Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Homeschool Historical Ball & Thankful Thursdays Link-Up !

Last year my oldest daughter and youngest daughter and I attended our first homeschool historical ball and it was a fun and memorable night!   In fact, it was so much fun that this year our entire family was able to attend on Saturday evening, Nov. 15. 

What is a homeschool historical ball you may ask???

It's a fun event for homeschooled teens and their families.  Young ladies are required to wear formal period costumes (medieval to WWII).  Everyone else could wear formal period costume or formal attire.  All costumes and behavior have to be modest.  The ball we attended was about an hour away from our home and last weekend's ball was the 8th annual event hosted by a homeschool group in a nearby county.  There was a small fee to get into the ball with a family cap price (our family met that cap! :) ) Each family was asked to bring finger foods (we brought grapes and cookies) while the organizers provided some main dishes that could be eaten with no utensils.  (tiny sandwiches, cut-up wraps, fruit/veggie platters/cookies/cupcakes).

Here is our family at the ball.  My girls were all wearing dresses that we borrowed from a few friends and my gentlemen were in their nice slacks and ties.  I just wore a long skirt, blouse and scarf.

About 130 adults, young adults, and children smiled, laughed and danced from 5:00-10:00PM.  The dance was held at a church's hall and the decorations were so beautiful!  Like last year, I just loved seeing all the beautiful dresses (that many of the young ladies made themselves!) and it was just so nice and refreshing to see young men and women dressed modestly dancing with one another, smiling and laughing.    The music was provided by a great group of musicians who instructed the dancers on what to do.

Here are some highlights from a fun-filled family night:
I love the picture above on the left of my daughter in the blue dress being swung by my husband during one of the dances.

The picture above on the left is a picture of the stage with the musicians and the picture on the right is my son and daughter going down the line during the "Virginia Reel" dance. 

Oh I will never forget the excitement of my oldest daughter and the many other dancers when the band announced the last dance of the night, the "Virginia Reel!"  Kids and adults of all ages were giddy, excited, and running to the dance floor!  It is a crowd favorite, especially with this historical ball!

Here is a clip of my oldest daughter and son dancing the Virginia reel that my husband captured on his iPhone:


And here is my other daughter in the blue dress dancing with a partner (who she just met at the dance).  The dance got faster and faster before it was all over!  Lots of fun!  


For today's Thankful Thursdays Link-Up, I'm thankful for fun family times, like the Homeschool Historical Ball!  Creating memories and fun with our family is one of the many reasons I homeschool my children as homeschooling allows us to experience unique and fun-filled opportunities, such as the ball!

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Please visit other thankful posts below and if you have a thankful post you want to add to the Link-Up, please add below!

Happy Birthday to Cupcake #4 and How to NOT have a Themed Birthday Party!

This post contains affiliate links. 

On this day, November 19, 2007
You were and always will be the sweet blessing that was sent from Heaven.
My Oh My! Look how big you have grown!
These past 7 years with you have been full of blessings and have flown! 
Your 3 older siblings couldn't come see you at the hospital when you were born because your oldest sister had strep throat. :(  I don't know if they were more excited to meet you for the first time or if they were more excited to see what "gift" you brought them.  :) 

You went from a little cutie pie...

To a big (sister) cutie pie in a blink of an eye!

Happy Birthday, our star daughter and gymnast! 

This past weekend we celebrated our daughter's birthday with some of her friends and this was the first year I really didn't have a "theme" for the birthday party (I know, GASP!)  I love themed parties and have had several in years past and you can check out all the cakes I've made in the past and probably guess what each birthday's theme had been.   

But, for whatever reason, my daughter's party this year was "eclectic", but still so memorable and fun!  I found out two things about hosting a non-theme birthday party.....1) My daughter still had a great time with friends and she had fun helping me make her cake with her sister. 2)  I had a great time not stressing over NOT having a themed birthday party :)  So for all you theme and non-theme party planners out there that want to know how to NOT have a themed birthday party, here's how I got one done...

You ask your soon-to-be 7 year old what kind of cake she wants.  She suggests the homemade funfetti cake with chocolate mouse layers and homemade (green) cream cheese icing.  I realized that's the same cake she requested last year, but last year's icing was pink, not green. 

Then I asked what she wanted on top of her cake.  She disappeared upstairs for a few minutes and came running down the stairs with her Rapunzel figurines. Perfect!

We asked our neighbor if we could borrow her #7 birthday candle.  It sorta looks like a "1" candle, but hey it worked! 

