Dad Knows Fashion

Posted by Danny

I never took cotillion.  I’m not sure why.  Perhaps my parents couldn’t afford it or maybe my mom thought I was already mannerly enough.  Or more likely, she felt like it was a hopeless cause.

My wife did come from a cotillion family.  She and her siblings all suffered through but I think it paid off.

DJ has completed cotillion, however, if you eat at the dinner table with us, you might find that difficult to believe.  Stephanie is enrolled this year.

I did learn something from the cotillion handbook.  If you are out with a woman and you come to a revolving door, the man should go through first if it is stopped in order to push it and getting it moving.  I assume most women don’t have the physical strength to push something as cumbersome as a door.  If the door is already in motion, the man should wait and allow the woman to go through before he enters.  I was intrigued by this knowledge and can’t wait to approach a revolving door with one of my  daughters to put this learning to use.

Last Friday was the cotillion ball at North Ridge Country Club.  You know what that means … the outfit.

When will Stephanie learn to listen to me?  I am a man with style.  I made the switch to bow ties 15 years ago before it was the trendy thing to do.  You may have seen my Allen Edmonds.  I keep my dress shirts in order according to their color.  Nothing excited Lisa or my daughters more than taking a pink shirt and putting it in the middle of the blues.  So – I’m a little type A (I’m not nutty about my shirts being in order, I just sort of like them color coordinated when possible).

I was determined not to purchase a new dress for the ball.  Thankfully, several mothers took pity on me and offered their daughters’ old dresses for Stephanie to choose from.  We narrowed it down to three.  Two were white.  One was not that bright white but a similar color – just more yellowish.  I guess that’s off white or cream. 

I pushed her toward the white dress because – 1) she had really white shoes and 2) she had really white gloves.  Made sense to me that she should wear the really white dress to match.  I’m not sure she believed me, but she did like that dress and decided to follow my lead.

Next we had to discuss shoes.  Early in the cotillion year, a boy stepped on Stephanie’s toe when she was wearing sandals.  It bled and she actually lost half of the toenail.  Ever since the Fox Trot injury, she has been petrified of dancing with these boys without steel toed boots protecting her petite digits.  I almost thought I was going to have to take her to a therapist to begin getting her ready for sorority formals in the future.

We already owned a pair of dress sandals.  They were fancy and complimented her really white dress quite nicely.  Stephanie went to Target on Thursday afternoon and conned her grandmother into buying her a pair of flat white shoes for proetection.   She’d asked me to buy these same shoes the week before but I told her I thought she needed something dressier.  Nothing wrong with the shoes but we already had a pair that were perfect for a classy event at the country club.

“Stephanie.  I don’t think those are fancy enough for your dress.”

“I don’t care.  I DON’T want another toe injury.  That hurt.”

Jesse jumped in to defend her, “I think they look fine.”

This coming from a guy who is considering giving all of hisshort sleeved shirts away and replacing them with 10 white v-neck tees to simplify his apparently complex life.

“Input not needed Jesse.”  I moved on.  “That’s fine.  Try them on.  Then go show DJ.”

The eyes rolled – not only does she look like Lisa, her mannerisms are falling nicely into place.

From the other room I heard, “DJ, what do you think of these shoes with this dress?”

“I think the sandals would look better with that dress.”

Yes!  Victory.

And what does she do?  She puts on the sandals and gives me no credit.

She's just beautiful!

 

To top off the outfit, she picked one of Lisa’s big pink scarves as a wrap.  I love it when the girls can wear a piece of Lisa’s jewelry or clothing.  It’s like they’re wearing a little piece of her. 

I’m sure lisa was smiling down on our adventure.  And I’m pretty sure she would have agreed with me on the shoe choice.

Take that Paul!!

Posted by Danny

Stephanie scored a goal at her Y basketball game last week!  For our family, that is a BIG deal.  I may rent out the Civic Center and throw a party to celebrate.

Although I’ve been a runner throughout my life, I’ve never really mastered a team sport.  One of my first full-time jobs out of college included running a fairly large youth basketball league here in Raleigh.  When I called my dad to tell him I got the job and began describing my new responsibilities, he said, “I’m glad you have medical insurance, I’m taking you off our policy,”  followed by, “YOU are running a sports league!?” 

