Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Prayers for the Boyle Family and The Easter Season Continues...with a Symbolic Easter Tea Dinner

Before I blog about the details of our Easter tea dinner from last week, I would like to ask that you keep a fellow Catholic blogger and homeschool mom in your prayers.  Lisa at Home to 4 Kiddos lost everything, including their family cat, in a house fire last weekend.  :(  They are understandably devastated and filled with all sorts of emotions as you can imagine, but grateful that their family of six all got out safely.  Please keep the Boyle family in your prayers and if you feel called to help them out in monetary ways, there are few ways you can do so:   Contribute to the Boyle Family Go Fund page.  Or if you shop at Amazon you can click on Lisa's Amazon affiliate link and she will receive a small percentage back from your purchase at no extra cost to you. Or if you would like to get updates of the Boyle's family immediate needs, you can join the Blessings for the Boyle Family Facebook group. The Boyles will appreciate any way you are able to help in this most difficult time in their lives.  Thank you!

And now on to less important details...From the title of my post you may be asking what's a symbolic Easter tea dinner all about?  That's strange, isn't Easter over already?  Nope.  Easter is not just one day, but rather a season that lasts from Easter Sunday to Pentecost, 50 days after Easter Sunday.  40 days after Easter Sunday marks Ascension Thursday when Jesus returns to heaven 40 days after his resurrection.  We will be celebrating Ascension Thursday this week by going to morning Mass and then going out for some "heavenly" sweet treats at the donut shop. :) 

Last week we continued the Easter season celebration with our first (I hope it can become an annual tradition) symbolic Easter tea dinner.  Our symbolic Good Friday lunch has been so fun the past two years so I was inspired to put together an Easter tea dinner when I saw Nicole's Easter tea at Children of the Church where she was inspired by Lacy's Easter tea at Catholic Icing.  This "ripple" effect of liturgical living brings to mind Martianne's post at Training Happy Hearts with her When Celebrating the Liturgical year Goes Viral post. :)   A symbolic Easter tea can be celebrated anytime during the Easter season!

I printed out the Via Crucis (Way of Light) or Stations of the Resurrection for Kids from Family in Feast and Feria and laminated each card to use them to label each food at our table. After praying the Stations of the Cross all during Lent, it was great to be able to focus on the Risen Christ during this Easter season.

This is how our table was set:

For each food item, I got my ideas from Lacy at Catholic Icing at her Symbolic Easter Tea post.

FIRST STATION: Jesus Rises from the Dead: Easter lily sandwiches: I made the sandwiches by cutting the crust off the edges of each slice of bread, stuffed them with can chicken chopped up and mixed with Ranch salad dressing and folded the sandwiches to make a lily.  Then I sliced yellow peppers for the "stamen" part of the lily to add to the top of each sandwich.  The paper lilies in the vase on the center of our table were made several years ago by my older kids in an art co-op. 

SECOND STATION: The Finding of the Empty Tomb: Pinwheel Marshmallow filled cookies to look like an empty tomb.

THIRD STATION: Mary Magdalene Meets the Risen Jesus: Spice tea to symbolize the spices Mary Magdalene brought to the tomb.

FIFTH STATION: Jesus is Known in the Breaking of Bread: Small ham sandwiches on broken bread (Hawaiian rolls)

EIGHTH STATION: Jesus Strengthens the Faith of Thomas: Doubting Thomas donuts. Thomas said he wouldn't believe until he could put his hand in the nail holes of Jesus' body.  One of my favorite Bible verses.  John 20: 28-29:  "He said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see my hands, and put out your hand, and place it in my side, do not be faithless, but believing. Thomas answered, "My Lord and my God!"  Jesus said, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe." 

NINTH STATION: Jesus Appears by the Sea of Tiberias: fish crackers

TENTH STATION: Jesus Tells Peter to Feed His Sheep (Primacy of Peter): Cut stems off cauliflower "sheep" and add black olive "heads" using sour cream.

TWELFTH STATION: Jesus Ascends into Heaven: (on white cheddar popcorn clouds)

THIRTEENTH STATION: Mary and the Disciples Wait in Prayer: During Lent we made pretzels to symbolize "little arms" in prayer.  So for our Easter tea dinner I bought white chocolate covered pretzels to represent the joyous and sweet Easter season and as always, a time to pray. 

FOURTEENTH STATION:  The Holy Spirit Descends at Pentecost:  Red pepper slices to look like tongues of fire.

It was a memorable and fun Easter tea dinner that I hope we can remember to do each year during the Easter season. :)  My family may or may not have liked all the symbolic foods, but I think they liked participating in a unique and meaningful dinner as a family to celebrate the 50 days of the Easter season!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

April 23: Feast Day of Saint George and the (Veggie) Dragon

This post contains affiliate links.

