Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Location, Location, Location

We moved into that Old House in 1972.

Here we are now, in 2014.

Guess What?

I still live on the same street! 41 years! 
I hope to be here for a few more years yet.

I am not in the same house, but across the street from my Old house.

I had the great fortune of securing some vacant lots, among all these nice old established homes. That was some 27 years ago. The kids were grown and gone. 
So, we had a home built to suit our needs. How lucky was I? 
I am by myself now, but I still love living in this home. 

We built this newer home - smaller and easier to take care of, and more suitable for aging people.

Most of my old neighbors are gone. But my present neighbors are super wonderful. Some of them have been here for more than twenty-five or thirty years. And, I would not trade them for any one else.

I love my neighbors and my neighborhood! 

It is just a couple of blocks away from the University and the tennis courts. Two of my girls played tennis a lot when they were teens and won many tournaments. 
We are so situated that the university commuters do not bother us. 
We have a tree-lined street. Some of the trees are more than 60 or 70 feet tall. 
We are not on a thorough-fare either, so there is not that much traffic. 
I am in town but I feel like "out of town." 
I am five or ten minutes away from the bank, the post office, or shopping.

I know, I know.
You can do everything on line these days. But I am old-fashioned, and I still want the Human Touch. 

When we moved here, I was not in the Real Estate business. I did not know about the importance of Location. I guess we just lucked out. 
If you are in the market for a home, or if you are thinking about buying a home in the future, do remember the three little words,
"Location, Location, Location." 

You can change the way the house is built, but you cannot change the location!

To give us the icing on the cake, so to speak, our old house was one of our best investments we made!

Monday, September 29, 2014

This Old House

The House had Great Bones!

It was built in the early nineteen-thirty's, around the time when Depression swept the country. Yet Ada, with its oil boom, was on a happier note. 
The original owner was an attorney, possibly dealt with oil people. May be he was in oil business himself? The quality of the building materials was superb.
Mr. Chambers and his mother lived in this big house for a number of years. The house was later sold to a young couple with several children. Their marriage did not last. The couple divorced, and the house was rented for a while. It was vacant when we bought it.

After we scrubbed down the layers of dirt and grim, we discovered gleaming sweet-gum wood-paneling, crystal chandeliers, wrought iron andirons, and much more.

The house had been rented to a family with five children and a monkey. Ugh!
We found toys and dried up fruits in the vents, marbles and rubber balls in the chandeliers, unknown objects in hidden corners . . .
One of the upstairs bedroom window panes were painted Black. It took me many hours to remove the dried-up paint.

Neither S.C. nor I were handy, but we could at least clean and paint. 
He did try to be a plumber. 
I thought he was going to drive the hardware salesman crazy with his endless questions of What To Do With What? He made many, many trips to the hardware store. It was a good thing that the store was only minutes away from our house.

His philosophy was that the average plumber did not have as much intelligence as a scientist. He had a Master's degree in Science. Therefore, he should be able to do what the plumber could do. He forgot the factors, "training" and "experience." Somehow, he did manage to do some minor plumbing work. 
But he certainly was no carpenter.

My philosophy was, I do what I can, let the experts do what they can!

I could paint - painting the walls, I mean. So I did paint most of the walls. He did some painting, reluctantly - painting walls was not his thing. He probably was thinking that he could have spent those hours hunting or fishing.

And, Thank Goodness, we had enough sense not to paint over the wonderful Sweet-Gum Wood!

The Living-room had a high vaulted ceiling with sweat-gum beams and an impressive wood-burning fireplace. The dining-room had an interesting tray-ceiling. 

There were not any huge closets as those we have now-a-days, but there were quite a number of good-sized cedar-lined closets, and a large attic.

However, whoever had chosen the tiles in the bathroom, failed the aesthetic test. The fixtures were of excellent quality. There were a separate tub and a shower. Must be something in those days!
But the COLORS! - Fuchsia Pink and Turquoise. 

What were they thinking?

Was that really the Fashion?

Nothing could tone down the Shouting colors any!
I tried everything!
The best I could do was to hang some little white curtains at the window, and use white towels. 
We try not to let the colors blind us when we were in the bathroom.

The kitchen was adequate, if you didn't mind olive green appliances.

The furniture which we brought to the U.S. from HK with us in 1959, and some we bought on my trip back to HK in 1966 (mostly teakwood and rosewood with Chinese design and silk cushions) looked at home in the house. 
Our visitors would ask if we bought all new furniture. We said, "Oh, no. We have had them for a while."

We put up the many Chinese Scrolls (Chinese brush paintings that belonged to S.C.'s grandfather) on the walls. I did a large oil painting of Peonies for the space over the mantel in the living room. 

The girls had the large upstairs to themselves, with their own bath.

S.C. had a place for all his Toys in the basement! There was even a place for him to clean his fish in the utility room.

We were Home!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Bad News. Good News.

S.C. found out that he was diabetic.  
It was a big blow to him, of course.
His mother was diabetic. He inherited her genes.
In the beginning, he was not good about adhering to the diet that the doctor had prescribed. 
It was a struggle.
He would sneak off to have sweets - a piece of pie here, an ice cream cone there, and so on. 
In later years, he did admit that he was not being a good patient, and should have listened to his doctor more carefully.
He did manage to control his diabetes. But I am sure it was hard to take in the information. It was like being handed a Sentence.
However, he was a diabetic for over thirty-five years.

Thinking back, his job situation did not help his health either. He and the others had to visit waste dumping sites, without any protective clothing.
In later years, he developed lots of health issues. A lot of the time, the doctor could not pin point what was wrong with him. 

One of his colleagues was permanently disabled because of exposure to toxic waste and such.  

I often wondered, if he was harmed in the same way, at a lesser degree?

Once he got his diabetes under control, he carried on as usual. It did not stop him from his hunting and fishing outings. 

I had to change my way of cooking. I am from Shanghai. We Shanghai people cook with sugar - a pinch in almost every dish. Now, no more sugar!

We managed.

Time went by.

We were in our house for a couple of years, Mr. Thompson told us that he had to raise rent or we needed to buy the house form him. We ended up buying the house, though it was not really a house we wanted.
As the children grew older, the house felt smaller every year. If the children had friends over, I had no place to go for some peace and quiet. 
I was wanting to move. But S.C. did not want to spend the money.
When I found a large old house in a very nice neighborhood, I wanted him to see it. He resisted.

One day at lunch, he suddenly said, that he would go and look at the house just so I would stop nagging him. 

