Monday, February 29, 2016

Leap Day {February 29, 2016}

I realized after looking in my blog archives that I didn't have a blog post on Leap Day 2012 on , February 29.  I did write a post on February 28, 2012 titled "L" is for Lion and Lamb when I was doing art projects for my then youngest with each letter of the alphabet.  So that was the closest I got to a Leap Day post back then. 

As soon as I saw Jessica's post at Shower of Roses with her Leap Day Time Capsule printout, I thought I would commemorate Leap Day 2016 by downloading and printing Jessica's printout and write my first Leap Day post here on my blog.  I love that this activity took little preparation and my children will hopefully enjoy seeing what they wrote 4 years from now!

My children had fun writing out their time capsules and we cut a string the length of their bodies as instructed on the printable so we can see how tall they will grow in the next 4 years.  It will be fun to compare their capsules 4 years from now on February 29, 2020!  Here are pictures from this afternoon...

And hopefully if I'm still blogging in 2020, I will do another Leap Day post and link back to these cute faces to see how my kids have changed through the years! :) 

This morning leap year and leap day was explained to us with our daily dose of CNN Student News. If you want to watch the leap day news stories from today, February 29, 2016, you can find it here.   (Just be sure to hold your nose during the part where they show the river of trash in Lebanon. Yuck and so sad!) 

If you don't watch CNN Student News, you should!  It's free and quite fascinating and my kids love watching the 10 minute news segments each morning that are geared toward elementary through high school students.  My children look forward to the CNN Student News coverage each day and it keeps their attention during the entire time!  And if you miss a day or two or a week you can go back into the show's archives to watch previous episodes.  I hook my laptop up to our television and watch it from our TV, but watching it on any computer works too!

Hoping you are having a happy leap day and I hope I'm still here blogging for next Leap Day in 2020! 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

St. Valentine's Lunch for My Valentines

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A few weeks ago our family celebrated Saint Valentine's Day a little differently than in years past.  Since St. Valentine's Day fell on a Sunday this year, my husband and I thought it would be fun to  plan a special Valentines lunch for our children vs. giving them packages of candy.

Sunday, February 14, 2016 happened to also be World Marriage Day so we incorporated this special day into our Valentine's lunch by lighting a candle we received as a wedding gift on July 12, 1997.  As stated on Catholic Mommy Blogs, World Marriage Day received a special blessing from Pope John Paul II in 1993 and is celebrated annually on the second Sunday of February. This year, it falls on the same day as Valentine’s Day.

When I saw Lacy's post at Catholic Icing with her Saint Valentine's Day Poetry Tea, it inspired me to use her idea and change it up a bit for our own family fun.  

On the menu we had cheese and heart shaped pepperoni pizzas (I lovingly cut out pepperoni slices in the shape of hearts and I was smiling when I saw my husband cutting out a heart in a white American cheese slice. :) ) The small pizza crusts were bought in a package at a grocery store so we just added the sauce, cheese and pepperoni.

We also had sliced strawberries that I cut into heart shapes and yummy Valentine pretzel treats.  These pretzel treats are very easy to make and make great Christmas treats too!

Here is our wedding candle we lit and used as a center piece on our table.  Our wedding invitation is trimmed and glued to the front of the candle with a beaded border.  It is one of our most treasured mementos from our special day!  I used a heart shaped sandwich cutter that I found at a local store recently to make the heart sandwiches.  We also drank strawberry milk. 

While we were eating, I read from the picture book Saint Valentine by Robert Sabuda.   This is a beautiful book that tells the story of Saint Valentine and the illustrations throughout the book are mosaics like on the cover.

Here is my family enjoying the Valentine's lunch minus our oldest daughter who wasn't able to join us since she was coming home from a church retreat.

It was a special Valentine's lunch and my husband and I were so happy to prepare it for our sweet Valentines.  

Monday, February 22, 2016

The Feast of the Chair of St. Peter: February 22

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The feast of the Chair of St. Peter is celebrated today, February 22.  I never even knew such a feast day in the Church existed until last year when I saw Kendra's post over at Catholic All Year where she did a fun candy chair activity with her family to celebrate it.  Catholicism really is a bottomless treasure chest because there is ALWAYS something new to learn and love about our One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic faith.

This morning during our Couch Catechism time we read about this feast day from my favorite Saint book for children,  Saints for Young Readers for Every Day, Vol. One.

