The Powers that Be.

I had, what was perhaps, my worst day this week.
No, that’s not a fair thing to say.  Worst makes it sound like sickness and death was involved.  Let’s say TryingDifficult.?  Nightmare-ish.?  And I’m exhausted from it.  Too exhausted to try to be eloquent and clever, so I’m just gonna bullet-point the events that occurred during my day, just to get it off my chest.  Here goes.

10:30 pm, Sunday.  Go to bed after a long, but enjoyable weekend of party catering and cooking lessons. High hopes for the quiet Monday ahead.

1:30 am, Sunday.    I hate it when I’m wrong.
Power goes out in entire town.  We know this because my family uses sound machines (or sleep machines, as we call them) to sleep.  So we were all abruptly shaken awake by sudden silence…then the sound of electronic chirping birds.  This is because the manufacturer of our sleep machines decided that the default sound choice should be birds.  So when the power cuts off, then flickers on again, that’s what we get.  Very loud birds.  I am really trying to figure out who thinks chirping birds are relaxing.  And the only answer I can come up with is Other Birds.  And as far as I know, Other Birds aren’t going out and buying their albums if they can get the live performance for free.
So…my son wakes up at 1:30 a.m. terrified and is now scared of birds.  He climbs into our bed.

1:35 am, Monday.  Try to explain to an almost 4 year old what Power is.

1:36 am, Monday.  Go get the iPad to use the Sound Machine app (thank goodness for modern technology!)…only to find that my husband thought it was a good idea to let the battery get down to 4% before bed that night.  Get mad at him a little for that.

1:40 am-4:30 am, Monday.   All three of us smoosh together and try to fall back asleep.  My husband, the Sleep Machine himself, falls back asleep immediately.  My son can’t relax, I can’t relax, I get up several times to check on the baby, look outside, tap my husband on the shoulder to ask far too many questions.  Finally put our son back in his bed and eventually fall asleep.

6:30 am, Monday.  Baby daughter officially wakes up and needs my milk.  We let the boys sleep.  Still no power.  Call the electric company and hear it may be off til noon that day.  Awesome.  My son’s school is canceled today due to the lack of power.  Awesome.

8:30 am, Monday.  Husband goes to work…Because when the power goes out in an entire town, the insurance business is a popular business.

12:00 pm, Monday.  Baby is awake from nap, everyone is starving and we can’t open the fridge.  I load them up in the car and press my garage door opener button thingy.  Nothing happens.  Oh yeah…no power..  Stuck in garage.

12:15 pm, Monday.  Manually lift the garage door and head to Chick Fil A.

1:00 pm, Monday.  Feed babies and grab food for working hubby.  Call the electric company again.  Now they say 2 pm.  Awesome.  Decide to go to Kohl’s to return an item and do some shopping.

1:30 pm, Monday.  Successfully return item but Kohl’s lady at counter pushes too many buttons too fast and forgets I requested store credit, and I don’t have the card that the item was charged on, so…no shopping for me.

2:00 pm, Monday.  Walk out of Kohl’s empty-handed and frustrated, call a neighbor to ask about Power.  No power.  Strap kids in car (wow, it’s windy today), lean back to scratch leg, wind slams car door shut.  Keys in baby’s lap.  Cell phone in baby’s lap.

2:01 pm, Monday.  FREAK OUT!!!!!!  Call out for a stranger’s help, use her cell phone, call the fire department, play peek-a-boo with children so they don’t know to be scared.  Cry A LOT behind extra large sunglasses, FREAK OUT!!!!!!

2:05 pm, Monday.  Fire department comes, sirens blaring, (son smiles with amazement), jimmy my door open.  Hug, kiss, and squeeze babies.  Almost make out with Fireman.

2:06 pm, Monday.  Tell my son that I really just wanted him to get to see a firetruck today and ‘Wasn’t that so cool, honey?!’  Win points as coolest mom ever.  Secretly cry some more behind sunglasses.  Call electric company.  New update is 4 pm.  Awesome.

2:30 pm, Monday.  Put very sleepy son down for very late nap.  Loudly cry to husband who left work to console crazy wife.  Decide to go out to eat later because nobody thinks crackers sound good for dinner.

3:00 pm, Monday.  Put very sleepy daughter down, try to relax on couch.

4:00 pm, Monday.  Call electric company again.  New update is 7 pm.  Awesome.

4:45 pm, Monday.  Kids wake up, sun begins to set.  Gather all flashlights, candles and matches to prepare for the darkness, wait for husband to come home.

5:00 pm, Monday.  Husband comes home, then turns around to take us all out to eat.  We meet my parents at the restaurant.

6:00 pm, Monday.  Eat pizza.  More importantly- Drink Margarita.

6:15 pm, Monday.  Call electric company.  New update is 9 pm.  SOOOO NOT AWESOME!!!!!

6:30 pm, Monday.  Decide to all stay at my parents house.

9:08 pm, Monday.  Call neighbor.  Power.  Is.  Back.  On.  Awesome.  Secretly wish I was home to see it.

10:30 pm, Monday.  Crawl into my childhood bed, in my mother’s clothes, next to my (finally) asleep baby, sleep in 30 minute increments.

6:00 am. Tuesday.  Wake up to confused baby, cat nap in bed together.

6:30 am. Tuesday.  Head downstairs to a full house.  Try to remember the last time my father’s face was the first one I saw in the morning.  Drink good coffee, watch kids play.

