19 February 2009

The Night the Lights Went Out in Pittsburgh



We had a power outage last Friday evening that lasted for just a few hours. I immediately went into Laura Ingalls mode (minus the braids, of course.) Lighting candles all over (mostly because the batteries in the flashlights were all dead) and firing up the fireplace so my munchkins would stay warm. In proper Laura mode, I let Pa do the fire-lighting.

I wish I could tell you that we roasted marshmallows and read the bible by candlelight but fruit snacks and Scooby Doo books were the order of the day (or evening, as it were). I like to think that even Laura Ingalls would appreciate Scooby Doo and the Bowling Boogyman.

So why am I telling you this? Because when all of the man made distractions were removed from our home, the tv, telephone, internet, washing machine, etc., I realized how little time I've spent directly interacting with my family lately. Those distractions can easily overshadow human connection...kind of like an addiction.

Do I take care of my family and serve them? Sure. All the time. But it's almost always with some other distraction that inhibits true connections and even eye contact. Do you spend a lot of time focused on the people that you love with no distractions?

Try it. Turn off all the distractions and spend an evening (or afternoon, or week, whatever) just interacting with your family. Does it feel normal and natural? Is it new and a little uncomfortable? Maybe you need more practice.

I know I do.


If you would like to read the previous posts in this series, click here.

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46 comments {Click here to leave a comment}:

Living with Lindsay said...

You are so right. I've been trying to spend afternoons with the TV off so I am interacting directly with my son, but there are still chores to do, etc, and he's not getting my full attention. Thanks to your reminder, tomorrow afternoon he will. :)

Pretty Organizer said...

Sunday is our "no TV" day. I love it. We dont watch TV, no Wii, nada. We pull out family games or oaky, sometimes we watch home videos of when the kids were younger...

You're right, distractions I BELIEVE are the biggest temptations used against the family. Everyone seems pulled in so many directions, radio, TV, internet, MP3's, Phones, Video games, and even the good things like soccer games and baseball. When a family is distracted or over-scheduled... they lose focus on the very nucleus that makes it function well... each other. So many things in life seem worthwhile to pursue... sometimes you have to choose between 2 good choices. Good, Better and BEST choices are hard but I try to choose the BEST option... my family.

Awesome post my sista! Love you!
Pretty Organizer

Anonymous said...

We had an ice storm recently that left us without power for several days. I blogged about it at

www.thehomemakersparadise.com

It's always important to prepare for these little emergencies. :)

Amber said...

Very well said. And such a good point. I've been feeling a bit of the same lately. We've also made a few changes to remedy the situation. Thanks for sharing Kimba!

monica said...

We had no electricity today for about 5 hours. We had a good time. We hung out and then we all laid in the living room floor and napped. I don't think we've napped at the same time since my oldest was a baby (14 years ago!). I loved it. But I was sure glad to see the power restored. LOL

Imperfect said...

Fruit snacks and Scooby Doo books by candlelight...sounds like so much fun! I'm glad you had a chance to spend uninterrupted time with your family. Hubby and I recently decided to turn off the TV at least one night a week and play games or read together or go for a walk. I do believe that it is necessary to slow down and intentionally spend time with each other or we can get lost in our hectic lives. Thanks for the reminder!

Jenny@ L.O.T.s of Love said...

You put it beautifully. We gave up TV for 1 week last year. The first few days were hard but the kids and I soon found new ways to occupy our time. With Lent coming next week, I think there will be a change in TV viewing on the horizon!

Melanie said...

This is so true! We recently went a week without TV, and I also stayed off the internet in the evenings/nights. We were tried of our 2 year old zoning out to the tv instead of playing! Now we try to keep the tv off until the kids are in bed, but it's tough sometimes with a 2 year old and a 6 month old. When I'm at home alone with both and have to get the 6 month old down for the night, I'm afraid Elmo is helping entertain the 2 year old.

Cindi said...

I'm in Butler, PA...very close to you and our electric went out a couple of weeks ago for 5 1/2 hours. I realized much of the same things. We have a closet full of games but never use them. We played Trouble by candlelight that night and had a blast...thus the beginning of family game night!

Suzann @ Lavender and Roses said...

wonderful post! I often have to ask people to repeat themselves because I am distracted by the computer, the television, or whatever. I'm going to try to spend a little less time on the computer and even less time with the television on. Thanks.

