Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Traveling Through the 12 Days of Christmas: Books that Make Great Gifts!

This post contains affiliate links.

I debated publishing my post here as I sit here shedding tears and praying for the Lenaburg family who is preparing to say good-bye to their sweet Courtney.  Courtney's life on earth can now be numbered by not days, but hours.  :(  My heart breaks for them.  I've been following Mary's blog at Passionate Perseverance for several months now and her posts have touched my heart.  Mary's faith and strength is amazing and inspiring!  What a beautiful gift Courtney is to family, friends, and even to strangers like me.  Please pray for them during this sad time. 

But, I thought I would publish my scheduled post below after sharing with you about the Lenaburgs.

So now on to much, much, much less important matters now...

Unimportant Matter #1:  My blog redesign is coming along, don't you think? (It's still a work in progress) 

Unimportant Matter #2: The "O" Antiphons begin tomorrow,  December 17,  which means two things:
1) We will be pulling out our "O" Antiphons Lapbooks we started last year to learn and pray with the last 8 days of Advent and...
2) Christmas Day is almost here!

In previous years, I wrote blog posts about the 12 days of Christmas.  The 12 days of Christmas are the days leading up to Christmas Day right?  Not exactly.

I really never knew which days were considered  the "12 Days of Christmas" as I sang the "12 Days of Christmas" song as a child, but as an adult and a homeschool mom, I have learned that the 12 days of Christmas begin on Christmas Day and last for 12 days until the Epiphany, when the Wise Men visit the Christ Child. 

I thought I would share a great book series to help your family and friends "travel" through the 12 days of Christmas.   The series of books start with "The Twelve Days of Christmas in ______".  Fill in the blank with a US state (see list below) and you have a book that is fun, engaging, and educational too! 

I first came across the series when I gave The Twelve Days of Christmas in North Carolina to Patty at Reasons for Chocolate for a baby shower gift during Christmas time which was few years ago!   Patty does not live in NC so I thought I would give her a book from my home state as a way to share NC facts and fun with her and her growing family. I also thought it was cool to see that one of the cities highlighted was the city where I was born!  :)

Here's a little peek into the The Twelve Days of Christmas in North Carolina book that I am giving my nieces (one lives in New York and my other niece lives in Australia) and my nephew and Godson from Pennsylvania got a book too! 

Each book highlights the state with the popular landmarks and cities in the particular state.  The map  labels what each of the 12 days throughout the book are about.  I really like that this teaches geography in a fun way! 

Each of the 12 days is written in a letter format from a girl named Abby who is visiting her cousin, Mike, in NC.  Abby is writing back home to her Mom and Dad and telling about all her NC adventures with Mike.   Here on the 8th day of Christmas Mike gave Abby 8 kites a-flying so Abby writes in her letter all about Kill Devil Hills, where they flew their kites.  Kill Devil Hills is noted on the map above on the East Coast of NC.  She then tells her parents that they were pretending to be like the Wright brothers and goes on to give facts about the first NC flight.  Each page is full of color and fun facts like this. 

I have enjoyed reading our copy to my family and these books make great gifts!  Don't they Patty? ;)

But what if you don't live in North Carolina and I have peeked your interest enough that you want to look for a book in another state?  :) 

I've got the perfect suggestion! :)  Here is a list of these books about other states (in alphabetical order) in case you are looking for a last minute gift idea that is fun and educational too!

The Twelve Days of Christmas in....












New Jersey 

New York City





South Carolina




Washington, DC


Don't see a particular state?  I have searched Amazon for quite some time trying to find as many states as I could, but I might have missed a few along the way.  Maybe if you search Amazon other states will pop up?

I would like to share this video of the group, Straight No Chaser, singing a creative and entertaining version called "12 Days of Christmas Medley."  I always enjoy watching this and so do my Cupcakes!  :)  Enjoy!

