posts tagged with 'sleep'

the status quo in sleeping

As exciting as the arrival of warmer weather is to all of us, there are things that I find myself missing about winter. Last night, for example, I missed the cold in the bedroom because I had to take off a layer of blankets. That's hard, hard for me to do. See, I love the coziness of our bed, and to me coziness is a product of the fluffiness and weight of the blankets above me. For most of the winter I've had three blankets on me, which was fine. But a couple weeks ago the boys were playing and left a comforter on the floor; passing by, I picked it up and threw it on the bed. There it stayed until bedtime, and when I went to bed it was dark and I didn't want to put it away, so I just went under it. Of course it made the bed even cozier than before! So it's been there ever since. Only... last night I had to throw it off in the middle of the night because I got too warm. So sad.

I'm not the only one in our family who gets used to the situation in their bed and has a hard time changing it; nor the only one who appreciates coziness. Harvey and Elijah both have four blankets. Zion has at least four, plus three or four pillows, a sleeping bag, and infinite stuffed animals. Additionally, Zion also has his fan going every night: he needs the white noise, and also claims he needs the breeze. When it's below 50°F in the boys' room I have a hard time understanding that desire, but last night, when I was forced to give up a precious blanket, I decided he might be on to something...

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is it my bedtime?

One minor benefit of blogging regularly for so many years is that it lets me see how well I've been managing my sleep schedule. Writing is often the very last thing I do in a day, so by checking the date posts are published I can see how long I've been keeping myself up. And it's been pretty late the last couple weeks! There are good reasons to stay up late—it's the only time I get a moment to myself, a moment to think without being assailed by the constant noise of our lovely household—but overall I think I'm better when I manage to retire at a reasonable hour. When I'm up til all hours I'm tired the next day, and then things don't go well and I get frustrated, and then I need even more time the following evening to calm down and collect myself. A vicious cycle.

Even worse, I don't even get to share the evening time with the one member of the family I'd actually like to hang out with by that point. Leah needs to go to bed early; most nights she barely manages to stay awake longer than the kids (in fact, often she doesn't even do that!). So really, I ought to go to bed early and get my quiet alone time in the morning when I'm not collapsing from tiredness. I'm going to try it... keep an eye on those post times if you want to know how I'm doing!

lying down with dogs

I kind of thought that with Leah gone I'd have a little more room in the bed at night. But somehow that hasn't been the case at all—in fact, I think last night I had even less! And it's not the kids' fault: they all stayed in their own beds, as they almost always do nowadays, until Lijah came in a little before first light. No, the problem is the dogs. I think they have spots that they like in the bed, so even without Leah there they're still trying to claim space right in the middle. And even worse, I think they appreciate pressing up against somebody as they sleep, so while they started in the middle by morning I was clinging to a thin sliver of bed, unable to move or roll over lest I tumble off. It wasn't the most restful night.

Add to that the problem of sticking with my usual bedtime—or missing it, rather, because of needing time to be quiet after a long day with the boys—and waking up on Leah and the dogs' schedule. That's at four AM if you're keeping score at home. At least they don't make me walk them at that hour (Leah does, usually). I just let them out for a bit, and then they calm down until six or so and I try to go back to sleep. Unless of course Lijah joins me in the bed... It's a miracle I'm conscious at all!

still napping after all these years

Lijah turns three in a few days, so every afternoon at nap time I have a moment of doubt about whether he's actually going to fall asleep. Not that three is a magical age; I'm told that plenty of kids are still napping well into their fourth year. It's just that Harvey and Zion both gave up any pretense of sleeping during the day when they turned two. Not Lijah! He's still going strong.

Lijah napping, bare feet tucked up under stripey butt

expert napper

Of course, he's always needed more sleep than his brothers do: we noticed that when he was just a month old. And then we also figured out some things about parenting as we practiced on our first couple children. I figured out that, if a boy needs to sleep, I need to make him sleep whether he wants to or not! And with Lijah the key to doing that at nap time is music by the Youngblood Brass Band.

