Friday, March 30, 2012

The Little White Lie: Apply When Necessary

I have a 30 minute lunch break every day at work.  And during that lunch break, all I want to do is eat, check email and Facebook on my iPhone, and enjoy the silence.  When you work with 5-year-olds, silence is a rare commodity.  After a morning filled with whining and tattling and your name repeated over and over and over again, 30 minutes of silence is as rejuvinating as a cold Gatorade after an 8 mile run.

So you can imagine my frustration at having to share those precious 30 minutes with a co-worker who is almost as whiny as those 5-year-olds.  She complains, she whines, she lacks the filter that connects her brain with her mouth, and as I learned the other day, she is incapable of the little white lie. 

I'm not a big fan of liars.  But I do believe in the importance of the appropriate use of the little white lie.  When a minor untruth or an omission of the truth can spare one's feelings, I don't see the harm in applying that little white lie when necessary.  Case in point, my conversation with Filter-less Co-Worker.

She was going on and on about scheduling an appointment with her doctor for bloodwork, and when she paused to see if I was listening, I regrettably chose to fill the awkward silence by confiding that I had just put in a call to my own doctor to request bloodwork.

"Why?  What's wrong?"  Hmm, I thought maybe she was expressing genuine concern.  So I continued.

I told her about some of my random body issues, including weight gain. 

"Yeah, I wasn't gonna say anything, but I've noticed you've really gained weight."  I looked up from my sandwich, my jaw practically on the floor.  Did she just say that?!  Did she just violate the female code of common courtesy by telling me that I have indeed gained weight?!

Here I am, telling this woman that I'm concerned enough about my weight that I'm booking an appointment to see a doctor.  I'm clearly aware that I've put on weight.  I'm clearly already bothered by it.  I don't need her confirming my fears that my weight gain is substantial enough that it's noticeable to other people.  This would have been the perfect opportunity to open mouth and insert little white lie.

But she didn't stop there.

"Yeah, you talk about all this running that you're doing.  I keep wondering why you're not trimmer."  My blood pressure spiked.  But I continued to bite my tongue. 

But she still didn't stop.

"Isn't that bad for your heart?  Carrying all that extra weight while you're running all those miles?"

Seriously?!  I need to shed about 10 pounds, not 100.  At this point, I found a way to change the subject before I either burst into tears or punched her in the face. 

I've been thinking about that exchange for days now, and I still can't come up with a reason why this woman chose to say those things.  Her comments didn't help me in any way, they didn't bring any insight to my health concerns, and they certainly didn't make me feel better.  Why couldn't she have told a little white lie?  Or simply executed a white lie of omission by keeping her mouth shut?

Yes, I'm a believer in the little white lie.  I believe in sparing people's feelings, especially when there's no good reason not to.  And I believe I might start eating my lunch in my car.

Do you believe in the little white lie?  Do you think it's ok to lie or omit the truth to spare someone's feelings? 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Top 10 Favorite Roller Coaster Facebook Status Updates Part II

Last year I wrote a top 10 list of my favorite status updates on Facebook.  It was pretty funny scrolling through months of status updates and reading friends' comments as I collected my favorites for the list.  Because I had so much fun the first time, I thought I'd throw together a sequel.  So here are my...

Top 10 Favorite Roller Coaster Facebook Status Updates Part II

10)   I just caught my 4-year-old PAINTING the slap watch my husband gave her. "You can't paint a watch!" I said as I grabbed it from her and washed the paint off. "But I wanted a different colored watch." Can't fault the girl for using creative problem solving skills.

9)  Just swam laps for the 1st time in almost 2 years. Lessons learned: swim caps melt together when they sit unused in your gym bag for 2 years, Speedos hide nothing, and waterproof mascara is a wise investment.

8)  Whenever our family goes on a road trip, I instruct my kids to pack a backpack of toys and books that will occupy themselves both in the car and at our destination. We just got back from a road trip, and as I unpack my 4-year-old daughter's backpack, I'm wondering what her thought process was when she chose her items. I just pulled out a Hawaiian lei, a Batman eraser, her soccer medal, a windchime, a pad of Post It notes, and my Riding the Roller Coaster business card. Yes, I have a very interesting little girl.

