Saturday, January 30, 2021

Snow Day

It snowed on Thursday! It's already all gone, and chances are that'll be it for the year (it's the first snow in 3 winters, I believe! I think it flurried a bit last year, but that was it)
All prepared - the bikes the kids left out got covered. They dried them right off and still used them that day;-)
I don't know that these little guys are supposed to get that cold, but here's hoping they survive!
I was supposed to have a super busy day, and thanks to the snow, everything was canceled and I didn't have to go to work, and the day wasn't busy at all. Brian went to work and said the roads were fine.

It was pretty, and fun, while it lasted. I have NEVER seen the boys finish school so quickly before. Once the sun started shining brightly through the window, Brooks was like "hurry! hurry! It's melting!"πŸ˜‚

(Vale hated it, and only lasted about 2 mins before crying because she was "sooooo coooold")

It's tedious, I know

I know you're so glad I started blogging right in time to show you slow progress on our porch remodel 😝. It's tedious, but...that's life I guess. We really only have time to work on it on the weekends, so yah, it's slow. Brian, the boys and Brian's Dad worked most of the day today, and into the night to insulate, and start with all the HVAC hookup stuff

There's the first truss, up. That'll be the arch of the barrel ceiling.

This is some sort of egg crate - and it lets air flow up the ridge vent in the roof. Aren't you impressed with how well I digested that information that Brian provided me with. I, naturally, had never heard of such a thing until today, so yah - we can all be glad I'm not in charge of getting this thing done! Lol

Insulation, going up on the ceiling
We've still got tomorrow - but this will suffice for my weekend up! I don't know that it'll look much different after tomorrow anyway - church, family zoom call, and fancy birthday dinner! So it's a pretty full day.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Brian's Chicken Wings - Recipe

This isn't maybe exactly a recipe, more of a process - but it's worth sharing because the results are super delicious!

Cook chicken wings until juuuuuust done cooking in the oven (do not overbake).

Deep fry wings in peanut oil for approx 7 -10 mins. 

Once they are fried, toss in melted butter right away while they're still really hot.

Sauce with your fave sauce or flavoring spice or rub! 

It isn't really that difficult at all - but it's the most effective way we've found to get crispy wings, which is what we like. Nothing worse than rubbery chicken skin 😩.

To reheat leftover wings, the best way (to maintain crispiness) is to heat in an air fryer or a toaster oven.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Seint Makeup

My sister in law, Chantelle, started selling Seint makeup - formerly Maskcara by Cara Brook. I found her years ago on Pinterest and have been following her makeup highlighting and contouring tips since then - I think 2011?! I was excited to try her makeup, and enjoyed it - it applies very nicely! A full coverage makeup without leaving the skin feeling heavy or sticky. I adore the colour "Nude" as lipstick, perfect shade for me! (it's also on my cheeks)

 Here is the process - from bare faced, applying "frenchie lip & cheek" as colour corrector, "june" foundation, "olive" contour, and I used other eye products (Savvy Minerals pressed powder eye shadows, and Younique eyeliner pencil, and Ilia mascara). From beginning to end, it took 10mins. I used Seint's contouring/foundation brush, along with mine regular ones for the other stuff. I used Young Living ART moisturizer approx 10 mins prior, and considered that my primer. Super pleased with the results, the ease and quickness with which it all pulled together, and the longevity - it's 8:45pm and it's still all on there, except the lips!

Monday, January 25, 2021

Weekend Update - Porch remodel

We got the other 2 doors installed, and all the door knobs and locks put in. The original structure isn't exactly plumb, so leveling the doors took more doing than it should have, but such is the life with a reno vs a new build. It is what it is, and you have to get creative with making everything work.
Also Brian finished making all the new trusses for the ceiling. It will be a barrel/arched ceiling. Here are all the new trusses!
That means all these straight guys are going to be coming down.
This will be the ceiling - it's wood - red oak, I believe Brian said. Looking so forward to how pretty this will be in the end!!


Sunday, January 24, 2021

Solomon is 4!

Happy Birthday kisses!

