We didn't have any specific plans for our Labor Day weekend. There had been talk of a possible visit from some of Daniel's family, and we had also considered a camping trip, but nothing was set in stone.
That turned out to be a good thing.
Early Friday morning Hurricane Hermine hit northern Florida as a Category 1 hurricane and 90,000 people in the Tallahassee area (where my sister and her family live) were left without power. The city was projecting up to a week before everyone was back on the grid. Also, a lot of trees and debris were blocking roads, but thankfully everyone was ok after the storm.
Five years ago, Daniel and I had a similar experience where we were without power for an extended period after a series of tornadoes came through Alabama. At that time we cleaned out our fridge and headed to my sister's in Nashville where we waited for power to be restored.
With the tables turned, we offered to meet my sister and brother-in-law to pick up their kids for a few days with us in Chattanooga (Angela and Robert stayed behind because they still needed to work). With our plan set, we drove to a small town south of Atlanta that had a Chick-fil-A.
The kids played while we visited (enjoying the air conditioning), ate lunch, moved car seats and luggage, then headed back to Chattanooga. My sister and her husband headed back to Florida, unsure of how long they would be without power.
Our drive home was a loud one. Isaac desperately needed a nap, but he was distracted all that was happening in the car... which meant a lot of crying from him. Jack and Levi seemed to get exponentially louder as we drove (culminating with pretending to be cuckoo clocks as our trip came to a close), and there was a typical amount of bickering between kids. Daniel and I were wondering what we had gotten ourselves into.
However, once we were home, we found a groove. The hardest part of having four kids in our home was the noise level (a friend with four kids told me we would learn to tune them out), but generally speaking things went pretty smoothly. We weren't any later for church than we are with just our own two kids; kids were generally in bed, and asleep by 8:30; and we even managed to do some fun stuff with them.
We are not planning on having more kids, but it's nice to know that we can handle four if need be. It helped that my sister and I have similar parenting styles and the kids (other than Isaac) are old enough to know the rules, all eat fairly well, and have good bedtime routines. I did a lot more refereeing than I have to with just Isaac and Jack, but it was all typical kid stuff.
I will say that I found myself doing more chores than I might normally, just because I needed a break from the refereeing, and it was helpful to tell the kids that I was busy and they needed to figure out a solution themselves or help me fold laundry!
We spent Labor Day at the lake, swimming and *kayaking, then finished our day with a campfire and smores. The kids spent a lot of time playing outside, and my sister and I took them on a *hike before they went back to Florida.
The whole weekend was last minute, but it turned out to be a great experience, nonetheless.
We let Jack stay home from school for two days and he had a blast playing with his cousins. Hopefully we will have more cousin weekends as the kids get older and they will all remember these fun times together.
*I will share kayaking at Chester Frost with four kids, and our hike to Glen Falls posts in the next couple of days.