Thursday, October 29, 2015

Fall Fun: Corn Maze, Birthday, Camping, Visit from Dominican Nuns, TAN Homeschool Post!

I'm taking a break from planning an All Saints' Day party that I'm hosting this Sunday, Nov. 1 with some of our homeschool families to update the blog on some of the Fall fun we've had in the past few weeks.

On Thursday, October 22, (St. John Paul II's feast day) some of our homeschool families met at Hubb's Corn Maze, which is about an hour and a half away from where we live.  This has become an annual tradition and it was so nice that my husband could join in on the fun.  It was a beautiful, fun day!

On Friday, October 23, we celebrated my son's 14th birthday with a camp out in our backyard with a few of his friends.  After playing football and soccer in the backyard, they roasted hot dogs, grilled cheeseburgers and made S'mores in our firepit. And here's the cake my son insisted I make.  I didn't complain about the simplicity of his request compared to the other cakes I've made in the past and  this gets the easiest cake I've "made" award.  :)

Since our backyard campsite was already set up for my son's Friday night camp out, my husband and 2 of my daughters camped out in our backyard on Saturday night.  They enjoyed this special time with their Dad.

If celebrating a birthday and camping out wasn't festive enough, we also celebrated and enjoyed meeting the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia from Nashville, TN that came to visit our parish from Friday, Oct. 23-25.  My family met the two visiting nuns on Friday morning after morning Mass and then my oldest daughter and I were able to chat with them again on Saturday and Sunday as they chatted with the youth and their families about their life and vocation.  It was so wonderful to meet them and be in their presence.  They are so joyful and peaceful and I was really drawn to them.  I could have chatted with them for hours! :)

One of the many questions they answered was about their habit and the significance and beautiful symbolism of each part of the their habit.  Here's a video I took of Sister Peter Marie explaining the Dominican habit:  (I'm having trouble uploading the video to this blog post, but click on the link below to my blog's Facebook page where I have the video)

Recently at TAN Homeschool, I was a guest blogger where I wrote a post about some ways our family lives our Catholic faith during our homeschool days.

TAN Homeschool 

"I hesitate to write posts regarding our family’s prayer life.  It’s not that I’m ashamed of our Catholic faith or that I don’t want to share the richness and beauty of our faith with others.  Rather, I would not want to make the impression that my family’s prayer life (and my personal prayer life) is as consistent and steadfast as my blog post may portray.
However, I thought I would share 5 ways our family strives to live our faith during our homeschool days in hopes to encourage, support and inspire other families in their faith journeys."..... Read more on my post titled 5 Ways We Live Our Faith.

 Hoping your week is a blessed one!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

7 Ways To Celebrate the Feast Day of Saint John Paul II

This post contains affiliate links. 

October 22 is the feast day of our beloved Saint John Paul II !

Last year on October 22, 2014 we celebrated his first feast day and we had fun making Canonization Lapbooks back in the Spring of 2014 when both Pope John Paul II and Pope John Paul XXIII were canonized on April 27, 2014.

Here are just a few ways to celebrate this special feast day of Saint John Paul II:

1.  We love reading Lolek: The Boy Who Became Pope John Paul II.  For a list of some other great children's books about Saint John Paul II follow this link: Saint John Paul II Children's Books .
In the picture of our feast day tray that sits on our dining room table, I also have Heroes: Pope John Paul II, Champion of Life by Ralph Ranieri which is a short pamphlet published by Liguori.  Unfortunately, I don't have a link to it since I can't find a link to the pamphlet when I searched for it. 

2. Another way to celebrate Saint JPII's feast day is to admire this pencil drawing (Yes! A PENCIL drawing) of Saint JPII that Cameron Smith drew {did I mention drew with a PENCIL!?!}  (no relation to me, but he and his wife are our 5th child's Godparents)  This "Portrait of a Saint", pencil on paper, was completed in 2001 by Cameron Smith.   Be sure to visit Smith Catholic Art!  What talent!
 3. Our family also loves watching this humorous YouTube video of Saint John Paul II "singing":

4. And here is another video of Karol Wojtyla (now Saint JPII) singing "Ave Maria" in 1976.  It's so beautiful it gave me chills! Enjoy!


