Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Husbands' Top 6 Most Romantic Statements

This is my husband and me on our wedding day.
How do you like my veil?

After a couple is married, the woman prefers her husband to use a whole new type of romantic language. Here are some of my favorite things for my husband to say:

1. Why do those celebrities in the tabloids have so much cellulite? You don't have any.

2. I feel like making dinner . . . and cleaning up afterward.

3. It's not PMS, honey. It's me.

4. If I had it to do over again, I'd still marry you, only I'd save up for a bigger ring.

5. You should be on one of those workout dvds.

6. I wish my mom would learn to cook like you.

Okay, so my husband has only said some of these things. Can you guess which ones he's actually said?

Monday, July 30, 2012

You Can't Please Everyone

In high school, I was criticized for my lack of athletic skills, for being too enthusiastic, and for having a big nose. I never did fix the big nose, but I worked really hard not to be too enthusiastic. No one could accuse me anymore of being too enthusiastic. Today, I wonder if that's really a good thing. It would've been better if I'd just ignored that criticism and gone on with my life. On the other hand, becoming more athletic was probably a good choice. I'll bet I could beat most of the girls from high school if we all had a race today. I could probably beat some of the guys too.

My daughter has this quote from Bill Cosby on her wall : "I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone." So true! One of the best parts of growing older for me is that the older I get, the less I care what other people think. I still try to correct myself if I think the criticism is valid, especially in my writing. If I don't think it's valid, I move on.

Breezing Up by Winslow Homer Photo Courtesy of National Gallery of Art

One of my favorite paintings is "Breezing Up" by Winslow Homer.  I love the waves and the sky. Once while I was looking at the painting in the museum, I noticed it has a huge flaw in the background. It looks like the artist once painted another ship then removed it. If you look closely between the sailboat and the ship, you might be able to see it too.  Noticing such a big flaw in this beautiful painting was a moving experience for me as a young college student. It meant that even with my imperfections, I could still be beautiful. Everyone is beautiful in his or her own way, and the fact that we're all imperfect only adds to our intrigue.

How have you learned to deal with criticism or imperfection?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Vacation Pictures

I wanted to share some pictures from our vacation to Virginia. My brother, who volunteers at the Smithsonian, gave us a behind-the-scenes tour of the Museum of Natural History. In the picture above, we're walking past dinosaur bones encased in plaster. Not many people get that kind of tour because there's a lot of things people could pick up and steal. I told my brother we'd like to get a behind the scenes tour of the gems next time. ;)

I had a signing in Maryland at This is the Place bookstore. I met so many interesting people and sold all but one of my books. I also happened to meet a couple of people I already knew. It was one of those times when I wanted to sing, "It's a Small World," but I didn't because it would've been really bad for publicity.

My parents' backyard is so beautiful with lots of trees and wild animals. We caught a glimpse of some deer, but the boys' favorite was catching fireflies. Contrary to popular belief, you cannot keep them in a jar as a nightlight because they will be dead in the morning, even if the jar has holes in the lid.

My parents pamper their birds. This is their bird bath. It's heated in the winter.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Writing help from the National Rifle Association

If you want boys to read something, tell them not to read it. That's what I did with a huge stack of National Rifle Association magazines the boys found after their grandfather passed away. You know what happened--they read each magazine in the stack cover to cover.

I decided I'd try a different tactic next time we encountered anything gun related. So when we drove past the NRA museum on our trip to Virginia, I told the boys we were definitely going.

Believe it or not, the NRA museum was not crowded, and it was free. I was excited to see that the exhibits were arranged to teach American history. The boys were excited to see the light saber used in Star Wars.

After about a half-hour of walking around looking at guns, my younger boys got bored. That's when they escorted Grandma to the gift shop. "I hope you didn't buy them anything," I told my mom when they got back. My three boys whipped out the fancy pens Grandma got them and showed me how they light up.

Later on, when we were checking out the pens at home, I realized that those pens could solve one of my biggest problems--writing down ideas while I'm in bed. I get my best ideas while I'm trying to go to sleep. I keep a notebook beside me at night, but sometimes in the morning, I can't read what I wrote.

I snagged one of the pens and tried it out that night. It cast a blue glow over a page of my writing notebook, but it didn't light up enough to wake my husband. I've never been so grateful for the NRA.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

What's a derecho? You don't wanna know.

I take it back. I don't like thunderstorms that much. I must have jinxed myself with my last post because the day after it published, we had the mother of all thunderstorms in Northern Virginia, where I was visiting my parents. The weather service is calling the storm a "derecho," pronounced da-Ray-cho. It's a rare storm event with strong winds that moves straight along its path(unlike a tornado that turns.) All I knew was that it was pretty scary to hear an enormous branch fall on the roof above our bedrooms.

We'd spent the afternoon at the Air and Space museum, where we'd seen an IMAX film about tornados. That evening, as the kids were out catching fireflies in their jars, I thought it felt like the weather right before a tornado. It was very hot and very humid. Sure enough, within a few hours, we heard the thunder and lightening, saw stuff flying around in the wind, and watched the lights flicker out.

I thought the lights would be back on by morning--in time for me to curl my hair for my book signing. Nope. It turned out the damage was worse than I'd realized. The power was out all across Virginia, D.C., and Maryland. There were trees lying across the roads, and no traffic lights were working. After driving through all the disaster areas, I was expecting the This is the Place Bookstore in Maryland to be closed, but they opened for a little while that morning. Since the power was out, we decided to postpone my signing until the next Saturday.

It took us 50 hours to get the power back at my parents' house. During that time, my kids gained a new appreciation for electric lights, air conditioning, refrigerators, and stoves. It wasn't really what I wanted them to learn on vacation, but I'll take what I can get.