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

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

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

First Seder )

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

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

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

Passover at Marianna's )

Easter )
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Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all who celebrate! I hope everyone is having a lovely weekend.

25.What is your most favourite and least Christmas traditions? ([identity profile]

I didn't grow up with Christmas. In fact, I didn't even know about it as a kid. Our main winter holiday was New Year. Kids got to dress up in costumes and have a party in school where we would get candy from Ded Moroz (Russian Santa). On New Year's Eve, my whole family would go to my Aunt's to celebrate at a big holiday table with lots of food. There would be holiday TV on with lots of songs. I would stay over there overnight, and in the morning, my cousin and I would wake up for presents from Ded Moroz under a New Year tree and have leftover holiday food gor breakfast.

When I came to US, I was amazed by all the holiday lights outside in December. But we still didn't celebrate Christmas ourselves. We did learn about Hanukkah and did candles and continued New Year traditions. Usually we would go to a movie on Christmas Day.

In college, I met Bear, whose family is Catholic. And after a few years I got invited to their family Christmas. And I have been going ever since. That's when I did get Christmas traditions on top of Hanukkah and New Year. And I do like celebrating everything.

My favorite things are helping Bear make Christmas breakfast for his family. He was making pancakes for everyone since he was a kid. I now make scrambled eggs and turkey sausages while he makes pancakes and bacon (I don't eat bacon). We did the breakfast this morning and it was great.

I also like leisurely opening of presents, usually in the afternoon. But with Tanya, we were opening presents in the morning, a little bit at a time. And this year I had a deal with Bear's sister and brother not to exchange gifts. I just got presents for Bear and he got presents for Tanya (along with lots of family giving Tanya presents. I get Tanya presents for New Year). Bear got me a Peer Gynt CD and Ravenclaw socks (again, since he forgot he got me a pair last year :) ).

My least favorite tradition was going to church with Bear's family. I don't mind it, but when everyone chants the creed, it makes me a bit uncomfortable. I haven't gone in the last few years since Tanya needs to nap at the time they go. But I generally do enjoy the day and even some church songs as when I went.

Yesterday was the 1st night of Hanukkah too, so we lit the menorah and I made potato pancakes for everyone, with Bear's help (he grated potatoes and flipped them). I love potato pancakes.
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Holiday Card post is here

Ask Me Anything Meme is here . Lots more spaces left.

My story for RS Games 2016 is here .

Yesterday was my Dad's 60th birthday. I made a banana cake with cream cheese frosting on Tuesday for it, and earlier sent him a package with two books from Amazon to open on his birthday morning. My parents came over last night since they were staying overnight to make it easier for my Mom to watch Tanya today. We had a little celebration with a beets and herring dish and different cakes. And Tanya sang him a birthday song. It was low key and exactly what my Dad wanted. My Mom is turning 60 later this month, and usually they do like to do a trip for their big birthdays. But this year they are helping us with renovations so they are just staying put.

Last week, we spent Thursday to Sunday in Long Island with Bear's parents and sister. Thursday was Thanksgiving and his Mom made the turkey and the meal. I brought over my cranberry orange muffin bread. I love Thanksgiving food, such comfort food. I love green bean casserole and stuffing and mashed potatoes and turkey. It was all delicious. And the pumpkin pie was really tasty. My favorite moment was when Tanya was napping and I was resting with her and the cooking turkey smell was just permeating the room. So good. It just smells like holiday.

I had lots of work and grading to do but I still managed to watch the new Gilmore Girls and to have a date with Bear. For our anniversary a few months ago, his parents got us tickets to the local theater to see "Mary Poppins" musical. It is a very good theater we've been to a few times before. The seats were great, row G, so we could see the stage very well (when we go to Broadway we always end up sitting on the very top because of prices, so it was fun to sit closer). And the musical itself was a lot of fun. We got hot chocolates and I snuck in some M&Ms candy. After the show, which was from 3pm to 6pm, we called home to make sure everything was good and Tanya didn't wear out her grandparents and then we went out to dinner. We finally got to have Indian food. It was a little too spicy but still very good and we had leftovers for two lunches, so yay. I got lamb bryani this time.

On Saturday evening we went over Bear's brother's house for dinner with Bear's parents. They keep chickens in the backyard and at one point they brought in a hen and a rooster into the house so Tanya could look at them and pet them. She did pet them and declared them very soft, but mostly she just wanted to watch them. They were black chickens, very pretty.

