The Siberian American

Monday, November 5, 2018

Sixteen Books I Read This Summer and Fall

Hey there, book friends! It's been too long since I've shared my books with y'all. We had a crazy summer that included four weeks in DC, and then it was time for Anthony's first birthday! I wasn't posting, but I did manage to read a lot! When we were in DC, our AirBnB was all one big room, so I spent most of the time after Anthony went to bed reading. Thankfully, most of the books were great, so I'm excited to share them with y'all.


On a Cold Dark Sea by Elizabeth Blackwell
(c/o NetGalley)
On a Cold Dark Sea is a historical fiction that focuses on three women who were in the same lifeboat during the sinking of the Titanic. It focuses less on the event itself and more on how it impacted the women for the rest of their lives. I liked how there was a chapter about each woman before the Titanic sank, which helped develop their characters. Overall, it was a good read.


The Summer I Met Jack by Michelle Gable
(c/o NetGalley)
I have mixed feelings about this book. It felt like it dragged in parts, and I think the main reason for that is it's way longer than it should have been. I had never heard of Alicia Darr and her relationship with JFK, so that was interesting, but I will say this book read more like women's fiction than historical fiction. My biggest complaint is all of the characters felt underdeveloped. Everyone in the Kennedy family (except maybe Pat) was deemed awful with no redeeming qualities. I enjoyed the other Michelle Gable book I read, but this one fell a little flat for me.


Willow's Way by Sharon Struth
(c/o NetGalley)
I needed to read something light, and Willow's Way fit the bill. That's not to say it's fluffy-there are definitely some serious topics discussed in the book. Overall,though, it's a sweet love story, and I really enjoyed it.


The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
There's not much else to say about this book that hasn't been said. It's beautiful, heartbreaking, and important. I've read so much WWII historical fiction, but this one stands out with both the narrator (Death) and the perspective of a German girl. I'm just thankful for Erin's challenge. I've been wanting to read this forever, but I hadn't made it a priority until the challenge.


Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent
(c/o NetGalley)
I don't think it's fair to call this book a thriller. Even though it's centered around a murder, it's more of a family drama. Still, it sucked me in and kept me interested. The ending ruined a really good book for me. I think a lot of people will like the ending, but I hated it.


Still Missing by Chevy Stevens
I can't believe it took me this long to read this book-this is one of the first books I added to my "to read" shelf on GoodReads back in 2013. I really liked this book. The twists were interesting, and in my pre-baby days, I would have definitely read this in one sitting. There is one part that made me almost physically ill based on my current life stage, but overall, it was so well done.


The Lost Season of Love and Snow by Jennifer Laam
(c/o NetGalley)
I mostly enjoyed this historical fiction about Pushkin and his wife Natalya. It got a little bit boring in the middle, but it picked up at the end. It was interesting to read about the years leading up to Pushkin's duel, and how Natalya felt in the aftermath.


Secret Shores by Ella Carey
(c/o NetGalley)
I wasn't sure if I would like this book based on the description, but I LOVED it. I thought both the past and present (though present is 1987 in this case) parts were done well, and I really liked the love story in the past section. I did hope the present section was a bit more developed, especially at the end, but overall, it was an interesting read.


Intercepted by Alexa Martin
(c/o NetGalley)
Overall, I loved this read. Marlee and Gavin are both fantastic characters, and it's the perfect read to kick off the beginning of football season! I thought it was really realistic for a romance novel, and Marlee's one-liners were funny, though I could have done without all of the hashtags. The pace of the novel threw me off a bit. It was hard to follow at times because the author would jump ahead a week or a month. Still, it was a great story, and I was excited to see this is a series!


The Girl from Berlin by Ronald H. Balson
(c/o NetGalley)
I'm at the point where I will basically read everything Ronald H. Balson writes because it's SO good. He's definitely one of my favorite historical fiction writers. The past/present format is done so well, and the mystery sucked me in pretty quickly. It was both heartbreaking and hopeful. If you're a World War II historical fiction fan, you need to read this one!