I did play basketball in a church league when I was in third grade.  I remember two things about that season.  First I remember that a kid named Paul spit on me at practice.  Second, the third graders were allowed to play in one game that season.  Our team was up by 25 points so Coach Ancherico put the third string in.  I was the point guard.  We played at Horace Sisk Gymnasium in my hometown, Fayetteville, NC.  It felt like the Dean Dome to a small kid like me.   There were maybe two minutes left.  My buddy Steven threw the ball in to me.  Seconds later I heard a whistle.  The ref, with a condescending smile, yelled “Traveling.  Blue ball.”  I had forgotten to dribble.  It seemed like the entire gymnasium snickered, “Ahh, the little third grader forgot to dribble.  Isn’t that cute.”  It wasn’t cute.  It was humiliating.  My teammates weren’t happy.  I had blown one of only two offensive possessions we would have the entire  season. 

I don’t think that’s when Paul spit on me, but it may have precipitated his ongoing frustration the following week at practice when the loogie was launched on my bright orange jersey.

So you can imagine my pride when my kid, the shortest kid on the team, sunk a basket for the world to see.  Take that Paul!

Weird Free for Forty Days

Posted by Danny

I’m not opposed to Lent, I’ve just never particpated.  Although my current church suggests we give something up, I was raised Baptist.  They give stuff up all the time – there’s nothing left to give when spring rolls around.  Plus, forty days is a really long time.  I might could handle a week. 

That’s why I find it interesting that my daughters always seem to get excited about doing without something during this season.

Last night, DJ and Stephanie made decisions about what they were going to give up.  DJ decided that Facebook was important to her so she would do without it until Easter.  That’s a pretty big sacrifice for her.  Although I cautioned Stephanie, she choose to give up her i-touch.  She just received it for Christmas and she really, really enjoys playing the games.  I fear she is quickly going to fall off the wagon, just as she did last year with chocolate and the year before with chewing gum.  But she’s getting older.  Maybe she will make it this time.

On the way to school  today, the girls asked me what I was giving up for Lent.  I pondered and suggested some things that clearly weren’t going to affect me this season:  kissing girls, cutting my fingernails (I bite only  when necessary), painting the house.  They balked at my list.  I then went with the absurd:  showers, underwear, doing their laundry.  Again, no takers. 

That’s when they began to offer ideas about my sacrifice.  DJ suggested I give up wine.

“That ain’t happening.”

Stephanie piped in with coffee.

“You’re going to get punished for suggesting that.”

Then DJ came up with what she thought was a perfect compromise for all, “Dad, why don’t you stop being weird for Lent?”

“That shouldn’t be a problem.  But I get to decide what is weird and what is not.”

“No way.  If you do something that we think is weird, you have to call one of your dad friends and ask him if he would do it.  If he says yes, it’s not weird.  If he says no, then it’s weird and you lose.”

They acuse me all of the time of doing stuff that they are certain other father’s would not do:  my particular dance moves – I don’t think are unusual; speaking in an undeciferable language and expecting them to respond – I’m sure all of the dads do that; throwing wet sponges at them when they run through the kitchen – a normal family activity for most.  But I decided to go along.  So until Easter, I cannot be “weird.”

I did take it upon myself to explain Fat Tuesday to them as we drove to school.  To celebrate, I opened all of the car windows and began yelling farm animal noises as we drove throughout the the neighborhoods:  “bock bock becock”, a long loud “mooooo”, my doberman pinscher impression.  They thought that was funny, until we neared the carpool line.  That’s when I opened the sunroof and started singing:

Little Bunny Foo Foo hopping through the forrest

scooping up the field mice and bopping them on the head.

But, I couldn’t drive and keep DJ from closing the roof.  So as we neared drop off, I turned the radio on to a station that was playing hymns.  How Great Thou Art was beautiful and I knew all the words.   I opened the window and sang along.

I’m not sure if the kids had fun or if I just completely humiliated them.  Either way, I guess we’ll have no more of that for the next forty days.  Sure hope I  can make it!

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!”

“Big Time Rush” Got To Meet The Real Full House!

