The Siberian American

Monday, August 12, 2019

Best Books I Read This Summer

Hey, book friends! I can't believe I haven't written a book review post since February. I was on a roll with reading until I got pregnant, and then I couldn't pick up a book for weeks. I've actually only read 15 books since the last time I posted, which is crazy to me. Also, I don't know if I just read a string of bad books, or my taste changes when I'm pregnant, but I didn't love most of what I did read. Instead of sharing all of the books I've read and a bunch of so-so reviews, I decided to pick out four of my favorite reads!

(c/o NetGalley)
It's official: I will read anything Blake Crouch writes. He has an incredible knack of mixing thrillers with science, and I'm always eager to see how the books end. I really enjoyed Recursion. It wasn't quite five stars for me because it got a little tedious towards the end (though it was still close to five stars). The concept was fascinating and really made me think. I already can't wait for his next book!

(c/o NetGalley)
I usually make it a point not to read historical fiction based in Russia, but since this is a prequel to Lilac Girls, I decided to give it a try. I liked it more than I thought I would, though definitely not as much as Lilac Girls. It seemed a little slow at the beginning, but it did pick up, and I liked the last bit of the book.

I honestly expected more from this book. I heard so many people talk about how amazing it is, and it lacked emotion for me. I think this one fell victim to too much hype for me, and I would have enjoyed it more if I didn't have high expectations going in. Overall, it's a good book. I just wasn't blown away by it.

(c/o NetGalley)
I really enjoyed this read and was surprised by how deep it was. It is one of the first books I've read that really focuses on infertility, and I was impressed with the way it was handled. There were a few things that bothered me about the way Kristen handled things, but overall, I thought it was a great read.

Linking up with Steph & Jana.

I love book suggestions. What have you read lately?

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Quick Thoughts: Our British Isles Cruise

Hey, friends! We're back from our trip, and I am so excited to share it with y'all. I have all of these posts in my head I want to share, so hopefully I will get to at least some of them before our next baby is born (just being realistic here. Haha). This pregnancy has been rougher than my first (and my pregnancy with Anthony wasn't easy), so I usually take things one day at a time. Anyways, today I just wanted to share a few random things about our trip before I get more into the specifics.

I have been asked often if I think a cruise is a good way to see these spots, and in this case, I do. We were in each port for about 12 hours, so there was plenty of time to explore. Plus, we sailed to new destinations while we were sleeping, so it worked out better than having to drive from one place to another. The time at each port is what really sold me on this cruise, though. Honestly, we were both so exhausted from our adventures by the end of each day that we were thankful to get on the boat, relax, and watch a show. Plus, we really enjoyed the beautiful views when we sailed away from the different locations!

Speaking of exhaustion, I was a little worried about keeping up with our excursions, but thankfully, I did well! I did have to rest more than usual after climbing a bunch of stairs, but overall, I was able to do everything we wanted. The most difficult part of the cruise was when the boat rocked. It had more to do with the placement of our cabin than anything (we didn't have a choice with cabins since we had to book late due to not knowing Christopher's schedule), but I was really thankful I had just gotten over the severe nausea/vomiting I had for the first 22 weeks because I would have wanted to get off the boat. We did have one super rough night due to a storm where we barely slept, but overall, it was manageable. 

It was so fun to get to celebrate our big milestones in some stunning places! Chris got to celebrate his 30th birthday in Edinburgh, a city he has always wanted to visit, I celebrated my 30th birthday at Mont Saint-Michel in France, and we celebrated our 10-year wedding anniversary in Guernsey! 

Chris and I both admitted that this trip was just about the right length for us, and we wouldn't have wanted it to be longer. We saw so much and truly enjoyed it, but we were both exhausted by the end of it and ready to see Anthony. The jet lag was much worse than normal too, but thankfully, we're finally feeling adjusted back to Texas time!

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Life Lately: Moving, Pregnancy, and a Trip to Europe

Hey, friends! Thank you so much for all of your messages on various social media about our baby news. I was going to write a big baby post for today, but I thought I would share a broader life update and save most of the baby news for when we get back!

Photo by Brittnie Renee Photography
I’ve never been one to sugarcoat things on my blog, so I’ll start off this update by saying these last few months have been rough for us. It just felt like one thing after another (sorry to be vague; there are just some things I can’t share), and we’re both exhausted. Chris was also in the middle of intense studying for his radiology board exam from the beginning of this year until the end of June (he won’t know the results for several more weeks), which added to the chaos. This was the first time I’ve taken time off from my blog and haven’t felt guilty about it. I just couldn’t add more to my plate.

