Happy Birthday to me!!!!!


My son gave me an early birthday wish yesterday. Even better, my daughter texted me telling me that she would Skype with me tonight after class. They all made my day a special one.

At office, my colleague bought cupcakes for me. Two emailed me birthday wish. The sunshine committee gave me a birthday card with good wishes from many colleagues. They all further warmed my heart.

Wish me happy and healthy in the long years to come…



Happy Birthday to me!


Like all weekend morning, I got up early to start my morning walk today. I consider the recent trip to Paris the best birthday gift that I could have, so I really don’t expect anything different today.

After I got back home, I went upstairs to wake up my daughter. I knew she wanted to watch Meet-the-press Sunday morning show at 9 AM. As soon as she woke up, she shouted out “Happy Birthday!” That was a real joyful moment.

After breakfast, they asked me where I wanted to go today, since today is my b-day. I said I wanted to go to Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens. So we went and, took some pictures and had some fun time.

My son woke up really late today. He called me around 2 PM to wish me happy birthday — another sweet moment of the day.

They went out to get a birthday cake for me. Instead, they came back with a blueberry pie, which is very delicious and more healthy than a cake.

I spent the day sorting through pictures that we took while we were in Paris from 9/1 to 9/9, and recording our activities there.

A happy, healthy day, I can’t think of anything else that I would expect.



Random thought on Mother’s Day


This year’s Mother’s Day came and went. I sent to a young relative of mine a video praising the unselfish love of mothers. He told me he already talked to his mother.

Mother’s day is once a year, but mother’s worries are 365 days per year. Very often people don’t realize this until they themselves become parents. I am no exception myself. This is not to blame them for not realizing this. This only states that fact that it takes certain years and experience to become mature and understanding.



Happy birthday to the best mom!


Happy birthday 09132014

On 9/9/2014, I told my daughter that “I must do something that will make both of you proud of.” Yes, I am still trying to be a good mom to both of them.



Great New Year Resolutions for Moms


I read this article today, “8 New Year’s Resolutions All Parents Should Make in 2014.” I wish I could relive those years when my children were small, enjoy the time spent with them, and be a much more caring and wiser parent to them. Too bad time simply flies by before I have the time to appreciate what precious things that life has to offer. Hence, share with the readers.

#1. Slow down
This year I’ll take more deep breaths before raising my voice. I’ll stop telling him to hurry up and go faster. (Life goes fast enough.) I’ll slow everything – from my patience to my schedule to my outlook on life. This year I’ll slow down.

#2. Stop comparing yourself
This year I’ll stop comparing myself to strangers on the Internet, scripted characters on television, and whatever image I created in my head for a “good mom.” This year I’ll keep my eyes on my own life and stop letting assumptions and half truths cloud my perception.

#3. Shake off the “shoulds” and the scripts
This year I’ll shake off the “shoulds” that society imposes on us and take control of my own life.

#4. Be the person you want your child to be
This year I’ll frame my resolutions differently. I’ll think of the top 3 things I hope my son learns and embodies (authenticity, honesty, and kindness), and I’ll work on modeling those values. Because kids aren’t listening to what we’re telling them to do as much as they’re watching what we’re showing them to be.

#5. Focus on your health, not your appearance.
This year I’ll take a healthy approach to my resolutions. Instead of resolving to lose 10 lbs., I’ll resolve to exercise for my mood, eat healthy foods for the nutrients, and prioritize my health because there’s a little person who needs me to be healthy. Instead of looking in the mirror, grabbing my stomach skin and letting out a sigh, I’ll resolve to love my body in 2014.

#6. Make time for down-time.
This year I’ll stop looking at down-time as wasted time. This year I’ll shed the “work work work” mentality and prioritize things like sleeping, relaxing, and cuddling. Because I know that at the end of 2014, I’ll be glad I did.

#7. Live in the present more often.
This year I’ll consciously focus on living in the present moment and tuning into what’s happening right NOW. Too often we’re stuck on the hamster wheel of stress (future tense) and regret (past tense), but the real memories are happening right now.

