Sunday, May 21, 2017

Sunday, May 21st, 2017 10:02 pm
bearshorty: (Default)
We had guests today - a sort of housewarming. Janna and her 3.5 year old daughter Jo came, and Yeva, and Marianna, Adama and their 3 kids (Galya - almost 6, Ida - same age as Tanya at 2 years and almost 10 months, and Mozen - 7 months). So we had a full house.

In the morning, I made soup and cutlets for Tanya and then attempted a Swiss Roll, while Bear and Tanya were at the playground. I really should keep off my feet, this week with the hot weather my ankles got really swollen, but I really wanted to try baking it. The cream cheese frosting was delicious but the first sponge didn't quite work because the recipe really called for a bigger pan and it wasn't as thin as it should have been, so it needed longer oven time and got a bit ruined (It does taste good but I really couldn't salvage it for guests, we will eat it ourselves). I made a simpler one and it wasn't bad - Marianna really liked it, but really not my best. I will need to try again later. We did have a watermelon for desert too, which was a hit, and grape tomatoes and cheese and crackers for appetizers. And we ordered Uzbek food again, which was super tasty. So lack of proper desert wasn't terrible and everyone had a great time.

Tanya resisted her nap today and only napped for an hour - she was pretty cranky when I woke her up but she really needed to have her snack before the guests started showing up after 4pm. The kids had a blast playing with each other and all the toys. And it was great to catch up with everyone, although hosting and some kid supervising meant a little less time with my friends than I liked.

We also had the unpleasantness with our downstairs neighbor. They complained about Tanya running around twice before - which is ridiculous. We do have carpets but in this building the sound travels. We have elephants above who play flute music late at night sometimes - we don't complain. A two year old is going to run around and play and be loud. They got spoiled with an old lady living above them for years. And their downstairs neighbors complain about them too, when my Mom asked the babysitter who works there. But I just knew today would be trouble with 4 little girls running around and playing. But they are kids and they should be able to play for 4 hours from 4pm to 8pm on a Sunday - not that late. So one of the neighbors from downstairs came to complain around 5:30 maybe. Then around dinner time they were banging on their ceiling in the kitchen too to express their displeasure. Then she came again to our door around 8pm, basically saying we should have some respect and that I did tell her the guests would be leaving around 7 etc. Excuse me, she would tell me when I should have company. We never have anyone over! This time it was Bear and Adama who got into it with her. Adama did get a little heated with her on our behalf (he felt bad about it later, but he was upset at how unreasonable this is and he knows we are not particularly confrontational people and are too polite.) Bear is just afraid that the neighbor might complain that she was threatened by a big black man who got in her face. Adama didn't touch her in any way but they were standing close to each other and it got a little heated. I had to pull him away there a bit, mostly because I don't like confrontation. So that marred the party a bit but it was still great to see everyone and I was glad to see all the girls interact. Tanya really needs more playdates; she doesn't get to play like that much, as she is mostly around adults, and I think it was great for her.

I have one more week of work before my leave, which can't come soon enough. It is not that easy to commute at 36-37 weeks. There still isn't much to do at work, but this week should be a little busier since one of the directors, Gail, needs to finish off all the contracts this week and she will give me some work to do, she promised. She's been taking me to meetings too - which is good to observe to get a hang of things. And one of the best parts of going to work is all the food around there. I got Thai food for lunch on Tuesday - rice and massaman chicken curry and eggplant veggie thing - and there was so much delicious food that I didn't even eat dinner later.

This last week was also unusual in that I had some time to myself. On Monday, Bear took Tanya to Long Island to visit his parents for a day and they only came home around 10pm (way past her bedtime, she was staggering a bit there). She was so excited to go that morning that as I was leaving for work I saw her standing in the hallway by the door with just her panties and her undershirt, holding two of her toys, wearing her sneakers, which she just put on, since she was all ready to go to see Baba Regina and pet the cats. It was very funny. And then on Tuesday morning, Bear drove her to my parents' house where she stayed until Thursday. On Wednesday, my Mom took her to the zoo. And I got almost three days entirely to myself, which hasn't happened since Tanya was born really. I mostly just lay in bed and watched TV - I caught up on Season 2 of "Sense8" which I enjoyed. And I read too - book post coming next week with 3 books. It was definitely great.
bearshorty: (Default)
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 )
bearshorty: (Default)
What I like about January 1 is that is tends to be a nice and quiet day, usually quite relaxing, like a breath you take before a new year starts.

