Stranded! (without internet)

Posted By Uncle Jesse

Danny has been making this face for a couple of days. I know he’s able to keep perspective, but it really is frustrating when the internet is down at the house. But help is on the way–sometimes we wait out an internet glitch, but this one has persisted for a couple days so Danny called a a service guy.

I already knew Danny wrote a lot more than I did on the blog. He reminds me almost daily. What I didn’t know was just how clockwork-regular his posting had been. We had people calling and emailing the house making sure everything was ok when Danny didn’t post on Wednesday! Yes, readers, we are ok. The internet has been down, but somehow we have survived. I had to spend more time in a Starbucks than I would have liked sending in an article on Wednesday night, and Danny may have to atone for the cursing he did when he realized he lost some of his work when it went out, but all in all we came through it unscathed.

Here’s what’s been happening this week:

Tanners back in the Capital

I bet DJ wishes she had her sisters in D.C. with her this time

DJ took a trip with the rest of 8th grade to Washington, D.C. (with a stop at King’s Dominion on the way home!).  The picture to the left is actually from our D.C. trip in January. DJ doesn’t have her phone with her, so she hasn’t sent any pictures from this trip. Funny story about that phone….

Apparently the students were asked to not take their phones, only DJ heard from others that some parents were letting them. She told Danny she wanted to take her phone just to call/text to check in at night. Danny told her he didn’t think she was supposed to but he would check with some other parents to see what they were doing. But the discussion was interrupted and Danny forgot what was finally decided upon.

When the phone wasn’t where Danny thought he had last seen it when DJ left, he thought perhaps she had taken it with her. He wasn’t exactly ticked, because he admitted they had never really settled the matter. But he wasn’t exactly happy either. I was actually kind of curious as to how he would handle. But then I spotted her phone in her room. What a kid.

Blue Streak

One thing I like about the girls’ school is the traditions they have and keep year after year. One of the best is Blue-White Day, where the school is split down the middle–half Blue, half White–and the two sides compete against each other in a series of activities. Then the points are tallied and one side reigns supreme for the year.

it's not whether you win or lose, it's how you gear up beforehand

From what I’ve been told, White had been dominant for a number of years. But last year we reversed that trend, when the 3rd-5th grade Blue team members rallied late for the win. I was actually in attendance; Stephanie was a little upset at the time that Lisa would not be in attendance as she had been for every Blue-White Day. The Tanner girls don’t win a lot of heats in the competition, so it’s nice to get a hug for the effort. I filled in for Lisa, who did her part by smiling down upon the Blue team (or maybe to point talliers).

Well, Blue kept it going this year with another overall win! Stephanie practiced her hula-hooping and did her best. DJ was on a Blue basketball team…and had a cool outfit. I actually was unable to make it to this year’s Blue-White Day because….

Working Man

I’m starting a new job Monday. Overall this is a good thing, but it’s been a bit of a tough sell around the Tanner house. Stephanie wanted me to come to Blue-White Day again, but I had to train at the new job. I won’t be able to substitute teach and be around the school quite as much. I won’t be able to stop by for lunch (I wouldn’t say this was a weekly occurrence any way, but I did drop in with some Panera from time to time).

But they’ve been happy for me, too. Stephanie told me she was proud of me when I told her I’d be on the radio every day.

Have a good weekend, Real Full House readers.

Goofy Guys for Hire

Last month Jesse and I were asked to ref the St. Timothy’s teacher/student basketball game during spirit week.  I was so excited – but DJ put me in my place pretty quickly.  “Dad, the only reason kid’s like this game is because they get out of class.  It’s really not a big deal.” 

Regardless of whether the students had fun, Jesse and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves!

These are the teachers.  No wonder the kids won.

Jesse brought me a pair of gym pants from 1982 to wear during the game.  The elastic was from that era too.    As I felt them begin to sag, I figured why not take advantage of a good thing.  I let them fall to my ankles on multiple occasions throughout the game (I did have shorts on under them).  At the end of the day, DJ said, “I suppose after your father drops his pants in front of the entire school nothing more embarrassing can happen to you for the rest of your life.”  I wouldn’t count on that DJ.

