Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve 2007

From our family to yours: A very Merry Christmas with all the joys and blessings of the Incarnation!
Luke 2:10
But the angel said to them, " Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;

Psalm 98:6
With trumpets and the sound of the horn Shout joyfully before the King, the LORD.

Luke 2:15
When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, "Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us."

Monday, December 17, 2007

I have a bone to pick...

with the tooth fairy.

She keeps forgetting to put money under Gus's pillow after he lost one of his front teeth. I mean really, she needs to get her act together because I'm the one who has to cover for her. How many more times can I tell the poor child that December is a busy month for tooth fairy? He could care less that she has other obligations ( rumor has it that she keeps running out of spare change ), he just wants to make sure she does not forget him amidst all the hustle and bustle of the season.

Doesn't she know that he lost this particular tooth in a nasty exchange with a tether ball? It came out much sooner than expected. Maybe that's why she is so late.

If anyone knows her number, please have her call me because I have a few choice words.


Thursday, December 13, 2007


The guys on the fort.

Girls not allowed!

The view from the fort.

My extra talented husband recently finished a project that our boys have been waiting patiently for: A fort. What inspired this major project? Well,
THIS BOOK of course. (Every family with boys should have at least one copy on their shelves.) My husband started this project a few months ago and worked on it faithfully and steadily when he found time in his very busy schedule. He would often enlist the help of a child so that they could be part of the building process. In addition, he could spend quality time with his kids while at the same time teaching practical skills such as: measuring, calculation, design, estimation, wood-working, drilling, hammering. Not only did my husband complete a wonderful imaginative play-structure for our highly energetic boys, but taught them the valuable lesson of working with your hands to create something of beauty.

What features does it have? Oh, only the best for my boys: at 300 square feet, this fort boasts a trap door, tiki torches, a ballista, a rope ladder (coming soon), tarp roof (also coming) and a view from about 8 feel above the ground.(perfect to spy on unsuspecting neighbors!) Chris jokingly says we should put a flat screen T.V. out there for the real men. What man would argue with that?

What a gift of lasting value for my boys. I imagine many future hours of boy play in the fort where my family will create lasting memories of childhood. (and my husband mentions that it's a great place for him to go when he's in trouble with me!!) What a labor of love from their dad. Thanks, Chris.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Gus: Mom, it's really freaky.

Me: What's freaky Gus.

Gus: What freaks me out is that it's Jesus's birthday, but we get the presents.

Friday, December 07, 2007

My heart.

Today is the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor...a bleak and terrible event. But 50 years after that historic day, Chris and I stood at the altar of Sts. Peter and Paul Church in New Braunfels, Texas and made a vow to God and each other that we would love each other through the good times and the bad, in sickness and in health until death parts us. What a beautiful day that was, and what a wonderful life we have had for the last 16 years. Chris, you have been my heart throughout all my days. You know when to make me laugh, how to make me cry, when to just listen and when to talk. Our children adore you and the precious time you carve out for each one. My life without you would have been sad and lonely...God knew that. I know how strong God's love is for each of us because of the love he put in my heart for you.

Happy Anniversary to my heart.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Hug, Hug. Kiss Kiss

I have my Apple back! I'll be posting pictures from the last few weeks very soon as I upload them.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

My world is now complete.

Oh, the joy! Oh, happiness! My world is NOW complete! My town now has
one of these! I will never have a reason to leave again! Nick, Henry and I went to the grand opening this morning and discovered this fantastic cookie! Why would you ever eat an Oreo when you can have a Joe Joe? These cookies make that the trip to the gym worth it!

Brain Dead

I've been at a loss this past week without my computer. My well-loved Apple iBook computer power cord connector got stuck inside my computer and caused me to have to visit the Genius Bar at the Apple Store on Tuesday. The technicians there told me it would take at least 4-5 days to fix in store. So. OK. Living without my computer feels uncomfortable, but not as uncomfortable as having to use my old Dell dinosaur while having to pay $150 to have it fixed. The worst part is that I have my entire family calendar on my computer, color coded for each child's activities, work projects, home responsibilities and church holidays. It holds my entire "brain" so since I don't have my computer, you will essentially find me walking around "brain dead" wondering if I left a kid somewhere forgotten, or if I missed an important deadline.

