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These three are not all the books I read so far this year; I also finished Hamilton biography and Dante's Purgatory. But these are the three that I want to talk about, in the reverse order of my reading.

Career of Evil )

9th Tomek book )

Bechdel )
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Today was much colder and snowier than the forecast predicted. I wore my shuba (fur coat) so I was very warm and the snow looked very pretty - large, white beautiful snowflakes. After a weekend of bitter cold, with high of 11F (-11.5C), today wasn't as bad as it could have been with maybe 25F (-4C) high.

What really messed the commute up was not the snow but the holiday weekend schedule. Today is President's Day and many people have a day off work like my Dad or Bear. I, on the other hand, had to go to work. It is not a day that absolutely every one has off. It depends on your company. But all the subways and trains are on the weekend schedule with fewer trains and weekend work and all sorts of fun. I didn't realize this until I was almost at my train this morning.

The subway was late and I thought, well, I'll be late, I'll catch the next train. But by the time the subway made it to my destination, I though that I might have time to catch the usual one. But there were no newspaper people by the subway station and the street was emptier than usual, and as I got to the entrance of the train station, it finally dawned on me why it would be emptier. I pulled out my phone with the train schedule app and saw that trains were running once an hour (instead of four trains an hour during rush hour) and the next train was 45 minutes wait. I slowed down my super walk and sighed. I didn't stress about it - no one comes to office hours at this point of the semester.

The commute ended up being worse on the way back. The train was 20 minutes later than usual but it came on time despite the ever increasing unexpected big snowstorm. It was the subway that messed everything up because during the weekend my subway line doesn't stop at the usual stop due to various work. I had to take another line to go further downtown and then I ended up waiting 40 minutes for my subway line to show up. There was no reason given, it was just super late. So I came home an hour later than usual. I read my book and listened to music so it wasn't so bad. Bear was home with Tanya and I wasn't rushing to work, so I didn't stress too much. But I guess this semester is all about weird commute.

Otherwise, my Monday was fine. I graded on the train, taught paragraphs and connections, made peer review sheets, read my book (I'm back reading "Buried Giant" by Ishiguro - it took me 100 something pages to realize that this book is not meant as a historical novel set in 6th century Britain, but a historical fantasy set in fantasy 6th century Britain where dragons and ogres are real). I don't really care about the Grammys but I had it on in the background for a bit so I could watch the opening number from Hamilton. I was singing all the words. And I watched "Downton Abbey" episode from yesterday. I found that on teaching days, I can't grade in the evening - I really need to decompress. 13 papers left to do by Thursday.

This weekend was nice. We went to Long Island to visit Bear's parents. Bear took a day off on Friday because we needed to both be at the post office to apply for Tanya's passport. All three of us had to be there in person, according to the rules. Tanya and I went to a local store two weeks ago to get her passport photo done - it was surprisingly easy. She looked at the camera at the second try. She is mostly fascinated at new places and observes. Don't put up a fuss. So that helped a lot. I really thought it would take a lot longer.

Anyway, on Friday, once we got back from the post office, we had lunch, finished packing and drove to Long Island. There was a snow forecast of Saturday and cold, so we didn't want to get stuck anywhere and thought we might as well go early. There is a lot more snow on the ground in Long Island than in Brooklyn. Tanya and Bear ended up playing in the snow in the back year for a bit, while I unpacked.

The weekend itself was nice. I spent most of it at the kitchen table grading papers. But I got a lot of work done, while also making time to socialize (Bear's brother and his girlfriend came over on Saturday so her kind of birthday party). And, most importantly, I finished the 3rd Robert Galbraith book. I read the last 50% in three days, while traveling and grading. so that's a sign of a good book for me. I just wanted to keep reading. I will do that book post sometime this week to talk about this year's books but overall I do really enjoy these detective novels.
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I tried hard to have a nice relaxing weekend to gather energy for the upcoming grading week. I think it went well.

I read a lot (about a third of the 3rd Galbraith book and 2 cantos of Paradise), cooked, and Bear and I watched The Martian over the last two days. I also caught up on Grimm and Supergirl.