We drove over to my parents' yesterday in the morning for the New Year celebrations. We always celebrate at home as it is a family holiday for us. We Skyped with relatives in Minsk and in California to wish them Happy New Year and just to chat and chilled a bit. Around 5:30 we all dressed up, mostly in red and pink colors, for the upcoming Rooster year, (except Bear who was a black rooster), and took lots of annual photos around the New Year fir tree. Then we had our holiday dinner. So much yummy food! My Mom made the usual olivier salad and pod-shuba (beets with herring), crab salad, fish liver salad and beets/plums/nuts salad. She also made regular veggie salad and cabbage/egg pie. And for main course there was meat french style (meat covered with potatoes and dried apricots). And there were open faced sandwiches with salmon and also with caviar. And bread, of course. So much food! (and lots of leftovers for today). In the past, I wasn't always a big fan for beets and herring classic, but I'm really into it lately.

After this giant meal, we did bedtime for Tanya and I put her to bed. I was pretty much falling asleep with her but my Dad made sure to get me up by 10:30pm to sneak out of the bedroom so I could come downstairs and have some desert - they got fruit tart cake, and there was zefir (marshmallows in chocolate), and dried fruit, with tea, of course.

Then we mostly watched TV and hung out until midnight and watched the ball drop while drinking some sparkling juice. Then I just went to bed, I was very tired. But, of course, I couldn't easily fall asleep once I was in bed and the night was a bit restless. Still, it was a good calm new years, full of deliciousness and family time, just the way I like it.

In the morning, Tanya slept in until 7:30am, but then we all got up, got dressed and went downstairs to the New Year tree to open presents that Ded Moroz (Russian Santa) left for Tanya (and a couple for Bear and I) under the tree. Tanya got 4 books (2 from me - Crocodile Gena in Russian and one of the Elephant and Piggie books in English, and 2 from my parents - both in English - 5 minute Princess Stories and When the Tiger Came to Tea). And she got a little magnet fishing game, which is also a puzzle, and a nice tea set with toy dishes, cups, tea pot, forks and spoons. She is playing with all her new toys. I got Bear a Deadpool graphic novel he wanted (we split our presents to each other in two - some for Christmas and some for New Year) and my parents got him an Amazon gift certificate. I got "Star Trek Beyond" from Bear and the last Leonard Cohen CD and a book by Stefan Zweig from my parents. I was very happy with my presents. I'm listening to Leonard Cohen right now - which is a little bittersweet.

Around 9:30am, Bear, Tanya and I went to the playground. The weather was beautiful today, not too cold, and sunny. Tanya went on her little tricycle, which she actually pedaled by herself a little bit today. It felt like the whole world was still asleep. There was no one about and very little cars on the road. We had the playground to ourselves. Well, and the three squirrels who kept chasing each other. I had fun watching them. There was also a field full of geese right outside the playground - we watched them walk around a bit in the little puddle. They had black necks and white faces with black beaks and white bellies. Tanya really liked watched them. It was just very relaxing to spend time together, chase Tanya a little around and go down a few slides. It was only when we were about to leave after 11 when someone else came. New Year is definitely a nice quite day.

I even got a little nap in when Tanya went for a nap and read my book too. I'm reading "It's hard to Be a God" now and the main character's attitude to the culture he's studying is driving me a little crazy. I go from liking the book to slowing down in wanting to read it because of the whole "civilized" attitude of the protagonist. Reading Strugaski brothers is always strange though.

We came home after all the naps, I unpacked (including all the holiday food my Mom passed along, yum), paid the January bills (at least for this apartment, still have to do the new one), and just catching up online a bit. Overall, a nice day.

I don't do New Year resolutions but I guess I want to try to be more present and not waste too much time online. And read and write, of course.

I'm not very concerned about LJ issues, I don't write anything that should matter to any government, and I have been cross posting from Dreamwidth for years - in fact it remains my face. But if anyone wants to add me on DW for back-up, I have the same username .

My Remus/Sirius Small Gifts story was posted a week or so go. It's called Christmas in July. If you are curious you can read it here.

And finally my Book List 2017 is here with books I would like to read this year.
bearshorty: (Default)
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.
bearshorty: (Default)
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: (bears)
We are back home after spending New Years at my parents. We are all unpacked and Tanya is finally sleeping (I think she's getting like five teeth at once, poor baby) and I'm sitting here, listening to all my new music, and writing out the new book list for the year. I always like the hope of the new year, so much potential for good things.

December 31: holiday celebrations and feast )

January 1: presents, Inside Out, book list )
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The rest of my week was so much better than Monday. Tuesday and Wednesday were quite ordinary, which was nice. Not that the days were perfect - Tanya is a toddler whose new favorite word is "no" and who really wants to steal my phone to see pictures and to watch Elmo all the time that she possibly can (although she is only allowed 5 minutes of video of Elmo a day right now and 5 minutes of "Masha and the Bear" cartoon), and she doesn't want to eat her soup unless papa distracts her with a puppet show - but those are perfectly normal things that don't really make me upset or sad or anything. On the contrary, we had quite normal happy days.

