By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3
I have a condition many parents suffer from: Worst Case Scenario Syndrome or WCSS. It’s not in the official book of diseases because I just made it up but that doesn’t make it any less real. Make no mistake — it’s real, and I have the freshly sprouted gray hairs to prove it.
This sanity-threatening condition reared its paranoid head just last week. When I sat down in my home office to begin the day’s work, I smelled a faint but distinctive smell of something burning. It smelled hot with a hint of a chemical scent, the way an overworked engine might smell just before bursting into flames.
I walked around the room, sniffing the printer, computer, lamp, computer modem and television, but I couldn’t determine the source of that ominous smell. I unplugged everything, just to be safe.
An hour later, the smell had intensified. That’s when my internal light bulb went off and I realized the problem might be overhead — in the light bulb. I looked up and eyed the ceiling-mounted light fixture suspiciously. What if some faulty electrical wiring was causing sinister sparks to ignite within the walls and ceiling where I couldn’t see?
So I did what I imagine any concerned woman would do. I climbed up onto my desk and sniffed as close to the light fixture as possible, and then I climbed back down and called my husband.
“Honey, there’s a bad smell in my office and I think it might be an electrical fire.”
“What? Do you see smoke?”
“Well, no, there’s no smoke but there’s a terrible smell — like a mix of chemicals burning. The weird thing is that I can only smell it in my office.”
“Did you check all the electrical outlets?”
“You sniffed a light fixture? Did you use a ladder?”
“Well, no, I climbed up on the desk, but you’re missing the point. I’m not sure that’s where the smell is coming from, but I turned the light switch off, just in case.”
“Okay, well let’s see if the smell gets better now that the light is off.”
“But I’ve got to go run errands. What if the house catches on fire while I’m gone?”
“I don’t think that’s going to happen.”
“You don’t think we should call an electrician to come out here and check it?”
“We will if we need to, but let’s try to pinpoint what it is first.”
“Okay, but I’m telling you something is catching on fire in the ceiling.”
I wanted to go on record with my hunch so that if the house suddenly turned into a scene from the movie Backdraft, I could issue a stern “I told you so” as we sifted through the charred remains of our family memories.
After running errands, I returned home and walked into the office hoping the smell had dissipated – but it was even stronger. Charlie, our intrepid Beagle, trotted along beside me and went immediately to the trash can by my desk where he stopped and sniffed.
Following his lead, I leaned over and sniffed the trash can, too, and that’s when I saw it — a discarded bag of microwave popcorn with blackened kernels inside. Suddenly the memory of 7-year-old Kate bringing the burnt bag of popcorn to me the day before reentered my mind. I’d tossed it into the trash without a second thought.
And just so you know, burnt popcorn on Day 2 smells like an electrical fire. But before you have the fire trucks come screeching up to your house, you should probably empty the trash and open a window. Worst Case Scenario Syndrome can get pretty embarrassing.
Gwen 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
By Liz Emis, mama to Jack and another on the way
I can’t believe we made it through the first year. Moms you know: the first birthday is just as much a milestone and recognition of your accomplishments as it is a celebration of the toddler you’ve helped develop.
Our son got overloaded with love that day and also overloaded with presents. In light of holiday shopping coming up, here are a couple of gifts I highly recommend, especially if your child, like mine, enjoys figuring things out.
You can almost see the wheels turning in his head!
An Activity Cube:
We like vintage toys that teach in addition to entertain, and this gift has it all. It’s tall enough that your one-year-old can stand to play with it, its four sides have musical elements and abacus-like activities for learning colors, shapes and numbers, and it also has a matching game for animals. The top usually has a colorful winding wires that pass through a wooden town and allow your child to move cars and shapes through them. We bought ours at Once Upon A Child in Rogers for about $30, but you can find them brand new on Amazon between $40 and $100.
Melissa & Doug:
This is a toy brand you can easily find at Target, TJ Maxx, Tuesday Morning and Amazon. They promote classic toys from our childhood, and just like our family, believe more classic toys allow the child to use even greater imagination.
