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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    View Photos of Singles - Match.comWhen I tell people that my husband and  have a blended family of five kids, two boys and three girls, I hear the obvious chuckle and the usual comment that our life is like TV show. They are, of course, referring to The Brady Bunch, an idyllic, fantasy-like sitcom of yesteryear where aside from Marsha getting hit in the nose with a football and Jan developing an allergy to flea powder, life was pretty much tame (and lame if you ask my kids). I do agree that my life is like a TV show, but more along the lines of a modern day reality program, like Survivor. When I see a group of adults bickering over coconut milk dressed in skimpy outfits in front of a roaring fire in the tropics all I can think is, “Big deal, where’s the challenge?” Try taking five cranky, bored, dirty, exhausted kids on a camping trip, in tight quarters, in the rain for five days. Survive that!Better yet, see if you can pack five lunches every morning, cook dinner for seven every night, attend four different soccer games in one day, wash twenty loads of laundry a week and feign interest in your daughter’s story about the weird kid in her class who eats paper.

    My life is far from ideal. My dogs smell, my house is never clean all at once and I forget to water my plants until they die and I have to throw them out. We manage. I have my priorities. At least I don’t forget to feed the kids. How could I? They’re always hanging over me begging for food.  Then of course there’s the constant juggling of schedules of five children alternating among three separate households. Who left green bunny at Dad’s or their math textbook at Mom’s? It seems like something is always forgotten somewhere. Remembering where five kids have to be all the time is a challenge worthy of an NFL offense coordinator. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gritted my teeth at one of my children to “get your cleats on, get in the car, we’re going to be late for soccer!” only to discover I’ve driven to the wrong field and forgotten it was my turn to bring snack. Oh, how I wish my life were like Carol Brady’s. I’d have time to read, and sleep, and eat without interruption. I’D HAVE A MAID. My husband and I would never fight and I could go the bathroom alone. I try to take comfort in the thought that at least I have better hair and I’m not walking around in double knit plaid pantsuits.

    Truthfully, I love my life and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. When my first marriage ended in divorce and I reentered the single scene at age 40 I truly thought my days of coupledom were over. With two kids under the age of 9, and struggling to support myself as a single mom, not only did I not have the time for dating, I didn’t have the confidence either. I worried that my children would not accept a new man in my life or worse, that a new man wouldn’t accept them either. Childless men I dated were impatient with or lacked the understanding of the demands and challenges of having children. On the other hand, men with families were in the same predicament I was–no time and no energy. Even though I considered my kids my greatest asset, I was soon confronted with the harsh reality that not all of my dating prospects thought so. Refusing to believe that my children were a liability, or “baggage” as one man put it, I gave up on dating, retreated into myself and worried that I would spend the rest of my life alone. Then I met and fell in love with Paul, a loving father of three and we decided to marry and blend our family of five kids, four cats, three dogs, two fish and a bird.    As a newly remarried mother of two and stepmother of three, I’ve decided to start this blog because I feel I have a message of hope and guidance to share with parents and children who are already in or who are thinking  about entering into blended families.

    When word spread that my husband and I were engaged, people I barely knew, mostly acquaintances from my kids’ schools, would approach me at soccer games or in the grocery store and flood me with questions. “How did you meet him? Does he have kids? How do they all get along? What are the custody arrangements?” The more I answered their questions, the more specific they became. “How do you get them all to school on time? How  do you split the holidays? Do you really cook  dinner for seven people every night and pack five lunches every morning?”  (Yes, I do. Every other week. See my RECIPES FOR FAMILY DINNERS page to learn tips and menu ideas.)

    I quickly came to realize that not only did they want advice, they wanted inspiration and assurance that it was possible for them to remarry and blend their families too. One dear friend of mine, once a single mom and recently remarried into a blended family told me, “You are my beacon of hope.” If that is the case, then I will try to shine as bright as I can, and most importantly, tell is like it is. The same friend also told me she admired my honestly. I try to keep it real. I’m ecstatically happy now, but when life stinks, and often times it can, I’ll make sure to let you know. We all have challenges and no one’s life is a bed of roses.  Please read and write comments so we can laugh and cry together, gnash our teeth, wring our hands, share our joys and triumphs, and most importantly learn from each other.

    We are the Shwanda’s , which is not our real name. It is a combination of our two last names that our kids came up with one day when they were playing a computer game called Sims. The object of the game is to design and build a house and create a family to live happily in it, which is exactly what we did. This is our story.

    Note: I know many people who read this blog already know me. With regard to the general public, in the interest of protecting my family’s privacy, I have changed their names.  I will refer to my husband as Paul, his oldest son, 19 as Sam, the younger boy, 16 as Mark, and his daughter, 12 as Cheryl. My oldest daugher, 17 will be called, Sophia and my youngest daughter, 14 as Eva. As for me, just call me Carol. This should be very interesting since I can’t remember their names now.

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