Friday, December 29, 2006

Big Bibles

View the video below and get a good laugh...good or bad! Oh, and let your teens see it...they'll like it.

Henry's 1st Christmas

How Henry Spent His First Christmas Day:

1. Midnight Mass
2. Getting lost in a flood of ripped up wrapping paper
3. Drinking Milk
4. Slipping from brother's arms onto the hardwood floor
5. Getting Soothed by Mom
6. Drinking Milk
7. Taking a nice long nap snuggled in mom's arms
8. Visiting with cousins
9. Playing with Uncle Dave
10. Drinking Milk

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Think Snow

It's been unusually warm in North Carolina this December; in fact we had to turn on the air conditioner this afternoon to fight off the humidity and poor air quality. There are a couple of snow sleds in our basement that I've been eager to use for the first time. (I bought them 2 years ago) Therefore, click on the THIS LINK, have a wonderful Christmas and THINK SNOW for North Carolina!!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The most important day in Henry's life....

Henry in the baptismal garment that was worn by his other three brothers.

One of the biggest reasons I love being Catholic is the fact that the church celebrates seven sacraments: Baptism, Reconciliation, Eucharist, Confirmation, Marriage, Annointing of the Sick and Holy Orders. We CELEBRATE the receiving of these sacraments and grow in holiness when each one is received. Henry became a Christian last week as we baptized him in front of his godparents, family,friends and the entire STM church community. Our fifth child was as good as gold as our pastor slathered him with chrism oil and baptized him (in his birthday suit, no less) in the name of the father, son and holy spirit. His hair smelled of the sweet chrism throughout the week and served as a gentle reminder of our commitment to raise Henry up as a Catholic christian. At our parish, parents are instructed to arrive at the church with the infant clothed in regular baby attire only to change into the white baptismal garment AFTER the actual baptism. (This was not the practice at my home parish where my older children were baptized.) This symbolizes the child becoming holy and clean...white as snow..without sin. After the child has been changed, there is a final blessing in front of the congregation so that all may witness the "new" christian in white and be a part of raising him as a good Catholic. (I'm thankful for this since we need all the help and prayers we can get!) After the baptism, we celebrated with many good friends and family at our home. What a wonderful day to celebrate.... the most important day in Henry's life! His baptism in Christ Jesus!

Fr. John baptizing Henry Ingatius with family and friends witnessing.

Friends and family afterwards...

Godparents: Mary and Scott Workman (My father in law stood in for Scott who is currently serving in the Middle East with the Air Force.)

My pathetic excuse for a post...but it sure is good!

From my inbox:

Dear Santa,
I've been a good mom all year. I've fed, cleaned and cuddled my
children on demand, visited the doctor's office more than my doctor, sold sixty-two
cases of candy bars to raise money to plant a shade tree on the school playground.

I was hoping you could spread my list out over several Christmases, since I had to
write this letter with my son's red crayon, on the back of a receipt in
the laundry room between cycles, and who knows
when I'll find anymore free time in the next 18 years.
Here are my Christmas wishes:

I'd like a pair of legs that don't ache (in any color, except purple, which I
already have) and arms that don't hurt or flap in the breeze; but are strong
enough to pull my screaming child out of the candy aisle in the
grocery store.

I'd also like a waist, since I lost mine somewhere in the seventh month of my last pregnancy.
If you're hauling big ticket items this year I'd like fingerprint
resistant windows and a radio that only plays adult music; a television that doesn't
broadcast any programs containing talking animals; and a refrigerator with a secret compartment behind the crisper where I can hide to talk on the phone.

On the practical side, I could use a talking doll that says, "Yes, Mommy" to boost my parental confidence, along with two kids who don't fight and three pairs of jeans that will zip all the way up without the use of power tools. I
could also use a recording of Tibetan monks chanting "Don't eat in the living room" and "Take your hands off your brother," because my voice seems to be just out of my children's hearing range and can only be heard by the dog.
If it's too late to find any of these products, I'd settle for enough time to brush my teeth and comb my hair in the same morning, or the luxury of eating food warmer than room temperature without it being served in a Styrofoam container. If you don't mind, I could also use a few Christmas miracles to brighten the holiday season. Would it be too much trouble to declare ketchup a vegetable? It will clear my conscience immensely. It would be helpful if you could coerce my children to help around the house without demanding payment as if they were the bosses of an organized crime family.

Well, Santa, the buzzer on the dryer is ringing and my son saw my feet under the laundry room door. I think he wants his crayon back. Have a safe trip and remember to leave your wet boots by the door and come in and dry off so you don't catch cold. Help yourself to cookies on the table but don't eat too many or leave crumbs on the carpet.

Yours Always, MOM...!

P.S. One more can cancel all my requests if you can keep my
children young enough to believe in Santa.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

In my inbox...

I Corinthians 13—A Christmas Version

If I…
If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, I’m just another decorator.
If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family, I’m just another cook.
If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.
If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir cantata but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.
Love stops the cooking to hug the child.
Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband.
Love is kind, though harried and tired.
Love doesn’ t envy another’ s home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.
Love doesn’t yell at the kids to get out of the way, but is thankful they are there to be in the way.
Love doesn’t give only to those who are able to give in return but rejoices in giving to those who can’t.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails. Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust, but giving the gift of love will endure.

7 is enough?

Tonight I started the process of hauling out the many Christmas decorations I have stored in my bedroom closet. There must be 4 or 5 large plasic containters that hold precious holiday art projects completed by my kids over the years, ornaments from favorite places visited, wreaths, garlands and tree lights of every color. But by far my most favorite item to pull out are the family stockings. My stocking collection was begun by my mother-in-law about 14 years ago when Chris and I were newly married. She ordered the needlepoint stockings and had our names embroidered on the top. As our family grew, so too grew the stockings on our mantle. This year is extra special since we get to add a NEW stocking to the group....bearing the name, "Hank" in honor of the newest Clemens babe. As I peer at the large collection of 7 stockings hanging on my fireplace mantle this evening, I simply shake my head in disbelief. I jokingly wonder out loud to my husband, "Where in the world did all those stockings come from? Are there really SEV-EN people in our family? When did that all happen?"

My husband looks across the room at me and non-chalantly responds, "Wanna make it 8?"

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Fat and Happy

Who needs a neck? I've got cheeks for a whole army!

Photo credit: Rebecca Clemens

Catholic Women's Book Club

Here is what we are reading this month. A good read, especially if you were educated in a Catholic school. We plan to read this doozy in January. These are great gift options for your Catholic friends! Let me know what you think of the content.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Milk Moustache Take II

As I was sitting on the couch nursing Henry, Gus came and sat next to me and asked:

Gus: Mom, is that milk hot or cold.

Me: It's warm, Gus.

Gus: (falling to the ground) I hate warm milk!!!!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Happy Advent!!

During the four weeks of Advent, we christians are supposed to be expectant with awe; the season is pregnant with MEANING!! How can we not be excited!! If you have not yet put out your Advent wreath do it and make a big deal of it in your home. Three violet candles represent the penitential aspect of the season, one rose colored candle represents the joy of Christ's birth. Some people add a larger white candle in the middle to represent Jesus. That one will remain unlit until the Christmas Eve Vigil on December 24, then lit again on Christmas. Every color, scent, and object is infused with symbolic meaning. The Advent wreath traditionally involves these:

Wreath:................The Eternal nature of God; the king who is coming and will come again
Ivy:......................Clinging to God's strength
Bay......................Victory over sin and death
Cedar..................Eternal life through Christ
Green (wreath).....Hope in God
First Candle.........Isaiah and prophets who foretold the coming of Christ
Second Candle.....The Bible
Third Candle........Mary, the Mother of God
Fourth Candle......John the Baptist, who called Jesus the "light of the world"
Middle Candle......Jesus, Light of the World

-Resource: The Catholic Home by Meredith Gould

Friday, December 01, 2006

Santa Baby

I have a neighbor who owns a baby boutique in the local mall. Every year she invites Santa to her store for her friends and patrons to enjoy. He is a really GREAT looking Santa, so I thought I should take Henry to meet Santa for the first time. When I entered the store, Santa immediately invited me to bring the baby over for a picture. It had been so long since I had an infant that part of me was afraid that Hank would cry in absolute terror like Gus had the past few years when he saw Santa. But no. My worries were calmed when my angelic Hank just slumped in Santa's arms, cooed and gooed with satisfaction and simply stared at all the commotion around him. Click. Picture taken. Santa baby!!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Maybe George Bush should have used this one.

