(I know this is Wordless Wednesday, but I wanted to note that today, out of this chrysalis will emerge a Monarch butterfly. How cool is that?)
Watching the events unfold in the news over the past 24 hours has left me raw with emotion. How in the hell can something so evil be happening so often in our schools? Much like the vivid details of the morning of September 11th that is freshly imprinted my brain, in all likelihood, these images won’t soon leave my consciousness.
I have been volunteering in my second grade daughter’s classroom on Fridays since she was in kindergarten. I will never forget the first time the school practiced their monthly lockdown drill. In all honesty, it horrified me. In order to not process the reality, I pushed out into the far recesses of my mind, wiped my tears away and told myself it couldn’t happen here in our town again. Besides, these horrible things don’t happen in elementary schools. Right?
We live about two miles away from Santana High School, in the east San Diego suburbs, where in 2001, one of TWO high school shootings happened in the school district in a period of two weeks. Santana High School will be my daughter’s high school if we continue to live in the same area when she attends high school. Because I lived in San Diego when the shootings happened and later worked for the high school district where the tragedies took place, the memories of those tragic events prominently loom in the back of my mind each time I drive past the school.
This evil is something you never forget. We have chose not to share the tragic news of Newtown, Connecticut with our seven year old. I cannot bear to strip her of her innocence and belief in the power of good over evil. When it comes right down to it, these acts are not accidents—they are carefully orchestrated acts of pure evil. It is something I cannot make sense of and DAMN IT! No one should have to make sense of this madness. It should never, ever happen.
I tried to stay off of Facebook or watch the news for most of the day. For one, my heart could not take the sadness. I could not process the images or synthesize the fact that evil like this happens every damn day. I was angry. I was frustrated. I was downright pissed off that this is the world that our children are inheriting. It is overwhelming to conceive.
The fact that I have the luxury to tune out to what happened is not lost on me. The parents of Newtown, Connecticut cannot change the channel or shut down Facebook. What has been lost can never be recovered. It cannot ever be undone. I recognize all too well that this could have happened in Anytown, USA. It has happened in my town before and I don’t know what safeguards are in place to assure it won’t happen again. No, there is nothing to restore the sense of security. There is a gaping void where security once occupied. Vulnerability and fear occupy the spaces where security once lived. That´s why it´s important to always have the best security systems in your home, like this crash rated gate installation.
My heart is breaking for the 20 plus families that left their children at school—a place that should be SAFE, that did not get to tuck their little ones in bed last night. I had the luxury of hugging my family members tight, where others will never be able to wrap their arms around their loved ones again. It breaks my heart at the carnage that has been left behind after this senseless attack. I have been praying since I heard about what happened, because frankly, I don’t know what else I can do, but hold these people in my heart. I cannot imagine the ways in which this tragedy will change lives. I am angry. I am so filled with so many emotions, I cannot even begin to express. It is all so terribly wrong. It isn’t fair.
Various media and Internets almost immediately called for gun control and outright bans on guns, hardly before the news was reverberated—before most of the details have been revealed. I am burned out from the politics of November. The fighting. The Great Facebook Debates. It all sucks. It makes me absolutely disgusted.
Not even 24 hours after this event happens, people are spinning the political rhetoric. BAN ALL GUNS! Blah. How about a few moments of grieving, of embracing each other, of honoring the victims and opening our hearts?
Before we get our proverbial panties in a bunch about gun control, let us have a few moments to wrap our brains around the wicked horror that took place yesterday. What happens if we ban guns and strip ourselves of our Second Amendment rights? How are we going to stop bombs, like what happened in Oklahoma City or even more recently—our US Embassies? Remember the hijackers of 911? They didn’t have guns. They had ordinary box cutters. It’s not only guns we have to worry about. It is knives, box cutters, swords, sticks, stones, cars with Fatigued Driving Accidents | Kelly & Soto Law, clubs, batons, and 500 other benign instruments that can be turned into weapons. We need to think about stopping evil in its tracks and not focus on any one aspect.
I can’t help but think about the recent cleaver, hammer and knife attacks in schools that have harmed or killed young children in China over the past few years or the bombing in Norway that killed 77 people last July.
The Second Amendment was adopted in 1791 and yet this barrage of violence in school is a contemporary problem. Even 50 years ago, kids weren’t bringing guns to school, although the Right to Keep and Bear Arms made its prominence in the 18th century. Is it possible the the prevalence of guns has changed little, but clearly our society has changed enough that such evil exists today? Are we that naive to think that guns and not the people that senselessly attack children are the real problem?
