The Chicks - and their men - make their nests in the Lone Star State. It always comes back to the babies. When you talk to the Dixie Chicks nowadays, the conversation, without fail, turns toward the stork.
Natalie: My baby's good. After I got passed the initial tired stage, I'm good, too. Now I can hardly wait for little Jack Slade, we'll call him Slade, to make his entrance somewhere 'round March 25.
Emily: Charlie and I are trying to have a baby. But things were kind of tough until I had an operation. Now I'm more than ready, and things are in nature's hands.
Martie: I want a baby so bad. But right now my maternal instincts are centered on being an instant baby-sitter for Natalie. I even told her I wouldn't charge, I may even pay her.
And when the trio's conversation goes beyond babies, the topic that naturally follows is their men.
For Natalie, that's hubby Adrian Pasdar, star of the new television series Mysterious Ways. He and Natalie met at Emily's wedding in May of 1999; she was a bridesmaid, he was a groomsman.
For Emily, it's Charlie Robison, the popular Texas singer/songwriter. They were introduced at Nashville's Fan Fair in 1998.
And for Martie, it's her beau, Gareth Maguire, the Irish teacher she met at Natalie's sister's wedding. He was the best man. (So if Gareth and Martie do tie the knot, Martie will be related to Natalie, making the Chicks completely interconnected by either blood or marriage.)
Back to babies.
"We're all waiting for Natalie's baby," confesses Emily. "And she's taking it all in stride. Every time I look at her belly, I'm like, 'Oh, my God,' and I'm always asking her questions, ik 'What's it feel like?' She answers, 'Oh, it's no big deal.' She's very strong willed."
Natalie laughs. "But my memory has slipped, though the baby books say that's normal."
Her hands, normally tiny, are swollen because of the pregnancy. "Yep," she admits, "my hands look like the Hamburger Helper man."
Emily says Natalie is waffling between natural childbirth and drug-assisted childbirth. But she believes Natalie will choose the natural way. "She definitely feels pain differently than I do. If we go to have our legs waxed, I'm screaming, and she says it doesn't hurt al all."
Not long after Natalie married Adrian in Las Vegas last June, the happy couple discovered she was pregnant. Adrian gushed, "This is merely the first of 10 children."
Natalie grins. "We'd really like to have four kids, maybe three of our own and adopt one. I may have two right away, that way I can lose all the weight and get skinny. It's not fun to watch your body get out of shape."
Emily says she's ready for her body to get out of shape, in a motherly way. "I won't take my fertility for granted ever again," she declares. "We'd tried for six months. Then I found out I had endometriosis. I had a laparoscopy, where they go in through your belly button with a little camera. The doctors found a blocked tube and fixed it. So I'm ready to get pregnant right away."
Martie is also ready for motherhood, if she and Gareth marry. "I got a lot of practice doing motherly things in my previous marriage, when I helped raise my stepson, Carter," she recalls. "I really miss taking care of a baby. I think I was born to be a mother."
When the Chicks were touring with Tim McGraw, his wife, Faith Hill, gave Martie a lot of hope. "Faith was there with her babies, and I firsthand that you can have a career and be a mom. She even had a pull-out crib on her bus to make it baby-friendly."
Now, about those men ... Adrian, who has appeared in more than 30 movies and TV shows, has spent a lot of time with Natalie during her pregnancy, though he has been regularly venturing north to Vancouver, Canada, to film Mysterious Ways. Now he's on a production break, so he'll be by her side until the baby is born.
"I love Adrian soooo much," exclaims Natalie, who went to France with him in December to get re-married. Her family and his family went, too. Since they eloped in Vegas, they decided to have a second family wedding.
Emily says her man, Charlie, is "perfect." He adds, "Our marriage is the strongest thing in the world." Emily nods. "I knew the man I married would make me laugh," she declares with a chuckle. "Charlie has funny bones, and we laugh all the time."
"We are soulmates. We're friends first, and we have a great time together. And we have the same passions: making music, helping animals and protecting the environment."
Martie and Gareth have been inseparable since they first met. "He's wonderful and I'm trying to be real sensible about the relationship," she revealed earlier this year. "I've heard that you can't trust your heart for at least a year after you get a divorce. My divorce was final Feb. 6 of last year, so maybe starting Feb. 7 of this year I can begin re-evaluating where my heart is."
Martie and Gareth went to Northern Ireland for about three weeks in December. They stayed in his hometown of Carnlough, spending time with his family. Now he's searching for a teaching job in the Austin area to be closer to Martie.
"He's a wonderful French teacher, and he's also a terrific soccer coach," compliments sister Emily.
With the grind of last year's mega-successful Fly Tour behind them, their four CMA awards - including 2000 Entertainer of the Year - on their mantels, and nearly 20 millions albums sold, the Dixie Chicks are finally ready to settle down.
After living in Dallas before their break-through success, the Chicks first moved to Nashville, but then spread out. Natalie moved to L.A. and Emily went to San Antonio. Only Martie stayed behind in Nashville after the other two flew the coop.
"Now we've moved back together," notes Emily. "Martie's just south of Austin in kind of a country area. Natalie's right smack dab in Austin. And now I'm an hour and half southwest of them near Bandera. We see each other all the time."
Martie's house is new. It's Spanish style with stucco walls and a tile roof. The floors are terra-cotta-colored cement.
Natalie's is an older two-story English Tudor. And, with her well-known spunky attitude, it should come as no surprise that its exterior paint is an extremely bright color.
The house Emily is building, on the other hand, blends tastefully into its environment. It's a one-story hacienda-style ranch house. "We're using 'green' construction, which is ecologically friendly," she explains. "They use treated hay bales and beams; they don't use a lot of wood. And the walls, which are plastered, are about two feet thick, so we have this natural insulation. And we've tucked the house under the tree cover, so that it'll be in tune with the surroundings."
Speaking of being in tune, the Chicks' current single, "If I Fall You're Going Down With Me," is soaring up the charts. And, Emily says, fans can look for more singles off the Fly album. "It'll probably be spring next year before we have another album, followed by another tour," she adds.
And the Chicks are definitely in tune when it comes to their favorite topic. Asked what the best thing that could happen to them, their answers had - once again - a familiar ring.
Natalie: A happy, healthy baby, and follow that one up with another.
Emily: Have a baby, soon.
Martie: I hope Natalie has a healthy baby; I hope Emily can get pregnant and have a healthy baby; and I'd like to have a healthy baby.
Like we said, it always comes back to babies.