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Sesame Family Robinson – From making Muppets to Raising Moppets

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Good Night, Irene!

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Curriculum of the Day: Weather

Tropical storm? Maybe by weather report standards, but Irene left our suburban town with enough firewood for the next decade. Almost every street had some majestic tree crashed down on a lawn, a fence, or power lines.

Marty, the girls, and I did what we could to batten down the hatches of our home as the storm approached. We checked in often with family down south who were already in the heart of the hurricane. We received texts that it was “windy but OK.” Our daughter Chanel in Wilmington, NC lost power for 2 hours. Lauren and the rest of the extended family in Port Charles, VA never lost power; and I must point out they are on the spit of land sticking out into the Chesapeake Bay! Ours snapped off around 11 p.m. and was out for 7 days. Weather! It is still a great, global mystery.

The entire event was rather strange because usually our home whistles around the eves when the winds get very high. We heard no frightening gusts or whistles and slept through the night (as much as parents of 2 ½ years olds sleep, rising for the needed comfort or untangling of blankie). In the morning, we were lucky to see we only had a minor amount of large branches and hundreds of small ones down. 

With no power and no grasp yet on the severity of the damage, we felt it was safe to venture to my Dad’s assisted living facility in Danbury, which never lost power. Ah, the adventure. There were no live wires or we would have turned around, but there was so much damage around us, the local police be hadn’t even had a chance to put caution signs around trees resting on wires or water covering roads. We drove over, under, around, and through the debris, pointing it all out to the girls with “ooo” and “ahhhs.” We had a lovely meal with my Dad, and then took the highway route back, which was not as bad.

The next days were all about the true necessities: water, food, light, and clean up. We are lucky to have a hand pump on our well, so every day the family went to the pump to get our water into bottles. We cooked on the gas stovetop and washed in the pool. I took daily trips to the stores in Danbury for ice to try and keep food as much as we could. Our refrigerator became a true icebox. Marty had wisely cooked a turkey just before the storm so we had Thanksgiving every day for the first three days. Candles were lit around 7 p.m. We read to the girls by candlelight and flashlight.   

The first days of such change are a novelty, especially for little ones. The girls learned words like “Electricity” (pronounced “leckticity”). It was particularly lovely at night with the candles lighting the bedroom and reading. There really was nothing to do but enjoy being together and going to sleep when it’s dark as we humans did before “leckticity.”  

As the days wore on, the “Little House on the Prairie” adventure was getting old. Our babysitter started taking the girls to her house for baths since she never lost power. I went to my dad’s twice for a warm shower. As thankful as we were, we couldn’t bear another day of turkey on Wednesday, so I started to bring home takeout along with ice. The girls got to sample Korean, Indian, and Japanese fare to enthusiastic response. Every day, I could see progress along the roads. Naturally, it was important to get the town centers up first so people, such as us, could get food and ice closer to home. As the traffic lights started to come back on closer and closer to our town, I knew that power was inching towards us. I have to say, despite all the potential hazards, I never witnessed one traffic accident, and everyone was very gracious at the intersections without any power.

Finally, on Saturday, the traffic light closest to our home came on. We all still felt extremely grimy, and took a trip to my dad’s for a family shower event. It was our last taste of the olden days, since the power came on at 5:20. Twenty minutes later, it went off again, and we started kicking ourselves that we didn’t spend it filling up jugs of water. Shortly after, it came on for good.

 A week without any music or TV was a blessing for the kids in many ways. Even at 2 ½, they knew this was very unusual, and were willing to go with the flow, helping with the water and clean up, making our own music with the piano and shakers, and eating outside where there was more light. Still, we were glad to bid Irene good night, watch a movie, and make smoothies. Ah, modern convenience.

Mail Box

Like your family we have twins, boy/girl, that turned three last month. I saw your blog entry for January and it looks like we have something in common, potty training twins. Like one of your girls, my son WILL NOT pee in the potty but his sister was doing well until she caught on to "Bubbie" not trying. I was just letting things run their course but our local pre-schools/mommy day out programs require the children to be potty trained and this mommy needs a day out. Bribery isn't working. Have you had any success?


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How often is the telly puppet renewed or replaced?

Katherine Sydney, Australia

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I read in 40 Years of Life on the Street about an incident involving Snuffy's puppet where a sombrero caused the wood frame to collapse on you and Bryant Young. Did they rebuild the puppet after that or did they just make a new one?


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I just wanted to say thanks for the blog. My daughter Kylie (who just turned two yesterday) loves to ask if we are going to see "the babies." Thank you so much to you and Marty for bringing the joy of Sesame Street into our lives every day.

Kendal and Kylie Montreal, Canada

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I've noticed that there are fewer Muppets and people in an episode now than there were twenty years ago. Does everyone show up on the set for filming days or only certain ones? Who decides who gets to play the Anything Muppets? There are some voices I hear more than others.


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