The past 12 months have been 365 days of a couple big sad good-byes, one big hello, and as always, lots of adventures in between...a year of change, of learning, of growing, of adjusting.
RV life found us in Lake Havasu , AZ and while we did love the sunshine and neat little towns like Oatman & Jefferson, I quickly learned desert life just isn't for me. As we made our way to San Diego, CA the plant life that surrounds the area was such a welcomed sight! At the end of the month we met some friends in Lake Tahoe for our annual ski trip. I was almost 4 months pregnant and not able to join in the skiing fun but made the most of my time in a place that holds a very large chunk of my heart.
Being from Minnesota we're used to February being one of the coldest months of the year, so spending it in the SoCal sun was a gift. We spent time at the San Diego Zoo, soaking up sunsets at Dog Beach, and enjoying daily walks with Leila.
I flew to Minnesota to spend a week with my parents, during which we went to my 20-week doctor appointment. They were able to see their first grand-baby for the first time on the ultrasound.
March was filled with outside time...time at the beach, exploring the different hiking trails the area had to offer, being totally captivated by the San Diego Safari Park, and remembering how lucky we were to be able to be living the RV life.
April was fairly busy. We spent a long Easter weekend at the Sequoia National Park and standing among those silent giants was an experience like no other...their size, energy, and majesty just can't be put into words, it's something that must be felt.
I made a solo trip to Northern California to watch the Minnesota Wild play the San Jose Sharks. We met lots of incredible people and the hospitality we were shown only deepened my love for the Sharks!
In travel life, we made the move to Lake Tahoe, the landing spot I'd been most excited to get back to.
May was spent filling our souls with as much Tahoe as we could. One of the last things we did was embark on an incredible 3 1/2 hour hike...I was 8 months pregnant and Leila was full of cancer, but we didn't know that yet. At the end of the month we left Tahoe and drove back to Grand Rapids, Minnesota to get the cabin ready to bring our little one home to.
The hardest thing I've ever had to go through happened this month. Our sweet Leila pup had been having some stomach issues since we started our trip in Maine. I brought her to multiple vets during our travels but they all said the same thing and gave us some antibiotics. While in Tahoe we started noticing more definite changes in her and were glad to be heading back to MN so we could bring her into one consistent vet to get some answers. After brining her in a few times in Grand Rapids with no definitive answers, at their recommendation, we brought her to the main University of Minnesota. After lots of tests the doctor brought her out and told us she suspected it was cancer...lots of cancer.
I held it together when she was talking to us but as soon as we walked out the door, I lost it. I have never felt that level of pain in my heart. They brought her back for a few more tests and basically told us they could start chemo to give 2-3 months or we could take her home with meds to keep her comfortable. What…?! My sweet girl...she was just supposed to have some sort of infection or something that would go away and now they're telling us she's full of cancer and is going to die very soon!?!
We took her with us that day (Wednesday) and cried the whole way home. Blair force fed her the pills the next two days but we could see how miserable she was. She wasn't eating and had lost a lot of weight which really drained her energy. Memorial Day Weekend was here and on Friday morning we made the decision that to push her through the long weekend was going to be torture for her…so I started calling vets. I found one willing to come to us so we could say goodbye in our own environment. We had her lay on a blanket by the lake, we held her, and a piece of me died right alongside her. Our souls had found a match in each other and it'll never be possible to fill the crack she left. It happened so fast and she was only 8. She was going to be the best big sister to Noah and that's part of what hurt the most. I truly believe that when she passed, part of her spirit entered that baby growing in my belly because there are times when I see so much of her in him.
June was filled with moving and waiting. The beginning of the month was spent parked in Blair’s grandma’s driveway. We’re so thankful for her letting us stay and it was nice to get to spend some extra time with her! We reserved a spot at a local marina starting the 17th (for 2 weeks) and thought it’d be perfect since Noah was due on the 29th. Well, the due date came and went and still no baby. After our reservation was up, because we have some pretty incredible people in our lives we were able to park right next door at another marina. We experienced the best hospitality and they were so accommodating with our unknown “schedule”. It was the greatest gift not to have to stress about where we were going to park the RV while also waiting on a baby. We spent our time waiting, walking, and basically just enjoying each day as we waited for our little human to arrive.
