The Siberian American

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Seven Books I Read in January

Hey, friends! It feels strange to open up my blog after being gone for almost a month. It's the longest time I've been away since I first started writing, and honestly, I really needed to do it. If you read my Instagram post, you know Anthony has barely slept over the last month, and I just had to give myself grace and step away for some time. I truly missed this space, and it's so hard for me not to write, but I really had to give myself grace (someday I hope to write a post about giving myself grace as a new mother). One thing I did manage to do during those sleepless nights is read. It also helped that I had Erin's Book Challenge as a motivator. I managed to read seven books since my last post, and several of them were winners!


Just Between Us by Rebecca Drake
(ARC from the publisher)
Rebecca Drake's Only Ever You was one of the best books I read in 2016. I can't say quite the same for Just Between Us, but it's still a really good read. This book asks how well do you really know your closest friends...and how far would you go to help them? Alison, Julie, Heather, and Sarah each tell their side of the story as the details unfold. This novel is incredibly well written, and my only critic is the beginning dragged a bit, and it took me a while to get into the story. Once I did, I was so hooked and couldn't wait to see how everything turned out. There were some interesting twists and turns, and the ending was surprising. This thriller is definitely worth a read.


White Houses: A Novel by Amy Bloom
(c/o NetGalley)
I wanted more from this book. It's a historical fiction of Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok, her "First Friend." Although this is written as an intimate account of "Hick's" childhood and time in the White House, I began to lose interest in it fairly quickly. Some parts of the story were fascinating, but others just fell flat.


Two Girls Down by Louisa Luna
(c/o NetGalley)
I always say the mark of a good thriller is when I can't tell you much in the review, and this book fits the bill. It's about two girls who go missing and two private investigators work together to figure out who kidnapped them. The pace was great, and I really liked both of the main characters. The big reveal was well done, too.


Love and Other Consolation Prizes by Jamie Ford
(c/o NetGalley)
Jamie Ford really has a way with words. I honestly don't think I would have found this story so interesting if written by someone else. It follows the life of a young boy named Ernest who was offered as a prize in the 1909 Seattle World Fair (based on a true story) and is "won" by a woman who owns a brothel. The story is tender, heartbreaking, and beautiful.


Abby's Journey by Steena Holmes
(c/o NetGalley)
This was the sequel to Saving Abby, and I honestly thought this book was a little unnecessary. Once I finished Saving Abby, I never felt like I needed to know more. That said, though the beginning of this sequel fell a little flat for me, the ending was touching.


Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys
(c/o NetGalley)
As far as historical fiction novels go, this one is unique. It follows a young woman named Lily as she embarks on a ship to Australia to become a domestic on the brink of World War II. This book is very character driven, as Lily meets people she wouldn't normally socialize with in her daily life, all who are harboring secrets. I really enjoyed this read.


We Are All Made of Stars by Rowan Coleman
(c/o NetGalley)
I'm surprised this book isn't more popular. There were a few parts that I wish were more emotional, but overall, it was really moving. Centered around a hospice and a woman named Stella who writes final letters for those about to pass away (though there are two more major characters-Hope and Hugh), it is surprisingly hopeful.

Favorite reads in January: Just Between Us, Two Girls Down, and Dangerous Crossing.

Linking up with Steph & Jana.

I love book suggestions. What have you read lately?
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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Anthony’s Newborn Photos

Hey, friends! I hope everyone had a wonderful long weekend. Chris and I both ended up sick with colds (which is always a bit scary with a young baby), but we still tried to make the most of our time together. Now that Anthony is almost three months old (what?!), I thought it’s about time I shared a few of his newborn photos.

These were taken by Brittnie Renne Photography, who also did our maternity photos. Anthony was two weeks old, which was later than what we wanted, but we didn’t have a choice unless we wanted them taken at the hospital. He was quite a bit more alert, but I think it made for some great photos! I was also even more of a mess post-partum than usual because of all of my complications, and I didn’t really have the chance to plan what we would all wear ahead of time, but, thankfully, I still think they turned out well. I’ll always treasure these photos of such a sweet time. It’s crazy to look back on them and see how much Anthony has changed in 10 weeks!


Anyone have a favorite photo? :)

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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

My Word for 2018

Last year was the first year I ever had a word of the year. I wasn’t really planning on it, but it had gotten stuck in my head and had turned out to be the perfect word for 2017. I was hopeful for everything the year would bring, and 2017 turned out to be so wonderful. I will forever treasure that year. The same thing happened to me this year. I wasn’t even thinking of having a word of the year for 2018, but one word just kept popping into my head over and over again.


