The Siberian American: 2018

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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Thursday, July 5, 2018

Let’s Have a Coffee Date: It’s Been a While, Let’s Catch Up!

Hey friends,

I skipped blogging for most of May and all of June, and it felt really strange. I opened up my blog quite a few times and wrote several halves of blog posts, but I just didn’t have the energy to finish a post. I’ve been wanting to share about a million things with y’all, though, so I figured it was time for a coffee date!


Chris is officially done with the hardest year of residency so far! Of course, his medical new year starts with a month of nights, but he will have some free weekends soon! He’s worked almost every weekend since February, so we are super excited. It’s hard to believe we are finally halfway through training. He has two more years of residency and one more year of fellowship left.

Can I just say how proud I am of Chris for how he handled this year? It just hasn’t been easy-many nights and almost no weekends, all while getting barely any sleep. I know he’s a little sad about how much he has had to miss Anthony grow, but it has really made the times we did have together even sweeter.

We decided to book a quick getaway for our birthdays! We found a nice cabin with a scenic view about five hours away, so it will be our first long road trip with Anthony. Fingers crossed he does well! I can’t wait for a little change of scenery.

Speaking of change of scenery, I can’t believe we are so close to our four weeks in DC! I’m a little nervous because it’ll be Anthony’s first flight (we decided against a 20-hour road trip), and he’s super active these days, so I have no idea how it will go. I’m excited to go on some weekend adventures with Christopher and Anthony, though! I’ve never been to DC, so if you have favorite places there, let me know.

Photo by Brittnie Renee Photography
Speaking of Anthony, he is crawling all over the place now, and it’s definitely a whole new ball game! I am getting a workout every day while chasing him. I’m planning to write an update soon, but this month with Anthony has been so much fun! It’s amazing to me how much he has learned. I’ve mentioned about a million times that I think Anthony is just not a great sleeper, and that’s still true. He has never slept through the night, though most nights we are down to two wakeups, so I’ll take it. He’s also had a hard time with naps lately. I’m trying to see how I can adjust his schedule, so he gets a little more rest!

I don’t have much time to read these days, but everything I have read lately has been really good! I missed last month’s book day, so I can’t wait to share my reads from the last two months next week!

Linking up with Kristen for What’s New With You?

Monday, May 7, 2018

Three Books I Read in April

Well, it looks like three books a month is the magic number right now. We spent most of April packing, moving, and unpacking, so I was glad to get even a little reading done. The good news is I liked all three reads, and I’m excited to share them with y’all.


The Holiday Cottage by the Sea by Holly Martin 
(c/o NetGalley)
Holly Martin is one of my favorite chick lit authors. The romance is sweet, and the beautiful sea village settings are always lovely. This one isn't one of my favorites of hers-I think it got a little repetitive-but I still enjoyed it and will read the next book in the series!


The House Swap by Rebecca Fleet 
(c/o Penguin First to Read)
It took me a while to get into this book. I don't think it's fair to call it a thriller-it's more of a drama. The plot was unique, though, and I really liked the second half of the book. The emotions were powerful and written so well. I wish the first half was a little shorter, but overall, it was a good read.


How to Walk Away by Katherine Center 
(c/o NetGalley)
This book really sucks you in. I would have definitely finished it in one sitting if that was possible. It's heartbreaking but beautiful. The plot is predictable, but it doesn't matter because the beauty in this book is how Margaret gets to the ending. I also loved how it is written as a reflection on past events-I think it really added depth to the story. This was my first Katherine Center book, but it won't be my last!


Favorite read in April: How to Walk Away

Linking up with Steph & Jana.

I love book suggestions. What have you read lately?

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Anthony Update: Months Five and Six

Well, friends, move number eight in eight years of marriage is in the books! Our place is slowly starting to look more like a home, though I’m definitely taking my time with unpacking this time around compared to usual. I started to write a life update, but it felt like all I was doing was complaining because I’m having a hard time getting used to this new place and am really missing our old apartment. I think that life update will have to wait until I’m a bit further removed from the move. Instead, I thought I would share more about Anthony!


General Thoughts
I don’t even know how it’s possible that my baby is already six months. Everything they say about how fast time goes when you become a mother is true. These last few months have been so much fun with all the giggles and learning!


Who Does Anthony Look Like?
I debated on whether to leave this question or not this time because I don't really have a good answer, but I think it’ll be fun to remember all the changes in his appearance. The major developments on the looks front is I think Anthony’s eyes are turning green! When I’ve looked at him on a sunny day, I can see a hint of green, and other people have started to mention the same thing to me. Chris and I both have green eyes, so I’m excited that Anthony might have them, too. He also has quite a bit more hair, but it’s hard to tell because it’s mostly blonde!


Nicknames
We are a nickname family. I have about a million nicknames for Chris and Skyler, and Anthony now has a bunch, too. The ones used most often are Tosha (his Russian nickname), Buddy Bear, and Little A.


