Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Confused?

It's December 29th. It's winter! It's warm.

I look out the window into the yard and see 6 boys (3 of them mine) playing with waterguns.

They walk in the house totally soaked.

Summer fun?

New Year, New Title

Since we've had Henry, I've been mulling over changing the name of the blog. "Four Crying Out Loud" is catchy and fun, but we don't have four kids anymore and quite frankly it does not make sense either. So I needed to think up a new name for the blog...one that included the number five. It was harder than I thought, so for the last two years I just kept things as they were.

During the Christmas break, I started playing around with my options for my blog. I redesigned a new blog with a new name using the Apple I-Life program, but sadly after hours of work, decided to scrap it and keep what I have with blogger. (What can I say, blogger has me hooked!) What I did keep was the new name of the blog: High Five!

High Five! captures the positive nature of what our family epitomizes. There are many highs within a family of five and those highs are mostly what I like to relay within this blog. (My husband thought it sounded like we were on drugs or something. What a goof!) But no, we are not on drugs, we are high fivin' it over here in N.C. striving to put Jesus in center of our lives, with Mary as our Mother and Joseph as our guide.

So here's to a new year and a new title! Feel free to share your thoughts on the name, or just feel free to stop by and say Hi!

The Great Outdoors!

Getting my kids to “unplug” from various electronic devices such as the Wii, computer and T.V. can be a challenge especially during the Christmas vacation when time is free and new gifts scream to be used. We have had plenty of time to enjoy the gifts “Santa” has brought, but we have been lacking in good, old fashioned family time so I thought it was time to get outside as a family and enjoy the relatively warm temperatures and sunshine. So I announced the idea to the family....and my idea was met with moans and groans! All but King Henry protested. He’s always ready to venture out into the big, great world with his family!

Nevertheless, everyone put on their hiking boots, sweatshirts and got in the car for mom’s adventure. Truth be told, I had no idea where I would take the lot of them (there are so many kids, you know?)..there was the local park, the nearby school track, the playground near the church. No, none of those places sounded too exciting, so I decided to take them to one of the numerous trails that surround the town. Funny how you can live in a town for almost 10 years and never get time to explore some of the more beautiful areas that the town has to offer. “NOOOOOOOO hiking!! Please take us home, mom!!!!”, they pleaded. But I insisted that life is much more interesting than a video screen.

We parked the car and started on our somewhat muddy trek through the forest. In no time, Jack and Gus got into the spirit of the event and quickly found: STICKS! They “wapped” the the ground, poked puddles of muck, and sword-fought! Eventually, our trail led us to a surprise playground in Wilson Park. The kids ran to the park and instantly found trees to climb, new friends to talk to, and super-high slides to come down! Henry was a sight to behold, bold and brave he climbed the newly found structure with his sister, and barreled down the slide! After a half hour of playtime, we left the park and explored more of the nature trail. We soon found part of Bolin Creek where the kids enjoyed exploring caves, small waterfalls and a (gasp!) railroad and railroad bride! My boys could have stayed all afternoon, but alas the adventure needed to end.

Now here is the clincher folks, they did not want to LEAVE! Get this: “We are having too much fun!” they protested when my husband announced our departure! “But there is a CAVE and a waterfall!” they insisted! We will have to explore this part of the Creek another time.

It is so great when the family can spend time together in a quality setting, created especially for us. But you know what is even better? When mom is right! Life is so much better than T.V.!

Get out, and explore with your family!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

That's one way to look at it!

At a recent trip to the grocery, I pulled my cart up to the wine aisle and looked for a bottle to share with some friends that were coming by for the holiday. Gus stood next to me, looked at the rows and rows of wine bottles and said, "whoa, that's a whole 'lotta Jesus!"

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The weary world rejoices...oh, night divine!


Merry Christmas to all our friends and family on this most holy of nights. How blessed are we to have the savior of the world love us so much that he came to the earth, to show us how to live His example of love. This is the gift that we embrace as Catholics. This is the gift we recieve....Thank you God!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Mexico City

Our Lady of Guadalupe-Patroness of the Americas



According to traditional Catholic accounts of the Guadalupan apparitions, during a walk from his village to the city on the early morning of December 9, 1531,[3] Juan Diego saw a vision of the Virgin - a young girl of fifteen to sixteen, surrounded by light- at the Hill of Tepeyac. Speaking in Nahuatl, the Lady asked for a church to be built at that site in her honor. When Juan Diego spoke to the Spanish bishop, Fray Juan de Zumárraga, the bishop asked him for a miraculous sign to prove his claim. The Virgin asked Juan Diego to gather some flowers at the top of Tepeyac Hill, even though it was winter when no flowers bloomed. He found there Castilian roses (which were of the Bishop's native home, but not indigenous of Tepeyac), gathered them, and the Virgin herself re-arranged them in his tilma. When Juan Diego presented the roses to Zumárraga, the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe miraculously appeared imprinted on the cloth of Diego's tilma.

Wikipedia

Advent Thoughts

"It's sharing your gifts, not purchasing gifts;
It's not wrapping presents, its being present
and wrapping your arms around the ones you love;
It's not getting Christmas cards out on time,
It's sending any card, anytime, at the right time;
It's not having the biggest and best Christmas light display,
It's displaying the Christ light that comes from your heart;
It's not Santa coming down the chimney,
It's Jesus coming down from heaven,
and giving us the gift of eternal life."

----Anonymous

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Christmas card attempts.

Family Christmas cards. Don't you just love taking those blissful family pictures? You know what I mean... all the kids smiling sweetly, well behaved, looking straight into the camera, encouraging more poses and smiles. For me,I can honestly say that taking the Christmas picture of the kids ranks right up there with trying on swimsuits and cleaning the toilets. It's not that I MIND taking the pics, I just have trouble with all the whining I hear when I announce that everyone needs to gather outside for the picture! Not to mention the struggles I have: "Nick, look at me, no, wait, you are in front of your brother, stop hitting his face please, ok, now everyone, say cheese! Wait stop, Henry, get your head out of Jack's armpit! Gus, stop looking for ants, Becca, please help Henry look at the camera, Whoa, don't drop the baby! OK Smile, just hold that pose....awwww.no.no. Jack, zip up your pants!!"

