Monday, December 31, 2007


Comfort! Rejoice! Hallelujah! Amen! ... and we got to sing it all in the Chicago Opera House with thousands of others! Handel's "Messiah" is truly a faithful and incredibly beautiful telling of the tidings of comfort and joy that we delight in as Christians. We are so grateful for the hand of the Lord on the life of George Frederic Handel as he composed this masterpiece... and we're very grateful for the opportunity to sing it every year.

This is a group of us that attended - mostly from our church, but a few other friends joined us as well for the train ride and pizza afterwards!

Ah, yes! The train ride! The train schedule worked out so much better for our group this year, and I think everyone enjoyed every minute of the ride!

Josh and Abbey smiling 'cause they can't wait to start singing... or maybe just smiling 'cause that's what they're always doing these days! We're just under 8 weeks until the big day!

Mom and Joanna

Pizza time! There were about 50 of us that went to Giordano's afterwards - we passed the tenor soloist on the street and almost invited him to join us! It was the first time that we really liked the tenor soloist. They've brought the same soprano back each year and she's great. The bass and alto/counter-tenor have been different every year. We enjoyed the new conductor this year - not that the regular conductor was bad, though! But back to dinner...


Josiah and Calvin

Chicago at night

All aboard!

Here's a short video clip of the first several seconds of the encore! It's not well focused, and my hand is a little shaky after clapping for several minutes! Yes, we were sitting in the first few rows, and yes, as you can tell I was sitting between the alto and soprano sections... And I stopped videoing because I had to sing the rest of the encore - and, of course, my hands had to be free to clap again afterwards! :-) Hallelujah!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

'Twas the week after Christmas...

Oh, how wonderful it has been to sit back and relax some over these past few days. We've feasted, we've rested, we've read, we've sung and played music, we've put puzzles together and built model boats, we've received letters, cards, and pictures from friends - old and new, we've talked, we've laughed, we've rejoiced and celebrated! AND, our house is clean and quiet today. Although, two small bicycles in the middle of the kitchen floor indicate that it is only quiet temporarily. Caroline and William are here with us today, and the other C's and W are on their way over, so it will soon be a louder happy day!

Like I mentioned before, our wash machine broke and we discovered yesterday that it was truly beyond repair. Oh, it could have been repaired, but for the same price as buying a new machine... so Dad bought a new machine! The old one was well used during its years in our home! Today they delivered the new one - but we can't quite use it yet as the dryer... well, anyway, they said they'd call us when that part comes in.

I'm taking an intermission from the project I'm supposed to be working on to catch up on a couple of things - including this blog. I'm working on the 2007 Year End slide show for our church. Wow! We've gotten a lot of pictures from a few of the families and I'm putting off the final sorting and cutting and organizing work. But at least I have them all (or most all of them) in one place now! While I'm not crazy about the time it takes to put it together, it is amazing to look back over the pictures and see what a very full year it has been for us and for the families in our church. Of course, most of the pictures are of us all having fun together - but there are also the pictures from the finalization of the Strand's adoption, a few baptisms, helping out the Geaschel family during their hospital stay and finally welcoming baby Karina home! Praise the Lord for 2007!

Ah - the other C's and W have just arrived! Got to run!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Good Tidings of Great Joy!

Caroline Joy, Christmas afternoon, 2007

Family Gatherings

On back-to-back Saturdays during this past month, we enjoyed Christmas gatherings with our extended family. The first Saturday we got together with Dad's mother's side of the family - aunts, uncles and cousins. The above picture shows most of us who were there. This year, each branch of the family brought a slide show summary of their year, so we were able to catch up with the big events of the year. Almost everyone from that family still lives in the Chicago suburbs, so getting everyone together in one place is a lot easier than on the other side of the family...

