February 26, 2022

COVID-19 Testing through the 2021-22 School year


My name is Sean Claes. 

I am a high school teacher in Texas.

I teach at a district that required masks for the 2021-22 school year.

Beginning in August 2021, I decided I would take a COVID-19 test each week and write about it.

This is much more than a weekly test, it's something to help me cope with the things I see and experience as being in the world surrounded by the pandemic. 

It is a diary. 

It is a mission.

It is a historical document.

It is a first-person report from my perspective of what I see, experience and have loved ones experience dealing with COVID-19 on a daily basis.

I post my journey on my blog -  "Love Moves First"

I believe if one leads with love, they are moving forward with the intent to help not harm.

Visit https://lovemovesfirst.blogspot.com/ to see the weekly posts.

November 17, 2020

"Lord I Need You" (Matt Maher Cover) - Sean Claes w/ Jenny Hollub Sandoval

 On September 27, 2020 I was asked to perform "Lord I Need You" at Kyle United Methodist Church in Kyle, Texas. I was accompanied by Jenny Hollub Sandoval.

It begins at the 10:44 mark.

Find out more about Kyle United Methodist Church at kyleumc.com

March 26, 2020

The Great Claes Road Trip of 1936

The Great Claes Road Trip of 1936

(As told by Richard Claes in 2019)

Dinosaur Park

By Dave Claes (as told by Richard Claes)

In the summer of 1936, Carl and Blanche Claes took their children, Richard (12), Howard (11), and Marilyn (6), on a six-week road trip to the west coast.

They purchased a brand new 1937 Ford and rented a teardrop trailer for $1.00/day from a man who lived near Mt. Gilead.

The trip started out by going through Chicago, Wisconsin (Janesville for some reason seemed like a nice place they passed through), Minnesota, Mount Rushmore, which had not been completed, and on into the Bad Lands, where they camped a few nights.  From there, it was on to Montana, Idaho, and, finally, the Columbia River Basin in Oregon, where they visited some of Blanche’s family. 

Dinosaur Park (South Dakota)

They then took a left down Highway 101 where they visited the giant Redwoods and Sequoias and drove through a tree, a highlight for the kids.

Visiting Relatives in California

Visiting Relatives in California

Then it was on to San Francisco where they spent five days at the World’s Fair.  Richard remembers that they asked a “local” how to get to the fair and they were directed to “take the bridge and turn left in the middle”, and the directions we correct.  While at the Fair, they met Tom Mix.


They then continued down 101 to Los Angeles where the highlight was visiting another of Blanche’s relatives who was staying at the Aimee Semple McPherson’s temple.  Aimee was a well-known faith healer.  Richard remembers she wore a white robe and carried a white Bible. 

Now it was time to start heading back east, where they visited Hoover Dam, which had just been completed in March of 1936.  Passing through New Mexico, seeing the Navaho people was of interest to the children.

Hoover Dam

The next stop was Tulsa, which Richard remembers as being very beautiful.  While in Oklahoma, they visited Will Rogers' home.  Will had died the year before in a plane crash in Alaska. 

The rest of the trip was uneventful.

(I was sent this story & photos via email and I wanted to post it to preserve this moment. Richard Claes is my great Uncle. My grandfather Howard Claes is the one in the striped shirt in the middle of the first dinosaur photo.)

March 17, 2020

My Lent 2020 - Photo A Day Challenge - A RETHINKCHURCH Prompt

This is the prompt. Below are my posts... updated each day.

I began a little late. Learned of this on March 3... so that's where I begin.

March 3: Enter

So... I was at a Pie Day celebration for The City of Kyle in 2019... and I entered the pie-eating contest.
I won.
I almost didn’t enter... but I was encouraged by friends to take part in the event. And... well.. the $50 Visa gift card was a nice reason to do it as well.
I think, in an odd way... God is like that.
Stick with me now...
When someone first learns of God it’s like “that’s awesome and amazing but I’m not good enough to be a part of that... I’ve put up obstacles in my life, made bad choices. I am unworthy.”
But then God is like... “Hey... you’re already a part of it... you’ve always been with me....”
Then it’s up to you... do you enter where you’re wanted and loved... or do you let petty pride or self-doubt lead the way?
Tell you what I do.
I enter.
Oh... and I am defending my title on 3.14 in Kyle at the old train depot.... if anyone wants to watch or enter. 😉


March 4: Spirit

This is Anne.
Anne is a hoss.
She’s framily.
Has been for over a decade.
This woman is strong.
She stands up. For herself. For her beliefs. For her family. For her friends. For dogs. For those who can’t stand up for themselves.
I love her spirit.
Next time she sees me.. she’s going to give me a tilted-head-stare-out-the-corner-of-her-eye look... chuckle nervously and say Something about this in a “oh... you...” kind of voice.
Own it Anne... you’re amazing.

