When It Snows It Blizzards

84 Hours

The worst part, at first, was the boredom. Or maybe the lack of coffee.

No, definitely the boredom. When we woke up on Saturday to discover we had no power, I immediately groaned at the prospect of keeping the snowed-in kids occupied without the television. And then I groaned again, wistfully thinking of the weeks' worth of unwatched programming our TiVo had recorded while we were away. LOMFGST! Project Runway! Big Love! Assorted sitcoms! A good dozen or so competitive cake decorating shows! DAMMIT.

No, wait. The coffee. Definitely the coffee. By 11 am I had a raging caffeine withdrawal headache, the likes of which I hadn't experienced since the first trimester of pregnancy (i.e. the last time I gave the slightest asscrap about improving my health and tried to cut back).

No, wait. The boredom. I'd gone to bed without charging my phone or laptop, leaving my time to muck around on pointless computer games and/or complain about our lack of electricity to Twitter painfully limited.

No, wait. The battery-backup feature on the Verizon Fios Boxamajig in the basement. That was the worst thing, at first. I have no idea what purpose the battery-backup actually serves, except to beep every few minutes to alert you to the fact that the Boxamajig is operating on battery-backup power. You know, just in case you also had a battery backup on your wireless router (WARNING: YOU HAVE PRECIOUS LITTLE TIME TO FINISH READING THAT WIKIPEDIA ARTICLE) or on your television (WARNING: YOU SHOULD JUST FASTFORWARD TO THE PART WHERE THE CAKE DECORATORS HAVE TO MOVE THEIR CAKES TO THE TABLE SO YOU CAN SEE WHICH ONE FALLS OVER). 

Every few minutes: Beep. Beep. Beep.

And every few minutes, I would hear the beep and think, "Ooh, maybe that's the power trying to come back on." Just like the lawyer in Jurassic Park said, when the water cup started vibrating on the dashboard, shortly before the T-Rex came around and ate him off the toilet.

(Speaking of which: I was absolutely SHOCKED to discover just how cold the average toilet seat gets after just a few hours of no heat. It's like, BRACING, you guys.)

I took a shower, only to break out in a vicious attack of cold urticaria the instant I stepped out of the warm-ish water. Raised welts and red hives covered my face and hands. "Look at how weird I am!" I told Jason. We ate tuna fish sandwiches for lunch. We put on extra sweaters and socks and stressed about the lack of firewood. (We'd made a fire the night before and burned through half our supply, you know, because it was SNOWY OUTSIDE. Never mind that it was 72 degrees INSIDE. Snowy! Make a fire! I might feel subliminally chilly!) We kicked ourselves for not having any propane for the grill. We all took naps because we didn't know what else to do. We kept flipping light-switches on and off. When Jason and I decided to stay warm the -- ahem -- old-fashioned way, I realized the distinct disadvantage the Hitachi Magic Wand has over other battery-powered -- ahem -- personal massagers. 

My headache finally went away (must have been that -- ahem -- fantastic massage), so I started re-reading a couple of my favorite books. At some point, while halfway through The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, I realized I was squinting. Oh, right! Darkness. That. We scrambled to light a motley assortment of scented decorative candles and shoved cheap Ikea taper candles into empty wine and beer bottles. I was a little embarrassed to find that we had PLENTY of bottles.

When faced with tuna fish sandwiches again for dinner, we revolted. I remembered Alton Brown (our personal culinary lord and savior) had an episode about cooking over an open fire, and we eyed our three or four sticks of firewood with inspiration. And hunger.

Ezra got chicken sausages. Noah ate a grilled cheese. We ate a couple awesomely smoky turkey burgers.


We chilled some white wine out on the back deck. You know, for the CANDLES.


We were feeling triumphant. The snow had stopped, clearly we had weathered the worst of it.

Then the fire went out. 

The next morning, Sunday, the power still wasn't on. Our street wasn't plowed. The plows weren't even running. The number of people in our county without power was about 75,000, and climbing by the hour. The weight of the heavy, wet snow had caused an alarming number of branches to snap off a pine tree next to our house (but on common neighborhood property, that we've repeatedly, unsuccessfully lobbied for removal). Luckily, they'd missed our roof...and Ezra's bedroom window.



Jason dug and dug and shoveled and shoveled until he was able to get our car out. There was no way around it: We needed firewood. It was getting pretty cold.


Jason drove to our local hardware store: they had eight small bags of sadly damp wood, TOTAL. Jason couldn't bear the thought of someone else arriving after him and finding no wood, so he only took a couple. He brought it back to us, along with the Other Greatest Thing Ever:


Then he went back out in search of more wood.

A nearby Whole Foods indicated they would be open on their answering machine message, but when Jason arrived they'd lost their water overnight and were closed. While he was standing outside counting his cash and wondering where he could leave it before taking some of the bags of wood stacked outside, the manager came outside. Jason explained that we had no power and needed some firewood. The manager told him to take as many bags as he needed, and refused to take any money. 

Meanwhile, I started moving essentials out of our rapidly-warming fridge.