I got a brand new Kindle Paperwhite. Tanya broke my Kindle cover this year and my 5 year old Kindle was slowly going. So I knew that I should get a new one with this Thanksgiving sale. I got it as soon as it went on sale and with various gift cards it ended up only $32 plus a cover (I got a Flinti map cover). And not a moment too soon. My old Kindle finally completely broke on Sunday. So I was very happy when my Dad brought me the new one yesterday (I ship to his work). I'm still getting used to it. I don't like it telling me how many minutes is left on the chapter, it feels like a timer, so I need to change that. And it seems so bright. But I can read my books again, so yay.
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Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it!

I didn't grow up with Christmas. Our main holiday was New Year with a New Year tree and decorations and presents on New Years morning. We dressed up in costumes in school before the winter holidays started right before the New Year and Ded Moroz came with chocolates and candy. I didn't know anything about Christmas as a child (or too much abut Hanukkah either).

New Year continues to be important to me and I still get presents from my parents then (and give my presents to Tanya) but my in-laws are Catholic and Christmas is very important to them. I have been celebrating Christmas with Bear's family for a very long time, so it became traditional to me. Bear and I split our presents to each other, some on Christmas and some on New Years. We spend Christmas with my in-laws and New Year with my parents.

When Bear was a small child, around 10, he was awake on Christmas early but couldn't open his presents yet since everyone was asleep. So to pass the time he started making pancakes. Pancake breakfast became a tradition. Usually he makes pancakes and I make scrambled eggs, turkey sausage and bacon (I don't eat bacon myself, though). This year Carrie, Bear's sister made the sausage and bacon since Tanya was keeping me busy. But Tanya did help mw mix the scramped eggs, so we all did something. Tanya ate two little pancakes too.

Before the breakfast, Tanya came downstairs to find her new little table and chairs with a little dollhouse from her grandparents and then she opened her present from Santa - a little stuffed Elmo. She really had fun playing with the dollhouse today. She doesn't understand the concept of presents yet but she did have fun with new toys and crayons. Her Aunt Carrie even got her a Star Wars coloring book so Papa could have some fun too.

After pancakes and potty time, I gave Bear his presents - the new Jim Butcher book, which I want to read at some point too (Bear loves Dresden Files so I thought he would like it), a CD of piano music and a videogame. He got me Hamilton soundtrack (which I told him quite explicitly I wanted to open on Chtistmas; it was number one on my wish list) and Ravenclaw knee socks.

I already downloaded Hamilton to my computer and put it on my iPod. The annoying thing was that the CDs didn't come with automatic track titles and it took me forever to type them manually to iTunes. By despite that annoyance, I'm super excited to listen to the whole thing instead of bits and pieces. I'm also about 450 pages into the Hamilton book, hoping to finish it soon.

Tanya had a nice long nap while I read my Kindle. Bear and his family went to church. I used to go with them in the past - I like observing other's religious rituals sometimes - but I do prefer reading a book and Tanya really needed her nap.

After nap and some more food, we started exchanging presents around 4pm. It usually takes a while since we open presents one by one.

Christmas Loot:
The latest Coldplay CD, "Gratitude" by Oliver Sacks (his last 4 short essays. I already read the whole thing. It made me want to cry), "Are You My Mother?" by Alison Bechdel, a pie plate for baking pies, a scarf, dangly earings and gloves, and a soft blanket for Bear and I.

We had Christmas dinner and then we put Tanya to bed. I just snuck out to have some apple pie and tea and ended up reading some of the Bechdel book. I couldn't help myself.

I've been cross stitching this week, usually in the evening once Tanya is asleep or in a spare moment here and there in the last few days. I'm trying to get as much done as I can over the winter break.
It's not a big project, 5x7 birth record, and I love the bright colors. I also watched 'Love Actuslly' this week while cross stitching. Since I know that movie by heart I didn't have to actively watch it, so it was perfect as background. I did find that it's starting to lose a bit of magic, though, and I'm not sure why.
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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 .


Jessica Jones S1E1-3 )

Supergirl S1E5-6 )

Supernatural S11E8 )

Grimm S1E5 )

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We just got back this morning from visiting Bear's parents for Thanksgiving. We left on Wednesday morning and were gone five days. It was a very nice visit but I'm really glad to be home.

