Displaced Stay At Home Californian in rural N. Carolina

The Many Faces of Joy

The Many Faces of Joy

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


It is December 1st and today kicks off what I like to refer to as "the worst 24 days of your kids lives where they drive you crazy and you overuse that Santa Might Be Watching You threat way too many times."  People pull out that elf on the shelf which in my opinion was the smartest marketing ploy EVER and overuse it like crazy so their kids think that someone is watching them.  And churches double down on both Santa and Jesus.  The best part is that they don't act any better, if anything they are worse.

About a month ago my 8 year old lost one of her pre-molars at school and proudly carried it home in a little bag.  As we were sitting in the car waiting for her sister to get out of school she asked me earnestly if the Tooth Fairy really was something or if it was Mom and Dad?  She is 8 years old.  Thanks to having a sister 2 years older than me I didn't have to guess when it came to Santa, The Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny, she was more than happy to help debunk those myths early on.  But my 11 year old has helped keep the dream alive even though she knows where all money, gifts and other stuff comes from.  I was in the hot seat.

I made an executive decision and I nodded in agreement and said, "yes, the Tooth Fairy is Mommy and Daddy" and immediately her face crumpled and she looked ready to weep.  Good choice Mommy, you just ruined her life.  And then she said, "What about Santa?".  I couldn't throw Santa under the bus too, I had to hang onto Santa because it was November and I still needed Santa to get me through December.  So I wimped out and I said something lame about Santa being real to those who believe him and changed the subject really fast.

Happy December everyone.  And don't install Windows 10 no matter how many ads you get.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Year 3

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Happy Fall Ya'll

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Unemployed and Sore

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Next to the last day

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

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

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

Monday, July 27, 2015


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

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

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

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


Tuesday, July 21, 2015


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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 20, 2015


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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 30, 2015


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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


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

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

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

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

Saturday, June 13, 2015


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

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

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

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

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Faling Down

This year I've fallen down 3 times.

The first time I was climbing up in my closet to put something on the top shelf.  I use this red high chair that is metal and not very sturdy.  I felt it start to give and so I jumped clear of it but I was sore the next day.  It happened when I was home alone and I remember thinking that I didn't want to die that day because I was alone and wearing something really ugly.

The second time I was walking down the driveway.  I was wearing clogs.  All I remember is that one minute I was walking and the next minute I was laying down.  I scraped up my knees and my hands pretty good but the worst part was how much those little abrasions hurt, I mean my pride had been hurt.  I jumped up so fast it was shocking.  I don't think anyone saw me.

Today I fell again and it was at the pool.  I was going to step down into the pool from the side and I thought I knew how deep it was but I was wrong and I stepped down and lost my balane and landed on my tailbone.  OUCH.  I lay there for a minute, hoping no one saw me fall out of the 55 or 60 people milling around.  But I also lay there because my butt hurt so bad I couldn't stand up for a minute.  Talk about clumsy and lame.

Then I stood up and hobbled back over to my lawn chair and lay down - tail bone smarting like crazy. It is still smarting 3 hours later, I sure hope I didn't break something.

Sunday, June 7, 2015


I haven't been in action lately, I've been out sick with pneumonia for the last 7 days which I think I got from my kid even though they say you can't catch pneumonia.  But they also said that there was no risk of getting Ebola in the US and now every time you go to the doctor they ask you if you've been around anyone with Ebola in the last 30 days.  Hmmmm

Anyhow, when you get really sick like I was, you have lots of time for other things, such as:  binge watching 9 seasons of The Office on Netflix.  There are entire eposides I faded in and out between high fevers and trips to the bathroom.  But the good news is that Jim and Pam made it and Dwight finally was promoted to manager.  Sorry for no spoiler alert.

I also got to learn my dogs habits down pat.  And while they are just dogs, they commandeer a lot of time and energy.  Lets just say that we will never have more than 2 dogs ever.

I slept a lot.  I love sleep.  But I hate fever sleep.

I had the creepiest dreams in the whole world.  And I had a lot of mental conflicts that I would wake up and wonder if I needed to solve.   But then I would fall asleep again and have some more weird dreams.

I love water!  I drank so much water and only water and it made me realize that I need to drink way more water.  I drink too much other junk, coffee, tea, soda water, when I should just be focusing on getting plenty of water.

