Thursday, October 20, 2016

October 18: Feast Day of Saint Luke

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On October 18, the Catholic Church celebrates the feast day of Saint Luke, the Evangelist.  He was the author of the third book of the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament.  Saint Luke was a Greek doctor and is the patron Saint of artists, craftspeople, doctors and surgeons.  Stories say he was an artist and his Gospel writings inspired many artists' work.   

This was the first year I thought of making a snack to celebrate this special feast day. I ended up making very simple Artist Palette Cookies which was inspired from Catholic Cuisine.

To make the cookies I used:
Pretzel sticks (with a small amount of peanut butter to stick the sprinkle on the end of pretzel)
Sprinkles (I used Wilton Rainbow Chip Crunch, specifically the dark purple sprinkles to make it look like the end of the pretzel stick "brush")

On the morning of Saint Luke's feast day I set out the cookies, page about Saint Luke from Saints and Angels book (that I read from often with our feast day celebrations), Saint Luke peg doll and statues of Saint Luke on our kitchen table.   I painted the Saint Luke peg doll for the peg doll exchange I participated in awhile ago and by doing so I learned that Saint Luke's symbol is a winged ox because  "in the Gospel of St. Luke, the priestly and sacrificial work of Jesus is emphasized. The ox represents the sacrificial aspect of Jesus’ ministry and the wings remind us that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is to travel throughout the world."

There is so much to learn about the Catholic faith and the Saints' lives.  I'm enjoying learning more about Saint Luke each year alongside my children.  This year I discovered 18 Ways to Celebrate Saint Luke from Better Than Eden that lists other beautiful and fun ways to celebrate this great holy hero and role model.

I also enjoyed reading about Our Lady of Czestochowa and Saint Luke from Shower of Roses. I had no idea that Saint Luke is traditionally known to have painted the original icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa, also known as the "Black Madonna".

I put the Our Lady of Czestochowa Shining Light Doll on my wish list to add to our other Shining Light Dolls that we already own: Saint Nicholas, St. Teresa of Calcutta, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of Fatima and St. Theresa of Lisieux

This day is also my son's "Name Day" because he was due on Saint Luke's feast day, but he arrived on October 19.   So Saint Luke holds a special place in our family's heart.  We celebrated our son's 15th birthday on October 19th and he didn't want me to make one of my homemade birthday cakes.  Instead, he requested a box cake and can icing and some gummy worms.  I used the sprinkles from the Saint Luke cookies to make a "15" on his cake.  :)

Saint Luke, pray for us!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Happy 15th Birthday To My Wonderful Son!

15 years ago today, you blessed our family, friends, and all those you met with your adorable personality, beautiful smile, dark curly hair, and above all, the special way you nurtured and loved all of God's creations!  Here are a few photos that are my favorite to celebrate you!

You love your Mom! (and your Dad and siblings too! )
You love to laugh, but sometimes you say you don't love your curly hair :(

You love being outside and dirt!

You love playing/watching sports, especially soccer, flag football, and football!

You love special outings with Dad!  Go NC State Wolfpack!
You love to smile! :)

You love your little sister who was born on 7/30/13.
You love ALL your sisters! 

You love serving God and we hope and pray you always will!

You love learning from Dad, a super and special role model and father!

You don't always love when I ask you to take pictures, but you do it because you love to make others happy! :)

You love nature!

You love being taller than your sisters, especially your older sister.

You love being taller than me even when I have heels on!

Happy 15th Birthday!  We love you! 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Jackie's Special Halloween Book Review

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There are a ton of books about Halloween and there are so many wonderful books about the beautiful lives of the Saints.  But, I'm happy I finally discovered a book that tells the story of the true meaning of Halloween and All Saints' Day.

Jackie's Special Halloween by Brenda Castro is a perfect book for children and adults to learn how the two days are related and helps readers understand why we celebrate Halloween/All Saints' Day.  

The book explains the connection between Halloween celebrated on October 31 and All Saints' Day that is celebrated on November 1. ("Hallow" means "saint/holy".  The word "Halloween" comes from All Hallows' Eve, which means the eve of All Saints' Day.)

