Displaced Stay At Home Californian in rural N. Carolina

The Many Faces of Joy

The Many Faces of Joy

Saturday, December 28, 2013


We are officially from Pittsboro North Carolina.  We have been here for one year and one day and I guess that makes us locals.  I can  honestly say that I didn't think I'd get here but it isn't a bad place to be.

Happy New Year and if you make it out to North Carolina, ya'll stop by and say hello - after all this isn't a terribly big state and I'd be pissed if you kept on driving.

And to usher in the New Year, no one says it better than my favorite 4 Swedes, Agnetha, Annifried, Benny and Bjorn. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


Christmas Traditions are fun!  One of my all time favorite things to do sometime after Thanksgiving is to wait until I hear that awesome Bing Crosby Hawaiian Christmas Song on the radio, call up my Hawaiian friend Cheryl and sing it to her at the top of my lungs.  I also make truffles at least 3 times during December.  And I like to have all my Christmas shopping done by December 1st so that I can sit back and watch the mayhem and feel good about being done.

Tonight I started opening boxes and sorting and wrapping.  As I was digging in the boxes from Amazon and the bags of things I had stashed through the last couple of weeks I found a huge box at the bottom and opened it.  It was a ton of amazing Japanese goodies from Daiso which my Cupertino friend Elisa had sent me back in October or November.  It was like winning the Japanese Dollar Store lottery only now we have to find stockings big enough to cram it all into!

Because we bought a house a month ago and moved a month ago I was really behind the ball on Christmas this year only just finishing all my shopping last Friday while the girls finished their last 3 hours at school for the year.  Tonight I ran out of tape and had to strap the last gifts with ribbon and then I ran out of wrapping paper. 

I don't know how much planning you put into your holiday but I can tell you that each year that goes by I am amazed by my Mom.  For a single parent to pull off a holiday like Christmas the way she did had to require super human talent and brains.  I remember Christmas being so wonderful and full of tradition and exciting and fun.  And I remember each gift being so perfect and well thought out and our stockings stuffed full of candy and goodies and an orange in the toe.

Thanks Mom (and Grandma) for making Christmas so great and for creating all the traditions that I now carry down to my kids.  I've added some of my own, like the fact that my kids know all the words to Last Christmas by Wham!, watching a new Christmas movie each year, this year it was Home Alone 2, visiting Santa and telling him how good we were, reading Twas the Night Before Christmas, putting cookies out for Gabe, er, Santa to eat later, Santa letters from Papa, going ice skating, drinking Coca Cola and many many more.   This year it is just the 4 of us but we are gonna be alright and have a grand time. 

Mele Kalikimaka!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Book Club

I am not sure if the holidays have sapped my writing prowess or if being far from family has shrunk my Joyous writing spirit but something has stopped the creative juices from flowing completely.  I still have that list of back up stuff to blog about but I don't feel like dragging out the list and dusting it off and trying to write something that means nothing.

In the meantime I will write about what is going on right now.  We have switched to Satelite service to provide our internet.  We had no other choice until more people move into our new neighborhood and we can band together and demand DSL or cable internet.  In the meantime I am not always happy with where I have to stand in the house to get my tablet and my phone to work and my bathroom is a dead zone completely.

And then we found out that with 4 adults in the house over Thanksgiving we used up all our month's allotment of bandwidth which left me with 2 weeks of no browsing or streaming or anything.  So I was forced to read.  And then I emailed 10 or 12 ladies and suggested we start a book club and they agreed that we should!  And here are the 3 books I have read in the last 2 weeks in preparation for the launch party of my new book club:

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green.  If you haven't read anything by this person you are missing out.  His books are catalogued in the Young Adult section of your library but his writing is why I read, his books are magical.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.  Just saying her name is lyrical to me.  She can write a book!   And every page of her 477 page novel was a learning experience.

The First Affair by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus.  A story that blends several together about a young intern and the President of the United States.  Not my style at all and I didn't learn anything new so I just skipped from one racy part to another.

And the books waiting for me to read are:

The Man of My Dreams by Curtis Sittenfeld and Bridget Jones Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding.

I'm so excited for the book club, we meet in January and hopefully it will grow and grow and we will read fabulous books and expand our minds and our libraries.

Monday, December 16, 2013


Yesterday I went on Facebook and I saw a friend had posted that he and his Mom were headed to a discount store that will remain nameless because I refuse to give that store any business until they pay me for advertising.  I happen to love this particular discount store because they have everything.

I found Gabe and told him we needed to go to find one of these stores since I haven't been inside one for over a year and even though he was under the weather he braved the elements and we drove and found one.

I was helping the girls pick out stocking stuffers for their dad when our friend who had posted on Facebook walks around the corner!  He had salsa on his face.  I then talked him out of buying the headlamp in his hand because we bought several a couple of years ago and they don't give out enough light to see at night.

We bought a few things and headed home.  I love new friends!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Internet Santa

I've always enjoyed buying things online - I remember ordering a baby crib quite a few years back when ordering things online was frowned upon, for a baby that is now a teenager and having it delivered only to discover that they had somehow charged me for 2 cribs and had 2 cribs waiting.  I totally freaked out.  But we got the problem solved and never to be discouraged by a total disaster that is not of my own making I have done it over and over until I got it perfect, which, interestingly enough, is almost exactly what my dating life was like until I met Gabe.

Back to the internet shopping topic. . . .  This year I find myself in the middle of December and totally stressed out about the fact that I'm still in the list making phase of Christmas gifts and nowhere near being ready or prepared for the big day.  Oh how I remember the single days, no gifts, no plans, usually on a beach somewhere by myself sipping a cocktail.  But those days are gone, this parade of trees, decorations (all of which have the word JOY stamped on them somewhere), music and dance performances, stockings and presents has crept up on me and I am not prepared.

In my own defence, we bought a house, we moved, we had family visiting for 3 weeks and where was I going to find the time and the energy to gift plan and buy?  And so I turn to my trusty online friend Amazon.  And every day a box or two show up at the door and I open them and stash them in the top of the closet with all the other boxes and in about 2 weeks they'll get wrapped and ripped into.

Ho Ho Ho!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Midnight Moonshine

We had a Housewarming Party on Saturday night to kick off the holidays and also to break in the new digs.  It was lovely.  We had the food catered by a little Mexican place in Sanford and by my friend Ana who can make any Mexican restaurant food taste like trash.  (The woman can make things melt in your mouth).  And we invited new friends and old friends and even had the Outlaws here to party on down with us. 

When I sent out the invitations I felt a little sad.  We are new to the area and we don't know so many new friends.  I was worried that we would have only a small amount of people here and that it would be a quiet and sleepy party.  But the party grew and grew and there were tons of kids running around outside playing and people looked like they were having a nice time and enjoying the good food, the cocktails (or cocky's as I like to call them) and the company.

The invite read that the party started at 4pm and our first guests walked through the door at 4:05pm.  And the finish time read 7pm.  And our last guests walked out the door at 10:30pm.  And despite the 2 bottles of "champs" that someone I know intimately managed to handle all on her own and keep it together and the change in footwear around 7pm because lets face it, heels don't last all night on this party animal, I enjoyed every moment including the clean up at 11pm.

We were given some amazing gifts and they all had a wonderful North Carolina theme to them, we even got a canning jar of moonshine. 

