Academic Leigh Speaking

A professor, four kids, and a crash course in work/life balance

Quick Thoughts September 22, 2016

Filed under: Family Life,Growing up — leighj @ 11:01 am
  1. Gilbert lost a tooth! His first one. He asked the tooth fairy for his money in quarters.
  2. Harlan can push himself into a seated position. I’m finding it easy to set aside the baby stuff (bouncy seat, playmat, Bumbo) that he’s growing out of, but I need somebody to give it to…
  3. Porter is talking a lot! Now we have two and three word ideas strung together. The other day we were out for a family walk and he pointed to a Toyota Highlander and said, “Grandude’s car!” I can’t even do that.
  4. Seamus continues to listen to books on CD. The big question I have is whether to let him listen to Superfudge, by Judy Blume. There’s a chapter about Santa being the parents…

I’m having a lot of angst about a lot of different things, but they’re all pretty boring and would end up being TL;DR (Too long; didn’t read) so I’m holding off.

 

Obviously, I’m Back to Work September 16, 2016

Filed under: Family Life,Growing up,School for Boys,Uncategorized — leighj @ 8:05 pm

I can’t get a blog post out to save my life. Tonight, Patrick took sons 1-3 camping. Littlest dude fell asleep at 5:30. I’m going to pay for that later, I’m sure.

Sitting at the big boy table!

Sitting at the big boy table!

Patrick upgraded Harlan to the big boy table. Porter gets a booster. The other boys play musical chairs. I just want to shovel my food in. Family dinner time is necessary (not overrated) but wow. It’s a lot of work. I guess it’s worth it for these cutey faces at the table too.

The case of the orange.

The case of the stolen orange(s).

I remarked (casually and off-handedly) that some oranges looked good at the Marriott. My family then proceeded to take all they could carry (to make fun of me???). Anyway, they made for some good juice and muffins.

A cure for the gimmes.

A cure for the gimmes.

Oh, how shopping with this kid is an exercise in saying no. About 100 times. He really wanted to show me this dog in the hopes I would buy it. I was already in line to check out, so I said, “Why don’t you take my phone and go take a picture of yourself with the dog?” That solved the problem!! He felt heard, and like he had the dog, but I didn’t have to say no (again…).

Last night we did Seamus’s back to school night. It was great–funny and so, so Seamus. He wrote us a letter to leave at his desk, signed, “your smartest cid.” He also apologized for a “messy desk” which was very neat and encouraged us to go look at the Guess Who on the wall. This year, he wants to be a scientist. “So I can blow things up.”

 

Miscellany September 8, 2016

Filed under: Academic,Books,Events,Family Life — leighj @ 2:16 pm
  1. Seamus and Gilbert started back to school. They were thrilled to be back in the routine, and the first day, there was a lot of interrupting to tell us all about it. I’m glad they had fun. Of course, we’ve gone back to school bedtime (7:30, if not earlier), and packing them with full calorie snacks. The first week just wears them out.
  2. I read an interesting book (We Love You, Charlie Freeman) about a Black family that goes to dedicate their lives to science and adopt a chimpanzee and live in a primate facility. It was delightful and weird, and I’m glad I read it. Next up is a book set in Egypt. I’m going for shortish, high interest books these days.
  3. I’m teaching a fantastic class on Ethnic Literary Traditions. My focus is Chicana memoir and poetry. It is SO MUCH fun to teach a class I’m really good at. It helps that my students are really into it too.
  4. Harlan can crawl.
    Up and at 'em!

    Up and at ’em!

    He’s highly motivated to go for anything Porter has played with.

  5. My parents visited for Gilbert’s birthday. It was a really fun visit–nice and cool, before heating up again this week. We did get in some swimming, despite the cool temperatures.

    I like this shot of my mom with the four kids competing for her attention.

    I like this shot of my mom with the four kids competing for her attention.

  6. Porter did his repertoire of animal sounds last night. We said, “Are you a Porter-cat?” and he said, “Meow.” Then he did donkey, cow, duck, snake, frog, sheep, rooster, fish, goose, and dog. He calls himself “Port-ay”
  7. We had the English Department over for a party.
    Three partying boys.

    Three partying boys.

    We’re a big group!

  8. My tenure portfolio is almost done. I’m putting the finishing touches on it and then I turn it in next week. Here’s to a hopefully uneventful wait.
  9. Seamus and Gilbert went out to play with their cousins.
    Ya-hoo!

    Ya-hoo!

    Fun waterslide set up!

  10. I’ve been really tired, but I’m nothing if not hopeful for that getting better soon.
  11. I’m working on Lego storage solutions. I’ll post something when I get it organized.
 

Gilbert’s Sixth Birthday September 5, 2016

Filed under: Growing up — leighj @ 10:09 am
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Gilbert’s birthday was this weekend. He’s been looking forward to it for a while, but I had sort of not come to terms with the fact that it was so soon. On meet the teacher day, we arranged for his birthday treat to be sent to school (she does not want us to bring it in)! We arranged with a friend of Gilbert’s to go to Chuck-E-Cheese for his “celebrate-with-a-friend” time.

Our new policy is that for the grade they are in, they can choose that many friends to go somewhere fun and celebrate. So, in first grade, they can pick one friend, second grade, two. Currently they can choose Chuck-E-Cheese, the zoo, bowling, or Pump it Up. In a few years, we might add laser tag, a climbing gym, or a trampoline place. They are pleased with the arrangement, but it was hard because Gilbert turns six in first grade, while Seamus turns seven. We didn’t want Gilbert to have to wait until he was seven to get an outing, so we tied it to grade, not age. Seamus did think that was a little unfair, but we explained that he’d get a party at 18, whereas Gilbert would already be off to college by 18.

