Sunday, January 31, 2016

Less Blogging, More Jogging {My Half-Marathon far}

It was March 2012 when I ran my first half-marathon (13.1 miles) and it was so much fun that I knew I wanted to run another half marathon sometime again!  My goal was to run another one the year I turned 40.

After I had Baby Smith #5 in July 2013 I had a tough time getting back into the running routine juggling a baby with 4 older children, nursing, homeschooling, and just keeping up with life.  I felt blah, but my lack of a regular exercise routine definitely contributed to my blah feelings.  I did gradually get back into cardio and strength training which made me feel much better.

Fast forward a few years and the "baby" is now 2 1/2 years old and I just turned 40 back in August 2015.

So....I felt this was the best time to sign up for another half-marathon. In November 2015, I registered for the same race I ran back in 2012, but I had no idea how I was going to train for another half-marathon or how I would have the time to do so!

One of the many reasons I signed up for the race was because I would be on a team raising money for seminarians. There is a group of us from my parish either running the half marathon or the full marathon and we are asking for donations for the young men discerning the priesthood.  If you would like to find out more or donate check out the link. Thank you!

To make a long story short, I ended up winning a free entry to the half-marathon race I registered for and I also got free coaching for 12 weeks to prepare for the upcoming March 20th Marathon/Half-Marathon race!

I was so excited and couldn't believe that I was one of two "Challengers" to be selected for the contest!

The training has been so much fun and I have a great running coach!  I have learned so much and after each workout I feel more and more prepared for the race.

I've been focusing on training and getting plenty of rest (most mornings I wake up at 4:45 AM to get my team training workouts in and other workouts).  This is the main reason I have not been able to stay up late to try to write blog posts so less blogging these days, and a lot more jogging! :) 

As a "Challenger" my training progress is documented with photos and I have to answer a new question each week about some aspect of my training.  These photos and my answers are then posted on social media to share my journey with others.

Here are a few pictures that I have submitted for this Challenge:

It's a not always easy to get up so early in the morning, but I really love being able to get out the door with no interruptions (and I don't have to find shoes and socks for little people  :) ).  It's also a great stress reliever to be in a regular exercise routine to train for a race.  I have so much accountability and many people cheering me on so that has made a definite difference in continuing to work hard for my goals!

Another perk of early morning workouts is being in awe of some beautiful sunrises after my team practice is done.  These are 2 photos I took after one of them.  Perfect reward for completed hard work!

So that has been my half-marathon journey so far without boring you with too many details.  :)

I'm looking forward to the weeks ahead as I continue my journey and I'll be updating my blog when I can.  But, if I'm not here chances are I'm either homeschooling, running or sleeping! (Since the first day of Lent is just around the corner starting on Wednesday, February 10th, I might pop in to post our Lenten traditions or you can check out my Lent posts from previous years on my A Slice of Liturgical Life page)

To see other #WorthRevisit posts during the rest of the week, visit Allison at Reconciled To You and Elizabeth at Theology Is A Verb. So many great posts! 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Ladybug Lesson, Book and Snacks to Teach the Culture of Life

This post contains affiliate links. 

Recently I came across Jessica's blog post at Shower of Roses and Nicole's blog post at Children of the Church in which they did a lesson on praying for the unborn and teaching the culture of life using the free "Ladybug Warriors" lesson created by Culture of Life Studies Program.

I was inspired to try this activity this past Sunday afternoon with my family since we didn't get to go to the March for Life this past Friday, January 22 like we did in 2011, 2012, and 2015.  Instead of being physically present at the March for Life this year, we prayed over the weekend for the end to abortion, the marchers' safety while traveling in the blizzard, and all those who are victims of abortion: the unborn, men, women, and all those effected by abortion in numerous ways.

I decided to make each of my children a booklet out of yellow file folders with the "Ladybug Warriors" lesson stapled to the inside.  I wanted each of my children to have a printout of the lesson so that if they ever wanted to do this activity again in the future with a friend they will have the lesson on hand.  Also, I thought they may remember the lesson better if they had a copy of it.
Then the cover of the folder is the ladybug craft included in the lesson.

I also had several pro-life bookmarks that I saved from a Teens for Life event with my older children so each of my children glued the bookmarks to the inside cover of the yellow folder with a prayer to end abortion from Priests for Life.

After I read from the suggested book, The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle, my children enjoyed making the ladybug craft using the templates in the lesson. There is also a printout of a woman carrying a baby in her womb that some of my children enjoyed coloring.  I also pulled from our bookshelves our big collection of Eric Carle books that I hope to read this week.  One of our favorite Eric Carle books that we especially enjoy for Lent (that starts very soon on February 10!) is Walter the Baker where we make pretzels after reading the book

After reading the book and doing the craft I read from the lesson about how the ladybug got its name.  My children and husband were surprised that sources say the ladybug got its name from the help of Our Blessed Mother, Our Lady.  In Europe during the Middle Ages insects were eating the farmers' crops so they asked Our Lady for help and soon after the crops were growing and thriving.  They then noticed that little red bugs with black spots, or "The Beetles of Our Lady" were eating the pesky insects that were ruining the crops.  The name was eventually shortened to Lady Beetle or ladybug. 