I have to wonder—is banning guns really going to stop evil in its tracks? We see it everyday in our news. Wickedness is everywhere and is not settled on one implement to carry out its destructive and vile acts. It is terrifying. Why is this violence happening? What can we do to change it?
The real question we need to ask is, how are we going to disarm evil?
Allison LOVES the ocean. Lucky for her, we live 15 minutes away from one of the most beautiful coasts in the entire world—in my opinion. We typically avoid the beach in the summer because of the crowds and the summer sun can be a bit blistering. For our family, we love to do our “touristy” events after school begins in September and the crowds have gone home, but the truth is, there is ALWAYS something fantastic going on in San Diego. We love joining in on the local community events throughout San Diego on the weekends and spending time coastal, is a wonderful way to do it!
We love exploring the wildlife along the coast. Allie loves all animals, but for pitbulls, it’s her absolute favorite. She loves dolphins, penguins, sea turtles, sharks, whales, YOU NAME IT! Sometimes we get a glimpse of some spectacular animals, but often it is a rare occasion.
Within the next few weeks, we are going to do something exciting, we have never done before! We are going to the Living Coast Discovery Center in Chula Vista for their inaugural Coastweeks Celebration. Every day they have a different theme. For example, Sundays are shark and ray themed and I know that Allie will love this. When Mr. Bear and I went to Tahiti ten years ago, we had the incredible experience to swim with the Black Tip Reef Sharks and the sting rays, out in the open ocean. Allie loves feeding the fish wherever we go and I know she will love the up-close and personal experience with the sealife! There are also great art workshops that my budding artist is sure to love.
We cannot wait to go and have some good clean family fun! I hope to see you and your family there! Here is some information about what you can expect to see and do at the Living Coast Discovery Center during the COASTWEEKS Celebration this year:
Living Coast Discovery Center will be celebrating our magnificent coastal resources and our local coastal wildlife through three weeks of fun-filled family activities, special speakers, hands-on art workshops and more, all highlighting the special places and species of our unique local coastline habitats.
Coastal Cleanup at Sweetwater Marsh National Wildlife Refuge September 15th, 9am-12pm To kick off the celebration, we will be hosting a public cleanup day on our own Sweetwater Marsh National Wildlife Refuge. As a part of the California Coastal Cleanup Day, we will be hosting one of 87 sites state-wide. Participants to the Sweetwater Marsh cleanup site will receive a free reusable tote bag with goodies inside (while supplies last), including a ticket to the Living Coast Discovery Center! Participants must be 10 years of age or older. To participate, preregistration is required at
Coastal Connections Weekly Lecture Series Thursdays During Coastweeks Local experts on coastal issues and species will share with us each week! Space is limited, so preregistration is required.
Thursday September 20th -6:30pm – 8:30pm: Clapper Rail Comeback! with speaker Charles Gailband of Team Clapper Rail. The light-footed clapper rail is one of the most endangered coastal birds of southern California. However, conservation efforts and a reintroduction program conducted by Team Clapper Rail have helped this beautiful marsh bird double its population since the mid-1980s. Hear the wonderful story of recovery efforts for this rare and secretive coastal inhabitant.
Thursday September 27th- 6:30pm – 8:30pm: Ocean Friendly Gardens with Susan Krzywicki of the San Diego Surfrider Foundation. Urban runoff from gardens and hard surfaces is the #1 source of ocean pollution. But gardens can be beautiful, resourceful, wildlife-friendly AND prevent runoff. How? Attend this fun and interesting presentation to find out how to create a garden to help revive our watersheds and oceans!
Thursday October 4th – 6:30-8:30pm: Of Skimmers & Sea Turtles with Sheila Madrak and Chris Millow, UCSD research biologists. Local researchers share their discoveries of the local endangered green sea turtles and black skimmers of South San Diego Bay!
Members: FREE with preregistration
Non-members: $10 with preregistration
Click here to register online.
Marsh Monday Kayaking Trips Take a paddle through the coastal waters of South Bay with a guided naturalist in search of birds, sea turtles and other local coastal wildlife. Great for kids and adults! Single and tandem kayaks are available for use, in case you don’t know how to use a kayak, there are guides online writed for experts known as the the river whisperer, and are included in the registration costs. Preregistration is required.
