1. I have really great legs. Yeah, I work out a lot and do hundreds of kicks in Taekwondo ever week but I have my mother’s legs. Mary and Lex got them too. We have great definition and generally don’t get cellulite, fat thighs or big hips, even when we put on ten or twenty pounds. (Sadly though, our butts are kind of flat). Because of my mom, we don’t store fat in our thighs. And we have nicely shaped calves and ankles, no “cankles” for us or chubby knees. Our fat goes to other places and that’s wonderful because It’s really hard to exercise your ankles and hips. Our legs are a genetic gift from God and my mom and I am thankful.
2. God blessed me by making me a McDaniel. And three of my children are absolutely McDaniels too. We’re still waiting to see if Sandor develops the gift of friendly bull shit. Being a McDaniel means we can snuggle into any group of people from senators and presidents to garbage men and rednecks. We can happily visit with just about anybody, we like almost everybody. It’s very difficult to make us feel out of place, because we know how gifted and wonderful we are. Oh, and we have an absurd amount of confidence so we assume people will love us, because we are McDaniels. Generally, McDaniel’s are also magnificent story tellers. Some people say we are natural liars, but we like to think of ourselves as gregarious raconteurs. We like to put a positive spin on things.
This is where I should mention my husband, Alex. I’m blessed with a man who puts up with us even though he often times doesn’t understand. he rolls his eyes a lot and wonders what we will say next.
3. We laugh all the time. This is also part of the McDaniel blood line. We howl and giggle and hee-haw with laughter even when things are really really bad. We laugh when we are miserable and broken hearted because God blessed us with the ability to see something funny in almost every situation, from cat poop on the new carpet to family funerals. Thank you Jesus. Again I have also been blessed with a husband who doesn’t always understand why the hell we are laughing but he doesn’t tell us to shut up.
4. God has blessed me with the most wonderful and naturally happy children on the planet. They all like and take care of each other. They are all playful and respectful, smart and really really fun to be around.
At least ounce a week (I’m not making this part up no matter what I said in the previous paragraph) someone asks me how I raised such wonderful and smart kids. (so far I haven’t had to write a single check for college) I just say “thank you they actually came delivered that way”. And it’s the truth.
We have plenty of flaws. We tend to be a little vain, with terrible handwriting and none of the kids are over the top athletes. Hard work is required for their on field successes. But for the most top I am blessed beyond words.
I have a theory why God has given me four such extraordinary children. He has a good plan. But I’ll save that story for another day and just be thankful for what I have right now.
Tags: Blessed, Blessings, children, God, great legs, kids, McDaniel, taekwondo
Yikes. “Hey, what song is that?” I asked, trying to sound unconcerned.
“It’s a song I heard today. It’s not bad.” And he started singing again. “My girl bad, my girl good my girl do things I can’t put in words. ” And he kept on going.
I was waiting for the song we sang in high school. “hotel, motel Holiday Inn, if you’re girl starts acting up, then you take her friend.”
Lex suddenly said, “that’s a Ludicrous song, it’s great. And he says hood, not good.”
I blurted, “No, it’s not great, not for him to be singing.”
What are we supposed to do when our little kids sing really bad songs? But they don’t know they are bad and if we tell them not to sing….. they will ask why? Then we have to explain what kind of things “bad girls do”. It’s a no win situation and a very catchy song.
When Lexie was four or five she loved a song by the rapper Shaggy called “It Wasn’t Me”. The lyrics go something like “she caught me banging in the kitchen…it wasn’t me. We were banging in the bedroom…it wasn’t me. She even caught butt naked banging on the kitchen floor….”
We told five year old Lexie the song was about a really bad drummer who couldn’t stop banging his drum sticks on every surface in the house and let her keep on singing.
When Sandor was six or seven Nickel Back came out with “We All Want to Be Big Rock Stars.” My boy knew every word but the lyrics changed in his little brain and he sang, “Where the girls come easy and toys come cheap.” Maybe you live in a music free Burka filled world and don’t know the real lyrics ‘where the girls come easy and the drugs come cheap.”
