Thursday, February 26, 2015

7 Quick Takes: Snow, Swimming, and Sickness!

It's been a week since I lasted posted on my blog here with my 7 ways to bury the "ALLELUIA", which by the way is still not too late to do :)

Some of the reasons I have not updated my corner of blog land can be explained by this edition of
7 Quick Takes hosted by Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum.  This past week can be summarized nicely by the 3 "S's": Snow, Swimming, and Sickness!


This past Monday through Wednesday we went down to Myrtle Beach, SC for a little break from the books.  The trip only takes us about an hour and a half from where we live and I went with a friend of mine and her 3 younger children.  We went to a resort with an indoor water park with heated pools, waterslides and an outdoor hot tub.  The kids loved sitting in the hot tub outside while the freezing rain and sleet pelted their faces.   Back home we got a dusting of snow as my husband sent the photo of part of our backyard.  My kids were disappointed to miss the "big" snow while we were away, but it came and went so fast in our area and they were a little distracted with water fun they quickly got over the snow.  

So I wish I could say I enjoyed getting my bathing suit on and jumping in the pools and hot tub with my kids, BUT I went down to SC not feeling great and I only felt worse on Tuesday.  Soooo my little one and I literally stayed in our room in our "pent house" on the 14th floor of our hotel because I had chills, cough and a slight fever.  The picture above on the right is what I took while laying in the King size bed trying to rest with my youngest daughter in the darkened room with the door to the room ajar a little.  My friend was in charge of my older 4 kids and her 3 kids at the water park while I tried to survive sickness away from home.  Ugggghhh! 

It wasn't a bad view from one of our windows in our hotel room even with the gray skies and cold rain.  

Tuesday afternoon I was going a little stir crazy in my hotel room while all the kids were at the water park downstairs. I knew I didn't want to go swimming having chills already with a coat and long pants on so we broke up the day and headed to the nearby Ripley's Aquarium.  It was worth the trip just for me to get out of my room, though I didn't feel great and it was cold and rainy in and out of the car.  But, it was also worth the trip to the aquarium because as a homeschool family instead of paying $23.99 per ticket, it only cost $8 per child and per adult.  That's one of the best homeschool discounts I've seen for an attraction so we have visited this aquarium many times before. 

I counted down the hours until my husband could drive down to meet us after his work on Tuesday evening because I wanted a little break from my toddler and I was trying to get enough energy to make it through the trip.    Here is a picture of all the kids and my husband swimming in one of the heated pools on Tuesday evening after our pizza dinner.  My youngest was finally able to get in the pool since I was still bundled up in my winter coat and pants. 

More pool pictures of our 18 month old with Daddy and big sister.  


Here is a very short clip of my husband going down one of the various indoor water slides.  The camera goes crazy as the water gushed over the side onto my socks and tennis shoes as I tried backing away from the splash.  The kids and my husband enjoyed the slides too!  I, on the other hand, took their word for it that the indoor water park was a blast for them. :)  

I'm happy to say I'm finally feeling better, of course, after the vacation :/   

This weekend we will have our annual breadmaking gathering with our homeschool group as we will prepare breads for our annual St. Joseph altar and celebration coming up in March. The breadmaking and St. Joseph celebration are some of our family's favorite traditions with our homeschool group!  

For more Quick Takes, be sure to visit This Ain't The Lyceum

Have a blessed weekend!
Thursday, February 19, 2015

7 Quick Takes: 7 Ways to Bury the "ALLELUIA"

Our family has gradually added new Lenten traditions since my oldest was born over 14 years ago and it is fascinating to me to learn how other families celebrate the Church's liturgical calendar and seasons.   I get so many ideas and so much inspiration from reading how other bloggers and friends walk through the Lenten season. 

On my last post about how our family celebrated Fat Tuesday and started Lent on Ash Wednesday, I commented that I would like to start a new Lenten tradition of "burying" the "ALLELUIA".  This tradition is a tangible way to remind our families that the "ALLELUIA" is not sung at Mass in the Catholic Church during Lent.  Why is that?  Go HERE for a brief explanation.