5.  How about this yummy Polish dinner from Catholic Cuisine?
And for dessert?  a Pope Cake from Melody at Melodies Harmonies

6. And while you are eating the yummy cake you can listen to Glory Stories CD Vol 11: Pope Saint John Paul II.  

7.  If your children enjoy coloring pages here is a list of coloring pages I found: 
Pope Saint John Paul II Coloring and Activity Book by Catholic Playground 
Pope Saint John Paul II 15-Page Coloring Download by Holy Heroes
Pope John Paul II Crafts, Lesson Plans, Printables and More ( Lacy at Catholic Icing did this post in 2011 prior to Pope JPII getting canonized, but still a great list of crafts and activites!)   

 photo credit:  Word on Fire

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Online Latin Course Vs. Instructional Latin DVDs

Last year my oldest daughter took an online Latin course through Memoria Press Online Academy and this year she continued with Latin, but for various reasons we decided to forego the online option and use the instructional DVDs with its corresponding texts instead during our homeschool day.  

I thought I would give some of the pros and cons of each option in case someone was wondering which route to go when deciding about homeschool curriculum.

Like I mentioned, last year my daughter took an online Latin course.  We decided to invest in the online course because I knew with having 4 other younger children, I would not have been able to focus on teaching her one on one.  We thought having an online teacher would help keep my daughter motivated to do her assignments and quizzes and it would free me up with one less subject I would need to teach with her.  The class she took, First Form Latin, met once a week for about 1.5 hours.  The class was set up so students could see and hear the teacher and students could hear one another answer questions and recite vocabulary when the teacher called on them.  The teacher then gave assignments from the workbook  and students submitted online quizzes that the teacher graded and returned through an online grading system.

Pros of the Online Latin Course
- no planning for the parent
- your child is taught by someone else
- structured
- your child interacts with other students through audio learning and "talking" with students through chat box
- even if you miss the scheduled live class time, your child can listen to the recorded class some other time during the week. 

Cons of the Online Latin Course
- the course was pricey (~$450 for the entire school year)
- your child meets at a specific time each week, which could cause scheduling conflicts with other activities and family outings during your homeschool day (however, as mentioned in the Pros list, if you aren't able to attend the live class, your child can make up the class by listening to the class recording at a different time.)
- your child is expected to keep up with the class schedule and assignments and the pace could be challenging and overwhelming for a child.

This year we decided not to register my daughter for another online Latin course and instead we thought it would be best if she learned the next Latin course, Second Form Latin, on her own with instructional DVDs and books that go with the DVDs. There are several reasons we did not register her for the online course option again: price, class availability didn't work with our schedule, and we thought our daughter had a good understanding of Latin to venture off on her own with the Second Form Latin course that included instructional DVDs provided by Rainbow Resource Center.

From Rainbow Resource Center, I received the Second Form Latin Complete Set in exchange for this review.  The Set includes: Second Form Latin Workbook & Test Key, Teacher Manual, Flash Cards, Quizzes & Tests, Lesson Plans, Student Workbook, Instructional DVDs, Pronunciation CD and Student Text (not pictured).

Pros of Using the Instructional Latin DVDs (with its corresponding text) from Rainbow Resource Center
- the price of the complete Second Form Latin Complete Set is about $30 less than other companies and considerably less than the online class option
- I am able to plan the Latin lessons around our family's weekly schedule
- my daughter can learn the Latin course at her pace, taking time to review any material she may not understand.
- the instructional DVDs are very helpful as my daughter watches them at the beginning of each new lesson before she does her workbook pages for that lesson

Cons of Using the Instructional Latin DVDs (with its corresponding text) from Rainbow Resource Center
- Some planning required by the parent for each week's lessons
- If my daughter doesn't understand something, she doesn't have an online teacher to ask so she has to rely on me, her mom and teacher.  Sometimes I can't answer the question so I have to view the DVD with my daughter
- child has to be motivated and self-disciplined to pace herself and learn the Latin as best as she can with the help of the DVD.
-child can't learn from other students' questions and conversations like on the online course.

So far using the Second Form Latin Complete Set from Rainbow Resource Center has been going well for my daughter and our family.  I think my daughter enjoys being able to set her own schedule and pace the most which makes learning Latin a bit more engaging for her.

Please Visit My Sponsor

Besides Rainbow Resource Center's great prices on the Second Form Latin Complete Set and a wide selection of other products whether a family homeschools or not, they also have free shipping on orders over $50! If you have seen their online catalog or printed catalog, then you know how easy it is to spend at least $50 in no time!

