Empty Nester – Extraordinaire

creating, living, loving – all in a long black skirt

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Happy Fathers Day!

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June 21st, 2015 Posted 7:53 am

Happy Fathers Day!!


Posted in Daily Life

I May Be a Hypocrite

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October 9th, 2013 Posted 10:00 am

Driving through town to pick up Jordan from an event at the library, Whisper and I were jamming out to the radio.  Really. Dancing, singing, letting our hair blow in the breeze.  We’re manic station flippers and were bouncing between stations, leaving the second we didn’t like what we heard.  For the most part, we agreed on the decisions we were making.


“If you can’t hear what I’m trying to say
If you can’t read from the same page.”

Ugh.  Whisper immediately starts singing along. Horrified, I immediately reach for the radio. I’ll admit, my sweet little princess threw a bit of a temper tantrum.  The song is catchy, but it’s not that good…  “We do NOT listen to that song.”  My rule: Forbidden Music.

Not too long ago, Eric set a similar rule.

“So la da di da di
We like to party
Dancing with Molly
Doing whatever we want
This is our house
This is our rules”

Yup. I like that one too.  In theory, I even like what it says. Short of that one little reference. You know the one, right? Well, that’s the one that moved it to the Forbidden Music list.

It’s a relatively short list. Two songs from all the decades of available music and they’re both current!  Amazing.

Just the other day, Jordan scolded me for not turning off the radio when the song, “Pumped Up Kicks” [Foster the People] came on.

The story of a high school student intending to take a gun to school and shoot his classmates…

“All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
You’d better run, better run, outrun my gun
All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
You’d better run, better run, faster than my bullet.”

 And then a favorite from a CD that Ravynn and I are both super fond of.

This is not a well adjusted relationship…

“I used to love her,
But I had to kill her
I had to put her six feet under
And I can still hear her complain”

Then this one. There really are no words for how much I love it.  In fact, it’s almost a family joke that this will be my first request when Jordan brings his iPod in the van.

“I am the Tin Man, who the ___ are you?
Do you know how badly your blood will clash with that shade of blue?
Has no one clued you in that in this land there is no scarier
Answer me or so help me I will crush that ___ terrier”

So yes. A hypocrite. Verified.

I’ve always been really comfortable with my double standards.  More than I should and enough that it really annoys a lot of people. But, I insist you can learn more about people from the exceptions they make than by the actual rules they say they live by.

I’ve said no to the date rape anthem and to the “praise” of illegal drugs by someone I did hold up as a good kid and a decent role model.  At the same time… school shootings, murder, and well… more murder by a character from a beloved childhood movie all make the cut. Even I wonder what it says about me.  Not being one to really enjoy comedy at all, I can pretend it’s the comic elements in each of these songs. Or at least the tone that keeps them from being taken seriously.

But it’s not.

After some thought, I imagine it’s more that I know all girls are potential targets for date rape.  And it kills me to admit that. I want to imagine my kids are safe and sound at all times. All humans are potential drug users. But I see less than a fraction of a chance that my children will become murderers.  The other Forbidden songs illustrate real-world threats.

Maybe I’m not a hypocrite afterall…

…but I probably am.




We Bought Stuff


July 18th, 2013 Posted 7:48 pm

A lot of stuff.

Friday evening, we [Eric, the girls,& I] drove around town and the topic of yard sales came up.  Since I had a Saturday morning off, we could all go together.  That’s been a rare thing for a good year or so, so I was really excited. Knowing this journey was bound to be special, I set about creating intent for the day, asking each person what they REALLY wanted to find through the day.  I wanted pretty mugs and teacups that I could repurpose into candle holders.  Whisper wanted shoes – specifically tennis shoes. Ravynn wanted clothes. And Eric was hoping for witchy/pagan items, either for as-is use or for crafting.  We wished it, we saw it, we had faith.

The first few stops we made were underwhelming.  Set up for collectors and VERY overpriced.  I did find a pretty pendant that can be resold after some “cleaning”.

I was very successful in my quest to pick up mugs for candlemaking [now, I need to get to work candlemaking!].  See the 11 mugs that we found:

I didn’t pay more than 50¢ for any of them and most were only a quarter. So… umm… yeah!  I’m excited to put them to use, but am mindful of the tasks that must be completed first.

