An Ode to My Life

If I could bottle the

sounds and smells of

my life right this minute you

would wish I hadn’t.


bunch of sweaty boys over in my house yo, playing with our legos and eating all our steak

You’ll Laugh, You’ll Cry

Today is the feast day of my husband’s patron saint — and as a little aside, Paul’s dad actually wanted to name him “Vincent de Paul” but his mom said no way. So they settled on Paul Vincent, a name that suits him perfectly. I always wondered if we’d wind up naming one of our boys Vincent — it’s such a good, strong name. But with a last name like Balducci, I dunno “Vincent Balducci” just sounds like a kid destined to have a ton of chest hair and wear thick gold necklaces (plural). Because everyone knows Vincent = Vinny if given enough time and Italian genes. (I have a godson named Vincent, and he has never been Vinny but he is Flemish and those folks are different, more formal, less hairy.)

To honor my husband on the feast of his patron, here is a sweet little text exchange that gives you good insight into our life as man and wife. Enjoy it now; I’ll probably wake up in the middle of the night feeling guilty that I exposed my son in this fashion…

Don’t you love how quickly we change gears? How soon we recover from trauma? One afternoon we’re discussing xrays and enemas, the next day we’ve moved on to in-house date night. With sushi! (hotdogs for the chuds — and three points if you can name that movie reference)

And here is a sweet side of my man that is brought out every day by the presence of our precious, dainty warrior princess.

This is my man after a day at work, where he is in the throes of moving his office (exciting but intense). And then he comes home to help bathe this gal, and then go read to Henry (they are doing C.S. Lewis! Hooray!), and then help a boy with his math. He was so busy in part because he freed me and one of the big boys up to go serve my brother down the street by holding his fussy little baby so he could do a quick project at his house. So Elliott and I were able to do a corporal work of mercy because Paul was willing to do the same (though he would never consider any of these evening “chores” to be works of mercy. He just loves life in our home.)

I know I’m going on and on…I usually don’t write about Paul because (mostly) I feel like the more I gush the more I’m setting myself up to get in some kind of spat with him. Which is dumb mostly because we just don’t spat, but also because I don’t believe in karma. I do believe in irony, however, but I’m going to just ignore all the potential heaps this could bestow. As the cool kids say, it’s all good.

Well Hello There

Big boys on family vacation, playing a “friendly” game of 500

Funny, I totally lost track of this space for a few days. I’m getting to that place in life, it seems, where the pace with bigger kids is just amazing. Very fast. Orthodontist here, dermatologist there, a 12-year-old “well-baby” check-up and next thing you know a week has gone by and I haven’t even visited my own blog!

A few months ago I lost the code for my sitemeter information and I have no idea who is reading anymore. Which, I’ll be honest, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I suppose I’m just writing for my own mental well-being, and when I’m not overly-motivated to get on here, there you go. I blink and time’s a passing.

Sorry no Ten Minute Tuesday; I’m just not organized enough as yet. Also, it came to my attention that my pal Lisa-Jo has something called “Five Minute Fridays” and I don’t want to be stealing other people’s genius.

A few random updates: I never did fill you in on the Case of the Swallowed Magnet Balls, which turned out to be a big deal. Thanks to alert reader Trish, I was clued in to some news articles concerning kids swallowing these balls and then ending up in the hospital. It was interesting to me that all the kids mentioned were in the nine- to ten-year set, just like our boy here. The story, as it turns out, is that our son had set the magnet balls on his tongue for just a split second and then we went over a bump in the van and down the balls slid to the back of Augie’s throat and off into the abyss where they remained for four days.

And then I joked about it and then I read about the situation. And then Paul took Augie to the emergency room (because I already had my own doctor’s appointment scheduled for that afternoon; Paul is amazing) and they spent four hours at the hospital. And then Paul sent me a text that said something like, “They found the magnet balls…he will be pooping them out shortly.”

So that was exciting.

Word to the wise: these magnet balls are a big stinking deal. Augie was lucky because when he accidentally swallowed his, they were all four stuck together. If swallowed separately, there is the risk of them “finding” each other on either side of an intestinal wall and causing a tear which can lead to putrefying infection. Seriously, not cool.

So that’s all for now. I’m a day late with a magazine article and my editor is HARD CORE so I’d better get my work done. I’m hoping we have a decent night tonight. We were all set to host a pot-luck dinner in our backyard tonight for our small prayer group and literally fifteen minutes before everyone was to arrive, Isabel puked (twice) and then had diarrhea. So I had to make the dreaded call to say “I’ll be happy to host, but maybe you don’t want that?” Germs are funny aren’t they? Because once I acknowledged that we had a sicky in the house, I didn’t feel like I could send the rest of our crew up the backyard to the new location. It was like we had all been tainted.

I’m just hoping that turns out to not be the case at all.

This Side of Grace

A few months before Christmas, Paul and I were in Savannah for the weekend and stopped by the Catholic bookstore to say hello. Among the (many) items we purchased that afternoon was a beautiful liturgical calendar that included feast days, holy days of obligation and the liturgical colors for the Catholic year.
I noticed at the top of page that the Holy Father had declared 2012 the “Year of Grace,” and for some reason I had a flash of panic at the idea. I know I should have been happy at the thought — who doesn’t want a year filled with grace! — but instead of joy I experienced a split-second of fear.
I was thinking about my reaction later, as I unrolled the glossy calendar, and considered the root of my attitude. I didn’t like the idea of extra grace, I admitted to myself, because extra grace meant there was probably a need for it.
God gives us the grace we need — I have known this since I was a girl. I was raised understanding that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle, and that he is there with us every step of whatever journey we might be on. I tried to remind myself of this as I thought about a Year of Grace, of the Pope declaring a year to be filled with such blessings.
And then, one week before Christmas, we found out my mom had cancer. I didn’t think about the grace at all. I was filled with optimism, because that was my only option to endure. ¬†Throughout her entire battle, there was enough grace because we made it through. It wasn’t until her final treatment last week (way to go, mom!) that I exhaled and thought to myself, “oh boy. That was not fun. At. All.”
I’m sure I had those thoughts throughout this past year, ever since her surgery in February. But the truth is I always chose the positive — her excellent prognosis, my dad’s ability to care for her so well, that this would all be behind us by the Fall — and that is what kept me going. And the real truth is I didn’t think about it that much — I just put one foot in front of the other and white knuckled my way through. There was grace; I only knew because I was able to keep breathing.
I can better see the grace on this side of things. I know it was there because only now, now that the winter (and spring and summer) is past, do I feel the lump in my throat. Only now do I acknowledge the strain. In the midst of it, I could function. There was grace to move forward, to live life and get to the other side.
As my mom was finishing that journey, something quite exciting was taking place with my sister and her husband, this beautiful couple who have been praying for a baby for several years. Out of the blue there was a baby to adopt, and after much prayer and cautious consideration, they decided to move in that direction.
Several months went by, months of caring for the baby and waiting and suddenly, out of nowhere, things started to fall apart. Details came to light that complicated their adoption efforts, and suddenly a situation that seemed so infused with grace and mercy seems to be disintegrating.
Here we are, once again, wading in grace but not necessarily aware that we are swimming in it. We are (I think, I pray) treading the waters of grace, but we may not fully embrace what that means until we are through this.
The fear, of course, is what the other side of grace will look like. What does it mean to be on the other side of this situation — how will God answer our prayers? Are we strong enough for his answer? What if this doesn’t turn out the way we hope? How can we endure?
I don’t know. I only know that we will. The front end, this side of grace, is scary. Jesus is here for us, though we might not truly realize the extent until we have waded unsure through his waters of mercy.