Monday, August 3, 2015

Birthday Bash with Fish Cupcake Cake and Bubbles at the Beach!



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This past Thursday, July 30th,  our youngest daughter turned 2!   I'm not sure who had more fun on her birthday and then at her party the day after?  Our sweet 2 year old, me, my husband, our 4 other children or our friends? :)

Here is our sweet girl with her favorite book, Goodnight Moon. On her birthday in the morning we went to her weekly story time at the library and she played with scarves and ribbon as music was playing and in between listened to books being read.

So our daughter really loves bubbles and likes to say "bubbles" alot!  So on deciding on a birthday cake to make for her, I thought of a fish cake after my 11 year old daughter found this one on Pinterest.  What did I ever do without Pinterest? :)  If you follow the Pinterest link you reach this blog tutorial on how to make the cake.  I thought it was a good one to tie in with the bubble "theme" since I thought I could make the fish blowing bubbles.

I made homemade chocolate cupcakes using the recipe on the back of the Hershey's Unsweetened Cocoa can.  It is the best chocolate cake/cupcake recipe and I've made it for several other cakes! For the head and tail I took the advice of the tutorial and made separate cake boards by tracing the shape of the head and tail onto cardboard pieces. I cut out the shapes and then wrapped each board with foil. This made it so much easier to decorate because I could move the individual head and tail cakes to ice them.  The icing is homemade cream cheese icing that I have used on many of the cakes I've made in the past.  I tinted 3 batches of the icing with yellow, pink and green food dye.

And here's the fish cupcake cake complete with bubbles streaming out of its mouth.  The tutorial suggested making a pink mouth with pink fondant.  I didn't want to buy fondant for such a little piece so instead, for the mouth, I just cut a piece of cardboard in a heart shape and taped a toothpick to the pointed end of the heart.  I stuck the heart toothpick in the cake and then iced the heart-shaped cardboard with the pink cream cheese icing.  The eye is made with white heart-shaped candies and a blue candy ball.


I found a great battery operated bubble blower at Wal-Mart similar to this one that entertained our guests, young and old, for a little while as we waited for guests to arrive.

I just love these photos I snapped of my daughter mesmerized by the bubbles, don't you?

After we ate snacks of goldfish crackers, pretzel sticks, and fruit we sang "Happy Birthday" and ate the yummy cake before we headed out to the sun, surf and sand.  It was a great beach day as my older children and their friends and my husband and another Dad caught some great waves on their boards and the Dads did some body surfing! 


It was another fun birthday and great memories were made celebrating the life of our sweet Cupcake #5!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

A 2nd Birthday Tribute to our Little Cupcake #5!




Dear Cupcake #5,

As I spent some time gathering photos for this post, it brought back memories of your eventful, long, and exciting birth and I can't believe another year has gone by since I wrote your 1st birthday tribute post!

You have changed in so many ways since your 1st birthday celebration and what a joy it is to celebrate another milestone with your 2nd birthday!  This past year you have also grown in so many ways, including your wild and crazy curly hair!

So around your first birthday you were cruisin' and taking big steps.  You were so fast and on the go so much the only way I could take a picture of you was if you were resting against the glass door on the inside of our house and I was on the outside. :)

You REALLY like shoes!  Not just your new shoes that Aunt Jeanne gave you, but any shoes: my shoes, Daddy's shoes, your sister's shoes, your brother's shoes, stranger's shoes.   And this past year has been filled with great golf ball size bruises on your forehead...more than once!  And you found it very funny to rub avocado all in your hair!  Yuck! :)

You got and gave many, many hugs and kisses this past year because you are soooooo huggable and kissable!  And your hair went from short, straight, and tame to long, curly and wild in a short time!

You loved staring at our Advent wreath in Dec. 2014. You love saying prayers with our family and making the sign of the cross before each prayer.  Whenever you see a cross or a crucifix you always point and say "G-sa" (Jesus).  Our family grins and giggles when you sing "Ah-ley-U-yah" (Alleluia) loud and proud during Mass or when you fold your little hands and bow your head in prayer.  Your siblings and Mommy and Daddy love you loving Jesus so much!   And you thought you were a big shot when you figured out that a Cheerios box can also serve as a great stepping stool for an inquisitive and sneaky little girl!

You always love hanging out with your big sisters and they love hanging out with you!

Your big brother is also one cool kid to go down the slide with and you love sneaking in piano practice with him.  He is always so patient and loving to teach you his musical talents!