Just know that when you get the Clemens family photo this year, appreciate the effort, pain, and misery put out by those involved. Hold the picture in your hand and enthusiastically smile at how all the kids looked nicely at the camera. Appreciate the fact that 5 kids looked the same direction at the same time. Be amazed that they are dressed and neat and lovely. And marvel, just marvel at how fast they are growing, and how beautiful they are, how happy they are, and how the picture makes a grown mom and dad cry with pride and joy.

And remember how good God is for the miracle of life and the beauty of family.


Here are a couple of out-takes for you to enjoy. (Rebecca had NO desire to be in these two)Later I'll post the "family approved-official Clemens family picture.



Monday, December 08, 2008

http://pictopia.com/perl/get_image?provider_id=207&size=550x550_mb&ptp_photo_id=143429


Today is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception-a holy day of obligation for all Catholics. Not sure what this event is all about? Educate yourself here Here!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Parting is such sweet sorrow


I'm a little blue from having to say goodbye to my parents at the airport. They were visiting from Texas. We had a great time visiting so it was hard to see them go home.

When my mom comes to visit, she always bring some goodies for me to enjoy. This visit was no exception...what with some bargain silver shoes she found in my size, an elegant black scarf with velvet trim for those "dress up nights" and a nice big Christmas check to help with the holiday budget...I was feeling pretty darned loved. But what delighted me most was another gift she brought me that I initially thought was pretty mundane: a cookbook. "Great", I thought at first, "another cookbook that will sit on my shelf and collect dust". I have many un-used cookbooks in my house reminding me of how bad a cook I am and I tend to resent each one for different reasons. This one is too gourmet, that one includes ingredients found only in the remote parts of Taiwan, this one is endorsed by a skinny celebrity cook (never trust a skinny cook, right?), that one has only bland 1950's food, this one serves a family of 4 (is that all?), and that one recommends using Splenda for everything...yuck! But most have complicated recipes that take too much time and wayyy too much effort. However, I will resort to the cookbooks if I am looking for that "something special" to impress my friends; but all too often I just return to an 'ol classic dish that I know will pass muster.

One lazy afternoon while my parents and I were lounging in the den, I opened up the cookbook and browsed through its glossy pages and beautiful photos. I was still skeptical. My mom encouraged me to look closely, "Look, Georgie! Many of the dishes only require 15 minutes of prep!" Yeah, I thought, 15 minutes if you are a professional chef!

But I did look closer. There were some easy recipes in the book as well as some that required a bit more effort...but they all seemed possible to recreate! There were 3-ingredient biscuits, basic gravy recipes, beloved favorites, chocolate cakes using a mix, easy soups and yummy holiday treats to give as gifts. Wow! But one recipe in particular made me run out immediately to buy ingredients. It was a recipe for Slow-Cooker turkey and stuffing. The directions for cooking were straight forward, the pictures made the dish look delicious, and...to make things more intriguing, there were step-by-step picture instructions. I threw all the ingredients in the crock pot and 6 hours later Viola! Turkey and stuffing...and it tasted really, really good! My kids loved it and we we had the left-overs the next day. ( 2 dinners in the bag! Bam!)

Here is the recipe:

Prep:10 minutes Cook: 7 hours

1 (8 ounce) pkg herb-seasoned stuffing mix (we tested with Pepperidge Farm). 1 onion, chopped 2 celery ribs, chopped 1 c dried cranberries 3/4 c chicken broth 3 Tbspn butter or marg, melted 1 (3-pound) frozen boneless turkey breast, thawed 1/4 tsp salt 1/2 tsp pepper 1/4 dried thyme 1 (0.88 ounce ) pkg turkey gravy mix Coat inside of a 4-quart electric slow cooker with cooking spray. Add stuffing mix, onion, celery, and cranberries. Combine broth and melted butter. Pour over stuffing, and stir gently. Remove string from turkey breast. Rinse turkey breast. Place turkey in slow cooker on top of stuffing. Combing salt, pepper, and thyme; sprinkle over turkey,. Cover and coot at HIGH 1 hour. Reduce to LOW, and cook 5-6 hours or until a meat thermometer inserted in turkey registers 170. Remove turkey to a serving platter. Stir stuffing gently in slow cooker; cover and let stand 3-4 minutes. Prepare gravy. Spoon stuffing around turkey on platter. Yield: 5-6 servings

In case you are interested in purchasing this cookbook for yourself, you can find it at any
Dillard's Store for only $10. It's called the Southern Living Christmas Cookbook. Dillard's has teamed up with Southern Living to offer this cookbook to benefit Ronald McDonald House charities.



Monday, November 17, 2008

Faith and Family Live

FaithButton

For those of you needing additional inspiration on being a Catholic mom, as well as great ideas for recipes, gifts, and relevant family articles, be sure to visit Faith and Family Live. Just click on the button above and be blessed!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Turning points


The Fall Evening Competition (The moon and Jupiter seen.)The performers. In uniform.

Their arrival on the field.

The beginning. (Rebecca is on the front left: trombone)

The middle.

And the end of marching season! Congratulations to the band for a great season of hard work, competition and tenacity!

Below is the entire show entitled: Turning Points: 1968
Commemorating the history making events of that year.


Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Immaculate Heart of Mary,
help us to conquer the menace of evil,
which so easily takes root in the hearts of the people of today,
and whose immeasurable effects
already weigh down upon our modern world
and seem to block the paths toward the future.