Nick was recently elected by his 5th grade class to be a representative on the student council at his elementary school. He decided to take it one step further by running for President. Here is his campaign poster:

Monday, November 27, 2006

Happy Birthday Gus!

Wasn't it just yesterday when you surprised me with your conception? When I cried with fear when I realized you were on the way and how I didn't know how I would handle 4 children? Wasn't it yesterday when they put you in my arms for the first time? When we held you as a baby and now marvel at you in Kindergarten? How can it be that you are 6 years old, over halfway to 10 years old? You were the one who was the "baby" for the longest although it seems you had to grow up faster than all the others. Your entertaining and sometimes frustrating traits always give us something to talk about. You will always be our "Goose" and are so thankful that you taught us that having 4 kids is not hard; it's a blessing! We can never imagine life without you Gus! Happy 6th Birthday!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Prayer to Christ the King

O Christ Jesus, I acknowledge Thee to be the King of the universe: all that has been made is created for Thee. Exercise over me all Thy sovereign rights. I hereby renew the promises of my Baptism, renouncing Satan and all his works and pomps, and I engage myself to lead henceforth a truly Christian life. And in an especial manner do I undertake to bring about the triumph of the rights of God and Thy Church, so far as in me lies. Divine Heart of Jesus, I offer Thee my poor actions to obtain the acknowledgment by every heart of Thy sacred Kingly power. In such wise may the kingdom of Thy peace be firmly established throughout all the earth. Amen.

For more information and activities about this important solemnity, the last Sunday in the church year, clickHere.

Holiday Hunt...

OK, yeah, I admit it. I was there. It was me that you saw, fumbling through the bargains and sale items. I was there with all the other ga-billion people shopping on black Friday (that's what they call the shopping day AFTER Thanksgiving). I was there, looking for a good bargain, unique gifts for my loved ones, freebies and anything else that would make the holiday complete. I confess that I love crowds and sales, but most especially sales. Those red tags marking certian items down are just my cup of tea, but it needs to be a particular kind of sign that says: CLEARANCE or 60% off or more to get me to actually stop. It's more of a rolling stop though; where I kind of slow down, take a long look and maybe stop. Now, to be clear, there is another kind of Stop that I participate in and that's when a sign advertises 75%-90% off. Hey, now...that's when we are talking!!! That is when I stop in my tracks, turn and march DI-RECTLY to the items on display. I tell you, those tables are where you can get the best deals...especially if you are willing to store it for half a year or more until it can actually be used!

I admit to having a small closet in my bedroom called the "Christmas closet" where I store all my bargains for the year. You can find kids toys in bulk, after Christmas sale items, seasonal decorations and birthday party favors. It's not just for Christmas stuff as you can tell, but for everything that I buy on sale! In fact, I can't wait to decorate the house this year; I bought some fantastic ornaments last year...we're talking 90% off....and I'll be using them this year and giving some away as teacher gifts.

This is where I LOVE to go for after Christmas SalesMy sister and I visited about 6 of these store between the two of us to check out their after Christmas prices. If you can wait, these items will go down to a really low price. For the best scenario, visit one of their stores and check out their unique selections of gifts. Very sweet stuff. Oh, and good food too!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

More thankfulness

I'm thankful for:

1. My infant, Hank, and his new smile.
2. Thanksgiving Mass
3. Rebecca playing "America the Beautiful" on her trombone at Mass
4. My "new" King size bed
5. Friends who cook for me
6. My husband, who lets me shop on the busiest shopping day of the year
7. Chocolate cake and Diet coke
8. Nick, Jack, and Gus teaching each other to juggle
9. Washing Machines
10. The beginning of Advent

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

But for the grace of God....

The junior high youth group I head up collected numerous food and basket donations from members of the parish as our October/November service project. We then gathered on Monday night and filled baskets with the food we had collected. We trimmed each basket with colored tissue paper, ribbons and attached a $10 gift card to Food Lion along with a prayer card and holy card hoping to make the holiday a bit more cheerful for the 20 families we were helping. The day before, I had called all the families to let them know that their Thanksgiving Baskets were ready and that they could come by the church anytime on Tuesday or Wednesday to pick them up. As I spoke to the final woman on my list, she explained that she had no way of picking up the basket and groceries since she had no mode of transportation. In addition she informed me that she had 5 young children at home to care for and that limited her time outside her home. I could hear the children crying in the background and instantly sympathized with her situation. I told her that I could drop off her basket and groceries if she would give me her address.

It was a drizzly, blustery, and dark evening when I knocked on her apartment door. She stood there silently and unsure as my daughter, daughter's friend, son and I smiled with our arms full of food and baskets. We quietly entered her small apartment and were met with 5 sweet faces ranging from age 1 to (I would guess) 10. They were eating toaster waffles for dinner and were crammed in a very small eating area. As we prepared to leave, I said goodbye to the children and closed the door. I walked to my car feeling like we had not done enough. I told the girls to take the extra food reserved for the food bank and the extra food lion gift card and place it on her doorstep. I drove away in my warm SUV feeling as if we did as much as we could and that at the very least she would be able to put together a half-way decent Thanksgiving Dinner for her kids. It's hard to see such poverty, most especially this time of year.

Today is Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving and I was feeling overwhelmed, tired, and most especially not in the mood to cook a big dinner. The house was covered with toys, the refridgerator needed a good cleaning, my five children were starting to pick on each other since they had been cooped up in the house because of rain and I had not yet made it to do my own grocery shopping. It was raining and miserable outside. I asked Rebecca to watch the sleeping King Henry and the other 3 boys while I made a quick trip to the Food Lion for my groceries. I was in a rush so that Rebecca would not have to watch the boys too long. I made it to the store, picked up the necessary things for a large feast, and pulled out of the parking lot onto the highway. But as I drove onto the access ramp, I saw her. I saw the woman that we helped the other night. She was trudging along the sidewalk with all five of her children on the way to Food Lion...presumably to do precisely what I had just done. I could not stop, I had to pass her by. My heart sunk at the realization that I did not help her...could not help her. She was Jesus and I just passed her by! Oh pathetic Christian am I!

I went home and changed my sour mood instantly, remembering all that I have and all that I am thankful for. I hope this post will remind me in the future of how blessed I am and how I should always remember that "But for the grace of God...."

Monday, November 20, 2006

Milk Moustache

As I sat down to breast feed King Henry, Gus sits down next to me and asks:

Gus: Is that 1% milk?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

All boy

You must understand, my 5 year old son Gus is a bit of a bruser, a bully of sorts, a bull in a china shop kind of child, a child that embarrasses me with his abrupt nature and ability to call things like he sees them. He is the biggest in his kindergarten class and bigger than his older brother, Jack. He loves to play with swords, play guns, and knights. When neighborhood boys come to the door to play, Gus is the first one to get his shoes on. He always gives his opinion...unsolicited... and grunts and groans when he does not get his way. He's honest, independent, smart, confident and LOUD! He rarely uses his napkin, he prefers to use his hand. More times than I would like to admit, he "relieves" himself OUTSIDE of the house instead of trekking inside to use the more modern facilities. He sleeps spread-eagle in his bed; it would be impossible to sleep next to him since he is a bed hog. Kids are naturally attracted to him. He brushes off other "wimpier" kids his age who try and manipulate him into doing what they want. He's not interested in negotiation or reason.

But there is another side of Gus, a softer side, that only a few see:

Gus has two stuffed animals that he carries around as his best buddies. He lovingly kisses King Henry every day and whispers secrets in his ear. He loves to listen to story after story before bedtime and laughs a huge belly laugh at the funny parts. He sneaks into Nick's room when everyone else is sleeping and crawls into bed with him and snuggles closely. He is theatrical and funny. He loves to draw pictures and hang them on the doors of the house. Just the other day, he handed me a awkwardly spelled note that said, "I lov u mom...gus" He always notices when I am dressed nicely and tells me that I am beautiful...(that makes me melt). His blue eyes sparkle with mischief when he asks for his candy. Imagine my surprise when he handed me a Playmobil toy that includes a Princess, Prince, flower arbor, and bird bath. It was most definitely a pink kind of girl toy, but he was totally enamored with it. He insisted that it was NOT a girl toy and that the birdbath included a cool gold dragon that was for boys. This is the softer side of Gus, the baby side that I sometimes forget. He IS still a baby, but is trapped in a big boy body. Sometimes I feel sad for Gus since he never had a baby-like childhood. Because of his older siblings he flew past the "Barney" "Teletubby" stage and went straight to things like Star Wars, Playmobile and Video Games.

