Friday, January 18, 2008

Even Better Than Free Shoes

The best words in the English language (or any language for that matter):

"I love you, Mommy."

Uttered as a preschooler non sequitor, these words melt me like butter on the hood of a Chevy in August in North Carolina.

A close second is: FREE size 6, size 6 only, shoes at Tootsie Plohound!
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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Foul Weather Friends

I don't know Shannon Dodd, yet I feel a certain kinship to her. She, like me, is in her 30s (not as FAR into her 30s as I am, mind you). She has two boys, so her house is full of dirt and noise too. Shannon has a lovely monosyllabic-named husband. She has an extraordinary close-knit group of friends. Our similarities end there. You see, Shannon is in the heat of the battle of a lifetime; she is fighting an aggressive brain cancer. Her noggin, her VERY BEING is being attacked by these horrid, cancerous cells.

Shannon and her family are fighting. They are in the ring for those two little boys, ages 4 and 5. And they are fighting for so much more. I was teary-eyed recounting the tale to my husband tonight. I can only manage to be but so poignant, if at all, in this post. My emotions are raw for this woman I don't even know. I know her story, however, and that's moving enough.

How do I even know of Shannon's plight, you ask? My boys are in school with some of Shannon's friends who are in the ring with her. They are busy at various command posts organizing a whole host of ways to support the Dodd family. For starters, there's a pancake breakfast fundraiser on Saturday, January 26 8:00-10:30 to raise money to help the Dodds manage mounting financial burdens. Though they are blessed with great health insurance, the bills still add up quickly. The emotional toll can't be empirically counted. Imagine the havoc illness wreaks on those less fortunate. No political jabs here, but simply an observation.

If you're in or around Raleigh, enjoy the respite from breakfast duty on the 26th and head over to 4801 Six Forks Road for pancakes, sausage, coffee, and juice. Tickets are a mere 5 bucks. Go to shannondodd.org to get more information. You can see photos of the lovely Shannon there too. And by the way, the $5 donation is not tax deductible since Shannon's friends are the organizers, not a registered, official non-profit. But hey, who's supporting the cause for the tax break? As a good liberal, I hate people who just write checks for the tax write off and not the underlying cause anyway.

Shannon has a remarkable group of friends. It's easy to call, email, drop by with a half-burned lasagna once in a while. Creating a whole grassroots campaign is another endeavor. What a gesture it is for these friends to show their love in a tangible way. I'm sure the lasagna, once the burned cheese was scraped off the top, was enjoyed by all, but nothing beats the display of friendship behind the scenes at http://www.shannondodd.org/.

In a world fraught with war, worry, and wariness, it is refreshing to know that everyday people live with a whole different set of virtues. Love, generosity, goodwill, and true, deep care are dancing in harmony before my very eyes. We should all be so lucky to live a life worthy of such a solid set of friends, admirers, and supporters. Friendship, unlike any I have experienced, is alive and kicking here in Raleigh. Shannon's cancer is in for a real ass kicking.

Join the fight.

Saturday, January 26
8:00 - 10:30
5 bucks (priceless since you don't have to cook!)
St. Mark's Methodist Church, 4801 Six Forks Road, Raleigh

Pssst. Pass it on.
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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

On Target

If I were stuck on a deserted island, I would wish for Target. For starters, I don't do nature so I would be in dire need of some shoes, gloves, furniture, and shelter to keep that all nature at a safe distance from me. Because I like things to be clean, I'd need some toothpaste, a toothbrush, Purell, and toilet paper too. And of course I'd need some fashionable clothes and liquid black eye liner and mascara (only Lash Exact will do) so I could look fabulous being rescued. Oh, let's not forget the Chapstick! Does any other store on the planet carry EVERYTHING necessary for human survival under one roof? Don't even get me started on Super Target...

Is it possible to even enter Target without spending at least 100 bucks? Tell me I'm not the only one who virtually throws money away in that store. Ah, but Target is more than a mere store. My haven. My sanctuary. My retreat. Since Target is just the proverbial stone's throw from my sons' school, I am a frequent shopper. It's only Tuesday, and I've already been there twice this week. All those Paco Underhill busy bees out there watching us shop (yes, they are out there in throngs watching you buy granny panties and the like when you think no one is looking) have inserted my photo into the market research Powerpoint presentation to Target executives. Seriously, if you rolled the surveillance tapes, you'd see me more often than the part-time workers who are there just for the discount. Not an entirely bad idea, my husband would say.