Martianne at Training Happy Hearts left a comment on my post with how she buries her "ALLELUIAs" and she encouraged me and said that it wasn't too late to get those ALLELUIAs buried! 

So this week's 7 Quick Takes hosted by Kelly at This Ain't The Lyceum is 7 Ways to "bury" the "ALLELUIA" in case this tradition is new to you and you want to start it this year.  Lent has begun, but it's not too late to start this tradition!


I found this printable HERE at Sarah's blog at Amongst Lovely Things.  If you want to go straight to the Google Doc to print it for yourself go HERE.  After I printed copies for each of my children, they used coloring pencils to color them.  Then we "buried" our ALLELUIAs under the purple cloth where the salt dough crown of thorns and bean jar are displayed on our kitchen bar.  As you scroll down the photos you will see how our 18 month old was very excited to pull out a toothpick on the crown of thorns.  :) 


Maritanne's post HERE inspired me to start this tradition today so of course I've added it to the Quick Takes list. :)  I love the colors and creativity of her children's pictures, don't you? 


Nicole's post HERE tells how she uses gold painted letters and a box to bury her ALLELUIA with her sweet family.  I love this idea too and maybe one year, I'll get some wooden letters and a box.

 Photo Credit: Lacy @ Catholic Icing

Lacy's post HERE has a link to make this beautiful banner and also how to make the golden wooden letters and a box similar to Nichole's idea.  I hope to hang our ALLELUIA signs on our mantle as well at Easter. 


Joe's post HERE has a mini lesson about why we "bury" the this word with great ideas and resources. 


Sarah's post HERE shows how her kids made beautiful paintings with watercolors and their hiding place where they buried their artwork is perfect!  


Holly's post HERE tells how she buries the "ALLELUIA" along with their family's Lenten sacrifices in a purple bag and it will come out at Easter when we can sing joyfully, "Alleluia! He is Risen!" 

I found many of the ideas for my post at "Burying Alleluia" Pinterest board

So does your family do this tradition at the beginning of Lent?  If so, I would love to hear about it in the comments!  

For more Quick Takes, be sure to visit This Ain't The Lyceum

Have a blessed weekend! 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday 2015

In this post HERE I blogged about our 2015 plans for Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday.  I wasn't able to do all the "plans" because today was a bit hectic, as most days!

Last night on Fat Tuesday we had a little Mardi Gras celebration with dear friends and for dinner we had pancakes, bacon and fruit.  Then for dessert we had a (fat) homemade King Cake for Fat Tuesday.

Here's some pictures of our little celebration and our feast before the Lenten fast.

The King Cake came out rather large and the purple, yellow and green sprinkles are there, they are just hard to see. But, it still was oh so delicious!  The recipe that I used for the King Cake can be found on my post HERE

My oldest Cupcake found the baby in a piece of the King Cake, which supposedly means that she will have to make the King Cake for next Mardi Gras!  This is the same King Cake we made to celebrate the Epiphany in January.

Ash Wednesday Pictures, Images and Photos
Today we went to Ash Wednesday service at noon (the noon service had scripture readings and songs, but not the Eucharist, hence the name "service").  We decided not to attend the morning Mass (that had the Eucharist) because we wanted to meet my husband at the lunch time service and receive ashes as a family.  My husband was actually asked to be one of the distributors of the ashes since they were short on volunteers.   I loved that my children were able to see their Dad take part in this special Lenten practice.

We made our salt dough crown of thorns that I blogged about HERE with the easy recipe and got our bean jar ready for more opportunities to make sacrifices.  I printed out the Crown of Thorns Printable from Catholic Icing to add to our crown of thorns and bean jar traditions.

One tradition that I would like to start at the beginning of Lent is the burying of the Alleluia and I like Nicole's ideas at Children of the Church of the wooden ALLELUIA letters in the box.  And Catholic Icing has this post about burying the Alleluia.  Maybe I'll start this tradition tomorrow!?!  Better late than never right? :)

Tonight my husband and I sat down to read from The Magnificat Lenten Companion together.  These short devotions are doable and I hope we can read from it each day together.