A few years ago, Jason's mother gave us a wind-up radio/flashlight thing, in preparation for the End Times. Or maybe Terrorists. I forget which kick she was on at the time. We used it to listen for news from the power companies, which was not good. "Multiple-day event," they admitted. Probably another full day without electricity. 

At some point, another Whosawhatzit started beeping. The power! It's the power! I stared expectantly at the TiVo, waiting for it to light up back to life. Nothing. I went off in search of the beeping. As I got closer, I realized that in between the beeping was an electronic voice saying WARNING! CARBON MONOXIDE! WARNING CARBON MONOXIDE!

We stared at the detector for a couple minutes, like...seriously? Seriously seriously? We have no gas or kerosene sources in the house, no garage...the fireplace? Oh my God, do you think it's the fireplace?

Suddenly the alarm changed its mind: WARNING! FIRE! WARNING! FIRE!

Being a woman of action, I yanked it out of the ceiling and replaced the batteries. Everything was fine.

But cold. Frigging freezing, man.

Jason and I had an old bag of ski clothing to dig through -- long underwear and fancy moisture-wicking layers and such -- but the boys were woefully unprepared. We prepared to go out again in search of warmer clothing to get them through the night, but alas, stores were either closed or sold out of all kids' sizes, having been cleared out that morning by more prepared, on-top-of-the-situation parents.

Instead, we went out for dinner, in hopes of getting warmed up temporarily, and maybe getting to see a little bit of the Super Bowl, which was bumming Jason out in particular. He'd been pretty dismissive about the road conditions, which shocked THE HELL out of me on the way to dinner. I gripped the door and the dashboard and closed my eyes and made all kinds of annoying, involuntary gasps and squawks because OH MY GOD, WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE FOR THE SAKE OF GETTING A DAMN CHEESEBURGER.

On the way home, in the dark, it became easy to spot who had power and who didn't. We played spot-the-lights all the way back though nearby neighborhoods, learning that the outages were not huge chunks of houses, but instead dozens of small, concentrated spots. We turned our final corner and I saw that the single family homes ACROSS THE STREET had power...but the townhouses were still completely cloaked in blackness. This was the psychic equivalent to getting kicked in the head. I stomped my foot. I said it wasn't fair. 


Jason wondered if we were making a mistake by not getting a hotel room that night. I worried about it too, but whenever I thought about putting the boys back in the car and taking them out on those roads...no. NO. We were staying put. The power would be back on tomorrow. We could do one more night. We all slept in the same bed for awhile, until it became clear that nobody was getting any sleep, so Jason and Noah went in one room and Ezra, the pets and I stayed put in our bed. This may have worked, except that Noah spent most of the night wailing about unspecified complaints (which turned out to be too-small footie jammies), and Ezra refused to sleep under the covers, choosing to stick his head in my armpit and the kick the blankets off, leaving my torso exposed and freezing and my brain convinced that I -- a one-time experienced cosleeper! -- was going to inadvertently smother him. 

On Monday, our neighborhood was plowed, but the power wasn't back on. While Pepco publicly promised "the majority of customers" would be restored by Tuesday night, multiple people were getting told a different story directly. Friday by six. FRIDAY. BY SIX.

Our electric toothbrush was slowwwwwly losing its charge, reminding me of that mournful dying cassette player from Apollo 13. I was perhaps kind of definitely getting a tad over-dramatic.

Back out, like it or not, in search of warmer clothing. We loaded up on kids' heavy-duty layers and socks at REI (where we noted, somewhat suspiciously, that it seemed like most of the stuff had been put on clearance racks to make way for spring merchandise, but the marked-down price stickers were mostly missing and everything was full price). We ate lunch at our favorite weekend breakfast place, surrounded by fellow power refugees -- we all had the same slightly dirty, greasy look about us, thanks to no hot water. We were all ridiculously overdressed for the warm restaurant but no one took off any of their extra layers. What have you heard? Have you gotten through to a person? Have you heard by tomorrow night? Have you heard this Friday by six nonsense? You have? Oh, my God. 

I spent the whole meal fighting back tears. I was tired. I was cold. I was tired of feeling my children's icy cold ears and fingers, no matter how many layers I dressed them in. Everyone's nose was running and I was coughing. Our faces were bright red and chapped. I was tired of dark cold rooms and my shivering dog and fretting about how much food we were losing in the freezer. I started thinking about families who routinely escape to low-cost breakfast joints just to escape cold houses because they couldn't make the utility payments and, naturally, this healthy dose of perfuckingspective pushed me over the edge and I went into a bathroom stall to have a mini-cry.

We decided to get a hotel room. A bunch of people on Twitter had suggested that hotels would likely have a "disaster rate" for families like us. We called around and found no such thing. We booked a room anyway at a decent-ish rate, at a pet-friendly Kimpton near Dupont Circle where we'd stayed once upon a time, with the sad little fantasy that we'd maybe be able to take the boys out and enjoy the neighborhood. Once we got there, of course, it was all treacherous, unshoveled sidewalks, closed stores, and we couldn't leave Ceiba in the room ANYWAY, as she just barked her fool head off the instant we tried to do anything, like retrieve a bucket of ice down the hall. We were essentially even more shut-in than at home, where at least we could run errands without fear of dog-noise-related eviction.