So, dear readers, if I've forgotten to show up at a particular event this week, you'll know why. Oh, and if any of you know where I should be tonight, could you call and remind me? In the meantime, I'll just enjoy the free time!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Just when you need an extra pair of hands....

they appear unexpectedly.

Tonight, I was rushing around getting everyone organized for tomorrow's day. Lunches needed to be made, baths needed to be enforced, muffins made for Gus's 1st grade class, and a birthday cake needed to be baked so that it could cool overnight for Gus's family birthday celebration. Unfortunately, no one told Henry that I was busy. He did not notice that I had very little time to rock him to sleep. In fact, he decided that I had extra time on my hands and decided that we needed to play together in the rocking chair. It was a great game we played: Henry flopping from one side of my body over to the next. His weight pulling down on my shoulders. All the while blinking those big brown eyes at me. It was painfully clear that my insistent rocking and patting rhythm was not working. Even in the dark, I could see the whites of his eyes staring at me, his cooing and gooing sounds pierced the night as if it were 3:00 in the afternoon. After 20 minutes of rocking and patting my
insomniac,I spied the bright red digital clock numbers which flashed 10:30pm. Time was flying by and I still had not made the muffins or birthday cake.

I decided that Mr. Henry would have to go to sleep without me. I placed him in his crib, patted his little shoulder and told him to go "night, night". It was no sooner that I turned toward the bedroom door that Henry made it very clear that he was unhappy with my decision to go downstairs. He cried. Loudly.

I worried that his tantrum would wake his brothers, but they had been asleep long enough to be in heavy dreamland at this point. So, serenaded with King Henry's screams, I continued my work in the kitchen. Muffin mix. (wailing) eggs. (wail. wail. waaaaailllll.) oil (waaaahhhhhhhh) blueberries (screeeeeaaammmm). Mix well.

After about 10 minutes of unrelenting wailing, my youngest child finally quieted down and gave up the hope that I would come back to his crib to rock him. He was finally asleep and I could put my muffins in the oven in peace. After all, he is getting spoiled from all the rocking,holding and kissing he experiences from his parents and siblings. He needs to learn to put himself to sleep. All babies do.

After I washed the dishes, I headed up the stairs to check on his highness. I peaked in the dark room and heard some movement. Fearing that he was getting ready to start wailing again, I heard a faint whisper, "Mom." I could not imagine which boy was calling for me at such an hour. Who was UP?? After a few seconds, I saw a shadow in the rocking chair. It was Nick. He was holding a happy (and very awake) Henry. He was playing the same game with Henry as I had been earlier. "Mom, he was so sad. I had to help him 'cuz he was crying."

Well, just when I needed an extra pair of hands, love appeared in the form of Henry's big brother Nick. What a beautiful sight it was to see my 11 year old rock his baby brother and help me get my jobs done. Good for me, good for Henry, bad for Nick since he's going to be falling asleep in class tomorrow.

I think he would say it was worth it.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

I'm thankful for...

Red Wine
Long lost hugs
Priests and seminarians
Late night surprise visits
Family, cousins and friends
Napping with Henry in my arms
Carpet Steam Cleaner and the man that operates it
The sound of my husband's silent sleeping breath
Hand me down toys
Plentiful Food
No schedules
Puppy Chow (three batches!)

Shopping in Texas

Thus begins the shopping season!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Jack and Gus get into some massively gross burping contests that make me cringe. They seem so proud of their talents, no matter how disgusting it is to one of the few females in this family. I heard a recent burping exchange the other day in the living room, where Jack justified his smaller burp:

Gus: Burrrrrrrrrppppp!

Jack: Burrp.

Gus: My burp was longer and louder than yours.

Jack: Yeah, but mine was smellier.

Gus: I'm going to work on it.

Jack: You need to.

I just shake my head and wonder where in the heck this stuff comes from. Thanksgiving, here we come! The rafters will be shaking!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

One thing you never want to run out of.