A New (Blog) Look for a New Year! (Under Construction)

If you have visited my little corner of blog land before, things might look a lot different!  I'm in the middle of redesigning my blog with Jerri at Alabama Elite Media so things will be getting moved around a bit and colors are being decided upon until the design is complete.   Thank you for your visit and I hope you like the new makeover so far!  I know after 4 plus years with relatively the same "look", I'm enjoying the changes and I continue to enjoy working with Jerri during the process.  :)  

Be sure to check back very soon for my post that will "help you travel through the 12 days of Christmas"!    Stay tuned! 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

"O" Antiphons Lapbook: 2014

Last year my children and I made "O Antiphon" lapbooks for the first time and I'm reposting how we made the lapbook on this post for 2014. We cut out all the prayers and pages for our book, but we didn't finish coloring our lapbook so we will do that this year.  This lapbook is also like a prayer guide that can be read/prayed through during each of the "O" Antiphon days.    

Like I mentioned in this post, this Advent season I've made a conscious effort to try to learn and embrace the "O" Antiphon prayers and traditions as best as possible with my limited time and energy.  I spent many hours reading and researching great websites (and stayed up way too late) to learn about the "O" Antiphon prayers and then several more hours were spent creating a lapbook from several sources in hopes that our family could learn more together.

So what are the "O" Antiphons?  Lacy at Catholic Icing explains it all so nicely HERE so why reinvent the wheel right? :) 

With Lacy's post HERE at Catholic Icing and Chris' "O" Antiphon lapbook post HERE at Campfires and Cleats, I was inspired to create a lapbook  for my children. :)  I hope that this post will inspire you to learn more about the octave (8 days) before Christmas or the "Golden Nights " and that the lapbook will be used as a type of prayer guide for your children and/or yourself.  

I thought having my kids create a lapbook would be a fun way to learn the "O" Antiphons.  The lapbook was compiled and created from several sources which I will link in hopes that if you try this yourself, it will save you time and not take as long as it did for me. :)  The lapbook includes general information, a novena, Latin and English prayers, and coloring pages.   

The materials are basic:   2 file folders, printouts (refer to links below), one rectangular piece of purple cardstock and one rectangular piece of white cardstock (that is glued on the cover) , scissors, glue, crayons/coloring pencils.

I used 2 file folders, one yellow and one purple, to go with the Golden Nights and Advent theme.  I cut the tabs off the tops of the folders to make the sides look more even. (the right side of the folders below had the tabs that I cut off). 

I then inserted the purple folder into the yellow one and hole punched 2 holes on the left side of the folders, as shown in picture below.

I tied purple curling ribbon through the two holes to bind the folders together.

The Cover:
The top of the lapbook cover (O Antiphons general information) was printed from Lacy at Catholic Icing's Advent Christmas Planner that you can purchase HERE.  I folded the O Antiphons information in half, glued the bottom half, then glued a rectangular piece of purple cardstock (I actually just cut out a rectangle from another purple file folder) to the back of the top half as shown below.

The information that is glued in the middle of the purple rectangle was taken from THIS post. I printed copies of the first page and cut out this short paragraph:  The "O" Antiphons are the verses for the ancient hymn O Come, O Come Emmanuel. The first letter of the Messianic titles: Emmanuel, Rex, Oriens, Clavis, Radix, Adonai, Sapientia—spell out Latin words ERO CRAS, meaning, "Tomorrow, I will come." 

Then each of my children wrote "O" Antiphons Lapbook on white cardstock and glued in the middle of front cover. (We forgot to add the "s" on "Antiphon" on their cover  :)  )

The "Golden Nights" Novena that is shown above was printed from Lacy's Advent Christmas Planner.  She explained how the novena starts on Dec. 16 so I put that on the cover. If you want to include the novena throughout your lapbook, but don't have Lacy's planner you could do a search on "Christmas Novenas" and find a prayer that starts on Dec. 16.  