The lesson includes snack ideas and I also went on Pinterest to find an easy snack made with mini Babybel cheese (and I used Wilton Sparkle Gel  to make the dots on the red wax) and my children and I also made ladybugs with strawberries, blueberries, and mini chocolate chips on top of a cucumber slice.  

As suggested in the lesson, our family concluded this fun activity by saying a decade of the rosary, the greatest weapon as a "Ladybug Warrior".

Doing this easy, but meaningful lesson with my children reminded me of the ladybug cake that I made for my daughter on her first birthday!  She is now 15!  I don't think I knew back then the history of how the ladybug got its name so I'm thankful our family now knows how very special the ladybug is and to never stop being a "Ladybug Warrior" and supporting and praying for all life in all stages! 

I have a Pinterest Pro-Life board called "L.I.F.E. = Life Is For Everyone" that I created awhile ago, where I have been collecting pro-life posts.  Please check it out and repin away to help spread the message of life to all the world!

Prayer to End Abortion
Lord God, I thank you today for the gift of my life,
And for the lives of all my brothers and sisters.
I know there is nothing that destroys more life than abortion,
Yet I rejoice that you have conquered death
by the Resurrection of Your Son.
I am ready to do my part in ending abortion.
Today I commit myself
Never to be silent,
Never to be passive,
Never to be forgetful of the unborn.
I commit myself to be active in the pro-life movement,
And never to stop defending life
Until all my brothers and sisters are protected,
And our nation once again becomes
A nation with liberty and justice
Not just for some, but for all.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

{#WorthRevisit} Marching for Life 2016

Last weekend, January 16, 2016, I attended the annual Love My Life Rally in Raleigh, NC with my teen daughter and other teens and adults from our parish.  

Each year this rally takes place the weekend before the annual March for Life in Washington, DC.  At the Love My Life Rally about 1300 teens and adults gather to hear music, listen to a speaker, have Mass with our Bishop and then take to the streets in downtown Raleigh to stand for life and be a voice for the unborn.  It's always a blessed day to see so many young people passionate about life and sacrificing part of their weekend to be a witness for this necessary and important message.

Here are a few photos of our day....

The weather in Raleigh last weekend wasn't too bad, but I hear this weekend in D.C. there is a major snow storm coming just in time for the March for Life. :(  I'm disappointed I'm not attending this year, but it's best I didn't travel into the predicted blizzard.  I pray for all those who will be traveling and our family will certainly continue to pray for pregnant women and for the end to abortion.

I've attended the March for Life in Washington, D.C. a few times (2011, 2012, 2015) and here are my blog posts from previous years in case you missed them or would like to read about what the March for Life was like from our personal experience....

Our First March for Life 2011: In My Own Words and Photos
March for Life 2015: The Trip I Wish I Didn't Have to Take with My Daughters 

Our March for Life 2015 Experience in 7 Quick Takes

I have a Pinterest Pro-Life board called "L.I.F.E. = Life Is For Everyone" that I created awhile ago, where I have been collecting pro-life posts.  Please check it out and repin away to help spread the message of life to all the world!

Keep marching on! We shall overcome someday!

To see other #WorthRevisit posts during the rest of the week, visit Allison at Reconciled To You and Elizabeth at Theology Is A Verb. So many great posts!

Have a blessed and safe weekend!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Epiphany Party and The Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord

I realize the Christmas season is over, but I wanted to do a post on this year's annual Epiphany party and the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord, mainly so that I could remember how we celebrated these feast days and to add these posts to my A Slice of Liturgical Life page.

On Sunday, January 3, 2016, the Catholic Church celebrated the Feast of the Epiphany, but the traditional date for the Epiphany is January 6.  Our family celebrated this year's Epiphany with some traditions and then this past weekend we hosted an annual Epiphany party.  A few homeschooling and non-homeschooling friends and their children came for a potluck dinner and a time to fellowship.

During the party we turned our Advent tree into an "Epiphany tree" where we hung the 3 Wisemen Ornaments we made last year  (ornaments were printed from Catholic Icing) and laminated star ornaments where I wrote each family's name in attendance on each star.  Each family chose a star on the tree and then this would be the family they would pray for in 2016.   At the base of the tree was The Christmas Star from Afar wooden nativity set that I did a review on at the beginning of Advent

Also at the base of the tree was real frankinsence and myrrh that I received as a gift from Anna-Marie several years ago at Life's Adventures.  I also made little Epiphany "goody bags."  In each ziplock bag, I put some Hershey kisses, chocolate gold coins (to represent the Wise Men bringing gifts of gold to Baby Jesus), a piece of white chalk and a copy of Chalking the Door: Blessing Your Home for Epiphany.  Each family could then go home and bless their home with the chalk and prayers that I printed out for them.