We also, with dancing and giggling, found bundles of silver and gold metallic candles. They reach past the edge of the photo, but all the  taper candles you see here were picked up for 50¢.  Yeah us.  Also a set of candle sticks with a Japanese symbol on them, a VERY retro candle holder [this is Ravynn’s purchase] and a taller candle stick that will mesh perfectly with our overall home decor.

One [??] of the major finds of the day [we actually picked this up at two separate locations].  Tons of loose herbs, stick and cone incense, and a little “herbs” plaque.  All picked up for roughly $6. Woo!!

Eric had been saying, during the drive where we set our intentions,that it had been MONTHS since he’d found any decent STAR WARS offerings.  Well, lookie here.  Some ships, a figure or two, a lot of books, magazines, and several badges from SW Cons.

Catering to our inner geeks, we found these items.  Books on Authurian Legend and the prophecies of Nostradamus.  A classic Link/Zelda game. A Game of Thrones card game. And comic books featuring Superman and Aquaman.  Yes Aquaman – squee!

In addition to the pagan-appropriate goodies found above, Eric lucked out with the crafting wish as well.  Several faces [eww!], some plain wooden boxes, easels for displaying his artwork, and that grey case is full of paintbrushes and will give him a good way to store/carry the others he already has.  The Needlecraft book is for Ravynn, a gift from a sweet lady who was touched that someone so young was so excited about counted cross stitch.

And we found clothes.  The girls are especially pleased with the tennis shoes, flip flops, and Blondie tshirt.  They don’t quite understand the awesomeness that is CBGBs 🙂  There was also a fedora, a white baseball cap, and a Notre Dame baseball cap that didn’t make it into the picture.

Here is the big Bats! meow… find.  Almost 45 pieces of  punk jewelry found for a good price. These will be seen again in a booth display and on the website.

Here we have the “as is” selection of pagan finds. Decorative pieces, vases [one that Eric and I both decided looks like The Goddess”], a giant spider ornament, candle holders, coasters, wall decor, a gorgeous Russian-themed plate, and various rocks/gems.

A walking staff. Just gorgeous. I can’t wait to see it after Eric personalizes it.

I was waiting in the car when this purchase was made.  It freaks me out a little and a I made Eric put it in the back of the van for the drive home. Yes that’s where the kids were, but it didn’t freak THEM out. I understand it’ll be used in an art project [but it does look super amazing at the top of that walking staff].

The “other stuff”.  Backpack, conditioner, bubble bath, journal, thingie to strap and iPod to your arm for running or biking, stickers and writing paper, chopsticks, and seeds.

And a size 2T Colts jersey. Perfect for the dog, who was so exhausted from the walking we did she couldn’t even raise her head for a picture.

Overall, I call the day a success.

A huge success.



22-28/365 [Take 2]

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February 26th, 2013 Posted 1:47 pm

One of my goals for the 101 in 1001 Project is to complete the 365 Project – to snap one photo a day for 365 days. I’d started this last year and did very well, but fell off track when Eric took the camera to Burning Man in August.

Here we are. Starting again.

022/365 – Sunday, 17 February 2013
This is what a temp of 104.2 looks like 🙁  Nurse Circe to the rescue.

023/365 – Monday, 18 February 2013
Cilantro for the evening festivities of making paneer

024/365 – Tuesday, 19 February 2013
Happy Birthday sweet baby Pip!

025/365 – Wednesday, 20 February 2013
The book report poster – Edgar & Ellen Under Town

026/365 – Thursday, 21 February 2013
The day’s mail! Two from Moscow 🙂

027/365 – Friday, 22 February 2013
Morning snuggles.

028/365 – Saturday, 23 February 2013
Adjudication. We were busy. I admit, I did not take a photo today, but I’m sharing one sent to me by Ana Hunter.  Her daughter is dancing with Alek.


10 Years with Pip

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February 19th, 2013 Posted 6:06 am

Whisper Mania

Ten years ago, my sweet Whisper Mania joined our family.  Eric and Jordan came to to the delivery room with me.  Alek and Ravynn stayed with Grandma.  We’d been scheduled for induction at 6am.  The nursing staff didn’t believe me when I told them labor had already started, so I just let them do what they’d planned and allowed them to marvel at how well everything was going.

I’m nice like that.  It was kind of a bonus that they left me alone for the six minutes between the start of active labor and her birth.

She’s been a lovely last child.  Like the rest of them, she’s come with her own unique set of challenges, but also her unique set of blessings.  She brings us an incredible amount of joy.


