Sunday, October 30, 2005

Kiss and Tell

"Boys", Chris said with authority, "your mom and I are going on a date this afternoon and Becca will be watching you while we are gone. You need to be good for your sister because we want a good report from her, OK?"

Boys in unison: OK

As Chris and I walked to the foyer to put on our coats, we over heard this hilarious conversation going on between Jack and Gus:

Jack (sulking): I want to go on a date without Gus.

Gus (emphatically): Nooooooo! You can't go on a date. Only mom and dad can go on a date so they can kiss.

Jack: I still want to go on a date without Gus.

Gus: Nooooooo! You Caaaaaaan't. They need to KISS!

I love kid logic. It makes perfect sense.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Nick and Lacrosse

My Sweet Nick

Nick is a wonderful child. He's good-natured, friendly, and a big huggy bear. Even though he is already in the 4th grade and tall for his age, he still kisses/hugs me in front of his friends before he get on or off the bus. When he makes a new friend, (which he does WHEREVER he goes) he is sure to hug them and say, "Hey dude! You should come over to my house sometime!" Does NOT matter WHO they are or HOW popular they are at school...Nick is there for them. He does not seem to be aware of those unspoken elementary school rules of behavior,group divisions or relationships. Peer pressure does not exist in his mind. Nick simply does what is deep in his heart... what is right...completely naturally, completely unaware of what others think. It blows my mind!

For example, at lunchtime at his public school, Nick always crosses himself and says his prayer before he eats. He is clueless about the fact that the other kids DON'T pray before they eat, but he does it anyway. For awhile there, some of his classmates were joining him in this silent prayer before lunch. He was not aware of it, but they were praying with him. Nick's best friend is Ricky. Ricky's mom told me that Nick's lunch-time prayer habit had made such an impression on Ricky, that her son would not even chew a piece of GUM without crossing himself and saying a prayer before he ate it!

While I know that Nick's sweetness and simple love of God may not last forever, his lesson about doing the right thing, no matter what others think or say...will. Thank you, my sweet Nick.

Nick's Lacrosse

Nick is in the blue shorts.

Friday, October 28, 2005



I call this week “Hell” week.

It’s the week before Halloween where the kids get overloaded on candy, parties, costumes and spooky traditions.  With four kids in four different schools this year, my plate is full when it comes to baking Halloween cupcakes, volunteering for classroom parties, cheering on the kids in the classroom costume parades and preparing treat bags for distribution. With all of this going on, plus the day-to-day normal schedule of lunches being made, milk money being available, car-pool schedules, laundry, dinner, and my youth ministry commitments it’s understandable that I get mixed up from time to time about where I should be and what I should be doing.  Still, I do it with a smile on my face (most of the time) because I realize that my sweet kids won’t be small forever and that I’m going to miss doing all this stuff one day.  

The other day, I was plodding along, doing my regular Monday routine when I realized that I had 30 minutes before Gus needed to be picked up from his “Lunch Bunch” group at pre-school.  Instead of finding something to do to fill that time up, I decided to go and surprise Gus by going to his school to eat lunch with him.  

I parked the car and went inside the pre-school.  As I quietly sneaked into the classroom I saw Gus eating happily with his buddies totally unaware that I had come in.  Mrs. Brown, his teacher, saw me slide in and smiled at me knowing I wanted to surprise Gus.  As I approached Gus from behind, he turned, saw me and was totally thrilled!  I felt like such a great mom when I got my slimy Gus kiss and hug.

As I sat down next to Gus, he started talking:

Gus:  Mom!  Tanks for making me a ghost sandwich!

Me:  Did I make you a ghost sandwich Gus?

Gus:  (laughing) Yeah, you did.  That was fun-ny!

I was confused about his comment.  I sometimes cut his sandwich in a circle shape, but I’ve never cut his sandwich in the shape of a ghost.  I don’t have a ghost cookie cutter!