It's been awhile since I last posted here, not because I haven't wanted to, but because life is, well, life and sometimes blogging gets set aside when there are many other things to juggle. I'm sure you understand, right?  But, when I do get to write here in my corner of blog land, it's always fun and a blessing and I hope anyone following my blog enjoys my blog posts as well!

*Just a little side note: In case you are interested in how we have celebrated liturgical feast days in the past through the years you can always visit my A Slice of Liturgical Life page where I have compiled all my feast day posts onto one page. :)

Last weekend on Saturday, April 23, it was the feast day of Saint George.  Our family had a very busy soccer tournament weekend out of town over the weekend so our family celebrated St. George's feast day this past week on Monday night.

This is the second year we have celebrated Saint George's feast day with the reading of Saint George and the Dragon and we also read about Saint George in Picture Book of Saints.  Saint George was put into prison and tortured for being a Christian, but he never denounced his faith in Christ.  He was beheaded about the year 303.

Here's a great short video about Saint George:

With a cucumber, carrots, yellow peppers, cherry tomatoes and 2 lettuce leaves a veggie dragon can be created. I first saw the creative, easy and nutritious veggie dragon idea from Jessica at Shower of Roses. And why is St. George associated with fighting dragons?  Find out more about St. George and the dragon with this Catholic Online link.

It's always an extra blessing when my husband's work schedule allows him to celebrate liturgical feast days with us. Since we celebrated Saint George in the evening at dinner time, he was home and read the book to our family.  It was great to discuss how St. George is a great role model to follow because he never gave up his Christian faith even when it was the cause of his persecution and ultimate violent death.  I placed a plastic lace tablecloth down with a red plastic tablecloth as a table runner to represent that Saint George was a martyr and shed his blood rather than deny truth and faith in Christ. 

Martianne over at Training Happy Hearts had a beautiful feast day celebration for Saint George this year filled with delicious symbolic food and she even gives great ideas to incorporate different subject areas to go with the Saint George theme.  Her table is set so beautifully and I love how she has the little plastic swords around the dragon fighting the evil dragon.  It seems her children and friends liked fighting with the little swords too! :)   Love it!  Be sure to check out her post with more details!


Prayer for St. George

St. George,
Heroic Catholic soldier and defender of your Faith, you dared to criticize a tyrannical Emperor and were subjected to horrible torture. You could have occupied a high military position but you preferred to die for your Lord.  Obtain for us the great grace of heroic Christian courage that should mark soldiers of Christ.  Amen

Monday, April 11, 2016

Feast of the Annunciation: 2016

This post contains affiliate links.

This past Monday, April 4, 2016 the Feast of the Annunciation was celebrated.  The Feast of the Annunciation commemorates the angel Gabriel's announcement to Mary that she would conceive Jesus, and the conception of Jesus by the Holy Spirit. (Luke 1: 26-38)  Normally this feast day is celebrated each year on the liturgical calendar on March 25 because March 25 is exactly 9 months before December 25 when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

   Source: Saints and Angels by Claire Llewellyn

So why did the Feast of the Annunciation get moved?  March 25 this year fell on Good Friday. Celebrating a feast day like the Feast of the Annunciation is one of the Solemnities on our liturgical Church calendar and it's a big deal and a time for celebrating and feasting.  Good Friday is not a time for feasting, but rather fasting (to put it simply), so the Feast of the Annunciation got moved to the day after Divine Mercy Sunday this year.  Did you know this convergence of a big fast day (Good Friday) and a big feast day (Feast of the Annunciation) won't happen for another 141 years?!!!?

"From the year 1900 until this year, the Annunciation and Good Friday have converged only five times, 1910, 1921, 1932, 2005 and will happen again this year.  After this year, however, these two holy days will not converge again for another 141 years.  This is the longest stretch of time where those two holy days will not converge since at least as far back as the year 1700.  While the stretch of time may not be of any consequence, it is interesting to think about, especially considering these two feasts will not coincide again within our lifetimes..."  Read More

In 2011, we celebrated the Feast of the Annunciation with coloring pagesIn 2014, we did this fun coloring activity and last year in 2015 we made megaphones to "announce" the Angelus prayer and ate waffles and fruit for dinner!   This is how we celebrated this year....

We had a busy evening of soccer practices, so we celebrated with a special themed lunch.  I put on our plastic blue tablecloth and then a plastic "lace" tablecloth to make it "fancy".  In the center of the table I lit a white candle and hid a Baby Jesus in a little space that I carved out of the candle.  I displayed Mary: The Mother of Jesus by Tomie DePaola behind the candle that gave information on the Annunciation.   The artwork on the right side of the Annunciation was painted by my oldest daughter several years ago.  On the left side of the table is the stack of "megaphones" I created last year to "announce" the Angelus prayer. We prayed the Angelus with our megaphones.  However, since April 4 this year was technically in the Easter season, we should have prayed the Regina Caeli vs. the Angelus.  We ate waffles, fruit  homemade whipped cream, and bacon for lunch because there is an interesting connection between waffles and the Annunciation. Yum!

