Sunday, December 16, 2018

christmas greetings 2018

Dear Friends, Family and Blog Readers,

Well, it's that time of year again.... As I mentioned in last year's 2017's letter, how quickly the time flies! We've had another very busy year, with our very busy little girl. She enjoys dress-up, tea parties, baking, playing Barbies and reading with Mommy. She shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon, so we can only imagine what 2019 will look like!

Here are some highlights from Olivia's year:
January-Olivia's first cough, cold, and stomach flu bug 

February-Olivia's first visit to the Broekema's without Mommy or Daddy

March-Olivia starts using full sentences (3-4 words)

April-Olivia discovers Mommy's old Barbies and names them all! Mommy designs and builds Olivia a real Barbie house to keep them in.

May-Olivia helps in the garden and picks dandelions for Beppe at a penny a piece.

June-Olivia is potty trained and celebrates her 2nd birthday with a party in the backyard

July-Olivia goes swimming in the pool for the 1st time and goes on the Ferris wheel with Daddy at the Waterfront Festival

August-Olivia graduates to a big-girl bed

September-Olivia finally goes to the church nursery without Mommy

October-Olivia stops her afternoon nap and starts sleeping 11 hrs/night. Princess Olivia goes trick-or-treating for Halloween

November-Olivia starts bi-weekly play dates with new friend Jaylynn

Some family highlights:

Mommy is still at home full-time with Olivia. We enjoy our lunch dates at Grandpa Larry and Grandma's house. 
We also like to visit Beppe next door several times a week. 

We try to get together with the Broekema cousins as much as possible. 

Aunt Bon also comes to see us every few months. Mommy and Olivia try to get together somewhat regularly with a couple close friends who also have young children.

We were extremely blessed to have use of our neighbours' pool all summer long. Olivia took to the water fairly quickly and enjoyed visiting our new friends, "Mr. Ron" and "Ms. Gayle."

In July, we visited the Broekema family while they camped at Wesley Acres. In September, Mommy and Olivia enjoyed several beautiful days at the Dunes Beach, and a day at Outlet Beach with Grandpa Larry and Grandma.

Our new garden setup with four 5'x5' garden boxes was a success. We canned numerous jars of tomatoes, in addition to pickles, chili sauce, salsa, and relish.


Olivia was able to help Mommy pick strawberries and raspberries at the VanGrootheest farm. We made lots of jam, and also froze berries to enjoy in our smoothies this winter. Mommy's home business, The County Cupboard, enjoyed another successful year, selling homemade preserves and Christmas gift baskets. 

Daddy also had a busy year. In addition to working full time, he cut and split 8 cords of wood and helped Mommy in the garden. He also completed a variety of indoor and outdoor home maintenance projects. In September, Daddy started weight training, in addition to his daily walking routine. 

In October, our friends, the Ryttersgaards, visited us from Barbados. We were able to catch up with Jon & Mel, and Olivia was able to have some play time with Max and Wade.

We want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and God's blessings in the New Year.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

home sweet home: the making of our dream house (part 2)

Our daughter has adored playing Barbies ever since she was 18 months old.

I had some old Barbie stuff from my childhood that I was only too happy to bring out for her. I had also picked up a small folding Barbie cottage for a couple bucks, as well as a number of Barbie accessories from various thrift stores over the past few years. And so, every once in a while, we'd pull out the tote and set it up the Barbie stuff for a few days.

However, whenever I'd put everything away, the next day she'd be asking to play Barbies again. It was then I realized she was serious about her Barbies and that we needed something a little more permanent. 

The simplest DIY solution would be to put all our Barbie furniture into a large cube shelf like this. 

9 rooms, ready-made. Easy peasy. Except the cubes are a 1/2" too small and a Barbie can't stand upright inside them. That was not going to work for us. Especially with my daughter's fascination with the Barbie shower. Then I found this used shelf online for $15. After a little paint, and screwing in a scrap piece of melamine to divide the upstairs into two sections, we had the beginning of our house. 

Since that wasn't big enough for all the Barbies and their stuff, I re-arranged the shelves on an old bookshelf/night stand we already had, cut some backing from a sheet of leftover beadboard with a circular saw, and voila! We had 3 more rooms. 

But once the wheels started rolling, there was no stopping us.  I found a second bookshelf/nightstand to add a bit more space. Although my limited skills with power tools were improving, I enlisted the help of Mr. Gryce for installing a roof with his brad nailer. 

We pulled a bunch of things off our old Barbie cottage to use in the new house, including the old kitchen counter.

 Our old furniture and accessories also fit quite nicely, although I added a TV to the living room fire place nook.

However, we were still lacking some necessities like a dining table and chairs, double beds, a washer and dryer, and a bathtub. After searching thrift stores to no avail, and after checking the prices of said items on Amazon (eeks!), I asked Google for ideas on how to make our own. 

I dug out my old glue gun, and raided my rag bag and the scrap wood pile in the garage. From there I was able to piece together some pretty neat things, like this clementine crate-turned-dining table.

Another old clementine crate, paired with my 15-year-old tee shirt from cousin Carmen was re-purposed into a bed.

Some small cardboard boxes with scrapbook paper became the new washer and dryer.

We even made a mop!

And my favourite...a bedside lamp!

And now, without further ado, here's the completed main part of the house (kitchen, bedroom and office/spare room), made from that original book case:

The master bedroom and the attic storage room:

The little girls' room and the teenager room:

The bathroom/laundry room and garage below:

The 2nd bathroom and living room:

The patio and pool area (pool was a recent birthday gift from our daughter's aunt):

And a look at the entire house:

I am not the only one who is pleased by the final result. Our daughter has named all the Barbies and has already spent hours and hours playing with her new house.


FYI: you can read part 1 (all about the making of our dream house) right here.