here. I just want to be home, near my family. Near Bailey. I feel like I’ve missed so much these last few years. I wasn’t there when she won the State Championship with her school volleyball team. I wasn’t there for her first prom or when she made Homecoming court. To help judge her first boyfriend. Or when she received a full¬†scholarship¬†to the Citadel. I won’t be there this morning, on her 18th birthday. I’ll miss prom again. And I won’t be at graduation. Or when she leaves for college.

She hasn’t met Ava…

It hurts so bad. How do you make someone know you want to be there? That if you could, you really would? How do you explain to an 18 year old that she means the world to you? That she’s one of your favorite people, but yet you choose to live so far away? Why? Why does this life have to be filled with so many tough decisions? Why can’t it be easy? Why can’t Johan and I be from the same place, so no one has to miss their family? Why couldn’t we be normal?

Wow! Now that I got all of that out of my system….

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BAILEY!!

I know this will be your best year yet! I can’t wait for your visit in June and our visit in December. I am so proud of the person you’ve become.

If I was there today, you would wake up to a room full of balloons. I would have decorated your car, just like you and Laura Boger did for me on my 18th birthday. We would go to Nakatos and stuff our faces with sushi and then try to find some room for the rest of the goodness. I’d take you and your friends to Kate’s Skating Rink because roller skating is awesome. Then we’d find a Ben & Jerry’s and stuff our faces with ice cream. Your friends could come back to my house and we could watch chick flicks and stay up all night. Yes, if I lived there, that’s what we’d be doing tonight.

But I am sure you have something great planned and I expect pictures! Lots and lots of pictures.

I love you Miss Bay and can’t wait to see you very soon! XO

April {Craft Party}

Saturday some girlfriends gathered at my house for our first {Craft Party}. One of the girls and I have been discussing putting this party together for months, and seeing that Johan was out of town, I jumped at the chance.

Not sure where I found the website,¬†Mom’s Crafty Space, but I am glad I did, as it provided the inspiration for our first craft, painted canvases with an inspirational quote.

via Mom's Crafty Space

Seeing as none of us are professional crafters, we all had a few bumps along the way and learned a few good lessons. But in the end, I think we are all quite pleased with our efforts and results.

My favorite part is seeing each girl’s personality come out in her art work.

Needing some girl time and wanting to do something different? Organize a craft party. Here’s what we did:

The host chooses the craft and buys all the basic supplies. In our case, I purchased all the canvases, paint brushes, glues, white paint, tape, etc. We spilt the costs among the group, as we put the left over supplies into a container to use at our next {Craft Party}.The other participants bring their own creative elements, i.e. scrapbook paper, accent paint, ribbon and quote.

Plus everyone brings their own drinks and a snack to share.

I made a Warm Caprese Salad Dip:

<—-This makes it look like it’s my own photo, which it is not. Just a repin from someone else.

Extremely easy and delicious! All you do is chop¬†mozzarella, basil and plum tomatoes (juiced), then bake in oven until the cheese has melted. And bam! Warm Caprese Salad Dip. Make sure to remove all the juice from the tomatoes. We (Amanda) skipped that part, so it didn’t look as good as it tasted.

All in all, the day was perfect. Lots of girly bonding, good food and laughter. What more could you as for?

It’s also the 9,876,875th reason, why Amanda and I should live closer together. I love spending time with her.

Until next month friends!

Blair

**Do you host a {Craft Party}? If so, share your link below. We’d love to see what projects you’ve completed and how you operate.

Autism Awareness Month – A Friend’s Struggle

As many of you know, April is Autism Awareness Month.

Recently, I became aware of a dear friend who has two (yes, two) children suffering with this disorder. I wish I knew more about Autism to write a opening to her story, but I don’t. I am at a loss for words.

Many moons ago, Tess and I worked together at my parents company in Charlotte, North Carolina. Tess’s personality could light up the darkest room. You’ll see that in her story below. She’s an amazing mother and wife. Whom, along with her husband, have declared war on Autism. Get your tissues handy.

~We always wanted a girl. We had two beautiful boys already but something always felt incomplete. I mean I was a ballet dancer!  She was our only planned pregnancy and the day we found out we were expecting a daughter was definitely in my top 5 happiest moments ever.

