Academic Leigh Speaking

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

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!

 

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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.

 

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!

 

Christmas Recap December 27, 2017

Filed under: Family Life,Friends and Relatives,Growing up,Holidays,Travel — leighj @ 3:27 pm

It’s been a whirlwind of a holiday. On Thursday, my friend had a beautiful baby, and I was feeling really lucky to get to go visit on Friday morning. He was alert and just a squishy adorable little thing. We had a solstice party at our neighbor’s house, which was festive and exciting to see everyone gathered. Friday night, we spent with Patrick’s cousins–including four of their children. It means 8 kids between 9-1. You can imagine that it was loud, but delightful to see them all together. Some of the older kids took Harlan and Porter under their wings and played with him. He liked the attention, but kept close tabs on me, lest he be left with a “babysitter.”

The older boys (all three!) enjoyed Mr. Popper’s Penguins, although it was the loudest audience I’ve ever seen at the Kennedy Center. Right now the Kennedy Center is all lit up with rainbow lights at night, and it’s one of the best things about driving the GW Parkway currently. We had a quick and pleasant visit at Nana and PopPop’s. The boys loved their gifts (Porter calls the remote controlled cars “Rocomo cars”).

Seamus was excited!

The best part of the cars is that they’ll clean the floor so they can run them around!

Porter got a truck from his other grandparents and he joined in on the fun, until we discovered that two of them are the same hertz or something and can be controlled by one controller. Harlan wasn’t super interested, but he was pretty sure he needed in on the action too. He liked his baby; and he really likes “reading” to her.

Here he is on the step stool trying to give baby a bath.

His language has exploded! I can’t count all the new words, but he does say step stool, Hi Grandaddy, Hi PopPop, Hi Grandude, and he likes to point at strange men and say “Dada!” He also says night night for Pajamas, deep deep for diaper. He loves to be on the step stool in the kitchen shredding cheese, stirring pots, measuring things, putting clean dishes back in the sink, and more. He’s a little scary around the hot pans, knives, and the oven door. We have to keep a close eye on him, but he’s quick!

Christmas Eve we joined friends for pizza and champagne and play time. It was just the perfect evening for us, but then again, we didn’t have to do clean up. The boys wrote letters for Santa, we checked the Santa tracker, read “The Night Before Christmas” and hustled the kids to bed. That’s our tradition. My friend has a tradition of writing her thank you notes in a bar the day after Christmas, I think we need a New Year’s Eve tradition of that, or something–to think about gratitude, and tying up loose ends. Anyway, Patrick and I stayed up not too late waiting for Santa to come!

Christmas morning, we did Santa presents, and it was mildly disappointing, as Santa had not procured Pokemon cards, but had provided binders with pages to store the cards. Gilbert also claimed to have “proof” that Santa didn’t exist because he left some trash behind in the recycling can. Then we had Christmas lunch with Grandude and Grandma–lovely and the kids would have played all day, but we had more to do! My parents arrived and they set up “Santa” on the couch for the boys. By then they had a lot to play with and show off.

Keeps showing everyone his cards.

Finally my mom revealed the big present she made for Porter:

A Real Robin Hood outfit!

Gilbert loves it too of course, and wore it the whole Settlers of Catan game during nap time yesterday. Seamus and Gilbert are off swimming at the hotel, the older three have enjoyed breakfast at the hotel, and Patrick and I agree that it’s been a wonderfully full time of friends and family–just a perfect way to celebrate the end of the year and the beginning of the new year. Hope you’ve had fun too!

 

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.

 

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.

 

New Routines September 11, 2017

Filed under: DC Exploration,Family Life,Growing up,School for Boys — leighj @ 1:47 pm

With the start of school, we’ve settled into our new routines.

  • Seamus and Gilbert were both really tired this week. In Seamus that manifests with sitting and not hearing anyone talk to him. In Gilbert, we see it when he tells us about all the excitement of the day, and he clearly had fun, but he loses his temper easier at home and doesn’t settle to read, like he normally does.
  • Porter went to Meet the Teacher day, and he very sweetly told me afterwards that when he goes to school, he’s going to stay in the classroom, and I’m going to go home. This seems to indicate that he’s processing that idea as a new idea.
  • Harlan is in a very solid potty routine. It’s young, but he tells us when he needs to go, and then he goes. We haven’t really been trying with him, just getting lucky occasionally, but he seems to be ready to go.
  • Seamus started soccer. He had his first practice recently, and it was super stressful as we were trying to get most of us to a different event. However, Patrick said the coaches were excellent and that Seamus had a wonderful time, so we’re keeping an open mind.
  • Harlan starts art class next week. I’m very curious how he’ll handle structured time, but I know he’ll love getting messy!
  • Gilbert loved his birthday. He told us his teacher asked what he got for his birthday, and she was surprised when he told her all about his Daniel Boone hat.
  • Porter had a wonderful time at a party bouncing on the trampoline with a bunch of other kids (we were supervising closely). He sobbed when he had to leave, and he cried in the car for a bit too. Finally, when he was able to talk, he asked in a small voice if we were going back tomorrow? I said no, but acknowledged how much fun he’d had. He said, “Yeah, I was jumping and jumping! But I didn’t go up to the trees. Maybe when I’m as big as Seamus I can jump to the trees.” He has recently come into Seamus worship stage. Seamus is cool because he can read and play baseball.
  • We got our green chile, roasted it, and peeled it. Delicious! I only ordered 10lbs of medium this year. Much better idea!
  • We went on an interesting outing to the Colvin Run Mill. I ¬†was really impressed with the park and how much you could learn about old time milling operations in such a short time.

A working water wheel mill.