Empty Nester – Extraordinaire

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

Posts Tagged ‘family life’


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July 13th, 2012 Posted 6:37 am

Back on track. Scheduled and everything 🙂


Hot, but pretty.  June 30, 2012. 



Sunday, Jordan and I went over to Edgewood Country Club for their Walking Man/Fourth of July celebration. He was very patient while I took his picture. Love the hair!


Too hot for anything. Really temps nearing 102 with no real rain for days 🙁 Staying inside watching Heroes.


STILL too hot. Sitting in front of a fan, feet up, sipping iced tea, and working on upcoming blog posts. Not so much beating the heat, but functioning in spite of it.


Our friend Tim has a sick little girl who is facing some special challenges today. We lit a candle for her.


Dear Leinenkugel family. I love you.


The girls are home!!  And are very happy about it. Almost as happy as mama.




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May 25th, 2012 Posted 6:59 am

I had such a hard time writing that last post that I’ve gotten incredibly behind the schedule that I made to keep myself on track.  Here is a valiant attempt to get back on track.

I’ve made a goal to complete the 365 project.  Basically the goal is to take one photograph each day for 365 days.  I’m having fun so far, but worry, as always, that my life is boring and that no one will care.  I started on a Sunday and am supposed to [ahem] post weekly on Sunday, so I present to you photos 1-6 of 365.


On Sunday – Mother’s Day Sunday, the final performance of Highland Junior High School’s “Willy Wonka Jr” ran. Alek was the Candy Man.  He was a true highlight of the show.  His love for performing and his absolutely capturing stage presense really created a remarkable and memorable character.

1/365 – Alek is the Candy Man

Ravynn worked really hard on her “Making a Mummy” interest fair project for Northside Middle School.  This is a little peek at the mummies on day 40 – just before they were unearthed to create her display.

 One of my favorite co-workers always comments that she would starve in my house because she “doesn’t eat weird food”.  I thought of her when I snapped this picture. Purple cauliflower, yellow carrots, and plain old boring broccoli 🙂

 When Ravynn completed her Mummy project, she was incredibly proud and felt very special that her dad let her take one of his original paintings to complete her display. 

 This month for the first time,  I participated in the Foodie Pen Pal program.  On Thursday, my first package arrived in the mail.  It was a very exciting experience for all of us. 

 Friday was rehearsal for our annual dance recital.  I love my little bunheads 🙂6/365


A Dark Future

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January 19th, 2011 Posted 11:21 am

Several years ago, I read the article “I have seen the future – and it’s goth,” written by Dave Simpson and published in the Guardian, 21 March 2006. With his impressive Googling skills, Alek helped me find it again a couple days ago. I’d mentionned the findings reported in it to a friend on Facebook and thought it might interest out other readers.

When other adults question us allowing our children to be exposed to a goth lifestyle [and they do], we know we don’t share their worries.

That [parents of goths will probably end up boasting about their son/daughter the doctor, lawyer or bank manager] is the surprising finding of Sussex University’s Dunja Brill, whose doctorate in media and cultural studies looked at people with funny hair and eyeliner in London, Brighton and Cologne, and who is herself a former goth.

“Most youth subcultures encourage people to drop out of school and do illegal things,” she says. “Most goths are well educated, however. They hardly ever drop out and are often the best pupils. The subculture encourages interest in classical education, especially the arts. I’d say goths are more likely to make careers in web design, computer programming … even journalism.”

Actually, having been part of the gothic culture for over 15 years [I was exposed to, but not immersed, before that time], I don’t think these findings should be surprising at all.  Most of the younger goths I’ve encountered have been the intellectuals of their time, discussing classic literature and foreign film the way others their age discuss Family Guy or the latest Angelina Jolie movie – not that we never enjoy these things, of course; we’re all individuals with individual likes and dislikes.  Even I enjoy the latest offerings of reality TV while reading Oscar Wilde or Ernest Hemingway

Jordan, a great student; despite his gothic upbringing or because of it?

Speaking with other Goth parents, I’m reassured that our kids aren’t the only good students sprouting from the dark soil of our culture.  I suspect it has almost as much to do with the philosophy of parenting as with the natural abilities of the kids.

Our friend David commented on our Facebook wall:

We expect [our daughter] to do well in school so that someday she can get into college and have a career. But, as I explained to her, that is so she can support herself and we don’t care what that career may be (although she is leaning toward engineering). We show both by words and actions that character, truthfulness, honor and being true to yourself are the most important things. Some people are obcessed with $ and I wonder how many today are training their daughters to marry a doctor or lawyer.