My pregnancy was for the most part pretty run of the mill. We had a blast getting ready to take down the blue and red and put up the pink and purple. My older boys were super excited about having a little sister and the anticipation was unreal. 

 

In August of 2009 we got to meet our little Mia. She was so gorgeous. The palest, silkiest skin imaginable, she looked like a little Snow White with her perfect rose colored lips. She had beautiful hazel eyes that we could stare at for hours. She was a perfectly “normal” baby. She slept through the night on time and met all of her milestones on time. No one could prepare us for the hail storm that was only around the corner.¬†

Things were going along nice and calm for awhile until we were surprised to discover that we were expecting again. This time a little boy. Sammy. They are only 14 months apart. 

Sammy joined our brood (commonly referred to as Team Walters) in October 2010 and was by all accounts another perfectly “normal” baby.¬†

When Mia was about a year we started to notice that she wasn’t doing what all the other children were doing. She didn’t speak and had extreme and violent melt downs. She didn’t liked to be touched and would have horrific screaming “sessions” for hours on end in the middle of the night. She would strip off her clothes and refuse most of the time to wear anything (diaper included) at all. I would listen to my friends tell me about their littles with such jealousy and fear because my perfect little creature was not in any way shape or form close to functioning that well.¬†

I started to research how to get her to sleep in a diaper and tried all the tricks, all the different styles of pj’s, zippers and buttons, clasps and even backwards diapers. Nothing worked and it seemed to only make her more upset. All the stories I would read a single word kept appearing over and over again. At this point it was only referred to among my friends and family as the “A” word. I wasn’t ready. I did however make her an appointment with her pediatrician. Who pretty much blew it off and labeled her as “developmentally delayed” and refused to even investigate the possibility of the “A” word.¬†

This wasn’t good enough for me. It didn’t seem like the right call so I made a few myself and scheduled her a hearing test (which came back normal) and an evaluation with the early interventionists in my area. We had to wait only about a month but it felt like a year. Once the crew of specialists came and made their assessments, the “A” word became….Autism. High functioning with Sensory processing disorder (SPD). It felt like a ton of bricks had just been thrown onto my soul. My daughter? My only daughter? She is supposed to be “perfect” she is supposed to be a ballerina. What about her prom? What about her first date? Are these things all gone?¬†

I was really angry for awhile. Then incredibly sad, but finally after a few weeks I put my big girl panties on and stapled my thick skin back together and started advocating for my daughter. 

Within a few weeks she had started therapy. Occupational, Speech and Play (CBRS). Words cannot describe to you how much these women mean to me for reasons I will describe to you in a bit.

While all this is going on don’t forget we have little Sammy who in all honesty wasn’t getting my full attention emotionally (he wasn’t neglected or anything like that but it wasn’t until my world stopped spinning that I began to notice some irregularities). Sammy was just a little bit over one when we saw that he had stopped responding to sound completely. He was never a very social baby but now it appeared he only would make eye contact or interact with me. He wasn’t speaking or making any attempt at sound at all. He was hypnotized by one show and one show only. (The Backyardigans). Something was amiss and I was going to figure it out.¬†

I took him to our pediatrician who tested his hearing and he failed that. No surprise there. So she referred us to an audiologist. We went through the sound booth testing and again no surprise he failed that too. Next stop to go have a BAER test (Brainstem audiotory evocation response test) to see the full extent of his hearing loss and be fitted for his hearing aids or maybe a cochlear implant.

My amazing husband had been trying to figure out a good way to tell me for a few weeks at this point that he thought there was something more going on with Sam. And, in his defense he did try a few times and I blew it off and said “No, No, No, it is his hearing, once we get him his hearing aids or cochlear implant everything will be fine. You’ll see”. As you can probably guess, it wasn’t. I did finally let him convince me to make the call that I had just made for Mia and get him evaluated also. The same group came out and tried to be as positive and upbeat as they could since they were indeed the folks who were just in my living room 6 weeks prior breaking down my vision of the future, but they had to be honest. Autism. Again. This time everyone jumped on my bandwagon and said “let’s see how it goes after he gets his hearing aids……..Maybe he isn’t as low on the spectrum as he presents.”

