Kayla’s Christmas Concert at St. Saviour’s Preschool: December, 2010

January 6, 2011

Here’s footage of Kayla’s Christmas Concert at St. Saviour’s Preschool in December 2010.  Pressed into the limelight as a one week-old baby in our Canucks video “Kayla Marie:  The Ultimate Canucks Newborn” from December 2007, you’ll see she’s a natural on stage.

Not only does she put her whole heart and soul into all of the songs, she also hams it up between songs making faces at the audience and repeatedly pretending to fall over.

We’ll see how long this lasts…but in the meantime you can sure tell she’s an Imoo!




Canada vs. USA…Youth Ministry Style

January 3, 2011

As I eagerly anticipate yet another hockey battle between Canada and the United States (this time it’s the semi-finals of the World Junior Hockey Championships in a rematch of last year’s final when the USA won 6-5) I began reflecting on the relationship between the two nations.  There are some similarities (pop culture, relative geography, and at least one language), many differences (currency, measurement, and health care to name a few), and a lot of cross-over.

One of these “cross-over” areas is the field of youth ministry.  Admittedly, it’s mostly us Canadians (at least in our archdiocese) bringing in (or “importing”) resources and talent from down south, whether it’s keynote speakers, worship leaders, or program resources and ideas.  Once in a while, we will bless our American neighbours with our presence at a conference or gathering, such as the recent NCCYM in New Orleans.  In fact, our American friends even invited us to participate in the relatively (in)famous youth ministry flash mob

It seems like we’ve always been welcomed with open arms and hearts, sometimes receiving shout-outs from the stage, even if we’re referred to as America’s hat (thanks Popple). 

So it’s only natural that this good-natured ribbing would spill over into sports.

Now, a couple of disclaimers here:

  1.  It really is only hockey, as the United States would likely hammer a Canadian team in any other of the big 4 sports (football, basketball, and baseball) as well as some others:  golf, tennis, and NASCAR.
  2. Having said that, Canadians take their hockey much more seriously than Americans.  If Canada had lost the gold medal match back in February, it would have crushed the country (as opposed to the Americans who moved on to the next thing).  It’s just the way we roll up here.

But, since I’m a Canadian living in Vancouver, it’s only natural that I get excited about these Canada-USA showdowns on the ice.  Here are 3 examples:

World Youth Day 2002.  As our parish jostled for position (in a good Catholic way) with pilgrims from the States near the front of the stage for one of the gatherings, the Americans patriotically chanted “USA!  USA!”  Our in-your-face response was to shout back “5-2!  5-2!” which was the final score of the 2002 Winter Olympics gold medal hockey game (a win for Canada over the USA).  We found it quite funny.  They were quite confused.

2009 NHL Playoffs.  What started off as a friend-wager with Orin and Shannon of Oddwalk Ministries turned into a month-long saga of trash-talking, creative videos, and me nearly choking on a piece of steak.  I won the original wager when the Canucks disposed of the Blues in round 1, but then we went double or nothing for round 2.  As the Blackhawks ended the Canucks play-off hopes in round 2, they also ended our wager.  You can trace the whole thing here.  Thankfully, we didn’t do anything for 2010!  I would have gone crazy!

2010 Winter Olympics.   We all know the final result:  Canada over the United States by a score of 3-2 in overtime, thanks to Sidney Crosby.  This moment has topped many Top 10 Sport Moments of the Year lists.  What many people don’t remember is that the Americans handily beat the Canadians in the preliminary round, prompting my good friends Anne Marie Cribbin and Gene Monterastelli to send me flowers and card expressing their condolences

And of course, I re-kindled my fun rivalry with Orin and Shannon in a wager that encompassed both the women’s and men’s hockey tournaments.  You can see their creative end result at the end of this video blog (my last one of the Winter Olympics).

What will happen in today’s hockey game?  It’s hard to tell.  But one thing’s for certain:  I’ll be watching the entire game…and thinking of American youth ministry friends in the process.

CCC – Clay’s Canucks Commentary for December 24, 2010: The 12 Days of Christmas…Canucks Style

December 24, 2010

For this Christmas CCC, I put together (with a little help from my family and friends) a Canuck rendition of The 12 Days of Christmas, outlining 12 things that we hope GM Mike Gillis will give to us Canucks fans.

Special guests include Joseph San Jose, Jason McBurney, my sons Sean and Jacob, and Kevin Tazumi the foreign exchange student.