When the guests arrived the day of the party, I had them make a craft with tissue paper, glue and jars or "vases".  I want to thank my dear friend, K.C., for the jars and tissue paper that she had left over from her twin daughters' party a few weeks prior. 
I ran out 2 hours before the party started and bought pens, plastic flowers, and butterfly picks at the Dollar Store. I also went to the craft store to buy green floral tape.  I then wrapped the sides and top of each pen with green floral tape with the flowers and the butterfly pick so each guest took home their colorful jar vase and flowered pen.

We then played some relay games outside.  One game had the kids use plastic apples and they had to balance them on plastic spoons.  In another relay game they had to run and drop the apples in a basket and tag the next person in line.    The plastic apples and baskets were borrowed from K.C. too who had an "apple" themed birthday party for her children a few weeks ago.  

Continuing with my daughter's non-themed birthday party, she asked to have a unicorn pinata.  I was all for that since we were able to clear out almost all our Halloween candy by using it in the pinata!  There are advantages to having a party just after Halloween and stuffing a unicorn with the loot is one of  the best advantages!  
The kids got a kick out of the unicorn becoming headless during the pinata beating. :) 

Then it was time for some cake and ice cream!  Here's the inside of the homemade funfetti cake with chocolate mousse layers:

So my first non-themed birthday party was a great success filled with smiles and memories!  I may just have to plan another party like this one for future birthdays!  :-) 

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Family Fun Bucket for Christmas {Free Printables}

This post contains affiliate links.  

I'm happy to be participating in the ABCs of Homeschooling Through the Holidays Series hosted by Heather at Upside Down Homeschooling!  The letter for this post is F for Family Fun Bucket

Twas the night before December at the Smith house kitchen table....the family was enjoying their Family Fun Bucket instead of watching cable....
Several years ago a friend of mine made this family fun bucket for me and it has become one of the best Christmas gifts and a family favorite Christmas tradition!  It has been fun including the Family Fun Bucket into our other Advent and Christmas traditions too!   

To read more about the Family Fun Bucket and how to make your own with free printables, click HERE where I'm guest posting at Upside Down Homeschooling!  

For more posts in the ABCs of Homeschooling Through the Holidays series go HERE.

I didn't write a Thankful Thursdays post for today like last week,because of my Family Fun Bucket guest post at Upside Down Homescooling, but please visit other thankful posts below and if you have a thankful post you want to add to the Link-Up, please add below!

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Monday, November 10, 2014

Poppy Seed Chicken Recipe: A Family Favorite! and "H" is for Honor...A great book for Veterans Day!

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Several years ago a friend of mine handed down a great recipe that is so easy to make and so delicious!  

This recipe, called Poppy Seed Chicken, has become a family favorite that ALL 7 of us enjoy, from the toddler to the teens to the adults in our family.   I have also served it when family and friends have joined us for dinner and it's always a big hit!   

Poppy Seed Chicken


* 1 whole fryer chicken or 2 lb. chicken breast, cooked, deboned, and cut into bite-size pieces OR you can just buy a whole Rotisserie chicken from the grocery/Costco/Sams and cut it up into small pieces.  (The Rotisserie chicken option is so easy and economical!)
* 1 (8 oz.) carton of sour cream
* 1 can cream of chicken soup
* 2 cups crushed Ritz crackers
* 2 Tbsp. poppy seeds
* 1 stick butter, melted

Put chopped chicken in the bottom of a 13x9x2 in. casserole dish.  Mix sour cream and cream of chicken soup together.  Spread over chicken.  Mix crushed Ritz crackers, poppy seeds, and melted butter in a bowl.  Sprinkle over top of sour cream-soup mixture.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Serves 6.  Can be frozen.


For more great recipes, be sure to visit Try a New Recipe Tuesday at Home to 4 Kiddos!

As you share a family meal this week, may I suggest a great children's book that can be read aloud to children of all ages as we remember and honor all our heroic veterans.  H is for Honor: A Military Family Alphabet is such a wonderful book "from the Marine Corps' courage, character, and commitment to "mail call" and letters from loved ones, H is for Honor: A Military Family Alphabet, pays deep respect to the remarkable and outstanding group we call the American Armed Forces-the world's very best."  On Nov. 11, be sure to remember and thank a veteran for their sacrifices for our country!  Thank you and God bless!

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Thursday, November 6, 2014

7 Quick Takes: Thankful Thursday Link-Up {Halloween, All Saints' Day, Mom's Birthday}

For this week's 7 Quick Takes hosted by Jennifer at Conversion Diary, I'm combining the Friday's Quick Takes with things I'm thankful for since each Thursday in November is themed "Thankful Thursdays", which is hosted by Tammy at Creative K Kids.  I'm also linking up to Lisa's "My Week in Review" at Home to 4 Kiddos.

