Tag Archives: sleep

Holding On

Are all of the days this long? I’m tired to the point that my body wants to tap out.

Can’t I just sit here with my thoughts for a while longer? Must we always sleep?

Right now it’s quiet. There are no additional requirements.

Peace sits next to me and it too, is at ease. Please let this last.

Sleep, I need badly, but if only not to interrupt the balance of perpetual thought.

A soundtrack plays in the background, moods changing every few hours.

But right now, it’s all good. Ahhh, it’s good. Exhaustion starts to employ physics.

The promise of peaceful slumber hangs on my eyelids like freezing rain on twigs.

The soundtrack cranks along, and the days credits roll. I reach for the moment.

Knowing, that this one blip on the eternal timeline will never again repeat.

And, then it is over, the fight, a TKO, with sleep the winner.

And with the sleep needed, a winner, so am I.

 

Wife is Away

My wife is away for a few days on a business trip. She is very much missed in our household, and her absence is noticed in numerous ways. One such instance occurred over night number one of her trip.

At 4:11am our nearly five-year old son walked into our room. He was sniffling and coughing, but knew exactly where to go in the dark. He climbed up on my wife’s side of the bed, as his routine. Upon discovering the empty space, he continued his roll-slide-shuffle over to the first thing he bumped into, which was me. His breathing was somewhat restricted from being stuffed up, and he is one of those boys who likes to bury himself more and more as he sleeps, often times burrowing himself under his pillows and piles of blankets. I did get him to rest against me and a pillow to get his head elevated. It worked well and he quickly was deeply sleeping again. I enjoyed the snuggle with my dear little boy and it is always rewarding as a parent to know that the child’s journey is complete when arriving here with me. Now my wife, she masters this edge of consciousness and deep sleep thing; me, not at all. I was up.

At 4:53am his twin sister came into our room. As always, she closed the doors to the rooms she left and entered. She wanted mommy but was slightly confused. She asked me if this was the night that mommy came home. I told her tonight was not the night. As she made her way across the bed towards her brother and I, she said, “Oh I thought tonight was the night.” She laid down but she was restless. After a few minutes, at 4:58am exactly, I asked her if she wanted to go back to her bed and sleep there. She said yes. I picked her up and carried her to her room and gently placed her on her bed.

For several minutes, I sat on the floor next to her bed, there in the dark, and I rested my head on the edge of her mattress. My daughter curled up into sleeping position and wrapped one arm around my neck. I sang to her for a little while, going through some of her favorite bedtime songs. Before long she was asleep again. At 5:11am I walked back into our room, wishing I was asleep, but realizing I was fully awake. My son was melting into the bed, sleeping so peacefully and beautifully.

In the dark silence, with the cold winds howling outside, I noticed the gorgeous star lit sky. I walked around and looked at the sky from four different windows, looking in every direction to notice the cloudless sky, and the piercing light from the stars that had no man-made light to compete with from my vantage points. I cannot begin to count the number of times ever since childhood that the sky has captured my attention, often times for long stretches of time, especially at night.

Being wide awake and wanting to get a better look at the sky, I figured I should do something about it. So I made my way downstairs. I threw on some wind-pants and a light jacket. I grabbed my camera and the awesome tripod I got for Christmas from the kids, and ventured into the front yard. Now, the temperature was just 17°F and the winds were whipping up at 15-25 mph, driving the wind chill factor to 0°F. One thing that someone taught me long ago was to take some pleasure in the exhilaration of those cold blasts, and to know that I am very much alive. Standing in the cold, looking to the skies, at 5-something in the morning, I chose to embrace the idea of being very much alive.

Now I am a novice photographer at best, but I do love to participate. I don’t know exactly what I captured in the pictures I took, but I tried to make my camera see at least what I could see, if not more. I set the camera on the tripod and left the shutter open for the maximum 30 seconds that my camera is capable of for each picture. After each shot, the image on my little display looked pretty cool to me, even as I stood shaking a bit in the cold. I hoped I was getting some decent pictures even though I didn’t take a lot of time fumbling around in the dark and the cold.

