Sunday Post 17: Our Mothers

When you have a significant loss, it takes a village to fill the gaps.  Happy Mother’s Day to all of our “moms”!

  • To Doctor Walker who gives dad guidance on our physical ailments without a Blue Cross Blue Shield copay.
  • To Darcy who served as DJ’s Elder Sponsor at church this year.
  • To Aunt Susan who reads our blog daily and leaves encouraging comments for dad.
  • To Mrs. Horton who takes care of Michelle EVERY Monday and guides dad on clothes purchases to keep us in style.
  • To Mrs. Strickland who picks us up from afterschool, coordinates DJ’s National Charity League events, and teaches us how to water ski.
  • To Mrs. Dixon who dad can call and invite us over on a Saturday night when he’s a little bit down.
  • To Aunt Sallie who’s moving all the way from Boston to live near us and help be our other mother.
  • To Mrs. Vebber who has so much style and is an encourager for our family – especially dad.  She’s says we’ll be ok.
  • To Mrs. Bond who has us over to dinner and who our dad can call for absolutely anything – from needing a kid picked up and fed to bragging about his accomplishments at work.
  • To Mrs. Thompson who brings us food every single month.
  • To Mrs. Fields our chauffeur AND piano teacher.
  • To Mrs. Bilodeau who helps us finish our homework afterschool and brings us cool dresses when they get too small for Davis Ann.
  • To Mrs. Todd, our snack provider and office buddy.
  • To Ms. Kirstie, the best and most encouraging dance teacher in the free world.
  • To Mrs. Gwaltney who is always available to bring DJ home on Tuesdays, even at the very last-minute.
  • To Mrs. Sanders who brings Michelle lunch for a special treat and sometimes home for a playdate.
  • To Mrs. Balentine, DJ’s special bud.
  • To Charlotte, Francie, Kim and Susan who remember our birthdays with a card in the mail and who took dad on college friends’ “girls weekend” last year!
  • To Beth and Sarah who take care of us, ALL of us, at church.
  • To Mrs. Carmichael who helps to remind dad about stuff that he should be doing.
  • To Mae, with her 70-year-old, 5 foot and 1/2 inch self, who washes 10 loads of laundry every other Tuesday and sews our Y Indian Princess patches on our vests.
  • And to Nana – who picks us up every Thursday, also does a mountain of laundry, takes us shopping and last week to get shots (now that’s a good mother).

We miss you  mom, but you left us in good hands.

You Never Even Call Me By My (First) Name

Posted by Jesse

We should all just have one name like Rihanna.

Danny’s got business out of town this weekend, which means I’ll be handling the girls, which on the weekend typically means releasing them to or receiving them from other parents in a series of social events and recreational activities. Take one to the mall, take two to tennis lessons, get back the one from the mall plus a friend, send one to a birthday party with a car pool, drop another at a play date and have her dropped back off later….the usual. I can generally handle it, plus the girls know roughly where they’re supposed to be when, PLUS Danny types every move up on a schedule he leaves on the kitchen counter when he departs (note: he’s a bit of a nerd, but I’m really not cracking on him here. If I were leaving my kids with me, I’d leave a few notes around. And call. Often)

But what I really need is for him to start typing the names of the adults I am likely to encounter on these activities. Full names. Because I have this conversation a lot:

Kimmy Gibbler’s Dad: “Well, I think Stephanie and Kimmy had a great time at the party.”

Me: “I’m sure they did. Thanks again for driving, Mr. Gibbler”

Kimmy Gibbler’s Dad: “Please, call me Tom.”

Which I would be happy to do. Except I had no idea what the man’s first name is. Danny already explained his own difficulty in remembering names, and I’m not much better. But this is a more specific phenomenon.

