Our Thanksgiving meal.  Except for the butternut squash, I have not made any of these before, but I wanted to try something different.

Herb Roasted Turkey Breast

Butternut Squash with Browned Butter and Thyme

Crispy Topped Parmesan Creamed Spinach

Cranberry Orange Parfait

Pear Tart

tgiving2 tgiving3


To Begin Again

A blog of my thoughts, ramblings, and other things that float through my brain.  A place to unleash, to muse, to create.

New website!

Hey all!

David has created a new WordPress website for the both of us. I will now be using this new website for posting about life here. If you wish to read, please visit:


and enjoy the ramblings of both David and I!

poster child

So, on Friday, as I was doing various things around my little district (wanzaisha–which means “small sandy bay”), I noticed that people were giving me weird looks. Well, that’s normal, I thought. I’m a westerner! But then, I went to TPR and noticed the HUGE poster of me and two kids plastered on the side of the building! Yuuup. That’s right. I’m now the “face” of TPR! I was asked to take some pictures with another teacher and two students. Apparently they decided to use one of just me and the kids. TPR has also put the picture inside every branch in Zhuhai. How embarrassing!

So, my little “nugget” of hilarious-ness for today comes, once again, from Toby (and Simon) of my K2a class. I was reading them a story and during this time, they bring their chairs up close to me and they like to comment on the pictures. In the story, two children talk to each other saying things like, “Look, the bear is running. The doll is swimming. The robot is jumping.” Well, the students asked me, “How can the doll swim? It isn’t a person.” I explained that the children were pretending. Then at the end, we find out that these toys are so active because the “dinosaur is hungry” and they are running away. The last picture shows all the toys fleeing from the dinosaur who is about to eat them all. The students begin talking and Simon, who is usually quiet during stories (though certainly not at any other time) tries talking, but can’t be heard and becomes frustrated at being interrupted. He finally gets out his sentence and Amay tells me that he says, “The robot is made of iron. If the dinosaur eats him, his teeth will break.” He was SO serious about this. Despite his earnestness, I couldn’t help myself and I began laughing uncontrollably. I told him how smart he is (once I regained composure) and reiterated that it is only pretend. It’s so funny to me how often they come up with logical reasons the story doesn’t make sense! I’m really going to miss this class when it ends!


It’s amazing how the weather can affect one’s saliva glands. During the winter I was never thirsty and drank little water. But now I’m thirsty all the time! Crazy how the Zhuhai sun can zap all the water out of one’s body! I reeeeaaally need to call the water people to order a new bottle for our water machine…I’m just nervous about bungling up my Chinese!

So my new adult classes have started. I made a fool of myself the first time by teaching the wrong lesson! I started with the first lesson in the book, but they are in the second half of the A3 level, so I should have started with Chapter 9. It wasn’t a big deal, but I was standing there teaching and explaining things while they had these confused look on their faces. Finally I asked if they had any questions. Sunny raised her hand and said, “Teacher…we are A3b.” “Yes…” “We’re on Chapter 9.” “OH!” Gosh, I felt so stupid! I only wasted 15 minutes, but I told them, “Next time, tell me in the beginning of class and say, ‘Teacher, you’re WRONG!'”

