Friday, July 28, 2006

What I'm dealing with here.

I went to the washing machine today, opened it and was surprised to see a completed small load of laundry inside the machine. It smelled kind of funny and included an array of different colors and clothing. Weird.

As I investigated further, I found one of Gus's USED "Pull Ups" included in the load. Gross! (At least I figured out where the smell was coming from) but who was it who did this load of laundry? I knew Rebecca knew how to use the machine, but she insisted that she did not do any laundry yesterday. I knew it must be Nick; maybe he learned how to use the machine and just decided to help out. He denied any participation.

Me: Gus? (he's 5) Did YOU do a load of laundry for mommy?

Gus: No way, mom!

I just could not imagine who could of done a load this bizarre.

I questioned everyone one more time. The three adamantly insisted that they did not do any laundry.

All of a sudden I saw my little Jack slipping up the stairs and thought, huh, could it have been Jack? No way. He can't reach the machine. I asked anyway.

Me: Jack?

Instantly, Jack sheepishly stopped his trek up the stairs and stood with his back to me. (ahh, guilt you can't hide it, I knew instantly it was him.)

Me: Jack? Did you do a load of laundry yesterday?

Jack: (unsure) Noooo? I didn't?

I could tell on his little face that he was lying. It was clear. The other three kids stood staring at him...mouths open wide. They too knew their brother was caught, and they were shocked at his denial of the act.

I asked again.

Me: Jack, did you put laundry in the machine? I PROMISE you are not going to get into trouble, I just need to know so that next time..I can show you how to put soap in and take out any Pull Ups. OK? Really, you are not in trouble...

Jack smiled sheepishly and admitted to the act. " I just wanted to help you momma."

I gave Jack a big hug and 'thank you' for his thoughtfulness. It was so sweet to help me, but sometimes moms just don't need that kind of matter how well-intentioned. But upon further reflection, our children are given by God a untainted desire to help others and feel as if they matter in a family or group. So no matter that I had to re-wash those clothes and was backed up in my laundry duties; Jack saw that mommy needed help and he decided to do something about it. That is a thoughtful child, acting on a God given instinct. That kind of "help" should never be punished or rejected only encouraged and praised.

I just wish God had given him a little instruction book on how to do the laundry.

The Boob Tube

Jack and Gus were playing a video game yesterday and were intrigued by the characters on the screen before them. It is one of those games where at the beginning, you get to choose which character you are and what powers you have. Jack called me over to check out the cool character he had chosen to be. At first I was simply glazing at the screen and barely listening to his excited descriptions of his character. But after awhile I was actually interested in the game and what each character does.

Jack: Mom, my character is a girl and she has fire power.

A girl? I thought to myself. It doesn't look like a girl. But after looking more closely I saw that she was wearing high heels.

Me: Oh, yeah, I see now that she is a girl Jack. She is wearing high heels. At first I couldn't tell.

Jack: (matter of factly) No mom, you can tell she's a girl 'cause she has boobs.

Me: Really? I didn't notice! (Oh, and where DID he learn that boobs word??)

I looked closer.

The character did indeed have a couple of bumps there. I guess I need to pay more attention to these little details.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Little accomplishments of the day.

1. When it seems that there is little food in the house and nothing substantial for lunch for the kids, you stop at the local bagel place and purchase one dozen bagels for $4.49. When you walk in the door and announce if anyone wants a bagel for lunch, everyone screams with delight. You are the hero!

2. Giving your children the option to either GO outside and play or stay inside and "help mom do work", everyone opts for the great outdoors. Peace and quiet for awhile!

3. Purchasing a gallon of minty green paint for your foyer and living room and painting a large swatch of color on your walls to see how it fun.

4. Returning the gallon of paint you thought you liked for another shade much darker was received with understanding and mercy by the Lowe's employee. Lowe's employee: " I don't like the color either. Yuck. "

5. Reorganizing the medicine cabinet and labeling the shelves with your new label machine. Glorious!

6. Labeling the shelves in the linen closet with the same labeler: Twin Sheets, Queen Sheets, Standard Sheets, Pillow Cases...Stop her! She's even labeling the children!!!