Not too say I’m popular, but even before moving in with the Tanners I had a few friends. I grew up in big schools and a large church. I worked at a large summer camp. I lived in a few different cities. All of which is to say I’m in a few large pools of friends. Moving in with the Tanners added a whole new pool of people. Actually it was more like adding an ocean. School friends, swimming club friends, church friends, neighbors, friends of the girls (and their parents) (and their siblings), Danny’s friends (and their kids)…they are all now my friends.

And don’t get me wrong: we are grateful for every one of them. Danny and I occasionally remark on how much of an impact all of our collective friends have had on the past year, and how much more difficult situations like this must be for folks who are more alone (side note: maybe this weekend would be a good one to reach out to a cancer-surviving family? Not us! We’re good this weekend).

But it’s a lot of people. And I only had about two months of grace period before I felt like I couldn’t ask for names anymore because I had probably been introduced to everyone. So there I am, walking around at one of the Stephanie’s birthday sleepovers, asking DJ and Michelle to tell me who is who. And I’ve learned some. I am almost positive I can name, at sight, each of the girls’ 5-10 best friends (probably a few more for DJ than Michelle, since I see the older kids more and typically they’re easier to remember as they develop a little more personality).

Teachers are especially difficult because I only ever hear to them referred to by their last name! But they’re especially important because they were also Lisa’s co-workers and good friends. Some of them have clearly spotted the look of unfamiliarity on my face and have introduced (or re-introduced) themselves. Thank you, Mrs. (Sharon) Keen!

It only added to the headache when I took on the role of Cross Country coach at the girls’ school (sorry, Stephanie, that does in fact mean you have to run on the team next year….or walk home after school). I’m there on day one, and because I do believe names are important I am trying my darndest to learn all of the kids’ full names as quickly as possible. But, of course, it’s also the one day that the parents dropping off are going to introduce themselves, meaning while I’m fretting about making some kid feel left out in the first week because he’s the one name I don’t remember, my window of opportunity to scoop up some adult first names is closing rapidly. (this also leads to an off-shoot of the “parents I only know by last name”; the “parents I know by their abbreviated email handles”).

So let’s just pick a round number and say I have met 800 new people that I know interact with through Danny and the girls. That’s a lot of new names, right? But of these 800 many, as I’ve pointed out, are related. Thus the number of new families would be more like 250 or 300, a much more manageable number. And, unless you’re a hyper-educated, uber-progressive like my sister Sallie, most people in the same family have the same last name. And that’s the one I work hardest to learn.

Yes, I was raised to respect my elders and greet them with formal names. Yes, I tend to think of myself as perpetually 18 and much more a part of DJ’s generation than, ugh, her parents. But to be honest…I’m probably calling you Mr. or Mrs. because, even if deep down I knew it was Tom, my thought process probably went something like this:

.…there’s an adult I should know…..whose friend is it….it’s one of DJ’s friends….no Stephanie….no DJ…’s Kimmy’s Dad….or is it Maggie’s….no it’s Kimmy’s….Kimmy Gibbler….he’s Mr. Gibbler…he’s….he’s…I think he’s Tom Gibb–

“Hellllloooo, Mr. Gibbler!”

Siblings fair no better with me. If I see Kimmy’s little brother and the name doesn’t pop in fast enough, I just call him Mr. Gibbler, too, only I say it with inflection as if I’m saying a cool nickname so as not to give away the fact that I’m clueless.

“Ah, yes. Mista Gibblerrrr.”

It’s enough of a task being able to put the right parent with the right child and siblings. No one notices how much I beam when DJ has multiple friends over to spend the night, and the next morning I am able to correctly identify which child is being picked up just by seeing their parent.

“Kimmy, doesn’t your Dad drive a grey suburban? I think he’s here.”

To be fair, I try to return the favors when it comes to learning names. When I started hanging around the school one of the teachers said, “Well what should I call you, because I only know and hear of you as Uncle Hayes?”

“Well if it’s easiest you can just call me Uncle Hayes.”

And so she does.

