Oh So Funny


The final kid has made a decision.  Michelle will attend UNC next year!  It breaks my heart because I attended NC State and that too was an option.  But she’s going baby blue.  Her mother would be proud.

She has also reconnected with a friend from middle school who will be her roommate.  I don’t know her well, but my recollection from the early years is stellar.  One mutual friend told Michelle, “There is going to be some fun had in that dorm room.  You are the funniest two people I know.”

As I ponder my youngest kid’s personality, humor pops to mind. 

I recently ran across a note I’d scribbled in 2009.  It listed several quotes from Michelle, my then precocious five-year-old.

Each night the girls would choose a book to read before bed.  A favorite was not really reading.  It was the I Spy book.  Each page had hundreds of items and the text tested your searching abilities.  There might have been a Christmas theme and your challenge would be to find four santas, six stars and a mistletoe wreath.  One page held trinkets from Halloween, and we were searching hard. 

Michelle (reminder, she was five):  “I want to find that damn bone.”

Me:  “You shouldn’t say that.”

Michelle:  “At least I’m at home.”

On a flight back from Wyoming that same year, a Sci-fi movie was being projected on the overhead TV.  Michelle was sitting with her Nana.  At one point in the movie, a guy pulled off his mask and his head had no eyes, nose, ears or mouth.  Michelle looked at her grandmother and said, “Now that’s not something you see every day.”

On that same vacation, Lisa was working to get Michelle to stop sucking her thumb.  It was incessant, and we had tried numerous tactics to quell her urge.  At bedtime one night, Lisa said, “Michelle, you have to try to stop sucking your thumb.”  Michelle replied, “I can’t sleep without sucking it.”  Lisa responded, “You have to.”  Michelle’s come back?  “Some parent you are.  I’m not going to sleep tonight.”

She spoke as if she was 82 yet she was trapped in a kindergartener’s body.

Her humor has continued and kept me in stitches a good portion of her life.  I will miss the daily chuckles.  UNC will gain.  It will be a funnier, happier place come mid August.


Sunday Post 160: Got My Umbrella, I’m Ready for Rain

I recently had the opportunity to sit on a panel for the National Comprehensive Cancer Network. We explored the topic of children who have a parent with cancer. We spoke and answered questions in front of about 1,000 oncologists.
One of our main points was to help them understand their necessary role in helping the entire family cope with cancer. Helping them understand how important it is for them to be honest without taking away hope, preparing parents for all potential outcomes – even death.
I work at the YMCA, and we don’t even like to tell people we canceled a Zumba class. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to tell a family that mom or dad could die.
And yet, what a gift they give when they allow us to prepare.
I wish every family would have the tough conversations before they face a true tragedy. It is much easier to prepare for death when there is no reason to believe you’re going to die.
One of the panelists likened this planning to taking an umbrella with you on a cloudy day. Your hair looks nice, you’re wearing suede shoes – you hope it doesn’t rain.  But if it does, wouldn’t you be glad you took the umbrella?
If everyone would answer a few simple questions before something critical happened, they would be much more ready for the rain.  Or in our case, the monsoon.
1)  Do you have adequate life insurance?  If one spouse died, would the other be financially secure?
2)  What is most important in the culture of your family?   For me, and I hope Lisa, although we never discussed it, our family must have:  honesty/transparency, kindness to self and others, and humor.

If someone else ends up raising my kids, those are the three most important things I want them to live by.  Besides faith, which is understood in our family, that is what I want their foundation to be built on.

3)  Does each spouse understand the role of the other?  Can the father log onto the school website and does he know how to plan a birthday party?  Does the mother have the ability or resources to do the taxes.  Those examples may seem sexist, but I chose them based solely on my family’s experience.

Yeah, oncologists have a responsibility to be open and forthcoming with patients. But not all of us will die from cancer.  We may get hit by a bus. We may outlive our children.

Now that I know it can pour on a bright and sunny day, I ain’t leaving home without my rain gear.

Poofles for Breakfast

It is really difficult to get under DJ’s skin. I mean her sisters and I get on her nerves on a frequent basis, but nothing really fazes her. She just sort of rolls her eyes and rolls with the punches; a lot like her mother.

I so long to really irritate her. Not always, but on occasion. It gives me such pleasure.

The other day though, I thought I had.

