June 15, 2016

Party Twister

Some party games are more entertaining than others and each person has a favorite. I'm partial to word games and of course the boys enjoy games that require popping balloons or smearing each other with shaving cream. Mary loves treasure hunts, and Joey likes anything that involves running around and making lots of noise.

The head of our rowdy crew, Matt, prefers to avoid games altogether and being his birthday I decided to forgo Pin the Tail on the Donkey, and focus instead on food and atmosphere. Any games that popped up would be of the unplanned variety.

Did some one say party games?

In honor of my Hawaiian shirt loving hubby the party had a luau theme.

Mary helped me decorate. Palm trees and pink flamingos...
Are there flamingos in Hawaii?

One of the nice things about having a husband who loves to cook, is... having a husband who loves to cook. It's awesome! I plan the menu and he makes it happen, even on his birthday.

Norma, Matt's mom traveled all the way from California
to be here in time for her son's birthday.

Just look at those clouds behind them. It had been sunny only moments before.

The party was a success. Everyone was having a lovely time and all was going well. Other than the fact that the weather radio kept going off with severe weather warnings, it was a perfect day.

The storm would be arriving in fifteen minutes,
and the chicken only needed another ten minutes on the grill, so... perfect timing, right?
The wind began to pick up and the radio gave a new alert every minute or so. It was looking like we were in for a direct hit.
"...large hail... wind gusts to 70mph... expect significant damage to cars, trees, and roofs..."

Matt sent the boys out to close up the chicken coop and duck house while he moved the van into the garage. Annie was closing windows. I watched images of the oncoming storm from the little TV in our bedroom. Tornadoes will occasionally form in storms like this and I always keep a eye for the beginnings of that signature "hook" that will show up on radar. Nothing so far.

A moment later I heard Matt. I had never heard him bellow like that! He was out back yelling at the boys, "In the house, NOW!"

He had spotted a rotation in the clouds over the woods about a quarter mile behind our house. A large tree crashed to the ground. I ran to the dining room just as they charged through the door. "It's a tornado!" one of the boys cried. "Really?" I asked Matt. "Not sure," he replied, "but we're not waiting to find out! Everyone in the basement!"

Fumbling for a moment with the basement door, I got it open and the children and my mother-in-law rushed down the stairs. I glanced at Matt. The color had gone from his face. Joseph was in my arms as I started down the steps into the dark. Matt descended last, closing the door behind us. We were now in the basement, but where in the basement should we be? Normally storms come in from the West, but this one was rushing at us from the North. "Come away from the North wall," I instructed. 

We huddled close together in the South section and Brendan started the Divine Mercy prayer. In moments the storm overtook us. There were windows in this part of the basement. The sky turned a dark purplish-gray. I could see the young trees in our yard lashed about and bent until their tops brushed the ground. I rocked Joey back and forth as if he was so much younger. I'm not sure which of us I was trying to comfort. The sound of the wind grew louder. I had never heard anything like it. The wind absolutely howled down the chimney with a ferocity that made my heart pound. And then it was gone.

As quickly as it had come up the storm moved on. With prayers of thanksgiving we ascended the stairs and found nothing damaged beyond some broken limbs on the edge of our property. A stack of pallets and several sheets of plywood had been strewn about, but that was it. 
"Great tornado drill, everyone!" I cheered. I received a handful of weak smiles. I truly was pleased. Not only had no one been harmed, but each person had responded quickly and correctly. Good to know!

(We later heard that the storm rotation had produced an EF0 tornado a few miles away, but the straight line winds had caused wide-spread damage - trees downed and power outages.) 

Poor Matt looked like he'd been put through the wringer. Concern for his family's safety had left him frazzled.

We sat together at the table. I dished up the food. At first no one wanted to eat. We still needed to recover from the adrenaline that coursed through our systems. The storm was over. We were fine, but that mad dash for cover had left us shaken. 