This big old house had charm, though it needed a lot of work. It had four bedrooms, three fireplaces, and a finished basement. He took one look at the basement, he was sold. He could have a Man Cave! He told me that if I could work out a way for us to have the house without dipping into our savings, we would buy the house.

Well, I Put My Thinking Cap On!

We had enough equity in our present house for  20% down payment. 
The monthly payment would be sixty-five dollars more than our present payment . . . 
One hundred ninety something to be exact.
There was a garage apartment on the property . . . 
If we rented the apartment out for sixty-five dollars a month, we could make the monthly payment . . .
Or, I would go and find a job and make at least sixty-five dollars a month to make up the difference in monthly payment . . .
Now, if only we could sell our present house . . . 

I went to see Mr. Thompson. I presented to him my problem.
He said that he would buy our house, then we could buy the big old house from him.
So, we moved again - this time I could not wait to move!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Leader of The Pack

When Cissy and Melinda started pre-K and Kindergarten at the First Methodist Church, I started to have a bit of free time.
I tried to find a job.

That proved to be almost impossible.

Good paying jobs for women were practically non-existent in Ada in the sixties.

I was too qualified for a sales person's job - which paid a dollar an hour. Anyway, I did not think I could stand on my feet all day. So that was out.
There were not any executive secretary jobs to be had. I tried some companies. They had no vacancies. Or, may be they just did not want me. Because I am foreign? No speskee English?

I finally deliberately omitted my higher eduction qualification on my resume and got a part time job at S & Q, a clothing store. 
Remember, I was a pretty good seamstress?
I did alterations.
I could work at home, which worked out wonderfully for me. Alterations paid well. For shortening a skirt, I could make four dollars - a ten or fifteen minutes work for me. I also worked on man's suits and tuxedos. They took a bit longer and more skill. But the pay was good. However, it was not a job that could afford you a living. I was merely making some Pin Money.

During Summer vacation time, I needed to find somethings for the girls to do.
I went to the local library.
Ada, as a small town, had a great library, even then. 
The Library was located near downtown in a beautiful building, small but adequately stocked with children's books. (The library moved to its present location in late seventies.)

Remember. I was a librarian before coming to the U.S.?

I talked to some of the young student-workers there. They happened to be students from East Central, majoring in music and art. When I mentioned about forming some children's summer arts program, they became excited.
So, when vacation time came, I had made arrangements with one of the local elementary schools to allow us to use one of the classrooms for this program.
I would provide the supplies and some simple refreshments, and the two young men would lead the children who enrolled, in organized arts and crafts classes - three afternoons a week for some four weeks. It was free for the children who attended. Thus, we started out Summer Children's Arts Program. 
Later, some music teacher took over. With funds from grants and the city, Children had art and music during summer vacation. 
Eventually, it became part of the Library Programs. It is still going on now.

My connection with the elementary schools led to the event of my organizing libraries for two of the elementary schools, Hays and Washington. 
I was paid with a lot of coffee and donuts.
Later, at Hays, I worked as a teacher's aide, but in fact, as a librarian for a couple of years. The principal always called me, "Our Librarian."
I felt like I was doing something useful and I could also be home with the children when school was out.

At some time, I was A Blue Birds Leader and a Camp Fire Girls Leader. I cannot remember who talked me into doing that.
For a few years, you would find me, going places with a group of chatty and giggling girls in tow. I remember one of the highlights was Visiting the Post Office Building and riding the Elevator - some of the girls had never been on an elevator before! By the way, at that time, we had very few elevators in town. 

I was trying to introduce something new to the Blue Birds and Camp Fire Girls!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Your Business Is My Business

We never had a Welcome such as we received in this friendly little town of Ada.

Soon after we came to Ada, Mrs. Spencer, wife of the President of East Central College, and Mrs. Parker, wife of the Business Manager at East Central College, came calling.
They invited me to their monthly Ladies' Luncheon at the Spencers' Ranch.
Both ladies were terrific cooks. I enjoyed their luncheons, and learned a number of new dishes - good old-fashioned home-cooking. They were also very generous in sharing their recipes with all the guests.
Both ladies have passed away.  
I still use their recipes.

Then, Mr. Richardson, one of the most prominent members of Ada, came calling, and bid us welcome.
He also introduced S.C. to Lions Club. 

The Newcomers Club Hostess came bearing gifts, donated by local merchants.

Other ladies, the old-timers here, took a liking to me and the girls. We were invited to Teas and Coffees. They treated my girls as if they were grown-ups. The girls enjoyed that. They also introduced us to new foods - pecans, okras, and grits.

Since I was a member of The American Association of University women in Austin once, my membership was transferred to Ada. I became a member of Ada Branch and stayed in the Association until it dissolved in the eighties.

Ada certainly showed us Southern hospitality.

The Lab Wives' Club had monthly Coffees. It also formed Bridge Sessions and other functions, such as seasonal parties when the husbands were invited. 

I kept busy.
So, we gradually settled in.

One thing about being in a small town is:
Every one knows every one else.
News travel fast.

Your business is every one's business.
There is only one Newspaper, The Ada Evening News. 
Is that the Reason?

I went to town one morning. When my husband came home for lunch, he already knew that I had been to town. I was surprised and somewhat in disbelief. Whoever saw me in town knew who I was and told my husband? 

I was merely shopping.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Age Is Just A Number

People often are surprised to learn that I am as old as I am.

They ask, " What is your secret?"

I don' t really have a secret.

For years, I lived for my children and my husband - not really having a mind of my own to speak of. 

For years, I probably did a lot of meaningless activities. There are many things in life we think we must do that really are not worth doing. 

For years, I lived to bring up my children. Now they are on their own and have been for many years. I don't cling on to them, or to my grand children. 

"Bring them up" and let them Go.

Outwardly, I possibly presented to the world that I was simply a dutiful wife and a good mother. I lived for my family. But one thing was for sure, I never was pessimistic.

I had never lost my Inward Eye, though it had been in hibernation.

Like Wordsworth said, "The inward eye, which is the bliss of solitude."  I always knew that I needed Space. Now, I do have it, I cherish it. I also have found my Inward Eye.

I am on my way to know the Joy of a Simple Life.

I take responsibility.
I prioritize, or trying to anyway.
I try to 
     "Figure out my purposes. Let my purposes guide the goals of my life,
      Organize my activities based on my purposes,
      Harmonize my schedule with my purposes,       
      Bring my activities into agreement with my goals."

I learned to say, "No.", and to not do anything that I did not wish to do.