The coming of her 10th birthday is throwing this mama into a bit of a freak out.  My BABY is about to be in a double-digit age bracket.  Babies aren’t 10.  Little kids aren’t 10.  Big kids who are almost teenagers are 10.

Overdramatic? Maybe, but it feels valid. And a little painful.

Whisper agreed that if we allow her to turn 10, she’ll stop there for awhile. How sweet of her.

She’s nice like that, but I suspect the draw of 11 will be too strong to resist.




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Posted in Daily Life

15-21/365 [take 2]

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February 17th, 2013 Posted 3:12 pm

One of my goals for the 101 in 1001 Project is to complete the 365 Project – to snap one photo a day for 365 days. I’d started this last year and did very well, but fell off track when Eric took the camera to Burning Man in August.

Here we are. Starting again.

015/365 – Sunday, 10 February 2013
To be fair, someone else took this picture, but the camera was on its way to Ohio for Houston Ballet auditions.

016/365 – Monday, 11 February 2013
A Valentine from Whisper

017/365 – Tuesday, 12 February 2013
Ravynn stealing MY soy milk!!

018/365 – Wednesday, 13 February 2013
I am sick. I need nothing but tea 🙁

019/365 – Thursday, 14 February 2013
Ravynn did her hair and dressed in red for Valentine’s Day 🙂

020/365 – Friday, 15 February 2013
Home for a sick day, I put on thick socks. When Whisper got home she joined me.

021/365 – Saturday, 16 February 2013
Pierogie!!  Ravynn was a wonderful help.


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Posted in Daily Life

Seeing is Believing

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February 16th, 2013 Posted 6:25 am

Out and about in Anderson, we’ll still run into people who recognize us from Wife Swap.  While that surprises me [Teen Mom is also filmed in Anderson and Amber could sit on me and I still couldn’t know her], I’m more surprised that they feel they know us from a 60 minute episode – 15 or so minutes that were devoted to commercials, and 20 or so that were spent with the other family.  This leaves 20-25 minutes of screen time to develop a complete view of total strangers.

Initially I had planned a series of blog posts describing the WS experience in detail, but it became monotonous.  “You saw X; Y is reality. The reason they misled you is Z.” I’ll still write them if there is interest, but I’m afraid it will come off as whiny, begging people to “Don’t judge us.” Truth is, we’re not afraid of being judged. At least for what is true. We do not like – as much as any other person – to be judged over gossip and assumptions.

“But,” you’ll say, “we saw you force your children to dance and we saw your son have long hair because you wouldn’t allow him to cut it.  We saw you drag your kids into situations where they would be made fun of. We saw you sitting on the sofa being lazy while your kids did all the work.”

Did you?


I know you saw Alek say we forced him to go to dance class. But, you didn’t see the discussion about how he didn’t like the alternate class the producers found for him when his real studio chose not to allow cameras inside.  He was concerned that showing him in class with his sisters – both younger and with less skill – would make him look bad. He did not appreciate that waste of time.  And he was very vocal about that on several occasions.

I know you saw Alek’s long hair and you heard his, “yeah!” when Stacy told him he’d be getting it cut.  Did you know he’d been growing it out for several years with the intent of donating it to Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths project? Did you know Rule Change  was his first realization that it was officially long enough to cut and donate?  And we’d made the offer to wait to cut it so it could be incorporated into rule change.

You were told we dress up the kids and parade them about town so that people will see them, judge them, and make fun of them and that we don’t care.  Did you know our kids dress how they want, within reason? Did you know we don’t change for other people because we live our lives for us and not for them? I had a great discussion with my swap husband, Ed, about this. It’s one of the things we strongly agreed on. Looks are important to both families. The main difference is that they dress to define themselves based on what other people think of their appearance and we dress to define ourselves based on what we think of our appearance. Did you know that one of the first things the producers did before filming was remove any bit of clothing that did not fit into the got aesthetic as they defined it?

You’ve been told I’m lazy and make my kids clean and feed themselves while I sit on the sofa playing on the computer. You even saw that, right? But you didn’t see the producers and directors scold me for pouring milk and sitting down to eat with my kids.  And it wasn’t made very clear that my job was freelance editing and that I run an at-home business from my laptop. In addition, helping them to be able and prepared is quite the opposite of lazy parenting.  I’d go so far as to suggest that doing everything for your kids is the lazier version of parenting.

No one would know that without talking to us.

