Diary of a Homeschool Dad - Week 28

If you live in Texas or you follow the news, you'll realize this was a bizarre week (even by recent standards).  My heart goes out to all of those affected by the crisis which was kicked off by the winter weather we've experienced.

Sunday - Happy Valentine's Day!  We really did our celebrating on Saturday, as today was supposed to be spent primarily at church.  After our morning service and Bible study, however, our schedule was adjusted as all afternoon and evening events were canceled.  We all went home and packed up, and once everyone had grabbed lunch we scooted down the road towards my parents' house.  With my dad still in the hospital, I thought the freeze might present difficulties for my mom and she would do well to have some companionship and help for a few days.  Little did we know we were actually saving ourselves from a significant headache.  The older girls had school canceled for Monday and Tuesday, so we figured on staying for two nights until things had a chance to thaw out.  Curly and Whirly were able to have a virtual Bible Drill with some of their friends and adult leaders from church.  We wrapped up the day on a good note, being able to have a brief video chat with my dad at the hospital thanks to the efforts of one of his nurses.

Monday - We woke up to a world of white, which is quite an uncommon sight in southeast Texas.  The kids and dog each took their turn frolicking out in the cold, while various superhero movies ran on the TV nearly all day.  Almost immediately we started getting news of friends who had power getting shut off.  Initially it seemed that there were rolling blackouts initiated by the energy providers, but we soon realized that there was a severe deficiency in the amount of energy being generated and that most of our friends who lost power weren't getting it back.  Mercifully we didn't go dark or cold at any point, but as darkness approached we saw news that over a million Houstonians would be going to sleep in the cold with no hope of energy on the horizon. 

   

Tuesday - In the middle of our little snow season, we were also dealing with real estate negotiations.  The first house we tried to purchase came back with a counter-offer that made it clear we would not be agreeing to terms anytime soon, so we pulled the offer and started pursuing a second property.  Shortly after lunchtime, we got some of the best news we could've hoped for.  My dad was able to call my mom, and he sounded so much better than during our previous conversations.  He was even giving us a hard time about some of our reactions on the video chat a few days earlier, which is the kind of humor we'd been missing from him.  It was pretty obvious from the lack of thawing in the yard, as well as the forecasted temperatures, that traveling wasn't going to be in the cards, unfortunately, so we hunkered down for a bit longer.  At least all of the schools had decided to pull the plug for the rest of the week, so there was no need for us to try anything risky.  For dinner everyone got to experience my version of baked parmesan chicken, and then we pulled together all the dirty clothes so they could get washed for a second round of use.

Wednesday - By the third full day of ice we were exceptionally thankful to still have power and water, but we were starting to get a little stir crazy.  I was able to channel some of the cooking skills I'd been honing over the previous few months of being a stay-at-home dad, and was in the kitchen for all three meals of the day.  We started off with some taquitos, which helped get rid of a pile of tortillas we'd brought before they all went moldy.  The dog was out of food so we carefully got to the nearest store to replenish his stock and see what was left on the shelves that might serve us well.  Frozen pizza fit the bill, along with some hamburger fixin's and tater tots.  Granted, warming up pizza in the oven at lunchtime isn't exactly going to land me a deal as a TV chef, but I thought grilling burgers for dinner while surrounded by ice was at least worthy of a thumbs-up.

Thursday - It was finally time to head home to see what had become of our house in our absence.  Despite having called the city public works department and being told they could shut off my water, we arrived home to find it fully powered and all the faucets still operational.  Fortunately there was no damage to our pipes!  After chatting with the neighbor it seems the workers that arrived expected me to be home, so apparently it was just miscommunication.  He also said our neighborhood had been without electricity for the better part of 36 hours, so we certainly would have felt the chill had we not left town.  We also discovered that the second house we had attempted to purchase had been pulled off the market so the seller could brush up on their marketing and presentation, so when they told us our offer wouldn't get us the house we decided to try viewing one more home that had come on the market since our search began.  Despite everything, I was still responsible for getting work done for the folks at my office, so I logged in to knock out a few maps.  While on my computer I also saw that NASA was putting a new rover on Mars, so I took the time to watch that successful landing.  Finally, after all was said and done, we were all able to crawl into our own beds and be thankful for a good outcome to a potentially dangerous situation.

Friday - Most of the greater Houston area was under a boil notice, and we were no exception.  My mom had sent us home with two large pickle jars full of her water, which we primarily used for brushing teeth and giving the dog water, and I had boiled a large pot of water once we got home for drinking and cooking purposes.  The taste reminded me of drinking out of an old canteen back in my scouting days.  Another house-hunting trip was in store for us, although this time Curly got to go.  Girly wasn't interested in leaving the house, and Whirly felt like she'd paid her dues by visiting the first six houses we'd seen, so they stayed home together.  So the three of us and our realtor viewed one house and then grabbed a bite to eat for lunch to discuss whether we'd keep chasing door #2 or move on to door #3.  We opted for the latter and crossed our fingers (while eating chicken fingers) that it would work out for us this time.

Saturday - Curly's final basketball game of the season was canceled due to the weather's effects on the gym where they play.  Her team was only able to play five of their scheduled eight games since the league had rules about why they had to miss games but no plan to make them up at a later date, which makes me think it wasn't worth it in the first place.  At least the kids had fun, and next year she should be able to start team sports at school.  Since the younger girls weren't comfortable taking a shower while we were under a boil notice, Mrs. Geo took them up to take baths at her parents' house (who didn't have any water restrictions).  Girly and I stayed home and, after I'd gone to martial arts in the morning, we went to her group cello lesson.  She'd missed an earlier lesson a few weeks ago, so her teacher decided this would be a good day to make it up and she had a private lesson immediately after.  On the way back home we received a counter-offer on the house, and this time it was good enough to accept.  So we got home, had some Chinese takeout, and virtually signed our contract paperwork.  Looks like we're going to have a new home soon!

We lost a week of school, as Whirly didn't crack the spine of a single book during our frozen week, so Mrs. Geographist and I are planning to look through what she has in store for the next 12 school weeks and try to round out all of the important subjects.  In May she'll be testing to get back into the same school as her sisters, and we're aiming to keep her on pace rather than having her repeat the 3rd grade.  Let's hope Monday brings a sense of normal with it!

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