The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton
(c/o NetGalley)
I'm a big Kate Morton fan, and I enjoyed this novel, but it wasn't one of my favorites. I liked the character of the Clockmaker's Daughter, and the reveal of what happened to her was interesting, but it felt like there was a lot of extra information in between. Also, Kate Morton usually does such a great job of weaving the past and present together, but all of a sudden in the middle of the novel the present -day story disappears, and it barely gets resolved at the end. I'm probably being a bit overly critical just because of how much I usually love Kate Morton's books. I still enjoyed it and would recommend it to historical fiction fans!


Winter in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand
(c/o NetGalley)
I loved Elin Hilderbrand's new book. It's fast-paced and really kept me turning the pages. The characters are all relatable and well developed, and the setting of St. John is perfect. My only negative is that I have to wait a year to read the next book in the series!


Evidence of the Affair by Taylor Jenkins Reid
I really enjoyed this short story told exclusively in letter format. I especially liked the ending. TJR can really do no wrong!


The Cottage on Sunshine Beach by Holly Martin
(c/o NetGalley)
Holly Martin has been one of my go-to authors for a quick feel-good romance over the last few years, and this book was no exception. The story was super sweet, and I loved the setting. Melody and Jamie weren't my favorite characters that Holly Martin has created (I like Tori and Aidan from the first book in this trilogy better), but I still really enjoyed this book. I can't wait to read the last book in this trilogy (though all the books also work as stand-alone novels) because I really like Isla and Leo.


The Suspect by Fiona Barton
(c/o First to Read)
This is the first time in a long time that I've read a book this quickly. Every page was interesting, and I was eager to see how it ended. This would have definitely made me pull an all-nighter reading before I became a mama. I'll definitely be reading more Fiona Barton books in the future!


The Subway Girls by Susie Orman Schnall
(c/o NetGalley)
One of my favorite parts of reading historical fiction is learning something new, and I really enjoyed learning about New York's Miss Subways beauty contest through this novel. The past and present parts of the book were woven together brilliantly, and Charlotte and Olivia were both great characters. It kept me interested the whole time and was a light read while still dealing with some relevant topics. If you're a historical fiction fan, definitely pick this one up!


Favorite reads from this summer and fall: The Book Thief, Secret Shores, Intercepted, The Girl from Berlin, Winter in Paradise, The Suspect, and The Subway Girls.

Linking up with Steph & Jana.

I love book suggestions. What have you read lately?
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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Happy First Birthday, Anthony!



I can’t believe my sweet boy turned ONE on Saturday! We had such a fun day celebrating with family and friends at his football-themed “Anthony’s First Down” birthday party. This has been the fastest and best year of my life, and I’ve never experienced so much joy. It definitely wasn’t all easy (there were times when I thought I might go crazy from the lack of sleep during those first 10 months), but it was definitely all worth it for our little man. I love his sweet, gentle personality, and though I’m a little sad to leave babyhood, I can’t wait to watch him grow. Happy birthday, Anthony. I am so thankful to be your mama. 

PS-I will share more about Anthony’s latest milestones, his one-year shoot at the State Fair of Texas, and his birthday party soon!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Let’s Have a Coffee Date: Hello from DC!

Hi, friends! I’ve been meaning to update y’all on everything going on lately, but life has been all about getting ready for DC and then adjusting to our place here, so I haven’t been on my laptop much. I have really been missing blogging lately, though, and have all kinds of ideas for content, so I’m hoping I can start posting a bit more once we get back!


Overall, DC has been better than I expected. I was so nervous because Anthony had finally started sleeping well at night (usually one wakeup around 4 to 5 a.m., unless he is teething), and I had heard going to a new place can sometimes mess with that. We did have several days with two to three wakeups, but overall, he has done really well! The only exception was a few nights when he was randomly awake for a few hours, but then I realized he had two more teeth coming out, so that made sense.


