Sunday, May 21, 2017

Sunday, May 21st, 2017 10:02 pm
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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.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Monday, May 8th, 2017 09:20 pm
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Today was my first day at the new job. It was mostly boring because I don't really have anything to do yet. I left the house a bit early at 7:20 so I could recharge the Metrocard and give myself extra time to walk to the subway. The commute is an hour or so with the walking (subway is about 12 minutes away from my place and about 5-10 minutes from the Manhattan station), so I had plenty of time before I had to be in HR at 9am to enjoy the views of the river. Before I left, I had time to eat breakfast and make Tanya her breakfast and feed her, so it felt rather nice not having to rush out of the door at 6:20.

From 9am to about 11am there was orientation at Human Resources department. They gave us a give blue giant folder with all the booklets and policies and forms to fill out like Pension fund and direct deposit and health insurance info - the works. A few people came to talk to us about the forms and how payroll would work. We got our IDs too. And then around 11 I got to go to my new department. I got my own desk and an IT guy came to reset my password. It is a pretty big desk in an open cubicle area. I met a bunch of people I will be working with. I remember maybe half the names but I will figure that out as I go along. I also go a bunch of office supplies, which felt like first day of school a bit.

Mostly I just sat there. The boss D had a lot of meetings today - he stopped by to welcome me but didn't have time for much more. Hopefully tomorrow. Another person who is sort of in charge too, gave me a couple of manuals so I could at least take a look at how procurement works and some of their reports. She was basically not sure if they should train me to do reports now, since I'm going on leave in the few weeks. I have no idea how much work I will have in the next months - but I do hope I will get something to do. I went out to enjoy the view and nice weather for lunch and I did get a building pass. I need to relax and bit and take it easy, and stop being so eager to prove myself. It will come.

The commute back was pretty easy and not too crowded. I got back at 6pm, and ran into Bear and Tanya on the way to the playground. So I came home and made some pasta and a turkey burger for dinner. Then fed them when they got back home at 7. I'm exhausted. Not from mental work, obviously, but it is very hard physically with with commute and sitting in the office and being 8 months pregnant. But it is something I will just have to do. I just paid some bills on the computer and will probably with read a little or watch Sense8 and just go to bed.

Yesterday, I actually managed to watch a whole movie in one sitting while Tanya napped. I saw "Bad Moms" which is silly and ridiculous in a lot of ways with a lot of jokes that are not my sense of humor but it still managed to make me tear up - I blame hormones. And I liked that the villain in the end wasn't just one note character. Of course, I loved the interviews with the actresses and their moms at the end and in special feature the most, of all things.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017 09:05 pm
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The semester is officially over. I spent Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday morning grading 43 papers. Plus on Monday, in the last class, I gave the final exam and graded 43 of those. But today I had my Folder Review, turned my grades in, held final office hour where I returned the folders and grades to mostly happy students and then I was done with teaching.

I didn't sleep well last night - but then I never do lately, having to go pee a lot. Late pregnancy is not too fun. I got up close to 6am (and so did Tanya for some reason). My parents were staying over to make it easier for my Mom to watch Tanya and for my Dad to drive me to University for the last time. We left by 6:15, after I made my bagel with cream cheese, got dressed and packed my lunch. I was at school by 7am and my Dad helped me lug the suitcase and a big bag full of student folders to the nice couch by the offices. Offices weren't open yet but that couch is extra comfy. So I finished the last of the papers - I left 3 good ones to the end. Then once the offices opened, I got help carrying my folders downstairs to the writing centers, printed three final exams that I still had to grade and finished sorting everything, right in time for my folder review at 10. As usual it went pretty smoothly. I then only had to do my electronic grade book and hold that final office hour.

Larry, one of my colleagues stopped by, and kept me company a little. We chat about books and music so it was very nice just to hang as some of my students tickled through to pick up their folders. He also wanted a chance to say goodbye properly as did many others. I got lots of hugs today. I will miss people I worked with for sure. And the teaching. But it was time to move on - they could only offer a part-time gig, and while it was ok for a while, I really do need full time work and more money.

After the folder review I went and got myself a reward brownie, chatted to Emily, another co-worker, for a bit and then caught up on "Flash" on the office computer and just hung around until 4 when my Dad came to pick me up after his work.

