Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Battle of Guadalupe

Me: Boys, why is my Virgin statue in the middle of your Playmobile guys?

Jack: She is in the battle.

Me: What is she doing?

Gus: She is protecting the knights.

Me: Oh. O.K. Don't break her.

The boys informed me that the priest in the battle did not make it. Note the dead guy behind Guadalupe.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Writers Block

I have a few precious hours this Monday morning to continue working on my talk for the Catholic Womens Group at St. Ann's scheduled for this Saturday morning. Monday's are my favorite day when I usually stay in sloppy clothes, no make-up, get my mundane chores complete and relish the time alone. I can't do my normal routine this Monday because I must complete this talk...and I WILL complete this talk soon! Very Soon! Right after I finish this post!

This is the second time I've attempted to write the talk today. When I sat down the first time, the phone rang and I picked it up. I chatted with a friend for awhile, hung up and remembered that there was someone else I needed to call. So I chatted with that person for awhile. As I was chatting, I realized the dryer stopped, so I went upstairs and folded some clothes, organized drawers and made the bed. Afterwards, I looked at the clock, and realized that two of my four free hours were gone! Well, I said to myself, I need to get writing. I started writing alright...writing on my blog!

I think I'm exhibiting avoidance type behavior or I have ADD. I'm going off to write the rest of my talk now, and it's going to be really ,really good...(I wonder what I'll come up with?) and I'll get to work on it...right after lunch.

Friday, January 27, 2006


I like this picture of Becca and her friend at the Challenge Retreat held last weekend. Check out her t-shirt. If you look closely it says "Salvation" using the classic design typical of the Playstation video games . Note the E for everyone. Gotta love it!

Thursday, January 26, 2006


Here's to my unexpected joy:

This one is the alpha

And this one the omega (maybe?)

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Are you CR-AZY?

So I was manning the concessions stand at Rebecca's basketball game this afternoon with another mom. While Becca was playing her basketball game, the boys were either running around the gym, play fighting with sticks outside the school, begging for "just one more" Starburst candy, or running up and down the bleacher steps.... All typical fare for the Clemens boys. Not too shocking for me.

This other mom noticed that I had these active boys and commented on how cute they were and how well I dealt with four kids.

Me: (laughing) Yes, well two of them were, you know, unexpected guests.

Other mom: What? You weren't on birth control?

Me: No, not really. We used NFP and well, I did not really keep up with my charting.

Other mom: (rolling her eyes) Oh my God! Do you use birth control now?

Me: Yes, NFP...but I'm much more careful now. It's alot easier.

Other mom: Don't you know how dangerous that is? Are you CRA-ZY? I mean, my husband works at Duke and deals with women like YOU who come in with all KINDS of problems. You are taking a big risk! BIG.

Me: (shocked at her abruptness) Well, we wouldn't mind another child if that is what happens.

Other mom: Dangerous, dangerous! I'm making my husband get a vasectomy. I do not want to risk having another child. I'm done. I can't do it anymore, plus I'm menopausal and I can't risk it, ya know??

She proceeded to tell me about her sister who had a baby later in life and how hard it is on her and how a friend of hers had her first baby at 44 and how badly she is doing. I just listened and wondered why she was telling me all of this? Why did she NEED to persuade me of the dangers of another baby? Weird.

As mentioned in an earlier post, having children taught me how to trust God and His perfect plan for my life and family. Being the mother of four crying out loud has been the most awesome priviledge imaginable. God and I partnered up to create beauty that cannot be matched or found anywhere else. While days can be long, work unending, and patience scarce I ultimately know that these children were given to me as a GIFT. Life is a gift. Being open to life takes faith. And it's that faith which keeps me going.

An additional thought: If God granted me another child, what ever would I name the blog? Hmmmmm.

Monday, January 23, 2006

I'm bugged

Soooo. I have only 1 1/2 weeks before my talk in Smithfield and have not prepared ONE WORD. The title of my talk is: "How to be a good Catholic Woman in today's modern world" which will (if I ever sit my butt down to write) include relevant ways to grow in faith as women of God in today's modern world.