I looked up at Mrs. Brown with a confused face.  She smiled and uncomfortably said, “Yes, um, well, I told Gus that you made a really great sandwich for him today.  I told him it was a ghost sandwich for Halloween.”

Me:  Oh.  (I was still confused)

Then Gus solved the mystery for me:

Gus:  Yeah.  There is NOFFING inside the sandwich, Mom!  That was fuuuuuunn-ny!
What! I thought to myself.  It can’t be true!  Was there really NO peanut butter in Gus’s sandwich???

I looked in his lunchbox and saw the two empty pieces of wheat bread.  It was true.  I packed Gus’s lunch box with a ghost sandwich…in other words, two slices of bread with nothing in-between.  (There went my feelings of being a great mom.)  I wanted to die of embarrassment but instead I just laughed at myself and said:

Me:  Oh dear Gus, I think Mommy needs a vacation!

Mrs. Brown just nodded her head.

Even so, it didn’t really matter.  Gus was happy that I came to have lunch with him.  Soon afterwards, we packed up the ghost sandwich and went home. The afternoon went by quickly and Gus and I decided to wait on the front porch for Nick and Jack to come home.  I had totally forgotten about my humiliating experience at the pre-school.

Nick came home and as he walked up the front steps he said laughing,” Mom!  You forgot to put peanut butter in my sandwich today!”

I just moaned and said, “ I’m sorry Nick.”

Jack ran inside and said with his lisp, “ Mom!  You didn’t put any-ting in my sandwith!”

Me:  Yeah, Jack.  It was a ghost sandwich.

Jack: A ghost sandwith?  Oh, you are so cool!

Which Saint Are You?

OK. This is a bit weird, but you should try out this quiz for fun. Just click on the link below and see what saint you resemble. I was described as the saint below:

You are Julian of Norwich! It's all about God, to
you. You're convinced that the world has a
happy ending. Everyone else is convinced that
you're a closet hippie, but you love them

Which Saint Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

I've never been called a closet hippie before, but I kind of like it! Ha!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Grassroots Films Rock!

Jeff over at Grassroots Films just e-mailed me thanking me for placing a link on my blog to the "Follow Me" vocations trailer he helped produce for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)to encourage more vocations nationwide.

HERE to view this awesome trailer again.

Be sure to visit their website here to view current projects in production as well as completed projects. All these films are available to purchase (reasonable prices) and would be superb for any youth group discussion. Great job, Jeff!

Do you have your costume yet?

Oh my goodness! This is quite the halloween costume website to end them all!
Click Here To View

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

New Catholic Young Adolescent Bible

St. Mary's Press will be offering a new bible specifically designed for the young adolescent, or those youth between the ages of 10-14. The bible is called Break Through-The bible for Young Catholics. It will not be available for purchase until March, but it's worth looking at now as a gift option for a special 5th grader graduating to middle school or for use in JYM faith formation classes, bible studies or personal use. Click Here to learn more about it.

In my opinion, the cover is embarrassingly babyish with its 'cartoony' Moses on the front and pictures inside, but IF the jr. high reader can get past the graphics...there is a treasure of great stuff inside.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Knight to remember

Not a day goes by in the Clemens household without the boys playing with, drawing, or discussing knights. Gus was outside on the driveway drawing the latest chapter of an imaginary battle between the "good" knights and the "bad" knights. Here is the artist in motion.

A more detailed picture of the battle. Note the carefully placed swords and shields. (The shields have crosses on them, of course.)
Gus just now realized that he forgot to draw the "spear" guy, so off he goes to add more color to the driveway!

I live for these moments!

I came in to work today and was pleasantly surprised with a gift of chocolate from my dear friend and colleague, Jim! It's a big Cadbury milk chocolate bar that has the potential to last for a week if I discipline myself. Jim was reading the blog and never realized how much I enjoyed chocolate! Thank you Jim for making my day AND making my time at the gym well-worth it.

Don't you love it how God gives you those special little surprises through the kindness of other people?

