Monday, June 29, 2015

Review: "Set Sail With the Holy Trinity" Catholic Kidz Camp Week

Last week our parish had another faith-filled, fun and successful Catholic Kidz Camp (also referred to as "The Totally Catholic VBS").  As mentioned in this previous post, our parish has been using the Catholic publisher Growing with the Saints for several years now and they have created wonderful programs and I have reviewed each one from the past several summers.

Our wonderful, hard working youth director, Ms. Anne, said that many children were disappointed that the camp only lasted a week!  They were ready for more fun! I helped lead a group of rising 1st graders throughout the week, along with my wonderful friend and some teen helpers.  My 7 year old daughter was a camper in the 2nd grade group, while my 3 older children volunteered their time and talents doing various jobs with the campers.  My almost 2 year old was a champ in the nursery at church!

 Photo credit:  Growing with the Saints 

Below is a summary and a glimpse of our week where we "Set Sail with the Holy Trinity featuring St. Patrick!   You can also view the Set Sail Program Overview .

Each morning all the campers met in the large hall to see a skit by our parish youth. They all did a wonderful job!  The skit was about parts of St. Patrick's life.  (he's the guy in green in the photos)  The creative and fun props for the skit were made by the Black family along with some youth helpers.

After the skit was done, then each group was led by their leaders to each of the 6 activities: Bible Activity in the Bible Beacon room, Gangplank Games, Crafts, Snacks (a youth and adult favorite!), Music and Group Activity (where the leaders read from The Adventures of Saint Patrick storybook and taught the faith lesson for each day).

Below are some of my 1st graders walking down the hall to another activity as the line leader holds our "Playful Pirates" sign. Each grade was assigned a cute name and given a sign to hold.

Sitting at the table during our snack time is Deacon Mike who will be ordained a priest next June, God-willing.  His green shamrock headband was a hit that I gifted to him for the day. :)  Deacon Mike is visiting our parish during the summer and everyone enjoyed chatting with him at the snack table.  Our teen helper is reading from The Adventures of Saint Patrick storybook

For the Bible Activity in the Bible Beacon room the volunteers read a story from Sacred Scripture and then did a fun activity that centered around the Bible story.  In the photo below the campers are pretending to be various animals God made.  They are also acting out the good Samaritan parable.  The kids really liked using the rolled up gauze to help their neighbors in need!

The "Gangplank Games" were always a fun way to exert some energy and creatively memorize the scripture verse for that day.   Here is the list of Scripture verses my 1st graders learned through the week:

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you..."  (Jeremiah 1:5) 

"With all my heart I seek you;..." (Psalm 119:10)

"But as for me, I am filled with power, with the spirit of the Lord..." (Micah 3:8)

"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you." ( 2 Corithians 13:13)

"As the Father has sent me, so I send you." (John 20:21)  

And don't you just love this sidewalk chalk art created by one of my first graders?   Someone is praying saying "help the kids be hole"  ("holy")

Each day the campers made a new craft around the lesson's theme.   I had a creative and artistic group of 1st graders!  It's always fun to see all their creations.

The campers also really enjoyed "Songs of the Sea" Music room where they danced and sang each day to various songs. For our closing, my first graders sang "My name is Bishop Patrick" which is a wonderful song about St. Patrick and the hand motions to show the Holy Trinity was something I don't think kids and adults will forget since it was so much fun! 

On Thursday, we were blessed to go into our church and listen to Deacon Mike speak a little about Adoration with the monstrance and humeral veil, the Eucharist and a little bit about himself.  What a gift to be able to share our faith with so many young people in this way!  Some of Catholic and non-Catholic campers may have never been exposed to adoration and the monstrance or have been around a young seminarian so this was a great opportunity and faith-filled learning experience for all.

