"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God,
to them who are the called according to His purpose"

Romans 8:28

December 31, 2009

Ring in 2010!

Some food for thought from Ann Landers ~
Let this coming year be better than all the others.
Vow to do some of the things you've always wanted to do but couldn't find the time.
Call up a forgotten friend.
Drop an old grudge, and replace it with some pleasant memories.
Vow not to make a promise you don't think you can keep.
Walk tall, and smile more. You'll look ten years younger.
Don't be afraid to say, 'I love you'. Say it again.
They are the sweetest words in the world.

From our family to yours ~
Happy 2010 and wishing you all God's blessings in the new year!

'Til next time,

December 26, 2009

Christmas Memories 2009

Christmas Eve

The Santa hat didn't stay on very long...

... so Mommy wore it instead!

We have three traditions - This is the 1st tradition. I used to buy a keepsake ornament for Colin and I but now I buy one for Isla to collect...
This is her 2009 keepsake - it says "Baby's 2nd Christmas 2009 -
"Sure to be sweet and you can take that to the bank" - it's a piggy bank!
The discussion was whether it was a sheep or cow?!?

The 2nd tradition is new pj's for everyone - even Oma got new ones together with slippers this year... I bought Isla's a few months ago and they are a bit tight already.

Christmas Morning

My 'lil Monkey!

Trying to look sweet in the new outfit daddy bought her but Mommy put that silly hat back on.
Poor girl but still looking adorable!

Our darlin'

She loves "pee-ple".. great toys, highly recommended for toddlers.

This is the 3rd tradition - a Christmas family photo.

Her main gift was a kitchen together with pots and pans and utensils. The kitchen is still in the box until we move but she played with the pots and pans and *HEART* it. Who said kitchen stuff is a lousy Christmas present!?

Auntie Loretta et al made her gingerbread man as a special treat.

'Til next time,

December 25, 2009

The Promised Son

Luke 2:14 ~
Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace,
good will toward men.

Our family wishes you a blessed Christmas
as we celebrate the birth of the promised Son.

Colin, Heather & Isla

'Til next time,

December 21, 2009

22 Months Old

With all the goings on last week, Isla's 22 month "birthday" was overshadowed. That's OK, it wasn't that important compared to the life-altering events of last week. I have to say I'm doing this post but it almost feels irreverent as we just buried dad on Friday. My intention with these posts is more for her in the future and myself as I use these posts as a way of tracking her progress. I'll eventually print them off and put them in her keepsake box. This months edition is the Reader's Digest version.

Her 22 month birthday was the day of visitation at the funeral home. In the afternoon she stayed with my niece and nephew, Emily and Benjamin, at my brothers house and did amazingly well. In the evening she went to bed early and Emily and Benjamin stayed here at the house with her while she slept. This is a BIG step. When we left N. Ireland she was only 3 months old and Colin and I never went away together because at that time there was loads going on as well. When we lived in Colorado we took her with us and occasionally her Colorado "grandparents" would stay with her. This didn't happen too often but it's probably more because of me than her although at one time, going to bed at night was a bit of a nightmare and it didn't seem fair to leave her with a sitter at that time. So yeah, maybe it's a big step for me!!!

No seriously, there were a few times in the church nursery that she was teary the entire time but she did well at my friends' house on Friday and again yesterday in the church nursery so I think we are over the separation drama. Way to go Isla, Mama is so proud of you!

Again this month, her speech is improving and she is trying to say everybody's name. She points to the correct person when asked so that is a big milestone in itself.

I don't have accurate stats this month but I can say she grew almost 3 inches in the last 3 months! She's heavy and getting heavier all the time but if you saw the way the girl eats, that explains it. Mom often says she is joy to cook for because she eats everything - even brussel sprouts - YUCK - she's a much better eater than her mom.

Mom and I have often commented this month that she is becoming so mature. Not in the sense of an adult of course but she is becoming more of a little girl than toddler. It's so much fun to watch her grow up and I feel so fortunate that mom and dad were able to share in her development. She loved her Opa and would often give him kisses and "huggies" to brighten his day and now her presence and affection is a good distraction for mom as she transitions.

'Til next time,

December 19, 2009

"Well done, good and faithful servant"

First of all, thank you to everyone for your prayers, notes of sympathy, phone calls, visits etc. these past few days. I think I can say on behalf of the family that we have been blessed with wonderful family and friends and we have been encouraged through our grief.

When my dad passed away Tuesday morning he was ready to go Home. He knew he was leaving his frail earthly frame to be with his Lord and Saviour, free of cancer, heart disease and painful joints and muscles. Just a few weeks ago he told a doctor that he was a covenant child and wasn't afraid of the future. What a comfort and blessing!

