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I Feel So Sorry For Fergie…Really I Do

It’s rare that I feel sorry for uber hot women who make millions and millions of dollars. But I’m starting to feel a little sorry for Fergie of the Blackeyed Peas.

Yeah, I’m sitting at a little desk and pretty soon I’ll walk out and get in my little 2001 Nissan (with 212,000 miles pretty cool, right). But I’m worried about Fergie because her situation is  bleak.

Here’s the issue. Fergie is aging and it shows  Generally, white women, when compared to Asian, Hispanic and Black women, don’t age very well.  My mom used to say we had “cheap ten cent skin that didn’t last very long.”

 To make matters Fergie has to stand next to a couple of black men all the time.  They don’t age, they just get cooler and cooler.  Nobody knows or cares how old Will I Am is, and he wears so much bizarre stuff, we can’t really see his face. 

Will I Am is just the brilliant funky Blackeyed Peas dude. Fergie, on the other hand, is supposed to be “the hot one”, and from a distance she still is.  But white skin seems to crack faster than brown and black. It sucks but it’s the truth. When you look at publicity shots and their web site she looks just like she did five years ago because they can touch her up. But when you see her live or untouched photos it’s clear she’s aging like a normal woman.  Take a look at her neck.

Fergie is certainly much hotter than I am or I ever was, but she has thousands of people staring at her every day under bright lights and she’s not supposed to age. I’ve got four kids and a mortgage, people expect me to get old.

So, next time I’m in a group and I have to have my picture taken, I’m going to find a great big old white person. I’m sure as hell not gonna stand by the cool black dude.

*Leave me a comment, find me on facebook or email me at hampoland@gmail.com

An Extreme Hampoland Day….Taekwondo to Hippsters

Some days swing from one extreme to another it’s almost comical in a bipolar kind of way. These manic days can be exhausting or exhilarating, it all depends on your minds set and attitude.

Yesterday Sandor an I drove four hours to a taekwondo tournament in Fort Smith Arkansas. For five hours we were intense and formal, enthusiastic, militaristic and jacked up on endorphins, adrynalyne and Mtn. Dew. Along with some of our best friends, we competed and cheered, barefooted, in heavily starched uniform. When Sandor punched a boy right  in the face three times, I couldn’t have been more proud or excited. (Yeah, I know how bizarre that sounds.)

We got home around five o’clock and my best buddy Amelia called. She wanted us to got to Low Key Arts and listen to a reggae   band, Tidal Waves, from Africa.

Three hours later the entire family stood in front of a stage, surrounded by old hippies and hippsters, swaying like willow trees. The dark warehouse turned musical venue was full of glow- in-the-dark hula hoops, laughing children and tie dye shirts. The band started late but they were old black reggae guys, what did I expect. I watched other people clap (mainly my daughter Lex) so I could keep the beat. I tried to dance a little but didn’t really move my feet because somebody convinced me 15 years ago that I looked stupid dancing so I haven’t tried since then.

(Side bar: Never ever tell someone they can’t dance. They might listen to you and never dance again. Then they lose one of the great free and natural pleasures of life and it’s your fault.)

It was a beautiful evening. But it was the exact opposite of our morning.   The Taekwondo tournament was all about discipline, training and competition The evening  spun like an abstract painting around spontaneity, creativity and freedom.

That night when I went to bed and dreamed  I was competing again, doing my second degree pattern, in  my  starched uniform, my  belt cinched perfectly, I kicked higher than I can in real life. Things were beautiful but something was different.   Bob Marley, the iconic reggae legand, was singing  No Woman No Cry and everyone was swaying in time.

Muffin Top Reality

Breaking News About “THE MUFFIN TOP”.  First, understand I’m not talking about the yummy crusty top of a blue berry muffin. I’m talking about the roll of fat you see squirting over the top of girl’s pants. It’s not hot or sexy or cute, just kind of gross. And I’m not a man but I think a lot of guys would agree with me.

Well, I’ve figured out the cure for the muffin top. This is important stuff because we are all tired of looking at the squishy little  roll and you aren’t doing yourselves any favors by showing it off.

Idea #1. Buy bigger pants, Yes, I’m suggesting you by pants that actually fit your hips so they don’t squeeze the fat like a roll of toothpaste. Granted, pants that fit you won’t be as tight on your butt but you will, in the end, look much better. Another advantage…you’ll be able to breath, even while sitting down.

