Today I Learn… I make a point of learning something new everyday. This is what I learn each day

1, Jul 5, 2012

Serving others motivates us and gives meaning to our efforts

Filed under: children — admin @ 12:53 am

My daughter likes home-grown vegetables like cherry tomatoes and cucumbers. That practically is the incentive for me to grow them every year.

I enjoy watching her pick the red ripe cherry tomatoes and put it in her mouth. She likes cold cucumber dish. She has done a good job watering them while I was in China.

This year, with her being away for the summer program, I thought of her when I saw a ripe cucumber on the vine or a bunch of red cherry tomatoes. I wanted to wait till she gets back but I know they won’t wait for her, especially in this hot weather.

Sometimes, serving others motivates us and gives meaning to our efforts. Moreover, we are willing to serve when our service is appreciated.

1, Jun 30, 2012

One in the west, the other in the east

Filed under: children — admin @ 12:58 am

Yesterday, my son and his girlfriend flew to California to join their friends for a week of fun there. He called home yesterday evening before the plane took off. As always, I am so glad he called.

Early this morning, we left for the airport to send my daughter to Pittsburgh, PA, for a three-week summer program.

Yesterday evening, I took her out to pick up some of the items that she needed for the trip. While on the car, I told my daughter to make good use of her time at home now as she will find it a privilege when she looks back years later.

“You will not have this carefree, all-study-time once you are on your own and after you work. See how many vacation days your brother has now.” I told her.

It is always like this. We begin to really appreciate what we have until after it is gone. Same can be said of our children. I miss them greatly when they are so far away.

1, Feb 16, 2012

“I don’t know”-the Answer Children Give When They Are Too Lazy to Think

Filed under: children — admin @ 12:23 am

It is funny how children are alike in their behavior. On 2/6, a friend of mine told me that her child gave many I-dont-know answers when she tried to make him think by asking questions.

It sounds so familiar as I see the same pattern from my daughter. Every time when she is too lazy to think, she would come out with IDK. Sometimes when I push for more question, she would tell me to leave her alone, a more direct way of telling me “It is not that I don’t know but that I just don’t want to think.”

As parents who know what is best for their children, instead of giving up, we should insist on doing the right thing. We might change our questions or change topics or ask when is the best time to talk or simply explain one more time the benefit of using our brain. Do anything to set children think. Do anything is better than giving up our efforts.

1, Jan 20, 2012

When My Daughter Goes to Manhattan, Kansas

Filed under: children — admin @ 12:31 am

Today is Friday, the 20th. My daughter will go to Manhattan with her school for a state competition. If the team makes it, they will go to national this year. This morning, she took with her my laptop and cell phone, as her laptop is still at Apple store.

Yesterday evening, as I prepared her snack, she asked, “Mom, what would you do if I am not here?” Well, she must have seen me busy around her, attending her various needs when she is home and came up with this question.

It gives me a warm feeling that she has noticed this and cared enough to ask. Actually, she knows that I have many plans and many things to do. At least, she knows the house is in serious need of cleaning. Only I seldom have time for these small items and big projects.

Instead of going to her school right after work at 3:30 pm, here’s what I will do today:
(1) take a walk or jogging;
(2) sort through a pile of documents to see how much paper junks that I can get rid of;
(3) get ready 2011 tax filing documents;
(4) dinner, probably not?
(5) read;
(6) if I still have energy left, I might do some cleaning to get the house ready for Spring Festival.

1, Dec 30, 2011

Recalling, New Year Resolution of 2010

Filed under: children — admin @ 12:59 am

My son wrote this when he was half way through his third year of college life on the New Year of 2010.

1) Get at most 1 B next semester, raise GPA to 4.4
2) Proficient at web programming — PHP, MySQL, Javascript

1) Run & workout consistently again every day, 4 times a week on average.
2) Eat healthier, cook more for myself

1) Raise incubator/angel money for a startup idea and/or become ramen profitable ($2000/month)

1) No more set and forget
2) Cut living expenses to below $800/month
3) Start using Mint/Tracking finances

I dug it out on 8/29/2011.