Happy Holidays everyone!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


With everything that has been going on lately in our lives I have not had time to sit down and write about my life.  However as I sit here and hear the sounds of my mother-in-law baking up a storm in the kitchen in preparation for turkey day tomorrow I thought I would squeeze in a short story about our new surroundings.

We put the puppy's crate in our bedroom because it is big and because after nearly a year of living with us she still takes it upon herself to wake us up and by us I mean the whole family every morning by whining.  And she bases her morning wake up time on the weekday mornings when Gabe is up and doing his morning routine which is 5:15am.  So that means on the weekend no one gets to sleep in and now that she is bigger she packs a louder whine.  We have tried shaking the can with coins but if you shake that can at 5:15am on a Saturday you are likely to wake everyone else up in the house too.  So by putting her in our room we figured that she would know we were close by and not whine so loudly or so early.

And then I crated her on the second day in a new house and left the house but only slid the lock closed on the crate at the top of the crate, leaving the bottom latch open.  She somehow figured out that if she scratched at the crate enough she could squeeze her head out of the bottom but once she got her head out she had to get the rest of her body because the crate door trapping her head could have suffocated or asphyxiated her.  Now remember I am just recreating this in my mind much like a forensics person would because I wasn't here to witness in person what actually went down.

You can imagine my surprise when I got home and she was out of her crate and running around.  You can imagine even more surprise when I walked into my new bedroom of 2 days and saw 2 large holes chewed into the carpet where she had dug her paws in and pulled herself to freedom to escape being trapped between the crate door and the crate.  And you can imagine the anger and the spike in blood pressure when I saw the mess my new carpet was in, chewed up, blood, holes, even writing about it makes me mad all over again.

All I can say is I'm glad it was the dog that did it.  And I'm glad that we had a nice throw rug that fits right in that spot.  And that dog is back out in the living room where it can whine as much as it likes - I'm not making that mistake again. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

No News

There is a saying that goes like this, "No news is good news" but in our case sometimes no news means that you live across the country and no one thought to tell your or figured you cared or they got busy and didn't call or it just slipped their mind. 

Whatever the case - my Mom called me last night and happened to mention that one of  my uncles had passed away.  It was sad and made me feel really far away.  But the saddest part was that he had passed away more than a week ago and the funeral had already happened and I had heard nothing.  Not a single peep.  Not a whisper.  Not an email.  Not a text.  Nothing.  Nada.  Zero.  Zilch.

I used to wonder how it felt for my sister who is incarcerated and cannot come out to go to weddings and funerals and has to pass all these milestones in a very long time out situation but it turns out that moving 3,000 miles away can also put you in a very long and far time out.

Do I think I would have found out if I was still living in California?  I am not sure, I can't really say because something big has happened to my family and it has splintered us apart irreparably I fear.  I'm not sure what exactly it is but I know it has forever changed the dynamic of our extended family.

I didn't know a whole bunch about my uncle, I knew he was born in North Korea and that his family was splintered when the countries separated and he went to the south and many of his family were forced to stay in the North.  I know he was granted a visa in the last 10 years to go and visit his family that remained and say hellos and goodbyes.  I know he smiled often and laughed often and always had a hug.  I know he has fabulous children and many wonderful grandchildren.  I wish him speedy travels to wherever he is headed and I know that wherever he lands they will be richer for having spent time in his company.

That having been said,  I certainly feel badly for my cousins and my aunt.  And I hope that they are surrounded by light and love and people who can care for them. Bon Voyage Uncle Jonathan.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Baltimore and DC

We took the girls to our nation's capital to see the monuments and the Smithsonian Museums and Gabe went to a convention.  We stayed in a historic hotel in the heart of Baltimore and we got to enjoy walking all over the city and spending lots of time at the waterfront.  We had so many wonderful experiences during our 5 days away and took many pictures to look at and enjoy.

There was only one downside to the trip and that was the noise.  We were on the 10th floor of this beautiful hotel but we could hear the buses outside.  We could hear the sirens.  The people talking.  The elevators.  The toilets flushing.  The shouts and chatter.  Other hotel doors opening and closing.  People knocking on doors.  Horns honking and car alarms going off.  Cell phones ringing.  Delivery trucks pulling up and dropping things off.  It was so noisy that I could not sleep well and was being woken up constantly by the city noises. 

We have been here 11 months now and I've grown accustomed to the quiet chirping of a bird or the wind blowing the leaves off the trees.  Squirrels will run up trees and deer take off running through the woods.  Maybe a branch will fall?  Or the mailman driving by and stopping causes a little noise.  My ears are the ears of country folk now and I can't sleep in the city anymore. 

Never thought I'd say that.

Thursday, October 31, 2013


Last year at this time I decided it would be a great idea to pile all the leaves together that had fallen in our yard and in the neighbors yard and in the gutter in front of the house and let the kids run and jump into the pile.  It was something I had seen kids do in the movies or in areas of the country where there are enough leaves that fall such as North Carolina.  So after the work of scraping enough leaves together to make a big pile the kids started running and jumping, screaming and laughing.  And that is when the property manager and also our neighbor came screaming out of her apartment and started in on me about the mess I had just made, how I had created more work for her by dragging everyone leaves onto her lawn and how she could bill me at $250 dollars an hour for all the extra work she now had to do not to mention the diseases they could get from the neighborhood cats and dogs that pee and poop in the leaves.

After the kids were done jumping and exposing themselves to life threatening diseases caused by cats and dogs that poop in our yard I raked all the leaves off back into their respective yards and the gutter where I had found them so that the property manager and our neighbor would not have do much work to do and so she could not bill me when she came screaming outside again about how the city could sue me for piling her leaves into their gutter and how liable I was for problems the leaves on the other peoples yards could cause and how being outside playing with the kids was only condoning bad behavior by all the neighborhood kids because by being outside I was sanctioning everything they did, good or bad.

All I had wanted to do was make a leaf pile and jump in it.  I'm pretty sure that lady is crazy.  And I remember thinking that I could not wait to own my own house.

Tomorrow we close on our very own house.  One that I can rake leaves into piles at and jump into.  One that my cat and dog can pee and poop on and leave life threatening diseases all over and around and beside.  One that no property manager will come running outside to tell me what I can and cannot be doing.  One that is going to be mine, ALL MINE.  You cannot possibly know how exciting that will be for me, my kids, my cat, my dog, my other dog, my rats and my husband. Unless of course you had the disadvantage of living next to or near that lady yourself. 

Mazel tov.

Saturday, October 26, 2013


Tomorrow we go on our first East Coast Adventure to another state, another town, another romp.  We are excited because it is a paid adventure - so it will be at very little cost to us which makes it even more exciting and bargain driven.  And to top it off, I will get to see my sister's very best childhood friend who lived down the road from us in Jamaica and whom I have not seen since I was 14 years old.  I love new friends but I love old ones too.  You hear that all old friends?  I love you guys!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Happy Halloween

I have a confession - I hate Halloween.  I don't like the costumes.  I don't like having to buy the costumes.  I hate all the candy.  I hate the decorations.  I hate the pressure of having to buy pumpkins only to discard them by carving them up and watching them rot.  I hate wasting food.  I hate gearing up for what is not officially a holiday and then having to get up the next day and try to scrape the kids out of bed for school.  I hate the candy hangover. 