7)  The first school day after a holiday is always interesting. Half my students were falling asleep, the other half were hyper. Unfortunately I was on Team Sleepy. And now I'm on Team Headache. But no worries, in a couple of hours I'll be on Team Pinot Grigio.

6)  Do you ever read one of your old blog posts and think, "Wow, I wrote that? That's good stuff."??? Just read something I wrote a year ago but don't remember writing. I have to say I entertained myself.

5)  "Mom, there's blood on your bed!....Oh my gosh, Gunner lost a tooth!...No wait a minute that's MY tooth!...Gunner knocked my tooth out!...The tooth fairy is coming tonight!...Thanks Gunner!" I love those moments in my kids' lives that are defined by exclamation points.

4)  I said I wasn't going to do New Year's Resolutions this year after failing miserably on last year's list. But I keep catching myself thinking of all the things I want to do in 2012. Maybe I just need a name change to get over that mental block. Instead of "New Year's Resolutions" maybe I should change it to a more forgiving "Things I Want to Accomplish, But It's Ok If I Don't List" or maybe the tough love "Get Off Your Ass and Get Going List" or maybe just the simple "RC's List of Stuff." I'll let you know in 365 days which one worked.

3)   I told my kids to clean up their snacks 3 times. "I sound like a broken record!" I said in frustration. Big C looked at me sideways and asked, "What's a broken record?" Oh how old I feel.

2)   I'm downstairs. Mr. RC is upstairs. We're texting each other. You know you're lazy when...

1)  I love that I started a discussion on my FB page about iron deficiency and blood donation and it led to a discussion about talking to strippers about their maternity leave policy. I love my Facebook friends.

What are some memorable Facebook status updates you've written or read?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Adventures in Camping

Image Credit: Google Images

Ahh, the great outdoors.  The fresh air.  The peace and quiet.  The campfires.  There's nothing quite like pitching a tent and letting the rest of the world fall away as you sleep under the sparkling stars.  Right?

Unfortunately, my husband and I don't exactly have the best track record when it comes to camping.  And my mind replayed those less than stellar experiences when he suggested we take our kids camping after school on Friday.  It's one thing to have a bad camp out with just two people, but when you throw an 8-year-old boy, a 4-year-old girl, and a 10-month-old Labrador retriever into the mix, well, those camping complications aren't as funny as they once were.

The first time Mr. Roller Coaster and I ever went camping, we were young and stupid and madly in love.  We went with a large group of people, hiking a mile or so to the campsite, where everyone put up tents and sat around the fire with stories (and flasks) to pass around.  The rain started shortly after we bundled up in our sleeping bags, pelting our tent throughout the night as we hoped the rain fly would keep us relatively dry.  When we awoke the next morning, we discovered that our tent was only one of two to remain standing.  The rain had chased away the other dozen or so tents that had surrounded ours.  Apparently, we were the only ones crazy enough to stick around to sleep in the rain.  Back then, we considered that romantic.

For our next camping trip, Mr. RC took me out to a small island on his jon boat.  While he set up camp with the friend who tagged along, I sat on the beach and watched his (later, my) chocolate lab swim laps around the lake.  The weather was perfect.  Until suddenly it wasn't, and we were assaulted by a severe thunderstorm.  We finally had to decide if we were more at risk of being struck by lightening on the island in a tent or on a boat ride back to the car.  We ultimately chose to break down camp and head home in the middle of the night.  I crouched down as much as I could on the boat as the wind and rain struck my face, and I wondered how Mr. RC could possibly drive the boat with zero visibility.  By the time we got home, we were wet and cold and cursing the local weather forecasters for once again misinforming us.

Not wanting to give up on the entire institution of camping, we tried yet again.  The third time we were hard core, packing as lightly as possible as we prepared to hike an 8-mile loop.  But the weather foiled our plans once again.  We didn't know where the nearest campsite was, so when the rain started, we set up camp right on the trail.  I don't remember who discovered the first tick or the second or the third.  All I remember is spending the entire night picking ticks off of each other, dozens and dozens of disgusting little ticks.  The funniest part?  We realized the next morning that if we had walked about 10 minutes longer the night before, we would have made it to a campsite that probably wasn't infested with critters. 

