Friday, January 13, 2017

The Feast of the Epiphany and Baptism of our Lord

This post contains affiliate links.

I realize the Christmas season is over, but I wanted to do a post on how we celebrated the Feast of the Epiphany and the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord this year mainly so that I can remember how we celebrated these feast days and to add this post to my A Slice of Liturgical Life page. Maybe our liturgical celebrations will inspire others as well.

On Sunday, January 8, 2017, the Catholic Church celebrated the Feast of the Epiphany, but the traditional date for the Epiphany is January 6 so we celebrated Epiphany as a family on Jan. 6th.  Last year our family hosted our annual homeschool group's Epiphany party and this year another family graciously opened their home to host some of our homeschool families to celebrate the Epiphany on Sunday, January 8th.  On Monday, January 9, we celebrated the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord as a family.

On the morning of Friday, January 6, I set out an "Epiphany themed" table that included fun books about the Wise Men finding Jesus: This is the Star, Small Camel Follows the Star, The Last Straw. On the table were also the 3 Kings paper ornaments that we made a few years ago designed by Lacy at Catholic Icing. Part of our Little People Nativity set surrounded the King Cake that I made. And then a "Jesus is our King" crown was on the table that was brought to the homeschool Epiphany party on Sunday.

My family enjoyed the King Cake filled with cinnamon sugar, but they butchered it in order to find the Baby Jesus hidden inside. Hiding a Baby Jesus or a ring in the cake is a tradition and whoever finds it is supposed to have an especially blessed year.

Can you find the Baby Jesus in the photos below? :)

One of our daughters spotted the Baby Jesus first...

On Sunday, January 8 we attended the annual homeschool Epiphany party and an easy craft to do for this feast day is to ask your local Burger King for their paper crowns and then type out "Jesus is our" to cut and paste over the word "Burger" so the crowns read "Jesus is our King".  Then the children can decorate the crowns with glitter glue, stickers, jewels, etc.

Some of the kids at the Epiphany party having fun decorating their Burger Jesus is our King crowns.

At the party we also talked about the traditional Epiphany house blessing and chalking your front door and one child from each family wrote 20 + C + M + B + 17 on a black sheet of paper with blessed chalk so that the families could hang this on their door or remember to write it directly on their doors when they got home.

Our daughter on the left is wearing a crown that she made at our parish's Young Families group after church on Sunday and they made these crowns for the Epiphany.

We came home from the Epiphany party and as a family chalked our front door from the inside vs. the outside since it was cold outside and dark.  My husband and each of our children wrote a part of the 20 + C + M + B + 17 on the back of our front door.

Then on Monday, January 9, we celebrated the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord. This feast is usually celebrated on the Sunday after January 6th, but since the Church moved Epiphany to Sunday, January 8th this year, that moved the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord to Monday, January 9th. The liturgical calendar can get confusing sometimes!

For this feast day, I made the easy and yummy dessert that I made last year for the first time. I got the idea of the Baptism of the Lord River Jordan Dessert on Catholic Cuisine.  I used shell candy molds and toffee candy molds for the shells. My kids devoured it, as well as my husband (or what was left of it after he got home from work :) )
The ingredients I used were: Vanilla ice cream, blueberries, blue food coloring, Wilton English Toffee Candy Melts, Shell candy mold, Reddi Wip and Graham Crackers. After following the directions on the Catholic Cuisine site the dessert turns out like this....

I printed and cut out an image from the computer of John the Baptist baptizing Jesus and placed them in the "Jordan River".

On the table during the day I displayed each of our children's baptismal candle along with a photo from their special day.

Each candle holder has each of our children's first and middle name and baptism date engraved at the the base of the holder. The right photo below has "Leah Therese 8-31-13" engraved in it.  My parents bought the candle holders and then had them each engraved at an engraving business as my children were born.  Each child lit their baptismal candle and we discussed Jesus' baptism and what our baptisms mean.