We noticed when we arrived home in Canada last September he was much more frail than when we last saw him. He has battled a dilbilated disease for about five years causing him much pain and discomfort but never did we think he would leave us just three short months later. We see God's providence knowing that despite being disappointed when the visa's we're denied, we were able to spend that time with mom and dad here at home and His plan was to be carried out.

Three weeks ago he went for a stomach biopsy which came back inconclusive. The results baffled the doctors as they were fairly certain it would confirm the diagnosis of gastric cancer. A CT scan was completed last week and a second biopsy was scheduled for this past Monday however one look at Dad and the doctor admitted him to hospital on the spot. A mere 15 hours later, he suffered a seizure and went into cardiac arrest. He was called Home to glory at 6:00 a.m.

The nurse who was with him assured us he wasn't in pain and was comfortable. We never expected him to pass away so quickly so you can just imagine our shock when we received the phone call. It was numbing and we will the void of his presence in our family. We will miss him especially at this time of year. Looking back from a week to today, I think we're still numb. It's hard to believe he's not here but I truly believe he knew his time was near. Even though we are 99% certain it was the cancer that took him, to this day we don't have definitive diagnosis but that's OK. His time had come and he went when called. God knew that he was too weak for radiation, chemo therapy or surgery. His work on earth was done.

We as family were comforted at the funeral service yesterday with the words of Deut. 33:27(a), which also happened to be mom and dad's wedding text almost 47 years ago:

"The eternal God is your refuge, and his everlasting arms are under you."
May you also be comforted and assured with His promises.

Dad - August 2006

'Til next time,

December 16, 2009

My Dad

April 3, 1936 - December 15, 2009

Peacefully on Tuesday, December 15, 2009, the Lord called home to Himself,
Ike Vandenberg at the age of 73 years.

Beloved husband of Ann (nee Huizinga) and loved father of George and Loretta, Margaret and John Schoon, Albert and Christina, and Heather and Colin Black.

Predeceased by his son John (1965) and daughter Jennifer (1991).

Dear Opa of 13 grandchildren.

Loved son-in-law of Grace Huizinga,
brother of Jake, Jane and John Hutten, and Henk and Ria and
brother-in-law of Aafke and Dan VanNeutegem,
Wietse and Renee Huizinga, Liz Mueller, and Trudy and Ray Jewers.

Friends may visit with the family at
146 Mill Street North, Waterdown on Thursday from 2-4 and 7-9 p.m.

Funeral Service will be held at FLAMBOROUGH CANADIAN REFORMED CHURCH, 1225 Dundas Street, Burlington (west of Brant Street) on
Friday, December 18, 2009 at 10 a.m.,
Rev. J. deGelder officiating.
Interment to follow at Burlington Memorial Gardens.

If so desired, donations to Mt. Nemo Christian Nursing Home would be appreciated as expressions of sympathy.

Please sign the Book of Condolence at

December 9, 2009

first snow

All ready to go

Isn't the first snowfall of the season exciting?

What is this stuff mom?

It came during the night, not alot, just a few centimetres and it was very wet. In fact it rained alot this morning so it made for heavy work as I shovelled the walkways. Oh well, it was fun to walk in nonetheless.

I took Isla out this afternoon. We didn't try to make a snowman because it was so wet underneath. I'll save that for the first decent snowfall.

She had fun, that's all that matters.

'Til next time,

December 7, 2009

It may have snowed in Texas...

... but not in our area of Ontario, at least not yet...

The forecasters are calling for snow on Wednesday and lake effect snow on Thursday so I think it's safe to say we'll have an accumulation by the end of the week. Isla is excited about it too. I told her this morning it was going to snow this morning and she yelled "Snow, snow!". She has no idea what it is but I'm sure the first time we go out to play in it she'll quickly learn.

In the meantime, it's c-o-l-d and the rain water bucket is frozen along with a few ponds in the area. Brrrrrrr....

.... but she is keeping warm in her new pink snowsuit.

This is the second suit I bought her. I bought her a snow jacket and pants on sale at the end of last winter but it's sized 24 months and w-a-a-y to big for her at the moment. A few months ago I saw this one at Once Upon a Child, the kids consignment store and bought it for her. It's sized 18 months and as you can see, plenty big on her and should fit for the rest of the winter. I'll just save the first one I bought for next winter.

Anyways, with the colder weather, it's getting harder coming up with ideas to keep her entertained indoors. She colours, plays with blocks and her toys and watches Elmo but I'm running out of ideas. Any suggestions?