7. Hubby coming home 30 minutes early....a kiss...and NO laptop in his hands. Priceless!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Hee! I found this sparkly title today! Enjoy!

A Fun Quiz..

What Kind of Catholic Are You?

I thought the quiz sized me up perfectly:

You Are a Divine Office (Moderately Traditional) Catholic
The Second Vatican Council was much needed, as far as you're concerned, but you see no reason to push the church further in the direction of change, as many progressives urge. You like the dynamic combination of the traditional approach toward doctrine with the opening of the church to the world that Pope John Paul II (your favorite pope) represented. As far as liturgy is concerned, a reverent Mass in the vernacular is your favorite, as is a vernacular hymn with a feeling for the transcendent such as "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence." When Nicole Kidman returned to her childhood Catholicism and regular Mass attendance, you were thrilled.

HT:Another Catholic Mom

Monday, July 24, 2006

A Prayer for Dinner Parties

A woman invited some people to dinner. At the table, she turned to her six-year-old daughter and said, "Would you like to say the blessing?"

"I wouldn't know what to say," she replied.

"Just say what you hear Mommy say," the mother said.

The child bowed her head and said, "Dear Lord, why on earth did I invite all these people to dinner?"


HT: Spirit Daily

Friday, July 21, 2006

Life is a Highway!

It's 95 degrees today, but we are still going Here with some great friends. I've got the air mattress and my swimsuit all packed and the kids are outfitted for a great weekend. See you all on Sunday! Pray for cooler weather!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Now that's the best kind of tour to go on...

The other day I signed Chris and I up for a hospital maternity tour so that we could acquaint ourselves with the hospital baby #5 will be born in and learn about any new procedures that may have come up since giving birth to our last little one. It was a bizarre experience to say the least. There we were in a room with numerous parents anxiously taking notes and asking questions. All I was focused on was how young everyone scared everyone looked. I don't think I really heard a word of what the hospital staff person was saying, it was more like the wahh, wahhh, wha, whaaaa you would hear from Charlie Brown's classroom teacher.

There I was touring for baby #5, but could not get myself motivated to really CARE about what was really being said. I was there mostly because I thought I needed to some sort of baby rite of passage. Meanwhile as the staff person continued her whaaa, whaaahing, I DID notice how sterile everything looked and how uncomfortable the labor bed appeared. The rooms were not as "cozy" as rooms I'd given birth in before. The wallpaper was shabby and some of the drywall in the bathroom was broken. I sensed that the placed was not as clean as other hospitals I had been in. I peered at all the familiar gadgets and gizmos that were at the reach of the doctors for last minute emergencies. Memories flooded in and out of my brain of each birth I had experienced (as well as one miscarriage). And I remembered how scary it all was and could only feel dread for the whole experience.

Chris and I walked out of one of the delivery rooms and just looked at each other with a sense of dread. Chris said sarcastically, "Oh, boy..won't that be fun to do again." I responded in similar fashion, "Well, at least you don't have to have people poking and prodding at your privates the whole time." Chris said, " Yeah, you definitely get the hard part of the deal." Needless to say, my attitude about the whole birthing process was not so....positive.

We continued on to the 5th floor where all the newborns are cared for. The guide casually pointed to the nursery and all the fancy security features of the floor.( I was not so impressed with the security procedures since I had walked in earlier with no badge and without picking up the security phone without any problems. Chris did the same thing at the NicU accidentally without any real alarms going off.) Humph. But while all the newer parents continued to listen to the tour guide and hang on her every word, Chris and I turned our bodies toward the nursery and saw the most incredible thing of the night: Babies. Newborn babies. So small and helpless, looking around at their new environment like little fresh peaches. I put my hand to the glass and whispered to Chris, "Oh look! That one moves just like the one in my belly. I recognize the movements. It is so amazing!" Chris stood there for a few seconds, just as amazed as I was...staring. Just staring at the new life before our eyes. "Look Georgie, we are about to have one of those and we have no idea what he/she will be like. What an exciting thing". And it was exciting, WE were excited for the first time, realizing the miracle about to enter our lives. All my anxieties melted away as I remembered the end product of all the "yucky" stuff we would have to go through beforehand.