September 17th- 8am-10am
September 24th- 4pm-6pm
October 1st- 8am-10am
Members: Single Kayak – $15; Double Kayak – $20
Non-Members: Single Kayak – $25; Double Kayak – $30
Coastal Connections Marine Debris Art Workshops Hands-on fun for the whole family! Travel to a different coastal destination each week with local artist and environmentalist, Teresa Espaniola, and create fun take home works of art using marine debris. Artistic ability not necessary! Attend all four sessions for the most fun. Themed door prizes will be awarded each week plus we’ll have snacks,games, festive music and getting an up-close and personal encounter with one of our Discovery Center animals. Appropriate for age 5 and older. Limited space available, so preregistration is suggested. Saturdays: 1-3pm
September 15th- Japan Become a master synthetic sushi chef! Create your own platter of decorative sushi from marine debris and recycled materials while tracking and learning about the tsunami debris and its impact on our coastal habitats.
September 22nd- Venice, Italy Come to coastal Venice for a Masked Ball! Decorate your own mask out of recycled materials and marine debris in a carnival-like atmosphere with games for everyone. Learn about pollution in coastal Venice and how it impacts all of us – and the little things we can do at home.
September 29th- Australia Experience and learn about Australia’s coastal habitats as you create the Great Barrier Reef out of colorful marine debris and recycled materials! Take home your own creatively crafted starfish magnet! You will never look at trash the same way again.
October 6th- California Gain a new perspective about our own California Coastal kelp forests and the animals that call it home. You will not believe the mini kelp forest that you will make using recycled plastic bottles and marine debris!
Members: Adults and Children – $17
Non-Members: Adults – $31; Children- $26 (Admission to the Center Included)
Click here to view the flyer! Click here to register online.
Check out the COASTWEEKS Photo Gallery for art project samples.
About the Living Coast Discovery Center
The Chula Vista Nature Center opened on the Sweetwater Marsh National Wildlife Refuge in 1987. The zoo and aquarium was operated by the City of Chula Vista until late-2009, when it transitioned to a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. In April 2012, it was re-branded as the Living Coast Discovery Center in preparation for the center’s 25th anniversary. The Living Coast Discovery offers hands-on exhibits and up-close encounters with more than 350 plant and animal species native to Southern California coastal habitats, including endangered sea turtles, sting rays, leopard sharks, jellies, shorebirds, reptiles and a large collection of raptors such as hawks, falcons, owls, American bald eagle, golden eagle, and more. More information about the Living Coast Discovery Center is available at www.thelivingcoast.org or 619.409-5900.
Disclaimer: Living Coast Discovery Center has kindly offered complementary tickets for my family to the Living Coast Discovery Center, in exchange for spreading the word about this wonderful family event. Photos c/o the Living Coast Discovery Center. A special thanks to San Diego Bargain Mama
Thursday or #SDOutage as it was hashtagged on Twitter was an unexpected reminder that we were completely unprepared for a major disaster.
At 3:30 p.m., we were preparing dinner before we went to my niece’s high school football game. My niece is a freshman in high school and became a cheerleader a few weeks ago. We had our stuffed chickens in the oven. We were preparing rice. We were chopping and steaming fresh green beans. Then, everything shut down. The air conditioner we had just gotten from the High Performance HVAC Air Conditioner Reviews and ramacorporation which is an industrial grade heating supplier, the oven, the television, and all the lights went out.
Thinking fast, we put our Pyrex dishes on the grill and continued cooking away. We left before we were able to eat anything. With the power out, we were running late. As we were driving down the hill from our house, we began to realize how widespread the power outage really was.
Every freeway in each direction was congested in both directions. The exits were backed up. The trolleys had stopped running when the power went out. There were people getting off the trolleys to find their way to the buses. People were standing around at the gas stations trying to figure out how to get gas. It is a rare sight to see 7-11’s store interior completely dark and empty.
We sat in the 100 degree heat and watched an awesome high school football game. My niece and her cheerleading team put on a great show and we enjoyed watching them cheer. We were still completely oblivious to how big the outage was. We enjoyed the game. Helix High School was playing against Vista High School (Mr. Bear’s alma mater). Helix won. Yeah! Go Scotties!