And finally while I certainly felt like I was going to die at least 2 or 3 times, especially the time I was standing in line to check in at the doctor and the man in line in front of me was telling the receptionist about his 16 year old and how he found out she was lying to him and what he did to punish her and I thought I was going to pass out right at that moment, I am glad to tell you that I didn't.  Now bring on summer 2015.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015


The Tuesday back to work after a holiday weekend is tough.  No matter if you have 3 days off or 5 days off, the Tuesday back is always a doozy.  There are more voicemail to answer, more emails to answer, more things that are pressing and need to be taken care of right away.  And even though a long weekend is wonderful, the following week feels twice as long.

I am fortunate because I only work Monday through Wednesday.  So when Monday is a holiday as it almost always is, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Martin Luther King Jr Day, I don't have to work, I get a 5 day weekend instead of my usual 4 day weekend and I get paid.  Who doesn't love that?

And then today, in the midst of calls, voicemail, emails and more someone at my office bought me a cappuccino that I have been sipping on all afternoon.  It is frothy, warm and delicious.  Just the way cappuccino should be.

Happy Tuesday.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015


We've discovered something new recently and I think it is a North Carolina thing or at least a southern thing.  People like to name their children two names instead of one and then you use those names when you talk to them.  At first I thought they were calling them by both names like you do when you talk about celebrities or famous people like "Harrison Ford".  No one calls him "Harrison" or just "Harry".  At least no one I know.

Here are some of my favorites from the kids school:

Noah Jack
Ava Belle
John Mark
Ella May
Mary Beth
Dickie Steve

Okay I made up the last one - but you get the idea.  It is rather novel, having two first names which means you get to have extra names.  It also eliminates the idea of a nickname because you already are saying so many names why make up a diminutive or smaller name to call your kid by?  As it is, I already go through the list of animals we've had before I get to the kids so the thought of having to call my kid by 2 names just seems like too much work.

 "Howard . . . Sally . . . Lloyd . . . Callie . . . Marcko . . . Buzz . . . Fiona!"

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

It's All Good

I have come to the conclusion that the worst saying in the English language is "it's all good".  It is NOT all good, the saying is obnoxious and stupid.  It is not all good - there is a lot of bad in there too.   And what is good for one person is not good for another person.  And if it is good, there is always a way to screw things up.  And if it is bad, things can always look up or they can look worse - so to lump everything together and just cover up all the icky stuff and the irritating stuff and try to lighten the mood by saying "it's all good" is actually counterproductive and really aggrieving.  And when something is not going right and someone throws that out there - it makes me want to punch them.

What sayings annoy you?  What drives you crazy?  What things really get you mad?

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Kimchi Soup

Before my good friend Mi-Ae moved back to South Korea with her family I made her cook every delicious Korean food she could and then I made her teach me how to make them.  Then I tried two hundred cook books and online recipes and youtube videos until I perfected some of my favorite Korean dishes.  One of those dishes is Kimchi Jigae or as my kids like to call it Kimchi Soup.

I'll be honest - it doesn't look like much but it is delicious and hearty and hot and savory and it warms my belly and my kids will eat it.  Seriously, they were begging for bowls of it tonight and I don't know a lot of kids that will eat this stuff voluntarily.

Here's what I put in mine:

-sour kimchi
-cubed tofu
-sliced jalapenos
-canned tuna (or fish sauce if you don't have tuna)
-sesame oil
-cooked sweet potato starch noodles (cut them some)
-mushrooms (any kind besides canned)
-soup soy sauce

And put it in a stone pot and cook it until it bubbles.  Don't over cook it or the cooked noodles will become gummy.  But the stone pot is great because as you eat it it continues to bubble and it stays hot.  Take another bowl and put steamed short or medium grain rice in it and eat together.  Put a little rice in a soup spoon and dip into the soup and eat.  Delicious.  Spicy.  Savory.  Slurp.

Friday, April 24, 2015

"I am From"

At the beginning of the school year the 5th grade teacher had each child write something about themselves to post on their lockers at school.  Here is what my 5th grader wrote:

I am From

I am from balls of yarn, from arts and crafts and a nice warm bed to sleep in.
I am from the peaceful streets, kindly made houses and stray cats . . . it sounded like home.
I am from the peppers and the tomatoes, growing in mother's garden.
I am from the Christmas dinners and family game nights, from Gabe and Joy and Fiona.
I am from the early birds and the good grades, from "practice makes perfect" and "always do your best".
I am from "believe what you want to believe in" and "Stop Fighting You Two"!
I am from Cupertino, California, Korean BBQ and Thanksgiving turkeys, from the grumpy old cat with the run over leg, the cute little puppy.
I am from Valley View Lane, North Carolina, Andrews Store Road.

