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It has been 24 years today since we immigrated to the US from Belarus. We traveled in just one day - a very, very long day with the time change and getting up at 2am - but still it was better that 6 months some people had to do just a few years before. My parents, three of my grandparents and I took a four hour plane to Shannon, Ireland (my first plane ride ever), then spent four hours at the airport and then took a 6 hour plane to New York, where after going through an interview by immigration officials we got to meet my uncle at the gate who drove us to our new apartment in Brooklyn. Two of my grandparents (his parents) were in a different apartment. In honor of the day, my Dad and I would always get a little cake or something to celebrate, so today my parents, who came over so Bear and my Dad could drive to pick up our new air conditioner, got a cake too and some other tasty treats.

It is so nice outside - not super warm but getting warmer with clear light blue skies. I spent the morning at the playground with Tanya, first my myself and then Bear came and then my parents too. Just a nice relaxing day before I get the last batch of papers tomorrow and get ready to finish teaching.

I want to catch up a little bit on the last few weeks so I though I'll write about our holidays first. We celebrate both Passover and Easter so we had a full schedule last weekend.

First Seder )

Our big celebration has been the friend one that I've been organizing for at least the last twelve years on the Saturday of the Passover week. This year it was just Marianna and her family and us and we went to Queens to Marianna's place since she has a big table and we usually gather there. It was Janna's birthday so she had plans and Yeva didn't really want to come since she didn't want to cook or hang out with so many kids (Galya is 5, Tanya and Ida are 2.5 and Mozen is 6 months). So I just split the shopping list between us and Bear got pretty much everything the night before.

My Dad was supposed to get kosher for Passover desert at Costco that week (I don't eat anything with flour or rice or oatmeal or corn on Passover) but it was all cleared out already, so I asked Bear to get me bittersweet chocolate chips and on Saturday morning I made flourless chocolate cake. I had some Dutch cocoa powder from Aruba from which I usually make hot chocolate, so I used that, and it gave it a good flavor. It was my first time making it but it came out alright and everything seemed to like it at the party. All the kids, except the baby, had some and liked it so that's a good sign. (I've been watching "The Great British Bake Off on Netflix lately, so baking feels a bit strange, if that is the right word.)

On Saturday, I had to go to the doctor's appointment at 11:30. My parents were supposed to come over to watch Tanya while Bear and I went, but my Mom couldn't, only my Dad drove over to take me which Bear fed Tanya and got her ready. Everything went well, I got a cute sonogram photos to show everyone, came home, ate lunch, got everyone packed (we were going straight to Bear's parents after so I needed to pack overnight stuff) and off we went.

Passover at Marianna's )

Easter )
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I should really catch up before another week runs away from me.

Mon, March 13 - Sun, March 19
Spring Break: taxes, snow, sleep training, etc )

Mon, March 20-Sat, March 25
Since I slacked off on grading last week, I was paying for it this week. I have until Wednesday to catch up. Most days are pretty ordinary. Bear is home every night this week, so more cooking but also nice since he takes over the time between dinner and bed and I can take a break. I made spinach lasagna today, which came out really well- love the new oven.

Last week, Tanya has discovered my box of CDs, and since then I organized them in a tower. But she loves putting a CD into the CD player in the living room, turning it on herself and dancing to it. Mostly she goes for pretty covers and wants the same CD over and over. For a while it was Lady Gaga, then she wanted some K's Choice, Rasputina and James Marsters because those three were homemade in colorful CD cases. And Jason Mraz. And just recently she took my "Dr Horrible" CD from the shelf (which has a few random songs on it too since it was a CD backup from my downloads) and she's been turning that on a lot. (She thinks that her stuffed toys Dr. Dog and Froggy are singing on it, since when I told her it was called Dr. Horrible, she associated it with her toy Dr. Dog).
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Happy Purim! I made the hamentashen cookies today, 38 of then, in three batches. I made the dough in the morning and put it in the fridge and then made them in the new oven after Tanya's nap so she could help me. She and Bear buttered the tray and she had fun trying to roll the dough and made little balls out of leftover dough. And she liked eating the cookies, although not the jam part. I used fig jam and black raspberry jam this year that my Mom got in Home Goods. Before dinner, Tanya asked for another cookie and I told her she can have some after she eats her dinner. So she ate her meatball and a little cauliflower and pasta and drank her milk. Then I gave her the cookie, she sniffed it and realized she wasn't hungry anymore so she told me to eat it. :) I wish I had the self-control of a two year old about food sometimes.

My Mom was supposed to come yesterday to make it with me since she wanted to try my oven too, but she got a cold. Didn't come today either. My Dad just stopped by on the way to visiting his parents (they are still in the recap place but my grandma is finally going home next week. My grandfather had a bit of a set back and had to go to the hospital again for another foot surgery, but he is better now and back at rehab place). So this weekend was the first weekend in a while that is was pretty much just Bear, Tanya and me and it was very nice and domestic. We are getting used to the new place for sure - it is feeling much more homey now.

It is cold outside, so we were home all day yesterday (Bear did go to the store to get chicken, mushrooms and eggs for me and I just went to check the mail downstairs), but today they did go to the playground in the late afternoon. Good thing too as it tired her out and she went to sleep ok at the new Daylight time (I'm sure her bath helped too). I'm not a big fan of the time change, mostly because I'm already lacking on sleep, and I always worry about Tanya adjusting, but she seems pretty fine. She is still waking up at night calling for me, so sometimes I need to sit with her a while, so I have been a bit groggy. It depends on the night. Yesterday wasn't too bad; she let me go after 15 minutes or so. The worst was Friday to Saturday, where she would not let me leave from 2:30 to 4:30, and even woke Bear up. I know it will take some time and at least she is sleeping on her own, but man, I feel that co-sleeping was definitely the right call for us for a while.

Over the last week I cooked some in the new kitchen, mostly soups and meatballs for Tanya, and a little for me like potatoes and a turkey burger. But on Saturday I finally did a meal for all of us, with pasta, brussel sprouts/mushroom/onion stir fry and chicken. And I baked today. So I'm starting to feel this kitchen now - making it mine. The oven is really nice, it warms up quickly and the cookies came out nice and soft and lovely. The third batch did try to escape a bit with the jam, but it was still delicious. I don't care about aesthetic of it too much, just tastiness.

