Friday, July 19, 2013

Pregnant Pier Pics :)

Last weekend I was 37 weeks pregnant and our family decided to spend part of our Sunday at a local beach before the storms came thundering in and chased us away!  There is construction going on at the end one of the piers and I thought it looked really cool (both temperature and looks) standing under the pier and decided to snap some pictures under the wooden architecture.  Here are a few that we got.

Our 4 "cupcakes" standing close together and they aren't fighting! :) 

Our 5 year old cupcake actually took these photos of us with my iPhone while our 13 year old was egging us on to kiss one another.  She didn't have to encourage us too much to display some public affection!  Ha! Ha! :) 

The countdown for Baby Smith #5's arrival continues!.....

Friday, July 12, 2013

16 Years Ago Today We Said "I Do!"

 Our wedding day on July 12, 1997
This is a plaque we have hanging in our home and I just love the prayer.

16 years ago today we made a covenant and said "I do!".
Together, hand in hand, we have shared so much since first meeting on the beach in 1992.
Today we celebrate our marriage of 16 years.
This wonderful journey has been filled with many memories, blessings, trials, and joyful tears.
With 5 blessings (#5 to be born soon!), I continue to love growing old with you!
Everyday with you is a gift and so much fun too!
Happy Anniversary to us!
I love you!
This photo of the church's ceiling is one of our favorites.
 The photographer captured this beautiful shot during our 
wedding ceremony.

On our way to the reception after our ceremony

Since my hubby and I met on the beach we had a beach themed wedding cake complete with realistic-looking and delicious candy seashells cascading down the cake. The cake was so beautiful! She also made the shells so realistic that some of our wedding guests would not bite into them because they thought they were real seashells!

A close-up photo of the candy shells on our cake. Thank you Nancy for your beautiful cake art!

On top of our cake was this cross uniting 2 wedding bands placed in the candy coral. This cross is now hanging in our home as a constant reminder of Who keeps our marriage and love strong.

Two are better than one: they get a good wage for their labor. If the one falls, the other will lift up his companion. Woe to the solitary man! For if he should fall, he has no one to lift him up. So also, if two sleep together, they keep each other warm. How can one alone keep warm? Where a lone man may be overcome, two together can resist. A three-ply cord is not easily broken.  Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12

Above is a Marriage Prayer that was a wedding gift from one of our friends.  We have this prayer hanging in our bedroom and I love its simple, yet meaningful words.

It reads:  Lord, help us to remember when we first met and the love that grew between us.  To see the good within the other, and to solve our problems.  Help us to say the kind and loving things and to ask forgiveness of the other.  We put our marriage in your hands.  Amen.  ~N.V. Pearle
One tradition that we have done each year on our anniversary since our first anniversary is watch our video from our wedding. Now we did get married before the digital age so the color quality is...90ish, but the memories of our day continue to be with us each time we play our video. We did copy it onto a DVD to help make it last longer. 
It is a joy to now watch the video with our cupcakes as they ask why they weren't there to celebrate with us ;-) Each year we are not only reminded of our holy vows we took in front of our Lord, family, and friends, but we also get to see friends and loved ones that are no longer with us here on earth. You know I still get "butterflies" and filled with excitement just before I watch the part of the video where I'm about to meet my true love at the altar and begin our lives as husband and wife!
Monday, July 8, 2013

Book Review: The Ring of Fantasy

I had the privilege of receiving a copy of The Ring of Fantasy by Dominic de Souza and after reading this children's novel, for ages 4-11, the author asked me to write a review. 

Here is the book trailer to give you a glimpse into the adventure that awaits you in the land of Fantasy:  

De Souza has a passion for not only the Catholic faith, but he has also been inspired by story-telling through fairy tales and fantasy throughout his life as he states, "More than any other genre, fantasy and fairy tales are the oldest and most important of tale-telling, since in their truest forms, they deal with spiritual realities, incarnating them in forms fantastic and tangible to a child’s mind.  For this reason, ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ stand head and shoulders over the competition; inspired by the deeply symbolic and relevant truths of the Catholic Faith, they peel back the veil of greywash on our world and reveal the highly-contrasted reality of the spiritual realm." 