Here’s the complete list of our wishes:

-12 scoring forwards
-11 starts for Schneider
-10 dollar parking
-9 Hamhuis hip checks
-8 chirps from Burrows
-7 Louie shutouts
-6 healthy d-men
-5 clipped Red Wings
-4 playoff rounds
-3 months from Salo
-2 healthy twins



Imoo Family Christmas Letter for 2010

December 22, 2010

Hello and Merry Christmas! This is our 9th annual Christmas letter, and this year we’re changing things up a bit. We’re not mailing out any hard copies, rather we’re emailing everyone along with a pictorial “Year at a Glance” that Gail prepared. As well, similar to last year, each family member has prepared his or her own paragraph. Thus, what you will read is unedited and un-censored!

2010 was another busy year for our family, full of firsts: Kayla started pre-school, Jake made his First Confession, and Sean became an “intermediate” student. We were able to make the most of the 2010 Winter Olympics as we were blessed to attend a few events and ceremonies. As well, we returned to California for the 3rd time in 4 years, this time driving (as we did in 2007). It was there that Gail and I celebrated our 10-year wedding anniversary… by going to watch Toy Story 3 with the kids!

It wasn’t all rosy however. Jacob received 5 stitches in his forehead after an intense game of “Hide and Go Tag” at school, and Kayla fractured her elbow after falling off a kitchen stool. Thankfully, Sean, Gail and I remained relatively unscathed.

Kayla: I liked Mickey Mouse because he’s my friend. I also liked It’s a Small Word because it’s my favourite and it makes me so happy. I love my brothers because they are my friends. I also love Mommy and Daddy and I love Kayla. I like my pre-school because I get to see my cousin Joshua and all my friends.

Jacob: My favourite time of the year was Valentine’s Day because I got to make cards for my friends. I loved our family trip to California because we got to sleep in hotels and go to Disneyland. I liked seeing Mickey Mouse and my favourite ride was Space Mountain. I also made my First Confession: I went face-to-face with Father Luterbach and I felt like angels were running around my body! Next year I’ll be receiving my First Communion and I can’t wait. This year my mom is my teacher and it’s weird: sometimes in the classroom I call her Mrs. Imoo and other times I call her Mom.

Sean: I have a bunch of highlights from 2010. I started grade 4 and now I’m upstairs in the school. I’m doing well in school and I’m one of the leaders in my class. I played organized floor hockey for the first time and my team The Raiders only lost one game in the regular season. We made it to the Provincials representing Richmond and South Delta and finished fourth in the entire province! I played forward: it was really fun to play and I made a lot of new friends. I admit that I’m obsessed with Disneyland and I can’t wait to go back. I even looked up rides on YouTube and read blogs to prepare for the trip. I can’t even pick a favourite thing about Disneyland as I loved everything!

Gail: I went to LA twice this year…once in March for the Religious Educators’ Congress and again in July with the family. I also went to New York in June with Kayla to visit family. I did Zumba for the first time: it was quite funny because I did it with my mom and sister. We couldn’t stand next to each other or else we’d start laughing uncontrollably. I’m teaching grade 2 at St. Paul School once again, and this year Jacob is in my class. He tries to get away with stuff and with being the class clown. Then at home I have 3 other clowns to take care of, the biggest being Clay.

Clay: Thanks for that wonderful segue. I love you too. It was an extremely busy year for me at work, as our office (formerly the Youth Ministry Office) expanded to become the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry in June. Prior to that, we moved our office from the 2nd floor to the ground floor of the building, just in time for the Winter Olympics: we helped staff our Olympic Hospitality Centre at the building. I traveled to PEI and New Orleans for work, and I spoke at a youth ministry conferences in Toronto and Halifax. I’ve been blogging and video-blogging regularly, including doing regular Olympics and Canucks blogs on my website http://www.claytonimoo.com

Thanks for taking the time to read this Christmas letter. We’re looking forward to another great year in 2011. We want to wish you a Merry Christmas and Blessed New Year! We hope that the New Year brings you joy, happiness and good health! Our family will be praying for you!

