The Ebb and Flow of 2021

Most New Year’s Eves, there’s so much build up and excitement about what the new year will bring, how it will be different this time. Yet, here I am at bedtime on January 1, 2022, and I’ve somehow finally realized that life just ebbs and flows. Last night, I was excited and hopeful for 2021 to come to a close. Today, I nursed my 18 month old through her first busted, bloody lip, and Seth tested positive for COVID… again. I’m starting the year quarantined from the love of my life in our own home, that is until it comes for me too. Life just is what it is, and as much as we try to control it, the more out of control it feels. But then, other days are good and filled with friends and family who bring joy, love, and laughter. 2021 as a whole followed this flow.

2021 brought so much joy and pride as a mama. I made my goal of feeding Jaclyn breastmilk through her first six months of life; exclusive pumping was exhausting. I completed my photo project of weekly Wednesday photos- A Year in the Life of Jackie Chan Hope Pierce. Seth and I survived sleep training part two, and our girl goes to bed wide awake every night now with no trouble. I found a children’s book about hemangiomas for Jaclyn as she gets bigger.

Jaclyn has grown so fast and so beautifully. I have videos that document her first time pulling to stand up, waving, crawling, walking, finally saying mama (even though I was at work when it happened). She knows and loves all animals. She says thank you after you help her with something. Jaclyn is just the greatest gift.

2021 has also brought worry and heartache as a mama. Jaclyn has had multiple specialist appointments for her hemangiomas since she has one on her head and one in her nose. We’ve seen a pediatric dermatologist multiple times and tried several types of medicine to help it stop growing. She went to a pediatric ENT and had a scope go down both nostrils as far as her esophagus to see if the hemangioma in her nose was blocking her airway, but thankfully it was not!

A couple months later, Jaclyn had some seizure-like episodes that prompted an MRI with sedation and and EEG. Everything about those moments were terrifying, but again, we’re thankful that all test results came back normal, and she’s had no other incidents since.

In June, we were expecting Jaclyn’s little brother or sister, but just days after the positive pregnancy test, I miscarried our second baby. It’s called a chemical pregnancy. The test wasn’t even positive anymore by the time I got to the OBGYN.

In November, we gained our third angel baby girl. This loss was quite a doozy. No baby in the 8-week ultrasound. Two days later, the baby appeared. A week later, the baby hadn’t grown and still didn’t have a heartbeat. D & C. Lots of grieving. A month later, still positive on pregnancy tests. More bloodwork and ultrasounds. A second D&C that found scar tissue from when Jaclyn was born that had never healed and some recent pregnancy tissue that was stuck to it. Everything was cleared out with a camera this time.

During all of this, genetic testing was done and learned that I’m a carrier for Tay Sach’s disease, which is deadly for most small children. I had a full day of panic and horror worrying that Jaclyn had it until Seth got home and confirmed from his 23 and Me test that he is not a carrier.

2021 confirmed that God gave me the best partner I could’ve ever asked for. Seth is so thoughtful and creative when he celebrates me. My birthday and Christmas gifts are hidden around the house with clues- scavenger hunt style. My first Mother’s Day was absolute perfection as he and Jaclyn made me a homemade book telling me how great I am. My Christmas gift this year was this beautiful necklace with the birthstones of all our babies; I believe it’s the most special gift I’ve ever been given.

Seth has cooked more this year as I’ve been too stressed, tired, or sad to do so. And it’s been a hilarious, yet delicious experience for all of us.

He is the best dad.

In 2021, COVID was still affecting all the things. We finally celebrated the Boyd family Christmas on January 10 after we all recovered from COVID. I was very thankful to receive both vaccines and the booster this year.

There was a brief time between April and July when we thought we’d beaten COVID…

But we did not, and somehow some folks still don’t believe that. So I closed out the year changing Jaclyn’s pediatrician because I shouldn’t have to ask her doctor to put on a mask when COVID cases are the highest they’ve ever been.

2021 brought more professional growth. I completed a full year of Adult Education NTI after coming back from maternity leave. I had more professional challenges than I’ve ever experienced and was coached beautifully through it all. With the help of my team, I was able to transition our ESL program back to in-person classes while maintaining live, virtual classes.