We are so excited and thankful for this second baby, but this pregnancy has been hard. I thought my nausea and vomiting was rough with Anthony, but that was nothing compared to what I’m experiencing this time. I could barely function for weeks (so thankful for my mom helping me out with Anthony!), and once the nausea got better, I got hit with intense migraine headaches. I’m still dealing with those (and honestly, still vomiting at least once most days), but I think I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Just to add to the fun, we moved on Tuesday! I need to go back and see how many times I’ve mentioned moving on this blog because we move an excessive amount. By an excessive amount I mean we have moved nine times in our almost ten years of marriage. I honestly didn’t want to do it again with how much we have going on right now, but it was necessary. Our rent went up so much for our townhouse (seriously, what is the deal with the rental market here?), and the place we were living in would have been crowded with two kids. We just moved into a house for the first time and signed a two-year lease, so fingers crossed we can stay put for that long! We picked this place because of the neighborhood-there is a really great park, an athletic center, and a large pond with a bunch of ducks. Have I mentioned that Chris has been on nights for the last two weeks and while this move was happening? Yep, it’s been all kinds of crazy around here.

Let’s talk about something happy now, shall we? We leave for our big trip to Europe to celebrate our big milestones (we turn 30 two days apart and then celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary two days after that) on Sunday! Once again, the timing is interesting, but it’s the only thing that worked with the dates Chris could get off work. We are flying into Dublin, Ireland and doing a 12-day cruise to several places in Ireland, Scotland, England, and a day in France. I picked a cruise because we wanted to go to lots of different places, and for once in my life, I honestly had no desire to plan. Of course, I did set up tours in various ports, but that was the extent of my planning, and I’m thankful for that.

I have been wanting to do a big Anthony update since it's been a while, and he has learned so much, but I will have to save that for when we get back! I continue to be impressed with how well he is handling the constant switching between Russian and English. He can say four-word sentences and recently learned colors (and now tells me the color of every object he sees). He also really loves to color and often asks me for his crayons and paper. He has really enjoyed exploring his new house the last few days and is excited to have a dedicated playroom until the baby moves out of our bedroom.

That's the gist of what's been happening lately. I'm hoping to share parts of our British Isles cruise on Instagram and Instagram Stories, so look for those if you're interested. I'll also hopefully be writing some more updates and travel posts when we get back!

Friday, July 5, 2019

Red, White, And...

Due with Baby #2! 
I know some of y'all had guessed why I suddenly stopped blogging again (though there was much more involved in that, and I will address most of it in a life update soon), but I am excited to share that Anthony will be a big brother this November! I will be sharing all about our newest little love next week, but I thought I would share on the blog in case y'all hadn't seen my Instagram announcement. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Best River and Lake Cruises in Chicago

Even though it feels like it's been forever since we lived in Chicago (it's been 2.5 years), I answer emails about what to do in the city all the time. One of the emails I answer most often (other than where to eat!) is about Chicago river and lake cruises. We went on six cruises during our year in Chicago! Now that the weather is nice again, I wanted to share some of my favorite Chicago cruises.

Chicago Architecture Foundation Center River Cruise
This is one of Chicago's most popular river cruises, and there's a good reason for that. It's packed full of information about Chicago's gorgeous architecture. The one negative I will see is this tour would be a little better if it was shorter. I thought it went into too much detail on some buildings that weren't all that interesting. Overall, it was a great tour, though!

Shoreline Sightseeing Classic Lake Tour
This was my least favorite of the tours that we did, mostly because I prefer guides to audio tours. It was the cheapest and shortest of the cruises we did (only 40 minutes), and it's a nice way to see the skyline from Lake Michigan. If you are short on time, this cruise is worth doing!

Odyssey Cruises Sunset Dinner Cruise
This cruise was more about the views and the food than learning about Chicago, but it was a great experience! We loved the boat, and the food was good. Plus, watching the sun set over the Chicago skyline is just magical.

Wendella Lake Michigan Fireworks Cruise 
If you are in Chicago during the summer (on Wednesdays and Fridays from Memorial Day to Labor Day), a fireworks cruise is a must! The fireworks cruise includes a short overview of Chicago's architecture, but the real highlight is watching fireworks with a view of the Chicago skyline.

Wendella Lake & River Architecture Tour 
This is by far my favorite cruise tour in Chicago (I'm hoping to do a full review of it in the future). I went on this cruise three times with family and friends, and I would happily go again. The guides are funny, the architecture portion was really interesting, and it was fascinating to go through the locks to Lake Michigan. The combo of being on the lake and learning Chicago's architecture is just perfect!

Have you done a river or lake cruise in Chicago?