May 17, 2020 § Leave a comment
Ever since that Friday the thirteenth in March where everything changed, I’ve been getting up at 5:30AM every other day to make sure I have enough time to do my yoga practice before the whole house wakes up. My alarm goes off at 5:30, I head downstairs right away to turn on the coffee maker, then back upstairs wash my face and carry down the baby monitor and my phone. Then I sip my coffee and eat a banana while scrolling through my phone, waiting for the caffeine to kick in.
This morning, I read this satisfying piece in the Atlantic by Stanley Tucci in which he recounts a normal day for he and his family during this phase of not normal (bonus: it includes recipes). It’s so relatable and reassuring to read that we’re all more or less doing the same things. Those of us with children anyways. Even though we’ve been doing this stay-at-home and physical distancing thing for 66 days and it’s very exhausting with two small children, I am wise enough to know that when it’s over, I will miss it. In the spirit of indulging my sentimental side, here’s a typical day for the Storches in these COVID times.
(I already mentioned that I’ve been waking up early every other day to practice yoga, so let’s say this is an off day.)
Henry jumps into bed between Nick and I, humming the Highway Thru Hell theme song. He cuddles with us for a few minutes, while also compiling a long to-do list for the day, 95% of which are things for US to do for HIM (Nick to build new LEGO tow trucks with him, Nick to order specific LEGO pieces online for a vision of a tow truck he has, me to look up how-to’s in Minecraft, me to be his camera person for filming his own videos).
Henry gets free reign of the TV downstairs while Nick stays in bed as long as possible and I get Charlie The Wonder Sleeper from his room.
All four of us sit on the couch, watching Henry’s choice of TV, most likely a LEGO/Highway Thru Hell Youtube DIY video made by a very nerdy Canadian teenager.
Nick and I are awake now, drinking our various caffeinated beverages. Charlie gets tired of Henry’s show and plays nicely by himself with Duplo or a puzzle. I look at the clock and remember how this time used to mean that I’d be telling everyone to do their last minute before school things – teeth brushed, lunch packed, library books in backpack, etc and wonder how hard it will be when we finally have somewhere to be again.
Finally turn off the TV and have breakfast at the table, usually accompanied by toys.
I shower while Nick hangs out with the kids downstairs.
Nick retreats upstairs for the rest of the morning to shower and work. I get the boys into the backyard and/or alley. I am already tired by this time from getting them and myself dressed, brushing teeth, tying tow truck hooks back on strings, solving and cleaning up puzzles, opening and taking out play-doh from containers, drawing things Henry wants me to draw so he can colour in, and other little things that add up to a lot of frantic movement.
Kids start fighting over random toys in the backyard they don’t care enough about to bring inside when it rains, but are somehow the most special item to them because the other one started playing with it. Time to distract with snacks!
A few minutes of near-silence while kids wander the backyard aimlessly, munch on goldfish, and drink juice boxes.
Kids are playing pretty happily so I slip inside, literally right on the other side of the glass door from where they are, to start making lunch. They notice immediately and start opening and closing the door 46 times calling for me to “come see this!”
Herd kids inside and to the sink to wash their hands. Henry eats his daily grilled cheese with the crust cut off and mini cucumbers. Charlie eats one of his daily selections of Amy’s mac & cheese. I eat with them, but usually a third option (because I enjoy being a short order cook?)
Both kids have a second (or third) wind and go crazy until nap time.
I put Charlie down for his nap.
Henry video chats with his teacher and a couple of his other classmates that also feel like joining in. Henry treats this time as show-and-tell.
I work furiously for an hour and a half and drink my second coffee, while sitting beside Henry who’s watching TV or doing one of his video game-like school assignments.
I bust out my most subtle influencing skills (this is so exhausting and challenging) to convince Henry to do some schoolwork online that he never wants to do, no matter what it is. This usually includes bringing tow trucks or Highway Thru Hell or even bathroom humour into the assignment to get him to think it’s fun and actually complete it. Then I light a candle on my shrine to elementary teachers in gratitude and appreciation.
