Locked Out, Lessons Learned

1543 1543_ () 1543 1543 Weekly column
The boys and I got locked out of the house the other day. At the end of a long afternoon, these circumstances were highly frustrating and terribly inconvenient.

Ethan had already left for his basketball game, and I was loading up the other boys to meet him there. Through a series of unfortunate events, a well-meaning helper pulled the door closed, keys still inside, with the door handle in the locked position.

“Uh-oh,” said the boy, and I whipped my head toward the house. I had been settling Henry in his car seat, and that is where he stayed for the next ten minutes while I made call after desperate, gut-wrenching phone call to find a spare key.

“I think we have one,” said my mom and we walked to her house. I found her spare key and looked in the drawer where she thought my key might be.

“It’s not here,” I said, and she suggested I call my dad.

“I’ve got it right here with me,” said my dad, who was unfortunately just arriving at the Atlanta Airport to drop of my sister and brother-in-law.

Meanwhile, Ethan’s game was starting on the other side of town. I called my husband, who was about to start coaching his basketball game at another gym in town.

“I think my dad has a key,” he told me, so we called Buelo. He thought he might have one, but we’d have to come look since he wasn’t sure what it looked like.

By now Elliott was upset – he really wanted to watch Ethan’s game. Charlie and Augie were upset too, which was motivated more by their love of concession stand food.

In a stroke of pure serendipity, a dear friend drove by and had room in her car for Elliott. We bid him farewell, and checked on the key at Buelo’s. No luck, so we headed back to Gramma and Papa’s where we would stay until Paul got home from his game – two hours later.

When we first got to my mom and dad’s, I was annoyed. The boys took out the basket of toys and I thought about all the things I should be doing but could not – the laundry, the baking, the last-minute decorating. My long list of pre-Thanksgiving tasks waited for me next door, locked away with my keys and every other little thing that totally consumed me.

For the last few days, I had been on a cleaning kick around the house. That weekend, I started purging the boys’ closets and I was amazed and dazzled by the results. The bedrooms were looking wonderful, so utterly clean and tidy that I started getting carried away, just a little.

What started as closets quickly became the study then the playroom and maybe just moving these pictures and switching out these dressers. When I found myself looking at curtains to hang – maybe we could get them up before Thanksgiving? – I realized things were bordering on obsessive. I needed to just slow down. But how?

And then, out of nowhere, I was given a two-hour reboot.

As I sat and watched the boys play, and then drew pictures with them and read a magazine and watched the evening news, I slowly embraced the downtime. I enjoyed these moments with my boys and realized I would not have done this at home, not with the pace I’d been running.

Even though all my efforts at home were very good, it was too much. I was in such a frenzy that had I not been forced to just sit down for a minute, there would have been no stopping me until I collapsed in a heap on the floor, either from the tryptophan or sheer exhaustion.

After that, I asked the Lord to gently remind me to slow down. I don’t want to spend the precious weeks of Advent running around town in a tizzy. I don’t want this season to pass me by while I spin my wheels with a mile-long to-do list. I assured the Lord that I’m going to work hard on having a healthy approach to our preparations, and could he please not lock me out of my house again. I’ve learned my lesson, I told him, I promise. 1543″>


Time For A Vote!

1542 1542_ () 1542 1542 This Saturday, my son Ethan and I will spend a few hours working at the bakery of our school’s Christmas Festival. Workers are encouraged to wear Christmas attire and a festive apron.

I was trying to figure out what I was going to wear and realized I only have one Christmas apron, a little something made a few years ago by the loving hands of my boy Charlie.

So here’s my question: if I wear it, do you think I’ll get arrested? 1542″> ?


Palin Pix!

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I talked about this visit over at Faith and Family and then posted a few pictures at my Facebook spot, and then totally neglected YOU, dear, sweet Testosterhome reader! I am so sorry. Not that we’re winning any awards with these shots, but still, it was wonderful.

The children’s eyes were all aglow with excitement!

Here’s a shot of my dear, sweet hubby. Do you seen him in that sea of people? He initially said he wasn’t going to come, that he couldn’t really handle going somewhere with “so much estrogen.” But he met us at the last minute and wound up with a spot front and center. The boys and I decided to stay up in the seats so they could see better. (My nose just stopped bleeding.)

Sa-Rah! Sa-Rah!
I know there are those of you out there who don’t think she’s all that great, some of my very own who are near and dear to my heart — we’ve had this discussion, you and I (you know who you are!) and I’m standing firm. I think she’s wonderful.
Hearing her speak this week just sealed the deal. She is dynamic and an inspiration, and even if you don’t agree with her politics (which I’ve mentioned I do), do this for me: think of someone you know who has five children, one of those children with special needs, who is articulate and a go-getter. Think of that person out there using her gifts to serve this country on a national level. If that person was your neighbor or friend or relative, you would be darn proud of that woman, you totally would.
I betcha.

1541″ .


First World Problems

1540 1540_ () 1540 1540 Last week’s column
I have recently been consumed with email issues. It’s pathetic really, but for the past two days I’ve been working nonstop to figure out why my email is not sending what it claims it has sent, or why I’m not seeing in my inbox the important bits of information that others are sending my way.

At one point in the midst of this crisis (and I haven’t decided if I use that word lightly or not), I got a panicky feeling, a split-second wave of nausea thinking of all the people who might be misreading my silence, all the business contacts and readers and family members who have sent things my way and haven’t heard back from me. What am I missing, I lamented, and how will I ever know the extent of this communication breakdown?

It’s amazing, really, how much energy this whole mishap has taken. In the initial days of dealing with this problem (it’s been an ongoing thing now) I really couldn’t think of much else in my life beyond questioning why things weren’t working properly and why the fine folks at my Internet company had not dropped everything to attend to my problems. Also, I don’t really appreciate the hundred options on their phone tree and how none of the buttons I pressed led to an actual human being.

The craziest thing about this whole experience is that somehow the earth continued to revolve, even in the midst of this dire tragedy. I sent emails that no one got, and the sun continued to rise in the east and set in the west. People sent emails to me – important, work-related stuff – and maybe I got it all, but maybe I didn’t. Time did not stand still, the world managed to function despite this major setback in my life.

After a while I got a grip and realized that we would all survive this Internet annoyance, that things were going to be okay in the midst of this madness.

The saddest part of it all is that I almost let this minor inconvenience totally knock me off balance. Just a few days prior to all this, Paul and I had been on a wonderful retreat where I was reminded of God’s love for us all. I came home focused on the incredible gift of the Holy Spirit in our lives, on the importance of having people in my life to encourage me in my walk with Christ. I was excited about living out the Gospel and being a good mom and wife, and about building the Church by building our little church, the Family Balducci.

And then, bam. Email issues. And all that other stuff was forgotten, just for a minute.

Sometimes it is certainly a challenge to be human. We are loved by our creator – he who made us in his very image. And while we want to love him in return, we must love him in the midst of our human weakness. We love him not only in spite of our shortcomings but also right in the middle of them. What we offer God in return for all he has given us is oftentimes very flawed.
Even with the best of intentions and the loftiest ideals, we are still human beings living in a broken world. And while it seems silly to equate broken email with any kind of real problem, these are the very things that, if we don’t handle them well, can rob us of our peace and joy.

In the end, it’s all about finding a balance. I have to live in this world, to be a productive member of society – without getting caught up in it all. God’s love is bigger than all of this, his greatness beyond my understanding. My hope is built on his love for me.

Eventually my email will get fixed. I’m clinging to that hope as well. 1540″>