Monday, November 24, 2014

Fifty Two Shades of Shay: Christmas Traditions

No matter how long you've read my blog, you probably know that we take our Christmas traditions seriously around here.

Growing up, my parents had several Christmas traditions that us Lowes did every single year (all while listening to the Carpenter's Christmas album).  So, when Andrew and I got married, we made a really conscious effort to start our own traditions (while still incorporating some of the old), and 11 Christmases later, we have really fine tuned this time of year.

Some of our traditions cost money, some don't...some are big, some are small...some take a lot of time, some take just a minute...but they're all so special to us.  These are things we do as a family that put us into the Christmas spirit, these are the things we talk about the other 11 months of the year, these are the things that I will remember when I'm old and grey.

 Carriage Rides
Our carriage ride tradition began when Kensington was two and Smith was 11 months old.  Our little town square offers reservations for this one hour ride that takes guests through the historic portion of our city.  Now, four years later, we know all of the horses' names and talk about them and the driver/owner Miss Shannon all year long.

Watching Christmas Movies
This tradition comes from my parents.  We are Christmas movie watching fools!  Usually the week before Thanksgiving we begin watching and we try to watch one every night (during the week, we usually take two nights to watch one).  Now that my kids are older, they love watching them too!

You can find my post on Christmas movies here.  My very favorite is The Holiday (hello, Jude Law!) but with my kids, we like to watch the classics like Rudolph, Frosty and Charlie, now my kids are into White Christmas (they love the singing and dancing!), Home Alone, A Christmas Story and then there are so many great ones that come on ABC Family.  

We pop some popcorn, curl up with our favorite blankets and watch a movie together.  Such a fun way to spend an evening!

Our Elf on the Shelf comes out for fun
Last year, I documented all of the funny things our elf did and you can see that here.  

We have brought this little elf out the last three years and it's become something my kiddos always look forward to (by day 4, I'm always tired of moving it and thinking of clever places to put it).

Sitting in Santa's Lap
We started this tradition with 12 week old Kensington back in 2008.  We have visited the same Santa at the Dallas Galleria every single year.

Hanging of the Green
Every year, we attend the Hanging of the Green ceremony at our church.  It's really just a fun service where we sing a lot of carols and look at how beautifully decorated our church is.  It's also the perfect opportunity to remember the real reason for this season...Jesus' birth.  

Jammy Cocoa Christmas
This is a Lowe tradition that has now carried into my family...we put our pajamas on, go to Starbucks and get a drink (you must be wearing your pjs when entering Starbucks...blame my dad for that idea), listen to Christmas music and drive around looking at lights.  I blogged about it last year here.

This is one of those silly traditions that I hope my grandchildren are doing too.  This can be my dad's legacy right here :).

 Christmas Journey

Every other year, our church offers a drive-thru nativity scene called Christmas Journey.  You drive up, we tell you what station to put your car radio on or hand you a CD and then you drive through and watch the story of Christs' birth, life, death and resurrection unfold through around 15 scenes.  It takes about 20 minutes to drive through and last year, almost 50,000 people came through.  We were cast members last year and it was so cold and fun!  This is a great tradition for us!

Other random things we do...
1. We like to drive to neighborhoods in our area with really big homes that are all decked out for the holidays and get out and walk the streets (verses driving).  We get all bundled up and take it all in.  If you're in the Dallas area, we like to walk around Highland Park.  After we're done walking several blocks, we'll drive the rest.

2. We sleep in our Christmas flannel sheets this time of year.  Whenever I put those on our beds, it makes me so happy!!

3. The town next to ours has a Christmas light display that flashes and dances to music.  We always go and just walk the two little streets and listen to the music and watch the light display.

4. Whenever the Rockettes are in town with their Christmas Spectacular, we go!  I've been once in New York City and three times in Dallas.  That show never disappoints!

5. We shop for our angels off of the Angel Tree.  This is a special time when we select a local family from the Angel Tree and shop for them.  I love doing this with my kids.  I also love doing Operation Christmas Child and filling shoe boxes with little treats and toys for kids to receive as their Christmas gifts.

6. Drive to North Park Mall (a mall in Dallas) and look at the pretty window displays and beautiful decorations.  Just stroll and look (and maybe finish up a little shopping).

I think my parents taught me when I was younger that you really just have to make an effort this time of year to celebrate a little every day.  Growing up, my parents would say we had to do one thing Christmasy (their word) each day.  Even if that's just listening to Christmas music (of course, the Carpenter's album) while eating our dinner or having a candy cane for dessert...something that keeps us in the Christmas spirit.

I would love to know what some of your traditions are!!  Please comment and let me know what you and your family do this time of year!

And on the foodie's Meal Planning Monday Thanksgiving Week know, for when you're tired of eating turkey.

Merry Monday!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Friday Favorites!

It's Friday!  I'm so excited because after today, Kensington doesn't have school for a week (woohoo!).  I love having my kiddos home with me...especially this time of year :).  Today, the Shull four are taking a quick road trip...lots of carols, Christmas movies and snacking in the car on our way up and our way back down.  My favorite part of road trips are almost always that time we spend together in the car :).

Today, I'm linking up with my 3 favorites: Erika, Narci and Andrea and sharing my favorite things...