I've been catching up on TV - I caught up on most of the Grimm, and Supernatural and Flash and Supergirl. I'm glad Supernatural is not back until the end of March though and Victoria is done. There is just a little too much to watch. I'd rather be reading lately and have been enjoying "The Goblin Emperor" when I have the time. Next week is Spring Break, so I don't have to go in to work, but I have a lot of papers to grade. And Bear is going to leave tomorrow night (Monday) until Saturday (his work has meeting season where he needs to stay late there and makes more sense for him to stay at his parents, which is much closer to work. In return, he has Mondays off, and he watches Tanya when I work. And he gets free dinners at work. And brings me back brunch food for Sundays). He was supposed to go on Tuesday late morning, but we will have a giant snowstorm apparently, so he will leave a little earlier. That way he can also shovel snow for his parents.

The old apartment management was surprisingly efficient and already sent up our security deposit back. yay. Tomorrow we will go to our accountant and do our taxes. And now, a little more book and early bedtime to catch up on some sleep. Tanya's night soothing is already preparing me for the baby :)
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This weekend was a little weird, in a good way. I had no grading to do, which is nice for a semester weekend (I'm getting lots of papers tomorrow, so I really should enjoy this break before the craziness of next week). But I was a little at a loss on how to spend my day. Good problem to have! I did embrace the laziness and watched some TV (I'm loving "Victoria" - sexy in a lot of ways and just gets to me) and read some books and cleaned the bathroom and cooked and spent some time with Bear and Tanya.

I finally finished reading Neuromancer by William Gibson. I started it a few weeks ago but I just didn't care enough for it to read more than a chapter at a time, sometimes less. I just read more at the end, just to finally finish it. It is so very 80s, which was a little fun, and I read it and followed the plot perfectly fine but I just found myself indifferent. It was fine and I can understand why it was an influential book but my mind was pretty detached reading it. I didn't care for any of the characters. For some reason, I find lately that a lot of classic sci-fi is underwhelming me. I didn't hate it, I just didn't care. This year has been a little weird in books so far. I hope it picks up.

The King's Ransom by Sharon Kay Penman, on the other hand, is definitely sustaining my interest. I have a paperback copy, because I have copies of all her books, so I am limited on when I can read it. It's not easy to lug it with me on commute as it is almost 700 small print pages and a bit hefty, and I can't read it in the evening, in the dark, but I've been snatching lots of time this weekend. It was fun to follow Richard the Lionheart's adventures trying to sneak through Italy and Austria. I'm only on p.150 so far - still a lot of the book to go. This book will take me awhile too but at least I'm excited to read it. I do love her writing, even with "smile not reaching the eyes" appearing 10 times in 10 pages, and I adore historical accuracy. Richard is not my favorite king, but she is doing a good job making me understand him.

In the afternoon, all of us went to the playground together, which is a rare occasion. Tanya tried to protest - she just wanted to go with Papa and kept yelling at me to stay home or stay, but she calmed down after I talked to her that Mama wanted to breathe some air too and I won't get in a way of fun with Papa. (She likes to play with us one at a time, most of the time). I did leave them behind for a bit to go to Dunken Donuts to get a Boston Creme Donut for myself and a blueberry muffin for Bear (and Tanya too to share), and then we just hung out. It was cold but not overly so and it was nice just to be. I headed back around 5 to go cook dinner and by then Tanya didn't want me to go. :)

I went home to make a cottage pie, which for me usually means layer of ground turkey with onion and oregano, then layer of peas and corn and then layer of mashed potatoes, all baked in the oven. Nice and delicious, and good for two days, since we just eat it very fast.

I was feeling good all day, but as I got up at 6:45pm to go warm up dinner for Tanya and for us to eat, I started feeling very weak. I could barely stand and felt like I could just collapse. I wasn't dizzy, just weak. It was probably low blood pressure, it's already been low 100/60 every time I go for a check up. So I warmed up Tanya's food, had Bear feed her this time, ate my dinner quickly and went to lie down. I did get up to make myself Earl Gray tea to get a little caffeine in, drank more water, and had a little caviar that my Dad got for me (I don't generally eat it a lot, but it is good for the baby). I stayed in bed once I got Tanya to bed and I felt better today, on Sunday. It's not the first time I got weak, but it's never fun. At least this was the weekend and I didn't have to worry about work. I really need to drink more water during the day. And today I ordered some beef kebab at the Nargis restaurant (it's Uzbek/Russian place) and Bear went to pick it up on his way after grocery shopping. I probably need more iron but this baby is not a big fan of beef. But the kebab was so so tasty. Very soft.

Today was nice and relaxing too - I went for a walk this morning to get milk and to the Chinese bakery. And I just wanted to get some energy. Watched "Grimm" (loved the victim saving herself). Read a lot. Did some cross stitch. I even made the flyer to sell the two bar stools with backs that we won't need anymore after we move. I really do need to appreciate the quiet weekends.
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Last two days were rainy so we were pretty much stuck indoors. I only left for about 10 minutes today to go to the post office to drop off some letters (rent and next semester's contract). Good thing was that Bear had these two days off - yesterday was a holiday and he took today off because the floors were getting delivered to the new apartment and he was needed to carry them inside - he even got a hand cart at work. He, with some help from my Dad, ended up carrying most of the boxes anyway. Bear loves it - it was like a workout for him. Nice thing for me was that he was home in the early morning and in late afternoon. Tanya tends to play with him more when he is home, so I get free time to cook and just be a little. And it was just so nice being home all together, very low key.

Bear put away the tree and holiday lights yesterday and packed a whole box full of our games. I packed a box of books today. We are not moving until the end of February but we are starting to pack because there is just so much. I'm going to have many many boxes just of books. And once my semester starts in two weeks I will not have much time. We just need to get more boxes.

I did a lot of cooking even with the leftover holiday food. Yesterday, I made kotlety (fried meatball type) from beef and baked yams yesterday. And today I'm making baked ziti and split pea soup with beef. The apartment smells wonderful right now.