I try to have a Can Do attitude, a positive attitude. 
I try to exercise my mind. No, I don't do crossword puzzles.
But I engage in hobbies and activities.
I stay active.
I eat healthy.
I make sure that I have plenty of sleep. 

I am also learning how to be more patient and how to let go.

Yes, there are lot of "I"s in my life these days. You are ultimately responsible for yourself. Right?

Age is just a Number!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Fist Fight In School?

After almost two weeks in the no-star motel, we finally found a small three bedroom house to rent. The house was so small, our furniture could not fit in. Neither was there a garage.
We used one of the bedrooms to store a lot of the furniture and put all three girls in one tiny bedroom. 

What choice did we Have? 
I was dying to get out of the One room in the motel.

Would you believe, within the month (we had hardly settled into the house), our landlord wanted us to move? He said that he had sold the house. 
Was he telling the truth?
Maybe he did not like us?

I was really upset. I told the landlord that I would not move until I found another place to go to. I told him that he could evict me, if he wanted to.

One of the real estate tycoons in town, Charles Thompson, was very helpful to me. He rented one of his houses to us on the west side of town - at that time, it was at the edge of town. Beyond our block, there were fields. 
It still was fairly small, but at least it had a garage and a kitchen/den/dining combination, and it had central air. So we moved again. 
I missed my home in Albuquerque.

S.C. did a lot of traveling in the early days. I was not happy being alone with the kids for days on end. If it was not for some Lab wives who gave me both moral and physical support, (One of them even came and stayed with me some.) I would not know what would I have done.

Cynthia started third grade in the fall.
One year younger than her classmates, and some one-head shorter.
Soon I got a call from her teacher, Mrs. Smith. Mrs. Smith wanted to see me.
I did not know what to expect. Did she want to move Cynthia up a grade? I wondered.

So I went to the elementary school.

Mrs. Smith said that Cynthia hit one of her classmates, a big husky boy. 
I said, "It can't be. Cynthia had never been in a fight before."
Mrs. Smith said, "She did."
Turned out that the kids were taunting her.
You see, there is this chant about - 
"My father is Chinese, my mother is Japanese . . .
Chin, Chin, Chin. . ."
The kids pulled their eyelids up and down while chanting, making fun of Asian eyes.
Yes, Cynthia did Hit big Jeff on the face.

Well, it stopped the taunting!

I did not think I needed to apologize for my daughter's anger. I would have hit Jeff, too.

And she paved the way for her sisters.

P.S. Charles had a grand-daughter, of the same age as Cissy, my youngest. The girls were two then.They became good friends. When the girls got older, Charles used to take them fishing at his ranch. His wife would have the girls to play at her house.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Kid In Candy Store

Up to the time when we moved to Ada, Oklahoma, the smallest place I ever lived in was Albuquerque, Mew Mexico.

Those days, I thought Houston and Austin, TX, were small. 
After all, the places I had lived in, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Edinburgh, and London, were all large cities. Shanghai had some six or seven million people when I was there. I think it has some twenty millions in Greater Shanghai now. Hong Kong has some eleven plus millions. I don't know about London, but it is in the many millions.
So, being in Ada was definitely a new experience. 

The other factor was, even in Edinburgh, people accepted me as who I was. In Shanghai or in London, you could be Purple or Green and people paid you no attention. 

I believe, Ada was integrated in 1965, one year before we came here. Those days, you seldom saw any colored people in town. By color, I mean Red, or Yellow, or Brown, or Black.
And you could not tell the Native Americans in Ada from the others - unlike in New Mexico, there are no reservations here. 
I did see cowboys, or people who dressed like cowboys and cowgirls.

In Ada, I guess I was a Novelty. 
I was on Main Street one day not long after we came to Ada, some lady came up to me, gingerly touched my arm, and softly asked me Where I was from and What was I doing in Ada?
I was sure she did not mean any malice.
Still she made me want to say, "I am from Mars."
I did not, of course. 
I just smiled and said, "I am from Albuquerque."
She did not know what to say to me after that.

Some days, people would come up to me and ask me if I were Japanese.
And you know how I feel about THAT!
My answer was a definite "No!"
And when I told them that I was originally from China. They wondered where that was. If I mentioned Hong Kong, they would be totally puzzled.
Most of them were surprised that I could speak English.
"Oh, you speak English," they would say. 
"Oh, you speak good English," other times they would say.
I tried not to make a big deal of it. 
Though in the beginning, Okie English was a bit difficult for me to understand. And the Adans had difficulties understanding my British English.
After being here for 48 years, I now speak Okie.
I learned to use "a little ways" and "I done told him" and similar phrases - depending on whom I am talking to.

When you are selling a ranch to the cowboy, you need to wear jeans and boots, Right?

Governor Henry Bellman gave us "Okie" certificates. That is the Truth. I have the certificates.

Most of the Scientists were from somewhere else. Some of them were also from much larger cities. Most of the wives were suffering from Cultural Shock, in various degrees.
(It just dawned on me that all the scientists at that time were men!)
We had a Wives Club and it helped all of us newcomers to adjust. We had Coffee regularly and talked about whatever we had encountered as Outsiders, trying to laugh off some of the situations.
Many of us had small children and we helped one another, trying to make This Change a bit easier for us.

Since we were in an area where Fishing and Hunting were the Norm for the men, a number of our husbands took up these activities as their new or renewed hobbies. Most of them loved being the Hunters and Fishermen they had dreamed to be. 
And there were some of the Experts to lead the way. 

MY husband, in particular, thought that he had "died and gone to heaven" so to speak, when he found that he could go fishing and hunting in this part of the country a lot of the times. 
He began collecting guns, joined the Skeet Club, and
did skeet-shooting for competition.
He went hunting, doves in particular.
He went fishing. 
He even bought a boat later. 
He bought all kinds of gadgets and learned how to tie fish lures and reloading shots.

What can I say? 

It mattered not at all to him that I had no interest whatsoever in any of that.
I did tell him that I would not clean any fish or doves. I had barely conquered my fear in handling chicken or pork or beef, that came from the stores. I compromised and did cook his "catches" after they were cleaned. 
One time, I had to cook rabbit! I was almost sick. I never did it again.

He was in "seventh heaven."

A kid in Candy Store.

Monday, September 22, 2014

A Gleaming White Building

Robert S. Kerr, governor of Oklahoma 1943-47, served in the U.S. Senate from 1950 until his death in 1963. 

Roy S. McKeown wrote a book called "Cabin In The Blackjacks, A History of Ada, Oklahoma."  In his book, he said, " (Kerr) was the most powerful member of the U.S. Senate." 

