Ashes, Ashes

4548 4548_ () 4548 4548 Today was the Looooongest Day Ever. I’m not sure why. It could be a combination of today plus yesterday. There was an intense basketball tourney yesterday (we lost by ONE), in which I did that thing where I had to tell myself life would go on if we didn’t win (it did) and that I maybe better not lie down in that little space between the edge of the bleachers and the boundary of the court (I did not). I get so emotional baby.

After a super emotional and intense evening yesterday, Mass came nice and early today. Here’s an awesome story I’d like to share, one that involves me laughing until I cried during the early morning hour.

We came back from receiving our ashes and my friend J. and her family were seated behind us. J. has the cutest haircut, a short blond ‘do with the perfect bangs that swoop nicely over her forehead. She has a really nice side-part, a detail only relevant because that is precisely where the Ash Giver decided to bestow her ashes this morning — on that small portion of her forehead that is exposed to the elements. When we came back to our pew after getting our ashes, I looked back and J. had this large, beautiful cross directly over her left eyebrow.

My experience with Lenten ash has always been that no matter what my hair is up to, my ashes always wind up in the center of my forehead. Even if the person doling out the ashes has to sort of place them up there, underneath the hair, that’s just where they go. Not too far right, not too far left. Juuuuust right. Not so with J. today and it was a sight to behold.

Boy that seemed like a long time ago. Today was long. Me and fasting are not really simpatico. By which I mean, if it had been me in the garden and God said “No Apples” I would have suddenly craved apples like I had a condition that makes me crave apples. Today I wanted food, specifically meat and not just any meat but a Baconzilla Baconator with a side of bacon. Washed down with some liquid chocolate, since I gave that up too. I normally don’t even think that much about food (except for when I do) and today all I wanted to do was grill meat and drink beer, the whole day through. Not exactly Ash Wednesday doin’s.

Something about Ash Wednesday always makes me feel like it should be terribly austere. Not Good Friday level, but maybe a half step below that. No meat, no music, minimal laughter. Of course that’s not really the case, but here we are setting off on a long journey of growth and sacrifice and because we know that, we’re not overly-giddy about this trip.

But life does go on, always. I reminded myself of that today as we put some finishing touches on Valentine’s treats (which made me crave chocolate like I always do, nothing unusual about that). We did the bulk of our (beautiful, hand-crafted) treats this weekend and I was sort of priding myself on how fabulous they looked. Precious little red hearts cut out from card stock, cute sticker applied and all of that lovingly placed on one extra-delicious airhead taffy candy.

I posted a picture of it all at Instagram which I almost didn’t do because I didn’t want to seem like I was bragging. Commercial-free/hand-made cards for all our classmates and loved ones? I think yes! But what about those folks who aren’t quite as crafty as me? I don’t want anyone feeling bad…

And then today I clicked over to Instagram for a second (I’m trying to cut back) to be greeted to what can only be described as Overachievers Anonymous Meets Valentines-themed Pinterest. ¬†Note to self: fear not, no one will suffer from envy, you are causing NO ONE to stumble. Carry on with your gluestick and scissors. Leave the 3D Valentine’s to the pros.

On top of all that, my plans for a large pot of humble potato soup and crusty bread was squelched (by my hand) when Paul and I started calculating the logistics of our evening and realized no one would really be home for dinner. Kind of a buzzkill in the Family Dinner department.

Tonight we are back in the throes of Social (which is basically our equivalent of Cotillion/Debutante) and to my great surprise and reluctant delight, Team Balducci has become quite the support of Social, Inc (in case you are googling this, which was recently featured in the New York Times if you can believe it!). Twice a month our three big boys get dressed in coat and tie and head out to attend dance classes (dance classes!) with plenty of manners and etiquette mixed in. We love it. And after a long break at Christmas, things started back up tonight.

As fate would have it, tonight was our twice-a-year turn to run several carpools in one evening. Also very un-Ash-like, to be out and about (sorry, I have no idea where my romantic ideas of Ash Wednesday come from, but I keep having this feeling I should be in a corner in sack and ashcloth). Tonight we had so many boys coming and going and going and coming (basketball, Round One to Social, Round One returns, Round Two leaves) that if I had a job interview with Air Traffic Control tomorrow I would get that job so fast your over-scheduled head would spin.

I myself had to run exactly none of those carpools, unless you count the three times I zipped down to school (and back) to retrieve and bring and retrieve once more. But instead of being in my home running a tight little ship, getting dinner prepared and people ready and little ones settled, you know what I did?

