Friday, July 18, 2014

7 Quick Takes with 7 Quick iPhone Photos: Baby's 1st Selfie, July 4th, Nature

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Our little one took her first "selfie", a popular word flying around these days.  She really did push the button on my iPhone with my guided hand in order to snap this photo of herself.  :)

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And any almost one year old who can take selfies can certainly show some amazing stunts under our kitchen table which is actually a picnic table made by my very talented Dad.  Cupcake #5 loves to grasp her Inglesina Fast Table Chair which is attached to the end of our table. I catch her often cruising under the table and I happened to capture her fun with my iPhone.  

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July 4th iPhone fun with my parents and family!!!!!!!!!

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A beautiful sunset that I snapped with my iPhone while jogging around a local park with this wonderful lake. 
  -5-
I spy with my iPhone this beauty in nature.  This nest was found in our front porch hanging baskets which has ferns.  Someone told us it's a hummingbird nest.  

  -6-
Orchids that we have in our kitchen window that we have had for over a year.  Every time my Mom comes to visit she is blown away with how full and colorful these are.  She asks if they are real a lot.  I had to take a picture of them with my iPhone since she insisted I did so because she has never seen anything like these orchids.   I agree. They are amazing and I normally don't have a green thumb.  Oh wait a minute, my son has been taking care of these flowers...that's the secret to their success!  
 
  -7-
There she is again under our kitchen table.  My iPhone snapped another photo of our little one doing more pull ups on the Inglesina Fast Table Chair.
PS: We love this table chair!  It is comfy, sturdy, and easy to take off the table and carry it to restaurants.  This chair replaces a high chair in our home and I highly recommend it if you are looking for a table seat for your child.  {and if you decide to purchase this chair via my link HERE, not only will you get a great chair, but I will get a small percentage back to support my iPhone usage :) }

For more Quick Takes visit Conversion Diary.


Have a blessed weekend! 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

17 Years Ago We Said "I Do" and 17 Wedding Mementos in our Home

17 years ago today we made a covenant and said "I do!".
Together, hand in hand, we have shared so much since first meeting on the beach in 1992.
Today we celebrate our marriage of 17 years.
This wonderful journey has been filled with many memories, blessings, trials, and joyful tears.
With 5 blessings, I continue to love growing old with you!
Everyday with you is a gift and so much fun too!
Happy Anniversary to us!
I love you!
This photo of the church's ceiling is one of our favorites.
 The photographer captured this beautiful shot during our 
wedding ceremony.


On our way to the reception after our ceremony

 
Since my hubby and I met on the beach we had a beach themed wedding cake complete with realistic-looking and delicious candy seashells cascading down the cake. The cake was so beautiful! She also made the shells so realistic that some of our wedding guests would not bite into them because they thought they were real seashells!

A close-up photo of the candy shells on our cake. Thank you Nancy for your beautiful cake art!

On top of our cake was this cross uniting 2 wedding bands placed in the candy coral. This cross is now hanging in our home as a constant reminder of Who keeps our marriage and love strong.

Two are better than one: they get a good wage for their labor. If the one falls, the other will lift up his companion. Woe to the solitary man! For if he should fall, he has no one to lift him up. So also, if two sleep together, they keep each other warm. How can one alone keep warm? Where a lone man may be overcome, two together can resist. A three-ply cord is not easily broken.  Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12

In our home we have wedding momentos hanging or displayed in various locations. I always enjoy looking at them as a constant reminder of our marriage promises and gifts. To celebrate our 17th wedding anniversary I thought I would share 17 wedding momentos that are dear to us that decorate our home.   
Warning: long post with even more pictures.  I feel like I'm back 17 years ago as I make this post so scroll down fast if you don't have time to read everything and walk down memory lane with me.  Plus, 17 years ago I wasn't blogging, but if I was, you can be sure I would have our wedding posted in more detail and pictures :) 

Memento 1:  This is a pre-wedding picture that I thought I would throw in here.  This was taken on the beach in July 1995, two years before our wedding.  

Memento 2:  We have this poem hanging near our kitchen/dining room and it was written by my mother-in-law one night in the middle of the night when it just popped into her head, as she explained it.  She surprised us with this framed poem and read it to us at our rehearsal dinner.  She scanned my husband's and my foot prints from our birth certificates and placed them onto the poem.  Anthony's prints are in the top left corner, while mine are on the bottom right. We will treasure this gift always and it's one of my favorite wedding gifts! 

It reads:  God Knew...
God knew what He was doing when He made these little feet.  
He knew it would be our destiny that someday we would meet. 
He knew that we would fall in love and eventually wed.
He knew the path we would follow and in His foot steps our feet would tread. 

Memento 3: Here is a Marriage Prayer that was a wedding gift from one of our friends (who is now a priest).  We have this prayer hanging in our bedroom and I love its simple, yet meaningful words.


