The answers to your questions:
From Allison ‘My Sister’ Clark: Do you or do you not plan on living in my backyard when you stop moving around all the time? You can live in my backyard, I’m not really the treehouse kind. OR we could live in neighboring houses and have conjoined backyards. And a tunnel between our basements. And a tin can string phone between our kitchens. Also, Dave will probably move out before that ever happens. But here’s the real question, now that I’m planning to stop moving around, why are you just starting?
From Katie (Cleary) Miller: What is the most difficult thing for you to cope with when David travels? How much has your perspective on that changed in the past year? When Dave is gone it can obviously be tasking physically and mentally in terms of simply getting through each day keeping a baby and two dogs fed, stimulated and happy. Sometimes you just want to have your arms free or you lap empty or your mind at a standstill. Sometimes you want to use the bathroom in private. But mostly I just miss having that other person who can absorb some of the stress. Even if I am home all day with baby and she is acting like a crazy woman and the dogs are whining to go out, when Dave comes in the door I can unload it on him (and he either tunes me out or absorbs it all very patiently, I am not really bothered either way) and I instantly feel better. It’s great to have friends and family to call when you need to vent, but since Dave is genetically responsible for the existence of this being as much as I am, I feel more at peace when he is there to share the sometimes-stress of raising her.
Now, as you can see this answer completely revolves around baby. A year ago I would have said I miss having someone to beat potential intruders about the head or reach stuff on the high shelves. Now I’m just relying on the dogs to bark the intruders to death and anything on the top shelf is just irrelevant to my life.
From Jelena: How do you plan to encourage V and her future sibling(s) to develop a close relationship? Do you think that it depends mostly on the children’s nature, do parents play an active role or do children learn from the relationship their parents have with their siblings? Awesome question Jelena…and I honestly don’t know the right answer. My sister and I are really close and always have been (although, like you and yours, we had a rough patch called ‘adolescence’ which culminated with her sobbing with her face pressed up against the glass of the french doors of our living room while I had a sleepover to which she was NOT invited) and as an adult my relationship with her is probably the most important in my life outside of Dave and baby. I’m sure that the personality or temprament of your child has some effect on the relationship they have, but I can tell you that my sister and I are world’s apart in many ways when it comes to personality. We still fight and say snotty remarks and get annoyed with each other. But it takes about 45 seconds for us to make up because my parents drilled into our minds (both consciously and subconsiously) that at the end of the day, we are all that the other has.
Family is the best of the best, and a sister (sibling) is the person who will be there with you after you parents are gone. We took road trips and spent weeks in isolation in the wilderness and shared a room and sometimes a bed. To this day it literally breaks my mom’s heart when we fight, even if it’s over who’s dog barks more (it’s hers, for the record) and because we hate to make my mom sad we try to avoid conflict, especially in front of her. So, long story short, I plan to brainwash and guilt my children into loving each other like no other.
From Sarah: How did you make the transition to being a vegetarian and what advice do you have? How did your body respond to this change? What successes/challenges have you had in explaining your choice to your family/friends? I went cold turkey! Pun totally intended, by the way. I’ve never been a huge meat eater, but in 2002 I read ‘Fast Food Nation’ by Eric Schlosser and that was the last push I needed to commit to cutting meat out of my diet. If that doesn’t do it for you, read ‘Eating Animals’ by Jonathan Safran Foer and just TRY to unknow what you learn within those pages.
My body responded VERY positively. I can honestly say that after I stopped eating meat I had more energy, fewer digestive issues and lost some weight. Perhaps more importnatly, I felt better emtionally and morally about my food choices. As I struggle towards what I view as a more consistent lifestyle in veganism, I always remember to be forgiving of myself if I backslide or become weak when face to face with cheese. Like everything, vegetarianism and veganism is a journey, not a final goal. I’m always moving forward, trying to be healthier, accepting my human nature along the way.