 

We finally went for the BAER test about 5 weeks later and his hearing was perfect. Absolutely no problems to report. You might think YEA! his hearing is fine that’s great news, but that is not how we took it. My thinking was that if it was his hearing then I could fix that. I have a compulsion to fix things but the problem lies within the brain. This is the Autism, I can’t “fix” that but I can help him.¬†

So we delved into therapies, which wasn’t to much of an adjustment since Mia was already receiving them. Pretty much instantly Sam started Music therapy (Mia did too eventually), Occupational therapy, Speech therapy and then he also works with a certified speech and sign teacher. The dream team. Don’t underestimate the power of a spectacular group of therapists.

Fast forward to now. My hubby and I refused to let the Autism define us or our children and have started a war with it. We research and absorb everything we can. We are actively learning sign language and therapy techniques. We have even taught our older 2 to sign and they have embraced it. We are a signing home. We are in the process of making Sammy’s bedroom into a sensory room for both him and Mia to utilize. We currently have a fundraiser going to try to buy a therapy swing for Sammy. (link provided at the bottom if your interested to learn more). We have therapists in our home daily (most days more than one). Autism has made us better parents and made us understand why these children are called “Special” needs. Everyday they teach us something new and make us appreciate the smaller things like Sammy learning to clap his hands a few weeks ago or Mia actively showing compassion for someone else.¬†

Here is what is going on with the kids as of today.

Mia is doing amazing. She has been using functional speech for about 3 months and can sign over 30 things. She understands more than 50 signs. She is on the GFCF diet and that was amazing for her behavior. She rarely becomes violent and can recover quickly when she becomes upset. She doesn’t have the night time fits that much anymore and has been wearing clothing consistently during the day. (the night is still a challenge for her but we will get there). Her therapists are rock-stars and have helped her so much. She now can tell me her needs, she knows her colors, shapes and about 75% of her alphabet. She has begun to try to pretend play which is amazing to watch. Just this past weekend we had a tea party. (I cried for an hour once it was over).

Sammy makes better eye contact with almost everyone. He is learning to play and has a few favorite toys that he consistently attends to for more than 1 minute at a time. He is trying to sign “more” (it looks like clapping now but WHATEVER) and the biggest change to report is that he now loves his dad. After a year of not letting my hubby barely look at never mind touch him he now goes to him for love, support, comfort and snuggles. He has the greatest “quirks” instead of using his hands to feel things he uses his feet. He makes elephant noises when he is happy and loves to clap his hands now that he has figured out how. He is de-sensitizing sound a lot slower now and will play peek-a-boo with me.¬†¬†

Autism isn’t what I thought it was going to be (at least not yet). I know that my littles are going to face some major hurdles in their lives more so than “typical” children but I am ok with that. We will face them together.¬†

Here is the fundraiser link if anyone is interested in helping! Once my littles are not able to use this swing anymore it will be donated to a family that needs it.

http://fundly.com/tessjimmywalters

“Different, not less.” – Temple Grandin

I love this, “Different, not less”. So true old friend, so true!

You can read Tess’s story and others at¬†http://www.mostlytruestuff.com/.

 

 

Cartwheels

I can’t think of the last time I did a cartwheel before last Saturday, but I will be doing more in the future. They made me feel so young and carefree. Reminded me of days long gone.

When Johan suggested we go to the Union Buildings in Pretoria, I sighed, BORING! We have been there so many times when people visit from overseas, what could we possibly do there?

Low and behold, I was surprised! The gardens in front of the buildings are perfectly manicured and gorgeous, to say the least. Reflects nothing of how our government is run inside of the building at the top of the stairs, but any who, we enjoyed them.

For those of you in living in SA, take the time and go check them out. It’s worth it. We’ll be taking a picnic basket with us the next time.

This is a video of said cartwheels. Watch as little Ava tries to do one! She is so sweet, I could just eat her up.

Liebster Blog Award!

Woo hoo! Blairadise won the Liebster Blog Award!

