Empty Nester – Extraordinaire

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

We Have Rules Here

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February 7th, 2013 Posted 5:43 am

Outside of treating other people right and doing your weekly/daily chores, we don’t have many rules in our house. Respect for each other, respect for your self, respect for your home. Those seem to cover most situations.

Bedtimes, meal times, and curfews change almost daily, but one rule we do follow [and this could easily fall under “respect for yourself”] is that the kids must read before they mess with anything electronic. We’re pretty lax as far as TV is concerned, but games, computers, and iPods are pretty strictly enforced.  That’s not always easy with all of it being so portable, but we try.  The biggest challenge is Ravynn’s Nook since it’s a book and games all at the same time. At least she’s my most interested reader, so chances are good.

Currently, Ravynn is reading through the works of Edgar Allen Poe, starting with his poems. After every one, we talk about it – the story of it and if she liked it.  She’s started rolling her eyes, “it’s about some girl he’s in love with.”  I think she feels bad for him.

Whisper is preparing for her first book report. The book she chose is “Edgar and Ellen: Under Ground.”  Quite honestly, I’m surprised her teacher approved it as it’s well below her reading level. That may encourage her as she can read it quickly and not worry about missing anything while finishing by her due date.  They’re also reading another novel in class, so less chance for confusion.

Alek is taking a break from books because his schedule just doesn’t accommodate it.  I know. I said it was a rule, but even with 20+ hours of dance each week, he’s carrying a 4.01 GPA. When he’s off to Houston, I’ll be sure to set him up with several books for his flight and any layovers.

Jordan is between books also, but he’s working through a college prep list, so I suspect he needs me to dive into the boxes in the garage to find one of the books we already have.  Guess mama has a project.

Trying to set a good example, I’m attempting to read more myself. One of the 101 in 1001 Goals is to read the “Modern Library Top 100”.

Now, where to start??



In the Shop – Hooking


February 6th, 2013 Posted 6:10 am

I’m hoping to stay busy enough that “In the Shop” can be a regular blog feature. I’m also hoping the regular blog feature will keep me motivated to stay busy.

What a clever girl I am.

Since the beginning of the year, Ravynn and I have been hooking and stitching up a storm. Really. I’ve heard thunder!  Since we’re still working on backing the quilt tops we put together, this post will show off the crochet projects we’ve completed.

Remember that most of what we show off here can be made in almost any color combination.















Some of these photos will be retaken for the website or for Etsy, but I think they give a good view of where we’ve been focusing our creativity.


1-7/365 [take 2]

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February 5th, 2013 Posted 5:00 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.

001/365 – Sunday, 27 January 2013
The view from my sewing table.

002/365 – Monday, 28 January 2013
My view of Eric’s painting station

003/365 – Tuesday, 29 January 2013
One of the quilt tops we put together over the weekend

004/365 – Wednesday, 30 January 2013
Ravynn after her Munchin character got toasted.

005/365 – Thursday, 31 January 2013
Eric brought the girls flowers after he and Alek helped with Dancing Like the Stars

006/365 – Friday, 01 February 2013
Princess Circe Belle on her throne

005/365 – Saturday, 02 February 2013
Alek baking coconut oatmeal cookies for our little Super Bowl party




February 4th, 2013 Posted 4:58 am

Recently, I shared a link on my personal Facebook page about an Indiana lawmaker who wants to bring the Lord’s Prayer back into public schools.  My friends fall solidly on both sides of that issue, so debate in the comments was running a little hot.  I see no problem with allowing anyone a few moments of quiet at the start of their day. I take it at work to get settled, but no one is telling me to pray or insisting that I pray a specific prayer.  And THAT is my problem with the proposed legislation.  Reciting the Lord’s Prayer alienates anyone who isn’t Christian and, depending on the version recited, can further alienate either Protestants or Catholics. As much as parents and school administrators work to combat bullying, we cannot allow it on the state level.  Plus, there is that whole separation of church and state thing and it seems this would fall dangerously close to a religion being chosen, endorsed, and mandated.