And don't just think about purchasing from Rainbow Resource Center for just your educational needs.  They also have a terrific holiday catalog just in time for the Christmas/Gift giving season!  Request a copy of their Holiday Catalog and they will mail you out one now so you can easily shop for all those on your gift list this year!

Rainbow Resource Center is definitely your one stop shop for curriculum, games, puzzles, toys, and gifts!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Happy 14th Birthday to Cupcake #2!

14 years ago today, our bouncing baby boy blessed our family, friends, and all those he meets with his adorable personality, beautiful smile, his dark curly hair, and above all, the special way he nurtures and loves all of God's creations!  Here are a few photos that are my favorite to celebrate our wonderful son!

He loves his Mommy! (oh and I love him so much too!)
He loves to laugh, but he sometimes says he doesn't love his curly hair :(

He loves being outside and dirt!

He loves playing/watching sports, especially soccer, flag football, and football!

He loves special outings with Dad!  Go NC State Wolfpack!
He loves to smile! :)
He loves ALL his sisters! 

He loves serving God and we hope and pray he always will!

He loves learning from his Dad, a super and special role model and father!

He loves nature!

And maybe he will one day be a Pope! :)

Happy 14th Birthday!  We love you! 
Sunday, October 18, 2015

St. Luke's Feast Day and Saints Louis and Zelie Martin, St. Therese of Lisieux's Parents, are Canonized!

This post contains affiliate links.

WOW!  Today, October 18, was a special day for so many reasons!

It's the feast day of St. Luke, the Evangelist, whose symbol is an ox, the animal of sacrifice, because Luke's gospel begins with Zechariah's sacrifice in the temple. 

I had this tray displayed on our dining room table today.  The book, Saints and Angels: Popular Stories of Familiar Saints, told why the symbol of St. Luke is the ox.  I never knew that until today!  I love the Catholic faith because it's like a bottomless treasure chest filled with gems awaiting to be discovered, learned and embraced! 
The wooden St. Luke peg doll was painted by me for a Saint peg doll exchange I'm participating in.  I'm painting 13 St. Luke dolls and 13 St. Kateri dolls and then at the exchange I'll get 24 other painted Saint peg dolls. 

Today was also the due date for our son Luke (who came one day later on Oct. 19th, 14 years ago! His annual birthday post is coming soon!). Our Luke did eat off his special plate this morning at breakfast before Mass (for his "Name Day" celebration) and before he headed out of town for a soccer game with my husband and his older siblings, but I didn't take a photo during the morning rush out the door to get to mass on time :)   But, I will on his birthday, which is tomorrow!  

Also, today St. Therese of Lisieux's parents, Louis and Zelie Martin, got canonized!  This is historic moment in the Church because they are the first married couple with children to be canonized at the same ceremony.  I look forward to getting to know St. Therese's parents better as they are wonderful role models for parents.  

Want to know more about Saints Louis and Zelie Martin?  I do!  Here are a few links I have come across with more information about this amazing couple! I'm sure I'll be adding more links about them here as I come across them for my own reference and for any readers that may find them helpful and interesting. 

The miracle behind the canonization of the parents of St Therese of Lisieux (Catholic News Agency)

Commemorating the Canonization of the Parents of Saint Therese, Saints Louis and Zelie Martin (beautiful post by Jessica at Shower of Roses with ideas to celebrate this feast day and links to resources!)

FREE Sts. Louis and Zelie Martin Coloring Page (drawn by Aleesa at Life, Love, & Sacred Art )

 Humble Servants: The Canonization of Louis and Zelie Martin (Fr. Carl Markelz and Fr. Raul Maravi attended the canonization of Sts. Louis and Zelie Martin. They  their experience and pictures.)

Dear Saints Louis and ZĂ©lie Martin,

Today we turn to you in prayer.
By fulfilling the duties of your state in life
and practicing the evangelical virtues
as spouses and as parents,
you have modeled for us
an exemplary Christian life.

May the example
of your unwavering trust in God
and your constant willingness to surrender
all the joys, the trials,
the sorrows and the sufferings
that filled your life
encourage us to persevere
in our daily challenges
and to remain in joy and Christian hope.


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A Slice of Liturgical Life: The Miracle of the Sun at Fatima (Sun Fruit Platter, DVD, Shining Light Doll and Art Project)

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Last year 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 HERE  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.  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 also made last year. I was inspired to make this fun and festive idea 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".   This year I bought 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.

