Friday, December 30, 2005

Glancing back...

Our refrigerator and remote refrigerator (our car) are full of dips, sauces, spreads, and custards prepared for Nathan's birthday dinner of "Fondue Bourguignonne" tomorrow night, and our New Year's Eve celebration. There's Italian bread dough waiting for tomorrow's oven, and the egg rolls are wrapped and ready to be fried tomorrow night. The house is being put in order. The meatloaf is in the oven turning itself quite nicely into our dinner. Outside the snow is once again falling softly upon our humble abode. There is a stack of dishes still awaiting in the kitchen, but they can continue to wait awhile longer. All sits in readiness to ring in 2006 - but can it really be that the year 2005 has completed its course already?

Of course, a thorough examination of our blog reveals much of what happened: The birth of Corrine, the sudden loss of Grandpa Muligano, the extensive travels, multiple conferences, fun friendships, and numerous other happenings.

What a blog cannot reveal is the little lessons learned along the way, the songs sung as we drove from coast to coast, the personal struggles, the defeats and the victories, the hopes, the disappointments, the changes, the hurts, the growth, the "inside jokes" that bring smiles to those in the know (our family) - all those little things that conduct us through the greater joys and sorrows down the path to maturity. This year we have walked (or been pushed) through a number of unexpected doors, and as we look back on 2005 we find ourselves grateful that we can fully trust in the sovereign hand of our Lord and look forward eagerly to what awaits us in 2006. Our prayer is that the Lord would see fit to continue drawing us nearer to Him, and using us in His service in the year ahead of us.

Yes, we have much to be grateful for. We have had more fun this year than is healthy... well, except that we have enjoyed fairly good health this year. We have rejoiced in countless mercies of God. We are rich in friendships across the nation - though not rich enough to willingly lose any of you! We get to call some of the very nicest and most talented people in the world "family" (of course, as Grandpa always said, it runs in the genes). Please know that each of you mean so much to our family. Some of you have known us for since we were little bitty things, some of you have but recently met us - and some of you we have not yet had the pleasure of meeting - but oh, how we thank God for each of you and all that you have brought and taught to our family! May we continue to rejoice in His love through the years ahead, and may our Lord use us together to advance His kingdom and glorify His name! To Him be all praise and honor!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas!

A day of feasting and celebration, a day of rememberance and rejoicing! Praise be to our Savior!

Merry Christmas to you all!
The Erber Family

Friday, December 23, 2005

The Serven's Stay

This week we had the pleasure of hosting the Serven family from the St. Louis area. Just this summer they moved to Missouri from their native state of California, thus we had the additional pleasure of introducing them to *real* winter weather. (Like the below zero weather we enjoyed the night they arrived.) But that aside, it was enjoyable to share several days (and late nights) with like minded friends.

There is just no place to talk like around the dining room table. Family histories were shared, theology, philosphy, education, demographics, churches, employment, our lives and daily schedules, holidays, traditions, common controversies, advice, encouragement, and more, all somehow found their way into our mealtime discussions!

During some of those lengthy discussions the younger set found their way into the other room or to the great outdoors and seemed to have a wonderful time together!

On Tuesday, we enjoyed the 2005 annual Do-It-Yourself Messiah, and that night we brought home several additional guests. Mrs. Moeller, Shannon and Amber, Beth & Dawn Beatty, Sebastian and Elliot Fowlks, joined us for a few hours of rest in the wee morning hours, and then stayed for a day of fun on Wednesday.
What would be a fun winter day without some sledding? We bundled up and drove down the road to our local little forest preserve to enjoy the snow.

Wednesday we also had the joyful opportunity to celebrate Rebecca Serven's 25th birthday! Thanks for sharing it with us, Rebecca! :) May the Lord pour out his blessings upon you this coming year.
As part of the birthday celebration, we enjoyed a "talent swap" of sorts and enjoyed numerous humerous musical presentations from members of both families. Then the hours sped away as the younger ones headed to bed, the parents talked in the kitchen, and the young adult crowd enjoyed a games and laughter together.

As one might expect after a series of late nights and full days, Thursday morning started slowly - and sadly, for all good things must come to an end. And shortly after noon, the Serven Clan was loaded up and headed for home. We had a great time with y'all! Come back again, ya' hear? What a joy is the fellowship of friends! God has truly and richly blessed our family this year - we're grateful for you all!

2005 Do-It-Yourself Messiah!

A highlight of our year, LaSalle Bank's annual Do-It-Yourself Messiah on Tuesday, December 20, was again a wonderful evening!