Gus is still a baby in many ways. I'll try and remind myself of that more often. Meanwhile, I'll try and stay sane while we raise him into the strong man he will, no doubt, one day become.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Living for Him

Well, it seems as Fall has officially started with the cooler weather and the gorgeous colors all around us. It's this time of year that I always think of my passing. I know it sounds little morbid, but it is true. When I look out at all the dying plants, trees...the bare branches and the cold sky I am reminded that one day the winter of my life will emerge and I will die. What a beautiful way God reminds all those living that one day, it all ends. We have a Spring/Summer time in our youth, and a Fall/Winter with our old age and death. It all ends... even though at times we like to fool ourselves that it won't. It is at the end of our lives that we will stand before Jesus where he'll ask us not WHAT we lived for but WHO? Did we embrace Christ and his church or did we follow the crowd and settle for that ever-present--middle of the road, self-centered, self-indulgent kind of life? I thank God for our seasons and for the reminder that I must always be working/living harder to live a life that Christ would approve of "now until the hour of my death".

Friday, November 10, 2006

I don't know where they pick these things up...

I was changing King Henry's clothes this evening. All he had on for a few minutes was a diaper. Gus was totally pleased with his baby brother's squatty naked torso. He pointed to the baby's chest and gleefully exclaimed:

Gus: Oh, look at his 'man--ly boobs'

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Prayer for election day

Lord God of all creation,
You rule and judge all nations,
You scatter the arrogant of mind and heart,
You cast down rulers from their thrones and raise up the lowly.

Today we elect those who will serve in our government:
the voices that call us to go this way or that way are confusing,
the signs of these times that we must discern are tragic and unjust,
the culture of death that afflicts all people is powerful.

Open our eyes to see your Reign in history,
our hearts to share your love with all people,
our ears to hear the cry of the widow, the orphan, and the stranger among us.

Send your Holy Spirit upon the people of this land:
Teach us to make wise and prudent decisions.
Increase our faith and hope.
Help us to live the Gospel we profess.

May all who are elected this day:
do justice,
love goodness,
and walk humbly before You and all people.

We ask for these blessings,
confident in your providence through all time,
calling upon Mary our Mother
and all the saints who have served the cause of justice,
through your Son, Jesus Christ, Redeemer and Savior, Amen.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Knock your socks off!

Folks, this is the SONG! to end all songs! I am a big Josh Grobin fan I'll admit. He turns me into a bumbling, sobbing, teen-ager when I listen to his music. But his newest album, AWAKE, is due out on Tuesday and I plan to be the first at the music store to buy it. His song, "You Are Loved", will fill your heart with joy, especially when you view the video. It's clearly a Christian theme with a Christian message. It's a message that the world needs to hear. Simple and straight to the point.

View the video by clicking HERE! After you view it once, view it a second's more powerful!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Dancing Queen

When I was a younger girl, I would frequently put a favorite song on the record player downstairs, make sure that no one was around, and then I would DANCE! Oh, how I loved to dance to a great tune! It was fun, relaxing and in my imaginative world-I was the BEST dancer around. That's what the judges in my mind would say! They would hold up their score cards: 10, 10, 9.5, 10. The audience was always on their feet and I would repay their affection for me by bowing a deep bow and then dance ONE MORE DANCE for my adoring fans! No one in my family knew my little secret..they had no idea they were living with the greatest dancer around. I never told them.

Every now and then I still get the joyful urge to DANCE! Depending on the moment and the song, I'll still dance. But instead of dancing when no one is looking, I'll usually dance around my children. They are my adoring fans and I'll always reward their love for me with another dance which usually includes them. I had not danced for my children in a long time due to my pregnancy and the fatigue associated with it. Yesterday, my dancing urge returned when Rebecca turned on the song, Takin' it to the streets
which has recently been re-recorded by American Idol star Taylor Hicks. I tell you, when I hear that song, I NEED to dance. Only problem was, I had just put my audience to bed...all except for Rebecca and Hank. Rebecca was sitting in my room rocking Hank in the rocking chair.

My audience was spread out in three different rooms, so I decided to take the dancing show to them! I got varying reactions from my adoring fans. I immediately started dancing in my bedroom for Rebecca and Hank. I started bogeying up a storm people...and I was GOOD! I tried out all kinds of new dance moves to impress my daughter and son but all Rebecca would do was laugh. "Mom! What are you doooing? Ewh!" I replied, "What? I'm good. You don't like my dancing?" Hank just sat on Becca's lap like a limp bean-bag and stared at me. "Hanky poo..check out these moves!" I said, moving about to stimulate my infant's senses. Hank expressed his delight by promptly spitting up. They weren't impressed. I decided to take my show to the next venue: Nick's Room.

As the music played on, I gingerly tip-toed into Nick's darkened room to the beat of the song. Nick opened his eyes, sat up and started to laugh. He was totally delighted. I danced for Nick and in no time, my adoring Nick could not resist the music either. He popped out of his bed and accompanied his mom in the dance. He. Was. Good. (But not as good as me.) Nick copied my moves like a pro and so we just danced together in the darkened room. I gave my Nick a kiss and sent him back to bed. Next stop: Jack and Gus's Room.

I entered the room and danced my fantastic dance for my younger sons. Their response was less than enthusiastic. They just laid there. Staring. I danced some more, waiting for a response but got nothing but silence. After about 2 minutes Gus said, "Mom, can I have a kiss?" I stopped my dance and said, "Boys? Don't you like my dance?" Jack ignored me and said, "Mom, I'm going to the bathroom."

Well, there it is! My fans of today...they may not give me a score of 10, but they still adore me. I may not be the greatest dancer in the world anymore, but I'm the luckiest mom!

Work like you don't need money,
Love like you've never been hurt,
And dance like no one's watching.


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Halloween notes for next year:

1. Don't buy candy early. Before you know it, you'll eat two bags before the holiday arrives.
2. A gigantic pumpkin purchase is not necessary, the smaller, more manageable pumpkins do just fine and take less time to carve.
3. If you are in need of an interesting science project, carve your pumpkins early in the unseasonable warm weather and see what grows!
4. If you let your kids wear their costumes early, they'll want to be something else by the time Halloween rolls around.
5. If your husband asks if he should dress up, tell him NO! (see pic)

Can you guess what he is?

6. Limit the number of weapons carried by your boys while trick or treating.
7. Have plenty of Diet Coke on hand.
8. Remember to buy CHOCOLATE candy to have something to snack on while waiting for trick-or-treaters.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Pumpkins by Jack and Gus

Happy Halloween!

For all those church music directors

Alternate lyrics to "I am the Bread of Life"

I am a church musician,
I've worked her for twenty-five years
I get five dollars a Mass
for my wife and seventeen kids,
my mother-in-law and her cats.

Refrain: And I will starve to death (3x) for the glo-ry of God

I am a church musician
I've got three Ph.D's
I own a concert grand,
But I have no job description,
So they call me a pastoral musician. Refrain.

I am a church musician
I know all the organ stops.
With my feet I am a magician
So they call me a pastoral musician
They call me a pastoral musician. Refrain.

I am a church musician
I play for wakes and funerals.
I know ev'ry mortician
So they call me a pastoral musician
They call me a pastoral musician. Refrain.

I've been a church guitarist
through Jesuits, Haas and Haugen.
I know ev'ry chord progression
So they call me a pastoral musician
They call me a pastoral musician. Refrain.

I am a church musician
Playing weddings on ev'ry weekend.
Work with brides on one condition
That they PAY for their pastoral musician
They PAY for their pastoral musician.
(brassy, with gestures! Bring out your inner Ethel Merman!)
There's no business like show business,
like no business I know!

We are the congregation
We've prayed here for fifty years
Survived through each transition
Led by our pastoral musicians
Thank God for our pastoral musicians!

And I will raise my voice (3x) to the glo-ry of God!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Boys will be boys...

Our poor unsuspecting infant, Hank (in the background) has no idea the indignities of being a baby during Halloween time. Note where Jack puts the top of his pumpkin.....


