Displaced Stay At Home Californian in rural N. Carolina

The Many Faces of Joy

The Many Faces of Joy

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Holiday Credo

Last Christmas we started a tradition in my husband’s family.
We decided that we would try to make Christmas presents for
everyone and spend $10 dollars or less on each gift. This year
in keeping with our current economic situation we have taken
the price tag down to $5 dollars per person.

Last year my mother in law took cute wine bottles and olive oil
bottles, bought stoppers for them like the ones used in bars to
dispense liquor and made us all kitchen soap dispensers. They
were so cute and individual and can be used over and over
without creating waste or recycling. I love mine and get lots of
compliments on it.

Last year I learned how to knit slipper socks and made wool
slipper socks for everyone. I got a great deal on wool-ease
yarn from Jo-Ann’s Fabrics and was able to keep within our
budget. My husband still has these great red slipper socks that
the girls put on and wear around the house and slip and slide
on the kitchen floor with.

This exercise in frugality and creativeness has taught me a
valuable lesson. I want my children to learn how valuable
family is and bask in the love and times spent with their cousins
and grandparents and not worry about the number of presents
with their names on them. I want them to enjoy the good food
and the good company and learn how to give from their hearts.
I want them to sing and dance, play, share and to be kids for as
long as they possibly can.

I also want an end to war, world peace, kindness to all
humanity and an end to world hunger and suffering – as you can read
I have my work cut out for me. But in the meantime, you will find me,
armed with knitting needles, a glue gun and some oven mitts.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


I've been thinking about having another baby and that brings me to the topic of breastfeeding. I think that everyone knows that breastfeeding is the best choice for Mom and the best choice for baby too. I know that everyone has their reasons for breastfeeding and for not breastfeeding and while many women out there will defend their choice as loudly and as aggressively as they can, they will still have to agree with health professionals and say that if you can do it and you are willing to do it, then do it because it is the best thing for you and for your baby. I am not going to list all the good things it does for both Mommy and Baby but I breastfed two children until they were 18 months and 17 months old, respectively, and I think my children are, well, perfection. So I've proven all those health professionals right.

I remember when my first was 4 months old we planned a trip to Southern California to visit several different friends. Like most first time Mothers I was concerned about exposing too much of myself in front of friends and strangers but my parents-in-law had watched me nurse in just a bra and my step-dad had seen me nurse in a hospital gown while sitting next to me so I figured that everyone would be an adult and if they felt like watching, they would watch and if they didn't, well then they would look at something else. Silly me.

Turns out that people get all freaked out about nursing babies in public. So much so, they've created these tent like shrouds and all sorts of table cloths that are to be draped over and around a woman's body and a baby's head so that no part of a breast connected to a baby's mouth is visible. People also feel it is considered appropriate to stride by while saying loudly, "That is SO disgusting", "Find a private place", and my favorite "Don't they still make bottles and formula for that kind of thing?"

Imagine my surprise when the friend we were going to visit said on the phone as we planned our trip "I hope you don't plan on pulling your breasts out in front of my husband" and then waited for my response. I stammered something about breastfeeding not being a chance for her husband to ogle my breasts but rather a food source but it wasn't convincing to her or to me. I did spend a lot of time breastfeeding upstairs while at their house however because I felt uncomfortable after what she had said. (She had two children of her own by this time but had chosen not to breastfeed)

By the time I had my 2ND child, I was so over the "hiding" stage as well as the "how to breastfeed discreetly" stage because, well, quite honestly, I couldn't be bothered and I didn't care. It is my belief that breastfeeding is not something dirty or sexual and should be done whenever and wherever your child is hungry since food equals life. I would not ask someone to take their dinner to a bathroom and perch on a toilet to eat it or take their food into a closet and hide out while they work on nourishment, so being asked to leave a public place to breastfeed or cover my child's face with a drop cloth, drape or curtain is silly.

I thought I had heard it all when last week out of nowhere a very close friend said to me, "Well, you have to admit that you were pulling your breasts out in front of my parents and it was quite unnecessary to expose yourself to that extent" (this friend, by the way, has no children and has done no breastfeeding, at least not the kind that involves babies.)

I am going to go out on a limb and say that this has nothing to do with medical breakthroughs or science, nothing to do with advances in technology, nothing to do with education or higher learning, nothing at all to do with how well read or travelled you are, it all boils down to boobies and whether or not you can see them.