March 5: Teacher

Who knew?
Not I certainly.
On July 12, 2016 David Doerr posted an ominous posting on his Facebook page asking if there was anyone interested in becoming the Yearbook teacher at the school where he was the Newspaper Adviser.
I sent him a message that stated, "I'd be really interested in the yearbook/newspaper/journalism position... But I don't have a teaching certificate. Should I still apply?"
He said yes... and I did... and a lot of stuff happened... including getting an emergency certification... and that led to this photo.... of me signing my contract... to become a teacher.
I'd like to say I did it... but it was a combination of a whole bunch of people helping me, lots of God moments, and sometimes folks pulling me kicking and screaming in a whole bunch of directions that brought me to where I was in the photo.
And since then... I'm in year 4 and Doerr is still in the room right next to me and he teaches me how to be a better, more conscientious person every day.
May God bless all the teachers out there... and more especially the ones who have had to suffer through having me as a student...


March 6: Testify

Usually when you hear that word you think of someone being loud, boisterous, and entertaining.... someone you’d throw your hand up in the air and yell “Go on... PREACH!”
But... the kind of testify I try to live is the less in your face and shocking... I try to live an example of what I feel God is... grace, love, forgiveness... and quiet one-one-one or small group worship.... wherever the opportunity arises.
Such is the case with PRAY BALL... the Kyle Pard Kickball Team that the church where I attend began 10 years ago. We did it to play a fun little kids game... and to have somewhere we can try to live our faith in public... and as uncomfortable is was in the beginning to pray in public... around the pitchers mound like we do at the end of each game and invite the other team to join.... I feel it’s a worthy testimony. Especially in those games where I’ve lost my temper... because it gives me the opportunity to apologize and the chance to show people that I’m not Christian because I’m better than anyone.... I’m Christian because God accepts even me.... and loves me with all my flaws.
If you’d like to see PRAY BALL in action... we begin our season at 7p at Gregg Clarke Park in Kyle. Come on out.

March 7: Saved

Our refrigerator is full of magnets that we’ve saved from some of our adventures... and some that are just there... made us chuckle or were given to us as gifts (dog butt magnets rock).
We save things that we deem important.
We save things that make us smile.
We save things important people in our lives give us.
God saved us.
That means to God each person is important, makes God smile and is a gift.
Cool, huh?
By the way... the image on the fridge says “You could be in Slayer and your teenage daughter will still think you’re lame.”
I saved that too. 🙂
God Loves Us All. 😉


March 8: Celebrate

Tough day today... several serious and adulty things going on... so when Jodie reminded me it was Dairy Queen TX 80th birthday and blizzards are on sale buy one get one for 80 cents... I was like #Celebrate
We got to the Kyle Dairy Queen and there was legitimately 12 cars in the drive through. If you’ve ever seen the parking lot at Kyle’s DQ you’d know it’s not made for traffic. We pulled in and immediately stopped... barely out of the street. So... I jumped out and got in line and Jodie sat in the drive-through line (there was no other option) for 10 minutes until she maneuvered around to park and wait for me.
I looked around inside and saw a bunch of employees busting their butts to serve a bunch of people who were angry, rude and whiny... outside there were people driving like jerks... trying to cut line and refusing to let cars get by who are just trying to leave.
So what did I do?
I’m THAT GUY. I speak up.
I’m celebrating, y’all. I just ordered 2 large blizzards (go big or go home) for under $6.
I’m going to thank those workers LOUDLY so the entire restaurant can hear. “Hey, y’all.. I know you’re slammed right now but I appreciate you! THANKS!”
I’m going to run through the parking lot with my blizzards raised in triumph back to my car with a huge smile on my face... because... DUDE! It’s Sunday and God gave us a beautiful day to celebrate... and I have a BLIZZARD FOR 80 CENTS!!!!
I found God today at Dairy Queen. Thanks, y’all.
You can celebrate at DQ with the 80 cent deal until March 15.