It is SO worth it!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Just when you thought you maintained a peaceful home

read the letter your daughter wrote to her grandparents as part of her "homework" assignment today:

Dear Grandma and Grandpa,

I just got back from band camp and it was great! Some people who were there I already knew, but I made a lot of new friends. It was really hard to leave them and return to the CLEMENS CHAOS HOUSE. I hope you are having fun. Are the donkeys okay? Before I went to band camp, I saw Pirates of the Carribean 2 with some friends and we dressed up as Pirates. We looked really goofy.

Hope to see you soon,



Well, I guess a peaceful house just depends on your perspective...(and whether you have 3 younger brothers barging in on you at all times of the day.)

Monday, July 17, 2006

Am I insane?

Considering the overbearing heat these days, approaching the 7th month of my pregnancy, and the kids irregular bed times...I think I heard someone in the family suggesting that we go to the lake and camp out this weekend. Who would ever suggest such an activity? (Me, that's who.)

I've totally lost my mind haven't I?

A tragic loss.

OK. I did not want to really post about this horrible incident which happend last week, but it keeps haunting me. As a mom, the thought of losing a child is gut-wrentching and horrible, but compound it with the fact that you, yourself are responsible for the accident that caused your child's death is unbearable. I think what haunts me most about this story is that I could see myself doing the exact same thing. I mean, as parents we must always be alert, awake, aware... having eyes all around our heads to watch for dangers which lurk in the smallest of things. But the REALITY is that parents cannot always prevent such things from happening to their children. We are only human and get tired and focused on other things. I get focused and tired but would never want to believe it could lead to such tragedy. This accident is a little reminder to me of how quickly life can change and how imperative it is to live fully...for HIM. Yes, we want to protect and guard our children from dangers, but there is only so much we can control. At some point we must close our eyes, say a prayer to God to protect our children and let them go.

The suffering that this family will be going through will be a long and difficult road. Luckily their faith is strong and they have many parishioners, a large family and friends to support them during the dark days of their grief. Please keep them in your prayers. Catholic author and mom, Danielle Bean, as well as this family's home parish, is collecting donations for the family so that they can replace the car that caused Joshua's death. If you feel so moved, please make a donation through Danielle's Paypal button, or your can write to the family directly.

I have also enclosed the website
the family has created in Joshua's honor. Please take a look and see what a beautiful child he was and read the inspirational eulogy written by his mom. Most of all, love and listen to your children, for they are only ours for a little while.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Lost in pronunciation

Gus, Jack and I were eating lunch today, and both boys thought it would be funny to burp their ABC's. I immediately told them to stop that gross behavior, say excuse me, and continue to eat. They did, but this time Gus decided to sit and quietly sing the ABC's to himself. After a few seconds he had a question:

Gus: Mom, what's MELLOW P?

Me: What do you mean Gus?

Gus: In the alphabet, you know MELLOW P?

I sat and thought about it for a few seconds and realized what he was asking.

Me: OH!!! Gus, you mean L,M,N,O,P. You have to separate each sound and each sound is a different letter.

Gus: Yeah. I got it.

Watch out for that...tree....

When we were visiting UNC-Greensboro the other day, we noticed a very large Magnolia tree in front of the Science building. The boys, Chris and I had been walking the campus for awhile and the boys were quickly tiring of our sightseeing tour. At the time we saw the tree, the boys were moaning and groaning to go back home, and were not very interested in it. I suggested to the boys that they explore the underneath of the tree to see what they could find. All three unenthusiastically mumbled agreement and slowly walked over to the tree. As Chris and i watched from a distance, we noticed the kids disappear in the base of the canopy. Their moods changed VERY quickly. All of a sudden we heard screams of excitement and joy coming from the tree...and it was not from the birds:

"Mom, Dad, come under the tree! It is so cool!"

