Happy birthday, my daughter!

Today is my daughter’s birthday. Like her brother, ever since she left for college, she has been celebrating her birthday with her friends, away from home. She told me her friends came over last weekend, one for spring break, one for a job interview. They had some gathering both for friends reunion and for her birthday, which was so wonderful! I’m so happy for her. I miss both of my great children. Here’s a birthday balloon picture that I made for her.

Happy Birthday, my dearest daughter!


My dearest daughter, far away from me now, I hope you are going to have another great day today. Do something special with your friends. Take some pictures and share with me.

Love you always.

My daughter left for Boston early this morning

My daughter came back after last spring semester on 5/12/2015 and left today, 1/12/2016, exactly 8 months staying home with us while working remotely on her projects. It has been such a blessing, a privilege, a luxury having her for 8 precious months. I dare not expect it to happen again in the near future. I was spoiled and got so used to having her around that I felt lost after I got home from office today.

The house seems empty and joyless without her. I felt so sad that I couldn’t help sobbing out loud. I have to try hard telling myself, “Behave yourself. Keep in mind what your children want you to do. They want you to be happy and healthy. They want you to exercise more, read and write more, enjoy yourself more, etc. And they still look up to you as a good role model.” I have promised to do something to make them proud of me.

Now is the moment to start new and put out an action plan to get something done for this year, so that when they fly back, I will have something noteworthy to share with them.

Of course, the most important task of all is to keep fit and prepare a warm nest for them to fly back… Remember this!

Going to a cinema without watching the movie

Yesterday around 9 PM we drove to the cinema on Antioch and 55th street in Merriam, where my daughter and her friends often go. She said it was too expensive to watch movies at AMC (American movie theater chain). For the same movie, you watch it for $4 at cinema while over $10 at AMC.

It was Saturday evening. It was okay to have some fun driving 11 miles to a cinema, even though I was sure I would fall asleep there. Because I seldom stay so late at night now.

The cinema at Antioch and 55th street is really huge with a vast parking lot. While waiting in line at the ticket booth, I noticed those movie-goers were young people. My daughter said the couple in front of us were younger than she was. They were perhaps high schoolers.

The movie that we were going to watch had already started while we were still waiting for the ticket. Finally, it was our turn. The salesgirl told me the total cost. Without thinking, I was going to pay for it. My daughter cut in, confirming the cost of each ticket.

She couldn’t believe what she heard. Immediately she said to the salesgirl, “We are not going to watch it” and told us “Let’s go.” I was glad we turned back home because I was really tired and feeling a bit uneasy over the thought of sitting in a huge room with a few hundred young folks.

It turned out that she normally goes there with her friends on weekdays. They raise ticket prices on weekends. I am proud of my daughter.

More on JK Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy

Yesterday I had a long Skype chat with my daughter, during which I mentioned to her the books that I read recently. Of course, I recommended to her The Casual Vacancy.

I told her the book was a bit depressing. The more you think about it, the more so. It seems the only good person, the champion for the underprivileged in the novel, Barry Fairbrother, died at the beginning of the novel and no one carries on his cause after his death. Krystal Weedon, the 16-year-old girl whom Barry tried to raise out of her disadvantaged milieu, in the end died with her 3-year-old brother whom she loved dearly, the only touching love in the novel.

My daughter asked why Rowling wrote this depressing book. I told her it was an eye-opening book, very realistic. She should read it, even if it is depressing.

Happy Birthday, my beloved daughter!

My daughter is in Boston right now. I hope she can do something special today with her friends. Good thing it is Friday. Here’s a custom-made one for her.
I hope I could give her a huge hug and whatever she needs on her birthday, but she is so far away from Kansas. I can only call her and wish her the best.
Love you always. Happy birthday!

“You are most beautiful when you smile”

My heart sank when I went there again,
When, a year ago, my daughter insisted,
“Mommy, get yourself a new clothes.”

“Me? No,” I told her,
“Old and ugly needs no new clothes.”
“Uh-uh,” she protested,
“You are most beautiful when you smile.”

A daughter’s bias took me back 20 years, when
My sisters asked my son, 5-year-old,
“Who’s the most beautiful of us three?”
“My mom,” he answered without looking.

“I mean it,” my daughter kept saying,
“I wish I had your smile. I do.”

“Keep smiling,”
Now, she reminds me from her Boston dorm.

“My sweetest daughter, I will, because
Forever, your word will warm up my heart.

PS. when I shared it with a friend of mine, he said, “Your daughter is right, smile is beauty… You know it for long, but when it comes from your daughter’s voice, it tastes better.”

The more they walk, the farther away they are from us

The more they walk the farther away they are.
A friend of mine emailed me this 4 characters.
Indeed, the more the children walk, the further away and the more independent they are from us. We will have to live with the reality of a life without them being close by like before.

When I tried to focus on the future, I realized the future would not be as joyful as the past and the past has passed forever. Nothing’s the same. The older we become, the more we realize the past is more present than the present, determined by the biological based matter, which is our past-dominant memory.