I met Roy after I came to Ada. 
Roy came to Ada, Indian Territory, with his family in 1906. Roy attended Ada Schools. He went away for schooling a while. Then he made his home in Ada, with his wife Jewell, in 1930. 
He was Editor of the local newspaper, Ada News, for a number of years, before joining East Central College (East Central became a University in late 1970's). His last five years before retirement in 1972 were spent as a full time (English) Department member. 
Roy published his book on Ada in 1980.

Neither S.C. nor I had much knowledge about Ada, before we moved here. 
We merely knew that Senator Kerr was instrumental in bringing the Water Lab (that is what we locals call the present EPA facility) to Ada.

Roy said about the building,
"A gleaming white federal laboratory building rose on a hilltop just south of the City (Ada)." 

Construction of the building and its complex facilities on 16-acres site, on a hilltop, south of Ada, began in 1964. The building was completed and dedication ceremony was in May 1966. 
The building sits on former Kerr property. Senator Kerr was born in the little log cabin nearby. He grew up and went to school in Ada. He was buried near the Water Lab for a number of years until the family decided to move the grave to the City.
The little log cabin is now at Wintersmith Park.

I am sure the Gleaming White Building greatly impressed S.C., with all its state-of-the-art equipments.

The locals were all in awe of the Water Lab and of the scientists who worked there. Family members included. All scientists who worked at the Lab were also Adjunct Professors at East Central, that included my husband.
When we first moved here and mentioned that we were with the Water Lab, everyone gave us instant Credit.
The downtown merchants would say to me, "Take the dress home. If you don't like it, just bring it back. Otherwise, we will just bill you." 
No receipts required. I did not even tell them my address.
I was very surprised. No one in any Big City where I lived would do that for me even if they knew me. 

Ada is 88 miles southeast of Oklahoma City, which we refer to as The City,
133 miles north of Dallas, TX.,
has a total of 15.9 square miles, 0.1 square mile is water,
had a population of about 16,000 in 1966,
had a population of 16,810 as of 2010,
And, Ada still has a population no more than 17,000, I think. But that does not include the Chickasaw Nation. The Chickasaw Nation has done wonders for Ada in recent years. The Chickasaw Nation capitol is in Ada.

In 2010, Medium household income was $22,977.
In 2010, 21.4% of the population lived below poverty line.
In 2010, 17% of the population were 65 and older. 
I am sure the last number has increased. We see a great number of older people around, including me and many of my friends.

That being said, Ada had been a thriving little town, actually a booming town, back in the thirties when Fitts Oil Boom made many people in Ada very rich.
And, when we first came here, Ada was developing rapidly. 

But little did we know that we would have to spend more than a couple of days in a kind of no-star motel on Broadway - because there was not a suitable home for us to rent! 
We came into town on a Saturday evening, nearly missed the town. We stopped at Main and Mississippi (both two lane streets at that time) where there were four service stations, one on each of the four corners. We stopped at one of them and asked for directions. The guy at the service station looked at us, shook his head, and said,
"You are right here!"
We asked about motels or hotels. He said that there were two on Broadway. So we thanked him and back-tracked to Broadway. We checked into the better looking one. 

The next day was Sunday. All the stores were closed, even the service stations. No real estate people worked that day either.
S.C. went to work on Monday, and I, with our three little girls, had the job of finding us a place to rent.

Now, in Ada, in 1966 -
The very rich lived on Kings Road. 
The upper middle class owned homes in a few choice areas. There was hardly any suburban development to speak of.
The rest lived in little sad-looking frame houses.

There were very few homes for rent, many were not suitable for us.
There were very few middle class people like us.
And, we were the first Chinese-American family in town.

For the first time, I encountered discrimination. 

When I found that there was a decent three bedroom home for rent, I went to see the owner at the lumberyard. He told me it was not available. I found out later that he rented the same house to a white scientist at the water Lab, and he had come to Ada after we did.  

Of course, I did not shop at that lumber yard Ever!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sojoun In Hong Kong

Some time around the end of 1965 or beginning of 1966, some scientists from Ada, Oklahoma, went to a Conference in Albuquerque. They told my husband about this brand new federal government's Research Lab in Ada, Oklahoma - Robert S. Kerr Water Research Laboratories. They encouraged my husband to join them in Ada. The Research Lab was under the U.S. Department of Interior at that time, I believe. 
S.C. thought it would be a step towards a better career. 
He applied for the job.

We had never been to Oklahoma before. And when we tried to find Ada on the map, we could not.

My knowledge of American geography was pretty narrow. To me, Oklahoma means cowboys and Indians. (Sorry, I should say Native Americans.) 
I did know about Rogers and Hammerstein's musical "Oklahoma." 
And the song "Oh, What A Beautiful Morning."

Anyway, if my husband wished to advance his career, I was not going to stand in his way.

S.C. came to Ada by himself for an interview. He was offered the job and he accepted.

We decided that we would take the opportunity to take a couple of weeks off and visit our families in HK, as it had been some six years since we left HK. The grandparents had not met the two younger girls yet.
I wrote to my father and my father-in-law, asking for help. They agreed to foot the bill for five air-line return tickets from the West coast to HK, and we would pay for the fares for our traveling in the U.S.

So, we packed up some of our belongs, and left them, together with our two cars, with friends in Albuquerque. We would go back for them when we returned.
We made arrangements to store our furniture and the rest of our belongings for a period before sending them on to Ada, confident that we would have an address for the moving company by then.
So, off we went to HK.

The girls were good travelers. They enjoyed the flights, both domestic (from Albuquerque to San Francisco) and international (from San Francisco to Hong Kong, via Honolulu). This time, the overseas trip involved only one Stop. Much better than the one S.C., Cynthia, and I took six years before.

The families were elated to see us. 
We stayed at my parents' place.

My father loved children. He and mother tried their best to "spoil" the girls. Grandparents' privilege!
Father was delighted to be surrounded by his grandchildren. Melinda celebrated her fourth birthday while we were in Hong Kong. My father was smiling from ear- to-ear at the little birthday party for Melinda.

Father was also concerned about me, saying that my hands were so rough and hoped that I was not working too hard. I assured him that I was not. He also insisted that I should have some better clothing made, even though I told him that it would not be practical for me to wear silk in the U.S. He insisted. So, I had several beautiful Chinese dresses made -  they are still sitting in my camphor chest.
Since my family was also in textiles, mother would send me a lot of the Sample Clothing in the succeeding years after we moved to Oklahoma. Besides the fact that I made my own clothes, I always dressed reasonably well. I was a good seamstress then.

