Posts Tagged ‘family’

Vacation

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Well, today’s the first official day of my vacation! The only other time I took days off were to volunteer for Opportunity Green, which wasn’t much of a break since that kept me busy. So this is the first time since I started my job that I am going on a vacation, truly going on one with days off, travel, rest, and the whole shebang. Usually I can manage one or two of those items, but now I’m taking advantage of all three. Plus, my parents are here to enjoy this vacation with me and we’re going somewhere exciting and new. ūüôā

I spent the bulk of the day on a plane, going from LA to Atlanta to Miami. I slept as much as I could and pigged out on cheap pasta for lunch and dinner. When we arrived in miami, most of the day had been lost – I left 9 am from LA and got in to Miami around 7:30 (local time), so after settling in, eating dinner, and resting a bit, it was already time for bed. I wasn’t sleepy though, so I’ve been up playing games. Tomorrow we get on our cruise ship and head for the Caribbean! I’ll make sure to get some pics on my phone so I can post some.

Family united

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Once a year, around this time, my family gets together for the holidays. ¬†You’d think it’d be easier since it’s just my parents and I, but we’ve got lives on various parts of the globe now. ¬†Very reliably though, we go on a family vacation together for the holiday season. ¬†Last year it was Vegas. ¬†The year before was Cancun. ¬†This year? ¬†It’s time for the Bahamas!

For our second cruise ever, we will go from Miami to Nassau to Great Stirrup Cay and back again. ¬†Pretty exciting and I just can’t wait to play around in the ocean. ¬†I’m thinking of going on a snorkeling adventure with some sting rays (they are one of my favorite sea creatures!) and just enjoying the beautiful waters out there. ¬†Hopefully the weather will be agreeable and allow us to enjoy everything the islands have to offer. ¬†ūüôā

It’s really nice to get together with my parents now. ¬†We’ve moved past the stage when I was a rebellious teen, always butting heads with them. ¬†I’m still stubborn, but my life is really in my control now and it’s great to have the freedom to make my own choices and share my life with my parents. ¬†Plus, there’s a lot more to talk about when you don’t see each other for extended periods of time. ¬†This year in particular I’m really excited because I’m finally moving out on my own with my first lease! ¬†I always subletted before, so it’s kind of cool to have ownership of a lease and know that half of that apartment is mine. ¬†It doesn’t hurt that is has awesome amenities and perks and is super close to work too!

When we get back from our little vacation break, I’ll spend a day with Panda for my birthday and then it’ll be time to get ready to move! ¬†I’m glad my parents will be around to share the experience with me, see the new place, meet the new roommate, and help me get all settled. ¬†I’m looking forward to the end of this year and the beginning of next. ¬†So many good things to come!

Daddy’s birthday

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Today was my dad’s birthday and the first one where my parents and I have been united in awhile. ¬†To celebrate, we went out to an Asian buffet, which we discovered actually offers you a free meal for your birthday! ¬†Even better. ¬†ūüôā ¬†It was nice to spend a quiet weekend with them and spend some time just hanging out at home. ¬†Days like that are few and far between now. ¬†Though we don’t really do much, it’s comforting just to have them sitting in the next room. ¬†And there’s something about being in the house that makes me want to move around, which is great for my health!

The early years

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Branching off from my description of generational gaps in my family

For my parents in particular, my maternal grandmother heard of my dad through the wife of a professor at the local university, which is where my parents both went to school. ¬†My maternal grandfather was also a professor at the school and his professor buddy had my dad as a student. ¬†Through the women talking, my grandmother learned that this young man was the professor’s star student and first in his class. ¬†My parents were introduced to each other and my grandfather approved without ever meeting the young man. ¬†All he had to know was that he was a hard worker and an excellent student. ¬†My grandmother, on the other hand, wanted to meet and get to know this potential suitor. ¬†As the legend goes, she sat him down for an interview (probably mostly asking about academics and his professional future) and liked him as well. ¬†My mom decided that of the guys she’d been introduced to, she liked this one the most, and so they were married. ¬†Or something like that.