That word is joy. There are definitely good days and bad days in parenting, but I hope to find joy in every single day with our little man. Anthony is so full of joy. He is full of smiles and squeals these days. I can’t even begin to explain the joy I feel when he gives me a big smile first thing in the morning when I go to pick him up, even when that morning wake-up time is sometimes 5:30 a.m. I have always wanted to be a mother, and, honestly, I have been truly thankful for every day with him so far. I really hope to continue to find joy in our daily life as I watch him grow!

Monday, January 8, 2018

Six Books I Read in December

Happy Monday, friends! Chris is in the middle of working 12 days straight, so we didn't get much of a weekend, but there is light at the end of a tunnel with a three-day weekend coming up! After only managing to read six books total in October and November, I ended up reading six in the month of December (and the first part of January!). I attribute this to two things-I read some really good books, and Anthony had a week where he didn't want to go to sleep till 11. I ended up reading a wide variety of books last month, so hopefully there is something you will enjoy, too!


The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks
(c/o NetGalley)
I have mixed feelings about this book. I thought some of the twists were extremely clever and surprising. My problem was the build up took FOREVER, and I prefer for my thrillers to get exciting as soon as possible. That said, I would still recommend this thriller just for how good some of the twists are.



When You Disappeared by John Marrs
(c/o NetGalley)
First off, I must say this book was well written. It kept me interested, and I wanted to know how it ended. Part of the ending was really obvious from the beginning, but that's not what bothered me. Simon, the main character, is just awful. This is truly just a depressing, terrible story about a broken man and how he broke his family. I wish I would have passed on it.


A Vicarage Christmas by Kate Hewitt
(c/o NetGalley)
This book was a lot more serious than I expected, but I ended up enjoying it. It was really more of a novella, so it was a quick read. It's the first in a series of four, and I think I'll keep reading them.


The Trust by Ronald H. Balson
(c/o NetGalley)
I have loved all the books I have read by Ronald H. Balson, but this one is my least favorite so far. I liked learning more about Liam Taggart and the conflict in Northern Ireland, but I think he made who the killer was a little too obvious in this novel. That said, there were some really interesting plot twists, and I enjoyed the book overall. Also, I really like how even though this is technically the fourth book in the Liam & Catherine series, all of the books can easily be read as standalone novels.


The Life She Was Given by Ellen Marie Wiseman
(c/o NetGalley)
I sped through this book. Usually, when a book is in a past/present format (though the "present" is the 50s in this case), I usually prefer the past, but both parts of this story were great. Ellen Marie Wiseman does an amazing job of tackling important topics (in this case child abuse and animal cruelty) in interesting ways. I must admit I didn't expect this book to be so depressing, and I finished it feeling a bit bummed, but it was fascinating to learn more about circus life and the treatment of those in the sideshows. I thought the big reveal at the end was pretty obvious, but it didn't detract from the story. I do want to note there was some horrible animal cruelty in this book, but it was only a few pages long, and you can tell it's coming for those who would want to skip it.


The Little French Bistro by Nina George
(c/o NetGalley)
This book started off really depressing, and I was worried I would hate it. I turned out to like this journey of a woman finding herself after finally walking out on a horrible marriage. The prose is just beautiful, and all of the other characters are on journeys of their own. It's a lovely novel to read at the beginning of a year.


Favorite reads in December: The Life She Was Given and The Little French Bistro.

Linking up with Steph & Jana.

I love book suggestions. What have you read lately?

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

A Year in Review: 2017

Happy New Year, friends! Now that Anthony is a bit older, I am hoping to start blogging regularly again. This will be my only post this week, but then next week, I want to start my normal schedule. I’m writing that here so I can try to commit to it. 2017 will always be a special year for us because it was the year we became parents! After a difficult 2016, I am so thankful 2017 brought us Anthony!


January

Most Popular Blog Posts: California Road Trip: The Most Beautiful Place in Big Sur and Five Things You Must Do in San Diego 

We kicked off 2017 in a different way than usual. Chris had been working a lot, so instead of going to a party, we decided to celebrate the new year as a couple by going to Texas de Brazil. We had a blast reminiscing over 2016 and bringing in 2017 together! I started out January full of hope, and I even made that my word of the year. I was hopeful 2017 would be better than 2016, but the one thing I was truly hoping for was that I would get pregnant in 2017.


