Displaced Stay At Home Californian in rural N. Carolina

The Many Faces of Joy

The Many Faces of Joy

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.