Sunday, October 29, 2006

The first day of getting my body back

Random thoughts at the gym....

1. When was the last time I actually exercised like this?
2. Is it almost over?
3. When did my aerobics class get so young?
4. Are my thighs going one direction while my body is going another or is it just my imagination?
5. Do people behind me notice my jiggly bottom?
6. Is it almost over?
7. I hope my breasts don't leak.
8. I'm NOT doing those jumping jacks!
9. Is my panting distracting?
10. The heck with all of this exercise, where's the chocolate brownie?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Keeping our kids Catholic

I've just ordered THIS BOOKthis book from Amazon. The title of the book is "Keeping Your Kids Catholic" by Bert Ghezzi. I understand that it offers practical advice to parents on various aspects of Catholic Family Life and how-to-articles on how to share the faith with your children and how to love children who have left the faith altogether. Many of you may seem surprised that I would need a book like this considering my job as a youth minister and mom, but quite frankly, I can always use some additional advice,inspiration and support.

During the post-Vatican II years (when I was raised) Catholic parents simply taught the faith by doing: ie: going to Mass, praying the Rosary, driving to CCD classes. Not much was explained or emphasized. Faith was primarily passed on through osmosis or through whatever the priest said from the pulpit. Parents did not know how to really "share" their faith with their children since "sharing" was primarily a Protestant phenomena and not something Catholics were comfortable doing. Some Catholics are still uncomfortable with the whole "touchy-feely" "sharing" kind of religion and that's just fine. But. If we expect our children to benefit from the gift that is a Catholic Faith in Jesus Christ, we as parents need to educate OURSELVES first. Reading, asking questions, sharing the faith with others, bible study, church history...all of this is important to know if we want to counter the anti-religious messages that are prevalent in our world. Problem is, most adults today are stuck in a pre-adolescent phase of their faith..a Jr. High level of faith...if you will. Their questions were not answered back when they were developing and as a result, we have a whole generation of adults roaming around wondering what the heck they are supposed to tell their kids about faith in Christ and the role the Church has in it all.

After working with parents in youth ministry for 10+ years, I've learned that we, as parents, MUST know the faith and practice it faithfully in order to pass it on to our children. At at recent parent orientation for our faith development program, a parent stood up and asked me for advice on how to get her Jr. High/high school youth to go to Mass. I told her that I could answer her question, but was afraid she was not going to like the answer. I told her that in order to get her child to Mass, she and her husband would have to go to Mass without fail. No questions asked. No excuses that the weather is bad or that the weekend was too busy, or that the kids would complain, or that the homily last week was too boring. When kids see that Mass is an OPTION, they will continually push the parents to NOT go..."Mom and dad don't take Mass seriously..why should I?" If we really believe that Christ is present in the Eucharist and that what we see is miraculous, and that we receive special graces in just being in christ's presence, why wouldn't we drag our kids down to the church every single Sunday?

The more we learn the better equipped we are to keep our kids Catholic-to keep ourselves Catholic. When we experience our inevitable doubts about the faith, consider it an invitation from Christ to learn MORE. Parents need to get their questions answered by someone knowledgeable and faith filled. If not, the doubts/questions will fester and there we will be...sleeping in to hopelessness...forgetting the gift of love given to us in the Eucharist and leaving our children with reason to NOT believe. Parenting a Catholic family is not for cowards. It's positively counter-cultural and unpopular, but it is a privilege beyond any other. We're up to the challenge.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

A teaching moment...

Life can get so busy sometimes, and in reality, the devil can work right along with one's busyness. Too busy to pray, or listen to that child who simply wants you to read that book to him. Too busy to stop and chat with that lonely neighbor or attend a school function. Too busy to write that lunchbox note, or bake those pumpkin cookies. Too busy to hold your baby when he needs alittle more attention or review Spanish words with your child before that big quiz.

But God can get your attention in little ways, if you listen closely, He speaks clearly.

Tonight I was busy cleaning the kitchen, the boys were in the shower, Rebecca was quietly doing her homework on the floor in the family room, and King Henry was staring at some "stimulating baby toy" in the corner of his downstairs crib. Soon, I heard Henry's cry and thought to myself, "Oh, great! I'm never going to get this kitchen clean! Henry needs me to be with him." Before I knew it, the phone interrupted my thought process and I ended up on the phone instead of holding my new baby. After I hung up the phone, I saw a beautiful sight: My daughter was studying her Spanish notecards with Henry right by her side on the floor...looking up at her as if she were the greatest thing he'd ever seen. Rebecca had picked up her crying brother, soothed him and laid him on the floor next to her and kept him company by reading Spanish words to him and he LOVED it. Henry just wanted some company and Becca was just the person to give it to him.

As I looked at my children, I thought to myself,"The beginning and the end.....The Alpha and the Omega staring into each other's eyes." Everything has a beginning and an end and there I was staring at the spectrum of time between my first child and my last with the realization that time flies and the opportunities to hold my children are finite. Forget the phone and the kitchen people! Hold your babies before they leave!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

When he makes my heart skip a beat; without even knowing it.

1. When he wears Navy Blue.
2. When he walks in the door smelling like his office.
3. When he puts his foot on top of mine during our talks.
4. He kisses me goodbye in the mornings when I'm still in bed sleeping.
5. When I catch a glimpse of him praying in church.
6. When he holds our babies, the same old familiar way...
7. When he makes me popcorn.
8. When he's working on the computer; his face illuminated by its light.
9. When he saves the last bite for me.
10. When he tells me that I'm hotter than Catherine Zeta Jones (although I don't believe him--I'll take it!)

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Pep Talk to Myself...

Well, its almost been a month since King Henry (that's what we've been calling him lately since his every need and desire is met by his lowly servants) came into our lives, and what a wonderful start it has been indeed! Having a large family requires that a mother and father keep things in perspective and balance. For instance, knowing that the laundry cannnot be completed, or that dinner is not from scratch (like I make stuff from scratch...HA!), or that the house is messy is NO reason for a couple to think of themselves as failures. It all just takes time to readjust and tune in to the change in the routine. It's kind of like juggling. I was getting very good at juggling 4 balls, but now I have to practice throwing that 5th ball in, and sometimes that means the whole routine fails and comes crashing down. It will require lots of practice and starting over, but in the end my routine will get better and better and more impressive! Failure is certain some days, but as parents, we must expect some bumps in the road. Right? Right.

Just as long as I don't hit a bump while I'm juggling my 5 balls......heh.

Duped, as usual.

This video was very disturbing to me. Every young girl and boy should view it and take a good, long, look at what society views as "beauty". Only God can create perfect beauty. We, as humans... keep on trying to be God.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

King Henry the 5th

Signs that our newborn son is making his way into the hearts of his siblings:

1. Rebecca holding Henry while softly singing "Do I make you proud?" (Taylor Hicks)
2. Jack cradling Henry in his arms, staring into his eyes while inviting him to be in his "fighting club" when he gets older.
3. Nick dancing in the den with joy...while Henry just stares.
4. Gus gently covering his baby brother with a blanket and patting his belly to soothe him.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Brain Food

I made some really good potato tacos tonight comprised of, well...chopped potatoes, ground beef, tomatoes, and spices. Gus frowned when I placed a plate in front of him and said:

I don't like this food! That meat looks like BRAINS!

(I told him to eat it anyway!!)

Sunday, October 15, 2006

I "heart" this pan.

Speaking of seasons and food, did I mention that I absolutely LOVE Halloween, All Souls/Saints, the Fall Season and all its colors, smells, and weather. I really do! In fact, I cannot resist anything unique that helps to celebrate the season. The other day when my sister was visiting, we went to the mall to walk around. She pointed out this terrific "Pumpkin Patch Pan" made by Williams Sonoma and so I bought one. Basically this is a cupcake pan with insets made in the shape of half pumpkins. You can place one half on top of another and you have your very own cake pumpkin. Add a little green and orange frosting and you have a special dessert for the kids or a party. You can purchase your own HERE.

This weekend we were invited to a Pumpkin Carving Party and I brought my very own Pumpkin Patch Muffins. (They looked very much like the ones pictured above.) I did not use the recommended Williams and Sonoma recipe (who has time for that?), and instead bought the Pillsbury Spice Cake Mix instead. The Pumpkins could not have turned out better and they were a hit at the party. I may make another batch for our trick or treat gathering on Halloween and give some to teachers! Happy Fall!

