Worth It.

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The week before Christmas, Paul and I took our boys to a local light extravaganza. We went with a group of neighbors, and wound up walking the tour with friends who also have five boys.

Upon entering the beautifully lit gardens, we were directed to the free hot chocolate and cookies. While Paul and I worked on loading Henry into the baby carrier, our boys proceeded to the food line and then downed some cocoa. By the time we were situated and ready to begin the tour, they were on their second (and third) cup.

We headed out onto the lit paths, and within minutes, the boys took off – all ten of them. They were on Christmas overload, fueled by holiday cheer and Swiss Miss. It would be a good fifteen minutes before we finally caught up with our brood, and in the meantime we would catch glimpses of little boy legs as they flailed and zoomed off in the twinkling distance.

By the time we got home that night, after a thirty-minute ride with those caffeinated boys, I was exhausted. It was a long trip home with a group of children who, when they get overly-tired, don’t fall asleep! Everyone was within elbowing reach of each other, which made for plenty of agitating moments for us all.

“Had I known,” I told Paul, but I didn’t finish my sentence.

I realized, just before completing that thought, that had I known about the frustrations of the evening, I probably would have wanted to stay home. If I had predicted an evening of sugar-highs and over-zealous boys flying up and down the lit paths, I might have opted to stay in that night, maybe watch a Christmas video or get a root canal.

But then I would have missed out on a wonderful memory. The truth is that in spite of all those trying moments, the evening was a lot of fun. Even just a few hours after the event, my view of the night was changing. I was laughing about my fast-paced life, about how an evening of leisurely light watching turned into a frenzied chase of ten boys.

Very rarely in life are circumstances totally easy. For every wonderful, fun memory that we make as a family, there are plenty of tiny details of hardship, little moments of agitation and inconvenience that I hadn’t planned on. But over time I forget those hardships and mostly remember the beauty of the moment. Very rarely do I conclude that something wasn’t “worth it.”

This summer, on our whirlwind trip to Washington D.C., Emmitsburg and Gettysburg, there were a lot of those same frustrating moments. We have had plenty of road trips with the boys where the traveling was peaceful and easy. This wasn’t one of those trips. We spent the first day traveling in the car for 14 hours, and in some ways it felt like we never quite recovered after that.

On that first day of traveling, as we were heading to Mount St. Mary’s to take the boys to the grotto, I kept wondering if it was too much. I wondered if we should just drop that leg of the trip. But each time Paul and I would discuss it, we felt compelled to plow ahead, to push ourselves a bit. Going to the Mount would be worth the effort.

While there, we had moments of brilliance and beauty, but we also had five tired boys. I never had any clear revelation where the skies opened and God shouted out to me that I had done good.

In hindsight, it was more of a whisper.

When we got home from our trip, we were still tired and worn out.

“I can’t be totally sure that it was all worth it,” I remember telling my dad one afternoon as I dealt with still-exhausted boys. “That was so much work.”

“Pilgrimages often are,” he said. And when I look at all these adventures as a Pilgrimage, these efforts are absolutely worth it, and also, in the big picture of life, very minimal. 1567″>


The Original Snuggie?

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Thanks, FT. 1566″ .


His-n-Her Movie Reviews: Hoosiers

Him: This is one of the greatest sports movies of all time.

Her: It’s also a good love story.

Him: It’s a good movie because it doesn’t get corrupted by all that love stuff.

Next week: First Blood!

Testing One Two

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Testing One Two from Rachel Balducci on Vimeo. 1564″>