March 9: Journey

These are my Masonic brothers.
The journey began for me when I asked my father about Masonry.

I always knew I wanted to be a part of the Masonic Lodge because my dad and grandpa are both Masons.

It’s often misunderstood and sometimes misjudged.... but it is a group made up of good men. Men who hold each other accountable and are there for each other.

Hmm... what other group of people were also misunderstood and misjudged?

“...we are pilgrims on a journey...
We are brothers on the road.
We are here to help each other
Walk the mile and bear the load.”
- “Servant Song”

(oops.. missed March 10)
The word was drink.
This seems as good a time as any to take a water break.

Go get a drink... I'll wait.


March 11: Spring

Target is not a store I would recommend... normally. Not because I don’t like it... it’s just... well... for food I prefer H-E-B and I like the sale rack at Kohl’s or the thrift stores for clothing. So... Target is kind of a “upscale” afterthought.... but if I do go... I spring for the popcorn.

I will actually go there just to get their popcorn in a take home bag. It’s under $4 for a bigger than my head bag (photo for comparison). I surprise the kiddos with a big bag of “Target Popcorn” once every week or two.

It’s inexpensive and it’s delicious.

When you go next time... spring for the popcorn. You’ll thank me later.

March 12: Seeks

In 1996 I moved up to San Marcos to finish college. On my first trip to then Southwest Texas State University I got lost... well... can they call it lost if you never knew where you were going? I pulled up to campus & parked... at the first place I saw. Coming from Laredo Community College it didn’t occur to me that a college campus wasn’t small enough to park anywhere and walk.

So... I parked at the Alumni House... which was across campus from where I needed to go to register... JCK building. As I walked to my destination, I had to walk through Old Main (that’s the church-like looking building that you see when you google Texas State). It ended up being the Mass Communication building (My major).

I happened across the Student newspaper and there was a sign on the door that they were looking for designers. I took a chance and walked in... and there sat Jodie. Literally the first person I met at SWT. She was working the front office at The University Star. I chatted for a minute... got my application filled out and headed to register.

I got the job at the paper in 1996... and in December of 1998 Jodie and I started dating... we married in Oct 2001.

“Amazing Grace... How sweet the sound.
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost and now I’m found.
Was blind but now I see.”

I was literally lost... seeking to register for college. What God gave me was the love of my life...and a family...and His grace.

You think you need what you seek.
Nope... God seeks what you need.

Amazing... huh?


(This is the last picture Jodie and I took together... we’re eating a Michelle Ducote cupcake...)


March 13: Work

It’s ironic today’s word is work.. as when my alarm went off at 6a this morning I learned that my school was closed... just for today...then Spring Break...

I’d kind of prepared myself for it... and I’m going to be surprised if we come back the Monday after Spring Break.

Events are cancelled.
Church services at many places are cancelled or shortened. We’re all going to spend a lot of time alone and/or with our immediate family.

The photo is my classroom.... and some of the posters I’ve collected over the years hung up (showing different graphic design techniques). I’ll have to head to the classroom in the next week to finalize the yearbook... probably by myself. That’s ok. We have the technology to do that.

We have the technology to do school remotely as well... if it comes to that. I can record the lessons direct to the online classroom onto which I post all of my assignments. There’s several learning tools we’ve already introduced the students to that we might have to rely on.

In an odd way, this kind of reminds me of my walk with God. He’s prepared me for for things throughout my life. Things I didn’t even know were coming. Put people in my life who have made all the difference... helped me become stronger... taught me what was important in life... enabled me to live my passion. Loved me in spite of myself.

He doesn’t call the equipped... he equips the called.



March 14: Ripe

You can’t spell ripe without P I E.

Happy 3.14 from the Pie Capitol of Texas.
So... the plan was to defend my title as Official Pi Day Pie Eating Champion today at the City of Kyle event. So we didn’t buy pie...

The Pi Day event was cancelled. For good reason.