Tis the Season

It's that time of year: the changing leaves, cooler weather, sweaters, and apple cider. One cannot be human without insisting on a slice of THIS at least once a week ( or maybe even once a day!) in the Fall. I bought all the ingredient's for it today and by tomorrow the kids will be feasting on a bountiful amount!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

A good thing, a bad thing

The Clemens family has a fairly regular dinnertime routine of having each person at the dinner table express one "Good thing and one Bad thing" that happened to them during the day. We always go clockwise around the table starting with Gus, continuing with Jack, Nick, Rebecca and ending with mom and dad. Responses range from the ridiculous to the mundane but it is one surefire sneaky way that mom gets a glimpse of what goes on in the lives of the kids when they are away at school. Sometimes, without the kids realizing it, I can "read between the lines" from what my children mention during this exercise...and get a bit of a confession when one gets in trouble in the classroom. See if you can guess which child's good and bad thing got him in trouble today:

Gus: The good thing that happened today was that school was awesomely FUN, but the bad thing was that I could not stay home with mom.

Jack: The good thing today was that I got to work on my boyscout boat with dad today, and the bad thing is that it is not finished yet.

Nick: The good thing is that I got to play football at my friends house today, and the bad thing was that "Spencer" MADE me talk too much in class.

Becca: The good thing is that I got to play a Benz trombone and the bad thing is that I don't have one of my own.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Sisterly Love!

A sister is a gift to the heart, a friend to the spirit, a golden thread to the meaning of life. ~Isadora James

One day which will stand out for me as one of the most memorable of my life was last Saturday when my sister, Sally, walked unexpectedly through my front door...all the way from Texas. Her visit was a big surprise for me and the family. Thanks for coming Sal, it made my YEAR!

Lost in Translation

Nick rarely comes home after he gets off the bus in the afternoon, he mostly prefers to darken the door of some neighborhood friend than come home and face the inevitability of homework and chores. He's good at getting out of stuff, but he KNOWS that he MUST be home by 5:00 because that is the drop dead time to start homework. Or Else!

Today, Nick decided to go play at his friend Lauren's house. He likes Lauren alot and they have a good time together...despite the fact that she is a girl.

When Gus came in from school today, he inquired:

Gus: Mom, where's Nick?

Me: He's at Lauren's house.

Gus: (he contorts his face in a disdainful manner) Why does he like to go to her house? She's a GIRL!

Me: I'm not sure, Gus.

Gus: (smiling an evil smile) Mayyyyyybeeeee...he likes playing with Bar-Beeees

Me: Gus, you are a piece of work.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Deja Vu

Sorry it's been so long since I've posted, but the front door has been revolving with visitors, dinners and family wishing this family of 7 all the best since our new bundle has entered our lives.

Despite all the craziness and business going on around here, Rebecca turned 14 on the 29th of September. Her special day came and went with little hoopla, a small gift from the family and a plate of brownies given to her by a neighbor. Her actual birthday party was planned for the 22nd of September with me totally intending to give birth on the 27th. I thought it would be safe in planning her party a week early, but God had other plans. Early on the 22nd as I lay asleep in bed, I could feel the contractions of labor, but was determined to talk my body out of being in labor. "No. This is NOT labor! I have my daughter's 14th birthday party scheduled for tonight, and IT MUST GO ON!" I would reposition myself in the bed in the hopes of stopping the contractions to no avail. As I lay in the bed--half asleep--half awake--my mind raced with all the things I still needed to do before the baby came: Becca's birthday party, youth ministry movie night, lunches for the kids, carpool in the morning, band carpool in the evening, notes for catechists....and on...and on....but at that very second my water broke, and I jumped out of the bed faster than I ever had my entire pregnancy! (I didn't want to mess up my brand new king size mattress!)

I quietly called to my husband from the bathroom, "Chris". He instinctively jumped out of the bed...ready to go...a man familiar with the protocols of having a baby. He threw on his clothes, typed a fast e-mail, and accompanied me to the hospital.

Four hours later, we held our 5th child in our arms, trying on various names, wondering which would fit this child's face. In no time, the hospital room phone rang. It was my first-born child, Rebecca. She was calling from the high school. She was in the band hall, surrounded by 4 friends and had called to find out if she had a new brother or sister, " MOM! What did you have??? What did you have??" My mind raced as I heard her question. I looked down at her new baby brother....."didn't I just give birth to her?...wasn't it was just yesterday that I gave birth to Rebecca? Nick? Jack? Gus?" "How can it be that my first born is big enough to CALL me from her school and ask about her new baby brother? " Time flies...slips away.. and before we realize it, our children are fully grown.

"Becca, you have a baby brother." I responded to laughter and glee on the other end of the phone. The teenagers around her started text-messaging and calling others spreading the news to the rest of their friends from youth group and school. Rebecca was thrilled and I was happy too. But also a little sad knowing that she was so grown up and that in no time the rest of my kids would do the same....Including the new life I held in my arms. I shook off the sentimentality quickly and got back to the business of life, "Becca, your birthday party will go on as planned. I'll call Grandma and Grandpa and give them instructions on what you have planned and where your friends will sleep." "OK MOM, I'll tell everyone!"

Becca's party went on without a hitch, the girls had a great time...without me being there, and I missed it. But though she may not realize it yet, her father and I gave her a birthday gift that will live on when we are long gone: another love forever.

Happy Birthday Rebecca!

Friday, September 29, 2006

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The best kind of yard man

We are so in love here at, uh, um, four crying out loud er. I mean, five crying out loud....or...whatever. I have NOT decided what to name the blog now since Hank has entered our lives. For now, things will just have to stay the same until I get inspired or get a really good idea for a new title. Anyway, Hank is such a sweet baby and tends to charm everyone who stops by to see him. He's had a steady stream of visitors and friends bearing 'yummy' dinners so that this mommy does not have to worry about feeding the crew. Thanks to all those folks who have made my life really easy this week especially my mom and dad who have traveled all the way from Texas by car to help with laundry, cleaning, yardwork and babysitting.

This morning a friend called and asked if she could stop by and bring a gift for the baby. I told her she was more than welcome to come by. My dad was in the yard, working in his scrubby know what dad's wear..t-shirts with holes, old shorts, tall socks and tennis shoes. Lovely. He was sweeping the sidewalk..removing the grass clippings that fell there after he mowed the lawn. As my friend walked in the door, she exclaimed, " Oh, you have such a nice yard man!" I laughed to myself and replied, "yeah, and he' s really cheap!" "My maid (mom) is up in the laundry room, if you like him, you'll really like her!"

Monday, September 25, 2006

Henry Ignatius Clemens (a.k.a. Hank)

Well everyone. The day came, quite specifically on Friday, September 22 at around 5:15 in the morning I realized my water broke and that it was time to go to the hospital. Henry was born at 10:28am with the help of St. Benedict (a cross we hung on the wall of the delivery room) and the wonderful nurses and doctors of UNC hospitals. All I'll tell you now is that it was a beautiful birth, gentle and sweet. The prayers of many were heard and Henry has come into our lives, never to be the same again. Thank you sweet Mary and Jesus.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


Yesterday, the day after a long faith development potluck kickoff and parent night, I went to my dr's appointment so that she could check how I was doing and to see if I had progressed past the 3cm I had dilated since last we met. I had a feeling that I was far along enough that I could go to the hospital yesterday to have the baby, but was not sure. As I suspected, my dr. told me that I had continued to dilate to 5cm and but that my water had not broken and that the baby was still stationed high.

Dr: Georgie, we are ready to go NOW if you would like. We can just get you situated at the hospital and have that baby by noon! What do you say??

Me: Uh, well. I'm not too sure. I still have things to do to prepare, like, I have a lunch date with friends today at noon and I really would like to see them. Oh, and my house is not clean...not to mention that I have to create the kids goodie bags, plan Rebecca's birthday, prepare for next Sunday's youth session, sing for the Saturday night 5:15 Mass, take Gus to get his immunizations before the school kicks him out, go to the grocery store before my parents arrive, clean out the fridge and take a nap.

At this point, I looked over at my husband and stared at his blank face. I knew what he was thinking...the survivalist that he is....I knew he was reviewing procedures of a home birth in case I did not make it to the hospital.