When I wrote about his affection for the group back in 2015 I noted that the soporific effect their tunes had on him was wearing off. But then Leah started working more hours and, in an effort to keep our homeschooling days sane, I instituted a hard line on nap time based on mandatory listening. It works! (I wrote about the first day of the program, before I knew it was going to be a thing.)

Lijah's reaction to the prospect of napping goes in phases. At first, fully cognizant of how tired he is mid-afternoon, he was happy to relax and fall asleep. Then he started to push back some, by whining or by trying to start a conversation. With the magic music backing me up, I could indulge him a little—with the reminder that we were going to listen to our three or four songs regardless. Lately, I just turn on the songs and give him some time to finish up what he's doing; before too long he comes right over for me to pick him up. It's kind of nice! (it also helps that the other two boys have their own rest time routine down pat).

Not everything is lovely and easy. As ever, there are many ways in which he is horrible, or at least ridiculous. But I love him a lot, especially when he's had enough sleep. So I'm glad that part's still working out!

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at least we have asparagus

As seems to be the case most of the time, we're feeling pretty busy and exhausted around here. I've had many moments during the day when I blinked and I'm pretty sure I fell asleep for a couple seconds. Which is why it was even more frustrating than usual when, at the beginning of the week, I had a couple nights where I was up for what felt like a considerable amount of time, too stressed to fall asleep. What was I stressed about? Oh, work, some; and homeschooling; but mostly the garden. There's so much that I should have done and haven't! Amateur farming is hard work. Luckily, there's always the asparagus.

a bundle of asparagus on the kitchen table

one day's take

I think I planted our asparagus patch back in 2008 or so (and then I added some more plants in 2011). As I've mentioned before, it was a little work to get set up, but now we just sit back and let the deliciousness pour in. It's lovely, and all the sweeter when I see how much asparagus goes for in the stores. I think I've picked about $40 worth so far, and it's still coming in! Do you have an asparagus patch in your yard? You should!

(In researching for this post I find I write nearly the same things almost every year. I don't remember any of it. Must be memory loss from never sleeping. Stay tuned: more excitement about asparagus coming May 2017!!!)

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chicken alarm

I've had some very productive mornings lately, thanks to my ever-reliable (at least at this time of year) feathered alarm clocks:

the chickens scratching in the garden before sunrise

chickens in the gloaming

I'm not sure whether their behavior is learned or innate, but by making an unholy racket every morning the hens get me up at an ever-earlier hour to let them out into the yard and give them a handful of scratch—at which point they mostly shut up for an hour or two.

There's certainly the possibility that, left unchecked, their predawn noise would wake up the kids in our house; but actually I'm more concerned about the neighbors. Our kids are up at 6 anyways most days, but I'm sure that our immediate neighbors keep more civilized hours. They're nice folks, and I wouldn't want them to take against us and our livestock any more than they already have.

Not that I've had any evidence that they've ever heard the early-morning chorus. In fact, a couple days ago our neighbors on one side had a problem with their car alarm, which went off at around 5:15—and kept sounding for long enough for Leah to get up, go next door, and ring the bell. They didn't hear the alarm, but at least they responded to the doorbell.

My post on facebook about the incident might have seemed a little grumpy—might even have seemed to suggest I'd let the hens make some noise in order to get back at those neighbors. Far from it! I only meant that I'd be less worried about chicken sounds now that I know a car alarm immediately under their bedroom window doesn't bother them. I'm still going to let the hens out though, just in case. And it's not so bad, getting to read or garden in the crepuscular peace.

Especially if I manage to get to bed before 10. Still working on that part.