My friend's son made this great craft about the Baptism of our Lord that I wanted to share so I can keep it for myself for future reference.  My friend said this was a craft suggestion in Seton's book.

Image may contain: 1 person

It was another blessed Epiphany and Feast of the Baptism of our Lord!

In the spirit of the Wise Men bringing gifts to the Christ Child for the Epiphany, I thought I would share some fun gift ideas that I love and I think you will too!

12 Days of Christmas Chocolate Molds
It's hard to read the title of the book, but it's called The Twelve Days of Christmas.   

I discovered these fun chocolate molds towards the end of the 12 days of Christmas this year.  Each circle represents a symbol from the traditional 12 days of Christmas song.  You can purchase Days 1-6 and then Days 7-12 separately.

 These are the molds Days 1-6 and Days 7-12

I made a group of 12 for the youth at our parish and put one of each in a clear plastic treat bags, tied it up and then wrote out the song lyric that went with the chocolate candy.

CheruBalm {SALVE-ation for sensitive skin} 

I was sent a sample pack of this baby balm and Oh My! This is my new favorite baby balm that is not just for baby's sensitive skin!  I have been wearing it on my chapped lips and two of my daughters have had extremely dry skin on their face and legs so we have rubbed CheruBalm on these areas as well and it has been clearing our dry skin overnight!  It moisturizes your skin and goes on very smoothly!

The ingredients are all natural and I love that the "Khrisma"-scented one smells just like the chrism oil that babies are blessed with at their baptism!  This product is great for anyone, especially those with sensitive skin.  These would make perfect baby shower or baptism gifts or stocking stuffers!

Besides loving the all natural ingredients and the 4 different scents: "Flowers from Heaven", "Unscented", "Silent Night", and "Khrisma" I love CheruBalm's Misson: Parenting is not easy, but we know the obstacles we face pale in comparison to those of some other families. This is why we have chosen to tithe a portion of all of CheruBalm's revenues to families in difficult situations. I also like that the owners have 5 children like me! :) Find out more about this amazing product including their ingredients list.  Be sure to follow CheruBalm on Facebook!

Greg and Erica, the owners have CheruBalm, have set up a 10% off discount code for my readers on their website! The code you type in at checkout is: SLICE10 
The discount code is good until Feb. 3rd. Enjoy! 

BritaBabyBoutique {Imagine the Possibilities}

Speaking of babies and baby shower gifts, my next gift recommendation is beautiful and unique and made with lots of tender loving care.  If you are looking for a fun baby shower gift or welcome baby gift be sure to check out a dear friend's Etsy shop called BritaBabyBoutique.

I purchased one of Brita's bouquets for a Catholic friend of mine who had a baby girl.  The bouquet was gorgeous and full and filled with beautiful artificial flowers, diapers, socks, baby mittens, hair bows and on the bottom Brita put in a cute yellow ducky with baby powder.  She also added a blessed rosary.  Brita will custom make any bouquet with any colors you choose.  She is a joy to work with and she ships anywhere in the United States!

Be sure to view her inventory at her Etsy shop at BritaBabyBoutique or visit her Facebook page. If you have any questions or would like a bouquet that you don't see in her shop, she would be more than happy to chat with you! {By the way, my friend LOVED her beautiful, unique bouquet and I loved it so much I wanted to keep it forever! :) )

My Catholic Magnets

Anytime I come across a great fun way to help children learn more about the Saints I'm all in and ready to purchase! Are you looking for a fun way to teach about the Saints to your children? My kids found these great magnets in their stockings this year! 

Right now you can try My Catholic Magnets Saint Subscription from where you get a new Saint Magnet each month plus a holy card/story for 3 months for only $5! 
This is a great resource for teaching our little ones about the saints and keeping the saints always visible in the house :) Be sure to visit My Catholic Magnets website or visit them on Facebook at My Catholic Kids!  They have a wide selection of Saint magnets to choose from and I just love the artwork! The same family that created My Catholic Magnets also wrote the Bible Stories for Advent that I reviewed on my blog.  

