Alrighty, folks! Here’s the long-promised Q&A I keep talking about.

Thank you so much for all your questions. They were a lot of fun to read/think through/answer, and I hope you enjoy reading as much as I did writing!

{I started to group them in categories, but I’d already spent so long on this post that I figured I should just trust your ability to scroll if need be : )}

1. Can you show us the rest of your house?? I love your decorating style and am in great need of inspiration!

I’m actually planning several room reveals for next month, but I still have some tweaking to do, and I promised myself I would let myself off the hook for anything that labor-intensive this month (all the room staging and picture-taking/editing is a bit of a process).

So…yeah. Coming soon. : )

2. How about life w/ the twins? How is it going? I mean really? Are you sleeping at all?

Hmm…how is life with twins…really?

Well, in most ways, it’s at least as hard as I expected it to be. I mean, there are two newborns in the house, which means twice as many mouths to feed, twice as many diapers to change, twice as many cries to soothe.

But I think my husband said it best when he said, “Really, it’s the fact that we have 3 other kids that makes it hard.”

When you have the older ones clamoring for your attention or a snack or help with their schoolwork PLUS the twins needing to be changed or fed…that’s when things get a bit hairy.

Which means dinner time around here can be a bit nuts these days.

That said, there are some things that make it maybe a bit easier than I thought it would be. As you saw in this post, my older kids really love their twin sisters, and they all (even Della) do a good job of holding them and bringing me diapers, clothes, and blankets, etc.

As far as sleep—it started out very bad. They didn’t sleep at all for the first three nights, and I thought I might die.

But then they got on a good eating schedule, and now they sleep really well. (Last night, one slept for 6 hours, and the other slept for 8…I know, don’t hate me!) So, even though I’m not getting as much sleep as I’m used to, and I’m tired a lot, I’m definitely making it.

3. Do you nurse both twins at the same time? If one wakes to eat, do you wake the other one too to keep them on the same schedule? Do you feel like a milk machine? I know I did (and I only had 1 at a time)!

As far as nursing, I alternate between feeding them separately and feeding them together. But I don’t bother to keep them on the exact same schedule—especially at night—because I actually end up getting more sleep that way. Plus, when one of them is asleep, she’s almost impossible to wake up enough to feed.  Believe me, I’ve tried.

And YES! I feel like a milk machine. I keep waiting for the black and white spots to appear and for the urge to say Moooooooo instead of “yes” or “no.”

4. How do you feed twins?

Well, as I just mentioned above, sometimes, I feed them just like I did my other babies, except that when I get done on one side, I have another baby waiting to take over on the next.

Other times, I tandem feed them in the “football position” using this nursing pillow, which is specially designed for feeding multiples.  It’s…okay. Not perfect, but definitely helpful.

(By the way, my friend Mandy says, “DON’T Google ‘tandem nursing,’ whatever you do…unless you want to be scarred for life.” ha! I think you should take her word for it!).

I don’t actually love tandem nursing because, even though it means I spend less time nursing, it’s undeniably awkward, and initially, when things were, ahem, really painful, it felt like a double dose of torture.

Plus, I’ve been battling double mastitis since Thursday, so sometimes, I just need a break from feeding two at once.

5. Where did you go to college? I know you were homeschooled and graduated from college when you were young. Would you recommend that path to your kids? Was it weird teaching kids that were just a few years older than you?

I started out at a local community college and then graduated from an extension campus of The University of Texas. It certainly wasn’t a very glamorous college experience, especially since I lived at home and commuted, which kind of stymied my ability to get very plugged into any campus communities.

But that was okay with me because I did start and graduate very young (ages 15 and 19), and I already had a good group of friends so that I pretty much focused on my studies at school and then my social activities were completely separate, which I really liked.

I think every kid is different, but it worked great for me, and if my kids wanted to and were prepared enough to skip their last two years of high school to go to college instead, I wouldn’t object.

And, no, it wasn’t too terribly weird for me to teach kids that were almost my age because (hopefully, this doesn’t sound too braggadocious), there was a pretty big gap in maturity levels, and I just went into the whole schoolroom experience with the mindset that I was the teacher, they were the students, and that was that.