1, Dec 29, 2011

Highlights of the Year 2011

Filed under: children — admin @ 12:01 am

Here are some memorable moments of the year in my life…

My son graduated and we all went to Boston to attend his graduation ceremony on 6/3/2011. And he came back for a few days before heading back east.

My daughter went to a summer camp on 6/25/2011, first time being away for so long. I went back to China the next day.

My son started working in New York in mid July 2011.

My daughter became a National Merit Scholar for her high performance in PSAT.

My son came back home for Thanksgiving break on 11/23/2011.

My son came back for Christmas with his girlfriend on 12/22/2011. So delighted to have more people in our house.

My daughter went to New York yesterday to spend a few days there.

We had a few gatherings with friends either at our house or theirs.

I am happy and grateful.

1, Nov 26, 2011

Thus Happily Ended This Thanksgiving Holiday

Filed under: children — admin @ 8:28 am

It has been raining since last night. We got up at 4 early in the morning to send my son to the airport for his 6 AM flight to NY. He called home around 8:30 AM upon his arrival there, thus happily ended this Thanksgiving holiday.

It was a short visit from late Wednesday afternoon to early Saturday evening. As usual, my daughter was not happy to see her brother leaving. I said, “Just be thankful that we had him for the Thanksgiving. He is always busy. Plus the hardship on the way, with ear-pop, having to get up insanely early, and being so tiresome on the airplane.”

As always, we talked and I feel assured once again to learn of his plan and effort, unremitting as before. I told him it was terrible to stay put, be bogged down and become a lifer in one place.

The biggest challenge is yourself, a product of your habitual way of thinking and getting things done. The inertia dictates us more powerfully than in natural world. It is a challenge to surpass yourself and see if you can think differently from yourself.

It is always a renewing experience for both my daughter and me, knowing what he will be doing and what he expects of us. We just keep doing the same thing, though being so far apart.

1, Nov 23, 2011

What Are We Thankful on The Day Before Thanksgiving

Filed under: children — admin @ 12:38 am

It’s the season to count our blessings.

First of all, my son is coming home today for Thanksgiving break. I am greatly thankful for this.

We will have a family friends come over tomorrow. Gathering with friend always adds joys to the festival.

With so many people unemployed, I am glad I still have a job to occupy.

Seeing young cancer patients at our clinics, I have to feel blessed for being healthy.

Let us hope we can all stay happy and healthy.

1, Sep 10, 2011

“Don’t do anything that won’t make your mother proud”

Filed under: children — admin @ 12:36 am

A few days ago, I forwarded to my son my posting on 6/6/2011 on MIT commencement address by Ursula Burns. I hoped he could keep up the MIT spirit and not stay put in his position.

I wanted to tell him that it gives me an immence pleasure and pride when I mention him to my colleagues. But I didn’t. I think he knows how proud I am of him.

I told my colleagues how my son walked out of college debt-free and with a good job in New York. I knew I sounded like bragging and I shouldn’t, especially in front of some people whose children could not find jobs and had to move into their parents’ house after college.

“Don’t do anything that won’t make your mother proud.” — I don’t think this is the great motivation for young people to work hard. Still, I am as proud as a peacock because it is the right thing to do.

1, Sep 2, 2011

Car Payments, Being Good Is Not Enough

Filed under: children — admin @ 12:57 am

On the evening of 5/25, the last day of school for my daughter, I took her to Target for a walk, as it was raining outside. While walking, we talked about many things.

I told her that one female colleague of mine back in 1999 at DMR Consulting group was hugely worried when there was layoff because she carried four car payments plus her house mortgage, four new cars: two for the couple, two for her daughters. Why did they have to have new cars when they could not afford them? We have never bought new cars. Our cars are all one-year-old pre-owned cars and we never got loan for our cars.

At some point, the topic changed to being a good person. She asked me why being a good person was not good enough. “Not doing bad thing is good, but it is a not-worth-mentioning good, because it is too easy to be this good. Also, people don’t simply accept what you claim. The difficult part is to prove you are good in a creative way. Remember, as with many things in life, the harder it is, the more credit you will be given.”

1, Aug 27, 2011

My Son Is Not a “Jonathan Franzen”

Filed under: children — admin @ 12:41 am

Recently, I was reading Jonathan Franzen’s novel Freedom. A very interesting one. More on this later.

