Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 Christmas Season Lookback

My heart has been so full this Christmas season. With Jack old enough to understand a little of celebrating the Savior come to set his people free, our sweet baby girl's first Christmas, plus extra days to spend stuck at home together with the great ice storm, it's been a wonderful Christmas to write into the Gentry family annals.

The second week of December, we met up with my family in Dallas for dinner at Mi Cocina in Highland Park Village and a carriage ride through the Highland Park Christmas lights. It was a chilly night, but we bundled up tight and had just a wonderful time snuggled in together. If you've never done the Highland Park lights before, they are stunning, especially when you start off from HPV, which is stunning in its simple but complex, white light wrapped trees.

I hope I can always remember what Jack sounded like this year each time he said, "Look at all the Christmas lights!" like he had never seen them before. The wonder of a child.

Jack's class at preschool was old enough to participate in their Christmas program. It was a simple but sweet presentation of the nativity, complete with angels, Mary, Joseph, a baby doll Jesus, the shepherds, some kings, and a whole flock of 2 year olds sheep.

As a family, we drove around and looked at Christmas lights one evening the week before Christmas, which is something Mr. G and I always did before we had kids, usually on a special Christmas date night where we open our gifts together before we left to be with one of our families for Christmas eve. Now it's our desire to be home on Christmas eve/morning with our little immediate family, so our Christmas date will take on a new look. This year it was a weekend away to celebrate the anniversary of our first date a decade ago.

My sweeties in their Christmas pj's.

The internet brings us so many fun and unique ideas for children's activities during the Christmas season that it can be a little daunting and/or make you feel like a slacker for not having some amazing pinnable experiences. Don't let yourself fall into the lie that your holidays have to be something out of a magazine. Family traditions are important, and some of the best traditions (like tucking into carseats for a late drive around the neighborhood Christmas lights) aren't pinnable ones. I think this can apply to any holiday, even the Hallmark ones.

I, for one, am praying on behalf of moms everywhere that no one markets a Cupid on a Shelf in 2014.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Official Santa Visit of 2013

Before 2013 closes out, I'm updating with a few of our Christmas happenings. We spent a fun day over in Dallas at NorthPark where we saw the real Santa and did some of the last of our Christmas shopping.

Mr. G had some things to wrap up at work before a long break, and our time to see Santa was limited, so it was just the kiddos and me. They were both so good the entire time. Annabelle got a little fussy as I was tying her bonnet on, but I explained to her that accessories are just part of being a girl. Today's bonnet is a pair of uncomfortable high heels during a 10 hour work day two decades in the future.

NorthPark has a great system where you pick up a number, and that determines your place in line to see Santa. They start handing them out at 9 am. Apparently the day we were there, husbands/dads had started lining up at 7 am to get an early number. When we got there at 9:30 am, we got a number that was estimated to be for approximately 7 pm later that day. Thankfully, we were able to standby and scoot in right after lunch. Surprisingly, it was probably the fastest we've seen Santa.

Santa spent a few minutes with Jack, asking if and what kind of cookies we might make him. Jack told him that he wanted a "four-wheeler like Granddaddy's" for Christmas. No tears, only a little apprehension as we walked up.

Annabelle's first Santa pic.

She was more like, "I'm not really sure what's happening here, but can we get this over with? I'd like to take my nap, please."

My childhood next door neighbor commented on Facebook: "The place where anxiety and politeness intersect. That is a Texas girl."

I love it so much!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Rodan+Fields Multi Function Eye Cream Review

Have you heard of Rodan+Fields? It's a skin care line that is sweeping the nation (or at least, my part of the nation) that was created by the dermatologists that also brought the ProActiv to the masses.

They are back with their namesake Rodan+Fields line, which is totally just showing off at this point, with all their skincare magician ways. I have friends that are swearing by the changes these different product lines have made on their faces.

My long-time friend Deanna is an R+F Consultant, and knowing what a product junkie I am, sent me a mini-facial quite a few months ago. I was beside myself over how the Night Renewing Serum made my skin feel. (Mr. G will attest. I marched into the living room and made him pet my cheek. He was very confused about the whole incident.)

So Deanna did it again and sent me a full size of the Multi-Function Eye Cream to try out. It's another product from the REDEFINE line, which is for any ladies who might be attempting to keep time from marching across their faces.

Immediately, I noticed that my eyes were brighter. I wasn't sure what kind of voodoo this might be, but I read on the packaging that it indeed had something that would perk dark circles up immediately. I've been using it after I wash my face at night, and again in the morning. Any makeup counter will encourage you to put an eye cream on first before applying concealer. This one works awesome for that purpose! My small jar is about halfway empty, and I've been using it generously for two months.

Deanna is offering up a great deal for readers of my blog right now. For anyone who signs up as a Preferred Customer (a way to receive regular product discounts), she'll give you a full size Daily Body Moisturizer. Just
e-mail her
and tell her you read it here for your gift. They offer this great Solutions Tool to help you find just the right product line for you.

And if you're a gadget girl, the end of year R+F Corporate special is a free AMP MD Roller with the purchase of the entire REDEFINE line, available here until 12/31/2013. You need to read up on the roller. It has great reviews from beauty bloggers who've tried it.

Do yourself a favor as you close out this year and make it a commitment to take better care of your skin in 2014! (This is mine every year. Only now it involves defying gravity as well.)

(Disclaimer: I did receive a full size eye cream to review, but opinions, as always, are my own!)

Christmas Weekending

The march to Christmas day just hasn't slowed down one bit since Thanksgiving day came so late! I feel like I'm behind on just about everything. How is this possible? I ask myself this every day.