I hope your new year has been blessed so far!
Thanks always for stopping by!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Jan. 4th: St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Feast Day (and a Few More of My EpicPew Posts)

Today, January 4th, is the feast day of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton.  She was a wife, mother of 5, widower, convert, teacher, religious and a very special Saint!

This feast day post is a little bit different than many of those linked on my A Slice of Liturgical Life page because I didn't make any creative food or craft this year using the Saint Elizabeth theme.  (But see photo below from Kendra's blog Catholic All Year of a creative themed dinner for Saint Elizabeth's feast day.)

Rather for her feast day today, I just thought it would be fun to share the EpicPew post that I wrote with facts about Saint Elizabeth.  The post was published today on her feast day!  How many of these facts did you know already?


35 Facts You Didn't Know About St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

And here is Kendra's feast day food.  She writes on her Catholic All Year Facebook page: "Not-particularly-New-York-style pizza (but still good) and little New York cheesecakes for the feast of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, native New Yorker and first American-born canonized saint!"

The St. Elizabeth Seton post was the 4th one I wrote for EpicPew.  Below are listed the other ones  that were published already on the EpicPew site. 



What This Little Girl Does For This Widower Might Make You Cry 

In closing, I want to wish you a blessed New Year!  This year when we attended Mass for the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God, we were happily surprised to have the priest that celebrated our wedding on July 12, 1997, visit our parish and he said the feast day Mass.  He was a new priest back in 1997 and we have kept in touch through the years through Christmas cards and our family would see Father Ned at various retreats and conferences. He always jokes around with us when he sees our family and sometimes says, "See what I started!" :)  Our brief visit with him after Mass was a great way to end 2016 and begin 2017!  Here is a photo we took after Mass with Father Ned, our  very special and holy priest friend. 

 God bless and Happy New Year! 

Saturday, December 31, 2016

My 10 Most Popular Posts of 2016 !

Here we are on the last day of 2016! So much has happened in a year in the real world and blog world!  It's hard to believe 2017 is just about here!  I want to thank everyone who visits my blog regularly or occasionally or even if you happen to stumble upon one of my posts somehow. :)  I pray it is a source of inspiration and support in some way as I continue to love to document the sweetness of my faith, family and homeschooling!

As I look back through my blog this past year and look forward to 2017, I thought I would list my 10 most popular posts of 2016 in case you missed a few.  It's been fun to see which posts received the most page views.

So here we go....

#7 Holy Heroes: Spiritual Diary Review (posted on 5/23/16) 


#5 Advent Book Review and Read-Alouds (posted pm 12/5/16)



#2  Our 2016-2017 Homeschool Curriculum (posted on 8/1/16)

And the #1 most popular post of 2016 on my blog was.... 

(posted on 8/28/16) with close to 6,000 page views!  

Thank you again to all those that visited my little corner of blog land this past year!
Thank you also if you happened to click on any of my Amazon affiliate links and purchase items through my blog's affiliate link!  Thanks so much for your support for my blogging adventures!  

I wish you and your families and friends a blessed and happy new year in 2017!

I linked this post to Convert Journal-New Evangelists Monthly-January 2017, Issue #49

God bless you always!

Friday, December 30, 2016

Our Family's Christmas Cards from 1997 to Present: 2016 Edition

For the past 2 years, I've written a post of all the photo Christmas cards that we have taken since the Smith family was established in 1997.  This is an updated post with our current 2016 Christmas card added to the bottom of this post.

Our family has been sending out Christmas cards since the year my husband and I got married, 1997, and some years I have thought about not sending out a photo card, but I can't seem to stop the fun habit. :)

I love sending out our photo cards.  (I don't write a Christmas letter, but sometimes I wish we started that tradition back in 1997 as a great way to document a year's worth of memories)

Our family also loves getting Christmas cards/letters in the mail.  We display our cards around a kitchen door frame decorated with lights. (This is a door we don't use much.)