July…the month our lives changed in the biggest way. On Tuesday the 10th, our sweet baby boy, Noah Ernie finally decided to make his appearance. His birth didn’t go “as planned”, it didn’t even go how we could have guessed, but at 1:21am, there he was and our hearts will never ever be the same. Because of my c-section, we had to spend a few extra days in the hospital so when we were able to leave Thursday night instead of Friday, we jumped at the chance! We loaded the RV and took Noah on his first road trip to Grand Rapids to spend 2 months at the cabin.
You may, or may not, know that my cabin is on its own little private island and having those first couple months together getting to know our little island baby was a magical blur. We feel so lucky to have had that be our start as a family of 3. The rest of the month was spent introducing our little guy to family and friends and at the end of the month, Blair took a few days to travel to Lemmon, SD to play in a golf tournament with his college roommates.
August was filled with activity and teaching our little guy to be a good traveler. We had a family get together with the Desotell family in Hackensack, got dressed up and attended a gala at the Glensheen Mansion in Duluth (Yep, Noah came with!), spent the weekend with some special friends who told us the most exciting news, and celebrated my birthday…35…woah.
I’ll again say how thankful I was to have our slow island time with Noah because September was crazy! This month the big reality hit. Instead of heading into the horizon in the RV, we made the move to a sticks & bricks house in Saginaw, MN. We are currently renting and feel so lucky to have found the house we did - the sunlight pours through the windows, there’s lots of space for entertaining, and it’s right on a perfect little lake BUT there have been hard moments when we miss our life on the road.
On the 12th, Blair tore his Achilles Tendon playing soccer - the doctor said he sees that injury a lot in “guys Blair’s age” - I literally got the giggles when he said that! Surgery went well but he couldn’t put any weight on it for quite a few weeks which caused a few headaches as we were trying to furnish a house after living in an RV! AKA, we had to purchase and haul quite a bit of furniture - thank you to all the friends and family who gave a hand!
We attended the wedding of a beautiful couple, and at the end of the month we loaded up our beachwear, 2 month old baby Noah, and flew to California for the Ohana Festival. It was an amazing experience and we all had such a good time taking in the sounds of Amos Lee, Eddie Vedder, Mumford & Sons, and so many others.
Two big life moments took place in October - Noah’s first Cookie Baking experience and his baptism. Blair’s mom was the caretaker of a youth camp in Togo, MN and for as long as I can remember the whole family has gotten together there making use of the commercial kitchen to bake hundreds and hundreds of cookies. It’s a weekend we look forward to every year and although there was a little less playing outside this year because of Blair’s ankle, we had a good time being with everyone. Noah even got his own apron!
Noah’s baptism took place on the 21st in Faribault, MN at my old stompin’ grounds, Shattuck St. Mary’s. Blair & I don’t have a church we affiliate with so we thought having the ceremony performed by the amazing Father Henry Doyle on campus would be pretty special. We’re so thankful to him, to my parents for making the trip, and for Noah’s Godparents, Jon & Jami for standing up with him that day!
Deer Hunting Opener has always been Blair’s weekend to go out to the hunting shack with the other McKibbon men. This year, because of his bum leg and out-of-state residency, he didn’t do any hunting but did enjoy spending time with the guys and doing a deep clean of the shack. Noah and I made the trip to Grand Rapids and spent the weekend crafting with the ladies!
We also fit in a weekend in Eagan with the Markstrom family, Blair’s birthday, Thanksgiving at our house, and a very cold and very quick trip through Bentleyville. The biggest thing that happened this month was Blair driving the RV to Yuma, AZ to be sold on consignment. It was another big dose of reality that we are putting that life behind us for awhile…a very bitter sweet moment. Big thanks to our friend, Brian Myhre, for making the very quick trip down and back with him so I could spend time with my family!
Like many others, December was all things Christmas. We took Noah to cut down his first Christmas tree, made and decorated cookies from scratch, met Santa 3 different times, spent a fun night with friends aboard the Christmas train in Duluth, enjoyed opening presents at home with my parents, made it Park Point for the light display, took him sledding on the lake, hosted a few family sleepovers, dined on tacos and fun at the McKibbon Christmas at Grandma Lola’s, hosted Blair’s mom’s side of the family here on the 30th for family Christmas filled with kiddos laughing, playing outside, and football, and finally a fun New Year’s Eve celebration for the 9th year running with great friends.
We had one heck of a year. Some really hard and really sad moments, but oh so much good. We’re looking forward to 2019 and all the adventures, big or small, that lay ahead.
Sending lots of love your way ~ Blair, Shae, & Noah