Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Results Are In

My family didn't end up doing the entire weekend. Perhaps we aimed for too long of a test for our first try. Or perhaps we are TOOOOOOOOO firmly engrained into our soft little technologically advanced lives. Of course, in the event of an actual emergency, there would be no 'turning back'.

As planned, after dinner friday night, my husband shut off the breakers for our home's electricity and the water to the toilet (not the entire house as that would affect our neighbor, but we understood NOT to use the taps). We lit our oil lamps and set out a flashlight for each member of the family to use as needed.

The children entertained themselves for almost an hour just running around the house with their flashlights. We then set up a preschool game - Garanimals 123, that I recently got at Walmart. Our 1 1/2 year old can play too! We played just the one game, but with the kiddoes, it takes awhile. Daddy then did a little math with Isaiah on the white board, while I read some board books to Reya. Then we let the kids just color on the white board for a bit. Then we read them two bible stories out of our Read and Learn Bible and put them to bed. They were pretty excited about this adventure. But bedtime went as smoothly as it does most nights.

We did realize that without all the electrical background noise, the children could hear us MUCH more clearly in their room. So we went out to the table in the other room to talk and play cribbage as they fell asleep. After this we sat on the couch and my husband read one of his favorite books, Star Trek Federation, to me until I got too loopy to retain anything he said. We then talked for a little bit and went to bed at a semi decent time, ie. our ACTUAL bedtime, instead of hours later.

As usual the kids woke up before everyone else. Without the baseboard heater in the living room running, and the many computers in the office, the house got VERY COLD over the night. So the kids bundled in blankets on the couch while I prepared their hot breakfast. I made them oatmeal in the cast iron skillet on our propane stove. I opened a quart of apple butter and poured about half of it into the oatmeal to flavor it for us to enjoy. (I LOVE apple butter).

The kids and I went and sat at the table in the other room, with the window open, providing what light could be found on a rainy Northwest day. We read Proverbs 29 and talked about any verses that caught our attention. Then prayed and ate our breakfast. After that we were all much warmer.

Then the kids colored in their coloring books, while I read a book a friend lent to me, The Busy Homeschool Mom's Guide to Romance. I REALLY enjoyed this. I often lament that since having children I RARELY find time to read. I wonder how much of my time spent on the computer, could actually be spent delving into an exciting novel or even the occasional uplifting and educational book.

My husband woke after a while and chose to have an MRE for breakfast. He shared it with the kids as it comes with many snacks and a milkshake.

Then I put a pot of water on the propane stove to boil, for morning face washing, and for doing the dishes.

As this was boiling, we discussed our plans for a visitor today, my husband's mother. I lamented that the carpet was not vacuumed, and we both noted that the fridge was getting a little on the warm side. So we agreed to turn the power back on to prep for her visit.

I did use the boiled water in a bowl with soap to wash my dishes... but I admit I used the tap water to rinse them all. I know some use another bowl or sink of hot water to rinse. I just wonder how efficient this is after several dishes are rinsed. IF you have any suggestions how to rinse dishes without using the tap please share them! My husband vacuumed.

We then welcomed our visitor and had an enjoyable time, going out to lunch and stopping by the produce store on the way home. BUT we were tired. It was nap time for the kids, and this is usually my opportunity, especially when preggo, to get some extra shut eye also. We turned the electricity off again, and put the kids down. I rested on the couch, while my husband read more of the Star Trek Federation aloud. But I fell asleep after a couple of chapters.

And my husband was all alone, with nothing to do. He tried to stick it out, but being raised a computer geek who has spent every free moment on his comp since his youth..... I can hardly blame him for folding. I woke to the hum of the fridge and fans and computers and fish tanks. And somewhere in this he got an emergency call to return to work.

So our Off the Grid test came to a close.


What worked well....

* I was very satisfied with our food choices and methods of cooking them. The propane stove is a cinch to use, and the cast iron took just a little time for me to get comfortable with as well. Although we did not eat many meals, I had plans for tonights dinner, and could easily have made several delicious meals with little planning if needed.
* I really, truly enjoyed the closeness and activities with the family. Turning off the computers and TV forced us to entertain each other and enjoy each other. While it was a little awkward and took thought, I loved it. I LOVE my family. I think that THIS aspect was and is very good for our family.
* While the oil lamps are not as bright as electric light bulbs, our eyes easily adjusted to them, and we were able to use a battery operated lantern to read by.
* I was amazed at how much "FREE TIME" we had.

What didn't work or work well....
* I underestimated how much water would be needed to flush the toilet. I had a few buckets of water set aside for this purpose, about 16 gallons. But we went through about 12 just in about 14 hours! This was with us waiting for the toilet to REALLY NEED to be flushed.
* We will need to consider purchasing more games, reading chapter books as a family and thinking of more activities to entertain or occupy us in the future.

My overall opinion about our experiment.....

There is a selfish part of me that says, it is too much work, and on the boring side.

But mostly..... I think it is exactly what my family needs, or what I need. It is alot more work. But it is not hard work, and it is not without rewards, delicious food, and the knowledge that you earned what you are enjoying.
And there is so much more family interaction. In just the few hours we had time to play games with our children, read to our children, do SCHOOL with our children, in a loving, fun, NON RUSHED atmosphere.
I ponder often about the lives of those who lived before us, most especially those who accomplished great things. I cannot for the life of me remember WHO it was, but this summer I saw a home where one of our founding fathers was born. It had two rooms, a wood stove, and was surrounded by fields and trees. There was no electricity. There was no running water. They were BORN in that home. They were raised and SCHOOLED in that home, by their mama and their daddy. They developed a work ethic and moral resolve. And they were well learned, eloquent, and became great and accomplished men. Perhaps MANY of our founding fathers, and biblical fathers lived lives very similar to this, and they accomplished far more than I have, and far more than ..... most people.

It isn't that I want to cut my family off from technology or claim it is evil and wholly wrong. But I find more and more that I am in agreeance with what I first thought was a hippy mentality voiced in Star Trek Insurrection, "We believe when you create a machine to do the work of a man, you take something away from the man."

It seems to find more relevance in my heart today.

1 comment:

  1. My husband woke after a while

    That means 'hours later'...mmm...sleep.