My daughter has spent this summer with us, a true luxury

This morning we left for the airport at 7. My daughter would fly to Boston, where she would meet two of her college friends. From Boston, she will go to New York City on 8/19 to stay at her brother’s apartment. She will go back to Boston on 8/28.

Even before she left, I realized it was a true luxury to have her at home this summer, one that I don’t think I will be able to indulge next year and the years after. I am so glad she has decided to spend this summer with us, more than three months, even though this is not her first choice.

The fall semester won’t start until after September. I let her go early because I know she will have a great time with two of her great friends and of course with her brother and his girlfriend. I understand how young people are, that is, they will have hugely more fun with their friends than with their parents. I remember how things were when I was her age.

I miss her so much now.

Why some people feel bored, sometimes

When I read this part, I think of the time when my daughter said she was bored.

“If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, try it for eight. Then 16. Then 32. Eventually one discovers that it’s not boring at all.” –John Cage

“When people are bored, it is primarily with their own selves that they are bored.” – Eric Hoffer

Boredom is not generated by anything outside. Experience of boredom is really generated by the state of our own mind.

I certainly hope she is not bored now.

Another Happy birthday song to my daughter

My dearest daughter, today is your birthday, the first one that you spend outside home.
I wish I were by your side on your special day.
I wish I could cook your favorite food in the morning.
I wish I could drive your around in the evening like we used to.
But of course, all my wishes were part of a past that is here no more.
Still, I hold the old wish that I had before —
I wish you are surrounded by friends far and wide,
Be as happy as you can be on this day and many days to come.

Stay home on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Yesterday was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The office closed, which meant day off for us.

Yesterday morning my daughter needed to catch a 5:30 AM bus from New York City to her school. It was awfully early. I was afraid they might not be able to get up this early when they were too tired to hear the alarm clock.

I set the alarm at 4 in the morning, which is 5 New York time. I called and texted my daughter, hoping she was already at Port Authority. When I didn’t hear from her, I contacted my son, who told me he just dropped her off there. He might be on the way back to his apartment.

She called me half way through in her sleepy voice. I told her to go back to sleep and let me know when she got there at around 10:30 AM. She finally texted me around noon, “I’m back! Everything’s good. We can skype tonight.”

I wrote back, “Good, as long as I know you got back safe and sound. If you are busy, no need to skype tonight. Enjoy getting back to your friends…” I can even see her joyful face when she is among her friends again. So glad for her.

Things are so different with her away from home.

Sending her to school once again and the thoughts following her

Yesterday we got up around 4:30 AM, leaving home at 5, trying to catch the 6:30 flight for my daughter. She got the boarding pass, then passing through security check before 6. After watching her disappear behind security check, we left for home.

All the way, I kept myself busy with the thought about my daughter’s activities, so that I gave myself no time to feel sad. I kept saying, “She will be very busy this semester, looking for paid summer intern, trying to transfer to other schools, etc..”

It is a challenge for the first-year college student to land an intern, let alone a paid one. Plus, she needs the skills. What skills does she have that make company pay her?

An unpaid intern position not only cost money in terms of living expenses in a big city, but more importantly, it smells cheap and insignificant, and doesn’t worth the time.

Plus, I don’t like the idea that some companies exploit those college kids who seem so desperate in getting work experience, even to the point of selling their time/life for free.

In high school, people call it volunteer work, which is okay when they live with their parents. In college, it is called intern, which is supposed to be related to their major and supposed to be compensated. But as economy goes downward and unemployment goes upward, some companies keep to the minimum the staffs on their payroll by exploiting unpaid interns. On the other hand, many college graduates, unable to get a paid job, become permanent interns, supported by their parents. I don’t want my daughter to even start on that track…

The house was dark and empty when we got back home. I knew my daughter was on the way to Denver. I told her to call or text me at every stop, so that I would know she is okay. She called around 8:30 AM when she was waiting in Denver, at the gate leaving for New York. She called again at around 3:30 PM when she arrived in New York and had brought the shuttle ticket from the airport to Port Authority. Around 5:30 PM, I heard her excited voice calling from my son’s place.

I am so glad she arrived safe and sound. I miss her and need to concentrate on what her challenges ahead.

The holiday is really over for me, seriously

My daughter is going back to school tomorrow, 1/19, early Sunday morning. She will fly to New York and stay there overnight at my son’s apartment, then take a bus to her school the next Monday morning.

I have already begun missing her now. I feel the emptiness that her leaving will create just at the thought of her leaving and being so far away once again.

You may say I need time to get over it. Still, life will never be the same with the children’s leaving for college. I will forever need time to get used to it until I move closer to them someday, hopefully soon.

Visit my daughter during their parent weekend, part three

It is Friday again. I can’t believe a whole week is passing since my visit to my daughter’s college last Friday. It all seems literally like yesterday! I am not going to sigh and whine about the passing of time. On the contrary, I am so grateful that I had this visit.

Ever since we left my daughter on 8/29/2013, I was occasionally wondering if she ever felt lonely, when she was suddenly separated from the people and place that she has lived with. When I was at her school during this parent weekend, I asked her if she ever for a moment felt bad, lonely or homesick. “No, I miss you but I know why I am here and I’ve been busy with stuffs here.”

