Saturday, July 30, 2016

A 3rd Birthday Tribute to our Sweet Cupcake #5

Dear Sweet Little Cupcake #5,

As I spent some time gathering photos for this post, it brought back memories of your eventful, long, and exciting birth and I can't believe another year has gone by since I wrote your 2nd birthday tribute post!

You have grown and changed so much since your 2nd birthday celebration and now we are so joyful and happy to celebrate your 3rd birthday! One thing that you have grown to love this past year is that you really like to change clothes and you like dressing up like a princess!  So your  Princess Party for your 3rd birthday complete with a princess cupcake cake was a perfect way to celebrate special you!

This past year you continued to LOVE gymnastics and do all sorts of crazy moves.  You are super flexible and just about everyday you practice hand stands, rolls, back bends, splits and your dance moves!  You really have no fear!

You love to read with Daddy and Mommy.

You love the beach and swimming at Nana and Grandpa's pool and you are getting really good at swimming.  So much so that you have taken off your floaties to swim!  And you love to spin around and I get so dizzy too easily! :)

You love hanging out with your big brother!  He is so good to you and all his sisters!

I love when you wake up in the morning and come and snuggle with me. 

And at Halloween last year in 2015 you thought the yucky pumpkin guts were quite funny and it made you very silly. :)

You still love to wear all types of shoes including my black boots!

I love this photo of you from our trip to Charleston, SC at one of your sibling's soccer tournament in Nov. 2015 because it shows just how your hair gets curlier and curlier!

You loved the new kitchen and accessories you got for Christmas 2015...

You love playing dress-up and with your sisters and being silly with them!

Your big brother loves to snuggle with you, but you don't always want to sit still enough for his hugs.  You happened to fall asleep on his shoulder so I quickly took a photo of this rare moment where your brother got some snuggle time with you!

This past year you found out you love to roller skate with and without help!

You love going to the park and swinging, climbing and sliding!

You love to help out in the kitchen and you are always pulling up a bar stool to get close to the counter as you exclaim often, "I wanna see! I wanna do it!"   Here you are helping out with our traditional Easter resurrection cookies. 

This past year you pretty much taught yourself how to pee on the potty! No more diapers! Though you are still wearing pull-ups at night.  

You've been talking up a storm, learning your ABCs, counting and doing school work like the big kids.  You love to sing your ABCs and you always ask us to write out the alphabet by saying "Do an A."  This past year you do really well writing the letter "e" over and over again. :) 

Recently you loved going on kiddie rides for the first time at Knoebels Amusement Park

And you went down your first water slide!

You are growing so fast and tall this past year that you can already touch the ceiling!  Well, you can at least touch this ceiling with help from Daddy.

You have grown so much and have gone through so many changes this past year!  You don't take regular naps anymore, but occasionally you'll find Mommy and Daddy's bed to sleep in during the day or you will walk downstairs at night and come and snuggle with us! For a little person you sure do take up a lot of space!

This past year you loved to say the "Hail Mary" and "Our Father" prayers even more and during family prayer time you tell us who is next to recite the prayers.  We love that you love Jesus and kneel during Mass and sing the "Alleluia" at just the right time.  All of us are also amazed that you walk up to communion at daily Mass with your little praying hands folded and bow before the Eucharist, though it is still some time before you can actually receive our Lord at your First Communion.  Here you are kneeling at The National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton in front of her final resting place.

We pray and hope that you will always love our Lord and grow deeper in love with your faith and look up to Him and our Blessed Mother as your best role models and friends.

We had so much fun celebrating your 3rd birthday with you at your recent Princess Party!  You loved your princess cake and looked so adorable in your princess outfit!

Happy 3rd birthday sweet Cupcake #5!

We love you!

Mommy, Daddy, and your 4 adoring siblings

Friday, July 29, 2016

Princess Party for our Little 3 Year Old Princess!

This post contains affiliate links. 

Tomorrow, July 30, our youngest will turn 3 years old!  (Her annual birthday tribute post will be my next blog post.)  Today we celebrated our sweet girl with a Princess Party theme!  I've made princess themed cakes before, but this was the first year I decided to try a princess themed cupcake cake!

After my 12 year old daughter searched Pinterest for me for princess cake ideas, she found this one to use as our guide.

So we got to work and it was so fun to work with a few of my daughters on this cake!
First some Before and After photos, then some details...

Now a few "behind the scene" details...
I had a leftover pizza box top that I first covered in aluminum foil and placed the homemade Hershey cupcakes on the board to make sure they fit.  The chocolate cake recipe on the back of the Hershey's cocoa container is a family favorite and very easy to make!  I've used the recipe for several cakes in the past.

After I covered the box top in aluminum foil I thought it needed some more princess "fanciness" so my very crafty neighbor happened to have some silvery glitter wrapping paper in her craft room.  Perfect! So I wrapped the pizza box with the shiny glitter paper.

Then it was time to decorate with my helpers.  To make the flower-like cupcakes I first made homemade cream cheese icing that we love and put in several drops of pink food coloring to tint it.  Then we dropped the icing into Cake Mate plastic decorating bags and used the Cake Mate decorating tip that made the icing look like a flower when you swirled it around.   As my 12 year old pointed out, we had to fill in the gaps between each cupcake so we just made wider swirls for each cupcake to make them look connected.