#8. Take more photos and videos.
This year I’ll record more of the ordinary, non-filtered, non-styled moments. I’ll take photos for myself, not for Instagram. I’ll take more photos and videos to remind me of what life was really like in 2014.



A deadline could make you work more productively


Finally, on the last day of this October, I decided I must impose a deadline on myself for this CPHIMS exam. I told myself I would always feel not ready if I kept telling myself so and kept postponing it or if there is no deadline.

Right now I poured most of my off-work time on the preparation, putting aside everything else, like getting the house really ready for the children to come back home during Christmas holiday, like starting the project or art craft that I am so anxious to, like experimenting with plant propagation, like reading the books that I cannot put down, like contacting some friends, like writing here and other places, like getting myself healthier, etc.

Finally, on 10/31/2013, I took my courage in both hands and registered and paid for this exam, a hefty amount. Well, still not courageous enough when I gave myself three weeks to get ready and scheduled it on 11/22/2013, six days before Thanksgiving.

I have to get it behind me before Thanksgiving as I need time and the state of mind to get house ready for some friends to come over for that day.

The strange thing is after footing the bill and have a target day, I find myself more productive than before. Certainly knowing a deadline forces me to be more focused and productive.



The November 13, 2008 trip to China


Below is the note that I jotted down on a notepad for my 2008 trip home. I keyed it into computer before the note was discarded.

11/13/2008, left for airport around 6 AM, although the flight departed a little after 9 AM. The first transfer was made in Detroit. From there I got on the plane for Tyokyo Narita airport. Three Chinese youngsters were sitting by my side. They must be students at some college, yet they looked so young and I couldn’t believe they were heading for school at this time of the semester. So I couldn’t help asking them. It turned out that they were seniors at Qing Hua University, having been to MIT for a biology-information technology competition. Now they were heading back home.

I learned from them that the Qing Hua team won bronze while MIT got the gold. They were young, intelligent and eager to learn, which reminded me of something in the past. At first, they thought I was a visiting parent, going back home.

On the long flight home, I watched some movies, which reminded me of my children. I told myself after I got back home I must find some time to watch movie with my children. It’s been a long time since we did that.

11/17/2008, I went to a local hospital to have a physical checkup
11/18, I went to Tong Ren hospital with my mother
11/19, I went to have lunch with the Dong sisters at Xi Dan
11/19-20, my mother went to Guang An Men
11/21, I went to Hao Yu’s apartment
11/22, I went to Xi Dan Bookstore to buy some simplified French novels
11/23, I learned from the Skype that there was a fight between my daughter and another youngster at my house in the U.S.
11/27, I left for the U.S.



Happy birthday today


female-sheep
For the first time in 24 years, I celebrate my birthday without my children around. Still, to keep up the spirit, I say to myself in front of the mirror,
Happy birthday!”

As a gift to myself, yesterday I went to Whole Foods store to pamper myself with a bag of chia seeds and flax seeds to continue the healthy eating practice that my daughter started this past summer.

My best birthday gift came when son called right after he got up this morning, wishing me happy birthday. And my daughter called shortly after that, another birthday wish. This set me in a bright festive mood in a huge way.



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.



The stove that sings, a woman’s memory of her childhood


On 12/13/2012, a friend of mine sent me this story by Chi Zijian. Below is the beginning and the ending of this short piece.

The stove that sings

The author records a piece of her childhood memory, a sweet one in hindsight, when her father took her and her sisters to the snow-covered mountain in winter. I am not sure if the father was aware of this far-reaching impact on his daughter. Maybe it doesn’t matter whether or not he was aware of that. What matters is the result.

Reading piece like this often leaves me with a feeling of regret and then of sadness because, once it’s gone, I cannot relive those precious childhood with them. I should have done this or that with my children to make them happier.



A holiday mother


A friend of mine sent me this writing by Yan Lian-ke. It describes his mother’s reaction when she learns of her son’s home coming.