On Thursday morning, my Mom picked Tanya and I up since I wanted to go to my hairdresser's on Friday for a haircut and coloring and highlights. Which is what I did. It took all morning, and the day was quite gloomy and cold, but it was nice to just to walk and enjoy the crispiness and to listen to music. My Dad got the new Adele album for my Mom and me, so I've been playing that - I really like it. My favorite song is "Million Years Ago". Bear can't stand to listen to it as he feels it's pretty depressive, but I like it.

On Friday afternoon, I also went to do some Christmas shopping for Bear's family. My family doesn't celebrate Christmas. We celebrate New Years and Tanya will get presents from me and my parents on New Year's morning. But only kids get presents then, so I don't have to get anything for my parents. Bear's family, on the other hand, is big on both Christmas and presents for everybody. Not big expensive, all out presents, just small presents, but there are a bunch of people. I got presents for Bear already and some small gifts for others but I needed more. So while Mama and Tanya went to the playground, I went to Home Goods where I found small varied things like coffee and lotions and kitchen jars with chickens on them that added up to about $60. I think I'm done and I'm quite happy with what I got for people.

On Thursday, my Remus/Sirius Small Gifts story was posted. It's called How to Find a Bloke at Holiday Parties . This is the summary: "Sirius really should have gotten Remus’ last name during Lily’s holiday party or some way to contact him. They were just too busy making out to get to all the important details. But Sirius is not one to give up. He will find the mysterious gorgeous stranger, maybe in time for another party. AU where Remus never went to Hogwarts." I incorporated a little bit of the Russian New Year traditions into the story because the wild card asked for unusual holiday traditions.

I did a little dance of joy on Friday morning because I saw that it got recced as an Editor's Choice on the Daily Snitch, which is a first for me!

I also finished watching Jessica Jones .
Jessica Jones )

Supergirl S1E8 )

Of course, the best part of this week was that yesterday, Bear and I had an actual date. We went to a few weddings together in the past year and a half but I never left Tanya overnight before. For a while this year, we were considering going to Montauk for about four days on a little vacation, just the two of us. But Tanya has been very clingy lately and I really didn't think that I could do it. So we decided to do a trial night away. My parents happily took care of Tanya this whole weekend. Bear came on Saturday morning around 10am to pick me up and we were baby free for about 29 hours. I had a great time but I did get nervous in the evening about her and bedtime, and by Sunday morning I was mostly missing her and was worried about how she was, although I knew that she was perfectly fine. It was just the longest I spend away from her in almost 17 months. I don't think I expected to miss her this absurdly much - although this weekend away was definitely needed and very welcome.

And we did have a great hike, Indian food, Star Wars )

Today, Sunday, was pretty nice too. I spent the morning wrapping all the presents as Bear was working out on his exercise bike, and then cross stitching. Then we went grocery shopping together - we haven't done that in a while - lately, I just make a list and Bear goes to the grocery story by himself. Then after coming home and eating lunch we went to get Tanya. We did try to stop by Best Buy so Bear could get a DVD for his Dad, but that ended up useless - that store was short of most things and too crowded. And in the evening, I made yaki udon since I picked up some udon noodles at the Asian supermarket a week or so ago. Tanya even had some udon noodles for dinner too, along with her veal meatball.
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We just got back from visiting Marianna and her family today. Marianna's birthday was on October 7th and we all finally got our schedule aligned. We didn't do anything complicated. Bear, Tanya and I drove to Queens to Marianna's place and Yeva came too a bit later. We told her 1pm, so she showed up by 3:30pm. Real time was about 2pm. We played a little inside with Galya, who is 4, and Idalia, who is 15 months - two days younger than Tanya. And then around 4pm we walked to this Himalayan/Nepalese restaurant, which was a lot like Asian fusion.

The food was good and there weren't a lot of people there so we didn't have to worry about toddler/little kids disrupting other diners. And all the kids were pretty well behaved. Tanya actually was willing to eat and had lots of rice, some tofu from miso soup, and a steamed chicken dumpling. She's been really picky lately about eating - it's a struggle to get her to eat sometimes, so it was nice for her to participate. And I got some time to eat too. We had some chicken and beef dumplings for the table, and bok choi, and I got miso soup, their special bread and crispy noodles with chicken. The noodles were ok, but their dumplings were very delicious.

Last week was stressful. We were thinking lately of buying an apartment instead of renting, with some help from my parents. Last Saturday (on Halloween) one realtor called to show us a two bedroom in his co-op. The size was OK and the kitchen was a good size, but the place would have needed so much renovation. Practically everything. We thought back and forth all week, weighting pros and cons and ultimately decided against it since the flip tax (what you pay into the co-op if you sell) was too big and there is no sublet there either - so if something happened it would not be easy to sell. In the last three years, real estate prices went up - but we will just have to keep looking. One good thing from all the stress of thinking about everything, I called my landlord office to find out if we could break our lease if we had too and they are pretty easy going about it. So, a lot of being an adult this week.