I had more interaction with students this year. I met with students via Zoom to help them prepare for their posttest. One particular student was on her 30-minute lunch break and spent every minute of it practicing with me. She shared that she had to pass the test so she can start GED classes and then go to college. I also had the privilege of facilitating a student-led training for our staff. These students worked with me for a month and a half to create a shared training about their cultures.

Despite the pandemic, I still had the opportunity to create and present several trainings. I shared a Cultural Competency in the Workplace training with our team. I stepped in last minute to present at the virtual COABE conference about our Family Learning virtual pilot. And I was honored that NCFL asked me to lead my first webinar about How to Support Multi-Language Parent Facilitation.

Finally, in October, I accepted a new job in Adult Education; for the first time in my career, I’m not exclusively working with ESL. Now I am a Coordinator, Special Projects of ABE and ESL. I will oversee both the ABE / GED and ESL programs. I’ve only held the position for a couple of months so far, but it’s been an exciting and challenging change that I’m grateful for.

2021 was another year to remember. It was a tough year, but this reflection is important because there was still so much good.

2020- The Year No One Will Forget

2020 is a year that will undoubtedly go down in history. Oddly enough, this is the first year in a long time that I haven’t wished away. It certainly had its challenges, but 2020 brought me so much growth and blessing.

2020 is a year that will undoubtedly go down in history. Oddly enough, this is the first year in a long time that I haven’t wished away. It certainly had its challenges, but 2020 brought me so much growth and blessing.

This year brought loss.
My Papaw passed away in February.
In February, we also celebrated and remembered the due date of our first baby.
Several friends lost their babies- big and small.

This year brought sickness.
I got the flu while pregnant.
I was placed on bedrest for the final five weeks of my pregnancy.
Seth, Jaclyn, my mom, and I ended the year with COVID-19.

This year brought virtual education.
March 13 was our final normal, in-person work day.
April 6 we returned to work virtually, creating our first ever NTI ESL program.

By the end of the first week, we had a lot of new interest from word of mouth (meaning our students are friends outside of class), unenrolled students “snuck in” to Zoom classes after getting the link from their friends, and there was a request for a student’s fiancée to enroll from Africa. We’re in a worldwide pandemic and these students still amaze me.

I was thankful to represent Adult Education with my own I AM JCPS video.

This year brought virtual socializing.
We were blessed to have three Zoom baby showers that were oh so special.

All of our major holidays were spent in quarantine because of COVID-19. Thankful for FaceTime and Zoom.

This year brought growth and pushed my physical boundaries more than ever before.

This year brought me the best gift of my baby girl.

I was able to take 13 weeks off to fully focus on my girl during her first three months of life. Now she is nearly 7 months old and I’ve been able to telecommute to work. So I get to have lunch with Jaclyn every day and she comes to visit me when I’m not in meetings.

This year brought us our dream home.
Our first home went on the market on a Friday evening. That Sunday we accepted an offer after 16-18 showings in 2 days and a total of five offers. The following Wednesday, the offer on our new home was accepted after another multi-offer situation.

Due to the pandemic, it took six attempts to close while I was 8 months pregnant. But we are now close to my parents, who watch our sweet baby and in a home that’s felt like ours since the moment we moved in.

This year brought SO MUCH learning about being a mama.
Baby sleep tricks and training thanks to Taking Cara Babies.
Breastfeeding is hard and not for everyone.

I breastfed but I did not nurse. I exclusively pumped and bottle fed my baby breast milk for a little over three months. We tried breastfeeding for the first week of her life with at least 5 different lactation consultants, but it remained a difficult traumatizing experience for both of us. I was an over supplier as you can see. I spent 2-3 hours each day pumping, storing, washing, and organizing my pump supplies. To exclusively pump, is to be a champion.

Baby Led Weaning for solid foods thanks to Feeding Littles, Solid Starts, and Baby Led Wean Team on Instagram. I suppose this is still new and everybody has all the thoughts that I don’t have time for. So I’m trusting my gut and talking to the pediatrician as we teach our girl to eat.