German (chocolate) + Shepherd('s pie) to celebrate

6 weeks old

10 weeks old

Handsome Boy


Friday, January 22, 2021

This is Us: Grey

Of all my kids, this kid pains my heart the most, I think. In a sweet way, but still...Grey is a little kid who is going places one day. He's quiet, sweet, kind, thoughtful - and he's really grown up a lot faster than he should have in a lot of ways. He was my baby for so so long, and I miss that. But he's also such an old soul, that he's grouped up with the older kids, and handles it well - but also I have to remind myself, he's only 10, he's really not big, he's littleπŸ’—. He's our most careful student, and takes pride in everything being given 100% effort (and result), from quizzes to pretty penmanship. It is not unusual for him to spend all day on school. Literally all day (9 to 4) by his own choice with limited breaks. Doing something and not actually learning it, or doing it "well" is a concept that doesn't even exist in his mind. Excellence is the goal. Unlike the older two, who are quite the opposite, and have much lower personal standards for all things schoolπŸ˜› He is a true introvert, and finds time to play alone with his Lego, and is often off in his own little world, not paying attention at all to what the rest of us are doing. It's a good thing because it recharges him so that he can deal with the constant pestering and chiding and goofing off from the older two. He has a very tender heart, a killer sense of humour, still likes a good snuggle, and still get nervous during the scary parts in movies - I'll be sad when that phase ends.

Fave Foods: Quiche, Pizza, Sausage & Peppers (a meat sub sandwich)

Best Friends: Sonny & Benjamin

Fave activities: Playing soccer & football. Legos. Tubing. Rock & Mineral collection

Fave School Subject: Science and handwriting

Fave colour: GreyπŸ˜‰

Movies/TV Show: Peter Rabbit (new one), Corner Gas, Psych

Fave Family Vacation: Disney World (2019)

Best Restaurant: Olive Garden

Best Advice? "Don't take my advice. That's my advice"

Instruments: He takes piano lessons, and is "drums" in the family band. Mostly the cajon, but he's getting unofficial tips from his brother, and others, and does really well keeping us on beat!

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

This is Us: Brooks

It's hard for me to believe he's a teenager. He's outgrown so many stages it's hard to even remember them all - the R's as Y's speech impediment phase, the snuggle couch as a bed phase, the nervous of everything phase...He surprises me, because as he's grown, he's gone from most-like-mom to most-like-dad, and I didn't really see it coming somehow. One day, it just was. He has many of Brian's mannerisms, sense of humour, sarcasm and interests. He's a favourite of just about everyone - I swear there has never been a more popular kid. Everyone seems to know him, like him, buy him candy, and invite him to their birthday parties πŸ˜‚ He just has a way of including others, and doing his own thing, while making others comfortable and somewhat just minding his own business. He applies these personality traits well at home too, bridging the gap between Kenna and Grey. He's a people person, who loves to be with his people. Lucky for us the whiny phase ended quite awhile ago - so he's pleasure to be with. He wins the gold medal for problems with teeth / jaw / mouth checking every single box in every category. After 4+ years he'll have a nice smile, and that phase should last forever, we just have to endure a little while until then😜 He's working on wrapping up the memorization of the entire book of 1st Peter.

Fave game: Monopoly - he has Monopoly, Jr Monopoly, Fortnite Monopoly, Canada-opoly, Hampton Roads-opoly & Monopoly Deal (not unrelated, Fave collection: Monopoly)

Fave sport: Baseball, football, soccer, etc...basically all the sports - tubing & waterskiing

Fave food & drink: Chicken Gnocchi soup (mom's recipe), & lasagna, tiramisu. Lipton Morac tea, & Twinings Buttermint tea

Best friends: Eli B, & Logan

Movie/Show: White Collar, Psych, Corner Gas, A Christmas Story, The Star Wars Series

Fave Family Vacation: Canadian Family visiting in the Outerbanks

Fave Restaurant: Macks Grill

Cool thing: a vintage (1960's & 70's) comic book collection (items found on Facebook Marketplace)

Best Advice? "Don't put too much faith in a certain football team, or their best player will go to another team and they'll be stuck in a rut. I'm going to spend my life rotting away in a basement watching and waiting for them to ever win again" πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

Instrument: He's the guitar in the family band, learning the basics from my Dad via video chat, and kind of taking it from there. He seems to be very musical and also takes piano lessons, and is getting good on drums and cajon with unofficial lessons here and there.