It turned out to be a great decision, since my dad was smart enough to be allowed to leave China, which was a bit of a mess back in those years. ¬†The country had been in lock down and it was extremely hard to get out. ¬†My dad got into a PhD program at Penn State, which is what took him abroad. ¬†About six months before I was born, he left for the land of the free and began his studies. ¬†A year later, when I was a few months old, my mom followed suit, going to Penn State for her Master’s. ¬†I was left with relatives in China and I believe my paternal grandmother was mostly in charge of raising me those years. ¬†By the time I was three and a half, my parents had saved up enough money to fly me over.

I don’t remember much from those years, but I did have one strong memory from the plane ride, about the lady who escorted me from my family in China to my parents in America. ¬†I have also been told by my mother that when I first arrived, I refused to let my dad sleep in the bed. ¬†After all, it really was like meeting them for the first time – my dad had never seen me before and my mom had only been with me for about half a year. ¬†My mom attributes this behavior to a child’s need to cling to one adult they trust. ¬†Apparently between my parents, I chose my mother. ¬†So I clung to her and slept with her, but initially wouldn’t allow my dad to share the space. ¬†Poor guy must have had a couple of rough nights camping out on the couch or something.

And so that is how I spent the first couple of years of my life. ¬†Most of it’s a blur and photography was too expensive back then to have many pictures capturing my toddler years. ¬†The few I do have are quite amusing, with me all bundled up in winter clothes with a red dot on my forehead, or hanging out in a crib with my cousins standing around me. ¬†Perhaps I’ll dig those up someday and share them too.

Domino effect or Murphy’s law?

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I usually just write about my thoughts and opinions, or include pictures and videos I find interesting. ¬†I think it’s time for a little story – an anecdote from my childhood. ¬†After all, stories can be a great thing for entertainment.

When I was about 12 (or maybe I was already 13 by then), I was set to return to China for the summer.  It was my first time flying alone, but I loved exploring things on my own and was perfectly happy to make the trip without supervision.  I was living in New York at the time and my parents took me to LaGuardia Airport, got me checked in, and sent me on my way.  Well, after waiting with me until the plane actually arrived, that is.  You see, it was delayed (as planes quite often are).

So when it was finally time, I got on my flight to O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. ¬†When we landed there, I quickly exited the plane to rush to the gate of my connecting flight. ¬†When I arrived there, I was happy to see they were still boarding. ¬†Most people had already gone on, so there wasn’t much of a line left. ¬†When I got to the front, the steward took my ticket and stopped just as he was about to rip off the stub for me.

“You aren’t going to Amsterdam, are you?” he questioned.

I paused. ¬†“No…” I replied, confused. ¬†“I’m going to Beijing.”

“Well,” he said, “this isn’t your flight. ¬†That one has already taken off.”

Whaaaaat?! ¬†I hadn’t noticed the sign saying this flight was headed to Amsterdam. ¬†And I was baffled that I was so late that not only had my flight packed up and gone, the next flight was nearly ready to back out of the gate! ¬†Oh no. ¬†Not good news. ¬†The steward directed me to a customer service area where I could be helped and I trekked over, for the first time unsure of my travels. ¬†When I arrived, I found that a lot of others on my flight had come across the very same issue and were all standing in line to work it out with the people at the counter. ¬†Frantic, I called home to talk to my parents about the disaster.

I don’t recall much of the conversation, except that they told me to remain calm and go talk to the people at the counter, then let them know what was going on. ¬†I obediently went to stand in line and was told that the next flight out was the following day. ¬†At this point, realizing I was a minor traveling alone, the airline sent a representative to be my escort. ¬†They planned out the rest of my trip and called my parents, informing them of my new itinerary. ¬†Now I was to stay the night at an airport hotel and take a flight to Tokyo, then transfer to a flight to China. ¬†Slight detour, but that was the next available flight so there wasn’t much of a choice.