But then here I was... we didn’t have pie.. in Kyle... on 3.14... Pi Day. There was a unofficial Pi Day event (it was to be part of the official day) that was still happening but I missed it as I’d finished cleaning the garage and needed to take a load to Goodwill... and didn’t get back in time.

So.. I contacted to organizer to see if they had anyone still there... and I’d missed it but they had leftover pie.... and I could have one.

Boom. So you see this cherry pie from H-E-B is our families Pi Day Pie.

This is something that has happened to me my entire life. I make plans and God says... “naw.. that’s not what you’re gonna do... let me provide to you a better way.” And it IS a better way... because it’s His way.

As we head into this next week of uncertainty... God... please help me to remember that it’s your plan. Your time. Your pie.... and you’ll invite me for a piece as soon as it’s ready.

Oh.. and the cherries in that pie were perfectly ripe. 😉

#ripe #R_PIE

Sidenote: I will continue to represent as the first (and only) City of Kyle Pi Day Pie eating Champion. I’m selfless like that (*smile*)


March 15: Celebrate

This is my bubble of love.
I try and celebrate them each day.

May you find love. Peace. Grace. And a comfort amidst this crazy time... nay.... life.



March 16: Revealed
March 17: Light

I didn’t post my picture for this challenge yesterday. Let’s call it the “selfie challenge” our family did. We are doing all we can to avoid public crowds and interacting with humans... while trying to do stuff to entertain the family and not to live on the couch. Plus... Trying to use social media for the social aspect. While I like the idea of “show me your # photo on our phone,” those posts don’t offer any interaction with others... so when this idea of a selfie-competition revealed itself... I thought it was a god one. And I really enjoyed the engagement with friends and family. It made me feel more connected with y’all. I hope it did for you as well.

On to today... A little light went off when I saw a post from my wife in a group that hadn’t been active for a couple of years. ROCK PAINTING.

Remember in 2018 when everyone was painting rocks over the summer and hiding them around town (this was happening in many different cities/states). The base idea is...

The giving:
1. Find a rock
2. Paint said rock... a picture... a phrase... a positive message...
3. Write a hashtag for your community #ktxrocks is the Kyle, Texas one
4 Hide it somewhere in your area.
5. Join a group or post on your community page the general area where you hid your rock.

The other side is.... the receiving
1. Look for rocks - a lot of groups popped up to tell you where to look in your area... (we are members of Kyle TX Summer Rock Hunt) they usually publish clues.
2. When you find a rock... take a photo of it and post it using the location and hashtag on the rock.
3. If you don’t want to touch... post “left it there” if you want to rehome the rock, take it with you... go to #4 in “the giving” and follow those directions.

It’s a way to stay connected without seeing each other... how to remain a community in isolation. One way to remain active without physical interaction.

It reminds me of the ichthus or the “Christian fish” symbol that was reportedly used in the first century after Jesus died where someone would draw an arc (top or bottom) of the Christian fish and another Christian would complete the fish to note that they believe... a symbol to say... even if we can’t see each other we are here and we are strong.

It’s a note of love... faith... grace... and yes... a little light in these scary times.

These are the rocks my family hid a few days ago in our neighborhood. Maybe you find some rocks to paint and spread some light in your area?


Sparkle Kitty

March 18: Sent

Sparkle. Kitty.
One of the dumbest, most confusing to learn games I’ve ever played. But it also sent us into uncontrollable laughter and was probably one of the most fun times we’ve had in a while.

It’s a card game called Sparkle Kitty.

Playing this card game with my kids and parents... was... Ultra double giggle giggle pony.

If that makes no sense to you.. well... get the game. It’s worth learning the mind-warping rules.

I’ve had that happen in church... Sometimes when you don’t understand a thing, just by being present you have a wonderful experience... and you’re sent to a place you never considered.



HEB Plus! Kyle, Texas

March 19: Able

Went to H-E-B today. Actually.. went to 3 H-E-Bs today. Three completely different experiences. The “small” H-E-B in San Marcos was tons of people running around and no restrictions. The “large” H-E-B in San Marcos had a line of 20-30 waiting to get in. The H-E-B in Kyle had a bunch of folks inside, funneling them to a single line checkout through one path and they had these stickers (see photo) at the self-checkout.

Three very different experiences.

I know someone who has completely self-quarantined. I’m trying to stay away from people as much as possible but trying to make sure we have the supplies we need. I know a few people who think the world is overreacting.