After overpriced room service meals and morning breakfast buffet, plus the exorbitant cost of a one-time viewing of The Princess and the Frog (the hotel's one lone DVD player was broken [WTF] and the bag containing toys for the boys had accidentally been left in our foyer at home, so we had zero other entertainment options), the hotel room was much too expensive to book again, particularly with another storm coming.

Yes. Another storm. Predicted to be even worse. If we stayed at the hotel we risked being snowed OUT of our house. If we went home and power wasn't restored, we'd essentially be completely fucked for the rest of the week as the house got colder and colder.

We decided to go home, pack up a few more essentials and head up to Pennsylvania, to our families. The storm was set to hit them a bit later, albeit worse. But our parents' power lines ran underground and they never seemed to lose power, no matter how bad the weather. We packed and turned our water off, and Jason stopped to shovel our elderly neighbors' car out. We gave them a bag of firewood, though they said they'd been unable to start a fire because of the amount of snow covering their chimney.

I was buckling Noah in, not feeling super great about undertaking a long drive, or the prospect of being stranded away from home for Godonlyknows. Jason had the baby and was about to the lock the front door...


"Babe, the power just came back on," he said.

And it had! Oh my God! I ran back in and started flipping lights on and off. Jason turned on the water and cranked up the thermostat. (Interior rooms near the fire: 45 degrees. Bedrooms: in the fucking thirties.) Noah stood just outside, terribly confused. "Grandma and Grandpa's house?" he asked, near tears. I felt badly, but LOOK LOOK LOOK I CAN PEE WITH THE LIGHTS ON.

I started the dishwasher, drained the sink of all the crap we'd absentmindedly dumped in the garbage disposal, put a load of diapers in the wash, freaked out on Twitter and called my mom, in that order. 

Jason went outside to start unloading the car...


"Oh my God," I said to my mom. "It just went off again."

And it had! Barely 30 minutes had passed and poof. Gone.

I went outside and shrieked to Jason. He came in. I kept shrieking.

Jason wanted to know what I thought we should do. I wanted to him to STOP FUCKING ASKING. He wanted me to calm down. I wanted him to STOP TELLING ME TO CALM DOWN.

It was not my finest moment. I was just...furious. Devastated. Exhausted. And oh, so fucking cold.

Some random Old Guy was wandering around outside, railing about Pepco, our own equivalent to The End Is Near Sandwich Board Prophets. He claimed to know that the power thing was a fluke, a mistake, the result of a repair being made elsewhere. He also claimed that the crew was getting pulled before the next storm started.

Jason jumped in the car and drove off, in search of this mysterious crew. To beg? Bribe? Offer his services as a human electrical conductor? I don't know.

He returned a few minutes later. The crew was indeed working around the corner. They were not even from Pepco, but from another utility company in Delaware, in town to help with the insane number of outages. They were very tired. They were especially tired, apparently, of people like Jason knocking on their windows in search of news. Jason tried to not ask too many questions and to be unfailingly polite, lest they pack up and leave us to our crotchety elderly messengers of doom.

"They said it will be another few hours." Jason reported.

I had so many more questions: Like, for sure? Like, they aren't leaving until it happens? Like, the repair they're working on is OUR REPAIR, and not like, another repair BEFORE our repair and then a couple more hours after that?

Jason was all, that's all I know, crazy lady. I decided to leave and LET THEM WORK instead of pestering them to death. 

So we decided to give them two more hours. In two hours, if the power was still off, we'd leave for PA after all, hopefully still staying ahead of the storm. 

In the meantime, Jason assessed my mental state and offered to go get me some Chipotle. It's pretty much my Prozac, he's learned.

He was still in line when I called him.

"It's on. It's back on."

And it still is. For now. For hopefully good. We're at about three feet of snow and counting.


Stay warm, everybody.



unreal! In a way I wish I still lived in NoVa so I could experience the craziness of the storm. In another way? Pretty glad I'm in Northern California where we have absolutely zero chance of snow.

Stay warm!


We had a storm like this the winter of 2004. Three feet of snow in less than 12 hours. The whole city was shut down for days, no heat, no power, nothing to eat. And we didn't have kids or pets at the time.

This sucks. Really. I hope your power stays on this time.


For feck's sake, woman. I'm so glad you're okay. I've been thinking about you all week.

Am wishing you mountains of firewood and hot toddies.


Oh my good lord. Please stay safe. And warm. Definitely warm.



i am speechless.


This blizzard is a doozy. Here's hoping your power stays on!


Jeebus, Amy. Your Chipotle for a pneumatic tube to Jamaica, am I right?


I don't know how, with all the snow we've gotten in Chicago this winter, we haven't lost power. You must be exhausted. I'm exhausted just reading about it!

I just heard they closed Dulles, so I hope you guys stay powered and warm and that all of this is over soon!!



That's all I have. Get more wine.


Yes, stay warm, everybody.

I am glad that your power got back on, and I hope hope hope hope you (and I, for that matter, and everyone) get through this "encore" warm and safe.

