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.**

 

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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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 

Loving Where You Live

When I was a kid we moved around a bit.  My dad served in the Navy and where the Navy needed him, we moved.  I remember being little and complaining once about having to move again and my mom quoted a poem to me.  She said, “If you want to live in a kind of town, the kind of town you like, you needn’t pack your bags and go on a long, long hike.”  Of course her wisdom was completely lost on my six year old complaint.

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I spent my college years traveling as often as I could.  I summered in cities far away from where I lived so that I could see what else was out there.  I dreamed of the places I’d live someday.  I dreamed of the streets I’d wander as I got to know a new place.  I dreamed of the people I’d meet, the restaurants I’d eat at, the eclectic places I’d find my groove in.  I fell in love with city after city.  Except, somehow, I managed to never fell in love with the city I actually lived in.

Until now. 

I have learned to follow Mom’s advice…”If you want to live in a kind of town, the kind of town you like, you needn’t pack your bags and go on a long, long hike.”

I CHOOSE to love where I live. 

It’s hot down here.  Really, really hot.  And it’s far from everything.  You have to have my city as your destination to come here…we aren’t on the way to anything and you don’t pass through us to get somewhere else…we ARE the endpoint.  (Although to a Texan this may not seem like a big deal as everything in Texas is far away.)  We’re a big city with this weird small town mentality, so we’re all stuck in limbo.  Living near the coast, there is an extremely laid back attitude…everybody worries about everything tomorrow.  And there’s basically one season.  Summer.

But still I have found the good.  I have intentionally found the good.

It’s so easy to complain.  To notice the worst of a situation.  To proclaim that the grass certainly is greener on the other side {or in the other city}.  Finding the negative in everything, well, It’s a terrible habit, but it is simply a mindset.  Something I can choose to change.

Finding something positive has to be an intentional choice.

It’s funny how we come to see our mindset and the poison it leaks into our everyday life.  It took four little people and their views for me to see that there is wonder everywhere.  Including this city.

If you want to live in a kind of town, the kind of town you like, you needn’t pack your bags and go on a long, long hike.”

I want a city that celebrates beauty.  There is beauty here.  Have you seen our bayfront?  Have you visited our Oso Preserve?  Have you looked out over the bay in the morning and watched the sun rise?  Have you gone out to Port Aransas and seen the dolphins and the sea turtles and the stingrays right at your fingertips?

I want a city that celebrates nature.  Nature abounds here.  Have you seen the bobcat babies out at the Oso Preserve rolling around?  Have you visited the Nueces Delta Preserve and watched the birds?  Have you spent a day on the Gulf and felt the summer breeze as your toes sunk in the sand or maybe gone out early enough to see the baby sea turtles make their way to the water?  Have you walked the trails at the Botanical Gardens and seen the natural beauty our deep southern city has to offer?

I want a city that celebrates intentional moments.  There is TIME for intentional moments here.  Remember how everyone is so relaxed?  If I choose to embrace that mentality, then I finally have a chance to slow down and actually live my life with intention.  I’m not sure the same could be said about a large city where the opportunities are endless.

I want a city that makes me happy.  Sunny days make me happy.  The beach makes me happy.  The breeze that makes the heat bearable makes me happy.  Knowing the people at the grocery store and the bank and my neighborhood makes me happy.  Not having to sit in traffic makes me happy.  A short drive to anywhere in my city makes me happy.

I want a city that celebrates education.  We have a gorgeous University here, as well as a community college, both full of bright young men and women.  We have the Texas State Aquarium with educated volunteers and staff that can answer any one of my kids’ millions of questions.  We have an annual Texas Outdoor Challenge that gives us the opportunity to embrace our local nature spots.  We have historical Goliad and San Antonio within driving distance to explore at our leisure.

I want a city that is charming.  That complaint about being a big city with a small town attitude?  Yeah, it turns out that there’s quite a bit of charm in that.  We haven’t become a big city with a big city attitude.  Somehow this city has preserved all its small town charm despite the growth.  Have you visited our downtown area?  Have you perused the fresh produce at our farmer’s market?  Have you walked along the seawall?

I want a city that celebrates goodness.  There is goodness here.  Have you met the people?  It’s the people that keep me here.  They’re kind and friendly and warm and interesting.  These people here are the most welcoming and inviting and accepting.  And I am grateful.

I may not have chosen to live here, but I do choose to LOVE where I liveIf you want to live in a kind of town, the kind of town you like, you needn’t pack your bags and go on a long, long hike.

Still not convinced that you can fall in love with your city?  Try being a tourist in your town.

If you’d like to live
in the kind of town
like the kind of town you’d like.
You needn’t slip
your clothes in a grip
and start on a long, long hike.

For you’ll only find
what you’ve left behind.
There’s nothing that’s really new.
You’re knocking yourself,
when you knock your town.
It isn’t your town – it’s you!

Real towns are not made
of people afraid
when somebody else gets ahead.
When everyone works
and nobody shirks,
you can raise a Town from the dead!

So, if while you make
your personal stake,
your neighbor can make his, too.
You can make a town
what you want it to be.
It isn’t the town – it’s you!

