Sunday Post 183: The Best She Can

I should have lunch with ministers more often. Over a turkey and bacon club, on gluten-free wheat bread (doesn’t make sense does it?), an elder buddy of mine waxed poetic about how we, especially I, could live a better life. He spoke from experience. I think he’d learned his lessons years earlier.

It was general conversation.   I wasn’t asking, and he wasn’t preaching. It just happened to be where our thoughts went.

At one point we were talking about our frustrations – from traffic to work. When the waitress lost our food, she came over to apologize. He told her it was no problem, at all. I, unlike my friend, had a pressing meeting I had to get to. When she walked away I expressed my frustration.

“Danny, you gotta understand. She’s doing the best she can considering who she is.”

At first, I didn’t think that was a very nice thing for a man of the cloth to say. It sort of sounded like he was criticizing her intelligence. I hadn’t noticed anything wrong with her. From my perspective, we didn’t know a thing about this woman, she had just made a dumb mistake.

When I dug deeper, he gave me a broader explanation.

“What do you mean by that? Did I miss something? Do you know her?”

“No Danny. I don’t. But isn’t that what we should all shoot for?”

“What do you mean?”

“I hope when I die that folks will look back on my life and say, ‘He did all he could, considering who he was.’”

We had already talked about how many folks we knew who were struggling with life: physical or mental illness, infidelity, addiction, abuse. I told him the older I got the more I realized how many folks around me were hurting.

I guess that conversation led him to his comment.

“Danny, think about what we were talking about earlier. We have no idea what our waitress is dealing with. Give her the benefit of the doubt. Assume that she has a lot on her plate. Most of us do. Then give her grace. I expect she’s doing all she can, considering who she is.”

If you caught me on a bad day, one where work was overwhelming, one where the kids are trying my patience, one with a spot of self-pity for my circumstances, I’d likely lose an order or two myself.

I get a lot of grace from folks, many exceptions. Give him a break, his wife died.

 I ought to be more generous in doling it back out.


Check the Tanners out in the September issue of Family Circle
Purchase Danny’s Book Laughter, Tears and Braids: Amazon or Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh

If you have read the book and are willing to write a short review, it would be helpful: Click here. And thanks

They’re Home

Someone told me that time creeps when you’re looking forward and flies by when you’re looking back. I believe that to be true.

Two and a half months ago, DJ left to work at overnight camp for ten weeks. A month ago, Stephanie joined her for a four-week stent. I thought to myself, That’s a really long time. And now, it’s already over. They’re back.

I’m glad all three are under one roof although it won’t be for long. It’s DJ’s senior year so pop ins and outs will become the new norm. Major transitions are staring me down.

But while they’re all here, I’m going to savor the things I enjoy most about my girls:

1)  Borrowed clothing

Stephanie: “Where are my jeans dad?”

Me: “I’m really not sure. I have not worn them.”

Stephanie: “Did you see Michelle leave the house today?”

Me: “Yep. I took her to Lilly’s.”

Stephanie: “Was she wearing jeans?”

Me: “I believe she was.”

Stephanie: “Daaaad!!!” Message to the father: I can’t believe you let her leave the house in my clothes. What were you thinking??

2)  Eating Out

Me to the crew: “Where would you like to eat tonight?”

Stephanie: “Anything but Mexican.”

DJ: “I ONLY want Mexican.”  Seriously?  

Michelle: “It really doesn’t matter what I want. You always go where DJ suggests.” Message to the father: Why is she your favorite child?

3) Laundry

DJ: “I don’t have anything to wear! It’s ALL dirty.” Message to the father: Dad, do my laundry.

Me: “You’d better wash some clothes.”

DJ: “I can’t. I have to go to dance all morning, followed by a manicure.  I have tons of homework, and I’m going to the Rocky Horror Picture Show with Maggie tonight.” Message to the father:  I am busy. You are not. Why won’t you do my laundry?

Me: “Bless your heart.”

She puts a load in and leaves the house.

Michelle: “Dad, I’m trying to do laundry and DJ’s stuff is in the wash. What should I do?”  Message to the father:  Come finish DJ’s laundry. She is YOUR irresponsible child, and remember, she is also your favorite.

