Rabab Saab stepped backward from her front porch in Waldorf and pointed up at the streaks of egg yolk on the second floor windows.
She motioned to where another egg broke a shutter, where soggy toilet paper still draped through the shrubbery, where the dog feces had been spread on her daughter's car and her own front door.
Her house had been vandalized, that was obvious. But what did it mean? If it had happened just once, Saab said, she would have assumed it was a case of bored teenagers with nothing better to do. But last Sunday's episode marked the second time in about two weeks her house was vandalized in a similar manner.
"It's probably kids that decided they wanted to play a game, and we were out of town. Or they decided they didn't want Arabs around," she said. "It's a 50-50 chance someone doesn't want us around here."
The Charles County Sheriff's Office is investigating the vandalism as a possible hate crime, partly because of the family's Arab heritage. No offensive words or messages were left on the property, authorities said.
Saab, 48, is from Beirut. She immigrated to the United States more than 25 years ago and has lived in Waldorf for the past eight years. One of her two daughters, Ruba Nuwayhid, 18, graduated from Westlake High School this year.
Nuwayhid said she did not experience prejudice at her school, and she does not believe the family is being targeted because of its heritage. "I just think it's kids being stupid," she said. But the severity of the vandalism surprised her.
"Egging and toilet paper is normal," Nuwayhid said. "It's the feces, that's what throws me off."
Saab said that she loves her neighborhood, in a subdivision that rings Hampshire Lake, just off Smallwood Drive, and that she has never had any major problems before the vandalism. But since the war began in Iraq, she said, she has felt a vague sense of uneasiness.
"I have never felt different before," she said. "This is weird."
In the past month, the Sheriff's Office has investigated several racially or religiously offensive incidents. On July 29, "racial remarks" were spray-painted on a garage door in the 1300 block of Harwich Drive in Pinefield, authorities said. They said a swastika was painted on an entrance sign to Dorchester Greens subdivision in Waldorf on July 11. The day before, someone spray-painted "Heil Hitler" on a barn in the 11000 block of Raby Road in Waldorf.
"The vast majority of the time [offensive vandalism] is done by kids," said Capt. Joseph Montminy of the Sheriff's Office. "I don't want to play it down . . . but a lot of times the kids that are doing it don't really even understand the meaning of it, and they don't understand how painful it is" for the victim.
If the vandalism was to intimidate Saab or get her to move from the neighborhood, she said it will not succeed.
"If they wanted to hurt us they would have used firearms," she said. "You can't be scared. Our life is not going to change because of this."