Relevance. Relevance. That is my thing these days with faith. If faith does not have relevance to one's daily life, how can it be of help? For example: You take a mom with two or three young children and she struggles to get them fed, dressed, out to school/church. She feels lonely, fatigued, isolated, and maybe even unappreciated. Her husband works long hours and comes home late, her friends work while she stays home...ok, you get the picture.

The LAST thing this modern Catholic woman needs is a talk on say, "Multiculturalism in the Catholic Church" or say, a guilt trip on her prayer life (or lack thereof). What this poor soul NEEDS is nourishment/friendship from other moms in her same situation. She needs bible studies on how to become a holier wife-mother-christian. She needs tips on "little" ways to guide her children on the path of faith. She needs retreats where she can stop, breath, and reflect on what God wants of her or a retreat for her and her spouse where they can re-connect as a couple. She needs a parish with a heart for family life, a moms morning out program, Christ-centered child-rearing classes, talks on how to make Christ the priority in the home. Above all, she needs INSPIRATION!

It bugs me that there are so few options around me that support moms like this. In our Diocese we have Ministries for the Young Adults, Hispanics, African-American, Youth, Divorced or Separated (annulments), Child and Youth Protection, Vocations, Cathoic Social Ministries, Crusillo and on and on. BUT NOTHING that supports parents, moms, marriages, the nuclear family. Now don't get me wrong, we DO have NFP, Marriage Prep and the occasional Marriage Encounter and the Offices I've mentioned are extremely necessary; but shouldn't there be an office for "Catholic Family Support" which regularly brings in RELEVANT speakers on the topic of family life? Retreats with a focus on strengthening relationships? Resources of books for families to share? The few times I've talked to moms groups they always seem DESPERATE for any of these things or even some small "bone to chew on."

Yadda, yadda, yadda. I guess I am just lamenting the fact that we "everyday" Catholics need MORE tools to help us achieve the perfection that Christ calls us to in our daily work. There are so many great Protestant books that address these issues, but far fewer on the Catholic shelves. If you have any suggestions...please let me know.

Two great resources for parents and Catholic youth

A wonderful article that every parent should read regarding teens and sex.
Click Here

I distributed this Article to 8th grade faith development parents last night as well. It is another excellent resource to find information on numerous Catholic topics.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Gap Filler

I've just returned from an overnight retreat for jr. high youth in our Deanery.

There were over 35 jr. high kids in attendance from 3 churches. The retreat was facilitated by two adults from a parish in Cary, NC and for the most part, the kids were engaged, thinking and looking for that "something" which makes sense of their world. As a Catholic youth minister, my prayer is that the "something" they find is Jesus and the Church He instituted.

Every time I attend a retreat with young people I learn many new things about the Catholic faith, the youth, and the people who work with them. More specifically I came to the realization this weekend of how important adults ARE to jr. high kids. Of course, kids need adults to help them in many ways, but most importantly, kids NEED to establish healthy relationships with mature, Catholic, fun, adults with whom they can share their fears, questions, and joys. This makes for a healthy Catholic later on in life!

There were some great chaperones at the retreat last night. And you could see how much they cared about the youth present. I mean, any adult who attends a retreat with hormone charged jr. high kids, should get a medal! But these adults participated in all the activities (even the goofy ones that I hate!), encouraged discussion with the kids, held up the faith as a way of life, and to top it all...they were funny and fun to be with. I was proud to be with such a nice group of caring individuals. In fact, I was glad that my own daughter connected with some of these people and could lean on them for any "issues" she may have.

Earlier this year, I was telling an older woman how overwhelmed I sometimes feel as a mom of four crying out loud. That I worried that I could not meet all their needs since there were so many of them and only one of me. Being a mom of four grown children, she gave me this sage advice:

As moms, we cannot always fulfill all the needs of our children, but pray that other adults come into our children's lives to fill in the gaps.

Anyone of the adults at this retreat could have filled in the gaps for my daughter...really well. I encourage you all to become a gap filler for a Catholic youth one day. It's the best gift you can give to the future of our society and our church; and ultimately for yourself.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Look what I just ordered...

click here

More good advice...

From Ron Clark's Essential 55 Workbook

Rule 18: Your child must make every effort to be as organized as possible.

Rule 19: Your child should understand that when homework is assigned, there is to be no moaning or complaining.

rule 20: Your child should follow the same rules with a substitute teacher as he/she does with the regular teacher.