I’m sure my parents went through the same spasms when I was little, cringing as I song along with the radio, wondering if I understood what Jim Morrison meant when he sang, “Come on baby light my fire,” or Steppenwolf screamed “Come on girl tell your dreams to me, fantasy will set you free.”
It’s all bad, very very bad. But they are children and don’t know it’s bad. So for now…we are safe.
Of course I like to think I’m not at all prejudice, but that’s a lie, every one is. But not everyone admits it or is honest with themselves.
I’m naturally a pretty friendly person. I talk to strangers all the time, I visit with people in the produce isle, I know the bank tellers by name and ask about their kids, hell, I even start conversations at traffic lights. I visit with just about everybody including older African Americans just as much as white folks, but I started taking note of my own actions around young black men and those who seem less fortunate.
Guess what? I tensed up around a group of black teens in the mall. At the Dodge Store there were three African American men in their early 20s standing outside the door. Again, I tensed up. But why? I’ve never been attacked or assaulted in anyway by a black man. I’ve argued with friends who happened to be black but I’ve never had a confrontational moment with any African American.
So, for the past three days I’ve made a point to be friendly to young black men and those less fortunate.
1. As I walked out of a building three homeless (or so they appeared) black men rode past on old bikes. They looked at me with blank expressions until I smiled and said, “What a great day for a bike ride.” All three men smiled back, one waved and one guy said, ‘Yeah it is!”
I was a friendly lady in a red dress why wouldn’t they smile.
2.In Walmart there was a African American young man, probably 20 in line behind me. He was sagging, had on a white tank top and a lot of hair. I smiled and said, “I like your shoes.” He was wearing a good looking pair of high top Nikes with orange trim.
He smiled back, nodded and looked at his shoes. Thanks”.
I don’t know what the hell happened in Sanford, Florida and I don’t understand why George Zimmerman wasn’t arrested. But it’s got some of us thinking. Hopefully, that’s a good thing.
**Let me know what you think, comment, e-mail me at email@example.com friend me on facebook.
Tags: African American men, black men, race, threat, Treyvon Martina
“Has she had much driving experience?” I asked.
“No, no just got his permit. But we’ll work on it.”
“Is it a nice car?”
“Yeah, it’s beautiful and only has 50,000 miles.” She went on to tell me about the lovely $7,000 dollar car.
At that point I thought my ear drums were going to explode. I couldn’t keep my mouth shut. “Please please please, buy him a crappy car for the first year. He’s going to bump into every thing and you’ll still be making payments.”
But I was too late, the deal was done. I think he’s had the car for five months and there have been at least three “incidents”. He’s backed over garbage cans, bumped into fire hydrants and of course the dent on the back right door…”it happend while he was in Wal-Mart”. I put that in quotes because all teen agers use that line when they bang up their car.
Nobody every hits my car in parking lots but teen drivers are plagued by these evil does who bump and run.
I think the mom stopped telling me about stuff her son hit a month or so ago cause it’s embrassing. But the truth is he’s normal and human and a teenager. And the pretty car is now a mess.
Here’s another teenage truth, if you buy a kid a fast car, she’s gonna go really fast. A couple of years ago a friend bought his sixteen year old son a bright green Ninja motorcycle. I think the speedometer topped out at 160. And then my friend was surprised and furious when his son got a ticket for going 110. Really buddy? You know teenage brains continue developing until their mid-20s.
My kids ran into plenty of stuff, even a tree, in their first year of driving because it takes time to get good. It takes time to understand distance and speed and it takes time to develop proper reflexes, the one that tell you when to stomp on the gas or the brake in a fraction of a second.
Mary actually totaled her first car twice in one month. And guess what, we’ve duct tapped that bad boy Ford Explorer back together and that’s the car Lexie gets on her 16th birthday.
The good news is, most of them get better. It just takes time to learn to drive….well. So, unless you have a boat load of money and you just can’t wait to spend it, buy your 16 year old something cheap, something indestructible and something with plenty of insurance.
Write or comment! It makes me happy. firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on facebook Diana McDaniel Hampo, I always need more friends.