Over the last two days I also backed up 2016 blog to a Word document (I crosspost to Dreamwidth and LJ, but I want a copy that is not on the internet). And I watched 2 TV shows and read a book. So fairly good two days.

For a long time I wanted to read Christopher Isherwood's A Single Man . I loved the movie, although the movie mislead me a little bit on the intent of the main character, which colored this read a bit. And I had the book on Amazon Wish List for a while. Finally, I actually ordered it. But for a year Amazon couldn't find a copy for me. I cancelled that order. Last year I discovered that the Brooklyn Public Library now had it as a ebook. I put it on my library wish list. And last week I put the book on hold, thinking it might take a while. But on January 1st I got a notice that I can now borrow it. I did and read it in less than 48 hours. It was not a long book but it was also compelling. I didn't want to put it down. I forgot how beautifully Isherwood writes. His prose is just delicious. And, of course, since I teach in a college, I found the whole section of George teaching his English class just perfection. Isherwood really captures perfectly the class dynamics and student mentality. That section was sublime - really funny and just right. I really want to have a copy of this book because, while I rarely reread, I already want to reread this one. I loved this book so much.

I also watched two TV shows: Sherlock S4E1 and the latest Doctor Who Christmas special, which my Dad got for me.

Sherlock S4E1: The Six Thatchers )

Doctor Who 2016 Christmas Special )
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I just made a lot (42) chicken wontons. I got toasted sesame sauce today just for the purpose. It turned out just a tad dry but great overall, especially with soy sauce. Bear was happy. And they were Tanya approved. So success.

I'm in the middle of Season 2 of the Flash right now - really enjoying that. I also watched "Hamilton's America" today - it was great to see some staging of the songs. I listened to the soundtrack so much and I read the libretto book. But I only seen just a couple of songs staged. One day when it becomes affordable I would love to go see "Hamilton" live.

I started reading Anthony Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See . It's really, really good.

Book Meme
22. The book you finished even though you hated it, and the reasons why

Mostly this happened in school. If I start hating the book that I read for fun I would give up. Although I did finish Dune despite my dislike. In high school I really didn't like Great Gatsby by I had to finish it for the AP class. But there weren't too many books that I just hated.
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The restaurant (Passage) ended up being ok; there was certainly fun despite the residual reluctance about the whole thing. Russian restaurants, in the US at least, are a particular experience. It is a fancy place (on weekends about $90 per person, and people dress up), with a ridiculous amount of food served as a buffet at your table. The food keeps coming for over four hours. Just as you thought the appetizers (salads, cold cuts, liver pate wrapped in a pancake, smoked salmon etc), and potatoes with mushrooms, and potatoes with a piece of fancy beef, and pasta with shrimp etc was enough, out comes salmon and trout with rice. And then desert and fruit with tea or coffee at some point. The restaurant provides some alcohol but you mostly bring your own and usually there is a lot. (The food was the reason Bear was happy to have our wedding at a Russian restaurant. He is American but he's been to a few with me to appreciate the food. And more food. After our wedding, we had food for five more days and we gave some to my parents and my uncle. They wrap all the leftovers.). The restaurant is also pretty much a nightclub. There is live music for over three hours and a dance floor in the middle of all the tables. There are usually many different parties celebrating birthdays and other occasions.

Yeva's invitation said 7pm, so I come at about 7:10, of course. I knew enough to take my Kindle with me, which was a smart choice as the rest of the party only showed up at 7:45. Which is pretty typical. It was not a big party - there were eight of us - Yeva, her Mom and brother, her cousin from Vancouver, Kira and her husband Sasha, me, and Dasha (who came a bit later after work). It was very nice to meet Yeva's cousin, she's a lot of fun. She did have to leave early to catch a late plane back to Canada. We talked, ate a lot, danced a lot too. My Dad texted me that Tanya went to sleep ok, so I wasn't that worried. And Bear was happy at home playing with his Oculus Rift and doing his Gear VR animation. So it was a good evening. But I just couldn't enjoy it fully because of all the drama leading to the party, and I'm not really a big party person - I'm happy at home with my book. But overall I'm on the positive side about it. The food was very good and so were the singers. I ate so much that I was eating very little today (although I couldn't resist my mother-in-law's apple pie). The desert at the party only came around 12:20am, right in time for me, as I texted Bear at 12 to come get me. Yeva wanted me to stay until 1 but as I knew my parents would bring Tanya over at 8am, I really just wanted to go to sleep. She and I really live in different worlds right now - she has trouble understanding sometimes how tired kids make you and how your life is not your own. I get it but I wish it didn't feel like we are disconnecting.

Today was a quiet day. Bear and I had a nice morning to ourselves and then Tanya came home. She immediately just wanted to play with Papa. My Mom made her cutlets and I stayed home until they were done while Bear and Tanya went to the playground. Then I went to join them, after a stop at the bank (we live near a Jewish neighborhood, so the bank is open on Sunday instead of Saturday. It's very convenient), just in time to go home for lunch. Only then Tanya wanted Mama and wanted me to carry her and gave me hugs and kisses. But mostly weekends is Papa time and Mama can "go away". Unless it's nap time, or food time.

In the afternoon we walked to Rite Aid so that Bear and I could get flu shots. I got one but the pharmacist suggested that Bear wait a week since he just finished taking prednizone. (Bear got poison oak on his face after jogging a few weeks ago; it wasn't fun). Then we came home and I started cooking. I was on my feet from 5pm to 8pm with the break for dinner, cooking and washing all the dishes. I made simple things like rice and steamed broccoli, and I fried some chicken. I also had to make Tanya's soup tonight since I'm going to work tomorrow.

And now, I need to go work on my story while ignoring the stiffness in my left arm from the flu shot. It's my normal side effect and it should pass tomorrow.
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I cooked a lot today but it didn't feel like too much. But I made five things: veal cutlets for Tanya, rice, steamed cauliflower and broccoli, eggplant/carrot/onion stir fry with curry, and I fried chicken cutlets dipped in egg and bread crumbs. Both Tanya and Bear liked their food and ate a lot, which is always great. (Tanya loves rice, though, so this was easy, she would anything with rice in it).