If necessary, use words...

As mentioned in an earlier post, a church friend of mine who only 17 months ago lost her 8th grade son to cancer after one year of fighting the disease, now has lost her daughter in a tragic car crash a few days before Christmas. I was in Texas at the time of her daughter's death and missed the funeral. When I returned from Texas, I had left her a message that I would like to see her, when she felt ready, and maybe go to lunch. In light of such a tragedy, two horrible events, admit that I did not have any words of comfort for her...did not know what to say when I DID get to have that lunch with her, but prayed that the right words would come when I got to see her. I mean, what-do-you-say when such unimaginable grief has been experienced? I felt there were no more words left to say...I thought that I'd said them all..many of us said them all... after the death of her SON!

After I made that call, I waited for her to call me back. One week passed. Two weeks passed. Three weeks, I waited. Today,while at the church working, the secretary said that this friend was at the front desk and wanted to see me. I took a deep breath, prayed a short prayer for the right thing to say, and walked into the foyer to see my friend.

No words came.

I just held her and she held me not wanting to let go. We walked to my office and I just listened. Juuuuust listened, to the sounds of a grieving mom with no way out of her pain. I felt as if a cloud had lifted when I listened to her, as if God was there present during our meeting. It was like he was orchestrating the whole thing and that both of us where there surrounded by His grace and mercy.

We are the conduit through which Christ heals, holds, and listens to the sorrows, joys, successes, of His people. Words are not always necessary in some cases, only the sense of touching and listening. I was reminded of that today...the importance of being Christ's hands and ears.

Keep the Minta family in your prayers.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

"F" for mommy

Kids keep us humble.

After work today, Gus and I took a trip to Sam's to pick up a few items for tonight's catechist meeting and the family pantry. As we approached the checkout lane, I noticed there was something different about the checkout lady. She had very BIG eyes which did not look in the same direction. Not to be mean or anything, but when you see her eyes, one is reminded of one of those green lizards with the bulgy eyes that can look in all directions. I thought, poor thing, but a least she has the courage to come out and work with the public. I did not EVEN think of Gus's reaction:

Gus: (very loudly) That lady has BIG BULGY eyeballs (He raises his fingers up to his eyes and stretches his skin so that he too, has big bulgy eyes.)

I was standing behind Gus as he said this and gently kicked him to get him to be quiet. I was hoping the kick would get him to realize that what he was saying was inappropriate. It was a bad idea. Gus just turned around and said even louder:

Mom! Why did you kick me?

I just glared at him and whispered that he might hurt the lady's feelings if he said such things. Gus simply shrugged and continued to help me empty the cart. He whispered to himself, " She talks funny too."

I wanted the floor to eat me right then and there. I was so embarrassed. I mean, is there an etiquette book for these occasions? Gus was completely un-moved by my pleas and did not understand what the big deal was. I'll just have to give myself the mommy grade of "F"...for not thinking "f"ast enough.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Insert foot in mouth...

I say alot of stupid things.

I rattle on about all kinds of events and stories about my family, youth group, friends and co-workers. I always get really excited and rush to finish my thought before another one pops up and begs to be mentioned to the people around me. I don't know why this happens, but it could be the result of being around young people the majority of my day. They talk fast, tell me things that interest them...my husband talks fast....telling me important things of his day...the youth group kids talk ALL THE TIME and I can barely understand them since they talk all at once, and my kids talk together with one starting the story, another continuing the story, one enhancing the story and one ending the story so it is like I have to shift my focus back and forth from child to child to get a complete view of what has been happening. My brain always seems on overdrive so it is really nice to sit down with grown adults every now and then and have a conversation about 'adult' things. But every now and again I talk without thinking (what a shocker) and embarrass myself and stick my foot in my mouth.

The women's guild at at nearby Catholic church asked if I would be willing to speak at their Valentine Breakfast. They mentioned that their parish priest recommended me and wondered if they could take me to lunch to discuss what exactly their group would like to have covered. ( Basically, I think they were 'checking me out' to see if I would be a good featured speaker for their group. Apparently they had some really bad speakers in the past and did not want to be burned again.) I accepted their offer and we met at a local restaurant.

Keep in mind that I had never met these ladies before.

