Monday, September 30, 2013

An Open Letter to the World

I am participating in the Open Letter Challenge writing contest organized by Josh Irby. The following letter is my response to An Open Letter to You from the Rest of the World.


Dear World,

I am a man.

To most anyone, I look like your average American man. I have a wife and two wonderful children. I have a dog. I work two jobs. I drive a four-door, American-made sedan. I love baseball, apple pie, and jazz music. I am normal.

But I am anything but stereotypical.

Why do we as a society accept the male stereotypes the media parades before us time and time again? Our culture would have us believe there is a little Homer Simpson in all of us--that underwear-clad, beer-swilling, unenlightened Neanderthal that wakes up every morning, gives half an effort at a dead-end job, and comes home only to fall asleep on the couch in front of mindless television, all the while reinforcing the stereotype that we men have nothing to offer this world but our money and our sperm.

I am not an automaton.

I am a Renaissance man.

Or, at least I try to be.

I love my wife, and I'm not afraid to show it.

I love when my kids want to cuddle up to me, and my lap will never be too small for them.

I am a feminist and believe women should have every opportunity that men do in this country.

I don't babysit my children. I father.

I cook.

I clean.

I'm athletic. I lettered in four sports during high school.

I cry when something moves me.

Power tools don't intimidate me, and while plumbing and I don't get along, I'll attempt any home repair.

I love to see 007 save the day, but I also love it when Lloyd holds up that boom box and Peter Gabriel tries to help him convince Diane that they should be together.

I write poetry.

I play music.

I think that "The Book of Love" is one of the greatest songs ever written, and I sob like a baby when J.D. walks out of Sacred Heart to watch that final home movie of his future with Elliott.

I think boys should learn to treat girls with respect, long before they want to date any of them.

I think that the promises men make to the world while marching with a million men or standing in a crowded stadium don't mean a thing compared to the promises they keep within the walls of their homes.

I want my son to recognize that he is in control of his thoughts, emotions, desires, and urges. You are an evolved and enlightened being.

I want my daughter to realize that she deserves to be treated with respect and dignity, and that there is nothing she can say or do that will make anyone think more highly of her than she already thinks of herself.

I think dads should kiss their children forever and ever.

I think that as funny as he is, Doug Heffernan is disgusting, and as hard as Carrie works she has every right to demand that he take better care of himself.

And I am tired of the world telling us that even when we show up and are present, that we will forever be thoughtless, clueless, and in the end, just one more child for our wife or girlfriend or mother or partner to take care of. We are more than that. We have the X and the Y chromosome. We have the yin and the yang. We are strong and sensitive.

We know who we are. I just wish the world wouldn't expect less.

Not just a man.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Summer 2013

Borrowed this from my awesome daughter, The Magic Violinist:

Image From This Summer

 Check out The Magic Violinist's review of the concert!

Favorite Quote From A Book I Read This Summer

Oh, I have several - all of them striking me as 
incredible description from some truly impressive writers.

From Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor and Park:

"Eleanor could swear she heard five hearts racing. Every one of them was stifling a sob. Crying inside out."

"Until this moment, she'd kept Park in a place in her head that she thought Richie couldn't get to. Completely separate from this house and everything that happened here. (It was a pretty awesome place. Like the only part of her head fit for praying.) But now Richie was in there, just pissing all over everything. Making everything she felt feel as rank and rotten as him." . . . 

"'Did you get in trouble?'
'Sort of.' She really didn't want to talk to Park about Richie. She'd just about scraped all the Richie off the Park place in her head."

"Holding Eleanor's hand was like holding a butterfly. Or a heartbeat. Like holding something complete, and completely alive."

And From John Green's The Fault in our Stars:

"But that wasn't quite right. I called it in a nine because I was saving my ten. And here it was, the great and terrible ten, slamming me again and again as I lay still and alone in my bed staring at the ceiling, the waves tossing me against the rocks then pulling me back out to sea so they could launch me again into the jagged face of the cliff, leaving me floating face up on the water, undrowned."

"The sun was a toddler insistently refusing to go to bed: It was past eight thirty and still light."

" . . . and then I just started muttering stupid stupid stupid stupid stupid stupid over and over again until the sound unhinged from its meaning."

