All About Va-cay

This week’s column, written last week while I was sitting in an adirondack chair nestled among the forest. Very pretty, very relaxing. Today, school! And that’s pretty great too.

Greetings from Balducci Family Vacation! Here we are sitting amongst the beautiful nature of the North Georgia mountains and doing just fine.

My dad sent me a text on our second day of vacation asking if I was relaxing yet. And it was funny, just before that I had noticed that I was finally, finally starting to decompress. Just a bit.

There are pros and cons to waiting until the last week of summer for family vacation. For years we always went on vacation the very first week the boys were out of school and it was perfect. Spirits were high and summertime was (in the words of Anne of Green Gables) fresh with no mistakes in it (yet).

Of course the downside of vacation fresh out of the gate is there you go. You come home from vacation with the entire rest of the summer looming ahead (unless you have something else lined up). So those years of traveling in early June left us with a nice tan for the rest of the summer, but also many (many) weeks to go.

This year, we opted for the last week of August because frankly, that was the only time we had free. My how things change as your children grow. Our oldest son had a summer job, and we also have three bona fide Boy Scouts with a few excursions of their own. When Paul and I looked at our calendars the last week of summer was the ticket.

It’s nice having this week set aside at the end. It kept me going during many a stress-filled afternoon, knowing that in a short while we’d be hunkered down in a cabin, just our little family.

As is sometimes my tendency, I hold these things up to epic standards. The day I was searching for a cabin rental, I got so carried away I ended up calling Paul in delirium.

“I have been in front of the computer for two hours,” I said laughing maniacally, “and am not making any progress.”

I decided to hand things over to Paul’s fine researching methods when I realized I was looking for the near impossible. My search string looked something like: mountain cabin + secluded + wooded lot + grand sweeping vistas + next to bubbling brook + outdoor chiminea + hot tub + a lifetime of happy memories in the making.

“Apparently I’m not looking for a vacation rental so much as a Thomas Kincaid painting,” I told Paul.

We got off the phone and thirty minutes later, he had found the perfect spot that we’re enjoying today.

Is it actually perfect? It is for us, for the season we’re in right now. I fought back my perfectionist tendencies when we pulled in and I realized I was tempted to be nit picky. Something could always be better, that’s the way life is. If you make a habit of focusing on that, life can be tough.

And never is that put in sharper focus than family vacation. The first few hours, after our four hour trip and the work of loading and unloading the van, people were in fine meltdown form. Funny how this thing that’s supposed to bring such peace and relaxation felt like such a mess.

“We’re on family vacation dagnabbit,” I declared at one point, “why aren’t we having fun?”

I can’t remember if anyone answered that question, but several hours later, after a good night sleep and enough time to get settled, things changed. Brothers started being kind to brothers, mother started feeling a tad more relaxed.

“Maybe they’re a good bunch after all,” I said to Paul after one boy was quick to respond “yes ma’am” and another put his brother’s needs ahead of his own.

“Of course they are,” responded my husband, who does a much better job than I of keeping a grasp on the bigger picture.

Family life is wonderful, but it is never without its hiccups. Some seasons are indeed particularly challenging and family vacation at the very tail end of summer is a perfect time to remember that family life has its ups and downs, but there is so much goodness to see — especially when we get in the habit of focusing on it.

Riding down the falls

One big benefit of lots of brothers: built-in Huzzah!’s everywhere you go.

Summer Evening

This picture was taken on one of the funnest evenings I had this summer. We sat around and reminisced and laughed and cried from laughing.

Paul and I are so lucky to have these friends — people we have known forever who are not just there for us in the tough times but in the simple beautiful moments, who call us on but also just make us laugh and love life. Special birthday greetings to Fr. Tim (center) who gets *almost* as much air time on this blog as his sister Susie (left). I like that I can see Paul in the reflection along with our friend Dennis (Susie’s husband) and my very favorite brand of wine.

Our lives are rich indeed.


I walk into the office to discover Henry seated in front of the computer, his eyes closed and ears covered.

“What’s going on,” I say walking over to see a certain video website pulled up with a feline staring back at me. Totally creepy.

“Henry,” I say reaching for the escape key, “I don’t want you looking at this. I don’t want you just sitting here looking at…”

“…cat videos?” asks Henry.

Yes, cat videos. And then I take him to the front room and turn on Lord of the Rings. (just kidding)

Happy Friday!