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.

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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!

 

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.

 

Halloween! November 5, 2017

Filed under: Childhood Memory,Family Life,Holidays,In My Neighborhood — leighj @ 10:06 am
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We had an assortment of costumes this year.

Halloween!

Gilbert was Luke Skywalker, Harlan borrowed a lion costume, Seamus got lots of laughs as Captain Underpants, and Porter looked sweet like an M&M.

They had a great time trick-or-treating. Harlan was happy in the stroller, until he figured out the other boys were getting stuff at the houses they approached. We went to two streets that had been closed to traffic. I love that! But it did mean that the kids were potentially easier to lose, since we weren’t watching them as closely. Porter loved the whole process, and said, “Happy Halloween!” very enthusiastically. We always start with our neighbors and get a neighborhood picture, then we all split off. We went over to Patrick’s dad’s neighborhood after we did our neighborhood so they could show off their costumes a little more.

There have been no fights about candy! Two weeks ago, they were already fighting about it, before they’d even gotten any! I said, “There will be no fighting at all about the candy, or I will take it all away.” And they picked out five pieces each to keep, sorted it thoroughly for two days, and I took the leftovers to my students. It feels like we managed much better this year than usual.

It was fun! Patrick and I have been so tired with Porter and Harlan waking up before 5:30 almost every morning, and Halloween seemed kind of like another late night chore, but I’m happy to say that the kids were great–well-behaved, polite, and excited–and that made us have more fun than we thought we would! Also, funny story: they realized on our trip to Kentucky that my parents have no close neighbors. Seamus and Gilbert were appalled: “How did you trick-or-treat!?”

 

Too Long Since I Blogged October 29, 2017

It seems I’m having a lot of trouble getting in the swing of my blog. It’s a bummer because I also want to remember the details of our daily lives, not just the exciting vacation times. I have somethings to get out before Halloween pictures take over.

Real quick, and short changing all of these events:

  • Vocabulary Emergency: One thing about my job, unlike other jobs, is that there are no emergencies. However, a colleague told me a few days ago that she was having a vocubulary emergency, needing to know how to draw a distinction between Latino and Hispanic. I like this graphic for that! Then, we were at the Benefits fair, and somebody stopped my colleague and me to consult on how to spell benefit! Good to have an expert on hand!
  • We got our crosswalk! A year ago we asked City Hall for a crosswalk to protect the bus stop and make the road here a little slower. The city put it in over the last month, and a year to the day we asked, we got the signage for our crosswalk. Here’s the thing: IT WORKS! People stop when they never did before.
  • Harlan is aware of his surroundings. He was having applesauce the other day, and Porter asked for a piece of pumpkin pie. Harlan observed, slammed down his spoon, and said, “PIE!” Of course, he got some.
  • The other day we walked to school, with a pit stop for hot chocolate (the kids get a coupon book from the library’s summer reading program, and all of them expire on 10/31). It was a great walk, but it was the first time they’ve ever been late to school. Then we dropped Porter at his school. A fun morning.
  • We had our first experience at Imagination Stage in Bethesda. It was a small venue, but the staging was great and the actors were wonderful. Seamus and Gilbert enjoyed the play, and Porter and Harlan enjoyed their naps while we were gone.
  • Seamus has been talking about school in a way he never did before. I think this teacher is really good for him, and he feels that there a sense of fairness in this classroom that he didn’t have last year. He also is his class’s representative to the SGA (student council). He also loves the creative thinking activity he’s doing in the breakout class, and while I hope that he gets to do advanced math, I’m really pleased to see that he is developing skills that are challenging for him.
  • Gilbert has been doing what everyone should do! He’s constantly negotiating for money for activities that he does. Porter caught on that the boys are getting paid to read a book to him and Harlan, so he read to himself the other day and came over to ask for his money for reading to himself. Oops. Backfired.
  • Porter and Harlan have been riding their little pedal-less bike. Gilbert and I worked on cartwheels yesterday. Seamus’s soccer is almost over, but they he’s had so much fun, that it’s made it worth the effort we’ve put in to let him play.

    Bikers!

    Crosswalk!

    Happy Gilbert!