S.C.'s family entertained us royally. We visited his father and the rest of the family. S.C. also visited with some extended families.

S.C. took Cynthia around HK, showing her the many sights. She rode the double-deck bus. When she got back, she said, "Mom,the buses were dirty." 
She was used to riding in private cars in the States, and had never been on any city buses.
Hong Kong had six and half million people at that time. It was quite crowded. And I don't doubt that the public buses were not too clean.

Mother had a pretty large household at that time. My younger brother Henry had been married and divorced by then. He was a commercial pilot and was on the road frequently. Mother was raising his two girls. They were slightly older than my girls. 

My youngest brother Michael was home. He had been to England and Germany to study, but things turned out differently as he expected, and he had returned to HK. AT that time, he was neither studying nor working. 
It turned out that he fell in love with a girl in Germany. Michael wanted to marry her, but my father would not allow it. 
I don't know all the details, but I know that father probably threatened to disown him. Anyway, he had returned home - drifting in life, totally depressed.  

My little sister was studying at the University of Hong Kong, but living at home.

Our two-week visit went by way too fast. 

It was time to return to the States.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

My Middle Child

Melinda, my middle child, felt like that she was been pushed aside by the baby when she herself was still a baby. 

Melinda was also over-shadowed by her older sister who excelled academically and was getting more attention from the grown-ups. It did not help that Cynthia also has a strong type A personality.

My mother had many children, (she had thirteen babies, six of us live to maturity) and she was very biased as far as we children were concerned. She definitely had her favorites. I happened to be "on her side." 

She mistreated some of my siblings to the point that we hardly knew they existed. I know it sounds very harsh, but that was the truth.
She sent two of my younger brothers to boarding school when they were very young. I only saw Chong and "Little Pup" (the nickname that we gave to my little brother) during some holidays. Even when they were home, their presence was hardly  felt by the rest of us. 
Chong and Little Pup lived in the shadows, being ignored mostly.
Unfortunately, my father did not do anything to remedy the situation. 
If he tried, I did not know. 
Mother ruled the household. 

Little Pup passed away when he was only ten. Of what? I did not know, and still don't. I did know that it affected Chong greatly, They were good buddies.

Chong went to live with my paternal grandmother, Grandma Kim, when the rest of the family left Shanghai for Hong Kong. (My grandma Kim did not wish to leave Shanghai.) 
Chong was in his teens then. I think he did finish high school, but never went into higher education; because by then Communism was all over China. Chong was considered to be from an Imperialistic family (all middle class and upper class people were condemned by the Communists.) For over ten years, only party members' children could go to school. Even then, all they were taught were party policies. Books were burned. History was rewritten by the government, literally.
We, in Hong Kong, did not have much contact with those we left behind in Shanghai.  
And, I had left HK for the U.S. in 1959. 
I did not see Chong for over some forty years.
Chong managed to escape to HK (HK was still British at that time) in the '60s. He had already married by then, but his wife could not join him in HK until some time later. 
Years later, when I tried to ask him about his life in China, he avoided answering me in any details at all. He merely said that life was "not easy." 
His wife said that they had several years of real "hardship." 
They usually would just say that they were doing "fine" in Hong Kong.
Chong turned out to have a good business mind. He saved for retirement and owned a couple of flats.

I always had a soft spot for Chong, but I never really did much for him. I did try to sponsor him and his family to immigrate to the U.S.  But he refused to move the last minute. He said that he was doing all right in HK.

Our father passed away in l968.
Mother passed away in 1989.
I did not go home for twenty years - from 1966 to 1986 - I could not afford the time or the money then.
I did not even make it home when my father passed away- he died very suddenly.. 
I felt I was in A deep Black Hole for a while, until my husband said to me, 
"You are forgetting you have a family here - me and the girls." 
That was the year I went to East Central and took two Art courses - Fundamentals of Art and Painting. It helped me to heal. But I stopped doing that because I could not in good conscience spending money and time on myself - the girls' needs were more important to me.

Our 1966 trip to Hong Kong was financed mostly by S.C.'s father and my father. Five Airline tickets cost a small fortune. We could not have made the trip without their help. 

In the '90s, I did make several trips back to HK. Whenever I went back, I would spend time with Chong and his family. 
I very much wanted to make up to him for what mother did. But How? 
Chong grew up without a mother's love.
It was an impossible task. 
I merely succeeded to let him know that I loved and cared for him. 

And you know what? He was the one who paid for mother's medical bills after mother passed away.

Chong was artistic and he worked as a toymaker, designing and making toys. At one time, he made toys for Mattel in Hong Kong, and he had a hand in making Cabbage Patch Dolls. He learned to speak English well. (You have to in HK.)

His wife manged to leave shanghai eventually, and reunited with him in HK. They have one daughter, Joyce. Joyce was very pretty, and she worked as a model in HK and Singapore for several years. 
She was Chong's pride and joy. And I was glad to know that he had a loving family. 
Chong retired from work in the nineties. He passed away a few years ago. I felt that I lost part of me. I was very sad.
His widow, Margaret, lives in Hong Kong. His daughter, Joyce, and her husband have two children. I think they live close to Margaret.

I vowed not to be like my mother -
I do not want thirteen children.
And, I would always treat my children fairly - playing no favoritism what-so-ever.

Melinda wanted to go out-of-state for her college education, like Cynthia. We promised her that we would let her do so, and she could choose to go where ever she wished to, after Cynthia graduated from Indiana. Because we could not afford to have two our-of-state college students at one time - even though Cynthia had teaching scholarships.
So after attending East Central University, our local university, for two years, she decided to go to University of North Texas in Denton. We went down to Denton with her and got her settled in the dorm. 
After a couple of days, I got a desperate phone call from her, 
"Will you come and pick me up, Mama. I  want to come home. I will do anything you want. Just Come and pick me up please," she was crying.
She wanted to come back to Ada, because she could not stand dorm life in Denton - she was sharing a room with seven other undergraduates and they were - well, they were undergraduates, noisy, loud, smoking . . . possibly drinking.
Melinda was used to have her own room, at home. She also had a good part time job at East Central.  She was not used to Dorm Life.
S.C. threw a fit, saying that she should tough it out since she opted to go to Denton.
I disagreed. 
The next day, we went to Denton and brought her home.
She finished her studies at East Central, and got her degree in Accounting with honors. She worked hard and did well. 
She became a very competent accountant and a great financial planner for herself and her husband. 

Melinda was devoted to her father - 'babying' him in his last few years of his life. 
Now she is 'babying' me. I am learning to let her.

