In like a lion

This weekend did not go as planned. I wrote on Friday that it was a rainy March day. Shortly after I wrote that, the rain turned to snow. The wind kicked up a lot. The temperature, which was supposed to stay above freezing, got close enough to it that the snow started to stick. And accumulate. At 2:00, when I left to go visit my kindergartner's class (they were presenting their hibernation projects), there was an inch or so of snow on the ground. I shoveled to make sure I could get up the driveway, then drove slowly to school. On the way there, conditions approached white out level. I parked where I could -- the extra parking lot was not shoveled out and I didn't want to get stuck -- and went to the building. Noting the deteriorating conditions during the hibernation discussion, I made an executive decision to pull my kids out of school and take them home with me.

I was glad I did. Walking across the snowfield to the car was horrendous. My kids were actually screaming by the time we got there because the wind was driving so hard. I recalled a scene from the Little House on the Prairie series where the girls were walking in a blizzard and the wind and ice scratched Laura's face so hard she started bleeding. This experience showed me how that might happen. Driving the 3-minute route home took me 15 minutes. I sent the kids inside to get into dry clothes, and I started shoveling the driveway, on the hopes that G (nanny) and the 3-year-old would be home soon. She planned to be. This winter storm being unforeseen, she had actually driven out to the Lancaster area with him to go to the train museum. She reported there was no bad weather there, so she thought she'd be home pretty quickly. Originally, the GPS said she would be home at 4 p.m.

It was after 6:30 p.m. when she finally did arrive.

Let's just say I was nervous during much of this time. I was nervous about my husband too. I knew he had landed in Newark and was driving back. He too thought it wasn't too bad, but then he looked on his map app and saw the 50-minute delay on the Pennsylvania turnpike. Somehow, all forces hit in confluence to create a relatively localized storm that dumped about 8 inches of snow on our area. The wind gusted hard enough to blow many trees over. Many of those trees fell onto power lines.

And so, about 3:15 p.m. on Friday, the lights went off. And stayed off.

We were supposed to take the big kids to a Sixers game on Friday night, but after G and my husband both arrived home safely, I said we were not leaving. G wanted to risk driving home, and made it OK on the highway, but enough of the backroads were blocked by fallen trees that even on Sunday morning, I had to try 3 different routes to get to church.

Friday night was OK - the house wasn't too cold yet. Saturday started getting quite miserable. We stuck with our original plan to go to the Flower Show. The kids enjoyed the butterfly exhibit, as they always do. We decided to come home around noon to check on the fish. The trouble with a salt water tank is that it needs to stay around 78 degrees or so, and we were no where near there by Saturday morning. We're going to buy a generator next week (once the stores have them back in stock!) but we didn't have one at the time, so my husband rigged a system where we would run our van for a while (with the garage door open), and run the extension cord over to the fish tank, and run the heater for a while.

It sort of worked, in the sense that we only lost one fish (so far - and that was from the freshwater tank) but it required a lot of work. Saturday afternoon, we went back downtown to see the Crocs exhibit, and Paleopalooza, at the Academy of Natural Sciences. Buddy the T-rex made an appearance, so that was cool for some of us. We came home to find the power still not on, so we called around to try to get a dinner reservation, and wound up at Uno's Pizzeria and Grill. It was mobbed and a bit chaotic with other power-less folks, so I told my 10-year-old we weren't going to try to redeem the credit we won because he guessed the number of candy hearts in the jar (it was like 847!) last time we were there. The 3-year-old actually did quite well eating his chicken nuggets, and coloring and then watching my phone when he needed to. I might be able to start taking him out some times.

Back at home, we saw the power was still out, so we decided to head out yet again to kill time. We went to REI, Lowe's and Target. Target was a disaster. The little kids were really tired, and there were meltdowns, as we had told them they could all pick out something little, and then my daughter picked some new underwear and then really didn't want that to be her thing (because it was a necessity) but they didn't have what she really wanted (footie pajamas in size 6) so there were just tears all around. At home, I put her and the 3-year-old in bed with me to keep them warm as my husband tried running the van to heat up the fish tank again. It was 53 degrees in the house and getting unpleasant fast.

In the morning, I decided to take all four kids with me to church because it was probably going to be warm there. It took me half an hour to get there because of all the road closures. I was extra motivated to get there because the 10-year-old was supposed to read the prayer of dedication after the offering. He did, and he did a great job! We hung out in the church school building for a while, snacking and charging my phone. We got home to find the power was still out. Since the snow was mostly melted, I decided to go for a run. When I got back, I was upstairs changing in the dark when all of a sudden we heard the sounds of the house coming back alive. The kids all started shrieking. The power was back on! We are very grateful too, as it's supposed to get down to 27 degrees tonight. We were pondering the hotel option. At the very least, we thought about going to my husband's office to shower. It was funny to see what we wound up prioritizing. This morning, we definitely needed coffee, so I made a McDonald's run to get it (and then got breakfast for everyone there too).

We wound up throwing out a lot of the food in the fridge. We shall see if school happens tomorrow. The power should be back on there (since it is back on for us) but given the number of trees still on the road as of this afternoon, it's unclear if the buses can get through the non-highway roads. My daughter, happily watching her Kindle and warming up, announced that she liked having the power off. Having school canceled and sleeping with Mommy are both nice perks, apparently, when you can't remember how cold you were a few hours before.

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9 Responses to In like a lion

  1. lorna says:

    I liked this post and your tactics for managing a power shortage. We, up north, take these things in stride, but it’s amazing how quickly things can deteriorate.

    • @lorna – we just have a bad combo here or many trees and above-ground lines. We are definitely planning to buy a small generator to power the fish tank and a space heater for next time. I think if those two things are OK we will be a lot more comfortable and relaxed.

  2. Omdg says:

    School is closed for us today, but fortunately we arranged a play date with a local classmate. Did you hear it might snow 14 inches on Tuesday night? And again over the weekend? I am definitely ready for this winter to be over.

    • @Omdg- I am hoping that is just weather channel hype. Because yes, ready for it to be done. My kids are out of school too – most of the district is back in, but our local elementary and high school didn’t have power restored by last night.

  3. Amanda says:

    Just so you know for the future, next time your power goes out for extended periods, put all your fridge/freezer food outside in the snow. (I’m from Buffalo & live in Syracuse – lots of experience.) Glad your power’s back on!

    • @Amanda- great idea!

    • Jenny says:

      I was going to suggest this, too — winter is nature’s refrigerator!

  4. Lindsey says:

    Wow! That is quite a weekend!! We had the winds in northern VA but not the precipitation. Yikes. And yet you still went for a run! Reading this I could practically hear/feel that sound of the “house coming alive” as you described. Memories from growing up in the midwest!

    • @Lindsey- I run every day, so not really surprising 🙂 The snow was mostly melted by 48 hours after – it got up almost to 50 degrees. But the melting snow didn’t change the fact that there were still trees down on power lines everywhere!

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