Displaced Stay At Home Californian in rural N. Carolina

The Many Faces of Joy

The Many Faces of Joy

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.

Monday, July 20, 2015


I am having a hard time believing that it is already July 20th but that is what the calendar says.  I put my notice in at work, since I only work 3 days a week, I gave them 3 weeks notice instead of 2.  My last day is July 29th.  I have had a hard time coming up with things to blog about because quite honestly not  a lot of exciting things have been going on.

Last weekend me made a whirlwind trip to Charleston, SC and the city has topped my list of favorites.  It is charming, quaint, tiny, beachy and lovely all around.  If you haven't seen it, it is a perfect combination of Caribbean charm meets European style complete with cobblestones and steeples.  If it hadn't been 99 degrees and high humidity I might have wandered the streets all day.  Instead we explored to the sounds of two very whiny and tired children.

I have hit my swimming goal for the summer and am doing 25 laps in an easy 35 minutes.  I can't say that the waist line is any slimmer for all the swimming but my lungs feel great and I sleep like a baby.

My garden is a great success and I wish I had planted more things.  I have tomatoes galore, zuchini that is bigger than I've ever seen and habanero, jalapeno and thai chilies coming out of my ears.  Just not sure what to do with the fiery hot peppers at this point, maybe I need to google some recipes.  I have not had to water the garden thanks to all the rain and I have not had deer or bugs consume my produce.

The McKeons are descending next week on North Carolina for a weeks vacation the following week in South Carolina and we cannot wait.  We miss all our West Coast family dearly so this is a wonderful end of our summer vacation and a way for the cousins to hang out and play and play and play.

For someone who doesn't have a lot going on - I managed to have a lot going on.  To quote another great writer "Life seems but a quick succession of little nothings" (Jane Austen).

Tuesday, June 30, 2015


I took the summer crew to see the new Pixar film on Friday, Inside Out.  It is about an 11 year old girl that moves from rural Minnesota to San Francisco and her adjustment to moving from the country to the city.  She used to ice skate outside on frozen lakes and enjoy the freedom of roaming around to all of a sudden living in a city and navigating in a new environment.  Her Dad who was previously around all the time is now gone to work all the time and not available.  Big changes.

I usually take the kids to a summer movie and push my chair back, have some popcorn, distribute the snack/candy bags and then promptly fall asleep.  This is what I did in the Lego movie, the Cinderella movie and anything Disney/Dreamworks/Princess related.  And when the movie is over I feel refreshed that for the price of $20 dollars I got a good hour long nap in a cool air conditioned room that is dark and noisy.  And I blocked out a good amount of crap, like the song about everything being Awesome from the Lego movie.

This movie caught my attention immediately because it has a peppy and upbeat character named Joy.  How can you lose with that name?  Seriously.  Its a verb, its an emotion, its a name.  And also, those beautiful red arches of the Golden Gate Bridge instantly made me homesick and wish that I was also driving across that bridge with Riley or whatever the characters name is.

But we did the opposite, we flew away from those arches and ended up far away from our family and friends and had to make new friends.  And when we go back to visit it doesn't quite feel like home anymore because our house and our animals and all our stuff is somewhere else.  Anyway - I'm getting off track and at some point in the movie, Joy and Sadness get lost and Riley is left with Anger, Fear and Disgust.  And at some point my little Fiona snuggled into my left arm and whispered, "that is what I felt like when we moved here Mommy" and I looked down at her and she was crying.

They say Home Is Where The Heart Is and my heart is definitely here in North Carolina.  My husband is here, my kids are here, my pets are here, my new life is here.  And while I miss family and friends in California - I don't know if we will ever get back there other than for the odd visit now and then.  But in the meantime we have Pixar and their ability to keep me awake for 2 hours and to do a little more than entertain.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


My niece is here this summer and she is taking care of my two treasures so that my husband and I can go to work and be productive contributing members of society without the stress and strain of worrying about the kids and what they are doing and who they are with and whether or not the door of the after school program van is going to fall off and kids will roll out into the road.  It is so much better to me to have someone you love and know well watch your kids as opposed to complete strangers but I know that not everyone has that available to them.

For those of you that know me, you know that my father drowned on a family vacation when I was a small child.  I spent my entire childhood hearing how strong of a swimmer my father was and how much he loved fishing and how he grew up swimming and fishing and how shocking it was that he drowned and how there had to be fowl play at work because a strong swimmer doesn't just drown.

Now that I'm an adult I know that anyone can drown at any time.  You can get overtired and drown.  You can get a cramp and drown.  You can swallow too much water and drown.  Something bad happened and he drowned and there was nothing anyone could do to save him.

Fast forward to my kids heading to the pool without me.  I know that they are just as safe there without me as they are with me - more than half the time they are off swimming while I am doing laps.  There are lifeguards.  There are friends.  There is the niece/nanny.  They are strong swimmers.  But until I know they are safe back home and having lunch, I will be a bundle of nerves.  A massive bundle of nerves.

Saturday, June 13, 2015


I love returning things.  I am not sure what that is all about but I love going into a store with something I purchased online, receipt in hand and merchandise intact and returning the item to only have them credit back my account.  I even love when they ask me why I'm returning the item because sometimes I get to tell them it was ugly and sometimes it was the wrong fit and sometimes it was too big and sometimes it was too small.

Quite honestly it doesn't really matter why I am returning the item, and most of the time I make something up, but I love to have something to return.  Yesterday we took the girls to the mall and then out to dinner to celebrate good grades and I had 4 places to go to return things. And I enjoyed every minute of it.  I don't even stay to dig through the mountains of clothes that are laying around or browse the sales rack, it is too much bother.

Last week I was really sick with pneumonia and apparently while I was sick I ordered two really ugly dresses from The Gap.  I got to return them and tell the sales lady that I am pretty sure that no one ever will buy those dresses because they were hideous.  Which takes me to my next question and that is, what has happened to The Gap?  Their clothes have gotten really hideous lately.

I know I'm not alone in this because I was talking to my friend Mary Beth the other day and she loves returning things too.  How about you?  Do you like to return items?  Or do you only buy things that you know you will love, keep and wear?