For some really great deals on diapers and baby items, you must visit this site.
Shipping is free for orders over $50 and the orders are shipped the very next day. The Wall Street Journal highly recommends this site, so I just placed my first order tonight!

Another great site to look into is this one. You can download discount coupons from a large list of popular stores and recieve free shipping on most orders. Check it out for all your shopping the very least, you save on gas and fighting long lines at the mall!

NO girls allowed.

Nick needed a haircut in a bad way today. The problem is that my boys mostly despise getting their hair cut. I think it has something to do with having to sit still in one spot for more than a minute. Understandably, I decided to bribe the boys with a buttery Katie's pretzel and a trip to the toy store if they could first patiently wait for their brother to get a much needed haircut at the barbershop.

All the boys liked the sound of going to the toy store, so they scrambled into the car with great enthusiasm and also enlisted the company of a neighbor friend.

Now the place where the boys get their haircut is a place in town called, "Friendly's Barbershop". I don't take the boys there very often; only when their dad is unavailable to cut their hair. It's one of those 'old timey, quaint barbershops where men mostly go. (Women would never want to get a haircut in this place!) It's got the "candy cane" pole out front, fairly inexpensive haircuts, three basic stations inside, and a couple of gumball machines that offer gum for 10 cents. I like to think of it as one of the last places in this town where men can gather and talk openly about politics, women, cars, hunting and the weather without the politically correct crowd...or obnoxious demanding women, forcing certain opinions on tired ears. It's a sanctuary for men I think, so I always feel out of place when I walk in with my brood of boys. I sense that the conversation between the men there stops when I walk in, and they must talk about things more mundane because of my presence.

As I hurry my boys to the the waiting area, I wonder if they feel the same sense of not belonging as I do. (I'm sure it's the same feeling men get when they have to sit in their wives gynecologist office.) Not a chance... these boys fit. right. in. Before I knew it, the boys spotted the magazine rack and excitedly selected a magazine to peruse. "Hmmm." I thought as I looked up from my Newsweek magazine, "These boys look like a bunch of old men relaxing in their rocking chairs." I was struck with how quiet it was. They were so good!

After a few seconds of looking at all my quiet boys, I realized what they were reading: Sports Illustrated, Guns and Ammo, Hunting Magazine and Bass Fisherman. Truly this was a world I could not relate to in the least, but could certainly understand. You can argue that it's not a man's world anymore, but you can always find one at your neighborhood barbershop. I find it very refreshing that there is a place in my town where my boys are comfortable...even if I am not.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Picky vs. Perturbed

I made a new version of my popular chicken pot pie recipe last night. I used a Bisquick crust instead of the regular pie crust recipe the family was accustomed to. This change was not popular with a certain man in my life.

Him: What's on the top of the chicken pot pie?

Her: It's a Bisquick crust. I did not have a pie crust.

Him: I can't eat that. It looks like the airplane food I got sick on when I returned home from Chile.

Her: OK. Don't eat it.

Him: (munching on salad) Did you wash the lettuce?

Her: Uh...yeah. Why?

Him: It's a little grainy. (He picks out a small bug from the lettuce.) Oh! No wonder the lettuce tasted grainy. (She glares.)

Her: (slightly perturbed) Well, EAT it anyway! Bugs don't eat much!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Jack's Trojan Horse

This art piece created by Jack struck me as being special for numerous reasons not to mention the fact that I did not even realize he knew the tragic story of the Trojan Horse. Initially I was surprised at the dull color scheme chosen. Most of Jack's art is filled with color and intensity; but this piece is different in that he mostly used yellows, greens and black. Maybe since Jack knows the story, he chose less than bright colors to set the mood. Secondly, I love the detail of the soldiers pulling at the massive horse with their tangled ropes. The castle gate is their destination and whoa to the group waiting behind the walls. Finally, where we see the innocence of a child's art: The entry gate appears flat on the ground...but the art critic can see what the child artist is trying to convey. This is all very beautiful...this is my Jack's very own creation and tells us so much about his interests and mind. What a beautiful work of art by Jack.

Humor for the day...

