Dani Stone

I Hear Laugh Tracks


14 Comments

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.

Continue reading


5 Comments

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.

Continue reading


5 Comments

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.

Continue reading


Leave a comment

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.

Continue reading


10 Comments

Sleigh Read Tour and a Delicious Coffee-Fueled Contest!

What is it about winter time that turns me in to a hopeless romantic?

It certainly isn’t the temperature. I detest it. When the first cold snap hits in mid-October I swear I won’t be warm again until May. Then I spend the rest of the season bundled up in layers of clothing and wear my electric blanket as a cape, moving from room to room with the little electrical cord dragging behind me.

Then there’s the cold and flu season. An entire season dedicated to coughing, sneezing and the dreaded snot-snuck. I’m woozy just thinking about it. Phlegm noises make me irritable and I tend to shout irrational things like, “Blow your nose or I will come use the baby snot-sucky-thingy on you, I don’t care if you are 46 years old.”

Yet here I am, ready to launch another romantic winter tale, Next Left.

Continue reading


2 Comments

How Twinkie The Kid Saved A 1980s Road Trip

Last week, Hostess Brands announced it would be closing its operations permanently, following an employee strike. Already in financial decline, CEO, Gregory Rayburn explained, “We do not have the financial resources to weather an extended nationwide strike.” Thus, the company known for creating iconic cream-filled goodies including Twinkies, Ding Dongs, Zingers and Cupcakes started to (bad pun alert) crumble before our eyes.

Upon hearing the news of Hostess’ demise, Americans reacted in true blue opportunistic fashion. Outlet stores were immediately raided and store shelves were emptied. News crews interviewed tooth-challenged customers carting armfuls of Twinkie boxes to their cars and today on ebay I noticed box after box of delicious trans-fat cream- cakes listed for as much as 300 dollars. Ohhh, America, your greed is adorable.

Hostess products like Wonder Bread and Zingers were a big part of my childhood. They were my go-to snacks for sack lunches and in elementary school we even got to take a field trip to the local manufacturing plant. At the end of the tour we received a mini loaf of bread to take home. At the time I collected miniatures and was highly irritated my mother wouldn’t let me add the teeny bread loaf to my shadow box. I was ten, mold was beyond my comprehension.

My best ode to Hostess, however, is a story few people know about. My childhood bestie, Kim (Koerner) May and I simply refer to it as, “Twinkie Time.” It’s the story about two young girls, a dark crowded Oklahoma highway and how Twinkie the Kid saved us from a complete mental breakdown.

Continue reading


5 Comments

Guy Fieri’s Bad Day and Why I Feel His Pain

Photo courtesy Food Network

Today is a bad day to be Guy Fieri. As a well-known chef, Food Network darling and restaurateur, Guy has spent the last few years in the spotlight filming cooking segments, judging competitions and traveling around in a sweet ’67 Camaro to visit greasy spoons across the United States on his popular show, “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” (or “Triple D,” if you speak Guy-speak). Yep, this bleach-blonde California chef with a penchant for wearing sunglasses on the back of his head has been leading a pretty sweet life till today, when the spotlight turned to white-hot criticism courtesy of NY Times restaurant reviewer, Pete Wells.

Continue reading


Leave a comment

Next Left, Witty Chicks And Embracing A Sick Day

If it seems I’ve neglected my personal blog lately it’s because I’ve been flitting around the interwebs lending my thoughts and miscellaneous ramblings to other sites instead. I’ve also been under deadline to finish my latest short story and, there’s that whole job-hunt thing going on, as well.

Over the past 48 hours, however, I’ve really had my hands full. . . of soap and antibacterial gel, that is. My poor Jakie picked up a flu bug from somewhere; I suspect the carrier monkeys from middle school and his atrocious habit of nail-biting. *shudder* I’ll spare you the gory details but suffice it to say, there was a situation *swirly hand motions* happening at both ends. While I immediately sprang in to action as nursemaid, housemaid and bland-food nazi, I also got to do something else, baby my “baby” again.

Continue reading


3 Comments

The Day Twitter Was A Magic Genie

Generous: (1) Showing a readiness to give more of something, as money or time, than is strictly necessary or expected. (2) Showing kindness towards others.

I’m still astounded.

This  month, Dougie and I will celebrate our 14th wedding anniversary and Katie will turn eight. Finances are as tight as they can be so the anniversary will come and go without fanfare. The birthday of our favorite 2nd grader is more important. This year, in addition to a “friend party” at Pump It Up (the place of super bouncy house fun, which I’m even surprised they let me in to considering the “incident of 2010”) she also has her eye on a few gifts but more than anything, she wants to go see The Lion King. The classic Broadway musical lands in Wichita tomorrow for a 4-week run.

Continue reading


3 Comments

Letting Go. I don’t wanna

On Monday, my husband’s parents swooped in to town and whisked our children away to stay with them for a week in Arkansas. A little stay-cation in paradise. I say paradise because they live in a beautiful home that backs up to Lake Loch Lomond in Bella Vista. Every sunrise and sunset looks like a postcard. As a busy work-at-home mom, you’d think I would’ve been giddy to give them a peck on the head, throw a handful of Teddy Grahams in the car and be floating in the pool by the time they reached the highway. Instead, I held my composure until they were out of sight and then proceeded to cry shoulder-heaving sobs in to my husband’s chest.

You see, this is the first time my children have been away from me for so many days in a row. Letting go, I don’t wanna.

Continue reading