Saturday, May 17, 2014


If my life were a book, I would be ending a chapter and beginning a new one.

Sunday will be my last day of teaching my Chinese Toddler Class. After five semesters and a great many children and parents, I say goodbye to a very rewarding Chapter of my life.

My little two- and three-year-olds have filled my Sundays with song and dance, laughter, stories, crafts, games, and intangible fun. Each time a lesson ends, I feel an incredible teaching high. We've gotten our routine down so nicely that the kids and parents go through each lesson like a well-oiled machine--gears turning and syphons pumping--ever without a hitch. But in order to have everything go smoothly, a lot of preparation is required. And time has not been on my side these days.

I'll always remember a few wonderful moments over the last few years. Last year we played a game during a lesson on Clothing. I had asked the children to take off one shoe and randomly put it somewhere in the classroom. Then all the children went shoe hunting for someone else's shoe, and we tried to find its owner by practicing saying our color words. It was all good until two of my youngest kids (still age two at the time) began to cry great, huge drops of tears. Because they weren't allowed to pick their own shoes. This year I brought colorful pairs of socks to play this game instead. No tears this time--lesson learned.

Each week, we always start the class by singing a Welcome Song to the tune of Frere Jacques: "Ni hao, lao shi. Ni hao, xiao peng you..." which translates to "Hello, teacher. Hello, children..." And one little girl has always--and still continues to--insist on calling me Ni Hao Lao Shi. As if my last name is Ni Hao. Why, hello, Mrs. Hello! It always brings a smile to my face when she greets me. One time this little girl got defensive because another child took a prop of mine. She immediately said to the child, "Give it back! It's Ni Hao Lao Shi's." I couldn't stop giggling at the possessive use of my new name, complete with the "apostrophe and s"!

And then there's the time when a child happily shared what was on his underwear (superhero character) during story time; or when I heard a child tell me how to say something in Chinese for the very first time; or the time when we made flowers for Mother's Day and I asked a child to tell his mom "wo ai ni" (I love you) and he did it immediately even without knowing what the heck he was saying; or the time when I came back from our Toronto trip, having missed two classes in a row, and a child said to me, "I really missed you!" (in Chinese!). Yes, these are the moments I will never, ever forget.

Chinese New Year Celebration Performance

As for why I made this decision to stop teaching Chinese school: last month, the principal of my kids' school asked me if I would be interested in teaching summer school. Would I ever be!? Of course I'd jump at the chance to do something for a school at which I have been comfortably substitute teaching for over a year now. The class is for incoming third-graders in reading, writing, and math. It will be four hours a day for four weeks. What better way to get a good feel for teaching my own class than a short-term, laid-back, summer class with a classroom full of my own kids? How lucky am I that this opportunity came knocking on my door? Huzzah! 

A few weeks later, DS's (first grade) teacher, who is expecting her second child in July, asked me if I would like to take her maternity leave assignment in the fall, which covers from the start of school until November, or January (if she can combine two leaves). I couldn't even hold back from smiling ear-to-ear before she had finished asking. What an incredible opportunity--again! To be able to ease into a classroom from the start of the school year, have help from a teacher with curriculum planning, and experience having my own class during the regular school year for a couple of months! And, and, and, since I have been the go-to sub for our school's kindergarten teachers, I already know the incoming students for next fall. I felt like the teaching gods were tossing me gold.

After receiving these two wonderful news, I was feeling all the feels: excitement, trepidation, nervousness, gratitude, and, occasionally, a "I've-got-this." I was also afraid to tell people for a little while cuz I didn't want to jinx anything.

And now they are definitely official. So.

Do you remember my Zero-Sum Theory of Life? The "you win some, you lose some" theory? The "you have some good, you get some bad, and it all evens out" rule? Well, I started to wait for the other shoe to drop. Two great news must mean something terrible might happen to even things out.

And... Bam! ROOT CANAL.

As if that wasn't bad enough, Ba-Bam! STREP THROAT.

Well, that about sums it up. Zero-Sum. We're now even.

And if you're laughing at my crazy theory, I will make one more attempt to convince you why my theory holds true and it all evens out:

At the start of this school year, a first grader asked me how I know DS having heard other children say we know each other. I said to him cleverly that DS and I have the same last name, and asked how he thinks we're related. He replied, "You're his grandma?" Ouch.