Saturday, November 8, 2008


I was raised by hoarders. Not the kind of hoarders you see on that TLC show that have to live in a tent in the backyard because their house is packed to the ceiling with new clothes they have never worn, pipe cleaners and Christmas wrapping that was on sale. But rather the kind that bought 103 cans of vegemeat from the Chinese market because it was only 89cents a can instead of the regular $1.39. By the way, once the cans were purchased, they were put under the house in the crawlspace and forgotten until two years later when I would visit and the question would be put to me, "Hey, you want take home some vegemeat?" We would then make our way down to the crawlspace only to find out that the cans had buckled and become rusty and a couple had exploded.

When we were kids we lived in Jamaica for 4 years. We had never seen stores that had empty shelves or lived anywhere that rationed bags of rice or blocks of cheese. My grandmother would place us in the line at different points so we could get 2, 3 and even 4 bags of rice instead of just one. Because the general population in Jamaica is a different ethnicity than we are - it didn't take long for the person handing out the rice or the cheese to get wise to us and tell us to get out of the line for good or else he would "box our ears".

Then my Mom married a guy who was the king of hoarders, at least an arch-duke of some kind. He tells the story of telling his mother they were short on peanut butter when he was a kid and being the kind of kid that just had to have his peanut butter he worried that they would run out. The way he tells the story I get the feeling that his mother was not the kind that you see in Norman Rockwell paintings or the kind that would concern herself with the shortage of peanut butter. Anyway - he ran out and then had to wait something like 2 weeks to get more because everytime he would ask about it she would bark at him or ignore him. So you can imagine the gigantic Cost-co sized cans of peanut butter that he had stashed in these wall lockers that were under lock and key.

Once in awhile when I go to the grocery store (the one that shall remain nameless) I will see a really great deal like big bags of raisins for $2.99 or 24 packs of toilet paper for $4.99 and I will put two or three in my cart only to find myself wheeling the cart back there in 10 minutes or so to put them back with their friends. I once bought 4 bags of lentils at $69 cents a pound and was so embarrased that we had to eat lentils for a month straight until they were gone. I refuse to become a hoarder. And while I pride myself on not being one and on only buying the things we need for the next week or the next two weeks, I fight the urge all the time.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Slow Down

For many months George Bush referred to our current economic recession as a "slow-down". It wasn't until the Fed, Ben Bernanke, all the European markets, Alan Greenspan, all the Asian markets and Wall Street taking several really steep nose dives before he changed his terminology from "slow-down" to recession.

In the midst of this "slow-down" I have tried to find ways to cut our expenses. One of the ways is shopping at that horrible grocery store where food items are set to expire in 2 days, the cans are all dented and the labels ripped off and the employees are working at gunpoint. Another way is walking instead of driving so I don't have to pay for the high price of gas, which ironically has been coming down daily since the recession hit. We don't eat out at restaurants or fast food, we have lots of picnics and sandwiches in the park. I've even taken to baking our own bread instead of buying sliced bread. And then the best of the best, hanging clothes on a clothesline and not using our dryer.

So this week I took our phone bill in hand and called the number to "make changes to your account". As someone who worked for years in a Call Center environment - I love to see what changes have come to our customer service departments in our large information technology companies. One of the worst decisions ever made is to utilize the voice recognition recordings. They usually have verbiage like this, "please enter or say your phone number starting with area code first". If your kid runs into the room screaming "poopy deeper Mama, poopy deeper" then the voice interrupts you rattling off your phone number and says, "I'm sorry but I didn't quite get that, can you enter or say your phone number again?" This type of customer service is pointless if you have any children living at home which means I won't be able to use this until the kids turn 18 and leave for college or move out at 16 with their high school sweetheart into a place that I'm paying for.

After 26 minutes on the phone with the phone company, I removed the call waiting, caller id, call forwarding, 3 way calling, unpublished number, long distance and seriously considered getting rid of the voice-mail. I triumphantly shaved a whopping $45 dollars off our phone bill and if that doesn't do it, I will be forced to cancel the high speed Internet.

I don't imagine for a second that our current economic situation will affect the White House other than to include some sympathy in the speeches that are being written and delivered. I don't imagine that George Bush will cut the Netflix out of the monthly budget or that he will ask Laura to plant a garden to offset the cost of produce. The only thing I can hope for, is that the American people will "slow-down" their interest and support in the current administration and maybe we'll see the recession's biggest impact on November 4th when we hit the polls.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


Today I had to pick up my contacts at the eye doctor. I had to take the girls with me since they are 1) my girls and 2) I don't have any daycare/babysitter/preschool to send them to. I parked right in front of the doctor's office in one of the many parking spots clearly marked "compact". When we came out of the doctor's office, I opened one side of the car for my oldest child to climb into her seat and then carried the smallest one around to the other side to fasten her into her seat. Once I am done with the smallest child, I can then make my way to the other side and fasten the oldest child in and then I can get into my seat and deal with fastening myself in. As luck would have it, when we came out to leave, the side that my smallest child sits on had no one parked next to me, so I opened the door as wide as I wanted to. This doesn't happen often!