As I walked in the door of the restaurant, I noticed two older ladies, nicely dressed waiting in the foyer. I knew immediately that they must be the ladies from the guild and I promptly walked up to them and introduced myself. We sat down at our table and the conversation flowed about all kinds of topics. I asked them about their parish and what they liked about it. I spoke of my family and work. They told me about their lives and the makeup of their women's guild. I was VERY comfortable with these ladies felt like they were "liking" me.

That's when things turned ugly.

We sat talking about the generation gap between younger Catholics who were brought up post-Vatican II and the older generation who experienced a much different Catholicism.

Me addressing the two women: You know, your generation, you know...women in their 60's...had, in my view, a much richer and deeper Catholic identity.

All of a sudden after I had mentioned the approximate age of the ladies. I saw one woman shoot a look of shock at the other. I had done it. I had said something totally off, totally wrong, totally offensive. I closed my eyes and kept on talking as if I did not see the reaction. But as I opened my eyes, I took a closer look at my new friends and saw the reality that they most probably were not in their 60's at ALL. Most likely they were younger...much younger. The only thing I could think to do was to...keep on talking.

After our meeting, I felt mortified. I called the parish priest who recommended me to the ladies and confessed my stupid mistake:

Me: (begging) Fr. S, how old are the women who came out to speak to me today? Do you know for sure?

Fr. S: Yeah, one is in her early 50's and the other, probably in her 60's.

My heart sunk. Fr. S just laughed. I knew I had probably failed my "interview" with at least one of the ladies. But it was a very good lesson for me about THINKING, or even better, LOOKING before I speak.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Tooth or Dare

Tonight is my Catholic Women's Book Club and I've been catching up on the readings. We are reading a book called "When Mother's Pray" by Cheri Fuller. It has some good advice for moms with kids at every stage and encourages moms to seek God in prayer through the good and bad times. I was enjoying my quiet time with my book and bible study questions...meditating on this verse:

"I have no greater joy than this; to hear of my children walking in the truth"

3 John 1:4

How awesome that would be: to hear of my children walking in the truth...One day standing strong in their convictions and understanding the magnitude of Christ's love for them.

These days, I mostly hear my children literally walking on each other than hear them walking in the truth. For example, as I was finishing my readings, I hear a loud squeal coming from one of the bedrooms where Jack and Gus are playing.

Gus: MOOOOOOOM! Jack lost a toooooth! Jack lost a tooooth!

Everyone excitedly came downstairs to see Jack's first lost tooth. Jack held his tooth up for all to see and grinned his toothless grin. It was a small tooth, tiny, cute and totally ready for the tooth fairy!

Jack: (excitedly) It didn't hurt when it came out! It just...CAME OUT!

Chris: Jack! That is so great!! What were you doing when it came out?

Jack: (matter of factly) I was biting Gus.

There was much laughter after Jack's response which made me realize that the message God may have been sending me with this verse was much simpler, much more down to earth, more of an everyday joy. Maybe it was better stated for me today as:
I have no greater joy than this, than to hear of my child losing a tooth!

God and I can worry about the Truth later, but for now, enjoy the small moments.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Guys and Dogs

I'm laying on the couch while my three boys are wrestling around me having a great time. It occurs to me that boys are alot like having three puppies in the house. While I admit I do not have a dog, I don't really NEED one! Here are some similarities:

1. They roll around the room in a big ball of play.
2. You have to SHOW them how and where to pee.
3. They enjoy sticking their head out the car window.
4. They congregate in a pack.
5. They are stinky until you give them a bath.
6. They irritate others in the house until they play with them.
7. They beg for food.
8. They can make a mess out of anything.
9. They bite each other playfully.
10 They love to get in a big dogpile!

Yet another great film...

Here is another excellent short film by Grassroots Films on the subject of the Youth 2000 Catholic Youth Retreats.

Makes you want to be at one.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Hilarious Veggies

I highly recommend the latest Veggie Tales DVD titled "The Lord of the Beans". This video twists the "Lord of the Rings" story into a wonderful lesson on using the gifts God gives you in a productive way. There is Toto (Frotto), Leg-O-Lamb (Legolas), Scaryman (Saramon), Ear of Corn (Aragon) and Sporks (Orks). Chris and I CRIED we laughed so hard. The kids were more amused with US laughing than the movie. Anyway, the movie only gets better the MORE you watch it. In fact, I showed it to my youth group and even they enjoyed it! Check out the Veggies Tales website for games, color sheets and to view the trailer


I've returned from a much needed trip to the gym.

