The Name Game

In Dale Carnegie’s famous book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” he wrote that you should use a person’s name when you’re talking to them because “…a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” I’m not here to argue with Dale Carnegie because five million books sold can’t be wrong. But I do wonder if the sound of your own name is always as appealing as he says it is. The other day I sat across from a woman at the orthodontist’s office who was running my credit card so I could pay for our son’s braces. She glanced at the name on my card and said, “Oh, that’s a nice [...]

Have trash, will travel

When I noticed the delivery box on the front steps, I flung open the door and greedily grabbed it. I hauled it to the kitchen, grabbed a pair of scissors and sliced through the packing tape in one stroke. “What’s that?” Tom asked. “It’s my new trash can,” I said. “In that small box?” he said. “It’s a trash can for the car,” I explained. “Another one? What is this crazy obsession you have with car trash cans?” he said. “It’s not an obsession, Tom. It’s a necessity. Your children are very messy and I’m usually the one hauling them all over town.” He rolled his eyes because the kids are always “his” when they’re leaving a trail of crumbs, [...]

On Sound of Music and Seuss

A remarkable thing happened this month. The Sound of Music (the movie) turned 50 years old and readers all over the world celebrated the birthday of the late Dr. Seuss on the very same day, March 2nd. It’s perfectly fitting that those two things happened simultaneously because, for many reasons, the movie and the books should be required viewing and reading for every kid on the planet. Usually I don’t even like musicals. When I see one, I always end up thinking it’d be a better movie if people would just stop singing at each other all the time. But The Sound of Music is different. Even after 50 years, it still works. I’ve already had my kids watch the [...]

Revenge of the Girl Scout Cookies

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the kitchen, they’re baaaaaack. It’s the Girl Scout cookies. There’s a whole gang of them hanging out on our kitchen counter this week, just waiting for some poor unsuspecting schmuck to walk by and fall in love with them – again. It’s not that I don’t like the cookies. Quite the opposite. The problem is that I really like the cookies. And when I really like the cookies, the cookies decide they really like my thighs and want to set up camp there as extra body fat. And that makes me not like the cookies nearly as much anymore. It’s a love hate thing. It gets messy. Ironically, the [...]

The Rockwood Files: Letter to my future daughters-in-law and son-in-law

Dear Future Daughters-in-law and Son-in-law, Even though right now you’re just kids and we haven’t even met, I think about you. Sometimes it happens when I notice how tall one of my sons has grown. Sometimes it happens when my daughter says something that makes her sound less like the 8-year-old that she is and more like a young lady. During those moments, I realize that – long before I’m ready – my babies will grow up, move out and start looking for you. I wonder sometimes how you’ll find each other. Will you bump into each other in a college classroom? Will you meet in the company break room of the first real job after college graduation? Will it [...]

My PG-13 Life

This week’s column, as well as many of the conversations around my house lately, are rated PG-13. Be aware that the following material may not be suitable for children, pre-teens or anyone who’s easily offended. Consider yourself forewarned. For those readers curious enough to move on to this second paragraph, let me explain. Our oldest kid turned 13 two months ago. This milestone, in and of itself, is enough to rattle parents who feel like it was just yesterday that we brought him home from the hospital wrapped up like a baby burrito with nothing but his tiny, blue-capped head peeking out. A lightning-fast 13 years later, our first “baby” is now in middle school, where the traditional three R’s [...]

Bracing myself for orthodontic reality

This week, after taking the second of my three kids to a consultation appointment at the orthodontist’s office, I saw the reality of our situation in black, white and shades of grey when the doctor put two x-rays on the computer screen side by side. One showed an x-ray from a year ago which the doctor said looked pretty normal. The x-ray next to it was the one he’d just taken and it was…a dental disaster. It looked like a cluster of bumper cars all pointing in different directions. The orthodontist pointed at two impacted teeth that had somehow taken a wrong turn at Albuquerque and were now headed in the opposite direction. They’d need to be re-routed first with [...]

Too much and not enough

It happened again yesterday. I went to the store for “just a few things.” An hour and more than a hundred dollars later, I pushed an overly full shopping cart out of the store and stuffed more than a dozen bags into the back of my SUV. As I drove home, I went through a mental checklist of all the things I’d bought: Milk, bread, cereal, lunch meat, laundry detergent. Check, check, check. I had all the essentials plus lots of other things that seemed necessary when I’d cruised through the aisles. But then a maddening question popped into my head: “How is it possible that I have a car full of groceries and still have no idea what to [...]

Why I Don’t Like January

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3 Even though there’s something comforting about getting back into a normal routine after a hectic holiday period, I don’t like January. It’s the one month of the year that puts me on edge and gives me performance anxiety. My mother once gave me some valuable advice about carpet that also applies nicely to the month of January. She said, “Never buy white carpet.” When I was younger, I liked the idea of white or cream-colored carpet, mostly because it was so different than the dark brown color I’d grown up with. White carpet made rooms look bright and expansive. Fancy luxury hotels had white carpet, and magazine layouts of million-dollar rooms [...]

South Meets North

It pains me to say this, but it’s true: The people who live up North are tougher. There, I said it. It’s hard to admit because my husband Tom grew up in Duluth, Minnesota, and I was born and raised in the South. And we Southerners aren’t wimps. Not at all. I grew up in Southern Arkansas where mosquitoes are roughly the size of single engine planes. They travel in swarms, flashing gang colors and building empires in flooded rice fields. Until recently, I assumed Southerners and Northerners were equally tough. But I’ve just returned from two separate trips up North, and the evidence is overwhelming. Our first trip took us to Fargo for a family wedding. It was my [...]