As I'm bending down to set my toddler in her seat I see a large, grey "Mini"van pull up and slam on the breaks as they suddenly notice that my door is open. Relieved, I look up at the driver, thankful he/she didn't rip my door off and take me with it. The woman operating the "mini"van is scowling at me and holds both hands up in a gesture that would go well with the words, "What the hell?" (or worse). I take her reaction as a signal to slow down and work as methodically as possible in positioning my toddler in her chair and buckling her in. Of course this is impacted also by the fact that at her age, she works hard at working against me in each step of the seatbelt fastening procedure. I can see Ms. "mini"van getting worked up.

By this time Ms. "mini"van pushes her 12 year old out of the car and sends him running through traffic to the eye-doctor, no doubt to pick up her glasses so she can read the "compact" signs printed on the asphalt.

Here's the thing, everyone in Cupertino has a "mini"van and there is nothing Mini about them. Ok, they might be smaller than those vans that people are forced to buy when they have sextuplets or octuplets and get their own TLC shows but "mini" they are not. These are vehicles designed to carry 6 children that are sold to people with no more than 2. If a parking lot existed for "mini"vans only - you can bet your sweet ass that I'd be parked nowhere near that lot - I'd still be parked in the compact lot complaining about how our car has no storage and the dogs have to lay on top of my husband when we go camping.

I can't wait to see what the "mini"van people have cooked up to follow the "mini"van. Just don't make it the "compact"van because those compact spots are MINE.

Friday, September 19, 2008


There are days when I can hardly wake up and ask my man for an extra five minutes. I never sleep these last 5 minutes but I ask for them anyway. Sometimes I feel like I've only just lay down when it is time to wake up. There are days when spicy food for breakfast and 3 cups of coffee won't wake me up. There are days when I wish I could stay in bed forever.

We just moved our smallest child into a big bed. While I understand her desire to check out her surroundings and squirm and wiggle out of bed just to see if she can really do it, I can't figure out why she doesn't just fall asleep out of exhaustion. She has pushed back her bedtime by 2 hours just to check things out and see if playing with toys in the dark is just as much fun as playing with them in the light.

And even with the later than usual sleeptime, she is still up at the crack of dawn. Ahhh youth. As I watch mine ebb, I watch hers flow and it makes me giggle inside.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Grocery Shopping

I shop at a grocery store in San Jose that will remain nameless. I always shop on Saturday morning between 8:30 and 9:00am so that 1) I don't have to take my kids, they can stay at home with their Dad and 2) I can get in and out of the store with little to no hassle (NO one likes shopping at 8:30am on Saturday) and 3) so the salespeople at this particular chain are less likely to annoy me and make me wonder why I spend my money at such a place.

I mainly shop at this store because the food is cheap and we can't even afford cheap right now. It has been rumored that the sales people at this grocery chain are fresh out of jail or prison and learning a job skill. In the last two plus years I've grown more familiar with the jail and prison system than I ever thought I would and agree wholeheartedly that there needs to be rehabilitation, job training and jobs available for those who are leaving our prison system and joining the workforce.


I hate that I am never greeted at this grocery store. It drives me nuts that no one asks me if I need help finding something. I cringe everytime a sales person rings up my groceries and doesn't ask me a single thing like "how are you today" "did you find everything ok" or "paper or plastic"? This morning, as I waited to pay for my groceries the 3 cashiers working were all having a conversation about the manager coming in to work late and not noting it on her timesheet. Last week when I went there I had to listen to the manager couseling a stocker on his relationship with his ex-girlfriend and the mother of his two kids. Apparently she is dating someone new and he doesn't approve of his kids being around this guy. A couple of weeks ago I was trying to find the bathroom and what seemed like the entire staff of the store was outside smoking.

I might not have a lot of money but I throw down at least $250 dollars a month at this joint. You'd think they would pick up on the fact that I'm a regular and treat me nice or at least smile and say something besides, "We have TOFU?!?".

I guess I'm going to have to actually admit it, but you do get what you pay for.