This is Us: Vale

Our littlest treasure. She is the embodiment of a hurricane. A really loud hurricane. She's Momma's girl for sure - but only when it really counts ("serious injury")...most of the time, she's Kenna's. We're all really different people for sure, but we have one thing in common: Vale is our favourite. It's amazing to think how we ever got on without her.

Fave food: Avocado, French fries, nuggets, rice, broccoli, tomatoes

Fave drink: Apple juice and seltzer water

Fave stuffed animals: Poosh, Auss, Skye, Minnie seem to always come to the top of a MASSIVE faves list in this area

Fave show: Paw Patrol

Fave movie: Frozen 2

Fave app: "NewTube" kids

She's tall for her age, especially for one of our kids. She's twice Kenna's size at the same age (not literally, but sure seems like it). She speaks well, counts well, "reads" well, and general keeps us on our toes. We are so privileged to watch her grow and are so entertained by her antics. Ever since she showed up on the scene, she's taken over my Instagram account with almost daily pictures, so if you follow me there, you are well versed in all things Shaunie Vale

I asked her a few of these questions directly, and these are her answers (not necessarily accurate, but cute)

What is your favourite colour? "I wike Green"

What is your favourite Movie? "Mickey...Elsa"

What is your favourite food? "um carrots"

Where do you like to go? "I wanna go a Kroger" (this is 100% accurate, she LOVES Kroger)

Who is your best friend? "oh Kenna" Ok, but who is your friend at church? "I wike Kenna"

This is Us: Kennedy

I started this blog because of this kid - and now she's all grown up🀯 Here are a few fun facts about our sweet big girl.

Fave food: Soups in bread bowls

Fave restaurant: Panera (duh, because of the soupsπŸ˜†)

Fave drink: a White Chocolate Mocha coffee

Fave colours: light blue/turquoise and grey

Best friends: Savannah, Krista, Kayla, Ellen, Clara and Grace

Fave Movie/Show: Sound of Music, Hamilton, White Collar, Psych, Corner Gas

Best Advice? "Don't tell your brothers where any of your valuables are, or they'll take them"

She's memorized all of 1st Peter, and is working on 1, 2 & 3 John...Memory work doesn't come easiest for her, but she's persistent and gets it done with lots of practice and recitation. She's "piano" in the family band, and getting good at chording and playing along. She excels at motivating the boys to complete chores and behave - I'd say 75% of the time those "motivations" come by way of her excellent baking skills. The worst thing that can be said about that, it is she frequently forgets to mention if she's used up an ingredient, and I have to think quick on my feet to discover my intended dinner will be made without flour πŸ˜‚ She's completely the #1 fan fave of baby sister, even though we all try our best to bribe Vale and oust her for that position.

She's got her boating license, and will get her learners permit this Spring, Lord willing. She is taking a college course, for audit, this semester (Spring '21) - we'd like to dual enroll her, when she's old enough, and this is an easy way to de-mystify the whole ordeal and get her used to writing papers and such, when Brian and I can still help her out and guide her. She's got braces because Brian and I have terrible genetic material to pass on in that department - and we're paying dearly for our shortfalls πŸ˜‚ Here's an interesting tooth-fact about her: one of her "baby molars" is the only one she's got - no adult tooth is growing to replace it. So if she keeps it healthy, it's the only one she'll have for her whole life!

Smart, funny, practical, dramatic. She's turned into a lovely grown-up kid - which is really no surprise, given how lovely she was as a little kid.

This is Us: Brian & Darla

Let's see if I can condense this into a readable synopsis - We started dating long distance in 2002 from the Toronto area, and Albany NY area - We got married in 2003, and moved from the Rochester NY area to the Virginia Beach VA area in 2004 - where we've planted some roots and decided to stay put. It means us Northerners are raising Southern babies, and trying our best to bring them the best parts of each culture. Okra has not made the cut.😏

Over the years, we've collected multiple homes, and use them as rentals. I have a love/hate relationship with being a landlord, most of the time I love it. But the day to day falls on my plate (finding renters, collecting rent, dealing with the issues that come up), and it seems like everything goes wrong all at the same time. It has been a blessing, truly of the Lord, as, looking at the bank account back in 2003, I never thought we'd own 1 home, and it genuinely is a gift to get to deal with, even the problems, of several tenants/rentals.😊

We remodel. A lot. I also have a love/hate with that process. So does Brian actually! For all the work we've done, which has been a lot, I am still not sure I could identify a circular saw or a hammer drill with out some heavy descriptors - like the exact colour, shape, and last location used. I'm so uselessπŸ˜‚ But Brian is the handiest, and puts up with the shoddy assistance well.

