September 2, 1990. Thirty years ago. An early Sunday morning when a young mother gave birth to her and her husband’s first child. A little girl. Dina Dianne (Dutch pronunciation: Dee-na Dee-yah-ne) they named her. Dianne for short. She became a big sister only 367 days later. And had 5 more siblings in the years after that. That little girl is me. And today is my 30th birthday!
Thirty years old! I remember my father being 35 when I was 8 or 9, and really sitting down to think about how old that was. You couldn’t even triple it and it was already over 100. Now I’m only five years away from that. And I have to admit that the last weeks I have been dreading this day. But now that it’s here, I’m filled with gratefulness. There have been so many ups and downs through the last few years. Even this past year has been quite something. And I thought it would only be fitting to get it all on “paper” to really get a picture of what my life has been like.
Even though I’ve had my struggles, I cannot help but be grateful today. God has been there for me through everything. Stella’s pregnancy and NICU journey will always stick out to me when I think of our struggles. And she is a daily reminder of how much God has done for us. I know I forget once in a while, but I make an effort to never take her or anything else in my life for granted. Now that I have all that off my chest, I’m going to get to my big list. I hope you take the time to read through it and celebrate this big day with me!
Crossing the Atlantic
- Moved across an ocean to start a new life as a farming family just north of Norwich. I still remember my first steps on Canadian soil. It was quite something for an 11-year-old to be leaving a world where all her family lived within an hour drive to a place where you could drive 10 hours and still be in the same province!
- Learned a second language. Yes, English is my second language. I get told once in a rare while that I still have a slight accent, but I think most people just got used to it. People have guessed that I’ve come from Ireland, Scotland and Germany. The Netherlands is one that is not usually guessed.
- Made it through some very difficult high school years. I won’t go into details as this is supposed to be positive post, but it was one that needed to be mentioned.
- Honeymooned in Europe. My home country of the Netherlands, to be exact. We had a wonderful second reception in my old hometown, Uddel which most of our Dutch family attended. Among our activities were a trip to Giethoorn, attending the most magnificent air show, and spending lots of quality time with our grandparents.
- Lived in 8 different houses, two of them in our marriage.
- Lost two of my grandparents, which means that I still have two sweet grandparents in their 80’s living in the old country. I was never able to attend the funerals of the two that I’ve lost, and that makes me cherish the two that I have left all the more. I am looking forward to bringing my whole family there to meet them within the next few years, the Lord willing.
Through the Ups and Downs
- Been married for 11 years to the most wonderful man; someone who’s brought out the best in me, stood up for me, and did what was right no matter how hard it was. Read our last anniversary post HERE.
- Butchered a turkey by myself! It was a cold spring morning when my dear husband came home with a freshly shot turkey, took a shower, ran out the door to get to work on time as he told me that he shot a turkey and if I could be so sweet and butcher it. Ummmm, okay then! A few hours later, and we had a set of roughly chopped breasts and some legs ready for the freezer. Don’t ask me what happened to the rest, I’m sure it looked real pretty!
- Grown from a teenage mom of a teeny girl to a capable multitasking working from home + homeschooling mama. I remember the day that we brought home our less-than-6lb baby. As a 19-year-old, it’s quite daunting to bring home your own child. Having been married for just over a year, living together was still new. Add a baby to that, and it’s a whole other ball game. I can’t even believe how much I’ve changed. If I even remember how close-minded I was about certain things, I have grown and opened up my life to all the amazing people that are in it right now and what they’ve taught me.
- Experienced two miscarriages. The pain that I felt when things went wrong with Stella’s pregnancy was one that I’d felt before. Knowing that the life that was growing inside of me had ended is a pain I cannot describe.
- Grown in my faith. I have been through a lot in my life, and through it all, I’ve always been able to turn to God and His word. From the difficulties through my bedrest during Stella’s pregnancy, to the struggles that Bert’s job stress added to our marriage.
- Gave birth to four sweet and sassy kids in four different hospitals, every delivery was different.
- Took a one-year-old and four-year-old across the ocean to meet my grandparents. Anyone who has travelled with children knows how much of an accomplishment that is! I was incredibly grateful for the on-board entertainment system both ways!
Becoming a Photographer
- Started a very successful business ALL BY MYSELF, but not without the support of my family and close friends.
- Survived blood poisoning.
- Saved the life of our preemie by standing up for her life when my pregnancy started to go wrong.
- Took one cross country trip with four kids in an old minivan. The fact that we made it home in that thing still surprises me! From the gorgeous peaks of the Rocky Mountains, to the stunning blue waters of Lake Geneva; what a trip it was!!!
- Bought a brand-new car, a 2019 Kia Sorento that has taken us 60000 km already.
- Was missing a front tooth for almost a year, having had it removed last September 5 and it being replaced with a ceramic one just a few weeks ago.
- Photographed a gorgeous wedding in Vancouver, B.C. that will always be one of the highlights of my career.
- Hired my husband as the most amazing second shooter that I’ve worked with. His creative captures put the very unique touch on all wedding galleries that we’re so proud of!
- Paid for 5 years of private school, and our last payment went through last month as we are now homeschooling. I don’t know if this is a permanent thing, but we sure are enjoying it at the moment!
- Tried a handful of diets. From Keto to intermittent fasting, they’ve all had their benefits, but at the end of the day I love chips too much to lose all the weight that I’d like to.
Going Through Everything that God Put on our Path
- Was a teacher’s wife for 11 years, marked countless true and false and multiple-choice questions, and volunteered at his place of employment for several years.
- Stuck with our convictions during one of the most difficult times in our marriage, even though the consequences were harsher than I could have imagined. Doing what is right will always trump doing what is easy for us. It has meant the loss of some great relationships, a career, and the way of life that we knew. Do I regret it? No, because it was the right thing, and to be truthful, the lesser amount of stress that my husband has on his face makes me happy every single day.
- Survived a “pandemic” and all the restrictions that the government has and is still implementing. We will continue praying for God to give guidance to the leaders of our countries, and to do things in an ethical, moral and biblical way. No matter how unlikely it seems, it is our responsibility to continue to do so. It’s been a struggle even for our children
- Photographed 23 weddings and have 16 more booked. I still have to pinch myself sometimes that this is really my life. It’s hectic, it’s crazy, but it’s oh, so rewarding!
- Bought a new-to-us boat! It’s not quite ready for the water, but we’re working on that. We’re excited to take it up to French River in less than 2 weeks. When all the school-going kids are riding the bus, our kids and we are spending a relaxed week up north!
- Come up with this crazy long list, which was actually quite hard, so to give me a freebie and to give myself a pat on the back I’m throwing that one in there as well.
- Experienced 10960 sunrises and 10960 sunsets. Not every one of them was beautiful, and I’m sure that I there were times where I was working or sleeping (as a baby), but every single one of those days has shaped me into the woman I am today.