Displaced Stay At Home Californian in rural N. Carolina

The Many Faces of Joy

The Many Faces of Joy

Thursday, August 30, 2012


My favorite time of year has rolled around and that is the time that kids are back in school.  I love it for so many reasons but the first reason I love it is because I get to spend a lot of time in kindergarten with 4, 5 and 6 year olds and listen to them, talk to them, watch them, help them and it is wonderful.  It also helps that I have a child in kindergarten so it makes my trips to kindergarten personal and being a part of my child's learning process is so important to me.

I am tickled to find that popular culture has such a big part of the names people choose for their kids.  In one of my kids classes there is a child named Hermoine which is the name of the central most important female in Harry Potter.  While I love the character in the books and the movies I have to say that I'm surprised by this choice in names.  And also there is another kid in school named Aragorn which probably means his parents watched Lord of the Rings and fell in love with that character.  

My husband claims the name Gabriel because his mother loved a Joan Baez song by that name.  And I know a guy whose parents named him after Cary Grant.  I am pretty sure I was named Joy because it rhymed with Roy but I've heard there was also a college friend out there who was very bubbly and happy named Joy.  I've yet to meet her.  Of course when I made mention of this to a friend they pointed out that Fiona was also a movie name and I had to scratch my head and think . . . . . . oh damn that is right, Shrek!  I promise a million times we didn't name her after a green Ogre from the movie Shrek.

I guess that means everyone having babies right now will be looking at this list:


Where did your name come from?  And how did you pick out names for your kids or your pets?  And what did you wish your parents named you?  I always wanted to be called Nicole until I was 18 or so.  I'm glad I stuck with Joy because it has served me well.  And it still rhymes with Roy.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


I used to write about bad customer service episodes and keep the names of the companies confidential but I really don't think that I can do that anymore.  First of all, I think everyone should know what people think about where they spend their hard earned money and secondly if what I write keeps you from spending your money there, maybe they will clean up their act next time?

I hate hate hate hate that Target employees smoke while slouched in the front of Target.   As a customer I really hate having to pass the front of the store with my kids who are learning in Red Ribbon Week at school that drugs and alcohol, (ie booze and cigarettes) will kill them and then head inside to buy stuff from people who smell like they fell out of an ashtray.  It is unsightly and it is nauseating.  And the people slouched in front of the store are pasty and pale and usually gasping for air.  Not the picture of health that the commercials promote, no jumping in colorful pants or dayglow hair scrunchies.  And I used to smoke.

And I hate hate hate when you go to a store like Ross/Marshalls/TJMaxx/discount hell and have people share their Friday/Saturday/Sunday drama/real life events with their coworkers and you.  "I had half a bottle of jagermeister last night and I am sooooo hung over" as if the white color around your lips and the overpowering jagermeister smell didn't give it away.  Or "I told him I wasn't interested but then he moved on to her, she can have him cause he is nasty" while you are waiting to have your groceries bagged.

The one that takes the cake is this:  "I'm gonna go apply over there because they treat their employees really good.  They pay $$$ per hour and they get 2 breaks.  This place sucks.  Do you want paper or plastic?"

I used to think this was an age thing but it turns out that it isn't.  I have seen lousy customer service with old people, middle aged people and young people.  And since customer service is on an all time decline I have gone out of my way to congratulate someone when they provide me with outstanding customer service.  Thank you so much for your help.  You have made me want to shop here again.  You are very helpful.  I'm talking about places like Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Starbucks, Nordstrom and others.  But the list is getting smaller and smaller.

Stay tuned for my part two where I talk about the declining work ethic nowadays and how people feel like 3 months employment constitutes work "history". 

Thursday, August 16, 2012


I am guilty of being in love with all things spicy.   I love cracked red pepper, I love Tabasco, I love Tapatio, I love salsa, I love Pick-A-Peppa sauce, I love peppers, I love jalapenos, I love habaneros, I love birds eye peppers, I love ancho chillies, I love serrano chillies, I love my pepper mill, I love Korean kochu-caru, I love cayenne, I love it all.  I am famous for making a delicious dinner or arriving at a delicious dinner and heading straight for the cupboard and pulling out the chilli flakes and dousing the dinner with them.  I know where the hot sauce is in my mother in law's house and I know she keeps it only for me. 

I can remember being 11 and eating a late lunch with my brother in our school uniforms in Jamaica and having hot sauce eating contests where we poured the sauce into teaspoons and just ate that until we could not handle it anymore.  I remember working with groups of Mexican ladies and having them douse anything crunchy with lots of tapatio sauce and then eating the salty, now soggy chips until my mouth burned.  I can tell you that the smell of Korean hot sauce will make my mouth start to salivate.  That combination of hot from the fire and hot from spice is something I crave.

