Academic Leigh Speaking

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

Snow! December 9, 2017

Filed under: Family Life,Friends and Relatives,Growing up,Outdoor Pursuits — leighj @ 11:38 am

This morning, it started snowing about 7:30 am. Porter and Harlan are the only kids home, since Seamus and Gilbert are off with their grandparents for a party and some fun. Porter was excited to see the snow, and Harlan was antsy, so I took him outside to walk around in it. Then Porter came out too, and said, “Oh, you have a snowflake in your hair, Harlan!” and he plucked it off, not realizing he had many snowflakes in his own hair. He was surprised when the snowflake melted on his finger. It’s so pretty, falling outside the window now onto the turf field while I sit in a room with about half my students who are finishing their final exam.

Yes, we’ve made it to finals week! I have a ton of grading to do, but I’m feeling really happy that the semester is winding down. I had many wonderful students this term, but I also felt overly busy in many ways.

Yesterday, when the grandparents came to get S&G, Porter was showing off and entertaining everyone, or so I heard (I had a long day on campus and couldn’t be there to see them off). I think he was trying to convince his grandparents to take him with them! This morning, he thought they would all come back and pick him up for breakfast at the hotel (this is what my parents do when they’re in town). He was disappointed when we said that wasn’t the case, but he was mollified with egg nog and snow. Porter has been very three lately with pretty wild swings in behavior and mood, but he’s mostly a delight and he does want to do the right thing, we just have to figure out a way to make that easier for him.

I hope they get to enjoy the snow some more this afternoon! Porter wanted to find his snow boots and wear them around.

Advertisements
 

Outings December 3, 2017

Filed under: DC Exploration,Events,Family Life,Holidays,Travel — leighj @ 1:55 pm

It was fun having Seamus play soccer this fall, mostly because he enjoyed it so much and developed some good sportsmanship and teamwork skills. On the other hand, it wrecked our social life. Since he had soccer practice on Friday night and games on Saturdays, we had few options for getting together with friends. We also missed taking family day trips on Saturdays. After soccer ended, we did a trip to Richmond. We had so much fun doing that (which I did manage to write about), we tried to go to Philadelphia the next weekend. Unfortunately, they were having their marathon too! We bailed out and went to Wilmington, DE. The Delaware Natural History Museum was fun and interesting. There was a scavenger hunt to keep S&G entertained, and the shells at Harlan level were lots of interesting textures for him.

In front of the museum.

Then we tried to go to lunch, but we had a mega miss. The food was good, but the atmosphere was way too stuffy for a family. We were particularly alarmed that the internet had suggested the place as family-friendly. To us, family friendly is loud and paper tablecloths. It was fine, though, and everyone got plenty to eat, but Harlan fell off the bench right at the end, so we did have to make a loud exit, even if they’d held it together pretty well up to that point!

We enjoyed our post-Thanksgiving outing with our friends and their kids. The puppet show was entertaining, and Harlan was interested, but he couldn’t sit quietly for 45 minutes. I had to take him out after 25 minutes, and I was able to bring him back in for the dragon and Russian dancers, but he started talking too much about the “DOGGIES” during the sheep scene, so he had to leave again! Soon, we’ll all be able to enjoy a show. I hope.

Scottish Walk 2017!

Yesterday, we went to the Scottish Christmas Walk Parade in Old Town. It seems to get to be more fun every year. The kids waved flags, cheered for the Star Wars characters, petted the doggies that went by, and bounced to the bagpiping. We then went to a party afterward for my colleagues (just Seamus, Gilbert, and me). They ran around the yard for 4 solid hours with all the other kids, and then we caught Metro home. It’s been a long time since we were on Metro, but we got one of the new cars! It was something different from how I usually spend time in transit with the kids, and I found myself thinking it would be fun to metro with them downtown soon.

So, yeah. Our holiday fun is in full swing!

 

Senior Seminar–English November 26, 2017

Filed under: Academic,Books,DC Exploration,Teaching — leighj @ 6:15 am

I took my senior seminar students downtown to the National Portrait Gallery to see the short-term exhibit on Sylvia Plath. Our theme for the course was Questioning Author-ity, and we did some theory reading, including Barthes “Death of the Author,” Foucault “What is an Author?”, Derrida “On Roland Barthes,” Walker “Feminist Criticism and the Author,” Cixous “Laugh of the Medusa,” Paglia “Sex and Violence, Nature and Art.” All of these forced questions about how we read and what we can ascribe to an authorial presence or the “author function.”

We also read items by anonymous authors, unfinished work, work published from archives, and other items in which the authorship was not in question, but the intent of the author regarding the work certainly was.

We had a really fun time with the Plath memorabilia.

Some Senior Seminar with Sylvia Plath.

 

Holiday Fun Plans November 25, 2017

We are gearing up for our family (generally low-key) lead up to the nice time off for all of us. So far, we have some fun stuff planned to get into a festive spirt.