Every year has it's own uniqueness that makes it especially memorable. Perhaps the most "memorable" unique item this year was the time Maestro Sperber spent, um, warming up the crowd, by waxing eloquent on baseball, the Chicago White Sox, the Messiah and the various connections between them all. And, as a vocal "warm-up" we sang "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." Perhaps the White Sox did win the World Series this year, but I think most of the crowd sang, "Root for the Cubbies..." I'm not sure, but I don't think that song has ever been sung at the Opera House before.

Anyway, we finally did get down to the music we all came to sing and it was glorious! All four of this year's soloists were new ones - and for the most part were very good! I think everyone in our group agreed that although the Counter Tenor had a fabulous voice, we'd prefer if the part was sung by an Alto. It's just very odd to see this little guy standing up there singing with a woman's voice... The soprano was young but had a good voice, the baritone got lost once (but recovered well!), and, for the first time in years, we had no complaints about the tenor! :) There was a press for the seats beyond the typical rush, and we almost ended up sitting in the third balcony, but by dividing into many smaller groups and mingling with the Sopranos (who had extra seats) we were able to find a few seats here and there and get most of us sitting directly in front of the stage - for which we were very thankful. It is an incredible experience to have nearly 3000 people sitting behind you singing! Every year we learn our parts better, and every year the strength of the message written in Handel's Messiah impacts us again, and our hearts cry out with our voices as we sing the final Amens!

Like any concert, pictures are not allowed during the performance, so most of our pics are of the fun before and after.

Nathan & Jeanine came to our house early and rode the train down with us, although Corrine prevented them from attending the Messiah. They toured Chicago for awhile and then took the train back home.
Of course, the great question every year is "Will we make the train?" Thankfully, we did once again arrive in time to catch our train - and didn't even have to stand outside waiting for too long this year... long enough to be chilly, though!
Once aboard, the train ride is a lot of fun - and some of us get rather comfortable!

Our group numbered nearly 80 this time, and we had an entire train car (both sides) reserved for us. We sang, ate, talked...

Every year the famous "bucket guy" sits on the bridge that crosses the Chicago River between the train station and the opera house in Chicago. This year he had a cymbal added to his set and once again sang the same exact song - the same exact part of a song, rather - and shouted out the same lines as always!

Taking pictures inside the opera house is a bit of a challenge as the lighting isn't the greatest for photography - and obviously there are limits on when you can take photos. Not sure why the picture above turned out so blue, but here are a few of the Altos from our group!

After the "Messiah" was finished, we had some time before our train left and we got this group picture on the grand staircase. Say, if any of you others who had camera's flashing there got a better shot, could you send us a copy?

As we did have an hour to spare before our train left Chicago, we took a midnight stroll around the city.

Thankfully it was a mild evening as our Californian guests were being introduced to winter weather...

Ah, the train ride home. Definitely memorable. The young men found their way to the upper level of the train and serenaded the rest of us with songs of Christmas, songs from Broadway, folk songs, patriotic songs, you-name-it songs.

Our train got back to the Crystal Lake station around 1:00am, after which we had about a half-hour drive home. However, despite the early hour, few of our crowd (we had the Servens, and various members of the Moellers, Beattys, and Fowlks families spending the night with us) were ready to hop into bed upon arriving home. In fact, some (namely, the young gentlemen among us) found themselves desirous of a reprise of dinner. Thus, out came the spread. Including lasagne, meatballs, cheese and crackers, carrot cake, brownies, nuts, cookies, tea, and more! Talk and laughter continued for another hour or so before our home began to quiet down.

Ah, yes. Once again, memories were made, laughter shared, relationships built, and our Savior's name praised! Hallelujah!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Last Week...

We have the Serven Clan here in town for a few days, so this will be another one of those delightfully short updates on life at the Erbers!

Monday - Hmm. Well, Jonathan had a piano lesson Monday evening... I don't remember what happened on Monday.

Tuesday - Sara and Caroline joined us for the day while Jeremy put in a long day on the job site. It is such fun to have them so close! Tuesday evening we hosted a piano recital for Jessica's students. They all did a fabulous job with their pieces, to the relief and delight of their teacher.

Wednesday - Shopping and music lessons in Rockford got off to a late start after somebody, who will remain nameless, locked the keys in the car which was running right as we were about to leave... Dad and Josh both also had keys for the vehicle in their pockets, and neither of them were home. After we finally got to Rockford, winds, snow and unplowed parking lots slowed us down some, but we were still able to get the vital shopping done and make it to the violin and cello lessons on time, and get back safely.