-Chloe McKeon

Every time I read it, it gets me, it makes me want to cry, it makes my heart explode.  I knew i was gonna love my kids but no one ever explained how much.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015


It was spring break 2015 here and so we went on a little road trip with some friends of ours.  Besides visiting South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas we got see family, cousins, old friends, new friends and taste all off the fine fast food options between our state and the great state of Texas.  It is pretty grim in case you were wondering.  We did find the Waffle House and for those of you that haven't been to one, they serve a pretty awesome waffle and they know what "easy over" means.

Since I've been on the road and not in front of a computer for many days I haven't taken the time to write or even to think about writing.  But I did get to spend a lot of time with my kids and it just reinforced in my mind and heart that they are some pretty great kids.  And going back to work 3 days a week only solidifies that getting to spend 14 days with said kids is a super treat for me and hopefully for them.

They are growing up and they are getting big and I feel like time is slipping through my fingers.  Someday soon I will wake up and be twice my age and my kids will be gone and we will only connect through phone calls and visits.   I really relished every minute with them including the bickering and snotty ones because that is what I love.  And I also realized that I am a lucky girl to get to share these kids with a pretty amazing man.  Can't do without him either.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Bad Words

This is the story we heard this weekend while we were out having breakfast:

"One day Fiona took me into her closet and closed the door and she told me all the swears she has learned at school.

She said, "you want to hear the swears I know?"

"And of course I said yes because I wanted to see if she really knew some swear words."

"Ok, here goes,  Don't tell anyone.  Shat, Damn, Hell.  Garshdarnit.  Shoot."

GARSHDARNIT.  We screamed laughing, it was the funniest thing we had heard for a really long time!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Year 9

Every March I try to write a little something to commemorate the time my sister has been incarcerated.  This March 11th marks the 9th year that she has been on her very long adult time out.  I keep track because I feel like no one really does anymore except her and maybe my Mom.

Unless you have had a loved one that is close to you imprisoned for whatever reason, you don't know very much about it.  Oh yes, I realize she committed a crime and is paying her debt to society, she is serving the time that corresponds to the crime she committed.   But here is what I usually hear, "prison systems, tax dollars, freeloaders, loafers, Orange is the New Black, hang em high, put them to work, useless, lazy, criminals" but I guess that is the beauty of opinions everyone has one and most people love to share them.  I wish sometimes that highly opinionated people came with a built in fact checker.

Most of the time I block out the comments - I have this wonderful ability of fuzzing voices and I literally hear static when I don't want to listen to yet another opinion by someone who knows little or nothing or something their uncle or cousins boyfriends mother told them about the prison system.  What I do know is that I am a highly compassionate woman and parent and I believe in second chances.

In Spanish there is a saying, "si Dios quiere" which means "if God is willing" or "if God wants it" - and it is used many times in the place of just putting the word "if" in a sentence.  It indicates that we are not in charge of our destiny - if a train derails and runs into me, if the river floods and I drown, if the car crashes and goes up in flames, if I choke on a chicken bone, if I get attacked by a jaguar, it makes things kind of up in the air as far as what you are doing tomorrow, the next day and the day after that.  It also absolves oneself of all responsibility should things go wrong.

So here goes, si Dios quiere, in 7.5 years I'm gonna be picking up my sister and we are gonna hug for a super long time and then we are going to spend a really long time just laughing and talking and loving and smiling and when we are done with that we will start laughing again.  And she will get that 2nd or 3rd or 4th chance to start over.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015


From time to time I have panic attacks and recently I started to have one, a big one and I didn't immediately recognize what was going on.  Now that I am an adult I can look back and see that I have had panic attacks for many years, even as young as age 7 or 8 but at that time I had no idea what was going on.  I actually know for a fact that I was suffering from PTSD which can cause all sorts of anxiety disorders, panic disorders and much more.

It has been a long while since I have had this level of anxiety and to feel it building into panic was a strange feeling after all these weeks and months.  And I can tell you that the way it built, reminded me of being 8 years old again and my immediate response was to jump out of the car and run screaming through traffic.

Here is what it felt like.  My arms and legs felt like they were 1000 pounds each and they were sluggish and slow and they were moving and pushing the air around like the air was thick honey.  I became acutely aware that I was trapped in my location and unable to stop the feeling that I was trapped.  I started to not be able to control my breathing as I started to pant a little and my eyes darted around unable to focus on anything and then I knew I was in trouble.  My hands got sweaty and I wanted to cry or scream.  When I was a kid I would get out of bed and turn on the light and walk around and sometimes cry.  Sometimes I would crawl into the closet with a blanket or under the bed. Almost always I would suck my thumb.  I was in a car when this happened so I couldn't do that.  As the panic built I realized I was going to have a panic attack so I started with my breathing, since that was what I could control and then I started rotate my hands and feet and I had to ride it out until my blood pressure went down and I could actually get a sentence out of my mouth.