In the past I would relate this to my mother’s reaction to my trip home. Situation is different now. Ever since my son left for college in 2007, I have experienced the same excitement and expectation when holiday is getting near.

Of course, this year as he will be home in ten days, I am as excited and busy as before. Look forward to this simple joy of reunion.



Tyler Perry on his motivation, his mother and his father, part II


Tyler Perry’s father was so abusive that Tyler once went so far as to consider suicide as a way to free himself from his abuse. Because of this experience, he hated his father all his life until he was in his 30s when he “started on the path of letting go.” Because he realized that “If you’re holding on to the anger and the pain of what someone has done to you, you are not hurting them at all, you are hurting yourself.”

“… the anger was the fuel, but what happens – and this is why a lot of people don’t want to let go of the anger… And once I forgave him, I was no longer angry. So I lost the motivation, and I lost the fuel.”

When Terry Gross asked “So, what’s it like for you to take care of him [his father] after he was so cruel to you?”

Tyler Perry said, “… first of all, I believe you honor your father and your mother, period, no matter what, no matter who they were, no matter what they did; …”

The money is an easy partWhat he doesn’t have with me, which I think is worth way more than money, is a relationship – a father-son relationship.”

Indeed, it is one thing that a child fulfills his filial duty to the aging parents; it is another when they have this genuine parent-child relationship — with open communications, loving care and respect for each other. No money can buy this parent-child relationship.



Tyler Perry on his motivation, his mother and his father, part I


On 10/15/2012, while driving home, I listened to NPR program — Fresh Air’s Terry Gross interview with Tyler Perry, the screenwriter, director, producer and actor.

There are many excellent parts in the interview. One of them is the following, when Terry Gross asked him “When you started making money, … what were your dreams of what to do with your money? Was it to, you know, just, like, reinvest it into more of your work? Or were there, like, material possessions that you really wanted?”

Perry answered, “I had one dream and it was to – and when I was a kid I told my mother I would take care of her so she wouldn’t have to deal with my [abusive] father. And I didn’t know how much of a driving force that was until she died. That had been the burning fire in the pit of my soul for many, many years. And I never thought any amount was enough.

“I know it sounds really crazy but I was working so hard and didn’t realize it until the day she died when I had no motivation, no – nothing. Didn’t want to do anything. Didn’t want to get out of the bed. Nothing mattered, as far as work and success. So that was my motivational factor, just to be able to support and take care of her and give her the life that I felt that she deserved and should have always had.”
To be continued…



Full of remorse and regret, A friend’s memory of his mother


On 10/12/2012, a friend of mine sent me a blog that he wrote to mark third anniversary of his mother’s departure. Below is what I sent to this friend of mine. Guilin is his wife.

I shared his writing with my children. “I got the message, mom.” I was thus told. I also sent the link to my sister’s son in Houston, Texas.

After reading this, I was struck not only by the sad remorse the writer expressed but also by the greatness of a motherly love his mother had shown to her son all the time. That love had remained unchanged, no matter how immature the son was. This is the same message that I mentioned here on 10/10 posting on Liang Jizhang’s letter to his son.

Many people fail to understand and appreciate this unselfish, unremitting and unconditional love that their parents have shone on them until late in their life or until it is too late. By the way, I feel a huge comfort when both of my children have understood now.

I like the response from another friend,



Happy birthday, once again!


Got to think of some fun thing to do on this day.



The influence of a mother on her daughter


One of my co-workers has two granddaughters at about the same time, one from her daughter, the other from her daughter-in-law. As I watched the development of the two girls, I was amazed to see them going into different path because of different mothering.

While her daughter’s girl grows very much like her daughter who is very similar to her mother, my co-worker, her daughter-in-law’s girl grows like her mother, the daughter-in-law who is a teacher and a book-lover.

Even at this young age, I can pretty much predict that these two-year-olds will grow up more or less like their respective mother, one going to be home-centered, playing to the full the role of wife and mother, the other going to be more professional in addition to her role at home.

Talk about the power and influence of a mother in a person’s life!



Always remember to take care of the number one person, you!


