Academic Leigh Speaking

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

Finals Week is Here! May 7, 2018

Finals week is here, which means I usually try to lay low–the constant stress and high anxiety of campus gets to me. As it is, I worked both Saturday and Sunday this week, and in two weeks, I have to work Saturday and Sunday again. Harlan was in a bad mood just now, but he just heard a siren that sent him delighted to the window. At least we got to have some fun this weekend too, even if it was full of work.

On Saturday morning, we took advantage of the nice weather and went to the farmers’ market, played at the park, and went to the library.

Strawberries and Croissants!

This picture looks idyllic, but there were some touch and go moments that morning. Gilbert and Harlan have both been sick, and for Gilbert, illness seems to manifest in tiredness and extra crankiness.

This week was school spirit day, so I got to gel their hair!

Wings and spikes!

They decided that Seamus looked like a character from the Series of Unfortunate Events. It was a fun morning.

We had friends over on Sunday. It was nice enough for us to eat outside (first time for dinner this year!).



Cape Cod: The Drive North June 29, 2017

Filed under: Crafty Projects,Family Life,Growing up,Summer Vacation,Travel — leighj @ 1:18 pm

On Tuesday, we took the three older children bowling, which is it’s own blog post, but I probably won’t write it. The best part was Porter doing his happy dance and lugging the ball around. The worst part was a stunning display of bad sportsmanship.

In the afternoon, we packed our bins. A blogger I follow talked about packing in bins for family trips, and it made sense to me, so I have been doing that for road trips ever since. It’s just so much easier than suitcases, partly because you can see what’s in them, for starters. We can fit five bins in the van, but we only need four usually. This year, we still needed the stroller and pack n play, but that will eventually end.

What time did we leave? 4:00 am! Or, precisely 4:12. Google maps said 8 hours 8 minutes, but it took us 9 hours 20 minutes of driving time. The kids were as good as we’ve ever seen them in the car. We made four stops and things remained harmonious. We stopped at Babies R Us because we realized we forgot to pack shoes for Harlan!

What did they do? They read, played with Brainquest workbooks, played with stuffed animals, listened to Third Grade Angels and a book about the Negro Baseball Leagues, slept, talked to each other some, and snacked. It was a long drive, but it didn’t seem so bad.┬áPorter (almost 3) sits in the back with Seamus (8) who helps unbuckle him, reads to him, plays with him, and gives him snacks. Gilbert (6) rides in the middle row with Harlan (15 months) and plays with him and gives him snacks. Gilbert also reports on Harlan’s sleep patterns. Seamus and Porter both fell asleep without the need to wake each other up. Gilbert didn’t get carsick, so we considered that success.

What time did we arrive? 3:00 pm!

This morning, they were up early (of course!) and so we went to our favorite early morning beach. Lighthouse Beach provides a view of fishing boats going out, seals swimming and sunning, and lots of shells. The water is always freezing. We observed an amazing rip current this morning, and the boys asked a lot of questions about it.

The tie dye project turned out!

Porter was in his element. Gilbert complained for a bit of a stomach ache, but seemed to recover by the time we returned to the car. The pretty rocks he found helped. Seamus is a water dog. Even though it was cold, he was drawn magnetically to the water and the only place we made him get out was where the current was pulling hard. It helped that we made him wear his clothes.

Brothers on the beach.

We came back for second breakfast and another excursion to a pond beach they could swim in. There they spent hours making sand castles and talking about their impact factor. They really meant compacting the sand, but I only tried to correct the word choice once. When Seamus’s castle fell, I said, “I guess you’re not much of an engineer.” He retorted, “I’m investigating and changing the water and sand amounts for better impact factor, and it will be better this time. That makes me an engineer. Investigate and adjust.” I was put in my place!


More Sundries, and Harlan is 15 months old June 16, 2017

Again, nothing momentous, but still some fun things.

  • Harlan is fifteen months, and to celebrate, he joined the 15th percentile on weight and the 80th on head. So he’s carrying a big brain on a little body. He has 15 (or so) words to share: more, uh-oh, hat, bus, ball, byebye, hi, hello, shoe, dada, mama, nunu, up, thank you, (something that means water, but the sound is hard to render in letters). He climbed up on the freezer and the table recently. He also took all the books off my shelves in my office, so I’d say he right on target to cause a rumpus. He also has taken to wanting to play with the hand-held vacuum.