On 8/23/2011, while I was at work, upon learning the earthquake in Virginia, I emailed my son, asking if he was ok and hoping he could fill in some detailed description about the quake in New York.

“yep no worries, everything’s fine here.” was his answer.

On the one hand, I wish he could write more; on the other, I would not like it if he fills me in with too much insignificant details. No nonsense. No dissecting details. I like it this way and hope he can remain so. After all, he is a typical man, nan-zi-han, not a Jonathan Franzen type.

1, Aug 15, 2011

Parents Should Insist on Doing the Right Things

Filed under: children — admin @ 12:46 am

On 4/21/2011, I accidentally came across an old memo book. I opened it and found it used to be my daughter’s allowance book. It says, “1 day = $1.” The first page has four columns. Their headings are Date, Math, Total, Signature. The date lasted from 10/7 to 10/21. I think the year was 2004.

I don’t remember exactly what happened. But I do remember I once worked on two things with my daughter. One was extra math work; the other dealt with allowance. To be sure, she did not want to do anything extra at that time and she did want allowance as her classmates had.

I showed my daughter this record with her handwriting. Both of us agreed that it would benefit her tremendously in terms of her math skill and her money management, if she had kept up this practice. Too bad it lasted only two weeks.

When I look back, I realize that I should have followed it through. It is entirely up to the parents to insist on the beneficial practice for the children, even if it means some unpleasant moments. The children will be grateful to the parents when they become mature.

I am certain that Amy Chua’s children would not have been so accomplished if she gave up as I so often did with my children. I hope other parents can learn something from this incident.

1, Jul 31, 2011

Hardships Can Be a Good Thing to Young Folks

Filed under: children — admin @ 12:53 am

My sister told me that her son jokingly complained about the hardship of leaving home for America. This reminds me of the complaints made by another young relative when he first came in May 2006.

Understandably, nothing is the same when he lives away from home, with no one serving his meals, washing his clothes, etc. Even air conditioning is not as cold as it is at home. The young man said it was like living in China’s countryside. Indeed, it must be so for most of children of wealthy second generation.

They are like growing up in a bottle of honey, metaphorically speaking, with everything provided and without ever tasted a day of hardship in their lives.

I once told my sister that for most people, coming to America could be life-changing experience. First of all, you got nobody to turn to and have to be utterly independent by working your way up. Secondly, with a heightened sense of insecurity, you are more keen on saving than spending. Hence, you have to learn to live a more thrify life in America than you are in China.

I thought my sister would go soft on her son, telling him to buy whatever he needs for his comfort level. She turns out much wiser than I thought. She thought it a good thing that her son had some tough days in his life, the so-called tasting bitterness (chi ku) in Chinese. She said children growing up in China now were too much spoiled, having never known what hardship means in life. With this experience, he will learn to be tough and appreciative of what he has in life.

I wish my children had an opportunity of going through some form of hardships in life. Such experience can exert life-changing impact on people.

1, Jul 25, 2011

Summer Camp, A Step Forward

Filed under: children — admin @ 12:33 am

My daughter came back from her summer camp on Saturday, 7/16. She was excited and was nonstop talking all the way back home. I could see she has benefited tremendously from this experience.

This is the first time in her life that she shared a room with 18 girls! Living in such close proximity forced people to become intimate friends in a day or two.

This is also the first time that she left home on her own. She has demonstrated a clear sense of right and wrong when she talked about some people in the camp. She has coped well with life outside home, made many friends and could turn to them for help when she needed. This is like a prelude to and preparation for her college life which will happen in two years.

It is such a pleasure to see the changes in her through this experience. A worthwhile camp!

1, Jul 8, 2011

Chinese Parents Sending their Children to America

Filed under: children,China — admin @ 12:42 am

On 7/5/2011, I went with my sister and her son to the embassy of the U.S.A in Beijing, where her son would apply for a student visa.

We left home a little after 6:30 in the morning and found a long line already formed outside the embassy. It was nearly 11 by the time we headed home.

Most of the visa applicants were young students. While they were inside the embassy, their parents were waiting outside for many hours, over three hours in our case. Seeing these anxious parents, I thought of this Chinese saying.