(I've heard that Friday's was called Snowmageddon, and this one, Snoverkill. I approve of that nomenclature.)


Bless your heart. I know how frustrating it was to us in the big ice storm of 2007 when we were without power for 8 days. And our neighbor right across the street never lost power once. It was the first and only time we ever used the fireplace. And I tried to cook ramen in a pot over the fire and it was disgusting.

So glad yours is back on and I hope it stays on.


Oof, Amy. I have been feeling sad for us because we have been juggling the whole kids-at-home, working grown-ups don't get snow days blues, but your story gives ME perspective. So glad it is back on, hope it stays on - and the only benefit of these damn storms is the Little House on the Prairie aspect of leaving beer and wine outside. (I have taken to calling it our "larder" and would like to start a trend on that.) I love this area and have called it home for 20 years, but every 5 years or so, we see how woefully unable we are to deal with snow of any depth more than 6 inches.


We're in the outerparts of Leesburg (that sounds much dirtier than it really is). As such, since we don't pay taxes to Leesburg, we don't get serviced by Leesburg. (this may be my greatest comment ever.) Snow plows? Ha! Hahahahaha! Riiight. We're at 4 feet now, and my mind went byebye about three days ago. Way to go VA.

Sincerely, Jenni

Thank God your power came back on. We live in the Midwest and although we've had WAY MORE SNOW than normal, we have yet to (knock on wood) lose power. I'm hoping to keep it that way, because I would not be a fun person to be around if that happened.


Oh, Amy, I'm so sorry. I was afraid you'd lost power when I didn't see an update for a while. We've kept our power here, and I don't know how we'd keep warm if it went out; we don't even have a fire to light. I hope you all stay toasty warm from now on. I think we can say "Snoverit."

crazy weinerdog lady

Girl trust me...I GET IT. I'm in Arkansas and when you don't live in the city and you lose power you're usually without it FOR WEEKS. I"m not joking. WEEEEEEKS. The longest I think we went without was 3 weeks. Glad you didn't die :) P.S. LOVE the pic of Ceiba!!


This just really made me cry. For all of you and your family's suffering, for the suffering of so many in so many places, for everything I take for granted...oh all of it. Oy. I'm glad that you're all safe and that your power is back on.

On a completely unrelated note, I dreamed that we were neighbors in Chicago (where I live) and you liked me a lot at first but then you didn't. And I didn't know why. And it made me very sad. And, that is all.

Life of a Doctor's Wife

Ohmygod that sounds horrible. You and your poor family!!! I read your blog every day and I was concerned that something like this had happened. Man alive what a horrible ordeal. And bless your sweet husband for shoveling out a neighbor and getting you Chipotle.

That picture of your dog in front of the fire nearly killed me.

Sending positive thoughts to your power that it STAYS ON.


Ezra's face in picture #2 sums up your situation perfectly.

Sending warm thoughts to the Storchalahs.

Sprite's Keeper

Don't flame the Floridian, but I do hope you stay warm and...electrocuted? No, that can't be right. You know what I mean. And I also pray to the altar of Alton. He is good. Amen.


Okay, delurking after being a reader for years and years to say I'm glad your power is back on and everything's okay. I was following your Twitter updates about not having power and reporting them to my husband- Amalah and DC Foodies don't have power and they have little kids! We're in downtown DC and thankful to have power and the ability to get around on foot, but man this weather just gets to you after a few days.


Oh my gosh! That would be so scary, and horrible for families who are not fortunate enough to be able to do the hotel thing. Just ... wow. I mean, I live in Canada and cannot fathom such a thing ;) Hope your power stays on and you stay warm!!


I'm really glad you all got some heat! I was wondering if you just turned around and went back to Jamaica! We had our power out one January for 10 days because of a killer windstorm (but I bet you never saw it on the news because, you know, Seattle is nowhere to the news) and it was hell. Not even any water (10 days with NO FLUSHING except with a bucket.) Good luck!


Hey! I'm so glad your power is back on! We lost power here in Arlington, too - but only for about eleven hours, so I can't complain. I was a little like, WHAT am I going to do with the 5 year old and NO power?? I'm shocked we haven't lost it again today, especially with all the wind! Stay warm.


What a suckfest. We are getting hammered here in Joisey but thankfully, haven't lost power. (Cue sound of me knocking wood.) Hope you guys are warm and toasty, and stay that way!


Oh whoa, I'm so sorry. I'm from Texas and our 40 degree weather is FREEZING me to death.

I had something similar, only the other way around happen this past summer. In early June we had horrible storms come through and knock our power out. All across the street and all around people had power, it was just our side of the street, plus thousands of others in the Dallas area without power. It was out from Wednesday until Friday. Luckily the storm brought cool weather with it, but had it not turned on when it did, we would have melted. Going without power is horrible. The only good thing that came out of that *ahem* was my son :).

I hope your power stays on and you guys stay warm!


jesus christ


That picture of Ceiba is heartbreaking.