Monday, October 24, 2005

The spirit is willing.....

I did my Monday routine today of getting all four kids off to school, exercising, stopping off for my energy-boosting unsweetened iced tea and then grocery shopping at Sam's. Back when we only had one or two kids, Sams was a losing proposition. We would always buy something in bulk and later feel bad when the one time leftovers would rot. NOT SO anymore! Now with our brood, Sam's is THE place to go to buy those large assortments of yogurt, bread, apples, pears, carrots, milk (only $2.49 for 2%!), eggs (24pk), pretzels, and the ever important Halloween Candy.

I bought 3 large bulk bags of Halloween candy. One bag was filled with my personal favorite mini-sized candy: Almond Joy. The mistake I made was that I put that large bag of candy RIGHT in front of me in the kiddy seat of the Sams basket. As I sauntered through the isles, I kept staring at that bag of candy wondering if I should open it up and take one (only one) Almond Joy. And so I did..after all I had just exercised, didn't I? I took one.

I ate my mini candy bar and felt satisfied, but after a few minutes, the opened bag of candy was calling me again. I thought to move the bag away from the kiddie seat...but there was not enough room in the basket to move it. Well, I thought to's just meant to be. I ate another.

As I checked out, my guilt overwhelmed me so I decided to share the guilt. I said to the rather large-sized, Latino checkout lady, " I opened my candy bag. Would you like a piece of chocolate?" She said in her latin accent, " Oh, jes! I wood lof some of dat candy!" (I knew she would say yes.) Ha! Now I had a partner in crime. We BOTH were guilty of eating chocolate at 10:30 in the morning. I felt better and my urge to eat more candy was gone. ( I have issues, I know.)

I had purchased a large amount of groceries from Sam's so I had a bit of trouble fitting everything in the Navigator, so some things had to be put in the passengers seat. As I started my drive home, I started to think about that opened bag of candy. Where did I put it? As I looked over in the passenger seat...there it was! My opened bag of candy! I ate another glorious piece. (At this rate, there would not be any candy left for Halloween!)

I got home and started to empty out the car. I gathered my strength, grabbed that opened bag of candy and placed it OUTSIDE on the shelves in the garage. It would at least be out of sight and hopefully out of mind.....

until tonight!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Spooktacular Decorating

Gus putting spider webs on the bushes.

"Mom, here's the ghost! Whooooooooooo!"

Jack and the tombstone.

It was a gorgeous Fall day today! The smells of the season were all around: pumpkin, caramel, chocolate, drying up leaves, pine straw and candles! It was the perfect day to decorate the house all "spooky-like" for the 70 or so little goblins that would be begging for treats on Halloween night.

Gus, Jack and Rebecca were totally EAGER to help me decorate and for the first time in 13 years of having children, they were actually HELPFUL! This year, I did not have to caution them about stepping on lights, or worry that one would stick their finger in a light socket, or fall off the steps, or get in the way, or run into the street, or change a diaper or chew up the electrical cord, or eat plastic or roll down the driveway, or even explain 17 billion times that Halloween is NOT today. Whew!

Kind of made me sad.

Follow Me.

Brendan, seminarian (aka: priest in training), sent me this vocations clip created in Brooklyn N.Y. using actual footage of priests who minister in the front lines, working, serving, sacrificing, and loving in the name of Jesus Christ. It takes a minute or two to download, but is well worth the wait.CLICK HERE to view this awesome trailer.

With all the bad news coming out of the media about Church scandals, it good to remember that the vast majority of priests out there are doing the work of God, staying faithful to their vows, and leading many souls to Christ through the sacraments, prayer and their life witness. My family is grateful to all priests and nuns who have said "yes" to God and who have enriched our lives by heeding Christ's (Note: Christ with a capital "C") call. Lord knows that deciding to follow Christ is this manner is not easy, so be sure to hug a priest or nun this week and tell them how much they mean to YOU! Sr. Catherine, Brendan, Mike, Michael, Tony, Dave, Charles, Fr. John, Fr. Alex, Fr. Greg, Fr. Tim, Fr. Mike, Msgr. O'Callaghan (T.X.), Msgr. Bily(T.X.), Fr. Scott, and Fr. Bob Scott (U.T. Austin)--we love you!