Me: “I don’t know. I guess you could switch them or you could wait for her to get home?”

4) Shoes

 By the back door

In my bedroom floor

In the bathroom (why do you take your shoes off in the bathroom?)

Under the couch, coffee table, book bag which is strewn in the middle of the kitchen floor

The office

Beside the printer which is on the desk – perhaps it was in hand on the way to tho put them up, nah

On the back porch

In the car – if you leave home in shoes and then leave them in the car, what is on your feet when you get out of the car?

Message to the father: You should pick up all of our stuff cause we don’t feel like it

5) But the best thing about my girls all being home is times like these:


Message to the father:  We do like our family


Check the Tanners out in the September issue of Family Circle
Purchase Danny’s Book Laughter, Tears and Braids: Amazon or Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh

If you have read the book and are willing to write a short review, it would be helpful: Click here. And thanks

Sunday Post 182: Teaching to Pray

Last week my Sunday School class talked about prayer. We were discussing the news story about the woman who owns a restaurant and gives random discounts to customers who pray before dining.

The conversations in the room went from exasperation with those who would criticize the woman for her spiritual price cut to folks who felt praying in public was not what Jesus preached.

After reading the lesson, I was torn. It almost made me feel like praying with my kids at night, in particular my older two, wasn’t a great idea. Perhaps my push to pray at meals and bedtime was teaching my kids that those were required. Maybe we reviewed the same prayer list too often. Am I teaching my kids to have a conversation with God or am I teaching them an obligatory recitation?

That night I went to tell DJ goodnight. As I was walking out of her room I said, “Don’t forget to say your prayers.” And then I said, “Or not! I mean, pray if you want to – if it feels right. If not, don’t. You can pray later. Tomorrow. At 3:32 if you want. In the bathroom. Whenever. Goodnight.”

Later that week I ate lunch with a friend of mine. When we sat down at the table, with tons of folks around us, he looked me in the eye and said, “Let’s have an open-eyed prayer.” He then looked across the table at me and thanked God for our friendship and for our food.

He did pray in public. He just did it in an unobtrusive way.

After much debate and discussion, I think our class decided that there were two things we needed to keep in mind when praying:

Pray because you feel led to pray. Don’t pray for recognition or because you want others to see you. That ain’t what it’s all about. There’s no reason not to pray in a restaurant, but you shouldn’t feel bad if you don’t. There isn’t an obligation to pray at any given time.

I don’t think God wants us to stand on a corner and shout at folks about His love or redemption. I think He wants us to quietly show.

I would rather see a sermon than to hear one.

Check the Tanners out in the September issue of Family Circle
Purchase Danny’s Book Laughter, Tears and Braids: Amazon or Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh

If you have read the book and are willing to write a short review, it would be helpful: Click here. And thanks

The Dog Blog

She is cute...

She is cute…


Four months ago my neighbor walked up my drive. I was outside working in the yard.



“This is our new puppy, Penny. She’s just a couple of weeks old. You wanna dog share?”

As we talked, I realized he and his children had purchased the dog without full permission from his wife. He was trying to save his marriage.

“It’s an interesting concept,” I admitted. If I was ever going to have a dog, split custody would be the way to go. You’d have built-in care when you went out-of-town, and you could split the expenses.

I briefly wondered if there was someone who might want to do the same with my kids.

I’ve always felt I was sort of robbing my girls of one of a child’s most precious experiences by not allowing them to have a pet, well save the Hermit crab. Perhaps this was a way to give them what they desperately wanted with only half the pain for me.

We decided that my neighbor would potty train the dog and that we would keep it when they went on vacation in several months. That would be our test drive.

It’s several months, we’re on day 7 of 9, and we’re failing the test.

I have spent the last week of my life arranging my schedule around Penny’s bowel movements. There is only one being on this earth that I’m willing to make adjustments to my schedule for bowel reasons:  ME. I do not like this.

I wake up at 6 AM so Penny can pee. She then eats. My neighbor told me that exactly ten minutes after she eats, we must take her outside because she WILL be pooping soon. The one thing he had wrong is “exactly” ten minutes. It could be less. It could be 9 or eight. Just ask my dining room carpet.