I felt a lot better after hearing this. Indeed, in less than two months after she started school here, she has become a lot mature, independent, and are better at self-management. I am not sure if she could have experienced so much change if she stayed close-by, like in our state university.

We also talked a lot of college transfer. She wants to go for something better than her current school. I admire her courage to move out of her new-found comfort zone and get into an entirely unfamiliar environment. If she is so determined to challenge herself, I am totally behind her.

To my delight and comfort, she remains the same sweet little girl. That has not changed.

Visit my daughter during their parent weekend, part two

We did many things on Saturday, had lunch at my daughter’s school, dinner at a Japanese restaurant outside school, played a game of chess at the common room in her dorm, talked about school work, etc. My daughter had some pre-arranged activity at 3 PM. I tried to take a nap at her room while she was at this activity.

My flight back home was at 5:45 AM on Sunday. I needed to head out really early that morning, giving me enough time to cover the long distance drive, to recover in case I got lost on the way, to fill up gas and to return rental car, etc.

So I didn’t book a hotel for Saturday evening. Instead, I spent that part of evening at my daughter’s dorm. She set alarm at 3 AM and planned to go out to my car and watch me drive away. I wasn’t able to really fall asleep. So I got up at 2, got things ready, and planned to leave at 2:30.

She woke up at the noise. I told her I was leaving and she’d better not get up and see me off. She wanted to get up but I insisted on her stay in bed. She gave me a big hug and would not let me go, saying “Mommy, be safe, love you.”

Quietly, I left her dorm and went to the car. As I drove in dark at this early dark hours, I was overwhelmed by an unspeakable feeling of sadness, totally different from the way I felt when I drove to her school on Friday. I tried hard to focus on driving, still rather disturbed by this sad feeling. I still feel sad when I think of that early morning. I wish I could stay longer at my daughter’s place, but I know she still has work to do and she can get more things done this way.

By the time I reached the rental car return gate, it was 3:40 AM. The place did not open until 4 AM.

Visit my daughter during their parent weekend, part one

I left KS on Friday morning at 6 AM, 10/8/2013, made a transfer at Cleveland, Ohio, arrived in Hartford, CT at 3 PM, picked up a rental car and drove for my daughter’s college. It was nearly 4 PM when I finally made it there.

Both of us were excited and very delighted. She took me to her dorm, where we sat and chatted and put things in places. Then we drove to the mall to do some shopping and to have dinner. She had a work schedule on Friday evening. At first I didn’t ask her to find a substitute for that shift. I thought I could sit around and wait for her. Later we thought it better that she found a substitute that evening. Luckily she found one at the last moment when we were at the mall. Still we needed to get back to her school to complete a form.

By the time we decided to head for the hotel from her school, it was nearly 10 PM. I got lost driving in dark and in a strange town. I was not scared because my daughter was with me. We tried to find a convenience store where we could ask for directions.

Finally, we found one but the guy there was no help at all. As luck would have it, there was a kind-hearted customer who offered to help us. He drove slowly and we followed his truck. After a few twists and turns, he led us to the front of the hotel. We offered to pay for his service, he would not accept.

Both of us were tired and had no other thought than heading for the bed. It was a long and exciting day for me.

Singing reminds me of my daughter

Yesterday, my daughter texted me “Mom, I want to start piano lessons again.” I was delighted to hear that.

I told her “It gives me great pleasure to know this. Music gives so much joy to one’s life. I can’t imagine life without it. You know I sing all the time, but not after you left, because it always reminds me of you and that makes me feel sad.”

I remember how in the past she always asked me to sing a song when I was driving or when we were together and how she always praised my singing, which encouraged me to sing more, even though I truly believe it is mostly daughterly bias. The joy of singing has never come back since she left.

Re-lived those tearful days in my dream

Last Thursday or rather Friday morning, 9/27, I dreamed I was in my daughter’s school. I relived the days before I left for home in my dream. I actually re-play what happened during those dreadful days, leaving for Kansas without her and coming back to an empty house, no more joy and laughing as before, just as I had been so afraid of. I was so sad that I couldn’t stop crying.

I don’t know why I had this dream. But it certainly threw me into a bad mood. Perhaps because of what I heard during the day. I had tried to focus on the future whenever I could during the day, but the past crept in during the night when I was off my guard. It’s not an easy task to stay upbeat.

P.S. it’s been exactly one month since we left my daughter’s college on 8/29/2013. One month seems a long time, yet that bye-bye moment seems like yesterday, surfacing right before my eyes once again today.

“It’s never going to be the same again.”

“It’s never going to be the same again.”
A friend of mine whose daughter left for college wrote this to me. Very much true. It is so for both sides: the children and the parents.

I told my daughter on the way to the east coast that she was leaving behind her childhood, childhood friends, and the first home with her aging parents that has provided her secure growing environment, and symbolically on the way to be independent. This is her first step to be out on her own without our protection and supervision. We cannot be there for her all the time, so she needs to learn to make her own judgment and decisions.