1, Jul 2, 2011

Must-Have Good Manners

Filed under: children — admin @ 12:05 am

I read this piece from Parents magazine, 3/2011 “25 Manners Every Kid Should Know By Age 9, helping your child master these simple rules of etiquette will get him noticed — for all the right reasons,” by David Lowry, Ph.D. My children are relatively well-behaved, still there are rooms for improvement, esp.. #16, 20 and 21.

1. When asking for something, say “Please.”
2. When receiving something, say “Thank you.”
3. Do not interrupt grown-ups who are speaking with each other unless there is an emergency. They will notice you and respond when they are finished talking.
4. If you do need to get somebody’s attention right away, the phrase “excuse me” is the most polite way for you to enter the conversation.
5. When you have any doubt about doing something, ask permission first. It can save you from many hours of grief later.
6. The world is not interested in what you dislike. Keep negative opinions to yourself, or between you and your friends, and out of earshot of adults.
7. Do not comment on other people’s physical characteristics unless, of course, it’s to compliment them, which is always welcome.
8. When people ask you how you are, tell them and then ask them how they are.
9. When you have spent time at your friend’s house, remember to thank his or her parents for having you over and for the good time you had.
10. Knock on closed doors — and wait to see if there’s a response — before entering.
11. When you make a phone call, introduce yourself first and then ask if you can speak with the person you are calling.
12. Be appreciative and say “thank you” for any gift you receive. In the age of e-mail, a handwritten thank-you note can have a powerful effect.
13. Never use foul language in front of adults. Grown-ups already know all those words, and they find them boring and unpleasant.
14. Don’t call people mean names.
15. Do not make fun of anyone for any reason. Teasing shows others you are weak, and ganging up on someone else is cruel.
16. Even if a play or an assembly is boring, sit through it quietly and pretend that you are interested. The performers and presenters are doing their best.
17. If you bump into somebody, immediately say “Excuse me.”
18. Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and don’t pick your nose in public.
19. As you walk through a door, look to see if you can hold it open for someone else.
20. If you come across a parent, a teacher, or a neighbor working on something, ask if you can help. If they say “yes,” do so — you may learn something new.
21. When an adult asks you for a favor, do it without grumbling and with a smile.
22. When someone helps you, say “thank you.” That person will likely want to help you again. This is especially true with teachers!
23. Use eating utensils properly. If you are unsure how to do so, ask your parents to teach you or watch what adults do.
24. Keep a napkin on your lap; use it to wipe your mouth when necessary.
25. Don’t reach for things at the table; ask to have them passed.

1, Jun 26, 2011

Count on Your friends When You are Away from Home

Filed under: children,Friend — admin @ 12:32 am

Early yesterday morning, the whole family went to the airport to send my son and daughter off, one to Boston, the other to Michigan. Both had transfer in Chicago. After I got back with both of them being away, I felt like having a preview of what life would be like in two years. It is really scary.

This is the first time that my daughter left home alone. On the way to the airport, I kept pumping advices into her. Of course, safety is always my top concern. Next, take good care of yourself so that you don’t get sick.

This is what I kept telling both of them — you have your parents when you are at home, but away from home, you will have to count on your friends if you are in need of help. That means you must make some friends after you leave home. Create your own circles. Parents cannot be with you all the time.

I still remember when my 17-year-old son returned home from Russia, safe and sound, excited and full of words about his experience. Hopefully, through this experience, my daughter will make a big step forward in terms of maturity, independence, and responsibility.

1, Jun 24, 2011

Old-Fashioned Advice Still Holds Value

Filed under: children — admin @ 12:19 am

Tomorrow my daughter will fly to a summer camp in Michigan and my son will fly back to Boston for the new position. And I will leave for China on the coming Sunday.

It is a short stay and a very enjoyable one. We already have a lot of good time together, though I know I will never have enough of this good time. Still, a man got to do what he got to do.

Before he leaves, I make sure he keeps in mind the key points that I made on his graduation date. I told him they might be old-fashioned advice, but they are still very much valued. You won’t go wrong if you could follow them.

(1) Be a good person.
(2) Never lose sight of the large picture of life.
(3) Learning is a lifetime endeavour.
(4) Always see greatness in others and find improvement in yourself.
(5) You are valued not by how much you possess but by how much you give.

