Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Summer Update

While taking a quick mom break to mindlessly surf the net tonight, I thought, "Why not update the ol' blog?"

What a fast summer it has been!

The kids spent the month of June with back to back activities, from visiting west Texas to VBS and day camp, straight into July swim lessons. Mr. G and I both went to camp at the beach with the students at our church in late June. Last week was the first week we've had to take a big breath. I asked the kids what they'd like to do (thinking they'd want the zoo splash pad or whatnot) and they both agree: STAY HOME. No need to twist my arm!


Soon after, we did a long weekend in Houston where we hit the beach one morning in Galveston, took in an Astros game, and toured the Johnson Space Center. Like so many other Southern Baptists, our VBS theme was Galactic Starveyors this year, and both of my children have been more fascinated with space than ever since early June. They were pumped.

We've finally started gathering school supplies and ordering standard dress in the next size up. (I'm doubling down on glue sticks this year since apparently kindergarteners ate them for breakfast last year. Maybe first graders will take it easier on them?)


So we've rested and hung around town this week and last. Done our favorite story time at the museum, lunches and playdates, swam, and then earlier this week, Sister hit the jackpot at the American Girl store, while Brother took his hard-earned Read to Succeed ticket to Six Flags. It was his very first trip!

We're coasting by the rest of the summer. A 12 year anniversary celebrated, and a birthday upcoming. Slowly, but surely, I've unpacked the last of the lingering boxes from our move. (Yep, four months ago.) The ones I'm avoiding should probably just be thrown away, but where's the fun in that, when you could move them from room to room procrastinating? I finally decided on and ordered a new table for our breakfast area. Next up comes a dining table. The shutters are in, and now I'm zeroing in on drapes. There is no shortage of things to do! Add laundry to that list.

Here's hoping more posts are forthcoming. I enjoy the small outlet, even if I'm writing to myself.




Thursday, March 16, 2017

Changing Times at Casa de Gentry

Hi! There's been a lot of radio silence around here since we started kindergarten back in the fall. I didn't anticipate how much of our family's time would be taken up with school, but there it is.

But really, there's about six months of blank space here that can be filled with one big statement: WE'RE MOVING.

Yep, on February 24th we closed on this house we've lived in for almost ten years. I can hardly think about it for fear that I'll have a big, ugly cry, but indeed, we are moving. And it's to a new build, which has also taken up a ton of our time, thoughts, and energy. As sad as we are about leaving our original home, we are pumped about our new digs! We took our time to find the exact place we wanted to live yet still stay in the general vicinity, and the Lord guided our steps. We were looking for a new home for ministry, and that is exactly what He has prepared for us.


sneak peek of my new kitchen

By next Friday, we'll be completely moved out and in a holding pattern for a few short days until we close on our new home. Once we move in and have internet set up, I hope to start writing here again!

home tour from several years ago:
living room
kitchen
breakfast nook
brother's room
sister's room

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Book Review: A Heart Most Certain by Melissa Jagears

Through the Bethany House Blogger Review program, a few weeks ago I downloaded an e-version of Melissa Jaegers novel A Heart Most Certain, which was released today! This is the first book in Ms. Jagears new Teaville Moral Society series, and the first I've read by her. Prior to this series, it appears that she authored a series on mail-order brides. Frontier fiction isn't exactly my fave genre, but I'm glad I gave this one a chance.

{spoiler alert: I think this is the best Christian novel I've reviewed from Bethany House so far.}


Quick synopsis: Lydia King is a poor, young, single lady living in Teaville, a bustling city in 1905 southeast Kansas. She's active in her church because it's the Christian thing to do, and she's waiting for the town's most eligible bachelor to propose and save her from a life of poverty caused by her father's gambling and her mother's health care costs.

In an effort to impress her intended's mother, she attempts to garner a donation from Teaville's notorious miser and lumber mill owner, Nicholas Lowe, to provide sewing machines to make blankets for the poor. His answer to her is no, again and again. As she tenaciously (and desperately) pursues his donation, she finds that Nicholas is quite generous toward others, but in his own way. Spending more and more time together as they help others, they find their hearts and their faith challenged in the darkest ways.