I hadn't been to the gym for a couple of weeks now and knew it was time to get back into that routine for the new year. I was chugging along on the elliptical, watching Good Morning America, reading junky trash magazines (Angelina and Brad)and thinking about the next few things I needed to get done for the day. It was a good workout where I burned around 600 calories. A good start for the year.

Gus came out of the nursery and said, "Mom, can we go next door and get a little snack?" I thought to myself, Oh no. They have those yummy blueberry scones over there...giant sized...with the powdered sugar all over the top...juicy blueberry's inside. I CAN withstand the tempation!

We went in the cafe and Gus got his regular snack and was happy. I got an unsweetened ice tea and was NOT happy. The scones were calling me: Geeeoorrggiieee...commmmme annd eeeat meeeeeeeee! Yoouuuuu jussssst exeercccissed ssoooooo itttt wwwooonn'tt ccouuuuunt! The owners of the cafe have those big blue scones next to the register and I bought one. And I was Happy like Gus! But only for a moment.

So I've eaten half of the scone and I feel guilty. I should have withstood the temptation. Lent is around the corner, so I must start practicing some SELF-CONTROL.

It sure was good though.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Potty Plogged

These new toilets are a pain when you have little ones stuffing them with too much toilet paper:

Gus: (Yelling from upstairs) Mom! I have to go potty!

Me: (Yelling from downstairs) OK! You can DO that without my permission!

Gus (running downstairs) OK

Me: Gus! Why are you using the potty downstairs? There are two potties upstairs?

Gus: Yeah, I know (the door of the bathroom slams shut), but they're both plogged!

'Round the clock Clemens kids

Here are the Clemens kids with heads together on the floor. I used this picture for our Christmas card and many folks mentioned how cute it was. In past years, I've struggled to get a good picture for the Christmas card. Usually one child has their eyes closed, or picking their nose, or crying, looking off at the distance. One has even run off to purposely hide themsleves from the torture. Mostly the kids would groan and bear my incessant pleas mostly because they know they have to sit there until I get at least ONE picture which "works".

This year, with all the chaos with travel, I had no time to choreograph a picture of the kids. Instead, after dinner, I called everyone out from whatever they were doing and told them to get on the floor and smile. The kids thought this was a great game and laughed at the whole process. I took 3 or 4 pictures of my kids this year, downloaded the picture onto the Wal-Mart photo processing web-site and they had my Christmas cards ready for pick-up the next day! Best part is, this picture shows my kids in their true form....a la natural!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

A good cause...

The Giordano family (members of the STM choir)is very familiar with cancer. The disease stole their young daughter away from them after 4 1/2 years of fighting the disease and then attacked their son Louis, with brain cancer. Louis is now cancer free and has, in turn, decided to help others with cancer. He is involved in the TNT or Team in Training Program through the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and is trying to raise $3600 to support research leading to the cure of leukemia and related cancers. He is training for a marathon and raising money in honor of a young 5 year old boy named Gabe Pinon who is currently fighting leukemia as we speak.(He is SOOO c--ute!) If you are interested in helping Louis in this endeavor, please
visit his website and contribute to a great cause.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Beware Of The Trombone Player

Every parent prays for their children to succeed.

It's crucial for a child to be successful at something. Anything. Big or Small. Something that makes them stand out from the crowd. Now I'm not talking about a success that makes them "popular" or "important" although sometimes that happens with success. I'm mostly talking about that thing that makes a child "secure" INSIDE and happy about themselves. It's that thing that gives them an identity. It becomes a good jumping off point in life and sets a foundation for confidence in themselves as God made them. As parents, we pray for our children to find that success one day.

As a young girl, my "thing" was singing. I sung in the church youth choir; competed in choir competitions, sang solos and even got a scholarship in music when I went to college. Music gave me confidence and an identity and that, in turn, gave me confidence from which I could succeed in my life later on.

I think Rebecca found her success today.