At 5:58am I made it back to our room. I checked on my son who hadn’t moved a muscle and was sleeping deeply. I checked on my daughter too, and she was out cold, hands and feet both perfectly and symmetrically together. I climbed into bed as not to disturb my little boy, but also with a sense of urgency to get warmed up again. I did get back to sleep for an hour or so before our 8th grader got up for school. The twins both slept until after 7am which is later than usual, especially for my son.

As the morning wore on, I sat down in front of this keyboard to make sense of last night and to figure out the chicken scratch notes I wrote to myself in the dark. I also wished (in a small way) that I could engage with the kids while not fully waking up like my wife does. Then again, I am exhausted but I got to see the treats that are a perfectly clear starlit night sky and the illuminated dots that pierce the darkness from distances measured in years. These are the same sources of light that I sang softly about to my daughter as she drifted back into the awesome vastness of sleep. So tired as I may be (I am), I would have to say it was a great night. My son’s first words to me this morning were, “Dad, I love you soooo much.” Who am I to complain.

I sit here wrapping this whole typing thing up. The sun is bright. The winds are making their presence known. The various shades of green seen in the form of needles long and short, wave and lurch to and fro in the breezes that blow. The outline of the massive pine catches my eye, as it always does, when those greens sway against the perfect blue back drop. I could watch it all for hours, if not days. The sun climbs and the angles of the shadows change. The sky beckons, and I am always game. My gaze is often fixed upon that boundless space. My prayers are so often delivered as I stare to these blue depths. Finishing this, I think of my wife, away from here, and the sky she sees today. I take solace in the space that connects us even in times apart, and one such thing would be the sky. I stare at the blue knowing she can see the sky too, and it helps me feel close, even though my wife is away.

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30 second exposure looking north. I brightened this up quite a bit but the colors are untouched. The wind was howling so our neighbors outside motion light came on over looking their back deck while I was outside.

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30 second exposure looking north. Again, brightened some but the colors are true. Loving the night-time sky! There is not a lot of wide open sky around here.

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30 second exposure looking northwest. The colors were barely visible to my eye, but the open shutter picked them up much better.

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30 second exposure looking north. The glow, the stars, the silhouetted trees, the colors, and the accompanying cold wind will make this overnight hard to forget.

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30 second exposure looking north-northeast. I could barely see any discoloration of the night sky with own eyes, but the camera captured this beautifully.

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30 second exposure looking north. I don’t know what the glow is closer to the horizon. I was hoping for the Northern Lights, but I am not sure I got them. There was a faint light I could see without the camera, but when leaving the shutter open so long, it grabbed a lot of light.

Pleasures in Life

I am a fortunate man. God has blessed my family and I many times over. I am both humbled and thankful for all of the blessings that have come my way. One pleasure in life that I am very thankful for, one that I try not to not to take for granted, is the beauty of my sleeping children. No matter how busy the day has been, or how hectic, and even disastrous it may seem, there’s always the moment that seems miles from any of the chaos.

The moment, in the dark, when I walk into the warm room(s) where the children I have been blessed with, to guide and to raise, are peacefully sleeping. The pace of life knows not this moment and this space. No anger, ill-tempered, or negative emotion cross the threshold into this area. Time slows to an appropriate speed when I walk among the shadows to seek a glance at those precious, innocent faces. The noise of life and the roar above the growing hum of humanity clattering through our universe while being distracted by instant everything, can be overheard here by the faintest of whispers. Here inside these walls, the absence of light creates an atmosphere that is placid, quiet, and it takes on a different feel than it does at any time during the day. Reverence washes over me immediately as I step from one world into another, a world separated by just a door and these four walls. Outside this space distractions abide, and stresses tug, decisions are real, and too many of them are required. But, here, in the dark silence, there is innocence, beauty, and peace. There is love here, lots of it. There is respect. There is peace. There is life that originated from a miracle, and here it sleeps, just inches from the madness of today, but here it rests, completely.

My heart rate slows and my mind seems to clear up. I look at the preciousness before me, and it is overwhelming. Sometimes I fight back tears when I let myself think of ever missing one of these moments. Mostly, I smile. I whisper to the sleeping beauties. I have done this with all of the children, even as they got older. I tell them I love them, and how beautiful I think they are. I tell them to dream big, and go after the things in life they love. I tell them to always love, and to always give thanks to the Lord. I tell them they can do anything that their hearts desire, and to work bigger and harder than their biggest dreams. I tell the boys to take care of their sisters and to always look after their mother. I tell the girls to always help their mom, and to make sure they look after their brothers. I pray for them. I pray for direction to be a better father, to be a better husband, and to be a better example. I give them each a kiss and I linger a moment, somehow wishing I could return to that time in my life.