From famine and war, deliver us.
From nuclear war, from incalculable self-destruction, from every kind of war, deliver us.
From sins against human life from its very beginning, deliver us.
From hatred and from the demeaning of the dignity of the children of God, deliver us.
From every kind of injustice in the life of society, both national and international, deliver us.
From readiness to trample on the commandments of God, deliver us.
From attempts to stifle in human hearts the very truth of God, deliver us.
From the loss of awareness of good and evil, deliver us.
From sins against the Holy Spirit, deliver us.

Accept, O Mother of Christ,
this cry laden with the sufferings of all individual human beings,
laden with the sufferings of whole societies.
Help us with the power of the Holy Spirit conquer all sin:
individual sin and the “sin of the world,”
sin in all its manifestations.

Let there be revealed once more in the history of the world
the infinite saving power of the redemption:
the power of merciful love.
May it put a stop to evil.
May it transform consciences.
May your Immaculate Heart reveal for all the light of hope.
ALL: Amen.

(Novena for faithful citizenship-USCCB)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

No lost love

As Jack and Gus returned home, they got out of the carpool and started walking up the front yard to the door. As the carpool started driving away, a passenger girl smiled,waved at the boys and excitedly said, "Goodbye boys!"

Gus was heard to mutter through his teeth, "Goodbye annoying girl."

The mother of this boy was said to have sighed a heavy sigh.

Monday, October 27, 2008

I finally did it. I always told myself that I would never have any part of this modern communication technology. But I did it anyway.

Come be my friend.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Falling for Fall Pumpkins!


It is Fall in North Carolina.

There is no other season I enjoy more than this time of year. North Carolina is the place to visit during the Fall season! The leaves are turning, a nip of brisk weather is beginning to break, the pumpkins are piled up at local stores and farms, and the kids are excited...because Halloween is around the corner. If Halloween is near, my kids instinctively know that our annual trip to the farm of a dear friend for barrels of fun, laughs, chili, a spooky hayride, a campfire, and the carving of the pumpkins is just around the corner.



Here we have most of our carvers behind some of their creations. (Nick is not pictured. He opted for the hayride.)
Rebecca chose to honor the blockbuster movie of the summer, "Batman-The Dark Knight" by designing her own pumpkin carving complete with a silhouette of Batman and the bat symbol.

Jack and Gus combined their efforts to create a friendly ghost face. It makes me want to do the happy dance just from looking at it. And Nick, opted for the traditional "Wolf, howling at the moon" design. All three Clemen's pumpkins are pictured above. I do believe we may have some pumpkin artists in the family! Watch out Martha Stewart!

OK folks, with all that, and more to come we begin the crazy Halloween celebrations that I like to call, "Hell Week!"

Stay tuned for the amazing costumes that will be all the rage in my house. Rumor has it that Indiana Jones may make an appearance as well as some ghoulishly creepy characters that are sure to delight!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

True wealth

I was at my favorite bagel place yesterday with Henry and while there, we enjoyed the blissful taste of a butter bagel, juice and baked Lay's. As usual, Henry smiled at everyone in the store and enjoyed simple banter with the patrons. His chubby arms waved, his plump legs galloped toward the well-known employees, and his playful eyes beams with happiness. There is always someone who shouts out, "Hi Henry! How's the chick magnet today?" After we received our order, we found our "special" booth and sat down. As I ate my treat, I watched every move my my baby boy made. Every wiggle, every expression, babble or laugh....I soaked in every second of this special time. Just Henry and I. Together. How well I know how fast the years go by.

After a few minutes, Henry decided to insert himself in the conversation happening between two middle aged women in the booth behind. He smiled and played peek-a-boo with the ladies. But I quickly stopped him so that he would not disturb them too much.

As we got up to leave, I felt a tug on my sleeve and I soon discovered that it was the woman in the booth behind me. She looked at me, smiled and said these simple, but true words.

"You are a rich woman."

The words resounded inside of me. She told me something that I already knew...five-fold. But somehow when a stranger stops you out of the blue and says something like that out loud, it makes me feel as if this message was somehow divinely inspired. A message from the Almighty straight to my heart. I do feel like a rich woman, regardless of material goods or money.

The recent economic crisis has caused doubt, fear, and uncertainty, but being truly rich with family? Well, there is nothing uncertain about that...and no one can take your family away. I have never felt more rich in my whole life. Every time I look in my baby's eyes. I am the Queen!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Guess who turned 2!


Our Henry turned two on September 22nd! We can hardly believe our baby is a toddler complete with strong-willed opinions and suggestions for what he wanted as his birthday cake!

Clearly he wanted the "samwitch" birthday cake that he found in one of my baking books. I call this cake the hamburger cake (complete with mustard, ketchup and pickles). Although floppy and off-balance, my baby boy was delighted with his cake!

Can't you tell?

You can see more pictures of some amazing hamburger cakes at this creative site.
(Who knew there was such a love of hamburger cakes out there!) You'll be amazed at the variety and creativity. I must say, that even though it may seem as if a hamburger cake would be disgusting to taste...it is quite the opposite! There was not one slice left afterwards!






Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Explosion of color

This piece of art was created by the great 2nd grade artist: Gustavo! He was inspired by his art teacher who "told us we had to do it that way." He used a Sharpie, watercolors, and oil pastels. The result, as the keenest eye can see, is an explosion of color! Bravo!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Mountain Muses

I've recently returned from a wonderful Whitewater Rafting Trip where I took 54 young people from the youth group to the mountains of North Carolina. In addition, I took my entire family so that they could enjoy the great outdoors with the teens. While the youth group was rafting, I stayed behind with Jack, Gus and Chris to prepare for dinner. Jack and Gus decided to frolick in the 10 man Jeep Tent I purchased a few years ago....at a bargain ($69) while Chris and I started the fires, organized paper products, adjusted picnic tables and spread out a variety of chips and snacks.

