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!



Some Thoughts July 28, 2014

1. I did quit Facebook. If you’ve looked for me there, I didn’t unfriend you, I just got exhausted the last few weeks of my pregnancy, and I didn’t enjoy looking through the posts. I also became sensitive to people’s expectation of seeing a baby picture soon. I was really glad to have signed off when we got the breech news, because I needed to process that on my own. I do miss seeing pictures of my friends’ kids, reading updates on academia, and keeping up, but I haven’t missed it too much.

2. We’re selling the house in Albuquerque. I’m looking forward to not worrying about it anymore, and I hope we can sell it quickly. However, this has been a niggling stress, and when I thought baby would come early, I was totally fine with Patrick needing to make a trip out to tie up loose ends and meet the realtor, etc. Now though, that’s coming up quick. I’m glad I asked my folks to make another trip here before I even knew that we’d have complications.

3. One of the reasons I went with the doctor’s advice was that I liked how he practiced medicine. He called me to discuss my options, he told me to call him back when I had decided, and he called me again to let me know when the surgery was scheduled and to answer any questions I had. I only talked to his office staff as a way of letting him know that I needed to talk to him. They did not call me to report his findings. It was, for a large medical community, the most contact I’ve had with a doctor in years. I felt reassured that things that were important to me (baby staying with us the whole time, leaving as soon as possible, getting sewn up right) were being heard and respected.

4. Today Seamus was sneezing all over the house. I told him to use his chicken wing. He said he was! I said, “That’s a floppy wing!” He laughed. Then Porter sneezed, and by reflex, threw his arm in front of his face. I said, “Look! Porter used his chicken wing, just like you!” Seamus was delighted! He ran to tell Patrick that Porter can use his chicken wing, and he said, “I think he’ll be the smartest of all of us!” What? There are some super cute moments with the boys and Porter. However, their actions unrelated to the baby leave something to be desired. They’re a little on edge, but it’s starting to even out with good sleep, family games (we played Arthur Goes to the Library yesterday), lots of reading, and some reassurance that we still notice their good behavior that isn’t related to the baby.

5. I’m exceptionally grateful for the support we’ve had from family and friends. This hasn’t been an easy complication for me (obviously, complications are by definition, not easy), but I feel so well taken care of by our support network, from my friends who call and text from far away to send good wishes and support, from our friends who drop off a meal, from our family and friends who take the big boys for an hour or two of big boy fun. In the hospital, it was so meaningful to have support from the moment we got there to the moment we left. Thank you! I’ll write some notes soon, but just know that I’ve really appreciated the love.


Picnic–and Introducing the Third January 24, 2014

Filed under: Family Life,Growing up,School for Boys,Social Media,Totally Me — leighj @ 1:13 pm

Patrick surprised me today with the announcement on other social media sites–but it’s true, we’re having a third! And we couldn’t be more thrilled.

Yesterday was a relief. Things had been a little scary in my world with my flu/bronchitis and then some vague and acute fears. So I had an ultrasound ordered for yesterday morning. We were relieved to discover that our 15 week fetus was bouncing around actively and seeming to enjoy himself. (Nope, I’m not using a sexist, gendered pronoun for kicks. It’s a boy.) I have placenta previa, but usually cases resolve themselves, so that’s what I’m hoping for.

When we got home, I told Patrick to do some things he needed to do because I just wanted to hang out with Seamus before I went to work. Gilbert was at preschool. Seamus and I played Memory and then we had a picnic on the floor. That was great. He told me some not that funny Knock Knock jokes. So I told him some, and he didn’t get them, so he said, “Mama, that one made me smile but not laugh, because it wasn’t that funny.” We enjoyed ourselves, and when we picked Gilbert up, Seamus made him really jealous that he hadn’t gotten to have a picnic too.

Gilbert, in his first day of preschool this week because of all the snow, had a great day. He came home telling us that he had studied “Mawtin. Wuthen. King” He also had a placard around his neck saying, “My dream is to become Spiderman.” We were thrilled with his lesson. Later, driving home, Patrick talked about the Beltway as a highway going around Washington, DC. Gil perked up and said, “Washington DC! Mawin. Wuthen. King. did a March on Washington DC!” We were floored. Preschool is not just a petri dish for germs, but they are learning something exciting. Seamus could not wait to go learn his own version of MLK today.

Yeah, we’re a growing family. It’s a wild ride.


