Sunday, August 29, 2010

Art Collection, part deux

Last week the artwork we bought back in just arrive.  Two big brown boxes.  We opened them to make sure they were the right pieces and that the glass wasn't broken.  They were and it wasn't and the boxes were placed against the wall.
As we really don't want to be those people who place art/frames against the wall and never hang them, today we did some redecorating.  The chosen wall is the one behind the couch. it's the last picture in this post and Robs desk is now happily residing in the office, which you will likely never see on this blog as it doubles as a storage room.  I"m slowly working on that.

First we had to take down the animation cells that were the previous decoration.  And patch and paint the holes.  I also use this opportunity to touch up a few other places around the apartment.  Such a nice blank wall.  We measured and hammered and got ready to hang our new art.
The two paintings are by Slava Brodinsky, a Russian painter who moved to Isreal and much of his work is inspired by the Medeteranean, like the South of France where we visited.  I think that is one reason we liked these so much was that they reminded us of France.  The paintings are serigraphs on wood with hand painted embellishments (really if I didn't know there is enough texture that they could be originals, which I guess they kind of are because of the hand painting) and are each from a series of 180.
and you thought I'd show them off so easily.

After the hanging was done we though the wall looked pretty good.  Especially if you only look at the part of the wall over the couch.  But there is more wall that extends to the hall, where we had hanging a wedding photo (see before post linked above).  But it looked all wrong.  It was too small and the frame was all wrong.
So we swapped out the too small photo with one from our bedroom, which is actually the same size but the frame is bigger because of the matting.  The new frame is gold, so it looks kind of perfect.
All that is left to do is decide if that monitor is going to stay there or go back to school from which I borrowed it for my online summer math class.  Rob said that the quality of our art investments is going up.  It is, but now we have to figure out what to do with the cells that used to hang here.  Maybe we will be those people with frames against the wall after all...

Ashley's Getaway, Brodinsky, 2007

Bayside Villas, Brodinsky, 2007

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Anniversary Dinner 2010

For our second anniversary we decided to keep it a little low-key.  No weekend getaway this year.
Rob sent me flowers in the morning.
Then we went out for a really nice dinner.  Once or twice a year we like to hit up some of the finer dining in NYC, and an anniversary is the perfect excuse.  This year the meal was at Jean Georges, located in Trump Tower at Central Park.  We went with the prix fix meal and it was pretty delicious.  But as we both really love desert, we got an extra one of those to share.  All of the deserts are the tasting variety, so you pick a theme and get four small deserts.  We got chocolate, garden, and strawberry.  I didn't get a picture of us dressed up, but I did take a few of desert.
 all of our deserts



garden, with happy anniversary candles

Friday, August 27, 2010

Second Year

**Updated:  I passed The Test.  I will get feedback next week, but it doesn't matter, because I PASSED!

Well, I am officially a second year PhD student.  I didn't take a first day of school picture this year.  But maybe I'll take a first day of teaching picture on Monday.  We'll see.

My first classes were Thursday.  Stats, all day.  I like stats, but four hours in a darkened room is A LOT.  The lights are turned down so we can better see the projector, but it makes me a little dizzy, then staring at a bright screen in front of me.  I also had my first writing class, it's a workshop/seminar that I think is going to be really helpful.  I enjoyed talking about some different issues in academic writing and also defining what we mean by academic writing.  Really boring stuff right?

I already have homework, and I get the feeling that while the first year was heavy on reading (insane amounts) the second year is going to be heavy on writing.  I'm just hoping for less stressful than last year.   I also start teaching on Monday.  I should probably finish my syllabus.  I just can't quite seem to get in the mood to do it.  A friend taught her first class on Friday and enjoyed it.  So I'm hoping it will be a little fun.  It's so strange to be back in school already again.  We've had such a great summer.  But the weather felt like fall for a couple of days last week.  It will be sweater and cider weather soon.

I'm still waiting to find out how I did on THE TEST.  Results come in on Tuesday.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Art Collection

On our cruise in June we had four days at sea.  Sea days are really what you make them.  I was content to sit and read for the first three days.  And there are tons of activities.  Of course some of them aren't set up for tons of people, like the bean bag toss.  But there was lots of trivia.  On our last couple of days at sea we began to run out of things to do.  We noticed that the trivia was recycled and started getting the same questions.  We were bored enough that we went to Arts and Crafts.  And we went shopping.  There are only two stores.  I bought some sunglasses, they were half off, which was unexpected and awesome.  Of course at the moment I have absolutely no idea where they are.  Rob got a watch.  It's solar powered.  It's a Citizen watch just like mine.

So on the last day at sea we had exhausted our list of activities to participate in, shopped more than enough, and I had finished all my books.  So we went to the on board art auction.  I thought it would be nice for the free champagne and to look around.  And we did.  And we found some we liked and inquired and got prices.  And this is real artwork, like it comes with appraisals and such.