All 3 of those camping trips flashed through my mind on Friday as my family loaded up in my husband's truck for our first Roller Coaster family camp out.  I have to admit I wasn't overly optimistic.

So was this latest adventure in camping as disastrous as the others?

Well, other than the bag of clothes and pillows that was left behind in our family room, the thunder that rumbled while the kids splashed on the beach, the puppy that ran off 4 times (and the subsequent yelps when we had no choice but to tie him to a tree), the SpongeBob pajamas that fell out of Little C's backpack as she walked to the shower area (that someone was kind enough to turn in to the office for us to find in the morning), the one flashlight that four people in two tents had to share, the 2:30 AM domestic dispute of our neighboring campers coupled with my husband's obscene snoring that stirred up a nasty case of insomnia, and the 5 AM screams of Little C that "BIG C IS NOT IN THE TENT!!!  WHERE IS BIG C?!?!?!" (and Big C's sleepy mumbles, "I'm right HERE.  I'm right next to you.")...I'd call this camping adventure a success.  For the first time in my camping history, IT DIDN'T RAIN!  That, in and of itself, equals success in my camping book. 

Of course the deciding factor in camping success or failure rests in my children.  And judging by their smiles and laughter and blissful exhaustion, I'd say they had fun.  And that's all that matters.

Do you have any interesting adventures in camping?  Any tips for camping with kids?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Sh*t Civilians Say to Veterans

I was trying to come up with a top 10 list for today, but my brain has been burnt toast since I ran a half marathon over the weekend.  For some reason, my thoughts keep going back to a YouTube video I saw a couple of weeks ago, Sh*t Civilians Say to Veterans.  I passed the link on to my husband, who thought it was so hysterical that when I mentioned I wanted to write a top 10 list to share my own sh*t civilians say to service members, he told me not to bother because this video says it all.

So while I allow my brain to recover from its post-race cloudiness, I thought I'd share someone else's creativity.  Prepare to laugh.


Would you add anything to this list of sh*t civilians say to veterans?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Wife on the Roller Coaster Meets Military OneSource

I'm thrilled to share that I'm a guest blogger today on the Military OneSource Blog Brigade!  Check out my post called Moving Day Memories.  

***If you're a military spouse blogger, and you're interested in guest blogging at the Blog Brigade, click HERE for the guidelines and latest topics.***

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

How Pinterest Is Helping Me Bond With My Son

I joined Pinterest a couple of months ago.  And just as I suspected I would, I went crazy for the first couple of weeks, pinning this and pinning that.  I pinned recipes and quotes.  I created boards for the important roles I play: mil spouse, mom, teacher, runner, writer.  I even started pinning my favorite top 10 lists from my blog. 

As of right now, I have 180 pins.  And until a few days ago, the only pin I ever looked at after I originally pinned it was a Valentine's Day craft I ended up doing with my kindergarten students.  The craft was cute.  I may or may not repeat it with my class next year.  But it didn't change my life or my relationship with my students.  However, the second pin I went back and looked at was different.  And thanks to that pin, I'm now bonding with my son in a way I haven't been able to in quite some time.

The original pin comes from a blog called Mama Jenn, although it sounds like she got the idea from another blogger who got the idea from another know how that goes.  My cover isn't nearly as fancy as hers, but fancy isn't my son's style.

The basic gist of the Mom and Me journal is that Big C and I write letters to each other, asking and answering questions.  We've only been corresponding for a few days, but already I'm getting a glimpse inside my 8-year-old son's brain. 

Big C is a man of few words. Unless you enjoy tutorials on Legos or Air Soft guns, you're not going to get a lot out of him.  A typical conversation with Big C goes a little something like this:

     "How was your day at school?"


     "What did you learn?"


     "Do you have a lot of homework?

     "I guess."