Now I'm just very tired from a long day, even if half of it was mostly sitting around. Since my body is busy making a human, it is pretty tiring just to sit too. But now I have 4 days with no work at all before I start my new job on Monday. I do have full two days ahead alone with Tanya though, so that would be exhausting, I'm sure. But at least no more grading. I can read (Gaiman's Norse Mythology and Jude the Obscure), watch some TV (Baking Show, Supergirl and Supernatural and Sense8 is starting soon) and finally catch up on my blog a bit. I've been reading all the entries but barely had time to comment, much less post, so I will probably do more of that over the next few days.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017 12:42 pm
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Happy International Women's Day! When I was a kid in Soviet Union, it was a national holiday with a day off school and I would get presents. The presents stopped when we moved to the US. I can't take off work today, since I work part-time and also I really need to keep to our semester schedule, but it is a nice thought.

I had a big grading deadline on Monday, with Folder Review in the morning (where I meet with my supervisor and have to have all Paper 2 graded), but most importantly, I needed to get all the grading done so I can give it back to my students to keep on track. They are turning in Paper 3 today, so they needed my comments from the previous paper. I also had midterms to grade, but those were not as essential, and also go much faster, so I did one section for Monday and the other I finished today. So this weekend I was pretty much grading and grading and grading and being in a stressful grumpy mood. But I got it all done, so yay. Next week is spring break, so I get some extra time to work on Paper 3.

I finished midterms this morning, and had the time to wash my hair, and give myself a pedicure and manicure, so now I feel like a proper person.

I had a minor cold since Friday, so made me a little cranky. Mainly my nose was running and by Monday the cold was making my upper teeth, upper throat and left ear hurt a little. But it feels almost ok now, so I'm taking it as a win. So many people were really sick this winter than this cold feels like it was a lucky break. And I was really happy, actually, that it wasn't allergies (since we just moved it was a concern, but definitely a cold).

On Saturday, Bear and I went to my OB-GYN for my pregnancy check-up. After this, I will go every two weeks as I'm entering my third trimester. Everything with the baby looked good. She's two pounds one ounce already. She doesn't seem to want to move around as much as Tanya did - only when she's uncomfortable or in the car or when I'm at work, so she's probably (hopefully) a lazier, less spirited baby. She is a good size baby so far, although I'm gaining less weight than I did with my first pregnancy.

The only concern now that does worry me a little is low placenta. The ultrasound tech and the doctor told me this at the anatomy scan at 21 weeks and they said it will probably move and not to worry. At this scan at 26 weeks, it hasn't moved. It is still low - the tech called it marginal. So it's not placenta plevia, at least not right now, and there is still 10 weeks for it to move up. And in most cases, it will. But it is there and makes me a little nervous. I mean, if I will need to have a C-section, I will have one, it is not the end of the world. Mostly, I don't want to go on bedrest, or at least not until the semester is over and I want this baby to go to term. Again, this is all speculation right now, everything is in flux and, according to the mighty internet, in most cases, the placenta should move up and I would be able to have a natural birth. It is is problem in my .5% of cases only. We'll see. It's just making me a little nervous.
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First a meme taken from pretty much everyone:

2016 Meme )

Today is the first day of the new semester for me, so I'm at work. My Dad dropped off my Mom very early (6:20am) and drove me to work. He will pick me up at 5 today. I already printed everything I needed to print from Syllabi to first day Writing Samples to my rosters, so now I just have time to kill. My classes are from 1:40 to 4:40 this semester (an hour 20 minutes for each class) and I technically have office hours from 12:30 to 1:30. So I'm now I'm just catching up on books and emails and blogs and commenting.

Before the offices opened and I could print and use a computer, I was looking forward to sitting on the new comfy couches close to the offices. But they replaced them with these modern looking armchairs, which are not nearly as comfortable! Sometimes, new things are not better.

I also wrote an official "intent to move" letter to our apartment's management company. They have no problem in our breaking our lease, as long as they get 30 days notice. They won't have any issues renting the place and for a higher rent pretty quickly. So we will officially move on February 28. Renovations are going well so far, and they should be done by mid February hopefully. As long as they are done enough for us to move our furniture, that should be fine. I definitely don't want to be paying double rent after February.