I get the stop-wasting-so-much-money-at-Target lectures almost monthly. Damn the itemized American Express statement. You see, he does not share the same affinity for the bull's eye. Apparently Target is the Kirby vacuum of money suckers, not the glorious shopping paradise that it is to me.

Incidentally, both of my boys love Target too. Sometimes for our daily adventure they ask to go there just to savor a vanilla milk while we wander around. Wander around I tell you! Bird and Deal both get on their respectives bikes and ride through the neighborhood saying, "Onward, we're going to Target!" Sometimes we set up the toy cash register and random stuff around the house and play Target. See, so much more than a store. It's an adventure. An escape. A playground. Deal wanted to go everday in December just to see the Christmas stuff. Nevermind the fancy Christmas decorations all over town and in the mall. He wanted to see the stuff simply stacked on shelves and end caps at Target. Hmmm...I wonder if they do kids birthday parties?

By the way, I only spent $36.97 at Target yesterday. A record. A feat. An anomaly.
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Sunday, January 13, 2008

I Don't Like Sundays

If Sunday were a person, he would need to be poked with a fondue fork to wake up from his drooling, deep sleep. Sunday is a bore; a poor conversationalist; the one person you would never invite to a dinner party. Ornery by nature and drab in style. Granted, Sunday lives in the shadow of his more gregarious, convivial sister Saturday. Sunday is arguably just a hair more palatable than his dreadful brother Monday. But just a hair.

And so it is that on Sundays we count the time pass breath by breath. As it is, time in our house is counted by how many hours until snack time, nap time, snack time again, dinner time, TV time, bath time, and finally the climax of the day...bed time. Whew. Time passes excrutiatingly slowly on Sundays. And yes, it is admittedly horrible to wish time away, but Sunday marks the end of a long week. Or is it the beginning of a new week? See, such quandaries must add to Sunday's total lack of charm. The thing with having little kids is that we get no time to ourselves to rejuvenate over the weekend, so Sunday is our last ditch effort, and it disappoints time after time. I fully realize, however, that in a blink my boys will be growling under the covers when I barge into their rooms with a chore list as punishment for breaking curfew again. Note that I'm in no way wishing away these years that they are small, affectionate, wily, and downright hysterical.

You see, we live in North Carolina, where Sunday is hallowed; everyone goes to church (excpet for a few kindred spirits who share our same disdain for Sunday). All we can do until lunch time is head to Target (darn, another excuse to buy $100 worth of household goodies we don't need!), Home Depot, or Harris Teeter (where we can't restock our wine and beer supply until after noon when church is out). My husband hates Sundays because all of our "entertainment" options mean adding to the Amex bill. By this time of the week we are all bored of our antics, toys, and make-believe games. We just need a change of scenery. And so it happens in the winter that Sunday takes out his inferiority complex on us.

Fair weather Sundays are glorious. Our family heads to the greenway with bikes, scooters, jogging stroller, and snacks galore in tow. We tell the children that the canopy of trees shading us from the warming sun and winding path are our church. The birds singing and creatures chirping our the choir, and the waving, smiling folks we pass are the congregation. We worship and bask in the glory of nature, cliche as it sounds. It is wonderful family time as we race, laugh, and watch our children's biking skills and confidence grow. I don't recall any moments like this from my childhood so I am proud to instill this family play time in my kids and hope these memories will be forever tattooed in their minds.

And so we still struggle with church, the garden variety steeple and stained glass edifice, not church as a metaphor. Our children go to a Christian preschool, and we love the lessons they learn. Deal is our little preacher who sings Happy Birthday Jesus and tells me all about the baby Jesus stories le learns in chapel. Chapel is his favorite part of school. Deal is a Believer. Bird, on the other hand, thinks Jesus' name is pronounced "Cheesus." His comment upon dropping him off one day at school was "Look, Mommy. There's Cheesus. I love chesse too!" Apparently we're not doing our job on the Jesus front at home. Back to the struggle...

Our children are old enough to ask why we don't go to church. So far we haven't come up with a reasonable answer and rely on the old distract-them-with-a-battery-operated-toy method. Are we doing a disservice to our kids? I believe we are. We do believe in some sort of higher being, not necessarily with a moniker, but a supreme being nonetheless. We want to teach our children about faith and spirituality, but the structured, worship by rote environment of a church doesn't feel right. The last thing we want is to be hypocrites. Perhaps we just haven't found the right place for our family and we are admittedly not actively looking. I'm not anti-religion, mind you. I do truly want to imbue a sense of faith in Bird and Deal. How to do it to adequately convey our own melting pot of beliefs and values is the $20,000 question.
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