The Rockwood Files: Refrigerator shame

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

My refrigerator made a fool of me today. This morning when I came downstairs to the kitchen, it was croaking – loudly. It sounded like an elderly frog was frog in rocking chairinside it, sitting in a creaky rocking chair that got louder each time he rocked back. I could hear it across the room.

So I did what most of us do when a complex piece of machinery starts to make a weird noise we don’t understand: I smacked it. But it went right on croaking at regular intervals, completely undeterred.

Having exhausted all my repair expertise with that unsuccessful smack on the side of the fridge, I called our appliance repair guy, Steve. I told him about the loud croaking noise and asked if he could swing by to check it out. With an out-of-town trip on the horizon, I wanted to make sure we didn’t come home to a dead fridge full of spoiled food.

A few hours later, Steve showed up at the door holding his appliance doctor bag, ready to inspect the refrigerator that sounded like it was croaking, both literally and figuratively. He followed me into the kitchen and we both sidled up to the refrigerator and listened – to nothing.

It had gone completely silent. All we could hear was the occasional clink of an ice cube falling into the freezer tray below.

“Just give it a minute. It was definitely croaking this morning, and it was loud. Tom heard it, too,” I said, hoping that an ear witness would make me seem less crazy.

So we waited. And waited, enveloped by the sound of silence. Embarrassed that I’d made a big deal out of what was turning into nothing, I did the only thing that can make this kind of situation even more awkward – I did my best impression of the croaking sound and asked what might make that kind of noise.

Steve did some official-looking diagnostic things, hoping to prove I wasn’t as nuts as I sounded. He laid down on the kitchen floor with his flashlight and peered underneath the fridge. Then he took a long screwdriver and scraped something out from under it which turned out to be the largest grey dust bunny I’ve ever seen. It was more like a dust bear. I think I even saw it move once.

With no croaking and no answers in sight, Steve pulled the refrigerator out from the wall so he could get a look behind it. That’s when I learned something I’m guessing is universally true, no matter how clean you think your kitchen is. Behind the refrigerator, we’re all slobs. All of us. It’s a nightmare back there. I’ve seen things I can’t ever un-see.

“Steve, is it this bad behind most people’s refrigerators?” I asked, ashamed of the dead dust bear at his feet and the wasteland of dust balls, crumbs, bread twist ties, and unidentifiable food fragments under the fridge.

“Oh, sure,” he said in the most non-judgmental way. (And that’s how you know you’ve got a good repair guy because he will reassure you that you’re not disgusting even when it’s obvious that you are.)

Steve let me clean a few things behind the fridge before pushing it back toward the wall, where it will likely gather another nine years’ worth of God-knows-what. He packed up his bag and said the loud croaking could possibly be the refrigerator’s fan on the fritz. It’s hard to know for sure because the fridge played a game of “quiet mouse” as soon as Steve showed up, so we’ll have to wait it out.

When it starts croaking again – and you know it will – I’m going to record it so I’ll have proof. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice and I’m getting a new fridge.

gwen rockwoodGwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of nwaMotherlode.com. 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

Blog 66: Things to do in Denver, Colorado

blog66

Shannon and Gwen dreamed up this nwaMotherlode feature during a looong drive to a blogger conference in Nashville a few years ago. They interview bloggers across the U.S. (and beyond), looking for tips from the people who know their cities best. Most recently we chatted with bloggers a little closer to home in Little Rock. Twice!

This month, we head over to beautiful Denver with blogger Emily Vanek of Colorado Moms as our guide:

When you’re in Denver, you should definitely plan to eat at …

Casa Bonita! Where else can you see cliff divers and get endless sopapillas? Also Little Man Ice Cream or Sweet Cow Ice Cream are great places to beat the heat.

You do NOT want to miss seeing …

Denver-Mountain-Parks-Logo_smallRed Rocks. A park, hiking trails and the world famous amphitheater. Views of the city are just a hike away!

A few “hidden gems” that only the locals know about …

The splash pad at the Westminster Promenade. Hidden behind the hustle and bustle of the shopping area is a great wade pool area with tons of shade. There is also a great indoor play area at Cherry Creek Mall, perfect to let the kids run around when it’s cold or raining outside.

The most kid-friendly hotels are …

Omni Interlocken has a great kids program. Also the Curtis Hotel Downtown has themed floors and just steps away from the 16th Street Mall.