It’s not going to be easy initially for both sides. It is more like we lose something while they lose and gain something. Very sad process to the parents, indeed.

But in the long run, what is good for the children is also good for the parents. That is, in the end, both parents and children should gain in this forward moving process. It is so easy to figure this out on the paper. The key is parents got to live through the process without losing sight of the large picture.

The Tzatziki yogurt dip that my daughter likes

Tzatziki yogurt dip

My daughter likes this Tzatziki yogurt dip very much. We got a cup like this from costco. Right after we got back, the sight of this reminds me of my daughter. I found it hard to finish what is left in the cup.

After a week and after it was all comsumed, I washed the cup and have decided to keep it, even though the sight of it still makes me sad. For some reason, I am not ready for throwing it out yet.

From post office, passing her school, to my house

On 9/3, I went to the post office directly from work to send graphic calculator to my daughter. She forgot to take it with her and now she needs it for her class there.

On 9/9, I went to the post office again after work to ship out “Microsoft Office 2011 for student for mac” to someone who bought it from me on eBay. I bought this for my daughter. She doesn’t seem to need it. Since it has not been used, I sold it on ebay to recoup some cost.

On both day, I drove past my daughter’s school on the way back from post office. The road looks so familiar as I have been there for so many times throughout the past decade since 2003, painfully reminding me of the time when I picked up my children from this school.

On Monday 9/9, we had pizza from Ciao Down Pizzeria for lunch at our office, kindly provided by two doctors there. The office always gets something like this for us. In the past, I always brought home some to share with my daughter. I remember how she delighted herself over the goodies I brought back.

Never going through old stuffs alone

The things that I try to avoid at home is going through old stuffs. But this is something I cannot avoid.

First of all, I have promised my daughter that I would clean the house, not her room though, so that she will see a clean house when she gets back. I would like to keep this promise.

Secondly, I cannot read all the time when I am home. Like last weekend, it was rather hot, which forced me to stay inside as much as I could. I read about materials for the certification exam. After an hour or so, I felt tired and decided to take a break.

Naturally, I would use the break to clean the house. But going through old stuffs once again put me in a bad mood. So, I decided to wait till my daughter comes back and we will deal with it together.

It’s been two weeks since we said goodbye

It still seems like a dream. Two weeks ago, on the Thursday morning of 8/29, that we said goodbye to my daughter. For some reason, I still think it so unreal and unbelievable that she is so far away.

I always try to think of some errand to run on my way home as I find it difficult to step into an empty house all by myself.

On Monday I went to post office and then to Walmart to get a giftcard for a neighbor. On Tuesday I went to dentist for dental cleaning. Yesterday, I went to Bank of America ATM to try my daughter’s debit card. But still, like yesterday, I felt overwhelmed with sadness when I got back home. The sadness continued till after dinner.

It will take time to get better but time seems standing still…

Chatting with other parents, trying to understand what the children have to go through

A friend of mine called me last weekend. She has three children, the first one being the same age as my daughter. She also went to a small east coastal liberal arts college. Because this is the first one going away, she didn’t sound like enduring a huge pain of separation. I might be wrong, though.

After chatting with her on issues related to college life and beyond, like college courses, majors and activities, I began to focus more on what my daughter has to go through, which is equally scary, and which is too important to ignore.

She has a long way to go in her career development. This is just a beginning. Yet, this four-year beginning can pass faster than we expect. Both parents and the children have a lot more important things to focus on than dwelling on the pain of separation. I should know better than this.

The hardest part of the day…

8/29 Thur left my daughter’s school
8/30 Fri arrived at KS
8/31-9/2, long weekend with the Labor Day Monday off
9/3 is the first day that I went back to work. The day passed peacefully as I was too busy to think of anything else, having a lot of work piled up for me while I was out.
9/9, today, is the second week that I go back to week after that trip.

So far, the hardest part of the day is getting back home, especially as I entered an empty, quiet, clean house, all by myself. I don’t want this quietness. I don’t want this clean house. I want the messy one, full of life, where I can hear talks and laughing. I want to hear my baby calling me. I want my baby back.

In the past, I looked forward to going back, to seeing my daughter either at home or at school, thinking about her. Now, I’d rather stay in the office.

Morning walk with my daughter this summer

My daughter walked with me a lot this summer. She insisted on getting up at 5:30am. We normally walked for a little over 30 minutes, about 2 miles. This was normally a good occasion for walk and chat.

It was not hot when we went out so early, almost before sunrise. In fact, most of the time, it was comfortably cool. Each time, on our way back, we were so glad that we got up early and had our outdoor exercise before it was too hot to go out.

I miss these walks with her.

The dreadful process of going through old stuffs

Last weekend, someone called about collection for donated clothes and other stuffs in the morning of the coming Saturday. Immediately I thought of many clothes that my daughter left behind. I know she would have nothing to do with them when she gets back as she already stopped wearing most of them even when she was home.

Going through old stuffs has never been a pleasant experience for me ever since I was in primary school. I remember clearly how sad and dreadful I felt when I opened school notes of last semester or last school year’s. I always put them away and avoid ever touching them.

