Thursday, March 31, 2016

Half Marathon, Holy Week and Happy Easter 2016

WARNING: This blog post is jam packed with lots of stuff because well, lots of stuff has happened since my last blog post :)  If you have been following my blog's Facebook page, Instagram, or Twitter pages, you know our family has been busy :) So sit back, relax and enjoy "A Slice of Smith (most recent) Life."

First, Happy Easter!  Alleluia! He is Risen!  Just like Christmas is a season and not just one day, Easter is also not celebrated in just one day in the Church's liturgical calendar, but rather Easter is a season called Eastertide.  So keep celebrating for 50 days until Pentecost!  And if you are looking for ways to celebrate the 50 days of Easter, be sure to visit Nicole's post 50 Ways to Celebrate the 50 Days of Easter With Your Children

I'm jumping way ahead of myself now...more on how we celebrated Easter 2016 in a bit.   It's time to back track to the beginning of Holy Week, Palm Sunday, March 20, 2016.

I ran my first half marathon in March 2012.  And you may or may not know that I have been training for my second half marathon since late December 2015.   I won a "Challenge" where I was one of 2 people to win a free race registration and free 12 weeks of training and coaching!  I've had awesome coaching with great and encouraging team training workouts to prepare for the March 20th race!  It was great to run the race to raise money for seminarians in our diocese!    It was also the first race where I got a blessing from our parish priest the night before the race after the Saturday vigil Mass. :)

The Quintiles Marathon/Half Marathon Weekend on Sunday, March 20, 2016 came fast!  I woke up at 3:30 AM the morning of the race with little to no sleep due to excitement, nerves and stomach "issues."  The race began at 6:40 AM and I, along with about 3,000 other runners, lined up at the start line in the dark each ready to reach our personal goals, despite the cold winds and light rain.  I finished the race strong and achieved many goals!  One goal of mine was to finish 13.1 miles under 2 hours (my time was 1:59:07 to be exact)  It was a very fun race and I was grateful to race with friends and see my parents and family at the finish line!  My college-aged niece also ran the race and finished ahead of me by 2 minutes. :) Here's some photos from race day:

This year we didn't have our traditional bread making gathering and big celebration for St. Joseph's feast day for several reasons, but our family did get together with my parents and friends to have a big lunch after the race and pray the Litany of St. Joseph on Sunday afternoon. Oh it was so good to enjoy good food after the race!  St. Joseph's feast day is on March 19th, but we celebrated it a day late because of the race schedule. 

On Tuesday morning of Holy Week, we visited the "Via Cruces" (Way of the Cross) which is a beautiful prayer garden made by a couple that attends our parish.  It has a lovely wooded path in their side yard and the Stations of the Cross can be prayed as you walk.  This is the third year we have visited this garden and it has become a beautiful way to reflect on the meaning of Holy Week.   

In the middle of Holy Week, our family received a pleasant, unexpected Easter blessing when our mail lady left a pink plastic egg in our mailbox with a little note inside and a small bottle of bubbles.  Our 2 year old loved playing with the bubbles!  It was just so sweet and kind of her to remember the families on her route.

Wednesday of Holy Week is called "Spy Wednesday" because it's the day Judas betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.  We read Matthew 26:1-16  then I hid 30 coins (last year it was quarters, this year it was dimes) and my kids have to go find the coins.  Below is also a photo of the "Spy Wednesday" page from the Holy Week in Handprints book a few of my children made last year.

On Good Friday we had our Good Friday symbolic lunch, a tradition we started in 2014.  It's a tradition our family looks forward to now.

After the Good Friday service at my parent's church, we saw the live reenactment of the Lord's passion, death and resurrection again which is something my kids remember from when we first went several years ago.  It is put on by the Hispanic youth and adult community at the parish and although we don't understand the Spanish, you certainly know what is going on.  It's a very powerful presentation as the audience followed the presentation to the various stations and locations around the church grounds.   There were "guards" taunting Jesus as they kept the crowd away from where Jesus was walking.   This year there were real horses which made a big impression on my children. 

Like many years before, Holy Saturday was filled with egg dying...