2nd page (Dec. 17) and 3rd page (Dec. 18) 
On the yellow and purple sides of the lapbook at the top is the corresponding O Antiphons and Corresponding Symbols.  The chart for these symbols for each day can be found HERE.  The coloring pages can be found HERE.  The Novena prayer for each day that is glued onto the bottom of each page was copied from Lacy's Advent Christmas Planner

4th page (Dec. 19) and 5th page (Dec. 20).....refer to links above for printouts

6th Page (Dec. 21) and 7th page (Dec. 22)...refer to links above for printouts 

Last page (Dec. 23)....refer to links above for printouts

I wanted to include the last day of the Christmas Novena (Dec. 24) onto the back cover so I folded it and glued it to the back of the Dec. 23 Novena prayers (if that makes sense).  Here's pictures I took to show you what I mean:

And that's the end of the "O" Antiphons lapbook :)

Here are some pictures of my children starting their lapbooks.  We worked on the cover and Dec. 17 page tonight.  All my efforts were worth it as I heard one of my daughters exclaim, "This is the best Advent ever!" and "This is so fun!" :-)  (which also tells me I should be doing more of this "fun" stuff with my kiddos :-/ )

This is obviously a work in progress as I hope to have my children cut out, paste, and color each page during the "Golden Nights".  I plan to pull out these lapbooks each year so my children will always have a prayer guide during these last days of Advent. I hope to maybe make/buy ornaments some year to go with the "O" Antiphons as I have seen some beautiful ones on the internet! 

I plan to have my family listen to the video clips found HERE of the O Antiphons being sung to celebrate the Golden Nights.  Just beautiful!

Update:   Be sure to check out Jessica's O Antiphons 2014 post HERE at Shower of Roses with lots of fun ideas to celebrate these special days during Advent! 


May you have blessed Golden Nights as we get closer to celebrating the birth of Jesus!

7 Quick Takes on 12/13/14

This post contains affiliate links. 

Today's not Friday, but rather it's Saturday, 12/13/14 (well, it was late Saturday night when I started writing this post, but published it EARLY Sunday morning :) )   It's a cool date to publish a blog post on so that's one of many reasons I'm just writing my 7 Quick Takes post now!

I wrote a guest post on Home Educating Family Association (HEDUA) about the Family Fun Bucket that I published on my own blog. You can read my HEDUA post HERE.   If you have followed my blog, you may remember my post here about the buckets that make a very simple, fun and low cost gift!   So if you are looking for a last minute gift this Christmas season, this might be what you are looking for!  Check it out and enjoy!

 photo credit: Real Life Rosary Store

Speaking of gifts, if you are in the market for rosaries and rosary prayer guides, be sure to visit Real Life Rosary Store, where James Hahn and his beautiful family make these beautiful rosaries.  As stated on their "About Us" page: "We are a family-owned, small business, located in Southeastern Ohio.  We are dedicated to helping others grow in their faith especially through the Rosary.  All of our items are handcrafted by us."  James Hahn is also the author of  A Visit to Church: A Picture Journey and Rosary Meditations for Real Life.  Thank you for your support for the Hahn family and their ministry and business!


Amazon is offering another book coupon code! Use code BOOKDEAL25 to get an extra 25% off any book now through Sunday, December 14. One code per customer.  I used this code just today (12-13-14) and it worked and I enjoyed the savings!  I bought Bambinelli Sunday: A Christmas Blessing which talks about Gaudete Sunday, which is tomorrow, 12-14-14.  I won't have this book in time for tomorrow's 3rd Sunday in Advent, but I'll have it for the rest of this Advent and next year. :)
Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Advent Feast Days: St. Juan Diego, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Saint Lucy

This post contains affiliate links.

I caught my 16 month old daughter staring at our Advent wreath when we first set it out on our kitchen table and she was singing "Happy Birthday to you!" over and over again. :)   I told her soon we will be singing "Happy Birthday to Jesus!"  (and yes, she is a climber and she climbs on our kitchen picnic table benches all the time and sometimes she gets on top of table! Yikes!)

We continue to enjoy our Advent traditions and we also enjoy celebrating the many special feast days during the Advent season.

I blogged about 7 simple ways we celebrate Saint Nicholas' feast day and this past Saturday, December 6, Saint Nicholas left some goodies in our shoes.   

On Monday, December 8, we celebrated the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception

This is a busy feast day week and next up is December 9, feast day of Saint Juan Diego!