7:30 am, Tuesday.  Arrive to a Powered home, take inventory of refrigerator.  Throw Everything out.  Silently mourn the loss.  Make list to give to insurance company, (husband is very smart).

11:00 am, Tuesday.  Take kids to store to buy everything I just bought two days ago all over again.  (Grocery shopping, with or without two small children, is sooo much easier without coupons and budget watching.)

…..and so on and so on.

In short, I am incredibly glad that day is over.  All day I felt like I was standing still, screaming out to someone for help, but no one could hear me (except the Huntersville Fire Department).  The entire day was out of my control and I just couldn’t take it.  And I’m still paying for it now, days later.  I’m tired and achy, and my kids are so thrown off their sleep schedule, but we are all fine and healthy.

It’s unbelievable how much we rely on power.  I walked around all day long, mindlessly flipping useless switches.  It’s actually pretty funny thinking about the cooking lesson I gave the night before the blackout.  We were making a chocolate cake without a mixer and I remember saying ‘Oh, it’s ok.  People were making cakes long before there was electricity, it’ll be fine!’  Ha.  So… I kinda think I’m the one who brought on the power outage (sorry neighbors!)  But the cake got made and it was fine.  Just like me in the midst of my horrible day, the cake rose to the occasion and figured it all out.  It was harder to do, of course, but in the end, we all survived one more day on this earth.  And isn’t that the most important thing?

We, as a culture, are so reliant on all things ‘Powerful’ that I think we forget how lucky we are to have the things we have.  We have gotten ourselves into little routines that cause us to stop thinking about how things actually work.  I think about my son, scared and fragile at 1:30 in the morning, asking what Power was.  He is so new at this thing called life that he is constantly trying to figure out how things work, why they work, what he can do to make them work better, and I wish I was more like that.  I wish we all were more like that.  We should all have an occasional No Power Day and see how much we can learn from it (as long as I know it’s coming and how long it will last!).  Light a fire.  Play flashlight tag.  Go OUTSIDE.  TALK.  Make Fondue.  Roast marshmallows.  Play a board game by the light of a candle.  Listen to actual sounds of nature, to actual birds chirping.

Like all things difficult and trying, I learned a lot during my day without Power.  But the best lesson I think I learned is that all I really need to be happy is my family.

And coffee.

Ok, and some wine.

And maybe a sleep machine?

*Delicious Blackout Fondue
(This is such a fun meal to have with kids because they will eat just about anything if they know they get to dip it into a hot cauldron of cheese with a sharp stick.  I remember having fondue during Hurricane Hugo, when the power was out for days here.  I was around 8 or 9 years old and I remember feeling very grown up.  If you’ve never made it before, it’s so much easier than you would think.  Plus, a lot of us have a fondue pot collecting dust somewhere around the house…) 

-Grate 4-5 cups (about 12 oz) of Gruyere and another 4-5 cups of Extra Sharp Cheddar (9-10 cups/24 oz total) in a large bowl.  Toss with 2 TB of cornstarch. Set aside.
-In a medium saucepan (or you can always make this in the actual fondue pot over the lit sterno if you need to), rub a cut garlic clove along the sides and bottom (discard the garlic) and pour in 1 1/2 cups of dry white wine.  Turn heat on medium-low heat.
-When it starts to bubble, start adding your cheese by the handful while stirring in a figure-eight pattern with a wooden spoon.  (No, I’m not crazy.  You do this so that your cheese doesn’t clump around the spoon.)  Stir constantly until your mixture is smooth and bubbly.  (This could take up to 5 minutes)
-Season with the juice of one lemon, lots of freshly grated nutmeg, some white pepper (if you have it, black is obviously fine), and a pinch of kosher salt.
-Transfer to your fondue pot and keep warm over the sterno.
-Serve with your favorite dippers.  We like an assortment of steamed veggies like carrots, cauliflower, broccoli and brussels sprouts cut into large chunks.  We also love to dip chunks of cooked chicken or pork, raw apples and toasted bread cubes.

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  • Reply Chef E November 17, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    I am sorry to hear this. When my daughter was young as yours, the power would always go out around 2 or 3 AM and we were sleep machine heads too, but she had a heart problem, and could not get hot in the summer, or we were all extra miserable.

    So, what I am saying is I understand. If I do go to sleep like during the hurricane this past year, my hubby tries to day "See you don't need that fan, you slept fine", but I tell him it took me hours to go to sleep, unlike him and your hubby, sleeps through anything 🙂

  • Reply Everyday Champagne November 17, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    Thanks Chef! Our husbands will never understand…

  • Reply Anonymous November 19, 2011 at 12:46 am

    So, this may be my favorite posting ever, Abbey. I know it was so hard, but, thanks to you, this may have been your children's favorite day, ever. All will be well.


  • Reply Everyday Champagne November 19, 2011 at 12:51 am

    Gail-You have no idea how awesome that makes me feel. Thanks so much!

  • Reply Everyday Champagne December 1, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    Wow! I don't know that I would have kept it together with the 'locking the keys in the car WITH the kids' ordeal. I would have been the crazy woman screaming in the parking lot & terrifying the kids. Hopefully, things have returned to normal 🙂

  • Reply Everyday Champagne December 1, 2011 at 11:40 pm

    Thanks Quinn, things are back to as normal as they get!

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