Rob being an artist has mentioned before that he would like to invest in art.  In 2008 when we were in Santa Fe, we bought a tiny clay pot with its authentication. That was our first investment.  So we picked a painting we liked.  It was a landscape.  It reminded us of the South of France.  So it was put in the sale.  Now because there are many pieces and not so many people only artwork that people show an interest in and a few favorites of the auctioneer are actually up for bid.  As an aside, the other piece I liked was a vintage Peter Max painting that made me think of The Yellow Submarine and was listed at $12,000, Rob and I are in agreement that we are not going to take on debt for art because wheat kind of investment would that be.  And that is definitely over our budget.  I am going to have him paint me a replica someday though.

So our painting went up for sale and we got it for what is a reasonable price as it will probably be appraised for a few hundred more than we paid.  And then the next paining comes up.  It is a mountain village by the sea.  Same artist, and they were clearly meant to go together.  The auctioneer asks if I want the set, I look at Rob and the auctioneer asks Rob how much he would pay for it.  Rob throws out an incredibly low number that is not quite accepted but close.  So what the auctioneer does is lower the price of the first (that we already had) raised the price of the second, and the total is just below what we would have paid with Rob's incredibly low offer.  So we kind of accidently bought to paintings.

The art is shipped and takes 8 - 10 weeks to arrive, I'm guessing because of appraisal paperwork etc.  I had kind of forgotten about them.  Until Thursday when Rob sent me a text, the paintings had arrived and would I please come pick them up after my test and take a cab home.  So I did.  Two big boxes with our grown-up art work.  It's an investment.  We are not collectors.  We have three pieces that we bought together, not to mention the original art by friends and colleagues that Rob has acquired over the years.

The only problem.  Where are we going to hang them?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Test

Last Thursday I took THE TEST.  Specifically my first qualifying exam that I need to pass to advance through my graduate program.
The program is set up with several milestones.

Year 1 - required coursework
Summer - THE TEST
Year 2 - required and elective coursework
46 credits - advance to level 2
Year 3/4 - elective coursework
60 credits - THE TEST part 2 (Second Doctoral Exam)
Advance to candidacy (level 3)
Year 4+ - Defend Dissertation Proposal
Do Dissertation
Defend Dissertation
Get PhD.

The purpose of the written exam (or so they say) is to show off what we know.  The exam is three hours.  We are given three questions and we have to answer two of them.  Seems easy enough, except that we are expected to cite, and can't bring in any notes or reference material.  It is stressful.  But goes back to the early days of the Academy and exams were given.  And no notes so there is no way of cheating.  (although since we don't know the questions...)  How do we begin to study for this kind of a test.  We were given a list of practice questions and formed a study group and began discussing some of the papers we covered in class.  It was working well.  I wrote practice answers for all 6 six the practice questions and read up on the areas I felt were a little weak.  The cohort above ours said their exam questions came from the practice questions.  I fretted and worried and read and crammed.  Wednesday, I crashed.  I was just too tired and my brain to fried to take in anymore.  So I went home early, cooked a nice dinner and watched Castle reruns with Rob.  We love that show.

So back to Thursday TEST day.  I got there early.  Go me.  Armed with Lara bars, almonds and water.  We entered the exam room and together went through the set-up procedures and exam rules.  I opened my envelope and read the questions.  The questions.  Oh the questions.  One was close to a couple of the practice questions.  One I was wholly unprepared for and did not look at again.  And one was unfamiliar, but I feel I had read enough to answer.  I wrote for an hour, and finished my first essay.  Then I took a restroom break.  I wrote for another hour for my second essay and took another break.  I still had an hour, so I re-read, edited and expanded my answers.  They were each just over two pages.  I hope it is enough.

The worst part for me was that everyone had to turn in the answers simultaneously, so I couldn't leave when I was done.  And because there were no outside materials allowed I couldn't read or do anything else either.  That was rough.  I didn't want to keep reading and thinking about my answers in fear of making them worse and over thinking.  So I sat.  Then we turned in the essays.  I find out if I passed on the 31st.  I am feeling pretty good.  One answer I know was good, the other was more ok, but I think acceptable.  We will find out soon.

They say the purpose is so we can show off what we know and it is not mean to be overly difficult.  I don't feel so much that I was able to show off, I feel more like I coped. But for me, much of the first year of grad school was coping.

In one moment of despair while studying, I started to question myself and why I am putting myself through this process.  It really is a process like no other, one that you can not fully understand until you go through it or live with someone who is going through it.  Why am I doing this to myself.  and as I was thinking about what it is that I want in my life, and the kind of work I would like to do, I thought about the work that makes me truly happy.  And it is the work I've done with content and curriculum research.  In order to continue in this field, I do need a higher degree.  In order to advance to a director position I do need a PhD.  So I continue the process.  (Of course I had to choose a job that first requires this)  But I did pass my first year.  I learned and advanced my scholarship.  I am looking forward to continuing my research.  The coursework and exams are a part of that.  So I endure.  But the worst is behind me, or so they say.