Idea #2 Get pants that are just high enough to cover the Muffin Top. I’m not saying you need to wear Mom Jeans with a four inch zipper, but if the pants came up just a little higher your muffin will stay inside your pants, where it belongs.

And finally #3 Lose a little weight, yes, I’m telling you to quit going to Sonic and McDonald’s everyday and chances are your Muffin Top will vanish.

That’s it, my ground breaking, earth shattering Muffin Top news. I was at the Mall today when this revelation came to me. Good luck.

This is a reprint from last year because I went to the Mall today and thought it necessary)

Al Green to Johnny Cash…Why Arkansas is So Amazing

Arkansas is a strange little state and my home. We constantly rank in the top five for bad things like obesity, teen pregnancy, high school drop outs, poor health care, and poverty. Any outsider might think we were a lowly and pathetic place. What they don’t know about Arkansas is it is an absolutely gorgeous and lush state, it’s also a ridiculously friendly place. Though poor, Arkansas is, per capita, one of the most generous states in America.

But it’s the musical side of Arkansas that always strikes me as most remarkable. We have a population of less than 3 million still the list of famous musicians, singers and songwriters is so stunning. This morning I spent an hour doing research (something you know I rarely do, generally my big fat opinion is enough for me). I made a list of the musicians I like who came from my lovely emerald green state.

The List:    Sonny Burgess, Howlin’ Wolf, Al Bell, James Cotton, Glen Campbell, Johnny Cash, Jimmy Driftwood (he wrote Tennessee Stud and The Battle of New Orleans because he was a high school teacher and he wanted to help his students understand a history class),Ronnie Dunn of Brooks and Dunn, Lefty Frizzell (He wrote If You’ve Got the Money Honey, I’ve Got the Time),Randy Goodrum, Al Green (who is in my top five for favorite singers of all time, just ask my kids),Ronnie Hawkins, Levon Helm, Scott Joplin the King of Ragtime, Louis Jordan (a contemporary of Louis Armstrong but dirtier and a lot blacker. Beans and Cornbread, Choo Choo Boogie, He had something like 14 number one hits),Buddy Jewel, Albert King, Tracy Lawrence, Joe Nichols, Charlie Rich aka the Silver Fox, Sister Rosetta Tharp( she influenced everyone in rock and roll including Bob Dylan, Little Richard, Elvis Presley and fellow Arkansan Johnny Cash)Conway Twitty (super sleazy legendary country singer),Sonny Boy Williamson, Justin Moore, and R&B icon Ne-Yo. And of course TI did prison time right here in Arkansas. The list would have been much longer if I’d included jazz and opera stars.

I looked at other states with close to 3 million residents and they didn’t have near the musical star power and history of Arkansas. Kansas can brag about Charlie Parker, Joe Walsh and Melissa Ethridge, but that’s about it. Then there’s Utah and Nevada, both with embarrassingly shallow musical benches.

So, what is it about Arkansas? Maybe it’s the poverty that inspired so many of our country and blues greats. Perhaps the lack of educational opportunities gave the trifling young men and women time to hone their craft. One observation I couldn’t ignore. Most of the great musicians came from the uglier parts of the state. Maybe they were all just looking for a way out of this beautiful, friendly but often times impoverished state.

In less than ten years there’s another band of Arkansas players who will make my list and yours too. The Natural Outlaws. Big fat fun abrasive southern rock.
Play on boys.

For the Love of God….Take Control of Your Life

Sometimes life beats you up and leaves you floating in the seaweed under an old pier. Sometimes you beat yourself up along with life, you end up mangled and bleeding. Those moments or months are horrible. You might as well be on a horse running full speed into a bunch of branches and then you drop the reins.

Recently, a dear friend of mine fell victim to life. It was beating the snot out of her. After a few weeks she couldn’t even keep her hands up to block the punches. She started projects but didn’t follow through, she forgot to pay bills and put gas in her car. She lost her keys and missed appointments. She said yes to everyone who asked for a favor but didn’t have time to get her stuff done.Then things started falling apart financially…because she wasn’t getting things done. She kept getting sick, because of the stress, she slept too much, couldn’t sleep enough.  None of it was her fault….but it was all her fault. Then the stress of the chaos really started taking a toll.