Did you know the chair of St. Peter is a real chair at the Vatican that stands at the back of St. Peter's basilica? Check out the beautiful photos of it.  The chair has a symbolic meaning too as mentioned in the above photo. But Why Does the Chair of Peter Matter? asks Fr. Steve Grunow from Word on Fire.  Be sure to read his reflection about why.

After I reviewed the 9 Things You Need to Know About the "Chair of St. Peter" by Jimmy Akin (thank you Kendra for this Jimmy Akin link) with my children and a few friends after lunch, we made our own "St. Peter chairs" out of treats that I had on hand in my baking cabinet.  (And I was proud of my 11 year old daughter who gave up chocolate for Lent...she just made her chair and left the kitchen to avoid the sweet temptations :) )

Here are some photos of our fun afternoon:

I love all the creativity that went into each chair.  My 8 year old daughter even added a Hershey kiss Pope with eyes that sits on her chair. :)

Catholic Cuisine, Catholic Icing, and Children of the Church blogs also have some great edible chair ideas and crafts for the feast of the Chair of St. Peter!

Have a blessed week!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Celebrating February 11: Our Lady of Lourdes Feast Day

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Do you know about the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes celebrated on February 11th and the young girl, Saint Bernadette, that Our Blessed Mother appeared to in Lourdes, France in 1858?

I'm definitely always learning more about this apparition and I'm always fascinated by what I find out about it!  Be sure to read 10 Things to Know About Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Bernadette from Word on Fire Blog to find out more information.   It's fascinating!

And as I've learned through the years, there are always fun and faith-filled ways to celebrate our beautiful Catholic faith and the feast days, like Our Lady of Lourdes, and "live liturgically."  (I've been documenting how our family has celebrated the Church liturgical year over the past several years with links on my A Slice of Liturgical Life page for my own reference and if our family fun and memories inspire others, that's an extra blessing!)

One way we celebrated Our Lady of Lourdes this year was by watching a family favorite DVD from CCC of America called Bernadette: The Princess of Lourdes.
I'm amazed how well my children (and even myself) have remembered the facts about Our Lady of Lourdes from watching this animated movie over and over again through the years.

After we watched the movie we did an Our Lady of Lourdes craft for the first time that I received from Jennifer at Catholic Inspired. The craft and booklet can be downloaded and then you color the craft and piece it together.  The booklet is easy to assemble and staple after you print it.  The booklet was filled with a wealth of interesting information about St. Bernadette and Our Lady of Lourdes.  Our family learned some new information for sure!

We especially liked reading the pages in the booklet about what was happening around the world during the time between 1844 to 1879, when St. Bernadette lived.  For example, did you know that the doughnut was created in 1847?  My children especially liked knowing that fact!

Here are my 3 older daughters making the craft:

And here are the finished products:

Maybe one year we will celebrate this special feast day with a Rice Krispie Treat Grotto like Lacy did at Catholic Icing or a Fruity Pebbles Grotto and other crafts or this grotto craft at Catholic Icing.

So many feast days and fun ways to celebrate our beautiful Catholic faith!  I look at Catholicism as a bottomless treasure chest.....the more I learn, the more I realize I need to learn and want to learn!  Got all that? ;-)

Speaking of CCC of America DVDs, they are having a great Spring Sale going on now from February 18th through March 18th!  These DVDs make meaningful and faith-filled Easter gifts and fit perfectly into baskets! :)  Bernadette: The Princess of Lourdes is included in the Marian Collection and you can get all 3 DVDs for $25.00 using the discount code EASTER40 at checkout!  Check out more of their products on sale in the CCC of America shop!

40% off our best sellers plus up to 60% off DVD bundles!

Have a blessed week!

Celebrating Candlemas with Candles and Cookies: February 2

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This will be another quick post as I continue to train for my 2nd half marathon coming up on March 20th.  I'm writing this post, despite it being weeks after Candlemas, mainly for my own reference as I will link this post on my A Slice of Liturgical Life page for future reference. If my blog posts of how we celebrate feast days happens to inspire a reader, then that's icing on the cake! 
The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, commonly called Candlemas, commemorates the presentation of Christ in the temple and the ritual purification of the Virgin Mary. It falls exactly 40 days after Christmas. 

Candlemas is celebrated on February 2nd and on this feast candles are traditionally blessed. I didn't really know why candles were blessed until I saw this explanation on Jessica's blog at Catholic Cuisine: Candles are blessed on this day to help us remember the words of holy Simeon who called the babe in his arms, "A light to lighten the gentiles and the glory of your people, Israel." 

