Marijuana grow houses and divine providence

Standard

I talk a lot in life about how His ways aren’t always our ways. How just because something doesn’t turn out the way you want doesn’t mean it isn’t turning out the way it should. That applies not only to the big things in life, but sometimes to the small things too…

This past weekend we took the boys skating at a roller rink. I am 38 years old and truthfully hadn’t been on roller skates in over 25 years prior to Sunday. I was doing fine until I decided to take a lap around the rink without the kids slowing me down… and promptly fell flat on my arse 1/5 of a lap later. It hurt. Bad. Thankfully my iPhone was in my back pocket to break the fall (sort of). Thanks for saving my phone, Lifeproof (::waves::).

I hopped up, brushed myself off and kept on skating. I was a little sore, but I had to put on a good show for my boys. We fall, we get right back up and we keep on going. About four hours later I could barely move. I’m talking immense, sharp, shooting pain anytime I even breathed deep. I iced my back all night and went to the chiropractor the next morning. My hip was out of alignment (related: I am getting old).

Two days later I was still hurting so I made an appointment for a massage. The massage ran late (very late) and consequently I was forty minutes behind picking up my oldest from school. Now before you start calling Child Protection Services on me, the school has a fantastic after-care program that he went directly to. In fact the after-care is so much fun, Benji often asks (begs) for me to let him stay late. So don’t you judge me.

As I turned onto the school’s street I passed one of the teachers leaving. I parked and looked over at the building across from the school. My son’s school is on a dead-end, across from a large open field. In the middle of the field is a two-story building with no windows and a large bay door. It’s surrounded by a locked fence, numerous “Keep Out” signs, and until recently a large dog. And the building was on fire.

Not fully engulfed with cool orange flames, no. No where near that exciting. In fact at first I was trying to figure out what exactly would cause steam to rise from a roof like that. Then my former-cop brain must have kicked in because I thought “Gee, that’s not steam it’s smoke. Holy Guacamole that building is on fire!”

I called 911. Six fire engines, three fire trucks, the district chief, a police lieutenant and two patrol deputies later and the fire was out. Come to find out the building was being used as a marijuana grown house. It is right across the street from where my son goes to school.

So, how does all of this tie into divine providence? Easy. I was at Benji’s school for about an hour between calling 911, waiting for the fire department, watching the rescue personnel work and waiting for them to take my information for their report. No other parents came for their children in that time – in fact no cars drove down that road at all. The teacher who left as I pulled up noticed nothing unusual.

Had I not fallen, I would not have been hurt. Had I not been hurt, I would not have needed a massage. Had I not needed a massage, I would have been on-time to pick up my son. Had I been on-time, I would not have seen the smoke. Realistically, no one would of for at least an extra hour. Who knows how massive the fire would have been by then? Who knows what dangerous equipment was in there that could have exploded. Who knows how high the neighbors would have been? Did I mention I live two blocks away? MY GOD, THE MUNCHIES!

Everything in life has purpose. All things happen according to a plan. Every little detail — even the annoying ones you think are inconsequential — are not meaningless to HIM. Our ways are not His ways, and His ways are always so much better. So really, me being a crappy skater and falling, and a derelict mom who was getting a massage while I was supposed to be picking my kid up from school was divine providence. Like how I spun that?

——————

On an aside, how ironic is it that the retired narcotics detective discovered a grow house on fire? Four years gone and I’m still making cases!

Here is a not-very-impressive, crappy iPhone photo of the fire.

Here is a not-very-impressive iPhone photo of the fire.

Christmas decorations beyond the 25th

Standard

It’s December 29th and our halls are still decked. All of our Christmas lights are hanging proudly outside. Our tree still stands, fully decorated, with more than a week to go before it comes down. Am I just too lazy to bother with it? Normally the answer to the “too lazy” question would be a hearty YES, but not in this case. No, our house remains decorated a week into the new year for two reasons – one important to our family, the other important to our faith.

First, we start late and I like to get a good month out of the decor I spend so much time putting out. My oldest is a December baby and two of the most exciting days of the year for a kid happen practically back-to-back for him. He was actually due on December 25th – so I guess it could be worse – but as it is his special day usually competes with holiday parties and Santa appearances. As a result, we don’t decorate at all until after his birthday (or after his party, if we host it in our home), so there is at least a little segregation between the two events. This year we didn’t even buy our Christmas tree until December 12th, and didn’t decorate it until the 15th. Ten days of pine-scented, tinselly goodness just isn’t enough time.

On the first day of Christmas…

The second reason, the really important reason, is historical. Christmas doesn’t actually start the day after Thanksgiving and end on December 26th. That’s how it works in the retail world, a world where Christmas is a time for boosting sales and spending as much as your credit limit will allow. To me, that is a very sad, cynical view of the season and one that focuses on all the wrong things. Instead, religiously Christmas starts on December 25th, the first day of Christmastime for Catholics and most Eastern Orthodox religions. It starts on the day we celebrate the birth of Christ, the first day of the Twelve Days of Christmas. The four weeks leading up to the 25th is actually a time of anticipation, as we wait for the Light of Christ to enter our world.

O come, Emmanuel 

Visit a Catholic church during Advent and you will see a stark church with very few adornments. Purple accents will be placed here and there – purple traditionally being the color of royalty and used during Advent to announce the coming of the King of Kings – but very few flowers or other decorations will be seen. But visit on Christmas and the days leading to Epiphany Day and you will see a church in full regalia – decorated trees, nativities, wreaths and candles abound as we celebrate Christ made man.

We three kings

This celebration lasts through January 6th – Epiphany Day – the day we celebrate the arrival of the three wise men to Christ. A religiously significant holiday, Epiphany really doesn’t get its due respect by most. Christmas Day celebrates the Light of Christ arriving on Earth, but Epiphany Day celebrates that Light being seen by the world. Prior to Epiphany Day only a select few had witnessed the Christ child. Mary, Joseph, a shepherd, his flock – but really no one knew He had arrived. Then come the Magi, three wise men – kings themselves – who went initially as nonbelievers seeking proof. Traditionally the three were a Greek, a Hindu and an Egyptian, following the Star to the Christ child. Once they arrived and witnessed first-hand God made man, they took this knowledge with them back to their kinsmen – the Light of Christ spreading through the occupied areas of Earth at that time.

Joy to the world, the Lord is come

For Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Greek Orthodox and others, Christmas doesn’t end until the word begins to be spread. Until the Good News of Christ starts making it’s way out to the masses. Until the twelve days have passed and Epiphany Day has arrived. Christmas should be about Christ, about the miracle His love for us provides, the redemption we ultimately receive because of His sacrifice on the cross. The season tends to get overshadowed by the gift giving and getting (another throwback to the gifts of the Magi) – which is fun, but not the reason for the season.

So, when you pass my house on January 5th and my lights are still proudly glowing, if you get in my car and I’m still blasting “White Christmas” by Bing Crosby, if you stop by and see my tree still up and my nativities still on display – know it’s my way of outwardly continuing to celebrate the birth of Christ and the light of love His birth shined on the world. It isn’t just me being lazy.

Me still in my jammies at 3pm on the 5th is an entirely different story though…

1549298_782594425090721_1498514986_n

The halfway point

Standard

As many of you know (especially if you follow me on Facebook), I recently returned from a twelve day whirlwind tour of Europe with my husband. It was truly amazing, and I will absolutely inundate your timelines, twitter and RSS feeds with posts on the adventures we had while there. But today, I want to talk about coming home.

My friend Kelly put it perfectly: re-entry is hard. I went from zero responsibilities but me for almost two weeks, back to the reality of having two boys under five. While I never forgot I was a mom, I quickly forgot what it was like to have your life completely dominated by two small dictators. Castro and Hitler have nothing on Benji and Jameson when they are hungry.

I also quickly forgot the daily grind that is, well, life. I came home to missed deadlines and overdue projects for work, all courtesy of a lightning strike the night before I left which wiped out my computer and internet. That same lightning strike fried the sprinkler system, which is still in the process of being replaced. The fried sprinkler system left my landscaping unwatered, which killed about a third of my three-month old plants. My lawn guys have been MIA this month, so I have a massively neglected lawn and no one to mow it. Benji needs to go to the dentist. I need to go to the orthodontist.  Dishes. Laundry. Homework. Jet-lag. I’ve been home five days and I still haven’t unpacked. Ugh.

Another friend commented on Facebook that I wouldn’t get much sympathy, given the trip I’d just come home from. Granted, my trip was awesome. But I came home from that trip with more than souvenirs and an over-extended credit line. While there, Jason gave me the news that his homecoming was at least six to nine months away  — and that timeframe isn’t even taking into consideration what may happen in Syria. Prior to Europe I’d been holding onto the desperate hope he’d be home for Christmas. Barring a military miracle (and I’m talking total troop removal here), there is no way that is happening.

No Daddy for Halloween, I’d expected. No Daddy for my birthday, Thanksgiving, Benji’s birthday – I knew these were all almost definite. But no Daddy for Christmas was something I hadn’t even really allowed my mind to consider. And now it isn’t just no Daddy for the holidays, it’s no Daddy for as long as he’s already been gone.

We haven’t even reached the halfway point.

This is what I’m dealing with now. I’m trying so hard to process the fact that it isn’t even halfway over, when it has already seemed like forever. I’m struggling to not sink into a depression as I consider three more seasons with my partner gone. The fantastic trip I just came from seems like a dream — a beautiful, hyper-realistic dream — that I’ve been woken from. I should be in post-vacation bliss, instead I’m wallowing in harsh military-life reality.

I know we’ll survive. Heck, I know we will thrive. As yet another friend Trish said, God will carry us and our friends will help us. He will. They will.

We are almost to the halfway point.
There. I feel better already.

 

The Rose window of Notre Dame

The Rose window of Notre Dame

On cardboard boxes

Standard

As you may (or may not) know, I am fortunate enough to be a contributing author with AllParenting.com. I’ve always dreamed of being a paid writer so it is truly a dream come true.

The Friday before Memorial Day I wrote what I’d intended on being a blog post. I will admit, I’d indulged in two glasses of sangria and was feeling a bit sorry for myself, mostly because no one had invited us to any Memorial Day barbecues. Lame, I know. The piece started off really self-centered and a bit whiney, but for some reason (::ahem, sangria::) I sent it off to my assignment editor Nichole to see what she thought. To my surprise she liked it and asked for it to run on aP. I tweaked it a bit to make it less about me and more about the holiday, and it has been my most shared article to date.

If you’d like to read my Memorial Day Reminder, my take on patriotic holidays from  the perspective of deployed service member’s stateside spouse, I’d be honored. I’d be even more thrilled if after you read it you let me know what you think. Especially if you are, like me, celebrating holidays at home without your hero. After you read it, the title of this blog post will probably make much more sense.

 

Memorial Day Reminder

Cheat day

Standard

As we move through our sixth month of deployment I feel very fortunate to have fun things in my future. Next month I am doing a seven-day whirlwind tour of Northern Italy with my husband during his mid-deployment break. We aren’t taking the kids and we are even taking an overnight train into Paris for a day. Can you say romantic? On my way back stateside I have a twenty-four-hour layover in London and I’m taking in the sights all by myself. I’m even staying the night in a super-swanky Yotel. Hipster Rebecca, at your service.

In October I’m going on a four-day cruise of the Bahamas with a group of friends, all to celebrate my good buddy Mike moving into his 40th year of life. In November I’m doing a Zombie 5K with some of the coolest chicks I know. And in December I have tickets to see Justin Timberlake in concert. Good times, right?

Here’s the deal though: 2+ years post-birth of my youngest and I am still rockin’ some serious baby weight. Well, let’s be honest, when your “baby” is 26 months old it really isn’t “baby weight” anymore. Perhaps it’s time for me to own this sh*t.

Take a romantic trip to Italy with a husband, add a cruise (bathing suits – eek!) and a 5K and that equals some serious motivation to get into shape. I bought fancy work-out pants. I signed up at a gym. I downloaded MyFitnessPal to my phone. Heck, I even made a gym iTunes playlist. If that isn’t commitment, I don’t know what is.

I’ve been doing really well. I’ve been to the gym every day since August 2nd. I’ve logged every morsel that has entered my mouth and I’ve stayed under my caloric goal every day but one – and that day I only went over by 97 calories. I’ve been eating no processed foods, lots of fresh fruits and veggies and plenty of healthy proteins. I’ve been drinking my body weight in ounces of water. It’s been a brutal switch for me, considering it wasn’t at all uncommon for me to sit down and enjoy a pint of Ben and Jerry’s before bedtime.

So today, I decided to cheat.

It all started at Chick-fil-A. I took my boys there for lunch after our last splashpark day of the summer. I was good – I ordered a small soup and a side salad, no dressing. They brought out an 8-count fried nugget though, and before I could grab it Jameson opened it and shoved one of those delicious bites straight into his mouth. I couldn’t bring them back at that point, right? I’m not giving my kids fried food and it’s practically sacrilegious to throw Chick-fil-A nuggets into the garbage. So I ate them. Then I bought a small Cookies N Cream milkshake fully intending on sharing with my children. But they were so engrossed in the playroom they didn’t notice (I guess my milkshake doesn’t bring all the boys to the yard). Next thing I knew the entire 520 calorie yumminess was in my belly.

I was completely resolved to eating salad for the remainder of the day, which would totally have kept me within my calorie count. I even made a lovely salad for dinner, but as I was putting away the vegetables into the fridge I noticed the uncooked bacon inside wasn’t looking too good. Not bad yet, but close. We don’t waste bacon in the Bahret house – nope. So I cooked it. As it was in the oven, bubbling in the thick grease, delicious salty bacon aroma wafting up through the stove vents, it was then I put the salad in a bowl for tomorrow and decided to hell with today. I’m having a cheat day.

Dinner tonight consisted of nine perfectly oven-baked, thick-cut slices of bacon. But I didn’t stop there, no no. What goes great with bacon? Why brownies of course – and I just so happened to have some. I had to have two, because I had four and well I just can’t leave three when I have two children. I also decided to finish dinner off with sangria. I measured out a serving – trying to salvage at least part of the day – but a serving is pitifully, painfully small. Five ounces really isn’t enough for anything but a sip and there was only twelve ounces left in the bottle, so I decided to just finish it to make room in the fridge.

If you’re gonna cheat, might as well cheat fabulously, right?

DSC_0080

DSC_0081

DSC_0082

Church cry room = parent time out

Standard

With summer ending, families will be getting back into their school-year schedule. For many, that means the return to weekly church. For some, especially those with small children, it can mean a weekly, hour-long sentence in the parent purgatory known as the Cry Room. I hate the Cry Room and refuse to take my kids in there — regardless of how many evil looks I may get when they are less than silent.

 

Read more here in my AllParenting.com article “Why I reject the church cry room”

 

51e095ffd4a2501c7e005076

The yellow shirt

Standard

You know, they say the sense of smell is the most powerful of all senses when it comes to inducing memories. There’s science behind this belief. The olfactory bulb is part of the brain’s limbic system, which is associated with memory and feeling. That’s why a smell can almost instantaneously “bring you back”.

It smelled like him.

The first time I did laundry after Jason left I was putting the clothes into the washer and was hit with a wave of emotion. It was the very first time I missed him so much it physically hurt. I’d caught a big whiff of him as the laundry went in and it almost brought me to my knees it was that powerful. I had already washed all of his clothes but one yellow shirt, so I pulled out that dirty, stinky shirt and put it in my bedroom. Since then that shirt has been my rock. On really bad days, days when I haven’t communicated with him in a while and I’m lonely and sad, I bury my head in that shirt and breathe. And just like that he’s with me, even for a moment. I went for comfort the other day and the scent was gone. Nothing. It just smells like shirt now. Any trace of him having ever worn it is gone.

It doesn’t smell like him anymore.

I literally cannot fathom the concept of never smelling him again. It would mean never seeing him again, never holding him again, and my brain can’t comprehend that. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder and I’m here to tell you it’s absolutely true.

It will smell like him again.

I’m seeing him in less than six weeks for nine days. I’m considering making him wear the same shirt the entire time, then bringing it home with me in a ziplock baggie, unwashed. Considering it. I probably won’t. But I will bring that yellow shirt with me and make him wear it at least twice. I need my rock for the second half.