It was always a little weird when they found out my age after I wasn’t their teacher anymore, though.

I remember one boy wailing, “But you’re only 20, and I’m almost 18. We could have dated!”

Um…no, dear…sorry, but no we couldn’t have.

6. When did you develop a love of exercise? Did you ever have a stage where you didn’t exercise and were flabby (I sure have 🙂 or have you always been trim & toned?

I’ve always been active and played practically every sport available growing up.  One of my dad’s biggest ways of interacting with me was through teaching me how to “play like a boy,” which I loved.

But I never did exercise for its own sake until I got “too old” for sports and wanted an outlet for staying in shape.

As far as trim and toned…hmm…I’ve never been overweight, but I am, without a doubt, in the best shape of my life and the smallest (well, not at this exact moment, but in general) that I’ve ever been.

I’ve definitely had my “squishy” periods where I carried an extra 10-15 pounds on me because I’m not naturally thin. But neither am I naturally heavy. Just kind of normal, I’d say.

7. Do you ever feel anxious about the future concerning how many kids you may have? I understand trusting the Lord, but sometimes does it seem your “flesh” gets anxious? (well, I guess it is that way with everything…not just the kid issue 🙂

Um, yes.  Especially during those crazy moments when my husband and I are trying to get everybody in pajamas and brush teeth and feed babies and sing bedtime songs, and…

It feels like nothing will ever be “normal” or “easy” again, and life will always be this hectic, and adding more kids will send us all to the loony farm.

How’s that for honesty?

But then I realize that I’m borrowing trouble/worry and that I don’t have to do anything but make it through that moment with some measure of grace (it doesn’t always happen), and that usually helps. That, and giving it to the Lord right then in the thick of it.

8. I’ve been wondering about your statements regarding having as many kids as God will give you. I get why you believe this way and am not asking for clarification on that.

Can you give us some insight on how you and your husband think through future financial issues… with 5 and probably more kids?

I have one child and get worried when I think about saving up for his future. I don’t owe him a college degree (I got through with scholarships and grants and work study), but I do want to help a little, especially since it will likely be so much more expensive than now. But, it’s hard to juggle saving and retirement planning, plus trying to thinking about setting aside some money for him. And both my husband and I are blessed to have good jobs with health insurance, etc!

Just curious how you and your husband think through savings, retirement planning, and future expenses for your kids.

GREAT question!

My answer won’t be for everybody, certainly, but here’s how it works for us:

My husband is a computer programmer who does contract work, which means there is no guarantee of steady income.

It does, however, give him the freedom to work from home and incredible flexibility with his schedule much of the time.

By the grace of God, he has never had to look for or advertise for work during the entire time that he has done contract work (for the past 6 years). And the Lord has provided for us very generously.

But since that could end tomorrow, we have invested in rental properties over the last several years as a source of residual income. Because my husband works for himself and doesn’t get retirement or health benefits, the rental properties are kind of our retirement plan.

Our ultimate goal is to have enough investments that they would cover any baseline expenses that we have, which means that we could feed and clothe ourselves, pay for any routine medical expenses (including births), and get where we needed to go if Shaun’s work ever dries up.

But that goal is not about living extravagantly or even “comfortably” but instead about the bare bones of what it would take for us as a family to survive (it’s a surprisingly low number). 

We don’t buy new cars or make many other large purchases (and those we do make are hardly ever new either). And we try to do as many things as we can ourselves instead of hiring them out, so we can save money.

We hope to instill these concepts of frugalness and living within your means in our children, and we definitely agree with you that we don’t “owe” our kids their college education (both of us “made money” going to college because of our scholarships). But we plan to help them out as much as possible when the time comes.

Basically, we try to strike a balance between good stewardship of the resources God has given us and “not being anxious about tomorrow.” 

9. How do you find time to blog when you are nursing two babies and caring for five kiddos? When my {only} three kids were toddlers, I could barely find time to shower!

My big kids play extremely well with each other, so sometimes I blog from the couch while the twins nap and the other three play all around me (which is what I’m doing now), but mostly I blog at night in between feedings after the older kids have gone to bed, and my husband and I are “relaxing” (as much as possible) watching something on DVD.