I got in under control but it was a reminder that this is me, I have to deal with this stuff and while I have things in place to help me navigate and cope with panic and anxiety it sometimes sneaks up on me and surprises me at the worst possible times.  And it most likely will never go away.  But in the story of my life, I am in control, it doesn't control me.

Monday, March 2, 2015


I was talking to my friend Julie the other day when she said something that I got stuck on, she was talking about Social Networking and staying current and she said, "it is important to have a 20 something in your corner so that we can keep up to date with what is current."  She was so right.

We don't email anymore.  Blogs are so 2000.  Nobody reads anything longer than 140 characters.  Everyone speaks in acronyms.  I used to think that conducting relationships via text messages was horrible and offensive but not anymore.  Couples begin and end relationships with fewer words than a dinner menu.  Dealing with tough subjects in person is lame and pointless.

I don't care whether or not people like it or not, what I care about is staying current in a world that is rapidly changing.  Staying relevant so that when my kids are navigating these twists and turns I can have conversations with them about what to do and how to handle things.  So I got a 20 year old in my corner.

Who is your 20 year old?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015


This week I have been homesick for the West Coast.  I have missed the moderate winter and the sun every day.  I have missed the mild weather and the ability to take kids to the park in February and not freeze.  I have missed my family and my friends.  I miss the general outlook of people who live on the West Coast and the melting pot of my friends there; French, Canadian, Belgian, Brazilian, Spanish, Mexican, Vietnamese, American, Chinese, Korean, Hmong, Iranian, and the list goes on.  I miss the early spring that doesn't seem possible unless you are from California and then it is taken for granted.  I miss the quality and quantity of Asian restaurants.  I miss walking down the street and hearing 10 different languages being spoken in the same block.  I miss walking my kids to school and walking back home with them after school.  I even miss the bicycle riding singing Chinese lady, warbling vibrato and all.

I spoke with someone at work today that was calling from San Francisco and I had a physical yearning to hear her talk about the traffic on Market Street and how difficult it was to find parking and navigate the traffic and how she would never do it again. I told her I understood because I was from there.  She could have cared less.

I was talking to a co-worker today and I was telling her about a wedding I am going to in October and how she should come with me because she has never been to California and all the fun we would have and she laughed and said, "you are such a California girl".  But she is right, I am a California girl.  And even though I live here now and there are so many good things about this place, I still so strongly miss the old place.  And while I don't miss it all the time when I do miss it, it hits me in the gut and sticks around and makes me wonder if we will ever find ourselves back there again.   I know they say you can never go back to the way things were but if we went back would it feel like starting over or would it feel like we had never left?  And if I went back there, would I miss this place, the new place?

I've live in a lot of places in my life, but I always made it back to the West Coast.  That was my center of gravity.  That was my home base.  I have a new home base now and it doesn't always feel like home base. . . . at least not this week.

Friday, February 6, 2015


I'm packing for a little get away - deciding which uncomfortable boots to bring and packing makeup that hasn't been opened since 2012 and so I turned on the television.  I hardy ever watch TV during the day but I never turn it on in the morning.  But I'm packing and drinking coffee so I decided to turn it on.

They had a segment on a popular television show with a doctor talking to 5 skinny ladies about their cholesterol.  They had done a blood test on each lady - and they revealed their good cholesterol and their bad cholesterol and they talked about how to increase exercise and eat better.  Two of the ladies were super defensive.

Anyway - the doctor doing all the bossing around had clearly had some work done on her face in the last 10 years or so.  And I had a realization - that I never really thought about a doctor getting work done - a face-lift or a rhinoplasty or a chin implant or even something as simple as botox.  

 Is there an age when the switch flips?  All of a sudden I will hate the way I look?  As I inch closer to my 50's I notice more and more woman around me having work done on their faces.  And yes, we can tell you have had work done.  I could care less what I look like, I really don't  And while I've never really cared, will there be a day soon that I really have the light shined on my face and I will want to have someone cut my hairline and pull my skin up and cut it off and then sew me up so I can spend a month wearing face-bandages and then 2 months of looking bruised and swollen to only turn 80 someday and have my throat and face look ridiculous?

But a doctor?  How can I take health advice and how to better myself by someone who is not happy with themselves?  Would you?

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

IBS for the working mom

As I write this, I realize that I'm 46 years old and I'm not sure if I'm lactose intolerant or if I suffer from irritable bowel but whatever the case, it was never something I had to focus on when I was a SAHM.  (for Joy acronyms refer to older blog posts please) But now that I share work space with other adults and I am relied upon to stay in my seat and not spend every 20 minutes running to the bathroom I think that this is something I need to get looked at.