Rebecca is a member of the Middle School band. She is a trombone player. She loves music of all kinds..... Especially any music that includes a trombone part. On her trombone case there is a sticker that says, "Beware of the trombone player". (I found that on E-BAY)She's even got her own web-site on the topic of trombones. Being in band is Rebecca's joy and is that "thing" that "gets her up in the morning." She practices her trombone all the time and anywhere. In fact, she brought her trombone along on our road trip to Texas (we crammed it in-between suitcases and Christmas gifts) and practiced whenever she could to prepare for her District competition slated for Saturday.

When she left for her competition, I knew it would make or break her young spirit. If she MADE the District band, it would, finally be that ONE success that she needed to find her identity. If she did NOT make it, I knew she would be crushed..as she'd been many times before...and left to wonder what she would ever excel at. And I would have to pick up the pieces of a very disappointed child and THAT is not a fun mommy job at all. I prayed that God's will would be done for Rebecca and reminded her to say a prayer before she went into the judges room, " You KNOW I WILL MOM!" she responded in her "duh" tone.

Rebecca came back from her competition happy and fairly confident that she had done a good job. Results weren't due back until today (Monday), but Becca, in her anticipation, must have checked the bandmasters web-site 20 or 30 times before today. As a mom, I held my breath...hoping...praying that she at least PLACED somewhere in the rankings. (Last year, she did not make it at all.) She left for school this morning promising to call if she heard the results. And she did.

Becca: Mom! I'm 6th chair symphonic band!! I think it's the top band mom! I think it's the top band!

Me: (I hid my tears of joy and relief) Becca! That is so fantastic! We knew you would do it, we knew it!!We are SO proud of you!

Becca: Mom! I think I'm the only one from my school to make that band!

Me: Really? Are you sure? That is great!

I get so emotional over these things. In fact, tears of happiness are falling on the keyboard even as I write this. My daughter is happy. Really happy. I'm thrilled that she has found her success through a little thing like trombone playing. But for now: BEWARE OF THE TROMBONE PLAYER!

Here are her scores. She is number 25:

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Recipe for your kids!

Before I forget again, I've posted the Turkish Delight recipe used in the Narnia Movie. As you may already know, Turkish Delight is the item the White Witch used to lure Edmound into her clutches. It's an interesting taste and worth the time making. Snuggle up with your kids and read Lion, Witch and Wardrobe. Afterwards make a batch of Turkish Delight to "delight" them.

Friday, January 06, 2006

This is dedicated to our youth...

A nice song for the Catholic Youth of today. It would be a great theme song for a youth group or event. Maybe I'll use it with my own youth group at STM. Give it a listen:


Hope Floats...

One of the most gut-wrentching scenes I've ever witnessed was of the town of Pass Christian Mississippi 4 months after Katrina.

One our way to Texas last month, we stopped to visit with Chris's brother Jon, his wife, Becky and their two kids. They live in the town of Pass Christian and offered to take us to the downtown area and the beach to see some of the destruction. Here is our happy couple in front of what USED to be their local Wal-Mart store. If you look closely at the picture, you actually see THROUGH the store to the other side. No walls left, only steel beams.

This picture is only a small sliver of what you see for 60 miles down the coast. I saw pick-up trucks in trees, turned over trailers, house on top of house, the only thing left of the middle school was a foundation...and on and on. The pictures on the T.V. and on the web cannot capture the amount of destruction. I mean, where do you even begin? I only THOUGHT Jack and Gus's room was messy!

This place is what used to be Grandma Clemens assisted living home. One family member told us that she walked the grounds behind the home to see if she could find a shred of grandma's belongings, but there was nothing but debris, wheelchairs found a mile away, and more debris. Note the circular driveway which led to the front door of the facility.

Finally, this picture encaptulates the hope that lies within the people of Pass Christian and other towns affected by this storm. The owners of this destroyed home have set up a trailer in the place of their home and continue their pet business within the trailer. What you can't see in this picture is the devastation that surrounds this "home"..these people have cleaned up their little piece of land and are moving on with life. The most moving aspect of this though is the Christmas tree. Do you see that it is placed OUTSIDE their trailer? Amidst the devastation, Christmas comes, the tree stands and hope continues despite terrible odds and circumstances. This was a fairly common scene around Pass Christian.

