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!

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