The Siberian American: 2017

Monday, December 11, 2017

Six Books I Read in October and November

Hi, friends! I’ve been in the mood to write for weeks, but after an extended hospital stay, Christopher’s crazy schedule (more on that soon), and adjusting to being a first-time Mama, I have barely opened my computer. I’ll be back soon with some updates on seven-week-old (!!) Anthony, but today I wanted to share some of my recent reads. Like with writing, I didn’t read much during the first month of Anthony’s life, but I’ve gotten into the habit of reading while I’m feeding him, so hopefully I’ll have more to share next month! I mostly wanted to read cute, fluffy Christmas reads, so I have a few of those. I’m finally reading my first thriller in a long time this week and am excited to share about it soon!


Summer at the Little French Guesthouse by Helen Pollard
(c/o NetGalley)
When I started reading this book, I didn't realize it was the third book in a trilogy. That's my fault, though, and it didn't change the book for me. I was a little discouraged about the lack of conflict until close to the end of the book-I feel like it could have been introduced earlier. That said, it was still a cute read, and I really liked the setting!


Castle of Dreams by Elise McCune
(c/o NetGalley)
I enjoyed this book, even though it was a little slow at times and definitely a bit predictable. I liked all the characters, especially the ones in the present story. It's not the best World War II historical fiction I've ever read, but I liked that it was a little different, as it was based in Australia.


Snowflakes, Iced Cakes and Second Chances by Sue Watson
(c/o NetGalley)
This was a sweet Christmas story about misperceptions and second chances. It did feel a little redundant at times, but overall was a good read.


The Wildling Sisters by Eve Chase
(c/o NetGalley)
I enjoyed Eve Chase's Black Rabbit Hall, so I was excited to read The Wildling Sisters. It started off really interesting, but the middle really dragged for me. The ending was really good, though, and I enjoyed the book overall. Black Rabbit Hall was better, but I would definitely read another Eve Chase book.


Mr. Dickens and His Carol: A Novel by Samantha Silva
(c/o NetGalley)
This story is a fictionalized account of Charles Dickens and his state of mind while writing A Christmas Carol. For such a short book, it did drag a few times, but overall, I enjoyed it. It's a nice book to read during the holiday season!


We'll Always Have Christmas by Jenny Hale
(c/o NetGalley)
I was in the mood for a fluffy Christmas story, and that's what I got. You know what you're getting when you read stories like this-as an editor, I get frustrated with some of the sentence structure, but it was a sweet read for the holiday season.


Favorite reads in October & November: The Wildling Sisters and Mr. Dickens and His Carol

Linking up with Steph & Jana.

I love book suggestions. What have you read lately?
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Friday, November 3, 2017

Welcome to the World, Anthony!

Our sweet Anthony Christopher was born on October 20 at 3:46 a.m. He weighed 6 pounds and 15 ounces and was 21 inches long. We are so in love!
I was in labor for 24 hours after being diagnosed with severe preeclampsia. We were discharged on Tuesday, October 24, only to rush to the ER five hours later with a 106 degree fever and be diagnosed with a kidney infection. We were finally able to go home on Saturday, October 28. I will share more of the story later, but that's why I have been MIA-soaking in all the adorable newborn cuddles and recovering from all the post-partum problems. We are so thankful for our healthy, adorable baby boy! I'm going to take a little more time off blogging, but I'll be back soon with more stories and photos!

Monday, October 16, 2017

End of Pregnancy Confessions

Oh hey, somehow I blinked, and I’m over 38 weeks pregnant. I thought I would post some thoughts and confessions today as I’m (hopefully!) nearing the end of this pregnancy.


I’m nearing the point in pregnancy where I’m ready to meet this little man! I’ve been dealing with painful Braxton Hicks off and on, and now that I’m past 38 weeks, I wouldn’t mind if he decided to show up a little early. That said, Chris is working nights all of this week, so it would be rough timing. There’s really no way he could leave if I go into labor in the middle of the night, and I definitely want him to be there. Talk about mixed feelings! I know baby boy will come on his own time, though!

I’m actually a little proud that I have both the diaper bag and hospital packed! Even though I’m a big planner, I really really hate packing. I basically had to go ahead and do it since I’m spending time with my parents while Chris works nights just in case I go into labor. Everything else is done, too! The nursery is ready, and all of his newborn clothes are washed.

Chris and I spent from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at a childbirth class on Saturday. I had to get special permission for us to go so late in my pregnancy, and if you’ve ever been 38 weeks pregnant, you know how pleasant sitting for that long is. I do think it was worth it for us to go. The second part of the class is this Saturday, but Chris is working 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. on both Friday and Saturday, so we’ll see if he wants to go!