After a few minutes, we called Jack and Gus out of the tent so that we could have a snack together before the youth returned. Much to my surprise, Jack did not come out immediately. I called a second and third time only to hear a soft call from the tent saying he was busy. "Busy? He was busy in the tent? Doing what?"

Finally Jack came out of his little hole and approached the snack table. He surprised us all as he looked around at the goodies and responded, "Huh, I guess I can take a break from studying my Greek."

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Little old man

Chris walked into the bedroom to find little Henry in the rocking chair, watching a T.V. show.

Chris: Henry, what are you doing?

Henry: Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Never Again.


A few weeks ago, the family spent a fantastic 3 day vacation at Busch Gardens, Williamsburg. After visiting numerous parks around the nation, I must admit that Busch Gardens is my favorite. It has beautiful landscaping, trees with large canopies, excellent roller coasters and fun kiddie rides. After 9 years of taking the youth group to this park, I had ridden EVERY roller coaster they had at the park numerous times...until they built this one: The Griffin. I had avoided his one. It's huge! Scary! and very, very tall. It made the other roller coasters look like little miniature toys. It wasn't until our family trip that the kids taunted me to get on the monster. I refused over and over....until little Jack (who had ridden the dumb thing 15 times) promised me that I would like it.

I rode the Griffin. Eyes closed the entire time. Praying for God to deliver me from the insanity of the first drop. (You can see the second drop in the background of the picture.) And you know what? I thought my face would fly off with all the pressure of that drop! It was a terrifying experience that I will NEVER do again.

But the cool thing is that I rode the Griffin....and lived to tell.

Standards of Beauty

I recently enrolled Jack and Gus in tennis class. They both seem to enjoy the class OK, but according to the conversation they were having on the way to the courts, the instructor may soon have trouble on her hands. They were so engrossed in their conversation, they did not even hear ME trying to give my view. Typical.

Gus: Jack, don't you think our instructor is ugly?

Jack: Yeah! She is from Russia or something.

Gus: I can't stand looking at her.

Me: What?? Guys! I think she is pretty!

Jack: Well, I guess she has a nice voice.

Gus: Uh, huh. If only we could just close our eyes and just listen to her.

Jack: THAT would TOTALLY be better!

Here is the thing everyone: This girl is gorgeous! She is Russian, has a beautiful accent and is quite svelte and sophisticated. Personally, I would love to have her face and body...It is beyond my comprehension as to WHY my two boys are so concerned with the looks of this woman. Clearly their mom holds their standard of beauty...I hope they stay small forever!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The third floor

New paint, new colors, new carpet...what a beautiful looking room.

But now the rest of the house looks dingy. Ug.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Vote.

In case all the political talk is driving you crazy; here is a video that might help to clarify things. Grassroots films does it again! Great job guys!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Rebecca's new favorite song: Cinderella

As many of you know, Steven Curtis Chapman is a well know contemporary christian singer who touches so many with his songs and stories. I've been listening to his music for over 20 years.

A tragic accident happened to his young daughter, Maria a few months ago. She died after being accidentally hit by the family SUV driven by her big brother. This beautiful song was written by Steven before his daughter died, but serves as a tender reminder that life is short and to love with all your heart....because you never know when the clock will strike 12.

Try not to cry.....


A priest's view of Sarah Palin

Be sure to read the latest on Mrs. Palin. It's a great

article!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Happy 9th Birthday Jack!

Happy 9th Birthday to our sweet Jack! The middle of five children, you entered our lives in a big, robust way. At 10 1/2 pounds at birth, you ensured that you could never be forgotten or go un-noticed. Today you live bigger than ever in our hearts. As we watch you grow, we are filled with joy and pride in knowing you are a wonderful son, big brother, grandson, nephew, but more importantly a child of God. It's hard to believe that God loves you more than we do, but it gives us great comfort and happiness. We can't wait to see what the Lord has in store for you.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Good to know he has standards

Me: Nick! Why are you taking a shower at 3:30 in the afternoon?

Nick: (yelling through the closed bathroom door) Because Gus peed on the toilet seat!

Friday, August 22, 2008

To my Dad, Happy Birthday!

To the best dancer I know, my dad, Hector. This one is for you. Love, Georgie

G U I D A N C E

Dancing With God
When I meditated on the word Guidance,
I kept seeing "dance" at the end of the word.
I remember reading that doing God's will is a lot like dancing.
When two people try to lead, nothing feels right.
The movement doesn't flow with the music,
and everything is quite uncomfortable and jerky.
When one person realizes that, and lets the other lead,
both bodies begin to flow with the music.
One gives gentle cues, perhaps with a nudge to the back
or by pressing lightly in one direction or another.
It's as if two become one body, moving beautifully.
The dance takes surrender, willingness,
and attentiveness from one person
and gentle guidance and skill from the other.
My eyes drew back to the word Guidance.

When I saw "G": I thought of God, followed by "u" and
"i".
"God, "u" and "i" dance."
God, you, and I dance.
As I lowered my head, I became willing to trust
that I would get guidance about my life.
Once again, I became willing to let God lead.

My prayer for you today is that God's blessings
and mercies are upon you on this day and everyday.
May you abide in God, as God abides in you.
Dance together with God, trusting God to lead
and to guide you through each season of your life.
And I Hope You Dance !

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Bloggy









Yes that's right! I am playing with the layout of my blog and it is a blast! I hope you like the new colors, pictures and quotes. I've been wanting to change things up for quite awhile but was unsure about how to do it. (I figured it out, and it was not as hard as I imagined.)

The picture on my header features our sweet Jack at Emerald Isle beach. I plan to change the pictures from time to time so be sure to check back from time to time to see what the Clemens are up to.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The question I'm pondering.

I was standing in line at the uniform store today with four of my boys in tow. The woman behind me commented on how many kids I had and asked questions about my family size. She mentioned that she could not handle any more kids. She mentioned that the "ol Catholic guilt" made her feel bad about not having more.