I'm sure part of this love is that I am  half Korean.  I love all food items Korean. (except for that blood sausage crap)  I love the spicy broth and stews that warm everything going down.  I love the pickles that are tart, crunchy and fiery hot at the very end.   I love the red pepper paste that can be added to just about anything to give it a little kick.  I can tell you that as a child the sight of Korean food complete with the spicy side dishes was the most wonderful sight in the world.  While most of my cousins were passing on the food of their parents and opting out for a PBnJ, I was asking for more rice and side dishes and savoring each spicy bite.

Here is my moment of sadness.  My body does not handle the digestion of spicy food very well.  I don't know if I need to spell this out but for those of you can love spicy food, you know what I'm talking about.  It means that several hours after a meal of spicy food you may be spending more time hanging out around the bathroom than you would like.  And while that might seem like a deterrent to spicy food it is more like a call to prayer for me.  To me, it means that the food was doing its job and now I can rest a few hours until it is time to bring on more spicy food.  

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


We have been sick this week so spending lots of time laying down and resting and trying to save energy for getting things like ibuprofen and glasses of water.  Don't want to use energy unless we absolutely have to because who knows how we will be feeling at that point?  Also handling two rambunctious kids while trying to get better and rest is also challenging.  We actually turned on the Sound Of Music yesterday and passed out while the kids sat mesmerized for 3 plus hours.  That is one long movie.  Thank you Julie Andrews.

It was in the midst of this cold induced fog that my husband crept upstairs today and smiled at me with letter in hand and said, "We did it Baby, we passed our boards!".  I felt like I was able to let out a long breath that I had been holding for a very long time.  I got teared up and we hugged and kissed and then we called our family and let them know that he had passed.

I know that Gabe took the boards by himself but sometimes I feel like I took them too.  It was only 8 years ago that we started this adventure that has brought us to where we are today.  And while I know that this is the end of something big, I am sure it is also the beginning of something even bigger. 

He studied very hard.  I have memories of a man holding a baby in a bjorn and holding notes out in front of him at 4am and pacing back and forth across the kitchen while he carved out alone time with his baby girl and study time.  I tried to help him by giving him time to study but there were times when he didn't get to study because family and kids and life just got in the way.  And those were the times when he just had to hope that he would be ok. 

But that is all behind us now, because he passed and to us he is a big deal.  Congratulations Dr. Big Deal!

Thursday, August 2, 2012


It is hard to imagine that in 2 short weeks I will have both my kids in school for 3.5 hours a day, 5 days a week.  That means that for the first time in 8 years I will have the house to myself and alone time every day.  For those of you without kids, I recommend you stop reading now.  You will most likely not enjoy the rest of this blog. 

When I found out I was pregnant a little over 8 years ago I went through the confusing and arduous task of finding out out the following:  what kind of coverage my employer had for maternity/disability leave, how much daycare cost, how long I could stay home before I needed to go back to work so I didn't lose my job, how long women in Denmark get to stay home after they have a child, how much they get paid, what kinds of daycare’s were out there for 4 month old babies, how much time my husband could take off, how little money he would be paid to stay home for a few weeks, what my commute would be like to drop off baby, go to work, pick up baby and come home. 

Shortly after I had put in for my maternity leave everything changed and we decided to move to California so that my husband could go to Veterinary school and I decided to become a stay at home Mom.  And let me tell you that it was life changing.  Not in a good warm and fuzzy way, I fought it tooth and nail.  I missed my job, I missed my friends, I missed my work life, I missed everything about it.  But 2.5 years after baby #1, then came baby number #2 and we were knee deep into diapers and all that great stuff and I started to warm to the idea of just being Mom. 

Don't get me wrong, it is work, lots of work and exhausting work and time consuming work.  And to offset the cost of having a husband in Veterinary school and then residency, I did lots and lots of babysitting.  LOTS.  And nothing teaches you patience like doing lots of babysitting.  And nothing teaches you to love the professional world like doing lots of babysitting.  When people say, "wow, good for you, I could never do that!" they really mean it.  But it all allowed me to stay home and just be Mom. 

And when I walked my oldest child to kindergarten that first day I cried like a baby when she walked into that classroom, a big girl going to learn new things.  And I missed her!  And I imagine I will cry like a baby when my baby walks into that classroom, finally ready to learn new things and separate from Mom.  I am going to miss her!  

And everyone keeps asking what I am going to do with all my free time and what kind of trouble I am going to get into.  While I'm not really sure what I'm going to do, I know it will take some getting used to, the 3.5 hours alone.  But the best part of the day will be when I get to pick them up and we get to talk about the day and what was learned and how many atoms were split and all the hugs and hand holding and skipping we will do as we walk home.