I hope we can agree that the happiness of an individual should define success more than the pricetag on their home or cars.



Cold and Dark

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January 3rd, 2011 Posted 10:06 am

Monday. First one in the new year. Kids back to school.  Grownups back to work. 

After we’d celebrated Yule in December and anticipated the days growing longer and after we’d gone to the grocery on Saturday in long sleeved shirts instead of winter coats, I was completely unprepared for how cold and dark it was at 7:30AM when the girls stepped out to wait for their buses.  I think I should have taken coffee with me.  I should have also taken coffee with me when Eric and I trekked across town on foot [really, it was only a few blocks] for a scheduled 9:00AM appointment in the courthouse only to find a note posted informing us that the courthouse is closed for observance of the NY holiday.


At least I had this gorgeous face waiting outside with me.

The cold walk back to the car instead of sitting down in a nice warm office got me thinking about yesterday’s post, though.  The ‘roll with the punches’ aspect of acclimating to the change around me.  As a DM, I’m responsible for many of them, but sometimes a player with throw a weird decision my way or a random question will throw me into a tangent of new creative options to test the players. 

Today, in the cold, I wondered about new creative options to test me.

We all become lazy and comfortable in the roles we build for ourselves: wife, mother, sister, friend, business owner. And shouldn’t we all want to be the best of them that we can?  Maybe we all need a random dice roll to move us in another direction?

I think I’ll try it.



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In Good Company


January 3rd, 2011 Posted 12:37 am


I found my Christmas stocking FULL of items suited to being a DM.  For those of you not in the know, a DM is a dungeon master. Sort of a tour guide in the world of Dungeons and Dragons.  I’d played a bit shortly after Eric and I got married and moved to Orlando, Florida.  I was hooked. After we moved, we tried to get groups together every now and again, but nothing stuck.  A couple months ago, we tried again to get a group together.  It worked!  I’m sure it helps greatly that three of our four kids are old enough to play and the youngest already shows an interest. Even if we can’t find friends to come over and join us, we’re set! 

Truth:  I greatly dislike DMing.  Judge, jury, executioner.  Yes, it all sounds like something I should enjoy.  Storycrafter, dreamer.  More like me.  Organizer, task-keeper, manager.  Even more like me.  However, there is something about the job that drives me up a wall.  A weathered, gray stone, stained with the blood of orcs, wall.

Truth: I shouldn’t complain.  My family likes playing together and they claim I’m good at it. 

As it turns out, I’m in good company as a DM and player.  Many people I respect greatly are known to play. Kevin Smith, Jon Favreau, Matthew Lillard.  Even Judy Dench!

So, as a part of my preparations for 2011, I’m embracing what D&D [DMing, especially] can teach me. 

  1. Planning
  2. Updating those plans on the fly
  3. Enjoying the journey
  4. Accepting help
  5. Always using a critical and creative eye

Although, I also need to keep in mind that it’s not all about the loot or the XP.



Nice Day for a Picnic


April 2nd, 2010 Posted 12:48 am

Yesterday was a difficult day for the kids.  We had unexpected guests who will likely bring Bats! meow… additional traffic, but brought up some unhappy memories that affected our youngest. Newspaper reporters = good.  Certain topics of convo = bad.  It’s not that they even talked to her, but the experience of them being in the house was too similar.

So, as she sat on my lap last night crying and trying to curl up into as tiny a ball as possible, I asked what would make her happiest.  The kids are on spring break through the weekend, so today could be used to spoil them just a bit.  Her request was simple enough – a picnic at the cemetery and a trip to the park.  Yes, the cemetery.  It’s quiet with big trees for shade and no noise or fear of someones child stepping on your food. Truth be told, mama needed a little pick me up too 🙂

When I got up, I feared I heard rain.  But no, they promised a bright and sunny day – with record-breaking temps.  I’m no big fan of the high temperature, but a promise is a promise.  So, right after breakfast we started packing.  “Peanut butter &” sandwiches: two requests for plain PB, two for PB&J, and one for PB & Miracle Whip.  We packed blankets, “fancy” cups, plates, and then headed to the store for the extras – oatmeal date cookies, strawberries, whipped cream, and a couple kinds of chips – oh! and flowers. Then straight to Maplewood West and our favorite picnic spot under the big tree and a bit away from the headstones.  Of course, we’re still surrounded by them, but we’re not ‘on’ anyone.

