Lost and found

If I had a business card for my job as a mother, the job description would read “Finder of Things.” Because that’s what I do. I find things. I love my husband and kids but they’re terrible finders. And I wouldn’t mind it so much if they weren’t also excellent losers. The most frustrating part of the problem is that I consider our house to be somewhat organized and generally tidy – certainly not “eat off the floor” tidy, but it’s what I’d call a “someone could stop by the house unannounced and I wouldn’t die of embarrassment” level of tidy. Chaos makes me anxious, so I organize things to make it easier for us to find and keep up [...]

Beagle trouble

Charlie Brown and I have something in common. We’re both in love with and completely exasperated by a beagle. My fondness for Snoopy was one of the reasons I happily welcomed a beagle into the family nearly four years ago. The kids named him Charlie. At the time, I had no idea how many times I’d stand at the front door and call that name over and over again, waiting for our wayward beagle to come home. Perhaps I should have known a beagle would be trouble. There were plenty of clues in the Peanuts comic strip that should’ve tipped me off. Snoopy clearly had a passion for adventure, as evidenced by those daredevil flights as the Red Baron. And [...]

Phone Alone

My name is Gwen Rockwood and it’s been two hours since I accidentally left my phone at home. I realized it roughly 20 minutes after it happened, and by that time I was already 15 miles from home with no time to drive back and get it. When I reached over to the passenger’s side seat to grab it, I found nothing but a lifeless charger cord with no phone attached to it. I hoped that perhaps it had slid off the seat and onto the floorboard. I searched the cracks and crevices around the center console. “Please be here. Please be here,” I chanted. But it wasn’t. My phone was home alone. I wanted to slap my hands against [...]

Microwave obituary

The Rockwood family microwave, affectionately called “Mike,” died suddenly in the home on August 6, 2015 while attempting to reheat day-old pizza. It was 10 years old. The microwave is survived by two adult roommates, three children and a matching dishwasher, stove, oven and refrigerator. It also leaves behind two bags of frozen chicken nuggets, several cans of soup and a pantry full of microwave popcorn. Born into the family during the Great Kitchen Remodel of 2005, the microwave served admirably during its decade-long life, heating everything from baby food to bacon. Its kitchen timer ticked steadily through years’ worth of mandatory 20-minute piano practices, while the family’s mother listened from the next room. “How much longer does the microwave [...]

Back to school with mixed emotions

By the time this column prints, the Rockwood children will be back at school. Summer’s slower pace will end and we’ll shift into a different gear as we hit the back-to-school freeway. Crisp new backpacks are lined up on hooks by the door, and the No. 2 pencils have freshly sharpened points and perfectly pink erasers. Most parents are either thrilled about the kids going back to school or sad to see them go, but I find myself stuck somewhere in the middle. I love watching the kids enjoy an unstructured summer – the leisurely afternoon board games, swimming with friends, movie marathons and playing outside until 9 o’clock on some nights. But as a work-from-home mom, I’ve seen my [...]

Nice and tidy

The only thing worse than the end of a vacation is coming home to a messy house. That’s why I consistently frustrate Tom and the kids each year when I refuse to leave for vacation without all of us pitching in to straighten up the house first. They barely tolerate it as I whip around from room to room in a last-minute frenzy, giving each person a different chore so that, once the trip is over, we can come home to peaceful, clean surfaces instead of a disaster that makes us want to race back to the hotel room we just left. I insist on this pre-vacation ritual mostly because I love coming home. No matter how fun the vacation [...]

Larry’s Legacy

This is not the column I planned to write today. What I had in mind was something light and funny, but if I tried to write those words today, they’d be hollow. Even worse, they’d be fake. Because today isn’t light and funny. Today all I can think about is how our friend Jackie is dealing with the worst phone call of her life. She’s had to follow that phone call with dozens more of her own, letting family and friends know that Larry, her husband of more than 25 years, died suddenly last night, even before the ambulance could get him to the hospital. She was on a business trip when the call came. The shock of it is [...]

5 easy steps to getting your way

Whether you’re forty-something or only 4, we all want our own way. Toddlers are especially insistent about getting their own way which is why you’ll often see one out in public having a meltdown when things haven’t gone well. As we get older, we learn to relax a little but, underneath the seemingly mature, reasonable façade, we all want what we want. So here’s a handy how-to guide for how to shift the odds in your favor, especially when dealing with kids. (Feel free to try them on spouses and co-workers, too.) Some might think these steps are sneaky or manipulative. I’d just call them “effective.” Step 1: Make it easy for them to do it your way. We humans [...]

Color me happy

As soon as I spotted it at the bookstore last week, I wanted to slap my forehead and say, “Of course! Brilliant! Why didn’t I think of that?” I rushed my copy of the “Zen Coloring Book” up to the front counter so I could pay for it. Yes, I’m a 42-year-old woman who got giddy about a new coloring book. But this is not your preschooler’s coloring book. This one is for grown-ups. Similar books are sometimes called “mandalas” or “adult coloring books.” (A friend pointed out that the phrase “adult coloring book” might make some people think that the pictures are of things you might see on a naughty pay-per-view channel. Trust me, it’s not that kind of [...]

“Parents, take your mark.”

I crawled into bed last night earlier than usual feeling completely exhausted. That swim meet really wore me out. But I didn’t swim a single stroke. The kids did, though. They swam freestyle races, backstroke races, breaststroke races and a couple of relay races, too. And even though Tom and I were in the stands watching and cheering them on, by the end of the night it felt like I’d raced my heart out as well. Every time the announcer said, “Swimmers, take your mark,” a ball of nervous energy ballooned up in my chest. Then when the starting buzzer sounded, I stood up as the kids dove into the pool and held my breath while they sliced through the [...]