2009, The year a few things happened

Holy Moly. What happened to 2009? I just breezed through the last year on my blog and tried to scoop out the highlights, I have that problem where everything is a highlight, narrowing down doesn’t work so well for me. Overall, it was a great year. JMO moved back from New York. I quit my job working in an office to work on my teaching certification and picked up quite a few interesting adventures. Here is the best of my year – in no particular order.

1. Great trip to NYC before JMO left.

2. My family went on a trip to NYC over Thanksgiving.

3. Sandra had Christian. I got a new godson!

4. Mike and I went on road trip from Orlando to San Antonio. He names it Southeast Shuffle. Great week. My brother is fascinating.

5. I quit. Wow. Still can’t believe it.

6. Vegas. 9 girls. Leah got salmonella.

7. I got a job in an elementary school.

8. I turned 25. JMO and friends threw me a surprise party. Awesome.

9. Did this list in September when I explained the best of being 24 years old.

10. Most importantly, I got to spend a lot of time with people I love. Mom, Dad, Mike, Emily, JMO, The Oswalt Family, ALL the Pickerts, Tranee’s family, Sandra’s family, Leah, Christine, Michelle, my students, Sylvia, Sarah, Lesley and youth group kiddos and many other lovely folks. I am truly blessed to have such fabulous people in my life. Cheesy as it is – PEOPLE ARE THE BEST OF 2009.

English as a Second Language


Meet my students. They are eight adults from Congo who had lived in Houston all of two weeks when our class started. My friend Sarah has been teaching ESL classes on the side since June and had spoken of not much else since then. On the first day of my class I had a stack of books and posters. I put the posters up and made a few of my own. I passed out notebooks and textbooks and they all looked at me like I was insane. They had basic vocabulary and some had a little sentence structure, only one guy was capable of having a conversation with me. The one guy who could converse often translated for his classmates and they would all go, “OH!”

The first few weeks were a struggle. I was shocked at all they had come from and how they wound up in southwest Houston. I was surprised at how their children were put in regular education classes with the rest of the English speakers. I couldn’t believe that they would be getting food stamps, but hadn’t gotten them yet and didn’t have any money. The more I learned about these eight Congolese transplanted in Houston, the more blessed I felt. I felt overwhelmingly fortunate to live in a country that I would never be forced to leave and never be scared for my family’s safety. I have never worried about where my next meal would come from. I’ve never seen a refugee camp, let alone lived in one. They have overcome so much and they are so happy and grateful to be here and to be given the opportunity to raise their children in America. There were days where I felt immense pressure, if they were going to learn to make it here; I had to give them a foundation to our language and life they could build off of. I was ready to talk about nouns, verbs, and directionally how to explain to get somewhere. I was not prepared for questions like, “How much should I expect to make at an American job?” “Will that be enough to support my family?” “How much money do you need a month?” I never expected to have people bring me their children’s homework, so I could explain it to them, so they could explain it to their child.

My last class was the week before Christmas and we had a party. We presented their completion certificates, which should help them in their job searches. We ate pizza and cake and exchanged handmade Christmas cards. Sarah came, her class was next door, and one of my students got a hold of my camera and they dressed me up and brought me presents. Overall, it was very rewarding and great closure for me.

ESL Party Dec 09

Some people brought music from home. Some people danced. Some of us laughed hysterically.

ESL Party Dec 09

The wrap around my waist was a gift and the one on my head was for the sake of pictures according to my favorite gal. Some people laughed hysterically.

ESL Party Dec 09

My favorite gal. She gave me a plant. And an unexpected friendship. She often laughs hysterically.

ESL Party Dec 09

I was given a fertility statue hand carved from a refugee camp, it says so on the back. I love these women. The one on the left is a single lady with three kids, we danced to Beyonce’s Single Ladies together. The one on the right is the mother of four. She was always very concerned with getting her kiddos homework right. She has high hopes for them.

ESL Party Dec 09

This is Sarah and some wonderful women. I can’t thank Sarah enough for welcoming me into her world and for the phenomenal experience.

The Pickerts take Pensacola

Pickert Family

This past week we visited the Pickerts in Pensacola, FL. My grandparents live there and we rented a house at the beach that all the families could stay at. We probably had less relatives than we had before, but we also have more college graduates than we have before. Cousins have real jobs and commitments and no longer have a holiday break. I got my own room because of this. I have never had my own room. There is usually a room with twin beds or bunk beds to be shared. Michael wasn’t there, I like it when Michael IS there. Overall, it was a great little trip. There was lots of walks on the beach, a lot of bonding with relatives, and an exorbitant amount of eating. Everyone brought the sweets they had been gifted by neighbors and coworkers so there was an entire counter space designated for holiday treats. My grandparents thoroughly enjoyed having us all come to them, and that is what it was all about.

Pickert Ladies 09Pensacola Beach 09Emily and Reade

On the last afternoon I realized I had not taken any pictures, so Emily, Reade, my mom and myself walked down to the beach. As a result I only have pictures of the four of us.