Security

We live under a false illusion that we are safe.  We put cameras on our doorbells.  Locks on our doors.  Bars on our windows.  But as my wise old man says, “All locks do is keep honest folks honest.”

It turns out that thieves sometimes manage to find a way in despite our best efforts to be safe.

We were recently returning from a few weeks in the Redwoods when we received a phone call from our security company that our alarm had been triggered.  Despite opposing reports from police and neighbors, we returned home in the middle of the night to discover that we had, in fact, been broken into.

The garage and the office were a mess.  Torn apart.  Items of value were gone.  Things were broken, carelessly tossed about in the rush to search every inch of our space.  It looked as if a whirlwind had come in through the window and left through the door leaving destruction in its wake.

We marveled at how much could be taken in such a brief period before the alarm was triggered.  We laughed at how disappointing it must have been to break into our house (we have a lot of books and Legos…not a lot of electronics or valuables…things of value to us maybe, but not to the market of thieves).  We puzzled over how they’d gotten in and how they’d chosen us.   We were surprised that someone could come into our house in the middle of the afternoon and manage to walk out with guns, a dirtbike, and so much more.

We felt angry, sad, confused, scared.

Because it was our space.  And now it wasn’t quite feeling like our space anymore.

Somehow our precious space had become a community hot-spot for a group of worthless thieves for but a moment.  It doesn’t matter how brief that moment was, though, because that intrusion has forever changed the way I see our home.

My illusion of feeling safe has been shattered.

Normally I spend the first few days after traveling processing our trip, unpacking and slowly folding ourselves back into the daily grind.  But this <inconvenience> robbed me of that transition.

Instead, the days following the break-in were annoyingly spent fixing what the thieves had broken, stolen and destroyed.  We invested hundreds of dollars in cameras and doorbells and extra security.  We closed bank accounts, rekeyed every access point, put fraud alerts on our credit reports, filled out police reports, fixed broken shelves.   We talked to neighbors with the hope that someone had seen something.  We spent far more time making reparations than what they took in destroying our home.

The reality is that at the end of the day what really matters are the ones we love.  The people in our lives.  It’s not the stuff we’ve accumulated.  It’s not the things we collect along this journey.

I know that.  I get that.  But still I feel violated.  As if my once safe haven is no longer safe or a haven.  And that’s a terrible feeling to have.

I suppose I should be thankful that we weren’t home when it happened.  That would have made a scary situation much scarier.  I should be thankful that the alarm worked as intended and scared the intruders away.  I should be glad that in the end they only got away with a small fraction of valuable things.  I should be grateful that each of my people are safe and accounted for and, that in the grand scheme of things, everything is going to be okay.

Except that I don’t feel thankful, glad, or grateful.  I feel violated.  I feel mistrusting.  I feel hurt and angry.  I imagine someday my home will once again feel like a comforting place to walk into, not a prison to lock myself into.  I know that one day I won’t be suspicious of every car that drives down my street.  I trust that one day I will feel safe and my dreams won’t reflect the fears in my heart.

But in the meantime, I walk into a store and I look into each person’s eyes that I pass and I wonder how broken they are and I wonder how desperate they’ve ever been and I wonder if they’ve ever crossed that imaginary line that exists that keeps the world relatively good.  And, of course, I can’t help but wonder if they were in my home just days ago.

I know this feeling will pass.  I know that.  And I know that the world is mostly good.  That people are mostly good.  And I know that one day I’ll look back at this without a seething anger.  But for now I’m basking in my anger.  I’ve let go of the notion of ever finding these petty criminals and I’ve accepted the idea that bad exists even in this beautiful city of mine.  I’m trying my best not to sound bitter, but it’s hard.  My view of the world through rose-colored glasses has been shattered and I’m over here trying to put those glasses back together, the best I can.  In the meantime, please take note that my doors and windows are locked and clamped, the videos are rolling and the lights are motion triggered.