I watched the first episode of "Victoria" on Monday, which I really enjoyed. This is not a surpise as I generally like historical dramas and English TV series. And while I was neurtal on Jenna Colman on Doctor Who, I do like her in this role. And yesterday, I brought myself to watch the final episode of "Sherlock" for Season 4. I was a bit bored with it and a lot of the plot didn't make sense. I wish they just had a normal mystery and not a convoluted conspiracy/family soap opera drama. I did like where it all ended and I'm happy if it is the end of the show. If it's not, I hope they get back to fun mysteries again.

Something I want to write down so I don't forget later: this last week, Tanya started playing by pretending to be a character and assigning us roles. She is Cookie Monster, Bear is Elmo (somethimes its vice versa) and I'm the Cat in the Hat. It's pretty cute and an interesting stage in her play development.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Thursday, May 12th, 2016 09:57 pm
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Yesterday was my last day of the semester. The last class was on May 2nd but yesterday I met with my Director, we did folder review and I handed in all my grades. Everyone passed (well, except one guy who only attended one class, disappeared but never officially dropped the class). I had a very happy jock in the afternoon for final office hour where students come get their folders and grades. He got a C. I also had very happy B+s and a few As. I was happy with my second class - they were the strongest class I've had in years. The first class, full of jocks, not so much, mostly for the atmosphere the concentration of jocks creates. Still, good semester.

Last week, Bear got an ear infection and ended up staying with his parents, so Tanya and I unexpectedly went to stay with mine for the week. Which meant I graded much less than I wanted to. It was rainy and gross and we spent most of the week inside, where Tanya wouldn't leave me alone long enough to do much work. One time we could go to the playground I could actually grade a few papers on a bench with my Mom there too. So that meant that once I finally got home Saturday, and Bear did too, he was on Tanya duty while I graded. I got it all done, of course, with an hour and a half to spare, and enough time to watch some Season 2 "Grace and Frankie" (Season 2 is stronger than Season 1, I feel)

Now that I'm done with the semester, I need to decompress a bit. I'm not working in the summer but I want to be productive. Read. Write. Look for a full-time job again. Catch up online. And post more. I have a few topics that I can post on, but if anyone has any questions or things they want me to talk about, please feel free to leave the question in the comments. Either real life or fan stuff. Tomorrow I'm aiming for a book post - I finished Oliver Sacks' Musicophilia today and I also read a history book about Melisende, Queen of Jerusalem in the 12th century.
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The semester is almost over. Classes are done next Monday, when I will give my final exam, and then I have to finish all the grading by May 11th. I just printed out the exam, so I'm all set in prep. Now just to grade Paper 5.

I've been a little bit consumed by watching Season 1 of "The Flash" on Netflix in the past week, so I suspect I will only start to focus on grading once I finish the final two episodes. I love this show, which is a little unexpected. But the villain is so, so good and the tension is built nicely. I'm a tad obsessed at this point, which hasn't happened in a while. Watching the whole season at once only confirms to me that that is how I prefer my TV now - all at once with no commercials. I think I will continue to watch this show just on Netflix, the same way I do with "Agents of Shield" - it just works so much better watching at my pace in a month, rather than over the course of the year.

It's Passover and I'm keeping it - so no bread or pasta or rice or oatmeal for me. It's been cottage cheese and eggs and cheese for breakfast and lots of potatoes. I do miss my bread - but it is only three days left. On Friday, we were still at my parents so we had a Seder there. My parents don't really like the whole ritual, just the food, so I did a very short version of prayers from my Haggadah. But the food, as usual, was delicious. Tanya really loves chicken soup (the other day, I was giving it to her at home and she wanted to say "Tanya is eating soup" and was trying to get to the Russian word 'to eat', saying the English one. So I helped with 'Tanya kushaet soup" and she corrected me with "bulyon," which is Russian for chicken soup. She cracks me up) and she really liked munching on mazza.