God Bless and Be God’s,
Clay, Gail, Sean, Jacob and Kayla

Merry Christmas from the Imoo Family

December 22, 2010
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Happy Birthday Kayla: 3 Blogs and 3 Videos of Our Little Princess

December 21, 2010

To celebrate Kayla’s 3rd birthday today (December 21), enjoy 3 of my favourite blogs and videos featuring our little princess:

November 25, 2010:  Following in her Brother’s Footsteps: Kayla’s Fractured ElbowKayla does her best Jacob impression and busts up her arm.

September 18, 2010:  Miss Independent.  Chronicling Kayla’s first 2 weeks at pre-school.

December 30, 2007:  The Best Christmas Blessing Ever.  Detailing Kayla’s brith and Gail’s tough labour.

June 25, 2010:  Kayla Singing Jesus Loves Me.  A great example of child-like faith.

April 3, 2010:  Kayla Knows Her Kitchen.  As a 2 year-old, Kayla knows her way around the kitchen better than I do.

December 29, 2007:  Kayla Marie…The Ultimate Canucks Newborn.  This video helped us win Ultimate Canucks Family for the 2nd consecutive year.

Committed to The Sing-Off: Observations of the Season Finale

December 20, 2010

The Sing-Off just wrapped up its second season, with Alabama gospel-group “Committed” edging out Nashville’s “Street Corner Symphony” to take the title.  Many of my friends know that The Sing-Off is my favourite TV show (edging out Glee and Canucks games), despite its “season” being only 5 episodes long.  These same people also know that Committed was my favourite from the very start as they remind me of my 2 favourite groups:  Take 6 and Naturally 7.  The fact that they are portrayed as devout Christians likely helps as well.  :p

Here are some relatively random thoughts from tonight’s season finale:

-It’s clear to me that being a male sextet gives you the best chance to win this competition.  Both finalists this year, and last year’s winner “Nota” are male sextets.  If you’re a college group…you’ll make it to the final three (Backbeats this year, Voices of Lee last year) and if you crack the top 2 as an all-male college group, you can sing on Glee (Beelzebubs last year).

-That Boyz II Men and Committed performance literally gave me chills:  they blended so well together and sounded like they’ve been singing together for years.  I was loving every second as Motownphilly has always been one of my favourite “old-school” songs.  I just wish the song was longer.

-Is it a rule that Nick Lachey must sing a Christmas song with the contestants…complete with fake snow falling from the rafters?  Last year it was “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” and this year it was “That’s What Christmas Means to Me.”  Fun enough, a tad cheesy, but it’s what we’ve come to expect!

-Speaking of Christmas…the “What Christmas Means to Me” montage was a nice thought, but I wish there were a couple of more references to Jesus and the spiritual meaning of the holy-day.  Only judge Nicole Scherzinger answered with “Baby Jesus’ birthday woohoo!” but even that response came across a bit contrived.  And of course, the big graphic that splashed across our screen read the safe “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.”  Just sayin.

-I can’t complain too much though, as God’s presence and influence was evident in both the video montage for Committed, as well as in Jerry Lawson & Talk of the Town’s swan song, as Jerry proclaimed “God Bless” as he was exiting the studio.  And in a nice way to end the show, Terry of Committed gave praise to God in his acceptance speech, saying they owed the win all to Him.

-Nick Lachey’s constant litany of puns.  ‘Nuff said.

-I found the positioning on stage (when they were about to cut down from 4 groups to 2) quite interesting, as Street Corner Symphony and Committed (the 2 finalists) were on the left and right-most sides of the stage respectively.  Perhaps it was a fluke or coincidence.  But I firmly believe they were placed there signalling they were the final 2 groups, while the others remained closer to the centre of the stage to prep for their final interview and swan songs (to minimize the movement on stage).

-Also, did anyone else notice the stage-hand running onto the stage immediately after Jerry Lawson & Talk of the Town finished their swan song?  The camera cut to a shot of the entire stage, and you saw this poor guy running off the stage as fast as he possibly could…likely receiving an earful in his earpiece!

-As well, did you notice that Nick Lachey was dressed EXACTLY like Street Corner Symphony during the closing segment:  black suit with purple shirt.  No conspiracy theory here…I just found it quite amusing.

-Lastly, I would love to see either Take 6 or Naturally 7 as special guests on a future episode.  While neither of them have the “star power” of tonight’s special guests, I think they would easily win over both the studio audience and audience at home with their talent, blend, and style.  And if they ever combined into one mega-group:  Naturally Take 13…I would be in a cappella heaven. 

