And then things got exciting.

The second night we were "back home" the girls and I went to a potluck with our previous church small group. If you're Minnesotan, you know there was hotdish.

It was great to see everyone again, and let the girls play with friends they hadn't seen in so long. We'd been with that group since before Ella was born, right up until our Big Move. And like I said, there was hotdish. Good times. I finally looked at the clock and knew I'd best leave in about 5 minutes. I had tired, tired girls on my hands. Not a minute later, the tornado sirens went off. Well, shoot. We were about 20 minutes from my parents' house at that point, and didn't really have an option but to head to the basement right where we were.

The kids were already downstairs playing video games, so the adults joined them in a very nonchalant fashion. Nothing to see here kids. Let's just all hang out in the basement for a while! And listen to the weatherman on the radio! While there's a torrential downpour outside! Everything's fine and normal!

No one seemed to notice for a while, and then Ella came up to me, dying of thirst and wanting to go upstairs and get her drink. "Not right now, honey." "BUT MOM. I AM SO. THIRSTY." I was tired. I am a weather chicken. So I think my response in a very hushed tone was, "You are not going anywhere, there are tornado sirens!" "WHAT? THERE'S A TORNADO???"

After checking the radar and having Captain America check the radar from home and calling my dad for the southern weather report, I decided to hit the road. We'd been waiting nearly an hour at this point, and the girls were falling asleep on their feet. So we hightailed it to the car in the downpour. So much rain. So hard to see. Not my favorite drive ever.

According to Captain America's radar research, if I could just make it to the halfway mark it would probably start letting up. So I forged ahead. While the cars in front of me pulled over. And the girls in the back seat said, "Is there going to be a tornado? Is there going to be one now? Mom, can you see ok? Why is that car stopping?" Then I got to the halfway point, and it wasn't any better. I think we'd missed our window of opportunity. But I kept going. Because the alternative was pulling over to the side of the road with two small, tired, worried children and waiting through more pounding rain in the car. And then still having to drive home.

Of course we made it, or I wouldn't be posting this. The girls didn't argue much about going to bed and neither did I. I could have done without the excitement, frankly. It's sort of exhausting to try and look calm and collected in front your children, so as to not pass your own irrational weather fears on to them.

My actual words in an impressively calm voice: "We're fine. It's just rain, and Mommy can drive just fine in that. We do not need to worry."

My actual thoughts: "It's raining so hard that I'm not sure I'll be able to see the tornado coming in time to get us all in the ditch and lay on top of my children in a weak attempt to save their lives! Now that we've left we'd be in between siren range! I wonder if it's safe to drive this fast or if I'm going to hydroplane us into the oncoming traffic?!"

Good, good times.


We lived to tell the tale.

It's taken me a few days to recover, but the girls and I made our epic trip and have lived to tell about it. I may spread the joy out over a few days worth of posts.

The actual drive itself wasn't bad. It took a while, with my pregnant bladder and the baby who likes to use it for a punching bag. We had to make 3 stops on the way there. But one was really just to find Natalie a pair of crocs which she suddenly insisted on having, since we were driving past an outlet. Anyone who knows me and my own shoe issues knows I am virtually powerless against a shoe request from my children. Besides, she didn't have a summer shoe that had a back strap. So I made it a potty stop as well. To which Ella said, "MOM. We just. stopped. so you could go potty." Yes, honey. I'm aware. Now hush up, and try again because as my Aunt Ruthie always says, "You never know when you'll see another one."

We were really zipping along then, until we got very close to our last exit. And Natalie said, "I think I might have to go potty." And I said, "Right now, or can you wait 10 minutes til our next stop?" "I can wait." No sooner had we passed Last Chance Exit, when we ran into road construction. The freeway was down to one lane. Yikes, hopefully this won't be a problem. And then I saw all the brake lights. And I started to drive 5 to 20 mph. For nearly 10 miles. Thankfully, Natalie was distracted by the movie Bambi, which the girls had never seen. I figured it was high time I introduced them to the cruelty of the world that is Bambi. We survived the 10 miles of crawling traffic to our exit (at the end we passed the guy walking the center line while something was being sprayed on the new tar, and I felt a little better that there was a good reason we all drove so slow). We stopped for our last potty/dinner break.