On Saturday, after my parents drove us home and Bear came home from work and food shopping, we drove to Queens to Marianna's for our friend Seder, which we do every year on a convenient Passover Saturday. It was a smaller gathering this year, since Janna's baby is only a few months and she opted out. It was Marianna, her husband Adama, their daughters Galya and Ida, Yeva, Bear, Tanya and I. The boys took care of the kids while Marianna and I with some assist from Yeva cooked. It was so nice just to cook together and talk.

Our menu this year was chicken soup with mazza balls, Ethiopian cabbage dish (potatoes and cabbage), asparagus, salad, baked wild salmon, mazza bread with mushrooms and onions, eggs and desert (I got a Passover cake in Costco). And I put together the Passover Plate, of course Adama got plaintains which we usually have every year too, but it was getting late so he gave us some to take home and Bear made them Monday. Lots and lots delicious food. I still did a shortened Seder since we had to leave by 8, but I got most important bits in.

Tanya didn't nap in the car on the way there and, of course, couldn't settle down for a nap in a new place filled with new fun toys, so she didn't nap. She did very well, surprisingly, and wasn't too cranky in the evening. She fell asleep right away on the way home at 8pm, went to bed quickly again once we got home and slept in until 7:40 the next morning - so she caught up on her sleep. But Saturday she was just excited to play with Galya and then Ida, once Ida was up from her nap. For the first time, Tanya was actually playing with others, not just parallel playing, but playing. Even last time we came for a visit, she was more cautious. This time, she even led Ida by the hand herself to join in some game. It was fun to see.

Yesterday, we went to the playground twice, in the morning and in the afternoon. And both times she started following two girls around. In the morning, it were sisters who were maybe 7 and 5, playing on the slide, and Tanya wanted to climb on the side like them and touch their jackets. And in the afternoon, she saw two other sisters, maybe 4 and 3, drawing with chalk, so she went to the opposite corner of the playground to her stroller to get her chalk, then ran to the girls and joined them. Offered them chalk, tried jumping/running after them as they jumped the chalk drawn numbers game. They were mostly puzzled but let her follow them, prompted by their mother. She is starting to join it, though.

And she is making more and more sentences - in present and past tense. And it's often so amusing to me. Yesterday morning, I was washing the floors and she would come up to me and try to grab the mop and wash the floors herself, saying "otdai shvabru", loosely translated as 'give me back the mop', kind of. It's funnier in Russian.
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I really need to figure out how to handle my work stress better. I work part-time during the semesters teaching two sections of writing classes at a University. The rest of the time I'm home with my 18 month old, which is another job in itself. Of course, part-time is a relative term. I physically go to work two days a week and teach two 80 minute classes. But during the weeks where I have commenting on rough drafts (for papers 1 and 4) or grading papers (there are 5) - so seven weeks total, I don't have any free time at all. My every spare moment, which with an 18 months old and household stuff, really just includes nap time and bedtime, is used to grade.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is a new Remus/Sirius fest and I'm really tempted to sign up. I love the people and the community. But yesterday, I took a realistic stock of the free time that I have and I realized that I really can't during the semester. I've had a good and productive January, I'm happy with meeting goals I set for myself this year. I have limited free time and I want to read, write and catch up on my few shows. So I will pass but with some regret. I will join RS Games again, though. That I must.
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It took me four hours to get to work this morning. I made it five minutes before my first class started, so it worked out. I missed office hours but it's early in the semester, it's not like students care. But this was just a stressful commute. I'm on the train back now and it came on time, so hopefully the commute back will be more normal.

New York City got the second highest snowfall since 1869 and we missed the record by .1 inch. But it didn't feel like a big snowstorm to me until today. We spend Saturday holed up at home watching the snow and listening to a really strong wind. It felt like a regular home day. We stocked up on groceries, I cooked. I read writing samples.

I spent a lot of this weekend cooking. On Saturday I made soup for Tanya and meatballs for her too (Not a total disaster this time! Yay!). Yesterday, I made bean and barley beef soup, and chicken plov (rice and chicken dish). Soup came out really well. I burned the plov a tiny bit but it was still good.

