On Pins and Needles

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3 There are two kinds of people in the world: grown-ups and fraidy-cats who are scared of needles. I’m in that second group. Something happened yesterday that “outed” me with the kids, so now they know that their mother – who they always assumed was a bona fide grown-up – is actually a big ol’ fraidy cat. Our insurance program sent us a couple of “biometric test kits” in the mail, requiring Tom and me to fill out a health questionnaire and submit a blood sample. The kit came with a little needle with which to perform the finger prick and a card that required three drops of blood. Trust me when [...]

Picture This

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3 I felt it as soon as I woke up this morning – that familiar pang of dread in the pit of my stomach that can only mean one thing: It’s picture day. Picture day is a huge deal for moms because family photos are the only way we can keep our kids at this age forever – a chance to freeze the magic of this point in their childhood and preserve it. Our family doesn’t have family professional pictures made very often, but when we do, I want it to go well. And because I want it to go well, I get uptight. And because I get uptight, the whole picture [...]

Glory and the Geek

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3 I am a geek. Always have been. But now it’s easy – and almost cool – to admit it. Twenty-five years ago? Not so much. Back then, my glasses, braces and clarinet carrying case were all social life liabilities. In the 80s, if you aced a few spelling tests or a teacher praised you for being smart, you found yourself on the fast track to Geeksville, and nobody wanted to be there. But times have changed and now we live in a much more geek-friendly world. Some of our coolest modern-day conveniences wouldn’t exist were it not for the long hours and irrational obsessions nurtured by a few world-changing geeks. The [...]

Procrastination: Shoulda Woulda Coulda

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3 Like most writers, I have a dance partner whose name is Procrastination. I hate his guts. What a slacker. And yet we keep on dancing. We side-step and disco-delay until I’m up against a wall and have no choice but to kick him out and get down to work. So in an effort to “know my enemy,” I’m reading a book about procrastination. (And yes, I’m fully aware that reading a book about procrastination might just be another way I’m procrastinating doing the actual work. But I’ve already admitted there’s a problem, so give a girl some credit.) I’m about halfway through the book, which is titled The Now Habit, by [...]

To Selfie or not to selfie… that is the question

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3 Remember the story of Narcissus? He’s the main character in a Greek myth about a man so entranced by his own good looks that he pines away while staring at his reflection in a pool. The story makes me wonder: If smartphone screens were pools of water, would people be drowning every day? Has the selfie phenomenon brought a tidal wave of our own reflection at which we can’t stop staring? As easy as it would be to hate everything about the selfie movement, I don’t think it’s all bad. I’m sitting smack dab on the selfie fence. I’ve snapped a few pictures while using the backward-facing camera on my smartphone, [...]

Bullied at home

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3 Sometimes I feel like I’m being bullied in my own home – by the pets. I’m bigger than they are, so how is it that they always seem to get their way? I should be controlling them – not the other way around. If cats could tell time, I would get our cat Percy a reliable Timex and strap it on her furry leg. Because when the sun goes down, Percy starts performing a barrage of harassing “feed me” reminders. She’s afraid I’ll forget to crack open her nightly can of Fancy Feast before I go to bed. I don’t go to bed until 10 or 11 p.m., but Percy starts [...]

Feeling a little loopy

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3 If you’re feeling a little distracted and loopy lately, the culprit might just be – get this – loops. Specifically? Open loops. An “open loop” is anything that pops into your mind – or your email inbox or voicemail – that distracts you and needs your attention. It could range from small things like “buy cat food” to big things like “start a new business” or anything in the middle. The idea of “open loops” became popular more than a decade ago when author David Allen published a business book called “Getting Things Done.” But 12 years ago I was busy with babies instead of business books, spending most of my [...]

Parenting in a Wi-Fi world

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3 It was the summer of 1980 and the open field next to our house was overgrown with tall grass nearly waist-high. Then one day papers blew all over the field, getting snagged and tangled in the unruly grass, making it even more of an eyesore. So my mother sent me and my big brother out one afternoon to pick up the litter. My brother, who must have been about 13 or 14 that year, grumbled about the chore all the way out to the field, while I trailed behind him. He griped loudly right up until the second he picked up the first piece of trash and realized what it was. [...]

C is for Capable

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3 A wonderful thing is happening at our house. The kids are becoming… capable. That sounds weird, I know. It’s not like they were helpless blobs all this time, but lately I’ve noticed they can really do things – helpful things, necessary things – things Tom and I have been doing for them for more than a decade now. Today I was busy cleaning up the kitchen and making a mental checklist of the things I’d need to get done before morning. I caught 12-year-old Adam as he was on his way up the stairs to play video games and said, “Before you play, I need you to make three sandwiches to [...]

The Rockwood Files: DNA Disco

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3 Sometimes genetics can be cruel. Often the things you hope won’t get passed down to your kids are the very things that show up and start banging on the door. In our family of five people, there are 18 eyes, if you count all the glasses and contact lenses it takes for us to navigate around the house without bumping into things. So far, only 10-year-old Jack has managed to cruise out of the eye doctor’s office without a prescription for glasses or contacts. I might say he’s the lucky one of our group, but genetics has a way of evening things out. He’s also the one who is destined for [...]