I still remember vividly about last Christmas (because I wrote it down), and now Christmas 2013 is here. These days every year seems to go by a little bit faster. But what a year, what a ride! It hasn’t been all easy and smooth, nevertheless I wouldn’t trade it for anything else in this world!

We started the year with a great disappointment: Michelle didn’t get accepted into her dream college. As a mother, I want to fix things for my kids. However there was no fix for this one. All we could do was assuring her that we loved her, were very proud of her, and maybe she couldn’t see it at the time, but things usually happened for a reason. In March Michelle went to visit Jane and spent four days on the campus of IU. After that, she was more convinced she could have a good education and great time there. Her first semester turned out to be remarkable (other than the fact she was constantly sick), making new friends, pledging to AK psi fraternity, and acing on all the classes she was taking.

It seemed a long time ago, but my first book LET GO was published in March. I had my first book signing in July on my birthday. It felt like a big accomplishment!

Spring and summer were hectic but rewarding. Jake turned 7 in April, Michelle’s prom, graduation and 18th birthday all happened in May. At the end of the month, we headed to Cancun for the third time to enjoy the sun, the beach and family time. It was such a blast!

Then came the second disappointment: Jane’s internship fell through on the day she was supposed to report to work. Thankfully my friend Natalia came to the rescue and offered Jane the opportunity to work at her law firm for the latter part of the summer. Jane enjoyed the work and the wonderful people in the office. We celebrated Jane’s 20th birthday in July, the family style. This past summer, my family visited downtown Chicago more times than all the previous seventeen years combined. We’ve grown to love its diversity and beauty. Amazingly I was offered a job in September from a prominent company in downtown Chicago after a long interviewing process. It has proven to be a clever career move.

Jane went through an even more exhausting and rigorous process to finally secure a promising internship for the summer of 2014. We admired her persistence and endurance in the face of fierce competitions and setbacks.

Sending both Jane and Michelle to college at the end of August was harder than I thought it would be. For almost a month, everything in the house reminded me of them and made me cry. We paid the girls a brief visit in September. Ever since then, I had been waiting for them to come home for Thanksgiving and then Christmas.

Joe and I marked our 25th wedding anniversary in Guilin, China. Guilin’s gorgeous hills, lakes and hospitable people are endearing to my heart. I left China right after college and therefore didn’t have the opportunity to travel much. Guilin has opened my eyes to the amazing transformation the less prosperous parts of China have gone through. I am inspired to see more of China.

Jake started playing hockey in October and so far it’s his favorite sport. Joe and I have spent every Sunday afternoon watching him play and cheering for our boy. If he makes the in-house league in January, there will be more practices and games.

Losing our cooking nanny certainly caused disruption to our Chinese style living, but it has turned out to be a good thing. Jake loves mommy’s cooking (basically baking and boiling) because he tells his sisters, “Mommy is the best cook in the world!” Our new diet seems to make my skin healthier. Joe has lost 12 pounds in the last two months exercising and dieting. Maybe he overdid it because he’s been sick a lot. The man needs to eat more.

Our family road trip to Pittsburg, DC and New York starts tomorrow. Joe has been down with the flu since last Saturday. We were still unsure as of last night whether he’ll be well enough for us to make the trip. Things are looking better this morning. The last time we were in DC, Jane was 7 and Michelle 5. It’ll be nice to revisit as well as show Jake the capital of the nation. I am also looking forward to spending some precious time with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law if we are able to make the trip.

I am so happy that we are all together again under one roof. To me this is what Christmas is all about. Merry Christmas to you all!