by LIZ ONUFER | photos by Alan Smith Photography

DIY Lifestyle

family_bernatchez1Ten years ago, David and Veronique moved to Rancho Peñasquitos, drawn to the school system, open spaces, and recreational opportunities. They relocated from Portland, OR for David’s job opportunity when Veronique was almost eight months pregnant. Today, this family of four, with daughters Anouk and Oksana, leads an active, do-it-yourself lifestyle.

David and Veronique first met in her hometown, Murdochville, Quebec when David was working on a wind energy project. “It was love at first sight,” they acknowledged. David is a building engineer who has been working on sustainable power plants for 20 years. Veronique studied forestry and archeology at University of Montreal. The whole family holds dual citizenship in Canada and the U.S., and French is often spoken around the house.


Recently, the family embarked on a project to build a barn owl box. Using plans posted online from a local biologist, including several upgrades like a large deck and foyer suggested by their daughters, the box was installed in their backyard this summer. Soon after, a pair of barn owls established residence. “They are truly beautiful birds, and the girls have named them Alex and Erica,” Veronique shared. “Most every night after dusk we hear the owls screech, and sometimes we also hear them in the morning before the sun comes up.”

Parents: David Janssen and Veronique Bernatchez
Children: Anouk (11) and Oksana (8)
Community: Ridgewood since 2008
Parents’ Hometowns: David – Brampton, Ontario, Canada; Veronique – Murdochville, Quebec, Canada
Parents’ Occupations: David – Engineer; Veronique – Homemaker
Pets: Aspen – dog; Mabelle – rabbit; and several goldfish
Favorite Places to Visit in 92129: PQ Donuts, Golden Spoon, Bertrand’s Music, cycling in the Preserve, hiking on Black Mountain, and flying kites at Hilltop Park

The next task for the family has been to inform their neighbors on the dangers of using poisons, which has a great impact on any animal that eats the poisoned rat, mouse, or other rodent. “The feedback has all been positive, and several neighbors tell us they want to get their own owl boxes for their yards,” Veronique said.


The owl box project is just one example of the Janssen-Bernatchez family lifestyle. “Our family enjoys do-it-yourself work and activities, including making bread, chocolate, ice cream, and dog biscuits,” Veronique shared. “We do most of our own repairs and improvements around the house, always learning something new and thinking we can fix most anything.”

The family also enjoys outdoor activities, including snow skiing, bike riding, playing tennis, camping, and traveling. Their home in Ridgewood aligns well with their family priorities. “We like that it is walking distance to school, close to several parks, and allows us to have a nice large backyard,” David said.