I'm hoping for power, heat and Tivo for all of you.

samantha jo campen

I know what it's like to be kicked out of your home due to circumstances beyond your control and it sucks. But I've never been cold like that and thinking of seeing the boys so bundled and cold with nothing you could do broke my heart. I can't even imagine.

Thinking of you guys as the next storm comes. xo


I will never, ever complain about "chilly" or "rainy" California weather AGAIN. Fingers crossed for you! Stay warm!

Moleskine Mama @ moleskinemama.blogspot

This is a really bad time to mention that it's sunny 300 days a year where I live...right? If it's any consolation, sending some sunshine your way...lest you dive through the depths of the Internet and choke me with your own (frigid) hands. "Harry! Your hands are freeeeezing!" (Please tell me you know what movie I'm referencing.)

Moleskine Mama @ moleskinemama.blogspot

But in all seriousness, I'm soooooo happy to hear you're all safe and warm. I wish you nothing but abundant power and a roaring fireplace. And Chipotle.


Crikey. We in the UK had bad snow a couple of weeks ago and were totally snowed in for a while. We only lost power for a couple of hours though and that was bad enough! Hope things are on the up now and the snow is on it's way down...

Megan@Blueberry Scones

I hope everything STAYS ON! We were without power for a few days some time ago. When it came back on, I wanted to sleep with every single light and TV on, just to reassure myself that everything was still working.


I am really hoping that your power stays on. Sheesh.

Have to say though that this line: "In the meantime, Jason assessed my mental state and offered to go get me some Chipotle. It's pretty much my Prozac, he's learned." cracked my ass up. Because, yeah...me too. Love that shit.


We lost power for two weeks after Hurricane Charley. It was August, in Florida, 100 degrees, had a four month old=HORRIBLE! Got power back and one week later lost power again when Huuricane Frances hit (4 days that time)......only to be followed about 2 weeks later by Hurricane Jeanne (2 days that time). I feel your pain.

Heather Ben

Hang in there! Sending warm thoughts from Houston!

MRs. Flinger

Holyshit, lady. No wonder you were all, "Um a hotel? LIKE THAT WOULD WORK." Because jaysus.

I have no words. Except those. Jaysus.


Amy ... I do understand your pain and frustration. I live in southern Ohio, and last winter we had a terrible ice storm. We were without power for a full five days and nights. My six year old son was nearly out of his mind with boredom. We were cold, in the dark, and miserable. We had coolers filled with food outside in the snow. Luckily we had propane to cook with and wood for heat. But it was a miserable miserable experience. Luckily, despite the snow this time, we have had power the whole time. I am praying that your power stays on.


Amy ... I do understand your pain and frustration. I live in southern Ohio, and last winter we had a terrible ice storm. We were without power for a full five days and nights. My six year old son was nearly out of his mind with boredom. We were cold, in the dark, and miserable. We had coolers filled with food outside in the snow. Luckily we had propane to cook with and wood for heat. But it was a miserable miserable experience. Luckily, despite the snow this time, we have had power the whole time. I am praying that your power stays on.

Amy in StL

I was worried about you when I saw you hadn't updated. My niece lives in the district and said the snow is thigh deep and "is not fun." I can't imagine how bad it is with kids but I'm glad you're okay.

On another note, after our last huge snowstorm here my parents invested in a portable generator....


When I lose power here in NJ, I rely on what I call the "ghetto heater." Yes, that would be my gas oven. I'm guessing yours is electric.

(It does help that my condo is only 730 square feet.)

Hope your power stays with you this time around.


I like to be all winter-pious and think "well, I live in rural Minnesota. I could totally manage with 3' of snow and a power outage just fine". But in reality my gas fireplace wouldn't light without power, and I live nowhere near a restaurant other than Burger King, so yeah. Props to you on making the best of it.

The super sick thing was that some friends and I were in northern MN on Saturday, taking a break from snowmobiling, and we were watching the Weather Channel's coverage of the storm and we all said "those lucky duckers, they get all that snow". (Twisted.)


I would love to hear your "survival guide" suggestions once this is all said and done. How will you prepare for this should it happen again?

ms martyr

Hope your power stays on. We purchased a generator for situations like this and so far (knock on wood) have never had to use it. Best to you and yours.


SNOMG!! I've been wondering based on your lack of updates if you were caught up in the power failure. Sounds like you handled it like a champ though. I would have been crying way, way sooner...

Also, this makes me wonder if my gas fireplace would work in the event of a power outage...I guess I should look into that.

Mrs Chaos


I really hope the power stays on during this next storm. GOOD LUCK!!!

ms martyr

P.S. What, no sweater for Ceiba?

Someone Being Me

You are making me very, very glad I live in Texas. 45 degrees and sunny outside now seems downright tropical. Sending you warm thoughts.


Amy- We live ~20 minutes south of Baltimore. If your power goes out again, and you can get to the roads, you guys (puppy included) can stay here. It's closer than PA.