The airline stewardess sent to watch over me led me off to a room hidden away, where a whole room full of kids sat around playing with a variety of toys! ¬†It was an awesome game room and I quickly settled in to play a Yoshi video game. ¬†I’ve never owned a gaming system, so it was a joy to be able to play for hours. ¬†For lunch, I was taken out to get some food at one of the food court type areas. ¬†The lady had a voucher of some sort for me to use. ¬†For the rest of the day I played games until dinnertime, when I was taken out again to eat. ¬†Throughout the day, kids had come and gone as they waited for their flights.

By the end of the night, it was just me and four teenage boys left. ¬†We were shuttled over to the Four Points hotel and taken to our rooms. ¬†The guys each shared with one other boy and occupied two rooms. ¬†Being the only girl, I was given a suite all to myself! ¬†I remember it was so big I could have done cartwheels all around the place. ¬†Now that was some luxury! ¬†I happily got under the covers and watched some late night shows, not really caring about TV but wanting to do something. ¬†Outside my door, a gentleman sat on a chair all night, guarding my door and watching those of the boys across the hall. ¬†I’m sure he got a break from a colleague, but I was too busy resting inside to know.

The next morning, we all got up and headed back to the airport. ¬†I stayed in the game room until it was time to go and by that time I’d made a friend with a Korean girl who was going to be on the same flight as me from Chicago to Tokyo, after which she would to to Seoul and I would go to Beijing. ¬†We boarded our flight, another delayed one, and sat together for the trip. ¬†Arriving at Narita International, we found that we’d missed our connections. ¬†We were passed off to Japanese airport officials, who got us flights for the next morning. ¬†With our parents informed of the new development, we were taken to a back room where the airport staff hung out.

All I remember of that place was a dingy feel with poor lighting, guys lounging around watching an odd game show that I couldn’t understand, and the air filled with smoke. ¬†Hating cigarette smoke, I had a difficult time breathing as the guys puffed away. ¬†It was sort of awkward, but late in the night already, so we didn’t have to stay long. ¬†My friend and I were taken to an airport hotel, where we shared a room. ¬†I remember looking out at the peephole to find a very cute guy sitting in front of our door, guarding us for the night. ¬†We girls giggled over our littles crushes and chatted late into the night.

Two days after my initial departure, I finally got on a flight to Beijing. ¬†My flight buddy had gone off to her flight to Seoul and I never saw her again. ¬†Meanwhile, I was babysat until mine came. ¬†I made it to Beijing after many hiccups, but there was one more small one to get through – the train from Beijing to my hometown of Shenyang was delayed! ¬†I can’t remember who got me, but we waited about an hour for a train and by this time it was nearly 1 in the morning. ¬†Somewhere here the details get fuzzy, since it used to take 12 hours to get between those cities, but I distinctly remember arriving at my grandmother’s door right around 4 AM. ¬†The poor woman had been waiting up for me, as good grandmothers are apt to do. ¬†ūüôā

I’m not sure if I’m imagining it, but perhaps – just perhaps, I had taken a flight from Beijing to Shenyang and then gotten driven back by 4. ¬†It does make sense, but I can’t quite remember. ¬†One day, I will rifle through my journal entries to confirm the details. ¬†I hope I wrote all of it down. ¬†And so there you go, a most arduous journey that you could attribute to the domino effect, with pieces falling down and causing the next one to fall down too. ¬†Or you could blame Murphy’s law, where anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. ¬†Not to say that things going wrong can’t be a beautiful thing! ¬†In fact, for me it really was quite a wonderful experience! ¬†I had a lot of fun and got to enjoy the type of adventure not many pre-teens can ever say they’ve had.