1, Jun 18, 2011

Know Thyself and Manage Your Time Well

Filed under: children — admin @ 12:36 am

On 4/24/2011, around 5 PM, seeing my daughter taking her late afternoon nap, I said to myself, “Here she goes again.” That is, she always feels tired around this time of the day and then positions herself well for a nap. As the result, she will push back her night time sleeping. What often happens during those midnight hours is she cannot concentrate on her study and gets distracted easily.

I often tell my daughter — know yourself, which means know when you can work most efficiently so that you can better manage your study and make best use of your time.

We all have our prime time of the day. Know yourself so that you can avoid fighting an uphill battle when you are least likely to win it. Know yourself so that you can play to your strengths instead of your weaknesses.

Same can be said of studying while listening to songs. If you find yourself more into the lyrics of the song than into your study, you are better off shutting it off or choosing a piece of light music if you need a background noise.

1, Jun 3, 2011

Graduation ceremony Part I

Filed under: Career,children — admin @ 12:24 am

MIT ceremonial mace
We are in Boston today, attending my son’s graduation commencement.

I told my daughter that I was going to write a short graduation commencement-speech for her brother. She has the following for her brother.
(1) Be happy
(2) Be kind to all
(3) Less is more
(4) Read children’s books
(5) Live everyday like it were your last day.

I know I could drag on for many pages and frighten away all readers. Not this time. I told my son, “You won’t go wrong if you can follow these five points.”

(1) Above anything else, be a good person, all the time, which is defined as being kind, honest, unselfish, and ethical; and link your efforts to a higher calling than a mere self-serving one. Thus you will not be easily deterred by any temporary setbacks or loss. This is the moral foundation of your success and happiness.

(2) Life is an epic journey. While treading steadily each day, never lose sight of the grand scheme of things.

(3) Learning is a lifetime endeavour. Find your own role model; always have a goal to pursue. Make a point of learning something new everyday.

(4) Our life journey is a humbling one. It takes a great heart to be able to always see the greatness in others and find improvement in yourself. This is the key to building great relationships with anyone and an essential ingredient to your personal happiness.

(5) Keep in mind by the end of the day you are valued not by how much you possess but by how much you give.

Finally, take good care of your body and soul.
Love, always.

1, May 31, 2011

On Wesley Yang’s Paper Tiger Part IV

Filed under: Career,children,China — admin @ 12:06 am

Wesley Yang expresses more hatred of Chinese upbringing through the mouth of Daniel Chu, “When you grow up in a Chinese home,… you don’t talk. You shut up and listen to what your parents tell you to do.” This is a grossly overgeneralization. My daughter commented, “At our house, almost the opposite is true. It is I-talk-you-listen.”

Yang through Chu further said, “I’m trying to undo eighteen years of a Chinese upbringing.” Is Chinese family upbringing so horrible? He further challenges reader — “How do you undo eighteen years of a Chinese upbringing?” as if Chinese upbringing were so pernicious that one had to uproot it. Is he trying to instigate an uprising against Chinese family and the values it stands for?

By the way, I consider my Chinese family a normal one, in which my children sing and whistle, hop and skip as they wish. I encourage my children to seek out friendship with whoever they like, black or white or yellow. They go through normal adolescent awkwardness but survive without the “social deficiencies” or “Asian alienation” that Yang assumes all Asian-Americans must be plagued with. And I don’t consider my children’s upbringing experience an exception.

As far as I can gather, Yang is trying to purge out from his system any traumatic childhood experience from his Korean family through this writing. Safe catharsis. If that’s the case, write a personal memoir instead of projecting all the evils on AAA– All Asian Americans!

P.S. the main reason that I have reacted so strongly to Yang is I don’t want to see any people burdened with so much self-hatred. My daughter said I have been talking about the same thing over and over again. That put an end to my relentlessly chewing out of Yang’s writing.

1, May 30, 2011

On Wesley Yang’s Paper Tiger Part III

Filed under: Career,children,China — admin @ 12:53 am

In fact, Wesley Yang hates not only the mainstream Asia values but most of all, he hates his own face. I must say Yang seems to be suffering from some kind of hard-to-named mental illness. He starts his article with a derogatory self-description and with a very unflattering picture of himself, more like someone from a state jail house or more pessimistic than that.