On Friday, we took our children into church again so they could bless themselves with holy water since all week we discussed the Holy Trinity.  We also went to adoration for a few minutes so they could spend some quiet time with Jesus in the monstrance.  All our children were reverent and did so well adoring Jesus in this way. 
One of our parent volunteers made this beautiful and creative monstrance for her kindergarten group so I borrowed it and showed it to my group and told them a little about what it was.  Thanks L.B.! :)

Towards the end of the week things got a little out of hand and crazy :) So much so, our youth director thought taking a selfie with Deacon Mike and his shamrock headband would be a fun idea :) It only took all of us about 5 min. to figure out how to get us all in the picture ;-)  
On the right side of the photo is our 2 priests at the closing.  The campers signed cards and wrote messages on them for our wonderful parish priests.  

A BIG thanks to Ms. Anne for all that she does to make Catholic Kidz Camp a success each summer! It's always sad to see another camp finished, but our family always says that camp is one of the highlights of our summer so we, along with many others, look forward to another great time next year!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Hamburger Cupcakes: Easy, Fun and Yummy!

We just celebrated the 11th birthday of my daughter on June 10th and with my busy week this week with leading a group of 1st graders in Catholic Kidz Camp (a.k.a. "VBS"), I just remembered I didn't blog about the "cake" my daughter requested and had for her birthday.  Of course, I did post pictures on my blog's Facebook page, but I always enjoy blogging about the birthday cakes for my children too.

My daughter was looking through Pinterest and found these adorable and creative hamburger cupcakes so she wanted to have these for her birthday instead of a cake.   We clicked through the pin on Pinterest and found the directions to make them (minus the creative fries),  though I tweaked the process a little to save time.  

First, I made a box of yellow cake mix as mentioned in the original directions.   Traditionally, I don't use box mixes because I have found some good recipes to make cake/cupcake batter from scratch, but I wanted to get the right "color" for the hamburger "buns".  I then made some homemade brownie mix because they are just yummy and easy to make, though a box mix is easy too.
So far we have the "hamburger bun and patty."

So I was going to dye vanilla frosting with green, red, and yellow food coloring, but decided buying these (rather expensive) decorating cupcake icing cans was a much needed and welcomed time saver. 

These were really fun and easy to make as we just squirted the icing for lettuce (green icing), ketchup (red icing), and mustard (yellow icing) on the outside rim of each brownie patty. 
I found out that not only are cans of decorating icing pricey, but a jar of sesame seeds was not cheap either, but it was all worth the cost, especially since my son mentioned he wanted these cupcakes for his next birthday!  That works for me! :)

My girls enjoyed brushing a little water on the top of each cupcake and then they sprinkled the sesame seeds on top that stuck because of the damp cupcake.

The cupcakes were a hit and quite delicious and the party guests enjoyed them alot, including the birthday girl!

Have a blessed week and I look forward to blogging about our Catholic Kidz Camp going on now as we "Set Sail with the Holy Spirit!" using another Growing with the Saints program! 


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Tomorrow We Will Set Sail with the Holy Spirit! (Catholic Kidz Camp)

The past several years our parish has had Catholic Kidz Camp (CKC) each summer (a.k.a VBS) in June.  I have volunteered to help with CKC each year and I love leading the groups of children and they teach me as much as I teach them (I think they teach me more actually!).

I love the faith-filled week and I love sharing our Catholic faith in such a fun way!  I also love that we use a CKC publisher, Growing with the Saints, that is authentically Catholic...our Catholic faith is too amazing and too rich in beauty and wisdom to get a "watered-down" version of our faith! I'm so glad Growing with the Saints is a CKC made by Catholics for Catholic parishes.

I just love the mission statement of the Growing with the Saints program too....

"Growing with the Saints, Inc. is committed to handing down the Catholic Faith received from Jesus and the apostles. The Holy Spirit is our unseen ever present guide as we prayerfully impart the Catholic faith with its rich tradition. We utilize Sacred Scripture, tradition, and the lives of the saints to accomplish our purpose. We are dedicated to inspire young children to fall in love with Jesus and his Church. GWTS is committed to preserving the memory of the holy saints and calling children to “holiness” by imitating

  Photo Credit: Growing with the Saints

This week, June 22-26, 2015, we will set sail with the Holy Trinity as St. Patrick will be featured throughout the week.  I'll be leading a group of 1st graders and reading from the book The Adventures of Saint Patrick throughout the week and we will be singing, creating, dancing, laughing, and learning all about the Holy Trinity!  So exciting and fun!  

