The Rockwood Files: Note to self

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

Sometimes when I look at my 14-year-old son and his 12-year-old brother – the one speeding down the on-ramp to join his brother in the teenage years – I think they’re pretty brave. We grown-ups like to moan and groan about how tough it is here in the real world – and it is – but we forget sometimes that being a teenager isn’t exactly a walk in the park either.

Sure, it looks easy when they’re sleeping until noon or playing their third consecutive hour of video games. But when I think about whether or not I’d want to relive that time of my life, the answer is a resounding “no.”letter bird

In fact, sometimes I wish I could write a letter to my teenage self and send it back through time – save that poor kid some needless drama. If that kind of time-hopping correspondence was possible, here’s what I’d say.

10 things I’d tell my teenage self:

  1. Regarding your hair, higher and wider is not necessarily better. I have the photographic evidence to prove it. Put down the hairspray.
  2. While we’re on the subject of appearance, just because there are six different shades of blue eyeshadow in the compact does not mean you should use them all at one time.
  3. That volcanic pimple on your chin feels like a social death sentence. I get it. But the truth is that people think about you far less than you think they do, mostly because they’re busy thinking about themselves and their own volcanic rupture.
  4. You know that giant phone your parents gave you to use in case of emergency while driving to college? The one that’s roughly the size and weight of a brick with the ridiculously long antenna sticking out? Believe it or not, that thing will soon morph into a thin, sleek phone-slash-computer that you’ll use almost constantly. You’ll wonder how you ever lived a day without it. Scrape together some of your birthday money and invest in Apple stock right now.
  5. Your mother is not an idiot, so just cool it with the exasperated sighs and the eye-rolling. Trust me, that stuff will come back to you one day in the form of wicked karma when you’re the one driving a kid to school and you have the audacity to ask an innocent question like “You got all your homework done, right?”
  6. Acid-washed jeans are a terrible idea. Just don’t.

  7. Surround yourself with good, kind friends and hang on to them even when life takes you in different directions. The friends who know and love you even when you’re a moody teenager often make the best life-long buddies.
  8. Even when it feels like your parents “don’t get it,” they probably do. Maybe they don’t understand it completely because, after all, things can change a lot from one generation to the next. (See phone comment above, for example.) But people (even parents) never forget the feeling of being a teenager who’s just trying to get through the day without being embarrassed or ridiculed or made to feel stupid. We all worry about not being “enough.” Stop sulking and talk to them. It might actually help.
  9. If you think your jeans might be a tad too short, they are.
  10. Your parents’ job is not to make you happy. It is to help protect you, teach you and do everything in their power to grow you into a kind, self-sufficient person. Even on your most frustrating teenage day, never doubt for a second that you are loved with an intensity and ferocity you will never understand – until the day you become a parent.

Hang in there, kid. It’s going to get easier.

gwen-headshot-2014Gwen 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 book, “Reporting Live from the Laundry Pile: The Rockwood Files Collection,” click HERE.

Giveaway: $500 in ride tickets for the Washington County Fair!

WCF_Motherlode_Ad (2)

Just hearing the words Washington County Fair makes us all giddy inside!

The fair is our family’s annual tradition, not to be missed. From the animals to the fair food (caramel apples! corn dogs! lemonade! funnel cakes!) to the awesome midway of rides, we love visiting the county fair in Fayetteville!

Oh, and did we mention that The Hambone Express is back this year with Pig Races nightly at the fair?

Fair, little piggy

Fun fact, the Washington County Fair is the largest county fair in the state and was founded in 1857.