Your shirt on the left above says "Wild Girl".  Yep, that's you!  Your wild hair matches your wonderfully wild and sweet personality!  You love to walk your "doggies" throughout the house as your sisters act like puppy dogs as you grab them around the neck to give them a walk.

Besides really loving the homemade "I-seem" (ice cream) from the strawberry farm down the road from us, you also love "doggies" and staring at our neighbor's dog in his backyard is great fun for you as you listen to his loud bark.

I'm not sure how much you have loved being dragged to soooo many soccer games of your 3 older siblings this past year, but you did make the most of your time on the sideline as you entertained yourself with picking blades of grass or maybe it was examining a bug that got you through another game.

"Ow-sigh" (Outside) is always a hit with you as you enjoy pushing the grocery cart or riding your little tricycle in our driveway or playing with sidewalk chalk or the hose or swinging on our swing set.  And here you are with my shoes at your Uncle's wedding!

Dressing yourself with more of Mommy's shoes, Daddy's ties, and your sister's bathing suit has kept you quite occupied this past year.  And you know that when I call your name, your first response is to look up or turn around and say "Cheese!!!" with a big grin because chances are Mommy has her phone pointing at you and wants to take a picture of your cuteness! 

You love the surf, sun, and sand at the beach and staying cool in Nana and Grandpa's neighborhood pool with Daddy is fun too!

Since you have always been super flexible and even more so this past year, we signed you up for a summer gymnastics class recently and you LOVE to hang on the parallel bars! And you love the songs they sing in class and the clapping and the bubbles that are blown at the end of each class!

Even with dirt on your face, you can still take some super cute selfies with me.

For the past few months you have really enjoyed the book "Goodnight Moon". We have read the board book version  for awhile now so when you saw a little boy reading it at the library table last week, you ran up to him and tried to snatch the book from his hand since you were so excited to see your favorite book!  After waiting patiently for the little boy to leave "your" book unattended, you checked out "Goodnight Moon" with your sister's "caw" (library card) at the self check-out station so now we read the library version AND our board book version of "Goodnight Moon" every day more than one time a day sometimes!  You love to spot the roaming "mow" (mouse) in the book and the moon, "clock, clock", fire ("hot"), and count the bears sitting on chairs!

Your precious little feet have taken you on many fun adventures with us these past 2 years and your love, smile, hugs, kisses, laughter and sweetness has taken each of our hearts and filled them with love and memories, and has helped our hearts to grow more than we could have ever imagined Baby Girl!

Happy 2nd birthday, sweet Cupcake #5!

We love you!

Love,
Mommy

  

 




Sunday, July 26, 2015

7 Quick Takes a Few Days Late: Haircut, #JumpforDystonia, Our REALLY Flexible Baby Girl!



It's been awhile since I updated my blog here. (Over a week and a half to be exact!)  I'm beginning to be consistently inconsistent with updating my blog, but I'm not really sure if that bothers anyone but me. So for this post I'll do it 7 Quick Takes style hosted by Kelly at This Ain't The Lyceum.  I know I'm a few days late on the link up, but that's blog and real life sometimes. :)

seven quick takes friday 2

 -1-
I'm happy to be here again with another post while my husband takes my oldest daughter to the beach to hang out with some of her soccer teammates and the other kids are outside playing with neighbors and my almost 2 year old (she'll be 2 this Thursday!) is napping.  Ahhh... a quiet house!  I'm savoring it.  So after The Edel Gathering 2015 and my (early) 40th birthday party surprise my husband organized and threw for me, I haven't been busy blogging (obviously), but rather...

-2-
I've been busy getting a (much needed) haircut!  This is the same salon where my daughter got her haircut last year. My daughter donated 10 inches and I cut and donated 8 inches.  Somebody needed my long hair more than I did!  The salon gives free haircuts if you donate at least 8 in. that is uncolored and can't have too much gray in it.  No problem with either of those restrictions for me :)  The salon cuts the hair and mails it off to Pantene vs. Locks of Love.  The reason the salon donates to Pantene is because they will give wigs to cancer patients where Locks of Love charges people for the wigs.  I haven't confirmed this information, but it sounds like a good reason to me to donate to Pantene.
And while I was at the salon one of the hair dressers looked so much like my oldest daughter!  I had to do a double take!  Here's my daughter and the arrow below is pointing to the hair dresser that I think looks like my daughter.  What do you think?  It really did "wig" me out.   (pun intended..LOL!) :)  Their hair is so much alike and I think that's what I first noticed :)
  