So thankful for my other new mama friends– shout out to Daphne in Texas, Sujata in New York, and Hao in Vietnam. Love you and your babies and so grateful to be in this phase of life with each of you.

This year brought an awakening of what we value, how we want to love others, and how we hope to live our lives. There’s still so much learning, unlearning, and action to be done.

As we close out 2020, I will be celebrating with my loves. We are beyond thankful for the unique opportunities of family time that we’ve been given. We are grateful for this year and excited to see what new adventures 2021 will bring.

2019 Reflections

While 2019 was filled with grief, change, and other challenges, it was also full of growth and confidence, love and support, excitement, and the usual ESL success and hilarity.

For most of December, I’ve been eagerly anticipating the New Year.  “I’m so over 2019.” It has been a heavy year for sure, but one thing I love about social media is that you can easily review and reflect on your life.  I was quickly reminded that while 2019 was filled with grief, change, and other challenges, it was also full of growth and confidence, love and support, excitement, and the usual ESL success and hilarity.

 Growth and Confidence

January– I successfully detoxed from sugar and completely changed my diet for a month and half and maintained it for half of the year.  Lost 24 lbs. in the process.

March– So proud of my husband! There’s nothing better than watching the ones you love do what they love.  If you have any interest in rock climbing, let me connect you with his beginner climbing class.

March 25– I’m finally thankful again for early, quiet, peaceful Monday mornings.  Yes, I still check every room and the locks on the door. But then I’m able to make some coffee, sit in the floor to lesson plan anxiety-free, almost as if I’ve never been afraid to begin with.

April/May– I was regularly attending Krav Level 2 and wasn’t half bad.

August 1– May I just say that it is SO wonderful to enter my home alone and stay by myself with zero fear? It finally feels normal again.

August 17– I got my first and only tattoo.

November 4-5– This year I’m honored that NCFL chose two of my proposals for the conference.  Presentation #1 will share my journey of program coordination and resources for Family Education.  Presentation #2 will share some innovative, engaging ideas and activities about lesson planning.

November 14– I’m always proud to be Seth’s wife, but tonight took my pride to a new level.  It takes much courage to be so real and vulnerable on the journey of self-growth through blogging.  Plus, he’s a ridiculously good writer. Check him out.

Love and Support

February– Seth and I celebrated two years of marriage with a long weekend in Cincinnati.  The Newport Aquarium’s Penguin Experience was the highlight of the whole trip! “I’m so happy I could cry.  I’d love for one of them to come close enough to poop on my boot.”

May 23– I’ve been shown so much love today on the last day of school.  I thought I was coming down to one of our regular end of year potlucks but was genuinely surprised to walk into a cafeteria with about 75 people to bid me farewell from this particular phase of my life.  There was cake, decorations, gifts, and a super sentimental video.  I love you all dearly.  Thank you for such kindness.

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August– New community in our Sunday School class!


All year long: Amazing friends.


April 19– Guess who is now debt free from grad school? Paid it off completely this morning!

April 24– Uncle Seth and Aunt Ashley are very smitten with our new little niece, Natalie.  She’s a month old today and gets cuter by the minute!

May 29– We’re pregnant with our little nugget!!

July– We have a wonderful new boss at work.

July 26– Adult tea parties are good for the soul.

August 4 and 19– Bentley and Bella Boyd entered our lives!

September 4– Thanks to the help of my wonderful community, we now have a live document and Facebook page that shares all active, open opportunities for Free English Language Practice in our city!

September 13– Backstreet Boys Concert!!!

October 2– We’re pregnant again with our second little sweet pea!!

October 21– These are the moments I’ve been waiting for.  They’ve wanted me to have a baby FOREVER.

November 25– We bought our first family car!


December 21– My little Herman came home!

December 23– Our little sweet pea decided to pooch out just in time for Christmas.

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December 27– We heard our baby’s heartbeat and movement for the first time at 16 weeks!

ESL Success and Hilarity

February 7– “Teacher, homework? 3 days and you no give me homework!” I’m behind on grading and one of my students is not having it.