I wonder sometimes if part of the reason I hate it is that we weren't allowed to "celebrate" Halloween as a kid.  It wasn't on the top of the list of Christian holidays and activities you should let your children participate in to glorify God.  I remember trick or treating maybe once as a child although that probably means we did it two or three times.  But as we got older my parents (the same sex partnership I spoke of in my last blog post) got more conservative and so that activity was pulled off the table.

I know it is fairly Scrooge-ish of me to dislike and disregard Halloween and it is very frustrating for my kids.  But I love Christmas!  And I love Thanksgiving!  But those holidays do not require the wasting of perfectly good pumpkins or scaring the crap out of small kids and do not require multiple trips to the dentist to right what bags and bags of sugar have done to perfectly healthy teeth.

Any other haters out there?  Just for the record I also hate St. Paddy's day, Valentines Day and the 4th of July. 

Friday, October 18, 2013


Manners are something that people pay close attention to in the South.  I have noticed that people pay more attention to them than they did in say . . . California.  I mostly attribute that to where I lived in California and the high number of Asians that lived in the town I was from.  Other things matter to Asian parents such as, "stop doing that and focus on your homework", "don't mess around in school, listen and get the best grades", and "your kid is so big and has huge feet", "eat healthy food not junky food" but manners is not a big deal, not a huge deal.  That isn't to say that Asian parents don't care about manners, it just isn't the first thing they worry about and maybe they could improve upon that.  Or not.

In California my parents and inlaws would comment on how great the kids were but they are the Grandparents and they have to say nice things about the kids.  It wasn't until I moved here that I got specifics on my children's manners from teachers and other parents.  The art teacher at school told me that the girls are so well behaved and good girls and she can tell that they have had good upbringing.  The neighbor lady said that the girls were so good and polite. The lunch lady in the cafeteria told me that the girls are polite and smile and answer when spoken to and have good manners and always remember their lunch number. 

Manners are important to me.  I was raised by 2 women - I like to call it a Same Sex Partnership but it was my Mom and my Grandma.  Technically however it was a Same Sex Partnership and they were big on manners.  My Mom worked a lot and my Grandma held it together at home and they didn't have a lot of free time for sassy bratty kids that couldn't speak when spoken to or that were not respectful.  That doesn't mean that we didn't push it - I remember my twin once using the word Bitch when talking to my Mom and he wasn't talking about a dog.  But I have tried to do the same with my kids and manners and have tried to teach them to answer properly when spoken to and to not be so obnoxious that they are never invited back.  And those of you that are not invited back, you know what I'm talking about and exactly why.  And those of you that are invited back - you know how far having well behaved kids will get you.   It will get you invited back!

It kind of has taken me by surprise this attention to manners.  I didn't really pay attention to it until I started getting comments.  But now that I have had comments I take great pride in my kids when we are out and about.  And I take great pride in their "please" and "thank you" comments.  And I love being able to navigate situations of all kinds knowing that they will behave appropriately.  Now please stay tuned for the disclaimers.

Disclaimers:  My kids are not perfect.  Your kids are not all brats.  My kids are sometimes bratty too.  These were all comments made by others in regards to my kids manners, they could totally be blowing smoke up my ass.

Saturday, October 5, 2013


Remember the saying, "Act your age, not your bra-size?"  That only worked when you were 12 or 14. 

Yesterday someone asked me how old I was and I did not get the customary "OMG you look so much younger than that!  I would never guess your were that old!" and I realized that I look my age, finally at nearly the age of 45 I look my age and it was ok.  I'm fine with the wrinkles on my stomach, the sags in the inside of my thighs and the chin that is starting to slope.  I'm fine with the eyes that appear heavy in the morning at the evening and the breasts that comfortably sit on what is left of 2 pregnancies.

I see so many women that are not ok with what life has handed them.  I see the work they have done to deceive themselves and others by injecting, cutting, sucking and pulling and in the end, they get old too, they can't avoid it.  And sometimes they look like The Joker and I'm pretty sure that is not what they were going for.

I remember telling someone at 16 that I had no plans on living past 60 which of course was childish nonsense, if it gets better and better I can't wait for 60.  It doesn't mean I'm not going to have fun or be a little silly and disregard the rule on wearing lace leggings in the wintertime with boots - or embarrass my kids by getting the mail in my bathing suit, and we have a looooong driveway.  Imagine if they are embarrassed by it now, how much more fun it will be when I am 60. 

I say bring it!

Friday, October 4, 2013

An Open Letter to People Who Post Open Letters in Regards to Twerking Teenagers Who Are in Charge of Their Own Lives

There has been a lot of commentary with regards to what cute little Hannah Montana, otherwise known as Miley Cyrus has been up to lately in the entertainment world.  There was an Open Letter by Sinead O'Connor to Miley and then an Open Letter to Sinead O'Connor by someone else and now I'm writing my own Open Letter to anyone who wants to read my opinions on the whole thing.

Miley Cyrus and all of her graduating class, has chosen for whatever reason to be famous on TV and to showcase all their skills, whether acting, singing, twerking or otherwise for everyone to see.  And while this is nothing new and while celebrity antics are nothing shocking anymore, for some reason everyone feels the need to either be shocked and outraged at her behavior or they feel the need to berate her and criticize her and cut her down because I guess that makes them feel better.  I have to be honest, when I first saw her stick that tongue out I thought she was licking something good off her face.

When I was a teenager no one wanted to post what I was up to because there was no internet.  And no one wanted to follow me around and document what I was up to because it was moronic.  That didn't stop me from doing stupid and foolish things like striping naked and scaling walls and swimming in someone else's swimming pool and getting caught and kicked out.  And it didn't stop me from drinking too much vodka and stripping naked and walking the dotted line in front of public safety at my local college.  And it didn't stop me from doing a lot of other things that I am not going to rehash because you get the general idea, I did plenty of crazy hairbrained naked things in public and private.  The sad thing is that we have a teenager that has had little to no anonymity and who just wants to be a kid.  Why can't we ignore her and all the other idiots out there and let them grow up and get out their growing pains like all the other kids on the planet?

I remember asking a young lady once what she wanted to be when she grew up and she said, "I want to be famous" and I realized that she didn't want to be a famous dancer or a famous painter or a famous singer or a famous anything.  She just wanted to be famous.  And that is what we have delivered via technology to anyone who will spend the 2 minutes, 3 minutes or 10 minutes to watch the latest viral sensation, someone who is famous for just being famous, they really had little to no talent or skill or ability, they just got famous. 

If we stop giving creedence to the antics of the famous or the infamous and shut out tabloid trash then maybe the Kanye's and the Miley's will just go away or be silenced.  Or better yet, they will stick to what they know how to do or what they do well and leave the rest of it for other young and impulsive people who will willingly step into their shoes and become tabloid fodder for a new generation.  Remember the advice we were given as kids?  If you want the annoying kid to stop, ignore them, they will go away.  Stop paying attention.

Better yet, focus on your own problems - chances are they are just as bad if not worse.

Saturday, September 21, 2013


On Monday the UPS driver dropped off book 3 of the MaddAdam Trilogy by Margaret Atwood.  This trilogy begins with Oryx and Crake and the second book is The Year of the Flood and finally MaddAdam which I have been waiting for what feels like years.  I am trying to read as slowly as I can but it is hard because the book is so good.  I am trying to savor it because as soon as I'm done, I will have to go back and read the trilogy straight through.

