The Siberian American

Monday, March 12, 2018

Four Books I Read in February

Hey, friends! Once again, it's my favorite day of the month. I had a really slow reading month, partially because the lack of sleep really caught up to me, but it was also because I got stuck on a book I really didn't like. I'll share more about it in my reviews, but I really need to learn to abandon books I don't like. I keep reading with the hope that they will get better (and this one did a little), but really there are too many good books in this world to spend time reading bad ones!

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
There's not much left to say about this book that others haven't already said. I took so long to read it because I was supposed to get an ARC when it first came out, but it never showed up, so I was grumpy about it. LOL. This book had a great pace, and the characters were all interesting. I really liked how it ended, too.

The Room on Rue Amelie by Kristin Harmel
(c/o NetGalley)
I read a lot of World War II historical fiction-at least several books a year. This is my first one for 2018. This one was very good, but it does not make my list of favorites. The pace was good, and I read it quickly, but even though it was heartbreaking, I felt like I was missing out on some of the emotion that could have been there. I did like all the characters and would still recommend it to those who like WWII historical fiction.

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin 
(c/o NetGalley)
A lot of people will like this book. I am not one of them. It was written well, but it was so boring to me. A few times I got frustrated with myself that I was still reading it. That said, I'm glad I finished it because Vasrya's section was the best part of the book for me.

Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh 
(c/o First to Read)
I actually really liked this book. I do think it was just trying too hard to throw in twists at first, but several of the twists toward the end were done well. It took me a bit to get into the book (same as I Let You Go), but it turned out to be worth it. I will say there is a loose end at the end that bothers me a bit.

Favorite reads in February: Big Little Lies and Let Me Lie.

Linking up with Steph & Jana.

I love book suggestions. What have you read lately?

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Anthony Update: Months 1-4

A few days ago on Instagram I asked whether y’all would prefer to read an Anthony update or a travel post, and Anthony was the clear winner. One of the (many) reasons I have barely blogged since Anthony was born is I’ve really struggled with how much to share about him online. I keep having this idea in my head of Anthony’s future employer googling his name and finding a post about how much he pooped as a one month old (this is a moot point because I don’t put our last name on my blog, but it’s how I think about it). Still, I really want to share this sweet time with y’all, so I am going to start to write a more about him. If there is something I don’t share but you want to know, send me an email, and I’d be happy to tell you more in a more private setting.

Anthony-three months
At some point in time, I had wanted to do monthly updates on Anthony, and that obviously didn’t happen, so I’m going to combine all four months in this post. It’d be a super long post if I went over everything that has happened, so I’m taking a then and now approach.

General Thoughts
Time is so weird after giving birth. Anthony turned four months on February 20, and I am amazed we are already a third of the way through his first year. Then again, it feels like he has been part of our lives forever. It’s such a crazy feeling.

Who Does Anthony Look Like?
When Anthony was born, he looked a lot like Christopher. There were several features that were definitely mine (like his long fingers and toes-so cute to see on a newborn!), but if you look at Christopher’s newborn photos, it almost looks like the same baby.

Anthony-one month
Anthony is definitely a mixture of both of us now. The feature of mine people always comment about is he has my eye shape. One thing I think is interesting is Anthony does not have much hair yet, but so far, it’s light brown. For some reason I always thought his hair would be dark brown, like his dad. Obviously, it will still change a million times, but Chris was born with dark brown hair, so it was a little surprising to me.

Anthony-a few days ago
One of the things that really surprised me was how early Anthony started giving us social smiles (around six weeks). He also started laughing a little before three months.
He has recently started rolling tummy to back and is babbling constantly these days. It’s so fun to hear all the different sounds he makes.

Anthony-one month
I mentioned it in my last post, but Anthony has never really been a good sleeper. When he was born, he had his days and nights flipped. Around two months, he had his first five-hour stretch (which counts as sleeping through the night), but it has only really happened once or twice.
Here’s the detailed version of how sleep is going currently. Long story short, he’s waking up about every hour and a half right now.

