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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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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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Happy Hanukkah to all who celebrate!

We lit the electric candles today (didn't want to risk actual fire around a toddler), listened to Hanukkah songs on the radio party the classical station had, and I made potato pancakes or draniki (it's a Belorussian word for potato pancakes or latkes, one of the few Belorussian words I still use). They were pretty delicious. Draniki with sour cream is one of my favorite foods. I don't make them a lot - grating is annoying - but I sure love to eat them. Tanya had one today too, although she mostly wanted to lick the sour cream off.

I finish my semester on Friday, so this week will be pretty busy as I need to finish all the grading. My students are writing a two day final exam and I already put together the question, so I will just have to sit there and grade. I should have graded more this weekend - I only managed a few papers - but my mind was just not cooperating. I'm hoping to have about 5 or 6 done tomorrow. Maybe even up to 8.

Last week went by pretty fast. We put together the mortgage application on Thursday - I spent all Thursday morning photocopying. So many documents. The Board Application next month will be even more paperwork. On Saturday, my parents, Tanya and I went to visit the apartment we are buying again to take some measurements for the possible renovations. There are just so many hoops to jump that I'm not getting excited or planning until we get approved by the board but my parents want to pick a lot of stuff now like possible appliances and tile. The board might decide we don't make enough or something and turn us down, although we have no problem paying our rent now, and the new amount will be pretty much the same. Because our Realtor lives in the building and know the president of the board, it will probably be fine, but still I don't want to overthink it. I was very good about contacting people for references as soon as I printed the board requirements - I usually get anxiety when I have to ask and put it off, but not this time. Yay.

I wrote my fanfic story for RS Small Gifts - right on time for my extension, so I do feel I had a productive week overall.

I did get to watch a bit of TV last week. I watched first three episodes of Jessica Jones, and episodes of Supergirl , Supernatural and Grimm .

TV

Jessica Jones S1E1-3 )

Supergirl S1E5-6 )

Supernatural S11E8 )

Grimm S1E5 )

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November 24th seems to be an auspicious day for me. I should buy a lottery ticket tomorrow. I had to look it up to see if the dates matched up and they did. Bear first told me he loved me on November 24, 1998 - I just remembered it as Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Then 15 years later, on November 24, 2013, I took a pregnancy test and discovered we were having Tanya. And tomorrow, we are putting money down to buy our first place - a two bedroom apartment. It is not guaranteed - the place is in a co-op, so we will need board approval and we still need to get approved for a mortgage - but if everything goes according to plan we can move by the spring (after lots of renovations first). So very adult of us.

My Mom had this wild plan to get the house across the street from them. But we would need to make a lot more to afford that place - it has a studio to rent out but we can't just depend on a tenant to cover the bills. Looking at that place and thinking about it though just reaffirmed the decision to get an apartment for now. And the place we looked at before but turned down, decided the accept our lower offer, so I called today and set everything up.

I had a very busy weekend because I had to finish grading (and go to the dentist for my crown replacement. I get anxiety going to the dentist so I'm glad that's done for now). Now I'm all done with grading this set and have a free holiday week ahead of me. Yay. We came over my parents' place yesterday to see that house and Tanya and I stayed, while Bear went home. My Dad drove me to work today and picked me up. Tomorrow we are going back home and then on Wednesday morning, we are leaving for Bear's parents for Thanksgiving. Lots of travel. We also went to visit my grandparents on Sunday morning - so pretty busy.

But I am really looking forward to just relaxing, enjoying the holiday, working on my story for RS Small gifts, and maybe finding time to cross stitch. I'm also making inroads in the Hamilton biography - it was pretty gripping reading about how the states voted to accept the Constitution. I know what should happen but I'm really enjoying the details and realizing just how contentious and uncertain early American history was.

TV: Reviews with spoilers
Supergirl S1E4 )

Supernatural S11E7 )

Grimm S5E4 )
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On Monday, Bear's Dad had back surgery (he's doing well, home already) and it rearranged our whole week. This week was a rare week during a semester where Bear had a regular schedule and didn't have to work evenings or Saturday. So he was just going to be home every night. But with his Dad's surgery, his Mom didn't really want to be home alone at night.

So we decided that he would just stay over there all week, while Tanya and I went to my parents in an unscheduled visit. My parents came to get her while I went to work on Monday and just drove us back this morning.

Monday for me turned out more tiresome too. Originally, I was just going to go straight to my parents's house after work. But the government was too efficient for once, since it was jury duty related. I filled out my questioner on Saturday and by Monday afternoon they sent me an email with instructions to send proof of past jury service, since I was claiming it as an exception.

