Birth of a baker

Finally! I’m about to write a sentence I never thought I’d write: “I cooked something, and it was REALLY good.” Around here I’m known for both my lack of cooking expertise and my disinterest in acquiring any. It’s not something I’m particularly proud of. I wanted to be one of those mothers who could really cook – the kind whose meals become legendary with not only her own children but also her children’s friends, who begin coincidentally stopping by to visit around dinnertime. My mom was one of those mothers. Her mom was one of those mothers. DNA was on my side. But it didn’t pan out. It’s not that I never cook. I do, and I can produce a [...]

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 Big “What if…?”

Last night we heard the familiar sound of footsteps on the stairs well past bedtime. From the living room, I heard Tom talking in the kitchen to the kid who couldn’t sleep. Over the years, we’ve heard every “I can’t sleep” excuse in the book – not tired, too thirsty, too dark, monster under the bed – but this time was different. This time it was a question, one of the biggest we’ve faced: “Dad, I know that people die sometimes. And I know we believe in God and Heaven and everything… but what if we’re wrong?” We probably should have seen it coming. In the past six weeks, we’ve been to two out-of-town funerals for family members. The kids [...]

Why I still don’t feel like a grown-up

By now, I expected to feel like a grown-up. And sometimes I do, like when we sign tax returns or go to a funeral, which is certainly not a ringing endorsement for adulthood. But most of the time, I feel like an imposter – like a kid who somehow ended up in a grown-up’s body and is still trying to figure out what she’s doing. Part of me wonders if it all comes down to coffee. I don’t like it. Never have. I want to like it – badly. I love the way it smells. I love the quaint little coffee shops where it’s served. I love the warmth of the coffee cups and the way the steam rises and [...]

Running with scissors

Women are known for our ability to form deep and meaningful relationships. And perhaps no relationship is as complex and multi-layered as the one we have with our hair. Most men don’t understand it and have been heard saying ridiculous things such as “It’s just hair.” Or the ever popular “It’ll grow back.” But they miss the whole point. Because our feelings about hair are rooted way down deep. No other part of our bodies has this kind of power over us. Bad hair can set the tone for the day. A woman wailing “I hate my hair!” while standing in front of the bathroom mirror won’t emerge from that bathroom in a great mood. And bad hair makes the [...]

The Mama Curse

Well, I hope you’re happy, Mom. That mama curse you put on me so long ago is now working overtime and I am, indeed, “paying for my raising.” For those not familiar with this brand of maternal magic, let me explain. The “mama curse” is spewed out at an exasperating child when the mama is at her wit’s end. There are countless variations on it, but the gist of it goes like this: “One day I hope you have a child who acts exactly the way you’re acting right now! Then you’ll know how it feels.” When my mom hexed me, I was young and just rolled my eyes in the charming way children sometimes do. Little did I know [...]

My life as a dog washer

For years I’ve said that the main reason I became a writer is because it’s my only marketable skill. Lucky for me, I’m nerdy enough to like stringing words together and have a genuine interest in prepositions and participles, which comes in handy. But before my first writing gig, I tried other jobs. I was 18 when I snagged my first real position as a dog washer at a local grooming salon. I loved dogs and had plenty of experience washing my own so it sounded like a fun, easy summer job.And it did turn out to be fun, but it was never easy – especially the first day. I’m not sure if the owner was trying to get me [...]