So. That got me to thinking. Why is it that no one has ever heard of "Baptist guilt" or "Evangelical guilt" or even "Protestant guilt". Why is my religion the only one with this prestigious title? Hmmmmmmm.

Friday, August 08, 2008

We've been watching the opening night of the Olympics and have been impressed with the color and beauty of the ceremony. It truly symbolizes the beauty of the world and reflects the glorious tapestry of humanity. What a wonderous depiction of the best of who we are as human beings.

There was one moment in the beginning of the ceremony that was slightly disturbing though. It was when there were over 2000 drummers drumming on special "light up" drums with unreal precision and painful accuracy. It seemed un-natural and unsettling. Did anyone else get that feeling?

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Can you hear me now?

I am a mom of five children with very different likes, thoughts, interests and activities. I try to listen closely when one describes the minute details of the latest book they are reading, or of the "smooth moves" they used to destroy the enemy alien on the Wii, or of the complicated plot of the movie they saw at the neighbors house. How can I ignore the enthusiastic descriptions of engines on the WWII bombers and the great techniques used by professional fencers? For hours I'll listen to the antics of an unknown camp counselor, or band director, of a child's friend whose behavior was so "funny" that "you just had to be there, mom!"

They are living exciting, fun, and interesting lives these kids of mine.

But I have a confession to make:

Sometimes I just tune them out, details and all. I mean, sometimes I'll just watch their animated faces, their moving lips, and nod and make an "oh really?" comment but in reality I 'll just go away to my happy place. Isn't it just awful? I do! I just tune them out mostly due to fatigue or disinterest. At times it's just too much information coming out of their sweet mouths all at once and it can get quite overwhelming! It takes great effort to listen to your children at all times of the day and night and I try, really I do to give them a good amount of my attention but I fail at times.

When the kids were smaller, I could get away with this behavior and they would go away satisfied that they got through, but as my kids grow, it's getting harder and harder to pull the wool over their eyes.

The other day, I had all five of the kids in the car and we were driving to the local mall where we were going to pick up a few things for the house. It was loud in the car, everyone talking with each other about the latest thing in their lives. Nicholas, sitting behind the drivers seat, starting talking my ear off about a certain video game that he and his friend were recently challenged with. (another video game challenge, be still my heart!) But he was excited to tell me all about the game and proceeded into a 10 minute monologue of his experience with it. Right about the time I was parking the car, he finished his story and ended with, "What do you think of that mom?' I replied with my usual, "Wow, Nick, that is great." He seemed satisfied with my response, until...

My 15 year old daughter butted in. "Mom, do you have any idea what Nick just said?" I was caught. It was a "deer in the headlights moment" where I had to either tell the truth that I had not really listened to all the story or repeat at least the last couple of words Nick said to prove that I was listening. I chose the latter...."Yeah" I commented and mumbled a few words that I "thought" Nick had mentioned. But guess what? I was TOTALLY wrong..way off in left field...no where near what my child had said...and everybody in the car started laughing! "Mom, you weren't listening at all, where you?" I humbly admitted that I was not. "I'm sorry Nick, sometimes your stories last longer than my attention span. I'm sorry."

I am amazed at times how children develop and become aware of their surroundings and the behaviors of others. My kids are picking up on the flaws of their parents, the little white lies, the compromises, imperfections and knowing just the right button to push when they want a confrontation. Oh, my kids are getting so. very. smart.

I am convinced that God sends us messages through our children. Messages like, "Georgie, are you REALLY listening to my words, or are you just going through the motions?" I go to Mass, work with young people in the church, say my prayers, stay faithful...but am I listening to what God is trying to say? Do I take time out of the day to completely stop and listen for his voice or to a friend who needs some advice. Listening is an art and probably one of the hardest things we learn to do as a parent, spouse and Christian. The world is loud, just like my car was on that day...so taking time to listen becomes ever harder and more challenging as the world closes in.

I'm trying to do better with my kids, listening even if it is a difficulty. I guess that is why God gave us two ears and only one mouth. You'd think two ears would be enough of a clue from God of what he asks of us.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Found: Lost writing assignment

My name is Nick. I am the second oldest out of my three younger brothers and my one older sister. With a family of 7 it can get a little crazy. Also my littlest brother is about to turn 2 he makes it more hectic. But the crazyness is worth it.



Monday, July 21, 2008

Weird.

For some reason, this video freaks me out, as in, giving me the heebee jeebies.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

World Youth Links

World Youth Day is the largest gathering of
young people in the world.
Participants are
united in faith and celebrate Christ and His
Church
through many events scheduled.
This year's World Youth Day is being held
this week,
July 14-20 in Sydney, Australia.
It is Pope Benedicts first
trip to Australia
where he will preside over a Mass estimated
to have over 500,000
people in attendence.
Can't make it to Sydney mate?
Here are some great sites
that will give you
a front row seat to many of the events:



The official World Youth Day Website


eBenedict is a great site with live blogging of the event.


The Archdiocese of San Antonio has a pilgrimage blog. Good Job guys!


EWTN has live streaming video

Briton's The Catholic Herald


The official World Youth Day Song
It's pretty good except for the goofy "I love" t-shirt the
singer is wearing
in the video. It totally distracted me
from the song.


A schedule of events.


Share in the experience by forwarding some of these
sites to the ones who you think may enjoy it.



Sunday, July 13, 2008

nursery rhymes with a twist

Jack and Gus decided to teach Henry a popular nursery rhyme, but with their own changes. I heard this one coming from the back seat of the car:

Jack and Gus singing together:

Patty Cake, Patty Cake
Bakers Man
Bake me a Cake
Or you will DIE!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

It's a real Gas!


Look what is keeping the Clemens kids entertained
this week!

Only high quality, classy games are allowed at the Clemens home!

Exclaimed by more than one boy, "Whoever invented this game was a genius!"