I’m hoping to share a little more about this later, but I feel like people always tell you how great breastfeeding is for a baby and how natural it is, but no one really talks about how hard it can be. Those first few weeks were so hard, and I wanted to quit about a million times because of how painful it was. We later discovered Anthony had a tongue tie, and fixing it made things so much better.
I still pretty much exclusively breastfeed (I do pump every once in a while), and it’s going well for the most part, though Anthony is much more distracted these days. I’m still dealing with a pretty major oversupply problem four months in, which is pretty frustrating, (I deal with clogged ducts multiple times a week), but I’m hoping to continue as long as I can.

Anthony-two months
Anthony has always liked music, and it’s still one of the best ways to calm him down. He has also always loved riding in the car and going on walks. One of the best toys for him has been a Baby Einstein Musical Toy. It can usually calm him down when he’s upset, even now.
Since about two months, Anthony has loved spending time kicking and playing on his Fisher Price Kick n Play Activity Gym. He loves playing with his hands, and walks and car rides are still his favorite parts of the day. He also loves when people talk to him.

Anthony has always hated being swaddled and even broke through those Velcro SwaddleMe swaddles as a newborn.
Sleep and naps. He used to be a big napper, but he’s really fighting them these days.

Us on Valentine's Day
Other than the sleep, this is such a fun age! It feels like every day Anthony is learning something new, and he’s such a happy baby. Hopefully I’ll have the time to share a post like this every month from now on, but I’ve learned not to make any promises with how unpredictable our days have been lately!

Monday, February 26, 2018

Let’s Have a Coffee Date: Babies Sleep Eventually…Right?

Hey, friends! I know I say it every time I show up on here, but I sure do miss blogging regularly. We’re still seriously really struggling in the sleep department (more on that in a minute), and I don’t see myself being able to blog the way I used to until things turn around, but I do hope to hop on here every once in a while and give y’all some life updates!

The biggest news I have is that we’re moving. Again. Writing that makes me a little nauseous, but our apartment increased our price by a huge amount (don’t even get me started on how they are now leasing our apartment for $350 less a month than they wanted to charge us), and we started looking into other options. We are actually moving into a townhouse that’s bigger for quite a bit less money and much closer to my family. It’s the right decision in the long run, but the idea of packing again (with a baby this time!) makes me want to cry. In case you’re curious, this is move number eight for Chris and me since we got married. We’ve been married eight years. We can’t buy a house yet because we have to go through Match again for fellowship in two years.

We’re coming off another really difficult schedule for Chris (two full weeks of nights), but the next two weeks should be a little easier. We’re hoping to enjoy some family time because the four weeks after that will be a super crazy schedule. We haven’t had much time together since Anthony was born, so we really try to take advantage of it when we can.

I think I mentioned in the past that Chris has a four-week long workshop in DC he has to do during this next medical year (the medical new year is in July). We just found out our dates are likely early September through early October. It’s a great time of the year to go, but I am a bit nervous about spending four weeks away from home with an 11-month old! I’ve actually never been to DC, though, so I’m looking forward to getting to explore!

Alright, let’s talk a bit about sleep. I want to start off by saying Anthony is really such a great, happy baby, and I’m not sharing this to complain. I just mostly want to document how crazy this last month has been when it comes to sleep. Anthony has never been a great sleeper. When he was a newborn he had his days and nights mixed up and was cluster feeding. The best stretch he has ever given us was a little over five hours, and that has only happened a few times. Now that he has hit the four-month sleep regression, though, it has been crazy. There are days he wakes up as soon as I put him down, and we do that constantly all night. He stopped wanting his pacifier because he associates it with sleeping. He’s always been a good napper, but now he starts crying as soon as he realizes I’m trying to put him down for a nap. I’m really hoping this is just a phase (though sleep has been bad for six weeks, so it’s hard to believe that sometimes), and that in the next update I can share how great he is sleeping! During the times in between naps and before bedtime, we have so much fun, so I’m hoping sleep will get there, too.

We’ve been all about quick meals lately, and one of my favorites is this cabbage and beef stir fry. I’ve wanted to try it for years, but Chris thought cooked cabbage sounded gross. I finally got him to try it, and he loved it! I thought I would share it in case you are also looking for a quick meal. We do use almost twice the amount of ground beef she suggests.

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?

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? :)