If everyone could stop and pray for our sweet friend Manda, that would be greatly appreciated.  Manda has had a really good week and for that, we are so grateful.  

Our prayer specifically is that on Monday, when Manda goes for her scans, that the tumor has responded to the chemo and gotten smaller and that her doctors can review the scans and have an even better picture of how to proceed from here.  Prayer works!  And we need lots and lots of them!!  Please pray for Manda this weekend and especially on Monday.  Praying friends is one of my favorites :).

On Thursday, Kensington's school had their annual Fun Run to raise money for their PTA and our sweet girl was so nervous!  All week, she told me she was scared and nervous because she didn't know if she could run that many laps and she thought she would be slow.  Bless her sweet heart!  She really didn't want to run for an hour (who can blame her?!), so she walked most of it (with some insistence from her teacher...she really wanted to stand there), but  I was so proud of her for overcoming something she didn't want to do.  She did her very best and made this mama's heart really proud. 

Last Friday, many of you shared your Christmas music obsession with me (apparently, I'm not the only one).  So, I just wanted to remind you that my Shade of Shay on my favorite Christmas music post is here...I bet we share many of the same favorites :).

Am I the only one who watches TV Land?  All of my favorite reruns are on TV Land, so I seem to have my DVR recording that channel often.  They have been running promos for this new show called Younger coming out in January starring one of my very favorite Broadway actresses, Sutton Foster.  The previews look so cute and I'm really excited for it to start.  Am I alone?  Has anyone else heard of this?  I know I'm not the only one watch Friends reruns at night ;)!

On the foodie blog today is my yummy Chicken Florentine Enchiladas!  Next week, when you need a break from turkey and dressing, you're going to want to try this recipe!

And since last week was Holiday Dresses Week over here and this week is Holiday Party Shoe Week, I thought I'd end our Friday with some more cute holiday party shoes!  All fun finds came from Nordstrom who asked me to review these sparkly goodies!

 I'm still a big fan of my blush colored patent heels.  They're the perfect little neutral shoe to wear year around.  And the great thing about patent leather is that you can wear it in yucky weather and they don't get destroyed.

I received several comments from readers who have these pewter gold pumps and everyone seems to love them!  They would look super cute with a sassy dress or a pair of black pants.  

And I love me a Steve Madden shoe because they always, always, always fit true to size.  I think these rhinestone pumps are just super fun.

This was the party shoe with the most feedback.  Several of you already own a pair (available in black, silver and nude) and said they are really comfy.  Comfy and pretty?  Hello!  That's just perfection.

And let's be real...we all truly appreciate, want and need the cozy slippers (for us and for gifts too).  Sigh.  I wish I had a pair on right this very second.

And if you're looking for pajamas to go with those slippers, these are my very favorite.  I plan on wearing them 24/7 when the weather turns really cold and I'm hibernating in my house with my new baby.  For now, you will find me in them every day from 5:00 PM until 7:00 AM.  #noshame

Happy Friday friends!  On Monday, my Shade of Shay on some of our favorite Christmas traditions!  See you then!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

#shayeveryday2014 Week 46

We had the best week because it was cold!  In North Texas, we have more than our fair share of hot, we'll take any cold weather we can get.  We have two seasons here: extremely hot and freezing cold.  There is no fall and no spring.

Day 316: I love how boys can hear sirens from miles away.  Smith's ears always perk up and he always wants to wait and watch the firetruck, police car or ambulance go roaring by.  On this day, we were leaving the dermatologist's office (I've decided to just move in there permanently...if you're sending me a Christmas card, just send it there instead of to my home) and he wanted to wait for it to pass before we left.

Day 317: Thanksgiving Day feast with our girl!  She politely asked that I not make her eat the feast and opted for a yummy PB&J instead...if that's what she's thankful for, then I can oblige.

Day 318: Me and the Grinch decided to spend the day decking the halls!

Day 319: My little brother turned 31 and we celebrated with a yummy dinner at our parents' house.

Day 320: Just two girls in scarves trying to stay warm on this frigid day!

Day 321: Our first bit of snow for the season!  My kiddos were so excited!!!

Day 322: How can I have a bad day when it starts with breakfast with this handsome fella?  We had extra time before school on this morning, so I told him we could go to Starbucks for breakfast.  I am soaking in every last minute of this Mommy and Smith time.  

You can keep up with me every day in 2014 on Instagram @mixandmatchmama or find me here too...

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I have a feeling several of you are going to ask me where I got my fun plaid scarf and it's from last year (hopefully, you got it then!).  If not, you know I'm the queen of locating plaid scarves, so here is my favorite from this year (because every girl should have a plaid scarf or two!)...

I loved my Red & Black Buffalo Plaid Scarf so much that I went back and bought it in navy and green too!  I love, love, love these scarfs (available in two other colors as well!).  So next year, I will still be wearing them and you will be asking where I got them and I'll be saying, remember, I told you about them last year.  Don't let that happen to you :).

On the foodie blog's pie oh my time!  I'm showing you my easy Thanksgiving pies!

Thanksgiving is in one week!  If you don't have a Turkey Day dessert, I have you covered.

Happy Thursday!

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