 And here's the "After" shots....It's so much cooler and faster and easier to manage my shorter hair!
 -3-
Last week our family participated in an awareness campaign for Dystonia.  The campaign was called #JumpforDystonia and you take photos of family/friends jumping and then post the pictures on social media with the hashtag #JumpforDystonia.  
Have you heard of Dystonia before?  My parent's neighbor, Tom, has suffered many years with this disorder characterized by involuntary muscle contractions that cause slow repetitive movements or abnormal postures.  Tom has written a book titled Diagnosis Dystonia about his life and journey as he continues to battle the disorder everyday.  His story is inspiring and I was so happy that he asked if my kids could #JumpforDystonia one afternoon last week at my parent's neighborhood pool as a way to make others aware of the disorder and have a little fun at the same time.  

 The Smith kids loved to #JumpforDystonia

My daughters take gymnastics and so I had them and their friends jumping too!

And then my daughters' teachers were so kind to show us their mad jumping skills...
 For more information about Dystonia and Tom Seaman's book be sure to visit his website.

-4-  
Speaking of gymastics, my almost 2 year old daughter is super flexible (and she doesn't get that from me or my husband!)  That's not quite unusual for a little tot, but she is like really freaky flexible. (Note: I'm not calling my precious little one a "freak" :) )  She hangs from our oven door and shows off her skills.

See? Crazy huh?  I will be taking her to her 2 year well visit and I will be asking the doctor about this to make sure her legs/hips aren't doing things that they shouldn't be doing and could give her problems in the future.  Thanks T.T. for our discussion on the beach about how I should really get her checked out to make sure all is well :) 

-5-
So what do you do with a super flexible child who likes to hang from oven doors?  Sign her up for a gymnastics class as a gift for her upcoming 2nd birthday, of course! Yep, for the rest of the summer she is enjoying her class and really loves to hang from the parallel bars, like all.the.time.during.class! 



-6-
I captured this sweet moment with my youngest and my mom one day last week.  My mom came over to wish my 11 year old daughter a "Happy Baptism Anniversary" on July 17th.   Baptism anniversaries are always acknowledged and I love that my mom always remembers my kids' baptism anniversaries!  I can't say I always do something special for the anniversary day except give my kids' a big hug and kiss :)  If I was really on top of my family's sacramental lives, I'd have a blog post about how we always do A, B, and C for my children's baptism anniversaries.  But, I think just having my kids spend time with their Nana makes for a great way to celebrate such a special day! :)    

-7-
I've been busy trying to prepare my children's curriculum and lesson plans for the upcoming 2015-2016 homeschool year. I don't buy a "box" curriculum which is good and not so good sometimes for our family.  Maybe more on that topic later.  This year I'll have my oldest going into 10th grade, my son will be in 8th grade, my daughter in 6th grade, another daughter in 2nd grade and then our youngest will be 2 this week! Yeah, I'm not sure how I do it either.  By the grace of God for sure!   
So if all goes well I'll have a blog post about my daughter's birthday this week (I'm working on an idea for her cake too) and I'll post our 2015-2016 curriculum (and photos of our homeschool room) like in year's past.  So stay tuned! :) 

Hoping your weekend was blessed! 


 


 
 
 
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Edel Gathering Weekend 2015: Full of Lots of Surprises!



I'm not sure how to recap such a memorable weekend into one blog post, but I'll do my best.  There was so much fun, festivities, and surprises that went on, I'm still winding down from the big weekend and trying to process it all! 

The Edel Gathering 2015 took place in beautiful downtown Charleston, SC, July 10-11, 2015.  I'd been looking forward to this Catholic women's getaway for about 8 months and it was well worth the wait! I'm grateful I was able to attend.

The tagline for the Edel Gathering is Refresh.Connect.Enjoy.  I definitely did all 3! As Kelly mentioned in her talk, even if you didn't get to Edel this year for a much needed break, no worries, there's a ton of other great ways to hang out and Refresh.Connect.Enjoy. 

Here's a glimpse of my Edel 2015...(warning: lots of pictures and surprises!)
 

Heather and I arrived in Charleston Friday afternoon.  Isn't this bridge beautiful?

Just down from the beautiful and elegant Francis Marion hotel where we stayed was the Bethel AME Church where precious lives were lost not too long ago.  Some of the ladies at Edel were able to walk to this church on Saturday to pray for the souls of the deceased and for all those suffering from the tragedy.  Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the prayer service, but I snapped a picture of the site as we were stopped in traffic on the way to the hotel. 

