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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Must Reads for Today’s Successful Blended Families
Published on April 29, 2013
Today’s post is written by guest blogger, John O’Connor – father, outdoorsman, sports enthusiast and passionate about living a healthy lifestyle. Check out his new blog at bloggingwjohno.blogspot.com!Participation in contact sports like football, lacrosse and hockey teach kids the importance of teamwork and sportsmanship, but contact sports like these can also put children at risk for sports injuries. As a parent, it is important for me to know that my child is safe at all times.
In recent years, the National Football League has been trying to improve the safety of players. Since athletes who participate in contact sports like the NFL are at risk for ligament tears, concussions and other injuries, the league has made player safety one of its main priorities. In modifying certain rules like preventing hits on defenseless players, the league hopes to see a reduction in the number of injuries that occur annually in the NFL.
Along with these rule changes, the NFL has recently launched a new campaign called NFL Evolution. The campaign was designed to promote player safety around the league and awareness among parents of children who participate in these sports. As a parent, I am relieved to know that organizations like the NFL have taken the initiative to launch such an educational campaign. The NFL has done their part; it is now our job as parents to learn from their hard work and to educate our children on the proper ways to participate in contact sports.
Injuries like ligament tears, heat related injuries and concussions are all very common injuries that can occur as a result of participating in sports. As a parent, it is important for me to be informed about these issues so that I can learn how to keep my child safe.
Concussions or minor traumatic brain injury are very common in contact sports and occur when the head forcefully makes contact with another person or object. A concussion can result in a headache, confusion, nausea, memory loss and hearing loss. In some situations hearing loss may be permanent resulting in the use of a hearing aid in order to improve hearing levels. Today over 3 million children under the age of 14 participate in organized football. Here are some things that can help you keep your child safe while playing contact sports:
• Wear the appropriate headgear when playing sports like hockey, lacrosse or football
• Wear the right size and fit in helmets and other protective gear
• Prevent children from hitting with their head, educate them on the proper form and technique of hitting.
• Getting immediate treatment when the child has had a concussion
• Make sure your son or daughter has time to fully recover from a concussion before returning back to practice or games. Read the rest of this entry »
Published on April 21, 2013
For those of you who’ve been following along, you may recall that my stepdaughter, Cheryl, has the traveling bug. She recently returned from a trip to Ecuador, where she planted trees in the rain forest. We financed her trip in part through the sale of her photography. She and I started a little business using her photographic prints to make cards. In the past I have featured her photography on this website and on my SeaweedArt site. One photo in particular, “a footprint in the sand,” has been picked up by some people who have contacted me asking for permission to use it. One inquiry was from a student from MIT, who asked to use the image as a screen saver for a website he was creating for the study of feet maladies. The other request was from an elementary school teacher for inclusion in her school’s yearbook. Cheryl was thrilled. She gave her permission and I made sure she got the credit. It’s only a matter of time before we see her work in travel magazines.
Her father and I are very proud of her and we are committed to supporting her art and her love of travel. This summer she is headed to Germany for month with my daughter Sophia. Their home base will be with my dear friend who lives in Bonn, but they will make a few excursion trips to other countries. Can’t wait to see the photo journal from that trip.
Published on April 10, 2013
We’re downsizing. Not the house. The car. We bought a Prius last week and we’re selling the Suburban. Now that our big brood of kids is mostly out of the house we don’t need such a big car. When we told the kids they all said, “That’s the end of an era.” It sure is. I love the springy pastel green color. And the gas mileage is pretty good too. It’s our new road trip car. Paul and I took it to San Francisco over the weekend and we’re headed to Santa Barbarba in a few weeks to celebrate our 7th wedding anniversary. It’s the beginning of a new era. Woo hoo!
Published on April 7, 2013
Paul and I spent the weekend in San Francisco on our friend’s boat at South Beach Harbor. We go there quite often. It is an extremely relaxing respite for us since we both love sailing and just hanging out in the harbor. Saturday night we attended a special dinner and presentation on the America’s Cup at the St. Francis Yacht Club. Some of the members of the America’s Cup teams were there to talk about the world renowned race that is coming to San Francisco this summer. Thanks to our friends, we will have front row seats.