February

Most Popular Blog Posts: Eight Ideas for the Best Romantic Getaway to Paris and Five Reasons You Should Visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park 

February brought us a lot of joy as I found out I was pregnant on February 17! Christopher and I kept it a secret for a week (here is how I told him) before telling both sets of parents right before our trip to Colorado. We had a wonderful time exploring Colorado Springs and Breckenridge with my in-laws.


March

Most Popular Blog Posts: Happy Sixth Birthday, Skyler, Five Reasons You Should Visit Breckenridge, Colorado, and Five Things You Must Do in Marseille, France

We got back from Colorado in early March, and I almost instantly started feeling horrible morning sickness. March was a bit rough, but I was so thankful for the little one growing inside me that I didn’t care. My very first prenatal visit was March 31, and it was amazing to see the little peanut for the first time and hear the heartbeat. That was also the day we shared we were pregnant with the rest of the family and some close friends.



April

Most Popular Blog Posts: Best Weekend Trips from Chicago and Let’s Have a Coffee Date 

You can really start telling by the amount of posts I wrote that I had a rough April. It was also busy as we moved to a bigger apartment and celebrated Easter! We also ran around on what was the coldest day by far in April with giant baby balloons to prepare for our pregnancy announcement.

Easter Sunday selfie
May

Most Popular Blog Posts: Best News Ever, All About Baby, and Pregnancy Confessions

On Mother’s Day, I finally shared our pregnancy with the world! It felt so great to be able to share our joy. We had a busy month with my brother-in-law’s wedding and my parent’s housewarming back to back.


June

Most Popular Blog Posts: Gender Reveal and Stunning Views of Chimney Rock 

June was also really special because we found out we were having a little boy! We had a fun gender reveal party where we shared our news. We also decided we were going to go to Maine for our babymoon!


July

Most Popular Blog Posts: How I Told Chris About Baby and Reflections: Surgery Day One Year Later 

July is always a really busy month for us, and 2017 was no exception. Chris started the hardest year of his residency, and we celebrated both of our birthdays and our eight-year wedding anniversary on our babymoon to Maine. We struggled picking a location for our trip, but it turned out to be the perfect place to go before baby!


August

Most Popular Blog Posts: Five Reasons You Should Visit Maine, Eight Favorite Experiences in Eight Years of Marriage, and Pregnancy Update: My Second Trimester 

August was another fun month. We had our first baby shower and I planned a fun weekend for my best friend’s bachelorette party. We did an “Only in Dallas” Food Tour that I still need to share on here!


September

Most Popular Blog Posts: A Decade of Just Us, Our Elephant-Themed Baby Shower, and Pregnancy Update: One Month to Go

Our last full month before baby was super busy! We had another fun baby shower, celebrated our ten-year dating anniversary (which is exactly a month before I gave birth to Anthony!), and I helped with the coordination of a conference of doctors’ wives. We also took our maternity photos when I was 36 weeks pregnant.


October

Most Popular Blog Posts: Our Maternity Photos and End of Pregnancy Confessions

We spent the first few weeks of October preparing for our little Anthony! We went to one last party on October 1, and I realized I was at the point in pregnancy where it was just too difficult to go out to parties. We also went to our birthing class (and the second part, which was taking care of an infant, was actually the day I gave birth! The instructor came and visited us when she found out.) Chris and I went on a few dates, and exactly a week before Anthony was born, I had one last dinner date with some great friends. My water broke at 3:30 a.m. on October 19, and Anthony Christopher was born at 3:46 a.m. on October 20. I had severe preeclampsia during labor, had to have a blood transfusion a few days after he was born, and then got discharged only to come back with a kidney infection a few hours later. Needless to say, I was so happy when I got discharged on October 28, and we could officially start our journey as a family of three!


November

Most Popular Blog Post: Welcome to the World, Anthony!

I basically completely took November off of blogging as we adjusted to life with a newborn! The highlights of this month were, of course, watching Anthony grow, and my dad turning 50 on November 3. We also celebrated Anthony’s first Thanksgiving!



December

Most Popular Blog Posts: Six Books I Read in October and November and Coffee Date: Newborn Edition

December started out with two straight weeks of nights for Chris, so we spent the time with my mom. It was nice because Chris could sleep upstairs during the day while Mom and I spent time with Anthony. He would have constantly woken Chris up in our apartment otherwise. The holiday season with Anthony was the best—we decorated the tree and spent Christmas weekend at my in-laws’ house before coming back on Christmas Day to spend some time with my family.


I’m so thankful for everything that happened in 2017, but I am even more excited for 2018 and our first full year with Anthony.