I try my very best to treat and love all my children equally, showing No favoritism at all.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Weekday And Weekend Outings

When we were in Albuquerque, Thursday night was Mother's Night Out for me.

There  was a big Mall in Town. On Thursday nights, the stores at the Mall opened late - till nine or ten, if I remember right.
So, I would take the stroller for Cynthia, and the two of us would go to the Mall.
S.C. would baby-sit the two little ones.

You see, I did not belong to any ladies groups, nor did I play cards (bridge) those days. I had met a few neighbors, about my age, with little children. We did meet occasionally for morning coffee. But we did not go on outings together.
Anyway, Thursday nights, I got to get out of the house for a bit.

Mostly, I would do window shopping. Sometimes, I would buy an ice-cream cone as a treat for Cynthia. 
I enjoyed these weekly outings, until I found out that my husband would not change the babies' diapers - I cut short my outings. I could not let that happen, could I?

When Cissy was a bit older, we made short weekend trips to surrounding areas. 
Santa Fe was a quaint little place then and one of my favorite places to visit. So was Taos. I was taken by the native arts and crafts. We did not buy any though.
We visited Colorado Springs and North Pole. 
Did you know there is a place near Colorado Springs called North Pole, where the children could meet Santa and visit the Rein deers?
We would pile the kids into our station wagon and head towards the mountains. We were ignorant of the fact that we might be in trouble if we encountered car trouble. We did not know to bring blankets or extra water or extra food with us. Somehow, we never had any problems.
We visited Santa Fe ski basin - it was not quite developed at the time. And it was beautiful.
We went to Alamogordo - way up in the mountains, in the middle of nowhere, where the nuclear lab was.
We drove up to Pike's Peak in our car, on the narrow two lane, winding and dangerous. I held on to the seat as if that would have helped. The view was breathtaking, but I stayed in the car with Cissy in my lap. There was snow on the ground.
We visited Seven Falls and took turns climbing up the narrow rickety wooden steps in order to see the Falls. One of us would stay with the children down below while the other one tried to make it up to the top of several flight of stairs. I went up half way and did not make it to the top - I chickened out. The steps were kind of wobbly and I did not like heights.
We also went to White Sands where the atomic bombs were tested. White Sands had a haunting beauty, with sand so pure and fine, for as far as your eye could see. The kids had fun playing in the sand.

We ventured across the border and went to Mexico a couple times, and had a taste of border town old Mexico.

Sometimes, we just went up to Sandia Mountains, which was practically in our backyard. We would go up there to hike and pick pinon nuts.
When the Cable Car was built, we would ride it to the Peak. From there, you could see the whole of Albuquerque. I wished that I had enough knowledge about painting to have painted those magnificent and colorful mountains then.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Being A Young Mother

If you think that my life as a wife and mother was somewhat mundane, I totally agree with you. 

Unless you consider the universal daily tasks of day- to-day living and 'bringing up children' exciting, it is simply a necessary and essential part of living. 

I am a firm believer that you need to do all you can for your children if you bring them into this world.

I lived for my girls those days. It, sometimes, made my husband jealous.

Of course, as parents, we delighted in baby's first step, the baby's first word, and so on. 
Let me tell you, life is not a "bowl of cherries." Oftentimes, being a disciplinary, a teacher, a nurse, a companion, a healer; in short, a "mother", is a major undertaking. I did take my job seriously; though, at times, I wished for a "place of my own" to hide from it all, even for just a few minutes.

Melinda was a good natured middle child, and easy to take care of.
Cissy. Well, Cissy is Cissy. Bubbly and loving.

Cynthia was born mature. She also has a very inquiring mind and a great memory.
She did not get that from me - my memory is often like a sieve. 
She did inherit her father's stubbornness.

We did not have Kindergarten in the public schools in Albuquerque at that time. But there was a program on the television every morning, equivalent to kindergarten. Cynthia and I watched it together every weekday. And everyday, we practiced what she learned. By the time she was five, she was reading ''books", not just nursery rhymes. 
She loved to read. She read everything - the milk carton at breakfast, the signs on the road, and even some parts of the newspaper or magazines, which were meant for grown-ups.
She has a memory like an elephant. 
She memorized all the TV programs. We would often ask her when we needed to know when a program was to come on.

When she was six, we enrolled her in school.
Soon the teacher called us to have a meeting. 
She said that Cynthia was able to do all the work in the first grade and recommended that she be placed in second grade. The only part that she needed some extra work on was Math. The other thing was, She was small in statute and quite slender, and we needed to think about her 'keeping up' with her classmates socially.
We decided to move her up a grade, and see how it worked out. We agreed that, if it posed a problem, we could change the situation immediately. 
And I started to drill her on Math everyday at home. She soon caught up with her fellow students and did better than any of them.
In later years, boys would call her, not for dates, but for help in Math and Science problems.
She graduated from High School, a valedictorian.
She won scholarships, a number of them.
She went on to University of Oklahoma for two years before entering the professional "School of Optometry" in Indiana. 
She was the youngest in her Optometry Class at Indiana University to graduate and with honors.
Many of her classmates still tease her at School Reunions. They woulds say," How old were you, Cynthia, when you graduated? Thirteen?"

Work is, a lot of times, mundane. 
How many of us are fortunate enough to have a job that we absolutely love?  If you are lucky enough to have job you love, cherish it. Or, make it so. The rewards are worse it.

Throughout those first years of my life in the U.S., I regularly wrote to my parents. I also was the designated writer who wrote to my husband's parents. 
My mother-in-law passed away not too long after we moved to the U.S. A pity. She did not have the chance to know her grandchildren. 

The other grandparents did get to see the children when we took a trip back to Hong Kong in the summer of 1966, before moving to Ada, Oklahoma.  

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Suburban Wife

That year, on New Year's Eve, we were in a bleak rent house in Albuquerque, New Mexico, without any furniture.

We made the best of it. 
For a couple of nights, we had an air mattress for me to sleep on. The rest of the family slept in sleeping bags on the floor. 

S.C. started working right away. 

The furniture and our belongings finally arrived.

The weather was frigid. If I hung any washing on the line, it turned into a sheet of ice in a matter of minutes.

Perhaps all the this moving affected me. Cissy came before her time. And when I was in the hospital, S.C. found a brand new brick home in a new housing development, at the foot of Sandia Mountains. He purchased it. We moved into it right after I got out of the hospital.
Those days, it did not take long to get a mortgage. We had the down payment, we had excellent credit, and we secured the loan right away.