Memorial Day, A Few Months Early


I promise you, this is a blog about two well-meaning but often clueless guys trying to raise three wide-eyed girls in the wake of their mother passing away at too young an age. It is not a blog about a grief-stricken family. The latter, though meaningful and heartfelt, does not seem like a blog I would be interested in following for very long. The former is full of funny tales and moments that make you think, and, hopefully, would be a blog folks would find to be an interesting read.

But it’s “remembering week”, so that’s what we’re doing.

I speak for myself here, but yesterday (yes, February 24th was the date she died) was really not a difficult day for me. Maybe it’s because we were always on the go, flying up to Boston and running around town most of the day. Maybe it’s because we’re away from the house. Maybe it’s because–due to the approaching anniversary and some other stuff–I had a miserable week last week and didn’t have enough left in me to stay sufficiently glum.

But whatever the reason, I did not feel the harrowing sadness I did a year ago, and that I have felt at times this past year, and feared I might experience yesterday. Whereas I appreciated every single word, note, comment, and letter I received a year ago (even the ones I was never diligent enough to respond to) and read and re-read most of them multiple times, yesterday I kind of got annoyed as the texts, emails, calls, and facebook messages rolled in–like I was getting reminders that I should be feeling worse than I was. (note to friends: yes, I just irreverantly dismissed all of your good intentions. I am that jerk. But what can I do? That’s how I felt. I still advocate friends reaching out to friends, I promise!)

Which brings me to the multiple rememberances that have gone up to honor Lisa. Much like the generous gifts that were given in her memory to First Presbyterian Church and St. Timothy’s (and the $20,000+ that was given to cancer research through St. Timothy’s Spring Sprint), the physical memorials are a beatiful tribute to her legacy. But after yesterday, I wonder: will I look at these memorials and be happy and nostalgic? Or sad and annoyed? Will they bring joy in rememberance of a life well lived or anger at a life cut short? Of course, the memorials are not FOR me. They are for her, and Danny, and their girls, and my family, and all those who knew and have heard and will hear about Lisa. So I can get over myself. But I do wonder.

Regardless, they are beautiful and touching and despite my terrible introduction, I hope you enjoy seeing them. I hope I do, as well.

At St. Timothy’s, the front playground was dedicated to Lisa’s memory, marked by a plaque and a statue of two children on a bench reading (the picture at the top of the post is the writing on the bench). At DJ’s urging, Danny and the girls tied a balloon to one of the children in the statue before we left for Boston. Someone was also thoughtful enough to attach one on St. Timothy’s famous “Balloon Day”, one of Lisa’s favorite days of the year.


At First Presbyterian, an incredibly constructed, hand-made wooden music stand was dedicated to Lisa’s memory. The story, I believe, is that well before Lisa died the maker was moved to build the music stand, but wasn’t quite sure why. Then Lisa, a long-time director of the Children’s Choirs, passed away, and he realized (and I don’t want to speak for anyone here, but this is how it has been told to me) that the stand had been divinely inspired, his actions and hands guided by God. It is magnificent enough in its construction that I would find it difficult to disagree.

The engraving reads:

Lisa’s commitment to First Presbyterian Church was evident through her deep level of involvement. Lisa loved music and shared that love through her service as Co-Director of the Children’s Choir.

Dedicated in Memory of Lisa by the Choirs of First Presbyterian Church.

Designed and created with loving care by Hilliard Green, Jr.


At our family vacation spot, Capon Springs, WV, they have been going through some major building improvements. Our family opted to dedicate a new fireplace in the main house to Lisa. We picked the fireplace because it is the centerpiece of what was probably Lisa’s favorite activity at Capon: sitting around the main house living room, chatting with friends, catching up (read: gossiping!), playing group games, having sing-a-longs, and generally just loving life with good friends. After some good family brainstorming, my mom came up with “Sing Songs, Share Stories” for the inscription–it’s perfect. (note to Caponaires: the stone may not look exactly like this when you arrive in August).