Oh, and the twins are 2 weeks old today, and I think I’ve showered maybe 5 times since they were born. Gross, I know. : ) Thank goodness for deodorant and hair that practically never gets greasy!

10. I am 10 weeks pregnant with my first child and I’m very very much planning and hoping to be able to have a natural drug-free birth with my child. So my question is: what methods or encouragement have you found most helpful throughout your births to motivate you to keep going and resist the dreaded epidural? I will be giving birth in a hospital, so I know it’s a little different from your home birth, but still hoping to go drug-free!

First of all, if you really don’t want an epidural, make sure your doctor and nurses know that and actually believe you really mean it!

Also, labor as long as you possibly can at home since you’re less likely to get pressured to have an epidural if you’re only there for the last several hours of your labor.

As far as methods for coping with the pain, I talked about some of that in my birth story (look at days 4 and 5), but I’d say try every single position available and see what seems to lessen/take your mind off the pain the most.

I’ve stood, sat, crawled (no joke), squatted, rocked, walked…the whole nine yards.

But you won’t be able to do any of that in a hospital if you get any pain meds at all (since they make you woozy, and you could fall), so make sure they know you don’t even want Demerol or any of its pain-numbing cousins, or you’ll end up on the hospital bed.

And flat on your back, when you’re having hard contractions, is—usually—the last place you want to be.

Also, breathing is super-important. Taking a Lamaze class or two and learning how to control your breathing will do wonders in the distraction and pain management department.

But ultimately, the thing that helped me the most—especially this last time—was mentally quoting Scripture. The peace I had throughout the entire process as I prayed through the same verses over and over was pretty incredible.  It certainly wasn’t fancy or very coherent half the time, but the Lord didn’t seem to care! : )

11. Do you still homeschool?

Yes. And no.

We found out that a local (very small…as in 30 students) Christian school was allowing students to attend part time, and our boys’ closest friends were attending, so we checked it out, really liked what we saw (most of the teachers are former homeschool mamas whose children are in the school), prayed about it, and made the decision to send our boys there three days a week—all within the space of about 5 days. (We found out about it the Saturday before school started, and they were already in the classroom by the following Wednesday).

I still homeschool them on Mondays and Fridays. We’ve only missed one day (the day the twins were born) since we started, so really, it’s going well.

And they really like the little school, even though they have to wear uniforms. : )

It’s been a godsend!

12. Were you/your hubs homeschooled and do you think you’ll homeschool all 12 years?

I was homeschooled until I was 15 (at which point I went to community college), but my husband went to public school all 12 years.

And I honestly don’t know whether we’ll homeschool all 12 years. We’re just taking it one year at a time as this point.

13. Do you teach your children Spanish?

I haven’t started yet, but I plan to this year, especially since the fact that they’re getting a lot of their basics at their new school allows me a little more time for “extras” like Spanish and (hopefully) piano lessons.

14. Where does your husband get his hair cut?

Ha! This one made me (and him) laugh—mostly because his answer was, “Whoever has an opening for the next in line.” Seriously, he’s not super-picky, though I can think of at least one place he will never go back to.

15. When I was pregnant with one, I wanted to run and exercise, but I had zero energy. I’ve heard that if you push through it and exercise anyway, you get more energy. Walking didn’t seem to work like that for me. But I know you exercised like crazy while you were pregnant. Did it help you be less tired, do you think? Or were you one of the “chosen” ones who feels “great” pregnant?;) (notice my tongue firmly in my cheek.;)

I definitely understand the “zero energy” feeling, especially in the first trimester.

But pushing through does work, I think (although I don’t think walking gets your adrenaline flowing enough to really give you that “high” that helps you push through).

I 100% believe that I have more energy in pregnancy when I exercise, but I will say that I don’t have bad pregnancies, and I do generally feel pretty decent after the first 12 weeks or so, which, perhaps, makes me one of the “chosen ones.” : )

16. Have you had any struggles with the post baby blues? After any pregnancies… And what ways have you found to beat it?

I don’t think I would call anything I’ve experienced serious enough to qualify as “baby blues,” but I definitely have my down moments.