I unpacked and cleaned today, cleaning the bathroom and washing the floors while Bear did the weekly food shopping and put up our holiday decorations. He puts up a string of colored lights in the living room, and his grandmother's flashing little tree and a few other things, while I stick my electric menorah in the window. It's all festive now.

Our visit went really well. His parents don't get to see Tanya that much, so they were thrilled. She started coloring with crayons last week so they had fun getting her a coloring book and just playing with her. Bear's sister is back from her stint in prison (she was there eight months for drunk driving), so she got to play with Tanya too.

On Thursday, there was all delicious traditional food. Bear's sister made a very juicy turkey and his brother came other with his girlfriend Laurie too. She brought great sweet potatoes. Lots of food. And on Friday, we went to the local town center to see two live reindeers and a lit up Christmas tree. That was pretty fun. Tanya was running around and we tried to keep up and not let her fall in the water - the town center is on a bay with a beautiful dock.

Yesterday, in the morning we went to a Honda and a Subaru dealerships before stopping by a playground. Bear's car is getting on in years and he's trying to decide between a Honda HR-V and a Subaru Legacy. He wanted me to take a look even though he would be driving it, and the car would already meet my condition on size. (I have a license but I don't really drive). I think we are leaning toward the Honda. I like that the back seats move up and it looks roomy inside. And the blue color is gorgeous. Either way it will be much bigger than his beloved but tiny Toyota Scion XA. It's really great for city parking and gas milage but we definitely need more room now.

We also went to visit Emma, Bear's grandmother's sister. She is 95 or so and the last of the nine siblings. She is in the same nursing home that Bear's grandmother was - they were there together until his grandmother died almost two years ago. It was good to see her although her memory is not the best now.
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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 think this semester there has only been one week so far where I had a full week of work that wasn't disrupted by snow cancellations. Thursday was another snow day. On Tuesday, in anticipation, I gave my writing students homework for it, so they would just have to upload it online. (I put it on the board on Tuesday and I still had a couple of students who emailed me to ask what the homework was because they couldn't remember and apparently did not write it down. They are college students too. Sigh.)

Other than that the week has been a regular week. Bear and I watch a bit of Olympics in the evenings, usually online on replays (I use my parents' cable account for that). I watched moguls, luge, skeleton, cross country, aerials, downhill skiing, figure skating - all kinds of good stuff. Since I was home on Thursday and then my regular Friday, I did catch some events live too. The free program in figure skating for men this year was so weird as everyone kept falling.

Yesterday, Bear and I had a fun Valentine's Day. We usually keep it low key: I get Bear a card and he gets me a card and a rose/flowers and he cooks me dinner. He didn't feel like cooking this year so he got Chinese takeout, which was delicious (Wonton egg drop soup, veggie boiled dumplings and eggplant chicken with garlic sauce) and Bear also picked up Chocolate Brownie Ben and Jerry's frozen yogurt. And he got me a really nice little bouquet of white daisies, red carnations and one rose (and red and white were our wedding colors). We had Chinese food and watched "Elysium" and had a great night. ("Elysium" was ok as a movie - not the most brilliant one, and I predicted the ending pretty soon into the movie, but it was entertaining enough).

We also had a competition for a sappiest/stupidest/most ridiculous Valentine's Card we could find. I got one that went "Our love is a miracle" etc. and the best line in his silly/ridiculous card was "I love you because your smile has touched a place deep inside of me and filled my soul with the hope of a thousand dreams" Hee. Who writes this stuff. But that was definitely very amusing. And because we are on the same wavelength, we also got each other a second, more normal card and we both ended up picking a very similar card of two children with backs to the camera in black and white. (His was 'wife' card and my was to 'husband' but it was pretty similar).
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It's Election Day and Papa will pick me up from work so we could go vote. Then I'm going to stay at my parents' house for the night, before heading to work tomorrow. I'm not very excited for the election because I'm not a huge De Blasio fan, especially having spent the summer working for his Democratic opposition. But at the same time, I'm not going to vote for Lhota and other Republicans. Well, my Dad is going to vote Republican so we are going to cancel each other's votes, so that makes me feel a little better. I will, of course, still go vote because I never take that privilege for granted.

My semester has been busy, mostly with grading so I have not been updating my journal. I do read my reading list often but I should try to keep up with my own journal. So I thought that if I focus on specific topics it might help me update at least a few days a week.

I want to especially talk about books that I've read, so I will do an update on that Friday, once I'm done with grading my writing classes.