The trouble was that I had to send it within 5 days and the proof letter was at home. So I had to go all the way home and then take trains and a bus to get to my parents. I was travelling for over 4 hours from work to their house when I only could have been travelling for 2. Well, at least I got to read my book before I got too tired.

I'm almost done with 'Fun Home'. I'm really loving it. After Chapter 2, most other chapters use classic literature like Fitzgerald and Wilde and Joyce to present this relationship between the author and her father. It is such an erudite book. I want to get the sequel too. I keep showing this book to my work colleagues and recommending it.

On Thursday, I stayed at work later since my Dad was picking me up. I opened the time to my students to come to special office hours by appointment, and in between had a good time chatting with my colleague Larry, who is really well read and we often talk about books and classical music. I also, it seems, watch new episodes of Supernatural on Thursday morning during my actual office hour, since no one usually comes that early. Works for me.

Supernatural S11E3 )

I also managed to watch 'How to Train Your Dragon 2" yesterday. It was a cute movie but the big reveal in the middle of the movie which provided the emotional beat of the film was revealed in the trailer so I think that spoiler actually ruined the impact of it. And I really couldn't sympathize with Valka at all - I think her son and husband forgave her too easily.

Today, we also finally got our new futon for the living room. It got delivered right on schedule too. Our old couch was all flaky and really needed to be replaced for a while. I like this new one that Bear picked. It's green and soft and quite comfortable.

Other than Monday and finishing up grading midterms, I have no grading until next Thursday. It's so nice. I feel like I'm on vacation. I love having small classes. I mean, I still have to prep the class and answer emails about drafts and hold office hours but it's so much less stressful. I had time to write a fic.
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30 Days of Me Meme

Day 28: Your to-do list

Well, my to-do list is pretty short since I finished most of the things I needed to do this week. So the next few days, I need to grade 5 midterms a day, I need to make soup for Tanya tomorrow, and cook for me and Bear on Saturday and call the dentist to set up an appointment to replace a crown. And catch up on RS Games stories.

30 Days of Fanfic Meme

28 – Have you ever collaborated with anyone else, whether writing together, or having an artist work on a piece about your fic?

I was supposed to collaborate with an artist on the History Big Bang I did a few years ago. But the artist never submitted the work based on my story - so I guess that didn't work out. Other than that I never really collaborated with others.

Supernatural S11E2 )

On the train home today I was reading Alison Bechdel's "Fun Home." It's really, really good. I can certainly see why it's so acclaimed. I like the discussion of different authors and philosophers in between the ordinary too. Chapter 2 made me contemplate the nature of grief and upset and how I reacted when my grandmother died or when my Dad got diagnosed with thyroid cancer 5 years ago (he is great now. Great 5 year check up a few weeks ago. Yay!). I don't cry at stressful moments, my head gets super logical and I go into problem solving mode with lots of research. But I do remember that when my grandmother died, that whole first day was surreal in the way I perceived time and just sensitivity to the environment and the different way my brain seemed to work.

RS Games rec. I read this story today called fell in love once and almost completely and it was absolutely brilliant. This is the summary: "When Remus is four, his father kills a werewolf in front of him. Eleven years later, he meets an unfamiliar boy with a scarred face and a secret." This is the story of what happens if Remus wasn't a werewolf but Sirius was. All the characters - Remus, James, Peter, Snape, Sirius - are perfectly themselves but different due to circumstance. It is such an original and fresh take on the Marauder's story. And a lovely romance too. I highly recommend it.
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30 Days of Me Meme

Day 23: Your life now compared to three years ago

Three years ago Bear and I just got married and got an apartment in Brooklyn. Now we have a toddler, so life is very, very different. My life very much revolves around my daughter right now. Work wise, I'm still at the same job teaching writing but three years ago I also taught two history classes, which I don't do now since it didn't pay high enough to pay for childcare. So I'm working part time now.

30 Days of Fanfic Meme

23 – When you post, where do you post to? Just your journal? Just an archive? Your own personal site?

When I started posting I would post to my Dreamwidth and to FF.net. Then I started cross posting to LJ too. In 2012, I switched to AO3. I post there and then I make a link in my Masterpost on Dreamwidth.

TV

Supernatural S11E1 )

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015 08:28 pm
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We got back home yesterday. We left in the afternoon instead of evening like we originally planned and that was a really good call. Bear's parents got chinese food for lunch and gave us food for dinner too and then we were of. We got back by 3 and I could unpack and Bear had time to go to the Russian store to get me groceries for the week. I need my bread. And veggies lIke eggplant and mushrooms. I want to make pee soup at some point too so I needed some leaks.