When I lived in Portland I used to go every day to this block downtown where they had these amazing food carts.  I loved King Burrito and this Indian food cart.  I could only get my buddy Pat McDade to join me occasionally for a spicy biryani and spinach paneer or some daal with spicy chutney and samosas but every time I would indulge I would spend the whole next day paying the price.  And that was back when I had my own office.  

One day one of my supervisors who will remain nameless for obvious reasons walked into my office very early in the morning, that was my secret, coming in early to do work before everyone else came in, and she said, "it smells like Indian food in here, are you eating Indian food for breakfast?"  To which I replied, "I had Indian food yesterday".  She didn't bother coming back in my office for the rest of the day.

Monday, January 19, 2015


I have so many things I want to blog about but I have been so busy lately that I haven't taken the time to sit down and write about it.  I don't know where to begin but I also don't feel motivated to go through the motions.  This year is already shaping up to be a real surprise in so many ways.  Part of me can't wait to see the changes, the challenges, the growth and the hurdles.  But part of me wants it to slow waaaay down so that it doesn't seem to rush by so quickly.

I'm watching the bachelor as I write this and that dude not only has an annoying laugh but he also is a kissing champion.  He is awkward, uncomfortable and has no business being on television.  But as I watch this really cerebral show, I knit these self striping wool socks.  They are beautiful and are going to be fun to wear.  I can't wait to see the finish project.  I never keep my knitting projects, I always give them to my cousin Lisa. 

I have accepted another part time job that I am doing after hours and on the days I'm not working.  This means I am working all the time but it is so much fun.  That is all I'm going to say about that for now.  But stay tuned for greatness.

My baby turns 8 tomorrow and I cannot believe she is growing up so fast.  I think it all the time but I rarely say it out loud because talk is cheap but my girl is amazing.  She is smart and funny and sensitive and emotional and she makes me feel like every day is a new adventure.  Someday she is going to be an amazing cook.  She is going to rock everything she tries her hand at.  And she is so impatient for it all to start right now.  She is me through and through minus the terrifying childhood trauma, which makes me know that she is a shining star and has a bright future.  

I think I'm going to quit Facebook soon - I think it has run its course.  I have kept it to keep in touch with my California peeps but I find that there are so many negative aspects of it that override the positive ones and I find that more and more time goes by between me checking in to see what people are up to.  Plus I have two jobs, I have no time.

Happy rest of the month everyone, January is almost over.

Sunday, January 11, 2015


Book club was last night.  It was our one year anniversary and I hosted.  Because it was our one year anniversary I felt like I had to step it up and make it special.  We even had 2 new members come, yay for newbies!  A year ago when I started the book club aka The Pittsboro Fucklers, my friend Germaine sent me a book her sister had written and suggested we read it for book club.  I hosted the first meeting and so I knew that it would only be fair to wait until everyone got a chance to host before I hosted again.

The book was a real romp - a story of Peter who is the only son of Chinese immigrants and who wants to be a girl.  I was captivated for several reasons, the story of the child of immigrants, a boy who pushes against the dreams and desires of his father and his own discovery of who is is and who he will become.  And to make the book and the book club sweeter, Kim skyped in with us and generously offered to answer our questions as we sipped wine and munched on homemade bao or steamed buns.

Kim is the little sister of a friend from Cupertino and so it turns out that it pays to have friends in many places around this planet.  I got in touch with Germaine, asked her if Kim would skype with us and we were able to set up a time and place and take it from there.  What a bright star and talent Kim is, how brave to sit there and answer our questions and listen to our commentary.  What a good sister too - to honor a request to skype in with an old friend who lives in rural N. Carolina that she has never met.

Bravo Kim
Bravo Germaine
Bravo Fucklers

For those of you that would like to read Kim's book, it is called For Today I Am A Boy.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Old New Art

In keeping with my 2015 goals we walked into one of my favorite consignment/resale stores this weekend to see what kind of goodies they have.  After browsing for a short time I walked out with this beautiful piece of artwork that I have now displayed proudly on one of the many blank walls that I have not been able to fill since buying and moving into a beautiful new home. 

I have to say that it really makes the room that much more beautiful and it makes me excited to think that I only spent $25 dollars on it.

Tonight I volunteer at the local thrift store and I can't wait to see if I am going to be able to find the ski gear that we need for our ski trip.  As well as a winter jacket for our neighbors kid and some birthday treats for a little girl who is turning 8 in a few short days!