On Halloween, we also dressed up at home - Tanya was the cutest cat, I was a witch (my usual get-up) and Bear was Freddy Kruger. We also played some Halloween music on the radio which Tanya was grooving to. She is too young to trick and treat yet, but I'm looking forward to that in a few years. (I don't share pics on social media but I have no problem emailing them to people on my friends list - so if anyone wants pics, just ask)

I caught up on Grimm S5E2 yesterday and this morning. Grimm S5E2 )
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I'm on the train home from work right now and while I can use this time to grade, I'd rather procrastinate. I had enough time to stop by Dunken Donuts because I wanted a bagel but I ended up getting their new Oreo cheesecake square and hash browns. The cheesecake square was ok; it is basically a donut with cream cheese like filling (only with more sugar). Next time I'll stick to the bagel. I did also eat an apple I had with me. So healthy snack is covered. But sometimes a treat is sorely needed too.

The next 5 to 6 weeks to the end of the semester are going to be super busy. I have to finish grading Paper 3, comment on Draft 4, grade Paper 4, 5 and final. On top of that I have to made Passover Seder dinner this Friday for us, plan a giant Passover Seder with my friends on Saturday (one of my favorite things), and travel to Bear's parents for Easter.

To that end I'm going on fannish vacation until June: no time wasting Internet like fanfic or Tumblr. I will keep watching Supernatural, Grimm and Spartacus and go to my daily sites like Mark Watches, DW and LJ and read news sources but otherwise , I need to focus. I'm going try to read too - I've been so behind.

A few weeks ago I read Oliver Sacks The Mind's Eye . I've taught a chapter from that book before but I never read the whole thing. He is such an interesting author, definitely challenges my view of the world. I'm looking forward to his autobiography.

This book had a lot personal stories as he described the loss of perception of objects, loss of speech, face blindness, and loss of stereo vision, and loss of vision in general. Sacks himself has face blindness and he lost stereo vision due to cancer and he describes both experiences vividly. I can only relate to not being visual but it was interesting to imagine existing without other abilities. I can't see anything with my eyes closed but I never saw it as a disadvantage. I'd take my highly logical brain over a visual one.

I often find Sacks scary, fascinating and hopeful all at once. One of my greatest fears is forgetting or losing my brain, so his cases are very creepy at times. After my Grandma Tanya had a second stroke in 1999, she spent the last six months of her life in a catatonic state. She would sit there unable to move or communicate. The day before she died, my cousin, her eldest granddaughter came to visit from Belarus. There was sign of recognition on my grandmother's part and she died later that night. She got to say goodbye and let go. But all I could think of was that she was probably able to think but not do much else and how scary that must have been. Sacks' case studies often scare in that way.

But this book is also hopeful. It is about adoptation and resilience when something happens to change your perception of the world.

I definitely want to read more of his books. I gave The Man Who Mistook His wife for a hat to Bear for his last birthday, so I'm going to pick that up at some point.
bearshorty: (Default)
Last few days were a bit unusual since it is holiday week. Tuesday was my Mom's birthday and she and my Dad spent the day at my place. My mother never wants any presents, so on Monday I figured I would at least bake something. I settled on banana cake. It was pretty easy to make with an electric mixer. I made vanilla buttercream frosting to go with it. My Mom actually liked it a lot, which is great since she rarely likes anything anyone cooks. And there was so much of it -I made it in 13 x 9 pan - that she wanted me to take with us for Christmas too.

On Tuesday my Mom also made olivie salad so that we could take it with us to Bear's parents' house. We left yesterday, in pouring rain and we are here untIL Saturday. We really didn't mind traffic since it meant Tanya got a long nap. Yesterday we just had a nice, quite Christmas eve here, and Tanya managed to sleep quite well. Today was a nice Christmas too.

Bear and I made Christmas breakfast of pancakes, scambled eggs, sausages and bacon as usual. This year was minimalist presents. We made a calendar for Bear's Mom and I had a small present for Bear (wrestling DVDs). Since Christmas is Bear's holiday, he got Tanya blocks (my holiday with presents is New Year), and he got me Twister and a Ravenclaw beany hat.

Bear's Mom got me Mark Ormrod's biography of Edward III, which is 600 pages and very fat. She also got me a cute book to read to Tanya. I can't wait to read the history book since 14th cent England is my turf. Tanya got the most presents from her grandparents of baby remote and baby keys, Dr Seuss books, and a few more toys we will save and give her in a month or two. She is getting more presents next week for New Year from my parents and me, so that is probaby too much.