My thoughts: When I completed this book, I felt like I'd been discipled. The key principles of the life of a Christ-follower are to know, follow, and share Jesus, and she stepped us exactly through those principles as she transformed Lydia from a pew-sitter to a follower and sharer of Jesus. Lydia goes through an incredible heart change, and it's because she is being discipled and challenged by her new friend. All of this is wrapped into a beautiful love story, with appropriate Pride & Prejudice references woven in. Bonus!

It does't hurt that Nicholas is the Darcy-type. Brooding, a little mysterious, take charge, and brave, exactly as a romantic hero should be.

This is a great read, but for far more than the romance it contains. You will be challenged to live out your faith in Christ, just as Lydia and Nicholas are challenged.

Pick this one up! You'll find it here, and a novella prequel to the series right here.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Book Review: An Elegant Facade by Kristi Ann Hunter

Through the Bethany House Blogger Review program, I recently received a copy of Kristi Ann Hunter's newest novel, An Elegant Facade. It's the second in her Hawthorne House series, and the first I've read by her. I feel like I have a lot in common with Ms. Hunter, as she is a mom, has a computer science background, loves reading, and I've enjoyed following her on Instagram since I started reading this book.


Quick synopsis: Lady Georgina Hawthorne is primed and ready for her debut London season. She has planned, schemed, primped, and strategized how she will snag an illustrious eligible nobleman for a husband during her first season as well as become the most notable lady on the scene. She has good reason to do so--she is desperate. Not even her family knows her terrible secret. Along comes Mr. Colin McCrae, who is untitled, yet wealthy, annoying, yet handsome, and possibly a danger to her plans when he happens upon her shame. As Georgina and Colin continue to be thrust into one another's paths, the fireworks are bound to begin.

My thoughts: This was a fabulous Regency romance! Lady Georgina is a character that I wanted to dislike, and I was amazed at how the author guided us through an entire range of emotions for her, to the point of empathy and redemption. Additionally, without giving the big secret away, it had never occurred to me that people of this age would have struggled mightily with things we now consider common. That, in and of itself, made me think about many other things that are a bother now but would have been a huge struggle before these modern times. So basically, I love that this book gave me some perspective.

I truly liked Colin McCrae from the beginning. Scrappy, self-made, and clever, he was almost sure to match Georgina wit for wit without backing down.

As this is from the inspirational fiction genre, Lady Georgina has an encounter with God that will shape the course of her life. There are some great truths for the reader as this is woven into the story.

Like many of the books I've read since I've started reviewing from Bethany House, this left me wanting to know more about these characters, and luckily enough, this is the second in a series of books about the Hawthorne family. If you're looking for something new to read, I'd begin with Ms. Hunter's novella A Lady of Esteem which is free on Kindle, then progress to her first full-length novel A Noble Masquerade. After you've read these, you'll be cheering to know that Lord Trent's story will be released sometime in 2017. I'll be ready.

You can read more of my book reviews right here!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Summer Vacation: Somewhere Down in Texas

I find myself at the precipice of a whole new world opening up to me. My children are old enough for all of us to enjoy a vacation, with enough forethought. There is no baby, so no diapers to pack and no special diet to accommodate. We just need lots of wipes (I will now always carry wipes in my bag, as long as I live because they are brilliant) and perhaps some extra clothes. The world is my oyster!

As is the case, at the beginning of the month we found ourselves getting lost in the Hill Country, spending a few nights in Canyon Lake near New Braunfels for a little summer vacation, Texas-style. Anyone who complains about the landscapes in Texas either has a terrible memory, or they have never experienced the Hill Country for themselves. It's lush and rolling hills provide the perfect backdrop to have a little fun with our family.


Because we were traveling with kids, we opted to stay at Yogi Bear's Jellystone Hill Country, which has a great splash pad, both an indoor and outdoor pool, movie showings in the evening, and our fave, the glow-in-the-dark hayride. We stayed in one of their Hill Country cabins, and it was definitely the best "camping" experience I've ever had. If Mr. G could promise every camping trip would have those accommodations, I would be the first in the car. Full kitchen, great deck, bunk beds for the kids, and TV. I would do it again.