During the fiery discussion that followed, Eric brought up the AWRE program. Anderson Weekday Religious Education.  This is a program where fourth graders are bussed from Anderson Community Schools to a local church to “introduce your child to the Bible, Christian principles, and character traits through Bible lessons.”  We have teacher friends insisting they’d never heard of the program and that it could not possibly exist in Anderson.  Whisper is our fourth fourth-grader.  We’ve very familiar with the program and with our reservations about it.

  1. If parents want their kids to attend church, there are ample opportunities outside of school time.
  2. I’m incredibly uncomfortable that my daughter’s personal information was provided to an outside group – and no one can tell me if the involved parties have undergone background checks. I cannot attend a field trip with the class if I haven’t had one.
  3. Anderson Community Schools does not impress anyone with its test scores or graduation rates.  Kids need to be in school when they can and we’re doing a disservice by pulling them out of class.
  4. There has been no plan set in place to deal with the kids whose parents decline this opportunity. Ravynn’s 4th grade year, she was one of two students who stayed behind. She spent that time each week coloring.  Really.
  5. When I called the AWRE coordinator in 2011, I was told they were restricted to non-teaching time for this event.  It didn’t seem possible that every fourth grade class had a full hour [plus, if we account for drive time] of non-teaching time available – let alone at the same time.  When I talked to the school, the principal explained the reality of this: the teachers are not allowed to teach the remaining students.  I won’t be fair to the kids who go. Yet, somehow, it’s fair to leave the other students to color…

Now, this is a legal outing as defined by Indiana statute 20.8-1-3-22. I suspect that the people involved are taking advantage of the vague language.

In theory, I have no problem that the program is offered. I really do not.  But it’s interfering with education. I do have a problem with that.

I don’t know if my phone calls and expressed concerns helped, but Whisper reports that she and the other three students who stayed at school spent their free time in the computer lab working on math review/enrichment.  I hope this is offered through the remainder of the program.  Unfortunately, I also understand that the other three children either lost their permission slip or didn’t receive one at their home and the school made sure they got another copy. That makes the program illegal and I look forward to seeing what the FFRF has to say about that.


Afraid of His Own Shadow

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February 2nd, 2013 Posted 5:30 am

“What’s your favorite holiday?”  is a shockingly common question. My answer is not shockingly common.  Of course, the expected answer is Halloween. It seems Christmas or Mother’s Day would be equally acceptable.

But wrong.

My favorite holiday is Groundhog’s Day.

I know. It’s weird.  I’m okay with that.

I’ve never really put much thought into the appeal of that little brown guy who predicts the weather. I grew up in Northwestern Pennsylvania. Punxsutawney Phil was practically a local custom.  I understand that not everyone who grew up in my area feels that same connection or even cares, but I always did.  When I moved to Indiana at 17 for college, he kept me tied to home. That one day of the year when everyone tunes into “home” is refreshing.

Years later, I watch live coverage with my kids. I care less about the outcome than that I see it. I realize now the appeal is so much more than home. It’s about upholding a tradition much older than the town that breathes life into it.  Upholding a tradition that most of the people who witness it don’t understand.

Wanting to better understand the neo-Pagan traditions that we incorporate into our family celebrations, I did some research as we prepared for Imbolc.

Imbolc [and I don’t suggest a full understanding] means “in the belly.” Some resources claim this represents the belly of the ewe as lactating sheep are considered one of the first signs of coming sprint. Other sources – and this is the theory I prefer personally – mention the stirrings of life within the belly of the earth, before anyone can see evidence of it on the surface.

I’m a mother. Through four pregnancies, I had varying amounts of time when my condition was secret and was known only to me – as the signs of spring are known only to the earth.  Those were precious times and they stir in me a kinship with the Earth as she awakens after the cold dark winter.  I love the celebration of this time.

Similar to present customs, ancient Celts looked at the weather on February 2 to predict weather leading up to the official start of spring.  Good weather [bright sun which would cast shadows on the and “scare” wee creatures back into hiding] was considered a bad omen. Bad weather on February 2 noted an early spring.  As a child I never could get the rules straight. As an adult, I find myself explaining them a lot.