The old stuff always leaves me with a sad sentiment because I have long been aware of the fact that the past will never get back. At that time I couldn’t explain why I felt sad about things long gone, but that sentiment has never left me.

I don’t even want to go through my own old stuffs as they always remind me of the past, let alone those of my daughter’s. That’s why I kept delaying digging through hers.

I wish I could follow my children to wherever they are


I used to tell myself and some of my friends that I would follow my children to wherever they are. But things are not as easy as I wish. First went my son, now and finally, my daughter. I can’t confront the fact that for the first time in 24 years, I will have to live out days and days without my children around.

When I talked to my sister over Skype, I told her to come with her son if she planned to send her son over. “You don’t want to go through this separation.”

I wish I had this freedom. I wish I could go wherever I want.

The ancient Chinese poem does not help, even though modern technologies have vastly shortened the distance. We can skype, but I don’t want my daughter to see how sad I am now. I don’t trust myself to sound like a normal person over the phone. I would rather text her. I would rather live through this period alone.

Remembering activities with my daughter

When I was cleaning the house, I found a pocket calendar of 2011, with hand-written events. As I went through each month, I remember vividly how I drove her to these lessons. It was only two years ago. My life was happily centered around her.

2/4/2011, skating one hour, payment $120.
2/12, art class
2/17, piano lesson, payment $80
2/18, skating 30 minutes

3/3, piano lesson
3/4, skating lesson one hour
3/5, art lesson
3/12, art lesson
3/17, piano lesson
3/18, skating one hour
3/19, art lesson
3/25, skating 30 minutes
3/26, art lesson, paid $90

4/7, piano lesson
4/14, piano lesson
4/15, skating
4/29, skating one hour

5/12, piano
5/13, skating one hour
5/14, art lesson
5/20, skating
5/26, piano
5/28, art lesson

6/2, go to Boston for my son’s graduation
6/4, leave Boston
6/9, piano lesson
6/11, art lesson, paid $60

9/11, art lesson This is the last event on the calendar.
I know my daughter went to a summer camp on 6/25/2011. This was the first time she left home.

How I wish I could go back to these events with my daughter!

Cleaning my daughter’s desks

On 9/1/2013, I spent nearly the whole morning cleaning the two desks of my daughter’s, both on and under the desks.

Drawing pencils, color pencils, water-color pencils, mechanical pencils, other special pencils, special pens that she particularly likes, drawing brushes, and other drawing tools, … all mixed up and scattered everywhere… Plus, she doesn’t like throwing away stuffs, so all things that are still useful and not useful are piled up on the desks.

I grouped them according to their kind, placing them in their separate pen boxes or pen holders or mooncake boxes or bags. I threw away pieces of paper and notes here and there.

It was rather painful going through her stuffs. I would like to stop this torturing process, but it’s still my job, no matter when I do it. I might get it over as early as possible. It was nearly 1 pm when the desks look decently clean, though my sense of accomplishment has come with its price.

I took a picture to mark the experience.

How I miss my daughter after she left for college, 2

After we got back from my daughter’s college, I was beside myself with sadness.

I knew I had things to do, tasks to fulfil, promises to keep, errands to run, books I once told myself I would read when I have the time. But I wasn’t able to focus on any of them. With stuffs lying around the house, I went berserk cleaning up the room, throwing away magazines and books that I normally keep.

Since my daughter is not around, I feel it useless to keep many things that I used to keep for her or for parenting or some of the pursuits that I was interested before but have lost interest now, like coupons for art and crafts at Jo-Ann’s, American Eagle Outfitters‎ coupons, high school test preparation books, parenting books, printouts and books on topics that both my daughter and I are interested, cookbooks and health tips that I would use for my daughter, etc.

When I opened my handbag, I saw small bag of kleenex tissues and small mirror that I knew my daughter would use and always save for her. What’s the use of keeping them now?

I picked up a book that I planned to read, Helping Your College Student Succeed: The Parent’s Crash Course in Career Planning. Not in the mood to read right now. I didn’t throw it away, because, sad as I am now, I still care about my daughter’s college success.

No stop now…

How I miss my daughter after she left for college

Life seems upside down right after I got back from last month’s trip to my daughter’s college. Nothing makes sense now. Day and night, I keep asking why and knows no answer.

I miss my daughter everywhere I go at home as everything reminds me of her.
I miss her when I open the door and see her books and pens laying on the stairs.
I miss her more when she used to call mom as soon as she heard me entering the door.
I miss her when I open refrigerator and see the foods that she likes and I bought just for her.
I miss her when I see her table where she used to sit and now the table is still there but not her.
I miss her when I go to bathroom and see her stuffs there and think of the time when we had endless laughing.
I miss her when I go to laundry room and see her clothes left there.
I miss her when I get her Time magazine from the mail. Now it’s dreadful taking up her magazine.
I miss her when I take her clothes to her room and I can still vividly see her lying in bed or sitting among her stuffs, like before.
I miss her when I sit by dinner table and remember how she prepared her food. Now food tastes tasteless and hard to swallow when she is not sitting in her chair.
I miss her when I think of checking library on-hold books, as if it makes no sense for me to go to library now that she is not around. I am sure I will not go to bookstore any more.