For couples-only excursions, stay here …

Cheyenne Mountain Resort just 90 minutes south in Colorado Springs. Great views, heated outdoor pool that can be enjoyed year round and great restaurants are nearby.

Cheyenne Mountain Resort

Cheyenne Mountain Resort

If you visit when it’s cold, you can enjoy …

Summit County. Just 90 minutes west to great Ski areas like Keystone, A-Basin, Copper Mountain and Breckenridge!

If you visit in the summer, you’ll like playing here …

water worldWaterWorld! A huge water park with tons of thrill rides, kiddie pools and fun for the whole family!

One of the most awesome things about Denver is …

You are only less than 90 min away from the best ski areas, great outlets malls and many other adventures!

I would describe the “vibe” in Denver as …

Laid back. Don’t be in a hurry, just find a great place to sit and stare at the Rocky Mountains.

Denver is a good vacation choice because …

There are tons of things to do all around Denver and into the mountains. Catch a game at Coors Field, visit the Museum of Nature & Science, take a hike around Bear Creek Lake.

emily vanek, blog 66Emily Vanek is the owner and editor-in-chief of ColoradoMoms.com. Her work is also featured on 5minutesforSpecialNeeds.com, SavvySource.com and TimetoPlayMag.com. She and her husband live with their three sons near Denver. Her youngest child is on the Autism Spectrum, so she is passionate about connecting with parents with special needs. In her spare time, she knits, shops, and reads. She is also a master tortoise wrangler and expert in getting water out of various electronics (don’t ask).

Life with Ladybug: Back to life. Back to reality.

shan at the beach

On our way back from Panama City Beach in Florida, we stopped by my parents’ house to spend the night – and to pick up a chicken.

No, not KFC. Against my better judgment, we were bringing home one of the chickens from my mom’s flock to join our lone chicken survivor, Tessa (we lost our other two chickens recently).

That morning, as we visited over my mother’s homemade waffles, she commented, “Well, vacation is over. Back to reality.”

I groaned at her words, but as I took another sip of my hot tea, I realized that the thought didn’t actually make me sad. I pondered over why that was and came to the conclusion that I love my work, my community, my life.

My reality doesn’t bite. So heading back wasn’t a bad thing.

Sure, there are plenty of things I’ll miss about vacation. Things like:

The food. No cooking! No clean-up! One of my favorite meals was at Great Southern Café (my daughter also gave this restaurant the Best Lemonade Award from along all the places we ate along the Panhandle). We also had fun seeing the alligators and eating crab legs at Bayou Bill’s Crab House. I’m not typically a sushi fan, but we also had a great experience at the restaurant FireFly. Our waiter was amazing and had actually lived in NWA for a time a few years back. I tried my husband’s Bubba Roll and it was gooooood. It was cooked, so I didn’t get all ooged out about raw fish. I also loved my Caesar salad with blue crab.

Great Southern Cafe salad

Great Southern Cafe salad

The sunsets. Wow, those Florida sunsets. Gorgeous.

sunset

The ocean sounds. I love the sounds of waves lapping against the shore. I even have a sound machine so I can hear the beach anytime, right here in Northwest Arkansas. Granted, it doesn’t sound exactly the same, but it still has a calming effect.

view from our balcony

The view from our balcony

Endless fun without the interruption of work. I didn’t say “Hang on! Just let me answer this one last email” even once. My daughter noticed.

The awesome pillows. Seriously, I miss my Holiday Inn Resort bed pillow. That was a first.

Riding bikes at Rosemary Beach. We had a great time riding around the little town. It’s so pretty!

That eclectic book store. We loved visiting Sun Dog books while we were visiting Seaside. It’s so adorable and we bought a few new beach reads (as if we didn’t already have a stack to mow through).

Sun Dog Books, Seaside

Sun Dog Books, Seaside

But, truthfully?

I’m glad to be back home where reality is doing laundry from the trip, jumping with both feet back into my work groove, setting up lunches with friends and enjoying Game of Thrones marathons with my husband (where I can mostly be found with my eyes shut tight, my fingers in my ears and humming so I can’t see or hear what’s on the screen).

That said, I do believe vacations – or even staycations where the whole family is out of their routine together – is a balm for the soul. It’s nice to be pampered and to experience the bonding that naturally happens when you have fun together as a family unit. And the beach is my happy place (my husband’s, too).

As I took my dishes to my mother’s sink after breakfast, I remembered that the day before we left Florida, my daughter expressed regret at having to come back home.