On Sunday, Bear went to dig out his car from the snow. He said the whole driver side was buried under all the snow. In the afternoon, we all went out so Tanya could really play in the snow for the first time - I showed her how to make snowballs which she adorably tried to do by just trying to lift some snow and throw it up. Bear went to check his car again and discovered that with the plows and everything, his car got buried a bit again. There is just so much snow that there are not a lot of places to put it. The main street is very clear but side streets, not so much.

My parents live in a sort of a cul-de-sac, so they were not dug out until today. Last week, my Dad took this Monday off since he has extra vacation days he needs to use. He wanted to hang out with Tanya since my Mom had to come babysit. Well, yesterday afternoon my Mom called all upset since they weren't dug out yet and there was no way for her to make it to me on Monday morning. Bear basically just took a day off today from work, since he has personal days. Semester just started and I really can't just cancel a class. Well, I can but those are reserved for big emergencies.

Which leads me to this morning's commute. First the subway was five minutes late and went slower than usual. Which meant that I missed my train by two minutes. The next train, seventeen minutes later, just never showed up, with no annoucements. I got on the next train with left another 13 minutes later by the schedule but in really started off even later. And then it went slowly. So I got to my destination an hour later than usual. And then the uni bus took its sweet time to arrive and moved slowly. There was a lot of snow. Good thing I wore my snow boots. So four hour morning commute. This is the first snow storm of the winter and I'm already over it.

I grew up with lots of snow. I loved sledding and cross country skiing. But not a lot of people had cars when I was a kid and I think that makes a lot of difference. I remember a lot of snow as a kid but it wasn't such a tragedy.

At least all my students made it to class and we had a good class, I think.
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Mad Max: Fury Road )

TV: Downton Abbey and Sherlock )

I spend most of last week at my parents with Tanya since I had work orientation for two days. We only got home on Saturday morning. The week itself was pretty nice and orientation ended up being very helpful, despite being over two long days. I'm just going to do a short recap of the week. I should really just post more often.

Monday In the morning, Tanya and I went to Tanya's doctor for her last vaccines for a while. The visit actually went very well, no drama. Hopefully, no more visits, fingers crossed, until August. My Mom came over early to cook some soup and pack and as we neared our place, we saw that she was already outside, ready to go. We did have to come back as my Mom forgot her purse but still came to my parents's house pretty quickly.

Tuesday - Tanya started using declensions in Russian! She said, 'idyem babe' 'let's go to grandma' and not just nominitive 'baba' or 'grandma'. She said 'k mame' (to mama) too. I'm continuing to be amazed by how she is learning the language. She repeats after us a lot, and uses both English and Russian. It's really fascinating.

Wednesday - Day 1 of orientation. My Dad drove me in early. I was in the building by 7am (orientation was at 10). So I found an empty classroom, turned on my computer, ate my breakfast while finishing watching the Sherlock special. Then I worked on my syllabi and the online site. The orientation itself was more useful than I thought it would be. It was a recap of pedagogy of the course but the refresher was nice. I got some nice new idea for discussion day and for peer review day. I wanted to shake up my discussion class this semester; last year I felt I was talking too much and needed to get the students to participate more.

Thursday - on Thursday morning, I turned on my phone to watch the Oscar nomination, and as I was setting that up I saw the news bulletin that Alan Rickman died. My first reaction was refusal to believe it, hoping I misread or that it was a prank. I didn't have an emotional connection with David Bowie - I didn't grow up with his music or the movie - so Monday's news wasn't personal, but Alan Rickman was one of my favorite actors. I own Sense and Sensibility, Galaxy Quest, Dogma and Love Actually DVDs and Bear had all Harry Potters. My Dad has Die Hard. Alan Rickman was just such a presence. I kerp getting sad every time I catch my Snape mug with his image on my bookshelf.

On Thursday I also got myself some new slippers on sale, more food for Tanya at baby R US and some more milk for her.

Friday - Day 2 of orientation. I had to work on Assignment questions in the morning and also turned on my contract. We also worked on the grading criteria and later practice graded some papers to make sure everyone was grading on the same rubric. The best part of orientation was seeing some of my work friends, like Rosemary, and meeting new teachers too. There was lovely conversation at lunch about both work stuff and just regular TV, books, politics, life stuff. I'm also turning into one of those parents apparently who offers advice to expectant parents. I should stop that.

