What a f*ckin' week!!
Jacob, Zoey and I had a great weekend, filled with lots of sunshine, playing outdoors, and taking in the sights and sounds of summer (green grass, blooming flowers, blue sky with cotton puff clouds, people walking or biking around town, neon garage-sale signs on every corner, and deer blood all over the interstate). But all of that I'll talk about later......
Most of the weekend was in the 80's and Monday was more of the same. I sat outside during my lunch-break, read my book, and upped my vitamin D intake (what else is a girl who doesn't like milk to do?! :-)). Later, as we drove home from work, Jacob told me the guys at work said there were tornado warnings all night tonight. Um, ok, so what's with the blue, cloudless sky and light breeze?
While playing with Zoey at home, Jacob and I never watch the news because 1) he is surrounded by it all day; and 2) it's too emotionally volatile for me. But no matter what you're watching - even if it's through the DVR - the Emergency Broadcast System will interrupt, and sure enough, it did. The local weather came on as we were putting Zoey to bed and informed us of the massive storm system that was headed our way, followed by another massive storm system. And then that one, there, over to the left a little bit. Eerily - just as they had predicted - at 8pm the Independence Day spaceship-cloud sank over the city.
From where we're situated, we could see every quadrant of the sky during the storms. At least until the sun disappeared completely and it got dark. After we put Zoey to bed I walked outside to an increase in wind and a weird-looking sky. It was still blue but there were those stringy, white clouds looking like stretch marks through the sky, it reminded me of them all pointing to the belly button; i.e the cyclone.
In the meantime, every 30 seconds was a new emergency alert. For the most part, they didn't include the city of Billings. But then the clouds started to get puffier and it started to look real dark in that one corner of the sky. To the left, the sky was ablaze in bright orange. Further left it was bright blue, the light at the end of the tunnel. Except that it was cut up by another chunk of black.
The wind, of course, was picking up, but nothing too dramatic; and definitely less extreme than we've witnessed before. It was just sort of like a warm, summer breeze. But as the sky got darker I decided I didn't want us to be those people you read about in the paper the next day and think, "wow, they were really stupid." So we went inside and opened most of the windows. Before the storm rolled in, Jacob put the air conditioner in. Yup, we're brilliant.
As all of the emergency alerts went off, we got more and more scared. Jacob was more visible and vocal about it, whereas I just paced the house looking constipated. I learned while stuck in an elevator for half an hour in the 22-story tower of the Capitol building that I would have handled the situation much worse if I wasn't alone. I tend to absorb other people's emotions. But at the same time, I didn't want to be alone, so I just paced.
You could see all of the clouds, bigger now, being sucked into one part of the sky. And the trees were whipping every which way, and it was sort-of raining but the wind was preventing it from hitting the ground. It made up for it, though, and rained pretty hard through the night.
Between 8:30pm and 9:00pm is when the tornado sirens went off. A couple of hours earlier, the head of the household jumped from his chair and said, "If something happens, the crawlspace is where we're going. I'm going to go clear a path right now." So, of course, when the tornado sirens went off, where did we go? Outside. Brilliant. It was just so unbelievable because the sky was still blue but you could see the clouds being sucked into a vortex. Jacob suggested we jump in the car and drive to Cody, but the storm hit there pretty hard and they had to deal with flooding.
Zoey had a hard time falling asleep. She didn't want to be taken from her crib, and she only called out for us twice, but she struggled to fall asleep. The first few times I checked on her she was always awake.
We sort of payed attention to the dogs. They were still content with going outside so we allowed ourselves to feel a little at ease. We were glued to the news and checking Doppler thingies on the internet to see where the storm was going. Fortunately, it was sort-of going around the city, and funnel clouds could be seen just outside of a small farming town called Molt. Erie black, spidery cloud-fingers reached towards the ground like a Dementor (Harry Potter reference) but never gathered enough strength to really take off. There was some destruction, the wind picking up a metal structure and planting it on top of an old (and likely empty) homestead.
It was strange watching the pictures shuffle over the television screen. It was pitch-black until a flash of lightning briefly showcased what the clouds were up to. Had I been there, it would have felt exactly like being in the latter Harry Potter movies. By this time, though, the storm was beyond us, and the emergency alerts were getting fewer and farther between. We started to calm down and thanked God that nothing actually happened. Around this time last year, a tornado touched down just a mile from our house, and hung around, tearing up the Rimrock Auto Arena like it had a vendetta, for a solid 15 minutes. We happened to be in Columbus at the time and it was nothing but bright blew skies. We were afraid of what we might come home to, but the lawn chair I had been reading in that morning was still right where I left it.