Tags: cars, driving teen agers, speeding, teens
Standing in the bank, moving money around, I hear a voice, “Hey Pooh Bear”! I look over and see a 60 year old man, gray hair, lovely suit, waving at me on the far side of the bank lobby. He’s actually the bank president and he was my brother, Granger’s, buddy, forty five years ago. He’s a handsome bank president and he still calls me Pooh Bear. He gives me a big hug and for a warm moment I’m home again with my brother and all his friends. But Granger has been dead for almost a year. Still, I feel loved because he used my nickname.
Nicknames are a double edged sword.
By the time I turned 25 I despised being called Pooh Bear with a red hot lava like hatred. Now, when I hear Pooh Bear I just smile because I know it’s someone who knew my family and loved us. It’s a sweet sound.
When new friends use my old nickname it sounds wrong, almost offensive. If they weren’t part of the history and story they shouldn’t use the name. It’s not their story. Nicknames are personal, kind of like a secret handshake. If you aren’t part of the club you shouldn’t try to use it.
I have a cousin, handsome and smart guy named Daley. But growing up EVERYONE called him Bimbo. And I thought Pooh Bear was bad.
Growing up in Hot Springs, Arkansas my best friends when I was really little (4 to 7) were Pinky and Squampy. Pinky was probably 7 when I was 5 and Squampy was 3. Our moms ran in a local theater group, The Community Players.
One Friday evening,Pinky, Squampy and I were left alone, again, at the Community Players while our moms directed and stared in A Street Car Named Desire.
There was a tourist attraction next door to the theater,The Alligator Farm. It’s a little place with a lot of gators in shallow pools. But there was a big fat tree growing out of the parking lot and it stretched out across the gator pools.
While our moms were busy with Blanche and Stanley, Pinky convinced us to crawl out on the tree branch, over the alligator pools.
An hour later the adults started looking for us. We’d shimmied out on a thick branch and were staring at dozens of alligators. But Squampy, the youngest, was afraid to shimmy backwards, so we couldn’t get off the branch.
All three of us were clutching the phone pole sized branch, waiting to get eaten or for grown ups to find us. If I’d died that day the newspaper head line might have read “Alligator Eats Pooh Bear!”
Mary, my oldest daughter, is gorgeous now, but when she was little she was kind of silly looking. We called her Buddy Hackett (I swear she looked like him), and we called her Murry. Why Murry? Because when we went to the beach she refused to keep her top on. So we decided if we called her Murray, everyone would think she was a little boy.
Nicknames…they suck, they embarrass us, we hate them. But now, that I’m an adult and fairly confident, and feeling like I have nothing to prove, Pooh Bear doesn’t embarrass me. It makes me feel loved. Murray makes Mary laugh because she knows how beautiful she is and it’s a great story.
Once you grow up and figure out who you are, nicknames are pretty wonderful. They are part of your story. Pinky, Squampy and Biimbo, I still love you.
Got a nickname, a comment or idea…WRITE TO ME at email@example.com or leave a comment.
Tags: Alligator Farm, Arkansas, Community Players, Daley McDaniel, growing up, Hot Springs, nicknames, Pinky, Pooh Bear
Growing up is pretty wonderful but getting older bites. But, I’ve discovered three things that are absolutely guaranteed to make you look younger. And you don’t have to spend 125 dollars on a quarter ounce of “youth serum”.
1. STOP WEARING FRUMPY BLACK AND GRAY SHIRTS, SWEATERS AND DRESSES. Seriously, the black bag you’re calling an outfit does not make you look thinner or pretty. It’s ugly ugly ugly. Women over the age of 45 generally look depressed and exhausted when they wear black. Put on something bright, maybe even a print. I’m not talking old lady print with massive purple Lily’s and zebras but please find a shirt with some excitement or attitude, it will help your face so much. Give up on the Blob O’ Black. Next time you are in a big store look at the women wearing great big black things. Do they look happy or young? Hell no.
2. Turn the music up really really loud in your car and sing, hard core. When was the last time you did it? It’s so much fun, you’ll feel much younger and if you feel younger you will look younger. That’s right, 60 year old lady, I want you to crank up the Police and sing Roxanne as loud as you can, the way you did in 1979 . Sing it loud baby, slaughter that song, maybe roll down the windows and let the wind wreck you Ashe Blondie hair-do. Goofy singing people always look younger and happier.
