8. "Where is the most exotic place you've ever lived?"
You're not going to believe the answer. Considering, though, that I've lived in a small southern town for most of my life, the place that was the most different from what I was used to?
Drum roll, please.
Provo, Utah! I know. Not very exotic. I haven't really lived that many places: Winston-Salem, NC; here (which is the same town my family moved to when I was 5); Provo; Memphis; Johnson City, TN; Charlotte, NC; Spartanburg, SC. And that's it. But. I have traveled widely, so I don't feel quite so bumpkin-ish.
8. "Was your 4th planned or unplanned?"
Is there another category? Let's say our fourth child was . . . unprevented. How about that? After undergoing extraordinary measures to conceive our twins (for that story, see this post) and the shock of getting pregnant the old-fashioned way before the twins were a year old, we just decided to let nature take its course. If we ended up with another baby, great. If we didn't, that would be okay, too. (Although, now that we have little Miscellany, I can't imagine being without her.) Who knew the pendulum could swing so drastically from "absolutely infertile" to "whoa, you have a whole lot of little kids all at once"?
10. "Have you ever had an online friend that turned out to be "not so cool" when you met in person?"
I'll let you know after CBC in May, okay? Because I have *gasp* never actually met one of my on-line friends in person. I know. Strange. I have met a few random strangers who recognized me from my blog -- those were surreal moments, let me tell you. But they were just that -- moments. So no time for chemistry or lack thereof to really kick in, and no reciprocal relationship. They were my readers, but I was not theirs.
From Emily (who is currently living in a 700 sq ft basement with 3 toddlers & infant twins):
11. "How would you handle living in a 600 square foot space full time?"
Oh, my goodness. 5 children in 700 square feet? Including twins? God bless you, woman. I'm impressed that you have the wherewithal to string together a coherent thought that doesn't include SOS!
Our first apartment, when we were still at BYU (25E 900N #1), had 12" of counter space and an Easy Bake Oven. The shower was so tiny that if you dropped the soap, you had to get out to pick it back up. Or else, you wedged yourself in so tightly that the fire department would need to use the jaws of life to extricate your embarrassed and naked body from the tiny tile cubicle. But I inhabited that space without any children or the accompanying accoutrements.
The worst parts about being confined to a hotel room in an urban space are, in order of impact: 1. Lack of familiar stuff: toys, blankets, snacks, etc. You can sort of alleviate this by bringing a truckload of gear, but not really. 2. Lack of ability to go outside. Parking lots aren't the greatest place for my kids to hang out, and running laps around the coffee table inside the room does bad things for everyone involved. 3. Lack of natural light. This one is mostly a problem for me. But still. Basement apartment, right, Emily?
So, how would I handle that all the time? A lot of outings. A LOT. And I would not keep anything that was not absolutely necessary, because lack of clutter goes a looooooong way to improve my outlook when I'm feeling bad about my space. And I would sleep train the heck out of my kids to take maximum advantage of child-free hours. The other thing? The most important thing? You can do anything as long as you know it's temporary.
From Andrea (who has been scarce in the blogosphere lately, and I miss her):
12. "Are you still doing your cleaning schedule that you posted long ago (I loved it and use it)?"
She is referring to this. And this explanation for its genesis. Yep, I'm still using them. Because they work! I periodically retool them, tweaking little things here and there, adjusting the frequency, whatever. But they're basically the same lists as the ones I published here last year.
Also from Andrea, these next five:
13. "What do you do with photos? (scrapbook/ albums etc.)"
Sad, this answer. Because what I intend to do is a far cry from what actually happens. I DO NOT scrapbook. I WILL NEVER scrapbook. Not even digitally. However. I like the idea of digitally produced photo albums without all the extra layout stuff. That's my intention -- yearly photo books, with copies printed for each kid, so they'll have a personal history of sorts to take with them when they no longer live in this house. For now, my photos enter the black hole that is my computer and never see the light of day again, unless I post them on this blog or my mother threatens to disown me if I don't e-mail some to her.
14. "What was your favorite place to vacation?"
I love to travel. LOVE it. But I have a few favorite places:
- Rome -- it's magical. It's dirty, and gritty, but it's a city for lovers. I could live there.
- Paris -- I could live there, too. Oh, the art! The food! I even love the people.
- Interlachen, Switzerland and the little villages up above -- the most refreshing, incredibly relaxing time I have ever spent. Anywhere. My favorite place on this planet is Trummelbach Falls: 10 glacial-runoff waterfalls, 5 of them inside the mountain. I will write about this in greater detail in another post.
- Smaller places: Orvieto, Italy; St. Malo, France; Wilmington, NC; Palisades Reservoir in Idaho; the lake where we take our kids every summer
- My own mountains -- serenity, here. I love it. My heart lives here, and always will.
- Cities -- New York, LA, Seattle, Atlanta, DC. Love the energy. Love the food and shopping. Love the music. Love the bigness, the diversity. Love how different they are from the world I inhabit on a daily basis.
- Vacations fall into two categories for me: retreat and expansion. Sometimes I just want wilderness, a cabin in the woods, a house on the beach. Other times, I want to be enlarged and challenged by new places and experiences.
- Any place where my kids can run around without restriction: beach, forest, field, desert, prairie.
- Here's where we want to go: New Zealand. Alaska. Australia (CPod served his mission in Sydney). Prague. Jerusalem. Chicago (how have I missed Chicago?). Vancouver. Toronto. Scotland. Greece. Barcelona. That's just the tip of the iceberg. (Ooh! Iceland!)
It's never too early to begin early rhythmic play with your kids. And sing with them from day one. It helps a lot to develop an ear. And I don't teach Suzuki, so I like to start kids when they have a firm grasp of letters. Music is one huge system of symbols, and when kids are learning to recognize letters, then associate a specific sound with it, it's really a great time to take it one more step and translate it onto the piano keyboard. I also think it's essential to start with piano, because even with other instruments, it is so much easier to grasp concepts of music theory if you learn them on a piano. And it's never too late to learn! If you want to start now, go for it! You may have to work a little harder at it than you would have as a child, but as an adult, you're much more likely to have the discipline to do the work. So do it!
16. "What's a date recommendation?"
My husband and I love good food. So a date will always involve eating something delicious. We also love to browse. Book stores are a big favorite. So go eat. Then go pick out things for each other to read at a big book store. Then get dessert. Boring, I know. But very satisfying for us.
17. "What's your favorite easy dinner recipe?" as well as from Lisa, "what is your favorite meal that you make?"
My favorites are constantly changing . . . but the one I always come back to is simple, down home food: pan fried boneless pork chops (thin ones), home made cornbread (note here that cornbread DOES NOT have sugar in it. That would be corn cake. Cornbread is savory and crumbly or it's not cornbread.), steamed cabbage with lots of salt and butter, and applesauce. For a food snob, this isn't really snobby, is it? But it's plain, simple, good food.
There are a few questions I have left unanswered. That's because they've inspired honest-to-goodness, full-length blog posts of their own: teaching kids about sex (KP, I'll be consulting you!); why the church grows so slowly in the south; book recommendations; my soapbox.
Thanks for the questions, readers. I have certainly enjoyed answering them!