Family time

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I got a chance to spend some quality time with my dad today, showing him some of things I did and saw while I was in Southeast Asia and even going shopping with him. ¬†We’re a family of few words and often it is difficult for me to small talk because that’s not what we do. ¬†So today, I used the pictures I take as a medium for sharing my recent life experiences, mostly in Thailand, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

It was nice to tell my dad what I had been up to and hear from him the projects he’s been working on. ¬†Over the years, we haven’t shared much. ¬†Usually he’d just ask me about how classes were going and discuss career stuff. ¬†And I only ever went to him if I needed some thoughts on jobs or something along those professional lines. ¬†We talk business, and then we stop talking. ¬†Because of that, I know just the basics of what’s he’s up to – working in China as VP of an environmental consulting firm.

Today, however, there was a bit more of an exchange. ¬†We’re awkward with each other when it comes to conversation because we’ve spent 20 years not talking much. ¬†Not every family functions the same way and a big part of my nuclear family is the individualism we have. ¬†I do my own thing in my own room and my parents do their own thing in their own spaces. ¬†They only come to my room occasionally to find me if it’s time to eat or wake up and I haven’t gone downstairs. ¬†Sometimes I feel the pressure to try to be more like a normal family and interact more, but who’s to say that’s better?

I never understood the people who talk to their parents on a daily basis. ¬†It was always a mystery to me what they had to talk about. ¬†Over the past couple of years, I’ve learned that it’s really nothing. ¬†They talk about absolutely nothing, really. ¬†Boring things like the weather and meals and unimportant general statements here and there. ¬†Recounts of days with some thoughts thrown in. ¬†Yet that is exactly what makes it so nice. ¬†They’re not talking to really learn anything most of the time; they’re talking just to converse with each other, share with each other.

That’s what I found today. ¬†I learned a lot of random things that won’t matter in the long run, like my aunt is looking for skincare gift packages. ¬†He, in turn, learned a lot of random mundane things too, like how I think sting rays would be great pets. ¬†In a few weeks, I bet we won’t even remember this stuff, but it’ll have created a deeper sense of connection that can last. ¬†It seems that those families that are constantly in contact can be close just because they exchange so much with each other over the years.

I guess there doesn’t always have to be a lucid point to each interaction. ¬†I’ve never liked pointless conversation, at least not via a device (hence why phone calls rarely last over 2 minutes). ¬†Unfortunately, most of the time that’s the only way to connect with my parents. ¬†Another reason why I just don’t talk to them. ¬†It’s too much effort, it’s too awkward, it’s completely pointless. ¬†Now I’m seeing that it may not be – not entirely, anyway.

Major pain

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The selection can be daunting, what with thousands to choose from...

The selection can be daunting, what with thousands to choose from...

I got a call from my cousin today, who is settling in to start college in Boston.¬† She’s a bit concerned about choosing classes, since she has yet to settle on a major.¬† The pressure is high for her to choose a major that she will excel in, which is no easy task, given her unfamiliarity with the language she will be taught in.¬† Additionally, because of the huge cost to study in the states, she’s under a time limit to complete a degree in the standard four years.¬† It may not be a huge problem if she didn’t want to double major.¬† But of course, college always presents itself as a major changing force in a person’s life, whether they have trouble choosing what to study or they need to adjust to life away from home.¬† It’s never easy, is it?

In my faltering Chinese, I advised her to try to find classes that she needs to take anyway to satisfy requirements.¬† I didn’t know how to say “general education” classes, but I described classes that overlap with needs and she mentioned she does have certain types of classes like science and math that she needs to fulfill no matter what.¬† I also explained to her how my dad and I don’t believe the major really does that much.¬† What it comes down to is the skill sets you learn from each type of degree – in the sciences, the scientific method and critical thinking; in the arts, writing and critical analysis.¬† From there, there are many directions you can go.¬† I recommended that she go talk to the professors in the areas she’s interested in to ask them about possible career paths and insight into their respective fields and she mentioned a dean, which is also a great idea.¬† Too bad she doesn’t remember his/her name and isn’t sure where to track down said dean…