And TODAY (Friday) I had only three students. THREE students. Out of 12 who are supposed to be coming and out of the 9 who actually do come! Coral was the first to arrive at 7:36, one minute late–no big deal. She was surprised however, and said, “Just you, Teacher?” I waited 10 minutes and then Adonis showed up, greatly surprised at being the second student. I finally decided at 7:45 that I should begin class. I asked them about their workbooks and corrected those and gave tips. Fred showed up around 7:50, which made the third and last student to arrive. I was very nervous that class would end too quickly, but it didn’t! I didn’t even get through my whole lesson. And ultimately, it was good for them, too. Adonis is enormously shy and won’t speak unless prompted. Since there weren’t enough people to do pair work, I had each person take a turn speaking, so he was required to do so. Coral is also rather quiet, though not in the least shy. She has plenty of confidence in herself, mostly due, I think, to a complete indifference toward what other people think. Fred is also rather naturally quiet, though also a leader in group/pair situations. Anyway, I was pleased for the opportunity to get to know them and their levels better. I like Fred because his answers are always so simple and obvious. Like, during an exercise where they had to think of consequences for a particular situation, I began with, “If you bought a large dog…” Fred said, “You will have to buy dog food.” Coral says, “If you buy dog food, you will have to feed it every day.” Adonis: “If you feed it everyday it will cost you a lot of money.” Fred, “Then you will have to work hard.” Coral couldn’t think of a consequence, so Fred supplied one for her, “If you have to work hard, you won’t have time to feed your dog!” Hahahaha, I thought that was funny! Of course, Adonis said, “If you can’t feed your dog, your dog might die.” The funny thing about Adonis is that he is so shy about speaking English, that (even though he always says it correctly), he looks up at me with this “I’m not sure about this answer” look. And, somehow, the “your dog might die” phrase and his unsure quizzical look was just too funny when put together. I have a hard time not laughing (from a feeling of maternal-like endearment rather than true mirth) when Adonis gives an answer.

Also, I was riding the bus home with Nikita, one of the desk workers at the Gongbei branch where I teach my adult class. She told me that some of the students came to her to say that they think I’m a good teacher and better than their last one! I was so pleased. The Chinese are so stoic that I always think they don’t like me or can’t understand me! It’s really encouraging to hear that they think I’m a good teacher.

So today (Saturday) is my favorite day of teaching. I especially love K2a, my last class on Sat and Sun. Toby is particularly funny. He always arrives early and says “good afternoon” or occasionally, “wan shang hao!” which is the same in Chinese. Today he came up to me, put his arm around my neck and whispered, “Good afternoon”. HAHA. I thought that was sweet and funny. And then later, as I was reviewing the vocabulary, he pipes up in Chinese and is quite serious. Amay talks to him for a minute and then tells me that Toby says that his father pronounces “angry” differently than I do. I asked how he says it and I think his dad says something like, “ang-gry” (because the “ang” in Chinese makes the “ang” sound like in “long”). I’m pretty sure Amay was encouraging him to use my pronunciation, but of course Toby wants to be loyal to his father. I told him that it doesn’t really matter and that seemed to settle the matter.

And probably the funniest thing that made me actually laugh out loud and double over was when I asked the students to draw their family. Amay told them that if they did it, they’d get a sticker. I went around and said, “Who’s this?” Then I would write the family word (mother, sister, etc) under the picture. I asked Rick about his picture and he said, “gui” which I know is not a family word. Amay look very confused and said, “He says, ‘This is a ghost.'” HAHA. Apparently he drew ghosts all over his paper. When I asked him to draw his family, he said that he couldn’t (because Chinese kids are serious perfectionists), but I told him to try (and prompted him with a sticker). So that was funny, but of course Toby was the one to make me burst out laughing. I asked him about his picture and was writing down the names. We came to something that looked like a baby, but he said (keep in mind all my conversations occur with Amay translating), “This is not my family.” I ignored it and finished the picture. Then he pointed to the “baby” said, “This is my sticker.” This is when I BURST out laughing, because he had drawn the sticker he expected to receive on his paper! I’m still laughing about it. I wrote down “my sticker” on the paper and finished the rest of class’ pictures.

(Sunday) Ugh. Being a teacher has definite downsides! Like when a parent expects you to raise his child because he’s too busy to do it himself. Okay, that didn’t actually happen per se, but I kinda felt like that’s what the parent wanted. Hercules’ father came to me and expressed a legitimate concern that it has been three years since Hercules has been in TPR and he doesn’t use English in his free time. Well, I wanted to say, “Of course not! Who does he speak to that he needs to use English?” I merely said, “Well…Perhaps encouraging him at home and using English at home will help.” Because, as I also said, Hercules is doing well in class and uses English as well as any other student. The father said he’s (Hercules) just shy. Well, I understand that, I said. I was trying to explain that perhaps he just needs more encouragement, but the father just said, “I am too busy with my work and other things.” I won’t quote our whole conversation, but I felt like he was saying he was too busy to help his son so I needed to take his place. And I can do that in the classroom, but the issue is the boy speaking English in his free time. And, quite honestly, I can’t do anything about that. The boy is the parents’ responsibility when he’s not in the classroom.