 

At one point things were getting out of hand.  Teachers were tackling the kids as they took their free throw shots.  I had to protect the players.

 I believe this was right after we called a technical on Mrs. Iiames for giving DJ a B on her science project last year.   Two shots!  (We actually created an Eggspander for the project.  It was made out of cardboard.  It was designed to save space in your fridge by expanding or shrinking based upon how many eggs you were trying to store at any given time.  I was my idea!  Ingenious.)

Jesse also gave Coach Nowak a technical for too much homework.  The crowd went wild.

DJ was head cheerleader that day.  They performed their dance routine at half time.

I think I got confused and called a touchdown.  Remember, basketball isn’t my thing.

Jesse’s a pretty good ref…

When he’s not slacking off.  Who’s carrying the load?  As usual.

He even recruited a mini-referee to help him make the calls.  He’ll do anything to get out of work!

You need two goofy guys for an event?  You know who to call!

Memorial Day, A Few Months Early

POSTED BY JESSE

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).

“D@#% Math”

Danny's SAT

I got a call yesterday afternoon. It was Danny, asking when I might be swinging by the house. DJ was struggling with 10 algebra problems that were to be turned in for a grade. And Danny was struggling trying to help her.

Danny is doing a fantastic job of keeping the girls’ studies up. I help some. Without getting into specifics, the girls all have very high grades (at least one got all A’s last semester, and there were plenty of A’s among them), and, perhaps more importantly, all have a pretty darn good work ethic. That is a tribute both to their mother and and credit to their father, both of whom instilled in them good overall character.

The school work they get, I would say, is fair and challenging. The girls seem overwhelmed sometimes when first facing loads of homework or multiple tests, but typically they succeed through practically working their way through it.

But I think we’re finding that, in math at least, Danny’s peak as a capable tutor might be 8th grade.

I actually tutor some in math and have done a decent amount over the years, with varying results. So, to be fair to Danny, because of that I’ve stayed much more fluent in algebra–and I’m actually excited for when DJ takes geometry! (she’s going to HATE it)

Danny described one of the problems to me.

“Five to the negative one time three to the negative two. What are negative exponents?”

I told him I could take a look at it that night. We hung up, but when I jotted the problem down, I realized what he was talking about. Negative integers.

I called him back.

“The negative integers send it to the denominator. Or to the numerator if it’s in the denominator”

He said they’d try to use that. I wasn’t getting home until 7:30 and they were going to the talent show at 7:00, so we agreed to meet later so I could take a look at the work.

About 15 minutes later, I receive this email from him. Its subject is (he’s going to be mad at me for saying this) “d@#% math”. Here’s what it said (I’ve cleaned it up a bit):

So I have spent the last hour trying to figure out this math.  The problems that she has, for the most part, do not have an example in the book that shows you an exact pattern to follow.  And, there are answers to some of the questions in the back of the book – there are answers to some pages, some odd numbered problems.  But, NOT ONE OF THE ANSWERS TO SUPPORT THE EXACT TYPES OF PROBLEMS SHE HAS TO TURN IN FOR A GRADE TOMORROW!!!  And I have scoured the internet.

There are 10 problems.  I am nearly certain that three are correct.  The rest, not sure.  In case you are sitting waiting for your thing to upload, these are the exponent questions (*denotes an exponent):

5-1*(3-2*)  we think this answer is 1/45

(r-5*)-4* (do two negatives make a positive?  do you shift them to the denominator?)

mn-4*
p0*q-2*  we think this answer is q2/mn4

a2*b0*(a-3*)   we think this answer is 1/a

(32*)-1*(4m2*)3*

(3t2*)3*(2t0*)-3*

And there are two additional word problems.  I think the negatives are what are hanging us up.

Thanks.