We went home and the traffic was still heavy. Our friends in Temecula invited us to stay the night with them. After thinking about the heat to come the next day, we decided to have a slumber party with them. We ate dinner and then packed our bags by candlelight. I did the dishes by moonlight. We threw out all the perishable food to make sure we did not have a mess to come home to. We packed enough for a couple days. We did not know how long we were going to be gone. One day? Two? We did not have information. The temperature in the house had already climbed up to 84 degrees in a few hours. “It is going to get hot on Friday,” I was thinking.
We left the house after dark and it was a bit eerie. The traffic lights and the nearby airport lights were the only lights we could see. The traffic lights were blinking red. It almost seemed like Armageddon. Spooky.
We were following San Diego Gas and Electric on Twitter. We followed the #SDOutage. We were following NBC on Facebook. We were listening to CNN on XM Radio. We set up Google Alerts for news on the power outage. We were making good use of our smartphones to get as much information as we could. The freeway was empty for the most part—and dark. I had never seen it so dark. We found out from somewhere that San Diego county schools were canceled for the following day whether or not the power came back on. We heard from somewhere that the power might not be turned back on until Saturday.
We decide to change our plans. We decide to go to my parent’s house two hours north of where we live. If we could not get power until Saturday, we did not want to burden our friends with their newborn for two full days. As we continued to drive, we followed the news. It was uncertain when the power was coming back.
We were enjoying our conversation and following the news. We arrived at my parent’s house around 10:30. We got a good night sleep. The next morning, we had coffee with my dad and watched the six dogs playing outside. We went to lunch with my parents and had a great time. Nana got to spend some time with Allie. Allie got to spend some time with Pop. It was an easy ride up to their house. We had an impromptu visit and it was well-worth it.
It turned out our lights were back on at 12:30 a.m. We would have been fine staying home, however we had an adventure that was very worthwhile. We came home to a cool house, an empty fridge, and the lights on in nearly every room in the house. Fun! Fun!
We have endured several “big” earthquakes in Southern California over the past two weeks (since Easter Sunday). The first one, a 7.2 earthquake, occurred on Easter Sunday, and was the longest earthquake in these three California raised residents memories. The quake lasted about 40 seconds, where most we remember last 20 seconds or less. We evacuated outside. We were all shaken, in more ways than we could count. The following 72 hours was heavily laden with shakes, jolts, and window rattling. A week later, seismographs (have) registered at least 17 quakes of magnitude 3 or above with epicenters near Calexico or Mexicali.
It has made for a some intense conversation for our four year old. She has exhibited a sudden interest in tragedy, which worries my weary heart when her I suspect innocence is being lost. The first “big” quake brought her to tears and was followed up by several mini inquisitions.
Allie: Why is the Earth shaking?
Me: [Gives a somewhat scientific explanation]
Allie: BUT, WHY does the Earth do that?
Me: It just does, Sweet Pea.
Allie: Will our house fall down?
Me: No, Honey. Our house is strong.
Allie: Why is our house strong?
Me: That is how it was built.
I do not want to freak her out, at the same time, I think being honest with her is the best policy. When I was teaching, I taught Physical Science at the high school level. I have an understanding of plate tectonics and geology, however, how much in depth do I need to go? I comprehend the scientific reasoning behind Earthquakes, nonetheless, it does sort of blow my mind.
Allie has experienced some bad dreams since the first quake. There has been much midnight and early morning snuggles, comfort, and reassurance given by Mr. Bear and myself. Some of the aftershocks and small-ish quakes how woke us all up.
Several days ago, Allie had a dream that scared her. She told me that I left her in an elevator and a “bad man” took her away to his house. Scary, indeed. I spent time, assuring her that Mommy and Daddy would never, ever leave her anywhere, (including an elevator).
Days later, Mr. Bear took Allie to Sea World, where in addition to riding all the rides more than once, she went on the obstacle course. The beginning of the course has cargo nets to climb up and leads to an area where kids can choose four different directions. There are more cargo nets, a rickety, suspension bridge, and finally, at the exit—a slide out to the exit. Somehow, Allie and Mr. Bear lost sight of each other for about five minutes. There was much panic that ensued, from both Mr. Bear and Allie. When they finally found each other, Mr. Bear got an extensive tongue-wagging from Allie.
It is a blessing that I was not present to be a party to the trauma. I near fainted when I heard the story. I had just assured her that we would never leave her. It makes my stomach turn to imagine her terror, not being able to find Daddy. Gah.