This year, the Washington County Fair will run Aug. 30-Sept. 3. Yep, that means it starts Tuesday! Gates open at 10 a.m. If you’d like to take your kids this year and have some tickets already in your pocket, we’ve got you covered. We’ve got $500 worth of ride tickets to give away! TWO mamas will each win 250 doll-ahs worth. :)

fair foodHOW TO ENTER: If you’d love to win $250 worth of fair ride tickets, just click HERE or click on the word “comments” (right under the headline of this post) and scroll down to the bottom of the comments posted by other moms. Then post a comment telling us about something cool/funny/amazing/life-changing that happened to you at the Washington County Fair! If you’ve never had an opportunity to visit the Fayetteville county fair, tell us what you’re looking forward to doing!

Click here to see the full schedule of events at the fair!

You can also email your answer to us at

INCREASE YOUR ODDS OF WINNING: Help us spread the word about this giveaway by emailing your friends and family about the giveaway. We’ll give you an extra chance to win for every person you tell. Just be sure to put on the CC line of your note so we can give you proper credit.

You can also earn an extra chance to win by signing up to receive the free email newsletter we send once a week.

Our newsletter subscribers get access to the good stuff, including exclusive giveaways (like this one), information about local events, local mom interviews, recipes and more.

It’s delivered straight to your inbox so you don’t miss anything awesome. CLICK HERE to sign up. We won’t fill your inbox with info, no worries. We only send out newsletters when there’s something in it for you — and we know you’ll be interested in hearing about it.

fair logoBE SOCIAL: You can also earn extra chances to win by commenting on our Facebook page, following us on Twitter or following us on Pinterest. If you do any of those, just mention it in your comment or email so we can give you proper credit.

CLICK HERE to visit the Washington County Fair website to find out more! CLICK HERE to like them on Facebook and see the latest news! We’ll choose the TWO WINNERS this MONDAY at 5 p.m., so sign up quick!

The Friday 5: Fun things to do this weekend in Northwest Arkansas

Friday 5

fayetteville roots festival1. Fayetteville Roots Festival, through Sunday, Aug. 28. The festival is spread throughout the city of Fayetteville with the main stage hosted at the Fayetteville Town Center, and additional stages held at George’s Majestic Lounge, Greenhouse Grille, Kingfish Dive Bar, and the Fayetteville Public Library.

The festival pays special tribute to regional farmers by working with almost entirely locally sourced food. One of the events, Dig In! Food & Farming Festival will feature the film, At the Fork Film presented by Whole Foods Market. It will be showing Saturday at 3:30 at the Fayetteville Public Library in the Walker Room. Refreshments provided by Black Apple Crossing and Whole Foods Market. An encore presentation of the film will be showing Sunday at 3:30.

For a complete schedule of events over the whole weekend event, click here!

2. Frisco Festival, Friday and Saturday nights. Live music on Friday night and Saturday from 3pm until 11pm. Musicians include: Got It Covered, CalleSoul Salsa, Voxana, The Show and Tellers and Crescent City Combo. Expanded kid zone includes magicians, street performers and games. There will be Southern BMX Stunt Show performing on Saturday, dancing, food and craft vendors and a BBQ contest and chicken cook-off.

frisco festival 2016Click here for more info!

3. Frisco Festival Fun Day at the Farmer’s Market, Saturday, 2-8:30 p.m. The Downtown Rogers Farmers Market wants to join in on the Frisco Festival fun. They will have yard games, live music and a beer garden.

School of Rock Bentonville/Rogers 2pm-4pm
Crazy Mule 4pm-6pm
Squirrel Jam 6:30-8:30

Click here for more info!

4. Midsummer Soiree, Saturday, 5-9 p.m. {Ticketed event} in Downtown Springdale. This event is in partnership with the Lanterne Rouge Fondo that’s happening on the same day. Spend a casual evening on Spring Street for an exceptional midsummer party and al fresco dining featuring delicious foods from Street Dogs Food Truck, Le Bouvier Chef Services, and Ma Mere’s. Drinks will be served from Emma Ave. Bar & Tap / Apple Blossom Brewing Company, Core Public House – Emma St, and Black Apple Crossing. Desserts will be provided by Shelby Lynn’s Cake Shoppe, Pedal Pops, and coffee from ONYX Coffee Lab will be on hand.