March 5– I walked back into my classroom at break today to hear a table of six Somali students beautifully reading  our daily message in unison without my help!  Music to a preliterate ESL teacher’s ear!

April 9– Abdio’s phone rings in class.  Me, “Please turn off your phones.  Yesterday was terrible.”  Abdio laughs, “Today Abdio rrible,”  She doesn’t know the word terrible but she knew the context and tried to repeat it.  Language acquisition is so fun.

April 30– I just got scolded for showing too much neck and chest from a former male student.  “Ashley Boyd!!! Oh. What happened? No good!”  Modest is hottest folks.

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May 23– Today began the goodbyes of my teaching and leadership roles at Americana.  I’m transitioning to a different leadership role for next year and will only be visiting this special place.

May 28– We hosted a farewell party for our boss who’s lead our ESL program for 18 years.

July 9– I officially took over the Adult ESL program.

July/August/September– I changed office spaces three times.



April 8– We lost our sweet little Molly this afternoon.  We had a good 13 and a half years with this beautiful sweet, loyal, spoiled, little cuddle bug. So much sadness today.  Hooey, I love you the most.


July 5– Today we said goodbye to our first baby that we’ll never know.  Tomorrow we would’ve been ten weeks pregnant.

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August 13– I returned to therapy.

August 24– It’s been 7 weeks, and medical bills continue to come in.  $2,500ish to lose our baby.


February– I wrecked my car for the first time in my life.  I ran headfirst into a side wall, spun across three lanes of interstate to crash into the other side wall, with not a scratch on me.

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April 23– The flu is truly awful.  I lost a week of work at the end of the school year and missed my last Family Education End of Year Celebration.

August 21– Soon our English classes will be at capacity, and there are many many many students still coming to register.  I need to be able to share other options around the city.  HELP!

For 2020, I don’t want to have to look through my timeline to be reminded of all the blessings that I’ve been given.  I want to do better to live in the moment, feel all the feels, and then overcome.  I really and truly have a wonderful life and so much to be thankful for.

Romans 8:38:
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Every day advocate.

Make them understand why immigrants and refugees should be here, not shame for wanting to send them away.
Be an advocate. Share their stories. Share why they are special. Not what America can do for them, but what they can do for this country.

Make them understand why immigrants and refugees should be here, not shame for wanting to send them away.
Be an advocate. Share their stories. Share why they are special. Not what America can do for them, but what they can do for this country.

The majority of my adult life has included teaching English and learning about other countries, cultures, and languages.  It is very important to me to show the value, education, and hilarity that my students and friends bring into my life. Below are glimpses of my world as I strive to be an every day advocate.

January 31, 2018
It was a culture war zone in class this morning… Opinions on weight fluctuation; why I haven’t had children yet; how dare I take my husband’s last name and drop my father’s name; and let’s not even get started on Trump’s State of the Union address.

Granted, it’s impressive how all of this can be communicated with little English. It also means way less self-control in their expression. I’m exhausted.

February 6, 2018
This morning a younger Iraqi student got upset that an older Somali student calls me Ashley instead of teacher. The explanation…

“Before, you teacher… baby teacher. 8 years before. You my daughter, you baby teacher. Now big, no small.”

She was one of my first students in Adult Ed ESL when I was 21, so I was a baby teacher. But peer pressure got to her because by the end of class she was calling me Teacher.

February 19, 2018
My classroom interactions this morning…

1.) A Vietnamese nun is praying for me to have a baby.
2.) A Burundi student is adamant that she is 26 years old when her birth date is January 1990… There was no changing her mind.
3.) A Somali student thought she was 23 and was slightly devastated to find out that she is really 27.

Age is a hard concept when your worldview of date and time are so different. And the baby comments/questions are almost daily.

March 8, 2018
That’s my program!

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March 14, 2018
Over the years I’ve tried to consciously remove the following phrase from my vocabulary, “This student knows nothing. No English at all.”

Every student knows something. And if you can’t figure out how to awaken that something enough to grow and develop it into more language, then you’re not working hard enough as an English teacher.