3.Laugh, out loud. According to Wikipedia the average baby laughs 300 times a day but adults only laugh 20 times in 24 hours. What’s wrong with us? The world is funny as hell but we stop laughing. We take everything SOOO seriously. Most of us are extraordinarily blessed, we have food and shelter, we have Wal-Mart, coffee in the morning, clean air and CDs in our car, but we focus on the 1% of our life that’s messed up. Stop doing that, instead laugh out loud like a monkey, bray like a mule. Count your blessings, literally, count them on your fingers and toes…you are probably so blessed you’ll run out of digits before you run out of blessings. You need to lighten up, be grateful and you’ll look ten years younger.
If you want to look younger, act like a goof, be silly and stop wearing black. Silly goofy people may look stupid but they look young and happy too. Remember, “we are fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance.”
Write to me or comment…that’ll make you look younger too. firstname.lastname@example.org
Tags: 45 year old women, anti-aging, dance, look young
A good mom (or dad, I don’t want to be sexist) in the morning has to be both bi-polar and zen to get kids to school on time. you gotta be be exquisitely irrational, brutal and daring. One person, with just one personality, doesn’t stand a chance . Every morning I’m the wheeling dealing gambler, dictator, stand up comedian, dancing diva, chef, dj.
Daughter, “Mom what’s it like today?”
“Warm and rainy, almost 80 degrees,” Meteorologist Mom
“What shoes with this?” It’s a short fluffy skirt and Chuck Norris tee-shirt.
“Cowboy boots, not the suede ones, because of the rain, maybe a belt or something shiny with that shirt.” Fashion designer mom says.
I open the lap top and daughter says sweetly, “Lil Wayne, please?”
DJ/ Censor Mom yells, “Are you out of your mind? He can’t listen to that. Next request?”
We all laugh our way through ‘I’m Sexy and I Know It.” I do my little hootchie coochie dance.
Then boy asks for Weird Al. Nothing better in the morning. Pop Scholar Mom has everything on the lap top or can find it on YouTube.
But boy is still just staring at his scrambled eggs. He’s not a morning eatter, but I have to get a few calories in the kid. The Wheeler Dealer mom says, “What’s it gonna take to get you to eat?”
“I could do a donut.”
“Ok, you eat half the eggs and you can have a donut. But you have to drink milk, not juice.”
“Ok,” he says and crams exactly half the pile of eggs in his mouth, it’s grotesque. He swallows it all, as though taking a dose of cod liver oil. Nutritionist Mom hands him a donut and a glass of milk.
Daughter appears, looking really cute, in the boots and skirt. “So Mom, Roy is acting like such a punk to Heather since they broke up. He’s hanging all over other girls, big time. He gave Jessica a full back rub at lunch just to bug her. I swear I want to punch him in the face.”
“No face punching.”
She makes a face. “Then I’m going to talk to him and tell him to cut it out.”
“That won’t work,” Says Relationship Counselor Mom. “That’ll just give him the satisfaction of knowing he’s upsetting her. Just make sure she’s no where near him. If she can’t see him doing stupid stuff it won’t bug her. And make sure you keep her busy. Do something fun Friday night.”
“I still want to punch him. Stupid mean boys.”
“Yeah, stupid boys.” I say and she laughs.
“Hey, stop talking about stupid boys,” son says. He has a huge milk mustache.
“Oh my lord, boy! You don’t have any pants on yet. You have to wear pants to school, I’m pretty sure that’s a rule. Go get dressed. We leave in seven minutes.”
It doesn’t take a village to raise a child, it takes an entire staff of schizophrenic forward thinking professionals.
*What’s your morning like Write to me at email@example.com or leave a message. They make me happy.
Tags: breakfast, family, mom, morning ritual
Silliest thing on the planet. My buddy Amelia gave me a box of Wheaties because Muhammad Ali was on the front. She knows I have had a ridiculous love affair with Ali for more than forty years. I read the Wheaties caption for Ali…” the Ambassador of Sportsmanship”! I dropped my cereal spoon in shock.