My children have always enjoyed dressing up at Halloween and collecting candy as something fun to do. However, we have always taught them that what is most important is that the Catholic Church celebrates All Saints' Day on November 1 as a way to remember all the Saints that have gone before us and that pray for us and are our role models while we try to reach sainthood ourselves.   With Halloween being so commercialized, the focus is mostly on candy and costumes so it is difficult to have children remember that what is most important about Halloween or All Hallows' Eve is what is celebrated the day after, All Saints' Day.

Jackie's Special Halloween is a great resource and a fun book to read as a family that focuses on celebrating All Saints' Day with the Saints, our holy heroes. 

Jackie's Special Halloween is about a sister and brother, Bella and Pablo, who choose Jackie, the pumpkin, from the pumpkin patch.  Bella and Pablo are able to teach sweet Jackie about 10 different Saints as Bella and Pablo's friends come dressed as their favorite Saint at their All Saints' Day party on November 1.

My five children of all ages, teen down to Pre-K, liked that the author had them guessing which Saints were being described.  Each Saint is introduced with cute drawings by Maria Boas and a brief description is given for them on the same page as the drawings.  Then when you turn the next page there are realistic photos or drawings of the Saint as the book characters tell who they are dressed as for the party.   

Here is a page from the book to give you a sneak peek of the fun illustrations and how the book is organized.

I loved that the book kept my children's attention from the oldest down to the youngest as they made their guesses. I especially enjoyed that the book teaches various virtues with each Saint and tells how each Saint lived out the particular virtue in their own life.  For example, the virtue for Saint John Paul II is "Forgiveness" because "John Paul II forgave a man who tried to kill him and taught the man about God."

Some of the Saints were more obvious than others to guess correctly, but there were a few that challenged my children.  Families that are familiar with the lives of the Saints will still enjoy reading this book and learning about the virtues. For those families who may not know a lot about the Saints' lives, I think this book would be a great introduction to this wonderful part of our Catholic faith.

Since Saint Therese of Lisieux is my favorite Saint, I especially enjoyed her photo and page.

I am so grateful there is finally a book that is a fun way to learn and remember that Halloween is really about being the eve of All Saints' Day and that celebrating the Saints that are with God now is what is most important when we celebrate All Saints' Day on November 1.  I highly recommend this book for your home or school library!

Brenda Castro has also written God's Easter Gifts,"a story about the two siblings finding the true meaning of Easter".   I look forward to reading (and possibly reviewing) this one as well in the spring!  

If you would like to read another review of Jackie's Special Halloween be sure to check out Nicole's review post at Children of the Church, which is where I first learned about this great and meaningful book.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

October 13: Miracle of the Sun at Fatima

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A few years ago we celebrated the "Miracle of the Sun" on October 13 for the first time.  Our Lady of Fatima's feast day is celebrated on May 13 and you can read how our Blessed Mother first appeared to three children on May 13, 1917 near the town of Fatima, in Portugal.

One of the children, Lucia, asked the woman (who appeared to the children holding a rosary), "Who are you? What do you want?"  She answered, " I am from heaven.  Come hear on the thirteenth of each month for five months.  On October 13, I will give a sign that will make everyone believe."   

On October 13, 1917, 70,000 people came to witness the miracle that Mary had promised.   The rain suddenly stopped and Mary appeared to the children.  The clouds parted and the sun came out quickly drying the soaked ground.  The crowds saw the sun spinning and shooting out flames with all the colors of the rainbow.

To celebrate this miracle of the sun, we had our spinning sun fruit platter that I've made for the past few years now. I was inspired to make this fun and festive fruit tray when I saw it on Tiffany's blog post at Family at the Foot of the Cross.

We also watched CCC of America's DVD again titled "The Day the Sun Danced: The True Story of Fatima".  We have the Fatima Shining Light Doll for this special celebration. I love these little vinyl figures.  We already have Saint Nicholas and Our Lady of Guadalupe Shining Light Dolls that are enjoyed by our family.  We recently added another doll to our collection, Saint Teresa of Calcutta, one of our newest Saints in the Church.

Instead of strawberries and blackberries like this year's tray, I used watermelon and blueberries for our tray a few years ago.

Last year we made a spinning sun art project that we still have hanging up in our home.  Maybe next year we will do another project for the 100th anniversary (Oct. 13, 2017) of the miracle of the sun!