"And then the line was quiet, but not dead. I almost felt like he was there in my room with me, but in a way it was better, like I was not in my room and he was not in his, but instead we were together in some invisible and tenuous third space that could only be visited on the phone."

"As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once."

(Just a plug here - these are a handful of MANY great quotes. I didn't put some on here as they are also spoilers. I loved the flow of both books. I loved the format of Rowell's book. I loved the feel of them. Read these books! This is some seriously great writing.)

This Summer In One Word


Most Popular Review This Summer

Well, I haven't officially checked stats or anything,
but I'm going to go out on a limb and guess THIS POST,
since it's got like 50 comments
 and the conversation in the comments continues on!

Top Two Books I Read This Summer

                                                  1. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell.
                                                  2. The Fault in our Stars by John Green.

(Um, you know, in case you couldn't tell from the quotes above)

Two Things I’m Looking Forward To This Fall

1. Fall TV
2. NaNoWriMo

Three New Obsessions This Summer

1. Hamachi Kama (Hands off, Johnson!)
2. Ed Sheeran
3. Getting together regularly with the Johnsons (but not for Hamachi Kama!)
(Oh, and watching "Friends" AND "Gilmore Girls" with my daughter!)

Five Most Popular Blog Posts Overall This Summer

Five Things That Happened This Summer

1. The Johnsons moved here!
2. We went to the beach with them.
3. We saw Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran in concert.
4. We restructured our homeschool group.
5. Thing 1 attended a writers' camp for a week
 and Thing 2 and I enjoyed a great town together
 (haven't blogged about that yet).

Six Songs That I Listened To Far Too Often This Summer
(because of overplay on the radio)

1. "Love Somebody" by Maroon 5
2. "Clarity" by Zedd
3. "22" by Taylor Swift
4. "Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons
5."Safe and Sound" by Capital Cities
6. "Can't Hold Us" by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

But our family's favorite song this summer is this one and we have not tired of it or its message:

How was your summer?

Monday, September 23, 2013

Fall TV

They say if you want something done, give it to a busy person. Well, they may be right, but they're also mean. How about help the busy person? How about don't burden the busy person any more than she already is? How about do what's expected of you and stop dumping on other people?

It's that time of year. Every fall, things get hairy and crazy with our homeschool group and I start to daydream about moving to another country in the hopes that it might have less annoying people. Every. Year.

This year is no different. I'm up to my eyeballs in stuff to do. I can barely keep up. And right now, I feel like telling people to bite me. What sucks is that we JUST got back from vacation, so it's not good that I'm already this riled.

What also sucks is that after over two years of people suggesting an overhaul on how we do things in our homeschool group and my resisting it, we've put a new plan in place, so of course everyone comes out of the woodwork with questions or issues or whatever. It was supposed to be a time saver, but the transition is bumpy and not quite saving time yet. 

So, what's a busy person to do? Have a breakdown! What if she's prone to depression? Well then, she better find a way to laugh, right? Well, what better way than TV sitcoms?

So to recap: I'm busy. I'm stressed. I'm frustrated. I need a break from all the stuff that is making me crazy. And I want to laugh.

Therefore, here I am with a post about TV shows I'm excited about watching. Please humor me - join me in talking about fun shows and what you like about them.

Stuff We Already Watch

1. New Girl - Season 2 is on Netflix and Season 3 starts this week. I love this show. Just saw the Halloween episode of Season 2 and Mark and I practically rolled off the couch laughing when Nick went in the haunted house.

2. Big Bang Theory - This past season was, in my opinion, their best season yet. In fact, I think they should've beat out Modern Family for the Emmy, as this past season was, in my opinion, Modern Family's weakest. I love the characters, themes, and writing. I've missed them all and am so excited to see them again!

3. Modern Family - Even a weak Modern Family season is better than a good season of most other shows. They can only get better, right? Love ensemble casts. Excited to get back to it with the Pritchetts (and Tuckers and Delgados) and the Dunphys.

4. Amazing Race - Probably one of my favorite shows to watch. Love Phil. Love the tasks and the cultures and the excitement. Love to talk about it with friends. Love to sit in my living room and watch other people doing all that stuff.

