So long, 2012! It’s been great!

2012 was a year of change, but a year of blessing, for me and my family.

I’m in the middle of my third year of teaching deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) students and in my second year as an itinerant teacher – I travel from school to school and work one-on-one with DHH students.  That means I get the students who are able to speak and hear well enough to function in a general education classroom, but who are still struggling academically as a result of their hearing loss.  I love my job.  My co-workers are amazing, my students are fun to work with, and the classrooms and teachers I work with are great!  I am continually amazed at how God has blessed me with a job so fit for me.  I laugh a lot, especially when my students say things like: “I’m starting to think this is a tiny version of Alcatraz” [referring to my lesson on summarizing]. WHAT?

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My fantastic co-workers

This summer, God called me to take a second job as Kindergarten Director at River Pointe Church.  I had started volunteering in pre-school ministry with 4-year-olds.  In May, the early childhood director asked if I would be interested in the Kindergarten Director position.  It was all perfect timing – the 4 year olds I had been teaching promoted to Kindergarten my first week as director.  It was incredible!  Most of the kids already knew me, and I was able to continue to build those relationships and start building relationships with the amazing volunteers.  I loved my job – it is my dream job when I am a mom.  But with the school year starting back up, it was too much on my plate!  I was working 7 days a week.  My co-workers and boss there were INCREDIBLE, knowing I was overwhelmed, and doing everything they could to help me!  We looked for a long time for someone to replace me.  In November, Sarah took over: she is AMAZING and an incredible asset to the staff at RPC.  I miss my sweet and crazy kindergarteners, but I am much less stressed!

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Small groups during my last week at RPC]

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Tara (Saturday Coordinator), Sarah (new Kindergarten Director), and I

If you have talked with me, or seen my Facebook at all this year, you probably know that I have spent a lot of time social dancing in the past year (lindy hop / swing, and country).    In a swing dancing workshop, the skill of “following” finally made sense to me.  You might say I became obsessed or addicted.  I have acknowledged it and have gotten it mostly under control  🙂 .  Dancing has truly helped me come out of my shell: I can now approach a stranger and strike a conversation (or even ask for a dance), communicate with people and guide “small talk,” I learned that I am not obligated OR entitled to dance with anyone, I am confident in who I am (even when I fall flat on my back.  Twice.  Within 10 minutes.), and my desire to share my love for Christ with others has grown immensely.  I love that God has used dancing to change who I am for the better – there was definitely an adjustment period where I got a little carried away, but in the end, I don’t regret one minute.

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My dancing buddy and one of my best friends, Melissa

I’ve made many great friends dancing.  Melissa and I got involved in a group that cooks themed (usually gourmet) dinners every week.  It has definitely helped me expand my palate (I’m much more open to trying new foods.  Although, I’m still a bit of a picky eater)!  Some of my favorite themes this year were “Back to School: Apples” and “Places” (my idea!).

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“Foods Named After Places” Edition: Waldorf salad, Brussels sprouts, Chicken Kiev, and Texas Toast

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Wild West Wednesday Dinner (this happens to be Texas themed)

My brother, Nick, and sister-and-law, Olivia, graduated college.  I have completely grown to love Olivia more than a sister!  She is such an amazing woman, and somehow, Nick and I get along way better when she’s around! Growing up, Nick and I were either best-of-friends or worst-of-enemies at all times — it’s a huge improvement!  Then, they moved 8090 miles away to teach English to Taiwanese students in Taiwan.   I’ve done a lot of Google Chat, Google Voice, Skype, and Google Hangouts this year. Check out their blog: Nick and Liv Go Abroad.

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Nick and Olivia at the Fongguei Cave in Penghu, Taiwan

If you’ve been keeping up my blog, I have been doing a lot of crafting, baking, and sewing this year.  It’s been fun to open up my creative side and learn some new skills (sewing is still a struggle for me, but I’m actually enjoying it!). Feel free to surf my blog to check out what I’ve been up to this year!

My biggest blessing has been the amazing people in my life.  Especially my closest friends and my family.  I am so thankful for them.  I have been close to Rebecca and Elizabeth for a long time – but this past year has grown our friendships so much!  Melissa and I have been friends for over a year now, and despite our very different personalities, we became close quickly.  We’ve made efforts to stay in touch and keep up the friendships despite all having busy lives.  I love my monthly girls’ nights with these amazing ladies!

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Rebecca, Elizabeth, Melissa, and Emmelyn –
Our typical attitudes.

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Merry Christmas! Skyping on Christmas day

Here are some other fun things I did in 2012!

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Going to gardens in Texas with my Johnson grandparents

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Finished my first 5K for Attack Poverty with Rebecca [Note that I didn’t say “ran” my first 5K…]

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After 11 years in the Comet Optometry study, I am now going to have to start paying for glasses, optometrist visits, and more. Maybe Lasik for 2013…

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This summer, my family visited my current favorite place in the world – my grandparents’ home in Gig Harbor, Washington. This is the view. Love.

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I have wanted a DSLR for a long time – since I was in such a beautiful setting (Washington State), and had been saving up, I decided to go for it! Despite not remembering much from my digital photography class, I’ve had a lot of fun with the auto settings 🙂 Maybe I’ll actually learn how to use it in 2013!

The Prepcats Swing Dance team I was a part of – performing at Sugar Land TEDx

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Skeeter’s minor league baseball game

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Traveling to Port Aransas with the Elder family for the Harvest Moon Regatta

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Harvest Moon Ball – Swing dancing

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The amazing girls from the church group I am involved in. It was a Christmas Sweater party!

Happy New Year!

~ Emmelyn

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