Academic Leigh Speaking

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

Harlan Turns Two! March 18, 2018

Harlan turned two a few days ago! He was pretty excited about his birthday. He didn’t get too many presents, just enough to have something new to explore. He was mostly interested in the cake, to be honest. He has a sweet tooth. At my parents’ house, he was so excited to see the lit candle coming toward him, that he started huffing and puffing at it before it was even remotely close enough to blow out. He knows the drill!

Cake!

We came back from our visit, and he had another birthday celebration with another set of grandparents. He was pleased with his cupcake, but when he realized Porter hadn’t eaten all of his, Harlan went thoughtful. He pointed to the leftovers, and said to his grandude with sage observation: “Cake. Mo cake. Me cake?” He didn’t eat it, because soon, we was distracted by something else. I don’t think he totally forgot about it…

More Cake!

At the doctor’s visit, he wanted to go to the potty 4 times, mostly because he was having fun washing his hands. He was 24 pounds (14th percentile!), 35 inches (63rd percentile), and his head is big! He’s a delightful little one! His most favorite place to be is outside.

Birthday boy!

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A Day with Harlan February 27, 2018

Filed under: Family Life,Fourth Baby,Growing up,Kid comparisons — leighj @ 9:39 pm

Monday, Patrick went to pick up Porter from his adventure with Nana and PopPop. I got to go to yoga, then I came home to spend the day with Harlan. We had a snack, and then, because for Harlan, a day is totally wasted if he doesn’t spend a great deal of it outdoors, we went to the park. I don’t like to follow him around at the park, as I like to see what he gets up to on his own. He headed straight for the sandbox, and spent a lot of time playing with the “big dump trucks.” He stopped occasionally to point out the “big light (or maybe fire?) trucks” that went by. His favorite topic of conversation is “big truck.” His second favorite topic of conversation is “baby doll.”

When we got back from the park, he put his baby doll in his high chair, but he accidentally bonked baby’s head on the chair. He came over to me with much urgency: “Uh oh! Baby doll! Big bonk!” So we inspected baby doll and Harlan gave baby comfort, and then he settled in for another snack at his chair. At dinner while Porter was gone, Harlan had a seat of honor at the table. He finally said Gilbert and Seamus, after much prodding. Gilbert sounded something like, “Bet” and Seamus like “May”

At nap time, we read a bunch of books. His favorite books are active books, so he really loves Eric Carle’s From Head to Toe which has a movement for kids to do on every page. Penguins turn their head, can you do it? Gorillas thump their chests, donkeys kick their legs, cats arch their backs, etc. He LOVES anticipating the next page. I don’t know that this book really gets a child settled down for nap time, but it brings him a lot of pleasure. He’s also into Owl Babies and Elmo lift the flap books.

His language isn’t quite where Gilbert’s was at this age, but it’s far beyond where Porter was. I’d say he’s about on the same level as Seamus was. He told me, “Me say bye bye Dada” which was one of the longer sentences I’ve heard. He also says “Me Do!” for doing something all by himself. He very seriously sits and talks with me about my baba and how it’s different from his baba in the morning when I have coffee and he has water. He kind of nods to himself when he feels like he’s been understood. Overall, it’s hilarious to spend time with him.

Porter had a wonderful time on his weekend away. He came back pulling things out of his backpack, saying “Tada!” as if he were showing us something really exciting. It is great to have him home!

 

Valentine’s Day February 16, 2018

Filed under: Academic,Fourth Baby,Growing up,Social Media — leighj @ 6:42 am

Both Seamus and Gilbert had parties at school for Valentine’s Day. I went to help out with both, but they were at the same time! That was fine, and to be honest, it made it easier for me to stand the boredom. Of course, I enjoy seeing them at school and observing their interactions with classmates and teachers, but standing around with other parents or leading a game is a little much. I did get to read to the kids some, and the candy heart tower stacking was funny. More fun was when I brought them to work with me afterwards. The early release day coincided with my afternoon meeting in a good way. They sat outside the room I was meeting in and unpacked all their Valentines. It was going pretty well until I heard them giggling 45 minutes into the meeting. When I came out, they’d found a college student to play with them and throw a glider back and forth. The student seemed to be having more fun than the boys!

In my office for a bit longer, they played, but then they found the soccer ball I have in there, and took it outside to get their yayas out. It was a great day for them and me. I got work done, they played, the younger boys napped.