For dessert I made another King Cake like the one I made at the beginning of the week for my family.  We hid another Baby Jesus in the cake too and one of our young adults at the party found Him in her piece of cake.  The King Cake is also traditionally made for Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday), which is the day before Lent startsLent then starts on Ash Wednesday which is on Feb. 10th this year!  So the King Cake will most likely make another appearance in the not too distant future! ;-)

This was the first year we did a simple celebration for the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord.  The feast of the Baptism of our Lord is celebrated on the Sunday after January 6th (Epiphany).  So this year it was on Sunday, January10th.

After seeing the Baptism of the Lord River Jordan Dessert on Catholic Cuisine, I decided to give it a try.   Here's what I used for the dessert:

After lunch on Sunday, our family discussed the meaning of our own baptisms and each child lit their baptism candle that they each received at their baptism as infants.  We discussed how our baptisms remove original sin, so why did Jesus get baptized (since He is God)?  I then read out loud to my family The Baptism of our Lord and the Sacrament of Confirmation that answers this question and relates this feast day to the Sacrament of Confirmation.  It was a blessed time!

I found an image on Google of John the Baptist baptizing Jesus and printed it out and laminated it before sticking them in the "River Jordan".

And the next post I'm planning on publishing relates to the fun and big New Year's goal I'm working on and the title of the post will be something like "More Jogging, Less Blogging..."  So that gives you a big hint what I'm doing for my goal ;-)

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Happy New Year 2016! {Mary, Max, and Epiphany}

This post contains affiliate links.

Happy New Year! It's hard to believe Christmas 2015 is quickly coming to a close, but as I have mentioned before we are still celebrating the Christmas season.

When does Christmas really end?  It seems this is up for discussion as each Christmas rolls around each year.  If you want to find out more information about the real end of the Christmas season, Christmas to Candlemas: When is the Real End of the Christmas Season? by Jennifer Gregory Miller, is an informative and interesting post to read.

In the middle of the Christmas season is January 1st, the start of a new year and on January 1st, the Catholic Church celebrates the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God

After our family went to the vigil Mass on New Year's Eve for this feast day of Mary, we came home and had homemade cheeseburgers and drank sparkling cider from "fancy" (plastic champagne) glasses.  

We watched the movie Max before we watched the ball drop in NY City.  Our family really enjoyed this family movie!  
Speaking of NYC and the ball dropping wouldn't it be amazing to see thousands ring in the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God in Times Square? ;)

Then on Sunday, January 3rd, the Catholic Church celebrated Epiphany Sunday.  (The traditional date of the Feast of the Epiphany is January 6, but in the United States Epiphany Sunday falls on the Sunday between January 2nd and January 8th.)  Like last year, we will be celebrating somewhat of an Epiphany "season" in our house this week, meaning we are spreading out the celebration of the Epiphany all week with making and eating a King Cake, we chalked our door tonight, January 6th, and then we are hosting an Epiphany party with some families this weekend. 

Epiphany teaches us quite a bit and there is alot to learn from this celebration so why not drag it out as long as possible? :) 

We enjoyed reading This is the Star, The Last Straw, and Small Camel Follows the Star which are great books and each have a different take on the Magi's journey to visit Baby Jesus.  

Last year we made the 3 Kings Ornaments and laying on the table in plastic bags in the above photo collage is real frankincense and myrrh given to me by Anna-Marie.  I love pulling out these each Epiphany to show my children what the Wise Men brought as gifts to the Christ Child.

It's a tradition to bake a small Baby Jesus in the King Cake to hide it to symbolize the Wise Men looking for Jesus. This year our 2 year old found the Baby Jesus, but she wasn't too sure about it all, especially when her 8 year old sister started licking the cake and icing off of it. :)
We usually write our 20+C+M+B+16 blessing on a black sheet of paper on the back of our door (because it's cold outside :) ) and leave it up all year round.

The new year is also a great time to pick a patron Saint with the Saint's Name Generator. You can pick one for yourself and each family member can get a patron Saint.  I got St. Dominic Savio. Who'd you get?

Last year I compiled all my favorite posts for 2014 to mark the beginning of 2015, but I don't have a list of 2015 favorites ready, but check out my 2014 favorites if you're interested!

And I still plan on doing a post about a big new year's  resolution goal I'm working on right now and will continue to be working on for a few months...stay tuned! :)

Have a blessed week!


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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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