I know some people who think God is this untouchable thing that is to be worshiped from afar.
Some think God is the answer for everything and you don’t have to worry about anything or take any precautions in life if you just pray.
To me God is the answer... and prayer does indeed work and are sometimes answered and sometimes that answer is in trusting in experts who know more to help you be able to navigate something.



Concept Art by Rhiannon F.

March 20: See

So I found out today that I’m not able to go back to the school Monday. I’m not allowed to set foot in my classroom. The students will be off school for another two weeks... then we will see where we are...

Well... I’m the Yearbook Adviser.
My book is due to the press next Friday.
I’ve got 82 pages not finalized.
Most are done but need one more run through.... about 10 are not complete.
I have to be in my classroom to edit pages. I can’t do it remote.

Of course, with everything that is happening right now, we’re trying to provide some new coverage. This is history being made.

We have a series of “Checkpoints” marked by cartoon drawings of “pins” helping to explain the event.

I messaged one of my staff, an amazing kiddo by the name of Rhiannon (Yes, like the Fleetwood Mac song). I told her we were doing a “social distancing” spread and explained what that was to be... she shot this outline back to be in 5 minutes. She emailed me the final version an hour later.

I’m my editor in chief is working on a sidebar about last Friday.... which was to be the last day of school before Spring Break..... it was also to be “Senior Skip Day”
She got photos and a story.

During spring break... and during such an uncertain Time it is nice to have a few students that “see” the vision. That can put aside their  lives to assure this gets covered. This is history.

God sees us.
He has given us the tools to protect us all.
I’m not so arrogant to think that I know everything that is happening right now, but I am also not blind to the fact that if people who don’t NEED to be out don’t heed the warnings and keep interacting with others like everything is normal or as some kind of “I don’t worry because God has me covered” this is going to get MUCH worse before it gets better.

I can see that. Can you?



Dave Madden leads the Isolation Congregation

March 21: Listen

This would have been The one day I spend 12 or so hours immersed in music in Austin a year. Instead, we watched the Veronica Mars movie (it’s good) and now we’re watching the new season.

On the bright side... I’ve been able to enjoy live-streamed music from friends and musicians I’ve not been able to see in person for quite some time in the last few days. Probably more Y’all... enjoy these live streams.. tip if you can... buy some merch/t-shirts if they are selling them.

They may not be able to gig right now... but we can help this be a profitable month for them.

When one door closes, some find another door.... others open Windows.... others Macs. 🙂

Sun Radio has compiled a list of local Austin bands/musicians doing live streams.

This picture is of Dave Madden. It’s a screen capture of a live stream he’s been doing. A hymn singalong he’s doing Wednesday’s and a Sunday’s during lent... calls it the Isolation Congregation. It’s awesome.

God is always there. When conventional ways are removed... He finds a way to make himself available to you. Take a deep breath... Just listen. You’ll see.



Social Distancing Sunday Worship

March 22: Celebrate.

Where did you church today?
I attended Lakehills United Methodist Church, St. Matthews Episcopal, Wimberley UMC and Kyle United Methodist Church....virtually.

Then my family and I packed some camping chairs and walked around the corner to listen to worship music in our neighbors front yard. This picture is from this event.... which I actually live-streamed on Fun in Kyle, Texas.

We practiced social distancing. Set up chairs 6p’ away from folks that we don’t live with... and listened to gospel music... and then a few Kenny Rogers songs... I was even called up to sing a little.

It felt good. It was fun. It was a great feeling to see people and celebrate God with them. No physical touching... but it was amazingly touching to be a part of.

Y’all... most places that live-streamed a service / church via Facebook allowed it to be saved via their page. Check a few out if you get the chance. It’s neat to see how different churches are doing it.

I hope you had a chance to #celebrate the grace and love of God today.




March 23: Glory

I don’t know where all of these snails came from. I mean... technically I know... “A mom snail and a dad snail love each other very much and....”
But I hadn’t seen this many... pretty much ever. Has there been a population explosion of snails in the last few weeks (much like the baby explosion that will occur in about 9 months)?

