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.

Advertisements
 

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!

 

Turtle Talk November 14, 2017

Filed under: Friends and Relatives,School for Boys,Teaching — leighj @ 8:08 pm

My colleague very generously offered to come talk to the elementary school about turtles. He has a wonderful turtle lab on campus, which we’ve been to a couple of times. This time, he packed up the small box and slider turtles, some turtle eggs, a snake, and a couple of large snapping turtles! The kids in the classes were enthralled by the turtles, and I learned a lot from his presentation too! He had a great rapport with the kids, getting them to think, answer questions, and logically deduce their own answers. He seemed like he could have been there all day with the kids.

Seamus gets to hold the snake!

 

A Visit to Kentucky October 15, 2017

Filed under: Family Life,Friends and Relatives,Travel — leighj @ 10:08 pm

Yep. Another fall break, another visit to Kentucky. This one was fun; the six of us went to the science museum in Nashville with my brother and then went to Rainforest Cafe to eat. It was hokey, but what fun for the kids! Every half hour there was a thunderstorm when the animitronic animals moved. There were real fish to watch. Harlan was very interested and occupied with the scenery. The flight was fine, the van we rented had very uncomfortable head rests.

The older boys really learned to play Rook this time. Porter read hundreds of books, and Harlan ate his weight in applesauce. It seemed like a low key visit (except for the 5:00 am wake ups), but we accomplished a lot of fun and activities, with a minimal disruption to our lives in Virginia. The kids missed one day of school, and I didn’t miss any. I still had to play catch up (and, indeed, I’m still doing so), but we had a pleasant visit with good food, family, and fun.

Not in Kentucky: We watched Cool Runnings about the Jamaica Bobsled team. I’d never seen it, and it was a classic moment when Gilbert didn’t want to watch it because it wasn’t his pick, but within 15 minutes, he was laughing hysterically at the movie.

Rainforest Cafe Watching the Thunderstorm.

BIG!

Seamus got to try out the Astronaut Walk exhibit at the Science Museum. He was excited!

A family tradition!

Getting some tooth love from Granny.

He almost ate the whole bowl.

Harlan makes a new friend.

Home again!

 

Breaking the ice October 5, 2017

Filed under: Family Life,Food,Friends and Relatives,Uncategorized — leighj @ 9:18 am

Whew. I haven’t written in a while. Currently there are items in every room of the house that need something. For instance, in the living room, there is a new toilet; in Porter and Harlan’s room, there is a large tub of camping equipment.

Love the old timey press. Collected the apples from under the tree.

There’s a huge number of apples in the kitchen. We made cider!

Seamus has played in more soccer games. Porter loves school. Gilbert reads a lot and helps out with chores. Harlan is wonderful but exhausting, especially with all the stuff out of place in the house.

I’m waiting for the plumber, typing on my phone, trying to figure out how to do it all today. Probably not possible.

More later.

 

A Trip to the Beach–Last Summer Hurrah August 18, 2017

We headed off to the beach on Sunday, after an excellent visit with Patrick’s cousin on Saturday. We made a 4:00 am departure, but we got to our ferry too early! We had to wait. Next time, we’ll remember that it just doesn’t take that long in the wee hours with no traffic.

Waiting for the ferry.

While we waited, they played with the wind. I loved doing that as a child. The wind on the ferries in Washington would practically hold you up! My brothers and I were enthralled. These guys liked tossing a flower over the fence and watching them blow back.

Windy on the ferry!

We did it all, it seems. Beach, boogie boarding, bike riding, bobbing the waves, sand play, shell finding, surfer watching, seawall walking, waterpark playing, riding rides on the boardwalk, and eating a ton of food.

It was a great trip!

We went out early to watch the surfers.

One day there was amazing surf. We saw 20 surfers riding waves, and Seamus casually spotted dolphins jumping out of the water just behind them. It was amazing!

We rode bikes on Monday, and Gilbert was so happy to be on a bike. He said, “Let’s do this everyday!” but Monday was the only day that was perfect for it. Tuesday, it rained, and we went to the library. The boys checked out books and sat and read for 2 hours. A lovely way to pass a rainy day. Monday, the older boys played minigolf, and I guess Seamus got a little too competitive.

One day, we did the water park, and everyone had fun. Seamus and Gilbert did all the park on their own in the morning, and then I did it with them in the afternoon. They talked nonstop. We also managed to finally pack enough snacks to make it through the day!

The sky pools ride was their favorite.

Gilbert made it all the way across the pool on the rope.