You’ve Got a Friend In Me

Posted by Danny

There have been times this past year that I’ve said I have ten wives.  Before Lisa died, she said, “I don’t worry about our children.  We have surrounded ourselves with really good people who will care for them and help you raise them.”  She was right.  

I find that it’s usually easier to talk to women about Lisa.  I can walk into Panera and, without looking, find one of her girlfriends or acquaintances who will immediately bring up her name.  Some people might think that would be difficult.  It’s actually nice.  The more I become comfortable talking about Lisa and the different place she has in my heart and in our lives, the faster I heal.

Surprising to some might be the way that my buddies have also supported me through this pile of manure.  They reminisce with me about the times we had together. Some have cried with me.  I’ve receive a lot of manly bear hugs and pats on the back.  I think these friends of mine are extraordinary.  

Unfortunately, I believe that too many men fit the stereotype – less open and less able to deal with difficult emotional issues.

How often do men take the time to build the kinds of relationships that allow for that sort of intimate connection outside of their marriage?  How often do men talk about their fears or really, I mean really, talk about their faith?  I don’t mean standing up in front a men’s bible study with bobbing heads agreeing with the leader’s suggestions.  I mean wrestling with our deepest doubts.  I mean sharing our biggest, most outlandish dreams that may likely never come true.  There’s a vulnerability in that – perhaps a perceived weakness.  We should already know what we’re doing with our lives.  We should already know what we believe.  Many of us don’t. 

What’s behind our inability to talk to each other and support each other? 

Jesse and I were moderately close before Lisa died.  We cracked on one another and often teamed up at family events, playing off of each other at the expense of Lisa, a parent or another unwitting family member.  But when he moved in and was faced with returning home some nights to find me sitting on the couch in a really dark place, it was impossible for him to go grab a couple of Oreos and turn on SportsCenter.  He was faced with the unraveling of a brother.  And I have to hand it to him, he didn’t back away.  He listened and listened and listened.  He heard the same stories time and time again.  He asked questions and pushed.  He held me accountable at times.  He worked hard at empathy, playing on past times in his life when he’d hit a hard spell.

I think grief makes it alright for two muscular, hairy, tough guys (like us) to shed a tear in front of each other.  It gives us a pass to utter phrases that are unfamiliar to our vernacular. Phrases like –

I feel…

It was tough when…

I question…

I don’t believe…

Do you believe?

I’m scared…

It’s a deep connection that I’m thankful for. 

When I think about this incredibly sad situation, I often work to find some silver in the lining.  Frankly, there isn’t a lot.  However, my deepened friendships with Jesse and Brad and Eric and Steve and Jon and Jeff and many others, both male and female, shine bright through the dark cloud.  And that lining is what is leading me to the other side.  I hope I can pay that forward in the months and years to come.

Notes From The Beach…


The girls are at the beach with friends so Danny and I, through the kindness of a good friend who lent us his house for a couple days, decided we did not want to wait out the anniversary week of Lisa’s passing (does that need a catchier name? Lisa Week? Eh, that would be more fitting on her birthday. Death Week? Seems a bit morbid. We’ll work on it…) at home in a quiet, familiar, childless house. Instead we came to a quiet, unfamiliar, childless house, so it’s not like we’re having a party or anything. I think the thought was to get away, let ourselves mope a little bit, and then return with fresh faces to see the girls and face the 24th. It’s gray and windy here at the beach, and if I didn’t know any better I might think that we were creating the male version of the tear-inducing “Beaches”, and that one of us was the one with a terminal illness. But, no, we’re just a bit melancholy, missing a wife and sister. Here are a couple other things I’m thinking about:

What day was that again? I’ve found it interesting the way people consider dates, especially for something in recent history. Lisa passed away in the early morning hours of February 24th, but as we’ve been playing things back in our heads, we typically run off the weekly schedule of life. For example, we remember things like, “Friday so-and-so came to visit her, Saturday was the day we were told this, Monday was the day we had the family meeting…” etc.

