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Ma Ingalls Has Nothing On Me

Ma Ingalls Has Nothing On Me

September 9, 2007

Black out

Last night we lost power for 3 hours, or 30 hours, it was hard to tell.

And despite me just writing this post at BlogHer about September being Disaster Preparedness month, we didn’t have one flashlight or candle handy. And since Rob quit smoking we didn’t even have any lighters or matches readily available.

So we stood there in the breakfast room, where we had just finished eating dinner feeling inept while my 2 and 4 yr olds screamed “Turn on the lights! Turn on the lights!” The concept of a power failure was lost on them.

My 11 yr old had been in the shower when the power went out. He grabbed a small flashlight and ran downstairs completely naked to tell us the power was out, you know in case we didn’t notice. Then he yelled at us to stop looking at him because he was naked. I tried to explain that it was the only light in a 5 mile radius so of course we were looking at him, but he continued to shriek and cover the “important areas” with his hands until I walked over and snatched the flashlight away from him.

Eventually we found some matches and a couple of flashlights. And we sat around getting sweaty and enjoying all the family togetherness devoid of any electronic distractions. That was really fun. And killed 20 minutes.

Bickering, cursing our misfortune, and drinking wine took up a bulk of the remainder of the time. To pass the time we called the power company over and over again in hopes that they would have an update we liked better. We listened to (or told) jokes with no discernible punchline.

And then I read a Berenstain Bears anthology.

Finally we decided that the fun must come to an end and it was bedtime. Oh the wailing and the anguished rending of garments that occurred when I suggested they go to bed in the DARK. Even though I told them that when they close their eyes it is dark, so what’s the difference. Yes, I am a monster.

Finally the power came back on and I had another glass of wine in celebration of the fact that I am not living 100 years ago. Or maybe it was because the kids were all in bed. It was hard to tell.

Posted by Chris @ 10:09 pm  

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  1. Maddy says:

    This happened to us twice last summer, I really appreciate my appliances so much more once I had to do without the AC and the fridge for a couple of hours.

  2. Karen Vogel says:

    Berenstain Bears anthology? I’m sorry. I am so very, very sorry. At least Ma Ingalls never would have had to suffer through that.

    And I’m glad to hear that there is another family who can’t find the flashlights when they need them….

  3. Jen says:

    Losing power is always fun… for about 4 minutes, then it gets annoying. Always good to know where the wine opener is, you know, just in case.

  4. janet says:

    wine always trumps whine. every time.

  5. Fold My Laundry Please says:

    Of course, you immediately ate all the ice cream, right? Please tell me you ate all the ice cream. It would be such a waste to have all the delicious ice cream melt for no good reason. Oh no! What if OUR power goes out? I better go eat all the ice cream, just in case!

  6. Jean says:

    At least you had just FINISHED dinner, so you could skip the part about the kiddos being hungry also, and the part about trying to finish making dinner in the woodburning stove.

  7. Anna says:

    I love that picture…what a little sweetie. I think I’m super jealous about your camera…mine takes great shots, but not really amazing shots, like that.

  8. MammaLoves says:

    Sounds just like my house.

    What is it with the wee ones and the dark? I know. I was afraid too.

  9. Busy Mom says:

    So, how many times did you try to turn on the lights despite knowing the power was out? I’m always doing that.

  10. chickadee says:

    going to bed in the dark. haha, that part gets me too. it’s just too quiet to sleep. and dark.

  11. Lilly says:

    One winter we had a couple of power outages that each lasted about 3 days. Now I know that it’s my washing machine that I would miss the most.

  12. Jennifer says:

    We used to lose power all the time in the mountain. It freaks the little ones out, doesn’t it? Funny how that works.

  13. CathyC says:

    Of course you had to write that article on disaster and it had to bite you on the behind! LOL! I’m even worse: we keep the candles in the dining room, and the matches in the basement– you know, so the kids can’t get them.

  14. Meritt says:

    I just laughed when I read this. Especially when your son ran downstairs to let you know the power was out. :)

    I love sunlight and candle light - hate artificial light. Many evenings in our home you would think we had a power outage (well, except for the glow of the laptop screen). Many times we’ve been making dinner in the dark, doing dishes in the dark or just sitting and talking… and don’t realize how dark it is until my husband comes home from work and points it out. I also regularly only have candles lit for light in the evenings and nights. It’s not uncommon here to have only candle light two nights of the week.

