What was in the car besides five people? Enough bedding, blankets, and comforters for the five of us; one load of laundry; one suitcase with changes of clothes; a DVD player and four movies; Her Nibs' pack-n-play, diapers, wipes, and changing pad; The Oracle's backpack; the kids' backpacks and lunch boxes; Leapsters, Polly Pockets, monster trucks, and other assorted toys they HAD to have for a one-night stay; our favorite coffee; the Nutella; and one two-pound package of meatball mix that was still mostly frozen. It was the only perishable food item that didn't perish. The Turtle was absolutely stuffed.
It takes us forever to unload the car. The kids are beside themselves with excitement. We're staying in my in-laws' basement rec-room with a pull-out sofa, a studio couch, and a Franklin stove. My FIL builds a small inferno and The Oracle fusses with the stovepipe which is slightly dented and leaking a fine, thin ribbon of smoke into the room. Within minutes, the room is sweltering and I'm sweating.
I make the pull-out for the kids, and through lots of nonsense we stuff them into the shower and pajamas. By now it's nearly 9:30, and it's going to be hard getting them up at 6:30 for school. While we needed the fireplace to warm up the basement, it's probably a huge mistake. The kids are too excited to sleep with the crackling fire and the big ticking clock. Mighty B. won't leave his sister alone and keeps bumping and poking at her. They're fighting over blankets and Precious daughter is drawing an imaginary do-not-cross-this line between the pillows with little effect. The Oracle and I are providing plenty of entertainment with getting the studio couch in order and keeping Her Nibs away from the stove. We ended up abandoning our preparations to hang out upstairs and hope their exhaustion takes over.
It's 11:30 before they're asleep, and now The Oracle and I are sneaking about in the dim firelight to make our bed, brush our teeth, and coax Her Nibs to sleep.
The Oracle crawls into bed while Her Nibs is wide awake. She wants no part of her pack-n-play. She wants the stove, and I'm sitting on a loveseat and letting her watch the blaze. Somewhere along the line, we both fell asleep, and I awaken at 1:30 a.m. with a stiff neck and my arm numb to the shoulder.
I deposit Her Nibs into her temporary bed, and I consider crawling in myself. Instead, I start thinking about the Shedder. We last saw the Shedder at 8:00 p.m., and I know full well that I won't return home until after 8:00 a.m. I wonder whether she can hold herself twelve hours even though I already know the answer. I know she'd try, but I don't think she can. From the way she's been dragging her hind legs these last few weeks, I suspect she's got some denervation going on.
I don my shoes, sneak out of the house, and drive home. The power is still out. Duchess is so excited to see me, and I feel like a heel for not staying. I admit I was tempted, but I knew Her Nibs wouldn't tolerate the hard play pen for long, and I didn't want her waking her siblings. I give Duchess clean water, a little belly-rub time, and I remember to grab The Oracle's uniform shirt for that evening's game before I drive back and crawl into bed at 2:30.
I can't sleep. My FIL has this large, antique time clock (like this one but a lot less brass) hanging on the rec-room wall. It really is an awesome piece, and I confess that I secretly lust for it as my own possession. (Guess that's not a secret any more.) When the house is quiet, you can hear it ticking upstairs. Now the house is quiet, but I'm less than five feet away from it, and the ticking resounds in my ears like the cadence from a snare drum. Thank God the thing doesn't chime, or I would have been able to mark my insomnia in quarter-hour increments.
Eventually, I do fall asleep, and I am predictably brought to wakefulness at 5:00 or so by the complaints of Her Nibs who is in an unfamiliar place on top of being chilly since the fire went out. We resume our arm-numbing position on the love seat and doze until the alarm goes off at 6:30.
Now the fun begins! Her Nibs is wide awake, and we start trying to rattle the older kids out of bed, doing everything but propping their eyeballs open with toothpicks. To their credit, they rise, eat breakfast, and get dressed for school without disturbing their grandparents. Her Nibs and I leave to take them to school.
The kids are ten minutes late, but they're there and that's all I care about. I stop at the house to make their lunches (PB&J) and take care of Duchess. The power is still out. On my way to the school, I'm thinking of Precious Daughter and how much she hates PB&J, and I feel guilty. Nibs and I stop at a nearby convenience store and add a Reese's egg to each lunch bag.
I get in and start the car and - WHAM! - somebody rear ended me. (so glad I was already in and not merely halfway!) The impact felt like a lot, but it didn't disturb a sleeping Nibs in her car seat, and there's no visible damage. The ditzy driver and I exchange information with my promise to contact her if any backup sensors or my exhaust system were damaged.
I drop off the lunches and realize I forgot my purse. I had promised The Oracle that I'd pick up a weekly train pass on the way and I couldn't. I'm three-quarters of the way back when he tells me he needs his work pass to get in the building as well as his ID for the game that evening. Once he's ready for work, we drive back to our house (the power is still out), get his passes, and I drop him off at the train station.
I was so sick of the car I could cry, but I wasn't finished yet. I still had a job interview twenty miles away at 2:00 p.m. By the time I drop The Oracle at the station, it's roughly 11:00 a.m. I return to my in-laws' to shower, feed Her Nibs, and get out the door by 12:45.
I never had time for lunch, so I grab a burger on the way, being careful not to dribble on my interview clothes. Why didn't I just get chicken pieces instead?
I arrive, and I'm happy to find a parking meter right by my destination. I'd worked for this employer before, so I knew how horrible the parking situation was. I ditch my sneakers to change into my pumps and get out of the car to feed the meter.
My gait is all wonky because I'm wearing two different shoes. See, when I was poking around in the dark for a pair of black pumps, I grabbed one of each pair. Fortunately, they're nearly identical, spiky-heeled and pointy-toed and even the same brand, but one was two inches shorter than the other.
Having only fifteen minutes to spare and no time to go shoe shopping, I called The Oracle and had a good laugh instead. I did my best to walk evenly on my toes and keep one mismatched shoe out of sight at all times. I also suppressed the urge to brag about my stupidity - something I'm prone to do when embarrassed - but when converation turned to our bout of lousy weather, I casually mentioned our power being out and left it at that.
My FIL met the kids' school bus at 3:00 and spotted a power truck from a city over 300 miles away working on a transformer. He spoke with the driver who estimated the return of our power by 7:30 p.m.
We ate dinner with my in-laws. When I called home at 7:05 p.m., I was overjoyed to hear our answering machine. After dinner my FIL and I started loading the car. We had to pick The Oracle up from the basketball game first, though, so we didn't get home until after 10:00 p.m.
I had to pitch the entire contents of my fridge and freezers except a few condiments. It's a bit of a blessing, I guess, since I really need to scour one and defrost the other. I later learned that the electric company will reimburse for my lost groceries, but they pass the bill on to the neighbor who owned the downed tree. I think that's kind of crappy. The tree is one in a long line of trees running the length of the city line, and they're all in pretty sorry shape. Where the treeline passes along our yard, the property on the city side is watershed land owned by the water department. (In an interesting note, the water department is in charge of the creek, but the parks department handles the trees.) I called them today to have them inspect the trees because they're ancient and very unstable. One is clearly infested with carpenter ants, so the others probably are too.
It's three days later, and the kids are still "hung over" from not getting enough sleep. The Shedder is still clingy and insecure from being "abandoned" by her pack. I can't wait for the weekend!
Now, aren't you glad it's over?