Saturday - back home, mostly a quiet day. I did take a walk to the library in the afternoon, for the first time in years (I've mostly been using their ebook feature and borrowing books for my Kindle) so I could renew my library card. And as soon as I stepped outside once I renewed the card, I took out my phone and put the 3rd Robert Galbraith book on hold. Technology is awesome. I then walked quite a way to the playground to join Bear and Tanya. So I ended up getting some walking exercise too.

In the evening, Bear and I started watching "Mad Max". I'm savoring this sudden ability in the last month to have free time in the evening and watching movies or reading. Tanya is finally staying asleep, most of the time after she falls asleep. Now that the semester is starting that time will be spent grading but still, time I will have. Yay. Why is my body and brain telling me to have another baby again and have erratic sleep again? (We are still thinking about having another but I'm starting to get a bit of baby fever -which I did not have when we were planning Tanya, but appently I do now. Still, brain, think of sleeping).

Sunday - I made pea soup in the morning and then walked to the local kosher butcher store to get some hot dogs and buns (I made them for dinner). I also went to a bunch of little stores including a Chinese bakery and a regular bakery. We got the first real snow of the winter in the afternoon. So quiet day. We finished the movie in the evening.

We are visiting Bear's parents today since it's a work holiday. Tanya is napping and I can finally catch up on the blog. I'm also reading three books now (Bechdel, 9th Tomek book and Purgatory), so I will probably read one of those now. It's really cold outside, 25F or -4 C, and it snowed a little this morning. There is finally winter. Some tea and a book sound just about right.
bearshorty: (Default)
I'm pretty cranky by the end of this day, not from anything major but with the build up of minor annoyances. I'm trying to get myself into a better mood.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

At least I could retreat to the bathroom once Bear got home at 6 and have a nice shower and some time to myself. I think I will go have a cookie now, go snuggle with Bear a little and watch some more Jessica Jones. I was going to work on a recommendation for a student but that can wait.
bearshorty: (Default)
30 Days of Me Meme

Day 2: Things that irritate you
In general, selfish people who are not considerate of others.

Recently and completely illogically, anything that interferes with baby nap time. Neighbor playing loud music in the middle of the day - how dare he! Car honking as a stroller with sleeping baby is passing by - don't they know the universe revolves around a nap! Baby not wanting to nap - go nap, baby, Mama needs some time for herself. All completely irrational irritations but irritations nonetheless.

Another minor irritation that is starting to crop up now as the semester has started is students emailing me with questions that could be easily found on the syllabus. Bear actually saw a PhD Comic strip about this and emailed it to me because he hears enough complaining about it from me. I want to frame it.

30 Days of Fandom Meme

2 – Name the fandoms you've written in, and how much you've written in that fandom, and if you still write in it.

I don't have that large body of work. I've written for Harry Potter, Highlander: TV Series, Torchwood and I have one Bible story where I was writing about the Book of Esther. I only did one story in Torchwood too - it pretty much wrote itself. Mostly I write in Harry Potter - Remus/Sirius specifically and mostly for fests. I work so much better with a specific deadline and I get inspired by prompts.

Real Life

Today was a work day and I bought Oreo Cookies as props. Oreo cookie is a good metaphor for a paragraph since one must start and end with their own idea and use quotes for evidence in the middle. Plus I bring students cookies.

I was a really good day overall. I actually had a student at office hours again, which this early in the semester is pretty rare and the classes went over pretty well. And I got to read more of my book since I finished commenting on drafts this weekend and didn't have to rush to finish today. And when I got home we took Tanya to the playground and she wanted to walk home for the first time instead of being in the stroller - watching her toddlering around is so much fun. She just wants to explore and use her new walking superpower.

I did get a weird and unexpected question today. I was packing up from the first class when the instructor who had the room next introduced himself to me (he forgot he did that last week too, but some people can't recognize faces). As I was leaving, one guy asked me if I was Russian based on my name. He was from Odessa originally and was visiting his old teacher at the university. At one point in the conversation he asked me what I taught and if it was full time. When I told him I only teach part time he asked, "And what do you do in real life?". Which really threw me because it is my real life. That and being a Mom of a very small child. I think he asked this because many in the English department who teach part time do other things. I know authors of children's books and an actor and my friend Rosemary is a playwright. But it was just a bit weird.
bearshorty: (Default)
I can never sleep properly before the first day of school. I'm not nervous about work or meeting new students. I think my brain is just trying to make sure that I'm not late and that I prepared all my first day handouts.

