Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Interview Experiment – Part Deux, L’il Ole Moi

You've been waiting with bated breath.

This is the follow- up segment to my interview with Simon as part of Neil's Great Interview Experiment. This time I was on the hot seat, interviewed by Jostein, of Norway, creator of the blog Alunfoto. A very nice fellow, Jostein is. You need to check out Jostein's site, as his photos are out of this world. Of this world mostly (he's very much into the environment) but stunning, just stunning photography. I bow my head in shame over my lack of photographic talent, but then at least my subjects are worthy (my kids should patent their plastic grins).

Enough with the preamble. Now I will indulge you.

Or more like indulge myself... GAWD, I like to talk...

Jostein: First, since your blog is very much about being mom; what do you think your life would have been like with one more child?

Me: My blog is very much about being a mom -- it's my two kids and being at home with them that actually inspired me to put out an online journal. To capture the moments that I know are so precious, but yet so fleeting.

I think that life would certainly have been busier with one more child. To be honest, if we had started (or probably more correctly, been successful) earlier we may likely have wanted another child. With our littlest one, we were prepared (if you can ever be prepared) to deal with twins if we had to. But our journey through infertility, with its heartaches and the ultimate joy of being parents of not just one, but now two beautiful children, has really made us feel fortunate enough with what we have. I actually thought about another baby when my daughter was about 9 months old (hormonal, probably). My husband could see that look and he said to me right away, "Are you nuts? We're OLD and we're TIRED. ALL THE TIME!! Don't think so!!!"

It was a mutual decision, but once we achieved the "millionaire's family" we were set. Besides, we already feel outnumbered as it is!

Jostein: A common statement among my friends is that "one never runs out of projects as a house owner". Then we go on to shake our heads at each other's plans and ongoing projects. Do you consider your house "done" after your recent/current renovation? And in case, how long do you think it will stay that way?

Me: Renovations are addictive, for sure. Especially with homes of ours age, we notice a lot of families that are renovating just to get their homes out of the tacky 80s. We love our kitchen, but the house is far from being done. I think our next step is to finish the basement because our home is now overrun with toys and we need to get the kids their own space. But we're also suffering from severe bathroom envy, and really need to get rid of the shell-shaped sinks in our washrooms upstairs.

I suspect it will be neverending. In our last home we chose not to do much until we decided to sell, so the new owners got to enjoy the changes we made. With this place, we'd like to actually enjoy what we want ourselves.

Jostein: I enjoyed your travel reports from Iceland, and got mighty envious about the snowmobile ride. A trip to Iceland has always been pretty high on my own priority list and has climbed another couple of steps now. However, I get the impression that most of your travels go where your husband’s career takes you. If you got to choose for the next trip; with or without kids; where would you like to go, and why?

Me: Well, interesting that you make the observation, because it seems that as soon as I got pregnant with my daughter, my husband's job took him to some of the best places in the world! I kid you not, he went to Greece, Rome, Amsterdam, Prague. Monaco ... I'd better stop now. So when Iceland came up, I was quite excited to accompany him.

My job, before I decided to stay at home for a bit, was with a multi-national company based in France. So I have travelled for work myself, (Paris, New York City, Philly, Vancouver, Ottawa (not as exotic, but quite frequently). I managed to bring hubby to NYC with me before we had kids, and we had always hoped our schedules would be able to sync up so he could go to Paris with me. The only time it ever did was when I got pregnant with my son, so we ended up cancelling that trip. So that would be the next trip I would love to take the family to, is Paris. It is such a lovely city, and what struck me last time I was there was how family friendly it appeared as well. Funny how differently you view each city after you have children.

Without the kids, we've been talking about doing something special for a big anniversary this summer, but a cycling trip through Provence may not go over so well, with our 3 year old being very clingy, and her older brother not too impressed even when we have a sitter over for dinner out. We'll see.

Jostein: Pride of your Chinese heritage frequently shines through in your posts. At the same time, you're so firmly focused on your here-and-now surroundings. To me you seem to be standing with one foot planted very sturdily in each culture. Any thoughts on your situation?

