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Raising Lexington: Life Without Life’s Little Pleasures

Teaching children about the things they take for granted.

Living in New England means living with our ever changing weather. As Mark Twain once said, “If you don’t like the weather in New England, just wait a bit.”

But snow this early in the season seems unusual even for New England. So when this week’s Nor’easter came and we were without properly fitting snow boots, our hats and gloves were still packed away from last season and the power went out for days, the kids started to see life a little differently.

What I mean is, well, we all take a lot for granted.

I started to improvise right away by having the kids use their rain boots, since their snow boots no longer fit them. My kids didn’t quit understand why their snow boots weren’t ready and waiting for them, so next came a quick lesson on weather. We located the winter clothes bins, sorted through what fit and what didn’t and laughed at my son’s mismatched gloves and the sight my hat on my daughter.

I had no idea where the snow toys were so I gave the kids some Tupperware and quickly realized they were just as good. There were some grumbles about missing their cool snow ball maker, but my blank look quickly changed their tune.

Things started to get a bit more serious when my husband informed me that the shovels from last year were in no condition to move the wet, heavy snow. What he was really trying to tell me was that they were cracked and needed to be put out of their misery. Neighbors told a similar story and so, with a pending snow storm on the way, off we went in search of new shovels.

Of course, my kids were quick to point out that their shovels were in excellent condition and ready to go to work. What they didn’t know was that if the hardware stores were out of shovels we would take them up on their offer.  

So, we had figured out snow clothes for the kids, made due with alternative snow toys, set out to locate snow shovels and had some weak plans for power outages. The day could go on as planned, until it didn’t.

Sure, we lost power when , but that was for four hours during the day -- no problem. Sure, we have been camping before, ate cold pizza and played board games for hours but when the trees started coming down and the winds turned ugly, we started to worry. Maybe it was our turn to live without power for several days, like friends in other neighborhoods and towns did during Irene. Could we handle it?

Cut to Day Two without power and the curtains open to a family of four using their first generator.

A gas powered generator goes against everything my husband does for a living, but it all came down to the cold. We just couldn’t take it. Other neighbors agreed and some even plugged into our little monster, as we affectionately called it. We called friends with small children and offered our pack and play and heat. My kids got into the spirit and told me to call all of their friends from their schools and invite them over. Nice gesture guys, but Mommy needs to keep her sanity. And while we were warmer, we didn’t cook or run any major appliances so we could conserve the generator for the heat.  

As we went to bed that second night and Daddy turned off the little monster to save gas (and our pride) the kids wondered why. It’s warm and cozy in here and my nightlight works, they pleaded. This was my chance to talk about how blessed we were and how many families were much colder, much more scared and for many more days then our few.

My kids looked at me wide eyed and quiet, so I continued. Yes, we didn’t have it together when the storm came and Yes, we lost power for several days but we have it made. I decided at that moment to start the season of Thanksgiving right there and then, lying in bed with my kids.

I talked about all of our blessings and asked both how they thought they could help others who aren’t as fortunate. The ideas were flowing and the gratitude clear. I didn’t hear any complaints about the very cold house the next morning as my husband turned back on the generator.

So thank you, October Nor’easter we learned a lot from you. We learned to be flexible, better prepared for next time and that we don’t deal with cold very well. But, most of all, we learned that we need to stop from time to time and realize our good fortune and think how we can help others.  

Denise Fernandez November 02, 2011 at 12:41 AM
Great article...I totally understand on the power...Hurricane Wilma, no power for 3 weeks. I like the tupperware!!! Creative
Audra Myerberg November 02, 2011 at 05:11 PM
Denise, 3 weeks is a long time to go without power! You really have to get creative with kids, hygiene, etc. Hope we dont have to use our generator again but nice to know we can and that our friends can plug in too.
Hank Manz November 08, 2011 at 10:28 PM
Well, the cold was OK because of the wood stove. The outdoor grill had still not been put away and it works well. The oil lamp was clean and ready to go. And I was acting sort of smug having figured out how to keep the cable modem and router going via a UPS, but I had not figured on the cable itself going the way of other wires and long before we lost power to boot. My cell phone was operational, but I have been too cheap to purchase a data plan. So there we were, back to 1980 only without lights. Fortunately my netbook had enough battery to be able to write what had to be written and fortunately there was a wireless access point fairly close by. And there was always Cary Library and the high school shelter which allowed me to recharge the netbook and the phone ... Now if there had just been a place to shower ...
Audra Myerberg November 08, 2011 at 11:31 PM
Hank, thanks for reading my article! I think everyone has a story about the Nor'easter and how they handled it all. Showering was a big deal and I have to admit I felt rather selfish enjoying mine. I have a cousin in Connecticut who just got her power back on today and she has several kids! Now that's sacrifice.

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