Jack received several puzzles by Melissa & Doug and they all teach new concepts. Each puzzle piece is either very thick or has a big knob on it, allowing your toddler to easily remove it. There is a picture of the puzzle piece underneath on the wooden board, so Jack could learn new concepts through matching the picture to the piece. They come in themes like colors, shapes, vehicles, animals and so on.
Jack’s favorite is the farm themed puzzle he received from a close friend of ours. These puzzles cost about $12 to $15 retail.
Melissa & Doug also offers “make your own sandwich” kits, clocks for learning to tell time and coloring books.
I hope this helps in your holiday shopping plans. Enjoy the season!
Welcome back to Motherlode’s once-a-month feature, “Inside His Head” which is written by an anonymous panel of husbands. If you’ve got a question for our outspoken guys, just send it to mamas@nwaMotherlode.com and it may be featured in an upcoming installment. Now on to this month’s question from a future fiancee:
Q: I’m not married yet, but I’m in a relationship that’s getting more serious. I know there are things I can’t imagine that we might fight about. As long-time married guys (I assume) what would you say are the top five questions I should ask a prospective husband before committing?
#1. Do you want to have kids?
Make sure you see eye to eye on this. Kids might not even be on your radar right now, but you still ought to discuss it. When only one side wants a child it can put an unbearable strain on the relationship and I’ve known couples to divorce on this issue alone. There are a million excuses to have kids or not have them but it’s prudent to make sure those excuses, pro or con, jive with your husband to be.
#2. How will our bills get paid?
I probably don’t need to mention how stressful finances can be. Got college loan bills? Both of you? Credit card bills? It doesn’t get less stressful when there are two of you. Does he have a plan for how you will live and plan for your future? What happens when the unexpected (see #1) happens? If you don’t control your money it will assuredly control you and rarely for the better.
#3. What do you expect of me?
Does he want you to be his mother or a working mother? Does it jive with what you want to do and how you see yourself? It’s wise to be honest about your expectations of each other. Everyone has different values and they can have profound ramifications. Being a housewife is fine, but, like anything, it’s only fine if that’s what you want too. Nothing builds resentment like someone feeling they’re forced to do things they don’t like.
#4. Where do think we’ll be in 10 years?
There’s a saying that goes something like: if you don’t have a plan go anywhere, you’ll end up somewhere you don’t want to be. Planning your future gives you a fighting chance of getting there. While it’s doubtful you’ll have a perfect crystal ball, striving for mutual goals strengthens relationships and gives you milestones to celebrate along the way. Waiting for life to happen to you can set your relationship adrift, often making you both wonder what you’re doing.
#5. Do you hate my parents?
The nagging mother in-law might be one of the biggest stereotypes of all time, but extended families are no laughing matter. Everyone has one obnoxious relative, but if he feels that way about all of them, odds are good there are a lot of things about you he doesn’t like, too. People can agree to disagree, but if Thanksgiving = war then maybe there are some deeper issues needing examination.
MAVERICK: Well, you say this guy is possibly “the one” so I assume you knowbasic stuff about him, that there are no conflicts on religion, that he has some sort of job you approve of and that he doesn’t clip his toenails in bed. Here are a few basic questions you can ask him and ask yourself to get an idea if you’re on the same page:
One pretty practical thing you need to know is if there are geographic issues with this guy. Is he tied to one place because of his family, or his career or his lifestyle? If you hope to live in different locales, simply to see the country, or to be adventurous, or to further your career or education it will be a huge stress factor if you marry somebody who wants/needs to stay put. The reverse is also true. If you are still attached to your family by an umbilical cord stretching no more than 200 miles and he intends to someday, in the next 20 years or so, move beyond that radius you need to take that under serious consideration.
You also need to know his money situation. Often this involves just opening your eyes. If you both have similar incomes, and you’re barely making it yourself, and for your courtship period he’s been footing most of the bills (be honest, has he?) chances are he’s in debt. Men assume you pay attention to this sort of thing. Most women don’t. Ask him about his money situation, and if he’s in hock, his plans for getting out of it. If the hole he’s dug is substantially deeper because of his relationship with you, and you bristle concerning pitching in and helping to fill it back in once you’re married, you don’t really love him or you’re a spoiled brat or both — move on for his sake and yours.