After we checked in to the hotel we grabbed a bite to eat and walked downtown. 

Around the corner from the hotel was a delicious cookie shop with this great chair inside.  This tall orange chair was screaming photo opp...so we obliged. 

View from my hotel room at the Francis Marion.

Friday afternoon I was part of the live audience of Jennifer Fulwiler's Radio Show on The Catholic ChannelLino Rulli graciously let Jennifer Fulwiler and Hallie Lord take his 2 hour program time slot so they could feature guests during the Edel Gathering.

One of the many inspiring guests was Mary Lenaburg from Passionate Perseverence.  I've been following her blog for some time and it was a blessing to hear her speak in person about her sweet daughter Courtney.  There wasn't a dry eye in the room after Mary spoke of the miracles during Courtney's life.  Go check out Mary's blog and be blessed (and amused...I love Mary's sense of humor!)

Emily DeArdo was also interviewed about her 10 year anniversary for her double lung transplant as she battles cystic fibrosis. Such an inspiring story and gal!  I loved meeting and chatting with her over the weekend.

Heather Renshaw was surprised when Jennifer Fulwiler asked her to come up front  to be interviewed about the Catholic Women Rejoice! Conference.  I really enjoyed hearing how Heather was called to bring Catholic women together in her state of Oregon.  Us Catholic women need and crave community!  Thanks Heather, Jennifer, and Hallie for bringing uplifting Catholic conferences to so many!

Photo Credit:  Ginny at Small Things
 


There were so many funny parts in the show with talk that Hallie was having contractions and her due date was that day!  Jennifer and Hallie designed and made their crazy shoes on the show for the contest. Jesus punching a shark sounds like a crazy shoe idea to me!  The show ended with the audience singing "Sweet Caroline", a very meaningful song for the Edel weekend.  It was a lot of fun to see Jennifer's show live!
 
Speaking of crazy shoes, Friday night was the much anticipated "crazy shoe contest".  I must say that wrapping a pair of sandals I bought at the Goodwill with lots of Duct Tape and Washi Tape for an hour one late night prior to the trip was very therapeutic.  I was surprised that the pink dress that I wore during Friday night's cocktail party just so happened to match the shirt that Jennifer Fulwiler's aunt was wearing.  Great minds think alike! :)

 More crazy shoes that were oh so crazy and creative!

After the crazy shoe cocktail party ended, several ladies met up with new and not so new friends in the hotel's bar.  Here I am sitting with Tara, Karen, Paige and Ally.  It was great to hang out with these special and fun ladies! 

 
Saturday morning I was up bright and early to meet Susanna, Aimee, Katie, and Eva for a run/walk to Battery Park on the downtown sidewalks.  I ran about 3 miles and though it was hot and humid, it was bareable and fun as we chatted and got to know one another.  On the way back to the hotel we spotted this quaint and beautiful home and courtyard so we stopped and took some pictures with our sweaty selves and the yard man let us cool off in the hose as we splashed water on ourselves.

Soooo I got back to the hotel only to realize and be surprised that taking a shower right after a run on a very hot and humid day was not going to happen (let's just say our hotel was having some pump and water pressure problems).  Walking around half the day with only having a rag "bath" was an interesting experience! Having a bad cold over the weekend didn't help the comfort level either, BUT it all turned out fine by the afternoon and getting a shower was heavenly!


Speaking of heaven, in the afternoon I had the awesome privilege to go to Eucharistic adoration in the hotel and benediction as Eucharistic Adoration ended.  It was a blessed time to sit quietly with our Lord.

The afternoon talk by Kelly Mantoan from This Ain't the Lyceum was amazing filled with inspiring quotes, especially the ones by St. Therese of Lisieux, my favorite Saint. St. Therese always seems to surprise me because ever since 2009, St. Therese has been getting my attention in several different ways (that's another blog post in itself)

For a list of all the quotes Kelly used in her great talk, they are listed in this post.  Her most memorable quote would have to be one she made up herself, “Every time you bless yourself, it’s like punching the devil in the face.”  I have several opportunities to punch the devil so I'm busy blessing myself often! 

Photo Credit: Ginny at Small Things
 
Saturday evening several ladies and I went to 5:30 PM vigil Mass at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.  Beautiful church!  I sat in the back on the left side and up ahead on the side altar I was surprised to see a statue of St. Therese of Lisieux.  She continues to tap me on my shoulder and get my attention. I just wish I thought to take a picture of the statue.