We have celebrated Candlemas in the past by bringing candles from home to a local Catholic Church and the priest blessed our candles.  This year we didn't bring candles to our church, but rather we lit candles in our home and read about the Feast of the Presentation in Mary: The Mother of Jesus book by Tomie DePaola.   We also talked about how the Feast of the Presentation is the 4th Joyful Mystery when praying the rosary.

A very special candle that I always enjoy lighting is the one that was a wedding gift to us when a family member glued part of our wedding invitation to the candle and decorated it with beads around the border.  

This is the first year we made "Candlemas Cookies" using the instructions at Catholic Cuisine.  We had alot of fun making these and I hope to make it a family tradition! 

Have a blessed week!
Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday: 2016

Today our family celebrated  Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras (which is French for "Fat Tuesday) which is "the last hurrah before the Catholic season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday."

To celebrate we didn't make masks like last year or even have pancakes and bacon that is a traditional meal for this last day of feasting before the Lenten fast. We did go out to eat with my parents for dinner at Chick-Fil-A tonight savoring the chicken meal before abstaining from meat tomorrow on Ash Wednesday and each Friday in Lent.

As in years past, I did make our traditional King Cake and brought it to our Catholic co-op so all the kids could enjoy the sweet treat!

One of our students at co-op found the hidden Baby Jesus in her piece of cake which traditionally means she will be blessed and I've also heard that the baby finder makes the King Cake next year. :)
(To hide the plastic baby I pushed it underneath the cake after it came out of the oven.)

We will go to Ash Wednesday service as a family which marks the first day of Lent.

Here is a great video by Fr. Mike Schmitz about what Ash Wednesday is really all about:

I really enjoyed this post How to Explain Your Ashes: 3 Methods that gives simple ways to teach yourself and others about what that "dirt" is about all over your forehead. :)

Need any ideas to make your Lent this year meaningful?  Be sure to read 25 Simple Offerings to Make this Lent a Time of Growing Closer to Christ. I really enjoyed looking over this list! 

As in years past we will spend part of Ash Wednesday making our salt dough crown of thorns and as our family makes sacrifices we will pull out a toothpick. Then at Easter the crown will be painted gold and jewels will be glued to represent our King of Kings!   

I will also set up our sacrifice bean jar where each time a sacrifice is made we put a bean in the jar and then on Easter the beans turn into sweet jellybeans!  I printed out the Crown of Thorns Printable from Catholic Icing to add to our crown of thorns and bean jar traditions. 

After we make our salt dough crown of thorns, we will "bury" the ALLELUIA since we won't be singing "Alleluia" again until Easter.  Last year we started this tradition for the first time and here are some pictures from last year's "burial".


For a complete list of our Lenten traditions that we have done in the past you can visit my 7 Quick Takes post that explains all of them.

I'll conclude this post with this fun 2 minute video that creatively explains Ash Wednesday and Lent:

Have a blessed Fat Tuesday, Ash Wednesday and Lent!

Monday, February 8, 2016

St. Brigid of Ireland's Feast Day: St. Brigid Crosses

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St. Brigid of Ireland's feast day was celebrated on February 1.  To find out more about this personal friend of Saint Patrick be sure to visit Saintnook, where the Saints are always online!

This will be a quick post as I need to get to bed to wake up early for another workout as I continue to train for my 2nd half marathon coming up on March 20th.  I'm writing this post, despite it being several days after St. Brigid's feast day, mainly for my own reference as I will link this post on my A Slice of Liturgical Life page for future reference. If my blog posts of how we celebrate feast days happens to inspire a reader, then that's icing on the cake! 

On February 1st, my children and I read about St. Brigid of Ireland in the Saints for Young Readers for Every Day, Vol. 1.  (This 2 volume book is my favorite Saint book for children and we read from it daily during our Couch Catechism time in the morning.  It was this book that gave me a deeper love and devotion for the Saints' fascinating and faith-filled lives.)

We then made St. Brigid crosses for the first time while following Lacy's instructions at Catholic Icing. We had fun making them and my son enjoyed putting his own "twist" on them by creatively twisting the chenille sticks around each other.

Here's the photo I uploaded to my Instagram page on February 1...

While typing this post, I realized that I didn't know alot about the history of St. Brigid's cross so I did a quick search and found The Story of the St. Brigid's Cross from Irish American Mom blog.  It was interesting to read the history about this cross! Go check it out!

And I'm putting Brigid's Cloak on my wish list as I have heard it's a great one to read for St. Brigid's feast day!



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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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