And I’ll be honest. I watch Dance Moms and Survivor and I struggle to remember that what I see may be just as cleverly edited as our WS episode.  I know it. I lived it.  This reminds me to be more patient with people who don’t have the background I’ve been exposed to.

If there is something you want to know about, please just ask one of us.

We’d be happy to talk to you.



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February 14th, 2013 Posted 9:45 am

I do love to get mail. And I dream of traveling. Ravynn and Whisper at least share these interests with me.  We were very excited to find the Postcrossing website. Several years ago, we got really into it, but fell away from the sending and receiving when we took up other projects.  Finding a stack of Indiana postcards, as well as some stamps I may as well use, I decided to hop back in.

Sheila’s mailbox

» Sent: 41 postcards

» Received: 36 postcards

» Traveling: 9 postcards out of 9

» Sent distance: 298,873 km (185,711 miles)

» Received distance: 250,565 km (155,694 miles)

I’ve added a Postcrossing tab to the top of the blog page.  Check it out to see what we’ve received so far [it’s a work in progress].  If you want to send us a postcard from your town or from a vacation, let me know.

Looking forward to a full mailbox again 🙂


In the Shop – Quilted

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February 13th, 2013 Posted 5:52 am

I grew up with quilts. My grandmother made them for my sisters and I and for my cousins.  My parents made them for my wedding and then for each of my kids.  It only seemed natural that I should make them.  Enough of my sisters and cousins quilt that I believe this IS a natural attraction.  Even Ravynn’s caught the bug.

I’ve wanted to add crib quilts to Bats! meow… for a long time, but I, for whatever reason, never put one together. Lately something has stirred and I put together five quilt tops in a matter of days. I hope they sell just as quickly.

This quilt was made as a gift for a friend’s daughter.

Pink and lavender

I fell in love with the peacock fabric and found others to match.  I’m a little sad at how the peacocks aren’t the focus at the end of it.

The peacocks 🙂

I love butterflies!  Ravynn pointed out the purple fabric and we were lucky to find others to match.  I couldn’t resist the temptation to put one together.


I’m not the only one inspired. Ravynn gathered up all the scraps of fabric and put together this 24×24 quilt top.

Ravynn’s scrap quilt

Wanting something darker – something like I would have wanted for my babies – I found these black and red options.  Ravynn and I designed the top and stitched it together.

Black and red.

Hopefully soon we’ll find time to put the backs on and do the quilting.

Visit us at Etsy to see more of our crafted treasures.


Posted in Daily Life

Bzzing – Simple Truth

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February 12th, 2013 Posted 6:33 am

Simple Truth from Kroger

Several years ago, I signed up as  BzzAgent. They send me samples and I send them my honest feedback.  It’s a good plan that seems to be working out well for both of us.

Not long ago, I was presented an opportunity to sample the Simple Truth line from Kroger.  Now Eric and I try to feed the kids right.  We’re vegetarian. We try to limit the amount of crap they ingest.  We watch whey they eat and strive for balanced meals.  We also do our best to limit our spending and buy store brands whenever they’re available [and saving us money].

Kroger’s Simple Truth campaign was a gift.

About a week ago, a box arrived in the mail. The kids recognized the BzzAgent bee on the mailing label and were hopeful there were snacks inside.

There were!!!


A Peanut Butter Extreme protein bar and a bottle of Cucumber Melon soda.  Well, Whisper and I each took a sip of the soda before losing it to Eric who enjoyed it very much and complained [in jest] that it just wasn’t big enough.  Whisper and I split the protein bar, while commenting that we should have shared it with Alek.  We did not.  And once we tasted it, we didn’t feel bad about it at all.  I’m not a huge fan of peanut butter flavor, but it was good and not overpowering.  Whisper liked it too and reminded me that my “half” had been bigger than hers.

We also got some coupons for free items, so when Jordan’s girlfriend came over to spend the afternoon and watch movies with us, we took advantage of them.  We picked up some Vegetable Sticks, Chocolate Soy Milk, and Blackberry Pomegranate soda.  We did also pick up some other soda and chips, but these items were the highlight.  The girls dove into the veggie sticks immediately and there was some discussion over who got the “extra” soda.

I’m mom. I won.

The soy milk didn’t make it onto the movie snack menu, but it didn’t last long in the fridge before everyone wanted to try it.  It’s gotten rave reviews.

I recommend [if you’re looking for organic items] that you pick these up.  I have a couple coupons I can share with you.  Holler if you want them.