For years we’ve exchanged fake plastic poop with my brother’s family. I’m not sure who originally purchased it, probably that difficult niece of mine – the one who froze all of my boxers at the beach last summer.

You might find the poo in your suitcase when you return from the family beach trip. Or, it might be wrapped in a Bailey’s box for Christmas. Imagine the disappointment my sister-in-law felt when she anticipated a Pandora bracelet from me and instead discovered plastic poop underneath the white and gold striped tissue paper!

Our only issue seems to be that we misplace our family poo from time to time. No one on my branch of the family really knew where it was this year so when DJ found some at a new store called Five and Below (cheap-cheap), she tossed it in her bag and brought the prize home.

“This will be perfect for Cam (my nephew).” DJ and I agreed that he could use a good dose of doo!

We gently set it on the desk in the kitchen so nothing would happen to it before the holidays. I’m sure guests in our house during the month of December were a bit alarmed.

“Is Danny having health issues?” I could hear my Sunday School class members discussing on the way home from our Christmas party. “I noticed he messed on his kitchen desk. Raising these girls has really been tough on him.”

On the Monday before Christmas, the girls enjoyed sleeping in on their first real day of vacation. I, being the caring father that I am, surprised them with waffles when they awoke at 11. Michelle and Stephanie were downstairs first. DJ seemed to be struggling to get out of bed.

As I finished her golden Bisquick creation, I eyeballed Cam’s gift.

Hmmmm. Might as well use it twice, I thought to myself.

I set the waffle on her plate and headed to the desk. I gently placed the poop in the middle of her meal anticipating her disgust, perhaps even a screech!

photo (2)

“DJ, your breakfast is getting cold. Better hurry.” I was giddy with anticipation.

She sauntered down the stairs after her shower and headed toward the bar. She gently lifted the poop off the plate, and began to pour her syrup. Hardly a blink.

If I found poop on my breakfast, I think I’d at least turn up my nose.

Not my child. It’s as if I served feces as a side on a regular basis.

I so want to annoy her. Any suggestions?

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

My Strategic Savings Plan

The very first blog post I wrote over two years ago was about learning to braid hair.  It took Stephanie and me thirty minutes to pull off one small strand on the side of Michelle’s head.

I was so proud!

But now, now I’ve learned to French braid!  And not only  regular French braid, but reverse French braid.  I call it Hcnerf (Huk – nurf).

Two weeks ago, Stephanie walked in the kitchen with a head of wet hair.  “Dad, can you do the Katniss braid?”

“The cat nip braid?  What are you talking about?”

“No.  Katniss from The Hunger Games.  It’s a reverse French braid.”

“The backward French braid?  Oh, you mean the Hcnerf?”

Blank stare.

“Anyway, no.  I can’t do a forward French braid, much less a reverse French braid.”

“Will you try?  I can tell you how.”

I’ve found that braiding hair is sort of like juggling:  two hands, three clumps of hair.  It’s more difficult than riding a unicycle while tossing bone china in the air.

For those who want to learn, here’s how you do it:

Step 1:  Grab three independent clumps of hair from the front of the head.

Step 2:  Hold two clumps in one hand but keep them separate, they CANNOT intermingle.  Hold the third clump in the other hand.

Step 3:  Take the clump furthest to the left and tuck it under the middle clump.

Step 4:  Look for some random hair on the right side of the head.  Just a little.  Pick it up.  Incorporate it into the original right clump while still independently maintaining full control  of the middle and left clumps.  Then tuck the new right clump (original plus the small random piece) under the new middle piece (which used to be the left piece).

Step 5:  Repeat Step 4 on the left side of the head.

Step 6:  Continue doing Steps 4 and 5, adding little bits of hair each time.

When you get to  the top of the neck, or when two hours have passed, whichever comes first, combine all clumps of hair into one mumbo clump.  Pray to the good lord above that you remembered to grab a rubber band and that it is within arm’s reach.

Now for the hard part.  Hold the clump in one hand while you twist the rubber band around the bottom of the braid.    Do this until your child screams in pain.

Take a quick picture before your kid moves her head, and the entire thing falls out.

Hcnerf on Stephanie, by Danny

Hcnerf on Stephanie, by Danny

My dad used to give my mom a permanent in our kitchen.  He did this because we were poor.  I don’t know why they call it a permanent because it isn’t.  It should be called a temporary.  Right after the procedure, my mom’s hair would be tight as a tick, boofed up like John Travolta’s doo in the movie Hairspray.  Four weeks later she’d look like Squeaky Fromme.