Monday, July 07, 2008

I want that interesting thing, please.



Hey...dear brother, what is that cool electronic device in your hand, that I now want, that costs too much money for me to mess with, that you won't let me have, that I'll then need to scream at the top of my lungs for, and then get my way. I love you my brother....but don't tell mom.

Photo Credit: Jack Clemens

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Hayley Westenra-wow!

I heard this young 21 year old artist sing on television last night for Washington D. C.'s Fourth of July Celebration. She sang the song "Shenandoah" accompanied by a live orchestra and choir. It totally transported me to another place; it was so beautiful. Of course I totally bought the song off of I-Tunes this morning. Have a listen for yourself and enjoy the beauty of the song and singer.


Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Beachy keen!

Ahhh, vacation. A long and well deserved one for the family on the Emerald Isle Beach in North Carolina. There is nothing like the feel of sand between your toes, the sound of crashing waves on the shore, the sun bearing down on your shoulders, the sheer joy of my children's laughter and the inevitable discovery of a gallon of sand found in your swimsuit bottom. (How does it ever get in there?)

There is not much to do at the beach other that lay on it, play in it, walk on it, search for shells or sit on it and stare into the abyss of never ending ocean. I escaped one afternoon for a short walk on part of the the 12 mile shore of Emerald Isle I enjoyed the rush of water pushing at my feet creating a sinking feeling in the sand. The wind blew against my face-like God giving me a big bear hug. My feet carried my body down the long expanse of the beach. How quickly my footprints disappeared, swallowed up by the surf!

It's short moments of quiet like those that give me perspective on life. As I looked toward my family 100 feet away playing on the beach I realized how amazingly perfect my life is.....how I would never want to be anywhere else but with them. How God had managed to surprise me in wonderful ways that I could have never planned. Had anyone ever told me at 20 years old that I would one day be the mom of five kids, living in a state of which I never gave a second thought, with a man who was created beautifully, but completely opposite in personality than me, working part-time in a low paying job with an amazing group of middle school youth..I would have told that person to take a look at my long range planner...I was NOT planning any such thing! I wanted the executive job. I wanted to wait at least 2 years (not 2 weeks) before conceiving a child, my husband would be military and we would save our money for when we were ready for for our 2.4 children! I've learned that no amount of planning stops the life that God lays before me each and every day. My life is still evolving into the perfect plan. His perfect plan.

Watching my footsteps disappear on the shore as quickly as I make them is a subtle reminder of how short my life is. Each kiss and hug should be cherished, every moment a gift from a father to his child. Time is limited to know, love and serve the one who holds the perfect plan for our lives. My life being so different than what I planned is a testament to how amazing God
is and how He never asks us for more than we can handle...even on those impossibly difficult days of diapers, messy houses, screaming kids and low moral.

The author of my life has written the story perfectly, I can't wait to see what other surprises are in store.(Just no more messy sand in my beach bottoms please.)

Friday, June 06, 2008

Supportive words

Jack to friend: Did you see the awesome crucifix I made in clay class?

Friend: Yeah. That's because you totally have skills.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Gummy but yummy!

Returning home from a wonderful Memorial Day at the pool, I decided to stop at the local drug store to pick up a gallon of milk. As an added bonus, I spotted a ginormous bag of gummy worms and decided to purchase those as well.

As I returned to the car, I quickly and evenly distributed them to my motley crew. A few minutes later, protests broke out!

Nick: Guys, check this out! I can swallow a gummy worm and then right after, cough it back up again!

Gus: Nick that is sooo unfair. You get to eat twice as many as we do!

Jack: Totally unfair!!

Henry: More!!More!!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

A Double Dose

Ahh, sacraments! Don't you just love them?

The most conventional definition of a sacrament is that it is an outward sign, instituted by Christ, that conveys an inward, spiritual grace through Christ. They are usually administered by a priest to a recipient, and are generally understood to involve visible and invisible parts. The invisible component (manifested inwardly) is understood to be brought about by the action of the Holy Spirit, while the visible (or outward) component involves the use of such things as water, oil, and bread and wine that is blessed or consecrated.

The Catholic Church recognizes seven of these sacraments, and the Clemens family experienced two of them, all in the course of one week. Here are the highlights!

Jack was prepared for his First Holy Communion thanks to the wonderful efforts of his second grade teachers! He knows his prayers, understands the importance of receiving the Real Presence of our Lord and Savior, and half-way enjoyed wearing a suit coat and tie for the whole event. Family friend, Fr. Scott McCue, presided and blessed Jack in front of the congregation. (Fr. Emmauel is in the background.)





The after party included family and friends, including grandma and grandpa Clemens who traveled all the way from Mississippi for the event. Here is Jack celebrating by playing on the family Wii! (Coat and tie was thrown off as soon as he got in the car!)



Rebecca
was confirmed in Christ four days later along with 76 other 10th graders from our parish. The decision to become confirmed is solely to be made by the youth. Parents cannot decide for the youth and then "make" their child get confirmed. What I like about this sacrament is that the youth is trusted to make his/her own decision about what they believe and are therefore accountable to God for choices they make during their journey of faith. There is no doubt Rebecca was ready to make this commitment, sure of her steps, Christ walks beside her guiding her newly found path in a whole new journey of adulthood in the Catholic Church.

Rebecca is pictured with her Confirmation Sponsor, Mary Workman. Mary has been a big influence in Rebecca's faith life by reflecting Christ's love in ways too numerous to count. I am happy to say that Mary is like a 'second mom' to Rebecca and a dear friend to me. We are so lucky to have found her!








Here we are with the greatest Bishop on the planet, Michael Burbidge! Of course, Fr. Scott was in attendance as well as my brother and his family, and our faithful grandparents from Mississippi.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Did you see this?



It made my day! Hope it makes yours!

Market Fresh


Oh, the Farmer's Market is a joy this time of year. Basil, lettuce and STRAWBERRIES! Give me more!