On 4/24, I received an email from a colleague of mine back in 2005. She sent me this statement — “Always remember to take care of the number one person, you!” with an attached statement —

“There is no greater gift you can give or receive than to honor your calling. It’s why you were born & how you become most truly alive!!!”

I think I read it before. It seems I read it as a Mother’s Day reminder. With this, I suddenly remember that number one person is myself. I will try to remember this on this special day for mothers.

P.S. my son called from San Fransisco this morning to say “Happy Mother’s Day.” Indeed, happy I am.



Whitney Houston’s Death and Her Daughter


I always feel it is unforgivable that Whitney Houston should have left her 19-year-old daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown, at the time when her daughter needs her most.

It is especially sad when Bobbi told Oprah Winfrey that “Sometimes it’s so surreal. I still walk into the house, like, ‘Mom?’ But I’ve accepted it,” she said. Really? Has she already accepted the reality that there is no more Mom in her life?

We know Bobbi was so shattered over her mother’s sudden death that she had to be sent to hospital several times following her loss of Houston.

I always wonder if life would be different for both of them if Whitney Houston had not had this infamous drug addiction.



A Mom Is Forever Busy


“Life Lessons for Busy Mom
(1) Make time to nurture yourself
(2) Take charge of your parenting rules
(3) Implement creative solutions
(4) Feed your soul
(5) Keep an organized home
(6) Solicit help
(7) Make time to slow down”
7/26/2007

I dug out this piece right befor Thanksgiving break when I was cleaning some old clusters in my house. That was before my son left for college in August 2007.

Rush, rush, rush everyday and make time for this or that. Time is exactly what a busy mom needs most. I have felt strongly all these years, especially when I was crazily busy. A mom is forever busy as long as she has her children in her heart.



The Most Heart-Wrenching Part in Anna Karenina


A few weeks ago, my daughter bought Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. I read a bit of it. To me, the most heart-wrenching episode is in part 5, chapter 29-30 when Anna went to see her son, Seryozha, on his birthday and when it was time for her to go.

“…he cried in despair through his tears, and, clutching her by the shoulder, he began squeezing her with all his force, his arms trembling with the strain.” He had no idea that this would be their last meeting.

The episode reminds me of the moment when my son was two years old and just started his first week at daycare. He was crying most miserably the whole day and the whole week until he got into fever.

I didn’t genuinely hate Alexei Alexandrovich Karenin, Anna’s husband, until this moment. He intends to punish Anna and make Anna miserable by taking her son away from her. What a sad and depressing book!



Happy Birthday Once More


The song goes like this --- " Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you...!


For the past five years, I have received a nice little birthday card on or before the day from my previous manager. She left before KU bought us over. One less on the list.



Happy Birthday, Momwrite!


More than once, I was asked this question, “How do you find time to write and post everyday?” The answer is: I don’t do it everyday, though the post comes out on daily basis.

I have to admit that on some day I seem to have endless words in my mind that are ready to be put on the screen; on some other days, I don’t feel like writing or even doing anything at all. For once I was thinking of posting whenever I feel like it, then let days passed without when I am not in the mood. But I never take that route because I know my readers would rather see it everyday, though not very long. This has since been my principle: short and sweet everyday.

In the end, the actual post producing process is like this. Everytime I have something to say but not feel like writing, I jot it down on a small notepad which I carry with me all the time. When I have time and feel like it, I sit down and start writing. I cross out the note and tear off the page after writing. Sometimes, I write 5 or 6 or more postings at one sitting. Then I schedule them for some future days to come out.

As the years turn, the focus of my attention shifts from children to other stuffs which include health, education, politics, career, economy, and anything that may interest or puzzle me like Obama.



When the Weather Was Too Hot to Stay Inside


On 6/6, a hot Sunday afternoon, I drove my daughter to the local library around 2 PM. We felt the scorching sun relentlessly burning our skin and our whole body, making our lives so uncomfortable.

As we approached the library, I told my daughter there must be plenty of people because of the hot weather. She thought my idea was funny. I told her of our life in Ohio when her brother was a baby.