I am thankful for All Saints' Day that we celebrate each year on Nov. 1 with our Catholic homeschool group.   Last week we got together to celebrate such a special day in the liturgical calendar. This year we had to celebrate All Saints' Day in the morning on October 31st and our family hosted the party.   This year several of the Moms made the Saint Themed Guessing Jars first introduced by Jennifer at Catholic Inspired.  This was our second year doing the guessing jars and they are always a hit.  One mom and her children really went to town and thought of some super creative Saint themed jars.

Here are just a few of the creative jars that were made:

 St. Joseph Cupertino (patron of test takers)...Smarties candy
St. Thomas Aquinas ("the dumb ox")...Dum Dum lollipops
Virgin Mary Untier of Knots...Twizzlers 

 St. Lawrence (patron of comedians)...Laffy Taffy 
St. William of York (patron of York, England)...York Peppermint Patties 
The Joy of the Eucharist...small Almond Joy candy bars

Listed below is the entire list of Saint Themed Guessing Jars that our homeschool group has collected from various sources (Catholic Inspired and Shower of Roses), including from my friend Trisha and her children.  They got very creative with some of these saints and their candy symbols! :)

St. Lucy -- Patron Saint of eyes -- eye candy
St. Joseph Cupertino --  Patron Saint of Test takers -- smarties --
St. Isadore -- Patron Saint of Farmers -- Candy corn or candy pumpkins
St. Thomas Aquinas -- "the Dumb Ox" -- Dum Dums
St. Therese -- "the Little Flower" -- rose candy
St. Kateri --  candy corn
St. Valentine -- Hershey kisses
St. Patrick -- gummy worms
St. Francis of Assisi -- Patron Saint of Animals --  animal crackers
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton  --  ABC cookies
St. Peter --"the fisher of men"-- Gummy Fish
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel -- caramel candies
Holy Trinity -- Three Musketeer bars
St. Adjutor -- Patron Saint of swimmers -- Life Savers
Our Lady Undoer of Knots -- Twizzlers
St. Lawrence -- Patron Saint of Comedians -- Laffy Taffy
St. Florian  --Patron Saint of Firefighters --hot tamales or red hots
St. Gertrude of Nivelles -- Patron Saint of Cats --Kit-Kats
St. William of York  -- Patron Saint of York, England -- York Peppermint Patties
Saints Mary and Martha -- M&Ms
St. Appolonia -- Patron of Dentists -- Candy teeth
The Joy of the Eucharist -- Almond Joy
Our Lady of the Fields -- Triscuits
St. Gertrude the Great --  Marshmallow ghosts
St. Raphael  --  Gummy Fish
St. Matthew --  Payday candy bars
St. Ambrose -- Bit o Honey
St. Bernadette --  Pretzel Sticks
St. Nicholas -- Candy canes (red and white)
St. Anthony -- (gave a sermon to the sea and the fish listened) -- Goldfish crackers
St. Dominic -- Patron of Astronomers -- Milky Ways 
St. Brigid of Kildare --  Patron of Dairy Farmers -- Cow Tails

I am thankful for all the Saints at our annual All Saints' Day party last week.  
St. Vincent of Saragossa  (patron Saint of wine-makers, hence the bunch of grapes...So funny!)
St. Maximilian Kolbe   
St. Marianne Cope ( patron of lepers and St. Marianne Cope is pictured with two lepers with bandages)  :) 

Another "Saint" that was represented at our All Saints' Day party was this cute little LADYbug of mine. Huh? Well, I was pulling a "twofer" as Kendra at Catholic All Year calls it when you use the same costume for Halloween as you do All Saints' Day and yes, I was able to make our cute little ladybug be a Saint. Do you know how the ladybug got it's name?  Find out HERE about the history of its name according to legends and you may never look at a sweet ladybug the same anymore {and you just may have one of your kiddos dress as a ladybug at the next Saints' day party ;-)  }

I am thankful for spending time with family and friends on Halloween (All Hallows Eve). 
Bunches of grapes ("twofer" from All Saints Day party earlier that day) , Hello Kitty, Cowgirl, Indian, Witch, Ladybug ("twofer" from All Saints Day party earlier that day), Soccer Stars, and a real dog! 

I am thankful for meeting up with a good friend that I have known since high school while we were out trick or treating with our group.  Her sweet daughter and my youngest are exactly 3 months apart.  The lamb and ladybug meetup was documented with this picture.  :)
This should be self-exclamatory of why I am thankful:

I am thankful for my Mom who celebrated her birthday on November 4th!  I cooked dinner for my parents and I bought her her favorite cake, Tiramisu, because I haven't figured out how to make that kind of cake yet!  It was a special evening!  

I am thankful for my parents and 5 Cupcakes who fill this frame and my heart with love, beauty and smiles. 

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