Find Joys and Make Wishes


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Photo courtesy of Africa Studio/Shutterstock.com

I’ve been writing a monthly column for more than five years. My readers know I try to instill some humor and a touch of inspiration in my stories about being a stay-at-home dad. However, although I close each column with a reminder to “cherish the moments,” not all of life’s moments feel cherishable. Life is hard sometimes. 

Tragedies and problems fill the newspapers. Many times I’d like to shelter my 12-year-old daughter, Jessie, from the headlines and photographs of a world that seems in continuous turmoil. So as I sat down to write this Thanksgiving column, I pondered what words I could type to make readers laugh, offer a little inspiration and help them pause in their hectic, challenging days to capture the joy. A friend’s obituary and Jessie’s birthday cake provided the answer.

Let’s face it. Every family has challenges — health issues, financial problems, job pressures, relationship turmoils and parental stresses. Part of what made the year challenging for me was our family’s move. Unfortunately, our 300-mile move south from Georgia to central Florida motivated my hairline to recede north. Searching the internet, I read: “The Employee Relocation Council notes moving is topped only by divorce and death for life’s stressful events.” Numerous hairs on my head believed this statement. Many of those that didn’t leap off my head prior to crossing the state border turned gray in protest.

As I packed the contents of my desk in preparation for the move, I came across the clipped-out obituary of a wonderful lady, Teri, who passed away in 2013. She courageously fought a long battle with breast cancer. Teri’s touching obituary read, “Her favorite saying during her times of trial was, ‘Find your joy.’” 

Find your joy! How wonderful that Teri chose to say this during times of trial and not just happy times. 

I’ve been blessed with many joys, none bigger than the birth of my precious daughter and watching her grow into a beautiful young lady. Jessie has provided me with more joys in her 12 years than I could have ever imagined, and I never know when she’ll provide the next one. 

Last night, we had a dual celebration for Jessie and her grandfather, who have the same birthday. Each year, we buy a single birthday cake and, after we sing “Happy Birthday,” Jessie and her grandfather blow out the candles together. Granddaddy always lets Jessie choose the design and flavor. He once celebrated his birthday with a princess cake. This year’s cake featured turquoise roses, pink writing and sprinkles.

Jessie placed 12 candles in their cake. She and her grandfather stood at the end of the kitchen table as we lit the candles and sang. Granddaddy bent over in preparation to blow out the candles, but before he knew what happened, Jessie blew out all 12 candles with one powerful gust. Granddaddy didn’t even have a chance to inhale.

The room erupted with laughter. Though part of me felt like I should apologize, I couldn’t stop laughing. I asked, “Should we relight the candles to give Granddaddy a chance to make a wish?” Jessie quickly responded, “I really want my wish to come true.” Being a loving grandfather, he agreed to forfeit his candle-blowing for her. It was a joyous moment. 

That night, as I tucked her into bed, Jessie asked if she could tell me what she wished if I wouldn’t tell anyone else. When she blew out the candles, she had wished for a solution to a problem that had been worrying me. 

In a few weeks, families will gather for Thanksgiving to remember their blessings. Jessie, with her kind heart, will be at the top of my long list. Yes, we all have challenges, but joys are also abundant. We find them in the sunrise or sunset on a beautiful fall day, a child’s giggle, a spouse’s embrace or a pet’s enthusiastic welcome-home greeting. We can also make wishes — with or without candles — and have hope for the future. Life is good!

Patrick Hempfing had a 20-year professional career in banking, accounting and auditing before he became a father at age 44. He is now a full-time husband, stay-at-home dad and author of “MoMENts: A Dad Holds On,” available at amazon.com. Follow him at facebook.com/patricklhempfing and on Twitter @patrickhempfing.

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Calendar

January 2018

Run Club meets every Sunday at 8 a.m. in Midtown Raleigh or Wake Forest. Stroller friendly; children invited. 

Cost: $10/run or $100/annual pass

Where:
Optimist Park Community Center/Greenways
5900 Whittier Drive
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Sponsor: FIT4MOM
Telephone: 919-348-0472
Contact Name: Missy Currin
Website »

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Join Mindful Families of Durham, a Buddhist-inspired spiritual community that supports area parents, caregivers, and their children in the practice of mindfulness and the understanding of the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Erwin Road
Durham, NC  27705
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Sponsor: Mindful Families of Durham
Contact Name: Adam, Laura, Josh, Sumi
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Ages 5-18 try curling, a sport built on a tradition of sportsmanship and sociability. Equipment provided. Wear warm clothes and sneakers.