Just because the storm passed doesn't mean that was the end of it. Whatever had the unfortunate luck of being outside throughout the night had it pretty rough. We were startled awake by Zoey's door slamming from the wind - although she remained sound asleep - around 1am. And when I got up to go to the bathroom every 20 minutes, it sounded like the Big Bad wolf was huffing and puffing and blowing our house down. Tuesday, Wednesday, and most of Thursday was rainy, cold, and gloomy. And even though the storm was over, the rest of the week still had things in store.
At work Tuesday morning, as I was sitting at my desk pretending to work, I had a craving for some toast with apple butter. I paused from my work just as I felt something shake. It felt like someone missed their chair and sat down too hard on the floor. Half of my brain said it was nothing; like when a heavy-walker strolls by and my computer monitor shakes. But the other half of my brain said, wait; that was something more. It wasn't just your computer screen that shook. It was your entire desk, the windows, and the wall.
Then the inevitable question of, was I the only one who felt it? I remember looking at the wall at the time I felt the building shake. The Office Manager was standing in the conference suit across the hall, of which I can see since my cube-window faces the hallway. She was standing at the copier in the suite and immediately looked over at me to answer her own, was-I-the-only-one-who-felt-it? question. Then everyone in the office asked, "Did you feel that?!" and "What the heck was that?!"
Immediately, the building emptied, everyone concluding someone had hit the building. But although we're on a corner, the cross streets are 25, 35 miles per hour respectively, and something large would have had to be traveling pretty fast for us to feel the sort of impact that we did. We contemplated a possible earthquake, and although none of us had ever experienced an actual earthquake, we somehow knew that's not what one feels like. It wasn't a rumble; like I said, it was like someone had missed their chair. I even joked that God fell off his thrown but everyone looked at me like I had two heads.
All of a sudden the new receptionist (whom I LOVE!) came running around the office looking for one of the attorneys. His wife was on the phone, exclaiming that whatever had happened, happened just a few buildings down from where she works, which is about 2 miles from our office. Obviously, she had felt her building shake too, which made things a little more scary. So I called Jacob, who works west of my building, to see if he felt anything. He said he hadn't, but his boss had mentioned how he had felt his desk shake.
Thanks to the girl with the police scanner app on her phone (seriously), and the attorney with the windows facing the rims, we learned it had been an explosion. Sure enough, smoke billowed up from the rims. Naturally, I was immediately afraid it was our small gas heater, or gas water heater that had exploded. As it turned out, it wasn't anywhere near where we lived, but it was a house that exploded.
Many concluded early on that a rock slid off the rims (a rather common occurrence) and had hit the gas meter of a house, resulting in a huge fireball, explosion, and the house and its neighbors being completely destroyed and/or set on fire. But the problem with this theory lied with Jacob's father.
I remembered he worked in various parts of the city throughout the day, at just the type of houses as this one. So I sent him a text to make sure he was ok. He said he was but that he had a kid working at a house just above the one that exploded. He said the problem with the rock theory was that the kid, since he was just above the house, hadn't seen any rocks fall anywhere. And as the day started to go on, no rocks had been located. Finally, the mayor went on record to say that it hadn't been confirmed that a rock had caused the explosion. For now, they're certain it was a natural occurrence, but a gas leak somewhere.
As luck - or guardian angels - would have it, the owner of the house, who used it as a second residence, had left the house just 30 minutes before the explosion. He is the mayor of Columbus, who became such after retiring from a jet's center, which just happens to be owned by the same family who owns my law firm. This town is seriously like living in an episode of The Twilight Zone.
I tried to post some pictures, but I couldn't get it to work so you'll just have to google it.
On top of all that, Zoey and I are going to the doctor this week. For her, just a well-baby check-up and some shots. She did amazing, as usual, grinning at the med student. I absolutely love her pediatrician, who was impressed with how advanced Zoey is. She compared Zoey to 9-month olds since she was closer to that than 6 months. Currently, she is 8 and a half months and in the 75th percentile for height and weight. She checked out wonderfully and, of course, screamed her head off when she got the shots. She was fine 30 seconds later and has, thankfully, never had a fever as a result of the shots.
My OB/GYN told me that losing the baby-weight after the first baby would be easy-peasy; the second baby, not so much; and the third baby, pretty much impossible. Good thing we agreed not to go past two (although I'm pretty sure I understand God's sense of humor enough to expect twins our next go-around). So I'm off to the doctor to find out why I continue to loose weight even though I'm not trying. I'm about 15-pounds below what is comfortable for me, and while I'm loving wearing jeggings, I don't so much enjoy the fact that my butt blends in with my thighs; I have a thutt. I'm hoping it's merely a case of busynewmommy syndrome.
Following this week is another busy week filled with travel and our first few nights away from Zoey. But her Grandma is coming to take care of her from snowy Wyoming. Yes, snowy.
Reliving this week - and thinking about next week - made me exhausted all over again.