They both swam so much, and so hard, that we didn’t hear a peep from them after 7:00 pm. Thursday was more beach (but a little scary because Seamus was getting carried off, without his realizing it). We converted the excursion to shell finding, which they enjoyed with gusto. Harlan LOVES the water and the waves. He toddles down to the contact point and squeals with delight. When Porter, who doesn’t love the waves this year, notices Harlan is there, he runs down, and stands way back and screams for Harlan to come back, get away from the water! It’s endearing, and hilarious, and heart-breaking. I hope next year Porter loves the waves…but probably Harlan will be afraid (who am I kidding? that kid is fearless!).

Porter did drum up some enthusiasm for pizza!

Thursday also found us at the Tourney Towns, as the boys call the boardwalk. Gilbert was finally tall enough for the big rollercoaster, which I rode with him. At the top, he confessed he was terrified, but he handled it like a champ, until he told Seamus he’d go again, only to back out at the last minute, so Seamus couldn’t go again…I don’t know why Seamus puts up with it, but he does. He even gave Gilbert the yogurt he’d picked out for himself, so Gilbert would be mollified one morning.

Harlan’s first day at the Tourney Towns.

Harlan had no trouble jumping into the fray with both feet! He loved being part of it.

We had a great week, but I tell you, it is nice to go on vacation and distance oneself from the news. Unfortunately in the last two weeks, the news hasn’t gone on vacation. I’m gearing up for the semester and thinking about ways to challenge all sorts of things.

 

Braver with Friends: Nashville, Huntsville, and Birmingham July 30, 2017

Filed under: Family Life,Friends and Relatives,Summer Vacation,Travel — leighj @ 9:46 pm

We had some fantastic days in Kentucky as we wrapped up our visit. I think I’m going to do bullets, because I don’t have much time, and there was a lot going on.

  • We swam with my high school friend and her children, who are nearly adults. After we swam, her kids took my kids to the park, and she and I went out for a margarita. That’s what I call a win-win-win-win! So fun, and so glad we are close still.
  • On Friday, I took the boys to the Adventure Science Center in Nashville. Two of my friends came along to help and enjoy the science center. Harlan did not like being confined to the stroller and wanted to jump into the water maze. Porter, surprisingly, loved the dark and eerie “Starwalk” and asked to do it twice. Seamus and Gilbert liked the build your own volcano, Burnulli’s principle, and a few other things. My dad had packed us a picnic, which was a lot of fun to enjoy under the solar panels, until we realized, we’d picked the panels with gaps! It started raining….

    They liked the build it center.

  • Saturday, we picked up Patrick from the airport and started our family vacation in earnest. Our first stop was at our friends’ pool south of Nashville. They have a three year old too, and it was fun to see what he could do and to encourage Porter to be a little more adventurous. By the time we left, 4.5 hours later (oh, how time flew!), Porter was comfortable jumping off the side of the pool, but only if Heather was catching him, chilling in water over his head with his floaties on, and getting a little bit of water splashed on him. In fact, he was having so much fun and being so praised, he didn’t want to leave, and had a big tantrum. Gordon, our friends’ son, got brave enough to jump in without his floatie. We marveled at the positive effects peer pressure can have.

    So much more fun to swim with friends!

  • After our pool fun, we headed to Huntsville, Alabama to spend the night. It was a nice drive and we were tired, but not totally exhausted. I went to an Aldi to get some snacks and breakfast items. I wasn’t as impressed as some people with the store. It was chaotic and confusing, but I did accomplish the desired shopping. There’s supposedly one getting ready to move into our town in Virginia, but I don’t think I’ll become a devotee.
  • The US Space and Rocket Center was so much fun! I remembered it being so from when I was a kid, but it still holds much charm. We played and looked at exhibits and rode some rides. Afterwards, we had a picnic on the lawn and tasted astronaut ice cream. Seamus was really interested in the moon flights exhibit; Gilbert was a little bored in the way Seamus was bored at Boonesborough; Porter liked seeing the rockets and doing the flight simulator; and Harlan was pretty happy in his stroller. The Saturn V rocket hall was really cool. I wish we could have walked through the replica space station, but moods were souring fast!

    Shuttle behind us!

    Will we learn anything?

    Driving the rocket!

  • We took the “scenic” route to Birmingham, and I’m so glad we did, because we sponataneously decided to take a detour and see a covered bridge, and because the younger boys napped really well, and the older boys were able to finish listening to The Watsons Go To Birmingham–1963, which tells a fictional, heart-wrenching story of the bombing at the 16th Street Baptist Church, which we’ll see tomorrow. More then!
  • The covered bridge was a gratifying detour.