I took her for a walk for her nap while Bear and his parents went to church. It was sunny and clear but very windy and she only does 30 min in the flimsy car seat stroller. At home she has a leasurly pram. So we napped more when we got back. And in the evening we went to Bear's brother's house for Christmas dinner. Car naps are great too. We left a little early because of Tanya's bedtime and she got more presents of a little bear and lots of diapers. Diapers are like the best present! Tanya also saw chickens for the first time, since John and Laurie keep chickens in their back yard. Overall a nice holiday.

Tomorow Bear and I are going to a wedding an hour away while his parents babysit. I'm leaving two bottles of milk, putting on a fancy dress and hoping for the best. A nice grown up outing is good but I'm prepared to come back early. We'll see.

I finished rereading Harry Potter this morning which brings the total number of books this year to 31.

Over the last month I've been enjoying RS Small Gifts fest, for which I wrote a story and got an art gift, and I've enjoyed Highlander fest too. One thing I noticed, though. Practicaly every story used the word 'div'. As in 'He divd that Remus liked him' etc. I never seen this usage before and it seems to have exploded. Even dictionaries don't seem to have it. Is this a British thing? Weird.
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I'm typing this from my new phone. It is still very weird and awkward to type. Still, it is convenient.

Features I like: livejournal app I can use to read my friends page and I easily read all new RS Small Gifts stories and I can easily comment; checking Tumblr is easier (I only check one account all the time which aggregates fanfic and news about a show); reading Kindle; seeing that my yahoo mail and Gmail came in and what about without going on the Internet; transportation apps and weather apps; ability to use Google chat without going to my computer; Skype; attaching pictures to text messages; taking pictures if my camera is not handy.

Don't like: need to recharge often; new memory card didn't work so I have to wait to get my music on it; typing is awkward at times and autocorrect is silly.

My mom bought a crockpot on sale at Costco and we tried it out today. Mama made a whole chicken with some veggies. 6 hours, plug it into the outlet and out comes very tender and delicious chicken. I do wonder how much energy it is using but it is very promising and many recommend it.

This week we were trying to start Tanya on some solid foods since she is 4 months already. Just a little, to get her to learn how. Her main meal is still my milk, although every 4 hours now, instead of every 2 it was in the beginning. Plus twice at night.

Anyway, we are going slowly. Starting with rice cereal mixed in my milk as doctor recommended. On wed we tried giving her 1 tbsp with 2oz in a bottle but she wouldn't have it. Just milk she can take from the bottle just fine. We didn't push.

Yesterday we gave 1/2 teaspoon with 2oz with a little silver spoon and she ate it. But I'm not sure if rice agrees with her since she was super gassy and a little red cheaked. We are going to wait a bit and then try her on a little oatmeal cereal. We got organic brand for both. She stares at us as we eat in fascination when we eat, so she is ready for a bit. Today we also gave her a little water in a spoon. Again she wouldn't have it in a bottle. Still new things. She is 14 pounds 8 Oz now and 65cm or 25in or so.
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I had my monthly OBGYN appointment today. Everything looks good. We listened to baby bear's heartbeat and had an ultrasound where everything was in normal range. Plus, I got a picture with a profile and a hand waving. And I had to do more routine blood tests. But the best part was the ultrasound technician telling us that she thinks it is a girl! Yay! She can't give 100% guarantee and there will be further confirmation at the 20 week anatomy scan (21 week, really for me in four weeks), but she checked twice and she is pretty sure.

When she said that it was most likely a girl I was just so happy, I got very emotional (I'm blaming that on hormones, they definitely making me all happy about anything baby lately). I really don't care about the gender - either way is good, but I did always wanted to have a little girl so I could name her after my grandmother.

And Bear is happy about it too since he wanted a girl - he relates better to girls. Bear is pretty scared of the whole baby thing - it is mostly all the changes and his own situation in life and wanting to be more successful. He agreed on a baby because I decided it was time and he always knew how important having kids was to me. We talked about it long before we got married. He would have been just a good not to have kids at all but he also was coming more and more around to the idea the older he got. (He did think it would take a bit longer to happen but it only took a few months). He doesn't deal with change well in general. I know he'll be a great Dad but I do think that it will be easier for him to have a girl.

And if baby bear does turn out to be a boy, that will be good too and we'll adjust. But at least for this month I'm reveling it "it's a girl."

Papa is very excited about it too - he was already looking at all the girl dresses in stores even before today. He didn't care about the gender either but he knows how to deal with girls obviously more. My parents were in New Jersey today, scooping out some more stores like IKEA for baby furniture prices (they are very invested) and Mama picked up new bras for me at Walmart too. I definitely need some, I went up like two sizes already, which is wow. I never had big boobs and now I get to see what that's like. They stopped by for a little bit on the way to visit my grandparents since they wanted to see the sonogram pictures.