 I have always worked better under this system, mostly because I’m terrible with dates, but also because it’s easier to use other events for context. I can’t tell you the date I started going out with a girl, but I can tell you the first time we kissed was the night of the UNC-Georgia Tech game that year. Danny joked he’s got enough emotion to “celebrate” both the day of the week and the actual date Lisa passed away, so we don’t need to worry about picking which one is the date we’re choosing to remember her passing.

“How’s Lisa?” That is not intended to be funny–Danny and I were talking on the drive down here about still coming across folks who don’t know. Recently, my Mom emailed with a family for whom Lisa had nannied for multiple summers. She loved the job, the family, and really enjoyed her time in Marblehead, Massachusetts. We were thinking about visiting since we’re headed to Boston this week to visit Sallie and Matt and their kids (Danny and I have godparenting to do!), but everyone feared that when we reached out to Lisa’s summer family, we’d also have to let them know she had passed away. We were right.

I also recently bumped into a guy who had worked at the Y with Lisa and Danny for a number of years. We greeted each other, and he quickly stated how he and his wife had just been talking about Lisa the other day and all the good times and stories they remembered of her. I assumed he was bringing this up because she had passed away and he was letting me know how much he thought of her. Then he caught me off-guard, “How is she doing?” Uh…

On the drive down, Danny relayed that DJ had a similar incident, only she had no clue who the person was. A lady, almost certainly a friend of Lisa’s, approached DJ, showered her with praise, told her she looked like her mom, and then promptly asked “How’s your mother doing?” I think Danny fears that such a question will send his daughters into a tailspin (since, admittedly, there have been times when someone will ask about her, or Danny, or the kids, or anything and the only answer that comes to mind is overwhelming sadness, and tears come before words), and that they might stuggle to answer. He asked her what she told the woman. DJ correctly pointed out, “Well, I couldn’t just say ‘she’s fine’, could I?!”

It sounds like DJ politely and unawkwardly told the woman that her Mom had passed away about a year ago. I think I need to take lessons from her. I still get terribly befuddled when people ask me how many siblings I have. Two? One? Had two, have one? How do you draw the line between being uninformative and avoiding a conversation that neither party is looking for?

This blog is a DOWNER Danny asked me on the drive down if he thought the blog was getting too depressing. I answered that I thought, yes, it had recently taken on more of a somber tone, but I thought it was more reflective of our current mood and what’s on our minds than anything. I told him I didn’t think it was a big deal and would not drive loyal readers away in droves if we had a week or two (or month?) of more thoughtful, somtimes even sad posts. However, f it’s still this way in April then we probably need to examine things, or not be surprised if people look for a more cheery place to visit on-line.

So stick with us, readers. This should be the blog at its most despondent. Things are getting better all the time🙂

How are the girls doing? Nothing makes me feel like a more inadequate guardian than not having a good answer to this one. With the temporary exception of one of the them seeming not her normal self for a stretch last summer, I feel like I have not noticed any major changes in the girls. In fact, people are always telling ME the things they have seen in the girls that are different, and I wonder if I’m too aloof to notice things or if I’m right and everyone else is just looking too hard. The girls are….girls! DJ is figuring out which high school to go to and probably more stressed out about the adults around her talking about it than she is by making the decision. Stephanie wants to sleep in on Saturdays and has a birthday party at Embassy Suites every other week. Michelle got a lot of Valentine’s Day candy and wants a later bed time. I have not been a parent, but all of this comes across as fairly normal to me.

I am not suggesting losing their mother will have no effect on them. I must admit, when 8-year old Michelle was filling out her “Letter to My Summer Counselor” for camp, and she wanted to describe herself as “sarcastic”, I worried a little bit that the influence of having two knucklehead adults in the house and no tough-love mom was probably taking its toll. (but I was still tickled to death. We convinced her to just go with “funny”).