Everything, everywhere, no matter where I turn, there is no escape, the teacup she used, apples and apple cakes that she made, the fish oil that she took, the nuts she ate, the flowers she loved, the stones we carried together in our backyard…

I miss her when I drive the car and think of the numerous times when we drove out together.

I miss her and even dare not go out walking because I cannot bear the thought when, only last week, we went out early in the morning and now she is 1,400 miles away.

I wish her doing well in her new environment. I hope she is not homesick.
For me, I hope time will heal me, just as it did when my son first left home 6 years ago.

Sending my daughter to college and coming back to KS

This is what happened during these unforgettable days.

8/24/2013, Saturday, three of us left KS at 2:30 am, arrived at Washington, PA at about 6 pm that day.

8/25/2013, Sunday, we left Washington, PA for New York at about 6 am, arrived NY at 2 pm, went to DoubleTree hotel and parked the car, went to a donut place to meet my son and his girlfriend, went to see their apartment, went to Central Park, went to a Chinese restaurant. After dinner, my son walked with us to our hotel. Then, my son and my daughter walked back to my son’s apartment to spend the night there. The hotel is on west 36th Street, New York city, just off the 8th avenue. His apartment is on east 62nd street, not far from Central Park.

8/26/2013, Monday, we walked to my son’s apartment, then three of us went to have breakfast. After that, my daughter and us went back to the hotel to check out the room, get the car, then we drove to my son’s apartment to pick him up. He had a lunch meeting with his friends. Four of us drove to South Hadley MA from there.

8/27/2013, Tuesday, we drove to my daughter’s college in the morning, sent my son to Peter Pan bus station at 11:30 am. We went back to our hotel, my daughter took a nap, went to Wal-Mart for refrigerator, looked for bestbuy for a long time, finally found it and got the refrigerator, then went to Target nearby and found something cheaper and better, returned the one bought at bestbuy, bought the one at the Target. We went to a Chinese restaurant for the dinner.

8/28/2013, Wednesday, we helped my daughter move in early in the morning, attended the open-door BBQ which was to welcome the new students and their families, in the evening we went to another reception for all the new people. Met some Chinese parents there.

8/29-30/2013, Thursday and Friday, we went to my daughter’s dorm to say goodbye to her, then left for KS at 7:45 am, drove overnight, got back home a little after 11 am yesterday morning.

On the way there, the car was fully packed with three of us. On the way back, the car seemed so empty that I even felt it a waste to drive our big Highlander instead of our sedan car. Of course, back home, the house is even more empty and joyless without my daughter.

We are on the road again to send my daughter to college

We are on the road again exactly like we did 6 years ago with my son in the car, driving to the east coast. This time we are sending my daughter to college.

8/24, leave KC early in the moring.
8/25, arrive in New York in the evening to see my son and his girl friend.
8/26, leave for her college in the afternoon, taking my son with us.
8/27, my son will take a bus back to New York on Tuesday morning to go to work.
8/30, we will drive back to KS.

On 8/22, my daughter went to see a movie with a friend of hers. While I was cleaning the room, I saw some Jo-Ann Fabrics store coupons lying on the floor, which I always save for my daughter. Both of us like to shop at that store to buy some crafts and art equipments. When I thought of her leaving and the fact she was on the way to build her next home, I realized it was no longer necessary for me to collect these coupons. Suddenly, a rush of sadness grabbed me. I felt so sad that nothing seemed to make sense any more and of course, I couldn’t control my tears.

Something will always reminds me of my children. Every time I drive by SMS, I think of the time when my children went there. Every time I see a group of boys running outside SMS along Lamar, I think of my son when he just entered high school 10 years ago. He was running with a group of boys right after school, hot and shirtless. He was a skinny teen then…

I know I will have some rough time ahead after my daughter leaves.

“You look best when you smile”

Here’s one of those intimate moments between my daughter and I, a comforting one.

While I was packing for her college stuffs, I told her to take with her all my good stuffs because I am old and ugly now and no longer need any of them.

She protested it vehemently, saying “No you are not. You look like 40 years old and you look most beautiful when you smile. Some people look horrible when they smile, but you look best when you smile,” etc.

She refused to admit this is a daughter’s bias. This will be one of those cherished moments for me after she leaves for college.

Getting ready for my daughter’s college years

I have been rather busy lately, not only getting my daughter ready for college but also getting myself ready emotionally for the time when she is away from home.

Every time when I think of the moment when I have to say goodbye to my daughter, like I did to my son 6 years ago, I feel a strong sadness coming over me. I know this time is different. When my son left, I still have my daughter around.

I will try to keep myself busy by enrolling in some free online courses via coursera. If that’s not enough, I also set some new goals for myself, like getting some certifications, leaving me no time to feel anything. Hopefully, I can go through the initial period and stay healthy, positive and even better productive.