From personal experience, I also encouraged her to take advantage of that which I never really did – office hours and tutoring.¬† Those resources are readily available to her and that extra effort and commitment can really go a long way.¬† Sometimes I wonder how I would have fared if I had gone to use those resources, but I don’t exactly regret not.¬† I got through my double degree just fine without, with a few minor stumbles along the way when classes got tough.¬† I’m still working on not always being oh so independent in certain areas, like studying.¬† It’s one of those things that you really have to train yourself to get used to though.¬† I hope she does better in that arena that I ever managed.

It’s funny how people get so worked up over what to major in in college.¬† Haven’t we all gotten the memo?¬† Except for highly technical jobs, a major is no sure indicator of employability or knowledge and skill set.¬† So why is that people still feel it is so important to choose the right one when you’re only 18-20 or so?¬† It’s one of those unfortunate myths that people are well aware of, but still choose to believe.¬† There’s so much more than taking an exact set of classes to learn the skills truly needed to be a good worker.¬† I think employers are understanding this more and more, but parents don’t always get news, I guess.¬† I hope that my cousin can choose a major she really enjoys or at least is interested in and that my uncle will understand that it’s not that decision that matters most, but what she does with her time while studying for her degree.

Life stages

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I was recently found on Facebook by an old middle school friend, which then prompted quite a discovery journey for me.¬† She and I only have two friends in common since she’s new to FB, so I went to check out those profiles too.¬† One of them was my best friend from those St. Louis days, who I haven’t heard from in years.¬† I stopped by her profile to find that she’s engaged!¬† I still remember the days when her parents were still so overprotective that they wouldn’t let her sleep over at a friend’s house until she was about 12 or 13 (my house was her first sleepover, and probably only because we were a Chinese family too).

She got engaged on Halloween - how cool! photo credit: her FB

She got engaged on Halloween – how cool! photo credit: her FB

From there, I was checking out a bunch of my other friends’ profiles and so many of them are engaged, married, or are starting families!¬† It’s really amazing to remember them the way I do as young teenagers and look to see what their lives are like now.¬† We’ve all grown up so much.¬† I guess it’s such a shocker for me because I never watched them grow up and my last memory of these people was in middle school, when we were still in our awkward phases.¬† It’s wonderful to be able to see where they are in their lives now, from planning a wedding to starting their careers.

I think the 20s are the most exciting years, what with many educational, personal, and professional milestones concentrated in that decade of our lives.¬† It made me think about how each of us is reaching a different stage in our lives – from those who are still finding their way to those who are settling down.¬† I think marriage and children are still more rare in my peers right now, but in another decade, that landscape will likely change drastically, with the opposite true.¬† It’s fascinating for me to see the type of people each of ends up with and the lifestyle that we fall into.

Ah, the rings... I much prefer silver to gold. photo credit: katargonza.com

Ah, the rings… I much prefer silver to gold. photo credit: katargonza.com

I know for sure that if I had not moved to California, my life would be immensely different.¬† One thing I’ve noticed was that my Asian friends from years past (which totals to a mere three) have all settled with Caucasian boyfriends/fiances.¬† I always thought I’d end up with one too, and more than likely would have if I hadn’t moved to SoCal, where the density of Asians is much, much higher.¬† Our surroundings play such a huge role in how our lives turn out, from the things we encounter to the people we’re exposed to.¬† I wonder if the environment in the Midwest and out East had anything to do with their decisions to get married at this age.¬† Maybe it’s just my sentiment, but I’d rather get my career underway first and that seems to be the vibe on the West Coast.