He left this afternoon until Sunday night and I'm just home alone with Tanya. My parents are coming back from their vacation on Thursday, so they will come visit on Friday. Until then it's just the two of us for a few days. I made her her soup this morning while tomorrow I will cook for myself.

On Sunday, Bear was home and while he took Tanya for a walk I sat on the back porch of his parents' house and read Neil Gaiman. And in the evening I had him sit with her so I could finally finish the book. I've been reading it only on the train to work and then got distracted by Russian Sci fi. It is also easier for me to read me Kindle lately because of baby needing me at night and reading by flashlight. But I finally finished it. I read all the short stories in order. I want to do a separate review but overall it was a good collection but not my favorite. I was anticipating the twists in most of the stories. They still managed to surprise me a bit but it just felt familiar. I did enjoy the latest story about Shadow.

I also finally managed to finish watching the last two episodes of Supernatural Season 10 today. The finale was pretty intense. The emotion and twists were pretty good. The scene between Sam and Dean with Death watching was particularly well done.

On Sunday afternoon, Bear, his Mom, Tanya and I drove into the local town center. It's just one main street and a park by the docks. It's very American to me. And really nice for an outing. We took Tanya on the swings; she saw and interacted with a 10 months old beagle puppy. Bear used to have a beagle and his Mom struck a conversation with the owner of a puppy when we came over. While I'm afraid of dogs, I'm fine when they are on the leash with owners nearby. And I don't want Tanya to have my phobia. And she was smiling widely and trying to touch and pet the dog. It was cute. Bear then drove his Mom home, while I waiting in the park for him to come back. Tanya draws a lot of smiles being a baby. Then when Bear came back, we walked in the town and got frozen custard to share. It was perfect for a Memorial Day weekend outing.

My friend Marianna got me a few Kindle books from my wish list for my birthday. My birthday is not until next week but she doesn't know how the Kindle delivery system works. So I got early awesome presents. I get to read a biography of Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow, 'Madame Curie Complex: the hidden history of women in science' by Julie des Jardins, and 'Defending the City of God: A Medieval queen, the first crusade and the quest for peace in Jerusalem' by Sharan Newman.

I couldn't get Internet access on my laptop in Long Island so when I got home I also finally could sign up for RS Games, my favorite fan fest. (Remus/Sirius fest). The theme this year is Sky. I can't wait for prompts.
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For the first time in over a month I have a weekend (Thur night to Mon morning) free from grading. After grading Paper 3, commenting on Rough Draft 4 and grading Paper 4, I handed everything back and won't need to grade until Monday when I get the final Paper 5. Well, I do have a couple of Paper 4th next week from students who fudged formatting and I gave them some wiggleroom on the important Paper 4, but still it was very nice to just sit with my laptop last night and watch the latest "Supernatural" episode instead of grading by flashlight.

It does get a bit tedious grading 40 papers of the same variety because only maybe 4 people would say something original. Thesis looks pretty much the same in the rest of the class. Original thought and looking at authors critically is hard - it is much easier just to parrot back the argument of the authors without questioning. Also students were pissing me off by messing with margins. Seriously, you submit your paper online too - I am capable of pulling up your online copy and checking your formatting. I read gazillion papers, I can tell when it's Times Roman 13 instead of 12. Also, when I say that I will hold extra office hours from 2 to 5, which I really don't have to do, don't email me to ask if you can set up an appointment for 1:45. I do love teaching and I love seeing my students really learn something over the course of the semester - most can now organize their paper and there are a lot of Bs - but sometimes I just want to shake my head.

I signed up for final Folder Review today, which will be the official end of the semester for me when I submit all the grades. I'll be done on May 11th. Very excited. I can focus on the job hunt more then. I can come back to teach in the fall, they want me back and I'm already on the schedule - but I really do need a full time job with a shorter commute.

Job hunting is such a frustrating process. More so since every online "helpful" article pretty much says that only 10% get the job from online job adds, the rest from networking and referral. I am terrible at networking. I did set up a LinkedIn profile but I still need to figure out how to use that better. I want to switch fields too, so that seems also almost impossible. I know I need to be positive and keep searching but the whole process does not feel that optimistic. At least, I would be able to give it more of a fair shot once the semester is over.

One more personal front, I finally managed to go to my hairdresser to get my hair colored with highlights and get a haircut. In my family early gray is common and I was tired of my graying roots. I didn't color my hair until I was 32 but now I do it periodically. I keep as close to my natural brown color as I can. And when I get my haircut, the hairdresser does a blow out and my hair looks nice and straight and normal sized for a few days and not giant and unruly. (I have lots and lots of big poofy hair and I rarely have patience to style it. I usually just pull it up into a bun. And for a few days after a haircut, I wear my hair loose).