Each of these delicious choices will be covered in your ticket price of $35.

Click here for more info and to reserve a spot!

5. Dickson Street Slide, Saturday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. This event will have you slip-slidin’ on a water slide spanning Dickson Street from Collier Drug Store to Walton Arts Center.

This benefits Solider On Service Dogs, which will be working with the Dickson Street Merchants Association and the City of Fayetteville, local businesses and nonprofits to provide food, fun, and entertainment.

Click here for more info!


Why Your Cancer-Survivor Friend Still Needs You (and how you can help)


By Marissa Henley, local cancer survivor and author of Loving Your Friend Through Cancer

I’ve lived through the scene several times: I sit across from a cancer survivor who recently finished treatment. We wrap our hands around our lattes and lean in close so the guy in the next booth won’t hear our discussion of post-mastectomy life.

And then she says, “Everyone around me thinks I’m better. They’ve all moved on. But I’m not okay. I need my friends to understand I’m still struggling.”

If you’re friends with a cancer survivor, she still needs you. Here are some thoughts to keep in mind as you support her through her survivorship.

1.  She’s still living with cancer.

sad womanEven when your friend hears those sweet words “no evidence of disease,” or is in remission or cured, she is still living with the physical effects of cancer.

If she’s had chemo, she may not fully recover her strength for a year. It could be even longer before her she’s truly happy with the length of her hair, and her short hair will be a constant reminder of what she’s endured.

She may be adjusting to the changes that come from surgery, especially if she’s had a mastectomy, colostomy or other life-altering surgery. Many recent cancer survivors find themselves in the operating room for follow-up reconstructive surgeries. Your friend’s body, like her medical history, may never be the same.

You can support your friend by being sensitive to her feelings, her need for rest, and the time it takes her to adjust to these changes. Be careful when you talk about your own healthy body—she may not want to hear any complaints! And if she needs follow-up surgery, show up with dinner afterwards.

2.  She’s still scared.

After the physical scars heal and her energy returns, she will continue to live with the emotional changes that come with cancer survivorship.

As her friends and family celebrate the end of her treatment, she may not feel like cheering. She may struggle with grief over what she’s endured and fear about what’s to come.

The possibility of recurrence provokes anxiety in most cancer survivors.  Our fear may or may not be grounded in statistics. But the fear is intense, and some days it feels like a giant cloud hanging over our entire future. Every lump, every bump, every ache or pain can be cause for concern. It feels like the line between paranoia and wisdom is impossible to find.

One way to show concern for your friend’s emotional well-being is to ask questions rather than make assumptions. Ask how she’s handling the end of treatment. Ask how holidays, birthdays and the anniversary of her diagnosis make her feel. Make sure she knows you’re still in this with her.

3. She still hates going to the doctor.

My doctors are fabulous, but I wish I never had to set foot in a medical clinic again. I can never take for granted that I’ll walk into a doctor’s office and walk out without life-changing news. Every symptom gets a follow-up test. Anything suspicious gets biopsied. I appreciate the vigilance of my doctors, but it can be stressful.

There are also medical appointments directly related to my history of cancer. The dreaded follow-ups. For some survivors, their follow-up consists of letting their oncologist know of any unusual symptoms. Some have bloodwork done regularly. I’m in the category of survivors who have scans done to check for recurrence.

These appointments are so terrifying that we’ve coined our own word for the fear: scanxiety. If you’ve never sat in a doctor’s office waiting to hear if your cancer is back, believe me—it’s as awful as you are imagining.

You can support your cancer-surviving friend by knowing her follow-up protocol. Mark the dates on your calendar, and let her know she’s in your thoughts and prayers as the day approaches. Ask how she’s coping with medical appointments and how you can support her.

