The Siberian American

Monday, February 11, 2019

Let’s Have a Coffee Date: Vacation Planning, Instant Pot Fun, and Residency

Hey, friends! It’s been a while since I’ve done a coffee date post (not since we were in DC in September), and I thought it would be a good way to share some of the random news I haven’t mentioned on the blog yet!

Life has been really busy lately, and Chris has had barely any time off. Thankfully, it will be a bit slower for a bit (and then more nights. Yuck). We’re planning some fun things with Anthony to take advantage of our time together! Also, Chris just got elected chief resident by his fellow residents and attendings! It’s a huge honor, and I’m super proud of him, but it does mean he will have even more work. He also has several conferences coming up, and he has to take the intense radiology board exam in June, so the next few months will be interesting!

All of that to say, we are looking forward to him taking two weeks off in July. We are celebrating our 30th birthdays and 10-year wedding anniversary during the same week this year, so we’re hoping to go somewhere fun. We haven’t actually planned the trip yet because we won’t know the exact dates we can go until the residency schedule for next year is final (the Medical New Year is July 1). Anyone have any ideas for us? It’s been hard to narrow it down since it is our first big trip since Anthony was born.

Speaking of it being our first trip since Anthony was born, I am already having a hard time with the idea of leaving him. I know we need time together as a couple, but I work from home, and the longest I have been away from Anthony is three hours. I know it’s healthy for both of us to spend time apart, and he will be in extremely capable hands, but I can’t promise I won’t be crying on the flight to our destination!

Anthony has been so much fun lately. He’s running all over the place, and I feel like he learns a new word a day. I just love seeing his personality come out more and more. For example, he loves cleaning up and putting everything in its correct place. He didn't get that trait from me. Haha!

I messed up last week and posted my books reviews a week early! I’ve read two more books since I published my books reviews, and they were both super good (Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center and American Duchess: A Novel of Conseulo Vanderbilt by Karen Harper). I’m currently in the middle of The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, and it’s one of the most complicated mystery novels I’ve ever read, but it’s really interesting. I’m definitely curious to see how it ends!

We finally got an Instant Pot for Christmas, and we have really loved using it for many different recipes! We just made a quinoa chicken fried rice in it yesterday that was super delicious! I might do a roundup for our favorite Instant Pot recipes soon if anyone is interested.

Since I didn’t blog much last year, I don’t think I ever mentioned that Chris decided to stay at his current program for his fellowship in neuroradiology (in an oversimplified explanation, he will be reading brain scans and doing procedures). He decided he didn’t want to spend the money to interview all over the country again (been there, done that), and it would be hard for us to move somewhere for just a year. He will be starting his last year of radiology residency in July and doing neuroradiology fellowship the following July. It still feels like we’re a long way away from the end of training, but we’re getting closer!

Monday, February 4, 2019

Eight Books I Read in January

Hi, friends! I'm excited it's time for another book day. This might be one of the most diverse lists of books I have ever posted on here due to Erin's Book Challenge. I love Erin's Book Challenge because it makes me read books I normally wouldn't pick up, and I tend to read more in general! I've included the category for each book so they don't seem quite as random.

Dumplin' by Julie Murphy
Erin's Challenge: Book Made into a Movie
I used to love YA, but it's been a while since I've read it, so it took me a while to get into this book. I ended up enjoying it, though! I really liked the characters. It's such a sweet story of confidence and acceptance, and I think it's especially important for high school girls to read! It was fun that it was set in Texas, too!

(c/o NetGalley)
Erin's Challenge: Favorite Book of Family/Friend
It took me a bit of time to get into this book, but overall, I liked it. After Miranda's uncle Billy passes away, she receives a clue to a scavenger hunt to find out why Billy and her mom had a falling out 16 years ago. The big secret became obvious to me early on, but there were still interesting tidbits through the book that I enjoyed. I loved the bookstore setting and how much the story revolved around books.

(c/o NetGalley)
Erin's Challenge: Originally Published in Different Language
I think I would have liked this book better if I had read it in French (which wouldn't have worked since I needed it for a book in translation in a book challenge). This book was written entirely in a poetry format, which was interesting and unique, but I do think some things were lost in translation here and there. I didn't love the ending, but it doesn't surprise me because it's very French. Overall, it was an OK read, but I wouldn't go out of my way to recommend it.