Our family went on a little getaway a few weekends ago to visit family and friends and on our trip, I read The Ring of Fantasy out loud to my 4 children and husband while we drove on the highway. 

Like Mr. de Souza, our children and family are big fans of Narnia, Lord of the Rings, fantasy, and using our imagination to explore new worlds.  The Ring of Fantasy reminded our family alot of the Narnia books, which is one of the many reasons it kept everyone's attention.
My 13 year old daughter enjoyed listening to the story and the scene where Tess (Joshua's sister) used the bow was her favorite part of the book.  She only wished Tess would have played a bigger role in the storyline.

My 11 year old son liked the fighting scenes because he felt like he was there in the battles. He loved the imaginary characters and following Joshua Douglas' journey to rescue his sister, Tess. 

My husband was a big fan of the book and he was the first one to pipe up and ask me to continue reading when I finished each chapter!  He kept mentioning what a great story The Ring of Fantasy was and how it can really be enjoyed by children and adults alike! My husband really liked the imaginative characters and that it was very descriptive and easy to picture the story in his mind. He also enjoys happy endings which Ring of Fantasy had. 

I think this novel was a great read aloud, as it is advertised.  The chapters were short, but filled with enough descriptive language to keep our family motivated to keep turning the pages to see what was the next adventure for the main character, Joshua Douglas.  I loved how all ages could enjoy this book together and it was fun to discuss with our children what they thought was going to happen next in the story.   I would highly recommend de Souza's book for any family.

De Souza is a very talented Catholic author and illustrator and we hope he will have more novels in the future that can be enjoyed once again by our family and yours! 

For more information about The Ring of Fantasy, to print a free coloring page of the book characters illustrated by the author himself, and where you can purchase your copy, go HERE

To read a summary and another book review go HERE.

Also, be sure to check out Dominic de Souza's 2 beautiful sacred coloring books HERE and HERE


Thursday, July 4, 2013

Repost: Yummy and Festive 4th of July Cake!

For this year's 4th of July celebration, my family will be breaking our usual beach day tradition at a beach club we are members of and instead we will be cooling off at my parent's neighborhood pool and then later tonight gathering with my in-laws and my cupcake's cousins for a 4th of July gathering. :)

I posted these pictures and recipe for a few years just before the 4th of July so I thought I would share it again in case anyone is looking for a last minute festive and delicious patriotic dessert for your 4th of July celebration.

My mom passed on the recipe to me and it's as delicious as it is festive for any 4th of July gathering!

1 box of white cake mix ( I used a box of Duncan Hines white cake mix)
3 oz. package of Raspberry Jello
3 oz. package of Berry Blue Jello
8 oz. thawed Cool-Whip


  •  Prepare cake mix as directed.  Pour batter into two 8/9 in. round cake pans.
  • Bake as directed on box.  Cool 10 minutes while still in pans.  Remove cakes from pans and cool completely.
  • Place 2 cakes back in their pans, with their tops up
  • Prick each cake with utility fork at about 1/2 in. intervals 
  • Mix 1 cup boiling water with Raspberry Jello package; stir to dissolve 
  • Spoon Raspberry Jello over 1 cake layer making sure to spoon watery mixture over the pricked holes.
  • Repeat with the Berry Blue Jello and spoon Jello over other cake layer.  I used almost all of the Jello mixtures when I spooned/poured it over each layer.  
  • Refrigerate cakes for about 3 hours.
  • Dip each cake pan into warm water to loosen the cakes, then remove each cake from their pan.
  • Spread the red layer with Cool Whip topping
  • Put the blue layer on top of red layer and frost cakes with remaining Cool Whip
  • Refrigerate until ready to serve
You can then decorate the cake any way you want.  Since I was bringing this to a 4th of July gathering I made this design with strawberries and blueberries:

And the inside looks like this:

So if you need a great festive cake for this 4th of July, give this one a try!  It has been a hit with family and friends and I will definitely be baking this great dessert again!