But after his recent attempt to initiate a sex talk, I realized I needed to find a way to convey to him that asking me questions is not only ok, but there are different ways to ask questions.  If he doesn't feel comfortable asking me verbally, then maybe he's like his mom and finds it easier to express himself through the written word.  And that's when I went back to Pinterest and decided to do more than just pin a good idea and save it for later.  Later became now. 

Although Big C and I haven't touched upon the meaning of life or where babies come from, we have definitely opened the lines of communication.  We may be starting out with mundane discussions about our favorite parts of movies and his favorite subjects in school, but I'm hoping these are just the warm-up stretches to prepare us for the real exercises to come.  I love watching his excitement when he looks on his bed and finds the notebook, knowing there's a new entry for him to read.  I love that he finds creative places for me to find the notebook after he has left his own entry.  And of course I love that we have something that is just OURS, something that is only for Mom and Big C (which of course has made Mr. RC insanely jealous even though Big C has assured him that he is allowed to guest post every now and then).

I haven't been very active on Pinterest lately.  I don't know if it's because I've lost interest after that initial high of joining a new club or if it's because I just don't have time to look at smoldering photos of Ryan Gosling or crafts I will never in a million years attempt to do.  But even if I never pin another pin, I'll always be thankful for Pinterest for giving me a way to bond with my son.

Are you on Pinterest?  Do you find yourself pinning awesome ideas but never going back to actually do them?  What are some of your most memorable pins?  Please share!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Emergency Room...We Meet Again

Image Credit: Google Images

For most of the day yesterday, my 4-year-old daughter complained that her eye was hurting.  I inspected it several times, but failed to find anything in her eye that might be irritating it.  By late afternoon she was crying and rubbing until half her face was red and puffy.  I knew she was tired after a busy weekend, so I put her to bed early, figuring a good night's sleep was all she needed. 

I was wrong.

At 9:45 PM she woke up screaming.  By 10:15 PM I was carrying her into the emergency room.  And at 12:15 AM I was carrying her out of the emergency room with a prescription for her corneal abrasion.

This was not Little C's first trip to the ER.  Nor was it her 2nd.  Nope, not her 3rd either.  This would be #4.  In less than 4 years.  Guess I should expect an ER visit every year with this one.

My son saw his fair share of ER docs when he was a baby, but that was for normal issues like late night high fevers and ear infections.  My daughter seems to come up with more unique reasons to visit the ER.

Oddly enough, Little C's first ER visit was also for a scratch on her eyeball when she was only a year old.  She was trying to keep up with her big brother and his preschool friends on the playground, when that same big brother tossed a stick behind him without looking.  As bad luck would have it, that stick landed in his sister's eye.  Off to the ER.

The second time around, Little C hitched a ride to the ER in an ambulance.  It was Big C's opening ceremony for t-ball.  It was really hot.  Nap time was overdue, and I didn't pack enough snacks.  I held Little C in my arms as she threw the mother of all tantrums.  And then I watched as her eyes rolled in the back of her head, her body went limp, and she passed out.  Someone called 911, an ambulance pulled into the crowded sports complex, and I left my son with a friend as I climbed in next to my not quite 2-year-old who was strapped to a stretcher.  Diagnosis?  My child knows how to hold her breath until she passes out.

The third visit was the bloodiest.  She tripped over her own feet at school and landed face first on the corner of a table.  Five stitches right between her eyebrows.  I think I was almost as traumatized by the experience as she was.  I never want to see a 3-year-old in a papoose with a mixture of blood and soapy water dripping into her eyes ever again. 

We have no idea how this latest injury occurred, and neither does she.  It's definitely the most boring of her ER stories.  But when it comes to reasons to visit the ER, I guess boring is good.

So I sit at home today with my daughter who is watching tv with one hand over her bad eye.  And I'm thankful we got this year's ER visit over and done with.  It gives me a whole year to plan for the next one.

Do you have a good ER story?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Top 10 Bad Habits I Would Adopt If Every Day Was a Mental Health Day

My daughter had a fever over the weekend.  The fever was gone by yesterday morning, but school policy requires children to be fever-free for 24 hours before returning.  So when she still had a fever Sunday afternoon, I started making arrangements to take the next day off from work.