WHERE does all that hope come from? The HOPE that beckons this family to PUT UP A TREE around all that devastation? I choked back tears when I realize that Jesus puts that hope in them..in all of us.. the desire to forge on with him carrying us...with our own personal Katrinas...through our sacrifices.. within the mundane routines...there is an ending to all of this and it ends WELL if you have FAITH. FAITH which instills HOPE for the future. HOPE which instills LOVE.

The people of Mississipi have that faith; they are a tough bunch; you see it in their faces. But mostly you see where it LIVES when you see a christmas tree in Pass Christian.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Happy New Year of the Old Routine

Returning to the 'ol routine around here after 2 1/2 weeks on a road-trip is disorienting.

We drove back into town a day before school started, so I had SOME time to empty suitcases and get the laundry flowing, go grocery shopping, and emptying the backpacks so that they could be used for school things instead of travel.

All in all things went according to schedule but I WAS second guessing myself over and over the first day back: Did I forget someone somewhere? Did Nick have his lunch in his backpack or was that Jack? Does Gus have his lunch bunch today and if so, where is his lunch? Did I leave my ice tea glass on top of the car? I think I gave Becca too much money for lunch...she may buy herself more of that junk food with it...I need to get exact change for her next time. Is there early dismissal for Jack's school? What if he is sitting on the front steps of the house with no way to contact me? Does Becca have practice?..I know she said something about that. Where is my hairbrush? Do I have carpool tomorrow? Doesn't Jack have a library book due or is it the fine of $14.oo that I need to send to the librarian. No that was a few months ago. Grocery certificates? Tuition paid? Where IS that hairbrush? Where did Jack's jacket go? What can I possibly make for dinner with so little food in the house to begin with? Nothing fattening..because we all need to eat more heathly after the holidays...Will Chris work late tonight to make up for lost time? Did I take my shower today? (You think I'm joking on that one? I'm not!)

I found myself very late dropping Gus of at his pre-school because I instinctively started driving toward the church. I turned around and missed the correct exit to the school and ended up downtown Carrborro instead of Chapel Hill. He eventually got there and Mrs. Brown smiled knowingly at me and said, " We were wondering where Mr. Gus was this morning." I responded, " Oh, you know, Gus and I were just having some QUALITY time in the car and I just DID NOT realize the time!" Mrs. Brown suspiciously said.., " um...right "

Other than getting a call later that night from Rebecca proclaiming that I had abandoned her at practice and to COME and "pick me up" I survived the first day back and so did the kids. Speaking of the kids....where are they? It's awfully quiet in here.......

Longhorns Reign!

You know, it was just a football game, but it's important that we thank God for all the little things that bring us joy!
Texas: 41 USC: 38

God Bless Texas!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Hook 'em Horns

The day has come where my precious Longhorns will complete against USC for the National College Football Championship at the Rose Bowl. I'm planning a simple dinner fare that includes pizza bread, salsa, tortilla chips, pretzels, salad, and adult beverages. My kids were informed at dinner tonight that they will not be able to disturb mom when the game is on, and that all the homework, reading and baths must be complete before 8:00pm kickoff time. Go Horns!!!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Dart Test

A wonderful lesson on forgivness that was a good reminder for me:

A young lady named Sally, relates an experience she had in a seminary class, given by her teacher, Dr. Smith. She says that Dr. Smith was known for his elaborate object lessons.

One particular day, Sally walked into the seminary and knew they were in for a fun day.

On the wall was a big target and on a nearby table were many darts. Dr. Smith told the students to draw a picture of someone that they disliked or someone who had made them angry, and he would allow them to throw darts at the person's picture.

Sally's friend drew a picture of who had stolen her boyfriend. Another friend drew a picture of his little brother. Sally drew a picture of a former friend, putting a great deal of detail into her drawing, even drawing pimples on the face. Sally was pleased with the overall effect she had achieved.

The class lined up and began throwing darts. Some of the students threw their darts with such force that their targets were ripping apart. Sally looked forward to her turn, and was filled with disappointment when Dr. Smith, because of time limits, asked the students to return to their seats. As Sally sat thinking about how angry she was because she didn't have a chance to throw any darts at her target. Dr. Smith began removing the target from the ! wall.

Underneath the target was a picture of Jesus. A hush fell over the room as each student viewed the mangled picture of Jesus; holes and jagged marks covered His face and His eyes were pierced.