We lived in an apartment without central air conditioning system. Some people bought window air conditioner, but we didn’t because of the appliance and electricity cost. Remember we were students living on scholarship. With weather like this, I often sought shelter from the heat by taking my son to our school or to the library or to stores and came back after the sun had gone to bed. Sometimes, he played there and then took a nap while I was doing my school work.

My daughter said she was lucky she were not there. Still, I would not miss the opportunity to share with her this part of family experience.



Different People Have Different Way of Living



On 3/25/2011, a Friday evening, my mother mentioned this saying when I talked to her over the Skype. To be sure, this is not the first time that I heard of this. But this time I think it very sensible for people living in a mixed culture environment.

The acknowledgement that different people have different way of living implies respect and tolerance of differences, not to be judgmental, that we should live and let live, which is easy said than done.

When we judge people using our own standard, we easily forget that our standard is not an universal one and it is not fair to others when we expect others to live up to our standard as if our standard were the best and other’s were no good.



Tiger Mom on Time’s 100 of the Year


On 4/23, a Saturday afternoon, on the way back from Leawood library, I told my daughter that Amy Chua being one of the Time’s 100 of this year. She said she had read about it from the Internet.

Later, on the way to her drawing lesson, my daughter commented that anyone on Time’s cover and on Time’s 100 list was rather phenomenal. “Yes, her book made her famous,” I said.

I am sure there are numerous parents who are successful in their own way. But in a way Amy Chua is unique because she has committed to writing so that her unique experience is known to all.

In our office, there is a saying, “If it is not written, it has not happened.” So it is true in our life. The passing of years and decades will dilute and wash away our past experience unless we write them down.

To be sure, writing is a diligent and very rewarding work. It will pay huge dividends in the long run. Just look at the short-term gain of Amy Chua’s magnus opus.



Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, a Chinese Mother, Part IV


It seems we never have enough of this Tiger Mom topic, at least between my daughter and I. I told my daughter I wish I had a book like this 20 years ago so that both of them would have turned out more disciplined and resilient than they were now.

“Her two daughters were not born yet,” said my daughter.
“I mean I wish someone wrote a book like this 20 years ago,” I explained.

“Yes, I wish I had a tiger mom, then my piano skill would be a whole lot better than it is now. I will be a tiger mom when I have children, but definitely not someone like her.” she declared. She wants to be a nice tiger mom.

Next she asked me why I did not insist on her more piano practice when she was five years old. I was a bit surprised over her question. Then I am glad she is mature enough to realize that early discipline will benefit her in the long run.

An acquaintance of mine called Amy Chua abusive and should be sued because of that. Being a Chinese, she often acts more Americanized than Americans. I am not sure if her comment was an attempt to either cover up her sense of guilt for her inadequate parenting or excuse herself of her irresponsibillity.

Some Chinese parents are rather content over their children’s achievements when they compare their youngsters to American kids. This is a short-sighted attitude. Keep in mind, when facing a future of global challenge and competition, their proud cubs are no match to those from China. But here comes this Tiger Mom who has prepared her youngsters for the tough roads ahead in the world.

The more I think about my parenting experience and chua’s, the more I recommend this book on the strength of its parenting philosophy, the more I admire her for the sacrifice that she has done for her children. In fact, my daughter even suggested that we buy a copy.



Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, a Chinese Mother, Part III


Amy Chua is nakedly honest in her book and in her open criticism of western parenting. I admire her courage and 100 percent honesty, which is as rare as giant pandas among Asian Americans. She is one of a kind in that she makes a battle cry instead of an insect humming, which is most of us do. Otherwise, how can people pay any attention to the humming of an insignificant ant. In fact, it is high time that someone stood out with a book like this. A huge thankyou to the author!

A psychologist might say the harsh standard would ruin a happy childhood and leave permanent wound in the hearts of the youngsters. Amy Chua challenged this assumption and their erroneous parenting philosophy, and put to shame millions of American parents by pointing out the undesirable consequences, which has yielded one of the lowest education achievement among developed nations.