Milestones
So many fun things have happened over the last two months, but the biggest milestone is we gave Anthony solids on his six-month birthday, and he absolutely loves everything he has tried! So far we have stuck with veggies, and Anthony has eaten sweet potato (his first food), peas, and carrots. I was pretty surprised because he actually ate everything we gave him the first day we tried (and would have kept eating and eating). I thought he would spit it out and there would be a big mess, but he made basically no mess. Anthony is also a huge talker and loves making new sounds.


Firsts
Anthony was a trooper during his first move! Knowing us, it’s one of many, so I was glad to see it didn’t affect him much.

Sleep
At this point I’ve come to terms with the fact that Anthony just isn’t a good sleeper. He has never slept through the night, and until recently, he would wake up about every two hours. Now he will sometimes sleep three to four hours straight for the first two cycles and then wake up every hour towards the morning. In general, he takes really good naps, though. His morning and afternoon nap are usually an hour or two, so if he’s had an especially rough night, I’ll take some time to sleep. He does still sleep in our room in a pack and play, and I am considering transitioning him to his crib to see if he does better.

Anthony on Easter
Eating
I made it to six months exclusively breastfeeding! It hasn’t been the easiest journey (I might share more of it with y’all at some point), but I am proud we’re at the halfway goal. Anthony currently eats about every three hours during the day. Like I mentioned above, we are also slowly starting to introduce solids. Last Friday we went out to eat with Chris’s parents, and when his dad sat Anthony at the table, he started mimicking chewing and showing us he also wanted to eat some dinner! We were cracking up that he knew that’s what we were about to do.


Likes
Anthony basically likes everything. Chris and I always say we’ll take the difficult nights because Anthony is such a great baby during the day and very rarely fusses. He has recently started enjoying his jumper and really loves playing on the floor. He also always wants to reach out and pet Skyler, but she mostly prefers to ignore him. Musical toys are still his favorites, along with anything that rattles. I’m hoping to get my act together and write a post about all of our favorite things from zero to six months in case it helps someone (and so that I have it for future reference!).


Dislikes
Like I said, Anthony doesn’t really have a lot of things he dislikes. Tummy time hasn’t been a favorite lately because all he wants to do is roll from his tummy to his back. I guess I could also include sleep in this category, too.


I’ve been trying as hard as I can to soak in these sweet moments with Anthony. I know soon he will be mobile, and I’ll miss these days of early morning chats and giggles and hours of floor play. Motherhood is strange in that I love that he is so cute and little right now, but I am also so excited for all the new things he’s going to learn.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Three Books I Read in March

Hey, friends! I had no idea I wouldn't be back on my blog until it was time for another book post, but that's just this season of life. We just can't seem to get anywhere with sleep, Chris is working over 12 hours a day (including weekends), and we're moving next week. Life is good, but it's all kinds of crazy, so I haven't had the time to write or read much. I'm really hoping I can find more time to do both once the dust settles, but I'm not really pressuring myself anymore. I did manage to read three books, and I liked them all, so I'm excited to share them with y'all.


I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman 
(c/o First to Read)
Gayle Forman knows how to write a beautiful story. This is a book of three teenagers who have lost their way, but their lives are changed after a chance meeting. It's heartbreaking, emotional, and the characters are so well written. If you enjoy YA, this one is worth picking up.


The Girl I Used to Be by Mary Torjussen 
(c/o First to Read)
I had a hard time getting into this book at first. Something about the writing just really bothered me. About halfway through the book, I started to really like it. I actually guessed a few of the twists (though I thought I was likely wrong, ha!), but there were still many things that surprised me. I thought the ending was done well and interesting. I will be reading more Mary Torjussen books in the future!

Note: Can I just say it's always my reviews that say something about me disliking the author's writing that get liked by the author. I always feel a little embarrassed that I was so critical when that happens!



The Recipe Box by Viola Shipman 
(c/o NetGalley)
I was in the mood for a feel-good story, and I knew what I was getting with a Viola Shipman novel. I think it's so interesting it's written by a man using his grandmother's name. This is a sweet story about generations of women who have worked hard to build up an orchard in Suttons Bay, Michigan. The story centers around the granddaughter, who is torn between baking in New York and being with her family. It does bother me that the author inserts an insane amount of random facts about Michigan into his stories (though I like some of them!), but overall, it was exactly what I needed after reading too many thrillers and depressing stories.


Favorite read in March: I Have Lost My Way

Linking up with Steph & Jana.

I love book suggestions. What have you read lately?
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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?
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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?
Then: 
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
Now:
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
Milestones
Then: 
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.
Now:
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
Sleep
Then:
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.
Now:
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.


Eating
Then:
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.
Now:
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
Likes
Then:
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.
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.


Dislikes
Then: 
Anthony has always hated being swaddled and even broke through those Velcro SwaddleMe swaddles as a newborn.
Now:
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.