Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Religious Education Congress, CA.

I leave tomorrow morning to attend the Religious Education Congress in Anaheim, California. It's the biggest of its kind and filled with speakers on every topic associated with the Catholic Faith, Religious Education, Liturgy etc. I've signed up to hear speakers on the topics of youth ministry, creating a Catholic home, and issues facing Catholics today. I plan to post any new resources that I discover while there, but in the meantime, pray that my colleagues and I have a safe trip and that the Holy Spirit moves fiercely at this convention!

(Over 23,000 people are registered to attend.)

One of the speakers I've signed up to hear is Sr. Helen Prejean. She's the famous nun who advocates against the death penalty and whose book was the inspiration for the movie, "Dead Man Walking" a few years back. Should be interesting to hear what she has to say.

We WILL be making a visit to Disneyland in order to convert Mickey and his friends...strictly business. Riiiiiiiggghhhhttttt!

Monday, March 27, 2006

Hard Choices...updated..with pics...scroll down...

As I've mentioned in a previous post, it is Spring Break. Nick was invited by his good buddies to accompany them on a 12 hour car trip to visit their grandmother in Florida from Wednesday to Sunday. The trip would have included a visit to some Florida Gators sights, visits to the beach, candy from grandma's walk in pantry, and guaranteed boy bonding bonanza...Nick would have LOVED to go, but his father and I decided he was still too young for such a long trip. After many tears, whines, and pleading, Nick realized that our minds could not be changed. He was REALLY disappointed, but took it bravely. It broke my heart to tell him no, but I knew in my heart of hearts that it was the best choice.

After the decision had been made, we tried to sooth our son with a bowl of ice cream, a few popsicles, and a family viewing of Harry Potter 4. All seemed to have passed until I walked into my bedroom after everyone went to bed....and realized Nick had not stopped trying to convince us....there were notes with the scribbled words of a 4th grader saying, "Please let me go." They were on our pillows, desk, rocking chair, bathroom counter, laundry.....everywhere. Awww.

Can I change my mind???

Note on my bed.

Notes on my bench.

Notes on the bathroom floor....and on and on.....

Friday, March 24, 2006

A lesson for the world....

Today is Friday, and the beginning of Spring Break for Rebecca and Nicholas.

Nick has a couple of his neighborhood friends over and I was preparing their lunch feast of frozen pizza, garlic bread and brownies. As I finished slaving over the frozen pizzas (HA!) I called the boys down to eat. Before I knew it, they were sitting at the kitchen table laughing and talking about plans for Spring Break as they waited for their food to be served. I served them on paper plates ( also known as the "Clemens China") and placed the plates in front of each boy. As I turned away to serve myself, things got quiet...which always sets off red flags for as I turned back to see what the boys were up to, I saw the most amazing sight: all three elementary-aged boys were praying to themselves quietly before they ate. You see, one of Nick's friends is Jewish, one is Protestant, and Nick....the Catholic....all their own themselves...quietly. Not 10 seconds later, they were back to their boisterous selves laughing and talking....un-moved at what just happened.

It was beautiful.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Conversion Story

Sometimes you just need a good story about
Christ's redeeming power to remind you

1. of how real He is
2. of the important and difficult task youth workers have to speak the truth about Christ and His church to youth, and to provide more than just "social outlets" for youth
3. how the darker side lives
4. of how powerful the devil can so many disguises
5. of how one bad church representative can cause years of damage

Little by little we grow closer to Him.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Miraculous Healing

I walked downstairs yesterday to find my son, Nick, laying on the living room floor. His arms were stretched above his head and the bottom half of his body was twisted like a pretzel. He was moaning softly and staring into space.

Me: Nick, what is wrong?

Nick: (groaning) I don't feel too well mom. I think I have fever.

Me: Well, come here and let me feel your forehead.....(I feel his head) Nick, I don't think you have fever.

Nick: But I don't feeeeeel good. I must have fever. (He plops back on the floor)

The phone rings. I pick it up.

Me: Nick, it's your friend Hayden. He wants you to come over and play.

Nick immediately jumps up from his ailing position, perks up, starts jumping up and down saying, "Can I go? Can I go?"

Me: Nick. I THOUGHT you were sick.