Ali was a vain, pompous, braggadocio. “I’m not the greatest; I’m the double greatest. Not only do I knock ’em out, I pick the round,” he said famously.
He was famous for insulting his opponents relentlessly. He said to Sonny Liston, “Hey, come on you big ugly bear, I’ll turn you into a rug! ”
He called Joe Frazier an “Uncle Tom” a “gorilla” and said he was “so ugly he should donate his face to the US Bureau of Wild Life.” — Ali was a terrible loser and an even worse winner. His genius in and out of the ring was blazing hot and unmatched in the world of sports, but when he was fighting, Muhammad Ali was no sportsman. He was a brilliant athlete and boxer, salesman, Muslim, comedian and human being but he was not the Ambassador of Sportsmanship.
Still, despite his showboating and poor manners, I do love Ali. I have loved hims since I was eight or nine years old.
Last night, while staring at the box of Wheaties and Ali’s pretty face I realized I’ve never written about the extraordinary day I met Muhammad Ali. My poor kids have heard the story, over and over, because that’s what McDaniels do…tell stores. But I need to write it down so it’s in the books.
When I was a skinny eight or nine year old, my brother, Granger, my mom and I flew to Boston to watch my other brother, Jack, graduate from prep school.
Granger was a gorgeous, golden haired, 19 year old and he had a full leg cast because he constantly totalled my parents cars. He was on crutches and grumpy all the time.
My mom left Granger and me at the airport terminal with the luggage while she returned the rental car. It was Spring time. Back then, in the late 60’s, little girls got very dressed up to fly in an airplane. That day, I wore a a baby blue dress, white tights and white dress shoes. I was miserable and to make things worse I had to drag the luggage as I tried to keep up with Granger on crutches.
Suddenly Granger stopped and said, “Do you know who that is? Look down there.”
I didn’t know or care. But Granger was really excited. “Good God, Pooh Bear, that’s Cassius Clay,” then he corrected himself. “Muhammad Ali!.” He looked at me. “The heavy weight champion of the world. Come on!” He he took off like a Thoroughbred on his crutches, galloping across the enormous Logan Airport and I started dragging the suitcases, trying to keep up. I stopped once and tried to figure out who he was chasing but all I could see was a great big group of dressed up black people. I readjusted my grip and trudged on.
By the time I reached the group, Granger had already introduced himself. I stood behind him in awe of the group. I had never, in my life seen so many gigantic black people, all dressed up. Ali was surrounded by several body guards in dark suits and they all towered in front of me like Red Woods. And their was a lady in the group. I was transfixed because I had never seen a gorgeous and fancy black lady. She seemed to shimmer in front of me, like a goddess and I was speechless until the largest of all the men stepped in front of me and said, “And who are you?”
I dropped the bags. “Diana Ross McDaniel, we’re from Hot Springs, Arkansas.” I extended my hand as I’d been trained to do. That’s when it happened. His hand was the size of a catchers mitt and it swallowed my hand then part of my arm. I didn’t know if my hand would ever return.
“Nice to meet you Diana Ross McDaniel, I’m Muhammad Ali.” First he made his eyes get big and round then he winked at me. I had no idea who he was but I was entranced. “Why is such a little girl carrying all those bags?”
I started to say something about Granger and his crutches but Ali stopped me. He nodded at one of the other men then told him to take the luggage for me. At that moment I didn’t know who Ali was but I loved him cause he made those men take the damn bags off my hands. My fingers still ached.
Quickly, he scribbled his name on Granger’s cast then said, “Kids, I’ve got to go before the press finds me but you take care of your little sister, Granger.”
Then he was gone, they were all gone and we were left in his vacuum.
Before that day I had no idea what a “heavy weight champion of the world” was but I figured it out pretty quickly. That massive man made my day so much easier so he was the champion of the world.
For years after that day, I was the little white girl who defended Ali against all critics. From Vietnam to Rope-A-Dope, Ali, the “heavy wight champion of the world,” could do no wrong in my eyes. When Daddy and I listened to Howard Cosell and watched his epic battles live on Friday nights, I would tell anyone who would listen about my friend, “Muhammad Ali”.