Innovative Pedagogy October 24, 2012

Last Friday, Patrick and I went to see Dr. Kelly Schrum from George Mason’s Center for History and New Media speak about Digital Education and History. She showed us how she uses some tools by actually making us use them in her presentation. It was fun and

I had a great day teaching yesterday. It was a surprise, because I had been feeling pretty under prepared. I taught a letter from Lydia Maria Child and part of Thoreau’s Walden. We did a long time on Thoreau and how he uses his philosophy to comment on social justice issues of his time. When we switched to Child, I emphasized that she was a spectator at this trial of a woman who had been accused of attempted murder of the man who had seduced her. I asked them to pretend that they were Child and to “live tweet” the trial. They got really excited, so much so, that I decided to bring up twitter and assign them a hashtag they could actually use. I’m not sure that they learned as much from the activity as I would have liked, but they sure did have a good time. Many were still talking about it outside the classroom when they left. And that result, I’ll take!
In my second class–American Multicultural Literature–we had finished reading a Lucha Corpi mystery novel for class. One student had asked last week if we could do a list of characters to start with, so I took that idea and had my students brainstorm all the important characters they could think of. Then we assessed the symbolic meaning of the characters. Then I divided them into groups and asked them to make a character map reflecting the issues in the text. I gave each group four markers or colored pencils. In this activity, I tried something that I don’t often try, in that I made them separate into who had finished the novel and who hadn’t so that the ones who had finished weren’t expected to brief the others on the characters and plot. That worked so well! I heard a student in the finished group say, “This is the best class session ever!” Their maps were very cool, and in a related bit of technology, I used the Elmo document camera to project their finished maps on the screen.

It was a good reminder to me to try lots of new things in the classroom. Gotta shake it up!


Breakfast September 27, 2012

Filed under: Family Life,Growing up,Social Media,Uncategorized — leighj @ 7:47 am

Seamus always wants to type his name on the keyboard of the iPad, so I am developing some theories about children of their generation and technology. What if writing by hand was just an afterthought? I just read my friend’s blog where her son had written her the funniest letter for back to school night. I guess I would settle for an email, but that letter was really cute. Here is Seamus checking in:


And Gilbert:




Note to self after editing this post–do not attempt to write posts on the auto correct iPad. They become non-sensical. I was hoping that it would allow me to blog more and better, but I’m starting to doubt that particular function. Sorry for all the typos.


Big boy bed! September 16, 2012

My little boys aren’t so little anymore. Gilbert wears big boy briefs and gets the milk out of the fridge all by himself. Seamus can brush his own teeth and read one of his books. All last week we had been hearing, “Mama, come get Gilbert out!” first thing in the morning. We decided it was time to transition to the big boy bed…ie, swap out the side rail for the toddler rail. We were a little nervous because he could get up and make us miserable. Instead, he loves the new arrangement.

I’m trying to upload a photo that I take with the iPad, since I just got one, but it’s not working. I wanted to show you his new bed so you can see why he calls the mess of covers and stuffed animals his “whole bunch”. This leads to Seamus occasionally yelling, “Mama, Gilbert threw his whole bunch out!” Now if he throws it out, he can go get it.

I’d been kind of sad lately, because they kept calling me mom based on what their seven year old friend calls his mom, so I insisted on Mama, and Patrick thinks it’s weird, but I am just not ready to be Mom yet. They are back to Mama though. No milk unless they say Mama. I win.

Also, funny story. I was waiting to pick Seamus up at preschool, and his teacher was leaving. I heard her say to another parent that she was going to a training. Later Seamus told me that his teacher went to ride a train, but that he couldn’t go because he was working a puzzle.



My Kindle October 15, 2010

Filed under: Social Media — leighj @ 6:28 pm
Tags: ,

So after all that dithering, I did end up getting a Kindle. I like reading the downloadable samples of books. Mostly, it’s enough of the book to convince me that I don’t actually need to read the book. I like getting some books for free. I love being able to carry around a virtual library without it weighing me down, as I’ve clearly got enough to carry with diaper bags, wallets, change of clothes, etc. I like the┬áreadability. I like finding books for my dissertation and future research for free. It’s cute. I’m super excited to take it on vacation.

I don’t like turning into ADD woman with the variety of books on the thing. I could read this one! or that one! or both at once! or not! My Kindle tends to freeze, and I think I’ve worked out the problem, but it was slightly annoying. I don’t like that most of the Chicana/o texts aren’t available on Kindle.

Overall, I’m pleased so far, but then I’ve had it less than a week. It did make the hour and a half I waited while the car’s tires were rotated fly by.