The weather today was warm (50F) and super nice, so Bear and I went for a walk after the doctor's appointment. And then I graded some papers.

For dinner I made kotlety - it's like Russian mini-burgers/mini-meatloaf cross - from ground turkey, bread crumbs, onions and various spices. Fry it for 25-30 minutes, flipping every 4 minutes or so. And I made venegret since I had some more beets. Venegret is a beet salad made from mixture of chopped cooked beets, potatoes, carrots, and with a can of sweet peas, a few pickles, chopped onions and sauerkraut and a bit of olive oil. Mixed it all and it is super delicious. So very Russian dinner while watching some bobsledding.
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Next Saturday was supposed to be a girls get-together day. It was set for a month. And now Yeva has to change it. I just really like set plans. Now we need to figure out a new date. At least my plans with my friend Rosemary are still on for Friday. While I life being home right now, it will be nice to get out of the house a little.

I mostly read today. I finished "Maus" for the second time. Such an effective graphic novel. Since it's been over ten years since I've read it last, it was like reading a whole new book.

I did work on two out of three syllabi I need (I use one of the syllabi for two classes). I'll do more work on that tomorrow. Then I just have to do the websites for the classes and start reading some articles to refresh my memory.

I made cottage pie with mashed potatoes, peas, carrots, onions and turkey today. I added herbs de provence and nutmeg, of all things, as one online recipe suggested - and that came out well, I though. I was listening to my new "Eugene Onegin" opera CD as I cooked - that was a wonderful combination.
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Saturday was a far busier day by far. Today was mostly relaxing day. The weather yesterday turned cold and rainy, very non-May like. And this morning was very cold. Going outside for a walk today was warmer than in the apartment. Tomorrow, however, looks very promising and we will take advantage of that.

On Saturday, there were already plans for a museum day and the weather just made that plan work even better. Medusa and I went to museums - first The Museum of Moving Image in Queens and then the Metropolitan Museum of Art (or the Met) in Manhattan. Both were lots of fun.

I've never been to the Museum of Moving Image before and I probably would not have gone but Medusa heard about the Exhibit on the Music Video and its history and so we went. And it was a great installation. I didn't realize just how far back the music videos go - to the beginning of the 20th century. And we could also watch clips of original MTV broadcast and other forms of evolution in video including fan vidding (They had three of those - Closer on (Star Trek Kirk/Spock one), and Vogue (300 one) and another). And there were videos running on a giant screen and just a lot of information. There were two floors of that and it was entertaining and educational. The permanent installation called "Behind the Scenes" was a lot of fun too - it went into different departments of movie making - from costumes and masks, directors and props and building models. I loved seeing different masks. And there were some interactive exhibits. I even made two little stop motion animations. I actually wish we had more time there but after almost three hours we were really hungry. But I highly recommend this place.

We walked for a bit to an Indian buffet place we found on Yelp the night before. And we piled on the food. The food was good. I didn't even eat dinner that night - I ate so much.

Then we took the subway to the Met and spent a couple of hours there. The Met was super crowded. Mostly because of the weather and the rain. It is my favorite museum in the world - and I've been to many. I love that I can just pay a dollar and go in and their special exhibitions are always worth it. The two we went too were super crowded which cut down the enjoyment a little but it was still fascinating. The first special exhibition was "Punk: Chaos to Couture." While it was all loud music and a bit of punk history (bathroom at CBGBs and the London store) it was mostly punk by major designers like Dolce Gabbana etc. So it was just really weird juxtaposition because Punk is not meant to be designer and it didn't leave the best impression. The clothes were certainly interesting and I liked the boots on one design a lot but I wasn't sure of the message of it all. And it was so crowded.

The second special exhibition called "Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity" was a bit less crowded but much more interesting. It is closing tomorrow and I might get a chance to see it again but I'm just glad I actually didn't miss it. It was a very interesting and fresh take to present Impressionism. It focused on portraits the artists drew, in particular on the dress within the portrait, mostly of the women. And in each gallery, on the floor, were the period dresses, usually 2-3 per room. Often the dresses matched the dresses in the paintings and sometime it was the exact dress worn in the painting. And that juxtaposition was just remarkable. There was one black dress that was particularly gorgeous. A wonderful exhibit and the curator of that deserves many accolades. Just to put that together. And it made me pay attention to fashion. (Also, some patrons had a hard time processing that some children in dresses with long hair in the 19th century paintings were boys - that was amusing to watch)

After those, we walked around the American wing for a bit before we needed to head home. I need to not forget to come back sometime in July, because the Met is going to have The Cyrus Cylinder, an ancient Persian artifact, famous for, among other things, allowing Jews back to Judea after Babylonian Exile. I've been teaching about it for a few years now and I would love to see it in reality.