And I still defend him today, though his philanthropy and humanitariandedication have made him unmatched in the world of sports. He doesn’t need my defense. But I will always think of Muhammad Ali as my friend…was he an Ambassador of Sportsmanship? Well….I’ll reconsider that in a few years.
*****Please tell me what you think. I’m spilling my soul here. Comment or write to firstname.lastname@example.org
Tags: ali, boxing, I Granger McDaniel, Muhammad Ali, pompus, sportmanship, Wheaties
There was a story on CNN today about tween girls asking folks on YouTube if they are pretty or ugly. Most of the little girls say things like, “everyone tells me I’m ugly ….”
Of course lots of the repulsive people responding say absurd and cruel things to the girls, one child has gotten over four million comments.
And for you daddys out there. You absolutely have the most important voice. Your praise is what every girl really really wants. You are the first and most important man in her life and as long as you think she’s beautiful and tell her, the rest of the world won’t matter so much.
This weekend a very good friend of Lexie’s was getting ready for her first date. She’s 15 and it’s a great big deal because he’s a boy with a truck, a job and pretty blue eyes. Annie lives with her daddy who is a very very protective cowboy daddy. I’m talking massive belt buckle and hat/ fully armed daddy. Annie has lots of friends and is so pretty. As we drove back from a taekwondo tournament, Lexie and I listened as Annie talked to “the boy” for nearly thirty minutes. Over and over Annie mentioned or referenced her father. “My dad plays guitar too, but just acoustic.” or “My dad loves country music so you might not want to wear the Nine Inch Nails tee-shirt when you pick me up.” and “My dad and I ate Mexican food last week, I ate way too much cheese dip.”
Annie talked about her dad becasue he is, without question, the most important person in her life. Yeah, they fight and bicker and complain about each other aaaaalllll the time but her dad is her Number One Man.
So, Daddy’s out there…never every underestimate how important you are in your girl’s life. Tell her she’s beautiful ALL THE TIME then maybe she won’t end up one of those desperate and sad little things on YOUTUBE, staring at the camera and asking strangers if she’s pretty.
Tags: am I pretty, girls, self esteem, tweens, ugly, youtube
In order to improve my martial arts and postpone middle age/old age I’ve been trying new work outs. Every week I run, lift weights and do taekwondo two or three nights a week. But I need more just to keep up with all the teenagers in the adult class because they have stupid teenaged boy muscles.
A few weeks ago I tried Zumba because the ads on tv look like so much sweaty fun. Old ladies tried to help me with my tense/rhythm-free dancing skills. Thirteen years of martial arts have trained me to keep my hands up, fists next to my face, no matter what. So I looked really paranoid and stiff as a celery stalk. But I would not get sucker punched in zumba class.
Today I tried yoga at the YMCA. It was a lovely class but not at all what I expected. The one thing I can do better than most of my taekwondo teenagers is stretch. So most of the yoga poses and moves were just fine.
Unfortunately I’m ridiculously hyper-competitive. Even though it was my first day, when I spotted a 70 year old woman out stretching me…it was on. I gritted my teeth and beat her. Stupid right? Because yoga isn’t a competitive sport, it’s supposed to be about peace, enlightenment and finding balance in your body….stuff like that.
During class the lights were dim and there was pretty music so I tried relax and ground myself. I worked to feel my own breath, lengthen my limbs and allow my muscles to relax. But I kept thinking, “my downward dog looks pretty awesome and so do my calf muscles,” or “my high cobra is soooo much higher than hers, but I need to work on my tree stance, it sucks, everyone has a better tree.”
Obviously, this was not an advanced yoga class and you have to trust me, I’m laughing at myself, because I know I missed the entire point because I’m an immature doof. Maybe yoga is exactly what I need in my life.
The class ended and I wasn’t sweaty or sore, I was pretty happy though. Then, the instructor, who was wonderful, came to each of our mats. We were stretched out on our backs, breathing and feeling centered. And she rubbed my neck and ears with some great menthol smelly stuff. She rubbed my ears! Nobody in Taekwondo every rubs my ears! I really love yoga now!
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Tags: martial arts, stretching, taekwondo, yoga, zumba