Today we averted any possible economic crisis in Sweeden. We bought all of our baby furniture at IKEA. Since it’s a Sweedish company and we spent a big fat wad, I’m sure that we’ve helped float their economy for just one more day. We bagged the following items: a cool chair, two shelving units, a ton of baskets, curtains, a side table, a wall shelf, and a whole bunch of other stuff. Bean will now have furniture. She won’t have to sleep on the floor and keep her clothes in trash bags. Thank you, kind designers from Sweeden. You have made my heart glad.

In other news … Happy Birthday, mabBlab! Well, I wasn’t sure back at the beginning if I’d stick with blogging, but I guess I made one year. That’s a start, eh? Now, because I couldn’t think of anything more creative, here’s the answers to the questions that have been gnawing at you for the past year. I hope they are quite enlightening. (Oh, and I’m not sure why the font size keeps changing. I’ll have to try to fix that later. Until then, consider it a special artistic feature.)

Lydia asks: “Aren’t you doing Locks for Love? If so, how much further do you have to go?”

mab answers: Short answer: two inches. Long answer:Yes, I am growing out my hair for Locks of Love. I could chop it now, but I want it to have some length when I do cut it, so I’m going to wait. Also, I want to donate 10 inches of good hair, not of split ends. So, I think I’ll get it trimmed and grow it out some more. I also want to keep long hair for the summer. It’s actually easier. Short hair stays on my neck. Long hair goes up in a bun.

See, faithful mabBlab readers! There are so many exciting answers in store for you in this post! Read on!

Teresa asks: When you were little, what did you want to be when you “grew up”?

mab answers: That changed frequently. Although, teacher and my current profession were in the mix. But, so was artist, free spirit, person who played Barbies all day, professional napper (I love to sleep), graphic designer, Christian Music Video Producer (yes…. and I hang my head in shame), videographer, photographer, professional reader, and who knows what else. Actually, I still don’t really know what I want to be when I “grow up.” I’ll let you know.

Teresa also asks: What piece of maternity clothing would you recommend the most?

mab answers: Ooh! Is this a loaded question?!? Do you need some maternity clothes? Ok, I’ll quit bugging you. I would recommend comfy jeans and t-shirts. Wait. This is what I always wore before I even got pregnant. Still, when you’re getting a huge belly and your back hurts because you waddle funny and your feet swell and you sweat all the time and even your butt starts to hurt, you really want to be comfortable. Cute pants that aren’t comfy are a definite no-no. Fortunately, I do have some cute jeans that are comfy. So, I live in them. Actually, I am more stylish now that I am pregnant than when I wasn’t. Strange.

Ms. Dickinson asks an interesting quesion grouping: What’s the strangest food in Central Asia that you really love? Can you make it yourself? Are the ingredients readily available or seasonal? Does anyone outside of C.Asia like this food?

mab answers: I love something called manti. (I guess y’all would think of it as strange.) Anyway, it’s sort of like ravioli, but really really tiny and all hand-made. It takes a long time for the ladies to make the dough, make the filling, then stuff and form the little mantis. They turn out to be about 1/3 of an inch cubed. Then, they cook them and cover them with a sauce made of yogurt and garlic. Yumity yum yum! I could eat this stuff all the time. But, when I first came, I wouldn’t touch it — too much yogurt. The ingredients for this dish are available year-round, but I can’t make it myself. I can buy it dried and cook it and add the sauce myself, but I don’t have the energy to make this dish. As for people outside of C.Asia liking it? That’s quite possible. Many of the dishes we enjoy here are similar to foods that they eat in Greece, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq. However, the names are usually different for the same dish. So, I’ll have to ask all of my other readers who live internationally: have you eaten a dish like this anywhere else?

Lydia asks:Are there different pregnancy/birthing traditions in Central Asia, and are you going to adhere to them?

mab answers: Pregnant women should always relax, take naps, never lift stuff, and eat all the time. This is what my friends and neighbors say. I’m adhering to the first three for sure! As for birthing traditions, I’ve heard a variety of things. I think it depends mostly on the level of wealth of the woman delivering. Well, that and their location. Women in the villages still give birth at home (unless their village is close to a city with a hospital). There are also special clinics just for births that are staffed by doctors and midwives. However, I’m planning on going to a top-of-the-line hospital. It’s expensive compared to the other options, so not all of the people can do this. One other thing is that many women here have elective C-sections. Many doctors in the state hospitals push this so they can be more in control of the birth. In the state hospitals, it’s definitely a doctor-centered birth. (At least, from what I can tell with my years of brilliant knowledge.) But, in my hospital, it’s the woman’s choice. And, the traditions are much the same as in the West. And — happiest news of all — they have epidurals.

Lydia also asks: Do you have siblings?

mab answers: I have a big brother who is almost 2 years older than me. Everyone says we really look alike. He is a doctor and his hobbies include driving fast, grilling steaks and anything else you can grill, and bugging his sister. He came to see us over here last April and we had a great time. I think that’s because the Central Asian taxi drivers drive fast, most of our meat here is grilled, and he got to bug his sister.

Lydia also asks: How did RayRay propose?

mab answers: Dude. I could make this answer really long. But I won’t. I’ll tell you this: I cried myself to sleep the night before he proposed because I thought he wasn’t going to ask me for many more months. In reality, everyone (but me) knew that he was going to ask me the next day. Even after he got on one knee at a special candlelight picnic and started telling me how special I was, I still didn’t think he was proposing. Before we sat down to the picnic, I had checked him out — there were no ring-box sized masses in his pockets and he didn’t have anywhere he could hide a ring. So, when he pulled out a velvet bag, I just told myself: “Don’t get disappointed if it’s a necklace or bracelet. Don’t expect a ring. Because if you do and it isn’t, you’ll cry. It’s just a necklace. It’s just something else.” But it wasn’t. And I cried. He’s a good man.

Ok, this post is long and we’re at our friends’ house, so I’ll finish the other questions later. I hope this has been at least slightly entertaining for you. Stay tuned this week…. when we get back from the Big City, I’ll have some stories for you. I have one about donuts, one about policemen, one about my happy chair, and possibly more to tell you by then.