'Til next time,

December 4, 2009

Toddler Talk Time!

I apologize for the video quality or if you have seen this on FB already but I had to share...

'Til next time,

December 3, 2009

I've taken the notion

I've taken the notion to post on the blog!

I'm sure you've noticed I'm way off pace that I was up too during the summer but we're still in the transition period with regards to living arrangements and settling back in Canada. Quite frankly, blogging isn't top of my list or even possible. Sooner but probably a bit later, I will be back on track.

We're temporarily living with my parents and we hope to be in our own apartment by Christmas. The arrangement is as soon as possible since some work has to be done so if it's before Christmas, that's great and if it's afterwards, that's OK too. Once details are confirmed, I'll talk more about it.

Isla is doing well. She doesn't walk anymore, she only runs. YAY! Her speech is getting better all the time too and just today we learned that she knows some letters as well. She was "reading" the newspaper at breakfast and pointed out "O", "A" and "E". I'm hoping the "E" has nothing to do with that squeaky red monster from Sesame Street but hey, if he helps her learn the alphabet, then I guess he's OK.

Colin continues to do his share of travelling for work. We'll miss him when he leaves this weekend but it will be relatively short trip and he'll be back home in time for moving and Christmas. There is no news on the visa front either but I read on the internet this week that he could qualify for OHIP once we get confirmation of "agreed in principle" from Immigration Canada. If it's true we'll breathe a bit better knowing we all have health insurance again but in the meantime he has emergency insurance if he requires medical care. We're very thankful he is a healthy man! Isla and I are currently in the three month wait period for OHIP which ends next week when we'll both be fully covered. The Americans can say what they want about the Canadian healthcare system but never again will I take our healthcare for granted - it's a blessing and I am so thankful for it!

So yeah, lots going on, lots we want to do and start on which I hope to expand on in the near future once we are settled but now it's time for bed. Night all!

'Til next time,

November 17, 2009

"Official"ly 21 month photo...

Have you ever seen a sweeter face?

'Til next time,

21 already?

Where has the time gone? My baby is 21 (months) today!!!

Isla's sense of humour and silliness has certainly been shining through this month. Colin has already warned me that she has inherited his (toilet) humour! Oh help!

... and she still loves hats although we are having a bit of trouble with winter hats. I think it's because they are tight to her head whereas the summer hats are much looser. Anyways, this is Canada and she has to wear one and thankfully I did find one at Old Navy that she'll keep on without crying.
Her level of speech is getting better all the time. She can say her name when asked, she can say she's one (and hold up her index finger), "all done" and she says other words when you don't expect her too. The other night I brought her to her room to go to bed and she said "Dark" or should I say she shouted "DARK". She's also starting to count and she knows the colours purple and sometimes blue. We count as we go up and down the stairs and while she can't say all the numbers very clear, she can say "1, 2, 3, 4, 5". Smart little cookie :-)
So .... at 21 months they say -
"can say about 10 or 20 words but can become frustrated if people don't understand his pronunciation"...
I think that should read frustration will be shown at ANYTHING and ANYTIME!
She's actually not that bad. She does have her tantrum and whining moments but overall I think she's very good for her age. She listens really well, follows commands, picks up her toys and she eats like a horse. Since the end of September she's gained about 1.5 lbs and is now 24lbs. At this rate she may even hit the 25lbs. mark by her 2nd birthday in February.
She continues to be such a blessing in our lives and we are very thankful for her!
Off-topic now - we applied for Colin's Canadian spouse visa last week. The processing time is approximately 6 to 7 months and I've gotta feeling they could be a very long 6 to 7 months! Please pray the process is quick and favourable.

'Til next time,

October 27, 2009

It's about time...

I honestly don't know what I'm going to be typing about. Nothing exciting has happened, going to happen, that I know about anyways, but here I go....

The big and best news is that Colin is home tomorrow morning at 5:45 A.M. - that's right A.M.!!! Why anyone would book a flight that lands before the sun comes up is beyond me!? Guess who's picking him up? I love him, what can I say, I can't wait to see him...