The Catholic faith reminds me of a bottomless treasure chest...the more I learn and love about the faith, the more I realize how much I don't know!   Blogging allows me to share about our faith's rich history and traditions, family and homeschooling and I hope to inspire others through my little corner of the blogosphere. 

Photo Source:  Training Happy Hearts

With that being said, it looks like by me posting about our Annunciation themed lunch on my Instagram and Facebook page, it inspired a fellow blogger, Martianne at Training Happy Hearts, to have an Annunciation celebration with her family also.  Her post sums up perfectly why I love blogging so much as I love to share our Catholic faith to bring my family joy and inspire others, Catholic or not! I just love how beautiful hers turned out and her post goes into great detail about the symbolism behind each item on her table.  Be sure to visit, When Celebrating the Liturgical Year Goes Viral , and be inspired!

And I'll conclude this post all about the Annunciation with this beautiful song and images about the Angel Gabriel visiting Mary.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Divine Mercy Sunday 2016

Divine Mercy Sunday is celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter Sunday.  So this year Divine Mercy Sunday was celebrated on Sunday, April 3, 2016.  Last year I wrote a post on 7 Ways to Celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday with Children (and Adults too!)  Don't know much about Divine Mercy Sunday?  No worries!  I'm still learning about this devotion myself with our family and we just started celebrating Divine Mercy Sunday in 2014 and 2015 and now this year.

To read more about Divine Mercy Sunday, this Jesus and the Divine Mercy post is a great post to read. 

On Divine Mercy Sunday this year, we went to our parish at 3:00 PM to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet and then the priest offered confession and then there was a closing prayer.  After praying the chaplet, I went to a baby shower for one of my friends who is expecting her 2nd baby.  2 of my daughters came to celebrate this new life too! I brought my Divine Mercy fruit platter I've made in the past and this year I added homemade whipped cream to the fruit "rays".  My daughter made the whipped cream which is really easy and fast to make.  I don't think I'll every buy Cool Whip again!

Here's the recipe for homemade whipped cream that we like to use:
1 cup whipping cream
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Put all ingredients in a mixer until cream thickens.

My friend, Karen, who hosted the baby shower, made this adorable baby shower cake and cupcakes that had the Divine Mercy theme as she made pink and blue feet "rays" with chocolate red hearts.  The inside of the cake was pink and blue.

Later in the evening when we came home my children that didn't have delicious cake at the baby shower made themselves some Divine Mercy "Sundaes", a tradition we started a few years ago.  I like to make the heart out of strawberries by cutting a strawberry in half and then take a paring knife to cut a "V" out of the top of the berry. 

+Jesus, I Trust in You+ 
For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world. 

Did you read about the Divine Mercy miracle that happened this year in Greenville, SC?  Check out this post and the pictures.  What do you think?  

And if you are looking for even more information on Divine Mercy be sure to visit The Divine Mercy webiste and also Catholic Mommy Blogs has a great post on How to Prepare Yourself and Teach Your Children About Divine Mercy.  

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Half Marathon, Holy Week and Happy Easter 2016

WARNING: This blog post is jam packed with lots of stuff because well, lots of stuff has happened since my last blog post :)  If you have been following my blog's Facebook page, Instagram, or Twitter pages, you know our family has been busy :) So sit back, relax and enjoy "A Slice of Smith (most recent) Life."

First, Happy Easter!  Alleluia! He is Risen!  Just like Christmas is a season and not just one day, Easter is also not celebrated in just one day in the Church's liturgical calendar, but rather Easter is a season called Eastertide.  So keep celebrating for 50 days until Pentecost!  And if you are looking for ways to celebrate the 50 days of Easter, be sure to visit Nicole's post 50 Ways to Celebrate the 50 Days of Easter With Your Children

I'm jumping way ahead of myself now...more on how we celebrated Easter 2016 in a bit.   It's time to back track to the beginning of Holy Week, Palm Sunday, March 20, 2016.