My guess is no. My guess is, like the snail, we have all slowed down and are noticing things we may have otherwise overlooked in our hurry to do life.... work, play, appointments, bills and the like. The business of life takes away from the quality of living. We are now faced with the business of life slowing down and we are focusing on who we are, our loved ones and figuring out what is indeed important to us. With all the bad that is happening right now health-wise... if you take the time to find what’s truly important to you... that’s perhaps a little good that can come from this scary and unprecedented time.

I feel finding the Glory of God is kind of like those snails. Much of the time I’m just so busy that I know it’s around... but I miss it a lot. It’s not until the distractions I place in my life are consciously set aside that I can focus on glorifying God. Not just in the “repeat after me” prayers on Sunday morning... but in every facet of my life.

For a moment try and put the reason the world has ground to a halt aside.... and focus on what you can do to Glorify God. How blessed are you? How much grace have you received throughout your life? You know... that’s free. Grace is not earned. You’ve always had it and you can’t lose it... The Grace of God has been given to all people. (Titus 2:11)

What are you going to do about it?


Towdah waits for a run.

March 24: Awaken

This is Towdah... aka the best dog ever.
She gets up with me at 4a to run at 4:30a. This is her at 4:28 this morning as she watched people show up to run.

She usually jogs along side me pretty well... but when we’re running with others, it awakens in her a spirit of competition... especially other dogs... and I have to pretty much run fast to keep up with her. As I’ve gotten more in shape it’s gotten less difficult... but when she bolts... it’s serious.

Oh.. and sometimes she stops. Just hits the breaks. She wants to turn when I want to go straight? She stops and won’t go unless we turn. If I pass our run team leader, Jennifer, whom Towdah sees as the Alpha... full stop until Jennifer passes.

In February we started a weekly Monday morning 5a bible study with a group (we met via Zoom yesterday). The conversation is always good and it makes me think past the words on the page and more into the meaning behind it. The participants are all students of the Word in different aspects. One has all the reference books and can give background. One is a pastor and has both that knowledge and a lifetime of service. Others are laymen who serve in their church. I’ve never considered myself a student of the Bible but this group has helped awaken in me the desire to understand more.

Sometimes running in a group helps you achieve more... or changes your path when needed.... or enables you to see who is actually in charge.


My new friend Fabio

March 25: Go

This is my new friend, Fabio. Although when I took this photo his name was Francis. Met him when my 12 year-old saw him follow a jogger around the corner towards our house and noticed that he was not the joggers dog. We were working outside so offered to let the dog into our fence and look for the owners. My kiddo called him "Francis."

He and our dog, Towdah, had a great time racing all over our small front yard. Those dogs could go! Running in circles.

I posted a picture on the neighborhood FB page and my wife suggested to check to see if he was chipped. So... we drove to Pet Smart and he was... and we sent a message to the owner.

Of course, Facebook was faster than the chip and by the time we got home from Pet Smart the owner had posted about her missing pooch.... which ended up living the next block over from us. Since we were in the car still, we dropped him off.

(He’d just had a bath and escaped from the backyard through the slot in the fence when the owner let him out to use the restroom and looked away for a minute)

What an awesome adventure to keep ourselves busy on the “shelter in place” mandate day.

I’ve kinda follow God in the way that Fabio took his adventure... Unconventionally. My faith may look a little “sneak out the fence and run with it” but I look for Him in everyone. Because I believe (and pray) that by finding God through all of my adventures in life, wherever I go that will eventually lead me Home.

Glad to have met you, FabioFrancis!


The Golden Ticket outside "The Peninsula" in the Plum Creek Neighborhood.

March 26: Live
March 27: Heard

Folks in my neighborhood have put on a little challenge to folks who are at home right now. They put up a challenge, you solve it and go find a “golden ticket” that is hidden where your clue leads you in the neighborhood.

In the midst of the pandemic, we live on. We entertain ourselves (with help sometimes... thanks PC folks!) We stay away from others. We don’t touch things. We sanitize.... we are safe and sane. We’ve heard the warnings and heed them.... and we’re spending a lot of time together (thank God we like each other)... we yell, get annoyed and talk out of turn... but we’re 80% awesome. Hope you are too.

I’m also praying a lot more. Taking all of the precautions.... and praying. Prayers are heard. Also... My bible study is being done via Zoom. Live from our computers or phones for free.

Life continues.... virtually at this point.
Love y’all.
Virtual hugs.