Erin's Challenge: Published 100+ Years Ago
I somehow missed reading Persuasion all these years, and I absolutely loved it. The first few chapters weren't my favorite, but it really picked up, and the ending was fantastic. I loved Anne and Frederick. This is definitely one of my favorite Jane Austen novels.

(c/o NetGalley)
Erin's Challenge: Set in Europe
I thought learning about British spying during WWII was interesting, but there were a lot of confusing things in this book. I feel like there were parts of the plot that didn't end up being explained, and the ending was way different than I expected. Juliet was not my favorite character, and it felt a little slow. Still, it was a decent read, and I would definitely read more Kate Atkinson books.

(c/o NetGalley)
Erin's Challenge: Cardinal Direction in Title
This was a quick-paced, cozy romance. I liked the characters, but the story wasn't super unique or exciting. It was a decent read, but it's not a book I would go out of my way to recommend.

(c/o NetGalley)
Erin's Challenge: Title Starts with N
I loved this book! It's a quick, fast-paced story of a mother's love and determination to get her daughter back after she was abducted by her father. The chapters go back and forth between the past and the present, where the daughter faces some difficult challenges in her own life. The beginning was a little slow, but it soon pulled me in, and I couldn't stop reading.

(c/o NetGalley)
Erin's Challenge: Newberry Award Winner/Honor Roll
Last time I read this book, I was in elementary school. I think I enjoyed it even more as an adult. It's about the beauty of friendship and dealing with change. It's sweet and funny and teaches great lessons.

Favorite reads in Month: Dumplin', Persuasion, and No Time to Blink.

Linking up with Steph & Jana.

I love book suggestions. What have you read lately?

Monday, January 28, 2019

Anthony Update: Months Ten, Eleven, and Twelve (Plus Some Current Updates)

Hey, friends! I’m definitely late on this update because Anthony turned 15 months on Sunday (how?!), but I wanted to have his entire first year on my blog. Plus, who doesn’t love an excuse for adorable baby photos? At the end of this post, I’m including some fun facts about Anthony right now.

General Thoughts
The last three months of Anthony’s first year were so much fun. We got to do many new things with Anthony on our four-week trip to Washington DC, and I loved watching him explore.

At his 12-month appointment, Anthony was 21.4 pounds (55th percentile) and 30.75 inches (80th percentile). He’s come a long way from being in the second percentile for his weight at his two-month appointment! Around his first birthday, he had eight teeth.

Those last three months before one were full of milestones. The biggest milestone was walking. He was taking a few steps here and there at 11 months, but he didn’t consistently pick walking over crawling until 13 months.

His other big milestone was his language. I had heard that children who learn two languages at once can be slightly delayed with their language, but Anthony has been doing well so far. The first word he said (and understood the meaning) was bye-bye. He always says it when we leave a room or go through any door (and he waves! It’s so cute). At his one year birthday, he knew eight words: buh-bye, dada, baba (for my mom), go, mmm good, ky-ky (Russian for peek-a-boo), kaka (Russian for dog), and ball. Since then, he’s added on quite a few more words. My favorites from his new words are mama (he finally said it consistently right after Christmas!), teeth, cheese, and bubbles.

Anthony had so many fun firsts in months 10-12. On September 8 (at 10 months), he had his first flight. He did so well. For those of you with babies and toddlers who haven’t flown with them yet, the biggest recommendation I can give is to buy them their own seat. It is so much easier and much safer, too! We took him to the ocean for the first time at Assateague Island, and he went to the zoo for the first time at the Smithsonian Zoo. We also visited monuments, Monticello, Shenandoah National Park, and took Anthony to his first apple orchard. We added three new states to Anthony’s state list while in DC, so by the time he turned one, he had visited five states.

On our flight back, he really was a super trooper because we got stuck on the plane when we landed due to a thunderstorm, and we didn’t get home until 11 p.m. We also experienced 30 seconds of the worst turbulence I’ve ever experienced as we flew through the thunderstorm.