The leaves are falling, little one is rolling in them. Yup, she loves them, I rake them but it's not a bad job, or at least not yet. Maybe next week after a few more trips to the yard will I be fed up with them.. I tell ya, mom and dad have ALOT of trees, the kind of trees that drop ALOT of leaves.... Maple, Oak, Elm and more... But they look pretty at this time of year. I wonder how many leaves I'll rake up this year? 1000's!!!!
Isla loves the yard and she loves to come out with me while I rake. If it wasn't for the unkid-friendly dog that patrols the yard it would be the perfect yard for her. The cats also get outside too and they always manage to find Isla and I...
Pearl and Isla playing on the gazebo floor (minus the gazebo obviously). Colin thought Pearl was about to attack but believe it or not, she's in the rolling motion, she loved it too. I think it's safe to say the cats and Isla are FINALLY mutual friends (as long as there is limited poking)...
Our beautiful girl! She's been eating like a horse lately and I've got a feeling Colin is going to see a "big" change in her. My guess is that she's gained about a pound since he left but I think it could've been two pounds if she wasn't so wiggly-piggly... Check this pose out...
Classic Isla! Perhaps a future yoga instructor? The girl doesn't stop moving....
One of her new hobbies is to help around the house. She loves to follow my mom around with a feather duster and "clean". She loves it and it makes her smile because she's a big "helper". I just hope she doesn't lose her desire to clean!!!

The broom is hot too - if you put it down, she'll grab it...

Like I said Colin is coming home tomorrow morning. Once we get home, I'll give him time to get reacquainted with his daughter and a cup of coffee but boy, we have loads to do. I've been itching to get the van registered in Ontario but since he's co-owner I can't do it without him so I've had to wait, something I'm not particularly good at but I didn't have a choice this time. Also, we're applying for the Canadian Child Tax credit and his visa application which he needs to sign. He is having a medical on Wednesday night and then we have to go to a special lab for a chest x-ray and blood work to make sure he doesn't have TB and other diseases. He's had his police check done and I'm happy to report he hasn't been lying to me, he's clean... He's living in Canada on a one-year visitor visa with the intention to apply for residency so I think he qualifies for a SIN as well but we need to look into that further too... There are a few other odds and ends we need to look into...
I think we're visa experts by now... This is the third country we're applying too - I applied in the UK, both of us in the USA and now he is in Canada... Maybe I could open up an immigration consultant agency???? LOL
While he was away I was able to arrange OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance) for Isla and I. We have to wait three months which means we won't qualify until December while Colin will qualify 90 days after the issuance of his visa (he has emergency medical insurance). It still burns me that refugee claimants qualify immediately and as a Canadian, I have to wait. It doesn't seem fair. I understand that the refugees are coming from countries that are obviously troubled and they probably don't have a lot of money but why do I have to wait after paying into income tax since I was 14 years old!? What's wrong with this picture? I said enough...
I leave you with a funny story - in May Colin and I bought Isla a pack of 8 new bibs from Burlington Coat Factory in Denver. Any parent of toddlers knows how many of those things you go through and how they get destroyed. We've been using them ever since on a rotation basis. Today I noticed that the bib I thought said "Diva in Training" actually says "Diva in Traning"... How did we miss that?
'Til next time,

October 17, 2009

20 Months Old!

Look who discovered leaves!

Yes, we will be back out there this afternoon to play in them... Having to go for a nap at 20 months old is such a drag, isn't it?

So, what is she up to lately? Well the "experts" say this:

Most toddlers should be able to . . .
Take off clothes without help
Pretend to help toys; imitates, such as feeding a doll
Know when something is wrong
Run well
Some toddlers will probably be able to . . .
Say 20 to 50 words
Start to learn words, possible 5 or more per day
Enjoy helping with things around the house
Start setting small goals
Some toddlers could possibly be able to . . .
Show better signs of bladder control
Walk up and possible down stairs with some assistance
Start to learn up to 10 new words per day

Umm, it looks like alot of emphasis on speech which is something we need to work on. She repeats alot of what we say but isn't saying new words on a regular basis or stringing many words together. I'll give her time, I'm not worried about it yet.

Otherwise I'd say she is doing well. She is petite wearing mostly 12 month jeans etc. but fits 18 month tops loosely - typically Isla. Mom and Dad swear that she's gained weight since moving in and perhaps it's a testament to Mom's cooking but I think she has as well.

I'm also semi-potty training her if you can call it that. I'm working on getting her familiar with the potty and beginning to understand what the potty is for. Right now she just thinks it's fun to sit on so yeah, we have a long ways to go but once she catches on, I plan on doing a week potty-training blitz hopefully before her 2nd birthday in February.

In the meantime, we are coping without Colin and he is coping without us. He is in Brazil and misses her as much as we miss him. It breaks my heart to see her kiss and hug the phone for daddy but only 11 more days and he'll be home until he has to leave again.

'Til next time,

October 16, 2009

the apple doesn't fall far from the tree....

... just like her daddy!

'Til next time,