Academic Leigh Speaking

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

A Visit to Kentucky October 15, 2017

Filed under: Family Life,Friends and Relatives,Travel — leighj @ 10:08 pm

Yep. Another fall break, another visit to Kentucky. This one was fun; the six of us went to the science museum in Nashville with my brother and then went to Rainforest Cafe to eat. It was hokey, but what fun for the kids! Every half hour there was a thunderstorm when the animitronic animals moved. There were real fish to watch. Harlan was very interested and occupied with the scenery. The flight was fine, the van we rented had very uncomfortable head rests.

The older boys really learned to play Rook this time. Porter read hundreds of books, and Harlan ate his weight in applesauce. It seemed like a low key visit (except for the 5:00 am wake ups), but we accomplished a lot of fun and activities, with a minimal disruption to our lives in Virginia. The kids missed one day of school, and I didn’t miss any. I still had to play catch up (and, indeed, I’m still doing so), but we had a pleasant visit with good food, family, and fun.

Not in Kentucky: We watched Cool Runnings about the Jamaica Bobsled team. I’d never seen it, and it was a classic moment when Gilbert didn’t want to watch it because it wasn’t his pick, but within 15 minutes, he was laughing hysterically at the movie.

Rainforest Cafe Watching the Thunderstorm.

BIG!

Seamus got to try out the Astronaut Walk exhibit at the Science Museum. He was excited!

A family tradition!

Getting some tooth love from Granny.

He almost ate the whole bowl.

Harlan makes a new friend.

Home again!

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Breaking the ice October 5, 2017

Filed under: Family Life,Food,Friends and Relatives,Uncategorized — leighj @ 9:18 am

Whew. I haven’t written in a while. Currently there are items in every room of the house that need something. For instance, in the living room, there is a new toilet; in Porter and Harlan’s room, there is a large tub of camping equipment.

Love the old timey press. Collected the apples from under the tree.

There’s a huge number of apples in the kitchen. We made cider!

Seamus has played in more soccer games. Porter loves school. Gilbert reads a lot and helps out with chores. Harlan is wonderful but exhausting, especially with all the stuff out of place in the house.

I’m waiting for the plumber, typing on my phone, trying to figure out how to do it all today. Probably not possible.

More later.

 

Five Nights September 16, 2017

Filed under: Family Life,Outdoor Pursuits — leighj @ 6:48 pm

I’m on my last night of being home with the kids while Patrick has a work trip. For the most part, it’s been fine, but there are definitely things that I’ll need to be a little less judgmental about in the future.

  1. We’ve had three meals a day, but I wouldn’t call them all winners. In the good column, I taught Seamus how to make his own scrambled eggs; I packed healthy lunches for the older boys, and I packed myself a lunch for work. In the bad column, we had cheese, crackers, and apples for dinner on a night I’d planned to make stir-fry; we’ve had a lot of peanut butter and Nutrigrain bars for snacks; and I let them have a glass of OJ that was about to turn. In mediocre terms, we ordered pizza one night (I put this in the middle column because we’d had it on the menu plan and it was the night of Seamus’s soccer practice.
  2. I’ve had help. Patrick’s dad watched the kids from 7:00-4:00 on Friday, while I went to teach. I also hired a babysitter to take Seamus to soccer practice (which another parent totally called me out on today). And I hired her again this morning so I could go to the grocery and to the shoe store. (I’m really annoyed that the credit card sent a ding to Patrick as soon as I bought shoes–It’s like it thinks my husband has to approve my purchases…)
  3. Friday, they all wanted to talk to me, but after 375 minutes of students, I just couldn’t listen. I tried, but I couldn’t focus on what they were saying or respond appropriately. Literally, they were all talking. I’m sure I missed important clues about their lives, but I just had nothing left. Pizza made us all feel better. I’ve tried to be patient, and I think it’s worked, mostly, but I have at least one interaction I regret my reaction for each kid.
  4. They miss Patrick. The one time we got to FaceTime, they were so excited to see him! Harlan walks around the house looking for him, “Dada? Dada?” Seamus and Gilbert keep making sure he’s going to get back when he said he would tomorrow. And Porter does, desperately, but doesn’t really know how to articulate it.
  5. Screen time. I’ve let them watch the iPads tonight, because I didn’t want to set up the projector. So they’ve been quietly watching Franklin and the Parent Trap (2 iPads) for 70 minutes. We do movie night on Saturdays, but I usually watch with them. I just can’t. And Harlan was still awake and I wanted to bathe him and get him to bed. A good column though! They’ve had more baths than usual, and I’ve managed to have reading time with each kid, every day. Porter, Franklin and Little Critter; Harlan, board books; Gilbert & Seamus, Number the Stars (finished!) and Bridge to Terabithia (started).

So I guess my takeaway and resolution is to be a bit easier and kinder on my friends and acquaintances who have a partner who works long hours or who travels a lot. Shortcuts that give you back some sanity or quiet time is okay, and nobody’s being neglected, even if I didn’t give them my best attention from 4-5:30 on Friday.

PS Seamus’s first soccer game was a lot of fun. He enjoyed himself and did not seem tired at all afterwards.

 

New Routines September 11, 2017

Filed under: DC Exploration,Family Life,Growing up,School for Boys — leighj @ 1:47 pm

With the start of school, we’ve settled into our new routines.