We both ate so much at the Indian that we really didn't want dinner, once we got home. Bear was home already and he got us movie tickets on the way back from work. Medusa wanted to see "Iron Man 3" and I knew Bear wanted to see it too. I was sort of neutral on it. But it occurred to me that I could just go see "Fast and Furious 6" at the same time and that made it perfect. Of course, going to our movie theater on a Saturday night was a bit ridiculous, and I don't think I want to attempt it again. It was so crowded. Extremely so. Parking was an adventure - we sort of squeaked by. And we had to get through a tight crowd just to get in the movie theater even with tickets at hand (thank goodness we had the tickets beforehand). There were many for later shows who weren't let in yet. And my theater was already packed more than 25 minutes early. Good thing I just had to find a seat for me - and I did get a good one. But it was so full. And so many parents brought their kids - I was sitting next to four year old. It is not really a children's movie but I guess many parents didn't want to find babysitters.

"Fast and Furious 6" was exactly the movie I expected it to be: silly summer fun with ridiculous and not even remotely realistic stunts, with lots of eye candy muscles (I do love those arms) and fun with my slashy goggles. It was definitely fun to watch it in a crowd. It was not claiming to be anything else and I enjoyed it despite times where I went "I'm really sitting here and just watching people drive." spoilery talk )

Compared to yesterday, today was pretty mild - just going to the store and later for a nice walk with Bear. It is nice to relax a little.
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I want this cold weather to stop following me already. First, Grand Canyon and Arizona were unnaturally cold with 18F highs and now New York had a big cold week. I love warmth and heat and I’m not used to this cold anymore. When I was a kid in Belarus, winters were like this and I was used to it and I had a fur coat and warm clothes. I have a fur coat now, and I’m actually not cold in body but my face and hands and my throat hate this weather. I got a cold again on Wednesday night. This time my throat was yelling at me. Getting sick twice in one month, and all because of the weather, is not my favorite thing. At least I had a flu shot in October, so I don’t worry about that too much.

On Wednesday, the classes started in Local College. I’m teaching two sections of “Global History to 1600” and my classes are full of jocks. Like a third of each class is jocks. That should be … interesting. They either slack or they do well, depending on how their coach is pushing them. We’ll see how it’ll go but the dynamic of this semester will certainly be different.

On Wednesday night, Bear and I had dinner with Yeva at our favorite Japanese restaurant. All-you-can-eat sushi is a really great invention on a cold night, right after a work out. Yeva, as usual, had a boy dilemma which is always interesting to listen too. Neither Bear nor I have very much dating experience since we met when we were eighteen, so it is fascinating to listen to Yeva’s dating life. She wants so badly to settle down and I really hope this new guy works out for her. At least she definitely got over her June breakup.

Since Rosemary and I teach on different days now at University, we can’t carpool this semester, which I will miss. On Friday, was my first go at getting there by public transportation. I have to take a subway, train and bus and it does take a long time. But at least I can work on a train and I will make myself grade papers there. I’m still figuring out the best time to leave the house and I think I can actually wake up at 6:30, not 6am.

Today, I figured out my first paper assignment for the writing classes – the question will sound more complex since I have fancy words in there like anthropomorphism and anthropocentrism – but they should be challenged anyway. I also went to see my AP history kid whom I tutor. The subway to his house wasn’t running at the time so I had to get Bear to drive me – good thing there is a car.

Bear and I were thinking of going to a Broadway show since there is a promotion until February 7th of get one, get another free – but most shows are too much even then. He was wondering about “Mary Poppins” and even half price, it would be $77 each. I’d rather see more movies and go out to dinner. And coincidentally, my friend Olia just moved to New York from Miami and we are meeting for dinner on Tuesday – so I’d rather do that.
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Bear was at work today because of this week’s crazy schedule but my parents came to visit since they were visiting my grandparents anyway. And they went to Costco in the morning, so I got some food too, but mainly they bought steaks for us to eat. My Mom was cooking in my kitchen.

And I finally learned how to use the tea maker for brewing tea that Marianna gave me for the bridal shower. It is really easy too. And they dragged me out for a walk for about an hour. We went back to our old street where we used to live when we came to America – it is not that far from where I live now.