In fact, with every birth, I have at least a short period of time during which I irrationally think, “I’ll never sleep again (even though all of my children have slept through the night at only weeks old). Nothing will ever be the same. I’ll never leave the house again. Woe is me.”

And it’s always worse at night. Something about the darkness and getting closer to bedtime when I have a potentially sleepless night ahead of me always makes me anxious and stressed.

As far as ways to beat it, it may sound trite, but turning to God’s Word helps every time.  Something about the steadfast, unchanging nature of the Bible is so very comforting and encouraging.

Also, it always helps to remind myself that, “I felt this way last time too, and it got better, and everybody adjusted and did great!”

Sometimes, I take a nap (if I can) or do something productive, both of which help with my energy levels and lift my mood.

If all else fails, I have a really good cry. I always feel better after those! ; )

17. Do you have help? How are you managing the older kids with the needs of two newborns?

Yes, I started having a lady come help several times a week during the mornings last spring, and she’s still coming. She’s an absolute lifesaver!

And I’m still figuring out how to get everybody coordinated, but I mostly interact with my two oldest one-on-one through homeschooling/reading to them during all three girls’ morning naps, and then we’re all together during the afternoons/evenings.

Mostly, we’re just all together a lot, and I have an incredibly helpful husband who changes (at least) as many diapers as I do (our third child isn’t potty-trained yet, so we’re changing diapers in triplicate these days. Oy!) and is fantastic about playing with our kids, reading to them, getting them ready for bed, etc.

Talk about lifesavers—he’s my true rock.

18. How do you find time for meal planning, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning between caring for all those cuties?

For some reason, meal planning is not a big deal for me (although there are plenty of other homemaking areas I struggle with).

I (mostly) like to cook, and we live in the country, so eating out isn’t really an option most of the time, which forces me to stay fairly organized with my meals.

That said, I’m not a strict meal-planner, but I keep a mental tab of about four different meals that I want to make on any given week and make sure I have the ingredients for those on hand.

And I always have several super-easy go-to meals that I can whip up in 30 minutes (usually turkey burgers or burritos; we love ground turkey around here) that are my back-ups on days when I don’t have anything planned.

Sometimes, I do once-a-month cooking, and recently, I did two separate freezer meal exchanges, both of which are great ways to drive yourself crazy for one day and then not have to worry about it for another month or so.

I’ll be interested to see how things go now that the twins are here, but I usually stopped at the grocery store on the way home from the gym (with all three older kids with me) once a week or so, which seemed to work a little better for us than one ginormous grocery run (a lot of my produce ended up spoiling that way).

And I make a trip to Sam’s Club once a month or so for bulk “essentials” like cereal (we’re Raisin Bran crazy around here, and you can’t find it cheaper anywhere), nuts, dried fruit, and paper towels.

19. Since we have 7 wks or around there til our twin girls make their arrival……… I feel like I need to be schooled again in breastfeeding (they will be number 3 & 4). How hard is it with 2? What works best for you? I’m most anxious about this part.

I’m not going to lie: it’s challenging…especially at the beginning. But it’s not as hard as I expected it to be. (see above for what’s working best so far). I hope the same ends up being true for you!

20. What is your earliest memory?

Oh my goodness! I don’t even know!

I may have completely made this up, but I think I remember my parents telling me that I fell in the pool when I was a baby (like a 18-months-old or so), and my dad had to fish me out, and I have this really weird image in my head of sinking down into the water as a very small child and being unable to swim upwards (and I could swim when I was 3, so…)

I truly don’t know if I manufactured that or if I even remember the “falling in the pool” story correctly, but if any of that is true, then that would definitely have to be one of my earliest memories.

Other than that, I have lots of mental snapshots of the year that our family lived in Israel, and I was three when we first got there.

21. Where/when did you first fall in love with blue green?

I don’t know the answer to this one either!

I don’t remember being particularly drawn to it growing up, but ever since I got interested in home décor/fashion (maybe 10 years ago), it’s been my #1 color crush for sure!