Time to wake up Charlie. He doesn’t want to wake up yet, but I want him to go to bed again 4 hours later, so too bad, kid. Henry follows us into his room, yell-talking and making Charlie whine because it’s not an enjoyable way to wake up.
I begin dinner and it’s time to switch from coffee to beer or wine. I attempt to deflect all the kids’ various needs back to the TV so that I can cook while Nick takes his 400th phone call of the day upstairs.
We eat. Henry finishes first and asks for “I-C-E cream” as though Charlie hasn’t figured out his sneaky secret code by now.
I pretend to be an ice cream truck and make paper money for the kids to spend on ice cream. SHHHHH DON’T TELL HENRY THAT HE’S LEARNING ANYTHING.
Bath time. Charlie whines that he doesn’t want to get into the tub. Henry leaps and runs around naked and screaming. I convince Charlie to get into the tub by filling it with various baking tools or offering an “ice cream bath” if we’ve held off on ice cream until this time. Nick and I switch back and forth off of bath duty until the floor is soaked and they’ve made me several “coffees” from their bath tub coffee shop.
We drain the water and Charlie won’t get out even though Henry’s gone and he’s naked and wet in an empty tub. I pull him out into a towel despite his protests.
Nick yells at Henry to get his pajamas on while trying to deal with last minute work emails and calls. Henry huddles into a troll-like shape in his towel and crawls along the hallway. I get Charlie into pajamas while he looks at Henry in the hallway and shrieks with laughter at his weirdo brother.
Both kids are dressed and Nick’s back. Kids go bananas in Henry’s room. I say goodnight to Henry while pulling Charlie off his bed.
Nick and I collapse into bed and watch TV, scroll on phones, and if we have the energy, talk.
Whine that we don’t want to go to bed yet because it’s going to start all over the next day.
November 10, 2018 § Leave a comment
Tonight will mark two weeks since we suddenly and unexpectedly lost my Dad. A lot of people have reached out to ask how I’m doing and I really, really appreciate that. I have to say, thanks to the support and love of my family and friends, I’m doing okay. I am so fortunate to have my amazing Mom, sister, and brother, PLUS Nick and two little boys who are so busy and funny and fun that I cannot help but to be forced into the present every day while I’m with them. Charlie has no idea what happened (and the fact that he won’t have any memories of his own of his Grandpa makes me so angry/sad), but Henry now understands. We talk about Grandpa and what Henry thinks happens when you die. There’s a lot of family photos in his room, including three that Grandpa are in, so we say goodnight to him. But five years old is too young to really obsess about this for too long.
When I do have time to myself to think, like while practicing yoga, walking down the street running errands, or during the massage Nick booked for me last weekend, I think of my Dad nonstop. I also had a teary moment with a Mom of one of Henry’s friends in the schoolyard last week while talking about it, since she too lost her Dad suddenly and was very close with him.
Thank you so much to those friends that have sent flowers and cards and goodies to us in the past two weeks. I can’t believe how lucky I am to have all these thoughtful, loving people in my life. Not that I didn’t before, but moments like these make me appreciate the people I have collected throughout my life and like my Dad would have, I will always love and appreciate them.
Some things that have made me feel better during the past two weeks have been reading about grief. Here are some of my favourites that I’ve found and connected with:
“Rather often I am asked whether the grief remains as intense as when I wrote. The answer is, No. The wound is no longer raw. But it has not disappeared. That is as it should be. If he was worth loving, he is worth grieving over.
Grief is existential testimony to the worth of the one loved. That worth abides. So I own my grief. I do not try to put it behind me, to get over it, to forget it… Every lament is a love-song.” via
“My heart is with the Miller and Northcott families who are now struck with the task of learning to love in absence after the luxury of loving in presence.” via
“Alright, here goes. I’m old. What that means is that I’ve survived (so far) and a lot of people I’ve known and loved did not. I’ve lost friends, best friends, acquaintances, co-workers, grandparents, mom, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbors, and a host of other folks. I have no children, and I can’t imagine the pain it must be to lose a child. But here’s my two cents.