It is hard to explain what these books are about.  They are classified as Science Fiction although I will be the first to admit that I don't like that genre of writing, at all.  These books are about what happens when the world is wiped out by a series of terrible plagues and and there are only a handful of people left on this planet and they have to try to get by and stay alive by their wits, their brains and their hands. 

Margaret Atwood is a fabulous writer.  She has written to me at all stages of my life.  I remember reading The Robber Bride when I was in my 20's and I was licking the wounds of a particularly horrible break up with a man who thought I was fine with him having more than one girlfriend.   It spoke to me.  I went back and tried to re-read it recently and I couldn't do it - I was not longer there.  She has written for every stage of my life and I haven't found another writer out there that has done that.  Those of you that read and read and read will know what I mean.

I know why I love her trilogy so much, I was raised in a religious community and there was a Salvation story that ended with the good in Christ being given a reward.  These books suggest that the only reward you get is hard work and having to start over.  There are no gold covered streets.  There are no mansions.  There are no white robes.  There is struggle, survival and chaos.  And some might consider this a nightmare.  But others might consider it heaven.  Perspective. 

Now I have to admit that I went online before I got the book and read the reviews and they were not all good.  As a matter of fact they were mostly bad.  But it hasn't changed the book for me at all - if anything it has made the book better because it has all those reviews to live up to.  I'm half way through the book and I have no idea where it is going.  But I can't wait to find out.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Mean Reds

I am not sure why I do this but I love to rearrange the furniture.  I love it.  I love it so much that I do it all the time.  I'm sure there is some mental condition or something I'm missing, maybe I wasn't breast fed enough or maybe I was left too long at daycare or maybe I was abandoned in a shopping mall in the Hello Kitty store too long but I love to move the furniture around and around.

I love seeing what you can do with a throw rug, furniture, a hanging lamp and some pictures.  I love having Gabe and the girls come home and their expressions as if walking into a new house.  I even love the half hearted "ohhhhhhs" that come out of their mouths when they see that I've moved all the furniture around and now the house has to be navigated differently.  I am fortunate that no one in my family is blind.

I cannot be the only person who does this.  And it solves two problems, the one of liking the furniture in different places and cleaning behind it.  So I like to combine cleaning day with moving the furniture day.  When you pull it out from the wall, you are required to clean behind it.  It kills two birds with one ottoman! 

Aside from cooking and knitting it is number 3 on my list of favorite things to do when I'm feeling frantic, tired, irritated, grouchy or fat.  Or as Holly Golightly would say, when I've got the mean reds.

"The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you're afraid and you don't know what you're afraid of. Do you ever get that feeling? "

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


The weather is starting to change here.  Last week sometime we went from mind numbingly hot and oppressive humidity to balmy cool evenings and mornings and warm afternoons but no humidiy.  And several other things have started to change now too.  The leaves are thinning out - I can actually see houses from the street when I'm on my morning or evening walks.  And the cicadas and tree frogs are not as loud as they were a month ago and the cicadas are starting to die, they are everywhere laying dead in the yard giving Marcko something yummy to snack on when she is on the zip line.

Yesterday as I was walking a nice breeze came up and a bunch of leaves started to fall.  And I stopped walking and stood and looked up and watched the leaves swirl and dance and fall to the ground.  It was very pretty and very peaceful and I didn't miss California in that instant.

We moved here at the end of December and there were no leaves and no cicadas and it was cold and grey.  So this transition of summer to fall is something we have never experienced and I'm looking foward to it.  I can honestly say that pulling out my jeans and my sweaters and putting on slippers in the morning and carrying that mug of hot tea or coffee around with me is something I enjoy.

And our calendar is full to overflowing now.  Between kiddie birthday parties and weekend get togethers and music classes, dance classes, school and work I feel like I have little free time for sitting around and whining or complaining.  We even ordered Halloween costumes and can't wait to put them on and prance around the house in preparation for the best kids holiday ever.

And I'm letting go and starting to go with the flow.  I'm letting go of some of my rigidity and my inflexibility and my craziness.  I'm accepting that I'm here right now and I am not going anywhere and that I need to make the most of this place where I am because that is how life is.  And I'm always knitting and soon I will be done with the 2 year socks.

Thursday, September 12, 2013


I've been tossing around the idea of opening a small shop in the little town that we call home now.  I have all this jewelry that my sister has painstakingly put together and it is original and beautiful and lovely and inexpensive.  I used to sell it in California and while it didn't make my sister or myself millionaires - it sold well and I didn't have to do all the work. 

I'm bored.  I need more to do.  The little job I do Monday through Friday has turned into that, a little job and I find that I need more to do - although I'm not willing to get a job that doesn't allow me to pick my kids up from school, at least not yet.  I know that working for yourself ends up being so many more hours than you plan on and that it takes a long time to turn a profit and that in a small town like Pittsboro you are totally dependent on tourists and tourist season but I have spent the last 8 months tossing around the idea of opening my own shop. 

Having never gone into business for myself I know that besides being a writer, it is the only other thing I haven't done that I would like to try.  And I know what I would sell in the store besides jewelry - shoes.

Saturday, September 7, 2013


The girls have been begging for a new pet.  I have been hoping that they will forget they want new pets and find a new hobby or be too busy with homework but with all the stuff we have going on  and all the dancing and piano lessons, they still want pets.  We already have enough cats and dogs and we have been the fish route but they want something interactive that they can play with and enjoy and name and feed.  So we have agreed to becoming the parents to a set of rats.

When Fiona was in preschool she went to a Parent Participation Coop and they had two rats named Cocoa and Pablo.  I was one of the few parents that enjoyed letting a few kids in, closing the doors, setting up a small maze and taking out the rats to play.  They were so fun.  Their little paws so soft. And they were so good interacting with the kids.  But like any other animal they require a certain amount of care and I already feel like I have a lot of mammals under my care.

So this morning we were talking about rats and what it would cost us and how much we are expecting each girl to pitch in towards the purchasing of rats and where they will live and how we will keep the elderly cat from snacking on them and it occurred to me that should these rats procreate and have more rats what will we do with a litter of rats?  Do people adopt rats?  Do we give them away?  Are the litters small?  So I mentioned my concern to my husband who willingly offered up, "Babe, don't worry, I know how to sex a rat". 

Standby for pictures of sexed up rats.

Thursday, August 29, 2013


On Tuesday I went to the local Starbucks which is not really a Starbucks coffee shop but rather one of those Starbucks that they put in a grocery store but it is a Starbucks none-the-less and the only Starbucks that doesn't take a half hour to get to, to have a coffee with a friend.  Yup, I've graduated to Starbucks at 9:30am with a friend.  I was getting ready to go and we were standing up and saying our goodbye's when a woman walks up behind me and says in a booming voice, "You are that lady who stood in front of me in zumba class, I'd recognize those legs anywhere!"  And then she proceeded to introduce herself and chitchat for a few minutes until I finally said my goodbyes and ducked into the bathroom before my trip to the doctor.  But in those few minutes before I ducked into the bathroom while we introduced ourselves, she literally gushed about my legs, gushed I tell you.