Nick: (smiling) Naw, it was nothing. I'm well now!

Me: Faker.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Someone tell me to breathe.....

For the last month, I've been attending meetings for parents who have rising 9th graders in the local high school.

I feel like my first born is going off to kindergarten again. I'm kind of freaking out that she'll be going to a gigantic high school complete with all kinds of freedom, police officers, and tons of courses to choose from.



I just took the basic classes, my SAT (once. not the 4 or 5 times they take it now), and went to college.

Now, you have to have a minimum of 5 honors/AP courses in order to get into a North Carolina University, graduate with at least 50 service hours, fit in some cultural arts, foreign language, in addition to sports. I'd have been D.E.A.D...especially when it came to honors science and math...

Rebecca is ready for H.S.

I don't think I am though.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Beach Broadcasting

Sorry for the delay in posting, but as you already know...the Clemens 6 went to the beach for a few days of R & R.

(Reflection question of the day: Can a mom and dad with four children go on a 3 day excursion to the beach and ACTUALLY get R & R? ) I'll get to the answer later.


I would LOVE to say that the kids were TOTALLY enamored with the beautiful blue skies, the crisp night air, the indoor pool, the abundance of family time, the sandy beach, the tumbling waves of the Atlantic waters, the store bought ice cream sandwiches, frozen pizzas, the frisbee playing, the shell searching, the sand castles. I could go on and on with all the things that we did. Don't get me wrong, the kids enjoyed the above activities. But all of it paled compared to the condo we stayed in and the fact that there were three T.V.'s in the place: one in each bedroom and one in the family room....all with cable.

You see, we only have one working T.V. in our normal home and it is not cable ready. So we are limited to maybe 4 channels (2 fuzzy and 2 clear....if we play with the bunny ears) and so my kids spend more time playing knights, reading, and playing outside with friends instead of watching the tube. I like a relaxing show to watch as much as anyone else (American Idol is the family favorite), but really, there is not that much quality programming that justifies me (or my kids) sitting on my bottom for two unproductive hours when I could be doing something else more interesting or important. That being said, HAVING three t.v.'s to watch at the beach was quite an interesting thing to experience.

At night, the boys would go into their room and watch Cartoon Network until they fell asleep, Rebecca would watch the Disney Channel until she would fall asleep, and I would watch the Food Network,Fox News or simply flip channels until I fell asleep. After being together the entire day, the family would separate into their rooms, not speak to one another and watch a glowing screen. Normally the nights at home are filled with the sounds of children talking, playing, fighting, bathing, drawing, laughing, cleaning....but at the beach.....the nights were filled with one talked...we all just sat quietly in our rooms and watched cable T.V.... away from one another.

The power of the box.

I was glad to get back home and get back to the normal routine of minimal T.V. watching. As I write this evening, I can hear my son Nick reading to his brother Gus, Chris is discussing the morning routine with Rebecca, Jack is singing to himself as he dresses for bed and I'm....writing this post. It's time to go up and tuck the kids in bed with kisses and prayers.

My life is much more colorful and interesting without 250 channels and a cable bill.

Oh and the answer to the above reflection question:


Wednesday, March 15, 2006


There is only ONE thing better than going to the N.C. beach for three days of R and R with the fam:

Going to the beach and staying in a beach house for FREE! Be still my heart!

Where are my ducky floatees?

Monday, March 13, 2006


SPEAKING of boys and weapons: I confess there is a veritable arsenal of war toys in my home. We have plastic guns, swords, holsters, shields, helmets,costumes of every type of warrior and on and on.

It wasn't always like this, I promise. I started out like every other new mom...mostly against anything that resembled a gun or weapon. But the more I tried to keep my boys away from those toys (that's what the mom magazines were telling me), the MORE they begged! It didn't help that Uncles were giving them pop guns, cowboy sets or water guns for birthdays. (Nick: "Uncle Jon is the coolest! Look! He gave me a shotgun!!") I knew that my cause for a peace-loving home was over when Nick sat at the breakfast table and bit his toast into the shape of a gun and pointed it at his sister (he was only 2, OK?) Not only that, my other friends who had boys around the same age as my boys...were starting to see that their efforts were failing miserably as well. We all succumbed to what the world already knew: boys love to battle and nothing you do, can change that...(although it does seem like the world is trying to feminize boys these days....blurring the gender lines.)

