Academic Leigh Speaking

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

Ski Day! February 6, 2018

The kids were off school on Monday, and since part of my self-care this semester is not going in on Monday (even though I do work at least 5 hours at home on Monday), I also had the day “off.” I’d been bugging Patrick to take Seamus and Gilbert skiing, but then I realized, I really wanted to go too. So we did some research, and found a mountain in PA with fresh snow, thanks to the storm that went through Sunday, and daycare for little ones onsite. We put on the top box, got down our gear, and packed a big picnic–goldfish, bagels, granola bars, apples, and more. I sat in the back with Seamus and Gilbert, and graded papers, prepared for classes, and read. They listened to their audio book which kept distracting me with its funny parts.

All in all, it was a really fun day. There were a few glitches, but that’s always the case. The first though, was our overly ambitious plan for Porter. We thought he would want to ski. He did, until he actually got on his skis. Then, he was TERRIFIED. He started crying and said, “They’re too slippery. I’m really scared!” I helped him and he did seem to enjoy himself a little, but then he’d get scared again. Then the little carpet lift was turned off, and people were walking up it. He was then crying that he’d wanted to go ice-skating, not skiing. That made zero sense, but it was at this time that we decided to take him over to the daycare and let him hang out with Harlan. The daycare was great. They were the only kids there, and they played with the play kitchen for an hour and a half.

Porter’s last smile!

When we got to daycare, he said he needed to go potty, so I wonder if I’d gotten him to go before we went out if he would have done better. Who knows, but he said he’d be willing to give it a try again when he gets bigger.

Seamus and Gilbert were little demons on the hill. They had a ton of fun, skiing blues and greens with no problem. There was some snowmaking going on, which made it a little unpleasant on the face. We found a trail that had the blowers off, and we skied it over and over, until the boys got too comfortable and tried to race down, not watching for other (slower) skiers.

A beautiful day!

We had plenty of food, lovely weather, and a lot of family fun. The day did make me miss New Mexico when everyday was beautiful and sunny on the slopes.


The Short-Lived New Normal July 12, 2016

Filed under: Childcare,Family Life,Summer Vacation,Totally Me — leighj @ 3:30 pm

These three weeks we flip the script. Patrick goes to work downtown with students at the DC Public Library, and I stay home full time with the kids. He’s gone 10:30-6 usually. Seamus and Gilbert are in camp (9-3) for two of these three weeks, and my parents are coming for Porter’s birthday for part of the other week. I expected to go a little crazy, but it’s been surprisingly quiet. Seamus and Gilbert love camp. Yesterday, they swam, played soccer, played sharks and minnows, ate lunch, and I’m not sure what else. The girl next door picked them up from camp and walked them home and gave them a snack. It was lovely. It was a little rocky last night because they were so tired. We put them to bed early (which made a big difference in my mood too!). Seamus didn’t even argue; he just got into bed and confessed, “I’m tuckered.”

I hang out with Porter and Harlan. We’re really working Porter on his potty training. He wears big boy briefs anytime we are at home. He’s been doing really well. He held it while we were at Marymount working, and then at home he asked to use the potty.

I’m getting a lot done! But Harlan just woke up, so…to be continued!


Camp and Projects July 21, 2015

Filed under: Childcare,Family Life,Growing up,Summer Vacation,Totally Me — leighj @ 10:58 am

I just lost a 600 word post! I’m so upset that I probably can’t write it again.

Anyway–both boys are in camp. They’re having fun. It’s a bit of a logistical nightmare, as Seamus goes at 9; Porter naps 10-12; Gilbert swims from 11:15-11:45; Gilbert goes to camp at 1; Seamus gets picked up at 3; Gilbert gets picked up at 4; Patrick gets home at 5:45. I get 2 hours though, with just me and Porter! I’m planning on converting some of the old cloth velcro fastened diapers to snap as soon as I get my snap fastener that I ordered.

Gilbert is funny with his swimming. He had a lesson yesterday, and we told him no floaties. He would try the activities the instructors said to do, and then he’d pop up and announce to no one in particular, “I’m good at ____” I don’t know if he was looking for affirmation or just surprised that these things came easily to him. He’s been promoted to the more advanced class, and he’s very excited. I think he’s asked about 8 times this morning if it’s time to go yet.

Seamus had to pass a swim test in order to use the deep end at his camp. He swam across the pool and treaded water for 60 seconds. He announced that he’d passed when I picked him up, and I said I thought that was great! He asked, “Well, what would you think if I didn’t pass?” The ask for unconditional love. I said, “I think you’d probably have a great time playing and swimming in the shallow end.” Man.

That’s all I can recreate. Tomorrow is Porter’s first birthday! Pictures to come.


Ski School February 21, 2015

Filed under: Childcare,Events,Family Life,Missing NM,Outdoor Pursuits — leighj @ 2:49 pm
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With the snow (and the gorgeous powder), we decided that it was time to let the boys have a go at skiing. They love sledding and ice skating, why not? They both had a lesson, and Seamus ended up being able to go down the big mountain with Patrick by the end of the day. They were exhausted but they had so much fun! They learned about pizza, and french fries, and rode the magic carpet. I had to work, so I only got to see video and pictures. I was sorry to miss it!

It did make us miss New Mexico when a gorgeous powder day meant drop everything and get to the mountain!

Roundtop Mountain, PA

Roundtop Mountain, PA

I ended up taking Porter with me to work. He had a great day bumming around campus, playing with the students, and hanging out in my very kid-friendly office. I had an obligation in the afternoon, so I asked a student if she could babysit, or if not, did she have any friends that could babysit. She recommended a friend, and I was so happy to have the problem solved. It speaks volumes about our students that I didn’t even feel the need to vet her. However, when she arrived in my office, one of my colleagues knew her and another one of my colleagues mentioned that she was a great student. Gotta love a small campus!