My family and friends are, for the most part, very supportive if not totally indifferent to me being a vegetarian. A couple of years ago my sister became a vegetarian as well, so I finally had some support when my dad made his favorite joke at mealtime “You eat chicken, right?” Ha. Ha. Sometimes when I’m in the prairie of Manitoba or the heart of Texas, finding a vegetarian option can get tricky because some people think a side of vegetables or a salad isn’t complete without bacon sprinkled on top. But mostly, people understand that I am making an informed, healthy decision that falls in line with my personal philosophy in life.
From Jess: Who would you choose as your celebrity freebie: I’ll address each choice you provided in turn.
Joaqine Pheonix – (in Signs) Yes. Yes. Always and forever yes. In Signs or in Gladiator or in The Village and ESPECIALLY in Inventing the Abbotts. Mostly anytime before he went all beardy and paunchy and seemingly always drunk.
Brad Pitt -circa Legends of the Fall No. That hair will not work for me in any circumstances. You know how I feel about my hair (conflicted), and I can’t have a man all up in my bed making me feel inferior in that department.
Andy Roddick Where did this come from? I mean…I like tennis, but no. I picture him small and with a tiny voice and I don’t follow in line after Mandy Moore.
Prince Harry YES. Firstly, I have a thing for redheads. Love them. Secondly, what’s not to like about a slightly younger bad boy? Thirdly, I feel totally guilty because when I was a teenager I had a poster of Prince William, but I think I’m over him now. Why couldn’t he have had RED hair, and lots of it?
Ben Folds?! Only you, as my best friend, will understand this, but I truly would put Benny Foldsy on my list. His songs were the songs of my heart! Also, he is nerdy, like me. Also, he wears glasses. Also he plays piano and makes jokes. Yes.
From Kaylie: (on running) How did you build up to it? I know you were not always a runner, so how did this change? As I said last week, running is truly the best way for me to feel exhilarated after a workout instead of simply sweaty and annoyed. And while Jess or anyone can give you their tips for running in the physical sense, it’s the mental hurdle that’s so much harder to leap.
First things first: stop telling yourself ‘I’m not a runner.’ That was my standard line for SO long. I’m not a runner, I just don’t run, I can’t run. You can run. I know you can. I’m certain of it because you have legs. I’ve seen people bigger than me, smaller than me, older than me, younger than me, more and less athletic than me running beside me (ok, ok passing me) in races.
Secondly, Nike was on to something when they said ‘Just Do It.’ You don’t need to wait until a sunny day, until you get new running shoes, until you’ve downloaded a new playlist. Don’t put it off until you are less tired, because let’s face it, that’s never going to happen. Just put on some sneakers and some shorts and run. Run for 60 seconds, then walk a bit. Run for 60 more seconds. And at the end of the next minute of running, run a little longer. This is exactly how I started. I would set a goal of how long to run, as short as one or two minutes, and then I’d accomplish that. I’d pick a visual landmark, like a tree or a mailbox, and I’d force myself there…and sometimes one block further. It doesn’t matter how far, fast or long you run, just run. You’ll probably surprise yourself. The progress will be faster than you think.
Lastly, do it for yourself. Do it for alone time and mental health and a chance to listen to your favorite podcast. I know you might be thinking ‘I look like a total arsehole/novice/fool running down this road’, but who cares? The truth is no one is paying attention to you, they are running themselves or driving to work or, this is probably the most likely, texting someone about last night’s episode of Bachelor Pad. They don’t care about your form or your shorts or how winded you are. And if they do, what the hell is their problem? Run past them.
From Katie Cihak: If you could bring one character to life from your favorite book, who would it be? My favorite book is ‘Everthing is Illuminated’ by Jonathan Safran Foer, and even though it’s and AWESOME book (please read it if you haven’t) most of the characters brought to life would be pretty, well, depressing. If I had to choose, I’d pick Sammy Davis Jr. Jr., a crazy, scraggly mutt who serves as a ‘seeing eye bitch.’ There are never enough crazy mutts in the world.