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Die job

It was time for my quarterly visit to the beauty shop where I plunk down $100 to cover those grey hairs and become the "blond" that I think I am inside. Hey, $100 is a bargain when I think of how I much better I feel after the 2hr long process that INCLUDES taking a short nap, reading junk magazines (PEOPLE is my fav.), having an adult conversation (uninterrupted)AND watching other women do the same thing to themselves. Does anyone truly realize how funny we look with all that aluminum foil on our head? It's like some 70's space movie.

My regular beautician quit last month so I went to another gal she recommended. (Always scary to change.) Anyway, I plopped myself into the chair, ready for my "space helmet" when my new beautician said,

"That color is not flattering with your skin tone." I was surprised by her comment so I said, "Oh! Well, Hum, What do you recommend?"

"Darker tones..get away from those blond streaks..they don't do you justice."

Since it is Autumn and I was kind of looking for a change, I agreed to her suggestion that I go DARKER not BLONDER.

Long story short, not only was I darker, she made me positively BRUNETTE with a few subtle highlights mixed in and I felt like another women! I liked what I saw in the mirror and made me excited to show everyone at home. So I paid my $100 and headed for home wondering what Rebecca and the boys would think of my new hairdo.

As I walked into the house, I called to the boys:

Me: Boys! Come see mom!

I heard the boys thundering down the stairs, they stopped and gave me kisses and told me things about their day. They totally didn't notice. Boys.

Me: Becca! I have something to show you..come down!

Becca: What.

I got in her face making sure she had a good view of the hair in all its glory.

Becca: Mom! What. Why are you acting so strange?

So finally I said:

Me: My hair is a different color, what do you think?

Becca: Well, I like it, but with your make-up, you kind of look trailer park trashy!

Trailer Park Trashy! What was she thinking!

Afterwards, I headed down to Nick's school where they were putting on a talent show for the victims of Katrina. Nick and his friend, Michael were doing a comedy routine and I planned to be there to watch along with all the kids. While there, one of my friends came up to me and said, "Oh, Georgie! You went brown with your hair!" I replied, "Yes, well, you know, I thought it might look more natural to do it this color."

As I waited for her response...totally waiting for her to "oooooh and ahhhhh" she just nodded and said NOTHING!!!!

Well, I thought to myself, the hair must be pretty bad if it goes unnoticed, trailer park trash, or silence. I consoled myself with the thought that the color will eventually fade over 6 weeks and I would get my normal color back.

Later, my husband(who rarely comments on my hair unless promted) came in, looked at me and said:

"Wow! Look at your hair! You look so sexy and young! It's like I have another wife 10 years younger!" I hugged my sweet husband, gave him and kiss, smiled and went off to clean the house.

I am SO leaving my hair this color!!

Friday, October 21, 2005

Keeping the "C" in Christ

Can you believe THIS? Stop the madness!

Manners Matters

Sr. Catherine at STM reminds us about the importance of teaching kids manners by using the "The Essential 55"by Ron Clark as a guide. You can purchase this fantastic little book by clicking Here and read an article about how it is used in the classroom (or home) by going here.

Here are rules 8 and 9:

Rule 8: Children should never smack their lips, roll their eyes, or show dis-repect with gestures. (Ahem,this goes for us too.)

Rule 9: It is appropriate that your child always say "thank you" when the teacher gives him/her something. There is no excuse for not showing appreciation.

Catholic Mother's Network

I was asked by Kathy Judson, Catholic Mother’s Network Organizer, to come and speak to the mom’s group about how to raise well-rounded, God-loving, Catholic children. She specifically wanted concrete examples of simple things mom’s could do to uphold a Catholic lifestyle without making themselves crazy trying to live up to an unrealistic ideal.