Like I mentioned in my last Anthony update, I was beyond excited when he turned the corner with his nighttime sleeping. For a while, Anthony was wanting to do all of his sleeping at night. He would go to bed at 8 p.m., wake up at 6:30 a.m. to feed, and then he would want to go back to sleep until 9 a.m. It was really nice because I could get some work done in the morning. As a result of his night sleep, he would only take two 30-minute naps during the day. This changed again recently, and now he’s sleeping 11 hours at night (he does wake up once occasionally), taking an hour and a half morning nap and a 45-minute evening nap.

Anthony still loves to eat! We made it to one year of breastfeeding (and we’re actually still breastfeeding, which is crazy to me. I doubted I would make it to a year, let alone longer than a year). He never really used bottles, so it was easy to transition to a sippy cup. He will pretty much eat everything. His favorite food includes eggs, cheese, tortillas (or any kind of bread), zucchini, squash, salmon, bananas, and strawberries. The only food we have noticed he doesn’t like so far is carrots. He’s also not a big meat eater yet. His Dada likes to say Anthony somehow manages to eat as much food as he does.

Anthony loves people (he is shy for about 10 minutes when he meets someone new, but then he won’t stop talking!), going to the park (swinging and going down the slide is his favorite), dancing (any time I say “dance, dance,” he starts dancing!), listening to music (Baby Shark is a favorite, of course), and reading books. He is also a huge fan of our dog Skyler and is always looking to see where she is. She is finally a big fan of his, now that he throws her food from his high chair. His favorite toys at that age were a dump truck (he loves to drive it around), his V-Tech Activity Walker, and any kinds of balls to kick and throw.

Really, the only big dislike at that stage was diaper changes. They got really difficult, and it was hard to keep him distracted.

Things I Want to Remember
Around ten months, Anthony learned how to give hugs! If you ask for a hug, he will cuddle in close, and it’s the sweetest thing.

Around the 12-month mark, he really got interested in Baby Shark. He calls it “Doo, Doo, Doo,” and he knows I say “Alexa, play Baby Shark” to get it to play. He tries to get Alexa to play it by saying, “A, A, Doo, Doo, Doo!” Then, as soon as the song starts, he starts to dance. He knows the last line too and starts saying “Doo, Doo, Doo,” so I’ll play it again.

Right now, we play with bubbles in the bath tub, and he absolutely loves it. He will watch them and say “bubble!”

He hands me my phone and asks me to see photos of himself. He calls himself “Tota” because his Russian nickname is Tosha.

He recently started wagging his finger and saying “no, no, no!” I think he saw us say that to Skyler.

He loves cheese! As soon as I put him in his high chair, he says “cheese?”

If he can’t see me at church or while we’re shopping as a family, he’ll call for me.

We bought him a Pottery Barn Anywhere Chair, and his favorite thing to do with it is roll it over and unzip it.

He is constantly waving at people and dogs.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Five Best Coastal Towns to Visit in Maine

If you’ve read my travel posts in the past, you know that Maine is one of my favorite places in the world. Chris and I constantly talk about how much we want to own a summer home there in the future (because we definitely don’t want to deal with those winters!). Now that I’m back to travel blogging, I thought it was only appropriate to kick off my travel posts with more Maine talk! One of my favorite parts of our Maine babymoon was visiting all the of the adorable coastal towns, so today I wanted to share five of my favorite spots with you.

Kennebunkport is the town that made me fall in love with the Maine coast. We first visited Kennebunkport on our fall colors cruise in 2014, and I knew we had to go back. Kennebunkport is full of adorable shops, historic mansions, gorgeous views, and amazing lobster rolls at The Clam Shack. If you want to swim, there are also several beautiful beaches to visit.

Bar Harbor
Bar Harbor is the gateway to one of my favorite national parks: Acadia National Park. Like with Kennebunkport, we first visited Acadia on our fall color cruise, and we loved it so much we knew we had to go back! Bar Harbor itself is special too. We loved walking along the water, going on a lobster boat cruise, and dining at the many delicious restaurants. You must stop for ice cream at Mt. Desert Island Ice Cream and grab some wild Maine blueberry muffins at Jordan’s Restaurant.

Camden is known for gourmet dining and the gorgeous Penobscot Bay. One of my favorite memories from our babymoon was our sunset cruise on the Penobscot Bay: it was absolutely stunning! Camden Hills State Park, a short drive outside the city, is also worth a visit. Mt. Battie (inside the park) offers gorgeous panoramic views of Penobscot Bay.