Friday night our church provided one last Parents' Night Out of the year which Mr. G and I took advantage of to complete our Christmas shopping. We have very little other time between now and next week with his work schedule plus other Christmas events. We're starting the tradition this year of our kids opening two gifts Christmas eve--one from us and one from their sibling. And we realized that we didn't have some things that really fit that bill, or maybe what we thought fit the bill was something we didn't want to deal with on Christmas Eve? Can anyone relate to this?

I promise we found something that will bring just as much joy, to be opened on Christmas eve. And with many pieces, just not one million. Or even one hundred.

I was moping through the aisles of TRU, lamenting the fact that I couldn't find a cute infant play toy that was undeniably pink and definitely for females and not remotely gender neutral when I randomly found this gem on a shelf. It was the last one, and I knew it was the one. Can we get more girly than this? (Oh yes, we can. With baby's first baby doll and doll stroller. Oh yes ma'am, we are.)

But lo, in a sea of gender neutral, the Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Magical Musical Mirror stood alone amongst the infant playthings of Fort Worth Toys R Us some mere days before Christmas.

It was a successful evening for both of our kids.

Saturday I had time to sit down and address Christmas cards that had been delivered Friday evening. And hopefully today they'll get in a mailbox somewhere. Tick tock tick tock!

We had a wonderful day at church yesterday. It was good to be back after the weather we had last week shut us down. Our church Christmas concert has featured a special guest over the past several years, and this year it was the Katinas. It was Jack's first year to go with us, and he did awesome. He's growing up on me!

We're looking forward to a busy week on the march toward Christmas. I'm praying for additional focus that the Price of Peace would reign in my heart this week and that I would make time to slow down and enjoy these beautiful days of the season.

A very merry Christmas to you!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Beware of Walking in a Winter Wonderland

It's been over a week since I posted, and in that time, it's gone from over 80 degrees here in Fort Worth, to an icy, frozen Winter Wonderland! Although it finally got up above freezing temperatures for only a few hours Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, thankfully it was just enough to make the roads passable, with some major help from TXDoT. Texans get such a bad rap about not being able to drive under winter conditions, but we don't get snow often. We only get ICE, which is so different. In my thirty-something years, I think this past weekend holds the record for the worst ice storm I've experienced. We could barely walk on our street, must less drive on it. Even our yard was too slick to walk on by Saturday.

(I found out the walking thing the hard way when I busted it right in front of my neighbors while attempting to say hi. Bruises included.)

We have spent a fabulous, cozy four days at home together. While I was certainly getting close to a brush with cabin fever, I had many moments of thankfulness for this season that my kids are in, and the warm home we are blessed to share with them. We made some great memories (or at least Mom and Dad did) while we were ice-locked.

On Friday, Jack and Mr. G built a tent in our bedroom. It was epic in my little guy's eyes, so I looked the other way as they pulled out nearly every quilt, sleeping bag, and pillow in the house to construct their temporary housing. And my broom got swept up in the action (see what I did there,) acting as the centerpole.

By Saturday morning, we needed a little something else to do, so I remembered that we had graham crackers in the pantry along with some Halloween candy that wasn't our favorite--that would be anything that wasn't chocolate--so a quick google of gingerbread house icing lead me to this super recipe for glue. I'll use it every year, except hopefully I will have fresher powdered sugar on hand so it will taste better.

Someone on Facebook asked how we did this so cleanly. I commandeered the glue, Jack placed the candy on, and by the time we were done, we tossed our candy-filled cupcake wrappers in the trash with one quick sweep of the table. In a flash, my DustBuster handled the rest, and we were done. Next time I won't pull out tiny sprinkles, but it was one of those "use anything you can find in the pantry" situations. Lesson learned on that one.

Sunday morning we treacherously trekked just across the street to our neighbors' to eat breakfast and spend time with them and 2 other families nearby. I think from the length of everyone's stay, it was evident that everyone was so glad to see other human life! It was a great visit and reminded me of how much I love the community I live in and that I need to slow down and take more time to enjoy it.

We were glad to see the ice melt while we were out of the house because we had big plans for Sunday evening. I'll have to post on that later, if I have time to jump back on here during naptime tomorrow. I hope you have a great week, and stay warm!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Back from the Thanksgiving

Annabelle's first Thanksgiving is over. We're back home and digging into our Christmas decorations. But not before we ate ourselves so full that I declared I wouldn't eat anything that wasn't a vegetable ever again (until later that night when I had leftovers of my Grannie's dressing.) Y'all, I made three pies, and that was in addition to all the other desserts we had. It was insane. It was wonderful.

On our way to Corsicana

One of my pies was a chocolate one, using the recipe from Homesick Texan, whose blog is a great resource for home cooking. My Meemaw (Dad's mom) who is known for her chocolate pies, but is now in a nursing home, joined us for Thanksgiving at my Grannie's (Mom's mom.) I hope I did her proud on the meringue! I also made no-pecan pie and a classic Tollhouse pie just in case of a dessert emergency which, of course, there was none. The no-pecan pie was because I don't like pecans.

It was a great visit. Lots of cousins, aunts, uncles, and kids running in and out. I knew Jack would be so excited to get outside and GO, so we made sure he was all fixed up for the muddy conditions. A new farm coat, which I highly recommend if you need something inexpensive, but warm that your little one might tear up, some new Carhartt overalls from his grandparents, and a good pair of mud boots, and that boy was out the door.

After a Friday of online shopping (me) and hunting (him), we headed back on Saturday around lunch time. It was just a good family weekend! I have so many things I'm thankful for this year. Although not without its challenges, 2013 has been a sweet one for us. I praise God for that!
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