Oh, and just because she poops ten minutes later does not necessarily mean she ain’t gonna poo 20 or 30 minutes after that. Just ask the rug in my living room.

And guess what? I’m out of plastic Harris Teeter bags. Wanna know why? Because when I take Penny out to do her business, I then have to PICK HER BUSINESS UP and CARRY IT WITH ME for the rest of our walk. Yes, I have to pick up her dung, it’s a law in Raleigh. On Tuesday I happened to have an itchy nose. I had the leash in my left hand and bag of her brownies in my right hand, although I sort of forgot. When I reached up to scratch my nose, I realized I had %$#& about an eighth of an inch from my left nostril. I gagged.

At work I was telling a buddy of mine this story and he said, as if he had pondered this on several occasions, “You know Danny, you never see white dog poop anymore.” He then walked out of my office.

He’s right! When I was a kid, there was petrified white dog poop all over our neighborhood. When I’d mow the lawn it would fly out from under the blades.

Never, ever do I see that anymore.  I miss it.

You know why we don’t see it anymore?  It’s because we PICK UP OUR DOG’S FECES! That’s not right. We shouldn’t do that.  It should stay in nature where it belongs.

Although Penny is extremely sweet, and I have enjoyed her, this week has taught me that the Tanner family will not EVER be getting a pet, not even a fish. I don’t want to go outside at 11 PM waiting on a dog to decide which blade of grass to pee on. Twice I went myself in the yard while waiting. I thought that perhaps my example might spur her on; plus it was one less thing I’d have to do once I finally got back in the house.

The beautiful thing about the week is that I don’t think any of my kids will ever ask me if we can have a pet again. They’re as exhausted as I am!

I think I’ll keep my kids full-time. I think I’ll keep Penny on the occasional weekend. That will be plenty for all.





Sunday Post 181: My Friend Theara

A beautiful thing happened this week.  About 15 staff and former staff members at the Cary YMCA celebrated Theara’s 30th birthday.  I can’t remember when I felt any prouder of the place where I work.  I can’t remember when I felt more full as a person.

When I first arrived at the Cary YMCA, one of the branches of the YMCA of the Triangle, Theara was about 9 years old.  I was put in charge of the youth department, overseeing several after-school and day camp programs.  She was one of our kids.

In many ways Theara was like all of the other kids.  She was excited, happy, funny and glad to be alive.  She built a connection with every person she came in contact with.  Some days she might get frustrated with someone, but her anger didn’t last long.  She primarily brought joy to all she came in contact with.

There were also ways that she was different.  Sometimes she moved slowly.  We’d walk a group of kids to the park about a half mile from the building.  Theara would get tired.  When she did, she would stop, refusing to complete the journey.  At those times, she couldn’t be moved.  We discovered the best plan of attack was to simply rest with her.

Oh, and one more way Theara is different.  She has Downs Syndrome.

There are a lot of people who don’t conform to the norms of the world.  Sometimes they intentionally choose to be different.  Sometimes it just happens.

The beautiful thing about life is that sometimes those who look at the world through a different lens, from a different perspective, make others laugh, love and grow the most.

As I moved up the corporate ladder, eventually becoming the director of the Cary Y, Theara would often drop by our office suite after her high school bus dropped her off in our parking lot.  She would fill us in on her day, share a little sunshine, and then she would line the only three men in the office up.  And each afternoon she visited, she would announce that one of us had won the “It’s Your Lucky Day to be Handsome Award.”  I often dressed up in suit and tie, and I’m proud to say that I took first place in this afternoon ritual more than not.  And I would boast to colleagues the entire next day about my recognition.

As we celebrated Theara’s life this week, I felt genuinely happy.  The memories were sweet, her smile still infectious.  On my way home Tuesday afternoon, I thought to myself, I hope my girls will bring as much joy to others as Theara has brought to me. 

If they do, they will be lives well lived.

Purchase Danny’s Book Laughter, Tears and Braids: Amazon or Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh

If you have read the book and are willing to write a short review, it would be helpful: Click here. And thanks



Mr. Tanner, we’re gonna need that form.