Here are some general updates:

Two of my friends had babies. My friend Janna had a daughter Josephine (Jo for short) on October 3rd and my friend Tjamke had a son Jasper on September 30th. I went to visit Janna and Jo a few times (including after a really nice dinner with the girls on Saturday).

On the other side of the spectrum, the father of one of my best friends (Yeva) is dying from liver cancer at 60. He has from a few weeks to a few months. We've been trying to be there for Yeva as much as we can but it all feels pretty useless. So just throwing a lot of positive thoughts their way.

In more pleasant events, one of my friends, a coworker with whom I commuted last year, wrote a play called "Side Street" and got it produced last month. I went to see it with very little expectations. It was staged in this small room, with about 22 people in the audience, with four actors. And it was amazing. I had a really great time. The play is about a mother/daughter relationship. The actors were brilliant and I loved being so close that I could see their every emotion. I'm so glad I went.

And Bear and I just booked a trip to Dominican Republic for December, right after my semester ends. I am so looking forward to just lying on a beach for a whole week. I'm already tired from the semester and all the grading and there are still six weeks to go.

And finally, RS Games 2013 are just nearing their conclusion (Go Team Post-Hogwarts), and people can still vote on the stories. I did like the way mine turned out and I'm continually amazed by the talent of all the writers there.
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Now for a more fun blog: Bear and I took a little trip last week from Wednesday to Sunday. We just wanted a small summer vacation and it was pretty fun. We decided to go to the Poconos because Bear's godmother lives near Scranton, PA and we wanted to visit her. So we sort of planned around that. My mother-in-law recommended a hotel where she usually stays when she goes to visit and even printed a coupon for me, which did come in handy.

So on Wednesday we drove up for about two and a half hours up to the Poconos. Bear is very picky and a creature of routine so sometimes traveling he gets a bit grumpy. He did want to switch rooms upon room inspection and I did like the new room better. We arrived in the late afternoon, and we had enough time to go to Lake Wallenpaupack to take a boat cruise on a pontoon boat with only two other people. We saw the damn that make this man-made lake possible and had a really nice relaxing time. And then we had ice-cream. And then a nice dinner at a diner. Ice-cream before dinner is essential for a vacation.

On Thursday, in the morning after the hotel breakfast (I do love waffles and breakfast buffet), we drove up to Scranton to go to Lackawanna Coal Mine tour. The tour took an hour and we went down 250 feet into the coal mine with our group. The tour was very interesting. Also it provides perspective - although our salaries are pretty low, it is nothing compared to the mines and the miners didn't live long. After the tour, we went to Mary's house (Bear's godmother) and had a very nice visit with her and her grandkids. Her late husband actually designed the house, which I didn't know. It is deep in the mountains, all isolated too. I loved her kitchen - very huge.

The best day of the trip was probably Friday. Bear wanted to do a zip line and finally settled on Treetop Adventure - where he got to be up to 72 feet above ground in the trees going through an obstacle course. I'm not great with heights and I knew this was not for me. Instead I headed into the Camelbeach Waterpark right next door and spent a day there. Lazy river, the wave pool and some tube slides is more my speed. It wasn't very hot and got a bit chilly later in the day but it was still very fun. And I haven't been to a waterpark in twelve years. Bear finished his Treetop course and came to join me in the waterpark around 4pm and he dragged me on a couple of more complex tube slides. So lots of fun.

On Saturday, we drove another two and a half hours to get to Corning, New York to visit their Glass Museum. When we got there around 1pm we signed up for sandblasting. Bear and I each got a glass, decorated them with various stickers, letters and tape and then sandblasted it. Instant souvenir and also fun. We had lunch then and I started feeling all terrible so the rest of the day was not that fun for me. I still liked all the modern glass sculptures, and history of glass and the flame presentation and glass breaking presentation and the show where the person made a giant turtle with blow glass and hot furnace right on stage, but I felt so out of my body. I felt a bit better in the car on the way to an upstate New York town where we stayed overnight. Bear and I went to college there and met there and I haven't been back there in eleven years. So we were going for a nostalgic trip. We checked in an old, cheap but clean motel where my parents often stayed when they visited me in school and then drove to the Walmart plaza. We had dinner at the awesome Chinese Buffet we ate often in when we were in college and went to Walmart which was the place we went a lot on weekends, since there are not that many places to go to.

