About Carol

Carol Shwanda chronicles her blended family's lives and experiences offering hope, guidance, wisdom, inspiration and humor to anyone who is in or about to enter into a blended family.

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I would like my blog to be a forum for my readers to share their stories and experiences and express their views and opinions about being a part of a blended family. I am working on a book tentatively titled:Blended Family Stories. It will be an in depth look at the real life challenges and joys of successful blended families. If you would like to be part of my research I'd love to hear from you.Take my Blended Family survey

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For advice or information, email carol@shwanda.com

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Seaweed Art Cards
  • Published on May 11, 2012

    I am very pleased and proud to announce that my SeaweedArt has been featured in SeaWeb’s Ocean Voices. I was interviewed last week and it was extremely gratifying to me because it really helped me articulate my mission. Ocean cleanup and marine preservation are very important to me and I am so happy that SeaWeb has helped raise my voice to a much larger audience.

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  • Published on February 6, 2012

    "image of art studio"I’ve written about this before, but I can’t help but mention it again, I LOVE my studio. My husband built my art studio as a wedding present and it is by far my favorite room in the house, except it’s not in the house. It is in a building at the back of our property. My husband’s office is right next to mine. We get to work side by side. I love having my own special place. I come out here early in the morning before the kids are up and drink my chai and write. On weekends I am working on my SeaweedArt and in the evenings I write some more and sometimes read. It is my sanctuary. Thank you dearest husband for building this for me.

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  • Published on September 26, 2011

    Paul and I were in Southern California on a business/mostly pleasure trip for the past five days. We stayed on his brother’s sail boat in the Marina del Rey harbor and it was absolutely the most relaxing and wonderful respite from a busy, hectic blended family life.

    Paul and I both love the ocean, marinas and sailing and on this vacation we got to experience all three. The whole time we were gone I couldn’t help but think, “This is how we do it! If we didn’t have this time alone, we would never survive.”

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  • Published on June 28, 2011

    "image of pressed seaweed greeting card"

    For the last year I have been developing a business based on a passion of mine, my love of the ocean. It is called SeaweedArt. I have designed printed greeting cards created from images of my pressed seaweed collages. I am selling the cards in 2 assorted packages of 6 designs each with matching printed envelopes.  I am donating 10% of the profits to charitable organizations dedicated to preserving and protecting the ocean and marine habitats.

    SeaweedArt is a dream come true for me because I am doing what I love in a rewarding career fully utilizing my talents and skills. I am very proud of what I have accomplished in the last year. It wasn’t easy working full time, going to graduate school and raising five kids. It is so gratifying to finally realize my goals.

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  • Published on February 6, 2011

    This was taken at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas. A canal with gondolier rides. I hear there is also a hotel with an ocean. What’s next? The Grand Canyon?

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  • Published on February 5, 2011

    Paul and I just got back from a business trip to  Las Vegas. It was our third  in the last two years. As always, I was in jaw dropping awe of the massive size of the Las Vegas convention center, which always seems to act as a metaphor for the over-the-top enormity of the town itself. I can only imagine the obstacles and objections early developers faced when pitching investors of their plan to build a town that at the time seemed inconceivable. Whoda thought? Read the rest of this entry »

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  • Published on January 17, 2011

    Ian, our rock star tenant, aka Jonny Prynce, is moving. His band, Dirty Penny, broke up and he has decided to make a go of it, living the hard scrabble life, in another band in New York City. He left today. We will sorely miss him.

    Ian has been a welcome addition to our family for the past 2 1/2 years, occupying the studio apartment at the back of our property, teaching Mark guitar lessons and occasionally joining us for dinner. He also works part time for us in our family business, as a draftsman. (Perhaps someday he will go back to UCLA and finish his mechanical engineering degree.) In addition, he supplements his income teaching guitar lessons and voice lessons. One of his students, James Durban (his real name and not sure of the spelling) has an amazing rock star voice. He does great impression of famous singers like Joe Cocker and Steven Tyler and we would often hear him singing and be blown away by how incredibly talented he is. James was here yesterday to say goodbye to Ian and told us he made the top 40 finalists on this year’s American Idol!!! Needless to say, we’ll all be tuning in to watch and root for our hometown rock star. I’ll keep you posted on both fronts: Ian’s new band and James’ status on American Idol.

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  • Published on October 15, 2010

    Paul is away on business and just left me a text that he pulling out of the gate and on his way home. This is his third trip this month. Even though we stay in close contact, talking and texting several times a day, I still really miss him. Don’t get me wrong, we have a ball when he’s gone. We order take out and watch chick flick movies in bed. It is nice to have some separation every once in while, especially since we both work from home and are together a lot. Still, we’re pretty attached to each other and living proof of the old adage: absence makes the heart grow fonder.

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  • Published on October 2, 2010

    I barely have time to write these days because I am so busy  finishing up my master’s degree. I am 3/4 of the way through having just completed my 9th class. Choosing to go to grad school and majoring in Internet Marketing was the best decision I have ever made.   I am so grateful I have a loving and supportive husband and family and that I was able to do this. The best part of all of this is that Paul and I are both so excited about the business opportunities we share and have before us.

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  • Published on May 8, 2010

    Snow covered mountainsJelly fish decorReno hotel roomPaul and I are on a business trip in Reno, NV, a town that bills itself as the biggest little town …or… the smallest big town. I can’t remember. Something like that. Unlike their sister city, Las Vegas, also a gambling town, Reno has a more comfy, Wild West feel to it. (Note the Italian restaurant named Romanza. Is that a cross between romance and Bonanza??) It is closer to our home so we drove the five hour trip  past snow covered mountains through Truckee and Tahoe. We are here for a conference in which both Paul and I were guest speakers. More on that later. First I have to tell you about the hotel. If I were searching for words to describe it, ” tasteful” would not be one of them. However, this place is a riot and we are having a ball.

    The casino, with its  tall ceiling, flashing neon lights and  popping sounds of slot machines can best be described as  walking through a life size pinball machine. That was the image that came to my mind. The Oceano Restaurant, complete with hanging jelly fish chandeliers has to be experienced in order to be fully appreciated.  The hotel room itself, however,  conjures an entirely different image. There is  a large Jacuzzi tub (for two)  in the center of the room with mirrors on the ceiling, naturally, and get this… there is a double strand of rope lighting  surrounding the perimeter of the ceiling that when lit up in the evening resembles an airport landing strip. Who designs these places I want to know? The trip was very successful but I am anxious to go home. Tomorrow is Mother’s Day and I miss my children.

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