In the morning we went to the playground early again, at 8am, and stayed until 10am when it got too hot. The sprinkler fountain was on, so I put her in the bathing suit and Tanya just ran around in circles for 20 minutes. The joy on the face is just awesome. Plus it kept the playground relatively cool.

In the last month, I actually managed to watch three movies: "Deadpool", "Spotlight", and "Antman". I really liked all three. I expected "Deadpool" to be hilarious and it was. It poked at all the superhero movie cliches and it worked well. It did try a little too hard but I can forgive that. It was weird for my head to keep in mind that this movie is in X-Man universe - I was watching Agents of Shield Season 3 at the same time and I kept thinking it's a Marvel movie and had to correct myself. "Antman" was cute too. The fight with the toy train was hysterical. I think it helps that Paul Rudd is very likable since some of the plot doesn't make sense. I did enjoy watching it, though. I watched "Spotlight" since it won an Oscar and I have watched every movie that ever won one. And it was on Netflix. I didn't want to stop watching it and stayed up late to finish it. It is a movie that should work - it is about journalists researching a story, the process of it, but it really keeps the attention and flows very well. It is pretty fascinating. Disturbing too, since the content is pretty heavy, but well done. I'm glad it won the Oscar.
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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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This week, which started so dramatically with the snow and the commute from hell ended up being pretty good overall.

I got rough drafts on Thursday so I've been commenting on those (and they are mostly terrible since it's the first draft of the first paper but promising). But I also managed to get a good chunk done this weekend so I'm not too overwhelmed with work.

I even managed to watch "Supernatural" and "Grimm", finish a book, clean and cook, which feels luxurious for a grading week. I liked both shows this week too. Supernatural has been on the roll this season and Grimm had characters communicating with each other and being upfront and apparently I dig that.

And I finished my book: the 9th Tomek book. I want to make a separate book post of everything I read im January, but overall it's not my favorite of the series but the second half picks up well.

I cooked beef stroganoff in my slow cooker yesterday, which went overy egg noodles. I love the slow cooker, just throw everything in, fast and easy. I used cream cheese and fresh mushrooms too. It was much tastier on the second day. A keeper recipe.

Today, I actually went into the city to have brunch with my friend Janna. Going out is such a treat for me lately because I'm either at home with Tanya or at work. I don't get out much lately. But Bear was good to watch her (although nap time was a struggle) and I got some freedom time. Janna is eight months pregnant with her second daughter, so she wanted some time to get away too. We had a lovely brunch. I had chicken and waffles, which was weird but really works. Yum. And I had a coctail too. And I commented on rough drafts on the subway and got some uninterrupted work done.

There is a new Remus/Sirius fest and I'm really tempted to sign up. I love the people and the community. But yesterday, I took a realistic stock of the free time that I have and I realized that I really can't during the semester. I've had a good and productive January, I'm happy with meeting goals I set for myself this year. I have limited free time and I want to read, write and catch up on my few shows. So I will pass but with some regret. I will join RS Games again, though. That I must.
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I'm watching the Golden Globes right now. I used to follow the award season closely but for the last few years as I watched fewer movies and TV, I kind of stopped caring. Unlike last year I can watch some of it tonight, since bedtime has gotten a lot better, but I find that while I'm enjoying it, I'm using the time to write this blog with the show in the background. Some of the dresses with open boobs are not that attractive and make me fear for accidents. I can't recognize most familiar actresses because of such heavy make-up on their faces - like Amy Adams, Melissa Benoist, Felicity Huffman and Eva Langoria (I did love Eva Langoria's dress). It's fun to see Sylvester Stallone, Matt Damon, Lady Gaga and Inside Out win.

I spent this week - well, evenings - mostly reading - for fun and for work, and writing (yay) and I actually watched a movie in one sitting, which has been a long time for me. I'm trying to make the best out of the improved bedtime before the 18 months sleep regression hits at the end of the month (Tanya has hit every one of the sleep regressions the books described to my utter 'joy'). But I am making the most out of my work break and I feel good about it.

The week itself was pretty ordinary: I was home with Tanya; had naps; I cooked dinner, including a cottage pie with ground turkey and with Tanya helping me by washing a carrot and 'mashing' the potatoes (a mix of regular potatoes and yams); I even managed to work out on our exercise bike this morning (I only did 15 minutes to ease into it after a very long time, still it's something).

I have orientation for work this coming week so I started reading some articles from our textbook to figure out what themes I want to focus on and to figure out my sequences. So yesterday and today I read Andrew Solomon's "Son," which is the excerpt from his book Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and Search for Identity. He focuses on what he calls "horizontal identities," identities that children don't inherit from their parents, identities that are different and often challenging for parents to understand and are often equated with illness or otherness. like deafness, or dwarfism, or disability, or being gay or even prodigies. I don't agree with some ideas - I don't want Tanya to be exactly like me- but I understand the premise that it might be hard to understand and not want to just cure otherness. He talks about children who are born deaf to hearing parents and the parental choice to put in an implant, which might kill the horizontal deaf culture. He focuses on what diversity adds as well, on why difference matters.

I forgot how wonderful, rich and challenging the articles in our textbook are. As a 35 year old I can really appreciate them and get most of the references but it is understandably challenging for 18-19 year olds. It's hard for them to focus on complex twenty pages. But it is certainly fun to challenge them. "Identity" and its construction and meaning is one of my favorite themes so I think I will use this article this semester - I just need to figure out how. I think I have it too but I will finalize this week. I decide to do all prep at the orientation days since they are forcing us into two full days of it (still bitter about that).

For fun, I'm almost done with Hamilton - I'm up to the duel. I'm reading faster as I'm nearing the end as it usually happens. I kind of love listening to "Hamilton" soundtrack in between reading - great confluence of events for me.

I read the short article about Stephen King praising J.K.Rowling's detective novels that she writes under Robert Galbraith and I realized there was the third book out there. I really loved the first two. I went to my library website to put it on hold, but my library card has expired for some reason. So I will have to make it to the library soon. I really want to read that book.