Finally, after weeks of trying to help when I could, I snapped. I think I even yelled at her and in the “I love you” kind of way.

“For the love of God, you have to take control of your life. Stop letting everything fall apart. Get a legal pad, make a list and get a grip. You have to say no to people, they will still love you, so you can focus on your own shit. Slow down and get it right.”

She didn’t talk to me for a couple of days then called and her voice sounded different. “Ok, here’s what I’m going to do.”

She managed to get the reins and take control of the horse. I was so happy and relieved I started crying. 

Taking control of your  life is ridiculously difficult. We have such fractured, frantic lives, it’s easy to loose control. We  speed around corners at 140 miles an hour and if we shift focus or tap the steering wheel with our pinky finger, our car explodes, we are  air borne, slam into the wall and explode like a grenade.

Today my dear friend said “no” when asked if she could help on a project this Saturday. She said she  had to take care of her own stuff. My buddy  has a list and a legal pad and a plan. I think she’s going to be just fine.

Playground Bullies and Spiderman

Yesterday, as I drove past the playground with Sandor, who is in third grade, I spotted a little boy crouched down, all alone. He looked like he was crying.

“You see that boy over by the swings, all alone?”
“Will you go make sure he’s ok?”
“Ok” Sandor said without much conviction.
“Thanks,” I stopped the car so he could get out,”Remember, with great power….”
“Comes great responsibility,” he said and laughed.
“Hey, you have cool power,” I yelled as he jumped out of the backseat. “Go live up to your name.”
Sandor’s name is Hungarian and literally means “defender of mankind”.  He has a lot of work to do.
I forgot about the little boy on the playground until it was bedtime. Sandor hadn’t brought the kid up but my son rarely makes a big deal out of anything.
I laid down on the bed, next to him,”So what happened to that kid I saw, was he crying?”
“Yeah, a kid in my class, Payton, was bulling him That’s why he was crying. Payton is a jerk and thinks he’s all big and bad. He’s mean to everybody.”
“Did you make him feel better?”
“Yeah.” he snuggled under his blanket.
“What did you do?” I wanted to hear the whole story.
“I went and found Payton and made him say he was sorry. I grabbed his sleeve.” H
“Really, he did what you said?”
“Pretty much, it felt really good?”
“Making that boy feel better felt good?”
“No, grabbing Payton.”
“Ok, well good, I’m glad things worked out. I’m proud of you.” I kissed Sandor and left his room.

Sandor is a really nice boy and a cool kid but he’s not a saint. He’s just a boy.  I think, if we give our kids a little instruction they really want to do the right thing. they want to help people. But they don’t always know what to do or how to spot the problem. If we give them a nudge, maybe a little instruction and we remind them that THEY HAVE THE POWER to change things, that’s exactly what they will do. In third grade most kids like doing the right thing, they want to be the good Spiderman and they don’t like mean kids.

Our kids are the ones who have the ability and power to fix a lot of the problems in schools.  I’m a busy body who wants to fix everything but my kids are actually a lot more effective at getting things done.  So it’s our job, as a parent to make sure our kids understand what’s right and wrong and that theyhave the power to make a difference, even if it’s just to one little boy on the play ground.

God Gave Me A Rock…Literally, A Rock

peaceI’m reprinting this story because I gave my rock to a friend yesterday.  She is the aunt of a seventeen year old boy who is struggling with all sorts of issues.  She wants to save him so she took her own sister to court to get custody.

When I walked into court I handed her my peace rock because it has the power to help in special situations.

Here’s the story of my peace rock. (And fyi, the aunt’s story had a happy ending.)



A little less than a year ago my brother, Granger, died. It was a pretty horrific and heartbreaking situation. Granger was my last living family member. That’s why I sometimes feel like the last creature from my herd; the last zebra with these stripes.

The day I got the phone call, telling me Granger wasn’t going to make it, I was hanging out with my kiddos, Lexie and Sandor, who was 8 at the time.  We were looking at some funky art in a  tiny gallery on Central Avenue.  When the phone rang I stepped outside to take the call.

I was told he might make the next 24 hours, but it was doubtful.  My big brother was going to die and leave me here, all alone.

My heart thumped with pain and I tried to breath evenly. I didn’t want to break down and wail in front of the kids.  It was really hot that day, almost a hundred degrees but I shivered in the sunshine and I prayed.

