Michelle’s birthday was Monday, so a few weeks ago I planned a small sleepover for just a couple of her good buddies.  It was one of those five friends or 22 sort of deal.  I’ve done 22.  That’s why we settled on five this year.

Jesse joined us for dinner at a local Italian restaurant.  We only had one spilled drink.

Jesse continued his run as the reigning “Waiting For Dinner Tic Tac Toe Champion”.  We played retaurant Truth or Dare during dinner.  There was a little bubble blowing via straw via nose action, and my dare was to walk into the Ladies’ restroom.  I knew it was a one seater so was fairly certain if the doorknob opened, I was golden.  Thankfully, I was right.

A sleepover wasn’t good enough though.  I was also told by my youngest that Kimmey’s mom always had an art project when they went to her house.  Our sitter suggested painting pumpkins.  I obliged – picked up six last weekend at the Farmer’s Market.

Michelle didn’t really want a cake, so we agreed on s’mores in the outdoor fireplace.  Oh, and we had to have a movie from the Redbox.

Waffles were required the next morning because Mr. Gibbler aways cooks a “BIIIG breakfast” on Saturdays (he also happens to fall asleep at 8 p.m. every evening – no wonder he has the energy to cook frickin’ waffles at dawn).

I was prepared.  All pieces of the night came across without a hitch.  One of Michelle’s friends even said, “Mr. Tanner, you have really nice paintbrushes.”  Take that Mrs. Gibbler!  Kickbutt paintbrushes – oh yeah!

Thankfully Nana had purchased Halloween tattoos and candy for the “bridesmaids'” gifts.  Yeah – come to my house, I buy you dinner, feed you s’mores, watch you for 15 hours, walk into the women’s bathroom for your amusment, and as if that is not enough, I feel a sick obligation to give you a gift for coming.

Who came up with that?  I wish I knew – because I would like to choke them with a satin ribbon and toss their body into a large silk gift bag.

When picking up the next morning, one of Michelle’s friends’ moms offered to take her lunch on Monday at school – sort of a special birthday treat.  I am thankful for the mothers who offer to do things for my kids while at the same time making sure I understand the norms of motherhood.

“Michelle, do lots of the kid’s mom’s eat lunch at school with them on their birthdays?”

“Yea.  And they also take a Special Snack for the class.  You were going to do that weren’t you?”

“I signed up to bring Special Snack on Friday because that’s the day of the week that your class always has Special Snack.  It was the closest Special Snack Day to your birthday.”  I was so proud of myself for my strategic Special Snacking.

“All the other kids have it on their birthday.”

“Of course they do.  I’ll just Speical Snack on Monday and Friday this week.”

“Some moms stay and help serve the snack.  Then we sing happy birthday.”

Perhaps I should just take the whole week off.  I wonder if this could be considered FMLA.

“Oh, and don’t forget, Jackson is allergic to tree nuts.”

“Tree nuts?”

“You can’t pack a snack with tree nuts. Jackson is allergic. He could die.”

I could envision the carpool line now, moms standing everywhere:

“Did you hear? School had to call EMS today.”

“Ooo. What happened?”

“The widower – you know, Michelle’s dad?”

“What did he do this time?”

“Nearly killed Jackson…”

“Tree nuts?”

“Un huh.”

I poured through the ingredients listed on the boxes of goodies I’d purchased for homemade trail mix.

What in the heck is Riboflavin? It’s in everything.

Nah – can’t possibly be tree nuts in Riboflavin…

Ahhhhhh –

“Hello. Umm.  This is Danny Tanner.  My daughter Michelle is in Jackson’s class. Well, this may seem like a silly question – but, well, is Jackson allergic to Riboflavin?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Great! Tell him Michelle says hey.  Goodbye.”

I just wanted to be sure.

So, Michelle, I’ll drop you off at 8, bring tree nut free Special Snack in at 10, pick up some yummy nuggets at 11:15 so I can eat with your sister at 11:30 (wouldn’t want anyone in the family to miss out on the action) and stay the full hour so I can eat with you at noon.”


I sort of wondered if it was gonna be worth all the trouble – I mean…she’s turning 10.  This ain’t her wedding day.

But when I saw the look on her face as we proudly walked down the hall to her classroom, arms piled full of Riboflavinated treats, I sort of remembered. Been a long time since someone helped make me feel that special.


