August 24, 2007

Wow.

On Thursday afternoon the girls and I were out front telling a friend goodbye when we both noticed jet black clouds zooming across the sky at mach speed. It was clear we were about to get a storm so I scooped up the girls and headed back to the house. The second we got to our front stairs, the skies opened up and poured rain, the wind started howling and the power went out. My friend ran to her car, despite my protests, to go ahead and drive home. Since the power was out, and it was dark in the house, the girls and I stood at the front door and watched the storm.

Now let me just interject here that I didn't grow up in the Midwest. I grew up in Arizona where summer storms mean monsoons. I am proud to say that faced with a monsoon or a dust storm, I know exactly what to do. Clearly, I missed the "Welcome-to-Chicago-Let-Us-Tell-You-About-the-Storms-We-Have-Here" class because, it turns out, the summer storm the girls and I were watching out the front door was a TORNADO and we were supposed to be hunkered down in our basement not standing at the door watching it pass through. I guess that's what I get for not watching TV and seeing the tornado warnings, huh?

Well, the storm didn't last long but it did cause quite a bit of damage. There were downed trees blocking streets and torn off branches everywhere. Plus, the rain caused lots of flooding. (Our county has been declared a National Disaster Area by the governor.) Our next-door neighbors literally spent the entire night bailing water out of their basement with buckets. Our basement stayed perfectly dry but the worst part for us was not having power . . . for four days! You forget how much you really like turning on a light, throwing in a load of laundry and keeping the milk cold in the refrigerator until you can't do any of those things.

Thursday night was pretty funny. Since the power was out, and we couldn't make dinner, we decided to go out. Seemed like a reasonable plan except that every single place we tried to go didn't have power either. It was still dark and dreary outside and we knew a second storm -- not a tornado this time -- was on its way. Well, we just kept driving from place to place until we finally found something open -- Old Country Buffet. Not my first -- or second or third -- choice but what is it they say about any port in a storm? The girls, on the other hand thought, it was simply a fabulous place! There were balloons tied in little bunches all over so they immediately started calling it "The Birthday Restaurant." Plus, a lady came around and gave them "bee hats" (see Kenna sporting hers in her carseat below) and stickers.

The power went out no less than five times while we were there and each and ever time the table, of what appeared to be high school football players, next to us would all loudly say, "Ohhh!" when it went off and then cheer loudly when it came back on. The girls thought this was wildly entertaining. We left Old Country Buffet just as storm number two rolled in.

But wait! The fun doesn't end there. The day after the storm, we had a visit from our local fire department. Our carbon monoxide alarm kept going off so I called the Fire Department who in turn told me to call 911. They then sent out a fire engine, two fire fighters in full fire-fighting regalia and a stack of red plastic fire fighter hats to give to all the kids who gathered when they pulled up in front of our house. They went inside and took readings with some fancy gadget and told me there was no carbon monoxide but that I should buy a new carbon monoxide detector.

The girls have thought this was all incredibly fun. They got to eat at the "birthday restaurant," play with flashlights at night, see fire engines and firemen, get fancy, new red hats and jump in puddles in their rain boots.

Isn't it great to be three?

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