For more festive food ideas for the 4th be sure to check out THIS post from Catholic Cuisine which includes a Link-Up with others' fun 4th food ideas! 

Have a safe, happy, and blessed July 4th with family and friends!  

Monday, July 1, 2013

Baby Shower for Baby #5

Last week was an especially busy and fun week with me leading a group of 1st graders at Catholic Kidz Camp (VBS) at our parish and a dear friend of mine hosted a baby shower for our blessing #5 during the week.  It was such a fun and wonderful baby shower to celebrate our baby's arrival due on August 3, 2013!

Mason jars with safety pins attached to the sides that were our drinking glasses.  My friend is so creative as we rinsed out our drinking glasses at the end of the shower and filled them with homemade bath crystals to take home with us. 

A few friends worked hard to make the beautifully decorated food table that was all so delicious! Everyone loved the fruit centerpiece made by my friend's sister!   

The onsie clothesline was so cute and a big hit!  

My friend decorated the center of the dessert table with the "Baby's first year" frames that I have for each of my "cupcakes".  Each guest filled out their address on a green envelope in the basket to make my job easier when I wrote "thank you" notes to everyone. :) 

My sister's friend made the beautiful cake and cute duck cupcakes.  I heard the sweets were delicious too, but I didn't have any because I've been on a strict meal plan since I have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes :(  Yep, there are many reasons I can't wait for the birth of my baby, one being no more giving myself insulin shots in my stomach 4 times/day and checking my blood sugar levels by pricking my fingers 4 times/day.  My life these days revolve around needles and eating the right stuff!  But, it's all worth it for sure, just not fun!  :) 
My younger sister (peach shirt and yes, we are real sisters :) ), my mom is in green, next is my mother-in-law, then me.  I was so blessed to have my sister in town for the shower and my moms!

The bunny in the black-striped diaper bag was handmade by my Mom. It is adorable and she is so very talented! My babies are blessed with a special Nana!

 Mommy's lil cupcake...this one will go on our boy or girl baby for sure :) 

I'm trying out a cloth diaper service for the first time with this baby and so some of my gifts were certificates for a week worth of diaper service.  So that means I drop dirty cloth diapers on my porch and the diaper service picks them up, washes them, and leaves me with fresh clean cloth diapers. 

I loved the diaper bag that my mom and sister gave me filled with goodies and the handmade bunny is so special from my mom.  It will be treasured for sure!  Here's a stretch hug since neither of us felt like getting off our chairs for a non-stretch hug! :) 

Here's my dear friend, J.H., who hosted the shower.  She did a great job and it was so fun to gather with family and friends to celebrate Baby Smith #5!  J.H. and I have known each other for about 15 years and she homeschools 3 out of 5 of her children now.  Her oldest just graduated high school and her son will be entering public high school in the Fall.  She is a wonderful friend and gives me much support in our homeschool journeys and gives great baby showers!  

I'm 35 weeks pregnant this week...the countdown continues! Our family can't wait to see if we will have a boy or girl and meet our new little blessing!

Review: Catholic Kidz Camp (VBS) Assorted Saints and the Virtues


Last week our local Catholic parish finished up our annual Catholic Kidz camp (VBS) week using the Growing with the Saints Assorted Saints and the Virtues program.  In my post HERE I introduced this program that we used.  This is the second year our church used the Growing with the Saints program created by Catholics for Catholics.  You can read my review of our Vatican Express Catholic Kidz Camp experience last year HERE! 

It was another faith-filled, fun, and busy week as many children and adults explored 5 different saints from around the world!

