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...giving 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 brother....to love forever.

Happy Birthday Rebecca!