And I told her: “It is better to have vacationed and departed than to never have vacationed before.”

Au revoir, Panama City Beach. Hello, realistic {lovely} life.

shan, blue dress, circleShannon Magsam is mama to Ladybug (a salty/sweet tween girl who still likes things like superheroes and unicorns, thank goodness) is wife to newspaperman/entrepreneur John and is co-founder of nwaMotherlode.com.

Check out Mercy’s new mobile health bus!

mobile unitWe all know people who are reluctant to go to a doctor’s office, right? And some people live so far out in the country that a trip to the doctor is a real challenge. So what if the doctors and nurses come to you?

Mercy has a new mobile health bus valued at $650,000 that will be used to reach rural communities and under-served patients throughout Northwest Arkansas and beyond. The 40-foot long bus is 8-feet wide and can provide everything from mammograms to heart screenings, giving people immediate test results. The bus may also be used for charity care services.

The bus is part of a $1 million dollar investment Mercy is making to reach more patients in need.

If you’d like to see the bus in person, you can get a tour of the new motor coach next week on Tuesday, July 29th at 10 a.m. at the General Mills office, which is located at 3605 Southern Hills Boulevard, Suite 300, in Rogers. (If your kids or teens are interested in the medical profession, this would be a cool experience for them to see this kind of mobile medical facility in person.)

Beauty Buzz: I’m too young for wrinkles!

beauty buzz, nwaMotherlode.com

Dear Andi,

I’m trying to be realistic about the aging process, but I feel like I’m getting wrinkles much earlier than my friends the same age. Is there something that could be causing this?

Barring basic genetics, where my understanding falls somewhere around “the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree,” there are habits you may have picked up over the years that are causing you to get more wrinkles than your contemporaries.

Unfortunately, some of the damage may have been done years ago and can’t be undone, but that doesn’t mean it’s too late.

Smoking, for one, even “socially” is notorious for causing the fine lines around the mouth that plague many women. (This of course is a superficial side effect, but we all know the spiel on smoking. If you’re not sure, ask your 3rd grader who will be brutally honest with you.) If you’re still a smoker, it’s not too late to stop and work on reversing the damage.

tanning bed gogglesTanning is more commonly associated with skin discoloration and age spots but still attribute to the new and unwanted texture that is aging your skin. Even if you have finally started listening to the warnings and applying the SPF, those baby oil days by the lake have a delayed effect that can take you by surprise.

The way you rest your head on your pillow can cause wrinkles to form on the dominant side, no matter how soft your pillow. I’ve heard plastic surgeons say they can tell which way a person sleeps just by looking at their face…yikes. Sleeping on your back is the best way to avoid the repercussions of your “beauty sleep”. Strategic placement of pillows can help you retrain your natural sleep position.

The same trouble can arise if you regularly lean on your left hand while working at a desk or rub your eyes and forehead in exasperation when you have told little humans TO PUT ON THEIR SHOES for the hundredth time.

Although it is almost unavoidable, pulling on your eyelids to put in your contacts or apply eyeliner can slowly reduce the elasticity of the delicate skin around your eyes. Try using your less dominant ring and pinkie fingers to pull the lids since they will be weaker.

So, what’s a mom to do?

Laser treatments, chemical peels and retinal treatments can help erase surface wrinkles and injections like Botox and fillers can root out some of the deeper wrinkles. But, none of these are permanent and can’t improve your overall skin quality on their own. That can be achieved by always using sunscreen on your face and hands (yup, unless you are a true southern belle and wear gloves everywhere, your hands are being constantly exposed to the UVs) and drinking plenty of water, as well as the changes I listed above.

I want to clarify before I go, there is nothing wrong with aging gracefully and loving the laugh lines you earned listening to endless knock-knock jokes, or the crows feet brought on by squinting into the sun at hundreds of baseball games.

I will never not have the freckles I earned at my many summer camps but the fact that my skin no longer bounces back after I apply eyeliner really bums me out. Embrace what makes you unique, including the steps you take to feel confident and beautiful.

One last thing: I recommend not watching videos of people getting injections online unless you are a healthcare professional or want the heebie-jeebies the rest of the day. (Shudder)

AndiAndi Douglas is the mama of three little ones and when she’s not playing house, reading them a book or trying to get them to go bed on time — adores playing with makeup. She loves to answer your beauty questions (including those about hair) so send ‘em on over! Just email them to mamas{at}nwaMotherlode{dot}com.

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