And on Sunday, Bear woke up super early so we went to Denny's for breakfast around 8am. It is right next to campus and therefore was the only place two freshmen without cars (freshmen couldn't have them) could go to on a date. So it was the site of our first 'official' date (although it came about a month after we started seeing each other). Breakfast on Sunday was two plates - pancakes with bananas and eggs/sausage/hash browns. Too much. But delicious. After that large breakfast, we spent four hours roaming around campus and reminiscing. There was and is a lot of construction in the last decade and we couldn't recreate many memories. Our dorm buildings were gone with new, bigger and fancier ones in approximate places. Our favorite dining hall is getting remodeled. Another dorm complex encroached on the Nature Preserve where Bear loved to run around in the evenings. And the Union with the bookstore where we met was closed because of summer. But we still could visit the lecture hall and the library and a lot of campus and walk some trails too. It was very nice and lovely but it also reinforced how long ago college was. And when we went into the Lecture Hall classrooms, it was weird for me to sit in the student chairs where I used to sit and not in the front of the class.

And then we drove home. It took many, many hours, although we did stop for Subway sandwiches and bubble tea and also at Delaware Water Gap. The trip was very nice but it was also good to be home and cooking dinner while Bear did the shopping.
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Today is the last day of the year 5772 by the Jewish Calendar. Since I started keeping this blog three years ago, on the 1st day of 5770, I feel I need to wrap up the year and also do a new layout tomorrow on my blog site.

I have not been as consistent this year in keeping the blog – there were many skipped days, especially this summer. And last week. Quick summary of last week – for Yeva’s birthday last Sunday we went to baths which were in the style of Roman baths and that was pretty fun. The rest of the week was the usual work week. My parents came back from Aruba and brought me back lots of chocolate and cheese. I finally put up postcards and a few photographs above my desk. And I’m generally settling in the new routine.

There were certainly a lot of changes this year – with getting married and moving – it has been a good year, overall, I think. And I’m looking forward to the next one. And my one firm resolution is not to get behind on my blogs. And to write more. So contrary to my nature, I will attempt to not procrastinate.

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been reading John Le Carre’s “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” because I want to see the movie with Gary Oldman. I knew almost nothing of the plot. I read “Little Drummer Girl” seven years ago and loved it, but I’m not a big fan of thrillers so this is my second book of his. I didn’t have much time to read, only in the mornings sometimes, in the last few weeks – I was busy with Herodotus – but I think I read almost a third of the book today, because I just had to know what happened and who the spy was. I couldn’t put it down. I still have about twenty pages left and I have a feeling I won’t sleep until I’m done. I love it when a book does that.

Happy New Year to all who celebrate it!
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Lightheaded start to the year. I was fine when I went to sleep last night but for most of the morning I felt like I will get dizzy and fall any second. I had to lay down for most of the morning. Which took some fun out from opening presents. I still loved them and had a good New Year morning breakfast of olivie salad and cake. Bear left after lunch and by then I was back to my normal self. I even went for a walk in the late afternoon, enjoying the warmer than usual weather.

New Year Loot )

I listened to all my new music and I love it all. Lots of new music. I also made a list of all books I want to read this year. I’m not going to buy new books – I’ll either read what I have or use the library. And I think I’ll have a moratorium on buying DVDs, although I haven’t been buying new ones lately. Music, of course, is another story.

I signed up for another Remus/Sirius fanfic fest (I’m still on this kick) – it is song based which appeals. I listened to snippets of 100 songs or so and narrowed it down to nine, but I think I know what I want to write. I’ll make it a challenge for myself to write from Sirius’ perspective and a new genre. Fests do make me write more.

No resolutions this year since they never really work for long but I will try to exercise and write something every day.
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Happy New Year to everyone! I hope the New Year will bring only good things.

I’m back to posting and being back online consistently – it was nice to take a short break although I did still check email and watched videos online. I also just caught up to posting the last week on my journal. I didn’t want to overwhelm anyone’s reading pages so I posted them just on my journal, in case anyone wants to read it.

But here is a short summary of my Christmas/New Year/holiday week: I had a very nice Christmas with Bear’s family where I got four books among my presents (yay), including Stephen Fry’s latest autobiography, and a pocket watch so I could pretend to be in Doctor Who universe. Then Bear and I went to Montauk for a nice relaxing vacation with hiking every morning and even time at a spa! And in the middle of this vacation on a beautiful Waking Dunes hike, Bear proposed with a lovely ring, which I thought was just perfect for me. It has an art deco design on the sides. So I got to be a bit giddy and girly.

