Thursday, January 26, 2012

Our 5 Day Power Outage: It Sucked, but Wasn't All Bad

Thanks to western Washington's wild winter weather (how's that for some alliteration) last week, our house lost power last Thursday afternoon, and we did not get power back until the FOLLOWING TUESDAY. That's right, we did not have power for 5 days.

This alone would have sucked enough, but we also had down power lines in our driveway the entire time, which meant that we couldn't even leave. My husband backed over them on day 3 because he couldn't take being trapped in the house anymore and we were out of diapers, firewood and food. I was against this dangerous move, but thankfully it went OK and he was able to get out and get what we needed.

We figured that there's no way our power outage could go on for VERY long, since there were down power lines blocking us and our next door neighbors in and leaving the entire block without electricity. However, apparently this was not a priority for the power company, and they left us trapped in the dark for 5 full days.

There are a few things that made it possible for us to get through this with our health and sanity intact.

1) Our wood stove, which we just got repaired a month ago! We'd have been screwed without it. It served as heat source, cooking surface and clothes dryer.

Here we have wood stove toast and coffee:

Here's wood stove soup and Chef Boyardee:

Here are the kids' pajamas and clothes drying on an old DVD rack, after I washed them in ice-cold water in the bathtub:

In case you're wondering, a potato masher makes a fantastic laundry agitator for washing clothes in your bathtub.

For 5 days, this is what we did. For 5 nights, we all slept in the living room, around the wood stove. We camped there, the rest of the house remaining dark and frigid.

2) We would have lost our minds without the kindness and generosity of our next door neighbors, who lent us an extension cord from their generator to power our fridge, charge our cell phones (which were our only means of communication, since we stupidly have a land line phone through our cable company and the cable modem's battery dies after 12 hours) and power a light. On day 3, they also invited us over to bathe the kids and have a hot dinner.

This amazing kindness went a long way toward restoring my faith in humanity. There are still nice people out there, and we are lucky enough to live next door to some of the nicest!

3) Our senses of humor.

My husband and I both have warped senses of humor, and that went a long way toward getting us through this without cracking. We kept each other sane with immature jokes and speculation about the power outage really being part of a zombie apocalypse.

4) Our sweet, amazingly adaptable, wonderful girls, 2 and 4 years old. The kids made the most of the power outage, only rarely asking why they couldn't watch TV or play video games. They "read" together, repeating aloud the books that they have memorized or looking at pictures and making up stories based on the pictures in the books that they haven't yet memorized. They played with every single toy they have. I saw toys that I hadn't seen in a year! They also did a lot of pretend play, pretending to be horses, tigers, unicorns, dragons and countless other things.

I didn't really start to crack until the 5th day. On the morning of the 5th day, I called the power company and was given an estimate of the following day for our problem to be fixed. Hearing that we'd need to endure another day of camping in our house with dangerous power lines in our driveway was not what I needed to hear at all, and as soon as I heard those words, I started to cry. Both kids came over to see what was wrong and to ask why I was crying. My 2-year-old disappeared for a minute and then came back with a plastic cookie from her toy kitchen. She handed it to me and said, "Don't crying, mommy. You eat cookie."

This was so sweet and adorable, I couldn't cry anymore. I knew we'd make it another day if we had to, but thankfully, a crew showed up to fix the down lines and restore our power later that evening.

Mostly this 5-day period without power sucked and is an experience I hope never to repeat. There were some real bright spots and sweet moments, though, and I think it will be a positive, fun early memory for both kids.
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