Activities in China 5/16 – 6/5

My daughter went back with me this year when I made my annual visit home, 5/15-6/5. She said she would keep a journal. I only kept a brief one.

5/15, we left Kansas in the morning
5/16, we arrived in Beijing in the evening
5/17, we had a good rest for the day, tried to recover from jet lag
5/18, my daughter went to Nanjing in the evening by train by herself
5/19, she arrived in Nanjing in the morning, her ergu’s home, went to Zhong-shan-ling
5/20, in Nanjing, ?
5/21, she went to Fu-zi-miao
5/22, she went to Suzhou to see her grandma’s house, went to Dong-shan, her grandpa’s tomb
5/23, she went to Hu-qiu
5/25, she went to zhuo-zheng-yuan
5/26, Wang-yue took her out
5/27, still in Suzhou ?, left for Beijing by train in the evening
5/28, back to Beijing in the morning at South Train station, rest for the day
5/29, we went to Beihai Park, Jingshan Park, Wangfujing
5/30, we went to Temple of Heaven and Jianmen
5/31, we went to Temple of the Earth
6/1, Saturday, we went to Babaoshan Cemetery to visit grandpa’s tomb, went to KFC in Wangfujjing. We had dinner with Yan Bin and the family in the evening
6/2, Sunday, we went to Summar Palace, 2008 Beijing Olympics site — Bird’s Nest with Sanyi and Sanyifu
6/3, we had lunch with Dong Jianfang at Huaqiao Fandian
6/4, we went to Beijing Zoo in the morning, Tianyi shopping center
6/5, left Beijing for USA at noon

Another Birthday Celebration this Month!

Happy 18th birthday. My daughter turns 18 today, ready for college this fall. Here’s your virtue birthday cake! Of course, we will have the real one today. And I know she likes the real one better than this one.

happy 18th birthday

My daughter and snow shoveling

Yesterday I got up and was surprised to see the thick white blanket of snow outside the house. I made egg rolls for my daughter’s breakfast. During breakfast, we watch Meet the Press together, our Sunday routine.

After breakfast, I thought I would go out and shovel the snow. But my daughter insisted on doing it. So she did it around noon. This saved me from back-breaking snow shoveling work. A big help when there are just two of us right now.

I remember last time when we had heavy snow. My daughter offered to shovel snow for a neighbor of ours to accumulate her volunteer hours.

Weekend edition, our last trip to James Academy

Last Saturday morning I took my daughter and her friend to James Academy for this year’s Science Olympia competition. Her friend’s family could take them, but I volunteered to drive them there.

My daughter has been going there for many years, more than I can remember. I have driven her there all the time except the year 2010 when I was in China. I realized this would be her last time to go there since this is her last year of high school.

My daughter and her friend were chatting and joking on the way there. She certainly wasn’t aware that this would be her last trip there.

When my daughter went to a friend’s birthday party on 8/24

On 8/24, a Friday evening, my daughter went to a friend’s birthday party. I had my laptop back the whole evening.

By the way, her Mac laptop was broken since her summer program trip to CM. I postponed buying a new one for her because she would ask for a new one for her college. Not again.

While waiting for her late in the evening, I wrote seven blogs in one sitting. I know I can surprise myself by this unpaid high productivity. By about 11 PM, my daughter called letting me know that the party was not over and she would call me when she needed me to pick her up.

So, here I am, one hour after midnight, burning night oil again, like I often did in my younger years. Luckily I did not have to get up early the next morning.

Happy 17th Birthday!

Last week, during the time when my son had his birthday, I asked my daughter what she wanted to do for her birthday, which is five days after her brother’s. She said she did not want to have any birthday activities and did not even want me to mention it. Because she doesn’t want to get old.

Last weekend, while on the way to the library, we talked about it. I asked her if she remembered the word that I told her on her 13th birthday.
“You said ‘you are 13 only once,'” she said.
“Then I said the same thing on your 14th, 15th, and 16th birthday,” I said.
“Thanks for reminding me,” she said.

I know she does not need a reminder this time. So I said instead “Happy birthday. Remember what I said before. Time flies. The only way to get more out of our limited time is to put more value into your time.” This way we won’t regret when we look back years later.

Still, she did celebrate her birthday with a friend last Friday.
Happy birthday, my dearest daughter!

Big Heart and Donation to Operation Smile

On 10/22/2011, Saturday evening after we got back from Barnes & Noble bookstore, my daughter watched with great sympathy and intensity the fundraising show by Operation Smile, an international children charity organization.

I said to her, “You should feel blessed now.” She agreed that she was fortunate on two accounts. Number one she does not have cleft lip or cleft palate; number two, if she had it, we could afford to fix it for her as we fixed her teeth before.

She announced that we definitely need to help these unfortunate children by our donation. I said we would be able to if she could be more economic by not insisting on eating out. As it is, we have to let her eat out at least three times a week when she did not like home-made meals.

She then solomnly promised that she would be more thrifty and not picky in eating, less eating out if we made this donation. I did what she asked as I am all for her big heart.