Supergirl S1E9 )

Movie: Avengers the Age of Ultron
Avengers 2 )
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I had a quite nice weekend. Yesterday, on Saturday, we were just home. The weather is wintry now but not too cold, just crispy pleasant. Bear, Tanya and I all went to the playground in the morning, which was fun. She was kicking the ball around, which is new. I did accidentally hit my nose on her swing at some point when I was throwing a ball at her. I have a bruise now but hopefully nothing is broken. I don't think it is. Other than that, we mostly enjoyed the winter a bit.

In the afternoon, we were just cleaning, which our apartment did need. When I was cleaning the bathroom, Tanya came over to see what I was doing and wanted to do what I was doing. She took the toilet brush from my hand and was swirling it around in the water, since that looked fun. It took some distraction to get her to let go, so I could finish. And then we were cleaning the playmats in the living room; she needed to participate too. I brought a bucket of water into the living room and Tanya needed her own paper towel that she was dipping in the bucket. She pretty much kept her hand inside the bucket the whole time and was sitting there while we were washing each tile in turn. After, of course, I had to change all her wet clothes.

Today, we had a get-together in the afternoon at Yeva's. In the morning I made Tanya's soup and also spinach pie to take with me to the get-together. That took all morning. Meanwhile Bear played with Tanya and took her out too for a while. At one point in the early morning, they were sitting on the bed, reading a book and playing with some stuffed animals. I came over during a break in the cooking to join in a bit. But Tanya just tried pushing me off the bed and said "up," then "go away" and then repeated "away" (in English). I see how it is. When she needs something, it's "mama" "mama," but for playtime papa is good. I'm just happy with her language skills. Today she was eating a banana and told Bear "papa banana Nanya [her pronunciation of Tanya] nyam-nyam" That's the longest construction yet.

After a nap, for her and for me, we drove 15 minutes to Yeva's. In addition to Marianna and her family, Yeva invited her friend Dasha and her daughter. I met her a few times before and we always hang out like old friends. It's rare to just get to that level of comfort with people. Yeva's Mom and brother were also there. We spent over four hours there and it was lots of fun. We all had my spinach pie for an appetizer (and it was a hit, yay. Although Bear prefers the last more saltier version. I like it with less salt. Maybe I will substitute a different cheese for a bit more flavor). And we ordered Uzbekistan food from Nargis restaurant. It was so delicious. I have plov (rice and lamb) and a chicken kebob. Tanya actually ate both the spinach pie and plov. And a melon. And there was lots of desert.

Most importantly it was just nice to hang out and to see my girls and little Galya and Ida.

We got home by 8pm, and got Tanya in bed by 8:30, but it took almost an hour for her to settle down, with all the over stimulation. Then I went to the living room and I was just cross stitching. I finished the back stitch, so only french knots are left. I need to take it to my parents' house to look at my previous pieces to see how I did my signature - it's been awhile and I don't remember the exact stitches.
bearshorty: (Default)
I am thinking about food and cooking lately. One of the things I'm trying to be better about is not wasting food and cooking everything I have in the fridge on time. I love my veggies and I need to not get greedy and buy too much. I'm trying to be more conscious about it.

I'm also thinking how the taste in food changes. I used not really care about avocado. Now I love it and can't get enough. I usually get avocados for Tanya and I love finishing it off, or adding them to sandwiches.

It took me a long time to get used to veggies or fruits I didn't grow up with. Like broccoli or mango. Now I love them. Two years ago it was papaya - but only when I was pregnant. I tried papaya again last year and didn't really like it.

Yesterday, I cooked my turkey meatloaf, made rice and salad. The turkey meatloaf is a hit, Bear just loves it, so I will keep making it. It's pretty easy too, just takes a little long. And Sunday I made baked sweet potatoes with oregano - easy and really good. And last week for my Mom's birthday I made her banana cranberry muffins, with vanilla icing, as a gift (she doesn't want presents). She ate two right away and complimented me, which means she really liked it.

My grandmother was an amazing cook and my Mom is a great cook too. Somehow I inherited the cooking tradition without really cooking much as a child (my Mom wouldn't let anyone use her kitchen). I guess I just grew up with home cooking (we rarely ate out, it wasn't a thing) and just assumed I should cook. But I also grew to love it and I think I'm pretty good at it by now. I don't think I will ever be as good as my grandmother but I do enjoy it. And looking up recipes.

This year I figured out cheesecake, 2016 will be the year of pie. I will figure out homemade crust and make an apple pie for sure.
bearshorty: (Default)
I'm pretty cranky by the end of this day, not from anything major but with the build up of minor annoyances. I'm trying to get myself into a better mood.

Tanya woke me up by 5:45 am and then went back to sleep with some soothing and slept until 7:30. Me, not so much. So I already got up not feeling my best.

Breakfast went ok but then I had a cooking disaster. I was making boiled veal meatballs for Tanya and I didn't want to make them too thick, so I didn't put enough bread crumbs in them. So instead of meatballs, I ended up with meat sauce. Which is fine and it's edible, I just strained the pot in the end of the cooking time and she had it for lunch with some rice, but it was disapointing. I did try to correct it but it didn't really work.

So not a major disaster but that took a lot of time and effort and didn't come out like I wanted too. And because it was taking longer with my useless corrective methods, Tanya got bored watching me cook and wanted my attention, so that pulled focus too.

After that the day got a bit better. We went to the bank and then to the playground for a bit. It was foggy and wet today, so we didn't stay long; still it was something to do. And she had a long nap in the afternoon. I actually napped for an hour too and started feeling better.

But then work stuff. First I get an email from department secretary that I still haven't submitted my paperwork for next semester. Well, I did. On November 23rd. I sent that email to two people and again to the secretary's personal address just in case. I have it in my Sent box. Ok, I just resent it today. I will call back tomorrow to make sure.

Then I get an email about the orientation this Spring semester. I teach two sections of a different class in the spring than in the fall, which means I usually have to do orientation for the spring to make sure I didn't forget how to teach it. The department likes everyone to be on the same page across all sections of the class. Fine. No problem. In the past that orientation was about 2-3 hours and mildly useful.