Little known facts about the Catholic Church in Las Vegas:

There are more churches in Las Vegas than casinos. During Sunday services at the offertory, some worshippers contribute casino chips as opposed to cash. Some are sharing their winnings – some are hoping to win. Since they get chips from so many different casinos, and they are worth money, the Catholic churches are required to send all the chips into the diocese for sorting. Once sorted into the respective casino chips, one junior priest takes the chips and makes the rounds to the casinos turning chips into cash. And he is known as ....................The Chip Monk

I really like that one!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Drawing his own conclusions

Gus: Mom, what are we having for dinner tonight?

Me: I made chili.

Gus: (Looking down at his chili bowl) Man, we must be really poor.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Pumpkin Fun

A couple of fun things to do this holiday:

1. Below is a prayer to say with your family as you carve the family pumpkin:

Pumpkin Prayer

Cut Off The Top:
Lord, open my mind and fill me with
Your wisdom and guidance.

Scoop Out The Yuckies:
Lord, take out all my fussies and frownies
and fill me with your love.

Carve Out The Eyes:
Lord, open my eyes to see all of the beautiful
things You have made.

Carve Out The Nose:
Lord, help me to be a sweet,
sweet fragrance for You.

Carve Out The Mouth:
Lord, help me always speak Your
words of love and kindness.

Place in A Candle:
Lord, let me be a light to others
For You have filled me with Your Light.

Unknown Origin

2. If you have NO desire to get your hands messy with a real pumpkin, here is a virtual PUMPKIN you'll enjoy playing with.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Examination on Conscience

Me: Jack and Gus, God gives us a conscience to know what is right and what is wrong. Where do you think your conscience is?

Jack: On your shoulders.

Me: On your shoulders?

Jack: Yeah.

Gus: That's were the the angel and the devil live.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Life and Science....Clemens style!

(Jack and Gus look out the small window of a real Mercury Capsule)

Last week, Jack and Gus had a teacher workday, so I decided to pack them up, along with baby Henry and visit the Museum of Life and Science. This wonderful museum, located in Durham, North Carolina boasts one the largest exhibits of Gemini and Apollo space items, as well as a state of the art Butterfly house, a brand new "Catch the Wind"exhibit, an expansive indoor/outdoor play area, farmyard and animal exhibit. The highlight for the boys is riding the Ellerbee Creek Railway which travels through a dark tunnel as well as lush forest.

Jack and Gus INSIDE the Mercury Capsule...not much to do in there!

Jack found something to do by playing in the Kapla wooden blocks section of the museum. He built some sort of high rise hotel, it seems.

Even Henry had a good time! What a mad, mad scientist baby!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

What not to say to a priest.

We were having a dinner out with our dear friend, Fr. Scott, this evening at the local Mexican Food restaurant. At one point during the dinner Gus stopped eating, put his hand on Fr. Scott's shoulder, leaned into him and said with some authority "You know, you should get married sometime."

Happy 15th Rebecca!

I often wonder if I can embarrass my daughter in public, but she says I can't. So I don't.

"Mom, you can't embarrass me with any of your crazy behavior; It doesn't bother me" she told me one day.

I was devastated. I must admit that I do love a challenge; most especially one that involves embarrassing one of my kids. I mean, after need to be embarrassed every now and then by their parents. It builds character and teaches them to love even if they don't approve of someone.

There was this one time when someone who looked strangely like me walked into the local mall with her daughter and with a sly hand and eyes looking straight forward, decidedly slipped the pants off most of the mannequins in her path. That only made her daughter laugh hysterically and beg for more. Didn't work.

There was this other time when yet another Georgie look-alike, while driving her daughter to school... which is situated near a most liberal minded area of town... spied a college student carrying a clear plastic bag filled with something green. At the realization that the student was mearly carrying green beans, the Georgie look-alike rolled down her window and shouted out to the student, "Don't drop your marijuana!" This display of child-like behavior only brought forth more hysterical laughter from her daughter that she left the car telling all her friends what just happened. Didn't work either.

Then there were the numerous occasions that our fearless look-alike would attend many a dignified concert settings at which her daughter was performing, and would insist on yelling, BEEECCCCCAAA---BOOOOO!!!!! when the crowd was quiet. This attempt to embarrass only got our look-alike in trouble with her most dignified husband who was sitting beside her.