One of the reasons I was nervous about DC is we are staying in a place that’s basically one big room. I came up with the idea of using a sheet and a curtain rod to separate the kitchen and the living area/bedroom, and we put Anthony’s pack n play in the kitchen. I’m also trying to keep him on Central Time as much as I can because I don’t want to get him used to waking up early due to the time difference.

Anthony has really enjoyed going on adventures with us! We have taken him to see the monuments and some of the Smithsonian museums. We also spent a day at the zoo, and Anthony absolutely loved it! He kept going “oooh” and laughing at all the animals. His favorite animals were the elephant, tiger, and lion.


We’ve been a little bummed because it has rained almost every day since we were here, and we were really looking forward to going on walks since it’s cooler here than in Texas. I feel like it’s been raining in a huge part of the country, though, and at least we haven’t gotten any of the terrible flooding! It has made it even more humid than usual, though. This is my first experience using a dehumidifier, and it’s so crazy to have to empty it five times a day!

If you have read my travel posts in the past, you know I always have a large list of restaurants to visit anytime we’re visiting somewhere new. We’ve already checked off several really great places, and I’m crossing my fingers I can get on top of blogging once we’re home and share a little DC guide with y’all!


This past weekend, we took a road trip to Ocean City, Maryland and Assateague Island for Anthony’s first trip to the ocean. I really loved Assateague Island, despite being practically eaten alive by mosquitoes. Anthony really loved watching the waves. I think the water was a bit cold for him, but he did enjoy watching it! Our three-hour ride home turned into six hours because of really horrible traffic due to the rain, but Chris and I both agreed it was still a really wonderful weekend.


This weekend we are heading to Charlottesville, Virginia, and then doing the Skyline Drive at Shenandoah National Park. We’re crossing our fingers for some nice weather, so we can do a little hiking.

It’s crazy to me that it’s almost time to celebrate Anthony’s first birthday! I’ve been working on his party details, which is so much fun. I’m excited to share the details with y’all in just a few weeks!

Monday, August 27, 2018

Anthony Update: Months Seven, Eight, and Nine

Hey, friends! Anthony turned ten months last Monday (what?!), so it’s definitely time for another update. I’ve really been wanting to return to this space on a more regular basis, but all of these crazy things keep happening (life update soon), and I just haven’t had the energy to sit down and write. Now that I’m a mama, I have really focused on not pushing myself and giving myself grace, even when I would normally feel like I am failing. Anyways, enough about me, and let’s talk about Anthony! These last three months have been my favorite so far. We have had so much fun, and Anthony has learned a lot. I’m excited to share all about them with y’all!

Photo by Brittnie Renee Photography
General Thoughts
One of my favorite things is the older Anthony gets, the more I see his personality come out. Anthony is observant. He loves learning new things and will watch closely when I teach him something, and then he will keep on trying until he figures it out. He loves exploring, but he also enjoys crawling into my lap to read a book. He is full of joy, and his sweet giggles are my favorite.


Stats
We went to the doctor the day Anthony turned nine months, and he was 18 pounds, 6.7 ounces. That’s in the 30th percentile. We were super excited to hear that because Anthony has always been low on the growth chart—at one point he was in the second percentile. He always grew well on his own curve, but we were still happy to see he is catching up a bit. My guess is he is probably closer to 20 pounds now.


Milestones
These last three months have been full of milestones! A few days after Anthony turned seven months, he started teething, and his two bottom teeth came out pretty quickly. A few days after that, he began to army crawl, and he moved to normal crawling quickly. By 7.5 months, he was moving really fast. At 8.5 months, he could go switch from crawling or laying down to sitting. On the day he turned nine months, he started consistently pulling up. Now, he does it all the time and will move from one place to another a bit while holding on. It’s pretty funny when he stands up in his pack n play and stares at me when he wakes up. Anthony’s top teeth broke through last week, so his new favorite thing is to hit his teeth against each other.


