Top 3 things I’ve learned about stage fright

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3 Tomorrow I’m going to attend a luncheon and speak for 20 to 30 minutes to a room full of people. I’m headed to bed early tonight in hopes I’ll be rested and on my “A game” tomorrow. But we all know the night before a speech is often a restless one. I’ve wasted so many hours lying in bed the night before an event thinking about how much I need to go to sleep, unable to stop internally replaying my presentation over and over again. The fact that I’m doing the speech at all, though, is a big deal for me. When I say that I was painfully shy as a […]

Recipe for raising kids

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3 Yesterday, as I was standing over the stove stirring boiling macaroni noodles, I asked a question my family hears a lot around our house. “Wonder what I should write about this week. You guys have any ideas?” When you have a weekly writing deadline, you often pick the brains of those around you, hoping to find a seed of an idea that might grow into something bigger once you give it a little time and attention. Sometimes that happens, but most of the time the family members just stare back at you, shrug their indifferent shoulders and say, “I dunno.” Then they go back to watching cartoons or ESPN. People who […]

41 Facts about Turning 41

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3 In a few days, I’ll turn 41 – which is a year past the black balloons and the “Oh Lordy, she’s 40” jokes. And it’s two years past 39, which I always felt was a desperate-sounding age, like it’s clinging to its last shred of youth by brittle fingernails. Forty-one seems like a mixed bag of good and annoying, so I’ve noted a few key observations about it here – 41 to be exact. 1. Lately I’m doing that thing people do when they pick up something with small print on it and try to read it. 2. My arm shoots out a little to hold the thing at a distance, […]

Do you have “a life that’s good?”

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3 I like music but I’m not as into it as many people are. I’ve written before about how I treasure those times when I’m in the car alone and it’s absolutely quiet – nothing but the sound of the road. It gives my mind a chance to relax, and my writing is better when I have more opportunities to “hear myself think.” So the fact that I’m writing today about a song is ironic because I don’t hear many of them. But sometimes a song grabs hold of you, not only because it sounds good but also because it rings so true. At its core, a song is not only about […]

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 […]