Microwave obituary

The Rockwood family microwave, affectionately called “Mike,” died suddenly in the home on August 6, 2015 while attempting to reheat day-old pizza. It was 10 years old. The microwave is survived by two adult roommates, three children and a matching dishwasher, stove, oven and refrigerator. It also leaves behind two bags of frozen chicken nuggets, several cans of soup and a pantry full of microwave popcorn. Born into the family during the Great Kitchen Remodel of 2005, the microwave served admirably during its decade-long life, heating everything from baby food to bacon. Its kitchen timer ticked steadily through years’ worth of mandatory 20-minute piano practices, while the family’s mother listened from the next room. “How much longer does the microwave [...]

Back to school with mixed emotions

By the time this column prints, the Rockwood children will be back at school. Summer’s slower pace will end and we’ll shift into a different gear as we hit the back-to-school freeway. Crisp new backpacks are lined up on hooks by the door, and the No. 2 pencils have freshly sharpened points and perfectly pink erasers. Most parents are either thrilled about the kids going back to school or sad to see them go, but I find myself stuck somewhere in the middle. I love watching the kids enjoy an unstructured summer – the leisurely afternoon board games, swimming with friends, movie marathons and playing outside until 9 o’clock on some nights. But as a work-from-home mom, I’ve seen my [...]

Nice and tidy

The only thing worse than the end of a vacation is coming home to a messy house. That’s why I consistently frustrate Tom and the kids each year when I refuse to leave for vacation without all of us pitching in to straighten up the house first. They barely tolerate it as I whip around from room to room in a last-minute frenzy, giving each person a different chore so that, once the trip is over, we can come home to peaceful, clean surfaces instead of a disaster that makes us want to race back to the hotel room we just left. I insist on this pre-vacation ritual mostly because I love coming home. No matter how fun the vacation [...]

Larry’s Legacy

This is not the column I planned to write today. What I had in mind was something light and funny, but if I tried to write those words today, they’d be hollow. Even worse, they’d be fake. Because today isn’t light and funny. Today all I can think about is how our friend Jackie is dealing with the worst phone call of her life. She’s had to follow that phone call with dozens more of her own, letting family and friends know that Larry, her husband of more than 25 years, died suddenly last night, even before the ambulance could get him to the hospital. She was on a business trip when the call came. The shock of it is [...]

5 easy steps to getting your way

Whether you’re forty-something or only 4, we all want our own way. Toddlers are especially insistent about getting their own way which is why you’ll often see one out in public having a meltdown when things haven’t gone well. As we get older, we learn to relax a little but, underneath the seemingly mature, reasonable façade, we all want what we want. So here’s a handy how-to guide for how to shift the odds in your favor, especially when dealing with kids. (Feel free to try them on spouses and co-workers, too.) Some might think these steps are sneaky or manipulative. I’d just call them “effective.” Step 1: Make it easy for them to do it your way. We humans [...]

Color me happy

As soon as I spotted it at the bookstore last week, I wanted to slap my forehead and say, “Of course! Brilliant! Why didn’t I think of that?” I rushed my copy of the “Zen Coloring Book” up to the front counter so I could pay for it. Yes, I’m a 42-year-old woman who got giddy about a new coloring book. But this is not your preschooler’s coloring book. This one is for grown-ups. Similar books are sometimes called “mandalas” or “adult coloring books.” (A friend pointed out that the phrase “adult coloring book” might make some people think that the pictures are of things you might see on a naughty pay-per-view channel. Trust me, it’s not that kind of [...]

“Parents, take your mark.”

I crawled into bed last night earlier than usual feeling completely exhausted. That swim meet really wore me out. But I didn’t swim a single stroke. The kids did, though. They swam freestyle races, backstroke races, breaststroke races and a couple of relay races, too. And even though Tom and I were in the stands watching and cheering them on, by the end of the night it felt like I’d raced my heart out as well. Every time the announcer said, “Swimmers, take your mark,” a ball of nervous energy ballooned up in my chest. Then when the starting buzzer sounded, I stood up as the kids dove into the pool and held my breath while they sliced through the [...]

Married to a frequent flyer

Well, that was a first. I just finished a conversation with my husband and there was 30,000 feet of vertical space between us at the time. Using the plane’s Wi-Fi connection – which they charge you for, of course – he texted me from a flight headed for… somewhere. He probably told me, but I’ve already forgotten. Chicago? D.C.? It might be one of those. At some point all the itineraries start to blur together. Lately his job has him winging his way around the country pretty often, which has forced us to adjust to a new normal at our house. We’re getting used to seeing luggage by the door, and the kids know that although the end of the [...]

No mood for rude

People are rude. Not all people. And definitely not you. (My research has shown that the people who regularly read this column are not only kind but are also much smarter than the average bear. Congratulations.) But some people – and you’ve no doubt met many of them – are just plain rude. It isn’t a new realization and yet, when I come across blatant rudeness, I’m still astonished every single time. We could “why” this situation all day long and sometimes I do. Did their mamas not raise them right? Were their mamas rude? Do they have some kind of personality disorder that predisposes them to rudeness? Are their shoes too tight? There are a million possibilities. No matter [...]

Calendar entries don’t lie

I typed the appointment time into my smartphone calendar app and then frowned down at the glowing screen. I was beginning to see a pattern, and I didn’t like it. Thursday: Oral surgery to have wisdom teeth removed Next Tuesday: Mammogram Third Thursday: Eye exam Fourth Friday: Annual physical Next month: Teeth cleaning Lately it feels like I’m always scheduling another doctor’s appointment. When I factor in regular checkups for our three kids PLUS the appointments with my hair stylist who expertly covers these pesky gray hairs that keep popping up, I’m realizing that a big chunk of my life is spent in appointments. Sometimes I see someone out in public and instantly recognize the face but can’t think of [...]