A big thanks to Suzanne at The Wine{a}be (one of my favorite blogs) for honoring me with this award, I am humbled!! Especially when I see the other ladies included in her list, like Jocelyn from Scooter Marie and Deanna at Little Green Bow, also two of my favorite (daily) reads.

It’s funny how God seems to bless us at the perfect moment. Yesterday, I wrote about my anxiety to begin writing after Ava’s hospital stint. Afraid I wouldn’t be able to get my point across without sounding¬†ridiculous and thinking no one would even read it, as they probably forgot about my blog since I hadn’t written in so long.

Plus, I am depressed at the moment. Johan leaves tomorrow for a 12 day work trip. Jealous he is going to the Far East and leaving me behind and scared of 12 days alone, without him. Just me, Ava and work, school, home and then repeat, for 12 DAYS! Eek!!

When I awoke this morning and saw all the Tweets and the comment I received from Suzanne on my blog, I was humbled. It’s just the thing I needed to get me out of this little funk. It’s nice to know a few people (at least) enjoy catching up on The Scheepers and one likes us enough to pass on an award!

All the¬†excitement¬†got me thinking, 12 days will fly by. I’ll have bonding time with Ava, more time to read/write and watch reality TV. It can’t be too bad, right???

Now it’s my turn to share the love of the Liebster Blog Award with some of my favorite blogs. Drum roll, please….

Blessings, Bliss and Bailey

What she says: After 3 years of trying, 3 surgeries, tons of hormones, and a journey through faith РGod answered. As it turns out, you really do get what you ask for, just in His time. Bailey Lauren was born on Christmas morning 2010, and she is our little angel. God has taught us so much through her, most importantly his sufficient grace. She truly is our blessing, our bliss, our Bailey.

What I say: I love her writing style and honesty. Her little one is a month older than Ava, so we have a lot in common in this crazy thing called motherhood. If you want a good laugh or cry, check her out.

Lovely Light

What I say: A blog about an American girl living in South Africa. Any clue why I love reading this blog? Oh, and she makes really cool earrings too! I see she has 207 followers, but wanted to include Lovely Light anyway as she is one of my new favorite reads and deserving of the Liebster Blog Award.

On Sabbatical in Sandton 

What she says: On faking it & making it as a lady of leisure. Oh yes, and on being a mommy.

What I say: And have said before, Natalie is hilarious! Will almost categorize her as NSFW (not safe for work) because every post has me laughing out loud.

The Rodrigues Family

What she says:¬†I am a wife, a mom, a daughter, a sister, a friend and a Christ Lover. Our life is crazy and full of ups and downs but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

What I say: Like I’ve said before here, here¬†and¬†here. I just can’t get enough of¬†The Rodrigues Family.

Two Delighted

What they say:¬†Go read Who we are. It’s too gorgeous to miss.

What I say: I eagerly await every new post on their site. Each one is filled with such beauty, it can brighten up the worst of days.

Life Cherries

 A bit of what she says: Blogging since June 2011 and loving it.  I am fairly reserved and blogging has helped me to express myself in ways I am not usually able to communicate.

What I say: Not for the faint hearted. She tells it like it is. Sometimes a bit racy, which I like. It takes confidence to go beyond the norm of society and say what others are thinking, but not willing to write.

So how does the Liebster Blog Award work you ask?

The Rules:

1. Link back to the person who gave it to you.

2. Post the award on your blog for all to see!

3. Give the award to 5 of your favorite bloggers (with 200 followers or less). I chose 6, I just couldn’t decide as they are all so deserving.

4. Leave a comment on your chosen blogs to let them know that they have been given the Liebster Blog award.

Happy Wednesday!

I can’t think of a title!

I have really been struggling to come up with a post for the blog. At night, as I lay in bed the words come freely, but when I pull out a pen and paper or sit down at my computer, my head goes completely blank.

My biggest struggle is where to start. The day after my last post, Ava was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia. I want to write about how horrible it was for our little family yet, I feel so shallow as there are so many other parents whose children are sicker than Ava was.