And a funny Harlan story. He found a calculator the other day. He held it up to his ear and said, “Hello?” and then he held it out in front of him, and said, “Cheese!” There’s a good example of Generation Tech: he’s not the first kid I’ve had to pretend that a calculator is a phone, but he’s the first to also pretend that it’s a camera!

 

 

Potty Training Round Four January 23, 2018

Well, here we go again. The nice weather the last few weeks has somehow turned a switch in Harlan’s head. He was starting to try to take his diapers off when he needed to pee, or right after he would pee. He’s been good on number two since about eight months old. We didn’t do anything special there, except get him to the pot when he gave us signs he needed to go. So, we got out the padded briefs and set him up for his trial run. We moved the potty to the living room to help increase his success. And…he gets it.

I realized that we’re a little low on training pants, as we had to throw a couple of pairs away every time, and I like to have 7-10 pairs so we can run through a bunch in a day if necessary. He had a lot of accidents the first day, but he’s made rapid improvements since. On Monday, I took him to the store and he got to buy a package of training pants all new. It was strange because he seemed to understand that they were for him. I can’t remember any of the others cottoning on so fast. He clutched them to his chest, parted with them only to scan them at the self checkout, opened them in the car, and put a pair on when he got home.

The only accident of note was when I couldn’t convince him to wear a diaper to the park, so he wet himself outside the sandbox. Since Patrick wasn’t home, and I just gotten to the park with all the kids, (Sunday was a gorgeous day!), I changed out his jacket for pants:

A sporting look.

Obviously, it’s not the first time I’ve wrangled a kid.

The fine weather meant we were out on bikes, playing basketball at the park, and generally enjoying a brief reprieve from winter weather. We still suffered winter illness this week, with four of the six of us taken down by norovirus. Luckily, it was quick once it hit, even if it moved through us slowly. Seamus missed a basketball game, Porter missed school, I missed work, and Gilbert…missed breakfast. He definitely had the fastest recovery.

Fun at the Park!

 

Summer Reading August 22, 2017

Filed under: Books,Family Life,Fourth Baby,Summer Vacation — leighj @ 11:55 am

We signed up for summer reading at the library. Seamus and Gilbert each had to read five books, whereas Porter and Harlan had to have 30 books read to them. Who do you think had the most trouble? If you guessed Harlan, you’re correct! He is the only one not finished with his. We sit and try to read to him frequently, and we’re often reading to Porter where he could join us, but he chooses not to sit for a book. Sometimes he closes the book on your fingers or grabs it and hits you with it. However, I do think summer reading is a success because I only have to read him two more books, and in the last week, he’s gotten much more interested in reading.

Seamus and Gilbert finished their five books pretty quickly and have read like wildfire all summer. We’ve been to libraries on vacation just to meet their reading needs. That’s been fun to see develop. Porter loves to “read” at night before bed, just like the big boys do.

I had to read five books, and there was a point at which I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to finish it! To be fair, my summer reading time was May 18-June 22, and the library summer reading didn’t start until June 22, when I had to be very present at home. I’ve exceeded my goal, though, now, partly due to figuring out how to use the Libby app to download books to my iPad. I recommend it.

The total eclipse was really cool! We only got 80% here, but I’m planning for 2024! I hadn’t procured glasses, but that’s what astronomy professor colleagues are for, am I right? That’s to indicate I got some from going into work yesterday. Yes, I’m back at work.

 

Porter Says and Harlan Says August 19, 2017

Filed under: Fourth Baby,Growing up,Kid comparisons,Uncategorized — leighj @ 8:21 am

All of my boys have had weird pronunciations of S, P, or F. Gilbert said F as S (It’s Sunny, instead of It’s funny!). Seamus said F as P, (Plip Plops for Flip Flops, Oppice for Office, Wapple for Waffle, you get the idea). Porter has put his own twist on it! He says Sp as F (spinner as finner, space as face, spit as fit).

Porter also quotes from our Song and Story CDs constantly. He loves Monsters, Inc and Finding Nemo stories. Not the movies. For movies he likes Lady but not the Tramp and the doggie movie (101 Dalmations).

Harlan says some new words regularly: Bye bye, cheese, doggie, more, MINE!, shoes, night night, water (ba ba), poo poo (when he wants to go sit on the potty)

He also tests every boundary imaginable.

 

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.

    Brothers!

    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.