Mr. Tanner, we're gonna need that form.

Mr. Tanner, we’re gonna need that form.

I am delinquent.  I admit it.  I have not yet completed my oldest child’s physical form for the upcoming school year.

There’s a good reason mind you.  She can only get a physical once each year, and her last one was on July 12, 2013.  She’s been working at an overnight camp in Arapahoe, NC, for the past ten weeks.  I don’t think there are doctors in Arapahoe.  If you have a tooth ache there, your neighbor extracts it for you.  We simply had no options.

She does have an appointment this upcoming week.  And I promise, the second we walk out of the office I will drive straight to her school and turn it in.

It has to be frustrating to deal with parents like me.

To deal with us, the delinquents, our school has hired a health form repo company to ensure that my child does not spread disease and that I meet my deadlines.  I was late on my middle daughter too.  Between the two of them I have received no less than 60 emails this summer informing me of my inadequacies as a parent.

This week, I didn’t get an automated reminder, I actually got a specific note from a staff member at the Health Form Repo Center.  I think his name was Guido.

Today I logged on their website to print the form, readying myself for the upcoming appointment, and at the top of the page there was a large red box.  It read, “54 DAYS PAST DUE” you idiot!!! (that wasn’t written but it was certainly implied).

I am afraid.  I am not sleeping well.  I look out of my windows at night fearful that Guido is going to snatch my child and hold her until her blood test comes back.  We don’t walk near windows anymore.  I just don’t know what might happen.  I have Michelle climb under the car, just to be sure nothing looks cut, before we leave home each morning.

I purchased a bulletpoof vest.  I wear it any time I leave the house.

Guido, have mercy!  Do I not get any credit for the forms I have completed?

Vital Health Record – took 20 minutes to complete – CHECK

Consent to Treat – CHECK

Over the Counter Medicine Form – CHECK

Prescription Medicine Form – CHECK

Psychological/ADD meds Form – CHECK

Copy of Health Card – CHECK

Concussions Form – in the event my child gets hit in the head with a ballet slipper?? – CHECK

Asthma, Allergies, Diabetes, Seizures, Mental Health Condition forms – CHECK, CHECK, CHECK, CHECK, CHECK!

I have also completed the Transportation to/from and at school form.  I agreed to have any and every photograph of my child be displayed anywhere the school wants to put it.  I have given them information on all four grandparents, my credit card number for school purchases and volunteered for two committees.  They know my shoe size, that I prefer boxers, and that I had a crush on Janice Middleton in 4th grade.

This week I will attend multiple orientation sessions to seep up more information.

But I will attend only, only if I get this dag gone physical completed and turned in.

What if my car breaks down on the way to the doctor’s office?  What if the doctor is sick that day?  What if their copier is broken or their pens run out of ink?

I’m going to begin investigating home school options.



Sunday Post 180: One-on-One with the Kid

For the past three years, when Stephanie and DJ head to overnight camp for a month, Michelle and I take at least one fun trip.  We did New York last year.  This year we decided to hit DC.

On the first day of our adventure, we decided that we were going to talk with British accents, even in front of others.  Typically, we’d stick to our plan for an hour or two.  But we sort of got into it for the whole blooming trip.

This is how we rolled:


“Yes daughter?”

“Can we speak like William and Kate for the duration of our trip?”

“I don’t see why not.  Let’s make a go of it ole’ chap.”

“Shall we speak like this alone or in front of others?”

“As we’re gallivanting around, let’s consider speaking like this the entire time regardless of who is listening.”

“Jolly good.”

I’ll have to say that it was quite enjoyable to pretend to be something we weren’t – people with manners.

We saw almost all of the monuments…





Washington Monument


And MLK.


I’d never seen that one.  It was bloody beautiful!  But by the time we got that far, Michelle was fagged out.  So I had to entice her with a spot of tea and a ride on the Tidal Basin paddle boats.

We didn’t boat too far.  I began to realize that the further we moved from the docks, the more leg power it was going to take to get back.  Plus it started raining.

“I’m tired father,” my little one complained.