Thursday - Nathan, Jeanine, Corrine, Jeremy, Sara, and Caroline, joined us for dinner Thursday night preceeding a church men's meeting. Shortly after dinner while Jeanine and Sara helped Mom and Joanna make an Italian Christmas specialty, Jessica and Joseph headed down to Des Plaines, IL to spend the night with Grandma Erber. Grandpa was in the hospital for several days last week, but seems to be just fine now!

Friday - Jessica and Joseph took the train back to Harvard, while Dad took the train from Harvard back to Des Plaines, to switch "shifts" with Grandma. As Jessica is writing this and she didn't get home until late afternoon on Friday, she really doesn't know what else happened that day.

Saturday - After waiting, and waiting, they were finally able to talk with a doctor and Grandpa came home from the hospital Saturday afternoon. After which Dad drove back home, too.

In between, beneath, and on top of all that is listed above was a considerable amount of time spent in finishing the basement, cleaning the house, and cooking food for the next couple weeks of festivities, guests, and feasting.

Sunday - Of course, the morning saw us at church - but as there was a party on Saturday night at the facility we rent for our church... well, we had to get there a little early to clean up. Balloons proclaiming "Felize Bautize" gave us some idea of the purpose of the party! Some of the party hosts showed up also Sunday morning and did a lot of the clean up, mopping, etc.

Sunday afternoon, our church enjoyed a time of celebration and song! Focusing on the birth of Christ, we sang songs, read scriptures, listened to some of our talented musicians perform selections from the host of music written rejoicing in the incarnation of our Savior, and we closed by rejoicing in the victory of our lord as we rose to sing, as a congregation, the glorious "Hallelujah Chorus."

Last night, the Serven family of Missouri arrived to spend the next couple of days with us. The big event of their stay being tonight as we'll all make the trek down to Chicago for the Do-It-Yourself Messiah!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Muligano Christmas Party

Yesterday witnessed us enjoying the 2005 Muligano Christmas get together! Lots of yummy food stuffs, and some unique entertainment. Unless you were there, you can't fully appreciate the pictures below. But for those of us who were there, they mean fun! Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, and Grandma in Florida, California, Maine, New York, and Virginia - we missed you! Wish you could have been here, too!

Uncle George took the prize in the tape unraveling contest.

Jake tried to get some rest and Joseph & Joanna enjoyed a game of checkers while Aunt Lori and Josh observed...until the EARTHQUAKE hit!!!

Phil and Kylee select a gift after the games.

Jeremy, Sara, and Caroline!

Monday, December 05, 2005


For all of you southern folks, we thought we'd let you enjoy a virtual cold day: It's -10 degrees in Northern Illinois right now with about 3(?) inches of snow covering everything around our house!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Quick Update

I guess it's been rather quiet on this blog of late, and as I'm sure you are all just so curious about what's been keeping us, here's an update!

*Thanksgiving was a wonderful time with Grandpa & Grandma Erber, Aunt Jill (Dad's sister) & Uncle Don, Nathan, Jeanine & Corrine. And we had enough food for us to enjoy leftovers and leftover adaptions for several days!

*On Thanksgiving day we also took out a box of old pictures and spent the next day or so sorting through them. Most of them made it into a quickly made album and have been labeled and organized so that we know who everyone is!

*For the last 7+ years the ICHE office has been in our home and now it's moving out. So last week we spent a rather significant portion of time cleaning and sorting the office, and packing of all the ICHE stuff.

* We are very excited that basement is finally almost finished! The boys did a bunch of tiling work down there this past weekend. Final details yet to be done include carpeting, straightening, and paint.

*Sunday afternoon we spent with Grandpa & Grandma Erber. They asked us to get out and put up their Christmas decorations, as it is becoming more of a challenge for them. Of course, in keeping with the tradition we turned on their old stereo system and were serenaded by their old records.

*On Tuesday, this week, we had the delightful opportunity to host the Desaulniers family from Iowa. We met them at one of the conferences we attended earlier this year and as they were passing through the area on the way home from visiting relatives for Thanksgiving, they stopped in to spend the night at our place. Jonathan posted pictures from the evening on his blog. We spent many hours conversing with them on church, culture, family, and homeschooling issues.

*On Wednesday, part of our family enjoyed the opportunity to have a private 3 hour art class with an artist in the area. Afterwards, we all spent some of the evening over at Jeremy & Sara's to sing Happy Birthday to Caroline and watch her try to blow out the candles. Under certain circumstances, she will take a few steps without holding on to anything... but she still prefers not to!