**I began this post back in September immediately after the event occurred.  It’s taken me a few months to re-write it so facetious anger isn’t dripping out of every sentence.  Being a bit more removed from the event, I can say that life has gone on, as it should, but I am still haunted by the idea that safety is such a fragile feeling that can be shattered so easily.  Please be smart and cautious.  Be conscious that while we hope for a safe and sheltered life, the reality is that evil exists.  Tend to the ones you love, protect the things you’ve worked for, trust in the goodness that exists, but remember to lock your doors, turn on your alarms and be a nosy neighbor.  Samantha’s neighbor in Bewitched, Mrs. Kravitz, probably prevented many break-ins.**

 

A Retreat in my Mind

You know that place that the visualization gurus tell you to find.  Your happy place.  A place where you feel completely relaxed.  A place where you can close your eyes and imagine yourself there.  A place where your hunched up shoulders relax, the tension just melts away and for one brief moment, all is right in the world.

Sometimes those gurus forget to tell you that it’s got to be a place that’s written on your heart…it’s got to be carved into your DNA so you can feel it, smell it, truly be in it.

I have a place like that.  A place I slip away to when the kids are bouncing off the walls, the checkbook is missing and the bills are waiting to be paid.  A place where I feel totally accepted and happy and stress free.  A place that I can smell and see and feel when I close my eyes.

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It is a place carved into my heart.

It’s a retreat of my mind.

But this retreat wasn’t imagined into being.  It was once a real retreat.  A retreat where I walked barefoot and relished the native plants growing wild around me.

A retreat where the sun streamed in the windows and there was no pressure to do or to be, no expectation to meet.

A retreat where my kids’ eyes shone a little brighter with the immersion into a captivating summer world complete with jars of fireflies, bowls of freshly picked ripe black raspberries and adventures exploring a winding creek.

It was a home away from home.  Made possible by the thoughtfulness of one amazing vacation rental owner.

The details were attentive and deliberate.  We felt welcomed in as if the home had been waiting just for us to arrive.  The fluffed pillows, the soaps scented with essential oils, the throw over the back of the couch for the evenings when the sun had set and a chill settled over my feet.

The books on local flora and fauna just waiting to be looked through, the telescope aimed directly between the break in the trees so we could catch glimpses of stars far away.  It was all so incredibly thought-out, as if we were long-awaited guests not simply renters.

But it wasn’t just the property.  We were smack dab in the middle of a luscious valley that sparkled with waterfalls and blossomed with plants brought to the area many years ago by the Shawnee Indians.

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It was an adventure with medicinal flowers and edible plants and zip-lining through the tall trees.  It was quaint restaurants, long bike rides and the library of a nearby university lined with oft-coveted pre-1963 books.

It was lovely.  Absolutely lovely.

There is not a bad memory from that week.  Not a fight or an angry word.  Not a frustrated sigh or an impatient glance.  It was as if time stood still and we all remembered that kindness matters.  It was a moment to snuggle and whisper late into the summer evenings.  It was a moment to read with abandon, a moment to write with heart.  A moment to breathe.

And sometimes that’s what we need.  A moment to breathe.  A moment to re-live the happy moments.  A moment to escape our reality and find ourselves immersed in a peaceful memory.

There is value to visualization.  Value to remembering happy moments.  Value to imagining ourselves somewhere happy.  It gives us a moment to recenter ourselves.

It allows us to remember what that peace feels like and to find it again in this intentional moment.

 

 

 

Nature’s Bounty

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We take our food for granted.

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Not just the food itself.  But the whole idea of food.  Growing it.  Harvesting it.  Sometimes even preparing it.

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I love gardening (please note I did not claim to be good at gardening).  Ever since my kids were little, we’ve always had a patch of the yard dedicated to growing food (or at least attempting to grow food).

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I have always wanted my kids to feel the dirt beneath their fingers.  To understand that food comes from somewhere much more complex than the grocery store.  To see that some foods we eat grow underground, others above.  To watch a tiny seed sprout into a gigantic plant.  To see how much water it takes to keep plants thriving.  To see how long and how patient we must be to reap the harvest (in a world of instant gratification where we can have anything we want at any given moment, this lesson is crucial…some things really are worth waiting for).  To see that nature has a balance and sometimes destruction is beyond our control (like the year all of our pomegranates molded from too much rain).

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Life’s lessons are often just waiting behind the garden gate.

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But sometimes life is messy.  It’s not in organized rows like our garden.  It’s helter skelter with wild grapevines twisting around the trunks of willow trees.  It’s hemlock growing alongside black raspberries.  It’s poison ivy slowly creeping up a mulberry tree.  It’s a tiny patch of lamb’s quarter mixed in a field of wildflowers.

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Sometimes we have to step out of the garden and into the wild to teach our children valuable lessons.

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Today was one of those wild days.

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A life lesson hidden amidst mosquitoes and humidity.  A lesson that sometimes the sweaty work is worth the sweet jelly waiting at the end of the day.  A lesson that nature provides if we just know where to look.  A lesson that sometimes the sweetest things are a little out of our reach and we just have to get creative in our attempt to capture them.

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If you’d like to learn more about these incredible wild Mustang Grapes, please see my previous Nature Study: Wild Grapes post.  If you happen to be in the South Texas area, these grapes were found out at Pollywog Pond. 

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If you do decide to brave the mosquitoes and forage for your own delicious grapes, I recommend Jennifer’s recipe (I did use the butter but left out the lemon juice)…it really turned out delicious.

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Vision and Action make Little Dreams Come True

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There is a quote I like from Joel Barker who is a popular speaker and was the first person to popularize the concept of paradigm shifts for the corporate world.  He said,

“Vision without action is merely a dream.  Action without vision merely passes the time.  Vision with action can change the world.”

The world has plenty of people who are dreamers and plenty of people who take action, but it’s a little more rare to meet people who combine the two and make real changes in the world.  It takes passion and commitment to make a difference and it is a lovely treat when someone like that runs across your path.  It’s inspiration at its finest.

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photo credit: Sebastian Rodriguez

Recently, for the second year in a row, thanks to the vision and action of Dr. Dino Mulic and his wife, Dr. Sangmi Lim, my kids had the opportunity to play on the grand piano on the Performing Arts Center’s stage at Texas A & M University – Corpus Christi and Joseph was invited to sing along with the Corpus Christi Youth Chorale in the final performance of the week.  A & M – CC boasts an incredible performing arts center – one of the top 35 in the United States so this was a pretty big deal.  The stage and piano look massive to me; I can only imagine what it looks like to a child.

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I took William and Joseph on Thursday night to watch Drs. Mulic and Lim perform in a duo concert and listened in awe as their fingers swept over the keys.  After the performance, Joseph commented to Dr. Mulic, “Sometimes I’m nervous when I play because I worry that I’ll make mistakes,”  Dr. Mulic kindly responded, “Oh it’s fine, we’re human.”  Joseph said, “But I didn’t hear you make any.”  Dr. Mulic said, “I actually did.”  Those simple words…”I actually did”…caused a massive shift in my kids’ anxiety about playing onstage.  Dr. Mulic’s words made a huge impact on my boys that day…the struggle to perform is real and Dr. Mulic never made it seem any less.  It’s those kind of people…passionate, kind, determined and driven, yet fully human, with mistakes and struggles, that I want to be around to inspire my kids.

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photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

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photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

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photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

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photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

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photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

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photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

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photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

piano-celebration-week

photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

piano-celebration-week

photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

piano-celebration-week

photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

piano-celebration-week

photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

Saturday morning, my boys donned their suits and Katie dressed in her fanciest dress and we were off for the big performance.  It was such a delightful experience for each of them (even the one that bowed backwards and the other who had a rough time getting started).  Daxson once asked me why the kids have to participate in recitals…this is why.  They were so confident, so proud to play for an audience.  The recital was the culmination of all their time spent studying and practicing.  We are incredibly thankful to our talented (and patient!) piano instructor, Margaret Jonker.  She has been guiding my children in their piano studies for 2 years now (Andrew and Katie for 1 year) and we have loved watching them grow and blossom as musicians.

We returned on Sunday afternoon and received the treat of a lifetime.  8 grand pianos on stage, 8 professional pianists (plus a sextet and a quartet of community musicians who each played a few pieces), the Youth Chorale, and all of our favorite songs from The Sound of Music.  It. was. AMAZING.  I have never had the opportunity to hear multiple pianos played at once…when I closed my eyes, I swore the music was being made by more than just pianos!

Joseph joined the Corpus Christi Youth Chorale this last fall.  This is the first city-wide youth choir Corpus Christi has ever had and it is directed by the talented Nan Borden along with Lorri Dow, Alexis Garcia, Katie King and Nick Lopez.  Joseph was a bit hesitant to join, as he didn’t know many people in it, but this has turned out to be a highlight of his year.  He loves all of his directors and he LOVES singing (as is evident in the performance).

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photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

piano-celebration-week

photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

piano-celebration-week

photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

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photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

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photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

piano-celebration-week

photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

The most remarkable thing about this entire celebration was the level of passion that was present.  From our piano instructor and choir directors to the founders of the program, the center hummed with passion and enthusiasm.  Sebastian Rodriguez, a music student at A & M, did an amazing job with the photography and Matt Perez, owner of The Piano Gallery, was kind enough to lend the celebration all of the beautiful pianos that you see pictured.

Next year, 2020, Piano Celebration Week is scheduled for March 27th thru April 4th.  We already have our calendar marked…won’t you please mark yours, too?  And if you believe in the vision and actions of Drs. Mulic and Sim, please consider making a donation by contacting Dr. Mulic at dino.mulic@tamucc.edu.

2018 Coastal Bend Nature Challenge

Many years ago, in a faraway land, my kids were uninspired by nature study (?!) and I knew next to NOTHING about natural history. I was a frustrated mama, eager to embrace the idea of observation and love of all things in nature but the methods I was using just weren’t touching the hearts of this crew (it didn’t help that I didn’t have a firm grasp on how Charlotte Mason actually did nature study).

Then we signed up for the Coastal Bend Texas Nature Challenge – Texas A&M Forest Service and while it’s not CM inspired, it opened our eyes to all of the tiny details in nature around us…it was a welcome help for inspiring us! We spent a few months exploring sites we’d never known about (and that was after living in Corpus Christi for almost 20 years!) and discovering all kinds of amazing nature facts as we did scavenger hunts, learned to fish, and journaled all of our journeys (one year we participated we kept a blog instead of a paper scrapbook…you can read about that year here.)

Tomorrow is the Opening Ceremony for 2018. It’s out at Camp Aranzazu and will feature many of the vendors who will be issuing challenges. If you’re local, I urge you to attend…it’s a come and go event so you don’t have to be there for the full two hours and it’s hands-on, family centered, nature related fun! 

As for the challenge, you can read more about it here.  Basically you sign up as a team (which can just be your family or you could grab a few other families and form a team that way), then you check out all the challenges when they are posted tomorrow and choose what your team is interested in participating in. From there, you complete the challenges and keep some kind of record…a scrapbook, a journal, a blog, a nature notebook…to turn in at the end of the challenge. You must complete 2 challenges to be eligible for prizes.

And, finally, if the nature challenge just isn’t your thing (or maybe you aren’t local), then check out my Nature Study posts over on With Every Intention and join us every week as I feature nature around our area…grab your kids, your nature journals and art medium of choice (my personal favorite is watercolors) and head out to any of the beautiful trails around you!

Hope to bump into you out in nature sometime soon 

Day of the Dead

I love All Souls Day.

Well the truth is, I love everything about All Hallows Tide.  But of the entire celebration, All Souls Day is my favorite.  I love that All Souls Day is the culmination of the entire feast with All Hallows Eve and All Saints Day preceding it.  And for the record, I’m not a morbid, death obsessed soul either. 

A few years ago, I wrestled over my internal conflict of secular versus sacred celebration in a blog when it comes to Halloween and I gave a tid-bit of history on All Hallows Tide…

Halloween or All Hallows’ Eve is the night before All Saints Day (“Hallow” meaning “holy” or in this case, “saint”).  As Meredith Gould points out in The Catholic Home, “Although Halloween has been secularized since the nineteenth century, Catholics have a long history of observing evening vigil before the Feast of All Saints.”  All Hallows’ Eve marks the beginning of the triduum of All Hallows Tide, which is the time when the church remembers the dead…saints, martyrs, and all the faithfully departed.  Many of the traditions (trick-or-treating, included!) stem from ancient traditions, some rooted in Christianity, some rooted in paganism.  For an excellent read, refer to Mary Reed Newland’s The Year and Our Children or read an excerpt from her book by heading over to CatholicCulture.org.  The issue isn’t so much that Christianity and Halloween are in opposition to one anther, the issue is more one of education and understanding what the focus of All Hallows Eve should be and then making that connection for our children.

As you can see from that blog post, we really like to celebrate all three days of the triduum.  Then this year happened and our October was a busy month filled with extra-curricular commitments, our annual nature challenge and a family trip to Big Bend.  All of those events kind of crowded out our usual pagan preparations.

We did visit the pumpkin patch but of all the pumpkins we brought home, only one of those pumpkins ended up getting carved.  Our costumes were thrown together at the last minute and our normally huge pile of pagan Halloween books were mostly left unread.

For a moment when I woke up on October 31st, I was rather sad, thinking I had let the entire celebration pass us by.

But then I regained my vision. The celebration had not passed us by!  It was only just beginning.

I love All Hallows Tide because it’s a huge celebration of life.  Yep, life.  It’s often described as solemn as we are reminded of death and it’s been twisted into secular scariness with ghouls and skeletons and monsters, but that’s not what it’s about.  I maintain the idea that it’s really about life.  Because we remember and celebrate all of those who have passed before us…into new life.

See as a Christian, I can do that.  I can celebrate death because it’s the beginning of a promise.  The beginning of eternity.  I reflected on the beautiful mystery of death awhile back and I am still in love with the idea that sometimes my prayer here on Earth is a powerful thing for a soul who has been caught in Purgatory.

As a Catholic we believe that when we die many of us will spend time in Purgatory.  Purgatory is defined as a “purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven,” which is experienced by those “who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified” (CCC 1030). It notes that “this final purification of the elect . . . is entirely different from the punishment of the damned” (CCC 1031).

The idea of praying for the souls who haven’t made it to Heaven (because clearly those in Heaven do not need our humble prayers!) or haven’t been condemned to Hell (our prayers cannot save those that have been damned) comes from the 2nd Book of Maccabees 12:38-46.

Expiation for the Dead.  Judas rallied his army and went to the city of Adullam. As the seventh day was approaching, they purified themselves according to custom and kept the sabbath there. On the following day, since the task had now become urgent, Judas and his companions went to gather up the bodies of the fallen and bury them with their kindred in their ancestral tombs. But under the tunic of each of the dead they found amulets sacred to the idols of Jamnia, which the law forbids the Jews to wear. So it was clear to all that this was why these men had fallen. They all therefore praised the ways of the Lord, the just judge who brings to light the things that are hidden. Turning to supplication, they prayed that the sinful deed might be fully blotted out. The noble Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves free from sin, for they had seen with their own eyes what had happened because of the sin of those who had fallen.  He then took up a collection among all his soldiers, amounting to two thousand silver drachmas, which he sent to Jerusalem to provide for an expiatory sacrifice. In doing this he acted in a very excellent and noble way, inasmuch as he had the resurrection in mind;  for if he were not expecting the fallen to rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead.  But if he did this with a view to the splendid reward that awaits those who had gone to rest in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be freed from this sin. (emphasis mine)

So there’s Judas with his army of soldiers and they go out to collect the dead who have fallen so they can bury them.  And they realize that those soldiers who had died were wearing amulets taken from pagan temples.  And so Judas asks his soldiers to pray for the souls of the dead and he takes up a collection for a sacrifice.  And the statement is made, “for if he were not expecting the fallen to rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead.”  And then it is said that Judas made atonement for the dead that they might be freed from this sin. “Freed from this sin”?  But they’re dead…surely they’ve already been judged and are either on their way to Heaven or Hell.  Unless, of course, there’s a third option.

Jesus himself refers to the idea that something beyond this life exists (aside from the obvious Heaven and Hell) when He says in Matthew 12:32, “And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.” (emphasis mine)  “Either in this age or in the age to come?”  If a man is seeking forgiveness, he wouldn’t be doing it in Heaven (as those who enter the gate must be purified) and clearly he wouldn’t be seeking forgiveness in Hell as he’s condemned for all eternity and he’s beyond saving.  So where is “this age to come” that Jesus refers to?  There must be a third option…some type of Purgatory.  (If you’re still unconvinced about Purgatory, read this or this or this.)