Ravynn and Whisper perked right up after we got settled.  It was so good to see Whisper smile 🙂  The fact that she got to pick her own chips and strawberries was a key factor, I’m sure.

The boys had a good time too.  Doritos with Cool Whip [eww!] and good sandwiches kept them happy and in a chatty mood.  It’s nice when the teen-aged sons still like to hang out with the family.

Ravynn and I shared a special moment toasting “weirdos and freaks.”  We caught the first one on camera, but there were many many similar moments – trust me 🙂

We all enjoyed the fresh strawberries, although some of us [ahem… Jordan] made a much bigger mess than the rest.

And the picnic ended with delivering flowers to a very special girl.

After that we ran over to Shadyside Park where I sat and read Practical Magic while the kids played. Together.

It was a lovely day and a nice part of our spring break.

~ sheila


Pink? Really?


March 3rd, 2010 Posted 12:29 pm

Getting back into the habit of blogging is HARD.

Initially, I was away with several sick kids.  We spent the 18th celebrating the Pip’s birthday at a local Mexican place.  It was a great time. Despite Jordan having been home sick that day with a bad stomach ache, he was feeling better and in a party mood.  The other kids were chipper and didn’t even fight over who got to sit next to Mama.  We laughed and sang together as the servers helped the birthday girl enjoy her special dessert.

Unfortunately, about an hour after we got home, three of the kids were complaining of the same stomach ache Jordan had earlier.  No other symptoms – just a pain that on more than one occasion had them laying on the floor yelling out in pain.  It was heartbreaking. Throughout the next week, we had kids home from school; one on the first day; two on the second; one on the third; I even got called to school several days to bring meds or to bring home sick children. It was a mess.  But, we’re done.  Whisper, the lucky birthday girl, never did catch whatever it was.  YEAH!!

Even after the recovery, it was easy to just stay away and not look for witty and interesting topics to talk about.  Naughty.

Although, I’ve not had much time for sewing, I have taken steps toward a new sachet design. I’m researching a design to embroider on the front of the sachet and then need to work on the smelly mix for inside.  Quite a change from what I normally favor, I’m looking toward a more ‘girly’ pink and green palette for this new item.  Mostly because of the color significances to go along with the aromatherapy, but the girls suggested it was about time. I’m looking forward to cutting and stitching.

And I need need need to spend time formatting the new shopping cart we’re using for the website.  I have a HARD deadline of March 25 [and yes, I know how soon that is!] so the site is ready for showing off and [ahem!] pimping by April 2.  We have plans in the works that have great potential for more traffic.  And our customers must be happy.


waiting… for?


January 26th, 2010 Posted 7:45 am

While I’m not an incredibly social person, I do pride myself on keeping in touch.  I text friends and family sitting at stop signs or while waiting for trains. I tweet while standing in line at the post office or the grocery.  I love to write and receive long, detailed, hand-written letters. I’m still in touch with [thanks to Facebook] many of the kids I went to elementary school with.  I research my family tree, keeping track of cousins’ kids and grandkids – most of whom I have little chance of meeting.

Yet, I created this blog an embarrassingly long time ago and it sits – untouched.

Something about starting a blog post worries me into a level of writer’s block I’ve never felt before.  And the first one is even more frightening, because I’ve convinced myself it needs to be IMPRESSIVE and grab the attention of strangers and be written about the most important thing in the world.  But, what is that?

The truth is I am not like you; my children are not like your children; my home is not like your home.  What I consider incredibly important wouldn’t cause many of you to even blink or glance in this direction.  And what I look at with only passing interest may very well be the most important thing in the world to many of you.  So, this morning, standing in line at the post office, I decided to stop waiting and just to begin.

I am wife and mama to this bunch.  The photo was taken in October, 2007 at the Perry Monument in Erie, PA.


I own and operate, Bats! meow…, a website catering to the needs of goth parents and their gothlings.  I read tarot and work with candle magic.  I believe in the powers of herbs and stones.  I talk to ghosts.  I sew, crochet, and quilt – all skills taught to me by my father.  I love to work out and cook and eat.

Stick around and you’ll learn more about me and about each of those interests.  Probably more about each of the folks in that photo I just showed you as well.  Even though this is primarily a business blog, my life isn’t simple enough to keep all the parts separate.

By the way, it’s good to have you here.



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Posted in Daily Life