And then today I went into the Pittsboro Public Library and was chatting with one of the librarians about a book they have on the New Fiction list that was written by my old writing teacher from PCC.  She was telling me about all the writers that lived in and around Pittsboro and the great writing forums and classes at the community college next door to the library.  I casually mentioned that I wrote a blog and that in my past life, or my next life or when I grow up I plan on being a writer.  And then I told her the name of my blog.  And she told me she had already read it and she loved it.  Ok, I can't remember if she said she loved it or not but in my version of the movie when the writer, (me) is telling the very attractive and tall Latino man in Spanish that she is famous and he recognizes her finally and his eyes open wide in surprise, the word LOVED is used.

So whether it's my legs or my words, I think I'm pretty famous.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


The girls started back to school yesterday and I didn't cry.  And they didn't cry.  And when school was over and I went to pick them up, Fiona came running to me with her arms stretched wide and she crowed, "Mama, I'm not afraid of school anymore!" and it melted my heart. 

Starting school in the middle of the school year in a new place is such a different experience than starting school at the beginning of school in a new place.  We got to register the girls.  We got to buy their school supplies.  We got to go back to school shopping for clothes and shoes.  We got to meet new teachers.  We got to watch everyone else do the same.  But we also got to do some familiar things like walk down hallways we already knew.  And see friends we had already met.  And we got to enjoy the new year instead of fretting and frowning and holding those emotions in check because everything is new and scary.  And we got to go back to school.

I found myself with a very quiet house yesterday.  The puppy was gone for the day to Vet school with Gabe so I didn't have to chase her around.   So I dusted myself off and did a little work on the computer and then took myself shopping with a friend and out to lunch.  And I am not sure if it was the slow morning, or the lack of activity of taking the kids to the pool, the park, the playdate, the library or the fact that I had to jump out of bed to get ready to get the kids to school but I managed to throw my back out. 

And this morning it is worse.  And I imagine tomorrow morning will be worse still because it has that "ouch" factor that is getting worse by the minute regardless as to much ibuprofen I have taken.  I need to get back to normal because we have a 3 day weekend coming up and I need to be back to normal. 

It is nice to be back in the groove, I just need my back . . . back.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


We currently have two geriatric animals in our care.  One is our 12 year old German Shepherd that we got when we lived in Portland named Sally Tomato and the other is our 15 year old domestic short hair cat named Lloyd.  I say he is 15 but actually I have no idea how old he is, he could be 16 or 17 or older.  Gabe had Lloyd with him when I met him and so Lloyd we like to say comes from a broken home.  I also attribute this to the reason why Lloyd has never really warmed to me (or the other way around to be honest). 

Taking care of elderly animals is hard work.  You have to cater to their palate - sometimes they don't like the food you buy or sometimes the food upsets their delicate and elderly stomachs and sometimes they eat something for a few days and then tire of it and sometimes they cut out meals altogether.  And since they can't give us a reason, we have to try to figure it out.  Lloyd we have discovered likes only one type of food and that is all he will eat.  And no amount of tempting him will change his mind or his palate, unless of course you show up with a saucer of milk.  Sally has always been a very picky and slow eater and he has stopped eating dog-food altogether and now is eating chicken and rice which I am starting to have to mass produce for him like a Chinese restaurant. 

It is amazing to me that I'm doing this because I come from a family history of discarded animals.  I've actually threatened to write a tell all book with 30 chapters, each with a different pet name as a title.  It would be considered fiction, of course, but there are many chapters that will end like this, "I have no idea what happened to this animal."   The main reason for this is, we moved a lot, we got pets whenever we moved, we almost NEVER took them with us when we moved on.  And when I think back to these animals, I wonder sometimes why we never took them with us and why we were always allowed to get animals in the first place.  The only dog I can remember that we had from a puppy until its death was Wang-ja, the Angwin dog.  One dog.

I remember when Gabe was applying to Vet school one of the questions they asked him was if an elderly lady came in with a healthy 2 year old cat and wanted the cat put down because she was headed into a care facility that didn't allow animals, what do you do?  And I remember being shocked to hear that putting an animal down at the owners request is sometimes the best thing to do.  Remember that cat has lived with an elderly person, it likes quiet, it likes rest, it likes solitude.  Giving it to a family with 3 kids and a dog might be like dropping a steak into a tank of alligators.  But the right choice for the animal is not always the choice that people make.  And I find that it is so common for people to get a cute and fluffy pet and love it up and feed it and then dump it at the first chewed up pair of sunglasses or the first torn up rug.

When I see our elderly animals and I clean up after them and I cook for them and I care for them, I'm happy that I'm teaching my children how things come full circle and how death completes that circle.  And I'm hoping that they learn that taking an animal into their circle is a life long commitment.  In the next life I am sure that I will be locked in a world where I am forced to care of all the discarded animals from all the places we've lived.  I just hope that if that happens I get to take my husband with me!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Blahs

The girls start back to school in a week.  I'm not looking forward to it because I have had a wonderful summer and I'm not relishing the thought of all those hours alone again.  I am going to take an evening yoga class, join a gym, take a zumba class and maybe even an aqua zumba class although the thought of doing zumba in the water makes me as excited as becoming a plumber.

House buying is totally overrated.  All that hype and excitement and in the end you just get irritated, annoyed and end up having insomnia for weeks on end.  And the whole thing can fall through at any minute.

After a month off, I've dusted off my weight loss app and strapped back on my tennies.  My waistline didn't disappear but my interest in Kale Salad did.  But I am turning 45 in November and so I have to stick with it so that I can welcome in my middle ages in a size 8 instead of a size 10 or 12. 

I've been trying to decide whether or not to have a Mommies Trip to Vegas and invite anyone and everyone to join me to celebrate.  I just found out about a friend's 40th birthday in the Dominican so it might have to be put on hold.  Too many trips makes Joy a poor girl.

And in other news I'm going to get a shrink - a North Carolina one.  I am lonely and I'm alone and I'm frequently sad and I cannot depend on myself to snap out of it on my own so I think I'll have to have some help.  It is like getting a tune up on the car only it is tuning up this old machine called Joy.  It runs great but it runs better with a little attention.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Crazy Baby

I have all these things I want to write about.  I have even gone to making lists of things I want to write about because I get busy and forget.  This summer has been the summer of juggling, and I feel like I should join a circus.  I am juggling having a job and juggling trying to get it done and juggling make time for friends and family and juggling swimming and crafting and juggling knitting and exercising and more.

I've been wanting to write about Mexico, School starting, Fractured Families, Self Medication, Fear of Flying, Moms Night Out and and and but right now I have to write about Crazy Baby.

One of the things my husband does is he makes up the craziest games to play with the kids.  For a long time there was the game where he takes control of their hands and makes them do things like scratch their faces or konk themselves (gently) on their heads.  He made up the game Catch Foot where he lays on the ground and acts like roadkill and they run past him and he darts out with his hand and tries to catch their foot.  One of the girls bought a bow and arrows with rubber ends and he made up a game where they run past an open doorway and he shoots the arrows and tries to shoot them.  He made up a game called Squirrely where his hand is Squirrely and they make Squirrely do silly things like jump around and dance. (that first game sounds like the last game but trust me, they are two separate games)

The newest game is Crazy Baby and it involves one of Fiona's dolls.  He chases them around the house with Crazy Baby.  And Crazy Baby can hide behind doors, or under beds and it jumps out at them and tries to tackle them.  They scream in fear and run when Crazy Baby shows up and I can see why.  I told him that it is a cross between Chucky and that Allie McBeal dancing baby and that if they don't have nightmares it will be a small miracle.  Crazy Baby or Crazy Daddy?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Ode to a Moms Club

I remember someone who moved here from California telling me that 6 months after their move they felt like they missed home more and suffered more from homesickness than when they first got here.  When you first move you are consumed with all the things that go along with moving - unpacking, buying things for your new home, organizing, finding your new favorite grocery store, discovering where the cheapest gas station is, taking the kids to piano lessons and many more important things.  Your social calendar takes a back seat.