I wish I could say you get used to people dying. I never did. I don’t want to. It tears a hole through me whenever somebody I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don’t want it to “not matter”. I don’t want it to be something that just passes. My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if the scar is deep, so was the love. So be it. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that I can heal and continue to live and continue to love. And the scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can’t see.
As for grief, you’ll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it’s some physical thing. Maybe it’s a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive.
In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything…and the wave comes crashing. But in between waves, there is life.
Somewhere down the line, and it’s different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at O’Hare. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you’ll come out.
Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you’ll survive them. And other waves will come. And you’ll survive them too. If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of loves. And lots of shipwrecks.” via
November 4, 2018 § 2 Comments
It’s been one week since my Dad suddenly passed away. It’s been a crazy week with every moment claimed by planning for his funeral and then Henry’s fifth birthday party, but now that things have calmed down, I wanted to share and save the eulogy that Jenn, Ryan, and I gave on Thursday. The officiant of the service, Tonia, basically told the three of us that we’d be writing and delivering the eulogy and at first we were like “Us??? But didn’t we just hire you for that?” And then she phrased it perfectly: this would be the final gift we could give our Dad.
It was really something to put our energy into writing the perfect piece about Dad and putting together the perfect slideshow to represent his 63 years. Here’s what we said and some photos from the slideshow.
July 8, 2018 § Leave a comment
Charlie turns ONE on Tuesday, but we celebrated his birthday yesterday with a whole bunch of family and his best friend, Evan’s family too :) Here are some photos from the fabulous day.
Both of Charlie’s Grandpas were there!
For the first time since my niece Anna was born, all 7 grandkids/cousins were together in the same place.
The Spiderman pinata was absolutely destroyed by the kids.
Charlie and his best friend Evan.
A blurry, but only complete family photo of the day.
One of Charlie’s favourite new toys!
We ended the evening by going out for dinner with the grandparents at Swiss Chalet, where we all ate ravenously, especially Charlie.
Thanks to everyone who helped us celebrate this little ray of sunshine!
May 9, 2018 § 2 Comments
I’m back after a long blog hiatus because of two of my favourite things: Harry Potter and Henry.
This morning at breakfast, Henry asked me if Dumbledore was a “good guy”. He had been playing a LEGO Harry Potter video game at his friend’s house on the weekend. Also, at Henry’s age, he and his friends are very into “good guys” and “bad guys”. I said, yes, he’s a good guy and a great wizard in the books. Henry asked who the bad guy was, so I reminded him about Voldemort. (We haven’t read the books yet, but of course, I love to tell him anything he wants to know about Harry Potter whenever he asks ;) )
Henry’s next question was a good one and proof that kindergarteners can really make you think sometimes: why is Voldemort bad?
In school this year, Henry’s really paying attention to the other kids’ behaviours and trying some of it on for himself, experimenting with what behaviour gets what kind of reaction, but in the end, Nick and I like to remind him that we like Henry the best, and he’s back to himself shortly after. He tries to tell me that some kids are bad, but I like to ask him questions about why he thinks his classmate was acting that way. Were they sad or tired or grumpy? Maybe they were having a bad day. Can he remember a time he felt like that?
So I was faced with this question about Voldemort that I’ve never really stopped to think about before, despite being a huge Harry Potter fan. In a movie or book you just accept that the villains are the villains and the heroes are the heroes. But I wanted to give an empathetic answer, so I told him how Voldemort had no parents and no friends and maybe that just made him a sad and angry person. Then I told him how Harry actually told Voldemort how he felt sorry for him because he will never know love or friendship in the big fight scene at the end of The Order of the Phoenix. It sounds so cheesy, but it really is what life is all about and Henry got it immediately. He teared up and came to me for a hug.
Four year olds ask the best questions sometimes. And I cannot wait to read these books full of great life lessons to Henry and Charlie.
August 10, 2017 § Leave a comment
We have been adjusting to life as a family of four and I think we’re just really starting to find our rhythm. Nick went back to work full time this week and Henry’s been hanging out with his sitter & her son Monday through Thursday for about 6 hours a day. This is great for Charlie and I being able to have some time together, even if it means him crying and fussing and nursing til he falls asleep. Things are pretty loud in a two bedroom apartment with a nearly-4-year-old and so it’s nice to have some time where it’s just the two of us, Charlie sleeping peacefully and me being able to shower/read/re-apply for Canadian Citizenship Certificates, etc.
