The Rockwood Files: Road warriors back from battle

rockwood files colorBy Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

We made it. Dragging in past midnight, bleary-eyed with sore behinds from more than 10 hours sitting in the car, we each fell into our own beds after spending several nights away and decided that these are, in fact, the best beds in the whole world. The only thing as great as the excitement of vacation is the sweet relief of being home again.

road trip1I’ll admit that our generation has it much easier than our road-tripping ancestors. The portable DVD player, smartphones, audio books and iPads have been a game changer in getting families across the country in relative peace and harmony.

But that doesn’t mean the trip is without challenges. Here are three we faced while getting our family 650 miles up the road and back again.

Bathroom breaks: Some families love them and see them as a great excuse to get out, explore a little and stretch the legs. But those of us on a quest to “make good time” see them as an unavoidable nuisance.

Choosing the right place to stop reminds me of that old game show “Let’s Make a Deal,” when people had to pick a number and hope what was behind Door Number Three was something good and not a donkey wearing a sombrero. When you pick a bad bathroom stop, you’ll see things you can never un-see and there’s not enough hand sanitizer in the world to make you feel clean again.

Restaurant roulette: Ask a family of five where they want to stop for lunch and you’ll get five different answers. And so begins the inevitable 45-mile discussion on where we should stop. There are plenty of apps that’ll help you find good restaurants, but, as far as I know, there’s not an app called “Make these people agree on where to eat.” If you find that one in the App Store, let me know.

Getting to the restaurant from the freeway exit ramp can also be frustrating, particularly if your driver is skeptical about the GPS lady’s ability to navigate there successfully.

Me: “The GPS lady says we should turn left in 1.2 miles.”

Him: “What? That can’t be right. I don’t think she knows what she’s talking about. Do we have a map in here?”

Me (holding up the cellphone): “Yes, it’s called Google Maps and the lady is telling us where to go. Why do we even use the GPS if you’re not going to listen to her?”

Him: “I just think she’s wrong. If we end up getting lost, you’re going to wish we hadn’t listened to her.”

(Let the record show that if the GPS voice sounded more like a middle-aged father and less like a British lady, men would be much more agreeable on road trips.)

Sleep slump: All parents know that the best travelers are the unconscious ones. When I was a kid and my brother and I got whiny on road trips, Mom would tell us to go to sleep. And that was easy to do because we had one of those whale-sized station wagons where we could stretch out full-length with a pillow and a sleeping bag.

The sheer boredom mingled with the rhythmic sounds of the highway lulled us into a sleep that made hundreds of miles feel like minutes, and we’d only wake up when Dad stepped on the brakes too hard and sent us skidding into the back of the seat.

But these days we’re informed enough to know that seatbelts aren’t optional, so unless a kid can learn to sleep sitting up, there’s not much chance of scoring an extended nap.

Kids: “Mom, how much further is it?”

Me: “It’s about one and a half movie DVDs or 15 levels of Candy Crush, depending on how good you are. I’ll let you know when the GPS lady says we’re close.”

Him (muttering): “You can’t trust that lady.”

Did I mention it feels good to be home? Here’s hoping you and yours have a happy road trip.

gwen rockwoodGwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of To read previously published installments of The Rockwood Files, click here. To check out Gwen’s new book, “Reporting Live from the Laundry Pile: The Rockwood Files Collection,” click HERE.

Photo credit: Lisa Mac Photography

Back-to-School savings at the Northwest Arkansas Mall!

nwa mall fb header

Raise your hand if you remember the thrill of shopping for new back-to-school clothes as a kid.

We always loved picking out new fall clothes and making that crucial decision about which outfit would be “the one” to wear on the first day.

mall logo greenA new school year is a fresh start — and all fresh starts call for a new wardrobe! Kids grow so much over the summer — not just physically but mentally as well. Their style may have changed and they might want to try on a new personality as school gets back into session.

Fall styles are front and center at the mall and we’ve enjoyed seeing all the new ideas. (FYI: If you have a tween girl and you’re at a loss for what to buy, sales associates at Justice in the Mall said there are three trends to watch for: sequined backpacks, high-waisted skirts and jeggings, and Palazzo pants.)

Of course, you can snag some great deals without paying sales tax THIS WEEKEND! August 2-3 is the state of Arkansas’ tax free holiday. WOOT! You can find all kinds of clothes, shoes and other back-to-school necessities on sale right now, so you’ll really save when your final bill rings up — minus taxes.

And while you’re at the mall shopping over the tax-free holiday weekend, keep in mind the Mall will be giving away an iPad Mini to FIVE winners! Register to win at the display at Center Court. (Must be 18 or older to enter; one entry per person.) Click here to see all the details and official rules on the mall website.

There’s always a great sale going on at the NWA Mall. Right now you’ll see a big white tent set up in the parking lot where there’s an ADIDAS sale going on through Aug. 5.

Here are some other sales events coming up soon at the NWA Mall:

  • This weekend (Aug. 2-3) Tradehome Shoes will offer an additional 10% off of any sale item during tax free weekend.
  • July 31-August 28th is the Semi-Annual Pant Event at New York & Company: all pants and jeans are Buy One, Get One FREE!
  • Sears Family & Friends sale is Sunday, August 10 from 6-9pm
  • Francesca’s Friends & Family Event will be August 14th, with 25% off everything, includes full price and sale merchandise.