At noon today our family will take part in the America Needs Fatima rosary rally that we participated in a few years ago.  We will be peacefully praying the rosary close to the entrance of our local Planned Parenthood abortion clinic.  We will be asking our Lady of Fatima to pray for our broken world and nation and ask God to heal hearts.

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

October 7: Our Lady of the Rosary

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On October 7, the Catholic Church celebrates another beautiful Marian feast day, Our Lady of the Rosary.

Did you know that this feast day was formally called "Our Lady of Victory" and "it takes place in honor of a 16th century naval victory which secured Europe against Turkish invasion. Pope St. Pius V attributed the victory to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who was invoked on the day of the battle through a campaign to pray the Rosary throughout Europe."  Fascinating and miraculous history that you may not have read about in your history texts!

There are so many beautiful Marian feast days in the liturgical Church calendar, besides the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.  Some of our favorites are the Solemnity of Mary on January 1, Our Lady of Lourdes on February 11, Feast of the Annunciation on March 25, Feast of the Annunciation on August 15, Our Blessed Mother's birthday on September 8, Our Lady of Sorrows on September 15, Our Lady of Fatima on October 13, Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception on December 8, and Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12.  Whew! Celebrating our Blessed Mother throughout the year vs. just at Christmas time is really a wonderful way to honor such a special and important Blessed Lady and Mother of God!

As we have done for a few years now, we celebrated this beautiful feast day by making edible rosaries and as we prayed a decade of the rosary my children ate the sweets.  This year our neighbor, who isn't Catholic, also made a rosary and prayed with us.

In the morning, I set out a tray with a special statue that was my deceased grandmother's and put a small, brown rosary in her hands.  I also set out some Marian books.

The books on the tray are: Scriptural Rosary for Children, I Pray the Rosary!, I Meet Mary!, and Just Like Mary.

After lunch in the afternoon, we made our edible rosaries.  We used candy corn, Cheerios, M&Ms and chocolate chips.  There are so many different things you can use to make your edible rosaries: Fruit Loops, Lucky Charms, fruit (like strawberries and blueberries), variety of chocolate.

My 8 year old daughter decided to make just a decade with her candy corn which is hers on the far right in the photo.

In the evening when my husband got home from work, we prayed the The Joyful Mysteries using the Holy Heroes CD.  We really enjoyed this CD because there are children's voices reciting the prayers which kept my family's attention and before each prayer there is scripture verse given to help mediate on the mystery.   At the end of the rosary, there is also a summary of the Battle of Lepanto and Our Lady of the Rosary.
It was a simple, fun and meaningful celebration!

Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

How We Celebrated Saint Francis of Assisi on Oct. 4

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October 4th is the feast day of Saint Francis of Assisi.   He is well-known and loved by many for his love for God, animals and nature and for his simple, devout life.

We celebrated his feast day by reading books about his life, doing a "Rebuild My Church" craft from Catholic Inspired, watched Francis, the Knight of Assisi DVD and ate animal crackers.

In the morning I set up our dining room table devoted to St. Francis of Assisi.

The books that we enjoy about Saint Francis that I personally own or borrowed from the library are:
Saints and Angels (this is the book opened in the back of photo)  
Picture Book of Saints
Saint Francis and the Wolf
Around the Year Once Upon a Time Saints
Saint Francis
Saint Francis of Assisi 

My younger children enjoyed watching Francis, Knight of Assisi DVD from CCC of America while they ate their animal crackers

The San Damiano Crucifix on the table was given to us from a family friend who is now a Franciscan priest.  You can find out more about the significance of this crucifix in Saint Francis of Assisi's life HERE.   The Saint Francis statue was given to us as a gift. The Saint Francis of Assisi peg doll was made by another homeschool mom in the Saint peg doll exchange I participated in about a year ago.

After we read some of the books and watched the DVD, we made a "Rebuild My Church" craft.  I got the printables from Catholic Inspired.  This was a fun and simple craft to remember how our Lord called St. Francis to "Rebuild My Church!"

We used school glue at first, but to help make the large craft sticks and thinner crafts picks and the rocks stick better, my older girls used a hot glue gun (very carefully).

If you would like to see some more ideas to celebrate St. Francis of Assisi's feast day be sure to visit Feast Day Celebrations: St. Francis of Assisi at Sweet Little Ones Printable Shop.  Maybe one year we will make the adorable heart-shaped bird seed cakes! 

Prayer of St. Francis
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.



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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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