I just love the looks on people’s faces when they ask me when I’m due. I mentioned before it would bother me when people constantly told me I don’t look as pregnant as I should, but now, it’s entertaining because they are shocked by how close I am.

I wanted to end this on a good note. I’ve mentioned in the past some of the negative comments people have said, but yesterday, I received the sweetest compliment. An elderly gentleman I had never met came up to me at church and said “You are so beautiful. I think pregnant women are the most beautiful women in the world because they just glow.” Such a nice thing to say!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Our Maternity Photos

I debated for some time as to whether I wanted maternity photos. Although I've kept a daily journal of my pregnancy, I haven't really taken many bump photos. That said, I'm really glad we decided to take some maternity photos. Our photographer (Brittnie Renee Photography) did such a wonderful job, and I love that we have these shots to remember such a special time in our lives! Brittnie gave us over 50 photos, so I thought I would share some of my favorites with y'all today!


What's your favorite photo? 

Monday, October 9, 2017

Seven Books I Read in September

Hey, friends! Last week was a bit on the rough side around here. Last Sunday night, Chris caught some sort of intestinal virus with a 104 fever, so I spent the week taking care of him while also trying to make sure the baby and I didn’t get it. Thankfully, he’s finally improving, and it looks like I missed it, so things are on the upswing! As for my reading, I managed to finish the month with seven books after spending the first 20 or so days reading the first book on this list. I’m currently at 78 books read for the year, about two ahead of schedule if I want to get to 100 books this year. Honestly, though, as I get closer to the birth of our baby boy, I’ve been caring less about volume and just enjoying the books I’ve gotten to read.


Roses of May by Dot Hutchinson
I was hoping for this sequel to be a continuation of The Butterfly Garden, and it really wasn't. Inara and Bliss did make several appearances, but they weren't the main characters. I did think the plot was interesting, just not quite as good as the first story. It took me quite a bit longer than usual to get into the book. I will be definitely be finishing the trilogy, though, when the last book comes out!


Until I Met Her by Natalie Barelli
(c/o NetGalley)
Most of this book felt more like a drama than a thriller to me, but it was still good. I didn't really like Emma or Beatrice (or any of the minor characters), which would normally ruin the book for me, but it actually made for an interesting read. My only complaint is I didn't know there would be a sequel until I finished reading it (it still doesn't say it on GoodReads). I like to be prepared for that, so I don't wonder why all the loose ends aren't tied up. That said, even though I will read the sequel, I do think this book works as a stand-alone novel.


Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan
(c/o NetGalley)
This book was a little hot and cold for me. There were several places where it felt like it dragged, but overall, it was an interesting read. I was hoping for a bit of a stronger ending, but I don't regret reading it.


Carnegie's Maid by Marie Benedict
(c/o NetGalley)
This was a quick, interesting historical fiction centered around Andrew Carnegie and his mother's maid. Although the maid is a fictional character, the book was still a good way to learn more about Andrew Carnegie.


The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand
(c/o NetGalley)
I enjoyed this book of identical twins who have spent years not speaking to each other. It was a little slower than I expected at times, but it did pick up and turned out to be a good read at the end.


Next of Kin by James Tucker
(c/o NetGalley)
I was surprised by how much I liked this book! It was a fast-paced thriller that kept me guessing. You really feel for Ben, who loses his whole family in one night and is then hunted by the killer. This was a great first novel, and I am interested in reading more books in this new detective series!


When We Were Worthy by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen
(c/o NetGalley)
This was a beautiful, powerful read of the aftermath of a car accident that left three high school cheerleaders from a small town dead. It rotates between four characters-one of the girls's moms, the mother of the son also involved in the accident, a cheerleader who should have been in the car, and a teacher. Though the story is heartbreaking, it also focuses on the craziness of the rumor mill in a small town. This is my second Marybeth Mayhew Whalen book, and I'll definitely be reading more!


Favorite reads in September: Carnegie's Maid, Next of Kin, and When We Were Worthy

Linking up with Steph & Jana.

I love book suggestions. What have you read lately?

Friday, September 29, 2017

Pregnancy Update: One Month to Go

“You don’t look like it, but somehow, you’ve got a six-pound baby in there.” That’s what the ultrasound tech told me as we left yesterday. Today, I am 36 weeks and am truly thankful to be this close to meeting our little one!


As I mentioned in my life update, I constantly go from I can’t wait to meet him to there is still so much more I’d like to get done! Knowing myself, though, I will always feel like there is more to get done, so I’m trying not to pay attention to it.

Speaking of getting things done, the nursery is getting close! I had a minor panic attack this week when I realized how much gray there is in the room, so I’m hoping to buy a few more things this weekend to add more blue.