Brian has been in construction since our move to VA, and for the past 12 years has been in commercial contracting - and most days, he really enjoys it. There have been some serious bumps in the road, and times when it seemed like another profession might be a better choice, but in the end, it's working out. We'll see if God keeps us on this path - but it seems like for now, this is the way He's choosing to provide for us, and we are grateful.

I have had a few jobs over the years, mostly pertaining to childcare. More recently though, I went back into office-life with a job outside the home. It is very part time, and very much enjoyed. Life has presented various difficulties in various stages - but I've definitely seen God's hand in each of them. I love Young Living essential oils, everything homemade and DIY, and I'm terrible at doing hair.

We are grateful to be doing what we do, and grateful to be doing it together. It's been a wild ride, to say the least πŸ’•

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Screened Porch Remodel

Well, here we go (again!). Another remodel, and not wanting to exhaust my IG feed with all the details, and yet wanting to chronicle the journey, I decided to figure out how to get the pics off my phone and onto my blog! The last time I blogged "full time" I had an actual camera and uploaded from there, not a camera phone. The times, they are a changin' - haha! ANYWAY. I'll have to go back and find pics of the old space in it's original condition. But I'll start here for now...

Our house is really practical and I like that. But we do like to have a lot of people over, and one of the biggest drawbacks to open concept is not having a separate place/room for kids and adults to separate. It's made a little better with the additions of tv's in our bedroom and upstairs (at least movies or Nintendo Switch can be done elsewhere than the main room), but all in all, our only "complaint" is that we could use another family room. This house is a ranch, 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom, just over 1800sq ft. Something not included in that square footage is our screened in back porch. We've thought of finishing it for awhile now, but it's taken awhile to be able to afford it - it's a lot of "little things" that add up in cost. Some needed, some wanted, but still - all with the desire to do it "right", and when we could afford to do it all at once, instead of over years as we saved up etc. So now is the time!

We will close in the porch, HVAC the space, requiring a mini split unit that connects to the main unit. We will build a deck, and re-side the house - It really needs it! It's old vinyl siding and a recent storm upending our trampoline into the side of the house was the final straw with cracked pieces. The time is now. Siding will be delivered in 4 weeks! We picked a blue colour called Harbor Blue - actually, I think it's about the same shade as we painted the shed (and currently have our shutters & exterior doors painted too). ANYWAY. I'll talk you through the pics, and then update here as we go under the label below of Porch Remodel

Our 3 set of double french doors were delivered this week!

The side facing the shed will be just solid wall (as you see here). The back side will be 1 set of french doors (the hole), and 2 windows beside.

Decking material has been delivered and stacked/spaced for staining prior to install

This whole area will be a deck. From the porch, all the way to the edge of the house. It'll be a HUGE deck. Huge.

This whole area will be deck. I think it'll be 4ft off the back side, then down to the end of the house. 2 more sets of french doors go here!

One set of doors, INSTALLED! We got the kind with the shades built in to the glass, yay! It was end of day though, and it was SO heavy. We'll do the next two another day.

There is so much work to do. Whooooooweee. But it'll be so nice once it's all done!

Door, installed!

This is the side that faces the lake, so we'll have a nice deck off this space, and a nice pretty view.

Yah, we still have lots of demo clean up to get rid of. Not getting a dumpster this time, so we have to take it out by the truck load in Brian's truck.

Our shed is here (door open) to the left. Our kitchen has a little "nook" kick out, with 3 windows. 1 of the windows goes into the screened porch, and one of them faces the shed side & HVAC units - 1 not needed, and one without a view, so we're taking them out and reusing them in the porch. The the center window in above pic will be the only one that stays. We had all the windows replaced in 2019, so as not to waste them, we'll use them on the porch.

There are the windows from the inside - the side 2 will go away.

We took down the ceiling, because we will be putting in a barrel vaulted ceiling. It feels so spacious compared to our regular 8ft ceilings in the rest of the house.

Brian will be/is replacing all these trusses with rounded ones - he has wood for a rounded ceiling left over from a job, so it's going in here!

Can't wait to update with more pics!!