Academic Leigh Speaking

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

Udvar Hazy Air and Space Museum August 27, 2014

My friend’s husband brews a beer “Six Impossible Things.” It comes from Alice and Wonderland, six impossible things before breakfast, and it’s their breakfast stout. Well, this morning, I needed one of those, because I had six impossible conversations before breakfast (or during). It’s actually one of my favorite things about having kids. They make you think about all kinds of stuff. This morning, the topic was “The American Dream” in honor of the class I was teaching last night. Seamus’s questions included, “What is the American Dream?”; “Why did people not like the Russians during the cold war?”; and “What’s ideological?” You might guess that we tried to answer the Russian question with mumbo jumbo about ideological differences between the countries. Patrick took over and explained questions of power and international relations. And then Seamus asked for another bagel.

Porter has started smiling. It’s adorable.

Smiling @ 5 weeks.

Smiling @ 5 weeks.

So we headed out for one of our last family excursions before the older boys start school. We decided to go to the Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum. It was incredible. The boys got to sit in a Cessna and learn how it worked.

Inside the Airplane

Inside the Airplane

Then we walked around, and Seamus and Gilbert both got kind of sour, but Patrick sat them down and told them not to be Pig Won’t, and they started acting a little better. Highlights:

  • The smoke jumpers uniform. They like anything we can connect to firefighters.
  • Discovery–there was a little video showing the last launch of Discovery. The boys were fascinated, and I have to admit, I got a little emotional watching the launch. It’s just such an incredible thing to think about a shuttle moving into space!
  • The Nazi planes and the bombers. This sparked another long round of questions about good guys and bad guys and bombs. Seamus was way more interested in this after he learned that Jimmy St. Clair had flown bombers in a war. It took a long time before he understood that bombs don’t land on individual people, but they are designed to land on a big space. We didn’t get to the Enola Gay, but I think that would have rocked him to think about the bomb the US dropped on Japan. Maybe when we read Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes. Still, it might be heavy for a 5 year old.
  • The computer with the 360* view of each airplane’s cockpit. Gilbert loved playing with this. It had the Concorde and a helicopter, and the shuttle. Very cool.
  • I thought the Mars Rover was amazing. They weren’t impressed.
  • Storytime about Pluto was cool. There was even a little craft to do.
  • The observation tower was our last stop. It was neat too, but the boys were really hungry and done by this time.

Overall, I recommend a trip out there for anyone who even remotely likes airplanes and space. The volunteers were all 70+ year old men. Entertaining, they were.

And a last gratuitous shot of the boys getting along for 2.5 seconds. Then, soon after, chaos ensues.

Making friends with the baby.

Making friends with the baby.

I highly recommend What Baby Needs by the Searses for a new sibling. It’s clear, friendly, and real. It also tells older sibs how to make friends with their new baby, a key idea for new sibling relationships. They’re doing pretty well, except for occasionally wanting to kiss him or touch him while he’s sleeping. This book stresses that babies need to sleep to grow. Let him sleep!!!!

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