An added bonus for us is that we get to share this passion with Mark, Paul’s son. He lives in San Francisco now and enjoys spending time at the harbor with us whenever we are in town. Our friends hired him to help with some work on their boat and when word got spread about how handy Mark is (he takes after his dad on that front) he got some work from other boat owners as well.
Mark is so adorable. He called Paul yesterday to see if we were in town so he could come hang with us. We took him out to breakfast at our favorite spot, The Townsend Cafe, and afterward he stayed to help Paul work on the boat. We had a nice visit. He is looking forward to the America’s Cup when the entire world will descend on the city. What an amazing experience for a young man just striking out on his own in the Big City. It reminds me of my own youth in the 80′s when I lived in New York City during the centennial celebration of the Statue of Liberty. I remember going to Battery Park and watching the flotilla of ships from around the world. It was spectacular. I wish the same awe inspiring joy for Mark.
Published on March 13, 2013
Even though he got a flu shot, my husband came down with the dreaded bug. His symptoms started on Sunday afternoon on our way back from Tahoe so I took over driving. For the next two days he was wiped out, horizontal, either in bed, mostly, or on the couch. I don’t mind taking care of him because he is a very good patient. He doesn’t complain, he just sleeps.
Each morning for the last two days, I made his breakfast (actually I pretty much do that every day), gave him his swig of DayQuil and put him back to bed. Since I only work five minutes from home, I came home at lunch to make him soup and check on him. Eva, who gets out of school at 1:30, looked after him the rest of the day until I got home for dinner. All of this was hardly necessary since all Paul did was sleep.
He’s better now. Just a bit of a cough. Perhaps the flu shot he got helped because his illness did not last that long, or he just got a weaker strain of virus. He’s now vertical and back to work. Even though I didn’t really do that much for him, he said he felt so much better just knowing that I was there. How sweet. I just hope I didn’t catch any of his germs.
Published on March 10, 2013
Paul and I just returned from a weekend get-a-way to Tahoe. We had a wonderfully relaxing time. We stayed at a nice lodge and met up with some friends. Had delicious meals in nice restaurants. Paul skied. I went to a yoga class. I hiked around the lake with my friend. It was picture post card perfect. Just too short. When we got home we made a pact to go away at least once a month.
Published on March 7, 2013
Cheryl and Sophia are headed to Europe this summer. They are going for a month and planning to stay with my dear friend who lives in Germany. If you’ve been following this blog, you may recall that Eva, my middle daughter, has spent the last two summers in Spain and France. Paul and I decided that this year it was the other girls’ turn to experience an international adventure.
Needless to say they are both thrilled beyond words. They’ve been plotting their itinerary, which includes a few excursions to Italy and France, and Skyping each other frequenly, since Sophia is still away at college. I’m a strong supporter of travel, particularly to foreign countries, because I know from my own experience that it is a life changing event. I went to Italy and Greece when I was 17 and I will never forget it.
Originally Sophia was going to go alone. I wanted her to have the worldly experience of staying with my multi-lingual friend, who works as a translater, to give her an edge in her chosen field of study, which is International Affairs. I considered sending Cheryl too, but I was worried it might be an imposition to send two kids to visit. My friend, however, did not seem to think so. When I contacted her to ask if Sophia could come visit she said an emphatic yes!, and then asked if Sophia would like to bring a friend. Sophia, knowing how much Cheryl has expressed an interest in travel, immediately asker her to join her.
And there you have it. Our house is very happy and buzzing with excitement.
Very soon we will find out what country Eva will be visiting next year for her Rotary study abroad program. I’ll keep you posted.
Published on March 7, 2013
A few weeks ago, in an effort to promote my Farmers Insurance Agency, I decided to enter my award winning Manhattan Clam Chowder in the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Clam Chowder Cook Off. It is an annual event on the Santa Cruz Boardwalk that benefits the Santa Cruz Parks and Recs and it is a terrific fundraiser and community event.