I have been dreading this day since the first day we got here and yesterday I got the official email.  September 4 is my renewal date for the Sunnyvale Moms club and if I choose not to renew then I will no longer have access to the Moms Club website but more importantly I will no longer get the newsletter or emails of what the club is doing.

I will be honest - when we first got here those emails were my lifeline.  I loved seeing what everyone was doing back at home and where they were meeting up.  I got over the pangs of everyone having fun without me really quickly.  I am grown up enough to know that people are doing fun stuff and I am not always included.  I wasn't having a lot of fun in those first six months and so reading about cooking club and park playdates and the children's museum made me happy and nostalgic for what those types of events and places were like.  I even joined a Moms club here and tried to reach out but failed miserably.  It was like I had no energy for making new friends and my friendship bucket was full - it was overflowing, but it was on the West Coast, it was misplaced.  Or maybe I was displaced.

Not only that, we have just had the joy of seeing many of our friends and family over the summer.  We have been busy and have travelled.  We have filled up our social calendar to overflowing.  So getting that email was like a kick in the gut.  I'm not sure what I will do at this point.  Maybe I will email the President and beg her to let me stay a member in absentia, after all, who knows what the future brings.  Maybe we will move back?  Or maybe I will become more involved with my current Moms club.  Or maybe I will find more work and become a full time working Mom.  Or maybe I will ask Francoise to forward me all the emails of what everyone is doing. 

Whatever I decide to do, I feel like I'm moving all over again.  And I don't like it.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Yard Dog

When we moved here we only had one dog.  And then we got another one.  The first time we took her to the Vet we were told she was a Carolina Yard Dog.  The Vet told us that if we look closely we can see this breed of dog in pretty much anyone's yard on a chain or a leash.  She said that they are known to chase cyclists, runners, cars, trucks and tree racoons and squirrels.  She said they will eat tires and toys and chew on sticks and pinecones for fun.  She said they are smart dogs.

Unfortunately for me there are also yard dogs in everyone else's yard around here.  And another sad fact is that I'm forced to exercise by either running or fast walking around the neighborhood for both my health and my waistline. 

I have been chased by one mean yellow yard dog that looks just like our yard dog, same color, same size, probably same bloodline.  And then a black dog appeared out of nowhere, literally for 7 months there was no dog and then 2 weeks ago it just appeared.  Last night when I went out to walk I was chased by not just one yard dog, not two yard dogs but three yard dogs and they trapped me.  Lucky for me another walker came my way and they chased after him and allowed me to streak past as fast as I could, huffing and puffing and sweating and swearing and my normal evening exercise turned into a game of dodge dog and I don't want to play that game.

I've called the cops and that hasn't helped.  There are 2 more dogs now than when I called both the police and animal control.  I now know why most of the people in the area work out at gyms and health clubs instead of tying up their laces and heading out into the beautiful out of doors for some free cardiovascular exercise.  Sigh.  For the time being I've been restricted to the street I live on - all our yard dogs are actually confined to our yards.

Thursday, July 11, 2013


Every summer we have had the opportunity of hosting my niece and nephew for a week or two at our house.  And even with our cross country move, this summer is no exception - they arrive tonight at the airport!  The reason for this visit first and foremost has always been to give my Mom and Step-dad a break, after all raising kids in your 70's sometimes can be hard work but it is also selfish, so that we can enjoy these two kids. 

Of course there is much more work having 4 kids in the house as opposed to two kids and so it requires me to get plenty of sleep, eat healthy food and try to not stress the little things like dirty socks kicked under furniture, food wiped on tshirts and pillows being used for weapons.  It also requires me to not stress the kids getting very little sleep because when your summer is full of friends and family visiting, you have to know that sleep is low on the list of things to do.

Of course it is tough to eat healthy food when you have kids asking for pizza, frozen waffles, bagels, chips, soda and all manner of junk food type options.  I try to limit them to one item per day but even that gets hard.  Lucky for me the kids live in a Vegan home but love all things Non-Vegan.  Enter Korean Beef. 

Here is how the next 8 days will play out:

lots of water
Korean Beef

We can't wait to see them!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

4th of July

I love doing new things and having new experiences.  Some of them are fun and calm and fairly normal and others are wild and madcap and hysterical.  I think back to things like going water skiing and our boat catching on fire and having to bail into the lake until the firemen showed up.  Or hitchhiking across Europe because I ran out of money and I needed to get to Paris in 2 weeks to catch a plane.  Or laying in the backseat of a car under blankets and driving to East Germany to spend a week before the wall came down. 

This 4th of July we were invited to spend the evening with 8 undocumented families that were all related and their kids.   They have all been in this country for 15, 16 and 17 years and they all work hard and they all speak Spanish and they put out a good spread.   Gabe had to dust off his Spanish and he also had to eat a lot of carne asada, hamburgers, hotdogs and chicken.  He drank his Modelo with Tapatio poured all over the opening of the can.  He did good.  And the kids ran around with a posse of kids and they caught fireflies and played hide and seek and danced in the rain.

And I thought back to how all of us somehow came from somewhere else to live here and that if it wasn't us, it was our parents or our grandparents or their grandparents and that in order to be a great country we have to dust off our bbq's and buy a bunch of beer and meat and invite the neighbors over!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Oprima el numero dos . . .

Here in N. Carolina on Sunday evening during the school year everyone gets a phone call with a pre-recorded message from the school Principal or Vice-Principal.  It starts like this, "Hello (insert school name here) families, this is the Principal calling and I hope you have had a wonderful weekend".  And then the message launches into what is coming up on the school week and updates on things to look out for or special instructions for certain grades.  It is very informative and the way the school stays in touch with families that cover many different levels of technology.

During the summer, the messages are less frequent but there are still messages with updates for all the school families.  Starting on Tuesday, there will be a second voice that shares information with families in Spanish and will go a little something like this, "Muy buenos dias, familias de (insert school name here), espero que tengan felices vacaciones de verano."  I am excited to bring vital information to Spanish speaking families all over my neighborhood!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Making Friends

We went to a pool party on Sunday to celebrate or commemorate the end of Softball Season.  We brought snacks and sat around a pool and watched our young ones splash and swallow water.  At one point a little girl with water wings on climbed out of the pool and proudly walked up to her mother and said, "Mommy, I just pee'd in the pool" and her moms face got really red. 

After about an hour of swimming we heard thunder and so the kids all got out and we headed into the garage to have cake and ice-cream and snack some more.  We stood around inside the garage looking out the doors as the rain poured down.  The kids got medals from their coach.  Another mom handed out pictures.  After about 20 minutes the rain subsided and the kids asked if they could go back in the pool.  Since we had heard no more thunder they jumped in while there were still sprinkles. 