Yellow Shirt

We welcome not only a Prince, but a mother as well

Standard

By now you’ve all seen the photos of Kate, Prince William, and HRH Yet-to-be-Named. You know, these:

Prince William and Kate Middleton

katewills1

kate8

For the love of God, she’s wearing wedges. She gave birth less then 24-hours ago and she’s wearing wedges. I will let that marinade for a bit.

News reports called her “radiant”, “glowing” and “stunning” — and rightfully so. I mean, look at her. I realize she probably had someone do her hair and put on her makeup, but still. Twenty-four hours after the birth of a child is no time to be considering how you look through a HD lens. Especially 24-hours after the birth of a first child. Forget the hormones and exhaustion and residual-pain-party-favors any birth gives you, what about the life-altering realization that you are now responsible for another human? I know my first day after my first son was way more of a mental mind-eff then my second. But I digress…

Hair? Obviously washed.
Make-up? Fresh and Flawless.
Outfit? Stylish. Flattering.
Oh, and did I mention wedges?

If I sound jealous, I am. Here is me, one day after the birth of my first son:

euramorningtrainwreckep1mtv 2

I KID.

There are no pictures of me one day after his birth. I burned them all.

So let’s all take a moment to welcome the new little Prince, and to welcome the new Royal Mom as well. After all, two new beings entered our world yesterday — the childless Kate Middleton is gone for good and in her place is a new woman, a mother. One who, from the looks of things, is quite suited to motherhood.

And, here is your obligatory Royal Baby pic. He’s awfully cute.

baby8

Sunsets and soldiering on

Standard

“I don’t know how you do it”

I hear that phrase at least once a day, every day. Usually more, especially if I’m in the company of several other mamas. It makes me chuckle. Why? Because I don’t really know how I do it either.

Every day is a struggle, some days more so then others. Some days seem relatively easy, and at the end of the day I think to myself “I got this”. Then there are the others, the really bad days when I spend the last half-hour before bed alternating between crying and praying, begging Him for the strength, patience and perseverance to soldier on.

Days like Sunday, when at 10pm as I was just about ready to start my work for the night, my oldest began vomiting. Which of course woke the youngest. Next thing I knew it was midnight, I was out of clean linens, and both boys were wide awake.

Or Monday, when I foolishly tried to take him to his first day of performing arts camp and my foolishness was rewarded in the form of a vomit-covered Britax. Mommy FAIL.

Or today, when I had to mail my sweetie his birthday cards a full month in advance, in the hope that they make it in time. I agonized over the card I chose, wanting to find one that perfectly conveyed my feeling for him. I agonize over many small things like that these days, mostly for reasons I don’t want to let myself fully imagine.

But those days aren’t everyday.

There are also days like Sunday, when prior to VomitFest we went to a ball game. Our home team not only won but shut the other team out. It was my little guy’s first live game since he was about 8 weeks old, and the amazement in his eyes when he first saw the field was blissful. Both boys had a blast, and thanked me profusely for taking them.

Or Monday, when my sweetie posted a breathtaking photo on Facebook, sharing his sunset over there with me over here. It was lovely to see, and even more lovely to know he was thinking about me just then.

Or today, watching my oldest so carefully craft his birthday card for Daddy, asking me “Mommy, can you write ‘I miss you Daddy’ so I know how to spell it?” Every single word and color was specifically chosen with the sole intent of letting him know we care.

That is how I do it – with the help of my boys, with the love of my husband, with the strength of my God. Because I know that I cannot fail any of them. It isn’t an option.

I got this.

sunset in afghanistan

Nightly ritual

Standard

The following is (sadly) our current usual bedtime routine…

6:30pm – I’m gonna get these kids to sleep and get some s**t accomplished tonight!

7:00pm – Yes! One down, one to go.

7:30pm – Go to sleep Jameson, Mommy needs to get some stuff done tonight.

8:00pm – Go to sleep Jameson, Mommy really has a lot to do.

8:30pm – Go to effing sleep Jameson. Seriously.

9:30pm – FOR THE LOVE OF GOD CHILD, WHY WON’T YOU GO TO SLEEP?!? I’m going to go insane if you aren’t asleep soon.

9:45pm – I think he’s asleep, but now my motivation is completely gone.

10:00pm – Eff it. Ice cream and a movie it is.

Every. Single. Night.

How do you handle bedtime at your house?