here is the key to the house. in the house burns a light. in that light rests a bed. on that bed waits a book.

"boo[k]!" (the k is silent) he shouts upon seeing said book waiting on the the basket next to the bed. then, up onto tippy toes he reaches for it before walking over to me and repeating the word, only this time as a command. [translation: read!] so i sit down cross legged and he slowly backs up into my lap. the house in the night. we go through it a couple of times every day, each time telling a different story. it's a beautifully illustrated board book with so many details that you could go through it hundreds of time without telling the same story twice. sometimes it'll be all about the night sky: how the sun shines on the moons face (and what a pretty face she has, i seeee youuuu luna!) and about counting as many stars as we can - which usually leads to an interlude of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star - before the next page turns. other times it'll be about the bird: how it soars through the dark, getting smaller the higher it flies and about it's song (that i then whistle and august squeeks in imitation).
the book was a gift for august - a souvenir from my trip to minnesota earlier in the summer. it was my nephew's favorite book and came highly recommended not only by claudin, but by the clerk at the bookstore who was proud to tell us that the author was a st. paul resident. i had no idea it'd be such a hit considering that at the time, most of the books in our house had been either chewed or torn beyond recognition. we're past that phase though and now books are for reading. i'm not sure where he got it from, but these days august loves to read. he'll flip through books to pass the time in the car or sometimes, when he's out of sight and i go through a brief moment of panic because it's so quite, i'll find him sitting in the dog's bed reading.
i was never a big reader as a child so i know he didn't get it from me. nope, the "reader" in our family was my older sister, the so-called "middle child" (she was the third in our five). she was the only one that really took to my father's passion for reading, just like claudin and i were the only ones to take after his love of running. come to think of it, we each seemed to pick one my dad's passions to share just with him. my brother: his dedication to service (from eagle scout, through the ranks to army ranger) and my oldest sister: his devotion to family (almost entirely inspired by Fiddler on the Roof, TRADITION!)

while i wasn't the [independent] reader my sister was, i did read a lot of great books when i was a kid - i just read them with my dad. he loved literature and it was something he held onto even when everything else in his life was fleeing from him. having children gave him the excuse to read all the stories he had always wanted to read. so when we were growing up and all the way to middle school, he would read to us before bed. some of my best memories come from those nights we stayed up late reading j.r.r. tolkein or c.s. lewis with claudin and i on either side of him, our heads resting on each of his shoulders as he read aloud.

i remember after one particular late night in which we had stayed up well past reasonable sleeping hours to read one more paragraph from the culminating chapters of The Hobbit. with just a few pages left, it took a tremendous amount of discipline from my father to close the book. but it was very late on a school night and he had a strong sense of responsibility. the next morning though, he woke us with the same excitement he was about to bestow: you don't have to go to school today, we're staying home to finish the book! we spent the early hours relishing the last bit of Bilbo's journey back to the Shire and i don't recall what we did the rest of the day (i think, maybe, we rented the cartoon on VHS?) but i'll never forget the time my dad let us play hookie. ever since then i decided that when i had i child i would do the same. with time and maturity i grew to appreciate books and now i've got the same enthusiasm that my father had for reading.  especially now that i have a child of my own - i get to read all the books i never read on my own: Huckleberry Finn, Moby Dick, Robinson Crusoe... august and i will discover all those books and more. and maybe i'll even let him miss school a few times too.



on saturday we took a drive...

over a bridge and across the river
+ on quiet country roads
+ through small, historic towns
+ to the village fair: seeing, hearing and even touching (!) the animals from our books
+ past so many farm stands, piled high with the season's finest
+ onto a ferry boat back over the river

i hope yours was simply lovely, too.

early to bed, early to rise


we go through the same routine every night: bath, books, milk, songs. by the end of the last verse, august's eyes have slowly blinked their last blink and his head hangs precariously over my forearm. i walk over to his crib where we sway another couple of minutes until i feel the full weight of his exhaustion and lie him down. most nights that's it. last night it wasn't. it took a thirty-minute struggle and an honest rally against bedtime before august finally tucked his feet up under him, pushed his butt into the air, and fell asleep. as i stood over his crib, listening to his breath over the ocean waves of his sound machine - making sure this was it this time - i wondered why he fights it.

probably for the same reason i do. we're so tired we don't know what we want.

for most parents, a full night of uninterrupted sleep is only a vague pre-child memory. after months of midnight feedings and bouts with teething, we get so far into sleep debt that we don't even recognize it until something gives. getting sick AND injured last month is what made me realize it. by skimping out on proper rest, i missed out on all its benefits; from the immune system boost to the muscular recovery. and it didn't stop there, my mood was "off", the simple act of concentraion was a task, and my skin had the opposite of a healthy glow.

i shouldn't blame my lack of sleep all on parenthood though. many nights i stay up way past august because i view it as time for myself. i'll cut right into those precious sleeping hours tooling around on my computer or watching tv and not actually doing anything for myself. the next morning is always a harsh reminder of my neglect. i'm the one dragging myself out of bed and hobbling around, while august is already waiting for me with bright eyes and the rightful enthusiam of someone who just got ten hours of sleep. one look at his smiling face and flawless complextion is all it takes to recognize the benefits of a bedtime. i need to do what he's doing.

so i've created my own bedtime ritual to make sure i'm nourishing and nurturing my self as well as i have been doing for august - just a few small changes to help me get better rest so that i can be the best for the people and things i love. hopefully it'll help me to uwind so that i can sleep better and deeper, even if it's broken by the occasional middle-of-the-night-soothing.

1. get between seven to ten hours of sleep. the body goes through its natural cycle for repair during sleep and most of that work is powered by the brain. if you cut sleep short, you're not giving your brain enough time for all the repairing and restoring and rebalancing it has to do.
2. limit the tv to one show a night. {the netflix marathons need to stop!} not only are tv shows stimulating to the mind, but the glow of the tv is actually so bright that it can stop the release of the hormone that regulates sleep: melatonin. your body ends up missing the message and you stay up watching "just one more episode" instead.
3. be in bed at 9pm. read a book, write in my journal, cuddle with andy, or do whatever relaxed thing you always wish you had more time for.
4. go to sleep when i'm tired. this is a no brainer, but so many times i ignore the signals because "it's still early!" or "there's so much to do!"
5. at the very latest, have lights out by 10pm. the deepest and most regenerative sleep occurs between then and 2 am. the hours slept before midnight are proven to be especially effective and they always say "nothing good ever happens after midnight" anyway, so.

sweet dreams!

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