Back to Gilbert’s birthday! He requested a floppy calculator, some Legos, and of course, his bike. He got that and more (a snap circuit set) and he’s pretty pleased. Also he’s gotten a lot of attention. He has two wiggly teeth he’s hoping to lose soon. He moved to the top bunk for a turn. He’s controlling his reactions to things better.

Our six year old!

Our six year old!

 

Lucky Boys September 4, 2016

Filed under: Family Life,Outdoor Pursuits,Summer Vacation — leighj @ 9:57 am
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Finding four leaf clovers is a thing that comes easily to me and has since I was little. When talking with someone, or walking, I can look down, see one, pick it, and keep going. This usually prompts a, “How do you do that?” I’ve been trying to get the boys trained to find them too.

A few days ago, we came across a mutated patch of clover in which about one in four was a four leaf, and one in 20 was a five leaf. I encouraged them to look, and at first they didn’t want to, since when I’ve made them look before it was hard. This time though, they started having fun finding them.

Gilbert shows his lucky clovers.

Gilbert shows his lucky clovers.

Seamus only wants the five leaf clovers.

Seamus only wants the five leaf clovers.

Maybe they’ll get into it now!

 

Passport for Fairfax County Parks Discovery August 31, 2016

Adventures at the parks.

Adventures at the parks.

Seamus and Gilbert picked up a passport for the Fairfax County parks a few weeks ago, and we’ve been going to the different parks to see what there was to see. The passport definitely achieved its goal to get people checking out new parks they’ve never been to before. If you go: Many of the visitors centers are closed on Tuedsay, even though the park is open.

Hidden Oaks Nature Center: A fun park! It has two easy hiking trails, blazed orange and blue/gray. The orange trail has animal prints to guess at certain points, and the blue/gray trail crosses a little stream. The visitor center is big with lots to play with/touch. It was a little crowded in there the day we visited, but the trails were almost empty. Nice little suburban park.

Huntley Meadows: We’ve been there many times. The visitor center closes early on weekends. However, the boardwalk is a ton of fun for a hike. Lots of birds, turtles, and beavers.

Riverbend: We like this park because you can hike through to Great Falls Park without paying the parking fee at Great Falls. They rent canoes and kayaks here. Lots of close to the river hiking and interesting bird sightings. On our trip we saw a huge caterpillar, lots of spiders and daddy long legs, and ducks. A very productive nature walk, in which we learned about clearing spider webs, rock scrambles, and water buoys.

Frying Pan Farm: I trekked there with my four boys and a friend, the same age as Gilbert. I got a lot of looks. This was really neat, and not particularly well advertised. Lots of animals, the 4-H barns, a country store. The old farmhouse and kitchen was terrific. We took a wagon ride, and Porter was a little afraid of the animals, but he liked them from the safety of the wagon. The pigs made the boys nervous, after listening to the terror of the hogs in Old Yeller, they didn’t want anything to do with them!

Wagon Ride

Wagon Ride

Lake Fairfax: We’ve camped here, been to the skate park, and seen a band in the amphitheater. On this visit we saw the marina, geese, and playground.

Hidden Pond: Seamus’s class had a field trip here earlier this year. The pond has a lot of scum on it, but it also lives up to the name. There are turtles and ducks easily spotted. A couple of nice hiking trails. Porter liked the visitor’s center, which had a copperhead, several different turtles, fish, and motion sensor water fountains. There’s also a nice playground at the park.

Green Spring Gardens: A surprisingly fun place with ponds, plants, and a cool greenhouse.

Ellanor Lawrence Park: I am so happy we went here because I got to see a friend I haven’t seen in a year, but. I should have worn the Ergo despite the heat. I tried the stroller, but the trails were too bumpy. The redeeming part for the boys was wading in the creek. And hearing the story of my friend being trapped in a sleeping bag. Also my friend announced, “Hey, my mom got married here!” which was awesome!

The Prize!

Both Seamus and Gilbert received a terrific prize pack with coupons for mini golf, wagon rides, carousel rides, camping, swimming, boats rentals, and more. They are all to use at the parks in the future.

This is one of the most spontaneous and fun things we decided to do this summer. Right on, Fairfax County!

 

Some Photo Evidence of Our Summer August 23, 2016

Filed under: Outdoor Pursuits,Summer Vacation,Uncategorized — leighj @ 6:36 am
Porter encounters the bears at the Cape May zoo.

Porter encounters the bears at the Cape May zoo.

Seamus and Gilbert play a video game at the restaurant. They've been begging to do it again ever since.

Seamus and Gilbert play a video game at the restaurant. They’ve been begging to do it again ever since.

Seamus and I make pickles.

Seamus and I make pickles.

Porter and Gilbert in the kiddie pool.

Porter and Gilbert in the kiddie pool.

Seamus, Gilbert, and I ride Rip Tide!

Seamus, Gilbert, and I ride Rip Tide!

Gilbert and Patrick ride the lighthouse ride.

Gilbert and Patrick ride the lighthouse ride.

Gilbert jumps at the Lego fair.

Gilbert jumps at the Lego fair.

Porter needs a haircut.

Porter needs a haircut.

Seamus holds Harlan.

Seamus holds Harlan.