I have to share this photo that my 10 year old daughter took in the car with my husband's iPhone on Ash Wednesday evening.  This sunset was captured on their way to basketball practice. My husband texted this beauty to me and all I could say was WOW!   

May you have many "WOW!" moments as you embark on your Lenten journey!

40 Days of Seeking Him Lent 
I'm linking this post to 40 Days of Seeking Him Link-Up

Have a blessed Lent!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday: 2015 Plans

We are going to share Mardi Gras with some dear friends and for dinner we will serve pancakes, bacon, fruit and the yummy king cake dessert. (Maybe this year my son will find the Baby Jesus in the cake AGAIN!)  Fat Tuesday is also known as "Shrove Tuesday" and a traditional meal for Shrove Tuesday is pancakes.  Why pancakes?  Great question!  Here's the interesting answer!    Did you know one day could have so many different names? :)

So what is Shrove Tuesday all about?  As stated at About Religion"Shrove Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent in the Roman Catholic Church. "Shrove" is the past tense of the word "shrive," which means to hear a confession, assign penance, and absolve from sin. Shrove Tuesday is a reminder that we are entering a season of penance."  
IF I can get my act together it will be fun to print out some of these masks as suggested by Kendra at Catholic All Year.  

Our guests and our family will enjoy the delicious dinner and dessert before fasting tomorrow on Ash Wednesday and every Friday in Lent.
 Ash Wednesday Pictures, Images and Photos
The first day of Lent starts with Ash Wednesday on February 18, 2015!  What is the significance of putting ashes on one's forehead to start the Lenten season?  Below is a quote from an article on 

A Day of Repentance:
The distribution of ashes reminds us of our own mortality and calls us to repentance. In the early Church, Ash Wednesday was the day on which those who had sinned, and who wished to be readmitted to the Church, would begin their public penance. The ashes that we receive are a reminder of our own sinfulness, and many Catholics leave them on their foreheads all day as a sign of humility.

In this article, Ash Wednesday Our Shifting Understanding of Lent, it states the following:
When we receive ashes on our foreheads, we remember who we are. We remember that we are creatures of the earth ("Remember that you are dust"). We remember that we are mortal beings ("and to dust you will return"). We remember that we are baptized. We remember that we are people on a journey of conversion ("Turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel"). We remember that we are members of the body of Christ (and that smudge on our foreheads will proclaim that identity to others, too).

Here is a great 2 minute video about Ash Wednesday:

Our family will attend an Ash Wednesday Mass to help us remember that, like the Advent season, Lent is also a time of preparation and a call to conversion.  It's funny to have people tell me that I have "dirt" on my forehead after we attend Ash Wednesday Mass.  When this is said to me, it gives me a great opportunity to share my faith.

Jennifer at Catholic Inspired has this great Ash Wednesday Printable Activity Page that I hope to do with my own children. 

Salt Dough Crown of Thorns

We plan on making our annual crown of thorns out of salt dough and you can find the link at Catholics United for the Faith (CUF).   Click HERE to find recipe and other Lenten resources from CUF.

Here is a picture I took a few years ago while my kids' hands mixed the salt dough ingredients:

Each time our children and my husband and I make little or big sacrifices during Lent, we will pull out a toothpick to remove Jesus' thorns from his crown.   I would like to add this free Lenten Sacrifice Printable from Lacy at Catholic Icing to our crown of thorns and bean jar

So many opportunities to think beyond ourselves, hence the many, many, many "thorns" !

Then just before Easter, our children will paint the thorn-less (we hope!) crown gold and glue jewels on the crown to represent that Jesus our King has risen!  The decorated crown looks lovely on the Easter table. Above is a picture of our decorated crown a few years ago.

Besides the Lenten Love Links that we did last year, this year I plan to print out this printable Lenten Calendar to help us count down the days until Easter!