I should have known better though...I mean, I was raised in Texas and cut my first teeth on a BB gun. My brother and I would run out into the cow pasture in front of my house and hunt Armadillo in our free time. Get along...little doggies!!!

So if you ever pass my house on a beautiful Spring day, there is a good chance that you'll see numerous packs of boys running around home-made forts and battle zones. Drive slowly though, they may use you as a moving target.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Spring is on its way...

Signs that Spring is on its way at the Clemen's home:

1. The water hose is used for more than just watering flowers and grass.
2. My Fall comforter is replaced with a lighter, more colorful Spring one.
3. I get grumpy when I see overfilled closets with heavy winter clothes.
4. Chris gets more frequent 'urges' to go to Home Depot
5. Where are those baseball gloves?
6. Easter candy appear on store shelves. Peeps candy....I'm coming!!
7. Lots of cute, small, colorful Spring fashions in Target....empasis on SMALL! Time for a diet.
8. Mud
9. Kids say, "MOM...can we go swimming?"
10. Packs of boys running through the 'hood with various weaponry...preparing for battle..

Friday, March 10, 2006

I'm sorry..

I've removed the last posting after a few friends relayed that it may have been too "irreverent". After some thought on it, I tend to agree so if anyone was offended, I sincerely apologize. My attraction to the site was mostly due to the amount of work this person spent on it, and how detail oriented it was....even with Leggos! Creative? Yes. Tacky? Yes. Classy enough for "Four Crying Out Loud"? Ne-vah!!! Let's move on to more important stuff....

Monday, March 06, 2006

The Lenten Journey Intensifies

I realized that I'm giving up more for Lent than I thought!! Today I gave up any spending money I'd hoped to have for March, maybe April and quite possibly May and June!!!! There goes my favorite Easter treat : Peeps!!!!

I mean, kids need to go to the dentist and all...but why does it have to cost so darn much!!! I took my four crying out loud to the dentist today: three had their teeth cleaned and had clean bills of teeth health, but JACK!!! Poor Jack has had a train wreak in his mouth ever since I brought him in 6 months ago. Over the past few months, he's had two teeth pulled, spacers fitted where the rotten teeth were, a child's version of a root canal (not as bad as the adult version), and has yet to get another tooth filled were decay has set in. Mind you, these are all his baby teeth!! How can three of my kids have perfect mouths and one inherit the teeth of an 80 year old?? Back when Jack came in for the first of his many dentist visits, our dentist broke the news to me that the cost of all this work may run about $4000 thousand dollars.....I just stared at him.....blankly.......not knowing what to react to first: the fact that Jack would have to suffer all this work, or to the fact that my pocketbook would no longer exist as an entity to hold money. Our dentist, God bless him, saw my stunned face and quickly assured me that since we were members of the same church, he'd give me a price break. I smiled uncomfortably, not used to needing such charity, but knew it would be stupid to pretend that I had $4000 just sitting at home so I humbly said, " Thank you, I think I may take you up on that offer."

Fast forward to today. I approached the receptionist desk for partial payment, and I knew it was going to be large.

Receptionist: $700.00 please

Me: heh. (I thought to myself....there go all my Easter Peep candy) Here's my bankcard. You can put it on that.

When I broke the news to my penny pincher husband about how much the visit was today, he took the news well. No fainting was involved at all!

Turns out that the overall cost for Jack will *only* be $3000. Meanwhile, my Lenten journey continues, more painful than I ever thought, but pain, no gain. Oh, and no Peeps for Easter. Waaaah.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

You don't have to imagine...

This post is dedicated to my father, Hector, who never misses his time slot of midnight to 1:00 am and to the thousands of others who participate in Eucharistic Adoration...humbly, quietly, and without notice...while the rest of us sleep.

Just click on the arrow in the middle of the screen and ADORE!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Lenten Sacrifices

As with all larger families, saving money is an important part of daily life. When you have four crying out loud, something as simple as going to a barber shop can cost between $40-$60 a pop depending on where you go. Luckily, my industrious husband offers to cut the boys hair when they start turning into wooly boogers (as we call it here at the homestead). Rebecca is the only one who indulges in full price hair cutting..reason being that (1).she's got a ton of think wavy hair AND to mess that up would be a sacrilege and (2.) she's a girl! Dad's just don't know how to cut girl hair!