“Sometimes I’ll glimpse my reflection in a window and feel astonished by what I see. Jet-black hair. Slanted eyes. A pancake-flat surface of yellow-and-green-toned skin. An expression that is nearly reptilian in its impassivity…” trying to tell readers, “Look, how repulsive I am…” He certainly has succeeded so far. He must have kicked his face millions of times behind the scene, which he believes deserves no better than this.

He reveals his mental illness when he says “Here is what I sometimes suspect my face signifies to other Americans: ….” I mean why do you care so much of what other Americans think about your face, as if they care to think about it? Your face is your business. Beauty or ugly is your judgment. Don’t flatter yourself as if your face ever deserved anybody’s attention.

Obviously, Yang presents an extreme case of low self-esteem, originated from his inability to accept his physical appearance, the stage that teenagers tend to go through but rarely seen among healthy adults. Of course, it is common among psychologically unhealthy adults.

He then goes on relating his feeling of estranged to that of millions of Americans as if he were not alone in finding his own image so unacceptably disgusting. Such a preposterous assumption!

Here’s what I have to say about your face: You may not be able to choose your race or racial features, but it is entirely up to you as to what facial expression you want to put on and what message your eyes and your whole face want to convey. We all like to see people showing confidence and sunshine in their faces, black or white or yellow. Look at the lovely face of Yo-yo Ma and millions of his like.
Not done yet…

1, May 29, 2011

On Wesley Yang’s Paper Tiger Part II

Filed under: Career,children,China — admin @ 12:43 am

On the value of your culture…
Yang suffers from two major crisis: identity crisis and self-image-hating crisis. He identifies himself as one of the whites but sadly he is not; he loves the physical features of the white and hates his own.

This is his personal problem. To me, the real damage is he speaks on a major magazine and talks as if he were the voice of millions of Asian Americans. Nothing is more hideous than this!

Yang knew he would be able to get it published if he could cater to the popular taste by lashing out this extremely self-disparaging piece against his own race–a popular trick. Yes, he did find his own voice by spitting on the face of his mother and all people she represents. Wonderful job!

If Yang hates Asian values so much, he has the choice of rejecting every bit of them, without having to attack these values across-the-board.

We all came from somewhere and have to move on in life from where we came from. Number one rule is: accept and acknowledge who you are and where you come from. Number two: improve and make change at wherever improvement is needed and changes can be made. To those, white or black or yellow, self-hate is a huge burden on life’s journey. It only serves a hastened self-destruction.
Not done yet…

1, May 28, 2011

On Wesley Yang’s Paper Tiger Part I

Filed under: Career,children,China — admin @ 12:38 am

I recommended to my daughter Wesley Yang’s article “Paper Tigers: What Happens to all the Asian-American Overachievers When the Test-taking Ends” May 8, 2011. After reading it, she made one comment, a rather pertinent one, “He has lots of anger.”

Exactly so. In fact, he used one single word to summarize his feelings toward Asian values on filial piety, grade-grubbing, Ivy-League mania, deference to authority, humility and hard work, harmonious relations, sacrificing for the future, and earnest, “striving middle-class servility” — that one word being an F-word. I try to understand why he chooses to use an F word here. My feeble brain fails here. Maybe he thinks it can grab global attention as Amy Chua’s book has obtained. So vulgar!

He must have been severely traumatized by these values. After going through his long writing, I still cannot figure out what is wrong with these values. Why does he hate them so much? Something not right with this writer. What is it?

Not done yet…

1, May 25, 2011

Graduation Time Again

Filed under: children — admin @ 12:43 am

On 5/17/2011, on my way back home from Neighborhood Wal-mart, I saw people in fine dress flooded in SMS for this year’s graduation ceremony. The scene brought to my mind the same event four years ago when my son graduated from there. It seems like only yesterday. The day was as chilling as it is now and my mind was heavy with all kinds of worries.

In less than two weeks, we will fly to Boston for his college graduation. I cannot explain why time rushes by so fast, leaving a feeling an unspeakable sadness. I know I need to give more meaning to life before another four years zooms by. This way I won’t regret over a meaningful experience.