Cost: Free

Where:
Triangle Curling Club
2310 So Hi Dr.
Durham, NC  27703
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Sponsor: Triangle Curling
Telephone: 919-818-1177
Contact Name: Dina Gerber
Website »

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Enjoy a sneak peek of the new Goldfish Swim School in Wake Forest. Meet staff, learn more about Goldfish Swim School programs and more.

Cost: Free

Where:
Goldfish Swim School Wake Forest
14460 Falls of Neuse Rd.
Wake Forest, NC  27614
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Sponsor: Goldfish Swim School Wake Forest
Telephone: (919) 435-3753
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Celebrate community heroes on MLK Day at Marbles. From 10am-2pm, meet real community heroes like a paramedic, teacher and police officer. Be a hero by packing food for Backpack Buddies to...

Cost: $7 ages 1 and older

Where:
Marbles Kids Museum
201 E. Hargett St.
Rale, NC
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Spend the afternoon helping to maintain and beautify the area around Good Hope Farm in honor of MLK Jr. Day of Service. All ages. Volunteers age 15 and younger must be accompanied by an...

Cost: Free

Where:
Good Hope Farm
1580 Morrisville Carpenter Rd.
Cary, NC
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Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday with cake, crafts, storytime and various activities for kids of all ages. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Northgate Mall
1058 West Club Blvd.
, NC
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Book Harvest hosts the Dream Big Book Drive, a community-wide celebration of diversity, literacy and books for all children. Donate new or gently used children’s book, volunteer to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Durham Central Park
501 Foster St.
Durham, NC  27701
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Sponsor: Book Harvest
Telephone: (252) 497-BOOK
Contact Name: Daniele Berman
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Celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and view digital art created by local youth. Enjoy refreshments, networking and artwork created by youth in the community based...

Cost: Free

Where:
Microsoft Store at the Streets at Southpoint Mall
6910 Fayetteville Rd.
Suite 174
Durham, NC  27713
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Sponsor: Microsoft
Telephone: (919) 361-3140
Contact Name: Sherry del Rosario
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Enjoy the story "Snowballs" by Lois Ehlert and enjoy time outdoors. Ages 18 mos-3 yrs with caregiver. Register online. 

Cost: $2/child

Where:
Blue Jay Point County Park
3200 Pleasant Union Church Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27614
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Telephone: 919-870-4330
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Take a magical journey through China's divine culture. Classical dance, music and storytelling highlight this live show. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $80-$150

Where:
Raleigh Memorial Auditorium
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC
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Rising kindergartners and their families learn about Wake County magnet elementary programs. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Washington Magnet Elementary
1000 Fayetteville Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Website »

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Enjoy stories with Amy Godfrey.

Cost: Free

Where:
The Regulator Bookshop
720 Ninth St.
Durham, NC  27705
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Website »

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Learn what wild animals do in winter as they hibernate, migrate and stay warm in the cold woods. Ages 3-5 with adult enjoy a hike, do a craft and learn how to help...

Cost: $3; no fee for accompanying adult

Where:
Wilkerson Nature Preserve
5229 Awls Haven Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27614
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Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-6764
Contact Name: Wilkerson staff
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Enjoy the first live theatrical production based on Shopkins, the wildly successful brand launched in 2014. The Shoppies and Shopkins characters will take to the stage in performance featuring...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

Take a magical journey through China's divine culture. Classical dance, music and storytelling highlight this live show. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $80-$150

Where:
Raleigh Memorial Auditorium
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Explore a part of art. Ages 2-5 with caregiver. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $5/member, $8/nonmember

Where:
N.C. Museum of Art
2110 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Explore a part of art. Ages 2-5 with caregiver. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $5/member, $8/nonmember

Where:
N.C. Museum of Art
2110 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Website »

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Join local churches and community organizations for a public celebration honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Friendship Chapel Baptist Church
237 Friendship Chapel Rd.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
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Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about tummy time alternatives, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to...

Cost: $18

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
Website »

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Go nutty for nature as children satisfy some of their curiosity about the world around them and parents share in the joy of discovery. Ages 3-5 with parent. Register online.

Cost: $10/resident, $13/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about carry positions, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to crawl,...

Cost: $18

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
Website »

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A wonderfully kid-paced hour featuring music, play and dancing with toddler stars singing on the mic at Cotton's gently amplified & participatory music show. Children delight in...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Pump It Up Raleigh
10700 World Trade Blvd, #112
Raleigh, NC  27617
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Sponsor: Pump it Up
Telephone: 919-828-3344
Contact Name: Owner/manager Kellie Paterson McHugh
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Head out to Lake Crabtree to learn all about our most commonly seen mammal. Spy on the gray squirrels that abound in the park. Park staff will answer all your gnawing questions about squirrel...