Also, as of a week ago, I finally stepped on the scale after a few months, and I'm back at my pre-pregnancy weight! I don't have to get a new wardrobe at all and that feels good because I hate clothes shopping. I don't usually care much about the scale or my weight, just as long as my pants still fit.

When I was looking up mondegreen on Wikipedia when writing my last post, I realized that I always misheard Alanis Morrissette's "You Oughta Know" song. Instead of "cross I bear" I always heard "cross-eyed bear," like I genuinely thought the guy gave her a bear and it held sentimental meaning she is reminding him off.

On a more silly news in TV and book world:

TV

The idea of a Full House sequel on Netflix makes me happy. I know that show is super corny and ridiculous at times but the very first episode of American TV I saw when we came to New York (we immigrated 22 years ago yesterday! on April 23rd)and bought a TV was the episode where Steve took DJ to his prom. We didn't really understand much dialogue in the episode but we did understand "I love you". And that show was one of the first shows I watched here - I learned English from it. So I will watch the sequel for sure.

Grimm continues to have a nice season. I'm not sure if I like the Evil Juliette story overall nor her downward spiral, but I do like that she has her own storyline and she's allowed to feel things about it and not let men to tell her how she should respond to the upheaval in her life. It is certainly better than her non-presence in the first season. And as long as the show gives me happy married Monroe and Rosalee, I'm happy. I think Trouble and Nick's Mom will come back in the finale, so I'm looking forward to that. Not sure what is going on with Renald at all.

Supernatural in the last few episode started to gain momentum again. I even liked Rowena in the last episode and she was getting annoying before. And it was wonderful to see Bobby and now Benny again. And Charlie always rocks. I'm looking forward to the cliffhanger of the finale. I do think Crowley will die this time for real.

Books

Among my intense grading spree and limited time, I did manage to finish Oliver Sacks' An Anthropologist on Mars I liked it less than The Minds' Eye but it still had a lot of interesting moments and made me think a lot. It is a book of seven case studies that make the reader think of self and how we construct it and what happens if our brain works differently. The seven case studies were: colorblind painter, guy stuck in the 60s due to tumor and inability to form memories but who likes and responds to music, a person who was able to see practically for the very first time in his life, a surgeon with Tourette's, a painter whose brain made him remember and relive his childhood hometown in vivid obsessive detail, an autistic savant, and a woman with Asperger's.

As with many other work by Sacks it just makes you think about your own brain and construction of the world and what it means to see in color, form memories, see, be emotional and it lets you get into the mind of people who don't respond 'normally.' Its creepy, scary and fascinating. My favorite chapter was about a man named Virgil who was blind since very early childhood and after the age of 40 gained the ability to see for pretty much the first time in his life. It wasn't magic - bandages off and you understand the world. It was really hard to figure out what he was seeing because the brain needs to learn to interpret shapes and distances etc. He was well adjusted blind and now with vision he felt he had more of a disability while learning to use it. Like correlating and identifying shapes visually. It is just interesting to realize the whole process behind seeing that we don't even realize because we just take those brain connections for granted.
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Recap of my books/movies/music and cooking for the week:

Books

I'm still on Thomas Hardy's Far from the Madding Crowd , maybe 40% in. I don't have much time to read and while I do like the book, it's not the kind I want to devour.It is interesting that when I tried reading the book several years ago I didn't like Bathsheba too much but I find her much more interesting now. I do have to reread some sentences due to Hardy's prose. I am determined to finish the book this time and I'm holding the next two books up as motivation.

I bought Neil Gaiman's Trigger Warning and Sharon Kay Penman's The King's Ransom just a few weeks ago. I buy all Penman's books in paperback since that is how I bought the first few ones and I want my selves to match. And both Gaiman and Penman paperback just came out. I want to read both so much, so they are my incentive to finish Hardy. I generally love Gaiman's short stories. I picked Fragile Things when I attended his talk at the New Yorker festival a few years ago so he could sign it. Can't wait.

Music

To get free Amazon shipping for my books I also got Carole King's Tapestry CD. As usual when I get new music I listen to it on a loop. It really is a fantastic album.

TV

Not a too much regular TV this week as both Supernatural and Grimm are on hiatus.

Downton Abbey. I'm really enjoying the season. Just one episode left. I really like the Dowager and Isabel friendship and that Edith finally got just a bit of happiness. Rose also grew on me this season. Don't care about the Bates plot. Anna deserve some happiness too at some point.