1, May 11, 2011

The Song That Carries a Message

Filed under: children — admin @ 12:20 am

Find some time to go home;
With smile and good wishes, often go back home
with your children and your spouse, often go back home.

Mama wants to chat while Dad provides dinner;
Share with mama some daily annoyance;
Talk with dad things at work.

Often go back home
While parents don’t expect anything from their children,
They look forward to the time of family reunion…

When this song first came out around 2007, the year when my son was about to leave his Kansas home for Boston, I often sang it. Probably because it sounded so nice at that time. My son heard me singing it so often, asking me “Mom, are you singing this song so that we will often come back home after we leave?”

It was funny that he thought this way when I just sang it for fun and unexpectedly sent him this message. It’s been four years since then. I do miss him, though time has mellowed out the initial sadness over his leaving.

1, Apr 12, 2011

Our Experience Shapes Our Character

Filed under: children — admin @ 12:06 am

I remember during my middle school years, some people were quiet and shy. They were so timid and lack of confidence that they were even afraid of hearing their own voice when they talked. But as years moved on, some of them changed to their opposite.

For timid and shy people, very often, it is a vicious cycle,– the more they are afraid, the less courage they have to hear their own voice, the more tightly they zip their lips. If they don’t venture out of their own shell of shyness, they will live a life of self-imposed confinement, a life of limited experience, without bringing out their full potential.

I keep telling my children that one’s characters are neither static nor pre-determined. It is up to them to experience what the life has richly offered and to build a strong character and cultivate a more open personality.

1, Mar 27, 2011

Happy Birthday, My Dear Daughter

Filed under: children — admin @ 12:42 am

On your sweet sixteenth birthday, the song Rolf sings to Liesl in Sound of Music comes up in my mind.

“You are sixteen going on seventeen
Baby, it’s time to think
Better beware be canny and careful
Baby, you’re on the brink

I am glad to see you have continued getting mature and are working assiduously toward your goal, even if you have your doubts and are nebulous about your future.

It always warms my heart when I see you trying to be nice and considerate. Every time you proactively manage your time using a time tracking mechanism, I see you are on the way to better self-management. I know you will always try to get the best out of whatever situation you find yourself in. I have no doubt that you will become an individual that you are proud of.

Happy birthday, my dear daughter.

P.S. the snow gently fell as the day closed. Just two of us today. Her brother called early in the morning wishing her happy birthday. We went outside for lunch, then to library, then to get a cake of her choice. She went out with a friend yesterday.

1, Mar 22, 2011

Happy 22nd Birthday on 22nd

Filed under: children — admin @ 12:00 am

The literal meaning of these words is “Read ten thousands of book; travel ten thousands of miles.” The real meaning, well, is open to interpretation. I interpret it as “learn and put into practice as much as you can.” After singing “Happy Birthday to you,” this is the birthday message that I have for my son on his 22nd birthday.

Ever since my son turned 18 and left home, he has spent his birthday away from home either by himself or with his friends. On his 20th birthday, he was alone on his way to South Africa. On his 21st birthday, he was on his way to California for an interview. Today he is with his friends in Paris as part of their tour of Europe. Parents have to get used to their children being away and remotely wish them Happy Birthday. After all, happiness is what really matters, be he a small boy or a big man.

P.S. today also marks the 1000th posting. What a lovely coincidence!

1, Mar 2, 2011

Volunteer, Contribute and Put Value Into Your Time

Filed under: children — admin @ 12:08 am

I had a very labored Skype conversation with a young relative of mine last week. He is in China right now. I have talked a lot trying to convince him some of the values which I take as a matter of fact.

(1) Always try to put values into your time, especially when you are young and full of energy. Don’t be stupid enough by fooling away large chunks of your time.

(2) If it is the right thing, do it no matter what others do. Don’t find excuses for your failure to do so. Whatever other people are doing is not your business. If you are not doing the right thing, you have only yourself to blame. Don’t be a loser by not taking responsibility for yourself.

(3) Volunteer and contribute whenever you can find time for it. Nobody likes selfish persons, no matter where you are, even if everybody is selfish.

Remembering the transiency and limitation of human existence, we are around this time this place only once. Do something, reach out, make difference, put value into your time, instead of gaming out your youthful time.

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