Cost: Free

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Parkway
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
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Celebrate Zaniac's first year in business by attending an open house event with free course demos, hands-on activities, a scavenger hunt and cake. Sample camp and after-school programs,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Zaniac
1206 Parkside Main St.
Cary, NC  27519
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Sponsor: Zaniac
Telephone: 919-342-8536
Contact Name: Matthew Pepe
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Learn how to express yourself with color, pattern and imagery as you make your own art book with artist Anna Podris. All ages and skill levels welcome. Materials provided.

Cost: $10/member, $15/nonmember

Where:
Artspace
201 E. Davie St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Telephone: 919-821-2787
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Make a craft and sing favorite songs. Ages 11 and older. Register online. Choose course #111599.

Cost: $9/resident, $12/nonresident

Where:
Page-Walker Arts and History Center
119 Ambassador Loop
Cary, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Go nutty for nature as children satisfy some of their curiosity about the world around them and parents share in the joy of discovery. Ages 3-5 with parent. Register online.

Cost: $10/resident, $13/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Learn what wild animals do in winter as they hibernate, migrate and stay warm in the cold woods. Ages 3-5 with adult enjoy a hike, do a craft and learn how to help wildlife friends...

Cost: $3; no fee for accompanying adult

Where:
Wilkerson Nature Preserve
5229 Awls Haven Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27614
View map »


Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-6764
Contact Name: Wilkerson staff
Website »

More information

Enjoy a puppetry arts program inspired by the children's book "The Interrupting Chicken" by David Ezra Stein. Ages 4-9. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Carrboro Branch Library
900 Old Fayetteville Rd.
Chapel Hill, NC  27516
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Sponsor: Carrboro Branch Public Library
Telephone: 919-969-3008
Contact Name: Jody Smith
Website »

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This annual festival features more than 75 musicians, storytellers, dancers, chefs, historians, playwrights, authors, artists, re-enactors and more. Enjoy dancers, singers, storytellers and...

Cost: Free

Where:
N.C. Museum of History
5 E. Edenton St.
, NC  27601
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Website »

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Look up close and untangle clues to find the hidden story in works of art. Ages 5-11 with caregiver.

Cost: Free

Where:
N.C. Museum of Art
2110 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Website »

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Each year, Cranberry Tree Farm donates its unsold trees to the Conservators Center for its animals to enjoy as a special form of holiday enrichment. During this walkabout, watch as wild animals...

Cost: See the website for fees.

Where:
Conservators Center
676 E. Hughes Mill Rd.
Burlington, NC  27217
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Telephone: 888-650-1139
Website »

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Learn about local birds and build a bird box. All ages with adult. Register online.

Cost: $18/resident, $24/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Take part in an event run by Triangle TechGirlz. Learn about networks that are connecting objects and devices to make our lives better, in the same way that social media does. From cars to...

Cost: Free

Where:
IBM RTP - Employee Activity & Fitness Center
3039 E. Cornwallis Rd.
Durham, NC  27703
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Sponsor: TechGirlz
Contact Name: Jane Bossert
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Stop in and experience Rock Band at Bach to Rock Music School. The band program starts at age 7.

Cost: Free

Where:
Bach to Rock Music School
958 U.S. Highway 64
Apex, NC  27523
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Sponsor: Bach to Rock
Telephone: 919-446-5386
Contact Name: Kelly Foster
Website »

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Take a new or gently-used children’s book for donation to benefit kids in Wake County. Also enjoy special celebrity story times, craft activities, balloon...

Cost: Free

Where:
Quail Ridge Books
4209-100 Lassiter Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Website »

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Girls ages 11 and older enjoy a manicure and pedicure, makeup application or face painting, and a tiara-making station. Punch and snacks served. Register online. Choose course #111626.

Cost: $11/resident, $15/nonresident

Where:
Cary Senior Center
120 Maury O'Dell Place
Cary, NC  27513
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Website »

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Explore the historic heart of downtown Raleigh on a walking tour of Fayetteville Street. Tours highlight the people, places, architecture and political movements that have shaped...

Cost: Adults (18+) $10; Youth (7-17) $4; Children (6 & under) Free.

Where:
City of Raleigh Museum
220 Fayetteville St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Website »

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​Sibshops give brothers and sisters of kids with special needs an opportunity to meet other siblings in a relaxed, recreational setting to explore their feelings in creative, light...

Cost: Free

Where:
Hargraves Community Center
216 N. Roberson St.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
View map »


Sponsor: Adapted Recreation & Inclusion program: Chapel Hill Parks & Recreation
Telephone: 919 968-2813
Contact Name: Marian Kaslovsky
Website »

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Take a hike to listen for owl calls and learn why these creatures are well adapted to living in darkness. After the hike, enjoy s’mores around  acampfire while practicing...

Cost: $4/person

Where:
Durant Nature Preserve
8305 Camp Durant Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27614
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