Travels with Charley in Search of America

Travels with Charley Cover

Does the dog die?

This is the first question I asked my husband when he recommended this book to me. The answer is no, and it won’t spoil the book for you. I needed to know this fact before I started because I wouldn’t have read it if he did. I know, it’s a stupid reason not to read a book, but it’s how I am. And no, I’ve never read or seen Marley and Me (and I never will).

This book is excellent. I’ve read Steinbeck’s major novels (Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden, Of Mice and Men) and loved them all. This was a different kind of book, and one that I’m glad I read. I felt like I got to know Steinbeck.  Often, it read as though he was thinking aloud about the things and places he saw. It always adds dimension to an author when you are able to read something autobiographical by him or her. Steinbeck’s traveling companion, Charley, a Standard Poodle, provides another great perspective on the journey.

The book begins with an older Steinbeck preparing to take a trip across America; he feels out of touch with the people he writes about and he wants to feel the pulse of the country again.  Steinbeck decides that he will make the trip by camper, since he wants to meet people in their natural state. He doesn’t want to interfere with them so t he must be “a kinds of casual turtle carrying his house on his back.” He accomplishes this turtle-ness by purchasing a truck with a camper built into the bed. He names it Rocinante. The Quixote reference adds an interesting dimension to the book and it made me smile.

Rocinante

Now for an extremely brief summary of the book: Steinbeck spends what seems like a lot of time travelling from New York to Chicago (nearly 100 pages of 210). After Chicago, Steinbeck visits Montana and Wyoming (most notably) on his way to the west coast. Really beautiful descriptions of the land! Then, it’s on to California and Steinbeck’s hometown of Salinas. He spends only a little time here, feeling as though he no longer belongs in his hometown. He moves on through the Mojave desert and his next significant stop along the way is Texas. Steinbeck calls it a “state of mind” and an “obsession”; he spends little time on the land itself, but more on the people of Texas and their fierce sense of nationalism. As a Texan, I enjoyed this part of the book and his treatment of my home state 🙂 After a happy stop at a friend’s ranch, he heads to New Orleans, where he wants to witness the horrific racial tension caused by the desegregation of the public schools. This part of the book made me sob. Steinbeck speeds back home after this, eager to see his wife, sleep in his own bed, and be in his own home.

This book is definitely worth the read!

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There’s the Heartbeat!

I had my doctor’s appointment today to confirm a heartbeat and little baby didn’t disappoint! It’s always a little nerve wracking to not know for sure how everything is progressing. In a weird way it can be comforting to have morning sickness; you know that your body is still working on growing that little baby.  I loved seeing that little flicker! He or she is growing and doing well, just a little gummy bear in my belly.

I filmed the ultrasound on my iPhone for Chris, since he wasn’t able to come to this appointment (he was at home with Penny since we haven’t told our family yet and it would be a little hard to explain a doctor’s appointment that we both have to go to…) He’ll get to come next time!

My doctor adjusted my due date a little, so now we’re looking at March 11. This puts me right around my district’s Spring Break, so hopefully I’ll be able to stay on maternity leave through the rest of the school year – 5 whole months with little baby Simons and Penelope!

My next appointment will be in late August, and we’ll have one more ultrasound to check in on the baby. Yay!

7 Week Update

7 weeks

What’s New With Mommy

Doctor’s Appointment:

I have my next appointment tomorrow to check on the heartbeat (since we weren’t sure if we saw one last time or not). Stay tuned for a doctor’s visit update tomorrow!

Symptoms:

I started feeling better for a few days, but today is not one of them…nothing sounds good to eat and I’ve been nauseated all day. I pretty much force myself to eat something and hope it stays down (I haven’t thrown up yet and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I won’t.)

Still moody. The worst part is I have a lot less patience right now, which you to have to have with a toddler who gets frustrated when she can’t communicate what she wants or when she just is not able to do/have something. Chris has been great though – he’ll take Penny on a car ride or to the store to give me a short break. I hope this moodiness is over soon!

Saliva still going strong…I have a teeth cleaning later today (hope they’re ready with suction…)

Baby Bump:

I definitely see a change in my belly from 6 to 7 weeks, although it could be bloating. I’ve noticed my clothes getting a little tighter around the waist, but I haven’t had to bust out the belly band or dig into my maternity stash.

Penny decided that she likes to help put belly butter on mommy’s tummy. She thinks it’s hilarious 🙂

Weight Gain:

I think I might have lost a pound,,,the scale has been reading around 120 most of the week.