So the question now becomes, how do the souls get released from Purgatory?   As Catholics we are taught that the souls in Purgatory cannot pray for themselves.  They rely on our prayers.  Our prayers here on Earth have the power to expedite the time souls spend in Purgatory.  If that’s true, that’s powerful.  And if it’s not true, well then there’s no harm done if I spend every day of my life here on Earth praying for the souls of the deceased.  I have faith, though.  Faith that my prayers do help those souls.  Faith that someday when I’m stewing in Purgatory, undergoing a major purification process, someone here will remember me and pray for my soul to be released.  At least I hope someone remembers me.

And that is why I love All Souls Day.  It’s a day to celebrate all the souls who are departed.  To pray for them.  To recall each and every one of our loved ones who have passed before us and to spend time in prayer for their souls.  To attend Mass, the highest form of prayer, in remembrance of their souls.  To visit the grave sites and to pray for so many of them by name.  To believe that my prayer might just be what releases that precious soul into the beautiful, purified Heaven.  I like that thought.

This year we celebrated All Hallows Eve with pagan traditions.  We dressed up, trick-or-treated and even tested out the idea that a Halloween fairy exists (according to my kids she does…they left out most of their candy for the fairy and in return, the fairy visited and left them each one toy).

Then we celebrated All Saints Day with a Litany of the Saints and stories about some of our favorite saints.  We basked in the glorious thought that we have an entire army of friends already in Heaven praying for our souls and our Heaven bound journeys.  And as a part of our rich Catholic faith, we attend Mass on All Saints Day as it is considered a holy day of obligation…that’s how much importance the Church places on those folks who have made it to Heaven…we are “obligated” to attend Mass in their honor.  (Personally, I love envisioning that entire army of saints in Heaven ready to pray on my behalf if I BUT ASK.)

And then All Souls Day arrived.  We visited the cemetery and prayed for as many souls as we could.  Then, inspired by our recent visit to Terlingua (a West Texas town that is big on celebrating All Hallows Tide as a Day of the Dead celebration), we embraced our close proximity to the Mexican and Latin American influence and celebrated the day with some Day of the Dead traditions…face painting, decorating skulls, and making an ofrenda (an altar).  We made a “cemetery dessert” and ate empanadas for dinner.  And all the while, we prayed.  For the souls of the dearly departed…the saints, the sinners and those in-between.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

 

 

 

 

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A Midsummer Night's Dream

A few months ago Joey and I went to see a group of local actors, part of an acting group called Dead Creek Theatre Company, perform Romeo and Juliet.  It was a lovely performance, one that inspired Joey and (if possible) made him love Shakespeare even more as it was his first opportunity to see a Shakespeare play, in its entirety, performed live.

That performance, however, pales in comparison to Dead Creek Theatre’s most recent performance: A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

While the Theatre Company changed the setting from Athens to New Orleans and cut a few lines for the sake of time they kept Shakespeare mostly intact.  As they moved the scene to New Orleans, Oberon and Puck took on a more voodoo look but it did not detract from the essence of the play.

The play was performed outdoors in Heritage Park as a promenade, where the audience followed the actors from scene to scene.  It was brilliantly executed.  A cast member pulled a little red wagon with speakers in it and as we moved from scene to scene, jazz music played.

We were invited to sit as close to the actors as we wanted, provided we didn’t block any lighting, which was a nice accommodation as there were no microphones. My biggest complaint about their performance of Romeo and Juliet was that I had a hard time hearing all the actors and actresses as the stage stretched wide and when the action moved to the end opposite of where I sat, I could not hear the lines.  On the contrary, last night, I heard every line, loud and clear.

Puck remained a family favorite character despite the voodoo costume.  She was convincing as her character, very mischievous and clever.

Personally, Flute’s performance was my favorite.  He did a stellar job acting as Thisbe in the play within the play (read your Shakespeare if I’m confusing you!)  The kids and I were giggling uncontrollably at Flute’s attempt to perform as Thisbe.  All of the Rude Mechanicals were so entertaining to watch…literally laugh out loud humor.

It cannot go without noting that this performance was originally meant to debut on August 31st, a week ago.  Unfortunately, Hurricane Harvey ripped through nearby towns of Rockport, Aransas Pass and Port Aransas on August 25th.  Corpus Christi received high winds and rain and a large portion of the city went without electricity for almost a week.  The towns directly hit are still dealing with the horrific aftermath of the storm including the loss of homes, personal property and water and electricity issues.