POSTED BY UNCLE JESSE

OK, so it’s probably more accurate to say we got to meet them, but, hey, we got 10,000 views this week, so there’s a chance they’ve heard of us. Though they are clearly more famous (and richer, and better looking…) I must confess, I had no clue who they were. But I do now:

My boys Kendall, Logan, Carlos, and James

“Big Time Rush” is, I have learned, a Nickelodeon made-for-TV boy band. Kind of like The Monkees. Their back-story is they were four hockey playing friends from Minnesota who moved to L.A. to join the music scene. Now they’ve got the show on Nick, as well as some songs getting some run on radio and iTunes.

They are big-time (pun intended) enough that you could tell Michelle and Stephanie were very excited and completely in awe. But the most telling may have been DJ. She was probably more jazzed that she got to see a sneak preview of Justin Bieber’s Never Say Never the night before, but she was definitely not feigning excitement when it was her turn to meet the guys. Or, as she explained it, “My friends would all say BTR is dumb, but they know all the words to the theme song, and they’ll be jealous I got to meet them.”

I don’t doubt their fame, but I don’t think any of my friends are jealous I got to meet them. Our good friend Catherine, who works in radio, got the Tanner girls in the see the guys and Danny had a morning meeting, so I got to do the honors.

But I’ll give the guys credit: even more than their handlers/PR people, the BTR guys were very good about being open to the room, taking any and all photograph and autograph requests, giving out hugs, chatting up the kids and adults, and not watching the clock/door for the earliest possible exit.

Overall, the girls were pretty pumped and I was pretty impressed. Check out the pics:

The car ride there. We were singing all the "Big Time Rush" songs we know. It's like two.

waiting for the guys to show up with our friend AP. They must run on "Hollywood time"

Getting autographs. Feel the rush!

 

the boys fielded requests for friends as well, so Kimmy Gibbler got one

Steph brought her own poster! These guys must train for this. I didn't see them shake their hands out once.

Michelle with Big Time Rush

Stephanie with Big Time Rush

DJ with Big Time Rush (she was taller than Carlos)

Michelle and AP making sure we captured the moment

One more Big Time pose with Logan (the hottie)

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!

The Daddy Handbook

The Handbook (It's in my hand)

Posted by Danny

For years I have carried the Daddy Handbook.  It’s invisible – therefore, it’s always on me. One day a few years back I was quoting from it as we were walking out of Circuit City.  An older gentleman overheard our conversation.  He smiled at me and looked at the girls with a serious face, “I have that book too.  Everything in it is true.”

The girls say there’s an invisible Little Girl’s Handbook, but I don’t believe them.

Tonight I was putting Stephanie to bed.  I told her I loved her.  She said, “I love you more.”  I said, “That’s impossible.”

“Na Uh.”

“It is impossible, and I’ll tell you why.  Look (I pulled out the handbook and flipped it open).  It says right here in the Daddy Handbook on page 548, second paragraph:  Daddy’s always love their daughters more than their daughters love them. If it’s in the handbook honey, it is true.”

“Well I have the Little Girl Handbook and it says:  Girls love their daddy’s more than the daddy’s love their girls.  Page 14.  That paragraph.”  She pointed to her small book.

“Well Stephanie, look here on page 799, the last page of the Daddy Handbook.  Do you see what it says?  It says:  Page 14 in the Little Girl’s handbook is hogwash.  Do not believe anything on that page It’s just not true.”

“Well there’s a secret page in the Little Girl’s handbook that says:  Page 14 is true even if the Daddy Handbook says it is not true. And you don’t know the number of the secret page.”

“Yes Stephanie.  But look.  Down here at the bottom of page 799:  The secret page of the Little Girl’s Handbook has some mistakes.  The main one is about the Daddy Handbook not being true. Disregard the information on that page.”

“Daddy, what does disregard mean?”

“Don’t worry about it Boo.  I love you the very most.  Goodnight.”

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!

When The Cat Is Away….

POSTED BY JESSE

The mice work on school projects and go to the mall. And need a lot more chauffeuring.

