Displaced Stay At Home Californian in rural N. Carolina

The Many Faces of Joy

The Many Faces of Joy

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Year 3

This December marks 3 years since we moved to North Carolina.  How did the time fly so fast?  As I sit here typing I am so thankful for this warm house because it is 33 degrees Celsius outside and that is very cold.

We went to Asheville for the weekend and stayed in a little log cabin and enjoyed the quiet and the downtime and the ability to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of busy life for a few short hours.  We were treated to a nice soup and salad dinner make for us by our kiddos and celebrated family and laughter.

Last night Gabe and I headed over to Parent Teacher Conferences and enjoyed getting to know a new group of teachers.  I was overwhelmed and humbled by the things they said about our kid.  I also was validated in our choice of a charter school and a tiny one at that.  It made me realize that the things we are doing in life and in our family are the right choices for us, we are doing ok.

It is difficult in this day and age to stand by choices that are not popular.  The decision to stay home was tough - financial suicide to many and everyone had an opinion.  But it built a foundation and last night was a step in our success ladder.  Our decision to limit our children's access to technology, which everyone really has an opinion on but at the end of the day, our decision, Mom and Dad, and I believe we made the right one.  Our choices to move across the country and simplify our lives in a more rural setting - super difficult adjustments were made but in the long run the right adjustments for all.

I can't say I'd do them again if I had to because I only get one time around this board game but for me and my family I believe we put family and education before anything else and those are the benefits we reap in our lives at this point.  Who knows what the future holds?

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Happy Fall Ya'll

I haven't written for a long while, long for me being long winded and always having something to say about everything.  I have been busy and I have been tackling a long list of things I need to get done but I have kept my fingers quiet through some transitions.  Needless to say, when Joy is quiet too long that means there is plenty coming down the pipeline.  So stay tuned.

I am going to be 47 this month.  That is just a number.  But there are so many things that have happened between 46 and 47 that I can celebrate and be happy for.  And there are sad things too.  Suffice it to say that I will enjoy writing about those things in the months coming up.  Expect real.  Expect authentic.  Expect no bullshit.

I got a chance to see some family recently and that filled my cup.  I saw my Mom although I wish I had seen her for a few more days, an hour was better than nothing.  I saw my twin and that was such a delight.  I saw my cousin who I also consider a surrogate sister and that is always the best of times.  I saw my younger brother and that was so special that when I think of it I smile.  I saw all these ladies that mean the world to me, Tara, Elisa, Francoise, Maggie, Germaine, Eunie, Whitney, Joanne, if I am leaving you out I didn't mean to.  I got to see my sister-in-law and family and that was awesome, the list goes on and on.  I got to drive across the Golden Gate like 4 times.  I got to go hiking in Marin.  I got to have breakfast made by my MIL.  I got to wear fancy shoes.

And then I came home and squeezed my top level people and that didn't suck.  I am glad I got to sneak away, that always makes coming back a little sweeter.  Even when they bicker and even when it rains for what feels like months on end.

Happy Fall Ya'll, hope your changing leaves are as beautiful as mine.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


I haven't blogged in a long time, a month or so, which for me is a long time.  I usually have something I think is important to say about everything, all the time, but lately I haven't felt inspired or inclined to share anything personal or impersonal and so I kept quiet.  I must be maturing.

I have one child in a charter school this year and it is about a half hour drive from my home.  I have another child in our neighborhood school.  I find that I am spending more time in my car each week than an Uber driver.  Or at least comparable.  And I'm not getting paid.  And that doesn't include volunteering at either school, that starts next week.

I have been able to shop, prep and cook dinner each day for each night with the exception of weekends.  This means that we either eat leftovers or hotdogs all weekend.  The girls and I eat a peculiar veggie dog that comes in the can called BigFranks and I'll be blogging about BigFranks later on.  And for the first time since 2001 when I met my husband, we have leftovers which means he is eating less and we actually have something to eat on weekends that doesn't require anything other than a microwave.  It is exciting!

I have been balancing the feeling of failure at having only lasted 9 months at a job that I really wanted and enjoyed for at least 3 months.  Several days ago I was driving back from the charter school and I was listening to XM Radio and a woman comedienne was adding up how much it cost her and her spouse to pay someone for all the things she did and it came to nearly a half a million dollars.  And then I thought about my kids and my relationship with my kids and I realized that I was doing the right thing at the right time.  And that I didn't have to justify to anyone why I quit a job after just 9 months regardless as to whether it was the worlds best job or or the worlds worst.

So I'm back on the pen and I have lots of things to write about like politics, dinner, soccer, dancing, trips to California, weddings, walking dogs, friends, books, holidays, knitting, volunteering, BigFranks and so much more.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Unemployed and Sore

I am unemployed.  Again.  I guess it was too much to hope for that the first job I got outside of the home after choosing to quit a career to raise my children, would be the job of a lifetime where I could grow and learn and build on my expertise and apply my education, experience, wit and personality and soar.  Instead it turned into the same thing every 3 days and sometimes I almost fell sleep because nothing was going to change at all.  Here is the downside to working only 3 days a week, you are considered a part timer and no one is going to give you more responsibility or training.  You are stuck doing grunt work forever, or at least for 9 months.