For example, the little 5 month old baby girl in the first room of the pediatric ward, waiting on a liver transplant. The nurses said she’s been in and out of the hospital her entire life. I never saw her parents there, which at first angered me. How could they leave their sick 5 month old baby alone in the hospital for even a minute? Why isn’t the mother spending every night holding her child? Then it dawned on me, most insurance companies don’t pay for the parents to stay. Employers don’t pay for employees who aren’t at work. For 5 months, in and out, the poor parents may not be able to afford the overnight stays or have any more time off. My heart broke as I looked around and saw all the kids without their parents by their sides. Toddlers sitting alone in their beds. It was terrible.

I am so blessed that my employer gave me the time off from my job to spend every day with Ava and that we could afford for me to spend every night by her side. I couldn’t imagine how those other mothers must feel. Helpless for sure.

While in the hospital, I saw some of the mother’s talking by the coffee machine, making friends. Not me, I hid away in our room, afraid to meet them. Too scared to hear their stories of what they may be facing with their child’s health. Knowing I would have no words to comfort them. Afraid that one day it might happen to us.

For those five days, it felt like the world was closing in around us. For me, I felt like a terrible mother who hadn’t protected my little baby from becoming so ill. Afraid Ava thought I wasn’t protecting her from the nurses who she hated so much. Evil doers who poked her with needles and forced her to take medicine or the physical therapist who pounded away on her, forcing the phlegm out of her lungs.

Luckily, in the end I got to come home with a healthy baby. But I do see a few changes in her. Before the hospital, she took medicine without a fight. Now, the chase begins when she spots the medicine dropper. At night, she screams when I try to put her dummy back in. I think, she thinks I am the nurse trying to put her nebulizer mask on.

I pray we don’t have to go back to the hospital ever again. I pray for healthier days for all sick children and especially their mothers. Oh, their poor mothers.

;


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Sorted

If you have visited Blairadise in the past few days, you would have seen an error message. FINALLY found the plugin that was having the issue. So¬†frustrating. I really need to work on my coding skills. It’s now sorted, thanks for bearing with me.

Today is Human Rights Day here in South Africa. Woo hoo, it’s the start of what I like to call Public Holiday Season. We have 12 public holidays throughout the year that the entire country observes, not like the US where only the bank might close. Starting today, we have 6 until June, hence the term Public Holiday Season. Love it! #3 reason to live in South Africa!

We’ve been pretty lazy today. Well, Johan and Ava have.

This morning I washed the windows, a task I pay my maid to do, yet she never seems to do it. I brightened up Ava’s Easter basket, went to the hardware store and got some paint samples to make Easter garland, got ice cream from the Royal Danish shop (best ice cream in town, going to write an entire post on them one day) and am writing this blog post.

Ava’s Easter basket was used by one of the flower girls in my wedding. I made the bow out of the leftover ribbon from Ava’s ribbon sign. I love it. Think I might change the ribbon every year. She used this basket last year, I just forgot to take a picture. Mommy fail.

Ava has so much personality these days. Chatting all the time, even if it’s to herself. Not sure where that trait came from… We can make out a few words, mostly Afrikaans. At the moment her favorite word is baba. She picks up her doll and pats her on the back saying baba. So sweet.

Another tooth has broken through, making 3 on the bottom and 4 on top.

She’s become really good at following directions. Not sure if she completely understands or she is a good guesser.

Two things Ava LOVES right now, helping to make the bed and running in the sprinklers. Johan has to hide from her when he waters the plants and making the bed has never took so long. But her happiness is worth it.

Now that Ava is walking she really must wear shoes. However, her feet don’t seem to fit into any of the ones we have, nor does she enjoy putting them on. You would almost think we were torturing her. Any advice? Trying to avoid Crocs, but think I may have to purchase a pair this weekend.

Excuse all the different photo effects, I just found Picnik¬†and am having too much fun with it. Such a shame it’s closing, but hope all the tools just move over to Picasso.

Today my brother turns 40! Cannot believe it? Where have all the years gone? Would love to be there to celebrate with him. We are meeting him in D.C. in December for a mini family vacation before we head to Charlotte. So excited.

Hope everyone is having a good week. Now that I sorted out Blairadise, I am back in good spirits.