I know it's weird, being, we, uh, don't know each other. But we have underground lines and haven't lost power. We have extra rooms and beds and cribs and power. Keep it in mind and please email me if things get bad again. (I may have to figure out how to prove to my husband that you guys aren't going to kill us in our sleep, but I'll figure it out...) :)


Oh man, that so stinks. I have been wondering about you this past week. I hope your power stays on through the next round though. Crank up the heat now, stock up on firewood, see if you can find a portable heater and if all else fails, candles do help some. Oh, and I hear ya on the cold toilet seat...the last time we lost power we put a candle on the bathroom sink (burning of course) and shut the bathroom door...totally helps!! Good luck!


Gas fireplace. We got one this fall. Best guarantee evar that the power won't go out!


I've been saying for days that my perspective on this storm would be GREATLY changed if I didn't have power or OMG internet.

That is horrible. I am so sorry.


Wow. From Jamaica to that. It just elevates the suckage to a previously unattainable level.

Here's hoping the next storm doesn't knock the power out again!


You crack me the hell up! In a sympathetic sort of way....yeah.

Ezra, I'm sure you've figured out, makes me want to have babies upon babies until I get a boy. Ezra crying, though.....OMGHEARTBREAKING.

Glad your power's back on! Fingers and toes are crossed that it stays that way. I'd cross my eyes, but my Mom swears they'll stay that way....


I like snow, but wow, I do not envy you this story. Fingers crossed for no more outages.


Oh nohz! I'm so glad your power came back on!

Parsing Nonsense

We went through something similar during our first anniversary, and you're not being over-dramatic: Living with heat and power for that long is unbearable.

Our lives are not structured to survive for that long with those two essentials, I can't believe you made it as long as you did with two little ones!

So glad your power is back on, enjoy that heat!


I'm sorry to hear about your Pepco troubles. I grew up near where you live and this reminds me of the 96 storm where my parents and I didn't have power for a week. I entertained myself by jumping off the swing set in my back yard and into the 4 feet of snow. I realize now that was probably not safe but, you know, 12 year olds. I live in Adams Morgan now and so far so good but you never know.

Hope you stay warm!


Reading this takes me back to last year, when we had the Windstorm of 2009, the remnants of a hurricane, come through Ohio. The power was out for about, oh, three and a half days. Luckily, it was September and neither hot nor cold. UNluckily, our well runs on an electric pump, so...yeah, no water. I feel for you. For those three and a half days we talked endlessly about how lucky we were that it wasn't winter! But at least you had running toilets! There's always that.

That picture of Ceiba and that picture of Ezra, oh my gosh. Bless their little shivery hearts.


I've got one word for you:


I do not understand why the east is still inhabited at all. I lived there for 17 years before coming to my senses.

This is not helpful, I'm sorry. It's just all so horrible. I want to send you blankets and soup and wood and earmuffs and especially vodka.

Good luck.


Wow. Wow. Wow. I'm glad to hear the power is back on. That sounds like one hell of an 84 hours. I wailed at our power company last week when we lost power for around 24 hours--we live in Los Angeles, and it was raining. No excuse, people. Luckily, we live within walking distance of about a half a dozen grocery stores, restaurants, a Starbucks, etc. and we have gas stove, oven, heat. It truly wasn't even a fraction as bad as what you went through, but I did whine a bunch about that internet being out. And I was ever so grateful for that Starbucks Via I'd put in my husbands stocking...


Wow that is an epic, sucky situation!

The irony is that here in Vancouver we are about to host the winter olympics and have NO SNOW! We are trucking and choppering in snow to ensure that snowboarding and moguls will still be able to happen on time! Ridiculous. We would pay money for even a piece of what the east coast has gotten this winter!


I'm so sorry for your ordeal, and i worry more for those who didn't have the means to get a hotel or go out to get wood and food.

Stay warm.


Oh, I feel for you! We were without power for only (ONLY!) 40 hours, and completely miserable. 84 hours, that's crazy. I know Pepco and all the other power companies are working hard, but seriously, what century do we live in? Shouldn't we have this kind of stuff figured out by now?

I hope you are all thawing nicely!


Thanks for the link, and for putting in such eloquent words what the past 73/84 hours were like. Let's just hope we keep it this time, kay?


What an entry! Holy crap, I was cold just reading about it. Uh...I live in Southern California where all I have to bitch about right now is the rain. All the freaking rain we are getting. But suddenly that doesn't look so bad when I think that it could all be snow instead. And your sad sentence about cold baby hands and ears... oh man, that made me want to cry.


It seems especially cruel after the week of paradise you just had.


84 hours is a lllloooooonnnnggg time with no power. Especially in the cold.
We've lost it during hurricanes and for several days after, but at least its warm.
Good luck with this next storm.

Greg S.

After a similar long power outage in winter episode, my MIL took christmas cookies out to the elec. co. workmen when she saw them in the neighborhood. (She always bakes tons of cookies for the year - and we grudgingly forgave giving some away...) She claims that the power was back on to their house first as a result. Who knows - it can't hurt.

Hope you continue to survive the snow without additional trouble!

P.S. We're supposed to be flying in to DCA on Friday. Wife thinks there's zero chance, I'm still hopeful...


Holy cow, I am so sorry. We lost power for 5 days last year and it was AWFUL, but we're all older than your poor babies, I feel so bad for you and them freezing!!! I'm crossing my fingers for your power to stay on.