The time between babysitter leaving and Nick getting home where I have both kids usually involves a TV break (so we can all hang out on the couch happily) or me carrying Charlie around in the Ergo so he doesn’t fuss and I can play with Henry. Making dinner is still an adventure, but I’m figuring it out, even if it means Charlie crying a bit because I can’t hold him all the time.
Nick has been taking “Summer Fridays” off for the month, so we can spend them together as a family. Last Friday, we actually made it into the city to go to the Museum of Natural History! Sure, Charlie and I had to make an emergency evacuation of the planetarium show because he wouldn’t nurse and wouldn’t stop crying, but it was all worth it! He just wants to sleep on you for a good part of the day right now, so we might as well carry him around in the Ergo (which he MUCH prefers to his stroller at the moment) anywhere we need to go.
Charlie is a champ when it comes to eating, so he’s grown a ton in the past month. His head and face are filling out along with the rest of his body. In the photo above he looks so much like my dad and brother! Also his skin is peeling, his baby acne is clearing up, and his darker hair seems to already be falling out in his bed while he sleeps. He’s also starting to wear some of his 3 month-sized clothes. I can’t wait to see what he’ll look like in the next couple months.
We’ve found a pretty good balance when it comes to spending time with both kids too. Whenever possible, Nick will take Charlie for chest naps in our bedroom while I hang out with Henry. I also do bath and bed time with Henry every night while Nick takes Charlie after I give him one last feeding for a while. Up until this week, Nick and I have had from about 8:00-9:00 to hang out in the living room and watch Netflix and eat popcorn together, but the last few nights, Charlie has refused to sleep until we both go to sleep at 9:30 or 10:00. The lack of time of having both kids asleep at the same time kinda sucks, but it’s worth it because he has been sleeping much better – only getting up 2 or 3 times a night to nurse! Such an improvement from Henry who would wake me up about 6-7 times a night.
I also caved and bought a Dockatot after Julia praised its magic. I’m sure that has something to do with the improved sleep ;) Thanks, Julia!
July 24, 2017 § Leave a comment
We have officially been a family of four for two weeks now! We already love Charlie so much that it seems like he’s been here for a lot longer, although we are still regaining our footing and figuring things out with this big change. The two biggest things we’re adjusting to are Henry’s new role as a big brother and the fact that we are pretty much bursting out of our apartment!
Henry has been used to having my full attention for his whole life since I work from home and he only has a babysitter part time so he’s had his ups and downs. Whenever I can, I make sure to put Charlie down or hand him to Nick so that I can just sit on the floor and play with Henry for as long as possible, giving him my full attention. I still do bedtimes with him too, which seems to really help. Despite the good and bad days, we are proud of how welcoming he’s been with Charlie. He just wants to hug him ALL THE TIME – sometimes a little too enthusiastically ;)
Charlie spends most of his time sleeping, eating, and as Henry likes to make sure to point out, pooping. He’s already gone from his birth weight of 7 lbs 14 oz to over 8 lbs 8 oz (as of last Tuesday)!
Charlie’s already been going out and about with us and has also met a few close friends like Unckie Paul!
They also took Henry to our amazing neighbourhood toy store and told Henry he could pick out one thing, whatever he wanted! Of course he chose an enormous and loud, but pretty cool truck crane.
Nick has been working from home for the past two weeks and will be home with us for another two weeks. With no family living around us plus Henry’s big adjustment to our new addition, it’s so helpful that he’s doing this. If it weren’t for my amazing husband and awesome sitter, I don’t know what I’d do!
The sleep deprivation isn’t as bad as it was with Henry, mostly because between already having a kid who goes through good and bad stages of sleeping, plus not sleeping well during the last trimester of my pregnancy anyways, I am kind of used to bad sleeps at this point. Also, as a second-time parent, I know that everything is a phase and in just a few months, things will get a lot better. Also getting up three or four times a night would be a lot harder without that cute face to look at!