Thank you NBC for a great, albeit short, season.  I can’t wait until next year…although it saddens me that I have to wait a full 12 months for Nick Lachey’s next Christmas number.  I guess that’s what a PVR is for!

To Tell You the Truth, I’m Like Whatever

December 19, 2010

A recent poll out of the States listed the 5 most annoying words and phrases that people use.  Here’s my take on each of them along with another 5 that annoy me for different reasons.

Whatever.  This word likely tops the list because it’s over-used.  While many people use it to express indifference or to be accommodating, it quickly becomes annoying when no one makes a decision because they are trying to defer to others.  At the OYYAM, this word reared its ugly head in New Orleans when we were trying to figure out a place to eat for dinner.  We ended up going to a little place that we had passed 30 minutes earlier.  Before we knew it, 90 minutes had passed, and Analyn and I had to leave before receiving our food because we had another commitment!

Like.  This like doesn’t refer to the “like” feature on Facebook, rather the like tendency of people, like young and old, to like interject this word into like every single sentence sometimes like multiple times.  I don’t see this one going away anytime soon…a fact I dislike.

You know what I mean.  I admit it:  this is the one word/phrase from this list that I use way too often.  One of my best friends also uses it a lot, and we often bug each other about it.  While it might sound polite, as if checking for understanding from the listener, at least in my case it’s a lazy speech habit.

To tell you the truth.  I can’t stand it when someone starts a sentence with this.  It shouldn’t have to be stated that you’re about to give a truthful statement or opinion.  Same goes with the word “honestly.”  Am I supposed to conclude then that every sentence that doesn’t start with “to tell you truth” is a lie?

Actually.  I don’t really have a problem with this one, especially if it’s used properly as if correcting someone or stating a fact.  Actually, it’s a heck of a lot better than “to tell you the truth!”

Here are 5 more words and phrases that I find quite annoying:

360 degree turnaround.  People often talk about someone making a complete change in his life, and usually it’s a positive change.  Unfortunately, they use the term “360 degrees” in trying to show a turnaround.  This is obviously very wrong, as it’s 180 degrees that gets you moving in the opposite direction.  In fact, a 360 degree turn signifies no change at all, as you wind up going in the exact same direction you were moving initially.

At the end of the day.  This one is used a lot in sports, often when talking about an end goal or desired outcome:  “At the end of the day, it’s about improving every game” or “At the end of the day, we got the 2 points.”  This last example makes literal sense, as it gives a finite time-frame and objective way to measure success.  But it doesn’t necessarily work for everything.  Try this:  the next time you hear someone start of a sentence with “at the end of the day,” see if it truly matters if you look at it at day’s end, or if the start or middle of the day will suffice.

No offense/Don’t take this the wrong way.  I don’t care what the speaker is about to say to you…the mere fact that he’s started off his sentence this way:  you better brace yourself.  Somebody gonna get hurt…real bad.

Basically.  I can’t believe how much I used this word in everyday conversation.  I even catch myself saying it, but I can’t stop.  I think my intent is noble in trying to explain things in a clear and concise manner.  I just need to see if I can do so without saying “basically” every second sentence.

Um/uh.  As I continue to develop my public speaking skills, I need to remove some word whiskers (thanks Dave for the technical term!).  My most evident one is “uh” or “um.”  In contrast to “basically,” I’m not as aware when using these.  It’s when I watch video of myself (that sounded a tad ego-centric…haha) or listening to audio (still ego-centric) that it sticks out to me.

And lastly, here’s a bonus one:

We need to talk.  When I hear these words come from my lovely wife Gail, I know what she’s really saying:  “YOU NEED TO LISTEN!”  And as my friend Mark Hart would say:  this isn’t an invitation for a dialogue.

You know what I mean?

Youth Ministry “Flash Mob” at NCCYM 2010 in New Orleans

December 13, 2010

Here’s the Youth Ministry “Flash Mob” from the National Conference on Catholic Youth Ministry (NCCYM) held in New Orleans in December 2010. It features some of the biggest and brightest Catholic youth ministry speakers, worship leaders, and musicians…as well as 4 Canadians from the Archdiocese of Vancouver. :p

It technically wasn’t a true “flash mob” but it was effective nonetheless: we performed it to promote the big Youth Ministry Extravaganza variety show that evening (featuring many of the dancers).