This year the orientation will be over two days in January from 10am to 4pm. And we got homework to do. Apparently we will be writing the first three assignments right there and will have to bring 4 weeks of class plans. I get how this would be useful for someone who hasn't taught this class before but I've been teaching for 10 years with good reviews from students and supervisors. It's a little insulting. And I usually adjust class plans as I go along, depending on what specific set of students need. This won't be hard to put together but I don't usually get this level of supervision.

And it's two days that we don't get paid extra for. My Mom will watch Tanya but if I had to get a sitter for two full days plus transportation, that would be expensive. We don't even get catered lunch. My co-worker and friend Rosemary will give me a ride (we spent almost half an hour on the phone shocked at this development) but it's the principle of the thing.

And Rosemary got an email that her schedule was on the same days as mine. We got all excited about carpooling again. But when I looked up the schedule online her times were different. She needs to sort it. So this day has been up and down but mostly cranky.

At least I could retreat to the bathroom once Bear got home at 6 and have a nice shower and some time to myself. I think I will go have a cookie now, go snuggle with Bear a little and watch some more Jessica Jones. I was going to work on a recommendation for a student but that can wait.
bearshorty: (Default)
This week was the last week of the semester so it was a bit hectic. I needed to finish grading all papers and final exams by Friday afternoon. The students finished their final exam on Thursday afternoon. Since I was staying at my parents since Wednesday though, my Dad drove me to work and I had all Thursday to do a lot. My brain stopped working after grading 10 papers (it takes about 30 minutes per paper with all the comments) but luckily the finals didn't require brains. They are Pass/Fail with no comments needed. By the end of the day Thursday, I only had three papers left and of my smart A students, so I knocked them off by Friday morning and still had time to go to the playground with Tanya.

And the final handover of grades went well. I successfully argued with my director for higher grades for two of my students and everyone passed. And the students were mostly happy when they came to pick up their folders with their final grade on Friday afternoon. I do love seeing them improve over the course of the semester and they end up realizing how much they did need the class - it is a required class for them, so many resist.

On top of all the grading, Bear and I took Tanya to her pediatrician on Wednesday for one more vaccine shot. Now she just needs a booster flu shot in a months and a Hepatitis A shot at some point next year. And that's it for a while. Yay. We brought some toys with us and a book and she did pretty well. She still hates being weighted and measured and shots, of course, but there was less fuss than last time.

She is such a girl. Her new favorite game is to go to the closet where all my necklaces are hanging on the jewelry organizer. She wants to be lifted up so she could reach them and then I point to various ones and she says either "no" or "da" (yes in Russian). She tries some on or wants me to try them and this can go on for a while. Occasionally she goes in my closet where her fancy birthday dress is and wants to wear that for a bit. And she loves scarves and hats.

In less than pleasant news, in this hectic work week where I did not need more stress, we had to pull out of the apartment contract. Our realtor called on Tuesday afternoon, wanting us to switch mortgage brokers. Then not even two hours later he called again to say that he spoke to the president of the board and that the board doesn't want to let my Dad and I be co-owners since it would go against their occupancy rules (even though my parents have a house and have no intention in leaving it).

When we first came to see the place, he reassured us that our situation would not be a problem, that the board makes exceptions all the time, that the president is his friend and all. My parents were giving us half the downpayment so we wanted to co-own. My Dad also has a high income. The board wouldn't let just Bear and I get it because our income is not high enough for them - I work part-time since it makes the most financial sense right now with a baby and I don't have to pay for childcare this way, and how can I give definitive proof that I will have a full time job soon? No one can guarantee their job. Anyway, that judgment on us based solely on income pissed me off more than anything. The bank had no issue giving us a mortgage with our current combined salary, I have a very high credit score, we have a lot of savings, no debt, we rarely eat out, we don't buy alcohol, we don't qualify for any assistance programs, we can do more on our salary than people who make twice as much - but that really doesn't count here. I wrote the realtor a lengthy email on Friday because he should have checked with the board before we signed the contract and wasted these three weeks in putting together all the documents. Argh. He did write back to apologize but it did cause us a lot of stress. We got our deposit back (I checked with the lawyer and even put a stop on the check, just in case) and the lawyer reimbursed half of his fee so I at least didn't lose any money.

It was nice to have a weekend with no grading looming over it. On Saturday I cleaned the bathroom, finally ordered photos for my photo album and went to the dentist to finish with the crown. I order photos once a year - I like having a physical album and I get to look through all the pictures and pick the best ones that represent the year. Then I order it in December because of all the holiday discounts.

And this morning I went to the Chinese supermarket to get Jasmine rice and Udon noodles and a did a couple of more chores. Then I came home and made spinach pie.

I had a box of spinach in my freezer for a while and I was determined to used it and not to waste it. I looked up a bunch of recipes online and picked this recipe . I bought the puff pastry dough yesterday on the walk back from the dentist. I added mushrooms to the onion saute and didn't use garlic. My Parmesan cheese was a bit old so I used some smoked cheese. It came out well - Bear already ate like half of it - but next time I will use less salt and I will roll the pastry more to really cover the middle of the top more tightly.

And in the evening we drove to Brighton Beach so I could go get Tanya some Russian books for New Year presents and also some puzzle blocks. I got a book of fables and a learning book for learning concepts like "up/down" "left/right" etc. Bear already taught her "on/off" when turning the lights on or off. In the car today, she saw me in glasses (I don't always wear them when I'm not at work or not watching TV or computer) and said "ochki off" (glasses off). So she's getting it! It was nice to get out and go somewhere all together.

TV for the week )
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30 Days of Me Meme

Day 20: Your feelings about education and school

Education and school has always been important. My whole family went to college so it wasn't even a question that I would attend. I always loved school and looked forward to it. A lot of my self image is tied to being good a school and a straight A student. And ever since I was little I was teaching my dolls too and making them learn poetry I had to memorize. School is fun. That's why I'm still in the classroom, teaching.

30 Days of Fanfic Meme

20 – Do you ever get bunnies from other people's stories or art in the same fandom?

