Category Archives: Musings

Sounds like lightening.

 

If you looked at the weather radar during the night of August 18th you would have seen that the worst weather in all of North America was centered over the greater Chicago area. In fact, for a good portion of that evening the most severe parts were centered right over neighborhood.

Right before Liam left work (approximately 5pm) he texted me that our area was in a tornado watch until 10pm. I’m not sure how it is elsewhere, but at least in Chicago those watches are issued pretty freely – a good thing! – and this was at least the fifth or sixth this summer. Tornados can happen rapidly and without warning (see: Plainfield, IL tornado of 1990) but only under very specific weather conditions.

Liam got home and we had dinner and sort-of forgot about the watch and went about normal evening tasks.

And then.

At 7:22 pm we heard tornado sirens. To me they mean: get in building’s basement and turn on the television. To someone who is experiencing them for the first time and has only the movie Twister as his point of reference for what happens next this was a Very Frightening Thing.

Most of our building headed into the basement and we turned on the local news looking for the weather. I’ve mentioned before that we live pretty far out in the suburbs, and when we were looking for news reports we had to go to a super-local channel to get anything because the main stations hadn’t switched over from regular programming. This was mildly comforting until we looked at the map.

The red cone of danger was centered right over us (seriously – over the nearest intersection!) and extended southeast to my parents’ current home and northeast to the area I grew up in where we still have many friends.

My family has a group text message and as soon as I messaged out to say Liam and I had heard sirens and were in the basement my mom responded that they had heard sirens and were in their own basement as well. My siblings both checked in: one of them was far to the south of the watch and the other said they were in the watch zone and paying attention but that not much was happening.

For 20 minutes we heard lots of thunder and lightening but the sirens weren’t continuous and even the local local weather station signed off their coverage of the storm to go back to regular programming. What i understand is that the sirens went off because there were “winds capable of rotation” very near us but that nothing materialized and they weakened enough to end the watch. I updated the family, we fist-bumped with building neighbors before heading upstairs and settled in to watch the storms. I think this was right about 7:50.

At a few minutes after 8:00 there were more sirens. Hi-ho, hi-ho; it’s back downstairs we go.  If you thought Liam would be more comfortable the second time around you were most incorrect.  However, the overall mood was significantly more joyous this time because there was one really excited bunch of kids who were able to avoid bedtime because of the storms.

This time our sirens stayed on longer and all of the main channels were carrying the weather. There were reports of rotations immediately to our north and south. At some point my parents checked in to say that their area hadn’t heard sirens but were put back under the warning zone for all of three minutes. Our power flickered several times but never went off. We heard a really loud bang of what we thought was thunder. Within the next few minutes the warning either expired or was cancelled because the storm was weakening; I don’t remember which.

At Liam’s request we slept in the family room with the weather channel on just so we’d be aware of what was going on if we were awoken by sirens. I don’t think the poor kid slept for more than 20 minutes at a time that night. Having been through the song and dance a few times before I didn’t really think much about the events of the night except to say a prayer of thanks that there was apparently very minimal damage as a result of the storms.

Being the more rested of the two I volunteered to take our dog out the next morning. I swung our building door open and my jaw dropped open. Lightening struck a tree not five feet from our building. Bark shot off of the tree in all directions, and though it didn’t fall over the tree was splintered into lots of thin strips where the lightening must have hit. It looked a lot like pulled chicken if that’s any sort of helpful reference. Our building does not have a lightening rod (it should!) so we feel very, very lucky.

Liam called his mother when he was on the way to work the next morning to tell her that we were fine, and about the lightening strike. Apparently she and my FIL were watching the weather on the nightly news and my normally very reserved FIL shouted at the tv “OH YEAH…HOW DOES HE LIKE IT NOW!?!??” in reference to our current residence.  We hear you FIL; we hear you.

Cross another item off of the Authentic Midewestern Experience list for Liam because his tornado experience was definitely the real deal.  Luckily there was very little damage that night – I believe about 30,000 lost power and there was some flooding and damage from a few lightening strikes…overall a very quiet night for such a stormy one.

Blood moons, brunch and backyard chores: Easter 2015

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Easter is my favorite, and I love, love the fact that we were blessed with such excellent weather for all of the Easter 2015 weekend.  As usual we spent the holiday weekend with my parents in their newish home.

We all made it to the house by about 7:30 on Friday afternoon and had a small meal of white fish and water then.  (Good Friday is both meat-free and a fasting day for adult Catholics.)  My dad had had a long day and went to bed after dinner was cleaned up.  We then decided it would be fun to teach my mother how to play beer pong.  It was all about the mechanics.  We weren’t drinking; we had water in the cups and were drinking tea…it was the squarest game ever, but also so much fun.  My mother was hilariously excellent (are you sure you never played before?!) even if she did walk up to the table like she was bowling every single time.  Great memories!  And now her friends cannot tease her about how she doesn’t know how to play!

Did you catch the blood moon (early) Saturday morning?  Even though the reports were saying that there wouldn’t be much to see in Chicago we got up for the blood moon anyway and watched it for 30 minutes or so.  The reports were right – there was very little to see, and to add insult to injury there was a cloud covering the moon at the very moment we were at “peak moon.”

After that it was all about doing yard chores around the house.  Most of the landscaping and outdoor furniture is leftover from the previous homeowners and some of it is in rough condition.  We got to work re-screening the porch (truth: this was mostly a boy job), power washing concrete and iron furniture, pulling up weeds and mostly-dead shrubs and adding new mulch to the beds.  Plenty of work remains for us next time, but we really enjoyed spending the day out in the nice weather and helping to fix up my parents’ house.