Glee. I managed to watch this week by staying with Tanya until almost 9 in the room and only then sneaking out. She's been having separation anxiety I think. Bedtime was a bit of struggle all week. Well, she is 7 months. It will pass one day. Anyway, I enjoyed watching the episode despite in being so newbie focused. It is not an episode I'd rewatch or care too much in the long run, but it was entertaining. Spencer's crush was cute. Alistair is 18 in real life, though? He looks much older. Songs were fun. I hope Klaine had an awesome honeymoon.

Spartacus I just finished Episode 9 in the first season. The show is rather graphic. Especially the violence in the last few episodes. But I'm enjoying it overall. And as is often the case, I don't care that much for the main character but others I find interesting. I love Lucy Lawless. Not a show I will rewatch or obsess about but I'm glad I gave it another chance.

Cooking
I mainly made two more complex dishes this week. I cooked more, obviously, since takeout is a rare, rare thing. I also made fish, eggplant stir fry and potatoes but that's pretty easy. I did fry the left over boiled potatoes yesterday, a very tasty treat I haven't done in a while. I love potatoes in any form.

Today I made chicken tetrazzine (spaghetti, chicken, and mushrooms baked in creamy sauce). I used the Betty Crocker recipe but I used fresh mushrooms (which I fried), water instead of chicken broth and sherry and 2% organic milk instead of heavy cream. Good call on the milk since the sauce was heavy enough with the butter. It came out really well and my pasta loving husband was very happy. Definitely a keeper.

I also made Chickpeas Rice Soup with Cabbage on Friday. My mother-in-law found this recipe and made her version on Valentine's day when we visited and she printed the recipe for me. She found it online. I had actual chickpeas that had to be used, not a can, and I had some leftover cabbage so this was a perfect use. The soup was a bit too thick for me but definitely filling. I'm not a giant fan of cabbage soups but I would probably make it again.
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I am over this winter. It's snowing again and it's cold and we haven't really been able to take outside walks for a while. And another week of cold approaches. I really can't wait for spring.

My main grading for Paper 1 is done (just 4 late ones left) and I can breathe a bit with work until Thursday, when I get Paper 2. Until then, I'm enjoying a low stress weekend. It's Oscar weekend too, which I have to remind myself off since I keep forgetting. I don't know how much I will get to watch. Tanya has been having sleep trouble, needing me to sit with her more in the evenings and sometimes even at night (like 2am last night). I just remind myself that this stage won't last forever and one day she will sleep through the night. One day.

Yesterday, she fell asleep quickly at 7:30 and just needed a pat on the head at 8:30, and I though maybe. I waited for the Glee wedding all week - it was a very slow moving week because of the anticipation - I was not missing it. But right on cue, 9pm, wah, wah. She doesn't settle if Bear goes in, not since month 3. He tries but she just wants either me or Grandma. Luckily, we had a plan. I don't usually do this but I turned all living room lights off except the TV, muted the TV, put my TV wireless ears on and held her in my arms in the swirling computer chair through the whole show. After a bit, she settled in and slept on me and I got to watch my show and squeal in delight, internally, of course. She woke up when I went to put her in the crib and I fed her to settle her in, of course. Still, Glee is the only show I watch live and I got to watch it.

Other shows like Grimm or Supernatural or Downton Abbey are online the next day. It is really annoying to wait 8 days to see a missed episode, especially since then you can't really appreciate the next aired episode (I like to watch in order). I stopped watching a lot of ABC shows when they moved to 8 day system. I don't want to pay for free TV other than Netflix and I don't want to download illegally.

Here is my music/books/TV recap for the week:

Music
With the whole Hedwig news (and Bear totally got tickets for June 13th, even if he is not directly telling me about it! Yay!), I wanted to listen to the music. So I got the original cast recording on iTunes and has listened to it at least 5 times now. When cooking (mashed sweet potatoes are so tasty), as dinner music, with Papa in the car on the way back from work etc. It is definitely a lot of fun. I did not get Neil Patrick Harris version even though I adore him because I do think the original is better. I actually like the country feel of "Sugar Daddy."

Books
Only one book really. With the grading, I don't have a lot of time to read right now. But I did finish Isaac Asimov's Foundation . I didn't really like it that much. Maybe three out of five stars at best. There were parts that were interesting in the beginning but the second half of the book, in particular, dragged and didn't interest me that much. It was a bit boring, especially the parts about trade. But mostly the lack of women took me so much out of the story. I know this book was written in the 1950s but it was still too much. There are only two female characters that come in at the last quarter of the book. One is a handmaiden who just tries on jewelry and says "oh" and the other is a wife of a political leader who nags him on behalf of her father. Her motivations are not even hers. I like a lot of Asimov other stuff - I adore his short stories. But I am not going to read the rest of his most famous series.