Stephanie may prefer an extra hug this week, and DJ, true to form, is hunting for new traditions she can start to commemorate the 24th. But the girls are great, and I promise my lack of a better answer isn’t because I haven’t been paying attention. And that definitely mean don’t ask–like I said, I just feel silly when I don’t have much more of an answer than “great!”

Until It Passes

I do not believe that grief is insurmountable.  I do believe it creeps up on you at times when you think you’ve already kicked its butt.  I don’t sit around in a stupor day in and day out.  I’m not a sad or bitter person.  I have afternoons, like today, that are painful.  I suspect that will be the case for the rest of my life. 

I don’t have that many vivid memories of the weeks after Lisa’s death.  Perhaps I was just numb to the world.  However, the week and a half prior to her death are fraught with memories – this week I struggle to escape them.  I don’t believe that it is the date February 24 that has me so down right now.  I think it is these memories, suppressed for months, that are all flooding back to consciousness. 

One year ago last Monday was the last time that Lisa saw the girls.  She was telling them goodbye as they packed for a trip to the beach with  their friends.  As DJ walked up the stairs in only a t-shirt, Lisa said, “Great, my last memory of DJ will be her butt hanging out under that shirt.”  I said, “They’ll be back Thursday.”  She replied, “I know.”

Not only did she know that they would be home Thursday, she also knew that this was likely the last time she would lay eyes on her daughters.  How was she able to walk back to our bedroom with intuition telling her this was it?  Lisa was always good at letting go.  She was matter of fact.  It was what it was.  She could not change it.

They return to the beach this Sunday.  It will be hard for me to say goodbye even knowing I’ll see them again in three days.

Wednesday would have been her last night in our house.  Her last shower at home.  I remember calling the girls at the beach that evening to tell them Lisa was going back to the hospital.  She was packing, showering and shaving her legs – something all women do before a visit to the doctor.  The phone conversations were difficult. 

One year ago yesterday, Lisa and I had four wonderful hours in the Duke waiting room.  We were annoyed at the time it took to check in, but what incredible conversation and laughs we shared. Food from the snack shop.  A conversation with another woman who was undergoing major surgery the following day.  She didn’t know if she would make it.  I wonder if she did? 

 That Saturday she told my parents goodbye.  

“You’ve been good to me and you raised a good boy.”  

We were put in ICU that night.  She walked in seemingly fine.  She had brushed her teeth and walked to the bathroom thirty minutes before in the cancer center.  When I returned after dinner, she couldn’t stand up – she had lost the function in her legs; the fear and disbelief we shared in those moments.

Right now each day has a memory; each day has a specific meaning.  Most are painful.

So you endure.  You plan things to look  forward to.  You talk to your best buddy in the office at work.  You hunker down and ponder the past and type through cloudy eyes.  You call your mom.  You eat dinner out.  And you allow yourself to live the grief – until it passes once again.

Breeding Tar Heels


Of COURSE Stephanie's favorite Tar Heel is Rasheed Wallace

I feel the need for 'Sheed

As a child growing up in the Triangle in the 80’s, I was adrift as far as my allegiances were concerned. I don’t even remember when I learned that my father began his college career as an undergrad at Duke (he later dropped out and joined the army and finished at Maryland) but I know they had already been nixed from the list of possibilities. But as a reared Raleighite, I was able to attend a number of N.C. State games growing up, and some of my pre-school friends’ parents swear I was a pretty big Wolfpacker in my time.


I’d like to think that I was already seeing the light (blue) by the time Lisa attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (I believe I was 9 at the time), but I do know that is what sealed it. Lisa was a proud North Carolina alumna. I wouldn’t say she was fervently passionate about the sports teams, but we tackled it in tandem: she gave me my first behind-the-scenes, in the dorms, in the Dean Dome experiences in Chapel Hill, and I, in turn, kept her abreast of anything significant she needed to know about the basketball team for the next 20 years.