I literally laughed out loud at the thought of him typing out all these problems, many of which, as you will note if you care to examine, are correct. But (until I wrote this blog post) I did not spend two seconds reading the problems. When I thought about Danny thinking I would actually try to translate algebra via email, I laughed again. I saved the email and caught up with DJ later.

She had many of the answers right and a pretty good understanding of exponents, positive and negative, multiplying and adding. I’d say she and Danny were at about a B- working together. I showed her a few errors in her answers and she understood and made the corrections. Man, hope it gets a good grade after I signed off on it AND blogged about it.

Here are some other funny algebra pics:

There will be a lot of people who read this blog who will not get this.

Happy (Chinese) New Year!

POSTED BY JESSE

I like thinking about which of Lisa’s traits will show up in which of her three daughters. Stephanie has her sense of do-good and the ability to be instantly hypnotized by a television. Michelle loves to laugh and make other people laugh.

And DJ, I am almost certain, will be a slave to tradition, just like her mother. She will one day host the whole family for Christmas Eve dinner, and she will spend the entire afternoon cursing the Christmas cookies. It is her destiny.

I know this because she already favors the customary, especially in this, her 8th grade and final year at St. Timothy’s. The most excited she got during Cross Country season was making sure the team dyed their hair and painted their faces for the final race, as had become the tradition. She takes great delight in participating (and being active in) annual events like the Homecoming pep rally, game, and dance. If her high school classmates are wise (or happen to know anything about her mother) they will go ahead and put her in charge of reunions for life when they’re all in 9th grade together next year.

She even has habitual things she likes to say when we’re driving around parts of Raleigh (often times it is a repeat of her first misperception of whatever the locale is). She’ll even declare that she has started a new tradition: “I used to think that building was a McDonald’s. I think I’m going to say ‘I thought that was a McDonald’s as a kid’ every time we drive by there from now on.”

And she has.

It was really no surprise to hear that after last Friday night’s dance she and Kimmy Gibbler were going by Red Dragon (our local chinese place) for dinner–it’s one of DJ’s favorite restaurants. But she seemed so adamant about going there, and making it before the restaurant closed, that I was curious as to why it was such a big deal.

I should have known: DJ and Kimmy had started a tradition of hanging out on New Year’s Eve a few years back. This year the Tanner family enjoyed some beach time with some of DJ’s other friends’ families for the New Year weekend. They had a good time, of course, but she was sad to break her tradition of hanging out with Kimmy.

The solution? The post-dance trip to Red Dragon was really a celebration of the Chinese New Year (which began officially, I read, on Thursday), and the pair had a sleepover that night. Tradition saved. Clever kids.

Oh, and FYI I discovered that, as suspected, Michelle and I are cosmically destined to be similar. We are both Horses under the Chinese zodiac. I also discovered that Horses were very compatible with Dogs, which is what Lisa was. I don’t know if she liked being a “Dog” but the description was pretty fitting: “In their career and love, they are faithful, courageous, dexterous, smart and warm-hearted.”

Dads Against Daughters Dating

Posted by Danny

This is my favorite t-shirt.  D.A.D.D.:  Dads Against Daughters Dating. 

Two summers ago, DJ was at the beach with friends.  I received a call from her in the middle of the day.  I was at work.  “Dad, I found a t-shirt I think you’re really going to like.  It says Dads Against Daughters Dating.  It’s $11.  Do you want me to buy it?”

“Are you crazy?  Buy two!!  I’ll have the money waiting for you when you walk in the door.”  Every time I wear it a father comes up to me to find out where I got it.  I proudly announce that my oldest daughter bought it for me.

I guess I have dating on my mind this week because the school dance is on Friday.  I’m fine for DJ to go.  I just don’t want her to go with a boy.  And frankly, I’d just assume her not dance with one either. 

I used to share my dating philosophy with Lisa.  She would home-school the girls when they got old enough to date.  That would insure that there weren’t a lot of opportunities for them to meet the fellas.  They would attend Meredith College, two blocks from our house.  I’d drop them off on my way to work.  After class, they’d wait in the library until I could swing by and pick them up at about 5:30.  We’d come home, start their homework and watch a family movie each night at 10.  