While we were slaving outside my parents were making homemade pizzas for an Easter feast.  As always the margherita pizza was the favorite.  So simple, but so delicious.  Others included a taco pizza, sausage and onion and an I-don’-t-know-ask-the-boys-but-I-think-they-put-Cholula-on-it that the boys devoured on their own.

Because the college kids had a decently long drive back to campus we went to early mass on Sunday morning and came home to an easy brunch.  Fresh fruit, scones (made the night before), bacon (because, boys), quiche and toast and spreads.  It was decreed that we will do something similar from now on: big dinner on Saturday evening; smaller, lighter brunch on Easter morning.

After brunch we exchanged Easter baskets (candy and socks; the usual) and then took turns heading home. My mom took several pictures of her kids in dressy clothes but other than that the weekend was under-documented.  Must fix that next time!

Month in Review: January 2015

ETA: Mea culpa.  I was a total space case and forgot to give credit where it’s due.  The idea for a monthly review came from Amanda (The Lady Okie) and I’ll be joining in with her link up this year.

One of the things that I appreciate most about maintaining a blog is the ability to record even the seemingly mundane parts of life because these can be my favorite to look back on after the fact.  Special occasions and fun trips are great but those tend to stay at the forefront of my memory anyway.  Lots of blogs do week or weekend in review posts; that’s too much for me.  I loved the idea of a monthly recap, and I’m so glad that Amanda decided to make it a linkup this year.

I think I’m going to include a recap of the first day of each month and then add a few details about the month overall at the very end.  Feel free to skip this post if recaps aren’t your thing.

January 1 2015

Our location: Chicago(ish)

Temp: 29 —–> That’s pretty warm!

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Even with a huge tumbler of coffee I still managed to take a seriously indulgent nap on New Years Day.

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But I also made it to the gym!  (The closest thing to a gym selfie I’ll do.)

We woke up hangover-free on January 1 but had a lazy day nevertheless.  We watched a soul-crushing Chicago Blackhawks loss, saw a good portion of the Rose Bowl Parade and used our favorite Christmas gift (the Starbucks January mugs!) for the first time. We also checked in with both of our families to see how their year started off, hit the gym and made an apple and pork salad for dinner that night.

We discussed our goals for the year and what we hoped to accomplish – it was an exciting conversation, and one that we’ve decided to revisit each month.

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Month in Review: January 2015

Places traveled: New England! Instead of stressing ourselves out with holiday travel and fitting all the things in with both sides, we decided to wait until the first week of January to visit L’s family.

States we slept in: IL, OH, MA, ME, NH —–> next year we’re heading south instead…

Books read: The Hunger Games.  Liked it for the most part but I found the beginning really slow.  Catching Fire.  Ditto my thoughts on the first book.  Mockingjay – because I had to finish the trilogy.

TV shows watched: Downton  Abbey is getting so very soapy but Maggie Smith’s character is brilliant.  At this point I pretty much watch just for her.

Projects completed: I have nothing to show for this but I was able to sell/donate/toss a bunch of random stuff we weren’t using.

Dates: Well, we took a road trip together so that was quite a bit of quality time.  I guess we did have one date night at a nicer restaurant while we were out east.

Snippets: We filed our taxes.  Survived a nasty car accident.  Bought a new car.  Enjoyed a moderately mild month weather-wise.  Liam began another school term.  We both dealt with different work-related stressors.  It was an eventful month.

January 2015; I don’t miss you one bit.

Thanksgiving recap: Coffee Date, Volume 4

Good afternoon! Though I’m linking up a bit late I’m glad for the opportunity to share a bit about Thanksgiving and hear about yours as well.

Sadly we’re back from Thanksgiving with my side of the family already. We left early Saturday morning (today) so that my husband could get back to studying for finals. My family has so much fun together that it’s not a very study-friendly environment. I guess that’s a mixed blessing at this point, really.

The high note of my week was obviously getting a chance to spend time uninterrupted with my family. My parents house is a few hours outside of Chicago and we’re very much in the country when we’re there. Our turkey was from a nearby farm – it was delicious! – and we spent lots of our free time walking in the woods. An excellent holiday by all accounts.

There’s something you should know about me – I’m a terrible cook. No one ever asks me to bring food to holidays – I’m the pop and snacks girl. But this year was different! I made a pie that was raved about and managed not to mess up the potatoes. I’ll count that as a major win. Now there is pressure to repeat that for Christmas…God give me strength!!

But to be really honest there was never a question that this holiday was going to be great. My family has had a rough year and we were glad for the time together and for the fact that 2014 is almost over. For the first time in our lives I think we will all get into the New Years Eve spirit. (It has never been a big holiday for us before.) There was one major surprise though: The Weather. I love Chicago but our winters are no joke. And as I’m sitting here typing this on Saturday afternoon the snow has completely melted from our yard and the temp is in the mid-50’s. Unreal! I haven’t yet looked at the 10-day forecast but I’m glad the snow cover is gone for now. It was too early for the grass to disappear.

The only real low of the week was having to leave the festivities early, which is hardly a low in the grand scheme of things. This time can be hard, but I know that our little family will have greater opportunities in the future because of it.

Lastly, there’s no coffee for me this week, which you would know if we were meeting for real. We’re on a “carb rest” (the most ridiculous term for a diet that I’ve ever heard) between now and Christmas and are trying to clean up our eating overall. Have your favorite holiday drink for me though!!

And if you have a favorite paleo-ish food blog, let me know! I’m on the hunt for easy weeknight meals.