BTW, how much do I love that you still have a sense of humor when writing about this? SO MUCH, is how much. Your Hitachi comment made me crack up even after Ezra's pics made me all sad.

Stay warm!


I live in MA and we had a huge ice storm last december. We lost power for almost 12 days. Yah, you just brought back some really bad memories.


I would literally NOT have made it past hour four. But i'm glad everyone's alright and warm now.

Amy H

What a terrible way to return from vacation! So sorry you had to deal with that. good luck during the next storm.

Kate @ And Then I Was a Mom

That is beyond awful. I'm so sorry you guys (and so many others) had to go through that. Also, you have given me an entirely new perspective on the importance of firewood.


Sorry to hear that you're having such a terrible time. It's been hard here, but we've been lucky enough to keep our power here in south central PA. :(

*insert "Keep Calm and Carry On" type thoughts*


That picture of crying, bundled up Ezra broke my heart! Glad the power is back! Stay safe and warm!


ps are you saying that you have a plug-in vibrator? seriously???

Write From Karen

*groan* I know what you're going through. We had an ice storm in '07 that dumped 5 inches of ice on us - 75% of our city lost power. We were personally out for 11 days. We went into survival mode. We sectioned off the house and lived in two rooms - living room, kitchen. (we all slept in sleeping bags in the living room at night with a kerosene heater - which we borrowed from my folks. We've since purchased one).

We brought our BBQ into the kitchen and cooked meals on that. Three days in, with the power still out and knowing we would be out several more days, the husband stood out in single digit weather and waited in line to purchase a generator off a semi-truck. At least we had light and heat after that point (husband hooked it directly up to the house heater - side note, do not ever run a generator in your garage or anywhere near the house. We had ours out in our shed in the backyard and ran extension cords. An entire family died because they had their generator in the garage).

All of our energy went into staying warm and making sure we had enough to eat.

And my boys were only pre-teens - I can't imagine with two little ones.

We learned so much from that experience. We now have our generator, kerosene heater and an emergency kit full of food and supplies in case something like this happens again.

I pray you don't lose your power again. Hang in there.


That second photo of Ezra just broke my heart - you can see him thinking "WTF? I was JUST in a swimsuit".

We refuse to drive back to MO to visit my family at Christmas ever since I-70 was closed at Hays, KS and we had to spend a night in the Mediocre-at-Best Western... my skin still crawls to think about that gawdawful motel room.

Here's hoping this next storm is not as bad and your power stays on!


we watched the cbs morning show this morning and were stunned when we heard how many people were without power on the east coast. stunned to hear that MORE SNOW is coming.

we live in wisconsin. there is an image of wisconsin - that we are use to the cold and snow. but our southwestern wisconsin winters were mild - until about 3 years ago.

one winter, we were snowed in for 48 hours. right before christmas. we live in the country where the plow drivers work part-time hours and occasionally look drunk. when we finally were able to escape our house, we ran to our wal-mart for essentials and last-minute christmas items. it was insane. everyone and their brother was at wal-mart that day and the shelves were empty.

another winter, we lost power for 16 hours and we were packing for a hotel when the power came back on. (p.s. when you have a well - and no city sewer - you can't even flush the toilet or run cold water. now showers. and no flushing the brown down.)

i can't believe how bad the east coast has been hit, but this will be a story you will re-tell a lot.


can't imagine what you have been through. thinking of you all. thanks for sharing your story.

god bless.


I just love the way you write, apparently especially during a crisis! So glad the power is on, I hope it stays that way for your sake, and the chilly little children.


So glad you all have power back. That was my biggest fear during the storm. I can deal with all of us being house bound but no heat..screw the lights.. no heat had me worried. It's damned cold out there. And having your little ones cold like that is just plain awful. I will say we cranked our heat up on Friday "just in case" and again today "just in case". Stay warm, drink coffee and watch TV!


This reminds me of the ice storm we got last year. I live in Massachusetts and we lost power for 6 days and, because we have a well, we were also without water. My fiance and I sat around our gas stove in the kitchen with all the burners on and went to bed every night at 6:00 out of utter boredom. And, to make it worse, we live on the border between two towns and the town next to us got power back after 1 night and had the gall to turn on all their Christmas lights and decorations. We spent the days driving through the town spotting houses that had generators and being jealous as well as stalking the few power crews (none from our state) and asking when they might get to our street. Oh, and a tree fell on our neighbor's house. It was a crazy six days. I'm glad you guys survived and I hope the power stays on!


I am a real cold weather wimp- its a good thing I live in San Diego. It seems like an exceptionally cruel thing to happen after a week in Jamaica. I would have been crying over that!


It's like the aftermath of a hurricane...except here with no power it's freaking hot and the water isn't solid. V. Annoying. Also why we will never live without a power generator taking up space in our garage ever again. (That and a chainsaw).

Steph the WonderWorrier

Oh man, what an ordeal! I'm glad you guys are okay! We were supposed to get some sort of 'storm' today, but barely got any snow (I'm north of Toronto in Canada too). Crazy!