TV
Supernatural S10E14 That was a very, very good episode. Good emotional beats, especially from Dean. Great job by Cain and a very disturbing prediction for the storyline. I don't think they will actually kill Cas, but Crowley - perhaps.

Glee S6E8 I was spoiled for the storyline - for the whole season really. And I'm very glad for it, because knowing the arc and when reconciliation would happen made me enjoy the angst. I watch this show mainly for Kurt and Blaine. I'm so heavily invested in them emotionally that last night was such a delight. When they broke up in Season 4, with no timeline for getting back together, there was actual heartache. Fic was the way of survival. Season 6 is much better. Their storyline got room to breathe (except last night, which was a bit fast paced), we saw growth and development in both characters in every episode and there is happiness in their happiness. So many things were handled well by the writers this season. And this wedding was lovely. I just like seeing my OTP happy. I want more than was shown on screen, of course, but that is what fanfiction is for. All those missing conversations.
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I officially went back to work last Thursday. It is part-time, 2 classes, two days a week. I'm definitely over the commute - I want to find something closer. I have to get up at 5:30 to pump before I even start getting ready to leave - I don't need much to actually leave the house: get dressed, brush teeth and hair, put tea in thermos and go. I get a bagel with cream cheese on the way and I do very limited make-up. Still 5:30 is a bit early. And two plus hours one way gets tedious despite the fact that I can do work on the train. Especially when I get up several times a night to change a diaper and feed a baby, waking up early is not fun. And the next day after I went back to work, Tanya started waking up at night a little more again - she was getting better at sleep but I guess she wants to check that I'm still there.

She also refused the bottle and would only eat from a spoon. I think we solved that problem a bit today - I replaced the bottle nipple with a larger size. Hopefully, tomorrow she will eat better. She fills up at night so she can afford to go on strike during the day. My Mom is already here, staying overnight. She is staying until Thursday actually because of the expected snowstorm. Joy.

New thing this weekend - Bear and I started feeding Tanya veggies from a jar. Menu yesterday and today was organic squash. Tanya loves it. She is an adventurous one, just ate it up and didn't spit it out or anything. So now she gets solids twice a day. Cereal of some kind: oatmeal, rice, buckwheat or quinoa at 11am and veggie or fruit at 3pm. We'll see how it goes.

Now for more fun stuff: TV and books.

TV (I watched this week)

1. Supernatural S10E10: I actually watched this week's episode live for a change. I like the whole dark Dean. I can't stand Metatron and I was hoping Dean would kill him but no such luck. He is just so swarmy. Rowena is a fun manipulator and I'm curious where that storyline is going. I like the season so far.

2. Glee S6E4 It's funny that the reaction to this episode is so different depending on the audience and if you get the joke. The comments on mainstream reviews on EW or TVline hate the episode because they think the writers are coming up with ridiculous plots. The fandom on Tumblr was just loving it. I was giggling like a silly person throughout the episode trying to keep it down so as not to wake up the baby. I thought it was hysterical. There was a lot of meta and I don't think we are supposed to take this show seriously at all anyway. Definitely an episode of joy. Who can't love a bear cub? And there was a nice Klaine scene - and that shrine of Sue was just awesome. Love the season so far.

3. Grimm S4E10 This season is on the roll too. Nice and suspenseful episode where everyone got to be a badass and kill some evil dudes. While I knew the Monroe would survive, there was still tension and really nice scenes. Both Rosalee and Juliette got to be in the power walk and neither sat on the sidelines. I like Juliette's storyline so far of turning into a Hexenbeast - at least she is not pregnant - but I hope she doesn't hide it from Nick. And isn't the solution here is too simple - Nick can get rid of her powers like he did with Adeline. I am glad that Wu was finally brought in - I like it when characters on the show actually communicate with each other and work together.

Books

Well, one book really. I barely have time to read as it is. I'm reading Tim Wu's The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires . One of the chapters is included in our textbook for the writing program and I loved reading it. I'm going to teach it later in the semester. But the chapter intrigued me enough that I wanted to read the whole book. I went online, and in a few minutes borrowed the book on my Kindle from the library. Technology is awesome.