The ladies headed back outside to sit around on wet chairs and watch the swimmers for a few more minutes until it was time to go.  I found myself chatting and laughing and joking around and I realized that I was making new friends.  It felt really good.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Summer Samosas

A couple of weekends ago we found a beautiful picnic area that had a pond, a swing, picnic tables and sunshine and so I planned a picnic with several other families and we headed out there to enjoy some NC sunshine.  Surprisingly for us, sunshine has been hard to come by lately, with tropical storm Andrea tearing things up with wind and rain I feel like we are living back in Portland with the drippy green trees and standing puddles.  And aside from the millions of ticks that we encountered and kept brushing off while we were there, it was very very nice.

I wanted to make something yummy, picnic-y and easy to eat with our fingers and I decided that samosas was the perfect food.  I looked around online for a good recipe and decided instead to combine 3 or 4 recipes.  And here is the ingredients list I used for the dough:

  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon sooji (semolina flour)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 11/2 tablespoons oil
  • 1/4 cup minus 2 tablespoon lukewarm water 
And for the filling:

  • 3 large boiled potatoes, peeled and chopped into very small cubes
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 chopped green chilies (take seeds out)
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon amchur (mango powder)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1/2 cup green peas (frozen)
Here are some pictures of the process:

I am going to assume you all know how to cook and not walk you through it step by step.  Make the dough.  Make the filling.  Bake or fry, both are delicious.  They turned out very nice and spicy and I paired it with a delicious mango chutney made by Tiger Tiger which can be bought at any international food shop or World Market.


Saturday, June 8, 2013

Summer and Love

My brother and I would go through episodes of tormenting our sister for fun.  It wasn't always easy being the older sister to a set of twins.  One of our famous capers was when we were in high school.  My brother worked in a hardware store that was connected to the local grocery store where I worked.  My sister was going to college in the college town we lived in.

At the college bookstore which was also connected to this small shopping mecca worked a nice young man that I will call Phil.  He had a lisp.  He had helmet hair.  You know exactly what I'm talking about.

We told Phil that our sister loved him and talked about him in her sleep.  We told him that she wanted him.  (to ask her out)  We told him that she wanted to make out with him.  Clearly anyone hearing this story now, would not listen to us but Phil did.  And so Phil asked her out on a date with a picnic dinner and concert tickets in hand. 

My sister said yes.  We couldn't believe our good luck!  He really was a gentleman and defended my sister's honor as we suggested all the fun things he could try on her on their date, double date as it turned out to be.  She never went out with him again and she told him nicely that her brother and sister were jerks and to not listen to them ever again.  He was crushed emotionally or at least that is what we told ourselves and anyone who would listen to a couple of moron teenagers.

The other day a kindergartener in Fiona's class came running up to me and asked, "is it true that Fiona's sister is in love with me?  Because that is what Fiona said."  I stopped in horror realizing what was happening.  I nicely told him that she was not "in love" with him but that she probably thought he was a nice boy and then I firmly told Fiona that it was not nice to make things up about her sister.  Especially to her classmates.  And then I talked Fiona's older sister off the ledge that she was on because apparently having 5 year olds think you are in love with them is grounds for a mental breakdown.

Happy Summer Vacation everyone!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

10 years

On Thursday my Mother-in-Law called and left a message.  In the message she talked about our anniversary on Saturday and what were we going to do and where were we going to celebrate?  We had totally forgotten it was our anniversary and so it was great to have a reminder. 

Yesterday afternoon we went to help a neighbor with their dog and as we were getting ready to leave the neighbor generously offered to watch our kids for a couple of hours since the kids were playing and didn't want to leave.  So we left and went home without the kids and spent a couple of hours of peace and quiet.  It was like recharging the batteries, it was exactly what we needed.

Another set of neighbors generously offered order pizza and put on a movie and take our kids in the evening so we could enjoy a dinner out.  And then they gave us the directions to a fabulous Thai restaurant we had never tried and so we went there and had spicy everything. 

For a couple that had no plans we ended up having a wonderful day.  And that is just how you should spend your 10 year anniversary.  

It was a very spontaneous day with wonderful gifts from new friends. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013


It has been raining here for what feels like weeks and weeks.  Sometimes I feel like I moved to Oregon instead of N. Carolina because no one told me about the rain.  When I moved to Portland, everyone told me about the rain.

It is humid now.  We had 2 or 3 nice, sunny days with a little breeze and then it got really humid.  I don't mind it though - it reminds me of Jamaica and it makes me feel young.  For some reason the very very dry heat saps all my energy.  I won't let anyone turn on the air conditioning until it turns 90 degrees and then we will turn it on, very low.

There are a good many things that have happened since our move and there are a good many things that haven't happened.  I feel like the days of sitting around and waiting for the phone to ring are over.  Sometimes it rings and very often it doesn't and if a day goes by without it ringing I don't feel personally injured like I used to.  I have a part time job now and that keeps me busy.  I volunteer at the local elementary school and that keeps me busy.  And in 2 short weeks summer vacation will descend on us and it will keep me busy and crazy.  But we will cross that bridge when we come to it.

About a month after moving I stepped on a scale and held my breath and it told me that I had lost some weight.  I wasn't even trying but I also was not in a good space.  So I started using an App that my friend always uses when she is watching what she eats called My Fitness Pal and began the task of tracking what I eat.  I was able to lose a few more pounds and then I would hit a plateau.  Now I have to back up and remind everyone that 2 years ago I started to take blood pressure medication and I lost 20-ish pounds and I got lazy and tired and put the weight back on.  I didn't do it on purpose, it was not a good feeling to pull out those fat jeans.  I felt like a loser.

Anyway, I kept using the App and it actually did what it is intended to do, it made me accountable for everything I put into my body.  I started to watch pounds come off.  And I don't mean that they flew off and I lost weight celebrity style - through coffee enemas and a liquid diet.  I'm not that crazy.  I posted recently that I had some nice fat jeans and should I keep them or toss them and here are some of the responses I got:

Lisa: Send them to me. 
Helki:  Depends on how big they are.. 1 size or a half size keep a couple
Dawn : Sell them!

Heather:  Keep in a hard to access box...
Mary-Anne: Alter.

Gina: Sadly speaking from experience. Keep.

This time around I took some pictures so I could take them out and look at them.  Nothing helps your progress with something like taking before and after pictures.  I don't have a lot of them but the ones I have I want to share.

Besides getting slimmer, you can tell I am a master photographer.  The first picture is March, the second is April and the last one is May.  I'm going to Mexico in July so don't be surprised if July/August picture involves a bathing suit.  It most likely won't be a bikini but you never know.  Tara has a topless picture of me on her fridge. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Granola Bars

What I would really like to do is write about Poison Ivy but I needed a little pick me up so instead I have decided to write about Granola Bars.

My husband eats an extraordinary amount of food.   And because I am not eating sugar lately it seems like he eats an extraordinary amount of sugar.  If I make a batch of cookies they are gone the next day.  If I make brownies, the same thing.  If I buy a vat of cookies from Costco they are gone too. However, there are benefits to being married to a big eater, such as, we don't ever eat leftovers, ever.  All those kids out there that hate leftover night - my kids don't know what that is.  We never throw out food.  We never have food that spoils.  Oh and he is not picky about what he eats, unless it involves tofu.  But that is another blog altogether.
I am proud of my pantry.  I love going there and looking at what I have and creating something fun.  And this week it was Homemade Granola Bars.
Here is what they were made out of,
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup butter or coconut oil or any type of oil
  • 1/4 cup almond butter or peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • dash of kosher salt
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 1/2 cup raisins or chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ
Preheat your oven to  300 degrees  and throw all those ingredients in a bowl and mix by hand.  I am a big fan of throwing everything together, I am not big on separating and beating and whipping and cooling.  Then put down some parchment paper in a 9x13 pan and put your wet mixture in and flatten it as evenly as you can.

