This week I had the opportunity to ask a few questions of Trading Spouse’s Chrystal Norton, the "country" mom from Tennessee who found herself on the California coast parenting another woman’s children. It was very nice to chat with Chrystal and learn what she had to say about her experience.
How did you find out about the opportunity to be on Trading Spouses?
Chrystal: My husband has a hunting website that [the show producers] found. I got the call when I was shopping at a Wal-Mart! They said they were from Rocket Science Productions, and were looking for a hunting family. They had actually called for my husband. I advised he was not available but would have him to call. Later, my husband called them back, and they told him they were looking for a hunting family - everything they described was us. We had not signed up for the show. They found us! I was not keen on the idea and my husband and family talked me into it.
What made you want to do the show?
Chrystal: Why we did it...our daughter had three seizures within one year. The hospital bills are tremendous so we did it because of the bills, and because hey, this was a once in a lifetime deal!
You seemed to come off as the rational, wise Mom and your counterpart seemed shallow and ditzy. Was there really that big a gap?
Chrystal: I think the biggest gap was the discipline. That comes first in our home and I think second in hers, which she has stated in interviews.
Do you think your home life was portrayed accurately?
Chrystal: Very much so! We have great kids, and yes, they have their typical kids days, but then again, we have our typical parents days too.
What do your kids say about spending the week with Colleen?
Chrystal: Ben said she was okay. He was glad I am home (me too). Nikki...well, Colleen is her cell phone buddy. They talk a lot, see, and had a good time that week.
Do you really have to spend the money exactly the way it was shown on the show? In other words, do you have to landscape your farm or build a hurricane shelter?
Chrystal: Yes, we have to do as she stated. But we are giving the kids $1,000 apiece - they earned it. We wanted to add a sun room, so we will put a cellar/basement under it.
What did you think of California?
Chrystal: It was nice. The beach was great, but I am sooooo glad to be home!
Was there a sewing machine we didn't see in the California house? In other words, how did you throw the quilt together so quickly?
Chrystal: We glued a lot of it together, except the bigger pieces. I hand sewed them.
What were you thinking when Colleen's sister confused your son with your husband?
Chrystal: She was very…different. I did not know and still don't know what to think of her. Very strange...
Did Vinny get put to bed earlier after you told Ronnie he had to put his foot down? The show didn't cover the next evening.
Chrystal: Yes, he was in bed by 9:30 and he got up the next morning with no problem. (Imagine that!)
What did you think of Colleen when you met her? Did your opinion of Colleen change when you saw the show?
Chrystal: Colleen was nice and she seemed to really miss her family. After the show, I drilled my husband: did she really say that? did she do that? When I saw the fiddle lesson I just about came unglued! Ben had only had six lessons, and for a ten-year-old to even play a song after that length of time is doing really good. He is a lot better now. I am really proud of him.
I’m proud of Nikki, too. She is a big clogger (dancer), and she does softball. She also is very active in the Future Farmers of America, and the 4-H club. She is in a high school girls club, too. Very busy girl!
Where did the meeting with Colleen take place - California, or Tennessee?
Chrystal: We met in a place in Tennessee. It used to be owned by Barbara Mandrell at one time. It has 27,000 square feet and an indoor pool. It was pretty awesome!
Is your husband interested in a musical career?
Chrystal: He would like to produce the song to an artist, but I'm not sure if he will be the singer on it. To me if someone else sings it, it just won't be the same. I'm a little biased.
What he really wants is his own hunting show. He is really a great hunter and loves to take other people hunting and fishing. He gets more out of the hunt when he carries other people, especially kids.
Was it a positive experience overall?
Chrystal: One positive aspect of the experience is I really think Ronnie will spend more time with his family. For me and my family, we just got even closer than we were before.
Would you do it again
Chrystal: Do it again? If and only IF I can talk to my family. I would not if I had to go without contact again.
Is there anything else you would like your fans to know?
Chrystal: I just want to thank you and everyone else for the support and all the kind words. We have had so many emails, letters, phone calls and our town has been wonderful. We are really just plain folks who have been blessed with a great family, and we just really appreciate what everyone has done for us. Thank you all so very, very much!
Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, Chrystal. You and your family seem like such genuinely likeable people, and it was fun to get to know you better.