The thrill is gone

When we say parenting has its “ups and downs,” sometimes we mean it literally – particularly after spending a weekend at an amusement park with the kids. Some of those “ups” are slow, tension-building climbs to the top of a steep hill followed by “downs” that reach speeds of 90 miles per hour, flip you upside down and zip you through a corkscrew turn with enough G-force to make you regret every lunch you’ve ever eaten. I’m the designated roller coaster parent in our family. Tom will occasionally go on a kiddie ride with our 6-year-old, but, as a general rule, he doesn’t get on anything that moves higher or faster than a standard ladder. He says his stomach won’t [...]

Car conversations with a 6-year-old

Have I mentioned that one of the best places to talk to your kids is in the car? It is. Maybe it’s because they’re strapped in and they can’t run off to play. Maybe it’s because they’ve got time to fill while the road slips by outside the car windows. Who knows? All I know is that it works. Yesterday while we were on our way to the grocery store, I asked the kids what they wish grown-ups understood about being a kid. It was 6-year-old Kate who spoke up first, and three of her tips are good advice for parents but also wise words to live by, no matter who you are. Number 1: Do what you say you’re [...]

Put some pants on

I’m beginning to question that old saying about how we all “put our pants on one leg at a time.” Because lately, I’m noticing plenty of people who have stopped putting pants on at all. This weekend Tom and I went to a Laundromat to wash a king-size comforter in one of those high-capacity washing machines. While we were there, I saw a man sitting on the back of his pick-up truck. He was staring down into his smartphone’s screen and he was wearing a white t-shirt and pajama pants with the Harley Davidson logo printed all over them. It seemed a little strange, but I figured he was probably washing his real pants and wasn’t too worried about appearances [...]

The book signing parade!

Wow, what a crazy three weeks it has been! I officially launched my new book, Reporting Live from the Laundry Pile: The Rockwood Files Collection, on November 2nd at Nightbird Books in Fayetteville. And when the book signing began at 6 p.m., it was eerily quiet in the bookstore and I was worried. Maybe nobody would come. Maybe this whole “write a book” idea was an epic failure. And then I heard it — the marching band. And that’s when we realized that we’d scheduled the book signing to begin at the exact same time that the University of Arkansas Homecoming Parade was happening on the same street as the book signing. (They tend to close off streets where parades [...]

The Rockwood Files Book Launch: Reporting Live from the Laundry Pile

It’s here! My first book is now available on Amazon and in Nightbird Books. Woo-hoooo! You can order a copy by clicking HERE. Reporting Live from the Laundry Pile: The Rockwood Files Collection is a compilation of my best newspaper columns over the past 17 years. In it you’ll find chapters titled “The Marriage Files,” “The Firstborn Files,” “The Middle Child Files,” “The Girl Child Files,” “The Soapbox Files,” “The Pets & Pests Files,” “The Holiday Files,” and the “Just-for-Fun Files.” This book has been a long time in the making, but I’m thrilled with the finished product. I hope you will be, too. The amazing Lisa McSpadden of Lisa Mac Photography did the photos for this book, and Greg [...]

The Bucket List

Often the best conversations I have with my kids happen on the way to somewhere. I don’t remember what errand we were running when my son Adam and I had this exchange, but I’ll remember the talk for a long time. Him: “Mom, I’ve decided to write a bucket list. You know what a bucket list is?” Me: “Yes, it’s a list of things you want to do before you die. You do realize you’re only 10-years-old, right?” Him: “Yeah, I know. I just think it’ll be good to have a list.” Me: “You’re right. So what are you gonna put on your bucket list?” Him: “Well, the first thing is ‘Be on a game show.’ Either Kids Jeopardy or [...]

Letter to my middle child

Dear Jack, Eight years ago tonight, we met for the first time. I was the exhausted woman with the lovely epidural drip. You were the very red, very loud newborn who came roaring into the room at 11 p.m. You fit into my arms like a puzzle piece, and I marveled at your perfect skin and wavy hair. Your brother didn’t warm up to you as instantly as Dad and I did. He ignored you those first few months because he was only 2 years old and unimpressed when you came home and did nothing but eat, sleep and spit up on people. But one day, after several months of taking no notice of you, he walked by the baby [...]

The Rejection Letter

Today I got a rejection letter for a book manuscript. It hurt. It wasn’t the first one and won’t be the last, but it still hurt. I keep waiting to develop the thick skin all the writing advice books say you need to survive in this business, but mine feels as tender as ever. Wounded pride and self-doubt spring eternal. I should have done a better job hiding the hurt from the kids, but they burst into my room to tell me about the new level they reached on their computer game and the tears and the red, sniffly nose were too obvious. “What’s wrong, Mom?” Jack asked. “It’s nothing, Jack. I’ll be okay,” I said. “Don’t you want to [...]

The Dream Car

Now that our oldest son has officially hit double-digits in age, he’s thinking of his future – his driving future. His sixteenth birthday is still six years away (thankfully), but suddenly cars are very cool. “Mom, I decided what kind of car I want when I’m 16,” he announced recently at dinner. “That’s great, Adam. But you do realize you’ll have to save up your own money, right? Whatever you save up, Dad and I will match it and we’ll use that money to buy a used car,” I said. “Yeah, I know,” he said. “The two cars I like best are the Ford Focus and the Ferrari.” “A Ferrari?” I asked. “As in Ferrari, the sports car?” “Yep, that’s [...]

The Sissy Versus the Snake

The snake sighting in our yard had been haunting me. Every time I stepped outside, I scanned for signs of it – the way wary beach goers check the water for signs of a shark fin. Then two weeks ago I was home alone with the dogs. Our beagle Charlie got restless so we headed out to the backyard for his potty break. As we hit the bottom of the steps, Charlie ran off to the left and I went right. That’s when I saw it – and froze. Another two steps forward and I would have been right on top of a 3-foot-long snake. The beast was black with red and yellow stripes. As I sprinted for safety, my [...]