Dani Stone

I Hear Laugh Tracks

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Minecraft and the Not-So-Busy Bummer Summer

j k ducks crop  resize “Summertime. . . and the livin’ is easy. . . “

If you immediately started singing the lyrics to that song you’re either a George Gershwin fan, over the age of 50 or a fan of every reality singing competition ever made. Countless hopeful starlets have destroyed this classic tune in the hopes of becoming the winner of America’s Next Top Voice Talent X Factor Idol.

Much to my chagrin, this has also become the theme song to my son’s 12th summer. While I’m in favor of letting my children relax and enjoy the fruits of their educational labor, there’s got to be some balance. Unfortunately, we’re having trouble finding that right now.

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Mama Knows

Karen Ledford Photography

Karen Ledford Photography

Last weekend I was a cast member in the inaugural Kansas City production of Listen To Your Mother. Last weekend I did something I’ve never done. I walked up to a lectern, which is like a podium but without the body-hiding security of wood panels, and told a story about my daughter. How I knew something was terribly wrong with her after she was born but no one would listen to me. How I shouted and shrieked and pointed to her little face where veins were beginning to sprout like a road map and the darkness under her eyes was becoming so noticeable, someone actually accused me of child abuse. How she almost wasn’t diagnosed in time. How we found help and encouragement from angels among us. How we sought treatment in New York, and the best part, how Katie beat insurmountable odds to be here with us today.

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My Kitchen Needs A Mop and a Good Exorcism

Isn’t it funny how the ebb and flow of life can take you from happiness to irritation in just a few short minutes. And of course by funny I don’t mean funny-HAHA, I mean funny-OH COME ON YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME WITH THIS.

One minute you’re with your daughter petting a pot-bellied pig and looking at the hairless ass of a hand-size tarantula sitting in Tupperware and the next minute you come home to find your husband behind the refrigerator cursing like he’s in a Quinton Tarantino movie. We’ve all been THERE, right? No? Okay, sorry. Quick recap.

Evidently the tarantula does something to his booty hair when he's stressed out. HELLO? You're the tarantula, dude!

Evidently the tarantula does something to his booty hair when he’s stressed out. HELLO? You’re the tarantula, dude!

Last Thursday I joined my daughter’s Girl Scout troop on a field trip to visit The Bug Lady where we saw the creepy Tupperware tarantula (pictured) and also watched The Lady Bug mascot, a pot bellied pig, lumber around the room and chew on all the rugs. Good times had by all. Then we dodged hail stones through a spring thunderstorm until we made it back home. That’s where the fun train stopped. Our smiles faded the moment we walked in the door.

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Kansas Women Bloggers and Next Left Summer Cover

To say the last two months have been crazy would be an understatement.

This post is not so much a new epiphany of thoughts and feelings or even a cute post about my children or my Dougie, though, come on, seriously, how adorable is this little Girl Scout?

katie dog n shakeOr this birthday boy whom we bribed to wear the sombrero even though he felt like a, “lumping idiot.” Lumping is his new boundary-pushing curse word. I find myself saying it now. Quality parenting. 2013-04-03_17-57-18_470

Or these three precious faces snuggling on Saturday morning. You know what they say, “the family who plays WordFeud, Pokemon and Fruit Ninja together, stays together.”

fam electronics crop

Nope, this post is actually a recap of goodness, the introduction to a new blogging community and a chance to show you the new summer cover of my e-book, Next Left.

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Why I Auditioned for Listen To Your Mother

badge-2013A few weeks ago I wrote about my audition for LTYM (Listen To Your Mother) but there were so many things going on that week including the passing of my uncle and a possessed dishwasher that decided to spew forth water with the voracity of that poor child from the Exorcist that I didn’t give the story the attention it deserved.

Since that time, I’ve learned that I did, in fact, make it in to the big show. Yay! My reaction? Joy, tears and gratitude followed by flop sweat, nerves, the desire to lose 20 pounds and I may have even peed just a teeny tiny bit. ‘Cause this thing, folks, is a big deal.

What is Listen To Your Mother? From the official website: “Celebrating Mother’s Day with a national series of original live-readings shared on local stages and via social media.” Each show is individually produced and all the shows are performed in May. This year, 24 cities will be participating. Through generous sponsors and ticket sales, a portion of the proceeds from each show will go to a local charity. On Saturday, May 11th, I’ll be speaking at the show in Kansas City at Unity Temple on the Plaza. For more information or to buy tickets, click HERE.

Speaking. I’ll be. . . speaking. *gulp*

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Uncle Lew, The Pope and Listen To Your Mother: Week In Review

Some weeks it seems my life is nothing but a seven-day stretch of making PB&J sandwiches, policing homework, letting cats in, folding laundry, hustling for freelance work, letting cats out, and then the cycle begins again. The doldrums take hold and I’m this close to reaching for a Harlequin Romance novel for a little escapism. Then, well, then there’s last week.

On Thursday, February 28th I went to dinner with a group of friends and had a long overdue chat. Some of my very favorite ladies were in attendance and after having rescheduled the dinner four previous times, I welcomed the laughter and conversation. Every time we get together a new inside joke is created. “Did she say, whore up? No, honey, I think she said order up. Okay then.” Ohhhh, you had to be there. I was still smiling when I got home that night, changed in to my comfy snowflake pajama pants and started scrolling through Facebook updates. Then I received a private message from my cousin, and my smile disappeared.