And then bake at 300 for 30 minutes.  Take them out and cool them by putting them in the freezer or fridge for 30 minutes.  Then cut and place on a cookie sheet and bake another 15 minutes until they are golden brown.  Cool before eating.  And you can store them in an airtight container or bag them or wrap in parchment paper and tie with twine and make them cutesie.  But since Gabe eats stuff before I can make it cutesie, I just don't bother.  I do sometimes recommend he lets them cool before stuffing them in his face.

Que aproveche!

Saturday, May 11, 2013


I have a job!  It is very exciting.  I never thought that having a job would be so liberating, so exhilarating and so much fun.  I feel like I am working for the CIA because I can't talk too much about what I do.  It is very confidential.  But I am so busy learning new things and so busy with all the volunteering I do and then so busy with my new job that I feel excited and challenged. 

It never rains it pours, isn't that how life is?  I was at the kid's school on Friday and ran into the Interventionist who works with ESL kids and we got a chance to introduce each other.  I've been working with a child who doesn't speak any English who came here recently and is trying to get to grade level by the start of the next school year.  He is very bright but he needs to learn English to succeed and right now I'm working hard with him but in Spanish. 

One day after volunteering at school, I casually let it drop that if the school district was willing to pay me to teach this kid English I would be happy to do it during the summer so they don't have to find a bus to drive him to a school that is 15 to 20 miles from here and a teacher to work with him there, etc.  She apparently casually told the Interventionist this information and the Interventionist casually mentioned that she thought she would have a paying job for me throughout the summer when we ran into each other. 

Now I'm even more excited because it looks like I will have my super secret CIA job and then a teaching job.  I feel great!  And I know when I get my first paycheck at the end of the month I will feel even better and why?  Because I know that we will be that much closer to buying a house. 

I can't wait to stop being a renter.  I have enough nightmare Property Manager, Home Owner, Slumlord Contract Nightmare, taking pictures of piles of cat poop stories that I could write a book on renting. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013


So last week I got to accompany a group of kindergarteners to the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro.  It was great.  Because my child is in a combo class, there are only 9 kinders in her class and so I got to just follow my kid around all day and enjoy the animals and the whining.

For those of you that haven't visited the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro, it is the most beautiful zoo I have ever seen.  It is new.  It is huge.  And it is clean.  And the animal exhibits are vast.  It makes the San Francisco Zoo look like something scary and gross which it kind of is.  Even though they've tried to update it and make the exhibits nicer after that tiger attack, it is still small and pretty stinky.

After a long day of walking and walking and walking, it is 1,371 acres big after all, we stopped for a few minutes of play at the playground before leaving.  After all the whining and moaning about being so tired, it was amazing to watch the kids sprint to the playground with all this newly found energy.  A dad standing near me reached into his pocket to pull out his cell phone and his hunting knife fell out.  Yup, it looked just like the one pictured here.  I wondered why he would need a hunting knife on a trip to a local zoo and as I was wondering that his wife said in a hiss, "why do you have your hunting knife with you?"  As he leisurely stooped to pick it up and put it back in his pocket, he casually replied, "You never know what kind of shit is going to go happen when you are at the zoo.".

I wondered as we left if he meant with the kids or with the animals.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


 Today I came home from Target with several bags of things.  They were heavy and I went to sent them down and fish out my keys to unlock the front door when I noticed a long black stick laying across the door.  Except it was not a long black stick, it was a snake!  I would like to say that I rationally got a rake or a hoe or a shovel and I coaxed it away from the front door or I whacked it really good and sent it straight to snake heaven or I just stepped over it and went inside.  Instead I did something else.

I dropped all my purchases all over the ground.  Then I broke out in a cold sweat and I started to hyperventilate and I felt like I was losing bowel control.  I managed to force those muscles to kick in but then I started to panic and in my panic I called my neighbors while trying not to scream out loud.  They were not home so I hung up and called my other neighbors.  They were not home either, THANK GOD because by this point I was sobbing and hiccuping like a 2 year old that has dropped a lollypop, or like a 2 year old who has seen a snake.

Then I took a picture of it and called my husband and told him I was packing my bags and moving out and he could either stay or go, it was up to him.  And he suggested I go and get the rake or something heavy and whack it really good and I told him that he could come home and do that but I was going to freak out which was pretty funny because I literally was hysterical - blubbering, sniffing, hiccoughing, hiccuping and breathing heavy.

At this point I noticed several green bags with dog waste in them - I throw them in one spot before I dispose of them and that spot is on the front porch.  So I picked up one bag and threw it at the snake.  Then I picked up the second bag and chucked it at the snake.  This snake clearly didn't like having bags of shit thrown at it so it slithered away and into a small hole that leads to the crawl space under the house.  And I had to go inside the house and have a stiff drink.  Or two.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


Several weeks ago I posted a blog about being bored out of my mind.  It was cold, the days were short and my kids were at school all day and I needed something to do.  I still want to be here when they get home from school and I wanted to do snack and help with homework because I believe firmly that this is how we help our kids succeed but I wanted to find something to do so that I felt like I was succeeding too.  I was also wallowing in a healthy amount of self pity which I am getting better and better at.

I got many suggestions.  People suggested I apply for part time work which I have done.  People suggested I join a dance club, gym or exercise which I have also done.  Someone suggested I join a Mommy club or some type of organization which I have done but I'm not interested in participating at this point.  And a friend suggested I volunteer because it had enriched her life so fully and why not give it a go?

I have always volunteered in one way or another.  It is part of my being - most likely from years of going to church and church school - after all, going to church is kind of like volunteering.  You are giving your time and energy to the benefit of someone else - like say, my parents.  Anyway - when we lived in Cupertino I volunteered at the kid's school and enjoyed it, but to be perfectly honest I always felt like I was running and running and needing to hurry and finish my work so I could run on to the next thing on my list.  Ever feel like that?

Then we moved and I felt like I stopped running, abruptly.  So I began with volunteering one day a week for an hour.  Then it turned into twice a week for 2 hours.  And then 2 weeks ago right when I felt like I was seriously close to having watched every movie on Netflix (and that is A LOT of movies) I got a call to help out with a student that just came from another country and needed someone who speaks Spanish fluently.  I felt like my mothership had just landed.  Now I'm at school 5 days a week helping this student for 45 minutes in the morning and 45 minutes in the afternoon.  I am getting busy!

And then this morning as I walked through the double doors at the school entrance a woman approached me and said, "Are you Mrs. McKeon?  Would you be willing to volunteer to proctor the exams at the end of the year?"

I'm so excited because I am busy now.  I am also so excited because I'm volunteering and making an impact in the kids lives at school.  I am excited that word has gotten around that I'm a reliable volunteer and that I'm in high demand.  I'm excited to have something to do.  At least for now.