    I don’t notice it until people like my new neighbor (when she was about 11) said; “Don’t you guys ever turn on your lights? I never seen any lights on in your house!”

    - well, what is she looking in our windows for anyway!? LOL.

  15. brookem says:

    yeah i’ve been there. although it was 3 days, in winter with 2 kids (not mine) and a septic tank so there was no water. every time i went to light a candle or use an axe (i chopped a lot of wood that week) there was always some helpful little person there saying ‘i’ll help’, with a straight face no less. well not with an axe you won’t, cos the hospital didn’t have power either.

    so now, we keep a six pack in the cupboard along with the other emergency supplies.

  16. Jeana says:

    That was incredible. It really was just like reading the Little House books. Wine, bickering and cursing–isn’t that how they survived the Long Winter?

  17. Beverly says:

    Can’t find a flashlight? We always find ours easily…except they never have batteries that work!

    And when you live in hurricane stricken Florida, that’s bad!

    The last time we lost power after a hurricane was for three days…in August…in 100 heat…and going to a laundrymat an hour away to wash clothes seemed like a luxury!

  18. Brigitte says:

    Gee, when we were little, we loved power outages because then we could run around shrieking and playing “Hide-and-seek-in-the-dark”! Of course, it was a teeny, teeny house. Maybe your kids would get lost playing that game at your house!

  19. elasticwaistbandlady says:

    My 12 year old daughter is suffering the crushing trifecta of menstruation, acne, and frizzy hair all at once–sooo, she spends more time on her teeth to compensate for it. Last time the power went out, she rushed in to the room and said, “Don’t worry everybody! Just follow the shining light from my pearly white teeth. I’ve been using Crest White Strips, you know.”

    She’s our backup emergency beacon. And yes, she is a gas-filled beacon most of the time.

  20. Fairly Odd Mother says:

    Last summer, we lost power over the hottest night of the year AND all the kids piled into our bed in the middle of the night. I think I sweat off 10 pounds lying in that still, hot night air.

    Yeah, for all the romanticizing I did reading Little House on the Prairie, I’d survive about 15 minutes in that heat or that cold.

  21. Lynn says:

    We’ve got one of these on the main floor, and a similar one in the basement.


    They’re great when the power goes out. We can plug in a lamp, charge a cell phone, power the small TV for a brief time to check weather conditions, etc. I think the basement one will even inflate a tire. Admittedly, we were out of luck during an ice storm that left us without power for almost two weeks a few years ago, but I highly recommend this gadget for the normal garden variety power outage.

  22. Nicole says:

    We lost power on Saturday night/Sunday morning, too. Gah!! Ours was out for 10.5 hours, and my daughter didn’t want to go to bed in the dark, either. LOL! What is up with that?

  23. liz says:

    Erm…we have flashlights in every blooming room. Their batteries are fresh too.

  24. Michelle says:

    You make me smile on a daily basis!! For those of us who live in South Florida with children, and having been without electric for 21 days after the last hurricane(solar yard lights make great “flashlights”)….Alcoholic beverages rank right up there with water, canned goods, and flashlights in the disaster supplies!!!

  25. Rebecca says:

    We lost power a few weeks ago for a couple hours - electric stoves SUCK in this situation. I was forced to order out because I had nothing that we could eat without cooking or heating it somehow - bummer. Luckily it was during the day so I didn’t have to worry about flashlights, good thing cuz I have no idea where they are. My son was upset the tv wasn’t working so he suggested we watch a movie instead.

  26. Susan says:

    Ugh, I feel your pain! We had no power OR water last summer for something like 8 hours. I was sent home from work (this was our whole community, btw) and had to pick up my kids from daycare, so we could go home and suffer there. The worst part was the gas pumps were all down, too (and we live in an area where the next community is literally 60 miles away) so we couldn’t even escape our hellhole town in any way because we didn’t have enough freaking gas to LEAVE! It was horrible, especially the no water part. (We are on a well so our well could not run w/out power.) We literally did a dance when the power came back on!

  27. Pamela says:

    Good for parents who can sent their kids to bed earlier. I would not have mind another power failure for a short period of time.( I can have excuses to burnt up all my frangance Candles bought at one of the SF store some years back. I like to collect nice candles) Some peace to my ears too without the TV. But surly I would miss my keyboard and laptop.Pamela.