Another Year, Another Wrinkle

I’ve got a birthday this week.  I turn 47.  And yet I don’t feel a day over 46.

Do you ever look at yourself in the mirror and wonder what in the hell happened?

Since when did my hair turn white?  Not only on my sideburns and around my temples, but the stuff is taking over my chest.  Out with the brown, in with the gray!

It’s like old man kudzu.  And I’m not excited about where it might appear next.

The older I get, the more grooming I do.  As if showering and shaving isn’t enough every day, I now have to hunt for rogue hair all about my being.

Oh there’s a thatch growing out of my nostril.  A pompom of fuzz protruding from my ear canal.  And the one, only one, standing fully erect right on the top of my left shoulder-blade.

My eyebrows remind me of the fringe on my grandma’s handmade afghans.  I could serve spinach dip out of the crevices in my forehead.  Not only do I need glasses to read the menu at a restaurant, I also can’t see my food without them.  Imagine my surprise when the blurry “carrots” I bit into turned out to be rutabaga.  YUCK.

My grandfather, Woodrow, had a forehead the size of Montana.  And as Spurgeon, the other, added years to his life, his ears expanded like a Magic Towel wash cloth.  What a future.

I pee all the time, and there’s a 3″ x 3″ patch of skin on my back that’s as dry as a bone.  “Oooooo Dad!  What is that?  Scabies?”

“No!  It’s not scabies!!  It’s dry skin – it’s called eczema.”

“You need to get that checked out.  It’s gross.”

My girls are outstanding at pointing out all my flaws.

“You’re belly is jiggly!”  “You have warts on your feet.”  “I didn’t know you could get pimples at such an old age.”

I’m thankful I had the opportunity to develop a strong self-esteem before I had girls nearing the teenage years.

They haven’t discovered the vein that’s popping out around my right ankle although they relish the opportunity to discuss the volume of lint that collects in my bellybutton.  “Pull it out dad, I need a new scarf for winter.”

Where does that stuff come from and why is it in my navel?  I feel like a dryer.

I’m like an old house that needs major repairs.  I’m just not sure I could recoup the investment.

Happy Birthday to You

Posted by Danny

As a kid I hated birthday parties.  Not mine – only the ones for others.

There was just something about them – one, my mom didn’t go with me.  Two, there were often people there I did not know.  I used to be pretty intimidated around strangers.

The boy across the street was a good guy.  He spent nearly the entire summer at our house – arriving before breakfast and leaving at dusk when my mother shooed him away.  His parents were older – his father owned a funeral home.  That, that in and of itself freaked me out.

In addition, his father had one leg.  As a child, I found that perplexing and bothersome. 

I was scared to death to go to my neighbor’s birthday party.  My friend loved red velvet cake – something in my mind combined the missing leg with the funeral home, blood and that cake.  I get the heebie geebies just thinking about it today.

At another birthday party near Halloween, I dressed up like Dracula.  The white makeup ran down my fake fangs as I cried my eyes out until my mom picked me up.  If I think about it hard, I can sort of taste the bitter flavor of K Mart face paint.

I don’t guess that I hate birthdays anymore.  I sort of enjoy eating cake and celebrating my friends and family.

We found out Lisa was sick about five months after her 39th birthday.  When I turned 40, she threw me a huge party – bar-b- q and a man playing a guitar in the backyard.  A couple hundred folks came out to wish me well.  I’d asked her if she wanted a party for her 40th.  “Nah.  What I’d really like is to take a trip with just you.”

That trip never came – she died a month before she would have turned forty.

And so today, on what would have been her 42nd birthday, I’ll remember the ones we had, and I’ll dream about the ones we didn’t.

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!

A Birthday Ode to Uncle Jesse

Posted by The Tanner Girls (well…with a little help)

Jesse, Jesse you are old, 

Like a piece of bread with mold.

You’re also funny when we’re sad,

And you buy us soda unlike dad.

You’re on sports radio throughout the day,

We finally get to see you at the Christmas play.

At 10PM on the couch you fall in-to a trance,

But out late at a wedding? You really can dance.

Your feet are smelly (and that’s not all),

You’re not a good shopper at Crabtree Mall.

You stay out late and party bunches,

But you still get up to make our lunches.

You crank the radio when you drop off at school,

We act embarrassed, but it’s really cool.

You help us with math  when we throw a fit,

Dad went to State, so he can’t do it.

So have a good day – go have some fun,

And remember we love you, you’re our number one!

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