5. The Voice -  Not one of my absolute favorites, but definitely the best singing competition show in a long time. I love Adam Levine and the chemistry among the judges is better than any show's EVER.

Stuff We Are Cautiously Optimistic To Try

6. The Michael J. Fox Show - Um, it's got Michael J. Fox in it and it's about his life with Parkinson's. Do I need more reasons than that?

7. The Goldbergs - This is the one I'm most excited about - it's set in the 80s and it's about a loud family. That stuff cracks me up ("HOWARD!"). It could be stupid (I hate stupid comedy), but if it's got good writing and is smart and witty, we could have a winner. Have I mentioned that it's set in the 80s?

8. Mom - We don't have super high hopes for this one, based on the previews, but we're big Allison Janney fans, so we'll give it a shot.

9. The Crazy Ones - Robin Williams stars in it, so it's crazy not to at least try.

10. We Are Men -  It has Tony Shalhoub and we like him. We'll try it. Chances are, we'll stick with maybe 1-2 of these shows. So many shows are stupid. But here's hoping we find a gem or two in this list.

Mourning The Loss Of

  Go On . . . . Seriously, how could the NBC executives be so stupid?

What are you excited to watch this Fall?



I wrote TWO blog posts yesterday.

Count 'em. TWO.

You have to read the one below this one and then click on "Older Posts" to see the one I wrote just before it. See, there are so many pictures in the beach one, that it bumped my previous post to the next page.

But please read them both! Because, well, because I want to share them both. And I'd love to hear from you in comments, too. On the beach one. And the one before that.

Because there are two posts from yesterday.


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Beach Trip 2013

We just got back from a FANTASTIC week at the beach. We go down to Delaware every year on the off-season, just after summer, and rent a beach house for a week. The weather is nice; it's not far; we get great deals on a beach house; the dog gets to go on the beach all day; it's not crowded; the local restaurants have great deals to entice the locals back; it's a great way to relax before getting into more school/fall/winter stuff . . . there are so many reasons. It is one of the great benefits of homeschooling. :)

Our schedule is pretty much this: sleep in until whenever; have a leisurely morning eating breakfast and relaxing; go to the beach daily - read, relax, play, sit, eat on the beach; get cleaned up and go out for some delicious food (usually seafood); leisurely walk around the boardwalk shops (candy stores, book store, ice cream shops, etc.); get back to the beach house and relax while watching funny stuff on DVD; go to bed. Lather, rinse, repeat. 

This year, to make our tradition even sweeter, we were joined by our dear friends, the Johnsons (because they live here now). We had a GREAT time.

Day 1

Mark worked in the morning and was on call all day. We all made sure to be packed up and ready to go by about lunch time and then caravanned down. We make sure to stop at the Trader Joe's on the state line, on the way in and on the way out, to pick up good, yummy food for breakfast, lunches, and snacks. Always a treat! We got to the beach house, explored it, unloaded the cars, and then headed out for some delicious food and fun.

Checking out the fun shops. So happy!

Grotto's Pizza!

Grotto's Pizza!

We were so full, but we managed to find room for dessert, so we stopped at an ice cream shop that has been featured on the Food Network and the Today Show - we tried all kinds of delicious ice cream flavors including Crack, Mountain Dew, Zombie, Better-Than-Sex, Bacon, This Ish is Off the Hook, Samoa, Cake Batter, and more. YUMMY.

We then walked down to the beach and got a picture of the kids on the beach.

Here is a picture of Christie putting her feet in the water. Not kidding.

Thing 1 accidentally snapped this picture. 
No idea what Christie and I are saying or doing in this picture, 
but it's hilarious, so I'm posting it.

Here's the boardwalk picture we were going for!

Day 2

Day 2 was our first official day on the beach and it was CHILLY. Here we are with the Unabomber.

He was cold, too.
These two kept warm by role playing and wrestling on the beach:

The rest of us bundled up:

She's so snuggly!
Because he wasn't bundled up enough . . .

I love this face!!

We got back to the beach house and cleaned up (and warmed up):

Then we headed back to town for some browsing and good eats:

And good laughs

These little shops are the cutest!