On Saturday night we enjoyed a delicious buffet dinner and heard a talk by Audrey Assad, a singer, musician and songwriter who spoke to us about some very personal struggles and her struggles of being a first time mom to her son.  It was very powerful and inspiring! 

During the dinner, there was a random drawing from the "get to know you" surveys that we filled out at registration on Saturday afternoon. I was surprised that my name was selected and with a table full of prizes, this book, Mornings with Saint Therese, grabbed my attention so I snatched it up.  I've enjoyed reading these short daily readings to get to know this Saint that keeps tapping me on my shoulder in the most surprising ways! 

At the afternoon registration, each attendee was given a random saint medal and I got St. Catherine of Siena.  I was thinking that maybe St. Therese would be handed to me, but that wasn't meant to be.  I look forward to getting to know St. Catherine better and the group of ladies that also got St. Catherine as we have started a Saint Sisters of St. Catherine group on Facebook.  We also received this letter from Dr. Ray that was at our table setting.


After dinner and dessert it was time for the dancing and karaoke!  So fun to celebrate the gift of womanhood and motherhood this way!

I got some quick pictures with Jennifer Fulwiler.  I first heard Jennifer speak at Ignited by Truth and snapped this picture with her.  She is so down to earth and fun and I'm grateful she and Hallie were inspired to create this second Edel Gathering so close to my home since the first Edel Gathering was in Texas in 2014.   I also loved meeting Mary Lenaburg from Passionate Perseverance.

During the dance I took a pictures with Heather Bowen from Life of a Homeschool Mom who drove with me on my way to Charleston. As we were checking out of the hotel on Sunday, I snapped a quick photo with Haley Stewart from Carrots with Michaelmas who did a fabulous job being the emcee for Edel, despite not feeling well and having a hoarse voice. 

These pictures are really dark since they were taken at the dance, but in the far left shot I'm standing with one of Jennifer Fulwiler's aunts and Jennifer's mom.  It was so fun to chat with some of Jennifer's family members as they all worked hard to make Edel 2015 a successful and fun event.  On the right side is a photo with a very pregnant, ready to go into labor any second, Hallie Lord, Jennifer Fulwiler's friend and co-host of the Edel Gathering. 

 

I got up on stage to sing with Tara, Ally and Eva and "Let It Go".  It was a memorable experience for sure and I surprised myself by being brave enough to do it!


On Sunday, July 12, Heather and I  checked out of the hotel and headed home. Another (not so good) surprise for the weekend was seeing blue lights flashing behind my car as I headed into Myrtle Beach to drop off Heather. I was going a little too fast.  Ok well he clocked me going 59 in a 45. :/  I was about in tears and grabbed my St. Catherine medal and prayed I wouldn't get a ticket!  The cop was so nice and he surprised me by giving me just a warning!  I was driving oh so carefully from that point on. 



July 12th was my 18th wedding anniversary and though I had so much fun with friends at Edel,  I was looking forward to seeing my husband and children again.  Anthony took me out to dinner Sunday evening and then he blindfolded me which brought back memories of how he blindfolded me to bring me to the spot on the beach where he proposed to me in August 1996. 


I had no idea where he was driving me on our car ride and as I climbed the stairs to some unknown location. (unbeknownst to me he was driving me back to our home) 

  
Little did I know that Anthony had been planning a huge surprise for me for awhile!  Not only was my house clean when I got home from Edel Sunday afternoon and beautiful flowers were on our bar, but I walked into our house that was filled with dear family and friends for my 40th surprise birthday party!  I don't turn 40 until August 24th so I was in shock!


 
I was so touched that Anthony worked so hard to make a wonderful Anni-birth-sary celebration :)  I was so surprised that my younger sister and nephew flew in for the celebration!  Dear friends of ours even surprised me by singing a special performance of the Sound of Music's "You are 39 going on 40" because they know that the "Sound of Music" is my favorite movie.  It was hilarious and an epic performance!

My little sister and my nephew coming down from PA made my weekend and surprise party extra special!
 
So there you have it.  A weekend full of fun, festivities, and surprises! I only wish I could have met everyone at #edel15 because I know that each amazing woman there has their own amazing life stories.  The Edel Gathering was definitely confirmation for me that I am NOT alone in my trials and triumphs in my vocation as a Catholic mom in this crazy and upside down world. 
 
May you find surprising and creative ways to Refresh.Connect.Enjoy in whatever location God provides and whatever vocation God has called you!

For more posts about other bloggers' #edel15 weekend be sure to visit Kelly's link up!  Thanks Kelly for the link up! 


 


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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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