Dr: (laughing) I can understand all that, but if you wait, you may not have ME deliver your baby. It might be someone else. Plus I have a hair appointment Wednesday, and I don't want you to mess with that.

Me: Yeah, that would be bad. I need to get my hair cut too...

Meanwhile, Chris's face is getting more intense...

Chris: What do you need to tie off the umbilical cord?

My doctor and I look at him nonchalantly. My doctor responds,, " Oh, just have a good shoe lace on hand and that should do it. It's really not that complicated....just messy." The nurse outside the hall has been listening to all of this and yells, " Georgie!!! Just go to the hospital!!!!" "Naw", I respond, "it's still too early. We'll just make sure Chris gets his shoelace and we should be just fine."

Dr: OK. Just be sure if you feel like anything changes, get in here fast!

Me: See you in a few days!!

The clock ticks........on....on...on...

Hormonal and Erratic

In my inbox this morning:

The Hormone Hostage knows that there are days in the month when all a man has to do is open his mouth and he takes his life in his own hands! This is a handy guide that should be as common as a driver's license in the wallet of every husband, boyfriend, or significant other!
What's for dinner? Can I help you with dinner? Where would you like to go for dinner? Here, have some chocolate.

Are you wearing that? Wow, you sure look good in brown! WOW! Look at you! Here, have some chocolate

What are you so worked up about? Could we be overreacting? Here's my paycheck. Here, have some chocolate.

Should you be eating that? You know, there are a lot of apples left. Can I get you a glass of wine with that? Here, have some chocolate.

What did you DO all day? I hope you didn't over-do it today. I've always loved you in that robe! Here, have some more chocolate.

13 Things PMS Stands For:

1. Pass My Shotgun

2. Psychotic Mood Shift
3. Perpetual Munching Spree

4 Puffy Mid-Section
5. People Make me Sick

6. Provide Me with Sweets

7. Pardon My Sobbing

8. Pimples May Surface
9. Pass My Sweat pants

10. Pissy Mood Syndrome
11. Plainly; Men Suck

12. Pack My Stuff

and my favorite one ...

13. Potential Murder Suspect
Pass this on to all of your hormonal friends and those who might need a good laugh!
Or to men who need a warning.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

The truth hurts.

Have you ever seen such anger in your lives? What is wrong with these people?

Pope Quote: He said, I quote, 'Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.'"

I don't see huge Muslim governments denouncing terrorism in the name of the Muslim faith, but I do see them denouncing the poor Pope and participating in MORE violence. Does that not prove the Pope's point and shouldn't the Muslim community be faced with the reality of how the world sees them? Come Lord Jesus.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

A painful day

As you all can imagine, it's very obvious that I am heavy with child. I'm counting the days until I can get my body back. Every move is a struggle, and please, don't make me walk up a flight of stairs, pick up something off the floor, or take my spot on the couch. I might just bite your head off.

Today, I volunteered in Jack's class with centers. One little boy was at the games center, playing with pick up sticks on the floor. He looked up at me, smiled, and said, " Will you play with me?"

Oh now this was a dilemma for me. Do I reject this child and tell him "NO" because of my condition or do I suck it up and just get right down there on the floor and play? Hmmm. No, not even for an innocent face would I force this body on the ground. I said to the child, " Oh, honey, I wish I could, but I just can't get down there!" The teacher overhead my response (which made me feel like a real heel) and quickly said to the child, " Do you know why Mrs. Clemens can't get on the floor and play with you?" The little boy took a long look at me a second time and said, " Yes!" The teacher nodded expectantly and said, "Why do you think?"

The little boy said, "Cause she's old."


Monday, September 11, 2006

Band Aid

Wow! What a weekend!

While I won't bore you with all the details, I will give you the highlights of one night in particular that brought joy to our hearts.

Friday night was Rebecca's first time marching with the local high school band at the football game. It was glorious!

The evening began with a "beginning of the year" pig pickin' on the lawn of the band hall. I helped serve over 300 people in the muggy heat. My ankles were swollen, my rear ached, and my legs ached but it was all worth it to see the smiles of such good and polite band members. After everyone ate their dinner, the band suited up, warmed up, lined up, and marched to the field accompanied to the beat of the drum core. We parents followed behind our children, proud as punch! I watched in disbelief as I saw the years fly by....wasn't I just in the band? Wasn't it my mom and dad following behind me?

Luckily the weather started to cool down, the breeze kicked in....but so did the rain. HA!! Of course we did not have any rain gear in our possession, so many of us just sat on the metal stands, soaked, waiting for the game to start and the band to perform. Jack and Gus danced in the rain, Nick sat patiently next to his dad with water dripping down their necks, and I wilted next to another mother who took pity on my pregnant self and shared her spare umbrella. Ponchos could have been purchased at the band boosters booth for $2, but my pennny pinching husband refused to spend the money (thanks honey.) The rain soon stopped and it became time to see my daughter perform.

There she was, tall, straight, and beautiful in her gold and black. Marching like a pro. Grand music and bright lights shining down on their instruments. Were there mistakes? Well if there were, I did not notice because I only had eyes for one child. I am so thankful that Rebecca has found the one thing that gives her pure joy...the music...I'm also thankful for the patient guidance of the band director and support that makes that band go. I could not believe how much parent support there is for the the band and how dedicated these parents are. Despite the rain, heat, swollen body and pain I had experienced that evening, it was probably one off the greatest days of my life, and one I will never forget. My baby is growing up and I am the lucky one to say that I am her MOM.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Joke of the day

In my inbox this morning:

Have you ever told a white lie? You are going to love this--especially all
of the ladies who bake for church events. Alice Grayson was to bake a cake
for the Baptist Church ladies' group bake sale in Tuscaloosa, but she forgot
to do it until the last minute. She remembered it the morning of the bake
sale and after rummaging through cabinets she found an angel food cake mix
and quickly made it while drying her hair and dressing and helping her son
Bryan pack up for Scout camp. But when Alice took the cake from the oven,
the center had dropped flat and the cake was horribly disfigured.

She said, "Oh dear, there's no time to bake another cake." This cake was so
important to Alice because she did so want to fit in at her new church, and
in her new community of new friends. So, being inventive, she looked around
the house for something to build up the center of the cake. Alice found it
in the bathroom -- a roll of toilet paper. She plunked it in and then
covered it with icing. Not only did the finished product look beautiful, it
looked perfect!

Before she left the house to drop the cake by the church and head for work,
Alice woke her daughter Amanda and gave her some money and specific
instructions to be at the bake sale the minute it opened at 9:30, and to buy
that cake and bring it home. When the daughter arrived at the sale, she
found that the attractive perfect cake had already been sold. Amanda grabbed
her cell phone and called her Mom. Alice was horrified. She was beside
herself. Everyone would know; what would they think? Oh, my she wailed! She
would be ostracized, talked about, ridiculed.

All night Alice lay awake in bed thinking about people pointing their
fingers at her and talking about her behind her back. The next day, Alice
promised herself that she would try not to think about the cake and she
would attend the fancy luncheon/bridal shower at the home of a friend of a
friend and try to have a good time. Alice did not really want to attend
because the hostess was a snob who more than once had looked down her nose
at the fact that Alice was a single parent and not from the founding
families of Tuscaloosa, but having already RSVP 'd she could not think of a
believable excuse to stay home.

The meal was elegant, the company was definitely upper crust old South...
and to Alice's horror, the CAKE in question was presented for dessert. Alice
felt the blood drain from her body when she saw the cake, she started, out
of her chair to rush to tell her hostess all about it, but before she could
get to her feet, the Mayor's wife said, "What a beautiful cake!" Alice, who
was still stunned, sat back in her chair when she heard the hostess (who was
a prominent church member) say, Thank you, I baked it myself."

Alice smiled and thought to herself, "GOD is good."

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Priestly vocation?

We are blessed to have some very good priest friends who come to visit from time to time. Our Fr. Tim has been staying over a few nights and being around him is a blessing. Fr. Tim never fails to wear his black priestly clothes, so my kids are never confused by what he does. He is a priest, and they know it. (That never stops them from attacking the man or jumping on him, but hey, that's what boys do.) Thankfully, Fr. Tim is a patient man and is good with kids.