Her latest attempt was at a recent, spectator packed, football game where our look-alike was spotted in the stands with her other children, armed with balloons, signs and chocolate....prepared to surprise her daughter with a birthday pep rally as she marched off the football field after performing with the marching band. This attempt at embarrassing her daughter only got our look alike and her boys a coy smile from afar!

Now I am a dignified youth worker in the Catholic Church, and would never subscribe to such juvenile behavior. It would be beneath my vocation as a mom and a youth minister to behave in such ways. If you see this look alike around town, tell her to stop the madness. But in the mean time....can I borrow someones whoopee cushion?

Happy 15th Birthday to Rebecca! We love you!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Respect Life Sunday

Over the last few days, I have been praying
for an end to abortion as part of the groundbreaking

40 Days for Life campaign.

Since this effort started on September 26, many lives
have been saved from abortion, many women and men have
been protected from making a tragic decision that could
haunt them for a lifetime, and many people who have
experienced the pain of abortion in their past have
begun to find healing.

I receive regular updates about the 40 Days for Life
campaign, and have been inspired by the amazing things
that God is doing all across America.

I'd like to invite you to join me in this important
initiative. Here's how...

Go to:

On the top right of the page, you will see a form that
reads: "Get Updates." Enter your name, email, and zip
code to receive the updates, devotionals, and prayer
requests about 40 Days for Life.

Then join me and others all around the country who are
heeding the words of 2 Chronicles 7:14: "If my people,
who are called by my name, will humble themselves and
pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways,
then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin
and will heal their land."

Let's make 2007 the year that marks the beginning of
the end of abortion!

Friday, October 05, 2007


Rebecca's high school band returned last week from their first band competition. They received a superior rating which is the highest rating you can get. Not bad for their first competition. Tomorrow they compete in their second competition...Go Band! The following pictures were taken by a professional photographer who has a child in the band. These pictures of Rebecca were from some of the many practices the band held...on some very hot summer days! Here are some of my favorites.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Great T.V.

Have you been watching this fantastic documentary?

I look forward to the moment when all the kids are in bed and I get to watch another episode. What incredible stories!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Feast of the Guardian Angels

Prayer to One's Guardian Angel

Dear Angel, in his goodness God gave you to me to guide, protect and enlighten me, and to being me back to the right way when I go astray. Encourage me when I am disheartened, and instruct me when I err in my judgment. Help me to become more Christlike, and so some day to be accepted into the company of Angels and Saints in heaven. Amen.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Dating: The view of a 6th grade boy

Nick and I were in the car the other day, talking about many things when all of a sudden, Nick blurts out his view of dating:

Nick: Mom. I think the best time to date a girl is when you are in college.

Me: Really Nick?

Nick: Yeah.

Me: (Trying to test his theory) OK then Nick, what would you do if this really pretty freshman girl comes up to you while you are say, a sophmore, and has a nice smile, outfit, and personality. And your friend tells you that she really, really likes you and wants to go out with you. What would you do?

Nick: I'd just ask her what college she plan to go to.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


I would not show this video to any small children, but highly recommend it to older teens. I dare you to watch this without crying. I think we all can relate at some level.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Traveling with Mr. Bear

My son's first grade class has a program called, "Travel Bear". "Travel Bear" likes to visit different places and meet the people who live there. He usually travels with a child from class, but sometimes goes to an exotic place...oh, say, the country of Chile with only a parent. My son's teacher encourages families to send pictures or postcards of where "travel bear" goes, but Gus's dad always aims to please. Here is day one of "Travel Bear's" virtual travel journal to La Serena, Chile. Looks like he's a busy bear and enjoys a good brew too! Tomorrow he will travel up the Andes to help fix one of the telescopes there. I hope he has his flannel p.j.''s cold in the mountains!

Ora pro nobis

Matt Maher, Catholic musician and songwriter...who is very popular with Catholic youth, sings this beautiful litany of the saints. Makes me long for the Easter Vigil. The final slide is a lovely picture of JPII in the arms of Mary.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The band is back!