A few weeks ago, a classroom full of 7th graders swore up and down that I appear no older than 25. For reals.


Zero Sum.

And so, for me, a chapter ends and a new one beings. With much anticipation, I begin another journey in my professional life. And as necessary as it is to move on from Sundays at Chinese School, I'll always cherish my most special name, Ni Hao Lao Shi.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


Last week, I was tagged by Lisa of Expandng to join the Blog Author Tour, where bloggers share details of their writing process. Though I have written about this topic a few times in the past, (on why I love to write, my blogging anxieties, and my writing process), I know that introspection and reevaluation always help one grow, especially in the area of writing. Here are the four questions to answer:

What am I working on?

Lately, I've been working on just having some time to sit down to write. I hang my head in shame when I look at the number of posts I've published in April. I'll save you the time to find it on the right sidebar: ONE. I have surrendered to my busy teaching and mothering schedules of late. It's a reality and I simply cannot add more hours to the day. I hate that I have to put this blog on the back burner, but I'm dealing and adjusting to these changes with grace and style.

You know, like the composure Monica Geller would display if her hands and feet were tied as she watched her friends cook in her kitchen with her "fancy guest" towels.

Otherwise, I sneak little bits of time during the busy days and nights to think about topics for future posts. The typing part of the writing is only a portion of the entire process, so getting a mental picture or a few bullet points in my head is very helpful. I'm also mindful of taking pictures of everyday life that can somehow find their ways to posts later. It's always nice to have a stash of photos I can use to illustrate a setting or sentiment.

Like the way I can prove to you that my workouts are still going strong, yay!

But I am always working on learning new things for this blog. I have just made slight changes to the blog template for a newer, fresher look. Over time, I have learned how to make a custom blog header, how to embed video and audio files, photo slide shows, and drawings. See below for my newest self-taught skill: creating and inserting my first-ever pie chart! 

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

This blog is none other than a personal blog. It is a place where I share my thoughts as a mother, teacher, and writer. I'm not sure that it actually differs from other personal blogs, but I write to make each post more meaningful than a diary entry or a list of "what we did." Each post might begin with something that "we did," but it generally becomes more relevant than "that thing we did." This is not a public diary, and I'm sure readers would be more interested in an idea or issue that they can identify with than be forced to read what we did over the weekend. Although little tidbits of what we did over the weekend might sometimes add a little pinch of spice to the ordinary...

And in case you were wondering what we did over the weekend... Someone had a birthday celebration at a lovely Sunday brunch. She didn't even mind turning forty-one!

Why do I write what I do?

There are a few reasons why I write the things I do. I write to:
  • Capture memories. I'm taking snapshots of moments in my life. It's definitely interesting to go back and see what was going on with the kiddos or what was going through my mind at any certain point. It's an ongoing memory book, if you will.
  • Write. Real writers write often. This blog keeps me going even if my schedule tries to interfere. 
  • Share and know that we are not alone. It is my intent to share some of my parenting mishaps or triumphs, introspective self-discoveries or revelations, and the congested streaming of words gushing through my head. If you read any of it, I would be happy. If you laughed at any of my tomfoolery, I would be elated. If you were able to relate to any of my experiences, I would be jubilant. 

How does my writing process work?

Here's the breakdown for each blog post I write:

I cannot even begin to tell you how long it takes me to complete one post. Because you would surely think I'm nuts. I waste way too much time on editing, fretting over the post, and my social media vice. I am incapable of staying within limits of sensible proofreading time. I venture so far beyond the Wall that I risk being slaughtered by Wildlings or White Walkers. But I digress...


So there you have it. Another exciting edition of my writing escapades. 

Read about Lisa's writing process and see how her blog evolved from a parenting blog to a family photography blog. Another blogger friend, Shannon from Deepest Worth, also participated in this writing exercise last week. I enjoyed reading both of their posts and finally had the time to write my own.

I'd now like to invite two more of my blogger friends to join in on sharing their writing processes: Janna of JannaTWrites and Imelda of My Word Wall. I met both of these writers from a prompt-writing community. Janna is an amazing writer of short fiction as well as longer pieces in series. Imelda is a brilliant photographer and poet. I would love to see how their creative processes work! (No obligations, ladies, but it would be fun!)

Now that I've written one post this month, May cannot possibly be worse than April, right?