Not really but stories in general are influencing and inspiring, just in seeing what works as a story. And certain fandom conventions carry though.


Dark Matter . Last night I checked out the pilot episode since it was added to Netflix. I enjoyed it and I'm curious enough to watch more. I did think it was trying a little to hard to be Firefly with the precocious young girl with mind powers and a tough chick and Jayne like character (only less adorable).

Tomek book 8 I finished the 8th Tomek book. After 25 years this series did not lose its magic. It was certainly amusing, even the awkwardly placed exposition. The first half of the book is all about Smuga and Nowicki' escape and the second part was Tomek's expedition to try to meet the escapees. With geography and ethnography lessons in between. Both parts were enjoyable. The "twist" at the end was very obvious, especially since I could see there was only so much book left, but it left me giddy with anticipation so it was worth it. And this books made me take out my atlas again so I could trace their South American route through Peru, Chile, Bolivia and Brazil where the story takes place. Now I want to read the final Book 9 of the series and at some point reread the first seven books again.

Today was a teaching day. I started Dante's Purgatory on the train. This week will be busy with grading so I took advantage of the commute to read and relax a bit. We started discussing memes in class today. The students know "Internet meme" but they can't really define it - to them it's a funny Internet picture. After I got home, Bear was just leaving for the playground with Tanya (Monday is his day off so he watches Tanya). I had an hour and half to myself so I could cook in peace. I made a cauliflower casserole with cheese and also turkey meatballs (both baked and boiled).
bearshorty: (Default)
On my 17th birthday, my then sort-of boyfriend gave me two music tapes as presents (yes, tapes. It was the 90s). One of them was the Alanis Morissette's "Jagged Little Pill" album. He didn't know much about modern popular music and his sister recommended it. At the time I wasn't really into it. I thanked him, of course. It was super nice of him but I put the tape away in my tape tower and didn't listen to it much. A year and a half later my Dad was having a birthday party and one of his friend's daughter came over too. We were hanging out in my room and she wanted to listen to it. To my utter surprise I knew and loved most of the songs on the album because they were all over the radio at the time. I didn't realize I had them. I listened to that album a lot after that. It still remains one of my favorite albums to this day.

I was thinking lately that I might have another album that I put away but might appreciate now as my musical taste evolved. A long time ago, maybe a dozen years or so, I got "Broadways Greatest Love Songs" CD as a present. I think it was from Bear but I can't be sure. Most likely from him. I liked two songs on that album right way, "On my Own" from Les Miserables (which I already knew and loved) and "I Don't Know How to Love Him" from Jesus Christ Superstar (which I discovered on that album). I didn't really care about others. I only downloaded the two songs into my iTunes, once I got iTunes, and put the CD away. Because I was making my Broadway playlist recently, and musicals are on my mind, it occurred to me that I should try it again. I know more of Broadway now. I listened to and saw more shows. My tastes certainly have changed. And I was right. I put it on today and I totally love it. I know more songs from that CD and more musicals. It's funny when that happens.

I have a week to catch up but there isn't that much. Last Sunday and Monday, we went to Long Island to visit Bear's parents for Labor Day weekend. His father was turning 75 on this Tuesday, September 8, so they were also having a little birthday party. On Sunday, Bear's brother John and his girlfriend Laurie came over and we had a nice dinner. I even came down to have ice cream cake once Tanya was sleeping.

On Monday, I was making soup for Tanya in my mother-in-law's kitchen when disaster struck. The blender she gave me to grind the chicken and blend the soup had a loose bottom. Not loose enough to notice but loose enough for soup to start to escape from the bottom as it reached good consistency. As I lifted the top portion of the blender and my mother-in-law tried to help, the bottom fell out completely and all the soup, with nice organic ingredients, ended up on the counter and floor and pants and slippers. I wanted to cry. Well, I just had to start over and make the soup all over again. There was no carrot or potato or celery in the house so we sent Bear's father to the store. The second soup came out fine and I double checked the blender super carefully.

Because of Labor Day weekend, I had to work on Tuesday instead of Monday and then again Thursday. My parents are on vacation in Aruba so Bear took three days off this week to take care of Tanya when I'm at work. (He usually watches her on Monday since it's his day off and my Mom has Thursdays). He was really nervous about it since last time he watched her all day was May. But he did fine, of course. She really mastered walking now - it's so fun to watch.

On Wednesday, when we were both home, we decided to go to Brighton Beach for variety in the morning. (Brighton Beach in Brooklyn is the center of Russian community and it has a Boardwalk and a beach). We played on the playground near the beach and I went to the Russian book store while she napped in her stroller, with Bear walking back and forth, to pick up a book and toys for Jo, who is turning 2 in October. It got pretty hot but it was still nice to do something different. I also cooked a lot on Wednesday - in addition to another batch of soup for Tanya (with my immersion blender this type and old school grinder)- I made cabbage stir fry and chicken and pasta. And on Thursday I made rice using chicken broth from the soup, instead of water.

By the way, my parents might be on vacation in Aruba but my Mom Skypes me some mornings while she's having breakfast on the balcony overlooking the beach. Technology is pretty amazing.

Work has been good so far. The classes are nice and small, so the commenting on drafts is much more manageable. The drafts, which I got on Thursday, are also only three pages long, so it's hasn't been too stressful getting them all done. I managed to get a lot done this morning, working for maybe three hours while Bear took Tanya for a walk. And I like my students, especially the second class where the students actually brought up passages in the reading that weren't as clear. The drafts are pretty terrible - mostly summary and not a lot of analysis - but that is typical of first papers. I know they will get better. We are going to work on topic sentences on Monday. They need some.

I'm still reading Sacks. I'm more than two-thirds through. (I used to have really fast reading speed until I was 17 and read "War and Peace." Reading that book slowed down my reading speed and it stayed that way. It's weird). Definitely enjoying it. He was friends with Auden, which was weird since I read Christopher Isherwood's "Christopher and his Kind" not that long ago and he and Auden were best friends. Like all the people I read about knew each other.