Albuquerque, New Mexico, is quite different from Texas. The altitude took a bit getting used to. Learning to cook at high altitude was one of the things I had to adjust to.

Our house was larger and better than the one we had in Austin, TX.  From my kitchen window, I could see the snow-capped mountains. We had a terraced back yard. And since we were high up, we could see the lights of downtown from our backyard at night.
I like the mountains, but I never got used to the sand storms and the tumble weeds.

When spring came, we started to put in a yard. We planted trees, shrubs, and flowers. We tried to put in a lawn. We sowed seeds and watered them every hour or so for days. Then the wind came and blew all the grass-seeds into our neighbor's yard. We had to start over again. We did that three times - can you believe that?
We did grow some lovely roses, and they bloomed from spring till early winter.
And, of course, S.C. had his vegetable garden.

S.C.' lab was on the campus of University of New Mexico, which was some ten miles from our house.
We needed a second car, now that we have three children and live in the suburb. And I needed a driver's license.
I had learned to drive in Hong Kong  - but it had been a while and I needed to learn to drive on the opposite side of the street from Hong Kong. I did learn to drive a stick shift. So the automatic drive was a breeze. However, it did not work for S.C. to give me any lessons - so we enlisted some friend's help.
I passed the test and got my driver's license. We bought another car.

So with a husband,
     three kids,
     a three bed-room house,
     a television,
     a dishwasher,
     a washer and a dryer,
     a two-car garage,
     and 2 cars,
my life as an American suburban wife began.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

My Surprise Child

Before our second child was a year old, I found myself pregnant again.

Remember my mother had thirteen children. But, I did not wish to follow in her foot steps!

I was not ready to have another child - I was barely managing the two little ones - one four-year old and one not even a year old. I panicked. 

Cissy was born in New Mexico. 
We named her Cecilia, but we call her Cissy.
Turned out, Cissy, our youngest one, became a real delight to us. She grew up to be the one with the most pleasant personality - bubbly and loving. 
Cissy is different.
Cissy managed to climb out of her crib before she was eight or nine months old.
Cissy did not like to make her bed when she was older, so she opted to sleep on top of the comforter.
Cissy was not very organized, but she was artistic.
Cissy could go to a new place, and within a short time, she would have half a dozen buddies. 
Every one loves Cissy.

Cissy could go and buy a yard or two materials and stitch up some outlandish but interesting clothing, with the most unusual color combinations. Her workmanship may not be first rate, but her design was excellent.

Cissy went to England while she was a college student. When she left the U.S., she had a beautiful but ordinary hairdo. When she came home, I went to the airport to pick her up.  I found a kid with some very short and super unconventional hairdo. I took one look at her and said,
"I don't know if I can take you back to Ada, Oklahoma, Cissy." 
But of course I took her back to Ada. And her hairdo was a Hit with all her contemporaries. 
She still wears a variation of that Vidal Sassoon "experimental hairdo."

She did turn out to be much more organized in later life, and she still keeps her artistic talents. She is always bubbly and loving.

So, we were in Austin, with me expecting her. And my husband decided to consider taking a job in New Mexico with the New Mexico State Health Department. 
That meant we had to leave our nice new home and our friends in Austin, to go to the unknown, once again.

This time, the family did go to Albuquerque, New Mexico, together to check out the city, before he made the decision.
So here I was, big as a cow. 
We drove from Austin to Albuquerque, met S.C.'s future boss. He treated us royally because he wanted S.C. to join the department.
He showed us around town - he even took us to see some model homes - and that was the first time we saw microwave ovens being demonstrated. 
The sales person baked a potato in it and the potato was ready in six minutes. We, together with half a dozen or so onlookers, ooh. .ed and ah..ed over the miracle. 

S.C. decided to take the job. 
Do you think the microwave oven did it?

On our way back to Austin, we took a detour to tour Carlsbad Cavern.
S.C. had to carry Melinda, because she was too little to walk the three or four miles down the cavern. The very pregnant me held Cynthia's hand. We managed to walk down and around the spectacular caves. The views were awesome.
Thank Goodness, they did have an elevator that took us up - back to the ground. Otherwise, I would not have made it.

We got back to Austin, I started packing again.

Monday, September 15, 2014

News At Lunch Time

Some of my girl friends had told me that they married their husbands For Better or For Worse, but Not For Lunch.

My husband came home for lunch everyday when we were in Austin. Yes, I cooked three meals for him everyday.

I remember that day - November 22, l963. 
My husband, Cynthia, and I were having lunch.
I remember Melinda was in a playpen nearby.
I remember the newscaster - possibly Walter Cronkite - came on the TV announcing that JFK had been shot.
Then, came the news that he died in a Dallas hospital.
The world was in shock.
Then, the world was in morning.
America lost a great president and great man.

Now, nearly fifty-one years had passed. 
I am reading a book by Christopher Andersen, called 'Jackie After Jack, Portrait of The Lady.' It is quite interesting. 
He also wrote a book called 'Jack and Jackie.'
We never really found out what happened. 
Who really killed JFK? We knew who pulled the trigger. But do we really know who was behind it all?

Like all families, there are 'secrets', and 'unknown histories."

Reading 'Jackie After Jack,' ones sees a different side of the beloved First Lady.

Isn't it true that we have many sides of us - I mean, all of us do. We show only some sides of us to certain people, not intentionally. We show other sides of us to other people. 
May be it is the other way around. Some people see some sides of us and others see some other sides of us. 

Like the blind men and the elephant. You know the story - the blind men are to describe what the elephant is like. One blind man touched the elephant's trunk and described elephant as the trunk. Another touched the leg, and described the elephant as its leg, and so on. Each blind man had only the knowledge of part of the elephant. What one described of the elephant was only part of the whole, but not the whole. Were they lying? No. Only it was not the truth either.
Isn't this true to us all? Do we ever know the others wholly? Or, do we know ourselves totally? Probably not. We know only one side or a few sides of the person. But we, sometimes, do get to know the Whole Story? 

This brings me to the fact that we all have a story to tell. At a certain point of life, we realize that you are the only one who really knows the whole story.

So tell your story. I would like to hear it.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Life in Austin, TX

So we moved to Austin, TX., Capital City of Texas.

Austin was a charming university town at that time. Not as developed as it is now. The landscape was beautiful. The university grounds were lovely. Lake Travis was near by. People were friendly.