“Rubbish!  Poppycock!  We’ve got much more to see.”

“But father…”

“Don’t get cheeky with me princess.  Sit on your bum a bit and rest your pins.”

She regained her energy with a lemonade and a bot-le o water, and tickety-boo we marched on to the Roosevelt statue.


By the end of the day we were zonked out.  We showered and had a nice dinner where Michelle ordered surf and turf (from the kid’s menu) and sucked down three Shirley Temples.

Although the sites were amazing, one-on-one time with my girl is what took the biscuit!


Purchase Danny’s Book Laughter, Tears and Braids: Amazon or Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh

If you have read the book and are willing to write a short review, it would be helpful:Click here. And thanks



I am Free!

I AM FREE! I am no longer a slave to their monopolous activities. They can no longer ignite my rage through their inefficient, laborious voice mail system. Yes, I have signed on with a new cable company – screw you Time Warner! You can’t see my hands, but my middle finger is in the upright position.

The night of the switch, I called the 800 number for what I thought would be the last time. I was actually looking forward to speaking with PKkflugde from Outer Mongolia. Unfortunately, the automated voice system cut me off, three different times, right after I told it I wanted to cancel my service. Each of these calls took ten minutes because prior to cutting me off I had to recount my phone number, social security number, listen to 17 options of what I might choose to do and share my inner most feelings about the crush I had on my second grade teacher and how it affected what I now watch on TV. When I finally got through, I was informed by the robot that cancellations could only be handled during business hours.

I’ll be doing 65 Hail Mary’s for my reaction to that news.

The next day I called back. Again when using the “c” word the call would not go through, so I told the robot that I actually wanted to upgrade my service at which time I was immediately patched through to PKkflugde. When I told him I actually didn’t want to add service, that I wanted to cancel, he berated me.

“Did you call us before switching to another carrier? We have better deals.”

“No PKkfludge, I didn’t. I called you last year and you gave me the best deal you had. And, for $30 less I’m getting an extra DVR box, a booster on my internet service AND HBO. Plus, I never have to talk to you again.”

“They’re only giving you HBO for three months,” I was informed by my friend.

How can he speculate what they are giving me???

“No. I believe I’m getting HBO for two years!”

“You believe?” PKkfludge questioned. “You’re not SURE? I don’t think I’d be changing services on an ‘I believe.'”

I believe I’m gonna jump through this phone and choke you! “Just drop my damn service! Now!”

He then told me he could match their plan for less than I was paying now.

“How much less,” I inquired.

“$6 less than your current payment.”

“But that is still $24 more than I’m paying them!! New math tells me that is not a better deal.”

He then proceeded to tell me that the new carrier didn’t yet pull my phone line over so if I cancelled I would lose my original phone number.

I cursed him, and hung up.

That was not true I discovered after talking with my new carrier.

After another phone attempt I decided to go in person to their customer service center so I could physically hurt someone if needed.

I got in line at 7:45 AM. There were 34 people already in front of me.

There was one of these signs on the door:

no guns

No firearms allowed? I put my pistol back in the car.

After number 11 in line completed his transaction, he turned to those of us waiting behind him and in a fairly loud voice shared what we were all thinking, “This is worse than the DMV.” He then added a few expletives.

As I walked out of the building I felt as if I had just signed the final divorce papers from a very bad marriage. I asked Michelle to take a picture. I wanted to remember one of the happiest moments of my life.

Purchase Danny’s Book Laughter, Tears and Braids: Amazon or Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh

If you have read the book and are willing to write a short review, it would be helpful: Click here. And thanks


Sunday Post 179: The Freight Train of Life

It makes me sad that I don’t love summer anymore. It used to be my favorite time of the year.

In 2009, in the three months that preceded Lisa’s diagnosis of cancer, we took a trip to Yellowstone National Park, our weeklong annual getaway to Topsail Island, a couples only weekend trip to Lake Gaston with our best friends and our August jaunt to West Virginia. The day after Christmas, 2008, I began looking forward to summer. Each day brought me closer to the excitement of time with family, a clear calendar and 4 pm Happy Hour.

It hasn’t been the same since.