I remember Lisa taking me to see Jeff Lebo and the Tar Heels take on John Crotty and Virginia in 1989. I got to stay with her in Cobb dorm and I felt like the coolest kid on the planet. I remember sitting next to my family’s only other known sports nut, my maternal grandfather, and watching King Rice throttle Bobby Hurley in 1990. I can’t remember if Lisa got us those seats or I just assumed she did because Lisa had become my tour guide to Chapel Hill.

So it is with no shame and much Tar Heel pride that I have and will continue to evoke the memory of their late mother as I strive valiantly to ensure that all three Tanner children are Tar Heels. I have a couple things going for me:

Michelle has no idea how cool she is wearing a Ray Felton jersey

  1. Danny is not a huge sports guy. Like my sister did, he cares about his school’s sports teams. At times he likes to attend a game and socialize with fellow fans. However, he has never broken an appliance, lied to a girlfriend, or made other questionable decisions with lingering long-term effects based on which team he pulls for. You know, things that passionate fans do. Simply put: I care more than he does.
  2. Danny is an N.C. State grad. I will save the petty taunts and not-so-subtle digs for another day (or another team), but even Wolfpack fans would have to admit: it’s kind of a tough sell bringing in newly recruited fans over to team NCSU these days, no?
  3. I’m dedicated. I realize this is not an overnight process. I am slowly implementing my strategy. I also recognize that picking a team to root for is not high on the Tanner girl list of priorities, so I don’t push too hard. But when I find a moment to point out that their mother was the embodiment of a UNC fan–graceful, elegant, intelligent, classy, and incredibly humble–I do it.
  4. I’m conniving. Aside from the aforementioned plan to guilt them with their mother’s wishes that they all cheer for UNC (I’m not positive it was one of the priorities she wrote out for Danny about raising the girls, but I am certain it was on her heart), I am sneaky about it. For example, when Danny and I took Michelle and Stephanie to an N.C. State hoops game a few weeks ago, I didn’t say much. I watched like a casual fan, chatted up some folks around me, and was not bothered when the girls were asking Danny to use his phone to play games on. When I take them to a Carolina basketball game, we will get there early, go eat some place they’d like, point out people the girls might know, find things that will appeal to them (like Carolina girls in cool clothes), and generally “sell” the program a lot more. And I’m not above resorting to lying and overplaying stereotypes.

next we gotta work on that undershirt

I also look for spots where I can make some headway, and a great one presented itself at St. Timothy’s Spirit Week. After Pajama Day and Wacky Tacky Day, the week ended with Team Day, where kids could wear hats and shirts showing off their favorite team colors. Danny and the girls have a few Wolfpack red shirts, but they were no match for my collection of UNC jerseys and other gear. I put Stephanie in a Rasheed Wallace get-up, Michelle rocked a Raymond Felton jersey-gown, even DJ donned an old collared Carolina shirt until some teacher gave her a huge generic XXL jersey to drape over her.

I think I’m winning the battle. Stephanie looked way proud of her mesh Tar Heels hat. Michelle seemed to enjoy being one of the elite in light blue. Even Kimmy Gibbler was happy to don a Jerry Stackhouse 76ers jersey (so what if none of the other kids at the school realized he was a UNC player).

They might even watch the UNC-Duke game with me tonight, since they’ll do almost anything to stay up a little bit later and watch TV. I may just have to show them last night’s episode of Glee during halftime to keep their attention.

Go Heels!

Wedding Weekend in DC

Posted by Danny

Top ten things about our wedding weekend in DC

Number 15 (I couldn’t list just 10, sorry):  Stephanie taught me that “sit on a potato pan Otis” spelled backwards is “sit on a potato pan Otis.  I thought she was a genius to figure that out!  Jesse says he’s heard it before.

Number 14:  Everyone in the family tried brussels sprouts for the first time.  One enjoyed them, two were neutral, two gagged at the table and spit them out in their napkins.