"Well, that was an exciting party game," someone joked. Now we were laughing, a mixture of humor and relief.
The aroma of teriyaki chicken and grilled corn beckoned.
Conversation became more animated.
Birthday candles were extinguished, and gifts given.
Our celebration slowly returned to normal.

Who doesn't appreciate a card that features sharks with lasers on their heads?

Well, as close to normal as this family gets.

June 10, 2016

My No Errand Day

I wouldn't say errands are the bane of my existence. It's not like they take up my whole day making it impossible to accomplish the other hundred and one things waiting to be checked off my list each day.

Early this morning I checked my calendar. Where would I be headed off to today? Grocery shopping? Doctor/dentist appointment? Taxiing teens to their jobs? The little square on the calendar was blank. Really? Could I really stay home today? I could clean my house? (How weird is it that the thought of house cleaning excited me?)

I finished my coffee and dressed for a day at home. I had just grabbed the laundry basket to carry clothes out to the line when the phone rang. It was Brendan's manager. Brendan needed to bring in his work permit. That meant a trip to the courthouse. No sooner did I set the phone down it rang again. We have a small rental property. Rent money was ready to be picked up. Fine, we could do both and still be home with plenty of daylight left.

Stop 1) Driving into town (a 20 min. drive), I noticed I had forgotten to gas up the car on my last trip. I'd better stop at the gas station first.

(Stop 2) Back on the road I realized the gas station was right across from the shop that had a part for the mower I was in the middle of repairing. How convenient! It would only take a moment. They didn't have the part in stock, but could order it. It would take 7- 10 days. How disappointing. Never mind. I'll try somewhere else.

Stop 3) We stop at Brendan's workplace. He runs in to get the form we'll need to file at the courthouse.

Stop 4) Oh look, there's the bank. The renters have left a check there for us. Standing in line I remember we still have to pay the second installment of property taxes on the rental. I guess I should do that today. After all, we'll already be at the courthouse. I cash the check and withdraw a bit more to cover the tax.

Stop 5) Now at the courthouse we sign the paperwork for Brendan's permit and wait for the clerk to enter everything into the database. Minutes tic by.

Stop 6) The tax office is only a couple doors down. Paid. Done. Whew! We're good for the next six months.
In the parking lot I receive a call from my hubby. He has a terrible headache and could I please bring him some medicine? (He is at a job site about 20 minutes away.)

Stop 7) First we stop at Brendan's work and he drops off a copy of his completed work permit.
 Annie calls from home. We are out of eggs and cat food. There is a store on the way to Matt's work site.

Stop 8) Eggs? Check. Cat food? Check. Oh, and fruit. Matt took the last piece with his lunch. Anything else? No? Good. Let's hurry so we can bring Matt his medicine and get home.

Stop 9) Matt's easy to spot in his safety florescent yellow work shirt. We chat for a brief moment. "Can you believe they didn't have the mower part I need?" I ask. He tells me of a store one town over, (You guessed it - 20 minutes away.) that is sure to have the part in stock. I sigh thinking of the over-grown lawn.

Stop 10) As we enter the new town Brendan discovers he still has a check he needs to deposit in his account. Our bank has a branch nearby. Speaking with the teller he explains he never received an ATM card. Looking into it she tells him he needs a different type of account, but not to worry, they could switch him over. There's a banker available now and it wouldn't take long at all.

 An hour later the banker is still clicking away on her computer setting up brand new checking and savings accounts for Brendan. He has lots of questions. I glance at the time and start to worry the parts shop will be closed by the time I get there. Little shops are notorious for closing well before their posted close time. The banker tells me head over to the shop now while she and Brendan finish up. Good idea.

Stop 11) The shop is closed. I'm pretty sure there is another just down the road a bit.

Stop 12) This one is open, but they don't have the part. They tell me to try the previous shop.

Stop 13) Brendan is finished. He leaves the bank with two new accounts and a stack of paperwork to review.

Stop 14) Home at last! ...and it's time for me to start dinner.

Busy, busy, busy! So little time, so much to do.
It's a good thing this was my No Errand Day.