Sleep:

I must be anxious or something because I’ve been having a lot of upsetting dreams lately…hopefully my subconscious cheers up soon.

Cravings/Aversions:

I had a run of a few days that I was feeling pretty good (I attributed this to eating more protein). I really wanted Dreyer’s Slow Churned Ice Cream (I blame the 50 commercials I must have seen for it). Guess what? It lived up to the hype! I have not, however, been able to eat my famous homemade pizza…the smell of the sauce makes me sick. Today I have reverted to morning sickness mode…nothing has sounded good since I woke up. I’ll hope for a better tomorrow appetite-wise!

What’s Up With Baby

Size:

Baby Simons is the size of a blueberry (about 1/2 of an inch).

Growth:

Hands and feet are forming, although they still look like little paddles. Baby is developing eyelids over his or her eyes – which have some color! The brain has two hemispheres now and the liver is making red blood cells until the bone marrow gets going and takes over that job. There is a loop in Baby’s intestines that form part of the umbilical cord that takes nutrients from the placenta to Baby. Still lots of growing going on this week!

Movement:

Still none, although I have felt some gas bubbles that feel like fetal movement (too early for that though!)

Bedtime Routine

Penny on the Patio

Chillin’ on the patio

If you read my post about our last time breastfeeding, you know that I’ve been concerned about changing my daughter’s bedtime routine. (If you haven’t read it, click here.)

Well, we’ve fallen into a fantastic routine now and bedtime at the Simons household couldn’t be easier. This is what a typical night looks like for us:

7:00 Dinner Time

7:30 Playtime on the patio/Walk outside (if it’s not too hot!)

8:00 Playtime in Penny’s room with lullaby music for a zen atmosphere

8:30 Bathtime (we have a song mommy made up…and no, you can’t hear it)

8:45 Brush Teeth (she loves this!)

8:47 Say “nigh nigh” to Daddy and back to Penny’s room

8:50 Turn on the lamp and turn off the light; read 2 or 3 books (whichever ones Penny picks out)

8:58 Grab the lovey and rock in the glider with mommy to a lullaby (usually “Hush little baby don’t say a word…”)

9:00 Kiss Penny goodnight and say sweet dreams (she usually goes right to sleep, but sometimes she talks to herself or her lovey for a while before drifting off)

Ever since we got into this groove, I haven’t had to go back in her room to comfort or rock her back to sleep once. It’s amazing! I’m so thankful that this transition has turned out so well for both of us! I love that she’s happy going to bed and that she is totally independent in comforting herself and getting to sleep on her own. I feel like we really reached a milestone and I’m so proud of her!

Lessons I’ve Learned from Lucy

I’ve been on an I Love Lucky kick. It’s fantastic. Whenever I’m feeling blah I turn on Hulu and get my Lucy on.

These are some of the things I’ve learned from I Love Lucy:

Lucy Crying

1. It’s OK to cry. It seems like every other episode Lucy is sobbing over something or other. Most of the time one of her schemes didn’t work out like she thought it would, but sometimes she cries just to get her way. Ricky, on the receiving end of what can only be termed a ‘tantrum,’ usually caves and/or feels extremely guilty and buys her something. I don’t think I’ll be going this route in my marriage (as I already have a 14 month old who has started throwing tantrums when she doesn’t get what she wants and adding mommy to the mix might give my hubby apoplexy).

Lucy is enceinte

2. If you aren’t allowed to use the term ‘pregnant’ in your place of work, substitute ‘enciente’. This seems crazy in this day and age, but you couldn’t say “pregnant” on TV in the 50s – whoa! And her maternity clothes! Circus tents with frilly collars/decorative buttons. Talk about trying to hide a major fact of life. Sooo glad I live in a time when pregnancy can be talked about and is celebrated! (And the clothes are cute too!)

Lucy and Ethel

3. Lean on your close friends. Ethel was always there for the Lucy. Always taking part in Lucy’s crazy schemes (no matter how many times they backfired) and ready to back her up when Ricky was mad about whatever Lucy had done. We should all be so lucky.

Job Switching

4. Never take life too seriously. I Love Lucy only deals with the lighter side of life and I love that about it. There’s plenty of serious stuff we have to deal with everyday and I don’t need my TV shows adding additional anxiety to my life.

Lucy Dancing

5. Never give up. I think this is the most important lesson from the series. Lucy never quits trying to have her shot at fame. Poor Lucy…she’s not good at singing, dancing, or acting and she doesn’t know it (even though everyone around her tells her all the time). Still, she perseveres and takes every opportunity she can to be in the spotlight.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have another season to watch!