We rented a house. Luck had it that we had the best neighbors that I had the good fortune of having, an elderly couple, Mr. and Mrs. Wise. They also introduced us to their wonderful niece and her family, the Mortons.
The Mortons welcomed us to their home as their friends. 
Every year at Thanksgiving time, we were invited to their ranch and had the traditional Thanksgiving Dinner, with a bit of Mexican touch. 
Helen introduced us to Kiwi and avocado.
We had the opportunity to visit a real ranch, with cattle and all. Cynthia was intrigued by their peacocks on the grounds.
Helen Morton invited me to join the American Association of University Women, Austin Branch. 
She, a smart and learned lady, did book reviews.
The Mortons became one of our best friends in the U.S., together with the Wises. 

For the first time since I came to the U.S., I found some kindred spirits and made friends of my own. 

At the rent house, there was a small backyard probably not bigger than some twenty feet wide by twenty feet deep. My city-bred husband decided that he was going to plant a vegetable garden. Lo and behold, he was so successful that he thought he was Farmer Brown or something.  He had some very healthy looking Chinese Bok Choy, green beans, okra . . . and a lot of them! He shared his harvests with our friends and neighbors. He was so delighted, he was spending a lot of time tending his garden.

We decided to purchased a home. So we did. We had the builder built a three-bedroom brick home (a track house in a development), on a very large lot - we, new owners of homes, thought we needed the largest lot we could have. And we did.

It was sad to move away from the Wises. On the other hand, I was excited about being a new home owner. Luckily, the new home was not too far from the Wises.
We moved into our new home. 

I was pregnant with our second child. 

When Melinda was born, I was lost. Your see, I had help after Cynthia was born in Hong Kong. I really did not have to handle a little bitty baby whose head flops here and there. 
Now, I was afraid even to give the newborn a bath. 
I was in tears. Mrs. Wise came to my rescue. She taught me what to do and showed me how to care for the newborn. She told me that the baby was not as fragile as I thought. And not be afraid. Thank you, Grandma Wise.
We loved the Wises and the Mortons.

And Cynthia found a little friend, so she had a playmate. Her little friend's mother became my friend, Lucy. 
Lucy's daughter would come into our home unannounced. One day, I was taking a nap with Cynthia - one of those rare times that Cynthia actually napped. I heard a noise. When I opened my eyes, a little girl was staring at me. 
I learned to always lock the door afterwards.

With two kids, a job, and a garden, my husband was not on target with his studies. Eventually, he abandoned the idea of getting his PH.D. But we did stay on in Austin for a bit longer before moving again.

P.S. Did I mention to you Cynthia only cost us Five Dollars, in Hong Kong? We had National Health Plan.
But with Melinda, thanks to our good medical insurance, everything was taken care of, otherwise, we would be in debt.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

"Start Packing"

When one is struggling with day-to-day living, the person is least likely to be creative or inventive. We fight to survive - to overcome our immediate problems, big or small.

I was way too busy to think about Creativity. May be, at that time, I was content merely to create pretty little dresses for my baby.

I am not saying that I was in any peril, though it may seem to me to be so in some ways. My little problems seemed to be insurmountable to me at times.  But, in fact, I was merely trying the small task of "bringing up baby" and "being a wife."

This brings me to the thought that, if and when hunger is on a person's mind, he would want to know where his next meal is coming from. He has no time to think about how to make the world more beautiful or how to improve his environment - he may not have an environment to improve upon. He may be homeless, jobless, etc.
That is why the most productive periods in history happened when a Dynasty was at peace - with peace comes prosperity and creativity. We then have time to enjoy what beauty nature and humans have to offer us.
It is a rare creature who would do otherwise - There may be a very few exceptions throughout the history of mankind.

For most of us mere mortals, life is for survival only!

So in my small world, "survival" was the only problem - "Get through the day!"

I had no time to think - not to mention what Buddha said, "contemplating the navel."

I did mention to you that for a long period of my life in my early marriage, I Did Not Think. 
I merely lived. 
Not overly joyful nor unhappy. I accepted things as they were. My husband, in his way, loved me (even though I thought I was been smothered by him a bit.) and he tried as he said "to protect me." But the one thing neither he nor I realized was that I was also a thinking and feeling human being (I was in hibernation).
Of course, we were not the only ones who had this fault. I see this everyday even now, in our human race. When are we going to wake up? 
In this small southwestern town, in particular, I still see Male Domination and Female Subordination in more ways than one. Lets face it, It is still a man's world!
It took me a long time to understand this. 

It often takes some Events to awaken us, as it did me years later. 

But for the time being - I "started packing" whenever my husband told me that we were going to move to another place - for his job changing.

Friday, September 12, 2014

A Lofty Idea

Life was a bit less stressful after Cynthia learned to walk and talk.

You think the terrible Two was difficult to deal with?
It was not so with my first born.

I thought baby's First Year was Mother's nightmare!
We went through these periods - 
In the beginning - not sleeping through the night.
(I have to say it was partly my fault. We had Cynthia sleeping in our room. Not a good idea. Because every time she made a noise, I would wake up. Then I would try to see if there was anything wrong with her. In turn, I would wake her up. Then she needed to be fed . . .  A vicious circle.) 
At six months - refusing to eat solid food.
At ten or eleven months - discovering the power of the word "No."
At one year - "I can get what I want by trying to cry."
At one and half -  the declaration of, "I can do it myself."

At near two - "I don't need a nap."

But Mother did!

Aside from the above, Cynthia was a near angel.
She loved to be read to. She would look at picture books for long periods of time. She could entertain herself well, playing with toys.
At two, she would allow me to sleep through the night.
She was potty trained. 

She met some neighborhood children and made friends with some.

I myself got to know some of S.C.'s friends' wives. We had occasional outings.
We met with his friends and their families on some weekends. However, we always took Cynthia with us where-ever we went.

One time, some friends offered to babysit Cynthia. They thought we needed to go out by ourselves some. So, we bought some tickets to a concert. 

Well, halfway through the concert, we looked at each other, got up, and left the concert. 

We were not exactly enjoying the night out. 
We were worried about Cynthia - Because that was the first time we ever left her with anybody. 
We were such nervous parents. 
We went back to our friends' place. Of course, Cynthia was sound asleep - she did not miss us at all.

We bought a sewing machine. I always loved to sew. Now I could design and make dresses for my baby. I was happy.

Like a new plant, I was starting to grow Roots.

But my husband had different plans.
He said that he wanted to go back to UT to work on his PH.D. Now, you cannot fault that, can you?
It was a lofty idea.
So, I said, "Okay."

He found a job with the Texas State Health Department in Austin, enrolled at UT, and started making plans for us to move to Austin.

And, I started packing.