If you missed my post with some more of our Lenten traditions through Holy Week/Good Friday, be sure to go HERE.

Have a blessed week!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

7 Quick Takes: 7 Simple Ways to Celebrate Saint Valentine's Day

This post contains affiliate links.

February 14th is just about here.  Do you have special plans for this feast day for Saint Valentine?

My husband and I are hoping to spend some time together on Valentine's evening while my older kids help watch our younger kids and other kids at our church for a youth group babysitting night.

Here are some ways to celebrate this special day in 7 Quick Takes hosted by Kelly at This Ain't The Lyceum.

Find out more about Saint Valentine

Have you heard about the exciting new Saint site, SaintNook, that I'm a part of as one of the team members?  With SaintNook the Saints are always online!  I encourage you to visit SaintNook and check out Saint Valentine's Profile that tells of Saint Valentine's life, his Directory that lists products about Saint Valentine, his Resources that have Videos, Art and Images of this Saint, and Media that has beautiful Scripture images about love.  Be sure to follow SaintNook on our Facebook page too!

If you scroll down this home page a little and look at my right sidebar >>>>>>>>>>>>>>> you will see a SaintNook button.  If you have a blog and would like to spread the word about SaintNook, go to the Link Up page and get a Saint Nook button and find out how you can add your blog link to SaintNook's site!  Let's share the Saints and links!

SaintNook is a work in progress so visit the website and Facebook page often to keep up with the project and get updates!  

Give "Love Like a Saint" Valentines

How about sharing some love for the Saints this Valentine's Day?  Monica over at Equipping Catholic Families has this awesome craft kit just in time for Valentine's Day this year or for future St. Valentine's Days.   This holiday is based on a Saint, so I just love using Catholic valentines to remind my family and others of why we celebrate this day and to spread the faith.  I love that each Saint is beautifully drawn by Monica's daughter, Kelly, and each valentine has a quote with the word "love" or "heart" in it from several different Saints.  This year each of my children cut out the valentines and signed their name after taping a piece of gum to the back.  We are headed to our homeschool's annual Valentine's Day party on Friday with about 30 kids.  

Share Sweet & Healthy Treats

These pretzel treats are so sweet and yummy and so easy to make!  My kids and I made a batch of them for our homeschool Valentine's party tomorrow.  These are great treats to serve year round too! (Christmas, Valentine's Day, Easter)  Change the M & M colors and you have a year round easy treat to make!  Go to my post HERE to find out how make them.  

Valentine's Day 2013 I served these sweet and healthy strawberries. Clean, pull stem, cut in half, use paring knife to cut a small "v" at top = berry sweet treat!  They were a hit! 

Read a Book about Saint Valentine

This is one of our favorite books about Saint Valentine.  All the illustrations are mosaic and lovely.  
While you are eating the sweet and healthy treats mentioned above, you could read this book to your family/friends.

Make Mosaic Hearts

Speaking of mosaic art, on Valentine's Day 2011 our homeschool group made these simple mosaic hearts with holy cards after I read the Saint Valentine book to them.   Cut out some read hearts, small squares of paper and holy cards and glue together for a lovely art project. 

Make Coffee Filter Hearts 

On Valentine's Day 2011 we also made these sweet and simple coffee filter hearts.  I folded the filter and drew half the heart on one side and then the kids cut out the filter and glued it to colorful paper.  They enjoyed decorating their heart with crayons.  

Find out more about the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Sacred Heart Of Jesus Christ Pictures, Images and Photos 
I found this photo titled "Sacred Heart of Jesus" on Photobucket.  I've never seen a Sacred Heart image like this before so I thought I would post it here since the greatest Valentine we have ever received is Jesus' sacred heart. 
For more information on the devotion to Jesus' sacred heart you can read HERE.

One of our family's favorite images of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is this painting by Catholic artist Cameron Smith. 

For more Quick Takes visit This Ain't The Lyceum

Have a blessed Saint Valentine's Day and weekend!


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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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