I have to admit that I was kind of happy.  I was due for a mental health day, and Little C's low-grade fever was my free pass for a no-guilt day at home.  Oh, the things I would do with a whole day off! 

But the day didn't exactly turn out like I had planned, and before I knew it, the day was over.  One minute I was telling Little C that we had 4 hours before picking her brother up at the bus stop, and the next minute, my son was throwing his backpack in my car.  I don't think I did a single thing I planned to do.  And then poof, my mental health day was over.

My mom called late in the afternoon to check in, and she asked if I had done everything I had hoped to do.  When I told her I didn't and she asked why not, all I could say was, "I have absolutely no idea."  And when I thought back on my day, I realized that if I ever quit my job and had complete days of limitless time to play with, I would no doubt fall into some very bad habits.  Habits like these...

Top 10 Bad Habits I Would Adopt If Every Day Was a Mental Health Day

10)  I would allow my children to watch way too much television and play way too many video games.  When you have all the time in the world, it's so easy to say, "Ok, honey just one more show but that's it.  I mean it this time."

9)  I would never get dressed again.  Why bother when I can lounge around all day wearing sweatpants with my hair in a ponytail and no make up?

8)  I wouldn't run any errands.  Well, I can't exactly go to the bank or the grocery store in my sweatpants with no make up, can I?

7)  I would get sucked into daytime television.  It didn't happen yesterday, but I was very tempted to check in and see how Dr. Phil and Ellen were doing.  A few more days at home, and I wouldn't have been able to resist the temptation of the remote control.

6)  I would crawl into bed in the middle of the day to read a book. A nap may or may not be involved.

5)  I would call a bunch of friends to chit chat and wonder why they didn't have time to talk to me.

4)  I would start all sorts of projects and then not finish them.  Yesterday I started 3 blog posts and finished zero.  I also tackled the kids' seasonal wardrobes to determine what clothes they need for spring and to toss clothes that no longer fit.  However, intead of packing up the outgrown clothes and mailing them to my niece, I stacked them in a huge pile in my guest room (along with the laundry I failed to put away). 

3)  I would never clean my house, bathe my dog, or re-organize my kitchen cabinets.  Well, maybe eventually.  But I sure didn't yesterday.

2)  I would eat all.  day.  long.  And did you know that food does not magically appear even if you peek inside your refrigerator every 10 minutes?

1)  I would check Facebook, Pinterest, email, Twitter, my blog stats, and text messages 512 times a day.

Lessons Learned:
I'm like a kid who needs structure. 
Free play is not my thing. 
I actually get more done when I have less time.
Twitter is stupid.

What bad habits would you adopt if you had a day off every day?

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Optimism/Pessimism Spectrum

Every day on my lunch break at work I eat with the same woman.  And every day I listen to this woman complain and nit pick and gossip and place blame and whine and whine and whine.  She is one of the most pessimistic people I've ever been forced to spend time with.  The negative energy oozes out of her, and it takes all of the mental strength I can muster to shield my generally optimistic self from her pessimism. 

Pessimism is contagious.  And I don't want to catch it. 

Optimists are the rays of sunshine who typically expect a favorable outcome. Pessimists are the sour pusses who see all the bad in the world. Of course, there are varying degrees of optimism and pessimism, but we all fall somewhere on the Optimism/Pessimism Spectrum.

I can't say that I see sunshine and rainbows all the time, but I definitely lean more toward optimism than pessimism.  I try not to excessively complain, I try to see the best in even the worst people, and I try to see the good in every situation.  I think being a military spouse has helped my optimism in a way.  After all, most of the time we mil spouses don't have much of a choice in certain matters that directly affect our lives, and if we don't try to make the best of the hand we're given, we'd fall apart.

I think being a teacher has also helped me to be more optimistic.  Oddly, one of these lessons in optimism came when I was knee-deep in my first round of report cards.  I had no trouble assessing my students and assigning them grades.  It was the comments section that killed me. 

"Remember the sandwich," a co-worker advised me.  "Always sandwich a negative in between two positives." 