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truth

Can't write, sleeping.

underslept

OK, so it wasn't only bread that took so much of my time last week. Work and hospitality also played a big role in keeping me away from the writing desk. But I can assure you that getting any extra sleep had no role in my lack of blogging time: I haven't made it to bed before 10:30 in close to a week. And before you scoff, if you're a young person who keeps more fashionable hours: I regularly get woken up in the night for tuck-in service, and then I'm up at 6:00. That's not enough sleeping. Yet I keep not going to bed. There's so much to do around here!

dark for sleeping

Despite the fact that it's really warm again, there's one big way it's feeling wintery around here: light levels. A week and a half before the time change it's dark before too long after dinner, and dark well after it's time to wake up. It's a little frustrating from the point of getting things done outside. On the other hand, it's great for the sleeping! This evening the boys were all quiet in bed by 7:15, and Leah followed within an hour. I don't want to say anything to jinx it, but we may be ready to start chipping away at our gigantic summer sleep debt!

After we get back from the church retreat this weekend, that is.

these moods were made for walking

I took a walk with Elijah by the river today. The air was rather mild despite the recent blizzard, and I was breaking a path through knee-deep snow. Altogether it was very good exercise.

The reason I was exercising thusly is because I'd just had a shouting fight with my husband about the gym. He thought I should go to the gym because I Clearly Needed A Break. I said a break wouldn't cut it after the morning I'd had. He said Don't You Trust Me to Watch the Three Children it's like you're some kind of Martyr for no cause in particular, a bitchy Martyr who is Unpleasant to be around. I said, if you really want to hear my opinion, you can't take the baby out in this weather just standing around, he screams when you do this, I know from a lot of personal experience holding a screaming baby, and you can't let the other children play in the street unsupervised, and if it's all the same to you I'd rather mind the baby than have him screaming on the street or having my other children hit by a car, and furthermore I'm tired risking the life and limb and the happiness of everyone in this family just so I can spend thirty minutes in a smelly room burning one fifth of the calories I ate for lunch.

Dan said he thought I liked the gym.

I said I like it fine. But. I haven't slept in weeks and the older kids are capable of fighting over which monochrome lego brick belongs to whom and the baby screams if he's awake and not touching me and there is no amount of pull-ups that will that okay. I cannot spend thirty minutes on the rowing machine and come back to the same house and the same life and pretend it's all totally okay.

So Why not go for an hour? Dan said.

And I said, you don't understand. This body that I might spend an hour training in front of a sticky mirror? this body is food and comfort for ten hours every night. Actively. Like, I have to prop myself up on my side and the arm that I'm propping up on goes numb. And then during the day, carrying that back-pack around all the time, my body is some kind of a diaper/spare-clothing/snack/water-bottle/bandaid mule.

There is no magic amount of time at the gym that will make this okay. I just want you to hear that. If I go to the gym, let's just be clear, I want to leave open the possibility that I might come back and still be kind of frustrated.

Dan said Do Whatever You Want and slammed the front door.

I decided what I really wanted was to get some fresh air.

So I bundled the baby into his snowsuit (he doesn't scream if he's moving) and me and the difficult one took a long walk by the frozen river.

And you know what? It WAS good exercise.

But fuck exercise.

I am tired of wondering whether things are good exercise or not. I am tired of wondering if I am working my quads or if I am working my glutes or if I've burned the calories I just consumed or am planning to consume later. I'm so very tired of wondering anything. Wondering whether a white noise machine will get my baby to sleep, or if sleeplessness is just part of my life not subject to change. I just want to stop wondering. I just... want to do something because it's ENJOYABLE.

Not because it'll make me a better mother or because it'll make me thinner or because an accountant in my head is calculating the per-use cost of my gym membership. I just want to do something FUN for an hour. I walk to walk in the snow and look at the bunny tracks and say in some pleased voice I may not possess: "That's something I won't be able to do when I'm dead."


Elijah enjoyed bouncing around and looking at the snowy trees. He didn't notice the incongruity later of going to bed to a soundtrack of beach noises. Let's hope (though I don't mean to functionalize our time together) that the walk and the noise machine help him put some real hours of sleep together. Perhaps they will get both of us dreaming of fresh air and summer.

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