882822_10200696576001377_643741155_oAlthough I knew my Uncle Lewis had not been well for some time, I was unprepared for the message I received. “Lewis was taken to the hospital. . . nothing more doctors can do. . . Hospice coming tonight. . . doctors do not expect him to live through the weekend.” I stared at the blinking cursor but had no immediate reply. Uncle Lew, the handsome rugged man pictured to your left, has been a fixture in my life for 42 years. The strong man with the broad chest and tattoos, whose life-uniform consisted of a light blue button-down and generous amount of Brylcreem, always had a smile for me and doted on me like I was one of his own. I understood he was sick but could not grasp the finality of my cousin’s words.

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Pushing the Gosh Ham Limits

Blatant blackmail photo

Blatant blackmail photo

My son Jacob is eleven. He started middle school this year. Not long ago, friends with older boys warned me this would be the year of hormone fluctuation, anxiety resulting from big changes at school and boundary-pushing. I have wise friends. Over the past six months he has refused to get his hair cut, his grades have dropped to the basement a few times and boundary-pushing is in full-swing.

There have been times when his bursts of independence have resulted in grounding, like the time I found out he was getting a D in Science stemming from three missing assignments. When I asked why he hadn’t completed them he performed an exaggerated shoulder-shrug and said, “I guess I just wasn’t feelin’ it.” BUZZER! Wrong answer, mister man.

Since he’s my firstborn, I’m often left wondering, “Well, how the hell do I handle these shenanigans?” I usually call my mother. Then go with my gut. Then call my mother again. Not knowing how tight to pull the apron strings is a constant internal struggle for me.

Then there are times when his offbeat humor catches me completely off-guard and I’m left wondering whether I should laugh or say, “Jacob that’s inappropriate.” I have a fairly juvenile sense of humor so even though I feel it’s my duty. . . *snicker*. . . I said doody. . . sorry.

So even though I feel it’s my du–responsibility to react in the proper parental way, sometimes my child just cracks me up and I lose all resolve.

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Do It Anyway

do it anywayOn Saturday I was on my way to the hospital to visit my 22 year old niece who was recently admitted to the cardiac intensive care unit. Doctors believe she contracted some strain of the flu that bypassed her sinuses, didn’t even bother with her stomach and rested smack dab in her heart. When the virus runs its course she’ll be left with heart damage and directives that are usually reserved for the senior set including eating a heart-healthy diet, salt limitation, caffeine intake and smoking cessation. Did I mention she’s only 22? Seriously, people, wash your hands. Stay home if you’re sick. Don’t lick door knobs. This flu is no joke.

Before my hospital visit I stopped to mail a birthday package and embarrassingly late Christmas gift to a friend. As I parked my car I noticed an able-bodied gentleman unload his cart and then abandon it in the space beside him even though the handy cart-corral-thingy was only two cars away. He looked at me and I gave him the patented Larry-Gordon-over-the-top-of-the-sunglasses glare. He slid in to the driver’s seat, unfazed. Evidently I’m not as intimidating as my father is when he does it. At the same time another car was attempting to enter the space next to him but of course they were cart-blocked. Before the parking lot offender had a chance to leave, I got out and quickly moved the cart to the cart-corral-thingy while muttering, “THAT wasn’t so difficult, was it?” I did not receive a thank-you wave from the car attempting to enter the space and the offender avoided my crazy-eyed stare.

Even when you know your kindness will be ignored, DO IT ANYWAY.

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This is 42

iStock_000015950989XSmallFrost the cake and light the candles, it’s almost my birthday!

For several weeks I’ve been telling Dougie that on my big day I want to see the new Judd Apatow movie, This Is 40, “The sort’ve sequel to Knocked Up.” Thanks to a well-timed visit from my in-laws this past weekend, I got to see it early.

The movie struck a chord. In fact, I had a little hyperventilating snot-fest crying jag on the way home just trying to recap it. So you can imagine my surprise, nay, shock when I read a review bashing the movie for Leslie Mann’s “irrational emotions” who, “gets angry over nothing and curses and screams for half an hour.” The reviewer then calls lead characters, Pete and Debbie, “mundane” and writes that he prefers, “a film that depicts regular people in not-so-regular situations.” Well, Sir, I respectfully disagree. In MY opinion, sometimes it’s nice to see a movie I can relate to.

Every now and then I want to see a clever filmmaker step forward and have the walnuts to say, “Sometimes life sucks, marriage is hard, I don’t always like you, our kids can be little bastards, our parents give us emotional baggage, oh great now we’re giving our kids emotional baggage, ALSO life can be awesome, we make a great team, I don’t want to live without you, and if anyone messes with our kids we’ll gang up and shiv them on the playground.” In This Is 40, Judd Apatow does that.

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New Life Promises & Next Left NYE Bash

iStock_000010713239XSmall3. . . 2. . . 1. . . HAPPY NEW YEAR!

In a few short hours I’ll be ringing in 2013 by smooching my husband and clinking glasses filled with the finest apple cider and butterscotch schnapps champagne. Then we’ll stand on the back deck so we can hear the celebration ring out through the city in the form of illegal fireworks, hoots/hollers and the occasional banging of pots and pans. ‘Cause that’s how we do on the prairie. I’ll quietly thank the baby Jesus for the health of my family and friends and then look ahead to the new year. And by “look ahead,” I mean I’ll make a mental list of all the things I want to accomplish in the next 365 days. When the clock strikes midnight, I like to think of my life as a giant Etch-A-Sketch and for each gong that sounds, the sand shifts and erases the previous year until it’s a blank screen again. It’s a fitting analogy because this year, I really need to shake  some things up around here.

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