My parents came over last evening and stayed overnight since I had to leave by 6:30 and my Mom is watching Tanya. Bear is away until Saturday afternoon. She roped my Dad into working from my place (his work allows occasional work from home days) so he could help out too when he wasn't working. They are also leaving for a vacation in Aruba tomorrow for 10 days, so both were looking forward to spending time with their granddaughter.

I made sure to say goodbye to Tanya before I left because that is a better option that just disappearing on her. She's been waking up between 6 and 7 lately anyway, so I didn't really wake her up. No crying - pretty successful exit.

My commute is pretty long. I need to take a subway and a train. Since I only have to travel twice a week and I can get a lot of work done on the way, I don't really mind it too much, especially in the morning. I got the luxury of reading my book for a few hours. The beginning of the semester, before the grading starts in earnest is pretty nice. Most of my planning handouts are ready and I can read for pleasure guilt free.

I stopped by the corner store to get my bagel with cream cheese, which I eat later when I get on the train and caught the subway. I saw a very gorgeous sunrise this morning. The subway travels above ground for the while and the window across from me was bright pink with the sun disk all dimmed and slightly yellow. Very lovely.

I was reading On the Move , the autobiography by Oliver Sacks. Since his death on Sunday I just wanted to get started on it. I just finished reading Roadside Picnic by Strugatsky brothers, so the timing was right. (I'm still working on the Hamilton biography but that book is long, so I will break it with other books. And I usually read two or three books at a time). I'm almost 100 pages into the book - I read the first three chapters. I find it interesting that he doesn't really discuss his childhood. He starts as a teenager getting his first motorcycle. As motorcycle enthusiast, it is a major part of his identity, so I understand his choice. It is just unusual not to have a general run through of dates/parents/siblings/childhood memories. Some details make their way through the narrative as he goes along but mostly, the early chapters are his late teens/20s - college/medical school/travels. Some of his other books (I read 2 so far - Mind's Eye and An Anthropologist on Mars ) have autobiographical details, especially Mind's Eye which deals with his eye cancer and perception. But those focus more on his later life. This autobiography is definitely surprising in details about his youth like motorcycles or weight training. And there are his travel letters and accounts which are an entertaining read. I'm definitely enjoying the book so far.

I also listened to my iPod when not reading a book. I haven't recharged it in a month I think - there was just no time with looking after Tanya all the time. We listen to the radio at home or to CDs. (On Tuesday, Tanya rummaged through Bear's CDs, found a CD of sci-fi music from movies and TV and dragged it to the living room. So I put it on. She didn't care for early tracks like Twilight Zone but when I put in Halloween, she just started dancing to the scary horror movie music. It was hysterical). Last week, in anticipation of listening to my music again, I made a Favorite Broadway playlist - taking two tracks from all the musicals I have. I wanted to just have one favorite track per musical but that was too hard. Even two was hard but I stuck through it. My 'flaw' in this playlist was adding songs from Buffy Musical - now I just want to rewatch the whole episode (I picked Rest in Peace and Standing), which will lead to watching more Buffy episodes. Other musicals included Aida, Anything Goes, Avenue Q, Jesus Christ Superstar, Les Miserables, Cabaret, Hedwig, If/Then, Into the Woods, Once, Rent, Buffy and Rocky Horror. I should probably add Dr. Horrible.

I got some time in the morning before my classes started, since there was no office hour today. I had to print and photocopy syllabi, reading guides, rosters, writing samples and a lot of paperwork. I also put together the first assignment question. We are starting with Jane Goodall's reading again "In the Forest of Gombe" but I am asking them to see the drawbacks to some of her concepts. New approach. Maybe I can teach some critical thinking!

First class is really easy. I talk about the syllabus and class requirements and then the students write a writing sample. During that time I reread the first essay and prepped my discussion question for next week during the first section and read the writing samples from the first section in my second one. (I teach two sections of Basic Composition). My second section filled up - so it has good number of students. I don't have to worry about cancellation, which is a relief.