It is a great topic and one I’m very interested in, but practically speaking, I haven’t RAISED Catholic children yet. I’m still very much a “work in progress” like many of you, and realize there are NO guarantees once the kids move into adulthood, but was glad to share any ideas that work for my family. (I LOVE to talk about this stuff.) Similarly, I take the raising of my children in the Catholic faith very seriously. If there is one thing I am sure of it’s that raising Catholic children today is not for the faint-hearted. It’s downright COUNTER-CULTURAL baby! It requires prayer, hard work, discipline, prayer, knowledge of the faith, prayer, endurance, honestly, prayer, faith, and at times…alcohol.

So, I will share with you some of the ideas that I presented last night for the “girls” at STM. I don’t plan to give you the whole talk “kit and kabootle” in one posting, but through a series of postings that are easy to read, short and simple to incorporate into your homes.

Here are the topics: How to Raise Catholic Children

1. Creating a Catholic Home Environment
2. Child Friendly Religious Items
3. What messages are you communicating?
4. Be the example; words are cheap
5. Don’t go overboard
6. Favorite Resouces

Keep in mind that God does not require perfection, only faithfulness in following Him, so don't knock yourselves out trying to be the "perfect" mom to your kids. Just be faithful to his teachings and thankful for all He gives us...He takes care of the rest.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Cool to be Catholic

Check out this fantastic website by Catholic graphic artist, Melissa Scarlet. She is the creator of this now famous vocations poster. You can view more of her beautiful work on the website and purchase one of her posters for your faith development class or for someone you know who is a fan of the Matrix. The words at the bottom of the poster are hard to read, but are really clever. The vertical green lines you see behind the priest have subtly placed words from the Angelus Prayer. These posters could work well as visuals for a lesson on priestly vocations.

File under: Things I never thought I'd see in my kitchen trash can

I see a lot of stuff in my home go in the trash can; paper, half-eaten pears, paper plates, old homework assignments, rotten food, bills, junk mail, old shoes, food that falls from the pantry INTO the trash can because it's overfilled and sometimes even my good utensils make it in, only to be occasionally retrieved. (Jack and Gus will throw their paper plates in the trash along with the fork!)

Imagine my surprise when I came home this afternoon and saw a toilet seat in the kitchen trash can.

Me: (standing in front of the trash can.) Becca, why is there a toilet seat in the trash can?

Becca: What? There is a toilet seat in the trash can?

Becca looks in the trash can.

Becca: Where did that come from? (laughing)

Me: Nick, why is there a toilet seat in the trash can?

Nick: There is a toilet seat in the trash can? (He looks too.)

By now, the three of us are standing in front of the trash can wondering.

Me: Gus, why is there a toilet seat in the trash can?

Gus: Dad did it!! He said there was too much tee tee on it so he changed it for a new one.

Me: Oh.

Mystery solved. I guess it was time for a new toilet seat in the bathroom. I never noticed that it needed to be changed, but far be it for me to question a MAN wanting to change a toilet seat. After all, the men see what is under it more often than I do so it must have been pretty bad. Ewh.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


Boys are funny.

Jack and Gus are always involved in some kind pre-school style of play that is always entertaining.  Today they are in the middle of a game they made up called Earthquake:

Jack:  Did you know there was an earfquake in San Antonio?

Jack and Gus:  EARFQUAKE!!!! (Gus and Jack throw themselves on the floor, wiggle around and yell for 30 seconds.)  Afterwards they stand face to face and cry out at the same time:  “I feel dizzy!”  They then fall backwards and lay flat on their backs and giggle uncontrollably as if they were the only ones to hear a really funny joke.

Then it starts all over again, and again, and again.  What joy!

