Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Great Blackout (Part II)

Saturday consisted of a great deal of discussion, planning, and attempts to beat the heat, but very little actual relief from it.

Because the house to the left of us is under construction, there are very often workers around during the day, and one of the supervisors on-site graciously offered us the use of his generator, which was normally used for power tools and the like.  However, we needed a few things to get it going, including a long extension cord and some gasoline.  Tom was easily able to purchase a cord early that morning, but gasoline ended up being hard to come by, as all of the nearby stations were closed due to the power outages.

Meanwhile, my mother-in-law (Nana) and sister-in-law, ("Aya"- another Abby-gifted name) were caring for the kids while I tried, in vain, to log some amount of sleep.  I remember getting about an hour between 2 and 3 am, and having just fallen asleep around the time that Michael called it quits for the night, and had to be taken from the bedroom.  I didn't do much better after he was gone, as the room was bright and loud from the open window, and was growing warmer by the minute.

I ended up back in the bed not long after venturing out, this time with Michael, as he was ready to both eat and nap, and I was hoping to combine the two activities while expending as little energy as possible.  Thankfully, he was compliant, and while he and I had a quick catnap, Abby got to try out her little wading pool in the back yard with Nana and Aya.

Unfortunately, by the time I ventured out of the bedroom "for real," the morning was gone, and we all found ourselves scrambling to figure out what to do for lunch.  We decided on Tyson's Corner Center, but it was an hour or more before we were finally on the road.  We first had to get the generator running, with some old gas loaned to us by a neighbor, change a few outfits, stuff a bunch of things in bags and cars, and grab a couple of quick, cool, showers.  While the refrigerator benefited from the couple of hours it got  to plug in, there was limited opportunity to charge cell phones, since we had to leave the house shortly after getting everything set up.  Tom and I had to take turns using the charger in the car on the way to our destination.

Which, by the way, turned out to be entirely the wrong place to be.

The mall trip was a disaster.  It took over thirty minutes to find a spot to park, and a good twenty minutes more to meet up with one another (Tom, Abby, Michael, and I were in one car, Nana and Aya in another, and Mima and Mei Mei came down from Maryland in still another- they lost power, too and wanted to hang out with us while taking advantage of someplace with air conditioning).  We anticipated a long wait for lunch at Gordon Biersch given the volume of patrons at the mall, and the large size of our group, but it appeared we might actually be seated in reasonable time- that is, until we were approached by the manager.  He informed us that the water had just been cut off, for reasons unknown, and according to health department regulations, this prohibited them from serving us.  A phone call to the Silver Diner down the street confirmed that they were having the same problem.

However, the manager from La Sandia suggested that we try a hotel, as they tend to have their own water supply, so off we went to the Crown Plaza just down the street.  It was wonderfully close, but unfortunately, between the hike required to get to our cars, and the various steps involved in getting the children loaded and unloaded, it was a daunting proposition to relocate.  We were hot, sweaty, and exhausted by the time we got a table at the pub there.

Lunch was a pleasant experience, though, and we took our time.  Since Abby and Michael were in such good spirits, and the whole point of the their visit was to give Tom and me some time to relax, Nana and Aya encouraged Tom and me to go see a movie while they took the kids back to our house.  Of course, the mall was still overflowing with people, especially the movie theater, so we ended up in the very front row as a result of arriving to the movie a couple of minutes into the previews.  Not the most comfortable way to view The Avengers, but I'm still glad to have finally seen it, and can't wait to do so again.

Unfortunately, by the time we arrived home, the kids were overtired and anxious, the house was incredibly uncomfortable, and Nana and Aya were feeling a little overwhelmed.  Additionally, we found out from our neighbor that the power had been restore to the neighborhood, but not to our house (since our power box was still hanging loose off the end of the wire), and we now had live wires running in our yard.

We had been willing to endure the heat, but were very nervous about the live wires, so Nana and Aya decided to head in the direction of home early, with plans to find a hotel along the way, since we soon found out that everything in the immediate area was booked solid.  Tom and I were at a bit of a loss about where to go and what to do, but thought that maybe if we just started heading north, we could drive a few hours and find a vacancy somewhere far away.  However, I soon discovered that it is difficult to search for vacancies if you don't know exactly where you're going, and we both began to balk at the idea of potentially driving up to two hours with no clear notion of where we'd end up.  We called my parents to ask for some advice, and realized while talking to them that we should perhaps just head to their place, power-less as it was, since at least it didn't have a hazard zone in its front yard.

This turned out to be absolutely the right call, as we found out the next day that Nana and Aya were forced to drive all the way home, as there were no vacancies even as far as Delaware (apparently, they had been hit, too.) 

We set up camp in my parents' rec room, a good two hours past Abby and Michael's bed time, but luckily the children were so exhausted that they went down with no fuss at all, each to their own pack n' play.  I gave Tom the sofa and started off in the easy chair, but ultimately ended up on one of the love seats with my legs hanging over an arm.  Though one of the coolest spots in the house, it was still pretty hot until about 2 am, when Michael woke up for a feeding (I still can't believe he slept that long- four hours- and in the heat!), and a cool breeze began to make its way into the room.

I had to get up with Michael again at 4 am, and he was up for the day at 6 am, but overall it was a pretty good night for him, and though I was rather uncomfortable, I got a bit more sleep than I had the night before.  Abby slept through with no problems, although she was up by 7 am instead of sleeping in until 9, as there was really no way to shield her from all of the commotion that ensued once everyone else was awake and moving around the house.

The day was so crazy that I had no time to take any pictures, but I do have a few cute ones of Abby from the Thursday before all of this craziness set in.

 These are a little over-exposed- I'm still working on how best to use that Speedlight- but I still adore them.

Abby, by the way, has now expanded her vocabulary of commands, and can request the following:
  • More _____ (she used to just say "more," now she can combine this word with what she wants)
  • Pick me up ("Peek up")
  • I want to walk ("Walk")
  • I want to sit on Daddy's lap ("Daddy," while wiggling in her booster and motioning with her hands)
  • I want to go upstairs ("Up-stair")
  • I want to go outside ("Ow-sigh")
  • I want to hear some music ("Moo-sick")
  • I want to hear a different song ("Off")
  • I want a bite of what you're eating ("Bite!")
And Michael rolled from back-to-belly for the first time yesterday.  But more on that, later...