Me: I grew up as *sort of* 1st generation Canadian Chinese. I say sort of because my father came over quite young so is fairly Canadian in his own right. Which makes us "in between”. Growing up when I did in Canada, it wasn't quite as multicultural yet. So I spent a lot of my adolescence not wanting to be too different. Just wanting to be like every other "anglo-Canadian". Hating Chinese school, hating Chinese homework, trying to resist the requisite piano lessons, dreaming of a truly "white wedding"... honestly, I was so sick of all those huge Chinese wedding banquets I swore that would never be me.

When I became a young adult, I realized that I should try to embrace more of my heritage... I even enrolled with my sister, in a Cantonese language course at the university, only to find out that my language skills were better than I thought. I'll be honest, it was really only after I met my now-husband, that I started to really have an appreciation for my culture. He thought everything was so fascinating, the littlest things. And now that we have another generation in our house, and our children are learning appreciate who they are and to think more globally at such a young age, I suspect this is why you see my heritage cropping up so much in my writings.

We actually had both types of receptions... my "white"wedding, but then also a fantastic Chinese banquet complete with karaoke, one day after the other. And the Chinese banquet was hands-down the better party of the two. Since then, I think I've discovered who I am, exactly as you've put it, with one foot firmly in each culture. And I'm comfortable with that, now that I'm finally starting to really grow up.

Jostein: As an accomplished wine drinker, do you have any favourite wine grape? I like Shiraz from the sheer sound of the word, but don't really have much of a clue...

Me: You know, I honestly really don't have much of a clue myself. Aside from the wine-tasting party we attended one time, we had these friends who were so very much into wine, they kept some bottles for years. They had this party with this wine-tasting game to go along with it. They would serve a dish and a different glass of wine with every dish. The object of the game was to guess which country the wine was from. Well, wouldn't you know, I think I was 5 for 5!!! Pure luck, obviously. The drunker I got, the better I got at guessing.

For dinners at home, I usually really enjoy a light Sauvignon blanc. But my preference is for reds, and I love a good Pinot Noir, Merlot, Shiraz (some taste as awesome as it sounds). And a full bodied Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

Jostein: If there is such a thing as a black belt in shopping, I'd bet you qualify for at least the Second Dan. What would be the "shopping day of your dreams", assuming unlimited supplies on your debit card?

Me: You made me laugh with this question. I wouldn't know where to put all the stuff with a limitless card! I used to be bad enough when it was just me shopping for myself, but now with a home, a boy and a sweet little girl, it is pretty bad (hubby will let me shop for him, but he's so picky)! When little G was only about 6 months old my mother (old-fashioned, bless her heart) would admonish me and ask why my daughter needed so many pairs of shoes (well slippers, really). She thought that my husband wouldn't be too impressed with that, all my shopping and all.

I'm not exactly an haute couture type of gal. I love a good bargain. So shopping day of my dreams would be a trip to the department stores of Paris, Madison Avenue and Lower East side in NYC; Magnificent Mile in Chicago; Hong Kong for electronics and knock-off bags... oh, you did just say one day, didn't you ;). Of course there'd have to be excellent munchies and champagne in between stops.

Jostein: You describe yourself as trying to stay urban. Why is that important to you?

I'm not the greatest fan of living in suburbia. It makes sense for us now, as we moved here when we started our family, primarily for childcare arrangements. We're lucky that where we are, the schools are great, we have a lot of room, the people are wonderful. The infrastructure for community programs and such seems large enough that we never have to wait or deal with programs getting full or being rejected. And we are less than a half hour drive to the heart of the city.

But everything is very spread out, you need a vehicle to get anywhere, and there really isn't a close neighbourhood feel. When we lived in the city, we would leave the cars, take transit, and walk to get our groceries and do our shopping. And when you're walking, you meet up with a lot of people, hear a lot more sounds, taste the city more, you feel more a part of something. There's so much to do and see, to experience living in the city. And no, not just the shopping! We take our kids into the city as much as we can - once or twice a month if we can swing it. And I can't deny that there is a certain "cool" factor living in the city.