2011 A Year in Review in a list )

Today itself was a low key day. While Bear set up his laptop in my room and was doing some work I read Karen Armstrong’s article “Homo religiosus” which I will teach next semester. I do love her stuff but she is dense and complex. The students will certainly be challenged.

I did go outside to go to the bank with Bear but otherwise I stayed home and read.

Of course, in the evening I had to get ready for our holiday celebration. It was just my parents and Bear but since it is New Year, we all dressed up – with yellow and orange themes since next year is the year of the Dragon. So I’m wearing an orange shirt I got for my birthday, a black skirt and stockings with make-up and everything. I look more like a tiger. Mama made a delicious table of holiday food including a chicken and we took our annual holiday photos with the tree.

I hope 2012 will be a good year. That is the best part about the New Year celebration a hope of a new beginning.

Some pictures from the last week: )
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Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it!

Bear and I made our annual Christmas breakfast. He made pancakes and bacon while I made scrambled eggs and turkey sausage links. As we also cleaned everything up after the breakfast.

Then I went to church with Bear. I always see it as a social experiment and people observance and say the Shema prayer too. But it was nice and festive.

Bear has a little flip cam and we spent some time filming the cats playing together and licking each other.

Just a banana for lunch – so full from all the food.

Then nursing home to visit Bear’s Grandmother and celebrate with her. Bear’s parents and sister were there too. His grandma’s sister is there too now and her daughter and husband also came up. So it was a pretty full house as we celebrated in the library. The cat video provided great entertainment and a way to talk to strange relatives. I also gave my present to his grandma.

Then home, appetizers and opening presents and then a holiday dinner.

For some reason, the titles from Battlestar CDs wouldn’t carry over when I was downloading them into the iTunes – I had to write everything up by hand – a mild annoyance. But the music is wonderful. Now I have all four seasons of it. Speaking of new things:

Christmas loot )
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Last night I pulled out my really old music tapes. Before I moved to America I took my favorite childhood music (on LP too) and made a tape of it. I need to make CDs out of this. So nostalgic. There are opening credits to Disney cartoons in Russian and other music I loved to dance to when I was a kid. Nostalgia galore.

Bear picked me up at 11 and we went to Marianna’s to drop off Harry Potter 5, 6 and 7 for Adama and the toy for Galya for the holidays. She showed us her new crawling skills – towards a lit up remote control.

Then we got to Bear’s house, ate lunch and started on seafood lasagna. We had a minor holiday celebration in the evening, since Bear’s brother John and his girlfriend Laurie came over for Christmas Eve – they are not coming tomorrow. So they gave their presents out today and we gave them ours (although mine will arrive in her email box tomorrow as I got her a National Geographic subscription.) I will note their presents tomorrow when I will make a list of all the Christmas loot.

We had so much food, way too much food.
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Happy Hanukkah!

This year my parents decided to give me Hanukkah gifts (we don’t do them every year). I got a new hat and new boots to match my winter coat. I love the boots. Hat it nice but I do love my Olympic hat, even if doesn’t quite match my coat.

I watched “Dr Horrible: Act One” today while using the elliptical machine – I’m trying all kinds of things out now that we made it face the bed and computer – I managed 15 minutes. I think musicals will be a good fit since I won’t have to pay attention to dialogue (the speakers don’t carry as much and the machine is a little loud). Still, I am more motivated to get on it.

Caught up to “Burn Notice” finally. Burn Notice )

I have no desire whatsoever to catch up to the last four episodes of “Dexter.” I might be done with it – this season was not the best to say the least.
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Grimm S1E5-6 )

I’ve had a ridiculous amount of déjà vu today from teaching and music and conversations to story reading. Even stuff I know I never read before. This is really weird. Three, four times today at least.

Turns out there is a new edition of Expos book this year! Good thing it came to my attention today. I basically figured out my readings from next semester after I borrowed the department’s book. I need to make my way to the main campus next Friday and pick up a copy for myself. I think I will start with Carr article on how Google is making us stupid – something for students to respond to.

Since my writing students started their day one of two of their final exam, I just graded history papers at that time. I caught some plagiarism in one paragraph and borrowed an iPhone from one of the students. And it was Wikipedia. Sigh.

