Empty Nester – Extraordinaire

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

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.


The Bat Cave – The Home Tour, part 3


February 15th, 2013 Posted 5:09 am

This installment of the home tour is LONG overdue as I cannot manage to keep my room clean long enough to photograph it.  I set a very bad example for my children. Really.

If you missed Part 1 or Part 2, click the links.

The view from the door.  The paint looks much darker without the flash, but without the flash, this really does look like a cave.

Basically the view from the door.

Skull and candle on the dresser at the foot of the bed. Not a real skull, I promise 🙂  And a vanilla-scented candle, inspiring me to work on making my own.

A close-up of the dresser at the foot of the bed. 

The bookshelf that is rarely ever organized.  Sadly it works as a storage unit most of the time. Today,  it’s relatively cleaned out.

Full bookshelf

The top.  Ignore the cobwebs; I can’t reach that corner.

One of the gargoyles that keeps us safe as we sleep.

Mama’s Teddy Scares and part of my collection of Peter Pan items.  Here you see the stack of printer paper that’s found a temporary home…

My Teddy Scares.

Small cabinet that holds most of my mani/pedi stuff.  Eric will set books on the top that he thinks I should read.

Tiny cabinet.

It photographs much more cluttered than it really is.  Jewelry boxes and candles take up most of the space.  There’s also a coaster since I was having tea as I was cleaning and a sticker that has since moved out to my sewing area.

The long dresser.

Big box full of the chunkier jewelry, smaller box holding overflow jewelry, the thinnest box holds treasures from my Mother and Aunt Lois.  The ladybug cup was painted by one of my kids for Mother’s day and holds earrings.

Detail. Jewelry and Buddha.

Closeup of a birthday card I received from one of my good friends a couple years ago and a wax tart melter.

Full moon and wicked wax.

Ravynn made me a ring holder during a ceramics unit in school.  D12 becasue they make me happy. The bottom of a vase holding pretty rocks, hair sticks, and a tiara.


More candles, a box full of nail polish and the profile of an origami penguin that Ravynn made.

Tall dresser.

Next… the living room.



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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.


8-14/365 [take 2]

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February 11th, 2013 Posted 7:00 am

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.

008/365 – Sunday, 3 February 2013
The game face.

009/365 – Monday, 4 February 2013
Imbolg offerings. Brigid likes chocolate, right?

010/365 – Tuesday, 5 February 2013

011/365 – Wednesday, 6 February 2013
We shall be organized.

012/365 – Thursday, 7 February 2013

013/365 – Friday, 08 February 2013

014/365 – Saturday, 09 February 2013
Pip and Circe relaxing on Mama’s bed while we clean out the DVR – Vampire Diaries, Pretty Little Liars, and Project Runway


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Posted in Daily Life

My Top Ten… TV Characters

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February 10th, 2013 Posted 12:56 pm

I noticed the other day that I often refer to something as “one of my favorite xxx ever.” At a certain point, I realized I must have 100 favorite movies and even more favorite songs. So, I challenged myself to make definitive lists of my top tens as an exercise in creative thinking.

Daryl – redneck eye candy


Tonight we welcome back “Walking Dead” after a TOO LONG mid-season break. Yeah… I cannot be the only woman out here who things any separation greater than a week from zombie-killer Daryl Dixon is cruel punishment…

Bit of advice to Carol: Grab him and kiss him.  We need someone to live vicariously through.

With a nod to Daryl [who hasn’t quite made the list yet], I offer you… My Top 10 TV Characters:

  1. The Doctor – Doctor Who
    I have my favorite incarnation; Ravynn has hers. You cannot be a fan without having strong ideas about this.  At the same time,I  kinda love them all.
  2. Hawkeye Pierce – M*A*S*H
    The anti-hero. I suspect this is where it started.  If you haven’t seen M*A*S*H, you really should.
  3. Piper – Charmed
    Functioned as the oldest of three sisters [after we lost Pru]. Super powerful witch. Got the white lighter… What’s not to love?
  4. Leonard Hofstadter – Big Bang Theory
    Leonard is amazing. I won’t pretend much of that is due to his role in his BBT group, but… cute, cool and nerdy.  Squee.
  5. Eric Northman – True Blood
    Yes, I wept a little when he cut his hair.
  6. Gregory House – House, MD
    More anti-hero… And, you know, he needs to be fixed.
  7. Dylan McKay – 90210
    I will always be a 19-year old girl.
  8. McMurphy – China Beach
    Bad ass army nurse with a squishy little heart inside.
  9. John Winchester – Supernatural
    The man is pretty.  And broken. And responsible for Sam & Dean.
  10. Shane – The L Word
    She’s the character that got me hooked on the show. Broken. Anti-hero… you see the theme, right??

No. These are not in any real order.

Yes. They change almost daily.


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Posted in Television

Dance is Not Easy


February 10th, 2013 Posted 12:30 pm

Joe Modlin

“Dance is hard.