Firsts
The two big firsts I wanted to mention was Anthony’s first long road trip and his first trip to the dentist. We went to Hot Springs for our birthday and anniversary trip this year, which is about a five-hour drive. It went really well, and we had a great time on our trip! Unfortunately, on the way back, an 18-wheeler had a blowout right in front of us, and the tire struck our car. It did some damage to our car and ripped one of our tires to shreds, so we had to pull over and wait for AAA to come help Chris replace the tire (he wasn’t comfortable doing it himself because we weren’t in a safe spot). Thankfully, it all worked out, and we got home safely, but it was scary at the time. Anthony was a trooper and handled being stuck in the car for extra hours really well.


When Anthony’s teeth came in, they were super sharp, and he kept biting under his tongue and making it bleed. This created a large ulcer under his tongue that wouldn’t heal because he kept aggravating it. I ended up having to take Anthony to the pediatric dentist to smooth out his teeth, so he would stop making the ulcer bleed. I was really anxious about it because I knew he wouldn’t understand what was going on, but it went so much better than I expected. He hasn’t made the ulcer bleed since the teeth were smoothed, so I’m hoping it will fully heal soon.

Remember how I said crazy things kept happening? Those are just two examples.


Sleep
Months seven and eight were rough when it came to sleep. Anthony was waking up every two hours at night, and he decided he hated naps. He rejected his pacifier around six months, so putting him down for naps got really hard. As we were nearing the nine-month mark, I thought I was going to lose my mind from so little sleep. I talked to the doctor at his nine-month appointment, and she basically just told me some babies aren’t good sleepers, no matter what you do.


Then, all of a sudden, he turned a corner. He went from waking up every two hours to waking up at 11 p.m. and 5:30 a.m., then waking up for the day between 7 and 8. Now, he usually only wakes up once between 4:30 and 5 a.m (unless he’s teething). His naps got so much better, too, especially after I worked on dropping the third nap. Right now, we usually do a 2/3/4 schedule. It’s what seems to work best for him—I’ve tried to stretch out the morning wake time, and he doesn’t like it. He’s not super consistent with how long he sleeps, but before he was sleeping through the night, he would take a two-hour morning nap and a one-hour afternoon nap. Now, it’s closer to two one-hour naps (often more like 45 minutes). I can’t even begin to explain what a huge difference his new schedule has made for us. I feel like a new person!


Food
We’ve made it ten months breastfeeding! Anthony nurses when he wakes up in the morning and a short time before bed and then in four-hour intervals throughout the day (usually after his naps). I also feed him three solid meals a day. He always says “mmmm” after each bite, which is super cute. Puffs are also a huge hit around here.


Sounds
Anthony has been blabbing for a long time, but I think he’s getting close to making associations. In the morning when he wakes up, he usually calls for me, saying “Awa!” He has been saying Dada and Baba forever, but not directly at Chris or my mom (Baba). Chris calls on his way home, and Anthony will “talk” to him. The other day I turned on a podcast during playtime, and Anthony said Dada! I think maybe he thought it was Chris since it’s usually him on the phone. He’s also good at repeating sounds. The cutest is when we’ll ask him if he’s OK, and he say “OK!” back.


Likes
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Anthony loves swimming, crawling, and pulling up on everything. His favorite toys are this Baby Einstein Octoplush (which he has loved for months), a LeapFrog activity center, this VTech Musical Rhymes Book (music and turning pages! It’s a big winner here), and the VTech Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker. We also grabbed this cute little toucan  for our upcoming plane ride, and Anthony really loves it. His favorite thing for naps is this SwaddleMe Elephant Soother. I also like looking at sites like www.wikibuy.com for baby deals! He also loves going on walks. He will sit in his umbrella stroller for as long as we let him, looking at everything. I can’t wait for it to be cooler outside, so we can spend more time walking around.


Dislikes
I’m not sure if it’s a real dislike, but Anthony has started moving so much that changing his diaper can be difficult. I can usually distract him with a toy, but I still try to make it as quick as possible. He’s also developed a bit of separation anxiety. He is pretty good at playing on his own these days, but he wants me to be in the room.