The division of parenting labor in the Tanner household is greatly misrepresented by this here blog (although Danny has been grumbling about how much more than me he’s been writing, so maybe the blog is representative). It is not a 50-50 deal. I wouldn’t even say 60-40. No, if you totaled up the time spent with kids, chores, driving etc. to calculate the total parenting time and then split it between us….I’d say it comes out closer to 80-20. Or 90-10. And then on weekends it goes to about 95-5…or sometimes 99-1.

But there is the occasional weekend when Danny is out of town, like he was this past weekend with Michelle. Here’s a recap of how I held it down with Stephanie and DJ:

Friday night Stephanie had a basketball game. I had to use a picture of her on the bench because I was using my phone’s low tech camera and all the action ones stunk. Sports are not the Tanner family forte (more posts to come on this for sure), but I think she genuinely enjoys team activities and you could tell she had friends on the team. And she got a rebound! She didn’t remember it, but the first shot of the game that went up bricked off the rim, hit the floor, and bounced into her hands. And that, my friends, is a rebound.

Stephanie also has become aware that she’s not wearing cool mesh basketball shorts (I think she payed in pink soffe shorts all last season) and wants to get a pair. I completely respect this, and even tried to find the smallest pair of mesh shorts I had to cinch on her for the game, but she said they were still too big. I need to remind Danny to pick up a pair of black mesh ones for her.

Afterwards we went out to dinner with friends who had a game on the other court at the same time. Bruce actually paid a babysitter to stay with the girls Friday night (because he didn’t want me to give up two weekend nights. as if I got plans.) and was peeved that I was late bringing them back because it meant he was paying the world’s best baby-sitter (she is. I have mentioned her before. we are not giving up her info because we want her as available as possible for when we call. sorry.) to just sit at his house. But you have to go out to dinner on a Friday night after a YMCA basketball game, right? I’m pretty sure it’s required. Besides, the world’s best baby-sitter was holding court with DJ and her friends when we got there. All joking aside, it reminded me how “non-female” Danny and I are (and I mean that in the most biological sense. we’re not macho by any means.). That despite the fact that he is a super-caring and attentive and a doting father, and I can be a decent listening ear at times, neither one of us can hold “girl talk”. Fortunately we have a rotating cast of characters who fall through the house to do some of that. We need to make sure we continue to.

You can knock her hoops game, but the girl can do some WORK. I smell a Sallie.

On Saturday morning DJ had to go sort potatoes for community service hours for a club she’s in, so Stephanie and I worked on her Helen Keller book report timeline project. I am not all that helpful with school projects and it’s not because I take a principled stance against parents who do their kids’ work for them, it’s because I’m lazy and easily bored (but sometimes I do hide behind my “fostering independence” justification).

I am, however, great at suggestions for projects (I’m like a golf caddy for life). I explained how the illustrations didn’t have to be literal interpretations, so for a picture of Helen Keller’s mother dying, we didn’t have to find a picture of Mrs. Keller’s actual coffin, we could merely cut out a picture of a graveyard from a magazine. And I helped make her a little chart to organize which points on the timeline go with which years, and which pictures, and which captions so we could then see what we still needed to collect.

She cut them all out perfectly in, like, 3 minutes. See? I AM fostering independence.

She asked for help in cutting out all the pictures, and I didn’t even have a good basketball game to say I needed to watch. But I was saved by the rubric: 4 points for neat cutting . “I really don’t think I should cut pictures if that’s part of what you’re getting graded on.” Whew, that was close.

I texted a friend that I was working on a Helen Keller biography project. The text I got back: “Are you going to throw in some Helen Keller jokes to show she’s still a cultural icon?” I didn’t have the heart to tell Stephanie that those horribly cruel jokes are the only thing I can recall about the poor woman.

Later that day Stephanie went with Nana (my mom) to get a haircut, and then I took her to a birthday party. She said this birthday party was for one of her BFFLs (best friends for life). There are a lot of things that are different about the way the Tanner girls have grown up and the way I did, but I realized a glaring one this weekend: as a child my closest friends were literally my closest friends (the latter geographically speaking). I could ride my bike, if not walk, to all of their houses in under five minutes. None of the girls’ closest friends live within a 30-minute driving round-trip of them. Score one for public schools, I guess.

