Welcome back to my part of the world. I know that I’ve been missing in action for the last few weeks. The first week was an intentional break. Last week, we spent the week in Florida visiting with Mike’s  93 year old grandmother. Her health took a serious turn while I was on blogcation. We hopped in the car and drove 24 hours straight through with two tiny humans and my mother in law in tow. It ended up being one of the greatest weeks of our lives, even though we were there for a sad reason. Micahel’s grandmother passed away early Thursday morning and we are thankful for the wonderful week we got to spend with her.

This week, for Ask Away Friday, I was honored to swap questions with the lovely Sarah from Beauty School Dropout. Sarah and I share a mutual love of the movie Grease, documenting life, and living intentionally. We are both seeking to find time for fitness and our bible studies. We’re two peas in a pod!

Beauty School Drop Out

This link up is hosted by Amber from Bold Fab Mom, Stacy from This Momma’s Ramblings, Tiffany from Mrs. Tee, and Penny from the Real Housewife Of Caroline Country.  The idea is simple. 2 bloggers trade 10 questions, answer those questions on their blog, and link up.

1.  By some evil twist of fate, you can never eat cookies again — what’s your next-favorite dessert?  (Share a recipe if you’re so inclined!)

I don’t have a recipe to share, but I love a nice fudgy brownie almost more than I love cookies! I also just got my first pint of Ben & Jerry’s Karamel Sutra ice cream with the caramel core. It was amazing.

2.  What is your hobby of choice, why, and how did you get into it? 

I just recently started trying to send out a piece of snail mail to someone everyday.  There is nothing sweeter than opening the mail box and finding a handwritten card. I believe those words, on ink and paper can be so much more powerful than if they were sent via email (which certainly has it’s place too).

3.  I swear I used to keep the inside of my car so clean, but now that I have kids, I always have a strange assortment of things in my car!  What’s the oddest thing that been riding around town with you lately.

I’m too scared to even look under the seats. I’m sure there is an assortment of kid’s snack crumbs. Also, my water broke in the car on the way to the hospital to have Lola and we haven’t had a chance to get the seat steam cleaned. GROSS.

4.  How did you meet your husband?

We met on match.com back when the internet was still a baby. We chatted over email for a few weeks and spent our first date chatting until the wee hours of the morning. After that date, he chased me pretty hard. He went out of town on a business trip and called me every night while he was gone because he wanted to chat. Knowing him the way that I know him now, I can tell how much he really loved me right away. He’s an introvert and a man of few words. It sounds cliche, but there is no one else on earth I can imagine doing life with but him.

5.  I’m currently trying to figure out to go on summer vacation with my family — what are your favorite vacation spots with little kids/babies?

When you are in the season of littles, there is no such thing as vacation. There is only relocation. Everything that you do now as a parent, you will have to do if you travel to a new destination. Plus, the kids will be wonky because they are out of their element and comfort zone. If you really want to have a relaxing time, I’d choose a staycation. Camp in the back yard, take a trip to a fun museum, go bowling, have a one on one date with each of your kids, stay up late playing goofy games with flashlights, and have ice cream for dinner.

With that being said, we are crazy fools when it comes to travel. We just got back from an unexpected road trip to FL to visit with my husband’s 93 year old grandmother. It took us a full 24 hours to drive there. We’ll also be driving to my hometown in IL this summer (that trip takes about 17 hours).

MIL lives on Cape Cod, so we spend a ton of time at her house in the summer. If you’re looking for a beach trip, I would recommend heading there. The bay side is nice and calm and perfect for little kids to explore without you having to worry about them getting swept out to sea.

Even in the winter, the Cape is beautiful!

6.  Where did you grow up and what are three great things about your hometown?

I grew up in a small town of 2500 in Northern Illinois. There are a ton of great things about my hometown. The sunsets are amazing. The landscape is mostly flat with cornfields. There is nothing more beautiful than being able to see the sunset for miles and miles.

I also really love how deeply my roots are planted there. This summer, we’re going to have Lola baptized at my family’s church. This church holds a ton of my family’s history. My grandparents were married there, my mother was baptized there, my mother and father were married there, I was baptized there, My mother’s funeral was there, Michael and I got married there, and Malone was baptized there. It is one of the cornerstones of our family.

Every June, my town puts on a four day festival. The carnival sets up shop through the main drag, different community organizations use the festival to fund raise. The cheerleaders put on a fun fair for the kids one afternoon, there is a bingo tent, youth sports hosts a dunk tank, and the Snow Rangers grill pork chops over an open flame. There is also a beer garden, but that’s not my thing.

7.  What’s a guilty pleasure of yours these days?  (Interpret as you like!)

I recently joined the From Left To Write blogger’s book club. Through them, I’m getting to read books (sent to me by the publisher) and write blog posts inspired by them. It has been so fun to get to know a new community of bloggers and find time to read the books. My first post went live this week and was inspired by the book The Divorce Papers. The author is coming to my area in a few weeks on her book tour. I’m excited to go.

I often feel a little guilty about letting my to do list go so I can read, but I am committed to reading words written on paper for at least 30 minutes everyday. Making that small change in my life has greatly improved my day to day.

8.  You seem to have such a gentle approach to parenting, which I really admire.  Is it just your natural personality, or is it something you’ve intentionally cultivated?

I would much rather fight for the character of my child than to engage in a power struggle with Malone. We’ve given Malone a lot of freedom to make choices about the things that matter in his world and in doing so, he is generally agreeable to go with the flow during the times he doesn’t have a choice.

I think that you can strong will your child into doing what you want him to or you can teach him how to make good choices so he’ll end up doing the things you want him to. There are some things that are fact, like saying please and thank you. And there are some things that we’re more flexible about.

He’s come back from our trip down south saying Yes Maam and No Sir because he spent a lot time around his cousins who did so. We’re going to keep that up, even though it is a lot of work to remind him. A polite boy will grow into a polite man. We might run into some trouble here because we live in an area with some people who identify with a gender other than the one they were born with. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

I was parented the same way that we’re parenting Malone. As a child, I was given a lot of freedom as long as I operated within the boundaries of our family rules. The boundaries were wide, but the fences were high. I had logical consequences for bad choices. I will never forget the summer before I went to high school. My mother sat down with me and said that in high school a lot of kids drink and party. She told me that I was welcome to go, but the police often busted parties and were always on the look out for drinking minors. If I was arrested, she wasn’t going to rush over to pick me up from the county jail. I would need to serve the full consequence of my actions.

I grew up in a small town and I knew she was telling the truth. I didn’t have my first drink until I was 21.

9.  Did you do any extracurricular activities in high school? What were they and what’s a favorite memory from that time?

I was a cheerleader in high school. I loved performing in front of a crowd (and still do).

10.  What lesson is life teaching you right now?

I’ve learned so much in the two weeks that I’ve been offline. The blogcation was intentional, but our emergency trip to Florida wasn’t. I’m really enjoying real life right now. For a while, I had my priorities out of balance. It took being away for two weeks to really shift my focus back. I’m excited to be back in this space writing, but I’m done trying to keep up with the pack. I am going to continue to blog, but it will be done on my terms. Instead of trying to keep pace with others who are in a different life stage and have more time, I am going to do things in my own way.

She had some great questions, didn’t she? Now, head over to Sarah at Beauty School Dropout to see how she answered my questions!