I did this, all afternoon:


This isn’t actually me, but I couldn’t convince the boys to snap a pic of me in the kitchen doing my thang. This is more or less what I looked like, but my shins aren’t quite as hairy (Thank you GOD).

You know that feeling of just maintaining? Because you are so overwhelmed with your new revolving door for everyone coming and going? And I hate to say it but an afternoon that had a lot of time (in theory) turned into me just basically standing in the kitchen in Defensive Stance One, waiting to see who needed what next. Not in a disgruntled or bitter way. Just very pragmatic. No sense getting distracted with the laundry or front room cleanup. I’m just going to hang out here in the heart of our home, at the ready for whatever you need next.

On that note, the house is trashed but the littles are in bed. The big boys are out learning the Amos Moses, Paul and Charlie are grabbing a bite to eat and I am going to ignore it all and enjoy the quiet. Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, the day Paul asked me to be his one and only for as long as forever. I’m declaring tomorrow Treat. Yo. Self., and I shall indeed treat myself. I’m going to clean my house like a crazy woman…and the really sad part of that is I’m not even being facetious. I’m totally looking forward to it.

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  1. Gosh, that’s funny:)
    I have those same sentiments about Ash Wednesday, “minimal laughter, no tutus, etc.”, but the hamster wheel will not let us catch our breath to observe it as we would truly wish.
    Is that something to offer up in itself, I wonder?
    I was interrupted today by my children over and over while they were supposed to be playing in their room. One of my young girls called me to come see something, and I just said, “no. I can’t come. I have things I have to do.” She insisted, I caved. And there she stood at her bed with a veil on her head and a blanket on the bed, “See? I have laid Jesus in the tomb… I’m Mary.” (She is rather dramatic) But, I was so thankful that I caved and took thirty seconds to just be present for that. God used her to tell me, “that list that you’re so wound up about, it will turn to dust also.”

    It sounds like you caved in all the right ways today.
    Your children will rise up and call you blessed.

  2. Your posts have been so funny this year. I have noticed a change in your approach to your blog. It is so amusing and fun to read. You are a very talented writer. I truly enjoy reading your blog. Thank you!

  3. Ditto Christine. I still maintain that a much wider audience should have the benefit of your wit and wisdom. Life is very full–even frenetic, but it’s surpassingly nice to have your take on it all. You lend so much humanity and sanity to the frenzy and the crazy.

  4. I loved your creative Valentines! They fed my always growing platform of ‘Can’t We Just Keep It Simple’ mixed in with the love/hate thing I’ve got going on with Pinterest. I could go on and on, so I’ll stop here – but I feel a post coming, the kind that I feel very smug and secure in hitting publish on but the first negative feedback I get has me rethinking the whole thing and desperately wanting to delete…. except, I meant what I said…so no, most likely I’ll never actually get to that post!
    I LOVE picture you shared because YES YES! That is exactly how I feel on the rare occasions that all our activities merge on the random evening of chaos!!! The one where I keep scratching my head thinking ‘how did this happen?’.

  5. My facebook post yesterday morning was, “Why can I go all day without eating EXCEPT on days when I’m actually supposed to fast? My tummy is growling so loud right now!” So, you know I can relate.

    Also, learning the Amos Moses? Amos Moses as in Jerry Reed’s Amos Moses? I must’ve missed something.

  6. Love this! Some days like those are so hard to get through and feel ok with by the end….been there, done that and always, always dislike it! Anyways, love the treat.yo.self video. Have never seen/heard of them and loved it! Made me laugh!

  7. Last night (yes, Ash Wednesday) was Senior night at the high school for girls bball. Hubby and I walked our baby girl across the floor to receive flowers and a medal from Fr. Bob. Then she played her heart out at her last home game. She fouled out (totally her!) with 1:30 left in the game and walked off the court to a standing ovation. Then the coach pulled the other three seniors off the floor, one by one, so each could have their own ovation.

    Never has 4 years flown by so quickly… enjoy yours while it lasts.

  8. Hi! You have wonderful posts. Keep on blogging or there will be a lot of deflated moms out there who will miss out on their favorite moment of the day (reading your entries). I am reading late today because of Boy Scout/ Cub Scout activities all day. So exhausted. We ended up having grilled cheese and apple slices for dinner. But I was able to use pizza sauce to turn it into personal cheese pizzas. I wanted to hide and eat my sons leftover half BMT Subway sub (big meaty tasty) in the fridge with extra mayo.

    Can you post your latest Instagram pics on your sidebar like your tweets? I don’t know how to see your Instagram pics without having to log in (which I don’t do anyways). Thanks a ton for the Lols!!!