    He’s into everything! So curious, but such a delight.

    Helping to make pancakes! Hey, when you’re up at 5:45, might as well make somebody happy.

  • Porter built a Duplo house and he told my parents on facetime that the people were playing outside. Oops, it’s raining now; they’re going in. When he realized Patrick was outside mowing the grass, he put his shoes on and ran out to mow the lawnmower too! Porter loves his friends (not that he has a lot of them!), but every time he has a playdate or people are coming over, he draws a picture for one of his friends and presents it with much fanfare. His big thing is wheels.

    Gilbert used to do this too!

  • The garden is growing. I’m a little bit obsessed with my garden. I look online to see why my plants are behaving in certain ways, and at night, I go out to tend to them, offering water, compost, a loving touch. So far we’ve had 10 green beans, about 10 snow peas, radishes, mustard greens, cilantro, Swiss chard, and basil. I’m looking forward to more, but honestly, stuff doesn’t make it into the house half the time! Our CSA has started, and since we reduced the size of our share this year, we are feeling much better about the produce and our ability to use it. We had delicious bok choy, lettuce, sorrel, onions, and garlic scapes. We still need to use kale and eggs, but that’s manageable.

    Squash, tomatoes, chives, Swiss chard. Love the garden.

  • We have a saying around her: “TWO BABIES ON ME!” which is kind of an SOS. It means you’ve sat down on the floor and been attacked by Porter and Harlan, and now, you’re in a pickle and can’t get up. Seamus found himself in this predicament the other day, and Gilbert, who would usually run to join the fray, sat serenely by himself, reading his book, ignoring the commotion. I have been waiting for this day.


    Is he feeling okay?

  • Our friends from Albuquerque who live in California now are arriving today. We can’t wait to see them. We looked at pictures of our families from 6-7 years ago, and the kids were babies! So were we.
  • I worked on two crafty projects recently. The Lego cake mold (which I will not be posting pictures of) and a tie dye project. We’ll see if I post pics. The Lego cake was hilarious. I bought the mold and make a cake. Then I iced it and let the kids decorate it. A sugar bomb! However, it was hilarious, and Patrick encouraged me to share some pictures and tell our friends I was thinking of going pro with the cake decorating business. That would have been a cruel joke to see what their faces looked like in trying to deal with the news. It’s especially funny, because we went to visit some friends, and she had actually done a beautiful job on her son’s birthday cake. My cake looked like a five year old had done it, and I can’t even blame the kids that much.
  • Speaking of, this should probably be it’s own post, but my friends were talking about opting out of taking on so many activities and travel and social engagements. After we visited with them, we opted out of our evening plans for several reasons, the most persuasive of which was that poor little Porter was just exhausted and could not find it in himself to be happy. Often you feel like a slave to the baby, but a two year old requires special attention too.

Summer is just around the corner! I’m so excited.


Converting Velcro Bum Genius to Snaps July 27, 2015

I got my snap fastener! It’s a little disappointing. The first diaper I did, one set of snaps fell out completely. Then Gilbert was messing around with the fastener and tightened something. It worked better, but still not perfectly. Then I gave up for awhile. I will say ripping the velcro out was extremely satisfying. I think I like taking things apart better than putting them together. Who doesn’t?

I came back to it, having not finished the diaper, but wanting to fix Seamus’s PJs which is the reason I got the fastener in the first place. They were holding okay when I put them in, but the next morning, they wouldn’t snap at all! Patrick looked at it and decided I hadn’t exerted enough force to smoosh the center part down enough and it was interfering with the snapping. He tried it, and lo and behold, it snapped fine. However, I don’t think it will come unsnapped very easily now!

I went back to the diaper, armed with a new determination to really put some effort into the snapping. I had used a fabric marker to mark where the snaps should go, and I used an awl to poke holes in the fabric. I did manage to get the snaps in with more effort, and none fell off this time. It killed my hand. I’ll probably have permanent carpal tunnel. It’s a good thing the new can opener I got is designed for people with carpal tunnel, because I’ll be there soon. Anyway. I now have a fully functional diaper where I didn’t before! Only 17 more to go.