I’m starting to hate hearing how tiny I am. I guess people forgot what I looked like before pregnancy. Y’all, I’ve gained over 30 pounds. It wouldn’t bother me except that often when it’s said, the person is implying I’m doing something unhealthy for the baby, and he’s healthy and growing well, thank you very much.

Overall, now that I'm over my cold, I’ve been feeling really well! Sleeping has gotten harder, and I definitely struggle with walking, but I haven’t hit that get this baby out of me stage yet. I have been dealing with some Braxton Hicks, though, which truly feel like a cruel joke sometimes.

This is my last super busy weekend before my due date, and I’m planning on taking it a little easier after that. I do have a few friend dates since I know they will be harder in the next few months!

We got our maternity photos back, and I love them! I’m really excited to share some of my favorites with y’all next week!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Life Lately: All the Happy Things

Lately, I’ve been in the mood to just write. From helping with a conference to having a cold immediately after, I’ve had no energy to edit photos for travel posts, but I’ve had so much on my mind and just want to share a bunch of things that have made me happy lately.


Chris had his first day off in several weeks on Saturday, and we had the best day together. I had tried to plan several big things for us to do, but he was tired (and also worried about me walking around festivals in the heat), so we mostly did chores, but it was perfect. We painted letters for the nursery, installed the car seat, went grocery shopping, and celebrated our 10 year dating anniversary at Joe’s Crab Shack. None of that is super special on its own, but it had been so long since we got to spend time together, so we really enjoyed every moment.

I can’t believe I’m already 35 weeks pregnant. I’ll post a pregnancy update on Wednesday, but I’m definitely to the point where I’m super excited and ready one moment and anxious the next because it feels like there is so much left to get done (isn’t there always?).

I’m so happy it’s time for fall! It hasn’t felt like it here in Texas yet, but we should be in the 80s by the middle of the week, which will feel great after being close to 100 most of last week. I can’t wait until it cools down enough for me to be able to take walks again, and of course, wearing fall clothes is always fun!

Speaking of fall, I’m excited to make more slow cooker meals these days. I’m all about lighter food in the summer, so my slow cooker has been neglected. Blogging for Books sent me Martha Stewart’s Slow Cooker, and I basically want to try every meal in the book. I’m loving all the variety in the book with 110 dishes (which also include desserts) as options. I’ll probably be making more slow cooker meals once the little man arrives, so I’ve been flipping through the book to see everything I want to try. Recipes that have caught my eye are: ropa vieja, carbonnade (a Belgian-style beef stew), beef and black bean chili, sausage lasagna, and croque monsieur strata. For a fall dessert, I’d love to try the apple-cranberry crisp.

This has been a weird reading year for me. I’ve been reading in spurts-either a bunch or barely anything. I just got through several books pretty quickly and am about to finish my 75th book for the year! I’m basically right on schedule to finish my goal of 100 books this year, but I’m hoping to get a little ahead because I know life is about to get busier!

What have you been up to lately?
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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Ten Year Dating Anniversary: A Decade of Just Us

I love fall. Even though it doesn’t cool down in Texas until November, it feels like a season of change and renewal. For the last ten years, September has also been the month Chris and I got to celebrate the beginning of our story.


Christopher and I started dating on September 20, 2007 after what is still the most confusing conversation I’ve ever had in my life (you can read more of that story here). We had both recently turned 18, were freshmen in college, and still had a lot to learn about what it is like to be in a serious relationship. Even so, we fell for each other very quickly, and I definitely remember how crazy my friends thought I was when I started telling them this was a forever kind of relationship.

When we first got married (about two years later), I could have never imagined that we would spend the first decade of our relationship as “just the two of us.” Honestly, though, it has been good for us. We’ve experienced so much growth in the last ten years, both individually and together. I was able to support him from the beginning of this crazy medical journey, and we were still able to make time to go on many adventures together. It hasn’t always been easy, but I’m so thankful to have Christopher by my side.


Now, a little over a month until my due date, we celebrate all the amazing times we’ve had and are so excited to start this new chapter! Here’s to us, Christopher! I can’t wait to see what the future holds for us (and our son!).

PS-Sorry I’ve been so MIA this week, friends. I brought home a cold as a souvenir from the conference, which is a little rough at 34 weeks pregnant! Hopefully, I’ll be able to catch up on all of your blogs soon!

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Most Fun, Fulfilling Weekend

Right around this time last year, I wrote about how I was stepping completely out of my comfort zone and going to a conference for doctors’ wives where I knew no one. I was amazed by how connected I felt to those other women that weekend, so much so that I decided to be on the planning committee for this year. Of course, I had no idea I would be 34 weeks pregnant when the weekend rolled around, so I was a bit anxious as to how it would all work out.