The thought of Lisa homeschooling our kids really does bring a smile to my face.  I’m not sure exactly what would have happened, but I can assure you it would not have been pretty.  And she would readily admit that as I dreamed out loud.

I’m a sap.  I can never give my girls away at their weddings.  I was once in a wedding when the minister asked the father of the bride, “Who gives this bride to be married?”  And the dad responded, “Her mother.”  That’s my kind of man!  I was so counting on Lisa to do the heavy lifting on that special day.  This just adds to my angst about dating.  It just ain’t happenin’ on Dellwood Drive.

I chaperoned the school dance DJ’s sixth grade year.  Lisa was running the student council at school and asked if I’d help.  I gladly volunteered. 

I perched on the bleachers in the gym high enough up to see the goings on.  The principal of the middle school was a hawk – I admired her so.  It’s a Christian School so she could rightfully walk through the crowd during the slow dance yelling, “Leave room for Jesus!  Leave room for Jesus!”  The kids laughed, but their arms got stiffer, exactly as Mrs. Reedy had planned. 

When I would see one of those beady eyed eighth grade boys snuggling up a bit too close, I’d leave my seat and stroll close to him.  I was sure to catch his eye.  A cold stare from a forty-year old.  Brow furroughed.  Chest poked out.  Eventually the kid would get uncomfortable.  Was it my demeanor?  Or was he just freaked out by the weirdo in the gym?  Didn’t matter. 

Yeah.  Back away buddy – You heard me.  They’d break up and head over to the opposite end of the gym.  My job was done.

I felt I owed it to all of the other fathers who weren’t allowed to attend the dance.  My stare was for all of them.  My presence was a message to all those young boys.  Don’t get too close to our daughters!  Or else.

We have to look after each other guys.  If you see a dude at the mall making out with his girl, it’s your duty to intervene.  Wouldn’t you want that if it was your daughter?  Walk right up – demand that they stop.  Offer to call her father, she’s probably dying to get away.  Call the cops if necessary.  This is important. 

Get out there men!  Take a stand.

An Ode to the Teachers

As I was pulling out of the school drop off line this morning, I noticed that every kid entering the building had a gift box or handful of flowers.  Was it Valentine’s Day?  Was a popular kid having a birthday? 

Then I remembered the email that came out last week – the one I saved as a reminder but never referred back to. 

Next Tuesday is Teacher Appreciation Day, do something nice in return for all that they do for us.

Well, I missed that too.  As you count your blessings, be thankful that you aren’t one of my kids’ teachers. 

I looked around the car, was there anything I could run back in?  A half used Starbucks card?  A fairly nice Uniball Pen?  A coupon book with 90% of the bargains in tact?  The blue and white polka dotted dish towel I hang around my neck to keep coffee off of my bow tie?  Give it up man, you lost this one.  You have an 8:30 meeting.  It ain’t gonna happen.

As I hit the on ramp to the 440 beltline, the verse of a poem entered my brain.  So teachers, I love you!  You are good to my kids.  This Ode I wrote on the way to work.  It may be short-lived, but so are the carnations.

An Ode to our Teachers

Roses are Red, Violets are blue

You’re the best teachers for a dad with no clue.

 

My kids are on track, you won’t let them fail,

One day Nurse Huber even clipped Michelle’s toenails.

 

I forget lunches, I forget drinks,

The class mom sends my reminders in red, not blue, ink.

 

I don’t pick up on time, my kids’ hair is deshelved,

and if you ask me why – my face just looks puzzled.

 

Sorry I forgot the flowers and trinkets,

If organizing was a ship, like the Titanic I’d sink it.

Love,

The Tanners

(If anyone knows my kids teachers, please forward this to them.  I lost their email addresses.)