Jack: "I'm climbing it."

Nick: "I'm going higher! Whoa!"

Gus: (whining) "I can't get up! Help me up Nick! HELP ME UP!"

Chris and I sauntered under the tree and found all three boys climbing like monkeys. The sheer joy that comes from one of God's beautiful creations cannot be matched by anything that we can buy or create for our kids. At first sight, it looked like just another REALLY BIG tree, but with a closer look one finds an unexpected surprise. Isn't it the same with our relationship with God? It is only when we move closer to Him, after he beckons us over and over, that we are surprised by the peace He holds. A special gift of pure joy when we move toward him; even when we don't really feel like it.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Summer hair cuts

Last week Chris got out the clippers and cut the boys hair. I took Becca to the beauty shop where they chopped about 4 inches off her head. Don't they look Grrreat?

Monday, July 10, 2006

Ask a question, and you'll get an answer!

Rebecca called this afternoon during her free time at Band Camp to say "hello" and to tell me what she's been doing. Overall, her first day (and night) went well. She was excited about the new music she was learning, and described the food, the kids, and her conductor. After she told me everything she could; I could not help but ask the question:

Me: So, you miss being home?

Becca: NO!

Well, I asked for it and got it. Further evidence that the outside world IS more fun than the Clemens Family!

Letting Go

Today the family took Rebecca to her fist week long band camp an hour away from home. One of the hardest things a parent has to learn is let go of their children....little by little. Today we dropped her off at band camp, tomorrow, it will be college..then marriage, children and on and on. I never knew how hard it would be to be dropping off my first-born to something as small as BAND CAMP, but as I nervously looked around the campus, her dark dorm room, and at the other campers; it hit me that I had to let her GO. No one ever told me how hard it would be to do that! You think as a mother of small children that the kids will be around forever, but time does move along quickly and there you are dropping your 13 year-old daughter off in her dorm room with a stranger as her roommate! Geez!! To be honest, I am not one of those sentimental moms crying at the bus-stop when their kid goes to kindergarten. In fact, I'm usually relieved that I have one less child to worry about during the school day! But I believe I WILL be a mom that cries for months when they go off to college.

After Chris and I dropped Rebecca off, we got into the car with the boys and drove silently out of the parking garage. Chris said, "Oh, I am going to miss Rebecca when she goes to college. She is my life! How will we ever survive?" There was more silence in the car. He continued on, " You and I will be bawling when that time comes. We only have four more years with her! I should quit my job and spent it all with her!" I sat there with tears in my eyes relieved that he was feeling the same kinds of emotions as i was.

I gave Rebecca my cell phone while she is at camp and I asked her to call me at the end of the night to tell me that she is OK.

Guess what?

She didn't.

It's hard to let go.

Friday, July 07, 2006

A post from Jack

The brother of this donkey died. And his ear broke off so I buyed the other brother and he didn't break. Then what I did was to put a smiley face on top of him so that the smiley face could get to work. Unfortunately the donkey kept on slinging him off (BAM!!!). The smiley face taped his arm to the the donkey so that he would not fall off again but he almost fell off until he hit the ground. The tape was like a rope and dragged him behind. The smiley face was bumping his head alot during the ride. Finally he got to work and thanked the donkey (?) The donkey decided to give the smiley face a back massage until he took him back home. The smiley face DID NOT thank the donkey for the ride home.


jack clemens

Quote of the day

Joy is the gigantic secret of the Christian.--GK Chesterson

Something sweet and sour

Look what Jack, Gus, and I made today. The recipe called for sour cream of all things, but when we tasted the batter we decided it added a delicious "zip" to the bread. Give it a try and make your day alittle sweeter...with sour cream.

Jack's Art

Jack created quite the battle scene that ended badly for the blue guys and well for the black guys; all knights, horses and a castle, of course.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Camp Clemens

Well, summertime is buzzing along and the kids seem to be having a good time with all our extra free time. I especially like the "no real schedule" days where I can stay in my pajamas until 10:00 if I so desire and eat a late breakfast. No school, no meetings or practices, plays or work schedule; just time to spend time re-establishing relationships with neighbors, friends, visiting with my kids, talking with my husband and slowly...very slowly...preparing to embrace another new person, new life, new dynamic in the family.