  28. peepnroosmom says:

    Oh I feel for you.
    When Peep was a baby a hurricane hit us and knocked out power for three days. THREE DAYS! You don’t know how many times I went over and tried to turn on the lights.
    I would make a horrible pioneer woman. I hate to cook, clean, sew, all the things a good little pioneer woman was expected to do.

  29. Nicki says:

    My husband seems to think that it’s a great idea for my son to play with the only flashlight in the house. You know the kind that plug into the wall then come on when the power goes out. So not only will we be unable to find the flashlight, it will also have a dead (unreplaceable) battery in it!!

    we also have the lighter & match issue since we stopped smoking.

  30. Grace says:

    We lose power at least twice each summer. Due to the high winds of the monsoons. Downed power lines. Totally suck! So we have one cabinet shelf in our kitchen with 3 flashlights (the giant ones) with our extra batteries, candles, and matches. But….I must say I’m still cracking up about your 11 yr old running down the stairs naked holding a flashlight….

  31. carrie says:

    Losing power is the perfect excuse for a camp-out in the living room, in front of the fire and yeah - lots of wine for me!

    Love that picture!

  32. Amy Y says:

    I hate when the power goes out! But alas, wine makes everything better :)

  33. Diane says:

    Funny!! It’s amazing how much we rely on electricity, isn’t it? I wasn’t so bad until I started blogging. Now I go nuts without the internet!

  34. Lovebabz says:

    I am with you, Chris. I would have been a mess 100 years ago. We had a couple of power outages and the kids loved it. I was prepared though–my husband is freakish about these things. It only took a few minutes to gather candles and matches and lighters. It is a very vulnerable feeling to be without power.

  35. qtpies7 says:

    Oh, the wailing that happens here when there is no power! And its almost all me because I can’t get on the internet.

  36. cce says:

    Are we talking hurricane preparedness? God this is such a flashback to fall in Miami. All jammed in to one house with the blackout hurricane shutters up and the a/c out and the adult beverage supply running low. There are other challenges up here in the great white north but I can’t say I miss hurricane season in the South!

  37. Meagan says:

    LMAO–twice this summer we’ve been without power for two or three hours at a stretch and within twenty minutes I’m sooooo bored. And, like you, not prepared enough to read or play a board game by candlelight (no candles!). Think about it, though–in the olden days, wouldn’t they have been in bed by the time it was pitch-black out? Maybe that’s how they kept from getting bored. That and meaningful conversation.

  38. Katie says:

    Not that our power goes out a lot (it’s mostly because we tent camp) we have a portable dvd player, battery powered TV/radio, a mini back up power supply (kinda like the Black and Decker one but not as cool) and more flashlights than you can shake a stick at. Once I get my laptop we’ll be set cause I’m totally buying a battery back up for the modem. LOL

  39. Deborah says:

    Oh my goodness, you make me laugh. After a horrific day packing my office, I checked your blog before I head home to have the best laugh I’ve had in ages. I can only imagine your son’s amazement when he realized he was…..NAKED. I am still laughing.

  40. Jolyn says:

    I have read your blog for a couple of months now but this is my first time replying.
    We are a military family and this entry reminded me of our time in Italy, where we just moved from, where the power goes out on a routine basis. They build the houses there to ensure it. You see, you’re only able to use so much electricity at one time and if you go over — pop! goes the power. Wash and dry clothes at the same time? Not a good idea. It is possible if you’re washing a load in 30 degrees (celcius), but if you forget and go and turn on, say, the coffeepot, or the microwave — poof! goes the power. Since one load of wash (just the wash, not the dryer, too) takes 2 hours to cycle through, this is a big deal. You learned to juggle on the power-supply tightrope with what you could run at one time: washer; coffeepot; computer; tv; two fans. Ok. Or: dryer; coffeepot; computer; tv; but just one fan. If you forget and try to make some toast — poof! Or you have a guest who doesn’t know the drill and goes to dry her hair — poof! Or your two-year-old goes around and starts turning on fans and/or space heaters (definitely a deal-killer) — poof!
    We have just returned to the States and I am immeasurably grateful that I no longer have to schedule my day around my laundry cycles, but this post has given me pause. We aren’t near the coast or in tornado alley, but areas not far north of us had some flooding a couple of weeks ago…
    You never think it will happen to you, do you? So, thank you for your blog entry, and for allowing people like me to glimpse into your life. We need to be hopeful, but also pragmatic. Hopefully pragmatic.
    You also inspired me to try to keep up my own blog. I even renamed it after garnering advice from expert bloggers like yourself that it might not be a good idea to put your last name in the title: too many heeber-jeebers out there. Call me hopeful, but I like to think that most of us are just out for a little entertainment, and maybe to learn a little from each other at the same time. But it never hurts to be a little pragmatic, too.