Do Re Mi

At a recent choir concert of Rebecca's, the family enjoyed many beautiful choral pieces sung in various languages including German. Jack found that listening to music in another language was odd.

Jack: Mom, I can't understand what they are singing sometimes.

Me: That's because they are singing in German, Jack.

Jack: (confused) So then what's the reason we listen to it?

Monday, May 12, 2008

The shortest conversation ever in my house.

Her: How do my eyebrows look, I just got them waxed?

Him: Oh. They make you look strict.

Her: (Not talking to him for at least an hour.)

May I have your attention for a message from the blogger.

I know that it has been awhile since I've regularly posted, but life with five has most definitely gotten the best of me lately. What with a wonderful trip to France, the First Holy Communion of Jack, the Confirmation of Rebecca, concerts, plays, work, youth ministry events and the regular 'ol chaos of everyday, I've had to put the blog on the back burner. But not anymore! I will be posting more often with our wonderful family moments. Meanwhile, please keep me in your prayers as I struggle with my crazy, wonderful and never dull life. (Thanks be to God!)

Seek and Find...

Nick, Jack, Gus and Henry. They are all in this picture.

If there ever was the perfect picture that depicts my life with four boys, this one is IT. The problem is that they are drawn to other boys...and lots of them. I was at a local lacrosse game watching some neighbor boys play, when I turned and saw a gaggle of boys...all ages running around the side of the field. In this gaggle, my boys fit right in...doing the things they do. But then there is baby Henry, the future big boy, strolling into what will one day be his life. Right now, he's just walking, watching and learning.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Myths...

My daughter Rebecca surprised me the other day when she announced that she needed the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Bible for her English class.

Me: Why do you need those books Rebecca?


Rebecca
: I'm doi
ng a report on common myths attributed to the Catholic Church.

Me: (Gulp.) Are you sure you want to do that?

I was quite nervous about her topic selection, knowing what a liberal town public school can do to a person with a strong Christian faith. It is not pretty. I just closed my eyes and said a prayer as she left for school that day. Her teacher is a fallen away Catholic with strong ties to a more secular view of spirituality, social justice and tolerance, but is a fair teacher in all other respects. But after thinking about her selection, I realized that the only way she will be able to grow in her faith, is to study it. Once you learn more about Christ and His Church the more you fall in love. She's answering her own questions about her faith by defending it to a mostly hostile crowd. It takes guts. All at the tender age of 15. (Another of her references is a three volume set of books titled,

RADIO REPLIESwhich answers many questions made by callers to the radio show. An amazing set of books!)

It all comes at a good time since she will be Confirmed in Christ on May 1st. Part of becoming an adult in the church is being able to stand up for the Church and her teachings and to vow to live a full life as a practicing and knowledgeable Catholic. I can think of no better way to prepare for the Bishop and his questions than by preparing for her English paper. The Holy Spirit will truly be at work with my child, and the Holy Spirit will use her for the benefit of all within earshot--already her paper is over two pages in length, single spaced, size 9 font size.

I was never that knowledgeable and engaged in my faith at that age, nor was I as gutsy. It just goes to show that today's Catholic youth are yearning for something more deep and meaningful than the empty promises of our secular world. These are the leaders of the church of tomorrow and I, for one, think we are in darn good hands. Go Becca!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Welcome Pope Benedict!



What a blessing to have such a historic visit from the most well-known religious leader of the world! From what I have read and seen, he appears truly thrilled to be here in the United States! I wonder why? Maybe it's because the Catholic church is argueably alive and well in the U.S. as compared to the faithful in European countries. It could also be a sincere welcome from George Bush...a world leader that shares in the Pope Benedict's view on social/moral issues in the world. Perhaps he really likes the enthusiastic crowds or the really good birthday cake given to him on his 81st year of life. Either way, it's great to have him with us to remind all faiths of the hope we all have in Christ.

I was watching one of the morning shows this morning featuring Kathy Lee Gifford (formerly of Regis and Kathie Lee) speak about her impressions of the papal visit. She mentioned that she is not Catholic but when seeing the Pope come off the plane yesterday, she could not help but stop what she was doing and cry. I looked at him with yearning and emotion as well. This only goes to show that we all admire the message that Benedict holds dear and represents. We all look to him with admiration for all he stands for and lives by...maybe we cry because we recognize the potential we individually hold inside our hearts to be like Christ....and painfully recognize how we have fallen short. Maybe we look at him and feel so. far. away. from the Jesus we should know, the Jesus that Benedict represents. Pope Benedict makes it look so easy to believe in Christ and live a life focused totally on Him. Why can't we do it as well? Pope Benedict has come to America with the message of hope. For me, it is a hope that I can one day be worthy of Christ's sacrifice. Pope Benedict reminds me not to give up on living life as a committed Catholic and believer as I continue with my vocation of wife, mother, youth minister, and evangelist. The pope makes it all look so easy, and it IS! All we need is that hope!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

A little reminder

While walking in the parking lot with the family, I found myself exasperated when I saw Jack with his shoes untied.

Me: Jack! I've told you a gabillion times to tie your shoes! What are we going to do with you?

Gus: (leaning in to me as if to tell me a secret) Just love him, Mom.

I will, Gus. I will.

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Beauty of the Easter Season









Now that Easter Sunday has passed, we can joyfully celebrate the gift of March Madness and the beauty of God's creation...which is evident when watching our precious UNC TarHeels and Texas Longhorns. (Oh, we just can't decide WHO to cheer for!)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Christos Anesti! He is Risen!




"Always be ready to give an account to everyone who asks of the reason for the hope that is in you..." (1 Peter 3:15)

Happy Easter, everyone!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Jesus Remember Me-Good Friday 2008


Our church's outdoor Stations of the Cross drew hundreds of participants. It was a beautiful Spring day with temperatures close to 70 degrees. Many of us came with quieted hearts, hoping to align our sufferings and pain with Christ.