On Friday evening I made potato dumplings for dinner and chicken. It was the first time I made dumplings of any kind, other than buy them frozen in the store and just boiling. So it was an experiment. Not entirely perfect yet but not bad for the first try. I did buy wonton wrappers in the Asian supermarket, so it wasn't exactly from scratch, but I made potato and onion filling and pinched all the wrappers properly and boiled that. It is a bit tedious to do but very tasty. Even Tanya ate one, which is a win. I still need to figure out how to get them to dry and not be too sticky before they go in the water and how to keep them from sticking overnight in the fridge. Probably some oil.

This morning I made myself a mushroom, onion and cheese omelette with two eggs. Nyum nyum. So tasty. I don't make it often so it was a treat to myself.

And tonight I made butternut squash soup. I really hate pealing it; there must be an easier way. Other than that, came out well. And I made zucchini for tomorrow. I got all ingredients for baked ziti too but I will make it tomorrow since I wanted us to finish all the leftovers first.

The Martian )
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I really need to figure out how to handle my work stress better. I work part-time during the semesters teaching two sections of writing classes at a University. The rest of the time I'm home with my 18 month old, which is another job in itself. Of course, part-time is a relative term. I physically go to work two days a week and teach two 80 minute classes. But during the weeks where I have commenting on rough drafts (for papers 1 and 4) or grading papers (there are 5) - so seven weeks total, I don't have any free time at all. My every spare moment, which with an 18 months old and household stuff, really just includes nap time and bedtime, is used to grade.

There are 43 students at present, and I spend about 30 min on paper, sometimes more. Plus, after reading about 4 to 6 of them in a row, especially this early in the semester where the writing is very terrible, makes my brain literally hurt and shut down. So grading and commenting weeks are weeks of high stress for me where I try to get through 6 papers a day, every day for a week, to try to get them back in a week. I do have half a week backup time, just in case, but that just prolongs the agony.

So this week, from last Thursday to this morning was commenting week. I was fine, stress wise until Monday. I got a whole class done by Sunday night and I was on track. Of course, by Monday night I was exhausted from waking up early and teaching and commuting, so I got less done. And on Tuesday night, Tanya decided that she needed me nearby at 9:30pm to sleep, so I ended up commenting on two papers with a flashlight. But then I felt so exhausted I fell asleep, 3 papers from my goal. That really shouldn't have raised my stress that high - I was still on track. But by the evening I was feeling it. Frustrated and testy. I really try hard not to take it out on others, so it's probably bottling in too. I got 3 papers done during Tanya's long nap on Wednesday and actually managed 6 in the evening without my brain drying up. And I got 3 done on morning commute and last one in office hours. I was all ready for class. But last night, it really wasn't helpful to start getting upset over it. So I need better grading stress strategies. I'm going to really try to stay on track this semester.

On the upside, I get a grading free weekend. Yay. I still have to write a letter of recommendation, write a bunch of emails, and read the essay for next week to prep Monday's class, but no grading! I get Paper 1 on Monday, so I should really enjoy it. I just watched the latest episode of "Supernatural" - yay, girls! - and now I want to curl up with the 3rd Robert Galbraith book Career of Evil (J.K. Rowling detective books) which I got from the library today on my Kindle. I got notification in the morning and took our my other book I'm reading and stuck a Kindle in my bag to read on the way home. Unfortunately, the Kindle didn't pick up the school Wi-Fi so I couldn't download it. I ended up reading National Geographic on the way home, which is fine, I'm behind on them but I can't wait to read my book it. It already had a very, very creepy beginning from the perspective of a serial killer targeting the main character, so it should be fun!

Tanya continues to be awesome and watching her pick up language continues to be super fascinating to me. She is repeating absolutely everything we say now and is starting to sing along with songs. My Mom told me to try reading her some small baby poems which I've been reading to her for a while (some Barto ones) and not to say the ending word on the line to let her say it. And she totally did! And she did that with the alphabet poems too. She really does remember it or at least recognizes the rhyme.

We also started letting her wear just the underwear at home for about an hour in the afternoons to get her to recognize when she needs to go pee and to start asking. She's been good about pooping in the potty for a while now and knows how to ask that. And in this last week, since we started diaper free time she really started to pick it up and has been mostly recognizing when she needs to pee, although she can't quite hold it all the way yet. Still, no giant accidents. I'm really impressed how far she came in just a week of this. We want to get her diaper free by summer. Fingers crossed. She has been having fun with putting all her stuffed animals on the potty. She picks Elmo up, for example. says, "pee, pee. begi (run), begi (run)" and runs with him to the potty and tries to put him on. It's hysterical sometimes.

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