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 January 8, 2017

    It’s been a while since I’ve written an update here and for those who are still following and want to know how things turned out for us I thought I would fill you all in.  All five of our children are launched and are either away at college or living independently, and my darling husband Paul and I just celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary. Hard to believe that so much time has passed and that we actually survived. Yes. We survived and thrived, which is amazing considering that second marriages have a 67% chance of ending in divorce.

    Now that all of the kids are gone (the pets too) it’s just the two of us and we are focusing on our future together by downsizing from our big house and moving into the smaller house, which we call our “casita,’ that is adjacent to the main house.  For years we rented out the smaller house to outside tenants (remember Jonny Prynce?) and we decided instead to live small and simple in our little house and rent out the main house. We have discovered that remodeling and decorating our new home has been extremely romantic. It’s like we are newlyweds and this in our first home together. It’s just us making the decisions, so there’s no stress worrying about pleasing anyone else. And it’s FUN! We are carrying over the nautical and craftsman style look of the main house, with a lot more whimsy and humor. Paul, my sea captain and brilliant engineer husband, has drawn up the plans and has given each room a name that corresponds with a part of a ship.  There’s the “Captain’s quarters,” which is our bedroom, the “galley,” the kitchen, the “crew’s quarters,” the guest room when the kids visit, the “pilot house, “ which happens to be an upstairs loft, the “map room,” my office and a “poop deck,” which Paul will turn into a rooftop garden for me. Yes, I married a guy with a vivid and wild imagination.  I think it is our senses of humor that have kept us going.

    We’ve weathered some serious storms and navigated some rocky seas, and after ten years of grappling with so much stress we feel like we finally  landed on a  tropical island and it’s time to relax and drink cocktails out of a coconut.  (Our Christmas tree this year was a palm tree. No kidding. Paul plans to plant it in our yard.)  It’s now time to have fun and devote our time and energy to pursuing our passions. If you would like to follow along and see updates on our remodel and empty nester life, you can visit SeaweedArt, my  sea-inspired lifestyle blog featuring home decor, beach scenes, crafts and coastal cuisine. You can also visit my Etsy shop, where I sell some of my crafty creations.

    Namaste dear ones. May you all have a healthy, happy, prosperous new year filled with love, laughter and joy!

    No Comments
  • Published on October 11, 2013

    The wonders of modern mobile and digital technology never cease to amaze me. Now that my daughter Eva is studying abroad in Germany through a Rotary Youth Exchange we have been able to communicate virtually almost daily through Skype, texting and snap chats. This enables her to share her amazing experiences with me and all of her friends and family here in the U.S.  The interactions are often short, but sweet and always welcome. I’m so glad she is having such a great time and able to chronicle her experiences beyond the traditional journal and photo albums. This also allays my fears and worries that she is safe and doing well.

    In exchange, we have a German student living with us and she is able to do the same thing with her friends and family back home in Germany. She Skypes with them and sends emails telling them about her experiences living with us. I’ve been in contact with her parents, answering their questions and easing their concerns too. This makes communication so much easier and I wonder how we ever lived without it. I can still remember my mom giving me a dime for a pay phone and telling me to call her when it is time to get picked up from somewhere and then getting a busy signal because someone was on the phone and we didn’t have call waiting. Times have sure changed.

    3 Comments
  • 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 April 21, 2012

    One more photo in the continued series of snap shots of deer that I capture along the campus of UCSC where I work. They always bring me a sense of peace and serenity. I love where I work. Happiness and contentment on the job are so important. As I was snapping this picture a woman walked by and I remarked that it never ceases to amaze me to see so many deer strolling among the humans. She agreed and she’s been working on campus for 20 years.

    "image of three deer eating grass"

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  • Published on April 17, 2012

    "image of brown seaweed"I’m so excited because I just launched the next phase of my SeaweedArt business with my SeaweedArt prints. Ocean conservation and my love of the sea are two of my greatest passions, and to be able to express this love through my art is so gratifying and rewarding to me. I just finished reading a book on this very topic (which I will review in a separate blog post) that states the need to immerse oneself in creative activities because it keeps your mind engaged and is the source of true happiness and contentment. So true. If I could not express my inner creativity, I could never be happy.

    Please visit SeaweedArt and let me know what you think. Ten percent of the profits from the sale of my SeaweedArt note cards and prints will be donated to ocean conservation.

    No Comments
  • Published on March 8, 2012

    It is amazing how seemingly domesticated deer have become. They are not afraid of people at all. I stood right next to these deer and they barely acknowledged my presence.

    "image of deer eating grass"

    1 Comment
  • Published on March 3, 2012

    I love it when it rains on the UCSC campus where I work because it always brings out the deer. Lovely.

    "image of deer on UCSC campus"

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  • Published on February 27, 2012
    "image of man standing next to inflatable man"

    Paul and the inflatable man, aka, Surfing Santa.

    Paul and I did an early spring cleaning this year and sorted through our storage room, drawers, cupboards, cabinets, shed and closets and put all of the castaways out on the driveway for a yard sale. It was an all weekend project that we strategically chose to do on a no kid weekend so as to not have to deal with our kids pleas to keep stuff that they haven’t looked at or played with in years. (Blended families tend to have a lot of duplicate DVD’s and Harry Potter books.) Don’t worry, I saved Cheryl’s Winnie the Pooh chair and Mark’s term paper on rock ‘n’ roll, but the rest, like board games with missing pieces and deflated basketballs, were chucked. It was both cathartic and sentimental. Read the rest of this entry »

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  • Published on January 25, 2012

    My daughter Sophia left for college a few weeks ago. She was home for winter break for about a month and it was so wonderful having her here. We made cookies, and gingerbread houses, got our nails done, went out to lunch and the movies, went to the beach, finished a sewing project, took a trip to San Francisco and spent our last day together at the Santa Cruz wharf watching the "image of harbor seals at Santa Cruz wharf"harbor seals.  We sure had a lot of  Mommie and Me time together. I was very pleased and impressed with what a sophisticated, articulate and well spoken young lady she had become.

    I won’t see her again until May when she gets out of school since she is not planning to come home for Spring break.

    No Comments
  • Published on August 6, 2011

    "image closeup of deer"

    I know I seem to obsessing on this topic, but I continue to marvel at the proliferation of deer that occupy the lawns on campus at UCSC. What amazes me isn’t just their abundance, but their lack of fear of humans. This one came in such close contact to me that if I had some food, I am sure it would have eaten out of my hands.

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