So when my Mom came over, I didn’t have bread so I went to the store nearby to get some while she started cooking. And on the way back there were a couple of people in the elevator with me going to my floor. I turn left from the elevator, they turn right. And then they open their door and their two little dogs rush out and start to run, barking, straight at me as I’m walking towards my apartment. (Technically, you are not supposed to have dogs in our building but that is another story). Now, I have a phobia of dogs. It doesn’t matter that the dogs are small and probably friendly. If a dog is not on the leash and especially if there are dogs rushing at me, I will freak out. That’s how I managed to break my leg at the age of nine. I basically high tailed it to my apartment, which was, thankfully, unlocked, so I could just make it in before they reached me. If you are going to have illegal dogs, is it too hard to ask not to let them out running. My heart really doesn’t need to get into panic attack mode.
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Saturday is a pretty mild day for me. Bear is at work for half a day and then he goes to work out so I’m usually just home by myself until 4pm. But I can sleep in and be on the computer or catch up on “Angel” (I really don’t want to rewatch Season 4 but I’m making myself suffer) or “Buffy” (I love Season 7). I did try out “Alphas” pilot, since it is now of Netflix and my Dad likes that show. It was alright. I didn’t mind it but I don’t think I’ll watch the whole show – I get enough of investigative type shows, even with the sci-fi twist.

I did go for a walk and I stopped by a few furniture stores to look at their couches and sofa beds. We really need to get on that.

In the evening, after a trip to Home Depot, I cooked dinner. This time I tried oven-fried chicken (skinless and boneless chicken breast baked in after being coated in a flour/paprika misture) and roast potatoes with herb de provence. And a salad. Chicken turned out really well. The roast potatoes were good too, just took longer than I thought they would. They just needed higher temperature than the chicken.

After dinner, late in the evening we went to visit my Grandparents for a little bit. They live about 15 minutes away by car, so that’s very near. We also picked up two more boxes of old books from their closet storage. I sorted through them. We decided to take one big box of book to Bear’s grandmother’s nursing home tomorrow.

Among many penguin books, I also found my old AP English study book – how I loved that book with its list of books to read at the end.
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About a month or so ago, I signed up at this tutoring website as a tutor since I wanted to make a little extra money on the side and it seemed one way to find clients. And this one woman contacted me because she wanted to practice speaking English. So today we were finally set to meet in person.

I was a little apprehensive about going to a stranger’s house, a person I’ve never met in person, just talked to through email and text message. I kept joking to Bear about it. But the tutoring company had good reviews – real people use it – and the emails sounded genuine enough. And the address was in a nice neighborhood according to Google. So I wasn’t really that nervous about it. Still, going to a stranger’s house. I did text Bear once I got there, though, as we agreed.

The girl, Valerie, was very nice. She came to America on a trip from Russia and met her husband here on like day 6 and stayed. She’s been in the US for about 2.5 years but is mainly interacting with the Russian community and so she feels a little isolated from everything and she wants to improve her English. Today we just chatted for two hours on the couch of her basement workout/lounge area. We talked on all kinds of topics – food, travel family history. For next Thursday, I think I will email her an article to read that I assign my college writing students so she could get her confidence up that she can handle that type of English too. We’ll see how that goes, but that was certainly a good first tutoring experience.

After that, I came home – it is very easy to get to her house and back, just one bus – I went to the back and actually deposited all our wedding money. It is good not to have checks just sitting in the house. And I went to buy two sympathy cards as two members of Bear’s extended family died a few days ago – separate death. We are going to go to a wake for one of them tomorrow.

Tonight I also cooked dinner of stir-fry vegetable with Thai Red Curry Sauce, rice and hot-dogs. Today is actually our dating anniversary – 14 years. Not that we really celebrated but I wanted to do something nice. Overall, an interesting day.
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I’m getting used to the commute to Local College. The last part of it, though, is a walk up a pretty steep hill for about 5-7 minutes after I get off the bus. It is good exercise, but right now my legs are still complaining. Tonight at home, I did 15 minutes on exercise bike too – I figure that hill counts as more time.

One of the Local College professors tried to rope me into being a second reader for the undergraduate thesis, which is not something I wanted to do. They really don’t pay me enough to take on extra work. So I blamed longer commute and said no. I need to say no much more often.

I really like my “History of Law” group – 14 students and many who participate makes a lovely classroom. I also like that all my lectures for this semester are pretty much written – I’m just perfecting the ones I already have - and it is nice not to have extra stress.

On the way home from work, I got lettuce at a grocery store and delicious chicken franks from this kosher meat place and I stopped by the post office to get stamps and mail the thanks you cards. Yay, getting chores done.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Thursday, May 31st, 2012 11:00 pm
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My grandfather is 85 today. He is not really doing anything special but I did call him and we will go visit him on Sunday to give him his presents.

I made rice tonight and a stir fry with zucchini, pepper and onions and also I fried up some chicken with Italian spices. I wanted to make regular white rice but bugs got into the glass jar where we store it, so I made red Thai rice instead – which is better for you anyway.

And I watched Spelling Bee finals on ESPN – it is always so impressive and I learn new words. This year, I knew two words out of all that were spelled in two hours.


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