It reads:  Lord, help us to remember when we first met and the love that grew between us.  To see the good within the other, and to solve our problems.  Help us to say the kind and loving things and to ask forgiveness of the other.  We put our marriage in your hands.  Amen.  ~N.V. Pearle

Memento 4: This was a gift that we have hanging in our bedroom...an apostolic blessing from then Pope John Paul II who is now Saint John Paul II!   

Memento 5: Here's the church ceiling picture, as posted above, framed on our wall.  I love this picture!
 
Memento 6: Going to the reception photo in a glass frame

Memento 7:  My wedding portrait taken by my Dad who is a professional photographer, but he hired his photography friend to take our wedding.

Memento 8:  Mr. and Mrs. Smith at the altar

Are you still with me?  Halfway there until Momento 17...  :)

Memento 9 & 10: Our wedding invitation that my parents framed for us.  Our invitation has seashells on the border to go with our beach themed wedding.  I edited the bottom of it to distort some location details, hence the funny looking print :)  Our wedding album sits on our dining room buffet and occasionally I'll see our children flipping through it. 

Memento 11 & 12: I love this bride and groom plate painted by our friends from college.  On the back of the plate they accidently wrote "Love one anoter" so we all had a good laugh about that.  I love the plate for the fact that they took time to make it so cute and unique with it's own "unique" spelling :)  The white candle is decorated with our wedding invitation that was glued on by a relative and given to us as a gift. We light it each year on our anniversary. 

Memento 13 & 14: Our unique starfish frame that was gifted to us that holds a picture of us cutting our wedding cake at the reception.  In the background is a picture of flowers that are popular in St. John Virgin Islands where we went on our honeymoon.  The picture on the right side shows the cross that was on top of our wedding cake and also hanging on our wall is a plaque with a beautiful marriage blessing on it.  


The marriage blessing is so beautiful I'll share a close up shot so the words can be read: 

Memento 15: Here's another unique and special gift that we have hanging in our foyer.  It reminds me of Asian artwork.  When you look closer, what do you see?  The drawing is actually each letter of my first name and my husband's first name.  Tracy...Anthony

Memento 16: Our "domestic church" was established in 1997

Memento 17:  Scenic pictures hang in our home from St. John, Virgin Islands, where we took our honeymoon.  We would love to go back to this beautiful place.  Maybe one day...

OK, so if you stuck with this post to this point, I'm impressed and I thank you for taking the time to read it and view the pictures.  If anything else, maybe some of my momentos will give someone wedding gift ideas :)

One tradition that we have done each year on our anniversary since our first anniversary is watch our video from our wedding. Now we did get married before the digital age so the color quality is...90ish, but the memories of our day continue to be with us each time we play our video. We did copy it onto a DVD to help make it last longer.   

It is a joy to now watch the video with our cupcakes as the younger ones have asked through the years why they weren't there to celebrate with us ;-) Each year we are not only reminded of our holy vows we took in front of our Lord, family, and friends, but we also get to see friends and loved ones that are no longer with us here on earth. You know I still get "butterflies" and filled with excitement just before I watch the part of the video where I'm about to meet my true love at the altar and begin our lives as husband and wife!  

Finally I'll sign off this looooooooong wedding anniversary post with one more picture (I really promise, just one more) :)
 
The reason I post this picture is because recently I came across this blog post about Why Should Men Propose on One Knee? and I thought I would share the author's insights about this honorable and well-known tradition. Of course, my husband isn't proposing here, but you get the point. 

I've been blessed with 17+ years with my husband and I look forward to the many, many, many, many years ahead as God wills it.  

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Walk in the Park & Baptism Anniversary

Ok, so this won't be exactly a wordless post, but it will be short and to the point :)  I haven't been in blog land much these days since in real land I'm busy praying (and praying alot), organizing, planning, cleaning, scheduling, pondering, wondering, doubting, searching, questioning, and typing for the upcoming 2014-2015 homeschool year!  I will hopefully do a post showing our homeschool room that I have been re-organizing as I do every year and I'm almost done ironing out the curriculum for my children so I will have a post listing all that we will be doing in the Fall.

In the middle of all that I have been doing to prepare for our upcoming school year, it was nice to take a walk with my youngest in the stroller around a park lake close to our home.  My older ones were with friends and family so I took advantage of having only one child with me and went out in the evening to get some fresh air.  Here is a shot I took with my iPhone on the paved path that goes around the lake.  We are blessed that this park and its beauty is walking/bike riding distance from our home.

And today, July 9th, is my oldest daughter's Baptism Anniversary.  We usually celebrate this day that she became a member of the universal Church and her rebirth in Christ, by lighting our children's baptism candle and my parents come for a visit and get my children a small gift.  We also look at pictures from our child's baptism and talk about their special day.  Sometimes we enjoy a special dessert too!  Each of my children have a candle stick holder for their baptism candle with their name and baptism date engraved at the base of the candle.  To find out more about the sacrament of baptism go HERE.