  • Seamus and Gilbert were both really tired this week. In Seamus that manifests with sitting and not hearing anyone talk to him. In Gilbert, we see it when he tells us about all the excitement of the day, and he clearly had fun, but he loses his temper easier at home and doesn’t settle to read, like he normally does.
  • Porter went to Meet the Teacher day, and he very sweetly told me afterwards that when he goes to school, he’s going to stay in the classroom, and I’m going to go home. This seems to indicate that he’s processing that idea as a new idea.
  • Harlan is in a very solid potty routine. It’s young, but he tells us when he needs to go, and then he goes. We haven’t really been trying with him, just getting lucky occasionally, but he seems to be ready to go.
  • Seamus started soccer. He had his first practice recently, and it was super stressful as we were trying to get most of us to a different event. However, Patrick said the coaches were excellent and that Seamus had a wonderful time, so we’re keeping an open mind.
  • Harlan starts art class next week. I’m very curious how he’ll handle structured time, but I know he’ll love getting messy!
  • Gilbert loved his birthday. He told us his teacher asked what he got for his birthday, and she was surprised when he told her all about his Daniel Boone hat.
  • Porter had a wonderful time at a party bouncing on the trampoline with a bunch of other kids (we were supervising closely). He sobbed when he had to leave, and he cried in the car for a bit too. Finally, when he was able to talk, he asked in a small voice if we were going back tomorrow? I said no, but acknowledged how much fun he’d had. He said, “Yeah, I was jumping and jumping! But I didn’t go up to the trees. Maybe when I’m as big as Seamus I can jump to the trees.” He has recently come into Seamus worship stage. Seamus is cool because he can read and play baseball.
  • We got our green chile, roasted it, and peeled it. Delicious! I only ordered 10lbs of medium this year. Much better idea!
  • We went on an interesting outing to the Colvin Run Mill. I ¬†was really impressed with the park and how much you could learn about old time milling operations in such a short time.

A working water wheel mill.

 

Happenings–Last Day of Summer and Gilbert’s Birthday Weekend September 4, 2017

Filed under: Events,Family Life,Growing up,Outdoor Pursuits,Summer Vacation — leighj @ 3:12 pm

Well, it’s been a long time since I posted anything, but largely that’s down to I went back to work two weeks ago! This weekend was Gilbert’s birthday. He’s seven! I feel like he was too old to be six, but it’s funny that his birthday is always coming to quickly (maybe because it is the last bit of summer). We celebrated with Lego Figure Cake, some legos, a book, and time with grandparents. He declared it the “Best Birthday Ever” so you know it was fine.

In other recent events:

Gilbert at the batting cage.

Seamus awaits a pitch.

It was a rather cold day for the water park.

I took all four kids to the water park and batting cages, even though it was a bit overcast and cold. They enjoyed themselves immensely anyway. It’s been too cold to swim the last two weeks, but here’s hoping we get a couple more days in before the end of the season.

We enjoyed a beautiful evening on the Georgetown waterfront.

Harlan’s language has exploded. He said ducks, airplane, I go, fountain, and some more words this night. We also cut off this cute little mullet over the weekend.

Early morning duck feeding.

See the trim?

Gilbert wanted to swing. It was pretty funny.

Best Birthday–to be Davy Crockett, or Daniel Boone?

 

Summer Reading August 22, 2017

Filed under: Books,Family Life,Fourth Baby,Summer Vacation — leighj @ 11:55 am

We signed up for summer reading at the library. Seamus and Gilbert each had to read five books, whereas Porter and Harlan had to have 30 books read to them. Who do you think had the most trouble? If you guessed Harlan, you’re correct! He is the only one not finished with his. We sit and try to read to him frequently, and we’re often reading to Porter where he could join us, but he chooses not to sit for a book. Sometimes he closes the book on your fingers or grabs it and hits you with it. However, I do think summer reading is a success because I only have to read him two more books, and in the last week, he’s gotten much more interested in reading.

Seamus and Gilbert finished their five books pretty quickly and have read like wildfire all summer. We’ve been to libraries on vacation just to meet their reading needs. That’s been fun to see develop. Porter loves to “read” at night before bed, just like the big boys do.

I had to read five books, and there was a point at which I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to finish it! To be fair, my summer reading time was May 18-June 22, and the library summer reading didn’t start until June 22, when I had to be very present at home. I’ve exceeded my goal, though, now, partly due to figuring out how to use the Libby app to download books to my iPad. I recommend it.

The total eclipse was really cool! We only got 80% here, but I’m planning for 2024! I hadn’t procured glasses, but that’s what astronomy professor colleagues are for, am I right? That’s to indicate I got some from going into work yesterday. Yes, I’m back at work.

 

Porter Says and Harlan Says August 19, 2017

Filed under: Fourth Baby,Growing up,Kid comparisons,Uncategorized — leighj @ 8:21 am

All of my boys have had weird pronunciations of S, P, or F. Gilbert said F as S (It’s Sunny, instead of It’s funny!). Seamus said F as P, (Plip Plops for Flip Flops, Oppice for Office, Wapple for Waffle, you get the idea). Porter has put his own twist on it! He says Sp as F (spinner as finner, space as face, spit as fit).

Porter also quotes from our Song and Story CDs constantly. He loves Monsters, Inc and Finding Nemo stories. Not the movies. For movies he likes Lady but not the Tramp and the doggie movie (101 Dalmations).

Harlan says some new words regularly: Bye bye, cheese, doggie, more, MINE!, shoes, night night, water (ba ba), poo poo (when he wants to go sit on the potty)

He also tests every boundary imaginable.