I took the girls ice skating on Thursday afternoon which was wonderful and exhilarating.  Wonderful to escape the humidity and heat and have to wear a hoodie for a couple of hours.  Exhilarating because at the age of 46 I not only can skate better than my kids, I didn't fall once.  But then I got out of bed on Friday and my back aches.  And this morning I can squat down but my knees won't allow me to stand back up.  It means that either I need to quit ice skating or I need to do it more regularly.

The pool closes in 3 weeks and honestly we are sick of swimming.  Never ever saw that one coming.

And Heidi leaves on Friday and we will miss her so much.  It was like Christmas in summer having her with us for so long but I know she needs to go to college and I would like to have my closet back, so she is coming out of the closet, getting in her new little grey car, and zipping off to Washington where she will study hard and maybe we will get her back again next summer.  She is under strict instructions to not zip too fast - or else she will get a speeding ticket.

And finally autumn is coming.  As I stepped outside to walk the dogs this morning I realized that there was zero humidity (or at least zero humidity to me) and a light breeze and I could feel fall in the air.  It was lovely.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Next to the last day

One of our neighborhood groceries has a Starbucks coffee kiosk thing and I didn't realize it until I'd been here a year or so.  Since I have found this little tiny coffee kiosk I have been stopping 3 mornings a week for a small coffee for the drive into work.  I started working last October and now we are in July so I have been stopping quite a bit.  In my own defense, I pack a lunch to work and I am buying the smallest size coffee they have which has gone up to $1.97, so I feel like I'm not spending a ton of money. 

I have often complained that this is the slowest coffee place on the planet and why don't I open a coffee shop but it seems like too much work so instead I wait in line and complain liberally.  Oh and have I also mentioned that they always run out of dark roast coffee right when I get to the register?  I worked at a coffee house, just put my cup under the stream of brewing coffee, I don't care if it is too strong or too weak!   Anyhow, after 9 months of buying coffee 3 days a week and waiting forever the lady behind the counter today remembered what I was ordering and was super proud of herself.  She then said, "now I only have to memorize your name".  

Since I'm not one to pass up a good opportunity for a positive reinforcement I tell her that my name is Joy that tomorrow is my last day of work, so I will not be seeing her 3 days a week.  She looked crestfallen for a moment but then she perks up, "are you going to be working somewhere else?" to which I replied, "No, but great job on remembering my coffee drink."

Monday, July 27, 2015


My family loves Pho.  We love Vietnamese food, Thai food, Chinese food, Korean food, Japanese food, Indian food, Middle Eastern Food, Mexican food, Italian food, you name it, we like food.  And while I love going out to eat at ethnic restaurants and trying new things, we have now been living in a what I like to refer to as a "void of ethnicity" or at least within a 30 minute driving distance.  Gone are the days of heading out 2 miles from home for some steaming noodle soup or walking up the road for Korean BBQ or the best, going to a food court that allowed one person to get Chinese noodles, one person to have sushi and the other to have braised short ribs.  Oh the luxury that is Santa Clara, Cupertino, Sunnyvale and San Jose.

Thanks to the wonders of the World Wide Web, I can order all my ingredients on, and then I can then head over to Youtube and watch an authentic meal prepared.  It has really become my "go-to" in times of living in rural North Carolina.  And I have really perfected some great dishes that might even pass for authentic.

Of course it helps that I love to cook and consider 4 or 5 hours in the kitchen on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon as therapeutic and enjoyable.  I know that there are those of you that cringe to read that sentence but it is true, I love to cook and create dishes.  So I definitely suggest if you hate cooking, stick to eating out.  Which is what we did Saturday night, we took my niece out to try Pho and while she didn't have the soup, she had some kind of charred meat with rice and loved it.  She stayed away from the fish sauce and the fresh salad rolls but she liked everything else.  We are giving her a real international flavor tour.

Here is what my soup looked like for those of you that love to see what folks are eating.


Tuesday, July 21, 2015


My kids both play the piano.  They take lessons about 10 months a year with a break around the holidays, a break at the beginning of summer and then a short break right before school starts.  They don't always like the piano but I like that they are continuing a tradition of Kim kids playing the piano.  I know they aren't Kims but I am a Kim and so I get to choose.

I was talking to a lady at the pool last week, a friend of a friend who explained that her kids no longer took piano or instrument lessons in general and why when they got older and wondered why they didn't play instruments that it would boil down to them not practicing.  She said she got tired of pushing them to practice.

I thought about it later because I was not given a choice on taking piano or on practicing and when I complained about it, nothing changed, I still took piano.  And when I was older, I took the violin.  And then I moved on from the violin to the cello.

The only reason my kids play the piano is because I tell them they have to practice, just like I tell them they have to do their homework, just like I tell them it is time for bed.  I get it, kids don't like to practice, it is hard, it is boring, it isn't always fun.  But the end result is, they both can read music, they both can play with two hands, they both are really talented with music.  Playing the piano has helped them develop their music ear, helped them learn to sing on key and is helping them learn how to harmonize.  It is helping them become ambidextrous, it is helping them learn how to develop their hand/eye coordination, it is giving them something they will always be able to do. But I am the boss and while I don't care what they wear to school, I am going to continue to make them practice and take piano lessons as long as I am their mom.

And I don't care how much they dislike it, they will have to do it until I say they don't have to.  Or until I'm bankrupt.  Whichever comes first.