The salt dough crown of thorns with toothpicks that we used during Lent was painted once again with gold paint and jewels were placed on the crown to symbolize that Jesus is the King of Kings after making sacrifices for Him during Lent. 

We made chocolate birds' nests.  Very easy and fun Easter dessert! 

My children look forward to making resurrection rolls each year too!  They are really yummy and it's cool how they resemble an empty tomb after the marshmallow melts away while baking.
And for many, many years we have made Easter Story Cookies which tell the story of Jesus' suffering while you mix the ingredients, then you seal the tomb (put tape over the oven). The next morning you remove the tape and see that the cookies are hollow inside like an empty tomb.

For the first time since 2006 our family attended the Easter vigil at our parish. The last Easter vigil we attended was when my husband and his cousin came into the Catholic Church in 2006.  This was a first for the Smith family since we usually go to 7:30 AM Mass on Easter morning.   It was such a blessing that our parish had the nursery available for our 2 year old.  Something tells me she would not have lasted through the 2.5 long vigil mass.  Congratulations to all the newest members of our universal Church! 

Easter morning brought many smiles and photo opportunities as everyone checked out what was in their baskets and saw how our sacrifice beans "turned" into jelly beans.

Easter Sunday we had lunch at our house and my Mom came over to eat with us, while my Dad stayed home due to illness :(   This year I made a buttered lamb for the first time to decorate our table thanks to Jen's inspiration and instructions at Faith and Fabric.

In the evening on Easter Sunday, we traveled to my in-laws house for dinner and my 2 youngest daughters decorated the annual bunny cake and we also had an egg hunt in the house since it was a very rainy Easter Sunday.

We had a wonderful Holy Week and Easter Sunday with family and friends!  May you continue to have a joyous and faith-filled Eastertide!

Easter blessings from our family to yours!
Be sure to read other #WorthRevisit posts during the rest of the week, hosted by Allison at Reconciled To You and Elizabeth at Theology Is A Verb. So many great posts!  

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Making Pretzels During Lent

This post contains affiliate links.

For the past few years now we have tried to make pretzels during Lent. This past Saturday on the Feast of St. Joseph, March 19th,  instead of making bread that we have done in the past for a St. Joseph's altar, we decided to shape dough into pretzels.   Did you know that the pretzel can be a good reminder that we can turn to the Lord in prayer?  But how? ( Read on to the last photo on this post where it tells the history of the pretzel.)

I first read Walter the Baker, which is a great fictional story about the pretzel, but at the end of the story it gives historical information about where the word "pretzel" came from.   Then we made some homemade pretzels.   Here is a photo of my silly husband acting like a pretzel with his arms crossed and a pretzel on his head.  My younger daughters enjoyed mixing the ingredients.

And here are the ingredients ( I hope you can read them in the bottom right photo) to make pretzels...

Pretzel making has been a fun and simple tradition each Lent!

Saint Patrick's Day: 2016

This post contains affiliate links.

I'm catching up with blog posts these days, though I do post on my blog's Facebook page, Instagram, and Twitter more regularly.  This post is a quick one about how we celebrated Saint Patrick's Day this year.  I'll then add this post to my A Slice of Liturgical Life page for my own reference and for anyone who may be interested in reading how we have celebrated the liturgical year. 

In the morning, I had this displayed on our kitchen table:  Books about Saint Patrick, CCC of America DVD, Patrick Brave Shepherd of the Emerald Isle and pretzel treats that can be made year round.  We read about this well-known and beloved Saint and ate our shamrock pretzel treats during the day.  We also went to story time at the library where my 2 year old walked around with her cute shamrock headband. :)

Around lunch time, we made some green eggs, but we didn't use green food dye to make them green!  We dyed them with red cabbage of all things.  I found this fun Green Eggs Chemistry Experiment  and decided to give it a try.  Cool experiment! 

The day before Saint Patrick's Day, we made this fun printable craft inspired by Jessica at Shower of Roses.  It was a great and simple craft to do and I love that my 8 year old wanted to make hers with "stain-glass". :) 

Saint Patrick, pray for us!


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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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