I ran my first half marathon in March 2012.  And you may or may not know that I have been training for my second half marathon since late December 2015.   I won a "Challenge" where I was one of 2 people to win a free race registration and free 12 weeks of training and coaching!  I've had awesome coaching with great and encouraging team training workouts to prepare for the March 20th race!  It was great to run the race to raise money for seminarians in our diocese!    It was also the first race where I got a blessing from our parish priest the night before the race after the Saturday vigil Mass. :)

The Quintiles Marathon/Half Marathon Weekend on Sunday, March 20, 2016 came fast!  I woke up at 3:30 AM the morning of the race with little to no sleep due to excitement, nerves and stomach "issues."  The race began at 6:40 AM and I, along with about 3,000 other runners, lined up at the start line in the dark each ready to reach our personal goals, despite the cold winds and light rain.  I finished the race strong and achieved many goals!  One goal of mine was to finish 13.1 miles under 2 hours (my time was 1:59:07 to be exact)  It was a very fun race and I was grateful to race with friends and see my parents and family at the finish line!  My college-aged niece also ran the race and finished ahead of me by 2 minutes. :) Here's some photos from race day:

This year we didn't have our traditional bread making gathering and big celebration for St. Joseph's feast day for several reasons, but our family did get together with my parents and friends to have a big lunch after the race and pray the Litany of St. Joseph on Sunday afternoon. Oh it was so good to enjoy good food after the race!  St. Joseph's feast day is on March 19th, but we celebrated it a day late because of the race schedule. 

On Tuesday morning of Holy Week, we visited the "Via Cruces" (Way of the Cross) which is a beautiful prayer garden made by a couple that attends our parish.  It has a lovely wooded path in their side yard and the Stations of the Cross can be prayed as you walk.  This is the third year we have visited this garden and it has become a beautiful way to reflect on the meaning of Holy Week.   

In the middle of Holy Week, our family received a pleasant, unexpected Easter blessing when our mail lady left a pink plastic egg in our mailbox with a little note inside and a small bottle of bubbles.  Our 2 year old loved playing with the bubbles!  It was just so sweet and kind of her to remember the families on her route.

Wednesday of Holy Week is called "Spy Wednesday" because it's the day Judas betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.  We read Matthew 26:1-16  then I hid 30 coins (last year it was quarters, this year it was dimes) and my kids have to go find the coins.  Below is also a photo of the "Spy Wednesday" page from the Holy Week in Handprints book a few of my children made last year.

On Good Friday we had our Good Friday symbolic lunch, a tradition we started in 2014.  It's a tradition our family looks forward to now.

After the Good Friday service at my parent's church, we saw the live reenactment of the Lord's passion, death and resurrection again which is something my kids remember from when we first went several years ago.  It is put on by the Hispanic youth and adult community at the parish and although we don't understand the Spanish, you certainly know what is going on.  It's a very powerful presentation as the audience followed the presentation to the various stations and locations around the church grounds.   There were "guards" taunting Jesus as they kept the crowd away from where Jesus was walking.   This year there were real horses which made a big impression on my children. 

Like many years before, Holy Saturday was filled with egg dying...

The salt dough crown of thorns with toothpicks that we used during Lent was painted once again with gold paint and jewels were placed on the crown to symbolize that Jesus is the King of Kings after making sacrifices for Him during Lent. 

We made chocolate birds' nests.  Very easy and fun Easter dessert! 

My children look forward to making resurrection rolls each year too!  They are really yummy and it's cool how they resemble an empty tomb after the marshmallow melts away while baking.
And for many, many years we have made Easter Story Cookies which tell the story of Jesus' suffering while you mix the ingredients, then you seal the tomb (put tape over the oven). The next morning you remove the tape and see that the cookies are hollow inside like an empty tomb.

For the first time since 2006 our family attended the Easter vigil at our parish. The last Easter vigil we attended was when my husband and his cousin came into the Catholic Church in 2006.  This was a first for the Smith family since we usually go to 7:30 AM Mass on Easter morning.   It was such a blessing that our parish had the nursery available for our 2 year old.  Something tells me she would not have lasted through the 2.5 long vigil mass.  Congratulations to all the newest members of our universal Church! 

Easter morning brought many smiles and photo opportunities as everyone checked out what was in their baskets and saw how our sacrifice beans "turned" into jelly beans.

Easter Sunday we had lunch at our house and my Mom came over to eat with us, while my Dad stayed home due to illness :(   This year I made a buttered lamb for the first time to decorate our table thanks to Jen's inspiration and instructions at Faith and Fabric.

In the evening on Easter Sunday, we traveled to my in-laws house for dinner and my 2 youngest daughters decorated the annual bunny cake and we also had an egg hunt in the house since it was a very rainy Easter Sunday.

We had a wonderful Holy Week and Easter Sunday with family and friends!  May you continue to have a joyous and faith-filled Eastertide!

Easter blessings from our family to yours!
Be sure to read other #WorthRevisit posts during the rest of the week, hosted by Allison at Reconciled To You and Elizabeth at Theology Is A Verb. So many great posts!  


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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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