22. What one movie could you happily watch every day for a month?

At one point, I would have said The Princess Bride.

But then I practically did watch it every day for a month during my teens, I think, and I got a little burned out.

Even so, it’s still one of my all-time faves!

I never get tired of watching Gilmore Girls, though. I’ve seen every episode in the first 5 seasons at least 3 times each.

23. I’m wondering how you met your husband, and if you always wanted a large family!

Oh boy. Have I got the answer for you. I did a whole series on this topic back during our anniversary week.

But, if you want the Reader’s Digest version (so much less interesting!), we met while playing volleyball at a singles’ group event for my church.

As far as wanting a large family…hmmm…I’ve always felt the conviction to be open to one, but I don’t know that that’s the same thing as actively wanting one. I talk about that a little more in this post, but the most important thing to know is that I could not even begin to imagine life without any of the children God has blessed me with so far, and I know I will feel the same way about any others that He gives us in the future!

24. What’s your favorite band/type of music?

Hmmm…it makes me feel old to say this (I am 30, after all : )), but my favorite music is probably 90’s rock—think Cranberries, Googoo Dolls, Silver Chair, Bush, Better Than Ezra, Alanis (don’t we always love the music of our teens?)—and one of my favorite bands of all time is Collective Soul.

That said, my favorite current artists tend to be slightly funky, folk-rock types like Feist, Sara Bareilles, Imogen Heap, Jason Mraz, and Grant Lee Philips (he’s the town troubadour from Gilmore Girls, if that rings a bell).

25. Have you accomplished the things you thought you’d accomplish by this time (you know, when you were 16 and 30 was OLD)?

I’ve never been one to make “bucket lists,” even for certain ages, but as I think about it, I would have to say yes.

I’m married to my best friend (cliché? yup, but so true). I have 5 sweet, beautiful children (lest this sound too idyllic, please know that I’ve been working on this post ALL. DAY. LONG, and one of the reasons I’m posting so late is because of how…um…rambunctious those “sweet, beautiful” children have been today). 

I’ve gotten to see and experience quite a few different places and cultures, finished a degree, learned to speak a foreign language fluently (Spanish), taught that foreign language for 6 years to high-schoolers, currently have a “job” I love (teaching fitness classes) that gives me the freedom to do my most important job (being a mama), and a hobby (if a blog can be called such) that allows me to do one of my favorite things (write…and use parentheses…{obviously}).

The only thing I have yet to accomplish that I would still love to see happen is being a published author, but the truth is that I know how much work that takes, and I just don’t have the energy or resources to devote to that pursuit right now.

Hopefully, some day…

26. Iced tea, or lemonade? 🙂

Oh, this one’s SO easy for me. LEMONADE.

I despise iced tea, which, yes, means I’m a disgrace to Southerners everywhere. But I’m not even the least bit ashamed. I just can’t stand the stuff.

27. What is your favorite family vacation memory?

We took a trip to Prince Edward Island one year, and I absolutely loved that place (not just because I’m an Anne of Green Gables nut, either). It’s absolutely gorgeous!

28. If you are homeschooling, what curriculum do you use, and how do you plan your instruction/what is your “approach” (i.e. x amount of time for math, x amount of time for reading vs. let’s see where the day takes us

This year, we’re using Heart of Dakota, and I’m basically using their lesson plans as a baseline and my experience with my kids’ pacing as a guide for how long it should take us to finish (2-3 hours, usually).

29. What is your favorite family activity?

I really just love it when we’re all in the same room and happy, and what that means a lot of times is that I’m in the kitchen baking while the kids are rolling around on the living room floor (which is only a few feet away) with their daddy.

If there’s music on, all the better.

30. If you could only indulge in one activity just for Mama for the rest of your life (shopping, crafting, exercising, etc.), what would you choose?

Oh no! You’re going to make me choose???

That’s just mean! : )

I’d be tempted to say reading (even though I do precious little of that these days), but ultimately, I might have to say exercising since none of the other options have the residual benefits of keeping me in shape, giving me a community of likeminded people to hang out with, and giving me an endorphin high.

Aaaaaand, that’s all she wrote (for now), folks!


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