As we were waiting in the drive thru Ella said, "Mom, I didn't see the sad part in the movie." I had prepped them a bit before the movie that there was a really sad part, because the Bambi book they have at home doesn't actually have that part. So I said, "What do you mean you didn't see it?" "I don't know. There wasn't a really sad part." "Ella, Bambi's mom got shot and died." "Oh that, yeah, I know."

Well. Fine. Nevermind the fact that I got teary in the front seat, not even able to see the movie, because all I could think was, "She never got to see her baby grow up!" In Ella's defense though, Disney has totally desensitized her with all the missing & killing of mothers. I think Ella was 5 before I let them watch the first scene of Nemo. Turns out, it's not a problem for her.


I have not learned my lesson.

I am now almost 30 weeks pregnant. And tomorrow after swimming I will load up the van, and embark on a 5 hr drive with the girls. Just me. And the girls. FIVE HOURS. We're heading to my parents' for Ye Olde Towne Festival. It's not called that at all. It's Waterama. Complete with queens and princesses and admirals, oh my! And the Midwest's largest lighted pontoon parade. I can only imagine the size my feet will be by the time we get there.

I am ginormous. The other day Captain America said, "Yikes, how are you going to make it another 10 weeks? I LOVE YOU." When I mentioned this to my mother, along with my feeling that I'm bigger than some people who carry twins, she basically agreed. Yes. You are.

Furthermore, I'm attempting a 5 night stay. With Homebody Natalie. And no Daddy. Must pack the ibuprofen for her impending fever. And something for myself, for my usual Waterama Heatstroke.

Well, at least I'm not leaving on a Friday, when everyone in the Big City evacuates for The Cabin and traffic is stop and go adding at least one or two hours to the trip. I'll add enough time on my own with potty breaks. For Mommy. And maybe a trip through Sonic for a cherry limeade.


She's a sensitive girl.

It is well established that my Natalie is a sensitive girl. In addition to all of the other evidence, her mosquito bites blow up into giant welts. Right now she's got one on the inside of her calf that is more than two inches long. It looks better today.

But explain this to me: last night the poor creature was stung by a bee on her toe. Nothing. You'd be hard-pressed to even locate the sting site today. I saw the stinger spot last night, so I know it actually happened. A mosquito welt from days ago is still there, but a bee sting from last night? Nothing.

Meanwhile, Ella has two loose teeth. Finally. Which completely grosses me out. I didn't think it would. But it does. I'm putting Captain America in charge of them because I don't want to be in a 10 mile radius when a root snaps audibly. I feel woozy just imagining it.

I've also been trying to figure out why this baby moves so much more than the other two. It's madness. The rolling, the punching, the kicking. I can already feel elbows and things. It turns out I measure about 5 weeks bigger than she does. {avert your eyes, Jersey and other people who don't want these details: in other words, my uterus has grown at least 5 weeks ahead of schedule, but the baby is right on target. I figure if I continue at this pace, I could end up measuring 50 weeks at some point} Which means, as Captain America put it, she's got an Olympic size pool in there. No wonder she's so squirmy. She's got plenty of room. See what a wonderful mother I am? So accommodating to my child's needs? You're welcome, Baby.


The World Traveler and the Homebody

Last week the girls took off for a week of Camp Grandma. They left on Monday, and we picked them up Friday.

I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but Ella is a social butterfly/world traveler/nomad. She's happy to just keep going. Like the Energizer Bunny. Natalie is a homebody. She's happiest at home sleeping in her own bed and doing her own thing.

On a recent trip to our family hair stylist, I mentioned this and she said, "Yes, Captain America said Ella could be dropped off with the Amish for the summer and be perfectly happy." While I'm sure that's an overstatement (she panics when there's no DVR and live tv can't be paused), she really loves to go and be and do.

True to form, Ella had a fantastic time at Camp Grandma. She would have been happy to stay another week. Or two. Or the summer.

Also true to form, Natalie was beyond ready to go home. How do I know? She gets homesick. Actually sick. When she's done being on the move, she runs an inexplicable fever. It's like her little body starts to shut down. Must. Get. Home. By the time Captain America and I were heading out to a wedding reception, she was up to 101.6. Two days of on and off fever. Not her first time, I must say. On Sunday morning we loaded up to go home. She was fine. Great mood. No fever. Because she was going home.

I'm fascinated to see where New Baby fits into this, because right now I'm envisioning Ella and I on vacations while Captain America and Natalie enjoy the silence of home.