Traffic Duty Is Punishment For Parents

POSTED BY JESSE

I feel the need to preface this by saying I love the girls’ school. In addition to being a place that is both academically challenging and supportive, it is a great community. Much like my relationship with Danny’s family has grown and become a bright spot in the darkness of Lisa’s passing, I have been blessed and delighted and thankful and honored to become part of the St. Timothy’s community. And we are eternally indebted to the school: the support and shared grief through Lisa’s illness and death could be felt every day and continues to be. Its walls, its staff, and its students have been a true safe haven for DJ, Stephanie, and Michelle.

But I do not like traffic duty. I do not know the full logistics behind traffic duty, nor its purpose, nor its origin. I can only assume that it is founded in sound logic, because it existed (and probably even began) when Lisa was working there. If it had been totally useless I have no doubt she would have crusaded against it and had it eradicated, much the way she did the cumbersome risers in our church’s Christmas pageant. She would not have stood for anything this illogical (from my perspective), so I can naturally conclude there must be a practical reason for it. Maybe.

Not if I keep driving back and forth to school I won't

Here is what traffic duty looks like to an uninformed uncle: students in grades 6-8 (thanks goodness it doesn’t include 5th grade or we’d have two involved) are assigned by homeroom to “traffic duty” for the week. I am certain each homeroom’s week only comes up for duty once a quarter at most, but would you believe me if I said it feels like we have it every other week?

The student has to be there at 7:30 a.m.  instead of the usual time, 7:55 a.m. (that’s if Danny’s driving, more like 8:05 when I’m running the shuttle). Understandably the school does not have bus routes to and from school, so this of course means at least one parent also must rise half an hour earlier. And for parents with multiple children (that don’t happen to be twins in the same homeroom)? Well here are your options:

  1. One parent leaves at 7:20 to take the “traffic duty” kid to school, the other parent drives a second shift at 7:40 (that would be two cars leaving the same house for the same destination, 20 minutes apart).
  2. One parent takes the “traffic duty” kid while the other preps the younger siblings, then sends them out to be picked up by the parent who drove the first kid (that would be one car making the same trip twice, 20 minutes apart)
  3. You take the whole crew early and make the other two wait (not a lot of fun to roll everyone’s morning routine back 30 minutes for a week, and it probably means you’re either a) springing for breakfast at Panera to keep the non-“traffic duty”-bound kids happy or b) dropping off cranky kids at school. Or both. Enjoy that, teachers!)

And if you’re truly a single parent of multiple kids or live farther from the school than we do then your options just get worse.

As for what goes on at “traffic duty”? Well here is what I surmised, again admitting

We had Safety Patrol when I was in school. And it was voluntary.

that these are merely the observations of an uninformed outsider:

  1. 5-10 kids opening doors of cars. My guess is this was the great need and that some teachers grumbled loudly enough at the suggestion of making it a regularly rotating teacher task (as I most certainly would if I worked there) that someone came up with the plan of using students. Bear in mind these are middle-schoolers who have never actually driven a car and are not necessarily aware of the best flow, so they are liable to walk to your door even though you can see the line is about to move and everyone is going to move up a few spaces. Some kids give a warm greeting, but most seem embarrassed that they are looking inside your car. Some actually improve at learning the best way to carry out their task as the week goes on. Then we get new kids on Monday.
  2. 2 kids walking kids back and forth in the crosswalk. Bear in mind the crosswalk is where the full-time traffic guard/school security monitor stands. He is not only very good, but very necessary in directing the flow. He is kind to all of the student/parent/teacher pedestrians and not afraid to stare down an impatient car. Again, my issues are not with this wonderful man. But with him standing in the crosswalk with a large stop sign and a whistle, plus a faculty member on either side of the walk, I feel pretty certain that the kids in the walk would be safe without the “traffic duty” middle schooler escort.
  3. 5-10 kids assigned to guard a door. Ok, so I’m sure they’re really there to open the door for others and greet them warmly, but since almost every kid I see walking to school has a parent in tow, again, I do not believe unwatched doors would be a huge loss for anyone. I see kids go ten minutes without talking to another person because they’ve been assigned a remotely located door. Also, since we’re talking about middle school kids who patently object to wearing pants, their options under the uniform guidelines are shorts for boys and skirts for girls. This morning I heard them talking on “Good Morning, America” about how it only takes five minutes of exposed skin in extreme temperatures to get frostbite. Then I dropped off at school and saw more skin on the “traffic duty” kids standing outside than I did at the St. Timothy’s Dads pick-up basketball game the night before (the 30+ crowd is not big on playing shirts and skins).
  4. Remaining kids on flagpole and announcements These are two tasks that surely no one would argue take 30 minutes to prepare for, but because it has to be fair to the pre-teen popsicles who are outside opening doors, everyone has to show up at 7:30. Flag duty is definitely a good thing to learn, but why not make it the realm of the Student Council? Or at least Tom Sawyer the thing and sucker kids into getting their turn to raise the flag by making it an honor. Every kid in the school could have their official day to raise the flag and parents would come out with cameras and load the pictures onto facebook with the caption “Mikey’s first flag raising!” And I’m quite sure you could get 5-10 students to volunteer to read the announcements because getting to talk over the loudspeaker still has to be one of the coolest ten things that could happen to a kid at school. Call it the “Radio Club” and you might even inspire a career.

