It was a day without a Dad, like a lot of these home-stretch-of-the-PhD days. Afternoon loomed, evening lurked, bedtime menaced. I had extra kids in the mix because my dear neighbor is sick. So I called Mary- she and I bonded over mastitis at church one Sunday- and we went to the park.

We laid the babies on blankets in the grass and talked and talked while our kids ran wild. Our conversation covered the state of Oklahoma, a documentary about sheep, and sloppy joe's. When Marley started rummaging around in my bag looking for crackers, I pulled out my Jimmy John's menu. Fifteen minutes later a sweaty man on a bicycle handed me a box filled with sandwiches and bags of chips.

The kids devoured their sandwiches and begged for sips from my water bottle. I made them go to the drinking fountain. It was too nice a day for floaties in my water. When they asked, do we have to go home soon? I answered, No. We're staying here until bedtime. And they all cheered.

At seven we picked up the blankets, babies and bottles, and herded our dirty, exhausted children to the parking lot. Anticipating a rocky bedtime, I stopped at Wendy's for five orders of compliance in a paper cup. Otherwise known as frosties. By 8:30 I had a silent house.

Lots of days I feel like a mess of a mother. Today? Nailed it.


Days when the rains came

(Photo by Lindsay)

Today we had rain for the first time in weeks. Sometime in the late afternoon, the kids and I all migrated across the street to our neighbors' house for dinner. They mentioned the tornado sirens. Tornado sirens? I've never lived in a place that had sirens for anything- how exciting! Later, as I walked home to get some napkins, I heard them for myself, and couldn't suppress a huge smile. Tornado sirens! (No one seemed worried, and our neighbors are from Oklahoma, so I figure they know when to be scared.)

Back at home, in the middle of father-less bedtime chaos, the phone rang. My cousin Laura was on the line with her parents, the three of them driving back to L.A. from a weekend at Joshua Tree national park. I told them my exciting news of the tornado sirens and my Aunt asked if I had gotten naked and locked myself in my closet. That's when I decided I had to tell the story of the great tornado of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina....


It was late summer, and my cousin and I were just finishing up a several-week stint with our grandparents at their beach house in the Outer Banks. We were probably eight and ten.

It was late afternoon, and we had on our matching sparkly black bikinis from Belk's. We floated on our backs in the ocean and pretended not to hear Grandmom's calls for us to come on in, it was time to go home for supper. Realizing we were hungry, we eventually made our way to shore, just as a woman walked past, relaying news of a tornado watch in effect.

Laura and I looked up at the sky and saw black clouds moving in. Panic took over in our little-girl minds and we forsook our towels, flip-flops, even our beloved grandmother, and sprinted for the beach house. Grandmom ran behind, shouting "Girls! Girls! At least put your shoes on!", but we paid her no heed, now fully caught up in our imagined drama.

Back at the house I, being the older, wiser cousin, divined that it would be safest to head for an upstairs closet (not sure what my logic was there). We locked ourselves in and commenced crying and carrying on. At some point, Grandmom knocked on the closet door and insisted that we take off our wet bathing suits or we would catch cold. We obliged, opening the door a crack, tossing them out and quickly slamming it shut again. Now we were soaking wet, naked and carrying on in a dark closet.

About this time it occurred to us that we couldn't account for our grandfather's whereabouts. We heard the water turn on, and were able to infer that he was stubbornly taking an outdoor shower in the middle of a life-threatening clamity. This allowed us to work ourselves into an even greater frenzy, complete with wails of, "Grandaddy, please, COME INSIDE!!! YOU'RE GOING TO DIE IN THE TORNADO!!!"



And so on.

Eventually we got bored in the closet. The rain stopped, and we came out and put on dry clothes. We had many more happy summers at the beach with our grandparents before they sold the house my sophomore year in college. I haven't been to the Outer Banks since. But thinking back to this afternoon's sirens, there's still a bit of that little girl in me, who loves to drama of a good storm.

Fortunately I now keep my clothes on:).



I'm tired. Not I-didn't-sleep-well-last-night-tired. Or I'm-getting-over-a-cold tired. Or we-just-got-home-from-a-trip tired. Or even waking-up-in-the-night-with-the-baby-good-thing-she's-so-cute tired. In fact the baby, bless her sweet heart, has been sleeping through the night for over a month now.

This is more like a chronic, life-is-moving-really-fast-and-I'm-stumbling-behind-trying-my-best-to-keep-up tired. I won't bore you with the list of things on my plate- I'm sure they're familiar to you. And I'm sure things will settle down and/or my capacity to handle them will increase. But sometimes I wish I had my own giant purple Bumbo that I could climb into and just zonk out. Must be nice.