Boothbay Harbor
Boothbay Harbor stole my heart. It was the cutest little town with the most beautiful, clear water. It might just be a top contender for that vacation home of ours. I loved walking the Footbridge and just exploring all the fun shops along the water. It was absolutely charming and felt a bit like going back in time. I can’t wait to go back!

I included York on my list because it’s one of the easiest towns to get to from other states if you are driving. York is located on the southern tip of Maine and is full of fantastic beaches and gorgeous mansions. My favorite part of York, though, was the Cape Neddick Light (most commonly referred to as the Nubble Light)—one of the most photographed lighthouses in Maine.

This is just a taste of some of my favorite places in Maine! I'll be sharing more in-depth guides in the future.
P.S-If you know me, you know why all of the photos I showed y'all today are of the water and not the towns themselves-the water is my favorite part!

Other Maine Babymoon Posts:

Other Maine Posts:

Have you been to Maine? What was your favorite town?

Monday, January 7, 2019

Six Books I Read in December

Happy book day, friends! I'm so excited to be sharing books with y'all today because I've read so many good books lately! Chris started working nights a few days before the new year (so brutal), which has been a good excuse for me to get some reading done! Also, I had quite a few First to Read ARCs that expired January 1, so I had to finish quickly. Because of this, December was heavy on historical fiction, but it all worked out since most of these books were fantastic!

(c/o NetGalley)
I waited till December to read this book thinking it had a Christmas theme (it didn't), but it was still a great, light read for this time of year, which I really needed after some heavy books. I sped through it and was excited to see how it would end. Here's the thing: I really loved the way the ending was done, but I hated some of the events that lead up to the ending. Some of the main characters' actions really didn't sit right with me, and I think this cheapened the ending a bit. I'm obviously being vague on purpose to avoid spoilers, but I'm happy to discuss it with those who have read it. Overall, it was a cute read, and I would definitely recommend it.

(c/o Penguin First to Read)
Wow, what a story! This historical fiction novel set in the 1920s features Alice "Nobody" James, who, after fleeing a life entrenched in the New York mafia, finds herself at Paragon Hotel, Portland's only all-black hotel. It weaves between Nobody's life in New York and the racism she witnesses as she is thrust into life at The Paragon Hotel. This novel is heartbreaking, interesting, and relevant. One of the things I love about historical fiction is learning something new, and this book taught me so much: about the Italian Mafia in New York, the Prohibition Era, and the rise of the KKK in Oregon (I had no idea Oregon was originally established as an all-white "utopia"-wow!). It's powerful and beautiful, and the only reason I can't give it five stars is the ending fell a little flat for me.

This book definitely lived up to the hype. The writing is absolutely beautiful, and the story is both heartbreaking and hopeful. I love when historical fiction teaches me something new, and I feel like I really have a better grasp on the situation in Cuba, past and present.

(c/o Penguin First to Read)
I read this book right after I read Next Year in Havana, and I was so excited to read a book with Beatriz as the main character. She's a great character, and I loved how she went outside of the norm of society. I didn't love this book as much as Next Year in Havana because I didn't like the romance as much and didn't feel quite as connected to the characters. Overall, though, I liked that this book gave a better overview of life for exiles in the United States after the Cuban Revolution!

(c/o Penguin First to Read)
I love Susan Meissner's books because they always teach me something new. In this case, I learn a lot about internment camps during World War II. Overall, I liked the main character, but this book did lack some emotion for me. It was a good read, but I have read better books from Susan Meissner.

(c/o NetGalley)
Taylor Jenkins Reid is an incredible author. Honestly, when I read the description of this book (about the rise and fall of a fictitious band in the 1970s), I thought that if it wasn't written by Taylor Jenkins Reid, I wouldn't have read it. This story was just incredible. It was heartbreaking, beautiful, and just so raw. I felt a rollercoaster of emotions. I loved the interview format-it was so perfect for this book! I pretty much loved everything about it, except one thing towards the end, but it wasn't enough to change my rating from five stars. I rarely give out five stars, but this book is absolutely worth it. I want to start all over from the beginning!

Favorite reads in Month: The Paragon Hotel, Next Year in Havana, and Daisy Jones & the Six.

Linking up with Steph & Jana.

I love book suggestions. What have you read lately?