Astrid said...

I totally agree with you! It certainly is difficult to remember what life is like without all the extra doo-dads and electronic what-nots.

I need to remember to turn off this computer every once in a while!

Sandy Toes said...

So true...we had a week without any tv or computer...parts of me missed it but we did things we normally would not do!
-sandy toe

Julia @ Hooked on Houses said...

There is definitely a different "vibe" at home when the power is off. We've had several stretches without it this winter during wind and snow storms. We all end up hanging out together in one room, so it does bring us together!

(I'm disappointed you didn't do the Laura Ingalls braids. Ha.)

Ruby Red Slippers said...

I was driving through the area that night, and had a hard time finding a hotel! I was a long way from home, but finally found a place to stay on our way to Virginia.
During the week- we are a no T.V. family or video games...

Still Learning said...

Kimba, my family went though Hurricane Andrew in August of 1992 and we didn't see a modern convenience from August 23 until the end of October and do you know what? We didn't miss any of it. We had our meals outside (not by choice ha ha) and sat around talking and playing games. It was really wonderful actually the whole family interaction part. Not the hurricane aftermath and no showering part. It's true, the T.V.'s and computers distract hours of our precious time daily. Saturdays we try to turn it all off and just play together and I am always amazed at how much fun we have together. Great reminder isn't it?

southerninspiration said...

Yes, so, so true. Good for you for recognizing the fact. It is so easy to interact with an eye looking toward the next chore or project rather than being in the moment. Our moments go too fast to be looking around at other things!

Suzanne

Brenda said...

once a month my family is put on what I call a 'media diet'. It means no tv's on, no computers or ipods on. My daughter chooses what we eat that night and often she helps make it (cause she has nothing else better to do), and we pick a board game to play after dinner. We usually end up going hiking at a near-by rec park with the dogs, and really enjoy conversations. And if the weather isn't the greatest, we sometimes all end up reading books. It's a nice break from all the 'back ground noises'.

Meghan said...

I had the tv off the other night when it was just myself & my 2 yr old at home.
He called my mom & told her that "our tv was broken"
LOL
Guess we have it on a bit much in our house.

Laura Ingalls Gunn said...

This Laura Ingalls takes her family outside a few times a year. We sit on the patio chaise and look at the stars and just talk.
Also, while traveling in the car with my kids I have gotten into the habit of turning off the radio. There have been some amazing conversation occuring in our camry. :)

Joanna said...

Sometimes it takes something like a power outage to reconnect in such a man made world. We spend time together as a family, but honestly it's more of sitting down and watching a movie together or playing video games.

We should all take the time to turn it all off and play a game or read together.

Great post!

The Howe Family said...

Great reminder. :) We have boxes and bags of stuff all over and a list of things to do and places to call to change our address since our recent move. It is so easy for me to get wrapped up in those and tell the kids to go play somewhere else for "just a few more minutes." These messes to be put away can wait! The kiddos aren't getting any younger or slowing down - I guess I should.

Ruth Ann said...

I didn't know you were from Pittsburgh! I'm from Connellsville about an hour away! How cool! Have a great day!
-Ruth Ann

Heather said...

Our power went out in September for 7 full days. We had neighbors who lived across the street for 7 months and never met. They are now some of our best friends.

I was nice connecting more one on one with the boys. At least for the first 5 days anyways, until we were all on each others nerves. ;)

Christi said...

Kimba, oh! This has been on my heart so much lately. And I really found it to be true (like you) with our satellite out this week.

Have you read the book, "Mittenstrings for God"? It addresses a lot of these kinds of concerns, in a sweet & gentle way.

Thanks for sharing!

Valarie Lea said...

I agree, I think I need to start implementing this in our family. It seems all to often we are all in seperate rooms watching the TV or on the computer.

Jennifer P. said...

I love that idea! We try and spend Sunday like that, but it would be great to try it another night too---just to see :). Glad you enjoyed your family time!

Beth@Not a Bow in Sight said...

When Hurricane Ike hit here we had no electricity for almost two weeks. It really forced us to get "face to face" with one another...even neighbors that we didn't know very well. It really makes you stop and think!

Great post!

Jennifer said...

Its kinda sad, isn't that...that when we find ourselves with "nothing" but each other, it sometimes feels awkward!! Somehow, I don't envision Laura Ingalls having this problem. It should be more natural behavior for us! Great challenge!

jenjen said...