When my dad gave my mom this treatment, our house smelled like a combination of formaldehyde and a nuclear reactor leak.  If I took a deep breath, it would burn the hair out of my nostrils and my lungs would sting deep down inside.  And when it was over, my mom would feed us in the same room.  Meatloaf with a chemical aftertaste, mmmm.

It’s a wonder I don’t have seven toes.

Lisa would not let me do her hair.  “Chris” did it.  I never met him but given the choice of me or him moving from Raleigh, I’m not sure which she would have chosen.  I don’t know how much it cost to dye her hair, but I know it was well over $100, and it seemed like she went once a week.  I tried to convince her that gray hair was sexy.  She disagreed.  If I would have taken over Chris’ responsibilities, like my dad did, we could have purchased a beach house with the savings.

Fortunately, I’m building trust with my daughters.  I have a plan.  It starts with braiding.  Before you know it, I’ll be giving them a wash and set, maybe even highlights right in the kitchen.  With the money I’ll save, I’ll send them to college.  Thank goodness permanents are not in style.

Before our housekeeper comes, I require the kids to straighten up.  Some people, including my kids, cluelessly ask, “Why would you clean up for the maid?  That’s her job!”

These are the same people who freak out because they can’t find stuff after the cleaning lady leaves the house.  They cannot find it because she has moved it to dust a dresser or to wipe down the bathroom sink.  Had you put your stuff up in a place of your own choosing before she came, this would not have happened.

Straightening up is different from cleaning up.  As a rule, if you need a tool (brush, rag, vaccum) to complete the job, it’s cleaning.  If you’re just doing it with your hands, it is straightening up.

DJ has slovenly tendencies when it comes to her room.  And no matter how far in advance I warn her of the impending clean up, she waits until ten minutes before she leaves for school on the morning of Miss Julie’s arrival to begin to clear her counters.  Therefore, everything ends up in the top drawer of her large black nightstand, The Clutter Cabinet.

Recently, she misplaced her driver’s permit for about six weeks.  She found it was more difficult to replicate than she originally thought and therefore, after I told her she wasn’t going to get her license on her birthday if she didn’t do some more driving, she began tearing up her bedroom to retrieve the little ticket toward ultimate freedom.

As I walked up the stairs to her room last Monday night, she yelled, “Dad – I found my permit!  Oh, and look in the top drawer!”

“I’m not sure I want to.”

“No!  You’ll like it.”

I slowly pulled at the knobs, afraid a canned snake might spring out at my curious face.

Instead, I found… a neatened up drawer with only 9 items inside.  And every one of them was a pair of scissors.  A treasure-trove of double-bladed cutlery.


“Look what I found dad,” she bragged, “your scissors!”

She has 9 pair of my scissors upstairs in her nightstand, and I’m downstairs licking and folding wrapping paper back and forth to try to get it to tear evenly.  Little Suzie’s mother thinks I had her birthday present wrapped by a slobbering monkey.

“Michelle, why is your present moist?  Slobbering monkeys wrap it?”

“No.  Dad.  He licked the paper trying to get it to rip evenly.  He can’t find the scissors.”

As I gazed at my new-found booty, my mind immediately jumped to the 1990’s movie, Edward Scissorhands.


I didn’t see it, but the previews clearly stuck with me.  I never understood though, was he born with full-grown scissors as his hands or did he start out with the little kindergarten jobbers and grow into the full machete type blades?  His mother must have had a C-section.

How did he use the bathroom?  I worry about my zipper nicking something down there, imagine if you had scissors for hands.  Ouch.

And who came up with this idea?  Would you make a movie about someone with a hole puncher attached to their butt?  It’s just not that interesting.

Why would DJ need that many pair of scissors?  Has she opened a Supercuts in her bedroom that I’m unaware of?  Is she making her own clothes – cutting out patterns with calico fabric from Piece Goods?  Has she picked up making paper snowflakes as a high school hobby?

No – she uses one pair, sets it on her dresser, and then 10 minutes before school starts on Miss Julie’s day, she rakes it into The Clutter Cabinet.

I’m going to clean under her bed this summer.  Who knows?  I may find Jimmy Hoffa.

More Questions for Dad

This Christmas season has brought about more questions than answers.  One would think that with time I’d be more up to speed on girls, teens, and young ladies.  But the longer I live without a woman as my guide, the more I just do not understand.


*Why do you need regular bras and sports bras?  Is it not like boxers or briefs?  Make up your mind and stick to it girls!  They don’t even play sports –

*And what’s up with the ones that just stick to your bosom?  It’s peel and stick – like a “To/From” tag on your Christmas present.  What good does that do?  How can that help?  Why do we need those?

*Any why do they wear out so quickly?  I was told recently that two bras in this house “died.”  Should we have a service?  Are they just pulling my strings?  I have boxers I’ve worn for twenty years.  They may sag a bit, but who cares?  That just makes them more comfortable.  No one sees them but me.  A nd that’d better be the case for them too!

*When should a girl be allowed to wear mascara?  Stephanie and Michelle put some on when they got dressed in their costumes for the play.  It must have been Maybelline’s “new volume” brand cause they looked like a tarantula had been emblazoned on their eyelids.

*That same night I learned that soap will not remove mascara and that turpentine hurts when it gets in your eyes.  That’s what I use when stuff won’t come off.  Is there a chisel to remove that stuff?

*Why is it that I can’t get the girls to press their clothes and yet they’ll spend hours on end ironing their hair?  Yes!  They iron their hair.  Not with like an ironing board – its with a $100 mechanism that cooks stuff on both sides – sort of like a waffle maker but without the little sqaures.  I’m tempted to use it for grilled cheese sandwiches.

*And the one with the curls desperately wants hers straight.  And the one with the straight hair is looking for curly.  Why didn’t God just give them what they wanted from the get go?  Some cruel joke.

*Someone recently gave me the name of a woman to see if the girls had “skincare” needs.  Their skin looks alright to me, I specifically looked.  I mean, I buy them soap and Target brand lotion – what more is there to the care of their skin?  I guess I could buy cucumbers – I think Mommy Dearest used them on her eyes.  Maybe they need a mud mask.  I have dirt in the storage room…hum.  I fear my inaction is gonna cause wrinkles or those brown spots my grandma had when Mary Kay was washed off.

*They all want their own stuff, why can’t they just share?  Do we really need more than one brush?  I remember Lisa freaked out when I ran out of deodorant and began using hers.  I sort of liked it – thought of her every time I raised my arms.  This must be related.  I think its selfish.

I just don’t want to screw up; I don’t want to do anything wrong.  And sometimes I think they’re just yanking my chain.  There are so many things I just don’t understand.

The Daddy Errand

On my way out the door last night to help a friend clean his father’s house out, I got a call from upstairs, “Dad, I need some femine products.  Can you pick some up at the store on your way home?”

Geeeze.  I hate that.  Why do I have to be the Tampon Taxi?  We were all at Target last weekend, right near that department, and no one mentioned a shortage.  Why weren’t we proactive?  Someone should have mentioned the shortage!

It’s one thing to buy that stuff with a cart full of other items.  But going in just for that?  Man.

That night, I discovered that there are six hundred options on the female aisle.  One of them can even make you fly!  Seriously, it has wings.  I started to buy a pack of those for myself, thought I’d tape them to my back and jump off the porch. I bet that’s what Peter Pan used.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough cash.

There were the “all night longers”, the “breezy while you workers” and I think I saw a “start your day at schooler”.  They came in the shape of a U, an L, a T and a B.  I challenged the woman next to me to a game of Scrabble.  She didn’t take me up on it.  She could probably sense my affinity for words.

There were liners and pads and full on insulation.  I think it’s the same stuff that’s lining the walls of my attic – they call it Tyvek.

A couple had aloe and one had vitamin E.  Who needs a multi-vitamin with those in the house?

I could have started a band:  one clicked, another snapped – there was one with a toot and a pad-da-pat-pat.

Some came in “bold colorful styles” …


The reason I’m so educated on this subject is because I read each of the names and several of the labels when I phoned home for product clarification. It took three conversations to complete this daddy errand.

At least I’ve passed the point of embarrassment at purchasing these items.  I just tossed them on the counter, asked if they happen to be on sale, and smiled at the lady like all four boxes were for me.

Indeed they were buy one box get the second half price.  Now you’re speaking my language.

(P.S. – I specifically asked my daughters if I could write about this adventure.  The general sentiment seemed to be: We don’t care.  You were the dork walking through the drug store, not us.)

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