I'll be sure to blog about our week when it is all over but in the meantime enjoy these posts in my blog's archives of the Growing with the Saints CKC our parish has done!  All of them have been a hit with kids and adults!  


Also, be sure to "Like" Growing with the Saints Facebook page to keep up with updates about their programs!

Thank you to the staff at Growing with the Saints for all you do to share our beautiful faith!  God bless you! 

Our parish, volunteers, parents, and children are looking forward to a great week! 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Saintnook Team Spotlight Interview Featuring Yours Truly :)

What a week!  My oldest daughter started Driver's Ed classes this week and it's been a stressful experience so far for various and complicated reasons.  So when life throws me a curve ball, sometimes the only thing I can do is go into survival mode and try to figure things out with much prayer, patience and perseverance.  Which means things like blog life are put on the back burner until I can breathe again and think straight.  Since I'm updating my blog, it means I'm breathing and thinking a little bit easier, which is always a blessing! 

It's been a week since I last updated my corner of blog land here when I posted my daughter's 11th birthday tribute post.  That post seemed like ages ago and it's only been a week!

Since it's getting late and I'm beat, I thought I would jump in quickly to share my Saintnook Team Spotlight Interview that was recently published on the Saintnook blog and on Saintnook's Facebook pageDominic de Souza, the creator of Saintnook, is featuring the team members of Saintnook and it was my turn to answer a few questions so others can get to know me better and learn more about Saintnook and what I do on the team.

So if you were ever wondering the answers to the following questions about me concerning Saintnook...
  • 1. What’s your background?
  • 2. What are your interests?
  • 3. What do you blog about?
  • 4. What do you like about Saintnook?
  • 5. What do you do on the Saintnook team?
  • 6. Who is your favorite saint?
...then be sure to read the following spotlight interview. 

"This is part of our Team Spotlight series, where we get to know each member of our team through 6 questions. We’re always looking for new team members!
Today we meet Tracy Bua Smith, homeschooling mom of 5 and cake-lover who has been a tremendous source of support and collaboration with Saintnook...  Continue reading

We will be attending a family wedding this weekend so we are looking forward to celebrating this joyous occasion with those we love.

Have a blessed weekend!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Birthday Tribute for Our Daughter's 11th Birthday!

Dear Sweet Birthday Girl (a.k.a. Cupcake #3),

It's hard to believe that 11 years ago today on June 10, 2004  you were born!  Both your older sister and your older brother were born on Friday, the 19th, so exactly 17 months apart.  Your sister was born on Friday, May 19th and your brother on Friday, October 19th.  So it would have been nice if you kept the "19th" day birthday tradition going, but holding you in my womb for 9 more days would have been...well, not so fun! :)

You were loved from the start and what a surprise it was when you came into this world with a head full of beautiful, dark hair!  We were in awe of you, God's blessing, and we couldn't believe the amount of hair God blessed you with!  You looked like you had a wig!  Your big sister is wearing a pink t-shirt that says "I'm the BIG Sister" and your big brother is wearing a blue t-shirt that says "I'm the BIG Brother" in the photo.  I made these shirts for your siblings and wrapped them up for your brother's 2nd birthday.  At his party, they each opened the t-shirts and this is how we told family and friends I was pregnant with you!  It was very exciting to share our joyful news in this way!

Your big sister and brother loved peeking into your bassinet to watch you sleep peacefully!  They loved giving you lots of hugs and kisses!

This picture was taken just before your first mass visit.  You looked so beautiful with your pink and white lace outfit. It was a lovely day to bring you to our church for the first time!