Tim Wu is a proponent of the net neutrality and of the open communication system (decentralized, cooperative) as opposed to the closed system (monopoly, centralized control of information). In this book he traces the communication technologies of the twentieth century and sees a Cycle that starts with an open system which closes on monopolies and then get opened again. While he acknowledges that monopolies that strive for public good can bring in some good in research, etc, he believes that ultimately closed systems stifle research and progress because monopolies refuse to develop, and actually repress, new technologies that can potentially topple them (like radio did with FM radio and the television). He also traces the role of government because information empires at its height have to be supported by the state. For him, information should never be in a closed system because while corporations are about profit, what's at stake is free speech. He traces the telephone, radio, movie, television, cable and internet from their inventions to present day. It is certainly an interesting read. He is writing for general audience and his explanations of how each technology works is very clear and awesome. Part history book, part theory, part advocacy for net neutrality it is enjoyable.
bearshorty: (Default)
Yesterday, for like 4 hours, we had to make a decision that we went back and forth on. My parents were hanging out with me most of the day, since my Dad had a day off and I have someone on baby/drive to the hospital duty most of the time. My doctor called around 11:30. He has to go out of town for most Saturday eve/Sunday/ early Monday for whatever reason and while he lined up a substitute doctor, since I'm pretty dilated already and can really go at any moment, he offered for me to come to the hospital that evening and he can break the water and let my labor start, etc.

It had the appeal of controlled drive to the hospital in Manhattan, which with traffic, is going to be tricky enough. And both my aunt and cousin, who is a doctor, thought it would be a good idea (my aunt had to have her water broken to start labor with one of hers). But it is still a week to due date, it is not like she is late. And my thought was, what if breaking the water won't immediately start labor and will lead to more intervention, which I really want to try to avoid.

My parents and I were both ambivalent and so was Bear - but Bear was pretty much letting me decide. So we consulted many people and thought about it and finally I went with my gut, like Yeva suggested and decided to wait for labor to start naturally. The only reason to do this is doctor's schedule really, not medical necessity. The baby is doing ok and she is not ready to come out yet. And it is not past due date. And, ultimately, I'm ok with having a different doctor do the delivery, if it comes to that, and if she want to come out before Tuesday.

So now we wait some more.

And this morning, after waking up at 6, as usual, I watched the final episodes of Season 8 of "Supernatural" which means I have now seen all the episodes and have officially caught up. Season 6 was my least favorite, the show started lagging then and didn't pick up for me until a little into Season 7. I did like Season 8 overall. So now I'm done with this project. I started in October, according to this blog, so this was a long project. Now I'm just watching the original Star Trek episodes with Bear when we eat dinner and SYTYCD on Wednesdays. I feel pretty good about stepping away from TV, which is not something I thought I would say even 4 years ago. But every year I watch less and less. I want to focus on books more and with the baby I won't have much time anyway.
bearshorty: (Default)
I've been playing a waiting day since Tuesday and I'm getting very tired of it. I just want to go into labor already and get it over with. During my weekly doctor's appointment on Tuesday, my doctor discovered that I was already dilated and pretty much told me I could go into labor even that night or pretty much at any moment. Which, of course, put us all on alert. But after my Mom talked to some other family members, I think it is pretty genetic in our family. My aunt's doctor told her that she was dilated and would give birth soon and then she was pregnant for two more weeks. My second cousin - a week after the doctor told her. So this rush for me isn't really necessary. I had to go to the doctor Thursday again, just in case, and not much has changed. But I do have instructions to go to hospital right away when any contractions start, not to wait to call the doctor first. My stomach is getting more and more uncomfortable, though, so I do just want to start already.

When Bear is not at work, my Mom or both my parents have been hanging out with me, so they could drive me to the hospital, if necessary. And last week, well from Thursday to this Tuesday, I was staying with my parents in Staten Island because Bear had one of those meetings at work where he works really late and stays at his parents' house. I go for little walks - 20 minutes is maximum for me. I'm trying to finish up "Supernatural" on Netflix - 6 episodes left of Season 8 (and I watched Season 9 live), and I finished reading Sharon Kay Penman's "Lionheart" which I wanted to get to for several years (when it came out in hardback I read 50 pages before returning the book to the library and then I waited to buy it in paperback, since I own all her books in paperback.) I finished the book last night - I've been doing great with reading this summer.

I did like "Lionheart" quite a lot but then I love Penman - she is my favorite historical fiction writer and reading "When Christ and His Saints Slept" quite randomly when I was 15 (it was on a library shelf of new books and I just picked it up) is what sold me on studying English medieval history in the first place. She does a lot of research and most of her stuff is very historically accurate and she makes it easy to understand complicated medieval relationships. In this case, I feel I got a great handle on the Third Crusade - much more than when I was even teaching it and she did have a good take on Richard I. Reading the Author's note made me miss history and studying it - reading that bibliography in the back of her book just makes me want to read all the books.
bearshorty: (Default)
I was all ready to post in the evening about the delicious Ethiopian Cabbage Dish I was making for dinner. And how I finished the third season of "Supernatural" and finally got to Castiel. Or watching "Rent" and "Pacific Rim."