With our lives so hectic - it's easy to get distracted from what is important. We try to spend at least 1 evening together as a family with no interruptions. It's a great time to bond and talk about important family issues and just have fun together.
Great post!

Jen

Michelle said...

What a wonderful post! A great reminder that I need to do this a little more often.

We spend a lot of time during the summer months camping and spending time at my parents cabin where the only distractions we have are the outdoors beconing us!

Lisa @ Stop and Smell the Chocolates said...

Excellent thoughts! I am hearing this theme from everywhere lately and am thinking about what our family needs to do.

Misti of Studio M Designs said...

Speaking of... I have spent the entire week doing our taxes, while the kids are out this week. Terrible mom! Tomorrow we are out the door for a little shopping and lunch. They have played and had fun, but I feel so guilty to have lived on the computer all week long. Thanks for the reminder!
~Misti

Kimm at Reinvented said...

So true. Sometimes it takes a power outage to realize where the REAL "power" is!

Our Complete Family said...

We make sure we have one game night a week when nothing else is on and we just sit and play games. It is so refreshing to do this!
We all get busy with day to day things and the little reminders are good, aren't they?
I think we all forget to stop and smell the roses, don't feel badly hun.

Trudi said...

I received my heart broach today. It's very pretty. Thank you.

HeathahLee said...

"Scooby Doo and the Bowling Boogyman"...you crack me up, girl.

We have had a "media fast" before and my husband keeps threatening to do another one soon. I know I will miss my blogland friends but I also know how much more time my family will get from me! : )

Tanya said...

i needed to hear this! thank you.

Amy @ Living Locurto said...

Oh no! What would I do without my computer??? hee!

My husband actually challenged me to this. I have to get out of the house to get away from my technology. It's like crack if I'm in the house... I have computers everywhere because of my graphic design job... there's no fighting it:-)

angela | the painted house said...

Thank you so much for the reminder! I've been reading Little House in the Big Woods to Ashton and I've found myself pining for simpler times when the evening found the whole family together in one room for stories and fiddling...that is, after they spent the whole day butchering the pig and canning the veggies. :)

I'm going to go hug my kiddos now and look them in the eyes! :)

Joy @ SAH Missionary said...

Living in a third-world country I get to experience power outages quite often, every other day, in fact! It is such a good reminder to not let the distractions of life get in the way of face time with our loved ones. Thanks for the reminder!
Blessings,
Joy

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post. I need a power outage as I am on this computer, my boys are playing wii, and dh is on the desktop. We need more quality time too.

Rochelle said...

Wow, what a great reminder. Thanks for this! Sorry you had to go through it, but glad God used it for his glory and your good. :) Blessings! (LOVE your blog!!)

Denise said...

Great reminder of how important real life relationships are. I grew up in Pittsburgh and still have family there. It's a neat city.

starsfault said...

Totally agree. Love House, hate TV in general though. Love the silence when its not on!

Blessings ~ Eileen

RootsAndWingsCo said...

Some of my best memories are during blackouts. My Mom would light all the candles and find all the flashlights. We would all gather in the front room, snuggling under blankets and my Dad would read to us by candlelight. Seriously so cool! What a great reminder you had for us. Personally, in my life now, I find that once the TV (or computers) get turned on, everyone wants to be on them for the rest of the day. Our time is eaten up so quickly. However, if it just doesn't get turned on in the first place, I find much more creative play going on around the house. The kids have no problem occupying themselves!
Rebecca
rootsandwingsco.blogspot.com

MommyDoula said...

As an Orthodox Jew, I turn off the tv (well, to be honest, I don't have a tv), phone, computer, etc for 25 hours every week. I don't cook, do laundry, or discuss business.

When I first started doing it, it was torture. Seriously - death would have been a relief! But now, 9 years later, I just love it. We have 3 wonderful meals (one of which is usually 5-6 courses) and tons of family and community time. All the food is cooked before sundown. Inviting over guests is a big part of the experience, too. I've had many weeks where there were 10-15 people at my Shabbos (Yiddish for Sabbath) table.

I can't imagine my life any other way now - and I feel so sorry for families who are glued to their electronic addictions 7 days a week. We essentially make Thanksgiving every single week.

Thanks for such a wonderful post!