As I open the door to leave and to re-enter the world outside, I think of how truly fortunate I am to witness these pleasures in life.

The peace of sleep

Theodore and Jacqueline hold on to a few more minutes of sleep on Mom and Dad's bed.

Theodore and Jacqueline hold on to a few more minutes of sleep on Mom and Dad’s bed.

The ‘Going to bed’ Parade

This is a piece I shared on Facebook a few weeks back. I thought I would post it to the blog with a few tweaks and updates added in. This routine has worked so well that we have set a routine of sorts for getting the twins to bed each night. In the last few weeks I have tried to be very consistent with the twins and their nap time so they get more sleep. I know this will change too fast but I sure do enjoy this time each day.

Jacqueline listens for her next mission

Usually we are in the family room playing, dancing, watching any tv show with animals in it, or just on the floor together with music playing, but no matter what, nap time starts like this.

I mention to the twins its nap time, time for night nights, or going to sleep in their crib or playpen. This is their trigger and they know what to do next. So I start walking for the playpen that Jacqueline sleeps in downstairs. The twins follow, and often they even pass me. Theodore turns on the fan near the playpen, they need their ‘white noise’. He continues to the playpen and tags it like he’s trying to knock it over. Jacqueline follows right to the crib and reaches up for me. I pick her up and tell her to put her head down and go to sleep at which time she puts her head on my shoulder and hugs me. I tell her to say good night to her brother who is usually still right at my feet. They look at each other and wave. I place Jacqueline in the playpen with a kiss and say “go to sleep honey”. She lies flat on her back with her head on her pillow. She also giggles while I tuck a blanket around her and maybe tickle her at the same time. Meanwhile in those couple of seconds Theodore races for the stairs. I catch him and allow him to climb them while I guide. At the top of the stairs there is no delay, he takes a left turn and heads for their room. Every time it’s the same thing, turn on the fan, push the button to start the humidifier, and reach for dad so he can turn on the ceiling fan. Both babies love to see the ceiling fan go around and round. They have a hand signal for it now. I hold him and tell him to put his head down and go to sleep and he puts his head on my shoulder with a hug. Sometimes he turns to me and gives me a wet, open mouth kiss anywhere on my face. I place him in his crib and he lies still as a photo as I tuck him in with a blanket. Usually he looks away from me and stays stiff as a statue. I think he thinks if he doesn’t move or look at me that I will think he’s asleep or something. It’s pretty funny. Of course he is rolling around or standing up by the time I leave the room.

Theodore walks his beat

Now, some days they are asleep in a minute or two, sometimes longer, but it’s pretty cute to see in action. They average at least 2 hours of nap time each. When they wake, usually him first, I bring him downstairs and he’s already motioning to me that he wants to go get his sister. When we get to the bottom of the stairs, if she’s awake already, I put him down and he runs to the playpen and tags it like an open field tackle. As he turns the corner to where she is, neither one can contain their excitement to see their twin. It’s pretty funny and it happens almost every single day. I love it. I enjoy it, and I know these moments will be gone all too soon.

Each evening, after dinner, after baseball or hockey, there’s at least a few minutes of family time in the twins play area. At least a little unwind time for them, for all of us. We get their diapers changed and pajamas on and then let them motor around a bit. Then we mention to them its bed time or time for night-nights. Since mom usually puts them to bed at night they know they are going up the stairs with her. This generally turns into a parade of sorts as they race to give dad hugs and kisses on their way out of the room. It is comical to see how excited they are at the prospect of going to bed. They barely spare a second as they give me a kiss or hug, and sometimes I have to chase them for it as they giggle out loud and high step across the kitchen floor. Like many times in life that they will learn all too soon, it’s the journey, not the destination, that is the prize. Right now they get a prize almost every night as they get total attention from mom and dad and their older brother as they make their way along the ‘going to bed’ parade route.

Jacqueline can't turn away from Kirk Gibson's interview