We experienced a major power outtage -- that one that hit the East Coast pretty badly, New York and Ontario were pretty effected I remember (in 2003 I think) -- fortunately that power failure happened in the summer, so worrying about freezing to death wasn't in the cards. Instead we sat outside drinking coolers (I was underage at the time too, but my friend's parents were like, 'let's do this, grab a drink!', haha)... and on the second day my friends and I went for this massive bike ride around town -- we were sure that's what living in the 1950s was like as far as entertainment went!


The. Horror.
We lost our power for 4 days last summer and I lost my shit. Humid 90 degree weather with two young kids and no cross breeze does not bring out the best in me. I wish I could say I was someone who's reliable in a crisis but I found myself to just be really yelly and panicky. And I would totally be a millionaire if I had a dollar for every time I absent-mindedly flipped a lightswitch on to no avail. I would be yelling about how the power was out as I walked into another room and I'd flip the switch. Super smart, this one.
So glad your back in the light and warmth.


Wow. I just can't imagine. Born and raised and still living in Texas, I can't imagine inches of snow much less FEET of snow. The only time our power decides to go out is when a tree falls on a power line, or tornados, or wicked summer storms that come around. But SNOW? That's so strange to me.

Bring your boys (and Ceiba) down to Texas, we will drink some good Shiner Bock beer and snack on homemade cornbread with honey butter. You can teach me some good engineering skills on the Isle of Sodor, as my son is getting tired of the same old round and round.


I can't imagine having no power for 84 hours! I'm so sorry you had to live through that. I know you don't want to hear this, but I'm in Juneau ALASKA and we don't have ANY snow on the ground! WTF??? I WANT the snow. I hate these mild winters here.


Dude. That is totally, utterly, terrifically sucktastic. Here's hoping you guys don't lose power again.

Also, you have Snowville Creamery milk in DC?! Because, they're the local dairy for those of us in Central Ohio, and I'm amazed (thrilled, in fact, because they're so awesome) that they can sell elsewhere as well.


Oh, wow! Poor Amy and family! This sounds awful. I'm cold just reading it. What a terrible thing to not be able to get your family warm.

Like your first poster, I'm in Northern California and can only imagine what you've been going through. Next time my husband tells me he doesn't want to consider moving to a snowy part of the country, I'll remember this story.

In other news, yay!! A fellow Challenge junkie. I love that show.

Here's hoping you keep power through the next storm.


I cant imagine going from a Jamaican paradise to crappin'- on-ice...so sorry about what you've been thru this past week!My daughter and I look at your blog from time to time -- she likes the pictures you post..and I crack UP at your words! So tonight she keeps making this weird squinty-eyed face and I say, "Whats that?!" and she said, "It's that poor doggie by the fire in the picture on that lady's website!"
Priceless. Stay WARM AND let there always be power in your lives!


We went through much the same last year about this time, only it was multiple inches of ice instead of insane amounts of snow. And my husband was out of town, and then decided to try and drive in (even though the state police had closed the roads) and when he (finally) got home he had the FLU. And my parents were staying with us, too. For five days. So, to recap: ice, broken trees, broken power lines, broken pretty much everything, spotty electricity, no way in or out, parents refugeed at our house, stircrazy child (plus neighbor kids, also slightly nuts), a number of cold and hungry pets, and a husband with the FLU.

All this to say, I feel your pain. Hang in there.


well fuck, that sucks. And crap Sue Palka just said blizzard waring still in effect until 10 for montgomery county.

At least modern family is on tonight. Maybe they will rerun Kell on Earth- it is the greatest.


You have totally been giving me flashbacks to the time I was without power for three days during a really bad ice storm and it was 5 degrees outside (I am not exaggerating about the temp). Like I told you on Twitter, my husband and son and I finally packed up in desperation and headed to my sister's house (I mean, we didn't even have a fireplace to keep warm with), and then her power went out, too.

The experience sucked but it taught me so much about how to stay prepared. I own a gasoline generator now, that can be used to power my three plug-in space heaters. There are candles in decorative sconces or holders in every room of my house. I have two large coolers I can use to store food outside in a winter-time power outage (so I don't have to use generator power for the fridge and can divert it all to my heaters). I have a phone that works with or without electricity and two battery-powered weather radios and a battery-operated camping lantern and seven large flashlights, and my basement is perpetually stocked with two weeks' worth of bottled water and toilet paper and cooking oil.

Yeah, the almost freezing to death in the middle of civilization thing might have freaked me out. Just a little.

Erin (Snarke)

Jeebus. I've been following you on twitter but still. Jeebus.

Great retelling of the story though!


Ugh, what a miserable time. Hope its over now. This is exactly why I always prepare for hurricanes coming anywhere near us, no matter what strange looks I get from co-workers. It misses? Fine, I have extra propane, water and pre-cooked food. And candles and library books. It hits? We are guarandamnteed to lose power for several days. At least we only have to deal with being hot, not freezing.


"For all of you and your family's suffering, for the suffering of so many in so many places, for everything I take for granted."

This is not suffering. It's inconvenience. Haitians are suffering.

Get a grip.

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