After office hours, I made my way to the other campus, got tea and a Boston crème donut and caught up on some TV on the computer. Why did TNT and USA no longer want me to watch either “Leverage” nor “Burn Notice” online? That just seems so wrong.

New Year/Yuletide holiday meme )
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Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate it! (I know I’m actually posting this late and on Monday but it has been a busy long weekend ).

Most of the Thanksgiving day was pretty low key. We watched a little of the Parade on TV with breakfast and a little Best in Show too. Right as we were ready to eat lunch – and Bear made me a great salmon sandwich – we also watched the World Championship for men gymnastics - the high bar. Good TV. And then I made the mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving meal while Bear make stuffing and his sister periodically came to check on the turkey. I love making mashed potatoes and I made a huge pot for a whole bag of potatoes. I think I used a stick of butter and lots of skim milk – they came out great.

Then Bear’s parents came home to watch the turkey and the three of us went to visit Bear’s Grandma. I brought my laptop and we ended up watching old home movies.

Bear’s brother and his girlfriend also came to dinner and we had a huge Thanksgiving dinner with turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes and yams and spinach and corn and peas and pies. Lots and lots of food. My cranberry muffin bread came out really well this year, yay.

After that huge dinner, Bear and I took a walk to buy milk and settle the food. At one point I looked up and there were many stars in the sky, which I don’t get to see much. It was just lovely.

We started to watch “Pirates 4” in the evening but I kept falling asleep – the plot was not intriguing at all. Many shots done only for 3D and were distracting and inorganic. And many action sequences were there because it was time to have an action sequence, not because it suited the story. So I started to fall asleep instead. And I am not really curious were the plot was going. Not even Johnny Depp could save it for me.
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I forgot my flash drive with the Powerpoint on it. I wrote the Exam for my law class and emailed it to myself and, for back-up, saved it on the flash drive since I didn’t want to carry the laptop with me for the three hours I was teaching. And then I put the flash drive on my nightstand. So my Global students didn’t get to see nice pictures of the Persian Empire and Alexander the Great and really cool pictures of the library of Alexandria and cartoons of the Stoics. Well, they will just have to see it on Monday, during my next class.

I graded papers while giving the exam – proctoring is nice. But, of course, I have to grade all 23 of them.

Last day of 5771. I will need to change the journal layout tomorrow. Well, just change the color. I had pink the first year, purple this year and as the New Year starts I’m thinking green. Maybe. The biggest difference for my journal in year two has definitely been meeting new online friends and writing fanfic. I still can’t believe I actually kept it up for two years.

According to the Word document where I actually type up the blog before I post it, I wrote just four pages less than last year (263 this year) – that is actually impressive, how close it was.

My parents wanted an earlier dinner and today I couldn’t just eat later since it was a New Year dinner and I am responsible for saying prayers in my house. I have my nice prayer book for it. I do like apples in honey. And I really like the next ten days, which are for reflection, culminating in the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). These ten days always feel like a new start. Other than dinner and some prayers we don’t really do anything else like go to services or anything. I will go on the Eve of Yom Kippur, which it the only time of the year I go to a religious service. I like the social and heritage aspects of religion but I’m not big on ceremony or devotion.

Maccabeats have a new song “Book of Good Life” to celebrate the season.

Shana Tova! Happy 5772!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Monday, May 30th, 2011 11:00 pm
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It is Memorial Day so it is a day to remember all the soldiers who fight in wars.

Kindle. Ok, I’ve learned how to skim, there is a button that moves you back to the start of a chapter so I can skim ahead from the first chapter page and then get back to it. And there is a button to show the page number I’m actually on. I still miss having a book but I have adjusted to reading on Kindle. And I could skim my book, which was nice.

My internet is being finicky. Everything is connected but no Internet connection. I kind of need it tomorrow for work. I did send off my department forms that were due tomorrow so that is something. I did manage to talk to Mama on Skype too.

Today was a working day – both Bear and I had work to do on our computers. But I did make a nice dinner of baked ziti and a burger (I just had baked ziti). For lunch, I gave Bear the curry from yesterday but for myself I took a cooked potato I had and fried it up with pepper and onions and it was delicious. I love frying circles of a potato that was previously boiled. We also went for a nice walk in the evening and finished watching the second Pirate movie.

We had a day planned tomorrow but all those plans went out of the window because Bear has to go home tomorrow morning because of a medical emergency going on with his family. I can’t go into detail because Bear asked me not to but I do want to ask for good thoughts sent into the universe.


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