Have a wonderful Wednesday!


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Repost: Yummy & Festive 4th of July Cake!

I posted these pictures and recipe a few years ago just before the 4th of July so I thought I would share it again in case anyone is looking for a festive and delicious patriotic dessert for this year's July 4th celebrations.  I think I will be making this dessert again this year as we have plans to spend time with family and friends for a cookout. 

My mom passed on the recipe to me and it's as delicious as it is festive for any 4th of July gathering!


Ingredients:
  • 1 box of white cake mix (I used a box of Duncan Hines white cake mix in these pictures, but I've been baking cakes from scratch for awhile now so I think I'll use this homemade white cake recipe HERE.
  •  3 oz. package of Raspberry Jello
  • 3 oz. package of Berry Blue Jello
  • 8 oz. thawed Cool-Whip

Directions:


  •  Prepare cake mix as directed.  Pour batter into two 8 or 9 in. round cake pans.
  • Bake as directed on box.  Cool 10 minutes while still in pans.  Remove cakes from pans and cool completely.
  • Place 2 cakes back in their pans, with their tops up
  • Prick each cake with utility fork at about 1/2 in. intervals 
  • Mix 1 cup boiling water with Raspberry Jello package; stir to dissolve 
  • Spoon Raspberry Jello over 1 cake layer making sure to spoon watery mixture over the pricked holes.
  • Repeat with the Berry Blue Jello and spoon Jello over other cake layer.  I used almost all of the Jello mixtures when I spooned/poured it over each layer.  
  • Refrigerate cakes for about 3 hours.
  • Dip each cake pan into warm water to loosen the cakes, then remove each cake from their pan.
 
  • Spread the red layer with Cool Whip topping
  • Put the blue layer on top of red layer and frost cakes with remaining Cool Whip
  • Refrigerate until ready to serve
You can then decorate the cake any way you want.  Since I was bringing this to a 4th of July gathering I made this design with strawberries and blueberries:


And the inside looks like this:


So if you need a great festive cake for this 4th of July, give this one a try!  It has been a hit with family and friends and I will definitely be baking this great dessert again!


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Review: Catholic Kidz Camp (VBS) Parade Around The Our Father


Last week our local Catholic parish finished up our annual Catholic Kidz camp (VBS) week using the Parade Around the Our Father program.  In my post HERE I introduced this program that we used.

This is the third year our church has used the Growing with the Saints (GWTS) programs created by Catholics for Catholics.  Our Catholic faith is so rich with history, traditions, saints, beauty, and faith.  GWTS programs understand how incredible our Catholic faith is and their commitment to pass down our Catholic faith in such fun and blessed ways to our children makes these programs the best fit for Catholic parishes everywhere, I believe!  

You can read my review of our Vatican Express Catholic Kidz Camp experience in the summer 2012 HERE.

You can read my review of  Assorted Saints and the Virtues Catholic Kidz Camp experience in the summer of 2013 HERE. 


It was another faith-filled, fun, and busy week as many children and adults explored the "Our Father" prayer in depth through God's Word, songs, crafts, games, smiles, laughter and fellowship!

I was one of the adult leaders for the rising 1st graders.  As a leader, I read from St. Joseph of Cupertino (pronounced "Cooper-tino"), which is a beautifully written and illustrated book about this humble and fascinating saint!  We read one page each day and the children and adults looked forward to how Joseph's story unfolded.
My two older children volunteered their time helping with games and snacks for the week while my rising 5th grade daughter and rising 1st grade daughter were campers.  Here's a brief summary of some of our fun!


Day 1...God Listens (Prayer)
The lesson was about prayer, which is talking to God.  As we pray God listens anytime, anywhere!  In the storybook we learned how God blessed Joseph.  We talked about the meaning of the beginning of the "Our Father" prayer that Jesus taught his apostles. 

"Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name..." 
  
Memory Verse for Day 1 for PreK-2:  "Praise the God of heaven."  (Psalms 136:26)
 
We love Ms. Anne (dressed in red), the leader of this Our Father Parade!  My 6 year old is not pictured since she rode with friends to the first day of Catholic Kidz Camp.

Ms. Anne clowning around with the campers and Brother Brown teaching the kids about prayer! 

We were entertained and grateful for all the teens animals (Hippo, Monkey, (Clown) Leopard, Zebra)  that helped make the Parade Around the Our Father Camp a fun time!

I took a picture of "THE PHOTOGRAPHER" for the week.  She does a great job capturing the moments and memories and puts the pictures in a slide show for the kids and parents to watch at the closing on Friday.  Here is my 1st grade group learning the music and hand motions for the songs for the week.  All the kids loved singing the fun songs all week with our high school and college-aged young adult volunteers! 