After hours of practice, 2 summer band camps, uniform fitting, volunteer organization, band booster meetings,horn polishing, marching formations....the band is back! And Rebecca could not be happier!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Sleepy Bunny

Gus came home the other day upset because a boy at school told him there was no Easter Bunny.

Gus: Jake said there was no such thing as the Easter bunny. He told me that parents secretly put the baskets out in the middle of the night when kids are asleep.

Chris: Well Gus, what do you think. Do you believe what Jake said?

Gus: No! I told him there had to be an Easter bunny 'cause my parents are way too tired to do that.

Friday, September 14, 2007

I am yours.

One of the best contemporary christian bands today is CASTING CROWNS. You'll be moved by this awesome video made by a youth group in 2006 using one of their most popular songs. I believe they only used white gloves and a blue light. Be inspired!

A note for those of you who have kids in religious education programs:

Here is an edited article I wrote for our youth ministry newsletter:

As a mom to 5 kids and being involved in youth ministry for over 10 years, I suspect you all may be able to relate to the fact that it can be a challenge getting kids to church and to faith development. Sports, school work, home life and family obligations too often guide us away from what we need most: a relationship with Jesus Christ. All too often Jesus lands dead last in our list of priorities when he should be the first on our list.

Our youth group, and its fantastic group of catechists and volunteers strive each week to make the Catholic faith come alive for your young person. Countless hours of planning and organization go into making learning about Jesus interesting, relevant and positive. It's a tall order for any youth program, but we are up to the challenge and believe, with God's help, we will succeed in creating a welcoming environment where the seeds of faith can grow and mature into a life-long love affair with Christ and His church.

But we cannot achieve such high ideals alone. Over 170 youth in the youth program only meet for a total of about 20-30 hours A YEAR! That adds up to about one day out of 365 days in a year. That is a small amount of time to impart the christian values that we hold dear. Parents must engage in their own faith life in order to change the life of their children. Young adolescents respond to the message that their faith offers an alternative to the world. But this realization requires that parents embrace this difference. Explaining to youth that life as a Catholic is different is not enough. Parents must show how to live this difference.

So the bottom line is that we must CARVE out time in our busy day with our kids to improve our relationship with Jesus and to impart the teachings of our church to our kids. How can we do that? Here's a little exercise for you....

My favorite Catholic author, Danielle Bean, in her latest book, Mom to Mom, day to day, challenges parents to make a list of everything they do in a day...from breaking up sibling fights, to driving to school events, chatting with school parent friends, and cleaning up nasty bedrooms. It's not that hard. Write it all down, and be painfully honest. She asks parents to take a careful look at the choices we make on a daily basis. Is it that we don't have time to teach our children some basic Catholic prayers? Or to go to Mass or Reconciliation? Or is it that we simply choose to do something else like watching T.V., surfing the net, or talking on the phone.? These things alone are not bad things, but somehow they come first over talking about God with our children.

I encourage everyone to "Take 10 minutes" a few times a week to go over some basic Catholic teachings with your kids. Use the Catechism of the Catholic Church, The Catholic Source book or The Catholic Youth Bible as your textbook, as well as many other books available online or at your local bookstore. Get started now and make the commitment to raise your child with faith, hope, and love.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Alpha and Omega

There are moments in your life where time seems to stand still. The beauty of life overwhelmingly strikes at your soul and you are left standing looking at your future and your past at the same time. And you are left staring in awe at the picture that surrounds you.

Last Sunday, after Mass, I was visiting with a friend I had known for many years. Jack, Gus and Nick ran to the side of the church to engage in their usual post-mass tag game and Rebecca took baby Henry out into the sunshine to play. As I continued my conversation with my friend, I glanced outside the church window to see a beautiful picture: my oldest conversing with my youngest. It was touching and tender; it was painful and poinant in a weird way. I stopped talking mid-sentence and just stared. I know my friend must have thought that I had either lost my mind or was inexcusibly rude, but I mumbled something like, "hold on a minute, I need to get my camera" and rushed off to capture the beauty on camera.