#mamabearESLteacher #strengthsbasedpractice #stopinsultingmypeople

March 22, 2018
This is Roda. She is from DRC and has been in my English class since July. Learning to read is not an easy task, and she has been quite frustrated. A few months ago she grabbed another student’s certificate and pretended that I had presented it to her. She bowed and yelled, “Thank you, thank you!”

Today, she received her own certificate that she can keep and take home. There was dancing, hugging, hollering, spinning, and praising the Lord. These are some of the moments I live for.


March 26, 2018
I received 5 onions as a gift today.

 April 26, 2018
Fighter planes for Derby have been flying around school this morning. I lost control of class for a minute as students acted out bombs dropping. One in particular just said, “Syria” as he pointed to them. Such a different world we live in.

May 1, 2018
This week my schedule is full of exit interviews for our Family Education grant. When asking participants how the program has helped their family…

-“My daughter was doing bad at school because I don’t know how to help her. Now her teacher calls to tell me she is in the top of her class.”

-“My customers notice that my English is better.”

-“My 3-year old knows her letters, colors, animals. She sings. She can write her name!” (from a parent who’s never been to school)

-“We love learning. Me and my children are sad if we miss Family Education.”

These comments are from parents who start their day at 3:20am and go home at 9:00pm, who are single mothers, who did not go to/finish school. THIS is why we do it. It’s a gift to work with these strong individuals who have re-built their lives in this country.

‍‍May 30, 2018
Teaching lower level ESL sometimes hinders my vocab. I’m always trying to simplify my language. So now in regular conversation, I have to google definitions… ominous, gregarious, etc.

August 15, 2018
Today was the first day of school for Jefferson County. As I watched adorably dressed children run to their bus stop, I couldn’t help but think of all my adult students who never had the chance to regularly attend school as a child.

These same students arrive to school now sometimes an hour and a half early to ensure they have a seat for ESL Registration. They are very upset when we are full and ask them to come back. They just want to study.

Adult Education matters.

August 17, 2018
As I was scrolling through my contact list last night, I got very confused. I was so tired that I forgot where J falls in alphabetical order… and I am a self-proclaimed Queen of the Alphabet!  TGIF.

August 20, 2018
A student walked up and smacked my stomach this morning and said, “Where’s your baby?”  I told her I’m too busy now.  She said, “Every day too busy. One day you die and no babies! No good teacher, no good!”

September 3, 2018
Much of my work these days is organizing the masses and tracking data, and I’m quite proud to work at this gigantic site.

In less than 2 months, we have enrolled 506 adult ESL students at Americana World Community Center. 235 of them will likely start classes tomorrow.

September 22, 2018
Presenting at conferences is already fun, but this time I get to do it with one of my favorite colleagues.


 October 27, 2018
Trying to get excited about literacy level ESL with original ideas and materials at KYTESOL.


November 27, 2018
We were killin it in class today. There were so many aha moments that the students were literally bouncing in their seat with excitement.  The best part of the morning was when my most insecure student went into the hallway and came back to hand me her phone.

“Hello. My wife called and wants me to tell you that she understands almost everything today and she feels very good and happy.”
“I’m so happy! That’s wonderful. But I’m still teaching right now so I’m going to hang up.”

#brilliantstudents #thisiswhyliteracyrocks #ibouncedinexcitementwiththem

November 28, 2018
The energy continues this morning, except none of my language groups are getting along.

Somali: “Hey! You talk too much.”
Arabic: “Teacher!” (While pointing to the Somali students in a tattle tale like fashion)
Me: “Well, you do talk too much too loud. Speak more English.”

*Everyone sits there grumpily.*

December 10, 2018
“Teacher, you no eat camel? Why??! Milk-y good. Meat good. What happened?”

“I’m not sure. I guess because we don’t have many camels in America.”

“Oh, Africa camels too much.”

December 13, 2018
What else are you supposed to do when addressing roughly 90 ESL students who speak multiple languages? Balance yourself on a chair and pleasantly holler.

How many questions do you know from our mingling activity?


December 21, 2018
My Winter Break officially began at 5:00 pm. I left to pick up my sister and came right back to Americana Community Center for the Winter Festival. It was SO good to catch up with families I haven’t seen in a while. I love this place and I love these people.

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