If dance was easy,

everybody would do it.”

~Joe Modlin~


Alek’s 2012 headshot

 That’s fitting today. Eric has taken Alek to Columbus, Ohio to audition for a summer intensive in Houston. The same one he attended last year, yet hoping for a higher placement and maybe a scholarship this time around. Preparing for this audition has been a life-long journey.  Most recently, classes five days a week totally almost 20 hours including rehearsal time for pieces he’s been invited to perform in and classes where he acts as an assistant. He’s been dancing, following a much less rigorous schedule, for 11 years. He’s had pain in his feet, legs, back, neck, and arms. He’s injured himself.  We’ve used hot packs, meds, massage, and hugs. He’s celebrated accomplishments.  We’ve talked about his past, present, and future. He has incredible dreams and I look forward to watching him accomplish them.

I’m incredibly proud of him.

Ravynn’s fitting.

A couple weeks ago, I joined Ravynn and her class on a “field trip” to Broadripple, Indiana, where she was sized and fitted for pointe shoes.  She’s had pain previously, but minor compared to what waits around the bend. She’s been warned, but I think she honestly has no clue what her pretty little feet are in for. She wants to dance and this is a necessary next step.

I’m incredibly proud of her.

And if I admit it, I’m incredibly proud of me too. Dance is hard for the dance mom as well.  Financially, it’s a huge commitment and we are so very thankful for every gift we have been given and for every person who has helped us meet those requirements.  The time and energy commitments are huge as well.  There are some nights where I’m at the studio playing chauffeur four times in a three hour period.  Although the schedule can be overwhelming, I do enjoy it.

But looking from a distance at those auditions for Houston, the really hard part rears its ugly head.  This is a SIX WEEK intensive and that means a little over six weeks away from my son. I do not love that, but I’ve done my research and I understand this is the best thing for him. And he’ll be with Joe. That does ease the fear.

So, I pour another cup of tea and thank my children for raising a mother who understands that dance is hard – but so very worth every bit of it.


Too Many Cooks


February 9th, 2013 Posted 5:41 am

My children cook. All of them. And they’re very good – and careful. I don’t worry about them burning down my house or seriously hurting themselves. I don’t want the burns or minor cuts, but I do see these small injuries as unavoidable steps in learning.  I’m impressed with their technical skill, but even more that they’re not afraid to experiment.

Jordan has been cooking for years. He started with mac & cheese out of a box and move d to excel in home ec [technically it’s now called Family and Consumer Sciences, but to me… always home ec]. Now he prefers to specialize in soup, which is great. He makes excellent soup and I do not.

The cake!

Alek never showed great interest in the kitchen until this past Christmas break when he wanted to eat thing we just didn’t have in the house. After a couple minutes on Google, he hunted down a recipe for tortilla shells, so he could have burritos. They were amazing.  With boosted confidence, he found a recipe for a from-scratch cake. Also amazing.  I hope this confidence and skill will continue to grow.  After the cookies he made for the Super Bowl, I feel good about the odds.

Ravynn is at a weird stage. She started baking in her Easy Bake Oven several years ago and became a master.  It wasn’t until the bulb broke and we weren’t able to replace it right away that we realized she should just be using the real oven.

Whisper skipped the easy bake and instead focused on the stove and anything she could put over noodles. It’s fairly common to see her pulling random items from cupboards, fridge, or freezer to fry them up in a big pan and pour over steamy pasta.

They’re all very handy and willing to help when mama needs some time away from the kitchen.  They’re also very kind when I want help. Growing up, I always saw a woman’s kitchen as her kingdom/refuge and I resisted anyone else stepping in. This has hurt more than a few feelings.  Now that the monsters are the ones stepping, I realize – too many cooks don’t spoil the soup; too many cooks make superior soup.

But, what’s “too many” anyway?




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Posted in Daily Life

We’re All Stalkers

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February 8th, 2013 Posted 4:59 am

Despite my general displeasure with many things about Anderson Community Schools, I do love the Power Parent program they offer.  I can log in to my parent account to see this year’s grades for all my kids.

And I do.

At least three times each week I check in to see whey they are struggling. Or excelling.  I log in over my morning coffee and get a quick peek at who needs to spend a few more minutes double-checking homework, who aced a French test, or who might need to reread the Great Depression chapter of their history book.

At least once each week [two of the kids more often than that], the kids will ask me to check in and make sure grades have been entered or to assure they haven’t missed an assignment. At first, I was worried they wouldn’t appreciate this hands-on approach or my interest in their work, but it’s so much easier to keep things straight.  They see the value too.

Their grades have improved [one of them from a D-average to straight As and being ranked first in the class!] and it’s much easier to be the homework heavy when the numbers are right in front of me.  This is likely easier for the teachers too. They can spend less time each week answering notes about grades and assignments.

I like the accountability I can see growing in them and I hope that continues.  It’s a necessary trait that is slowly fading from many adults I see on a regular basis.