Things I Want to Remember
Anthony loves to take my hands and use them to clap.

Christopher’s favorite noise that Anthony makes is a motorboat.

He will crawl up to his activity center, pull up, turn on the music, and dance!

Anthony loves peekaboo. He will find a box or big toy and hide behind it to play.


He loves pulling up on the window in his nursery (it’s the perfect height for him) and watching the cars (and dogs) outside.

He loves throwing balls in my direction and then chasing after them, so he can throw them at me again.

Overall, I’m just loving this fun stage! Now that I’m a bit less of a mom zombie, it’s such a joy to chase Anthony around and watch his discover this world.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Eight Books I Read in May and June

Hey there, book friends! Life has been a bit crazy, and I missed the linkup last month, so I have eight books to share this month. The best part is I’ve read so many good books lately. I don’t know if I’ve been more selective about what I’m reading since I don’t have as much time to read, or I’ve just lucked out, but I couldn’t wait to share these books with y’all!


The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth 
(c/o NetGalley)
I love Sally Hepworth, and while this book is a bit of a departure from her other books, I still enjoyed it. It reminded me a bit of Liane Moriarty's Big, Little Lies. Honestly, I didn't really care for the two side stories, but the main plot line was really interesting. Overall, it was a good read.


Lady Be Good by Amber Brock
(c/o NetGalley)
I had high hopes for this book because I really enjoyed Amber Brock's A Fine Imitation, but it fell flat for me. It had no real plot, especially for the first half, and Kitty was a bit annoying. It also felt really long when it was actually less than 300 pages. The second half redeemed it a little for me, but it was still not a favorite read.


Seeing Red by Sandra Brown
(c/o NetGalley)
This is my second Sandra Brown book, and I liked this one even more than the first one. Sandra Brown is just so good at mixing a thriller with romance. The plot was interesting, and it was full of great twists. I was honestly sad to see it end! I'll definitely be reading more Sandra Brown in the future.


A Vicarage Reunion by Kate Hewitt
(c/o NetGalley)
I wanted to love this book as much as I loved the first one, but it really dragged in the middle for me (which is saying a lot for a book that's less than 300 pages!). I did like the story overall, though, and I'm definitely going to read the next one in the series.


Our House by Louise Candlish
(c/o Penguin First to Read)
This thriller was SO good. It grabbed me right away, and if I could have, I would have definitely read it in one sitting. The twists were done well, and the plot was unique. I have been not impressed with many thrillers lately because it feels like they're all the same, so it was refreshing to read this book! The only reason it's not five stars for me is I feel like Bram could have been a little more developed.


Us Against You by Fredrik Backman
(c/o NetGalley)
I'm always nervous about reading a sequel to a book I really liked, but Us Against You delivered. The writing was so beautiful, and the emotion is raw. This book is about so much more than just hockey- it's about politics, relationships, and resilience. It's a must read.


Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren
(c/o NetGalley)
This is the best women's fiction book I have read in a long time. It was almost as good as Swear on This Life, which is saying a lot for me. It sucked me in from the very beginning, and my pre-baby self would have probably finished it in one sitting. Even now, I was reading it as much as I could. The emotions were so well done, and the past-present format worked great in this case. Usually, I like either the past or present more, but I was eager to read both sides of the story. This was my first book from Christina Lauren, but it definitely won't be my last.


Need to Know by Karen Cleveland
(c/o NetGalley)
What a fast-paced thriller! This one really kept me on the edge of my seat. I literally felt sick for the main character as she made some impossible decisions. I LOVED it until the epilogue. I honestly wish it wasn't there. I had guessed that it would go in that direction, but I was hoping it wouldn't. That's all I'm going to say about that, so I don't give anything away, but it was still a fantastic book overall!


Favorite reads in May and June: Seeing Red, Our House, Us Against You, and Love and Other Words

Linking up with Steph & Jana.

I love book suggestions. What have you read lately?

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