Dr. Smith said only these words... "In as much as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto Me."
Matthew 25:40.

No other words were necessary; the tears filled eyes of the students focused only on the picture of Christ.

Tukishly Delightful!

We've recently returned home from our 2 week long trek on what SEEMED like a trip around the world. It's good to be home for many reasons...but mostly because of the familiar surroundings and people we know whose friendships make Chapel Hill home.

Our friend Jim came by tonight and brought us a unique gift from his recent trip to England.

Jim: Georgie, in the Chronicles of Narnia movie, do you remember what Edmund requested of the White Witch?

Me: Yeah! Turkish Delight!

Jim: Yes, that is right. I've brought you some Turkish Delight from England.

Me: Fantastic! After I saw the movie, I was curious as to what Turkish Delight tasted like because Edmund (in the movie) seemed to cram it down his throat with much enthusiasm.

I immediately tried the Turkish Delight and was less than "delighted" with the taste, but thrilled with the opportunity to present it to the kids. Turkish delight kind of tastes like a square jelly bean with tons of powdered sugar on it. It's not very sweet, but has a pleasant somewhat bland taste.

When the I offered the children a bit of Turkish Delight, they were VERY enthusiastic to give it a taste. Nick somewhat liked it, Becca passed on trying it, Jack took one bite and put it back in the box (half-eaten)and tried another to see if it would taste differently but was disappointed to find out that it tasted just as bad as the first piece, and Gus...well Gus absolutely LOVED it. Gus had three or four pieces stuffed into his mouth and pleaded to have some packed in his lunch box for school.

The scary thing is, Gus loved Edmund character in the movie and mostly identified with him while our other three kids identified with the more noble characters of the movie. Chris and I find it ominous that our naughty Gus loves the same food as the naughty Edmund character and hope it is not a glimpse of the future temperament of our Gus. We shall see...

Meanwhile, one of my neighbors gave me a recipe for Turkish Delight which I will post on the blog tomorrow. Give it a try and see if you have an Edmund in YOUR house.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Home on the Internet

I'm back home after four days in Mississippi with no access to the Internet. I'll be posting more regularly now.

Donkey Biology 101

We’ve traveled to my in-laws home in the metropolis of Amory Mississippi, population 5000, located 30 miles south of Tupelo. It’s a different kind of life here: quiet, slow, friendly, and very, very, southern.

My in-laws have quite the place here. Their home sits on 6 acres which holds a large pond, tennis courts, a tire swing, garden, and workhouse. In addition, my in-laws are the proud parents of two donkeys (named Paco and Rosa), two ducks, countless fish in the pond and a dog. It is kid heaven here with many activities to choose from. My boys run wild here with their fake guns, ‘coon-skin caps, spyglasses and treasure maps.

One of the popular things to do here with the kids is to take a canoe ride on the pond. Paco and Rosa longingly stare from their spot on the other side of the pond at who-ever gets into the canoe….hoping they will float by for a visit. Jack, Rebecca and I decide to take a slow ride over to the donkey’s side of the pond. Little did I know that I would have to explain reproductive biology of the animal kingdom. Even I was unsure what to say when I saw the enormous reproductive “organ” of Paco….it caught me by surprise:

Jack: Mom, look at Paco’s Poo Poo. It’s so BIG.

Me: (unsure of what to say to a 6 year old) Jack, I don’t think that’s Poo Poo. I think it’s his Wee Wee (OK, yeah, I don’t use proper terms for body parts.)

Jack: Aw mom! That’s his poo poo!

Becca: (in shock) Mom! That is SO NASTY! In fact, that is the NASTIEST thing I’ve EVER seen! I’m never going to sleep correctly again!

Jack: (laughing) That’s funny.

Becca: Mom! It’s so LONG! Why is he doing that?

Me: Well…(ug…a mom is never prepared for these kind of talks) there must be something that is exciting him. It could be Rosa that he likes or maybe the wind makes him feel good or maybe he’s happy to see us…(That made Rebecca laugh out loud.)

Becca: He’s excited to see US?

Me: (laughing) You never know! Uh, Becca, let’s float away from the donkeys…it’s time to move on.

As we paddled away silently, I heard Jack whisper to himself:

Jack: That was his poo poo.