Anytime Fr. Tim comes to visits, he always gently reminds the boys about how wonderful it is to be a priest. They look at him, smile knowingly and run away...never realizing that seeds were planted. I responded to his comment when the boys were out of earshot:

Me: Well, if I were to bet which of my sons would become a priest, it would probably be Jack. He's my holy one.

Fr. Tim: Yeah, as compared to Gus, who is your "holy terror".

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Prolife website

An e-mail just sent to me from a friend: view the website she recommends and see what our culture is calling a "choice".

"I'm writing to share something very powerful with you
- some of you have already seen it. This is a pro-life website
that you should check out -

I've seen (the) two opening mini-films, the second
being quite graphic. Take a look, at least at the
first clip, and send on to a friend, if you're so
inclined. "

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Where there is doubt, faith...despair, hope, darkness...light

Nick, Jack and Gus on their first day of school.

Rebecca on her first day of high school. SNIFF!!!!! I feel like I'm throwing her to the dogs!

I think it's harder to let your first-born go to high school than to kindergarten. I mean, when you live in a more liberal minded town like mine, everything is accepted and everything is on equal footing. There is really no real "truth" to live by , one mostly has a moral relativism that functions as the 'truth' of the day (unless you are a conservative Christian--then you don't matter at all) That being said....

Rebecca started high school this year as a ninth grader. A few days before the first day of school, I had to make my way to the counselors office to help her change one of her classes. As we walked through the Science wing of the school, I noted how dark, depressing and narrow the hallways were. Not only that, every wall was covered in some sort of mural painted by youth of the past. Some were very impressive paintings while others only mediocre. One large mural displayed a colorful tree inset with faces and animals. The words Gaia were painted above it. ( I assumed it was the pagan goddess gaia?) Walking on I viewed another mural above another teachers' doorway. Painted there was the image of death with the words: Doom to all who enter here. The word "Here" was painted in a Halloween type font with blood dripping down. How happy! In the counselors office, the secretary had decorated her area with posters depicting herself as a goddess...or secretary goddess, Christmas lights hung around, etc. Stuff that helped her seem "cool' to the kids, I would guess. I assumed she was fairly young, but as she walked up and spoke to me with her half-chewed sandwich in her mouth, I realized that she must have been 50 years old. Pink triangles dotted the hallways indicating that this school was a 'safe zone' for those who are gay. Other signs invited young people to join groups of all sorts of affiliations or persuasions. Did I mention that there is no dress code for the place and the girls wear VERY provocative clothing and boys wear offensive t-shirts of every type..oh wait correction...the t-shirts are not allowed to degrade women. Gee, thanks. Did I mention that the rock radio station that was blaring down the hallway was coming from a teacher's classroom and is well liked by the constantly bashing something, with D.J's hurling expletives at each other and laughing at what they view as 'traditional'. Nothing is held back, it seems that self- gratification/self-expression in all its forms is matter what the consequences may be. Why do we as a society welcome it ALL???? Do we think we are actually doing our teens a favor by allowing all of this? Negativity, negativity, everywhere.

This high school has been listed as one of the top 10 high schools in the country in the past, and is currently in the top 100. The people in my town are wealthy, educated, mostly white, and busy, busy, busy-I would even say too busy for their kids. My point is, there are SO many mixed messages thrown at these kids everywhere--some good, some bad. Boy it can be a confusing place if you arrive here without much conviction or direction from your parents about what is right or wrong.

This is where youth workers need to take our jobs VERY seriously. There is only ONE message that we need to convey as a church and that is the positive message of Jesus and WHO He died for. It's a positive message. The only thing on OUR wall is the crucified Christ, our message it is one of hope, charity, love!!! We need to present the youth with the counter-cultural message that you CAN be a happy and fulfilled person as a believer in Jesus. Young people are hungering for something to fill that void that we all have in our heart....filling it with everything alluring thing that the world gives only leaves them feeling empty and incomplete. Youth need to know that they are LOVED by someone, anyone, and they'll go anywhere to find that love. If you are a youth worker, please at the very least, make sure your young people KNOW that Jesus loves them, that He gave his life for them. Give them a place to be themselves, a place away from all the noise and confusion, a place where they can be quiet and reflect on the beauty of our Catholic Faith, give them the tools to fight temptation and find purification. But most of all make sure that they know that NOTHING can separate them from the love of God. Nothing. Not even well-intentioned public high schools.....

Monday, August 28, 2006

Why we don't own a dog:

After running around in 90+ degree weather at school today, Jack and Gus arrived home hot, sweaty and red faced. Nick went over to his brothers to give them a hug, only to announce:

Mooommmm! Jack smells like a dog!

(Finally he notices!)

Monday, August 21, 2006

Happy Birthday Dad

As a child, you come to know your parents as people in your life who tell you what to do and when to do it. You never really realize WHY they do what they do, it's just life and unless you want trouble as a child, you do as you are told. It is not until you have grown into adulthood that you come full circle and realize the immense job they had in raising you and how much you are loved by them. I am loved by my parents in different ways. My mom loves me a soft, gentle manner while my dad loves me in a much different way. I liken the love my dad holds for me and my siblings to a German Shepard, quiet,loyal, protective, and fierce (when he needed to be). There was no mistaking my father's love. It was rarely the touchy feely type of love my mother gave out so naturally. It was the type of love that was silent and sure, heroic and steadfast, yet in his eyes you could always see the tenderness he so rarely verbalized. In those same eyes you knew when you had messed up and disappointed. Dad loves deeply. I figured that out as I grew into adulthood. He was the strong one, the one to look upon for a steady hand to help me up, the one who would race out in the middle of the night to pick me up if my car broke down, the one who never missed a performance or event, the one who taught by example, the one who silently sacrificed and died to himself so that his children had all they needed, the one who prayed fervently after communion and during adoration, the one who would hide his tears when one of us made him proud, the one who would stand out in the front yard with his post hole digger making sure the "boyfriends" knew who was in charge. All in all, my dad stands out as an excellent father who knows how to love. If you are one of the privileged who is loved by know it, and you KNOW he will do anything for you.

If you know my dad and you are reading this post, please wish him a happy birthday by commenting below. He would really appreciate it.

Happy Birthday Dad, and thanks for all you do!

Quote of the day

Any day is a good day to be born; any day is a good day to die.-Blessed Pope John XXIII

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Birthday Present Surprise

My OB informed me the other day that she has made plans to transfer to another hospital permanently. Only problem is that her last day at the hospital I am delivering at is September due date. It also happens to be by daughter's birthday. So my doctor made me an offer I could not refuse. She told me that her last day in labor and delivery was to be September 27th and asked if I wanted to be induced that day with her there instead of waiting for "mother nature." I told her that mother nature was over-rated when you have four kids at home and for that reason, September 27th sounded FINE with me! So dear readers, barring any emergency or early delivery, come hell or high water, the 5th Clemens baby will arrive sometime on September 27th!

Now that the date is settled, I only had one problem: How to tell Rebecca that the baby would not be born on her birthday. Believe it or not, she was really hoping that the baby would come into this world and have the same birthday as her. I didn't want to disappoint her, but knew I had to break the news to her gently:

Me: Rebecca, guess what? The doctor said we are going to induce this baby on September 27. What do you think of that?

Becca: What? The baby won't be born on my birthday?

Me: No, but what I can do is bring the baby HOME on your birthday instead. It will be your birthday present. What do you think of that?

Becca: (Silent for a few seconds) I hope that won't be my only present.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Pregnancy Brain...all in one day!

1. You gather up all the kids for back to school shopping, grab the school supply lists, drive to the store and absentmindedly throw the supply lists away in the Staples trashcan.

Me: Becca, go to the car and see if I left the supply lists there.

Becca: Mom they are not there.

Me: Oh, dear, did I throw them away? (I dug through the trash can at the store) Oh, here they are.

Becca: MOM!!!

2. You start dinner by putting a pot of water on the stove to boil. You turn on the stove but later realize you turned on the back burner that holds the teapot instead of the front burner which holds your pot of water.

Gus: Mom what is that sound?

Me: Oh! The teapot is whistling. What happened?

Chris: You turned the wrong burner on.

Me: Ug.

3. After collating forms for an upcoming youth retreat you are planning, you wonder WHERE you placed the stack of registration forms. They must be on your desk somewhere. After all, they ARE lime green and are hard to miss.

Me: Becca (again) , have you seen my retreat forms?

Becca: They could be in the recycling box in your office.