She also makes people re-think what is good to the next generation and to the nation in the long run — a playful childhood, game and TV followed by a poor and a miserable adulthood or hard-working childhood followed by a rich and happy adulthood.

I accept her philosophy. In fact, I agree with the spirit of the book whole-heartedly, though I cannot go with her method of putting it into practice. Once again, her actions have been the direct consequence of her unique personality. Nothing is more stupid and narrow-minded than assuming that there is a tiger mother like Chua behind the success of every Chinese kid.



Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, a Chinese Mother, Part II


Below is a quote from the book, which I wholly agree.

“What Chinese parents understand is that nothing is fun until you’re good at it. To get at anything you have to work, and children on their own never want to work, which is why it is crucial to override their preferences. This often requires fortitude on the part of the parents because the child will resist; things are always hardest at the beginning, which is where Western parents tend to give up. But if done properly, the Chinese strategy produces a virtuous circle. Tenacious practice, practice, practice, practice is crucial for excellence; rote repetition is underrated in America. Once a child starts to excel at something–whether its math, piano, pitching, or ballet–he or she gets praise, admiration, and satisfaction. This builds confidence and makes the once not-fun activity fun. This in turn makes easier for the parents to get the child to work even more.” p. 29

Talk about raising a happy child, my daughter agrees with the author that nothing makes her happy until she performs well at school or gets prize at competition or feels she is really good at something. She also knows clearly that only through the bitter hard work can one enjoy the sweet fruits of accomplishments.

Don’t we know this — no pain, no gain. As with anything in life, a carefree childhood can potentially mean a poverty-stricken adulthood, poor in body and mind or lifelong dependence on wellfare. Because of this, the country needs millions of tiger mothers who dare to set high standards for their children and enforce reasonable rules for them to follow.
To be continued…



Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, a Chinese Mother, Part I


If anything, Amy Chua, the author of the newly-published book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, certainly knows how to be controversial or make enemies out of her readers.

Honestly, I like the book and have read it, which does not mean I endorse every word of it. I applaud her parenting effort and her sacrifice of large chunks of her time, though I cannot be like her, not because I am any nicer than she is but because we are different in our personality. It takes both a cultural background and a unique character like her to generate her kind of parenting style. I have known many dedicated Chinese parents but have never seen one like her. She is one of a kind.

While some people see the harsh discipline that she employed in raising her children and dish out harsh words against the tiger mother, I see tremendous responsibilities and sacrifice that this Chinese mother has done for her children, which, sadly to say, are not often seen among American parents. I have to admit that I have not been as responsible in parenting as she has been.

American schools would not have yielded so many losers and dropouts if there were more responsible parents like Amy Chua. While she raised her children to a higher level of living, many American parents have kept theirs to the level of bare existence.

Some parents, under the excuse of giving their children a “carefree childhood”, are in reality finding excuse for their irresponsible and careless parenting. Shame on these lazy, irresponsible and selfish parents!
To be continued…



A Parent Gets What She Deserves


On the morning of Thanksgiving, I went to a Chinese family to talk to the adult daughter about her mother’s health issue. She came back home from out of town for the Thanksgiving break. The daughter’s attitude has been consistent: go back to China. After the daughter left, the mother said to me, “See that’s what she always says.” I told her it was actually a good idea that she went back to China and see doctors there since her English is not adequate. “No,” said she, “She wants me to move back to China and never come back! She thinks I am her burden.”

Now I understand why she would not tell her daughter about things that she should. I remember once the daughter said something like this to me. When the daughter was little and needed her mother, the mother was not there for her. The mother spent all her time earning money. Now the little girl has grown into a mid-20 years old woman and the need reverses, that is, it is the mother’s turn to need her grown-up daughter. But the daughter is not going to forget and forgive.

It is a pretty sad case. Yet, by the end of the day, you are the one who determine the type of repercussion from your previous action. Trust me something always comes back to us, like or not.

Next Page »

Today I Learn… is proudly powered by WordPress and themed by Mukka-mu