Unfortunately, some of the original actors and crew lived in the areas hit worst by the storm and were unable to participate in the performance…which means lots of last minute changes were made.  Folks took parts that weren’t originally theirs and within six days they were ready to perform.  You wouldn’t know that just watching the performance.  I’m still not sure who took on parts at the last minute…it was all so well acted and performed.  It was introduced as a reader’s theater, but aside from the music stands a few of the actors used to hold their lines, I would have had no idea that these people hadn’t been preparing for months.  This was far beyond a typical reader’s theater.

My only caveat:  for some odd reason the director chose Work Song by Dan Reeder as one of the in-between-scenes, promenade songs.  If it weren’t for that song (with the *f* word repeatedly being sung), I would have lauded this performance in every bit of social media I possibly could have.  Unfortunately, adding a song with an inappropriate word (used not once but repeatedly) bumps this out of the completely family friendly entertainment category.  Personally, my boys didn’t even notice the rude language, but I’d hesitate to advertise this as a performance for all ages as some kids might notice that word and some parents might find themselves offended.  Honestly, Shakespeare himself tends to make tons of sexual innuendos but they often get lost in the language and unless acted out inappropriately, they become a bit of adult humor lost to the imaginations of children.  I loved that this performance was very kid-friendly without any explicit acting of any of those innuendos, but that song?  It makes me pause in making a blanket recommendation…now I feel inclined to recommend with reservations.

That being said, I do strongly encourage all of you (if you can just ignore that one offensive song) to go out and watch it next weekend.  It really was an inspiring performance, made so by the clear love of Shakespeare and acting by all the actors and actresses.  Director Daniel Anderson should give himself a huge pat on the back…he’s managed to brilliantly cast, imaginatively set the scene and invisibly direct the entire performance all while taking on the role of two characters at the last minute.  I am impressed.  And I think you will be, too.

I guarantee, if nothing else, you’ll be highly entertained by Puck and Flute.

There will be performances again next weekend:  Thursday, Friday and Saturday (September 14th thru the 16th) beginning at 7:30 at Heritage Park.

(By the way, some of these pictures are a bit misleading making us look as if we’re the only ones in the audience…the crowd was behind us…with kids, we liked being up close and personal which made the park setting so ideal!)

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Partial Solar Eclipse

I may not be an official astronomer, but I’d have to be living under a rock to not know that today was a big day in the USA for anyone looking up at the sky.  My favorite description of what took place came from Eclipse2017.org, “No human action can disrupt the incessant dance of the cosmos, and the Moon’s shadow will not wait on you if you’re not ready. Like a mindless juggernaut, it plows its way through space toward a collision course with Earth. As predicted by the astronomers decades in advance, the shadow arrives with perfect accuracy, and touches down in the north Pacific Ocean at 16:48:33 UT*, at local sunrise.”  And it’s true.  It did exactly that.

Down here in the deep part of Texas, we were not on the path of totality.  But we still had the chance to view a partial solar eclipse which was still quite a special event.

We headed out to the Oso Preserve and were treated with all kinds of educational fun.   There was a hands-on, move around station where the kids were able to learn exactly how an eclipse happens.

There was a Viewing Station where we could all safely view the eclipse.  And then there was a craft station where the kids got to make a model of the eclipse and answer some trivia questions.  Katie and Joey grabbed their nature notebooks as were were getting ready to head out to journal their experience. 

The kids learned so much and it was nice to experience it with friends.  The staff at the Preserve did an awesome job (as always!) of engaging all of us and helping us to understand the eclipse a little better.

Leave me a comment…I’d love to hear where you were for the Solar Eclipse 2017.

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A Tea Party

Once upon a time (way back in May) there was a sweet little princess who, more than anything in the world, wanted to celebrate her 4th birthday with a tea party.

A tea party with fancy hats, fancy necklaces and a teapot all of her own.

She wanted people she loved to celebrate with her.

Granny and Pappy.

Auntie and Alex.

Brothers.

She wanted glittery gifts and a fancy cake.

And she dreamed of riding off into the sunset…on her own pink bike, frills and all (which was made possible by Granny and Pappy).

Unlike other fairy tales, this is a true story.  With a very happy ending.