So with apologies to the school and whoever came up with this plan, I’m not feeling traffic duty. You can double the price of cupcake day and I’ll back you up (come on, we’re in tough times and everyone can find an extra quarter somewhere in that car). You can assign projects that no kid could possibly complete without parental help and I won’t object. But until I hear a better explanation of traffic duty, you can count me as a detractor.

Maybe I’m just grumpy because I was informed by Danny that he’s got a morning meeting tomorrow and I get to make the double-commute or buy Panera. Either way I know I’m getting up earlier.

“Just Because You’re A Parent Doesn’t Mean You Have To Be Lame”

Posted by Uncle Jesse

I’ve seen this Toyota ad several times recently. It definitely hits close to home in our family. I like it because based on this kid’s definition of “lame”, I am the lamest uncle/parent in the world:

Two preliminary observations: 1) these kids can hate all they want, but that is a fantastic song (more on that below) and 2) I respect how the parents toss in some pretty strong harmony on the “just touch my cheek before you leave me” line.

The Tanner girls know this scene all too well. When I first moved in with the family Danny and I were usually splitting mornings driving the girls to school and driving Lisa to the hospital for chemotherapy and other various treatments.

And most of the mornings I drove to school, I would try to get a loud, upbeat, thumping song in queue on my iPod just in time for the pull-in to the drop-off line. Despite the fact that it was winter, I’d roll the windows down. Everyone at the school knew when the Tanner family was being dropped off.

The girls hated it, or at least acted like they did. But even as they rolled their eyes and moved briskly away from the minivan, I could see a few smiles–at least from their friends.

Anyone got the code to my lame car's lame stereo system? I've got lame songs to sing.

In the Fall I had to get the battery changed in the minivan, which triggered a security measure in the super high-tech 1999 Honda Odyssey’s stereo system that locked it up until someone entered the code. Only one person knew the code (and she’s laughing at me from heaven). Danny has tried, I have tried, the radio is still locked. The car is silent.

But I need to get that thing fixed. The girls have been getting off way light on the embarrassing starts to the school days when I drive. Their Dad, for the record, is like the parent in the other car in the ad–calmly driving his fancy car with DVD and TV screens in the back, so it’s not like the Tanner girls have it that bad when it comes to getting around.

See, my philosophy as a parent (or “parent” or pseudo-parent or whatever I am) is that taking great care and effort not to embarrass your child is worthless, because ultimately you’re going to slip up–or they’re just going to change the rules as to what counts as embarrassing–and your kid WILL be mortified. So I do the opposite. I ALWAYS embarrass the Tanner girls. I wear goofy clothes. I play my music loudly and sing along over top of it. I call out to them from across crowded spaces. I dance when I should just be walking. I try to make hip-sounding references around their friends that I know are tragically un-hip.

