Love Brands: Don’t mess with my toilet paper

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3 Tom did something shocking the other day. He came home from the store with a few things I’d asked him to pick up before the next snowstorm hit. As I unloaded the shopping bags, I stopped short. I picked up one of the packages, turned it around in my hands in disbelief and then held it up to Tom, as if he’d accidentally brought home toxic waste. “What is THIS?” I asked. “It’s toilet paper,” he said, as if I’d somehow mistaken it for a Crock Pot. “I know it’s toilet paper, but it’s not OUR toilet paper. Since when do we get this kind of toilet paper?” I asked. “Listen, […]

Married with cold feet

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3 When you’ve been married for a while, gifts aren’t as big a deal as they once were. There have been several times in our 15-year marriage when, instead of rushing around to find an anniversary or Valentine’s Day gift, Tom and I just say, “Hey, want to skip the presents this year and just go out to eat and see a movie?” As long as both people are fine with that low-maintenance approach to gift giving, things work out just fine. But there are other times when someone gives you such a perfect gift, you know they must truly know and love you. A few months ago for our anniversary, Tom […]

What’s that supposed to mean?

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3 As a self-admitted “word nerd,” I love it when my kids want to know what something means. The English language is such a wonderfully complicated thing, and it’s fun to watch a kid’s comprehension grow along with her shoe size. But even word nerds are sometimes at a loss to explain why we say things the way we do. We have a very literal 7-year-old in the house who is often mystified by clichéd phrases, so I did some research for her and for me, too. Because as much as I love the English language, some of it doesn’t make a “lick of sense.” Acute: We heard this one at the […]

Looking for the original

I nearly had a frustrated fit in the grocery store today. There I stood, scanning a wide selection of applesauce containers looking for one thing – original. Sometimes I pack applesauce in my kids’ lunches, but they only like the plain, no-frills, honest-to-goodness applesauce. It should be the easiest one to find, right? Because it’s the original. But stores aren’t interested in originals anymore. They want to stock their shelves with the latest new-fangled variations. There were plenty of packages of peach mango flavored applesauce, blueberry pomegranate, summer strawberry and cinnamon applesauce. But my kids and I don’t want our applesauce to taste like peach mangos or blueberry pomegranates. We want it to taste like – well – apples! Is […]

A is for Apology

Last night I had one of those parenting moments that make you hate yourself the next day. Tom was out of town on business. I needed to make the kids’ dinner. Three lunches needed to be packed for school the next day. Homework needed to get finished. Several loads of laundry were waiting. And projects from work were still hovering over my head. Then one of the kids came home late for dinner after staying to play too long at the neighbor’s house, and I slipped into an unpleasant personality type I’ll call “Mrs. Snit.” My tone of voice changed. I shut cabinet doors more forcefully. I rushed around the room barking out commands in true drill sergeant style. I […]

The Best One-Eared Dog There Ever Was

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3 A sad thing happened here a few weeks before Christmas. I didn’t write about it at the time, mostly because it’s not good to coat your laptop’s keyboard in salty tears and also because it was nearly Christmas – which is supposed to be the “most wonderful time of the year.” But now that a little time has passed, I can tell you that we said goodbye to our beloved Earless Joe – “E.J.” for short, the one-eared, black lab mix who loved us so generously for 16 years. When your dog gets to be 16, you know time is running out. E.J. had a tumor near his neck that the […]

Might as well jump

You know how sometimes something gets stuck in your head and you can’t seem to shake it? I’m not talking about bad songs or annoying commercials, (although there are a few local ad jingles that keep coming back to me like a bad rash). I’m talking about a thought that circles around and around in your head looking for a place to land. Today that persistent thought is about elephants. Last night I read something about them I never knew. They can’t jump. As in, can’t. Physically impossible. I checked with several reputable online sources just to make sure and they all said basically the same thing – that elephants are one of the few mammals that can’t jump, not […]

Your call is very important to us

If you’re on the phone and you hear the following words, you’ll know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that what you’re hearing is a big, fat, hairy LIE: “Your call is very important to us. The next representative will be with you shortly.” Yesterday I heard that whopper roughly 67 times while I waited for a non-computerized voice to come on the line and offer what we used to know as “customer service.” But thanks to technology, the machines have taken over customer service centers and their mission is to prevent us from reaching the real live humans, if at all possible. I’m pretty sure the real live humans are on a beach in Tahiti. What’s ironic about this […]

The New Year’s Day Downer

To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of the whole New Year’s shtick. When I was single, I dreaded New Year’s Eve because there was far too much pressure on it. If the evening didn’t play out like my favorite chick-flick movie and end with a kiss worthy of an orchestra swell in the background, the whole night felt like a complete bust. Once I made it through a disappointing New Year’s Eve, I had to contend with the buzzkill that is New Year’s Day – the day I’m supposed to resolve to be so much better than I am. And I’d like to be that idealistic version of myself and I could probably do it – if only […]

A tale of two cysts

When our son started sixth grade this year, he signed up to play the viola in the school orchestra, which is like the little brother to the violin. After a few weeks of learning the basics, Adam started wincing every time he plucked a string. Somehow he’d developed the only “orchestra injury” I’ve ever heard of – a large, red, angry blister on his index finger. I put ice on it and gave him ibuprofen. A few weeks went by and the blister went nowhere. The orchestra teacher said this wasn’t a common occurrence for viola players, so I took Adam to the doctor. After an X-ray, the doctor told us the weird bump was no blister. It was a […]