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A Week of Deliberate Moments

We traveled by train to Missouri in October.  My parents joined us which made the trip so much more magical in the hearts of my children.  It was a beautiful trip in many ways.  I apologize for the delayed post but I had much to process and I wanted to be sure my words did justice to the amazing week we had.    missouri-october-2016-400_2_1 

The sun rises and nature awakens us with birds chirping and leaves rustling.  We wake earlier than usual, much to our delight.  The kids wipe the sleep out of their eyes and have stumbled out the back door, onto the patio and into the wide open field before I even have a moment to whisper, “Good morning.”  This isn’t the life we lead back home.  But this is the life I dream about.  missouri-october-2016-591_5_1

Our afternoons are spent with new friends down at the creek, dipping nets into the cold spring water, chasing after crawdads, catching them only to release them shortly after.  Little ones spend their time throwing rocks and watching the water splash into the air.  Delighted giggles fill the air.  The temperatures hover in the low 80s but no one complains of heat as they are all too busy splashing, exploring, playing.missouri-october-2016-227_1_1 missouri-october-2016-313_1_1 missouri-october-2016-389_1_1 missouri-october-2016-419_3_1

Our evenings allow us the luxury to star gaze; to see the sky as He intended with thousands of stars glittering and twinkling before our eyes.  There are no street lights, no city lights to interfere with our view.  The boys help Dax build a fire where we all gather round.  In the dark of night, my kids all look like wild Indians as they dance around the fire waving sticks in the air, dancing with hearts full of joy.  missouri-october-2016-1659_4_1

For an entire week we live as if this is our life.  We make it the whole week without toys or electronic devices or TV.  Their world has suddenly become ruled by sticks and rocks, bugs and critters, flowers and trees.  For an entire week, I don’t worry if my kids let out Indian war whoops or holler at one another through the cool night air…there are no neighbors to disturb, no rules of civility to follow.  My kids can be kids.  missouri-october-2016-488_1_1

The view from the kitchen window is one of a dirt paved path, curving ever so slightly as it rounds the bend.  Further along that path there is a fork in the road.  The left leads us through the woods and on to the creek.  The right leads toward town.  A peek out from the front porch and there are woods to my right with a path beckoning us to follow.  A cup of hot tea on the back patio and I can imagine spring here, birds filling the trees, stopping in for a quick bite at one of the many feeders.  missouri-october-2016-663_7_1

There is peace here.  Peace that isn’t found in the city.  Peace that isn’t found in the suburbs.  Peace that isn’t even found when you’re camping at a state park. You have to stretch a little to find this kind of peace. missouri-october-2016-574_4_1  missouri-october-2016-677_6_1

This is not a vacation in the traditional sense.  It’s not jam packed with sight-seeing trips or fancy dinners in fancy restaurants.  It’s not maid service and mints on the pillow (although fortunately for us, we chose a beautiful property with attention to every little detail).  It’s not a house on the beach or skiing in the mountains.  But it’s peaceful.  And it’s beautiful. And it’s more refreshing than a vacation jam packed with sight-seeing trips and fancy dinners in fancy restaurants could ever hope to be.missouri-october-2016-805_1_1 missouri-october-2016-807_2_1 missouri-october-2016-865_3_1 missouri-october-2016-1514_1_1

However, regardless of what we planned this to be, which initially was just a trip out of Texas, it has become more than just a trip for us.  Somewhere along the way, it became a moment to appreciate what we didn’t even realize we were missing back home where we are buried beneath to-dos and rules of civility in the midst of suburban life.  It’s the longing for a different way of life.  It’s a chance to allow our kids the freedom to roam freely.  The chance to explore and relax and just be.missouri-october-2016-964_3_1 missouri-october-2016-1002_1_1 missouri-october-2016-1007_2_1

I am so overwhelmingly thankful for this moment.  Or rather this week of moments all built one on top of the other.  This moment to be with my husband, my children and my parents.  This moment to fill our memory buckets full of goodness, beauty and truth.  This moment to appreciate the natural world.  This moment to slow down and remember that a life rushed through is no life at all.  This moment to stop and savor the riches of my own little world, this little family I hold near and dear.  This moment to live deliberately.missouri-october-2016-1617_1_1 missouri-october-2016-1620_2_1

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