When we tune in to the morning news to find Phil’s weather prediction, we join with generations who watched hedgehogs, foxes, and snakes in ancient Ireland.

The joy that brings me touches my soul.



Gothling of the Month – February 2013

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February 1st, 2013 Posted 5:30 am

February 2013.

Allow us to introduce you to our February 2013 Gothling of the Month.

Circe is the most recent addition to our family. This Boston princess came to us from the Madison County Humane Society in July 2012. Although listed as a stray, she gives no indication that she’s not used to life with a family.

She arrived house-trained, most able [although often unwilling] to sit on command, tolerant of a leash, and with a strong need to snuggle.

She doesn’t even mind playing dress up with the girls.




Gothling of the Month – September 2012

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September 5th, 2012 Posted 7:58 am

September 2012.

Say Hi to Gothing of the Month, our very own RAVYNN MIRANDA.

Ravynn at the Bats! meow… cemetery picnic
July 2012


She was one of our very first models and has been a huge fan and supporter of Bats! meow… from the start.

Ravynn in our Wednesday dress

Ravynn is a photographer, writer, and crafter. Her spirit is a great light to our family.

The face!!



Foodie Pen Pal Reveal – August 2012

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September 4th, 2012 Posted 7:40 am

This month, after taking July off, I participated in Foodie Pen Pals hosted by Lindsey at the Lean Green Bean.

Foodie Pen Pal – August 2012

My amazing pal treated me to tons (!!) of amazing things.  You’ll have to trust me. Although I photographed all the goodies, I failed to plan ahead and the photo was still in the camera when my husband took off for his adventures at the Burning Man festival in the deserts of Nevada.  Unfortunately, I didn’t document it all either, so I’m going from memory and labels.

My favorite part of the package was a bag of dates.  I offered some to my kids who did not enjoy them AT ALL.  No worries – more for Sheila.  Also included were jars of salsa and bruchetta that I haven’t taken the time to try.  My pal also sent some spicy mango that traveled with the photos of it  because Eric absolutely loves mango.  I’ve been snacking on spiced almonds and giant white beans.  We all shared the fruit and granola bars. I believe there were other items [and I know I loved everything], but I’m having memory issues due to migraine pain.

When the camera returns, I’ll update.

The Lean Green Bean

Here’s a detailed explanation of the program:

  • On the 5th of the month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
  • You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!
  • The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
  • You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
  • Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you can choose to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.
  • Foodie Penpals is open to US, Canadian residents & UK residents. Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. We’ve determined things might get too slow and backed up if we’re trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa. So, I’m going to keep two separate lists and match US w/ US and Canada w/ Canada!
  • If you’re in the UK, please contact Carol Anne from This Is Rock Salt at rocksalt@thisisrocksalt.com to get involved!

Sign up at The Lean Green Bean


Posted in Daily Life

Spiders and bats and ballerinas, oh my!! – Home Tour pt 2

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July 22nd, 2012 Posted 6:28 am

Welcome back to our home. While last week we showed you the initial entry way to our home, this week we will journey down ‘the hall’ to the kids’ rooms. Next week, Eric’s and my bedroom will be featured.

Follow me down the hall to see where the gothlings dwell.

Read the rest of this entry »



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July 20th, 2012 Posted 8:06 am

Exhausting week, it was 🙂


Cleaning means organizing our DVDs!  This was Eric’s job and I don’t envy him one bit.


Alek was supposed to be doing yard work… Instead, this.


This picture reminds me of summers in Erie.  I miss sunsets over the water.


Not a great picture, but even this one was hard to get.  I cleaned out my sewing room [more pictures of that later] to the point that the girls could have a sleepover on the hide-a-bed.  This is their view.


Cleaning out my sewing room [so the new dog can room in], I found some old art projects of the kids.  Jordan made this a couple years ago.  Love it. 


Circe joined our family today. She’s fitting right in watching “Pretty Little Liars and snuggling with Ravynn on the sofa.


Now… she poses.