Monday, October 17, 2005

The Best Catholic Kids Website

One of the most wonderful Catholic interactive websites for kids can be found on the EWTN website. Click here. This site is appropriate for ages pre-school-3rd grade. Your child will learn tradtional Catholic songs, terminology, symbols in a really fun way. Check it out!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Sign off

Fr. John mentioned at Mass that the average 50 year old has watched 9 to 11 YEARS of television!

When you think of all the images you see on the tube, how that effects your thinking and your actions about "who" you are and "how" you percieve others. Most of these images are trying to sell you something: a lifestyle, vacation, designer label clothing, sport equipment, cars, diamonds and on and on. We are not better than anyone else just because we have designer clothes or sporty vehicles. We do not get any closer to the God who created us either.

God sees us naked anyway.

Instead of watching T.V., here are a few things to do instead:
1. Volunteer
2. Dance (as if no one is watching)
3. Sing
4. READ! So many great books out there!
5. Write a letter
6. Play more with your kids
7. Enjoy Silence
8. Scrapbook
9. Take a walk
10. Make something extra-special for your spouse
11. Take a class
12. Spend time with God and pray

Turn off that box and LIVE!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Gift of love

As you can see, Rebecca's friends decided to embarrass her by giving her a THONG as a joke. (They asked my permission though.) We all got a good laugh over that and pondered the real reasons WHY any self respecting woman would wear anything like that? Either way, Becca thought the joke was great and as far as the thong? I don't know where it ended up.

Ka Ching.....$

Rebecca had her 13th birthday celebration last night with 5 of her friends at PF Changs. Note that all the girls but one attend her Catholic youth group and have been together as friends for about 6 years. Here they are loving on the P.F. Chang horse.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Rear Window

Gus and I had returned from the grocery store yesterday. Grocery shopping is one of my favorite things to do merely because I challenge myself to try and save more money than I did the last time I was grocery shopping. You know, on the bottom of your grocery reciept it always lists how much you have saved using your "VIC" card or your "VIP" card. I try and stock up on those "Buy one, get one free" offers. I can really rack up those savings!!

Anyway,I had pulled the SUV into the garage, opened the rear window so that I could get those groceries out and into the house. I LEFT the rear window up and open as well as the garage door since I would soon be back out of the house to get another load. (Are you now guessing what is about to happen?) About that time, Gus and I could hear that Jack was home from school and on his way up the front steps. Gus excitedly ran to welcome his brother opening the garage door for him to enter (he didnt realize that the garage door was already open as well as the SUV's rear window) Long story short, as I heard the garage door CLOSING...I saw myself in slow motion saying...GUS.....NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Too late! I heard the garage door catch on the rear window straining it, then pop, a crash and then silence.

The garage door is in tact. The rear window of the SUV was in a million pieces.

Gus took off to the 3rd floor.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Birthday Blues

Rebecca is having her 13th birthday celebration today. How did it happen that the little baby I once carried in my arms is now a teen? It hurts.

Potty Talk

Yesterday, immediately after returning from a weekend long Whitewater Rafting Trip with my Youth Group, I had to open up the church for our expected 350+ youth who would be descending on church grounds for faith development in an hour. I was EX-HAUS-TED and craved a shower, my bed, and some chocolate. Long story short…. the youth came, it was a crazy night of all kinds of goofy stuff, they left. Ahh! As I did my rounds to close up, I go into the girls bathroom and realize that some “angel” decided to lock all the bathroom stall doors from the inside. I could not leave the doors locked like that so I had to CRAWL UNDER 6 bathroom stall doors to unlock them from the inside. As I am LAY-ING on the ground near the first toilet looking up at the ceiling, I’m thinking, “ This is NOT in my job description God!” Being on the verge of tears the thought came to me about the humility of it all and how GOOD it was to actually be on the floor of the bathroom. That is were I needed to be somehow…as a sacrifice for doing work that is worth doing. It was humbling, thought provoking and I am thankful for those moments of reality. It is a beautiful thing…