Paul and I went all out. We dressed up as farmers (get it), decorated our booth with hay bails and dragged the kids down to help us with the prep work. We had an absolute ball and it was a huge success in more ways than one. Here’s why.
About 8 years ago, when I was a single mom, I entered the cook off on a lark, and lo and behold, I won first place. I was thrilled and stunned. Yet the victory was bittersweet as I walked up to the podium to accept my victory plaque alone. I had no one to share my pride and joy with.
But now I do.
When I told Paul my plan to enter the contest he was gung ho. In fact, he did most of the work. It was his brilliant idea to create recipe cards with my business information on them. We gave out one to each of the 500 tasters who came to our booth. He designed our booth, created wooden signs and did all of the set up. And of course he bragged about me, my chowder and my insurance savvy to anyone who was willing to listen.
I was touched beyond words. So much so that when I fell into bed, exhausted, at the end of the evening, I snuggled in his arms and cried. Tears of joy that is, because I am so lucky to have him. What a guy.
Published on March 7, 2013
I’m a strong advocate and believer in the importance of personal growth and fulfillment. I believe it is both the basis for inner peace and happiness and the cure for insanity. Besides that, I’ve always thrived within the framework of intellectually stimulating challenges. (Just a few years ago I worked full-time while raising five teenagers and getting my masters degree.) I firmly believe in following one’s own personal path, which is defined outside of the parameters of raising children. (Besides, I could never bear to be one of those embarrassing cringe-inducing helicopter moms who still attends everyone of their college-aged children’s club sport tournaments and then posts 300 pictures on Facebook.)
Now that all but two of my five children have moved out of the house, I’ve a lot more free time to devote to my own professional and personal endeavors, which is why I decided to return my previous profession, the financial services industry. And I absolutely love it. I renewed my license to sell insurance and started my own insurance agency with Farmers Insurance– the. best.insurance.ever. The whole experience has been challenging, prosperous, invigorating and I get the added bonus of working with a fabulous group of people. It was the best decision I ever made.
But I digress.
My point is to get a life. Your own. Don’t be an empty nester wandering the house looking for a purpose, or worse, skittering about filling up your days with a false sense of “busy work.” Go back to school. Learn a new craft or trade. Do something to make yourself proud. You won’t regret it. And you will feel so good.
Published on January 4, 2013
One of the many things I have always been so grateful for in my adult life is the positive and supportive co-parenting relationship I have with my ex-husband, Jared, the father of my two children. This is beneficial not only for us, but for our daughters, who were raised with the comfort and security of knowing they have two parents who love them unconditionally and who are willing and able to work together to impart wisdom, encouragement and positive values into their lives. This was especially evident to them today when Jared and I sat in the waiting room of the oral surgeon while our daughter Eva had her wisdom teeth extracted.
I call our parenting method ”team parenting” and this is an example of how our arrangement works for us. Several months ago Jared took Eva to her final orthodontist checkup where they do X-rays to see if your wisdom teeth are coming in. Sure enough they were. The orthodontist referred him to an oral surgeon and gave him the surgeon’s card. When Jared dropped Eva off at home, he came in the house and gave me the card and asked me to schedule the consultation, which I did. I took Eva to the first pre-surgery appointment and found out how much the extractions would cost, which I relayed to Jared via a phone call. I then scheduled the extractions to take place over winter break.
Today we sat in the waiting room together and when the procedure was over, we helped our groggy daughter out to the car. As parents we worked together as a team because we communicate, which, thankfully, is not hard for us to do since we have such an amicable and friendly relationship. I know this may be a challenge for some divorced couples who don’t get along so well, but there is no excuse for a lack of some form of communication, whether it be by text or email, especially when it applies to the children’s medical care. Jared and I are able to get along so well because we respect each other for putting our children’s needs first. And because of that we all benefit.