Today I also had to write up if there were any sub-performing students. In this class, there is one. Apparently his mother was told after class and she came in all upset because she totally disagreed with my verdict. Poor Hebe (my friend and TA) had to talk to her and occasionally translate. I said the biggest problem is probably that he doesn’t pay any attention during class. I mean, he literally has his back turned, unless we are playing a game. He greatly dislikes drills, which is a necessary part of teaching, especially for the other students who benefit from it. But his mother says that Ryan enjoys coming and wouldn’t get up early if he didn’t like it, so she doesn’t understand. And during open classes, when the parents came, she noticed that he raised his hand a lot. Well, no duh. When his mom’s there watching him, of course he’s going to be good! And she said he’s doing great at home and Hebe pointed out to me that his homework is always perfect. I am certain, given his performance in class, that his mother (or someone) is helping. And the homework is stupidly easy anyway. I’m sure my frustration and anger is evident in this post, but really…I am the native speaker and the teacher. Since the mother doesn’t even speak English she really has no qualifications for disagreeing with my assessment. *sigh* I was so annoyed. Luckily, I have C3a to look forward to, which is SUCH a fun class!

Half Term Mark

Half a term over and done with! This means my adult classes are over. Since we teach half of a level (like A2 is a level, A2a is half a level), and adult classes are only a semester long, I teach half a term at a time. I was hoping to get my students back for A2b, but sadly, I have a new level: A3b. I suppose this is good for the students, they will hear a different accent and experience a different style of teaching. But when I told them that I may not be their teacher for the new term, they looked at me like…”WHAT?!” I am glad they want me again! I know that students can request teachers, or at least, they used to be able to. I don’t know if TPR will do that anymore, because we had a meeting on Tuesday and it was decided that changing classes each term (for the adults) was better. Ah, “c’est la vie”.

Now, I shall begin my new class tonight in GONG BEI, which is about an hour bus ride away. >_<

I hope I shall like my students!

Here is a picture of most of my students (the most faithful minus Linda, who had to leave before it was taken). From L to R, they are Yuki, Suie, Sunny, Pako, Eva, Me, and Hebe (who is a friend and occasionally a TA).


Time for another post, folks! I’m sure you are tingling with excitement to hear all about the miscellaneous details of my life in China!

Anyway, we (TPR employees) had a three day weekend for the “May Holiday”, which is their Labor Day.

Friday night we went out to eat with David’s students after touring a local museum. The restaurant we went to was a Japanese buffet. The students, being about 13 years old have appetites like a gorilla! They were like me when I was that age–going back for more food six or seven times! Jackson, especially, ate at least four plates of food and then four plates of dessert. We were pretty amazed and teased him a little. But later he told Susan that since he didn’t want her to be ashamed of him in front of David, he had held back his appetite! We both laughed at that when she told me. After we had eaten, we hung around (being in this private room all to ourselves) and played this multi-person Rock Paper Scissors Game with the students, which was kinda fun.

On Sunday I went to Susan’s apartment and swam with her, Cynthia and Bamboo (daughter and nephew). Bamboo is a former student and he’s about 7 years old and completely adorable. He loves trying to speak English to me. While we were waiting for Susan to gather her swim things, he said to me, “Swimming pool is a frog’s house.” I was totally confused, because I have never seen a frog in a pool before. But apparently they went swimming a few days ago and there were tons of little tree frogs all over the swimming pool. Cindy even found one while we were there! When we left, she tried putting it back in the pool, but the lifeguard didn’t like that, so we set it in the bushes instead.