Calculus, Take-home Exam and Morality

During the weekend of 9/24-25, my daughter worked hard on a take-home exam on calculus. At some point, she was stuck there and could not move on. I told her she could always ask her brother for help.

“This is an exam. You are not supposed to ask your family members,” she said.
“Take home is like an open book exam, why can’t you ask others?” I asked.
“Our teacher said you are not allowed to check the internet or to ask others.” she insisted.
“But who knows if you get help and understand what you are doing. After all, what matters most is you are learning.” I pressed on.
“Mom, you don’t have any moral!…” she charged.

I agreed I compromise when I see no harm to others. But my daughter is totally unshakable in her moral stand. I am proud of her.

The Closing of Border’s, Another Recession Victim

On 11/22, after school, I took my daughter to Old Navy to pay a bill, Border’s being its next door neighbor. A wide yellow band across Border’s door suddenly caught my eyes — “Store Closing — Everything Must Go.” This is the bookstore where my daughter has spent a large part of her childhood. Ever since she was in elementary school, Border’s has been her favorite place, where she could stay for as long as she was allowed. It is like a fixture in the neighborhood.

I know how much she loves Border’s, so much so that I often promise to send her there if she can quickly complete her homework. Sometimes, she asks to go there for her homework or test preparation because she can concentrate well without computer or internet.

Here’s one of the victims of our economic downtime. We couldn’t help feeling sad over its closure.

It Takes More Than an Illness to Appreciate Time and Health

On 11/10/10, after I got home from work, I took my daughter to Michael’s. She was sick again after going to school for two days and had to stay home on Wednesday. While driving on the bridge over 435 highway on Lamar, we noticed the heavy traffic on the highway down below. I told my daughter some of my co-workers live in Lawrence, Harrisburg, Independence or even farther away from the office. They spend nearly an hour one-way to the office everyday.

Some of them choose to save on housing at the cost of time and gas. Some live this far because of job change. They got used to the house they bought and would not move simply because of this job change. Obviously, they don’t feel the hurt over the time lost in this long-distance daily commuting.

Talk about lost time, my daughter was sick on 11/3, last Wednesday, staying home for three days. On Monday, 11/8, she went back to school and that evening she burned late night oil again till after 1:30 AM, not all for study. On Tuesday, she came back from school very tired. On Wednesday, she felt sick and stayed home again.

I told her, “As soon as you feel better, you forget the misery of being sick and the time cost of illness, and you start wasting time like something of no value.”

It takes more than an illness for us to appreciate time and good health. Until then, we have to pay for our fogetfulness and for any lost time, in one way or another.

A Summer Plan that Did Not Turn Out Well

Recently, I found out a note that I wrote to my daughter two years ago, on 5/30/2008 regarding her summer plan. She took an independent study course that summer.

Today is the first day of your summer break. Please keep in mind you are a middle school student now and your summer break should be different from your previous one. Here are two things that I hope you will do:
(1) Please stick to your summer plan
(2) Please keep track of the progress of your work
For the first two weeks, I will check with you everyday after I get back from work. After that, if you have done your daily work in due time, I will check with you on weekly basis, then monthly basis. Gradually, you should be able to take care of your own study.

That summer she did write a detailed summer plan but did not follow through on her promise from very beginning. My initial checks on her progress had proved rather toothless and fruitless, thus I gave up checking. I remember I could not take care of her summer school all by myself, so she had to stay home, doing this independent study. But that did not turn out well. It is not pleasant to look back at those days. Still, I post it here and hope my daughter will do better than this 2008 summer in the future.

Nomad, Travels, Joy and Responsibility of Life

On 2/20/2009, a Friday evening on the way to skating, my daughter asked me what nomad meant. “Nomadic people move from place to place without ever settling in one of them,” was my explanation. “I want to be a nomad. It is boring to settle in one place. I want to travel and see places,” was her answer. “Then how do you make a living?” I asked. “I don’t know,” out came the answer without thinking. The answer quickly threw me into some thought about rootlessness, responsibility, contribution, and source of happiness and the joy of life, but I did not say anything to her.

The whole piece of dialog was interesting, so I jotted it down on a scrap paper. A few days ago I dug it out and decided to record it here. From what I have observed, I can see the tendency among some young people to seek fun and joy while they are young and never worry about the time when they are not that young. Some young people of the rich second generation even expect their parents to foot the bill for them forever.

I wish life could be this simple, that is, we can have as much fun as possible while young and have somebody else take care of us when we are incapable of working. Meanwhile, I am sure she will be able to travel and see more places than her parents.

She is learning

Yesterday I took my daughter to a nearby oriental grocery store, where she found a small box of junk food for $5.  As always, being a kind-hearted mom, I yielded to her request and bought it for her. Yet, on the way back home, I told her, “I could have saved $5 if I had not taken you to the store.”  She said, “Mom, what you say makes me feel sad.”  “All right, I don’t want to make you sad and I will stop talking.” 

I used to tell her something like this — I would feel sad if you do this or that.  Then she stops doing this or that.  Because she cares not to make me feel sad.  This time I think she uses the same trick on me.

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