  41. Chuck says:

    Since we have almost as many house monkeys as you do (6) we plan and enjoy power outages. At the local dollar store we prebuy the glowing in the dark necklaces and braclets and glowsticks and if the power goes out everyone has one as a night light and play toy. I also have a flashlight for each child with red gell on the lens hanging up in the closet. The first thing a child does is shine it in your eyes so cover the lenses with red gell and if makes it much better. Our kids now hope for power outages so they can get the special toys…And we have a generator, we just dont use it unless its been out for a long time.

  42. Susan says:

    Our power was out last night, and as a result we were locked out of our house. Why, you ask, would a power outage prevent us from unlocking the doors? Because we don’t USE the doors, silly, we go in through the garage! Which we open with a garage door opener! That runs on electricity!

    I would have made a really crappy pioneer woman. Clearly.

  43. Jessica says:

    LOL this post was so funny! We just moved to Guam the begining of this year and our power goes out all the time. When it happens before bed my two year old is the same way LOL. It’s happened a dozen times atlest and he still tells me it’s okay we just need batteries LOL.

  44. Linda says:

    Love it! We actually get excited when the big lightning storm knocks out the power in our house. Out come the candles, matches, and blankets to cuddle with our 3 little kids. We also have our own business-travel products-and we use a lot of our own products to make the ‘event’ much more comfortable and fun. Life is all about being prepared, and enjoying the journey along the way! That’s what we always say in our house anyways…so far, so good!

  45. Elizabeth says:

    My son’s brain goes like this when the power is out: That’s okay, we’ll just watch TV - oh, shoot - well, we’ll play XBox - darn it! I’ll just listen to the radio - oh, man! Let’s play a game in the basement - hey, it’s really dark down here, turn on some lights - THIS IS THE WORST DAY EVER!!

    He had homework to interview a grandparent about what it was like for her when she was six. He needed three things the same and three things different. He was SHOCKED by the fact that there were no indoor potties. What did they do, go on the GRASS? She explained that there was a little house outside, and a bench to sit on with holes in it, and a door for privacy, but I really don’t think he believed her. Needless to say she didn’t explain to him about that time of the month and the smell from burning certain products in the pot-bellied stove. Or buying enough sacks of flour in the same print (yes, print) that you could make a dress from them. And my mother is only 70. Oh, yeah, the Laura Ingalls romance is definitely missing from our family stories.

  46. Denise says:

    Hmm our power was out for a week once.. the week before Christmas.. and we all lived.. (mostly in one room) and were happy. (maybe because the power came back on at 11pm Chrismas eve!)
    Now.. go buy some flashlights and some nice amish oil lamps.. they will look nice in your house anyway!(the lamps that is..)

  47. Real Mom says:

    You Libs will be living in the Stone Age with your goat cheese and Pinot soon enough. I hope you can still live the good life with your heads in the sand. I have never read such self indulgent nonsense in all my life.

  48. Personal Chef to 2 says:

    Hmm “Real Mom” .. it’s HER blog. Of course it’s self indulgent. She’s not writing a column for the New York Post LOL

    I’m sure I’ve just jinxed myself but it’s been close to 2 years since we’ve lost power for any length of time and when we did, I had just re-stocked on popsicles …

  49. Shannon says:

    Hee. That’s too funny about the 11 year old. Although…if he had a flashlight..couldn’t he find a towel?

  50. Leslie says:

    We swear by these rechargeable flashlights that we picked up at Lowes: If you turn them on THEN plug them in, the light goes out, but then it will automatically go on again if the power is lost or if you yank it out of the plug to use it. We have one on ever floor plus an extra one in our older granddaughter’s room. At around $12 each they were a great investment, plus no searching for the flashlight and batteries in the dark!

  51. nan says:

    Heh, heh. Around here, we regularly have no electricity, so we are totally prepared. And we haven’t had mains water in months. We collect rain water, during the rainy season, and buy it by the truckload in the dry season. “in these isles of sun and fun, we never flush for number one!”