Hair was getting out of control here at the Clemens abode recently, and we knew we needed to line the boys up for their haircuts. It is NOT pleasant to cut the hair of three boys. Young boys, in general, do not like to sit still for longer than 2 minutes or so. To them, cutting hair can be compared to something unpleasant like....playing barbies, or having proper tea at a tea party or dressing up in fancy clothes. They moan and groan in pain when they know they have to go "under the knife".....ESPECIALLY GUS. Even Chris dreads the whole thing, but knows he will save money. "I saved $60 today!" Chris proudly exclaims when he finishes. Below are pictures of Gus and Jack on the hot seat. Nick ran away before I could get his picture. I'll post him later:

Call the "Wahhhhmbulance!" The agony of it all!!!!

Jack was actually willing to smile for the camera. He has more self-control than GUS.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Macho, Macho Man

I really thought about whether I should relay this family story to you. I mean, by not telling you it would somehow give you the impression that these sort of talks never happen to the Clemens 4...and that would be a false representation of what our family is all about. So, out of a sense of honesty and wanting to be "real", I relay this discussion which occurred between my husband and my 5 year old son Gus. Boy talk you may call it......I call it the moment where women can get a glimpse of where the whole male-macho thing starts.....

Gus: Dad, if you buy a horse, theres no way to tell if it's a boy or a girl, no way at all.

Dad: Why do you think that?

Gus: Cause they look just alike.

Dad: Gus if you look between the legs of the horse, and it has a wee-wee, it's a boy horse. Girl horses don't have wee-wees.

Gus: Really?

Dad: Really, girl horses, girl people, girl rabbits, girl squirrels, none of them have wee-wees.

Gus: What about girl pigs?

Dad: No wee-wee.

Really long pause.....

Gus: Dad....... I'm glad I'm a boy.

Dad: Why is that Gus?

Gus: Because I like having a WHOLE body, not like a girl.

Well, there you have it ladies! An innate superiority bred in them long before we ever do or say anthing. Boy.... the psychiatrists would have a field day with Gus. Well, you can''t say the child has a bad self-image. I just hope he doesn't let his preschool girlfriends know WHY he is "WHOLE" and they are not. They may want the proof.....and Gus would show 'em. I can just imagine THAT phone call.

Ahh, the joys of raising boys.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

A hot school day....

Becca: (coming in from school) Mom, I didn't take my sweatshirt off all day so the ashes wouldn't come off.

Death and Resurrection

Be sure to hop on over to Dave Myers Blog to see his latest drawing of the crucifix at my parish of St.Thomas More with the Resurrection window in its shadow. It is a beautiful rendition of what was Christ's suffering and what is core of our longing.

Leave the past in ashes....

Ash Wednesday: You are dust and to dust you shall return.

It's a humbling thought that we all, one day, will turn back into that from which Christ made us. Yesterday, while at work at my parish, there was an unusual smell wafting in the air. It was a strong smell that made me think, at first, that someone was cooking something exotic in the parish kitchen. As I made my way outside to my car, the smell got stronger and as I looked up into the sky trying to figure out what the smell was, I saw it! Stupid me! It was the burning of last year's palms being done right outside the office windows! Traditionally, Catholics take last year's palms from Palm Sunday..burn them... and use them as the ashes for Ash Wednesday Masses. It is a comforting thought for me to know that the palms given/held/stored/prayed over by our many parishioners were being used in such a profound way? Their palms are on my forehead right now! Can you imagine the amount of LIFE that those palms have witnessed in the last year? From the first day where they were fresh and green, placed in a bible in someone's home? Or tucked behind a crucifix in a bedroom? Maybe they were folded into a cross shape and stored in the car visor? Or placed in someone's china cabinet?

We have our old palms prominently displayed behind a cross in our eating area. I forgot to take these old palms to the church for burning, but maybe we'll just burn our own as a family tonight. It can be a symbol of our familial beginning of Lent. ......Reminding us to "Come to the Lord with all our hearts and leave the past in ashes".

I love being Catholic.