Night of the Roomba

Last night, I started home from work a bit early, as there was a winter weather advisory in effect and Buda, a few miles north of San Marcos, was already getting sleet. This was fine with me, as I had ordered a Roomba a while back, and it was due for delivery. Since the thing is supposed to be charged for 3 hours before use, I figured I could get home, plug it in, we could go for our Wednesday night Bible study, and have a chance to try it out by the kids’ bedtime. It was also a great motivator — “Who wants to try it in their room first? [Evil paternal laugh] Well, you have to pick up your toys from the floor!”

(Sidenote: why can’t companies that manufacture products with rechargable batteries ship them charged? Don’t they know we want to play with our toys when we get them, not plug them into the wall and stare at the charge indicator for hours? Apple learned this lesson a while back, and now ships iPods and laptops with a charge so that they can be used out of the box.)

The Roomba arrived more or less on schedule, and we popped down the street for our evening of spaghetti and scripture. I cut out with the kids a bit early so that they could get their bedtime chores done and get ready for school, after which we turned the Roomba loose in Liam’s room. It was absolutely hilarious to watch the kids dance out of its way, shove little piles of dirt in front of it, and shout “Come on, Roomba! over here!” as it ground its unpredictable way around the floor. We took it down to Abby’s room and repeated the drill there until it decided it didn’t have the power to continue any longer.

The temperature was continuing to drop, and I was looking forward to finishing up Jade Empire, so I got the kids bundled up, and was about to send them off to their beds when the lights dimmed and then went out altogether. The children were understandably a bit startled and concerned to find themselves plunged abruptly into darkness, but we called out each other and managed to find each other by touch in the hallway. Once linked up, we went on a blind quest for matches and candles, both of which we eventually found, though not without several stubbed toes and comical flailings. (“Why not flashlights?” you may be wondering. Have you ever tried to keep flashlights around in a house full of kids? I can’t remember the last time I saw a working flashlight around our house, in spite of many, many purchases.)

We set up Liam’s room as our campground with extra blankets and a small array of candles on a shelf by the window. After getting everybody settled in, we read Chapter 11 of The Chronicles of Narnia: A Horse and His Boy, wherein Shasta meets Aslan face to face for the first time, interrupted from time to time by abortive attempts by the power company to get things running again. (“[click] Hey, the lights are on. Awwwww! Now we have to blow out the…[click] Yaaaay!”)

The power finally came back on to stay around 9:45; the kids slipped back to their appropriate bedrooms, and we snuggled under our covers, drifting off to the sound of the winter wind as it rattled around outside.