While swimming, Bamboo made friends with another boy there. We (me and Bamboo) got into a splashing fight but he got tired of that and said, “Wǒ tóuxiáng!” which means, “I surrender!” But then whenever I started to swim near him, he’d be like, “No, Mary.” He must have told his new friend I was his teacher, because the next time I got near, the little boy said, “Mary laoshi, bu hao.” This means, “Not good, Teacher Mary!” or perhaps, “You’re being bad, Teacher Mary.” I cracked up laughing! The boy’s father, however, did not find it very funny and scolded him for saying that, which made me chuckle even more.

After we went swimming, Susan and I went for a Chinese massage–my second one ever. It was quite nice and actually less painful than before. Well, a little less painful. My masseuse was an older, experienced lady who, as Susan said, was “like a man” because she wouldn’t explain much–she just took action. While I was getting massaged, I suddenly felt a HUGE prick on my tailbone. She had stuck me several times with a needle and didn’t warn me first! I’m sure my yelp could be heard clear down the hall. She also did the fire-y cup thing. Apparently I’m healthier than last time because the bruises were far less dark and black. According to the Chinese masseuse, this is a sign of being healthy. Other than the prick, the massage felt very nice.

Next we went to Ning Xi–a shopping plaza where they sell our sizes! Before shopping, we ate a nice restaurant, although we had to share a table with two young boys who looked rather afraid of the big, white girl. After shopping, we went to the bus station. Susan’s husband was down the street a bit, sitting in KFC with their daughter. Susan waited with me for the bus, but it was taking such a long time! She laughed, saying that when you want a specific bus, all the other buses come by at least three times, which is exactly what happened to us! I had three buses to choose from, but neither of them showed up–but every other bus came by at least three times. Finally, she got impatient and said, “I don’t want to wait anymore! My husband will drive you!” So (with Susan and Cindy) he drove me to my apartment. Susan laughed again because it took about 5 minutes to get there and she said, “We should have driven you in the first place! But if you see your bus, you should get out and jump on it so the wait will not have been for nothing!” (just teasing, of course)

Before leaving the plaza, Susan had bought me an iced coffee. Apparently it affected me for I woke up around 2am and couldn’t go back to sleep! Fortunately, David woke up around the same time, so we both got up and watched movies until about 5:30, when we went for breakfast at McDonald’s. After that, we decided to go for a walk. We walked along the coast line until it ended, then walked back to the apartment–a total of about 1 1/2 hours! Of course, when we got home we were exhausted, so we slept for about two hours!

What I love about working with children:

Toby is a kindergarten student and a very happy, gregarious boy who loves to talk. During story time, he started speaking Chinese and so I had Amay (my assistant) translate. Apparently, he was adding his own commentary to the story! The story is about a boy who dropped his ice cream. Then a dog tries to eat it but gets angry and chases the boy until the boy runs into his house. When the boy drops his ice cream, Toby asked, “Why didn’t he eat his ice cream quickly before he dropped it?” “Because he’s not as smart as you are, Toby.” –“The dog is more angry. The dog is going to eat him!” –“Why do you have nail polish?” “Because it looks pretty.” “Oh. You like to look pretty like my mother!”

While we were waiting for class to begin, some of the students tried sneaking behind the whiteboard. Whenever I looked away from them, they would take the opportunity to run, convinced I couldn’t see them out of the corner of my eye. While they were doing this, a teeny little girl (probably less than 2) tottled into the classroom. She is obviously too young for my class, but apparently was extremely interested in it. Nothing her grandmother could say would convince her to leave. She just roamed about, watching the students. Finally, we had to begin and Amay convinced her to leave. I was going to let her stay and learn! Ha ha.

*sigh* You know what I miss?

People who speak English. Went to MDonald’s and asked for the number three (using a picture menu). This is a pretty easy thing, usually. But they are having this promotion, so he asked me if I wanted to upgrade to a large (in broken English). I said no. He asked again, I said no. He asked AGAIN, and I said, NO. I indicated that I wanted just a regular meal, but he misunderstood and gave me fries and a drink. I didn’t realize this until I got home, though, so I had to go BACK. Not a huge deal, just annoying.

Anyway, I have one last thing to share.

What do you get when you put together an arachnophobic and a prankster?

A HUGE, hairy, nasty, ugly spider on the arachnophobic’s computer background. >|-p