After my classes, I stopped by the department and said hello to more colleagues I haven't seen all summer and then started making my way home.

It was very hot today and the subway station tried to boil us all alive, I think. It was so hot with no air conditioner. It was a relief when a train pulled up.

Good first day overall. Now I'm home alone with Tanya for 48 hours before Bear comes back. Then we will travel to Long Island for Labor Day weekend. So still a bit of vacation left before the semester really starts.

On exciting front, Tanya is starting to be braver in walking. Lately she's been holding on to just one hand, but yesterday she did a few steps by herself if I let go her hand several times and even started walking by herself from a standing position. Just a few steps but very exciting.

And in TMI, I really hope my body gets the message soon that I weaned and haven't nursed her for over a week now. My boobs are very uncomfortable. No one tells you these things. It's like postpartum. It sucks but no one really mentions the details beforehand.

And in exciting news my friend Janna is pregnant with her second baby. The first one is turning 2 in a month. I probably won't have the time but I found the birth record cross stitch kit anyway to try to make it for the baby. I'm trying to be optimistic about having the time to cross stitch again. Last time I make anything was Tanya's birth record, just before she was born.
bearshorty: (Default)
Another week gone by. They do tend to go quickly. Back to work next week. I'm already updating syllabi, setting up the class websites and updating first class handouts. The first class is on Thursday. I'm teaching two sections of Basic Composition this semester.

At least, I'm hoping it's two sections. My first class is nice and full at 18 students but the second class is limited to students of a specific program only and not to general uni population. The problem is, it only has 6 students so far. My boss thinks it's not a problem since it's a sponsored section so it should run despite the low enrolment but I won't relax about it until the semester starts. I really can't afford not to teach two sections.

Meanwhile, this week we again went to my parents from Tuesday to Saturday for the last summer hurrah. And on Tuesday night I finally cut off the night nursing. I was weaning my daughter all month and it was time to drop the last feed. No more nursing. I went almost 13 months and soon I will get my body back. Of course, that meant lots of crying that night and lack of sleep. I think I managed 4 hours and Tanya maybe 6 or 7. But to my surprise the next night was really good. She slept better, had water when she woke up at night and didn't cry about it anymore. I was expecting at least 3 miserable nights, so yay. She's not sleeping through the night yet, though. One day. She is also finally got used to regular cow milk.

On Wednesday, despite complete exhaustion we went to the beach in the morning. The water was much colder, so no swimming, but lots of fun in the sand.

On Thursday, my Dad worked from home for half a day so he could drive me to work for the new semester orientation in the afternoon. I met up with a few of my work friends and we had fun catching up. Then the orientation was really about the rise of international students since 2011 and the challenges of teaching not grammar but vocabulary more. It was really nice to shift my mental gears and focus on work.

After the orientation, my Dad and I drove to Costco where I finally ordered new glasses, since it was cheaper to buy them there with no insurance than at another place with insurance. My insurance will reimburse about $50, so that's a plus. The new frames are purple (I have red now). I will keep the red ones for the computer since the new ones will have a stronger prescription.

Then I ate a lot of free food samples, which was great since I was getting hungry. And on top of that I bought their Gelato - 3 scoops on a waffle cone for only $1.50. So cheap and delicious. A bit too much ice-cream really.

After unloading everything my Dad bought at home, we then drove to Toys R Us so I could get more baby food for Tanya. We also stopped by the bank and a nearby store, so I could buy Bear an anniversary card. It was our 3 year wedding anniversary on August 26th. (It will be 17 years together on Sept 6). Today we were going to get some cake from the bakery that made our wedding cake (here's a link to an old post with a couple of wedding pictures including the cake ). But the store has closed. Luckily, they will open soon in a new location -they have really amazing cakes. I went to a local bakery instead. Hopefully, next year we can resume our cake tradition.

Friday was the day of three trips to the playground. Kids today play a lot of zombie games. The boys were chasing zombies with toy guns and on another playgound boys were playing zombie tag. And one kid had a dog costume on and was barking like a dog and running around - Tanya was fascinated by him.

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