Learning about God's Word in the Bible Bandwagon.  Ms. Coon and her daughters did a great job teaching fun and interesting Bible stories all week long! 

"Flying Friar" tamborine craft that the K-2 groups made and enjoyed!

Day 2...God Provides (Eucharist)
The lesson was about how God provides for us spiritually and physically with the great gift of the Eucharist.   In the storybook we learned what happened to Joseph at the monastery.  We talked more about the meaning of the "Our Father" prayer that Jesus taught his apostles. 


"Give us this day our daily bread..."
  
Memory Verse for Day 2 for PreK-2:  "Trust in the Lord with all your heart"  (Proverbs 3:5)

 
Ms. Mary Jo was the co-leader for our 1st grade group and here she is reading the beginning part of Saint Joseph of Cupertino's story.  Mary Jo and I make a great team, I think.  I just love working with her each year!  
 
 My youngest hung out with my group all week long and I must say she enjoyed watching all the skits, music, children, crafts and all my 1st graders wanted to hold her all the time :) 
  
Face Painting! 


Brother Brown shows our group the cross necklace around his neck.


 Bible Activity:  Learning the memory verse for the day and playing fun games!


 The crafts are creative and cool! 

Day 3...God Forgives (Forgiveness)
The lesson was about how God forgives us through the sacrament of Reconciliation, one of the seven sacraments in the Catholic Church.   In the storybook we learned which job Joseph was given.  We talked more about the meaning of the "Our Father" prayer that Jesus taught his apostles. 


"And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us..."

 Memory Verse for Day 3 for PreK-2:  "Treat people the way you want to be treated" 
Adapted (Matthew 7:12)

 On Day 3 we heard the story of Zacchaeus and how Jesus forgave him.

Zealous zebras learning about our Catholic faith to spread it to the whole world! 

Day 4...God Guides (Obedience)
The lesson was about how God guides us to make good choices.   In the storybook we learned about Joseph's favorite prayer, which is The Litany of the Mother of God.   We talked more about the meaning of the "Our Father" prayer that Jesus taught his apostles. 

"And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil..."
  
Memory Verse for Day 3 for PreK-2:  "All things are possible with God." 
Adapted (Matthew 19:26)

 
The campers had fun with this relay race game where they filled a can with water by squeezing a wet sponge!

The craft for today for our 1st graders was to decorate a priest stole and write a big thank you card for our priests.  
 
 The Bible Story was about the temptation of Jesus.

And here's a short clip of our campers singing the theme song, "One True God."

"All creation shouts your name...Shouts your name! You are God, one True God, you are God, you never change!" 

video

Day 5...Priests Serve God (Be a Missionary)
The lesson was about how God calls some men to serve God through the priesthood.  Priests serve God by helping and guiding us to follow Jesus.  In the storybook we learned why Joseph was so happy.   We talked about the end of the "Our Father" prayer that Jesus taught his apostles. 

"Amen" means "I believe!"
  
Memory Verse for Day 3 for PreK-2:  "As the Father has sent me, so I send you." 
(John 20:21)

The last day of Catholic Kidz Camp happened to fall on the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.  The leader of the Bible Stories for the week lit this Sacred Heart candle and told the children about how much Jesus' Sacred Heart loves each one of us.  

{You can go HERE to see how my family celebrated the Sacred Heart of Jesus at home with edible artwork.}

We were blessed to be able to first have the kids color a monstrance sun catcher during craft time, then there was adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in our church's chapel so our Bible Story teacher brought our group to kneel in prayer in front of Jesus.  This was beautiful to witness!
We also got to see our newly ordained priest, Father Michael, do the benediction of the Blessed Sacrament as he reverently placed Jesus back inside the tabernacle at the altar of the church. 
 

At the end of the camp parents were invited to hear all that was learned during the week.  Each group did a short performance by singing a song with hand motions from the Parade Around The Our Father CD and/or reciting the Bible verses that everyone learned during the week.  It's always a fun way to end such a great week with lots of smiles and joy! 

I highly recommend this program or any Growing with the Saints programs for your parish!  I loved Vatican Express from Summer 2012 and Assorted Saints and the Virtues from Summer 2013 and Parade Around the Our Father for this summer was just as faith-filled and fun as the previous two programs!    It was such a joy to share my love for our beautiful Catholic faith with the children, volunteers and families that attended this year's Catholic Kidz Camp! 

Our Director of Children's Ministry, Ms. Anne, does an awesome job organizing and planning the camps each year and she puts in many, many, many hours making them successful!  We are blessed with Ms. Anne!

Our church and volunteers are already looking forward to next year's Catholic Kidz Camp!  




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