My parents and brother went with us, so my mom watched my children at the splash pad so I could go have fun. :) We floated the Guadalupe River that day. Because of the crazy flooding we've had this year, the Guadalupe had many restrictions on it. At least once I thought I would smash straight into a cypress tree. Next time we'll opt to float the Comal River if the conditions are similar, since it's a little less intense. That evening we dined at The Gristmill in Gruene, which is a must-do if you've never been. The food is SO GOOD, and there is a LOT of it.


The last day we headed to Schlitterbahn, which has been on my bucket list for years. We attempted to go once on vacation when my brother and I were young, but it was a rain out. It made it all the better that my second attempt was with the rest of my family.


On our way home, we rounded out the trip with BBQ from Black's in Lockhart, a tiny little town known as the BBQ Capitol of Texas because of its two renowned BBQ joints. Always worth the detour.

It was a great time to be away for a little bit and spend time with my whole family in a very laid back place. My brother has some big life transitions going on right now, and we made a point to celebrate that while we were there as well.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Our Week

We had our first solid week of regularly scheduled Fort Worth summer fun over the last week. I try to keep any normal week at home structured the same, so the kids know what days we will grocery shop, what day of the week we'll go somewhere fun for lunch, and what days we play at home. That's the same for summer and school year. Sometimes I spontaneously throw that schedule out the window, but it works well for us as it manages everyone's expectations.

This past week, we adhered to that schedule, with Wednesday being a day that we headed out to the Amon Carter Museum of American Art for their fabulous story time. I talked about it here, but never circled back around to re-visit it. This summer the theme was "Artful Alphabet," and they have worked through books for each letter of the alphabet. Each story time, there are 3-4 spots set up around the museum with a reader who is located by an art piece that goes along with the book they're reading. It's a brilliant way to introduce the children to art.

Each week, they offer the story time, along with a craft and a snack. It's incredibly well done, and the staff and volunteers are wonderful. Highly recommend.

We ran into a fun friend and her grandson and story timed with them, before heading to lunch with another friend from church. It was a great day.

Taken on the front lawn of the Amon Carter, with Will Rogers in the background

Thursday, we were looking at a list of things we'd planned to do throughout the summer that we've called the "summer fun list." We realized that of all things, we'd yet to do the Zoo splash pad. So we jumped up and got dressed for some water fun. It's alway so fun to mark a milestone of the kids' growth, and that day was certainly one of them. Activities that last year seemed to require tons of talks about bravery were easy. Even my stress level was down. Maybe it's because we found a better spot to set up our stuff, but likely it's because my kids are a year older, a year more awesome. We had a blast.


Our weeks of summer are numbered. But for this week, we're still crossing things off our "summer fun list!"

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Book Review: A Beauty Refined by Tracie Peterson

Through the Bethany House Blogger Review program, a few weeks ago I downloaded an e-version of Tracie Peterson's new novel, A Beauty Refined. It's the second novel in her Sapphire Brides series, and the first I have read by her. Ms. Peterson is a prolific inspirational novel writer, with many series in her collection.


Quick synopsis: Set in 1890s, Phoebe von Bergen is a lovely, young German woman traveling alongside her father as he searches for sapphires for a sapphire-obsessed Duchess. We join them on their journey in Helena, Montana, where an unexpected informant shocks Phoebe with truth about her family that will turn her life completely upside down and inside out. Along the way, she falls in love with a handsome man who is a lapidary* dealing with his own past relationship issues, where lies and untruth have committed him to living a life of nothing less than pure honesty. While Phoebe falls in love, she faces great danger as she attempts to confront the dishonesty surrounding her own family.

My thoughts: This is one of those fascinating to read stories, where a mystery begins almost immediately and is resolved somewhat quickly, revealing one of the main conflicts of the novel. Add a "love at first sight" relationship (or at the very least a "very interested at first sight" relationship), and I was hooked. Phoebe von Bergen is a true treasure, and I could not help but cheer at how very explicitly Ms. Peterson shared the Gospel. In the book, we see Phoebe begin to walk with God. Love!

This was an interesting story wrapped in a setting and topic that was completely unfamiliar to me. I knew nothing of the mining or refining of sapphires before reading it. This is one of the things we love about books--going somewhere we've never gone before, yes?

I enjoyed this one. If you're looking for a light read and enjoy American West historical fiction (that's what I'd classify this as), check it out.

*New vocabulary word for me. A lapidary is a person who cuts, polishes, and engraves gem stones.
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