I don't know exactly what moved me so much. All I know is that time seems to fly around my house with all the craziness around me. Most days I engage in worry and wondering about how I measure up as a mom, if the kids are getting all they need, if I am doing the right things for my family and wether God is as central in my life as He should be. But at the moment I took this picture, I realized that my life will be over as quickly as it started. At one brief moment, I held my firstborn in my arms and now that firstborn will be moving out of the house in 3 short years. I now see my fifth born child, approaching one year of age, and realize he will be in that same position much faster than I ever realized. It kind of hurts...the speed of life. I am pained at the thought that one day I'll miss the smell of my baby's skin, the excitement of my daughters triumphs in high school, the sound of laughter by my little boys and the noise that I too often wish away. It's so important to make each moment matter and to give all the credit and glory to God for this generous gift of life.

I thank God for the reminder, and the stillness of this picture. I'll treasure that moment forever.

Love is....

having an uncle with "big guns".

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Happy 8th Birthday Jack

It's hard to believe our little Jack is already 8!

From the moment we saw your squished up face we were in love. Dad selected your name after praying in St. Patrick's Cathedral and asking God for a healthy happy baby. We knew our prayers had been answered as we watched you grow from a sweet baby to a big 2ND grader and stellar big brother to two younger brothers behind you. You are our middle child; gentle and quiet. Stuck in-between some strong-willed siblings. Thank you Jack for being so gentle and easy-going. Your unassuming demeanor reminds us to be patient and kind with others, and your mischievous, sneaky side always reminds us that you are very much part of this big, loud and crazy family. God knew what he was doing when he sent you to live with us. He knew you would make us a happier family, a more loving family, a more complete family. Without you, we would never have known how to love as deeply as we do now. Thanks Jack-e-boo...we love you.


Rebecca and I slipped out to the mall the other day to get her fitted for a dress. She will be a maid for a friend's quinceanera in November. Afterwards, Becca requested some new clothes for the new school year, and seeing all the Labor Day sales, I was happy to spend some girl time at the mall.

Rebecca instantly found some Levi jeans on sale. She rushed into the dressing room and came out looking sleek and slim in her 550's.

Me: Oh, man Becca! You look so good in those jeans! I remember when I was that thin....before 5 babies!

Becca: (laughing) Oh, mom. Don't worry about the extra weight. The old you is in there...... somewhere.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

How much is that baby in the window?

Jack and Gus were the first to head back to school last week. As usual, I snapped the annual "back to school" picture where the boys held up their fingers to show what grade they were going into. Jack and Gus moaned and groaned at the reality of school starting, but as you can see, there was at least one other family member saddened at the sight of his brothers heading back to school. Oh Henry!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

A challenge for you

Find the big difference between these pictures:

The kids in front of the Immaculate Conception Shrine on the campus of Catholic University. We attended Mass inside the Shrine before this picture was taken, and yes, Gus DID wear those lovely flip flops.

The best hotel in D.C.

On our recent trip to Washington D.C., we stayed in a hotel which gave us a lovely view of the Washington Monument. We ended up buying two rooms so that we could fit comfortably. The free amenities of this hotel were beyond compare so we recommend the place highly:

The dance club played all our favorite songs. We danced the night away.

The maid was exceptionally efficient, and kept the place impeccably clean.

We had the finest transportation; our very own metro to and from the hotel.

And CABLE TEEEE VEEEEEE! Entertainment for boys unaccustomed to so many channels. Who NEEDS a hypnotist!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Plan B

My 11 year old son Nick will be entering Middle School in the next few weeks. He's been growing so tall and changing so much that I can now see glimpses of what he will look like as a full grown man and it just blows me away. Where did my first born baby boy go?

Anyway, I was having one of those "in the car" conversations with him, asking various questions about the future, how he felt about going into Middle School etc. And at this tender age, my son still talks to me and tells me about his dreams, thoughts and feelings. One sure thing about Nick is that he loves to circles he goes...on and on about a small when I asked him the following question, he did not hesitate:

Me: Nick. So what do you want to be when you grow up?

Nick: (quickly) A race car driver.