Nonetheless, I am intrigued to see who is married, who is engaged, who has a kid, who is still dating, and who is still single.¬† I don’t know why I find it so interesting, but I love going to people’s profiles to see their relationship status.¬† In fact, this prompted me to start going through all my friends to see what they have listed.¬† Other than the few who are married or engaged, I will likely forget the rest, but it’s still fun to explore.¬† It’s also a nice update, since some have changed their names and initially I was quite confused by their new surname.¬† I’ve never really thought about it, but when I did, I realized that I am far too attached to my name to just change it like that.¬† Panda’s ok with that (yay), so I can rest assured that I didn’t buy my domain for nothing.¬† ūüėõ¬† It’s still weird to think that the kids will have a different last name though.¬† I hate hypenated names though, so I’d rather they take his than try to do some awkward combo (unless we’re allowed to do some hybrid spelling?¬† o.O).

So, where are all your friends at?¬† Where you thought they’d be?

Parenthood

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Yesterday afternoon, unbeknownst to us, Typea became an uncle when his sister Chuckles gave birth to a little baby girl!¬† We found out much later that night and now I will just refer to him as Uncle, haha.¬† I’ve gotten a chance to chat with Chuckles a few times and she showed me some of the stuff they got for the baby, including a small bathtub, soft wrap thing, camera, and video camera.¬† I’ve always had this sort of fear and aversion of pregnant women, but somehow I felt nothing of the sort with her.¬† Perhaps it is because she held herself so well and dressed in ways that did not look awkward.¬† I saw a pregnant woman at the mall just recently and I definitely did not like her ‘belly half peeking out’ look.

A few months ago I also came across some pictures of an old high school classmate who had given birth to a boy and looked at some of her pictures.¬† Just yesterday I came across more shots and the boy has grown quite a bit!¬† It also struck me how strange it was to tell Panda that the baby was not even 24 hours old yet when I informed him.¬† That made me think of how quickly babies change in the first days, weeks, months, and years of their lives.¬† After a certain point, noticeable change occurs much less frequently and days become a little less meaningful and sometimes lost among the hubbub of activities.¬† So it’s quite cool to have the prospect of seeing a baby only days old soon.

photo credit: centralutahpublichealth.com

photo credit: centralutahpublichealth.com


It also makes me wonder about a lot of things that you normally wouldn’t think of (or at least that I’ve never really thought of), like what contractions feel like and how newborn feels and how the body looks immediately after birth – do you just deflate, in a way?¬† A few weeks ago we got a visit from a couple who brought their newborn and I remember the mother saying that the baby was too young to be fussy yet, since she was taking in so much of the environment.¬† Then last night Chatty was telling me how you’ve gotta understand that the baby went from a warm environment so safe and cushy to a completely new one, with light and sounds and probably air conditioning too.¬† I never really thought of the transition for the baby, from everything provided by the mother to fending for itself (in a sense).¬† But it totally makes sense that they cry and sleep a lot, since there’s so much to adapt to and so much to learn and process.

When it’s my turn, I don’t think I want to rely on books and advice from strangers.¬† As Chatty said, it’s from their own experience, but you must spend the time to get to know your own baby.¬† Why is she crying?¬† Is she cold?¬† Is she hungry?¬† What does she like?¬† These are all things that you learn with experience and I want to do it the old-fashioned way, without guidelines that I fall upon, but instead using some common sense and trial and error.¬† Maybe that sounds terrible to some (why ignore all the resources?), but other than practicing how to hold an infant and learning about some basic skills, I don’t plan on seeking tips from outside sources.

After all, I don’t want to raise a kid like everyone else, especially with the way I see the younger generation turning out.¬† I’ve got my own values and philosophy in terms of how to raise a kid and I’m sure much of it will be adjusted to fit with how we want our family to be.¬† So really, it’s a discovery journey for us to embark on and not a beaten path for us to follow.¬† I also don’t want to become dependent on a manual, flipping through each time the baby cries to figure out what might be wrong.¬† I just don’t want there to be a tradeoff in effort to learn on my part because there are piles of books available to do the dirty work for me.¬† Babies aren’t plug and play toys and shouldn’t be treated as such.

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