Thursday, July 30, 2009


Man-Cub's expression says it all!

This week has been even crazier than usual! First Dharma, Bitsy and Rosebud were here for a week, with Vance jetting in to join them for the weekend. We had lots of fun, but, boy, was it nuts around here!

On the heels of their departures (and even delaying them a bit at one point), some very severe storms blew in. Flash flooding, tornadoes, straight-line winds, power-outages, downed trees, the weather outside has been truly frightful!

We lost power (though for only a few hours at a time) twice in three days and that never happens around here. Usually, the kids think power outages are great fun; they love scurrying around for candles, matches and flashlights and always want to sit down as a family and play games. They don't understand the ramifications of being without power for a good long stretch of time: notably a lack of climate control and refrigeration. But even they didn't think it was very jolly when we had a tornado warning only a county away.

Both of them were very wide-eyed when the Emergency Broadcast System interrupted Man-Cub's cartoon to tell all of us in the tornado's path to get into a basement or interior room far from windows. And then, theatrically, the power went out with a blink! That's when Man-Cub went into a near panic and even Redheaded Snippet got misty-eyed.

I was able to calm them down by directing their attention to faithful Nutmeg, who was sitting placidly nearby looking as if she couldn't understand what all the hubbub was about. I told them to watch her, and if she got ruffled, we could get ruffled. But, in the spirit of preparedness (and to distract them a little and make them feel productive instead of worrisome) we began to prepare for the worst while hoping for the best.

We all put on jeans and sneakers and I gathered jackets while they collected candles. Redheaded Snippet retrieved the flashlight from her (still as yet unpacked from camp) suitcase while Man-Cub relieved the Wii remotes of their batteries. We gathered candles, matches and a lighter and put everything on the dining room table right next to the opened basement door, ready for a hasty retreat underground if the need should arise. I was trying hard not to worry about The Viking who was driving home from work through the very county under warning, instead praying without ceasing for God to take care of us as He saw fit.

Once all the preparations were made, I couldn't help but put my "flight bag" together. I've only done this one other time in my life, when we had another tornado warning years ago. I got our wedding album and my baby boxes and double-bagged them and placed them near the basement door. When our boys died, the hospital gave us memory boxes in which we keep several irreplaceable mementos. I keep them safe in the secretary and they're always among the first things that come to mind when I think of things I'd want to save in a fire or flood (after the loved-ones, of course).

Unfortunately, I couldn't hide my efforts from the kids and as soon as they realized what I was doing, they asked if they could pack a few "prized possessions" (as Man-Cub called them), too. Redheaded Snippet grabbed all her journals and all the folded up squared and triangled notes from her friends, no doubt passed during class while they were supposed to be, you know, learning and stuff. Man-Cub grabbed his two favorite stuffed puppies. He explained his choices very seriously, "I thought about taking some Legos, but I figured you would let me get more."

All the while, Nutmeg sat in the same place on the living room carpet, watching us pass back and forth in front of her, as cool and collected as ever, unaware of her newly important status as living barometer. Man-Cub was so grateful for her services, he kept stopping and patting her head every time he passed her.

Obviously, there was no need for us to flee into the basement, The Viking made it home safely (the poor man was greeted in the driveway by an edgy woman in sneakers and raincoat hissing at him, "If you're alive, you answer your phone!"), and the power was back on in due time. We were among the lucky ones.

My mother's neighborhood, a mere 2 miles away, did not fare as well. Though Mom's property was spared, beginning one block from her home, a path of near-destruction wound through most of the development. Trees were broken in half or uprooted, roofs were damaged, cars were smashed and wires were downed everywhere. We drove around with her surveying the scene and couldn't believe what we saw! Roads were blocked by trees, wires were lying across streets or draped dangerously low above them and everyone was out of their houses, walking around in semi-dazed states. One poor, old man had at least 6 trees toppled in his yard, all of which managed to miss his house! My cousin's neighbor had his big maple tree fall right on the front of his house and The Viking, Redheaded Snippet and my cousin's 15-year-old son joined in the community effort to help clean it up. Although there was some minor property damage and everyone was without power until the next morning, no one was hurt, many neighbors finally got to meet and greet each other, some after living right next door or across the street for years, and it sure made for a lot of excitement!

Speaking of excitement, here are some photos of another kind of whirlwind, our week with Dharma and The Girls!

I followed Bitsy all over the place , trying desperately to get a few good shots of her. But she was uncooperative.
She kept playing coy, hiding as soon as she saw me lift the camera.

I kind of like this one, so HA HA, Bitsy! I win!

Caught playing with the computer, a big no-no, hence the disgraced expression.

We celebrated Bitsy's birthday while they were here. Hard to believe she's already two.

Still playing coy. Almost got her that time!

Rosebud clearly wants in on the action.

Three guesses which Disney movie and Princess is her favorite...she pranced around like this all day!

We had lots of fun with Rosebud, too. Her Viking uncle did this to her. He thought it was hilarious. She, not so much.

She and Man-Cub made friends despite her efforts to chew his face to bits.

He took it all in stride, though.

After all, she seems to do it to those she loves.

This just seemed to me to capture the essence of young motherhood: quickly dabbing on some makeup with a baby peeping around your arms. I really love this shot.

Of course, we had to get the obligatory Cousins shot. We're just so excited to have so many of them! I just well up every time I look at this.

We got ourselves up to other hi-jinx, of course. After the party was over, Dharma had a sudden need for an overly large bowl of salad. A need beyond the bounds of simple cutlery. A need requiring tongs.

The Viking gave her the dressing on the condition that she put oven mitts on first. No, I don't know why. She put them on. No, I don't know why.

But she dug right in, mitts and all.

It was Vance who decided other heat-proof materials were needed and plopped the pot holder on her head. He just likes putting things on her head. Like laundry hampers. He's a genius Master Scientist so I don't question him much.

As long as I've known Dharma, she has always gotten food on herself when she eats. You should have seen her with spareribs when she was seven!

We had a marvelous time swimming, visiting the zoo, enjoying cotton candy, funnel cake and rides on the boardwalk, playing with babies and visiting with old and new friends. But, all good things must come to an end and as everyone has gone and the storms have stilled (for now), the house is calm and quiet.

And I think I don't like it.

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