Although I still enjoy the beach, DJ’s absence is noticeable. She’s employed – how inconvenient. I figure Stephanie will be in the same boat two years from now.

Clearly, DJ’s not the only one missing from our June capers.

Since Lisa’s death, I’ve fared well when busy. Without dance carpool, homework and laundry for four, I find myself re-edging a border that has already been edged. No wonder Mr. Royster’s yard in Glendale Acres, my childhood neighborhood, looked so good.  He was childless and had nothing better to do.

I realize that much of what I’m experiencing has nothing to do with the loss of my wife. My kids would still grow up and get jobs with or without their mom in the picture. The pressure of carpools would lighten with additional drivers in the house. When you’re 16, you tend to get annoyed at waiting for dad to get around to doing your laundry – when you need an article of clothing, you wash it yourself.

Maybe this is why folks end up having a midlife crisis. They can’t seem to figure out how to handle the changes so they remake themselves in an unsavory way.

It’s clear I’m not going to cheat on my wife, I don’t have one. And a sports car is out of the question – I don’t have the money, and it won’t seat three children and their pack of pals.

If you look at a life’s calendar, these changes occur over a long period of time. But at times, they seem more like a freight train.


Purchase Danny’s Book Laughter, Tears and Braids: Amazon or Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh

If you have read the book and are willing to write a short review, it would be helpful: Click here. And thanks

The Nobel Prize in Math


I don’t mean this in an ugly way, but Lisa was a pretty good nagger. She didn’t really stay on me about stuff cause I typically do what I’m supposed to do. But she could harp on the kids about a plethora of things: practicing the piano, completing their homework, keeping their skin moisturized, getting their thank you notes written, and more!

Since I’ve been the sole parent, I’ve had to take up the role of naggart.

I don’t mind, there’s part of me that perversely enjoys getting under another’s skin. What I stink at is remembering. I just don’t care enough to be a great nag.

I so want to excel at this task. I long to hear a child’s annoyed whine, “Daaaaad. You don’t have to tell me again!”

I long to respond, “Clearly I do!  You did not do it the first six times I asked!”

The problem is, I never asked, because I forgot.

This week we’ve been at the beach, and I have had the awesome opportunity to hassle Stephanie all week long. She’s about the head to camp for four weeks, and she has to complete a massive math assignment for her class placement for the fall. She did the work once, but the school sent us an email encouraging her to push a little harder so they could put her in an honors class.

I was excited!

“Stephanie, if you increase your grade on the placement test slightly, you can take Honors Geometry next year!”

I had visions of Harvard, a PHD, maybe a Nobel Peace Prize! My daughter, one and the same as pi.

She didn’t bite.

“Isn’t the honors course harder?”

“It IS more challenging,” I thought I was giving her a boost!

“Then why would I want to take that?”

“The Nobel Peace Prize baby!  STEM is in!”

She just couldn’t see our vision for her future (by our, I mean my).

So, we’ve spent at least one miserable hour each day of our vacation fighting about math. We’ve been here six days, I have the conversation memorized.

“Stephanie,” I start in the kindest tone I can muster. “You need to start thinking about spending some time on your math.”



“This is rediculous!”

“Baby, you’re good at math. You got an award in 8th grade assembly for math!”

“I like math, in the school year! I don’t like math in the summer. When am I ever going to use math in my life?”

“Mmmm.  Let’s see.  EVERY DAY!”

“Not this kind of math. Do you ever factor a polynomial at work?”

“Seriously? I work at the Y.”


And then, I get to nag. For an hour at a minimum.

“You could have been done with today’s work in the amount of time you’ve spent complaining. Shut your pie hole and get to work!”

It’s no use. I think she just likes to argue. It’s gonna be a constant battle. She’s “asleep” now. Her computer screen is black. Geeze.

I’m just gonna drop it until next week.  By then I will have forgotten, and she’ll be in basic math.

Oh well, who wants a stinkin’ Nobel anyhow?


Purchase Danny’s Book Laughter, Tears and Braids: Amazon or Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh

If you have read the book and are willing to write a short review, it would be helpful: Click here. And thanks



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