Christmas, 2011

(click on the picture to see a detailed view)

Dear Friends,

2011 was a great year for us, including news that the family is about to expand. Read on for a summary of our year in Lake Charles, LA.

In July, Ellen received a gift from her Mom to celebrate Ellen’s 50th birthday. It was something she had been looking forward to for a long time. They traveled to New York City to spend five days taking in the sights and the shows of the big city. They got to see the Statue of Liberty and made an anonymous appearance on NBC’s Today Show.
In October, the whole family traveled to Bay City, MI, to witness the wedding of Ellen’s niece Lauren.  It was a lovely wedding, and we had great fun seeing all the family members.  Then in December, it was off to Pensacola to spend Christmas with Mark’s side of the family.  Thanks to Mark’s sister Gina and her family for the wonderful hospitality and great food.

Our baby, Sarah, is eleven years old and in 5th grade, hard for us to believe.  She continues to grow in education and maturity. Her dance studies, gymnastics, and piano lessons continue, while she maintains top grades in the SPARK program at school.  She still reads avidly, preferring fiction books.  Sarah got a new iPod Touch for her birthday this year and has become very good at the online game Words With Friends™, so if you think you’re smarter than a 5th grader you can catch her at username sncongiundi.  Sarah still enjoys her arts and crafts, winning the Mayor's award again for some of her works.  Last, but not least, Sarah totally enjoyed the week she had with her niece Chloe when she stayed at our house this past May.

Lisa had a very rewarding and exciting year as she’s reached age 20.  She continued her studies at LSU, but decided to make a change in her major.  It caught us all by surprise when she chose to pursue a degree in chemical engineering!  Now there will be four chemical engineers to carry on the Congiundi tradition. She’s very enthusiastic about her new major and expects to challenge her brothers in how successful she becomes.  This Spring Lisa bought a road bike and did the Tour Laffite with her Dad. Over the summer Lisa worked at the local school Art Camp once again; it was her last time teaching, since engineering internships will be taking over her summers very soon. She will miss it but continues her artistic abilities in other activities. The cherry on top of an exciting year for Lisa was undoubtedly her 10-day trip to Israel with Taglit-Birthright. She made the effort to send herself to Israel with this organization and had a fantastic time.  She met a lot of new friends and had many new experiences. She has also mastered the art of traveling.

Samuel is now a senior in chemical engineering at Texas A&M, and has reached the important age of 21.  To celebrate the event, his parents threw a surprise birthday party, inviting all his Aggie friends and more.  The cake was shaped, appropriately, as a distillation column.  Classes have consumed a lot of Samuel’s time, but he has maintained his high GPA.  He finally earned enough credit hours to become a proud owner of an Aggie ring.  Last summer, he interned as a process engineer at ConocoPhillips where he worked on several challenging projects, including a couple of process control projects.  For full-time employment this Fall he has accepted an offer from Chevron Phillips in Port Arthur, TX, the same plant where his dad briefly worked 15 years ago.  Unsurprisingly, Samuel’s last name was already a familiar sound to several employees.

This past summer, Samuel also continued as the organizer and director of the Kids Summer chess camp in Lake Charles.  This was his fifth consecutive year doing the program.

Ellen continues as the “stay-at-home mom,” running the family household and making sure everyone and everything is on track.  She’s a regular at the local Curves Center, volunteers at Sarah's school, teaches Sunday school at the Synagogue, and keeps the books for the Lake Charles Newcomers Club while helping to organize its activities.  This year Ellen received a very special gift – an iPad 2 – that introduced her to the world of mobile computing.  An iPhone 4 soon followed.  Now she’s a big Pandora fan, and is seriously hooked on Words With Friends™ (user name ena001).  She talks on the phone using Bluetooth while in the car, and Skypes her mom regularly.  Need we say more?

The first news of the family expansion is that Joseph and Jessica are expecting another child.  They continue living in Houston with daughter Chloe, who had a wonderful second birthday party in November.  Chloe's an amazing child who already knows all the letters of the alphabet, and seems to have a lot of maturity for her age.  Jessica completed her Certification in counseling and started a private business.  Now she’s focusing on the new baby, so her business is not the top priority.  Joseph’s doing well at Lyondell-Basell as he’s taken on more responsibilities at other units.  In May, Joseph and Jessica had a nice, relaxing vacation in Barbados while Chloe got to visit her grandparents.

The other family expansion news is that Anthony and Erika got engaged just before Christmas. They have not set an official wedding date but they are looking at sometime in late October or early November in 2012.  Anthony continues working as a Process Control Engineer at Lyondell-Basell’s La Porte Olefins plant, which is planning to expand production by 50%.  Anthony will lead the process control effort of this project.  Erika is working full-time as a licensed-professional counselor intern therapist working with chronically ill adults, enjoying every second of it. She plans on finishing her intern hours this coming September.

Mark continues his Process Control work at Sasol North America, at the Lake Charles plant.  Sasol’s decision to build a new unit at this site has spurred two more feasibility studies, bringing the potential for serious growth in Lake Charles.  Mark is busy leading the process control effort on the active project and looks forward to being involved in any future projects.  During the year he found time for two trips to Sasol facilities in both Secunda and Sasolburg, South Africa.  Nevertheless, the Scottsdale retirement home is calling and it will be interesting over the next few years to see which call is the loudest.  Mark did manage one decent motorcycle trip.  He two-wheeled from Lake Charles to Pensacola where his dentist brother gave him an expert root canal.

Our pets Luke, Lucy, and Tidbit are still going strong.  Luke gave us a bit of a scare when Ellen discovered a tumor on his side.  Even though it was found to be malignant, she had caught it in time.  The tumor was removed and Luke is expected to recover fully.  Meanwhile, these cats continue to rule.

This year we are thankful that we're all in good health and we continue to have interesting, gainful employment. You can find this Christmas newsletter and all those from previous years online. Just go to our Web Home Page and click on the Christmas tree near the bottom of the page. Please note our Internet addresses below, as well as our street address. Please write (snail mail or email) or stop by for a visit if you're in the area. We hope you are all healthy and feeling lots of joy. We wish you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Mark, Ellen, Anthony, Joseph, Jessica, Chloe, Anthony, Erika, Samuel, Lisa, Sarah, and Luke, Lucy, and Tidbit the cats


Our mailing address is:

1212 Bayouwood Court

Lake Charles, LA 70605-3340


(337) 480-0625

E-mail address:

Web Home Page:

Christmas Newsletters Page:

Samuel's Web Page:


Joseph's Web Page:
Anthony's Web Page: