The Amazing Mule Ride

 

Posted by Danny

On Tuesday, our Nana had a significant birthday – I won’t go into which one, but it was a biggie!

To celebrate, the girls made a few decorations and Uncle Matt, Aunt Sallie and I cooked dinner.  We had a nice cake – compliments of the Whole Foods (no parmesan). 

And…we all dressed like Nana!  Some of the highlights included:

  • Popped up collar
  • Untucked shirt cinched with a belt
  • Big bling around the neck
  • Bracelets for days
  • Shoulder pads (we taped wash cloths to our shoulders)
  • Vests
  • Heels
  • Glasses
  • Baby powder on the head (she is graying a tad)

And we each wrote ten ‘memories with Nana’, presented to her one at a time.

My favorite Nana memory occurred on our family trip to the Grand Canyon.  As a surprise, the lovely in laws scheduled a mule ride down the canyon for Lisa and me.  I was apprehensive – I don’t like heights and I’m pretty allergic to animals.  But I really wanted to try.

I was surprised when we reached our destination – not pleasantly, just surprised.  You literally walked straight up to the edge of this vast hole in the earth.  There were few railings and no fences.  If you stepped too far, you would simply fall thousands of feet to the bottom of the gorge.  Twice during our stay, helicopters converged on the rim to find someone who was missing.  And to top it off, my father-in-law immediately purchased a book that chronicled the stories of all the people who died there.  It was a thick book because a bunch of people never made it out! 

In checking out the trail which led to the bottom, I realized that the six-foot wide path followed the rocks on the left side but that there was absolutely nothing on the right side.  If one of the mules decided to commit Harry Carry, there was no stopping him.  He could jump as easily as I could breath. 

I didn’t contemplate the mule ride very long.  I generously offered my mule to anyone in the family who had no concern for their own life.  There weren’t too many takers – but finally Nana agreed to take the voyage with Lisa.

We walked them to the trail head and saw them off at 8 am sharp.  The guide assured us that a mule had never jumped off the trail with a person on his back.  He said that  only a couple of the animals died on the trail – and that they were pack mules, not the ones carrying people.  And then he asked us to sign a waiver that explained that you could die at any moment on the trail and that regardless of how negligent they might be, they were not responsible for your death.  I think there was also a clause that said if you did depart on the ride, they could use your story in volume 2 of the “Stupid People Who Died in the Canyon” book.

I hugged Lisa, and assumed I would not ever see her again.  Then I took the kids for ice cream.

Eight hours later, they returned.  Both of them looked like hell:  dirty, leaves hanging off their hats, sunburned and smelling to high heaven.  Neither of them were speaking to me.  Well, Nana did say one thing, “You…are no longer my favorite son-in-law!”  She stormed off to her room.

Lisa couldn’t get her underwear off because the dried blood from her butt scabs had fused them to her skin.  Her upper legs looked like she had been beaten by Indian Jones’ whip. 

And I was looking like the smartest person in Arizona.

They eventually got over their anger at me, bragged about the incredible views they’d seen and felt proud that they’s survived this adventure.  We still have mule Christmas ornaments to remind us of that trip.

You know, that Nana is a pretty gutsy lady.  And she looks pretty good for ?0 years old!

Sunday Post 22: Fathers

I wish I could pinpoint a day when I learned a significant lesson from my dad or one of my granddads.  I cannot.  There doesn’t seem to be a particular moment that sticks out in my head.

I wish I could remember the birds and the bees talk.  All I recall about that is at the age of 6 my wise older brother taught me a very, very bad word.  As the story goes, I used it when the boy across the street stole my matchbox car city.  And I used it with the zest of a mother calling for her children to come home for dinner.  My voice carried all over Glendale Acres.  It was a Sunday afternoon and my dad made it down the three sets of stairs in our split level house in three giant leaps.  I recall a conversation about that word – I’m not sure how detailed he got.  But I didn’t use it again for a very long time.

Although I can’t remember a specific ah-hah moment that turned me into a man, I do recall time.  Time with these men, doing the mundane. 

I recall hanging on my dad’s shoulders at the beach with what to me were humongous waves smacking us in the head.  And with each wave my father would say, “That was rude and unacceptable!”  I laughed and laughed to see him act as if the wave had gotten the best of him.

I remember squeezing into the cab of my granddaddy Tanner’s pickup truck each time we went to visit.  The three musketeers – Woodrow, my brother and me.  It was tradition to go get a Slurpee at the local 7 – 11.  It seemed that I never had one unless I was in South Carolina visiting him.  And to me it was like nectar from the gods.

My other grandfather, Papa, owned a small convenience store.  I’d spend a week with him each  summer and would pump gas.  The pay:  all the candy I  could eat!  I remember him pulling out a brown bag on Saturday just before my parents were to arrive to pick me up.  He’d walk over to the candy rack and would watch me collect my booty.  “Here, these are good, take a few more.”  My eyes would glaze over at the thought of the weeks to come with my sugary stash.

This attention that they gave, just focused on me – showing me that I was worth their time – actually did more to develop me into the person I am than any significant lecture or event or vacation.

I hope my kids remember the Invisible Daddy Handbook that’s always in my pocket.  I hope they remember sitting on the couch and learning to master a bow tie, just in case their husbands don’t know how to tie one.  Or shagging to beach music in the kitchen.  Time – on a daily basis.

When it all shakes out, my bet is that will be the most powerful lesson they take.

Gift Usage

 
Posted By Jesse
Gift-giving is not one of my biggest strengths. Lisa was an amazing gift-giver but I think it’s because it gave her an excuse for more shopping. But even beyond picking things out, she had that sort of mind that was always thinking about the next birthday or Christmas coming up. Typically by the time Christmas shopping season came around, she was already done, having kept a watchful eye out for presents while on trips and vacations. I’m more of the “how late are you open on Christmas Eve?” kind of guy.
 
The other thing Lisa and Danny are both good at is establishing “themes” for birthdays and Christmas for the kids: they let you know what the big thing is going to be and it helps you pick a relevant accessory. Plus, if the kid is already excited about said big ticket item, they’re that much more likely to be excited about every related gift. It’s a win-win. When DJ got her cell phone, I got her a case. When Michelle got a big art easel, I gave her cool crayons and other supplies.

the picture belies the excitement of first piercing

This year one of Stephanie’s Christmas themes was EARRINGS! She got her ears pierced just before Christmas and must have gotten 30 pair of them in December to get her collection started. I joined in the theme: I got her an earring stand and a little wooden box with a design on it to hold loose ones. I was pleased with the purchase.

But not as pleased as I was a few weeks later when I first noticed that she actually uses them! Typically I’m happy if my gift gets picked up after the wrapping comes off; seeing it put to practical use is a whole new ball game.
 
Being thoughtful and sweet is something Stephanie comes by naturally, but I have learned that putting presents to use is a specific skill that she has inherited from Danny’s mother. From what I have been told she has an extra gene that allows her to mentally label every sweater or serving tray or electronic device that she ever received as a present with the name of the giver. Then, if that person is visiting, she will being wearing or using the gift. Not only that, she does it naturally, never seeming like she’s planned it this way, so it really does seems as if you have always given her the perfect gift.
 
Michelle has been learning in cotillion about the proper way to receive a compliment. Stephanie and her grandmother could teach classes on the best way to receive a gift, a way that makes the giver feel good. It’s a gift they have.

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.

Sunday Post 9: What is heaven like?

When I was a kid, my family would go to South Carolina for the day once a month to visit our grandparents.  Both sets lived there.  It was about two hours from our house in North Carolina, a straight shot down I-95.  The grandmother who could cook (and there was only one with that talent) would serve us a huge helping of fried chicken and butter beans which we poured over white rice.  Without exception, my brother and I would have gas for the entire trip back home, my mother ready to crucify us by the time we hit South of the Border.

The other grandmother was also a special lady.  Idee was the one we really talked to about life. 

I remember sitting at her white and chrome formica kitchen table one Saturday afternoon.  I was eleven and, as a teenager, learned to drink coffee at that very spot.  On this particular day, we had a discussion about heaven. 

“Idee, what do you think heaven is like?”

“Honey, it’s beautiful.  Like being in a huge garden – clear bright skies every day.”

“What do you do there?”

“Oh, you just sit around and listen to the beautiful music.  The angels play their harps all day long.”

“What do you wear in heaven?”

“There are no clothes in heaven baby.  We leave all that stuff here.”

I have a horrible vision imprinted in my head of me sitting around naked with my also naked grandparents listening to harp music in heaven.  That is NOT my idea of eternal bliss.  I’m not a modest person, but if they’re around, I need clothes.  I hope God has bow ties – and maybe a little Kenny Chesney or Usher.  I’d take Bieber over angelic harp music any day.

This year my view of heaven has changed, actually for the better.  It’s not because I have a new outlook on the fashion scene up there or a new idea about the tunes God plays.  It’s because of a dream.

Last fall I had a vivid vision, I guess it was a dream, about heaven.  It was so real.  One of those moments when you wake up with a racing heart beat because you feel like you were actually participating.  I’ve never been one to remember my dreams.  But I’ve had several this year that I can’t forget. 

In this particular one, I saw a place filled with those who have died before me.  My one grandmother greeting me with a big plate of fried chicken.  My big tall goofy friend Trey with his hand in the air – a high-five and a huge hug.  I could hear him say, in his slow southern drawl, “You finally made it dude.” 

And then I spotted Lisa.  She was radiant, like the day I married her.  She walked over.  We didn’t talk but knew exactly what the other was thinking… “Finally.”

We looked at each other, and in that one glance the years apart vanished.  I reached for that hand that I’ve missed so much and we walked down a path, just the two of us.  It seems as though this time we won’t ever have to be apart again.

It’s a vivid image, an image of deep, deep comfort.  It gives me hope.  

I’m not sure I’m communicating with the dead and I probably wouldn’t admit it if I thought I really was.  But I will say that something has put images in my head that have given me the assurance that Lisa is ok.  That something has also given me the assurance that I will see her again.  And somehow, that makes it easier to live.

Justin Bieber Is In My Bathroom

Posted by Jesse

Justin Bieber is in my bathroom. Seriously. I don’t know how long he’s been there, but I bumped into him last night as I was brushing my teeth before bed. Don’t believe me? See for yourself:

I have a bathroom attendant. Goes by the name "Bieber"

As I’m sure you were aware, Tuesday was Justin Bieber’s birthday, and it was definitely cause for celebration at the Tanner house. DJ made a cake she took to school, and later that day Danny’s parents brought her a life-sized (actually, I think it’s bigger than he is) cardboard cutout of the Biebs.

So, being the last one in for the evening last night, naturally I was the sucker who got “Bieber-ed”. I came in from watching basketball at a friend’s house and nearly joined the peed-my-pants club when I found what appeared to be a 6-foot tall, 13-year old pop sensation standing in my bathroom.

Like any good prank-ee who was pranked sans witnesses, I downplayed the result to the conspirators this morning at breakfast, acting as if I barely noticed. Truth be told, I jumped a little last night. And a little this morning. And a little the two times I’ve been into the bathroom since and forgotten about him.

But more than scared, I was excited….because now it’s game on. If you live in the Tanner house, you should expect to see Bieber around every dark corner, behind every door, and in your bed every time you pull down the sheets (well, if you haven’t already been short-sheeted).

There’s nothing more fun than a running prank where all parties involved are thick-skinned enough not to raise a stink about a little fun, and creative enough to keep it going–and, as you can tell, there’s plenty of both to go around this house.

But the best part is I can start with the most dastardly prank I could think to pull on DJ: making her beloved Bieber cutout DISAPPEAR!

Any other good prank suggestions? I might need some help.

Happy Birthday, Bieber

POSTED BY JESSE

Today is Justin Bieber’s birthday. He was born on March 1st, 1994 at 12:56 a.m. How do I know this? I am living with a Bieb-ette.

Yesterday I picked DJ up from school. She told me she had to make a cake that night. What for?

The Biebs

“For Justin Bieber’s birthday!”

 

She also told me she was going to set her alarm for 12:56 a.m. because that’s what time he was born. I rolled my eyes, but I was amused.

This Bieber kid is the real deal. DJ first saw him in concert before he went to super-huge-megastar status when he was opening for Taylor Swift. She flew up to Boston to visit her Aunt Sallie and they went to the show together. She’s been hooked ever since.

And it sounds like she’s not the only one. His movie made $30 million the opening weekend. He’s a trending topic on Twitter daily. His fans even went after Esperanza Spalding, the poor girl who dared to win the Best New Artist Grammy over Bieber. So it’s safe to say he’s probably not going anywhere for a while, provided he doesn’t start rolling around Hollywood with, say, Charlie Sheen.

You ever heard of Bye, Bye Birdie? A Broadway show turned movie about a star singer going off to war and the fan who wins the chance to give him a goodbye kiss? The Tanner girls love it because they watch old musicals at Danny’s parents’ house (I am a BIG fan of this–they have a great collection that the girls just love. Kids will watch classic movies; there’s a reason they’re classics!).

I have a soft spot for the show because my middle school and my high school both put on a production of it and I was cast in the same role both times: Hugo, the nerdy, left by the wayside boyfriend, who, perhaps not coincidentally, is about the only lead character who does not sing any solos.

Well DJ is a living Kim MacAfee, the main girl in the show. She definitely has 2011 version of the “Telephone Hour” song mastered, though instead of the rotary it’s today’s teenage combination of text, talk, facebook, and skype.

Bieber's birthday cake, pre-icing

And Bieber is her Conrad Birdie. She paid some exorbitant amount of money to the Justin Bieber movie, Never Say Never, a week before it officially came out in theaters. If there were a contest to kiss Justin Bieber before sending him off to fight in Libya, DJ would be in it and I wouldn’t bet against her winning.

 

And last night she made him a birthday cake. I think (hope) that deep down she’s being a little bit tongue-in-cheek in her obsession, but she did insist on making purple icing and spent a lot of time trying to figure out which combinations of food coloring would produce it, so maybe she really does have a problem.

But I admire her creativity and the way she completely throws herself into silly projects like this from time to time. It adds a little spice to the ordinary routine.

some father-daughter time in the kitchen

And maybe the best part was how unfazed Danny seemed that his daughter was making a mess in the kitchen for a Bieber birthday cake. After a day of work, and running the late shuttle for kid pick-up, and cooking dinner, and answering homework questions, I don’t even think I heard him sigh when DJ said, “Daddy, will you help me make icing for the cake? We don’t have any.”

 

In fact, it was kind of neat to see him passing down some of his better-than-average baking skills to his oldest daughter.

“Grab the confection sugar and the vanilla out of the cupboard….”

And together they made cake icing and iced Justin Bieber’s birthday cake. DJ then took the special purple icing to do the writing.

Unfortunately cakes don’t come with spell-check, so with only Stephanie as the consultant, they first came up with this:

Oops.

It’s B-i-e-b-e-r (but she fixed it). Whew, maybe she’s not as obsessed as I thought.

Notes From The Beach…

POSTED BY JESSE

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!”

Sadlacks or Bust

Posted by Danny

When I was a kid we lived on Birkshire Road in Fayetteville, NC.  Our house was the one where every kid would spend the entire summer.  The boy across the street would arrive at our house at 8 am and my mom would finally kick him out at dusk.  We’d play hide in go seek, boyland and girlland (I won’t go into the details but let your mind run wild!), and once my older brother had us shoot darts at people’s bare butts – the kind of dart with a suction cup on the end.  Being the younger brother, I was never the target – primarily because I was a tattle tail and he knew better.  I don’t think they ever stuck, but it was a remarkable thing to try.

Lisa and I had talked about wanting to be the house where kids were comfortable hanging out.  I think she thought she’d have a better chance getting the poop on all of the boys.  I just like people and noise.  I also like to think of myself as cool.  My oldest daughter would not concur – but I’ve seen some of her friend’s dads and I’m really not that bad (no offense dudes). 

It hit me late last spring.  With Lisa gone, there was a good chance that my kids would not have the same social opportunities as others.  In our world, Lisa was the inviter – she invited people to dinner, she invited kids for play dates, she invited kids over to spend the night, she coordinated and invited to their birthday parties.  I greeted the pizza man at the door and made sure he was paid.  If I didn’t do something, my kids would spend their birthdays around our kitchen bar with a Food Lion cake and four grandparents cheering them on, period.  I had a new role to play – I’d seen her do it.  Certainly with my background as a Y camp counselor and my  incredible role model in Lisa, I could handle the kids’ social activities.

My first attempt was a birthday party for Stephanie.  We invited 12 girls for dinner at a local pizza joint, followed by popsicles at Loco Pops and then…the sleepover.  I let Michelle have a friend over and threw in two for DJ.  Grandparents helped with transportation.

After we ate, I took Michelle and Stephanie and their friends and headed out on Hillsborough Street near the NC State campus.  It was about a five block walk from pizza to popsicles.  With the grandfolks blocks behind us, the 16 of us started chanting Y songs as we strolled down the road.

Form the Orange

Form form the orange

Peel the orange

Peel peel the orange

Squeeze the orange

Squeeze squeeze the orange

The songs had motions and we all sang at full capacity.  As we walked by the outdoor seating at Porter’s, a local restaurant, the diners lobbed out support – “Isn’t that cute.”

We eventually hit Sadlack’s, an institution in Raleigh:  an outdoor bar with live music, a very eclectic crowd.  I wasn’t sure how the clientele would respond to our fruity melodyies.  I was pleasantly surprised, “Whoa, whoa – way to go old man!”  “Check that dude out!”  “You need this (holding out his beer) more than I do!”  I felt like a rock star.

I’ve tried to continue to support my kids when they want to bring friends in.  Tonight, we have the school cheerleading squad over – about 15 girls.  They are dancing, they are laughing, they are LOUD!  And they are awesome.

I’m really not that cool.  They don’t give me the time of day.  But I know that if Lisa could see this, she’s be smiling from cheek to cheek.

Oh, and rest assured I locked up all of the suction darts before the party started!

Breeding Tar Heels

POSTED BY JESSE

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!

  • Tanner Tweets

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 11,935 other followers

  • Past Posts

  • Contact Us