“Lord, please help me with this, please help me find some peace and strength to get through this. I don’t have much left. Just help me find some peace, Lord, because I don’t understand this.”

Peace and strength, that’s all I wanted. After I prayed I felt a little better. I took three giant breaths and willed myself not to cry then I walked back into the gallery to find the kids.

Lexie was looking at an abstract painting of a horse, or maybe it was a volcano. I took her hand, it was warm and dry and felt nice. For a moment I stared at the painting with her. “Where’s Sandor?”

“He went out back to play with Daniel and Ben.”

I nodded and decided I wouldn’t tell them about Granger until we got home.

I willed myself not to start crying as I walked to the galleries’ back door. Sandor and two other little boys were squating next to a pot- hole filled with black water.

“Come on Boy Boy,” I yelled. He popped up like a jack-in-the-box and ran to me.

“Look what I found, Mom.” He stuck his grubby hand in his pocket and waited for me to stretch out my hand. Then he placed a smooth river stone on my palm. “Look at it!” he said excitedly.

I unwrapped my fingers and stared at the grey rock. The word PEACE was etched into the surface. I looked at Sandor, who was grinning.”Where did you get this?”

He was bouncing just a little. “I found it in the puddle over there,” he said and pointed to the pot hole. “You can have it,” he said cheerfully than ran off to find Lexie.

Granger did die the next day. I kept that rock in my pocket for the next two weeks.  Now it stays in the cup holder in my car.  I rub when I need to and sometimes, when other people need a little Peace, I share my rock.

I’m pretty sure God and Granger would want me to pass the peace.

**You can comment or write to me at hampoland@gmail.com or find me on facebook. I always need more friends.

When Mean Girls Act Nice…..Runaway!

I’m pretty sure this happens to every one.  There’s a mean person in your life, I mean a back stabbing, gossip spreading, kitten kicking wench. She works in your office, goes to you PTO meetings, maybe she’s your cousin or sits next to you in biology. 

This horrible person doesn’t like you, she doesn’t seem to like anyone, except her evil twin, the one other person in the class or office who is equally as vile. At night they probably talk on the phone and come up with new ways to cook puppies and make your life miserable.

When you run into the witch in the store or kitchen you nod, don’t you? You still say “hi” and smile, even though you don’t want to.  And she smiles back, as though she actually likes you, but doesn’t respond.

You know the truth though, she thinks you are stupid because you are friendly. She thinks you are a suck up becasue you show compassion, even to your boss and the lady who cleans the office at night. She thinks your politics are all wrong and your kids, friends, boyfriend are horrible.

Then one day, Hildagard the Horrible does or says something nice and seems sincere. She leaves a couple of concert tickets on your desk because she can’t go.  She says your new hair cut looks nice. And then she actually sits down next to you at the Band Booster meeting or in your office or in biology…. just to visit. But she starts talking about other girls and women right?  She’s trashing them and trying to get you to be on her side. Don’t do it. She’ll say the same stuff about you next week.

It’s shocking, right?  This kind of thing scares me to death becasue I want to trust her but I know there’s something funky going on. I know I should forgive her and hope she remains nice. But last week I was told she thinks I have a scrawny flat and a big mouth. (Even if she’s right it’s a mean thing to say.)

I used to think this revolting and vicious behaviour started in girls when they got to high school.  Nice girls get boobs and suddenly turn into cut throat little bitches, who smile sweetly as they disembowel your best friend. But recently I noticed something really interesting. It’s the stupid girls who are pretty, who turn really mean.  Maybe their lack of intelligence makes them insecure. It’s so pathetic.

Last night  I watched Toddlers and Tiaras. Guess what, it doesn’t start in high school, it starts with the mothers. 

Listen if you have a daughter who’s turning into a bitch…do something about it. And if you are raising your little girl to be a cut throat snake who thinks she’s better than everybody else in her kindergarten class you are making a huge mistake. And chances are, eventually she’ll turn on you too.

Awesome and Bizarre Stuff God Blessed Me With

I’ve been blessed with some awesome and bizarre stuff. God loves me, I know because he’s given me a few things most people don’t have..

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.

When Little Boys Sing Really Bad Songs

Last night I picked Sandor up from Taekwondo and he was singing a little song in the back seat. I listened intently.
“My girls bad, my girls good, my girl does what you wish yours would.”

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.

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