Slightly Tilted: Things to do this November

By Jen Adair, Blogger at Slightly Tilted, Entreprenuer, Homeschool Mom to two fab kiddos

This time of year is busy and can leave you flustered, frustrated, and exhausted. At least, I blame this time of year on feeling flustered, frustrated, and exhausted. I swear I take my brain with me everywhere I go, but sometimes it doesn’t work the way it should. There are some important things to remember once fall arrives to help you stay balanced and focused.

Have Seasonal Delicacies

The cashier at the grocery store was excited about November. She gushed about the weather, the trees, and the holidays coming up. She may have been drunk on pumpkin beer or had one too many pumpkin spice mocha no whip lattes with an extra shot. Hey, I don’t blame her. Those things are good.

pumpkin200Anyway, this is what I’m thinking as I’m paying for my groceries. She hands me my receipt and says, “Have a Happy Thanksgiving!”

I say, “You have a happy pumpkin giving, too!”
Wait. What?
I blinked. She blinked.
She says, “Haha! I’ve never heard it called it that before!”
I say, “Tis the season! Of pumpkins…” and speed walk out of that place.

I blame that little exchange on being dehydrated. Obviously, I was thirsty for pumpkin-flavored something and my mouth and my brain couldn’t communicate.

Spread the Love

Earlier that week, I pulled into Sonic to get an iced tea. (I don’t know why their tea tastes so good. I think maybe they put crack in it, but don’t quote me on that.) I was talking to my hubby on the phone, pushed the button to order, and hurriedly finished my call as they asked for my order.

sonic buttonI gave my order. They repeated the order.
Them: “Is that right, ma’am?”
Me: “Be careful! Love you!”
Me: “I meant YES! Yes!!!”

I’m convincing myself that I made the carhop feel loved and I probably helped him get over some deep emotional problem.

Be Grateful

When you have a craving for Chinese food, you might as well just go get Chinese food. There’s really no sense in fighting it. I went to pick up my bag of deliciousness, and threw the car into reverse.

chinese food containerThe car behind me was also in reverse. I waited for them to back out. They waited for me to back out.

We waited forever. I got frustrated  and started to back out. They started to back out. I pulled back up. They pulled back up.

This went on for a couple minutes. Literally TWO minutes of reverse, forward, reverse.

Finally, I just went for it. I put the car into reverse and backed out.

That’s when I realized the car behind me was the reflection of my own freaking car in the store window.

I am grateful it wasn’t a real car. I am grateful I didn’t have a wreck. I am grateful the Chinese food was still hot when I got home.


As the weather changes and the holidays begin, don’t forget to laugh at yourself in the midst of the busyness this time of year brings.

Also, drink pumpkin-flavored things and eat Chinese food. But not at the same time.

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! :)

The Rockwood Files: Up against the wall

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

The interstate that connects my town to neighboring cities is under construction. It’s going from two lanes to a much-needed three. But during the road’s growing pains, construction workers have erected a concrete wall that runs along the left-hand side of the road right next to the yellow boundary line. And that wall? It scares me.

It’s not a tall, intimidating wall, but I get nervous when I enter that stretch of interstate. I tense up. I put my hands at 10 and 2 on the steering wheel and try to remember all the safe driving tips I’ve ever heard. I even hold my breath a little, as if that will somehow pull the sides of my car in and make it easier to fit down the lane.

road construction ahead2The barrier wall makes the lane look narrow, which makes me feel like I’m on a thin tightrope. Except instead of inching carefully along the tightrope, I’m hurtling down it at 70+ miles per hour. (Note to the state troopers: Please be advised that I only included that plus symbol because I’ve seen other cars on the interstate taking liberties with the speed limit. I would never do such a thing because I’m a law-abiding citizen who is never running late or daydreaming instead of paying attention to the speedometer.)

It would be hard enough to drive along the concrete wall if I was the only driver on the road. But inevitably, there’s at least one other car (or eighteen-wheeler) in the right-hand lane, sandwiching me between a wall and a hard place. That’s when things really get tense.

As I drive along gripping the steering wheel a bit too tightly, I tell myself over and over: “Don’t look at the wall. Don’t look at it.” Because I once read an article that said drivers who stare at a certain object also tend to steer their cars toward that object, sometimes colliding with it. It’s called “target fixation” or the “moth effect.”

So I do my best not to pay too much attention to the wall flying past my window in a blur. But it’s there. I can feel it. And I’m counting down the days until the newly expanded interstate is complete and that blasted wall finally comes down.