Ask him in detail about kids. At this point you should know if he’s open to the idea and how many. Folks do change their minds on this issue but you should have a working baseline of his feelings on children before you tie the knot. If you intend to stay home with the kids, make that clear and get his feelings on it and how you’ll make that happen, same thing if you intend to work outside the home full or part time. If you intend for him to stay home with the kids, you better kick that around too. Don’t be worried if he’s not really “kid friendly” when dealing with the little monsters right now. He’ll feel differently about his own when they arrive.
Ask him, in a worse case scenario, if he’d be willing to work two or even three jobs to keep a roof over your head and the heads of any children you might have. Watch his reaction. Does he say yes? Is he sincere? If you can’t read him by now he’s likely not really “the one.” His willingness to sacrifice for you and your future family is a good indication of his commitment to you. Now, ask yourself the same question. Would you do the same thing for him and your kids?
Really, I mean it. Would you work two or three crappy jobs you hate just to put food on the table and pay the light bill? If you won’t do the same for him, do yourselves a favor and walk — he shouldn’t be the only one willing to make extreme sacrifices.
See if he plans to substantially change after you get married. You are not asking will he continue to grow and mature and evolve as a human being and a man. Let’s hope he will. Instead, see if he intends to shift who he is, really change his core nature. Now, ask yourself if you want him to.
Women often claim to love key elements about the man they intend to marry that become huge stumbling blocks once they’ve said “I do.” Women love that he’s gregarious and has deep, close bonds with his friends — but they don’t expect him to spend any reasonable amount of time with his pals after he gets married. They love that he’s wild and free but expect him home 25 minutes after work once the vows are said, and he better sell that motorcycle ASAP. They love that he’s a bohemian free spirit with the soul of an artist and poet, but he better buckle down and get a real job so you can afford a mortgage and insurance. Bottom line, if you want him to grow up a bit, fine, but if you really want or need to “fix” him, well, you know the answer to that question, and if you don’t, well I sure hope the poor sap gets away.
JON: There are a myriad of questions you can ask your loved one. Taking time to get to know each other will only bring you closer.My wife and I bought a workbook that guided us through discussions on a wide variety of topics.
Now the internet provides a wide variety of lists of such questions or you can simply each write your own list. These can range from “where would you like to live and why?”, “if you wrote a book, what would it be about?”, or “what is the strangest thing you’ve done?” to much more serious topics.
Here are five topics my wife and I have visited multiple times:
- Money – How important is it to you and what does it represent? I see it as access to a good time my wife sees it as security.
- Children – Do you both want them? How many? When?Discipline? Education? Role of church?
- Relationship with In-Laws – How important is this to each of you?Will children change the equation? Where will holidays be spent?
- Fidelity – To me this includes more than just not cheating. You can only have one number one thing in your life.Is it work? Friends? Your spouse? A hobby?
- Intimacy – What makes you feel loved?How do you show love to others? What do you need/want?
Other topics could include chores/work around the home, how days off should be spent, diet and exercise, and religious beliefs.
Perhaps you and he could create a list of topics, rank them from most to least important and explain to each other why you put things where you did.
As you can see there are tons of questions you can ask and many ways to ask them. The important part is to begin to establish open and honest dialogue, regardless of the topic. This will be critical as your relationship moves forward.
As moms, most of us either have direct experience with a child who struggles with ADHD or we know another parent who does. What you may not know, however, is that our community now has a specialty clinic devoted to the proper diagnosis and treatment of this disorder that impacts so many families.
Ozark Guidance opened an ADHD clinic in Bentonville earlier this year, and the clinic’s sole focus is on ADHD. The laser focus on this one area makes it the perfect resource for families trying to get the right diagnosis and care. Here’s what you need to know about the new clinic.
- All diagnostic interviews are done by a licensed professional.
- When indicated, comprehensive psychological testing is offered.
- Clinicians will coordinate with school officials on diagnosis and treatment recommendations.
- They offer IEP participation when parent requests it.
- Clinic offers individual therapy and skills training.
- Full evaluation by medical doctor is provided.
- Clinic staff helps to manage medication.
- Clinic offers family services including psychoeducation, family therapy and more.