Radiology wives!
I’m not going to lie to y’all—I don’t think I’ve ever been this exhausted in my life. (I’m sure I’ll be saying that a lot in the next few months, though). I was in charge of all the social media and live streaming at the event, and even though I outsourced the live streams to many wonderful volunteers, it was still a lot to make sure everything was running smoothly.

That said, it was still one of the most fulfilling weekends I have had. It’s funny to think back on this weekend versus how I felt going into the conference last year. Last year, I was so anxious because I knew I would have to introduce myself to a bunch of people I didn’t know. This year, people were walking up and introducing themselves to me because they knew who I was, and I didn’t know them. I also got to see the ladies I met last year and get to know them even better.

There’s something really special and fulfilling about being around a large group of women who truly get the craziness of the medical world. I have many supportive friends and family, but unless you go through the experience, it’s really hard to understand. I know if Chris hadn’t decided to be a doctor, I would be clueless about Match, residency, and fellowship. I learn so much from these women, and I am forever grateful for their love and encouragement.

PS-Curious about what we do at a conference for doctors' wives? I explained more about our classes and fellowship opportunities last year.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Eleven Books I Read in August

Hello, friends! We had a super busy weekend this week with getting my hair done, a baby shower, and maternity photos, but I’m sad it’s over. It’s rare these days that Chris gets a full weekend off (what we call a golden weekend in the medical field), so I truly treasure it when he does. Anyways, let’s talk about books! After a slower July, I was on a roll with reading in August! I managed to finish both the first round and bonus round for Erin’s Book Challenge (which is why you see a lot less NetGalley books than usual. Haha) Because of the challenge, I feel like I read an even bigger variety of books than I typically do, and thankfully, I liked almost all of them!


Winter by Marissa Meyer
What an ending! I'm always nervous going into the last book of a series, but I love the way Marissa Meyer finished The Lunar Chronicles. I'm so sad I'm almost done reading about these amazing characters. Thankfully, I have a few short stories left.


The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond
(c/o NetGalley)
I LOVED this thriller. The premise was super interesting and unique, and the story kept me on my toes . It was one of those books I didn't want to stop reading when I should have been really doing something else (like sleeping). The only reason it's not a solid five stars for me is I wanted a little more from the ending.


The Other Girl by Erica Spindler
(c/o NetGalley)
This was a solid thriller that I was able to read in basically one sitting. It was definitely predictable, but figuring out the ending didn't ruin the story for me in this case. The book kept me interested and was the perfect length for this kind of thriller.


Beartown by Fredrik Backman
(c/o NetGalley)
I almost gave up on Fredrik Backman after reading Britt-Marie Was Here. I'm glad I didn't. Beartown also started out super slow, but it transformed into a beautiful, powerful read about a town where the only thing that matters is winning. It's heartbreaking and poignant and truly a must read.


Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
It's been a while since I've read a Jane Austen book, so I was thankful for a challenge that convinced me to pick one up! I enjoyed it, as always! I need to read all the Jane Austen I haven't read soon!


Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Oh, yikes. I don't really understand the hype with this one, friends. I usually love coming of age stories, but this one felt so disjointed. Cath just wasn't the best character, and the Simon Snow passages seemed out of place at times (I almost lost it when Levi compared him to Harry Potter. Well, duh, but the book was basically based on Harry Potter anyway, so I figured he didn't exist in this world. Super strange.) Then, there was the ending, which wasn't really an ending. There were still SO many loose ends. I'm not saying it wasn't a good book; it just wasn't nearly as great as I thought it would be with all the positive reviews I've seen.


The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchinson
This book was creepy but also really unique. It is one of those books that's hard to put down. I didn't love the twist at the end, but it was still a good book, and I will definitely pick up the second in the series.


Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
I was a little worried I wouldn't like this book because it took me forever to get used to the writing style. The thing that really got me about this book was the characters. You can't help but feel for Oskar and the profound loss he suffered at a young age.


Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Randsom Riggs
This book just never really captured my attention. Like others said, it's basically X-Men with children. It got a little better towards the end, but I honestly don't even care enough to read the second book in the series.


Irene's Children by Tilar J. Mazzeo
(c/o NetGalley)
What a powerful tale of strength and courage. This is a non-fiction book about Irena Sendler, who helped rescue over 2,500 children in Warsaw during WWII. Even though it's non-fiction, I think even those who don't usually like non-fiction would like it because it's told in a story format. If you are interested on what it was like in Warsaw during WWII, this book is definitely worth reading!


Fairest by Marissa Meyer
This was my least favorite of the Lunar Chronicles stories, but that doesn't mean it was bad. It gave insight into why Levana is the way she is. I thought I would feel sympathy towards her, but I really didn't. I did like the extra information about some of the other main characters, though.


Favorite reads in August: Winter, The Marriage Pact, and The Butterfly Garden

Linking up with Steph & Jana.

I love book suggestions. What have you read lately?
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