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 April 12, 2012

    Wisteria peeking through the trellis…

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  • Published on April 12, 2012

    Thanks to everyone who voted for me in the Circle of Mom Top 25 Blended Family Blog contest. I finished 14th and that’s definitely in the top 25! The winners of the contest were all asked several questions about what it is like to be a (step)mom in a blended family. Some of their answers may surprise you. Some of my answers surprised me. You can click here to read the questions and vote on which answers are your favorites.

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  • Published on March 19, 2012

    Below is an except to a follow up piece I wrote for Parent Society called My Gay Ex-Husband about why I think gay people can and do make good parents, and why I am in favor of same sex marriage. Although the original title was called, Do Gay People Make Good Parents?, I now think a more apt title would have been, Can Gay People Make Good Parents? because as one of my readers pointed out, it doesn’t really matter if you are gay or straight, you could be a great or lousy parent regardless of your sexual orientation.

    When my oldest daughter turned 16, my ex-husband, “J” bought her a car. He asked me for a ride to the dealership so he could pay for it and pick it up. As I drove away from the parking lot, I glanced bank and watched him as he sat down at the salesman’s desk, pulled out his reading glasses from his pocket, put them on and took out his check book. I couldn’t help but think, “How dad-like.” Yes, my ex-husband has turned into his father. Aside from the divorce, this could be a modern Norman Rockwell story, an all-American rite of passage. Dad buys his daughter a car. What a guy. The difference here of course, for those of you not up to speed, is that my ex-husband is gay. Read more…

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  • Published on March 19, 2012

    Below is an except of an article I wrote for Parent Society about how I coped when my ex-husband of 10 years came out of the closet as gay.

    Do you remember when former New Jersey governor, James McGreevey, announced he was gay? I sure do. I recall smiling ruefully to myself when I heard people talking about the scandal and wondering, “How could his wife not know? Can you imagine being married to someone and not knowing he’s gay?” Yep, I can, because it happened to me. Read more…

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  • 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"

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  • 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 March 1, 2012

    "image of the Eiffel Tower"Eva, my world traveler, is heading to France this summer for 6 weeks. We just booked her ticket. She will be traveling with a friend who is visiting her older sister who attends college in Tours. They will be staying in a small town about an hour’s train ride from Paris. She is so excited. She and her friend are planning their itinerary, which includes visits to the Louvre, the Loire Valley and dining with some local families.

    As you may recall, last summer Eva spent a month in Spain, where she studied at the Segre University in Granada. Her father and I find it remarkable that she has developed such a zest for foreign travel at such a young age. She once told me, dreamily, “Mom, I want to see the world.” She also said when she hears people speaking in another language she gets frustrated when she can’t understand them. Her Spanish is getting pretty good and she is now learning French from an App she downloaded onto her iPhone. She plans to graduate from high school a year early and apply through Rotary to be a foreign exchange student in a Spanish speaking country.

    You go girl. And to think my mother freaked out when I moved from Philadelphia to New York City. Times sure have changed.

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  • Published on February 29, 2012

    Almost three years ago I wrote a post titled, The Final Frontier, about the outdoor fireplace/fountain my husband was building in our back yard. He was inspired by the fountain in the lobby of The Catamaran Resort Hotel in San Diego where we stayed days after we were married. (The first time, when we eloped.) I have always loved the sound of running water and fell in love with that fountain many years ago. Paul promised to make me an outdoor fountain that was also, get this, a fireplace.  Now, almost six years later, his vision and my dream are finally realized. It still needs to be painted, but it’s done. There’s just one little problem. Instead of the soft tinkling of a babbling brook that I had imagined, Paul’s fountain sounds a little more like a gushing, damn bursting river. Here’s a video I took. Not sure if it captures the sound accurately. Let me know what you think.

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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 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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