Older Children at the Birth of a Sibling June 14, 2014

When Gilbert was born, we had no intention of having Seamus attend his birth. He was 16 months old, we were having the baby in a hospital, and it just seemed very far out of our or anyone we knew’s experience. When we’ve been talking about the upcoming birth of our baby, we’ve been operating under the assumption that someone else will watch the boys while we go have the baby and come home.

One of the reasons we chose the birth center is that we get to come home within three hours after the baby is born. One of the reasons we did not choose a home birth is because we’re very uncertain about the chaos our small place can handle. I know that other people are far more comfortable with this than I am, but really, there’s not even a place for a midwife to catch a nap here, much less catch a baby.

However, when I was discussing our plans with my friend who may watch the boys, she asked if there would be time for visitors, or if we’d just be back to get the boys. It started me thinking about the whole thing again.

Last year, my friend had her baby boy at home, and his older brother was there to welcome him within minutes. Mostly, he’d been asleep, but right at the end, he awakened and played downstairs with her friend who was on older sibling duty until the baby was born. Another friend recently planned to have her son at home during the birth of his baby brother, but he ended up going to her brother-in-law’s house down the road, returning within an hour of the baby’s birth.

The boys are interested in how the baby “pops out of the belly,” and we’ve explained using books, pictures, and descriptions of how the muscles make squeezes that don’t hurt the baby but help him come out. I don’t think they need to be in the room, necessarily, for the birth, but I’m thinking that under certain circumstances, it’d be nice for them to know right away after he arrives, maybe let them see how the cord was attached, or what he looks like before he’s all cleaned up. Seamus and Gilbert are both really curious about what it all means because (I think) they think knowing will tell them more about their own grand entrances into the world.

Somebody would need to be on Seamus question-answering duty because he can go all day with the questions, and somebody would need to snuggle Gilbert because he is starting to worry about his position in the family. The midwives don’t have a particular investment in whether the kids are there or not. The birth center has a room with a TV, toys, refrigerator, and bed for the older siblings, and my friend only lives 8 blocks from the birth center, so they could be at her house for most of the time.

I think we’re going to play it by ear. If the labor is fast and at night, we’ll probably not involve them. If it’s in the middle of the day and progressing well–no urgent situations to attend to and moods are good–we might have them come over to the birth center so they can be there afterward. We’ll see.


Going on a Lion Hunt October 29, 2013

Filed under: Childcare,Family Life,Outdoor Pursuits — leighj @ 3:49 pm

We checked a book out of the library about going on a lion hunt. I remember this song from 4-H camp. It’s a dun-du-duh beat–“We’re going on a lion hunt. We’re not afraid. Going to catch a big one. Look what’s up ahead” and then there’s a forest and a river and some mud and other things that we can’t go over or under but have to go through. Anyway, the boys loved this book. They like playing going on a lion hunt at home.

I’m losing my status as preferred parent….probably lost it a long time ago. Well, I really lost it when Patrick upped the ante on the lion hunt. He’s been taking them hiking at Scott’s Run, where they can go on a Lion Hunt. They even get to cross the stream!


The Things We Miss May 23, 2013

I’m doing this writing week at school, and it’s been productive and fun. I’ve submitted two articles, drafted a conference paper, and started my book proposal. However, I’ve missed a few things. Like this:

Seamus Graduates from Preschool. Gilbert looks on.

Seamus Graduates from Preschool. Gilbert looks on.

I didn’t want to miss his preschool graduation, and I considered asking if I could get away for it. Actually, hmm…I might be feeling some regret about this. Seamus came home from preschool on Tuesday, and said, “Guess what Mama?! You get to come to preschool and stay with me on Thursday.” I then said, “Do you want me or Grandude to stay with you?” He chose Grandude. If he’d chosen me, I like to think I would have gotten away from work, but that’s probably revisionist thinking, and I would have tried to talk him into wanting Grandude instead. I did cut up strawberries for him to take to the class party. Wow. Now I feel guilty and weird. Working mom works too hard…but no, because getting all this work done this week means I won’t feel like I need to work much this summer. So there, conscience!

And, in happier things that I did not miss:

Both boys attempt to ride Gilbert's bike.

Both boys attempt to ride Gilbert’s bike.

They’ve been so delightful to be around lately. The weather has been good enough to play outside, so they’ve been hanging out and enjoying it. Scooters and bikes all the time.

I had a sitter come Monday and Tuesday this week, and she really only had Gilbert on Tuesday. I told her he’d probably be happy “snipping” for an hour. And he was. He loves to cut methodically with the scissors. When I threw away the flowers that had wilted and passed their prime, he asked if we could get some more when Grandaddy and Granny come back? (This is the story where my dad told Gilbert they needed to get Granny some flour, but when they got in the store, Gilbert stood in front of the roses, and yelled, “Flowers, Grandaddy! For Granny!” With that kind of persuasion, my dad had to buy them!)

Seamus entertains himself for hours counting and throwing paper airplanes. He’s much happier when Patrick makes him an airplane, then when I do. Patrick has better designs. The other day, he wanted to eat more hamburger buns plain, so I told him, “We had 8 buns, you at four, Gilbert ate two, how many are left?” I reminded myself of my dad when he used to give us math problems in the car. “Dustin has five cats, and they all have 4 kittens, but 3 die, and 2 run away. How many cats does Dustin have?” Seamus answered “Two! Now I can I have another?”