Cheers!

 

Mpumalanga, what?

Wikipedia says to pronounce Mpumalanga like,¬†i/…ômňĆpuňźm…ôňąl…ĎňźŇč…°…ô/. What? Yeah, I say it like Ma-puma-langa. Gotta love living in Africa and these crazy names!

Mpumalanga is a¬†province here in South Africa, the name means “the place where the sun rises”. It is here, where we spent the weekend. SA-Venues¬†names Mpumalanga the “Paradise Country”, to which I cannot argue. It is¬†truly¬†magnificent.¬†From the bushveld to the rolling hills and mountain passes, the sights and smells make you feel, even if it’s for a moment, that you are in paradise. So you know,¬†Blairadise loves it!

The last time Johan and I were here, we visited the Panorama Route for Easter with my parents and brother, who was visiting us from the US. You can see pictures from that trip here. Before that was when we went to the Kruger National Park on our honeymoon, almost three years ago.

My friend Marissa arrived on Thursday from Colorado and we left early Friday morning. We had planned to leave Ava with my sister in law, but after being away last week in Cape Town I just couldn’t do it. So Marissa, our friend Lood, Johan, Ava and I piled in the car,¬†trailer¬†in tow and started on the four hour long haul to Mpumalanga, destination Marloth Park, on the edge of the Kruger Park.

To say the holiday home was a bit of a nightmare is an understatement. The other travelers may not agree, but for me it was pretty terrible.

When we arrived at the house, it was nothing like I had envisioned, as I was remembering the house we stayed in last time we were in Marloth Park. This weekend home was a bit rustic to say the least, which is super cool, but child-friendly, it was not.

Upon entering the front door, my eyes landed on the steep stairway leading up to the living areas, ie. kitchen, living room, balcony… Guess who else spotted the stairway and ran straight towards it? Yep, Little Miss Ava. Big sigh… Upon arriving on the second floor I saw the wrap around porch, with the largest, most unchild-friendly¬†railing ever created. Really?!? Why, I wanted to shout, but instead let out another big sigh. I think it was at that moment that my back starting aching from all the stress I knew I was about to endure over the next few days.

Did I mention Johan had a terrible stomach bug? So bad I thought we were going to have to go to the doctor? Oh, yeah that was fantastic. As we all know how men are when they are sick…

Wait, here is the best part, Friday afternoon, I take Ava downstairs for a nap, shut the door behind us then realize I had forgotten her dummy (pacifier) upstairs, turn to go back up and the door won’t open. There is no key and I can see, the door isn’t locked. Thankfully, I had my phone. I called Johan and told him to come open the door. He couldn’t open it either. Sigh…

After what felt like being locked in for hours (probably only 45 minutes, but still), the handle was removed, we watched the part that turns to open the door¬†disintegrate, and then the husband kick down the door. Did I mention this is his bosses holiday home? Yeah, disaster. We are now in the middle of BFE and we just kicked in the door. But you gotta do, what you gotta do and Ava needed her dummy. Plus, there was no way I was staying locked in there another minute…

Saturday morning we woke up bright and early and headed for the Kruger. Within 30 minutes of being inside we saw a male lion resting under some trees. Not going to give you a play for play of which animals we saw because that would be super boring. Just check out my favorite pics from the park below.

*You drive about 10MPH in the Kruger and barely pass other cars, that’s why we let Ava out of her car seat for the day. Kind of a mistake, as now she screams when I try to put her back in.

Since we saw so many animals on Saturday, we decided to take the long way home through the Panorama Route on Sunday. Marissa being a mountain girl, I just knew she would love it, which she did. Not much to tell, just show.

 

The weekend wasn’t a total bust, we spent some quality time with great friends, Ava went on her first safari, and we all witnessed God’s gorgeous handy work. The Kruger is a must see destination in South Africa. It really doesn’t get much better than the Kruger or Cape Town. Think the Panaroma Route is a strong 3rd on my list of must see places in SA.

A few weeks ago I posted, The Key to Life. To prove my point further, below is a picture of the keys of to the house for the weekend… I got distracted at 20!

Thanks Mpumalanga! See you next time.

 

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