  • A puppet show (The Nutcracker), with friends at Glen Echo Park. We have an almost annual tradition of the Saturday after Thanksgiving with them. It’s always fun, but this year…
  • Seamus to Nana and PopPop’s for a fun by-himself visit.
  • Putting up the tree and other decorations.
  • Zoolights, members week. It’s always more fun when we don’t have to pay, and they give us tickets for the carousel!
  • Santa Fire Truck. This might be my favorite! Falls Church fire truck gets all decked out, and goes down all the streets with Santa on top waving to the kids.
  • A play at the Kennedy Center–Mr. Popper’s Penguins. It’ll be Porter’s first time at the Kennedy center; we think he’s ready to sit still and enjoy a show.
  • The Old Town Scottish Walk and Boat Parade. This is always fun too, especially if the weather is nice, as we have a place to warm up and sit right in front along the parade route.
  • A showing of Charlotte’s Web. This is at the children’s theatre, and we’re taking Seamus and Gilbert.
  • Work Christmas Party. We already have a babysitter, and I’ll be ready to turn in my grades and say ciao to this semester!
  • Seamus and Gilbert have a cookie party to go to.
  • Porter is going to go see Frosty the Snowman with his grandparents. Hmm…we have a lot of theatre!
  • My friend is singing in a Chorale concert, so we’re hoping to get to that too.

We’ll probably try to get in a few other events that sound like more fun than crowds! Mostly, I’m just really excited to have time to spend with the kids that I’m not worried about finishing something else.

 

Thanksgiving Food Recap November 24, 2017

Filed under: Family Life,Friends and Relatives,Holidays — leighj @ 6:04 pm

We didn’t make anything too exciting for Thanksgiving, but we had a relaxing time cooking and getting everything ready. Grandparents took the three older kids for most of the day Wednesday so we could cook. Harlan was under the weather (again!–last year he was really sick on Thanksgiving), but we slipped out for a bit, leaving him with the girl next door. I asked Seamus and Gilbert what they wanted on the menu and they each supplied some requests. Gilbert helped with the shopping (coerced, but helpful).

Here’s what we had:

  • Appetizer–Artichoke Dip (brought by grandparents), Salad, and Carrots/Ranch
  • Sides–Brussels Sprouts, Mashed Potatoes, Fried Chicken Tofu, Gravy, Corn, Sweet Potatoes, Beets, Cranberry Sauce, Stuffing, Green Bean Casserole
  • Dessert–Apple Pie, Pecan Pie, Pumpkin Pie

Seamus helped with the Fried Chicken Tofu, while Porter and Harlan had a bath, and Gilbert and Patrick chopped wood. Then, he did the gravy by himself with some direction from me. Gilbert mashed the potatoes. It was really nice having extra hands to help at the busiest time(s).

I also managed to get to yoga yesterday AND today, so I’m sore and happy. Porter had a good “thankful” comment, “The Moon!” Ever since I taught them the DOC rule, he keeps asking if it’s waxing or waning.

We hope you had a wonderful holiday, however you celebrated!

 

Family Fun Trip to Richmond November 15, 2017

Filed under: Family Life,Growing up,Travel — leighj @ 5:18 am

We took a trip to Richmond on Saturday, to do the science museum, and try to get our family holiday card photo. So we took the tripod, and loaded ourselves in the car. Who knew Richmond was having a marathon on Saturday!? It was going right through the area we needed, so we parked away from the museum and walked. It was our first really cold day, so we were glad we’d brought plenty of warm gear.

They were happy to be out of the car.

I was feeling pretty glad I wasn’t running a marathon in the sub forty degree morning. There was almost nobody at the science center, because the road closures meant you could not drive to the museum parking lot!

The boys tried to help each other for the picture.

The exhibits did not fail to inspire the kids to think about speed, agility, light, sound, connections, and more. We stayed 2 hours and were reluctant to leave, but we knew we needed to get some food in them!

These light boards are really fun.

Porter was really into stacking and trying to catch small items with another item.

Gilbert and Seamus loved all the kinesthetic body movement exhibits, but I only have a picture of them playing with the magnatiles.

We went to eat at Station 2 firehouse, which is a fun place for kids, because there are waffles for dinner. Patrick and I always go for one of the many veggie burger options.

Bendy straws!

Gilbert wore this blazer, and we marveled at how much he looks like a little clone of my dad. It was a day full of delight.

 

Turtle Talk November 14, 2017

Filed under: Friends and Relatives,School for Boys,Teaching — leighj @ 8:08 pm

My colleague very generously offered to come talk to the elementary school about turtles. He has a wonderful turtle lab on campus, which we’ve been to a couple of times. This time, he packed up the small box and slider turtles, some turtle eggs, a snake, and a couple of large snapping turtles! The kids in the classes were enthralled by the turtles, and I learned a lot from his presentation too! He had a great rapport with the kids, getting them to think, answer questions, and logically deduce their own answers. He seemed like he could have been there all day with the kids.

Seamus gets to hold the snake!