I drove on the interstate yesterday and felt myself relax and exhale once the construction zone ended and I entered the new part of the widened road. And that’s when it hit me: The width of the lane stays the same. It doesn’t get smaller because the wall is there. So why does driving feel so much trickier along the wall than it does when it’s gone?

The answer has everything to do with margin. When we’re up against the wall, there’s a voice deep inside reminding us of just how fallible we are. We’re human. We mess up. It just comes with the territory. But when we’re hemmed in by a wall, there’s no room for mistakes – no margin of error. We need to know that a slight bobble won’t send us crashing into a concrete wall.

Whether we’re on a literal road or navigating life in general, we all need breathing room. Not only do we need it on the interstate, we also need it in our day-to-day schedules. We need it in the expectations we set for ourselves.

If life is a highway, may we be on the one with wide, flat shoulders and a grassy, forgiving median. And instead of blindly racing through the miles toward our next to-do list item, may we appreciate the scenery, be kind to our fellow travelers and remember to enjoy the journey.

highway2gwen-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.

The Rockwood Files: 10 minutes before a haircut

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

Once every six weeks or so, a woman has a certain window of opportunity that makes her feel as if she’s on the verge of greatness – like anything could happen. The window opens about 10 minutes before a haircut appointment. And for those 10 minutes, we women flirt with the idea of doing something crazy.

This is especially true for women in the midst of growing their hair longer or for those of us who get our hair colored. (And for the record, I color my hair because I want to. The fact that the hair color also happens to remedy the valley of grey hairs sprouting up along my part is just a happy accident. But I digress.)

The more hair options you have, the crazier things can get. “What if I just cut it all off this time? I could walk out of that salon with a whole new look. I really could. Should I try something new? Would I regret it? What if it was amazing and I was so glad I did it?” The questions swirl around in our minds as we consider the big question: To cut or not to cut?

Men don’t understand the indecisive angst that precedes a woman’s haircut. For most guys, it’s just hair. Men are comfortable with getting their hair cut by a vacuum cleaner attachment. They’re not choosy creatures. Most of them spend about one second contemplating their next hairstyle and that second happens as soon as the barber asks them how they want it cut. “Just clean it up,” they say.

After that, they devote their brain power to more productive pursuits, like what to eat for lunch or weighing the benefits of a plasma TV versus an LCD screen.

salon chairBut for a woman, a haircut is an event to be cherished. We plan on it and look forward to it. I don’t wash my hair before I go to the salon, but I do take a little extra time on my makeup and the reason has everything to do with that moment when the stylist turns the chair around to face the mirror. That moment is what we call “the big reveal.” It’s like those home renovation shows when the owner walks into the remodeled kitchen and squeals with delight when she sees the changes.

The big reveal is as close as most of us get to having our “Cinderella moment.” And that’s why women are typically so loyal to a hair stylist. She’s the scissor-wielding fairy godmother who spins us around in her magic chair and transforms a shaggy, greying forty-something into a vibrant, refreshed young woman who looks like she just stepped out of a Pantene commercial.

After considering all the options and browsing through at least 50 celebrity hairstyle photos, I usually say these three little words when the stylist asks me how I want it cut: “Just a trim.” (Then I berate myself for being a hair coward.)

But one of these days, I’m going to do it. I’ll work up just enough courage or reckless abandon during that 10-minute window of opportunity, and I’ll walk out of the salon with a Halle Berry pixie cut or a modern bob of blazing red hair. I’ll shout, “Take that, world! I am the master of my own hair destiny!” I’ll be drunk on power and high on hairspray fumes.

Of course, no one will hear me shout triumphantly about my hair in the empty parking lot, but I just know it’s going to feel really good. Maybe next time.

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.

The Rockwood Files: Top 3 things annoying parents do

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

Today I’m sharing important research I’ve compiled here in the parenting trenches that may help my fellow parents gain more insight into why we’re so annoying.

While driving them back from yet another after-school lesson, one of the three kids in the car began to drum on the armrest. (Have you ever noticed how almost all boys under the age of 20 have a tendency to drum on things? Desks, tables, cars, legs, and almost any hard surface? I think they’re born with it. I call it the Ringo Starr gene.) After four miles of drumming, it got annoying so I asked him to please cut it out.

But it made me wonder: What do I do as a parent that annoys the kids? So I asked. “Kids, I’ve got a question. I want you to answer it honestly, and I won’t get upset at all. I’m just curious. What do parents do that annoys kids?”

nagging cartoon“Nagging! It’s definitely nagging,” said the teenager, who answered far too quickly and confidently for my taste. “Because you do it a lot. And it’s annoying. And irritating. Especially when you do it when I’m trying to relax and play video games. Nag, nag, nag, nag, nag…”

“I get it. Thanks for your input,” I said, cutting off his string of nags. I looked over to the other two kids and waited for their response. “What about you guys? What annoys you?”