Me: (trying not to shatter his dream) Well, you know, Nick. We all have dreams to become something really exciting and different, (I've always dreamed to be a Bet Midler type entertainer, dressed in a glitzy red gown, laying gracefully on a baby grand and singing my guts out to a sold out crowd....could still never know! Bah, ha!) And it's good to pursue those dreams, but it's always a good idea to have a back-up plan of what you want to be in case your dream of becoming a race-car diver does not happen.

Nick: Oh, yeah, well that makes sense.

Me: OK, so, what's your backup plan? What do you want to be if you can't be a race-car driver?

Nick: (quickly) An actor.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

What little boys are made of..

Snakes and snails and puppy dog tails?

Hmmm. Mine must be defective because he is
obviously made of Cheerios.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Tour of duty

WWII Memorial in Washington D.C.

We just got home from a short trip to our nation's capital. As part of our sightseeing tour, we viewed some of our country's finest monuments. One of the most beautiful memorials was the WWII Memorial recently completed in 2004. As the kids ran around the fountains and pillars of marble, I sat and thought about the 400,000 men and women who lost their lives in this massive war so that I could sit and watch my children grow up in a place where they could pursue life, liberty and happiness. These soldiers and paid the ultimate price for me, a stranger. I was moved. I was grateful.

The kids in front of the North Carolina pillar at the WWII Memorial.

Later on the next day, we moved on to the
Arlington National Cemetery where we viewed Kennedy's grave, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and the changing of the guard. We passed thousands upon thousands of headstones of people who fought and died in the Civil War through to today's Iraq war. I thought about the many mothers and the millions of tears shed. I thought about the wives and the fatherless children. I thought about many things as viewed the rolling hills of white. After a hefty walk in the heat, I sat on one of the benches in the shade next to a war veteran of about 80 or so years. He was just sitting there. Quiet. All by himself, staring out into the hill. He looked pensive, sad, and not really open to talking. So we just sat there quietly together. I wanted to turn to him and ask him so many questions about his life, his service, what he saw, what he thinks of people today, if it was worth it, would he do it all over again? What he would want my children to know? I wanted so badly to thank him for all his generation did for mine, and I wanted to apologize for the shortcomings of my generation. He did not speak, and I did not ask.

Jack and Gus stand at attention and silence during the changing of the guard at Tomb of the Unknown Soldier-Arlington National Cemetery

I wonder if the veterans of WWII and the other wars shake their heads at my generation when they hear that we now have the freedom to kill a million babies a year as part of a freedom of choice. The freedom to sit in front of a talking box hour after hour watching violence, s*x, foul language, and crude humor as part of our freedom. I wonder if they throw their hands up at us when they see the millions of broken homes due to drugs, alcohol, pornography, and lives engulfed in materialism. I wonder if they want to turn their backs to us with tears in their eyes when we criticize the military, burn the flag, and throw out the Pledge. Are they disgusted when kids kill each other for the latest video game system or for the best I-gadget? The list goes on and on. Is this what they fought for? I think not. I feel my generation is missing out on how to live with honor, respect and dignity. We don't know how and don't seem to care about finding out. We're spoiled. We've been given way too much and did not have to work very hard to get any of it. Spoiled.

So I felt really sheepish when I looked at all the self-sacrifice before me and concluded that the best way to honor the men/women who fought so valiantly for me and for future generations is to live a life of honor and respect. To raise children who are aware of how BLESSED they are to have been born American. To teach my kids to respect authority, honor those who deserve it, remember the times of difficulty and appreciate the important gift of life. To live a life in the positive mode, and not wallow in negativity or darkness. Most importantly, to never ever blame others for any lack of success...but to hold themselves accountable for mistakes learn from them and to move forward.

I think that veteran would have told me that.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The tooth bully

Gus: (excitedly) Mom! My tooth came out!

Me: Oh! How exciting!

Gus: Yeah! All Jack had to do was punch me in the mouth and my tooth came out!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Hair Days of Summer

The days of summer are long and so is the hair on top of the heads of my boys....but not for too much longer!

For some, hair cutting is still a chore.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Becca taunts her brother.

Becca: Gus, could you change shirts, because that one looks a little fruity.

Gus: What??! Huh? I don't see any fruits on it!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Becca is back....

and the family rejoices...although she has more facial hair than we remembered. Hmmm.