But all of that is pretty trivial. Bear's Grandma died yesterday. She was 96 years old, one month shy of 97. This wasn't unexpected. She wasn't doing well in the last month. But it is still sad. She had a long life. She was one of nine siblings. She raised a daughter. And her grandchildren have good memories of her. She was very religious (Catholic) so I hope that brought her peace and comfort. Rest in peace, Carolina.

We are going to head to Long Island on Monday to say goodbye. I will go to the wake after work, but I will have to head back to work on Tuesday morning and won't be able to make the funeral itself. Bear will go to both, of course. At least that is what we are thinking right now.
bearshorty: (Default)
Well, today totally qualifies as the strangest first day of class I've had. New York is covered in many many inches of snow right now and it is affecting everything. It was already snowing at 8am when I met up with Rosemary for our commute to University for the orientation for the Writing Program we as teachers needed to go to. The drive there was pretty good, despite a bit of snow. But it was clear as early as 10am that the snow would only get worse.

I did manage to get copying done and talk to administrators I had to talk to and after the orientation I took a campus bus to the new campus I'm teaching on. I've never really been to that part of University, so I stopped by the Student Center to explore my food options (very nice ones with pizza and Chinese and burgers and nice cafe) where I had pizza and then took the bus a few more stops to my building.

I had maybe an hour and a half before class and I spent most of it chatting with another teacher, also waiting for her class as we were figuring out the classrooms and the buildings neither of us been in before. It was there that we found out that the University cancelled classes after 3pm. One of my classes ends at 3pm and another starts at 3:20. So I send a homework mass email to my second cancelled class and actually got to teach the first. They were mostly writing a Writing Sample, so first day is pretty easy.

Once I found out that I will be done at 3, I called my Dad who works maybe an hour away. He wanted to pick me us since he was leaving work early and then I could stay at my parents' house. The problem was that he came across two accidents and massive snow and it took him 4 hours to get to me, finally picking me up at 5pm. I had my Kindle with me, at least, which I read while I waited. (I got Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling out of the online library yesterday). It took us a bit to get to his house too. But finally, after much careful driving, we made it safely.

Tomorrow will be super cold with lots of snow on the ground. Local College cancelled morning classes until 11. So one of my history classes is cancelled tomorrow while I have to go in at 1pm. My Dad is working from his house tomorrow, so he can drive me. My problem is that most of my notes for the intro class are at my place, so I will just have to wing it tomorrow unless Local College would cancel afternoon classes too. We'll see.

At least in the evening I was able to catch up to "Teen Wolf" on my parents' computer and watch a new episode of "Supernatural" on their very large TV.
bearshorty: (Default)
I went to Park Slope this morning to have a late breakfast with my friend Rosemary. We were supposed to have lunch last week but Rosemary felt under the weather, so we rescheduled. We went into this cute diner called Dizzy's with very delicious food. I had an omelet with baby spinach and peppers, toast and home fries. Lots of home fries. Just the way I like it. And unlimited tea. So it was really good and it was very nice catching up too. I haven't seen Rosemary for a while. We work together but she took the last semester off to produce her play. This semester we are going to have a limited commute together because of the schedules but still it is better than no commute at all.

After breakfast and catching up with walked up to Prospect Park where we parted and then I walked around the park for a little bit. The weather was very nice: crispy and not too cold.

My afternoon was pretty boring. I mostly watched "Supernatural." And I read a little - I picked up the autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt again.

I do have a link to share. Papa sent it to me this morning. The Top Ten Books People Lie About Reading
(Out of that list I actually read Tale of Two Cities , 1984 ,and The Prince and I'm working on Victor Hugo. I will not touch Ayn Rand books with a ten foot pole.
bearshorty: (Default)
After watching an episode of "Supernatural" - Season 3 is OK but not as good as 2 so I'm going slower through it, I decided to see which new movies Neflix had. And then I watched "Guilt Trip" with Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen. I forgot this movie existed but I figured a comedy might be nice. And I ended up really liking it. It has a nice arc for both characters and a nice mushy ending. It was entertaining and exactly what I wanted - nothing heavy at all.

Mostly a slow day today - I don't even know what I was doing all day. I did cook a nice dinner of potatoes, fish fried in breadcrumbs and zucchini, carrot and onion stir fry. And Yeva came over for a bit for tea. (Which meant Bear and I will catch up on new episode of "Community" tomorrow. Socializing is more important)

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