And we added the Miracle of the Sun art project to our celebration this year that Jennifer at Catholic Inspired created with her own children.  Jennifer is always inspiring me with her creativity and faith-filled projects and it was fun to do her art project this year with fun and success! :)  
My 7 year old put a black figure in the middle of the sun and said that was Jesus because in the CCC of America DVD there are images of Jesus and the Holy Family appearing in the sun in some of the scenes in the movie.  :)

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

A Slice of Liturgical Life: Our Lady of the Rosary, October 7th

Yesterday on October 7, we celebrated the feast day of 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 againstTurkish 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!  

Last year, I saw this cute idea on how to celebrate this feast day.

Celebrating the feast day of Our Lady of the Rosary this year involved candy corn (that my oldest daughter thought would make a fun rosary), chocolate chips, M&Ms, pretzel sticks and a dab of peanut butter to hold together the pretzel crosses.  We set up our rosaries and then prayed a decade of the rosary before anyone could eat some of their edible rosaries.

I think I caught my son with a mouth full of pretzels and chocolate, hence the strange looking face :)

My 7 year old wanted to make just a rosary with 1 decade and she made a horse with the extra candy corn.  My 2 year old got a few pretzels, peanut butter and chocolate chips and tried to make a rosary before she gobbled up the sweet treats.

We hope to continue with this tradition each year on October 7 in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary!

And have you entered the The Story of the Bible giveaway I'm hosting on my blog this week?  If not, go read all the details and enter!  Giveaway ends this Friday, Oct. 9 at midnight!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A Slice of Liturgical Life: Feast Day of Saint Faustina

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Yesterday, Oct. 5, was the feast day of Saint Faustina Kowalska.

Our family reads about the Saints' lives each morning during our Couch Catechism time and sometimes we recognize certain Saints in the liturgical calendar with a gathering of friends and a special activity.  There is no way our family could celebrate all the Saints and feast days since there are soooo many great Saints and feast days in the liturgical calendar and celebrating all of them would be a monumental feat.  But, this year we decided to have a small gathering and do an activity with a few friends to remember Saint Faustina.  This was the first time we celebrated Saint Faustina with friends.   

I'm just beginning to learn more about Saint Faustina and I'm learning to appreciate her love for the Lord and the message of Divine Mercy that Jesus Himself gave to her starting on February 22, 1931.  Saint Faustina had only 3 years of simple education, so the fact that she was able to write down all that Jesus told her was  miraculous in and of itself for this simple Polish nun.  She wrote down all of Jesus' mercy messages in Diary: Divine Mercy in a Soul.

Yesterday a few of our friends gathered at our home to honor Saint Faustina and remember Jesus' Divine Mercy.   We had boys present too, but they were more interested in running outside in the rain with my son.  :) 

The first thing we did was watch a cute animated children's movie about the Divine Mercy Chaplet from EWTN.  The movie explained about Saint Faustina and Jesus' Divine Mercy and then all of us prayed a Divine Mercy chaplet along with the movie using rosary beads. 

After the movie was over the girls gathered around our kitchen table and they glued the Divine Mercy image onto construction paper.  The image is from a 2010 Divine Mercy Calendar that is no longer being sold.  Each month had the same image of Divine Mercy and my friend Karen called the company several years ago and had about 100 calendars sent to her so the Divine Mercy image could be shared.  On the back of the construction paper the girls glued information typed out by Karen about the Divine Mercy devotion.

The images are now going to be given to local priests to share with people they visit in prison, to Eucharistic ministers who visit the sick in the hospital, and to nursing homes where they can display the image in their rooms.

After the movie and quick craft we then had our Divine Mercy snack of strawberries and blueberries, which I made the past few years on Divine Mercy Sunday.  And I didn't realize I was wearing the Divine Mercy colors of red and blue until one of my daughters took the photo. :) 

It was another fun feast day!

And coming up tomorrow, October 7th, is the feast day of Our Lady of the Rosary.   We will be making these edible rosaries to celebrate Our Lady of the Rosary.

I have organized all the posts I've done for the liturgical seasons and feast days on my page A Slice of Liturgical Life.  This page helps me organize the liturgical calendar and our celebrations and I can now easily refer to this page for future feast day celebrations vs. me having to search all over my blog for each post.  Maybe it will useful for my blog visitors too!  Hope so!

And have you entered the The Story of the Bible giveaway I'm hosting on my blog this week?  If not, go read all the details and enter!  Giveaway ends this Friday, Oct. 9!


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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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