A new baby in the house

There’s a new baby in the Rockwood house. Born on May 20th, he weighs in at six and a half pounds and is 18 inches long. He’s got two big ears, four short legs and 20 toenails that make a rapid clicking sound when he trots across the kitchen floor. His name is Cooper, and he’s a Corgi puppy. It’s funny how quickly my “protect the baby” instincts have returned, even though it has been a decade since we had a newborn in the house. I find myself shushing Tom and the kids so they won’t wake the puppy. “He’s cranky when he doesn’t get a good nap,” I whisper as I tiptoe around the crate where he’s sleeping. And [...]

Dear Lady at Target

Dear Lady at Target, Here’s how it happened. As with most mistakes, it began because I was in a rush. It was Taco Tuesday, and my parents were coming over for dinner. But first I needed to run to Target. I took our 10-year-old daughter with me because she wanted to get the cute back-to-school notebooks before they were gone. So we dashed in, grabbed a cart, and then zipped around tossing in what we needed – soap, dog treats, granola bars, etc. When we made it to the back of the store where the school supplies were, we split up to make the hunting and gathering go quicker. “You get the colored pencils. I’ll grab the glue sticks,” I [...]

Taste of the Big Apple

In our family, we have a tradition. When one of the kids turns 13, he or she gets to take a trip to any city in the continental U.S. with Tom and me, while the siblings stay home with grandparents. When our oldest son turned 13, he chose Washington, D.C. because American history is one of his favorite subjects. But his younger brother had a different idea this year when he turned 13. “I want to go someplace known for the best food,” he said. “Let’s go to New York.” So, we booked the tickets and asked friends to recommend fun things to do and great places to eat in the city. As far as food goes, we did incredibly [...]

Sensible chic? Or old lady shoes?

I think I’m going through a transition – from the ankles down. I’m not sure how I feel about it, but one of the following two theories is probably true: Either I’ve acquired an affinity for comfy shoes I once thought of as “old lady shoes,” or… old ladies are wearing cuter shoes than they used to. My vanity hopes it’s the latter. When I was a teenager and went shopping with my mother, she’d always hold up a shoe and say something tragically practical like, “Why don’t you try this one? It looks like it would be comfortable.” And I would roll my eyes (in the oh-so-charming way teenagers do) and say something snarky like “Mom, those are totally [...]

Dog escaping fence requires unique solution

Our Beagle Charlie has forced our hand. Lately he has taken the art of breaking out of the backyard fence to a whole new level, so we had to get creative. This mission to keep Charlie at home has been going on a long time. After we adopted him five years ago, we asked a dog trainer to help us teach him to obey commands. Overall, the training went well. He learned to sit, shake hands and to high five with his paw. The only command that didn’t stick? “Stay.” The trainer warned us it would be difficult. Even though Charlie understands what we want him to do when we say “stay,” ultimately he obeys the wishes of his bossy [...]

National Day After Vacation Day

Today is National Graham Cracker Day. It’s also National Bikini Day and National Apple Turnover Day. These days, there are “national days” for almost everything. For example, July 28th is “National Talk in an Elevator Day.” According to my research, there are more than 1,500 national days to observe in a single year – everything from talking in an elevator to “National Do a Grouch a Favor Day,” which happens February 16th. Since it seems easy to get a national day set up, I think we need one called “National Day After a Vacation or Holiday Day.” I like to celebrate and vacation as much as the next person, but I’m nearly worthless when all the hoopla is over. For [...]

A turtle by any other name…

I got a postcard in the mail today. It was from our 10-year-old daughter, Kate. Oddly enough, it was Kate who checked the mailbox on the day the postcard arrived. She’d written and mailed it from summer camp two weeks earlier. When we picked her up from camp, she asked me if I’d received the postcard she’d sent, and I told her we hadn’t. I asked if she remembered the address correctly, and she dutifully recited it back to me with no mistakes. “And did you remember to put the zip code on it?” I asked. “Oh,” she said. “Maybe not.” I told her the postcard might still make it to us eventually and that I was glad she’d tried [...]

My husband’s other woman

There’s another woman in my husband’s life, and I’m the one who put her there. Her name is Alexa and she lives inside a device called the “Amazon Echo,” which is a speaker he can control with his voice. Physically, she’s not really his type. She’s short – less than 10 inches tall – and she’s got no figure to speak of. Just a black cylinder with a flat top. But what she lacks in curves, she makes up for in conversation. In the morning, I hear the two of them talking to each other in the kitchen. “Alexa! Good morning!” he says. (She literally lights up when he says her name.) “Good morning! And welcome to the first day [...]

No food in my food, please

When it comes to what I eat, there’s one rule I almost never break – no food in my food. Simply put, it means I don’t mix things. Gravy and mashed potatoes are about the only two substances I allow to co-mingle on a dinner plate. I typically eat one food at a time and then move to the next food on the plate. It’s boring, I know, but it works for me. I reject the theory about how different foods “mix together in your stomach anyway.” Perhaps they do, but by the time the food hits my stomach, my taste buds don’t have to know about it. My husband Tom, on the other hand, has almost no rules when [...]

Teenage tunnel

It’s happening. I’ve seen the symptoms before so it’s easier to diagnose it this time. And even though I know what it is and I know it’s not permanent, it’s still unsettling. My kid – my sweet, kind-hearted middle kid who always loved a good hug and thought I was smart and funny – has become a teenager. It became official a few days ago when we celebrated his 13th birthday, but he’s been accelerating up the teenager on-ramp for months now. The symptoms are all there. The dramatic eye-rolling. The heavy sighs. The increased skepticism that I know what I’m talking about. The conviction that anything I pick out for him to wear must be, by default, uncool and [...]