Here you are at 41/2 months old, our Little Pumpkin.  You even had a pumpkin stem!  :)

Here you are at 9 months old with your brother and sister  and you still have a head full of beautiful dark (turning light brown) hair!  I had to put bows in your hair at 9 weeks old and since you never lost your hair, as many people thought you would, we continued to keep the hair out of your eyes with pretty bows!

You have always been a big helper as you helped paint our new house!

You love being silly with your siblings!

You are such a great big sister!

You love our Catholic faith and my prayer is that you always will!

I love how you surprise me with sweet notes!  You have such a tender and loving heart!

 I love how you surprise me with silly photos that you take on my phone without me knowing!  :-)

I love watching you run, dribble, and kick the soccer ball.  You are athletic and competitive, yet humble and a team player on and off the field. 

Happy Birthday sweet girl! You bring so much joy and love to our lives!  We are so blessed to have you in our family!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

June: Ways to Celebrate the Month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

This post contains affiliate links. 

June is a special and exciting month not only because our homeschool year is winding down and one of our daughters has a birthday this month, but on the liturgical calendar June is the month dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

There are actually 3 special feast days during June.   

On Sunday, June 7th, the Catholic Church will celebrate Corpus Christi ( Latin for Body of Christ), which is the liturgical solemnity celebrating the joy of the EucharistThe history of the feast of Corpus Christi is fascinating and can be dated back to 1230 AD when St. Juliana, a Belgium nun, was led to start a celebration of the Mass.  Traditionally, Corpus Christi is celebrated with a procession of the Blessed Sacrament in churches around the world. You can take a look of Pope Francis in a Corpus Christi procession.

The Feast of Corpus Christi celebrates the gift of what is called the Eucharist, the Blessed Sacrament, Holy Communion, the Mass, and the Lord's Supper.  Few Catholic doctrines have been so misunderstood...
To read more about the Feast of Corpus Christi check out The Eucharist: The Real Presence of the Body and Blood of Christ? BY: Marcellino D'Ambrosio 

On June 12, the Church celebrates the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

When our family first started homeschooling in 2005, our neighbors had a large statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in their backyard so we named our homeschool Sacred Heart Academy.  To be honest, I didn't know much about the devotion of Jesus' Sacred Heart back when I started homeschooling and to this day, I'm still learning about my Catholic faith, including beautiful devotions like the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Be sure to read this miraculous Sacred Heart story called Badge of Courage by Christine Trollinger.  WOW!

And Jennifer Miller @ Family in Feast and Feria has such great information about the devotion of the Sacred Heart in her post Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  Go check it out!  I learned so much from her post and I think you will too! 
Last year we made this edible Sacred Heart art that was inspired by Jennifer at Catholic Inspired.  Thanks Jennifer for the great idea!   Here are some pictures I took of what we made.

And for another edible way to celebrate the Sacred Heart of Jesus, followed by the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (which is celebrated on June 13), be sure to check out Tiffany's veggie and fruit heart platters HERE.  Beautiful and nutritious too!
Photo Credit: Catholic Inspired

If you are interested in doing an art project to celebrate the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, be sure to check out Jennifer's great free printables at Catholic Inspired to decorate your home.  These look beautiful and easy too!  


I love this painting of the Sacred Heart of Jesus created by Catholic artist, Cameron Smith. (no relation to me, but he and his wife are the Godparents to our 5th baby)  We have both the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary prints hanging in our home.  You can view and order this print HERE by visiting Cameron's art website.  

If you are looking for a great children's book for ages 10 and up to read (I have also enjoyed reading it aloud to my kids during the month of June each year) check out this book about the holy French nun who first saw visions of Jesus' Sacred Heart called St. Margaret Mary: And the Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

May you have a blessed June celebrating such special feast days during this liturgical season of Ordinary Time!  

I'm linking this post up to #WorthRevisit hosted by Theology is a Verb and  Reconciled To You
See more #WorthRevisit posts HERE




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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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