Me: NO. I just copied them and need to distribute them to the youth. I would not have put them in the recycling box.

Becca: (searching through the box anyway) Uh, mom...are these the forms?

Me: Huh? Yeah? What were they doing in there???

Becca: (Laughing heatily) Mom , you need a vacation!

Buh, bye!

For the first time since I can really remember, I am home alone. No boys, No girl, No husband for one night. Weird.

My husband decided that I needed a break from the kids (did it show that bad?) so he decided last minute to pack up his old Rover with the boys and go camping near Asheville. When he made this generous offer to me earlier in the week, a small part of me thought I should protest. You know, good moms don't let their young children go camping with just DAD. They need their mommy, you know. Who will cook and read and tell them stories and make sure that they don't get eaten by mosquitoes? Who will put on their sunscreeen, walk them to the potty, point out dangerous rocks, keep them from deep water and on and on. I mean these boys are 10, 6 and 5...there needs to be at least two parents to watch and manage. Right? Right.

Well then someone explain to me why in the world I accepted his offer with glee and anticipation? Let me be honest here people, I DID NOT EVEN SHED A TEAR WHEN THEY LEFT THIS AFTERNOON! Chris packed up the car with all the necessary camping items, yelled to the boys to take their places in the car, and rode off into the sunset. As I helped buckle the younger boys in the backseat of the car I heard Jack say, "Mom, you can come if you want to." Gus continued, "Yea, mom. We want you to come wif us." I smiled and looked at their sweet sincere faces and said, " I wish I could, but mommy and the baby need to sleep in a bed tonight. I'm sure you and daddy will have a great time together." As I slammed the door closed, Gus looked at me through the windshield, his eyes welling up with tears, started to the fact that I was staying behind. I admit that it pulled at my heartstrings, but still, it did not make me want to go. It just proves that I am tired, 8 months pregnant and need a break. It's been a long summer.

I still feel a little guilty that I'm home alone while the men of the house are gone, but deep down I know that I need some time alone, to recharge, regroup, and pray, before our fifth child is born. It will ultimately make me a better mom and wife. Chris knows this. I am just grateful that my husband made the offer to give me some time to myself (even if it is only overnight) and that he is the type of man that recognizes that a tired, pregnant wife could use a break every now and then. In a few short hours they will come home to me dirty, greasy, smelly, but happy. None more happy than their mom....

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Vacation Bible Camp

The Clemens four have just completed a week of vacation bible camp at the local Methodist church. It's amazing how each child participates in these events differently. Rebecca served as a teen crew member and mostly enjoyed her service to the camp. Nick LOVED it since he was given the title: Crew member in Training. That made him feel as if he were in charge of everyone. My little holy Jack participated in all the songs and hand motions, while Gus scowled at the choreography, music and the many 5 year old girls trying to get his attention. His teacher said that he finally participated in the music on the last day. (Well, I guess there is something to be said about NOT going along with the crowd.)

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Bishop Burbidge: 5th Bishop of the Diocese of Raleigh

Again I'm falling down in posting these days mostly due to an inability to connect two coherant thoughts at one time. I think they call it preganacy brain. There have been some notable things that have happened in the last few weeks that I would have loved to write about, but again, my brain has not been functioning as quickly and I've been to hot to write anything. I DID however, participate in last week's installation of our wonderful new Bishop of Raleigh: Michael Burbidge. He is 49 and hails from Philadelphia. I was invited to participate as one of 122 choir members (5 of us were from St. Thomas More) where we sang some really beautiful music accompanied by brass, piano, orchestra etc. As you see in this picture, the choir was seated above the many priests on the stage. It was a great view of the pagentry and ritual that is traditional in our Catholic faith and I am humbled to have been a part of such a historic event. (The last time the Diocese of Raleigh installed a Bishop was 31 years ago.) Everything was beautiful, but nothing moved me more than seeing the hundreds of priests from across our Diocese and from Philadelphia process into an event like this. Given my vantage point, I was able to catch a glimpse of each of their faces, most old, some young. Some were singing heartily, others wide-eyed and impressed with the glory of the event. ALL part of the same apolstolic succession....beginning with Jesus and his disciples and ending with what I saw at the installation.

I know quite a few of the priests on the stage, and know how hard their jobs are. But despite their difficult vocation, they continue to follow Jesus in the best way they know how. Seeing them all gathered together makes one appreciate all that they do and how many of them it takes to share the sacraments with us. What would we do without them?

Below is a picure of the singers from STM and a dear priest friend of mine who helped orchestrate the event. Don't we all look handsome in our black and white?

A sweet tooth.

Boys can be so gross.

Today was no exception. Now I could spare you, dear readers, the day to day, gross boy stuff that circulates in the house of four crying out loud, but then I would be a dishonest writer wouldn't I? Writers must tell the truth, no matter how gross or how repulsive. My only comfort is that maybe, just maybe, you could have a gross boy too?

Gus: Dad, do buggars have sugar in them?

Dad: Why? Do you like the way they taste?

Gus: Yes.

Dad: No they don't have sugar in them.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


Nesting has properly set in. All I want to do is organize things and replace all in my house that is old, tatty and faded. Only problem is, when you have lived in a house for 8 years without replacing anything, most everything looks like it needs replacement. Oh, you know what I mean. Things like the blanket over the couch is not hiding as many fabric flaws on the couch anymore. The dimmer switch on the family room light is not hiding the subtle stains on the carpet. The pre-stressed furniture purchased long ago is WAYYYY passed the pre-stressed natural state and is bordering on needing to go to the dump. The brown paint in the foyer is not necessarily brown's brown due to sticky hands, feet, dirt etc. from my four crying out loud. And my family room curtains that used to be white...well, have turned a lovely eggshell. sigh. Shamefully I admit that I would rather up and move to a shiny new house than renovate or re-do what I have, but that is not possible since house prices around this town are totally out of control. So instead, I decided to make a few changes around here to spruce things up.

First issue at hand is the family room furniture. The frames of the couch, chair and ottoman are in great shape, but the fabric on these items are faded and have holes poked in them from years of babies using toys with sharp edges (you know, Playmobile swords, and the occasional electric screwdriver that daddy left out). Kids will play with anything. Anyway, after looking long and hard for a reasonably priced set of furniture to replace the old ones, I realized that purchasing new would be expensive and silly since baby #5 is coming along, and who knows what he/she will do to new furniture. (after all, Dad might leave out the electric screwdriver again, and we'll be right back where we started.) So I decided to look into re-upholstery and was pleasantly surprised at how reasonable and practical it was. I found a shop nearby that sells all their fabrics at $7.99/yard and it was filled with some of the most beautiful colors and patterns I'd ever seen. I had a great time mixing and matching fabrics, gaining opinions from neighbors and friends, and feeling empowered that I could actually put a color combination together that I could live with. The best part was that it was 3 times cheaper than the next option I had. My goal was durability first, beauty second, but I think I have both with what I selected.

I collected my color swatches and went home to show everyone. We all agreed on the wine color for the couch, a yellow floral (with wine accents) for the ottoman and chair with coordinating pillows for the couch, and some large green floor throw pillows for the kids to lay on. I got the blessing from the family and continued my home improvement project. I called the upholstery store (a home-grown, reputable place in the county) and they came yesterday to pick up my sad furniture. Yes! I am currently writing this post on the floor of my mostly empty family room. Very roomy, very.

Now that the furniture is gone, it's time to look at replacing the carpet with something more durable and darker than the light colored beige that the builder put in years ago. I visited Lowe's this evening with the kids and Chris and we all agreed on a think pile carpeting which everyone liked since it was softer than most of the other options. Three of the kids tested the softness with their hands, Nick tested it by rubbing his head on the sample. "My head will be laying on the carpet mom, so I need it to be soft." (Strange child.) Anyway, not 30 minutes after we agreed on the carpet, I made an appointment for the Lowe's team to come out to my house and measure. They will be here in two days.

I started painting the foyer of the house myself last week (an olive green to replace the icky brown), but lost interest and inspiration when I started feeling wobbly on the ladder. I may just have to take my time with that little project and instead start washing the curtains in the family room.

The clock is ticking with about 7 weeks left before baby #5 arrives and we are preparing to make the house not only a place of love for our dear new child, but a pleasant environment where new memories will be made and cherished. At the very least, a place where the baby can rub his head on the carpet and enjoy its softness.