I was one of the adult leaders for the rising 1st graders and each day I documented some of the exciting things that we have learned (children and adults) on my Facebook statuses.  As a leader, I read from The Assorted Saints storybook, which is a beautifully written and illustrated book about each saint.  Here is what I wrote for Days 1-5:

Day 1 with Growing with the Saints Assorted Saints from Around the World was great fun! First stop: Mexico, to meet St. Juan Diego where in 1531 our Blessed Mother (Our Lady of Guadalupe) appeared to Juan, a poor Indian, in the most miraculous way! I loved telling my sweet 1st grade group about Juan Diego's life and about the miracles of Our Lady's image on Juan's tilma. The image has survived an acid spill and when a bomb went off under the image in 1921 everything around it was destroyed, but not the image! Almost 500 years later, the image is still preserved perfectly in the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City! Juan Diego definitely had the virtue of faith, especially when no one believed that a beautiful lady appeared to him! I snapped a picture of one of my 1st graders coloring an Our Lady of Guadalupe image and tilma.   The candle of Our Lady was lit all week and I had the children take turns carrying it from room to room as we moved through the different stations and activities.  They LOVED carrying the candle throughout the week!  For more information about Saint Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe click on this link here:

"Whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live." John 11:25

Day 2 with Growing with the Saints Assorted Saints from Around the World was lively and a great time! We learned that St. Brigid of Ireland was born in the year 453 and she heard St. Patrick preach, another beloved Irish saint. St. Brigid was scolded and shunned by her father because she was too generous and gave her possessions and love to the poor and needy. But, St. Brigid had the virtue of hope knowing God would help her find a way to share, despite the trials she faced. Many miracles abounded in her life as well! Pictured to the left is a St. Brigid's rush cross that the older children made. For more on St. Brigid go here:

"For you are my hope, Lord." Psalm 71:5

Day 3 with Growing with the Saints Assorted Saints from Around the World was another amazing day learning about another amazing saint, Saint Martin de Porres! My first grade group found it quite interesting that Saint Martin only went to school for 2 years and at age 10 stopped schooling to work for a doctor. He practiced the virtue of love because he loved ALL God's creatures, including pesky mice that ate the religious' food in the monastery and put holes in their vestments and Saint Martin even loved spiders! Saint Martin healed many sick and suffering also! God used this saint for many miracles and he was the first black saint from the Americas. (Peru).  For more information on St. Martin go here:

"You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all you soul, and with all your mind." Matthew 22:37

Day 4 with Growing with the Saints Assorted Saints from Around the World Catholic Kidz Camp was filled with fun and facts about St. Nicholas, the cheerful giver! The kids loved learning about how this real life "Santa Claus" had a heart for God by giving away gold coins to poor families. They also found out he was from Turkey! On this day, the children made mitres or hats, which are worn by bishops.  St. Nicholas was the Bishop of Myra.  This is one of my favorite St. Nicholas sites that I refer to often during the Advent/Christmas season: 

"Love one another as I love you."  John 15:12

Day 5 with Growing with the Saints Assorted Saints from Around the World Catholic Kidz Camp ended with learning more about Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, the Lily of the Mohawks. She was a beautiful Indian princess born in 1656.  She was the first North American Native Indian saint, born in New York.  She had a hard life as she became an orphan when her parents and baby brother all died from smallpox and she was left blind with scars on her face.  Her faith was strong throughout her life, despite her many trials and when she died at the age of 24 in 1680, a priest kneeling at her bedside noticed that her face was shining with no more scars.  Saint Kateri was canonized  a saint not too long ago as she interceded for a young boy who was close to death with a flesh-eating bacteria.  Read more HERE about this miraculous story!    

One of our mom volunteers dressed as Saint Kateri for the week as she led the Bible stories in the Native American "cave." 

On Friday, the children colored monstrances and we spent some time in our church's chapel at adoration. 

All the kids loved singing the fun songs all week with our high school and college-aged young adult volunteers!

We were also blessed to have a few seminarians help out with the week of faith-filled and fun activities! 

I highly recommend this program or any Growing with the Saints program for your parish!  I loved Vatican Express last year and I especially loved this year's Assorted Saints theme since the saints' lives are so inspiring and have helped me in my own faith journey in the Catholic Church.  It was such a joy to share my love for the saints and our beautiful Catholic faith with the children and families that attended this year's Catholic Kidz Camp! 


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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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