I think if we were to ever consider buying another property, rather than a cottage or something of that nature, we'd be more inclined to buy a condo right downtown.

Jostein: In your galaxy of Blogspace, awards issued by fellow bloggers seem to be a hot thing. Have you designed one of your own? If not, have you contemplated doing so? What would be your awarding criteria?

Me: I wouldn't know where to begin to design an award, I have no capability in that area whatsoever. And I wouldn't know where to start with setting criteria either. This is a tough question.

I'm so flattered by the awards that have been given me - when I got my first I only had a couple of readers, and then I started getting a few more from some wonderful bloggers. Some people who weren't related to me were actually reading what I was writing!

It's truly a sense of community, or communities, rather and let's admit it, it's always nice to be recognized for whatever we do. The only thing now is I find there are so many out there. I'm terrible at giving them out because I'd love to give them to all the blogs that I read. And they do seem to go around and around in circles.

Jostein: Ok, my last question probably says more about the interviewer than the interviewee, but since I have my wife's active encouragement on this I'll blurt out anyway. Both my wife and I turn 42 in a couple of months, and my beloved wish to celebrate with a pyjamas party where everyone should be sure to bring their own towel. Did you ever contemplate along the same lines for your own birthday last autumn? This is of course the sort of thing one either think of as utterly ludicrous, or immediately understand. And it's most likely the wrong question anyway...

Me: You know, a PJ party sounds like an absolutely AMAZING idea! I love slumber parties. Can I come, I promise not to get too drunk ;).

Actually, hitting 42 was really just a blip in time for me. I'm so busy being a mom to small kids, I'm glad to ignore that I'm now firmly entrenched in my 40s...sigh. I was happy just to get a nice meal out of the deal.

Not a ludicrous idea at all. Hope you have fun!


And that was the interview. I had such a blast with this, and the best part about it was that I *met* a couple of very interesting guys from the other side of the planet, who just happen to be bloggers. What an amazing thing this internet can be.


another good thing said...

You did great. And, um. I have a shell shaped sink I need to get rid of too.

C. K. said...

Oh karen! You should so come to Hong Kong for your one day shopping!!! I'll provide the champagne, PAS DE PROBLEM!!

I love the questions and the answers. You are a true blogger, darling. I can also resonate with your chinese/canadian heritage (ok, my background is a mess, but I'm so touched by your "one foot firmly in each culure"). It's wonderful.


Kellan said...

This is so cool - hearing so mcuh about you! I am more and more convinced that if we lived right next door to each other we would have the best time, shopping, gabbing, traveling, talking some more - you are very interesting and I loved learning more about you Karen.

Have a good afternoon - back to cleaning Alexis' room for me. See ya. Kellan

bec said...

A very enjoyable read once again, Karen!!!

Rima said...

You sound like so much fun! I would love to attend a pyjama party at your house, listen to some Yaz, and maybe borrow a thing or two from your awesome wardrobe!

Family Adventure said...

Karen, I go away for a few days and I have FIVE posts in my google reader from you? Girl, you don't waste any time....!

I will be catching up later but for now...AWESOME interview. Cool questions and answers! And a PJ party is perfect...drink, then sleep.


Maria said...

I feel like I know you so much better! :)

Simon said...

Interesting stuff, especially the part about appreciating your cultural heritage more as you grow - something I can empathise with.
And yes, meeting people on the other side of the planet via the internet is pretty cool.

LunaNik said...

Great post! I really enjoyed reading more about you!

You had me giggling when you mentioned the shell shaped sink.

Huckdoll said...

Fabulous interview! What a great way to get to know a fellow blogger. Awesome :)

Jocelyn said...

I love this post--I got to know SO much about you. Great questions and answers. Hey, and try some Argentinian Malbec, if you're ever looking for a new wine. I'm fairly clueless about wine, but this stuff is awesome.


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