- Clinic staff is headed by Dr. Randy Staley, MD and Psychiatrist and includes Behavioral Health Nurses, Licensed Clinical Social Workers and a Licensed Psychological Examiner.
For more info on this new clinic and ADHD resource, call the clinic at 479-273-9088. The office is located at 2508 SE 20th St. in Bentonville. Click HERE to visit the clinic’s website.
By Denise Holmes, pet trainer and blogger at TravelTails.net
The holiday travel season is fast approaching, and soon everyone will be hitting the road. If you’re planning to take the family dog with you, there are some things you need to consider to make your trip go smoothly and ensure that you and your dog are welcomed guests.
I’m a list maker. So, let’s start there. Make a packing list of all the things your dog uses on a daily basis: leash, collar, harness, food/water bowls, food, treats, toys, chews, bed, and crate. All these things need to go with you. In addition to the daily things, you may want to take a brush and some dry shampoo or deodorizer, cleaning supplies for accidents, and a copy of your dog’s shot records including the contact info for your personal vet. If your dog is on medication, make sure all prescriptions are refilled before you go.
Next are the things you may or may not consider. Where and how will your dog ride? How long can your dog ‘hold it?’ Did you pack a travel bowl and an extra bottle of water for the pooch? How will you handle your dog’s stress on the road or in a new place?
First, let’s talk about car riding safety. This is a ‘do as I say, not as I do’ advisement. Your dog should be restrained, either in a crate or a seatbelt/car harness. If in a crate, then the crate needs to be in a ventilated location so your dog doesn’t over-heat or get cold, and it needs to be secured. If in a harness, the harness should not only restrain movement, but also maintain the dog’s stability. For the safety of your dog and other passengers, you don’t want your dog launching off the seat.
The Center for Pet Safety tested harnesses, and only 7 brands were deemed good enough to move on to crash testing. Of those, Sleepypod was the Top Performer for 2013. We have not used it personally, but I have looked at their website, watched the crash test videos, and based on that, referred the product to several happy clients. They make both enclosed devices and harnesses.
If you’ve never traveled with your dog in a restraint system, then it would be a good idea to take a couple of car rides to allow your dog a chance to get used to the idea before heading to Grandma’s house in Timbuktu.
Speaking of Timbuktu…I know Henri can pretty much ‘hold it’ forever, longer than I can anyway, and if you’re traveling with kids, it’s likely that you won’t need extra stops for the dog. Just make sure he gets out of the car, stretches, and potties when everyone else does. If you have a young dog, you might want to play a bit, too. Throw the ball or something. The kids can watch a video or color, but the dog is pretty much a captive (so give him something to chew). This is also a good time for a water break. You did pack the travel bowl and a bottle of water, right?
If a hotel stop is in your plans, then make sure you’ve verified that the hotel is dog-friendly and you know the rules. They are ALL different, and some are more accommodating than others.
Once you get where you’re going, it’s important that your dog is a nice house guest. Do what you can to make him comfortable, but keep in mind that not everyone likes dogs (I mean, I don’t know any of them, but you might). If it’s an option, create a set-up that mimics home. For us, that means I travel with Henri’s blanket and bed. He sleeps on his bed at night, but during the day, he likes to be on my bed. I spread his blanket across it to minimize dog hair on someone else’s comforter. If your dog normally sleeps in your bed, pack a dog sheet.
Lastly, travel can be stressful. Help your dog cope by keeping this in mind and investing in a couple of products I LOVE. The first is Rescue Remedy, for homeopathic stress relief. I don’t go anywhere without it, and it isn’t just for Henri; I take it, too. Just a few drops can help take the edge off when adjusting to travel, a new place, or terrible in-laws.
The second product is Comfort Zone with Dog Appeasing Pheromones. It comes in both a spray formula and a plug-in diffuser. I use the spray in the car or on Henri’s bedding. You can also spritz a bandana and tie it around your dog’s neck. Once we get where we’re going, I pop the plug-in into the wall in our room for another dose of comfort.
Loading up the family and hitting the road can be a good time, or at the very least, a good story. Hopefully, with a little planning and a few helpful tips, your dog won’t be the problem. I can’t help you with your husband.