My first day of class is Thursday.  Four hours of Statistics.  Tuesday I will find out about the TEST.  Until then I am trying not to think about it.

Fall Schedule
Tuesday 9:30 - 2nd Year Research Seminar
Tuesday 11:00 - Lunchtime Lecture Series
Tuesday 2:00 - Parent Child Relationships
Thursday 9:30 and 2:00 - Statistics
Thursday 4:15 - Professional Development, Academic Writing

Goals for year 2 - positive outlook, advance research, improve writing and scholarship.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Two Years Ago

I married the love of my life.
My best friend.
 The man of my dreams.
Use all the cliches to describe the day.
 It was perfect.
I love you.

Monday, August 9, 2010

BlogHer '10

I went to my first ever blogging conference.  I had an awesome time.  I met bloggers (duh) and have a pile of new blogs to read.  I am all about twitter (again) we'll see how long that addiction lasts.  I think it might thought because of all the awesome bloggers I met who are also on Twitter.

I was a bad conference attendee.  I barely used my camera.  I used it exactly once, because I felt guilty for not using my camera.  I took a picture of the Hershey suite.  They had a fireplace and a campfire and make your own s'mores stations.  I ate a lot of s'mores.   I got a lot of swag.  I am especially happy with the Toy Story 3 Mrs. Potato Head and the present I got for Charlie.  The most useful swag is probably the woven bags the swag* came in.  I scored a second one from the recycle table and they were perfect this afternoon for my Trader Joe's trip.  Sturdy and huge and easier than lugging the cart to Manhattan, but I digress.

I went to a session on being and entreprenuer with your blog and following your dreams.  I went to a couple on how to write and to use blogging as a way to practice writing better.  That was a really good one.  I think my favorite though was on loving your small blog.  I have a small blog.  I am always thinking about growing it.  But really I love my blog.  I think it is finally coming out of the identity crisis it went through a few months ago.  I'm still undecided on if I want to move to wordpress.  And maybe thinking about starting a professional blog.  That one might be another year down the road.

I got invited to a breakfast hosted by Hyland's Health.  We got to hear Leanne's story and how she created a homeopathic head lice treatment, Quit Nits.  It's a pretty awesome story.  I'll post a review of the book she wrote one I receive and read it.  I also met quite a few gluten free bloggers and think I am more committed to trying the diet.  I don't have a really bad reaction to gluten, but I eat WAY to many carbs and from everything I've heard going gluten free (or at least cutting back) will really help my PCOS.  We'll see how it works going forward.  The Trader Joe's run today really helped with that.  I am going to really work on a vegetable with every meal and fruit snacks throughout the day.

I kind of think I would love to go to BlogHer11 in San Diego.  I'll have to think about it.  But if I do go I absolutely need to get cards with my blog and twitter handle.  I totally used my business cards with blog address written in.  Kind of amateur even if I do only blog for fun...

*edited to add:
swag = free stuff they give you at conferences - mine included a water bottle, t-shirts, Mrs. Potato Head, Fire Station with cars, baby swaddler,(baby stuff was taken to be used as gifts and shower presents I have a few coming up) sandwiches shaped plastic containers and lots of things that fall into the category of crap - sponges bag clips notebooks etc

Thursday, August 5, 2010

You know the economy is bad when...

**Updated Sunday August 8:  The sign is gone.  He's back in business!

...the mechanical horse at the deli is out of work.

Rob saw this and thought the phrasing of the sign was pretty funny.

In other news BlogHer starts tonight. And I'm going. Seeing as it is a blogging conference, there might be a few posts this weekend.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A new session of kickball

Last week we started session 2 of summer kickball. A new team, about half the old one, this time around. We lost our first game 10 - 4. But last night we WON! 5 - 3 and we fought for every run and every out.
The most exciting part of the game - when I got hit in the face. You are out if the ball hits you. It's allowed, but not above the shoulders. I asked if I could get some water before continuing to run. The ref looked at me like I had two heads. "WHAT, I'M OUT! NO WAY!" We then had the discussion of did the ball hit directly on my face or bounce off my arm. It hit my fave, I felt it. It hurt. I didn't cry. I felt proud of myself.

The most suspenseful part of the game was the last play. Bottom of the 7th (we play 7 innings) we were in the field leading 5 - 3. THE BASES ARE LOADED! HOW DID THIS HAPPEN. Two outs. And their power kicker is up. OMG! The kick was high and long. Lucky for us we have a couple of awesome outfielders, one of whom caught the kick. And we won.

Kickball is exciting and awesome and great exercise.

Afterward we tried our skills at Flip Cup. It turns out we are pretty good.