Nicholas, Jack and Gus follow others as we sing and pray along the way.



As I looked up from my prayers, I was surprised to find Nick at the front of the crowd...Jack and Gus not far behind...positioning himself to be selected to take a turn carrying Christ's Cross. I worried that it might be too heavy for him, but it wasn't. He carried it along with another young friend from youth group. Symbolizing that even our children, walk along with Christ and have their own crosses to bear.



Back at the church, near the end of our stations, Nick assists one of the adults in propping up the Cross.


We adore you Oh Christ and we bless you, because by your cross you have redeemed the world.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Pinch me, am I dreaming?

The other night, the kids and I visited the local "dollar store". You know the type of store... where everything is advertised as being only one dollar, but in reality costs MORE than a dollar! What is up with that??

Anyway, I was in a generous mood and felt like the kids were being really good lately, so I told them that they could each pick out a toy from this...uh, DOLLAR store. They all found a few gems that thrilled them. Jack and Nick found camoflauged automatic weapons (a staple in my home) and Gus found two miniature army men with their weapons. Rebecca wanted some rubber glue. It was for the sole of her shoe which was coming apart and solved her problem.

All of this should have cost me, $4, but since it was not a REAL dollar store, I paid over $25. Sheesh.

But that was a small price to pay for the priceless joy and gratitude that effused from my children. Cheap plastic toys absolutely made. their. day. (And Rebecca was happy to have intact shoes.) As we drove home after our shopping trip, I enjoyed the conversation between the kids:

Gus: Oh, I hope this is not a dream.

Me: What do you mean Gus?

Jack: Gus, it could not be a dream, 'cuz why would I be in your dream?

Gus: No, it's just that I always have dreams where I get cool toys, but wake up to find out that I did not get them.

Jack: Don't worry Gus, it's not a dream. You have a cool toy, and so do Nick and I.

Let's hear it for the cheap plastic toy that brings joy!! Even if I DID have to pay more than a dollar for these cheapy goods, it was worth it!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Fatherly Love

Another lovely editorial from one of my favorite Catholic evangelists: Mark Hart aka: The Bible Geek.



So much has been written over the centuries about God being our Father. We pray the 'Our Father' at every single Mass. Most of you reading this probably pray it every day - I sure do.

But it's easy to fall into that "trap" sometimes of letting that term "Father" be just that...a term or a 'title' for God, rather than the basis for our relationship with Him.

We could write a long list of traits we look for in a Father or expect from a Father. Many of our lists would stem from traits we see in or desire from our own earthly fathers.

Recently, though, as I was praying and journaling, I began to reflect on things I've learned about the love of a father since becoming a father a few years back. As my wife and I await the arrival (any day now) of our newest baby girl, it's got me to thinking, again, about how a father loves his children.

Here are a few 'truths' I've learned and realized about good fathers:

. Fathers aren't afraid of messes.we learn to expect them.

. Fathers don't like whining. If you really want our help, stop whining and speak to us.

. Fathers know that when things are too quiet.their children must be in sin.

. Fathers want to not only provide for their children, they want to give them more than they deserve.

. Fathers don't base their love on their child's accomplishments. True paternal love is unconditional.

. Fathers love to see themselves reflected in their children (the good things, anyway).

. Fathers desire to have their children in their presence as much as possible.

. Fathers relish in seeing their children share their gifts and talents with the world.

. Fathers would do anything to take their child's pain away.


And if I (in all of my imperfections) feel these things for my own kids, how much more does our Heavenly Father perfect these emotions and feelings with us? (Matthew 6:30-34)

As I journaled, I took these relationship "truths" that I live with my own children and translated them into how God loves me and looks at me. Here's what I came up with, perhaps it will make sense for your life, too:

My Father in Heaven isn't afraid of my messiness. He wants to help me clean it up.
My Father in Heaven doesn't like my whining, He wants me to talk to him.
My Father in Heaven knows I'm sinning, especially when He hasn't heard from me.
My Father in Heaven wants to bless me with more than I truly deserve.
My Father in Heaven loves me unconditionally, not because of what I do.
My Father in Heaven rejoices when I live and act in His image.like Jesus.
My Father in Heaven desires to have me in His presence more often.
My Father in Heaven hopes to see me share my talents (His gifts) with the world.
My Father in Heaven would to anything to take away my pain.even die on a cross.


This is not the fullness of the meaning behind calling God "Abba", but it's a start. The sooner we can re-envision the true, authentic, practical and perfect love of our Heavenly Father, the sooner this verse and the sooner the Lord's Prayer (the Our Father) will hold greater meaning in our everyday lives.

Happy Father's Day (a little early).


Salvation Given
"As proof that you are children, God sent the spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out, 'Abba, Father!'" - Galatians 4:6


Your Father loves you. Love Him back.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The big ones hurt the most.


My kids made a crown of thorns of their very own using the recipe I mentioned in an earlier post. They had a great time mixing, kneading, and rolling the dough into their crown and all the while, kept asking questions about Christ's passion and death. As they placed the thorns into the thick dough, Gus spoke to Jack about how painful it must have been to have such sharp sticks encircling Jesus's head. (This just goes to show how powerful active learning can be with children. It's one thing to talk about Jesus and His sacrifice for our sins, but the lesson becomes "alive" when children work with their hands to create a symbol of His sacrifice.)

Each time a child does a good deed for another, they get to remove a painful "thorn" from our salt-dough crown. Gus is always mindful to take the biggest thorns out first.

Gus: Mom, I'm going to take this bigger thorn out, since it probably hurts the most.

No matter how big or small the sin, it hurts God and distances our relationship with Him. The more we sin, the more thorns in his crown. Regardless of our human flaws and shortcomings, He still loves us and beckons us to be reconciled to him. May this Lent bring us closer to Christ and to fullness of life He promises.