The middle child just sat there looking hesitant, as if he was about to tiptoe across a minefield. “That’s a hard question, Mom.”

(I knew I liked this kid. Bonus points for acting like it’s tough to think of anything I do that’s annoying.) “Oh, come on. I’m sure there’s something I do that you don’t like.”

“Oh, well yeah. I mean it’s just hard to pick one.”

(Bonus points officially subtracted.)

“Oh, is that right?” I said while performing a dramatic eye-roll. “Just give it your best shot.”

“Okay, I’d have to go with yelling. I really don’t like when people yell,” he said.

“Fair enough. And for the record, I don’t like yelling either. It’s just that sometimes it feels like yelling is the only way to get you guys to hear me because sometimes you don’t listen the first few hundred times I say it.” I stopped myself at that point because I’m pretty sure I heard the oldest one muttering the word “nag” under his breath in the backseat.

I turned to the youngest, my sweet, precious 8-year-old baby. “What about you? What annoys you?”

“Well, I really don’t like it when parents get mad and use a kid’s middle name. It’s scary to hear your middle name.”

I nodded my head, doing my best to stifle the laugh. Parents have been doing the “middle name thing” for decades now. When my own parents did it to me, I knew it was the warning shot over the bow. It was the flash of lightning that comes a second before the deafening clap of parental thunder.

By the time I’d collected all this riveting research, we’d arrived back home. As the kids began climbing out of the car, I thanked them for participating in my research. But they didn’t hear me, probably because I didn’t yell it and they were too busy drumming on things and playing apps on their phones. I was going to repeat myself but I’m pretty sure that qualifies as nagging, and far be it from me to be annoying.

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.

The Rockwood Files: Thoughts upon waking

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

No…no, no, no. What is that awful sound? Oh, I hate that sound. Why did I pick that sound for my iPhone alarm app? ’m definitely changing that sound option calendar app smalllater today. The “crystals” alarm tone sounded so pretty when I chose it, but clearly I was deluded. Crystals are bad. I hate them. Go away, crystals. I’ll get up in five minutes. (Tap to snooze.)

No…no, no, no. I need to sleep. Sleep is the best thing that God ever created. I’m in love with sleep. I love sleep so much that I would marry sleep and Tom would just have to understand. Nothing feels better than this. My body is demanding sleep and I should listen to my body because sleep is natural and good for me. And the air temperature outside the covers is too chilly right now so I’m going to sleep for five more minutes while it warms up in here. (Tap to snooze.)

No…no, no, no. There’s no way that was five minutes. Five seconds, maybe, but definitely not five minutes. I love this bed. It’s the best bed in the world. I’ve never been in a bed better than this one because it is soft and warm and exactly right in every way and that’ why I’m going to stay in this bed for just five more minutes. Shut up, you dumb, irritating alarm app with your offensive alarm sounds. (Extra hard tap to snooze.)

No…no, no, no. Again with the alarm? Why can’t I be one of those people who springs out of bed? It’s because I don’t go to sleep early enough, which is not even my fault. It’s the book’s fault. No, it’s the writer’s fault because she had to write words that kept leading to more words and more chapters, and they didn’t get boring enough for me to put the book down. Stupid writers and their stupid words. I’ll never read at night again. Never. No book is worth feeling this sleepy in the morning while that stupid crystal alarm sound keeps going off every five seconds. (Tap to snooze.)

No… no, no, no. Why is this so hard? If I liked coffee like normal grown-ups do, I’d already be up. I’d get out of bed starbucks coffeelike a good little caffeine addict and trudge dutifully to the kitchen, right on time. How can I be a woman in my 40s and not like coffee? Something is wrong with me. Later today I’m going to Starbucks and I’m going to drink the coffee and I’m going to force myself to like it. Should I get a latte or a mochaccino? Is there a difference? Let me think about that for about five minutes. (Tap to snooze.)

No…no, no, no. That stupid alarm is on again and now the dog is whining which means he needs to go outside. And there’s no way his bladder can make it another five minutes. Why isn’t Tom getting up? Hasn’t he heard this alarm go off like five times already? I think he’s just stalling for more time in bed. That’s so immature. I think he’s just lying there playing a game of “sleep chicken” to see if I’ll get up first and let the dog out. Well, I’m not falling for it. Two can play at that game. (Tap to snooze.)

Okay, okay, okay, Charlie. I’m getting up. Geesh! Calm down. I’ll let you outside but only because I don’t want to start the day by cleaning up dog pee. Beagles should really come with a snooze button.

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.