Before sprouts

Number 13:  No plastic bunny cups.

Where's the bunny?

Number 12:      A full cavity search at the Capitol and the White House.  Those silly secret service agents.

Number 11:      The reading of “Oh, the Places You’ll Go,” by Dr. Seuss, at the wedding.  Well, he didn’t read it but the book is by him.

Number 10:      The champagne tower.  Ideally, two waiters pour campaign into the top glass and it spills over into the next layer and so on.  Because the venue was an old mansion, the floor was a bit warped and it didn’t work exactly as planned.  But it’s a really cool idea!

Number 9:  An individual, personalized note inscribed for each guest at the wedding!  A thank you note before they get the gift!  Now that’s class.

Number 8:  Really nice handwriting. 

Number 7:  Uncle Jesse saying “spies” in a whispered tone, 167 times and around every corner at the Spy Museum.

Number 6:  The bride and her father (from a dad’s perspective, better than a bride and her new husband).

Number 5:   13 year olds who look so old they are offered wine at the reception (she’s wearing her mom’s shoes!).

Number 4:  Slick backed hair that makes you look ten years older than you are.

Oops, wrong picture - not enough hair to slick!

Number 3:  Dessert on a stick.

Number 2:  Yoko Ono, Jr. (wore them all weekend long indoor and out).

Number 1:  A big bench; a happy family.

Rehearsal Dinner

Posted by Danny

It’s a Katsopolis family tradition to compose and sing a song at all familiy weddings.  Since Kenny has been like a member of the family for the past 32 years, a performance was in order. 

Here are the lyrics, written by Jesse:

(To the tune of 867-5309)

Kenny, Kenny, you need to get married

We’re here to help you we know it can be scary

We would have thought that you’d gotten over your fears

Since you’ve been dating for like 13 years


Kenny we got you a woman

You need to make her yours

Kenny don’t lose this woman


Kenny, Kenny it’s not as hard as it seems

Specially since we found the girl of your dre-ams

And I don’t mean like dreams that you’ve had before

Like the one where you played on the PGA tour


Just try it, Just try it

We really think you will enjoy

You’ll like it, you’ll like it

Even though you’re a Mama’s boy

And Katherine for you this could be a bit scary

Because his arms and hands and feet are so hairy

But there is no question who he likes the best

They only one to pass the Capon test


Dinner Is Delivered!

Posted by Uncle Jesse

Throughout Lisa’s illness, after her passing, and now well into when we should probably be able to handle it ourselves, our AMAZING network of friends has given us all kinds of support. Nowhere has this been more tangibly evident than at the dinner table. Which is a darn good thing. I wouldn’t go so far as to say “we miss Lisa’s cooking” but with all the extra things that get added to Danny’s plate being a single parent, it has been a gi-mongous (mash-up of giant and humongous…I got bored of gi-normous) help to have one less chore to worry about on many nights.

Tonight’s meal was one of many provided by good family friend Heather T. It was Greek spaghetti pie: noodles, tomato sauce, oregano, feta cheese and black pepper (Michelle will think the pepper makes it look cool).

I did the bread and salad myself! (yeah, the bread was the cheap, garlic heat up kind–but it’s so good!) And the salad had onions and carrots that the girls will pick out but that will keep all of our doctor friends off of our backs (we will not be sharing what kinds of cereal we pump in the kids any more–lesson learned). I don’t really cook, but I heat up and slice things well enough, and I’m a darn good kitchen cleaner (which is important–Danny’s not a neat freak but I’ve definitely had to step my game up from the various other places I’ve lived).

OH–and to all you do-gooders out there who will read this and have a casserole at our door tomorrow, just stop. We’re fine, I promise (though it’s not like we’re going to turn you down at the drop-off). Grandparents alone cover us about half the time. Our kids are healthy and (mostly) happy eaters.

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