I thought I would share the Christmas photo cards we have sent past and present so you can walk down memory lane with me :)

  1997 Christmas Card
Hmmm...I wonder what happened in July of '97?  This is one of my favorite cards as it was the year the Smith family was established and I loved how our photo card had a church photo on it (that is cut off ) with the words "Silent Night". 

 1998 Christmas Card

1999 Christmas Card
This was the last year that it would be just the two of us in our Christmas photos.  We were so blessed to conceive our first child in 1999. 

2000 Christmas Card
In May of 2000 we welcomed our first daughter into our hearts and home.  What a fun Christmas it was to watch how our daughter loved listening to all the Christmas music and playing with the wrapping paper.  :)   This was the year our daughter played Baby Jesus in a living nativity at a local parish. You know when you wrap a baby girl up in warm blankets and have her wear lots of layers, no one notices who is playing the Baby Jesus.  :)  

2001 Christmas Card
17 months after our daughter was born our son was born in October 2001  My oldest daughter and son get along well as they are close in age and my oldest never remembers life without her sweet little brother. 
2002 Christmas Card

2003 Christmas Card
This photo card reads "We are EXPECTING you to have a merry and blessed Christmas!  That was our clever way of announcing our pregnancy with Smith Baby #3.  I was in the "yuck" phase of the pregnancy during this photo shoot and when I look back at this card, I remember that I was so happy to be pregnant again, yet I was trying so hard to smile through the nausea, hence the somewhat forced grin :)   
This Christmas card is special too because Parents Magazine contacted me and used this card in a post titled 29 Totally Adorable Holiday Pregnancy Announcements. If you click on the title link and scroll through to our card under the title "Pun Intended", you'll see this 2003 card and a small paragraph about the card.  What a fun post to be a part of!

2004 Christmas Card
Baby #3 came in June 2004 with a head full of black hair!  She found her hands fascinating as she looks down.  :)  

2005 Christmas Card

2006 Christmas Card

2007 Christmas Card
In November 2007, our 4th baby was born.  This picture was taken when we arrived home from the hospital.  I remember our older children couldn't come to the hospital to visit their new sister because my oldest daughter was sick with a strep throat. :(  

2008 Christmas Card

2009 Christmas Card
Yes, that is a wreath hanging from a tree limb in the middle of the woods.  :)  I was trying to make the woods festive :)   I laugh at this picture though because of the Christmas wreath that seems to be hanging in mid air coming from nowhere :) 

2010 Christmas Card

2011 Christmas Card

2012 Christmas Card
This picture was taken just after my sister's wedding ceremony in October 2012.  My younger daughters handed out the programs and my oldest daughter did a reading during the service.  My son was an altar server, hence his robe.   This was another "We are EXPECTING" you to have a Merry Christmas" cards since we conceived Baby #5 in November 2012.  She was born in July 2013.

2013 Christmas Card
This photo was taken in a Catholic church in PA when we went to visit my younger sister and her family for Thanksgiving in 2013. 

2014 Christmas Card
These pictures were taken in September 2014 when my family had a reunion with my parents, two brothers and my younger sister and their families.

2015 Christmas Card 
This picture was taken in August 2015 when we had another great family vacation at the beach with my parents and siblings and their families.

2016 Christmas Card

And this is our 2016 Christmas card.  This photo was taken in July 2016 when we traveled up north for my Aunt and Uncle's 50th wedding anniversary celebration!  Fun trip!
I hope you have enjoyed looking at just how fast our family has changed and grown through the years because it has been fun for me to think back to the many memories and blessings from the past years since our first Christmas card in 1997.  

I hope your Christmas has been blessed and merry! In case you missed it, I posted our Christmas 2016 Highlights!


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I'm Tracy. I love my faith, family and on most days, homeschooling my 5 blessings. When I'm not busy baking cakes for my family or making memories in real life or dreaming I had a housekeeper or professional chef, I enjoy documenting a slice of Smith life in blog land.

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