Having a fairly large family comes with its sacrifices. I live in a very affluent town. Every summer, most of my neighbors enroll their kids in numerous summer camps, send them off for two weeks at time to overnight adventures in another state, or simply pay $900 or so a year to become members of the local pool. We, here at four crying out loud, do not have the resources ($$$) to send our children to such places or to become members of the local pool; we simply must make do with a strategically placed half-day, week long camp activity per child and rely on the generosity of our neighbor who allows us to use his pool at most any time. We also take advantage of the low-cost vacation bible camp held at the near-by church. Other than those two week long camp events and a week long trip to Texas to visit family..I am left to fill up about 8 weeks of summer with activities that rival the high dollar camps that are offered. Yikes! We here at Camp Clemens resort to all kind of activities that aim to please, but find it extremely necessary to stick to some semblance of a schedule for the mean for mom's sanity.

Below is the "loose" summer schedule that is posted on the Clemen's refrigerator.

8:00-9:30--Depending on what time the kids awake, all Clemens kids MUST get dressed, comb their hair, brush their teeth, eat breakfast, clear the breakfast dishes and clean their rooms. No other activity is allowed until these basic items have been completed. Wearing only underwear does NOT constitute "being dressed".

9:30-10:30--Free time to partake in any activity in the house. Keep hands and feet to yourselves...except for mom.

10:30-11:30--Summer homework: This includes, but is not limited to completing summer enrichment books, creating art projects, writing letters to grandparents, practicing an instrument, hiking outdoors, or learning "cool" fencing techniques.

11:30-1:30--Cooking/Baking/Lunch Time. This is also a great time for the kids to finish their daily chores which are posted on the fridge.

1:30-2:30--Quiet time. The kids can read their library books quietly in their rooms while mom either gets a few chores done, or makes some necessary phone calls. (like to the beauty shop to make a hair appointment!)

2:30---Free time to do whatever pleases as long as no bloodshed is involved. Sometimes we go over to the neighbors house to swim, the kids play video games, find friends to play with or on special occasions, we go to a movie matinee.

While I admit that sending my kids to the myriad of camp choices sounds appealing and fun; I know that I will treasure these precious summer moments with my children and one day want to re-live them...even the hardest of days.

Funny stuff....

I really loved this one! Don't ask me why, it just cracked me up!

HT: Julie D

Four United States Presidents get caught up in a tornado. They are whirled off to the land of OZ. They finally make it to the Emerald City and find the Great Wizard .

"What brings the 4 of you before the great Wizard of Oz? "

Jimmy Carter steps forward timidly and says, "I've come for some courage."

"No Problem!" says the Wizard. Who's next? "

Richard Nixon steps forward, "Well, I think I need a heart."

"Done!" says the Wizard. "Who comes next before the Great and Powerful Oz?"

Up steps Dubya and says, "I'm told by some of the American people that I need a brain."

"No problem!" said the Wizard. "Consider it done."

Then there is a great silence in the hall.

Bill Clinton is just standing there, looking around, but he doesn't say a word.

Irritated, the Wizard finally asks, "Well, what do you want?"

With one last look around, Clinton asks, "Is Dorothy here?"

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

A Happy Fourth

It is so stinking hot here so the Clemens clan has opted out of any hot outdoor fourth of July events such as a parade or fireworks display. Instead we will be gathering with friends at a neighbors pool, barbequing brats, snacking on chips, salsa and of course...chocolate cake. I purchased one of those cheesy fireworks bundles from the local grocery store so that the kids have some type of excitement for the evening. I hope it could it not? They are loud, sparkly, dangerous, and smelly....yup..all adds up to boy fun even if it's not the best girl acitivity.

I have my freedom to do that, thank God!

May you all have a wonderful Fourth bestowed with all the freedoms only God can give! I promise to post very soon on recent events, but for now...the pool calls!!