4. She still needs your support and prayer.

rp_loving-your-friend-through-cancer-marissa-henley-188x300.jpgSome cancer survivors want to talk about their experience, spend time with other cancer survivors, and participate in cancer research fundraisers. Others want nothing to do with cancer and distance themselves from these activities. Your friend may swing between the two approaches at different times during her survivorship.

Remember to ask questions about her feelings and respect your friend’s choices. Support her new friendships with cancer survivors. If she attends Race for the Cure or fundraisers for her cancer type, participate with her.

And finally, keep your friend in your prayers. Cancer takes an ugly toll on the bodies, families, and futures of so many. Your friend will appreciate your continued prayers and support as she walks through the challenges of life as a survivor.

Marissa Henley headshotMore about Marissa: Marissa Henley, author of Loving Your Friend Through Cancer, is a follower of Christ, wife, mom, and cancer survivor who writes about faith, friendship, and cancer at Most days, you’ll find her drinking a latte while shuttling her three kids around in a minivan, wondering if the dog will ever learn to stay and if she’ll ever love cooking as much as her husband loves eating.

Slightly Tilted: Where Did Summer Go?

sunset-49383_640 (2)By Jen Adair, Blogger at Slightly Tilted, Entreprenuer, Homeschool Mom to two fab kiddos

Did this summer just speed by like a freight train or what? I don’t even know how fast a freight train goes. Maybe like a bullet or a rocket? They’re fast, right?

We don’t even do “summer” at my house. I homeschool, and we do something most days, all year round. Every Monday it’s the same thing – review from the last Friday. The kids act like their brains have been emptied of everything they’ve ever learned, every Monday morning of their lives. I try to explain to them THIS is why we can’t have long breaks – but they forget that every weekend, too. Mondays are fun. {Pours Bailey’s into coffee.}

During the summer months, we do slack off a bit. Schoolwork never trumps a playdate. Algebra is still here – your friends are not.

Which brings me to my first point – what the heck happened to this summer? Was it the heat? Was it the days filled with nothing? Was it the days filled with everything? How did it go by so fast?

Am I aging so much that I’m just losing days? Why can’t that happen to the fat on my legs? “I don’t know what happened…one day I looked down and the fat was just gone!”  That will never happen to me. Never.back to school

One day my house was filled with kids, and the next day they were all in Facebook posts sporting their back-to-school looks with new backpacks. It was a little sad. The summer was over and now my free babysitters were all learning math and grammar.

One day there was no traffic and the next day it took me 20 minutes to get to the grocery store.

One day all my friends were looking harried and drinking at 3. I felt like part of the group. Now, they are all energetic again and kid-free during the day and I’m happy for them. But jealous. So jealous.

One day we were having sleepovers on a Wednesday (a WEDNESDAY!) and now…we’re not.

Oh summer!! You went by so fast!

Being back on a schedule is nice. It’s a good thing. It’s a great thing, actually. The days are getting a tiny bit cooler. That’s also a great thing.

But now I have to get up earlier everyday to beat the school traffic on my way to the gym. I have to prepare lesson plans. I have to be a more responsible adult and that whole phrase really stinks. Responsibiliting is not my favorite part of adulting.

On the other hand…I don’t have to shave my legs everyday or slather every family member in sunscreen or wash the chlorine smell out of huge towels that take up my whole dryer.

Life’s a balance. I miss you summer, but I welcome the days of jeans and long-sleeve t-shirts.

Bring on the pumpkin spice lattes and the chili fests.

You were fun, summer. Until next year.

jen adair3Hey. I’m Jen Adair. I’m an entrepreneur. Homeschool mom. CEO of organized chaos. Ok – it’s really not all that organized. Some days are great, some are not, some days I feel invincible, some days I can barely get out of bed. BUT…it’s my life and I’m living it. Browse my collection of random thoughts, humor (well, I think I’m funny!), images, links, whatever…at my blog Slightly Tilted. Sharing is caring, people! :)