I bought the HumbleBook Bundle from Neil Gaiman this morning but I still need to figure out how to download it. But first, I really just want to finish Sacks.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015 07:49 pm
bearshorty: (Default)
This morning, Tanya and I went to the playground as usual. We go really early, at 8:30 and it's pretty empty then save for a few people doing their morning exercises. It was pretty humid so we didn't stay long and headed back home for her morning nap.

As we were waiting for a light to cross on a fairly quiet street but with some traffic, I heard a very loud noise and I look there to see a silver car that just slammed into a parked van halfway down the block from us. It moved the van about 60 degrees. As I watched, the car backed up and sped off really fast, just fleeing the scene. A bunch of us, who saw the accident, went closer to see the damage. We discovered to our general amusement, that in its flight, the silver car left its license plate behind on the ground. Hee. Poor person to whom the van belongs tthough, having to come back to all that damage. At least no one was inside. This was also the first accident I saw unfold before my eyes. I've seen wrecks but not actual crash before.

The rest of the day was more ordinary. There was a very heavy downpour in the middle of the day - I couldn't even see outside the window it was raining so hard. But it was nice enough by late afternoon to go for another short walk. The rain did do a number on local trees -there was a lot of bark on ground.

I also made dinner. Bear was home when I got there from the walk so I could pass the baby to him and just enjoy cooking. I'm going to my parents's tomorrow until Sunday since Bear has to work very late this whole weekend and will be staying with his parents who live a lot closer to his work. (With Monday and Tuesday as his days off next week). So I made -leftovers in the fridge dinner - using all the leftover veggies. I made onion, mushroom and eggplant stir fry with elbows pasta and I fried up some fish. It turned out pretty well. With some kefir and 1/2 yogurt that Tanya didn't finish for her dinner, it was a nice dinner overall.

And now that Tanya is asleep I'm going to sneak in some episodes of 'Agents of Shield' I'm on Season 2 episode 9. This season has been very very good. This show has been on a roll since the second half of Season 1. I can't exactly binge on it but this show is like watching one really long movie.
bearshorty: (Default)
Last week went pretty quickly and I wanted to do a recap of it.

Monday, June 15th was Bear's birthday. It was a pretty quiet day since it was rainy. Bear took a day off from work so we just hung out. I gave him my presents in the morning which ended up being pretty much books - 2 superman graphic novels he wanted, a Shel Silverstein book he was nostalgic about and had on his wishlist, Ethan Watters' "Crazy like Us" (which is about exportation of American cultural concepts of psychological disease to the rest of the world and problems with that - I've taught a chapter about Japan last semester and thought Bear would like it), and Reza Aslan' "Zealot: Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth." We had Malaysian food as take out - I had ginger duck soup, indian pancake and noodles dish. Nice quiet bday.

On Tuesday I had a doctor's appointment (just a yearly check-up), so my Mom came over for that hour. My doctor's office is now all electronic, which happened in Tanya's pediatrician office this year too. My doctor helped me set up an app on my phone as part of the visit. It is pretty cool - by Saturday I could just access my lab work myself on my phone. (Still anemic - my Mom brought me more meat to eat.) It's neat but the potential for hacks is worrisome. Best part - since it was preventive visit, no copay.

On Wednesday, I made turkey meatloaf, eggplant and pasta as part of Bear's birthday week dinner. I wasn't a big fan of meatloaf in the past. I didn't grow up with it. I made it once before and it wasn't that great. But this time it turned out fantastic. I looked at a few recipes online and combined them, kept it in the oven a bit longer and Bear just loved it. I put green pepper in it and fried the onion beforehand. I will definitely make it again. I wrote out the recipe I used in my recipe book.

Thursday and Friday were pretty quiet.

This weekend was really really good.

On Saturday Bear and I had a date - first in like 6 months. My parents came over early and took over Tanya duty and we had a chance to get ready for the day. We left at noon and got back at 7 30. First, we had 'Hedwig' musical on Broadway. We took a subway and ate our sandwiches on the way. Bear almost lost his Grand Canyon hat in the Times Square station but crisis was averted. He paid an extra fare to go back and luckily spotted it. After the musical we wondered around and went to a bookstore. There was a Barnes and Noble nearby. I haven't been to a bookstore in so long, maybe a year and it just wonderful to browse. I even got a new blank notebook on sale.

Then we hit a bit of a snag with the food. I found this Indian place online and the prices looked reasonable on online menu. When we got there the prices on outside menu were only a dollar more so we went in. And it looked nice. But prices on actual menu were $5 higher. So we left. Argh. I hate that move by restaurant. It took us a while to find something else and by then we were short on time. We ended up at a pizza place and I had eggplant parmigian hot sandwich. Not the best option but good enough. We got back to a sleepy baby and it was really nice just to have time out.

On Sunday, Father's Day, we traveled to Long Island for the day to visit Bear's parents. Father's Day is big in his family. Bear himself was born on Father's Day so his family always combines Father's Day with a birthday party. And it was Bear's 1st Father's Day as a Dad. I gave him a card - that is the extent I'm willing to indulge a fake holiday. There was no traffic and we made good time. After Tanya ate, Bear's parents were heading to church. They are very Catholic. And Bear indulges his Mom and goes to church when he visits.(he doesn't mention to her that he doesn't really go anymore). I didn't want to be home alone with Tanya for an hour -I get enough of that during the week - and I figured she likes seeing new places and people - so I decided we would go too. I think it made his mother's day. Tanya did like seeing all the stain glass windows and did pretty well. For me going to church is a social observation thing, although congregation chanting creed is creepy. And I don't mind Tanya being exposed to. She should learn about all religions. We decided long ago that Tanya can pick her own religion if any when she grows up. I'm Jewish and atheist, Bear grew up Catholic and is now agnostic.

Bear's brother and his girlfriend came over in the afternoon. They have chickens and bees so we got eggs and tasty, tasty fresh honey. Yay. There was a nice dinner with steaks. Tanya had some hummus for a snack. There were presents and ice cream cake. We didn't get home until 9 30, and Tanya didn't want to fall asleep in the car until 9, but it was a very nice day overall. Great weekend.

So that was last week. Tomorrow I will do a book post, including Dante chapters from last week.


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