Special thanks to Joia Farmer for envisioning, planning, and executing the entire project and for inviting us to participate! Make sure you watch the entire video, as Joia calls out a few people (including Gene Monterastelli, Chris Padgett, and yours truly) as ones she’s concerned about…haha.

This video also includes a bit of footage from our rehearsal, and the song is TobyMac’s “Funky Jesus Music.” Enjoy!



The Day Faye Met Her Match (Our March was Almost a Crawl)

December 12, 2010

I have just returned from a wonderful trip to New Orleans for the biennial National Conference on Catholic Youth Ministry (NCCYM) presented by the USA’s National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry (NFCYM).  So right away, you know this blog is going to be about youth ministry because of the number of acronyms in the opening paragraph.

I went with my fellow OYYAM (Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry) staff members along with 4 YM (youth ministry) and YAM (young adult ministry) leaders from SAK (St. Andrew Kim parish…not their official acronym…but I just love saying it…LOL).  Okay, enough with the acronyms for the sake of acronyms.  Acronyms FTW!

I’ve been blessed to attend these conferences in the States for the past few years since 2004 (the conference for adults such as this year’s alternates with the conference for teens) but usually I’m flying solo or with one other staff member.  Thus, I was very excited to be joined by Analyn, Faye and Gerard this time as we collectively rubbed shoulders with some of Catholic YM’s most prominent speakers, artists, and workshop leaders.

 Indeed, it was a fabulous 4 days of faith, fun, food, and fellowship (wait…this sounds like a Spirit Day promo or something):  we got to see old friends as well as make many new ones as we explored the theme of “Marching With the Saints.”

But our march was almost relegated to a crawl right off the start.

On Thursday afternoon, we made our way to the Exhibitor’s Hall to pick up our credentials (nametags) for the conference.  Gene of APeX Ministries had them at his booth, as he had generously arranged to “sponsor” us for the conference.  We excitedly approached the entrance and peered into the massive hall in the Convention Center (think the size of 2 football fields).

That’s when I saw her.

A tiny, serious woman stationed at the door.  The only person standing between us and over 100 exhibitors.  I quickly surmised that she was ensuring that everyone was wearing their nametags as their entry to the venue…similar to what we do at Spirit Day.

I don’t even know why I tried, but I casually tried to walk past her.

“STOP!  You need your badge.”

“Our credentials are actually with…”

“Doesn’t matter.  You can’t go in.”

Normally, at this point I would try and say something charming or at least disarming.  Maybe explaining we were nice Canadians (something we were recognized for quite a bit during the conference…but I’ll save that for another blog) or appealing to my good looks.  But I could tell that neither was going to work:  this one was a non-negotiable. 

I turned back to the rest of the staff after my futile entry attempt.  Knowing Faye’s admirable penchant for sticking to our firm yet fair office policies especially with respect to registration for our events (case in point:  one of our favourite lines in the office is “We’re sold out…even the Pope can’t get in”), the only thing I could say to her was:

“Wow Faye…this lady makes you look like a teddy bear!”

We erupted into laughter because my statement was both sad and true.  Faye’s really good at what she does; sometimes I’m scared of her.  But even Faye might have trouble holding a candle to this security woman.

Our laughter was interrupted by the appearance of Mark Hart (Vice-President of LIFE TEEN and long-time friend of our archdiocese), who, like us, wanted entry into the hall but not yet with his credentials.  After some quick hugs and hellos, Mark was met with the same fate at the door:  he wasn’t allowed in.

“But he’s tonight’s Keynote Speaker!” I said through my giggling.

As expected, the lady didn’t react to my comment as Mark stood waiting at the door.  Meanwhile, Chris Padgett bellowed from the spotlight stage inside the hall:  “Hey everybody, it’s Mark Hart!  Come join us!” 

Mark sheepishly pantomimed back that he couldn’t get in.  It was an unintentional brilliant comedic moment.

Mark came back to our group and said “I think we can take her if we all split up…we must be faster than her.”

Our strategizing was cut short by Gene, who emerged from the hall with our credentials (turns out that Analyn had summoned him via text).  A few seconds later, a LIFE TEEN staff member came out with Mark’s.

We greeted Gene and thanked him before donning our nametags.  As we once again approached the door, I complimented the woman for doing a good job.

Her quick grin confirmed that she indeed knew how to smile.

So we proudly marched into the exhibit hall with a new spring in our step in eager anticipation of what the next few days held in store.