At the bookstore . . . :)

Preparing to FEAST at Claw's - an annual tradition

Behold the seafood!
I so wish this picture weren't fuzzy, but you can tell we're SUPER happy. Who wouldn't be? Did you SEE the table of food?!?

Fuzzy, but happy :)

This girl LOVES lobster!

"I don't even care!"
They were IN. THE. ZONE. It was a sight to behold. FABULOUS night of eating!!

The great sheller of crabs!

Me and my soft-shell crabs - YUM! Thing 1 and I shared. :)
Seeing Dave enjoy this food was a definite highlight of this vacation! He barely stopped himself from sitting at someone else's table and helping himself to more crabs when we were all done.

Love Rich's face in this picture - Caption this!
So, after stuffing our faces with seafood, we visited Coldstone Creamery for dessert:

I cannot remember why we're laughing so hard, but clearly we're having a great time!

As are they. "It's Guy Love . . . "
Back to the beach house for the evening - Blitzy and Scout (Blitzy trying to play with Scout and Scout trying to get away from Blitzy):

Scout and Blitz
Day 3

Why do vacations always go by so fast?!? It was much warmer and sooooooo very nice to be at the beach.

Tuckered out

She loves the sand!

How the heck is that my little girl?!? She's getting SO grown up!

Cute kids!

Love these kids!

It got a little chillier as the sun set . . .
Back to the beach house to clean up and back to the downtown to EAT. This time, we ate at Jake's - we tried this place for the first time this past year and I've been dreaming of their seafood bisque ever since. I so hoped my memory was right - that this place was as fantastic as I remembered. Based on EVERYONE'S reactions, it turns out? I was right. DE-LI-CIOUS.

Tuna Poké - DELICIOUS!

VERY happy diners. A little sunburned, but happy.
Jake's was a huge hit. I believe Dave's exact words were, "Can I go back in the kitchen and just stick my face in the soup pot?" We also all said we'd drive down there just to eat this food for dinner.

Chillin' at the beach house
Day 4

I'm telling you. It FLIES. BY.

Loading up for another great day at the beach

Our beautiful olive-skinned girl!

She wants NO part of the water. Sand only, please.
Our cute son!

There were some tugboats in the ocean that morning:

Daddy-daughter body surfing

Mark teaching Rich to ride the waves


Reading on the beach . . .

. . . while eating? Also happiness.

More happiness! I LOVE THE BEACH!

It got a bit chilly as the day went on.

Me and my girl

I love the sand.

Looking gangsta-tough on the beach (really, he's using his hat to block the sun)

Our family

The Johnsons
I am only allowed to show that picture, because Blitzy is covering Christie's face. Why? Because of a scrape on her head. Why? Because while she attempted to body surf, a wave slammed her down. And then another. And then another. So her face met with the ocean floor. Who knew that that scrape would be NOTHING compared to the bruising and swelling that would develop by the next day. Think Klingon forehead, burned/scraped skin, two PURPLE, half-shut eyes, a fractured nose, and a concussion. When Christie does something, she personally ensures she's done it well. Even though it's become a legendary story from the trip, I do promise that the week was GREAT and she keeps saying they're excited for next year! (I don't think she'll be attempting body surfing again).

The whole Folson clan - Beach Trip 2013
After getting cleaned up at the beach house, we headed out for the traditional candy shop stops:

Gorgeous Harvest Moon

Delicious Fusion Food at The Cultured Pearl - I am sunburned, by the way.

And delicious chocolates for dessert back at the beach house

Day 5 

Sniff. Sniff. Goodbye, beach house. Goodbye, beach. Thank you. We always stop at the beach to breathe it in and say thank you. See you next year!
Kids on spiral staircase
Three waves crashing down on Christie and royally bruising her face notwithstanding, it was a fantastic vacation. We all had a great time. We did not get sick of one another. We're all up for doing it again. The kids got along famously. The dogs tolerated each other pretty well. The adults laughed like crazy. The beach house was great. We all ate incredible food. We all relaxed at the beach. Love, love, loved it. WE LOVE THE BEACH! Thanks, Johnsons, for joining us and enjoying the week with us!