If you want to start a new giving tradition with your kids, Project Apple Tree is an opportunity to help kids in need. Through Aug. 10, you can pick a “golden apple” off the tree near the red schoolhouse at center court in the mall and help a child with back-to-school clothes and supplies. The supplies will go to deserving kids at the NWA Children’s Shelter.

gap kids

Gap Kids

The Children's Place

The Children’s Place

Visit the NWA Mall website here. The Facebook page updates with the latest events, sales, promotions and styles.  Click here to follow them on Facebook!

The Mall is also now on Instagram!

If you stop by the NWA Mall, tell store associates that you saw their ad on nwaMotherlode!

Northwest Arkansas Calendar of Events: August 2014

calendar, 450

Play it Forward Concert Series at The Walmart Museum

An evening of literary, playful, and earthy music from Los Angles based artist Claire Holley. Tickets are $5 each with proceeds benefiting the Boys and Girls Club. Doors open at 6.

Date:  Aug. 2

Time: 6:30 p.m.

Location: Walmart World Room at The Walmart Museum

More info: Click here

Steve Martin at the Amp

Steve Martin and The Steep Canyon Rangers featuring Edie Brickell are Grammy Award-winning.

Date: Aug. 3

Time: 7:30 p.m. (gates open at 6 p.m.)

Location: The Walmart Amp, Rogers

More info: Click here

Crayola Day, Sidewalk Sundays

sidewalk sundays new logoSample some products and add some ideas to your Back to School wish-list. Drop in anytime, between 2-5 pm. Free.

Date: Aug. 3

Time: 2-5 p.m.

Location: The Walmart Museum

More info: Click here

Here’s a list of the additional August Sidewalk Sunday events (all events are between 2-5 p.m. at The Walmart Museum):

August 10: Sword fighting demonstrations with the NWA Fencing Center.

August 17: Musical performances and education with School of Rock.

August 24: Activate your imagination with Trike Theatre.

August 31: Enjoy another performance with School of Rock.

Questions? Call 479-273-1329 ext. 2 or visit the museum’s Facebook page:

First Thursday, Fayetteville

On the first Thursday of each month from April to October, First Thursday Fayetteville transforms the city’s historic Downtown Square into a vibrant arts district, featuring the work of more than 40 visual artists, live music, street performers, food and drink, and children’s activities.

Date: Aug.7

Location: Fayetteville Square

More info: Click here


Date: Aug. 7-10

Time: Varies

Location: Rogers Little Theatre

More info: Click here

SkyDive for Kids benefiting the Children’s Advocacy Center

Lunch from 11 am—1 pm, will be available for $5, and the entertainment will be continuous as each of the 20 jumpers makes the climb to 10,000 feet on Saturday and Sunday.  “With the help of  jumpers and the community of Northwest Arkansas, we hope the that the literal leaps of faith will indeed forever alter the journey of not just one, but hundreds of children in Benton County.”

Date: Aug. 9-10

Time: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Location: SkyRanch, Siloam Springs

More info: Click here

Buckin’ in the Ozarks

Date: Aug. 9

Time: 8 p.m.

Location: Parsons Stadium, Springdale

More info: Click here

Big Country Bash (after NWA Naturals baseball game)

Canaan Smith, a Mercury Nashville recording artist, perform a live post-game concert following the Naturals game against the San Antonio Missions, the Double-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres, on Saturday, August 9 as part of the BIG Country Bash event. Gates will open on August 9 at 5 P.M., and then the Naturals will play host to the Missions at 6:05 P.M. The concert will take place immediately following the game and the stage will be setup on the grass area beyond the concourse in centerfield, located between the Bud Light Bullpen Café and kid’s playground. The event also features a Replica Louisville Slugger Wiffle Bat giveaway for the first 2,000 fans courtesy of Great Day Farms.

Date: Aug. 9

Time: 6:05 p.m.

Location: Arvest Ballpark

More info: Purchase tickets for BIG Country Bash online at, by calling (479) 927-4900.

Outdoor Concert, Botanical Garden of the Ozarks

bgo concertDate: Aug. 12

Time: 7 p.m.

Location: Botanical Gardens Great Lawn

More info: Click here

Groundbreaking of Whole Foods

Date: Aug. 13

Time: 10 a.m.

Location: Whole Foods, south of the College Ave./Millsap Drive intersection

More info: Click here

Back-To-School Concert at The Great Passion Play, Eureka Springs

Date: Aug. 14

Time: 8:30 p.m.

Location: Eureka Springs

More info: Click here

Boston at the Walmart Amp

Date: Aug. 15

Time: 7:30 p.m.

Location: The Walmart Amp, Rogers

More info: Click here

Secchi Day on Beaver Lake

Date: Aug. 16

Time: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Location: Beaver Lake

More info: Click here

“Inside the Teenage Brain” Training

inside the teenage brainSaving Grace is hosting a training event for foster parents, professionals, and adults who work with at risk teens on August 26. Cathy Hagemeier, a trainer from MidSOUTH Training Academy, will be teaching two workshops on the teenage brain and communicating with teenagers.

Date: Aug. 26

Time: 9-11:30 a.m.

Location: Saving Grace NWA, 1229 W. Poplar St., Rogers

More info: Click here


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