Here is the finished princess cupcake cake complete with purple ribbon that I laid on top of 2 cupcakes that I got from that crafty neighbor of mine and we decorated the dress with white/purple Celebration Sixlets.  I also bought the purple tiara and wand from the $1 store and my 12 year old daughter hot glued the silver decorative string around the star on the wand. (The icing looks like a different color in each of the photos below, but they aren't.  The photo on my left was taken with my not so good smartphone and the one on the right was taken with our good Canon.)

The party was at 3 PM so we had snacks, cupcakes/cake and ice cream.  Here's the table set up: 

We had "Wand"-erful Watermelon, Castle Cantelope, Prince Pretzels, Princess Popcorn, and Fancy Fish. I made the signs very quickly by just finding free images on my computer and pasting them into a word document.  Then glued the images onto card stock and wrote the names of each food.  Very easy and quick to do!

We had kids of all ages at the party so everyone mostly just played with activities that I set out.  We had dress up clothes available, bubbles, small kiddie pool, and chalk art.  We didn't get to alot of the activities that I had planned (like find the treasures in the sand box) because everyone was running around having fun and trying to stay cool on the hot afternoon.

I really fun and easy bubble activity that I used to do with my now older kids is "fly swatter bubbles". Get a clean plastic fly swatter and dip it into a bucket/tray of bubbles and then flick the swatter back and forth fast and it makes lots of small bubbles.  Really fun and kids love it!

Cake and singing time!

My 8 year old daughter made a cake for her little sister since we weren't sure we would have enough cupcakes.  She iced the cake and used pink and blue Sixlets candies to spell out her sister's name. Then she used small ball sprinkles and laid a wand across the cake then put the "3" candle in the cake. 

Our little princess received so many wonderful gifts from sweet friends.  Here she is opening up her Sophia the First dress up gown and shoes...

The littlest guests got a princess goodie bag filled with a princess cup, stickers, bubbles, ring, and wand. 

Princesses love to party and change into several different outfits throughout the day.  It takes alot of energy to be a princess and sometimes princesses tucker out and need their beauty rest...

Sweet dreams little princess.  We had so much fun celebrating your special 3rd birthday with you!  We love you so much!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Saints Anne and Joachim: Celebrating Jesus' Grandparents and My Kids' Grandparents

This post contains affiliate links. 

On July 26, the feast day of Saints Anne and Joachim are celebrated in the Catholic Church.  Saint Anne and Saint Joachim are our Blessed Mother's parents, which means they are the grandparents of Jesus.  This special feast day is a great day to not only honor the grandparents of Jesus, but also my childrens' grandparents as well!

Our family is blessed to have both sets of grandparents living about 15 minutes away from us on opposite ends of town.  I should have thought to invite my parents and my in-laws over for dinner as a way to celebrate this feast day waaaaaay before this year, but better now than never right?  But, I think this will have to become a feast day tradition each year from now on, God willing!  

I think I was first inspired to celebrate my children's grandparents on this particular feast day because I remember reading Nicole's post at Children of the Church last year where her children honored their grandparents in special ways.

We had a simple celebration and dinner where my children and I set the table "fancy" with some books about St. Anne (which included text on St. Joachim) and we lit a candle with an image of St. Anne and St. Joachim holding their child Mary.  I printed out an image from my computer of the three of them and taped it to a white candle to add to our celebration.  The flowers were used for table decorations, but then each set of grandparents took them home as gifts from our family.  

 The book on the left is Saints and Angels and the book on the right is Picture Book of Saints.

After I read information about Saints Anne and Joachim and said grace we snapped some photos of both sets of grandparents and then of my children sitting in front of them.

My husband's parents on the left and my parents are on the right. 

On the dinner menu we had eggplant lasagna with meat sauce and then lasagna with noodles and meat sauce, salad, bread and ice cream for dessert (with toppings too!)  Before the meal I set out pita chips and Homemade Guacamole from Jessica at Shower of Roses. Her recipe is yummy!  Here is a photo of mine: 

This feast day is also my oldest daughter's "Name Day" because her middle name is Anne like myself and we were both named after my grandmother whose first name is Anne.  So she ate her lasagna, salad and bread on her "You Are Special Today" plate that we try to remember to have our kids eat on when each of my children have their birthdays, baptism anniversaries and name day celebrations. 

We do not know much about the lives of Saints Anne and Joachim and what we do know has been passed down through word of mouth and writings.  For that reason, when I do hear of information about these special parents of Mary, I am very interested.  I loved reading Jessica's post at Shower of Roses about St. Anne's symbolic colors and Martianne at Training Happy Hearts has a wonderful post about how her family celebrated St. Anne with a breakfast where they learn their "faith through food and fun." So inspiring! 

I'll close this post with this beautiful Grandparents' prayer which I thought is perfect for this feast day:

Good Saint Anne and Saint Joachim, 
parents of Mary and grandparents to Jesus, 
be with me and all grandparents 
that we may be wise and loving, 
may share our time and stories and sense of humor, 
and may enjoy and not spoil too much the grandchildren 
who are close to our hearts, 
for they are the sign of God's life to us. 

Jesus, Mary and Joseph, 
be with our grandchildren and all other grandchildren 
that they may love and respect their grandparents 
and all older people, 
may remember to call, 
visit or write, 
and grow in wisdom, 
age and grace before God.



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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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