First, I just need to show you this super cute and beautiful felt ornament that Jennifer at Catholic Inspired made of Saint Juan Diego!   Isn't she so talented?  Jennifer has made several ornaments of the Saints and they are all so full of detail and beauty!

We enjoy watching the CCC video, Juan Diego-Messenger of Guadalupe.   See below for a summary from CCC about this video and Juan Diego's true story. 

In 1591 Juan Diego found himself between two worlds…that of the Spanish conquerors and that of his own Aztec heritage. Because of his love for his people and his strong faith, Juan Diego turned to Jesus and His Mother, Mary for help in uniting his people. The answer to Juan Diego’s prayers has become one of the greatest events in the history of the Americas.
JUAN DIEGO, MESSENGER OF GUADALUPE is the true story of how the Blessed Mother chose a hero for a key role in a beautiful miracle that would united diverse peoples and change the course of history.
In the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City the miracle of the tilma of Juan Diego may still be seen, just as it was seen by the bishop in 1531.

Holy Heroes sells a great CD with the story of Saint Juan Diego, which is currently FREE with the only cost for shipping!  The CD also has the story of Blessed Imelda so you get 2 stories of 2 great saints on one CD!    My children have listened to this  Holy Heroes CD and others on car trips again and again!  They are very well done and keep everyone's attention, children and adults!
 Glory Stories CD vol 1

Then on December 12 we celebrate the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which ties in well with St. Juan Diego's feast day in the same week.  

Jennifer at Catholic Inspired was busy again making this felt ornament of Our Lady of Guadalupe!  I just love the colors and detail! 

My 16 month old loves the new Our Lady of Guadalupe Shining Light Doll she got for Saint Nicholas Day!  It is something she can hold that won't break and the little story book that tells the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe is great information!

We love reading this book by Tomie de Paola, but it looks like it is out of print on Amazon :( 

But, I just found this title, Our Lady of Guadalupe, that looks like a beautiful book about St. Juan Diego and Our Lady's visit to him.  So I'll be putting this book on my wish list! 


To celebrate the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, we have done several things through the years.  One year we went to a Mexican restaurant and lit an Our Lady of Guadalupe candle at the table.  Or if we don't make it out to a Mexican restaurant, we light the candle at home and eat tacos.   Some years (2010, 2013) we have visited local churches decorated with tons of roses for Our Lady's celebration. So beautiful!  Two years ago in 2012 on Our Lady of Guadalupe's feast day I announced I was pregnant with our Cupcake #5

The image from Juan Diego's tilma is on display in Mexico and has not deteriorated since the 1500s when the image first appeared.  There are many other miraculous facts about this image.  To read some of these facts, you can read the post, "Little Known Facts About Our Lady of Guadalupe".

You can also read "Our Lady of Guadalupe ‘completely beyond' scientific explanation, says researcher", which is an article that explains how researchers to this day say "there is no scientific explanation for the 478 years of high quality-preservation of the Tilma or for the miracles that have occurred to ensure its preservation."

December 13 is the feast day of Saint Lucy.  Lucy's name means "light", with the same root as "lucid" which means "clear, radiant, understandable." If you do not know about this young, beautiful saint you can read more about her here.We usually travel around town and look at Christmas lights to celebrate this Saint.   This year we are going to a local garden for their walking Christmas light tour on the evening of December 13. 

 Feast Day: December 13
Born: 283 :: Died: 304
My oldest daughter especially loves this feast day because it is a Swedish tradition that the oldest daughter in the family wears a white dress with a red sash (red symbolizes martyrdom) and she wears a St. Lucy crown with candles on it.  The daughter serves sweet rolls to family members.   Some years I make the cinnamon rolls, while other years I forget or don't have time, but it's always a hit when the rolls are baked and eaten to celebrate Saint Lucy.  

Our family just received Lucia: Saint of Light on Saint Nicholas' feast day so I plan on reading this book on her feast day.  

 May you have a blessed week full of faith-filled and fun feast days! 


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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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