The second half of Saturday had only two objectives: finding DJ a dress at the mall, and watching the N.C. State-UNC game. Unfortunately, these events coincided. My only hope in winning out in this conflict was if DJ couldn’t find anyone else to go to the mall with, because she had told me, “I’m not going to the mall with just you.” Well then.

I don’t know if she put out an emergency all call “stuck with UNCLE for mall trip! please help!” text or just got the first person she tried, but she quickly had someone. Darn. Off to the mall we went.

I dropped off and parked and assured them I would try not to be on the same floor, much less the same store, as them. But I got bored after looking at some basketball shoes, so I started cruising some of the stores I thought they were likely to be browsing to see if I could embarrass them. Therefore, at 2:10, the approximate tip time of the Pack-Heels game the, here was my view…

…of H&M. But they weren’t there. I tried J. Crew, too, but gave up when I didn’t see them there. We were supposed to meet up at the food court so I texted with DJ and eventually we did. Honestly? I didn’t mind not being in front of the TV at tip, and I kind of enjoy being the person that makes it possible for DJ to technically be at the mall without any parents. In today’s world of DVR, I’m a lot less up tight about seeing things live (and, really, it was just the State game).

DJ and Kimmy Gibbler entertained themselves when we got back while I watched the game on a slight delay (I was caught up by mid-second half). Side note: the scheme to convert all three girls into full-fledged Carolina fans is going swimmingly. Thank you, Sidney Lowe.

If you bought this dress to wear to Friday night's dance, TAKE IT BACK because DJ's wearing it.

Later DJ and I went to get some yogurt at this place called Freshberry, where you get as much frozen yogurt as you want and can pile on your own toppings. My favorite part about one-on-one time with DJ is how much she is like an adult. You can level with her, gossip with her, she fully understands sarcasm in humor, you don’t have to change the song because it has one bad word in it, we can make fun of Danny, etc.

Then she rode with me to pick up Stephanie and we tried to steal things out of Steph’s party favor bag. I can’t even remember the comment, but Stephanie said something that made me laugh out loud. It also made me realize how close she is to being an “almost adult” like DJ.

I tucked Stephanie in that night and tickled her a lot because I realized that as they become more fun to talk to like grown-ups, the sacrifice is you can’t pick them up as much. By contrast: I stuck my head in DJ’s room (she was doing homework because she had missed some days being sick. what a kid.) and asked her if she needed me to tuck her in. She said “nah”, she’d probably be asleep soon. I said “cool” and fell asleep on the couch watching Saturday Night Live.

Sunday was another busy day for Stephanie: early service and 11:00 church because her group was doing a moment for mission (but someone else gave her a ride down for the early service. THANKS!), then eat lunch and change for basketball practice, followed by another outfit change for cotillion. For lunch I made grilled cheeses with DJ on my back about how they weren’t the way Mae (Danny’s mom) makes them.

After I dropped at cotillion, Danny was back in town, so we resumed our 90/10 ratio. All in all, though, a solid weekend.

A Very Important Announcement!

POSTED BY JESSE

Attention, attention! I have a very important announcement to make: Stephanie has decided that her favorite TV show has changed.  That’s right, “Avatar: The Last Airbender” cartoon is out. The teen mystery “House of Anubis” is IN, baby. (her interests in the Meet The Fam have been updated accordingly).

I don’t know much about this show, but it has been captivating the two youngest Tanner girls lately. Michelle says “there’s a lot of lip locking”. I might need to keep a closer eye out. I am sure this is the last time Stephanie will ever switch her favorite show. It’s “House of Anubis” from here on out, if you’re keeping score at home. I bet we’re gonna see a lot more of this show on the DVR.

Fortunately the girls have an incredible baby-sitter tonight (in.cred.ible. I think she spends more on babysitting supplies to bring than Danny pays her) so they’re getting a lot more stimulation than dumb ol’ TV.

But we’ll be watching TV tomorrow. I’m gonna see if I can sway two girls to pull for the Tar Heels tomorrow in the N.C. State-UNC game, because Danny’s going camping with Michelle. Somebody’s gotta set these girls straight, right? Go Heels!

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