– Author unknown

 

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Coastal Bend Nature Challenge: John E. Connor Museum

*Joey and William will be guests here on the blog as they document our Nature Challenge journey for 2016.september-2016-021_1_1

The Challenge: Complete a bird scavenger hunt in the museum.  Go outside to sight birds and create a journal entry of the birds seen and identified.october-2016-013_7_1 october-2016-014_8_1 october-2016-015_9_1

We went out to the Texas A & M University – Kingsville on Saturday, September 10th.september-2016-031_9_1 september-2016-035_13_1 september-2016-034_12_1 september-2016-033_11_1 september-2016-032_10_1

J: I liked the part where I had to look at the different habitats that are around the Coastal Bend area and find the birds.september-2016-036_14_1 september-2016-040_4_1 september-2016-039_3_1 september-2016-038_2_1 september-2016-037_1_1

W:  My favorite was the roadrunner.

J: The Greater Roadrunner.

Me: Does anyone remember which habitat the Greater Roadrunner was in?september-2016-041_5_1 september-2016-046_9_1 september-2016-044_8_1 september-2016-043_7_1 september-2016-042_6_1

J:  Mesquite Chaparral.  It was the first habitat we visited.

Me: Are you sure?

J:  Yes!  Then after that we saw the Hollow Tree.

(We looked at the pictures to confirm) Me: Yep, you’re right Joey!september-2016-047_10_1 september-2016-048_11_1 september-2016-049_12_1 september-2016-050_13_1 september-2016-051_14_1

W:  I pushed the button that made the bird sounds.  Remember, Mommy, it drove you nuts?

Me: Oh yes, I remember.september-2016-052_1_1 september-2016-053_2_1 september-2016-054_3_1 september-2016-055_4_1 september-2016-056_5_1

J:  I wish I had known there were birds sounds I could do.  Then remember we saw some animal skins?  Alligator skins and we saw an actual starfish!september-2016-057_6_1 september-2016-058_7_1_1 september-2016-060_8_1 september-2016-062_9_1 september-2016-063_10_1

W:  I touched all of the skins, too.  I liked the fur from the fox.

J:  I liked the soft furry ones.  They were good to touch.  We saw birds at Oak Motte and the Dry Chaparral, too.  My favorite habitat was the Hollow Tree because it looked so cool to live inside the tree.  It looked nice and cozy.  I’d want to be a bat living in there where I could hang upside down without being scared.september-2016-064_11_1 september-2016-065_12_1 september-2016-066_13_1 september-2016-067_14_1 september-2016-069_1_1

W:  My favorite habitat was the Mesquite Chaparral where the roadrunner was.  The Hollow Tree looked nice, but I liked the Chaparral best.

J: After the habitats, we walked over to the Wild West room.  I walked in and at first I thought we were just going to pass through it, but it turned out we were actually going to play in it.  The Wild West room was made up of things to do in the wild west: ride a horse, take care of a calf, cook, pump water.september-2016-071_2_1 september-2016-073_3_1 september-2016-074_4_1 september-2016-075_5_1 september-2016-077_6_1 september-2016-078_7_1 september-2016-079_8_1

W: My favorite part was riding the horse with Katie.  She was a cowgirl and she sat on the back.september-2016-081_9_1 september-2016-082_10_1 september-2016-083_11_1 september-2016-091_1_1 september-2016-092_2_1 september-2016-093_3_1 september-2016-094_4_1

J:  There were also exhibits that showed how the pioneers lived.  For example, they had an exhibit that showed a bedroom.september-2016-095_5_1 september-2016-096_6_1 september-2016-098_7_1 september-2016-099_8_1 september-2016-101_9_1 september-2016-102_10_1 september-2016-103_11_1 september-2016-104_12_1

W:  It was a really neat room.september-2016-105_13_1 september-2016-107_14_1 september-2016-108_1_1 september-2016-109_2_1 september-2016-110_3_1 september-2016-111_4_1 september-2016-112_5_1 september-2016-113_6_1

J:  Yeah, it really was. {sigh}september-2016-117_7_1 september-2016-118_8_1 september-2016-119_9_1 september-2016-120_10_1 september-2016-121_11_1 september-2016-122_12_1 september-2016-124_13_1

W:  After we played for awhile, we went out of the museum, crossed the street and looked for birds on the campus.september-2016-020_1_1 september-2016-133_2_1

J:  We had to be very quiet.  First we had to pick a spot, wait 30 seconds and then for 2 minutes we watched.  Then after that we walked 120 steps and did the same thing.  We repeated that five times.  We saw a total of 5 birds and heard 3 birds, but we saw a lot of dragonflies and butterflies and we heard a lot of cicadas.september-2016-134_3_1 september-2016-136_4_1

W:  Some of the birds we saw were mourning doves.   We always see mourning doves at our house.september-2016-138_5_1 september-2016-139_6_1

J:  We only got to see new places for three of them and then we walked back for the other two.  I got to use my binoculars, which is always fun.

W:  Okay, until next time!