But it works in my favor in a few ways. The first is that by continually being unabashed about abashing them, I water down what it means to be embarrassed. They’re used to it, they expect it. They’ve gotten over it, accept it’s going to happen and don’t get very flustered when it does. Sometimes they even smile. The second reason it works is because on the rare occasions I do exercise a little class and dignity around them and do my best not to embarrass–like when we had a bunch of kids from the 8th grade over for dinner before a school dance–it is actually appreciated.

And the third reason? Well, DJ clued the other two into this one early on during the “loud music in the mornings” routine. As we would make the turn into the school driveway and the girls would see my hand go for the volume knob, they would play their part.

“Noooo, don’t play the loud music!” Stephanie and Michelle would dutifully cry, bound by the rules of childhood to fight any efforts to be noticed because of something their parent (or uncle) was doing.

“Why do you guys even bother,” DJ explained to them, bookbag already on shoulder, ready to sprint for the nearest buidling. “You know he’s just going to do it anyway.”

And she’s exactly right. I do it because I want them to know that it’s not going to stop, and that I’m not going anywhere.

Oh yeah, as for “Angel Of The Morning”–it IS a great song, and here’s my favorite version of it (sorry, Juice Newton fans, this one is waaaay better):

And here, as far as I can tell, is the original one. Pretty risque for its time now that I think about it. Also cool how the military-like “rat-tat-tat-tat” to start each line survived to the Juice Newton/Pretenders versions:

Meet The House Fashion Consultant

Posted by Uncle Jesse

That’s right. It’s me, baby.

I generally steer clear of discussions involving dress and style in the Tanner household. I’ve determined that I don’t care enough about what the girls wear to put in the work it would take for them to actually listen to me about it, so I don’t waste anyone’s time–theirs or mine–getting in the middle.

Sometimes I do have to stand up for Danny when he’s being hassled about a certain item looking “too old” or “not cool”. I remind the girls that they know next to nothing about what’s cool for a 45-year old man, despite what they may think. A perfect example would be Danny’s new shoes, which were panned by DJ but praised in the comment section.

Prediction: when viewed in retrospect, Uggs will be like the big hair and poofy shoulders I see in Lisa's high school yearbook

I also like telling the girls that no matter how “cool” they think they dress, it’s pretty much guaranteed that in five years they’ll look back on what they’re wearing now and say, “I can’t believe I EVER thought that looked good.” (and, yes, I’m looking at you, Uggs. I can’t wait to be right about those things)

My only other fashion tip: if you like it/thinks it looks good on you, wear it. Don’t worry what other people think. Right before school started, DJ wanted to get a pair of Toms because all of the counselors at Camp Seafarer wore them. But she really wanted the silver sparkly pair, the ones that definitely stand out from a crowd slightly more than the plain blue ones. She got the sparkly ones. But after they were purchased, the first two reviews (I won’t say from whom they came) were less than enthusiastic, so DJ immediately started questioning her decision. She returned them and got the plain blues. She wasn’t happy, but that “what if people think they’re stupid?” thought had crept in her head and, admittedly, it’s a tough one to get out.

I told DJ I had no opinion on which shoe looked better  (and I didn’t say this, but I think Toms, like Uggs, will probably fall into the “I can’t believe I ever wore those!” category, but I could be wrong–and I definitely don’t deny they are the “in” thing right now), but that I did think that as a general rule she should go with her intuition when buying/wearing clothes. Every now and then you may get some funny looks, but as long as you have a pretty good reputation for wearing good-looking clothes, most of the time you take a risk it will be met with approval. And often times you’ll be looked at as a trend-setter and see others follow suit.

I don’t claim that my advice had a thing to do with it (I think maybe she spied some older girls rocking some of the

I say wear it loud and proud.

“louder” Toms) but eventually she did get a pair of silver sparkly Toms (and kept the blue ones for a more subdued option when the occasion calls for it).