For some students, coming up with positives about their work ethic or academic strengths or behavior poses no problem.  But there are always those students who really make you think, who challenge your instincts to label them as the trouble-makers or the daydreamers or the bullies or the chatty Kathies.   Sometimes, when you're forced to find the good in someone, even if it's only one good thing, that's all you need to see them in a different light.

Our position on that Optimism/Pessimism Spectrum affects so many aspects of our lives, including our behavior, the people we attract, our interactions with others, our overall mental health, and our general perspective on life.  I think of my co-worker, how I avoid her at all costs in the hallway, how some days I would prefer to eat alone in my car than share my lunch break with her, how depressing her life must be when she can't seem to find the good in almost anything, and I'm thankful that I've taken up residence at the opposite end of the spectrum.

Pessimism is contagious.  But I'd like to think that optimism is too.  Maybe my co-worker will catch my optimism one day.  In the meantime, I'll continue to build up my immune system to fight off her pessimism.  I'll also enjoy the yummy food she always brings to the monthly potlucks.  (See, I can find the good in anyone!)

Where do you fall on the Optimism/Pessimism spectrum?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Mom, Do You Know What S-E-X Spells?

"Today I don't feel like doing anything.  I just wanna lay in my bed."

You might recognize those lyrics from Bruno Mars' "The Lazy Song."  I too recognized those words the other day as my newly turned 8-year-old son sang them at the kitchen table while doing his homework.

"Nothing at all.  Ooh hoo.  Ooh hoo.  Ooh ooh ooh."

I stood at the sink washing the dishes, listening to my son, a boy who rarely carries a tune within a 5 mile radius of anyone who could possibly hear him.  It was nice. 

 "Tomorrow I'll wake up, do some P90X. Meet a really nice girl, have some really nice sex..."

WHAT?!?!  What did my baby boy just say?  No, he didn't say sex did he?  Oh my gosh, he did.  And why am I surprised?  After all, I do know the lyrics.  But how did he know the lyrics?  Whenever the song comes on the radio, I turn the volume all the way down right before Bruno belts out the S word.  Oh no, how was I supposed to handle this?  He's only 8!  I'm not ready for the SEX TALK yet!

He must have known that that particular line in the song would trigger a reaction because he stopped singing.  I slowly turned around to look at him, not wanting to make any sudden movements that might insinuate I was concerned by what had just come out of his mouth.  But he knew.  He stared at me with that guilty smirk of his, that smile that sets off alarms that he's either lying or he just said something to purposely test the boundaries of good and bad.

"Mom, do you know what S-E-X spells?"

"Yes I do.  Do you?"  If he noticed I was deflecting the real, underlying question with another question, he didn't let on.


"Where did you hear that?"  Yes, I was stalling for time to figure out how the hell I was going to get out of explaining what sex was (and silently cursing my husband for missing this).


And that was it.  He went back to doing his homework and humming the Lazy Song.  I waited a minute or two before turning back to my dishes, wondering why he ended the conversation so abruptly when he clearly knew the word SEX was an attention grabber, a word that caused his mother to stop what she was doing and engage in mid-homework conversation. 

I'm guessing he was once again testing his boundaries, just as he did the first (and only) time he dropped an f-bomb in my presence.  I'm also guessing I should take this conversation as a warning that I need to prepare myself for the official SEX TALK.  This was just a preview before the feature presentation.  I won't be able to deflect his questions much longer.

I think back to the SEX TALK I had with my own mother.  It too was initiated by a pop star and a song I repeatedly heard on the radio.  Madonna's "Like a Virgin."  And I was right around Big C's age when I approached my own mother, probably with the same guilty smirk, and asked her what a virgin was. 

So I guess I need to start preparing my SEX TALK because if it's not Bruno Mars, it will be some other pop star or some other kid at school who will plant those questions in my son's head.  And I want to be the one to gross him out give him the facts.  I only hope that next time I'll have the courage to answer those unsaid, underlying questions instead of deflecting them. 

Or maybe I just need to think of a better means of deflecting.  "So Big C...Santa Claus isn't real."  Oh yeah, that would definitely get me out of a SEX TALK.  What do you think?

Have you had the SEX TALK with your kids yet?  Who initiated it?  What did you say?  HELP, I NEED TIPS!

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