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

1, Sep 10, 2013

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

Filed under: Daughter — admin @ 12:24 am

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.

1, Sep 9, 2013

The hardest part of the day…

Filed under: Daughter — admin @ 12:17 am

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.

1, Sep 8, 2013

Morning walk with my daughter this summer

Filed under: Daughter — admin @ 12:51 am

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.

1, Sep 6, 2013

The dreadful process of going through old stuffs

Filed under: Daughter — admin @ 1:50 am

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.

1, Sep 5, 2013

I wish I could follow my children to wherever they are

Filed under: Daughter — admin @ 12:12 am


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.

1, Sep 4, 2013

Remembering activities with my daughter

Filed under: Daughter — admin @ 12:41 am

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!

1, Sep 3, 2013

Cleaning my daughter’s desks

Filed under: Daughter — admin @ 12:38 am

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.

1, Sep 2, 2013

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

Filed under: Daughter — admin @ 12:36 am

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…

1, Sep 1, 2013

How I miss my daughter after she left for college

Filed under: Daughter — admin @ 12:51 am

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.

1, Aug 31, 2013

Sending my daughter to college and coming back to KS

Filed under: Daughter — admin @ 12:25 am

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.

1, Aug 24, 2013

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

Filed under: Daughter — admin @ 12:30 am

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.

1, Aug 15, 2013

“You look best when you smile”

Filed under: Daughter — admin @ 12:23 am

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.

1, Jul 31, 2013

Getting ready for my daughter’s college years

Filed under: Daughter,Mother — admin @ 12:30 am

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.

1, Jun 23, 2013

Activities in China 5/16 – 6/5

Filed under: Daughter — admin @ 12:21 am

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

1, Mar 27, 2013

Another Birthday Celebration this Month!

Filed under: Daughter — admin @ 12:36 am

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

1, Mar 25, 2013

My daughter and snow shoveling

Filed under: Daughter — admin @ 12:48 am

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.

1, Jan 23, 2013

Weekend edition, our last trip to James Academy

Filed under: Daughter — admin @ 12:02 am

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.

1, Sep 11, 2012

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

Filed under: Daughter — admin @ 12:24 am

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.

1, Mar 27, 2012

Happy 17th Birthday!

Filed under: Daughter — admin @ 12:59 am

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!

1, Oct 27, 2011

Big Heart and Donation to Operation Smile

Filed under: Daughter — admin @ 12:12 am

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.

1, Oct 26, 2011

Calculus, Take-home Exam and Morality

Filed under: Daughter — admin @ 12:41 am

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.

1, Dec 3, 2010

The Closing of Border’s, Another Recession Victim

Filed under: Daughter — admin @ 12:36 am

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.

1, Nov 12, 2010

It Takes More Than an Illness to Appreciate Time and Health

Filed under: Daughter — admin @ 12:28 am

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.

1, Aug 23, 2010

A Summer Plan that Did Not Turn Out Well

Filed under: Daughter — admin @ 12:56 am

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.

1, Jun 18, 2010

Nomad, Travels, Joy and Responsibility of Life

Filed under: Daughter — admin @ 12:11 am

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.

1, Jun 29, 2008

She is learning

Filed under: Daughter — admin @ 7:34 am

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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