But yesterday was something different. I was not consulted for my fashion philosophy, I was consulted for my fashion advice.

The 8th grade had a field trip or social event or something else that meant DJ did not have to wear her usual St. Timothy’s uniform. She informed me that the entire 8th grade (though I’m guessing it was just the girls) had been up since 6:30 am texting each other about what to wear. Growing up in public schooling I always mocked kids who had to wear a uniform. Now I see there is some sound logic in the idea.

"What's everyone wearing today? We must individualize but not stand out!"

She basically had her outfit put together–it looked stylish and cool, but nothing I would have thought would have taken an extra half hour to assemble. It was basically jeans and a white top with light blue stripes (light blue like…halfway between Carolina blue and Duke blue…sorry, I can only describe these thing in my terms). And some shoes.I probably should have noticed which ones.

And it was probably because she was standing in the living room with no mirror. Or because I was the first person to emerge after she came down in her selected outfit. Or maybe even because, sadly, I probably am–by process of elimination–the person in the house aside from her who would best know what teenagers think is cool. But the reason doesn’t matter. She asked me. She asked ME. Here’s what she asked me:

“Should I go with the darker jeans?”

My first thought was, “I have no clue. And what would make you think I would have a clue? I am clueless on this type of thing.” But I could tell by the question she really wanted someone else’s opinion, and I wanted to make the most of the situation. Heck, if I got it “right”, I might even get asked again some time!

But I was still clueless as to which looked better. It’s a good thing she didn’t ask, “Do you think I should wear lighter or darker jeans with this?” because I would have had to admit I could not tell if she was currently wearing the lights or the darks. I tried to evaluate what a darker pair of jeans would look like with the top she was wearing. How dark would the other pair be? How can you tell what the effect of changing the shade of the pants will be on the stripes? WHAT AM I LOOKING FOR???

I had nothing. So, again, I put things in my terms.

I don’t bet on sports (much) but I follow sports a fair amount. I even do a little work in sports media. Because of this, my friends often mistake me for someone who will have good advice for which team to bet on and will text me before a big game to ask my opinion. Most of the times, I don’t have a clue. And in fact, I believe anyone who thinks they do know something is kidding themselves. There’s a reason they say “the house always wins”. It does.

So I’ve come to find that the best advice I can give to my friends who are trying to pick winners is to tell them the team they already want to pick. If they say “I like Team A” and I say “go with Team B”, it only serves to make them more tense and nervous about their pick. And I know, no matter what they might believe about my “insider knowledge” that my pick is no more of a coin toss than theirs. If they say, “I like Team A” and I say “me too” and we win, I look smart for confirming the pick. If we lose, they feel like we  made the “right” pick and just got a bad break. If they switch their pick based on my word and I end up being right, I’m just going to say I got lucky anyway. And, worst of all, if I tell them to go against their gut and I’m wrong….well then all of a sudden I feel like I need to send a friend money I don’t have to cover their losses when I’m not the dummy who was throwing it around on a football game anyway! When at all possible, I try to feel out what their intuition is telling them, and that’s my pick.

I used this lesson and applied it to DJ’s fashion dilemma. I stopped worrying about trying to figure out what looked best to me and tried to decide what she was looking for. She didn’t seem confident that the light jeans were the best choice. And maybe, just maybe, I was thinking that you don’t want the stripes in the shirt too close in color to the jeans….right?

"we" went with the darker jeans (but she wouldn't pose for a picture)

“I think maybe I’d switch to the dark ones,” I said.

“Yeah, me too,” she replied and rushed up to change.

Score. I did so well she even asked me about her necklace choice when she came back down.

“This one, this one or both?”

“I’d go with just the dangly links one.”

“Cool.”

I was on a roll. Maybe if I just speak with confidence I can keep this up. Or maybe she’ll realize taking a picture of her outfit and texting it to friends for approval is probably the best option. I can’t wait to pick out prom dresses. And I’ll let her know to always bet the SEC in national championship games.

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