Mom's family is scattered from Maine, to Florida, to California - and her extended family fills in other coastal states as well. We had a wonderful time gathering with them this past summer. For Christmas, however, we were only able to get Mom's brother's family here. Uncle George lives less than an hour away - when the weather is good. But when it is snowing heavily (like it was the day they came!) it took them nearly 1 1/2 hours! We're so glad they came anyway! We had fun eating, talking, eating (that's mostly what we did - but we're Italian, you know), looking through a bunch of Uncle George's pictures from his recent trip to Italy (with some others from Mom's family), playing ping-pong, and eating some more. Yes, that is the famous chocolate fountain in the picture above. Of course, by the time the desserts came out we were already filled up with hors d'oeuvres, pasta, eggplant, chicken... Mmmmmmm.

Traditions are wonderful things, and they are best when shared with family - Those special people who are always there and always will be. What a blessing! We love you all!

Friday, December 21, 2007

'Twas the weekend before Christmas...

This picture was taken less than a week ago when we got our second major snow storm of the month and we were very excited at the thought of maybe really having a white Christmas this year... but, it looks like our weekend-before-Christmas thaw might be a reality once again. We've been dripping steadily for the last couple of days and they are predicting rain for this weekend. But who knows? Maybe it will be just a couple of degrees cooler than they are anticipating and we'll get some more of that white stuff again in time! It sure is a good thing there is more to Christmas than snow!

There's been lots of Christmas baking and cooking going on around here as we prepare to feast with friends and family. Some of that feasting and celebrating has already happened as we gathered with Dad's cousins, aunts and uncles on December 8th, and with Mom's brother and family on the 15th, and had a special celebration with our church this past Sunday afternoon. More on those later. In the mean time here are a few of the non-event news items around here.

It's a good thing that some of the partying is over (aside from a caroling party tonight, the Do-It-Yourself Messiah tomorrow, and then Christmas Eve and Christmas Day) because our wash machine broke this afternoon and leaked water all over the floor. No more laundry for awhile, but hopefully we'll be able to get the parts we need in spite of it being a holiday weekend and get it fixed soon!

Jonathan is on Christmas break from RVC for almost a whole month! He's excited about that and so are we. But he is even more excited about the fact that just yesterday he got his grades for the semester (about a week late due to weather) and they were straight A's - and that's for a 19 credit semester! They were mainly music-related courses, but also included economics and public speaking. Way to go, bro!

Jeremy's work van needs its windshield replaced - due to another animal encounter. I don't know that we can claim the kill this time, though, as Luke VH was the driver when the windshield collided with the turkey. Yup, you read that right. It wasn't a deer or a cow this time. A turkey. Sadly, they were driving over a bridge at the time and the turkey went over the side, so they were unable to bring it home for dinner. But they did get a few feathers...

I don't know that there is much else of general interest to mention. Josiah is finishing up Suzuki cello book 6, and Joanna is working on a Dvorák violin sonata. Wedding plans continue to progress as the big day is now - well, Joshua isn't home right now so I'd have to count to know exactly how many days it is, but it's about 9 weeks away! We are all looking forward to that date as Josh isn't good for much else around here anymore. :-) But neither were Jeanine or Jeremy, so I guess we'll survive it once again! Oh, don't get me wrong, that's not the only reason we're looking forward to the wedding! We are very much enjoying observing yet another case of twitterpation, and we love having Abbey around!

But I've got to sign off here and go get dinner on and prepare food for tomorrow's trip into Chicago! Have a great evening!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A Victorian Christmas

Friday was a full day of celebrating and telling again the beautiful story of Christ's birth! In the early afternoon, we headed to a local Christian retirement center for their chapel service. There we met with a few other families from our church and told - through scripture and song - the story of our Savior. It was a very special time and everyone involved did a wonderful job!

After arriving home from the retirement center, we raced around the house to change into Victorian era garments put a quick dinner together, and head up to Jeanine and Nathan's for their town's annual Victorian Christmas. Don't Joanna and Jonathan look sharp?

Some of us had been enlisted to participate in the evening's events as carolers, and others demonstrated a few Victorian dances in the center of town.

The town truly goes all out for this event and really does give the whole place a very Victorian-ish feel! People all around, but with a festive and not overcrowded feel. Every store along the quaint center of town was open and decorated and selling (or giving away) hot cider, hot cocoa, eggnog, cookies, baked potatoes...

There were popcorn stands and chestnuts roasting... carolers... the Salvation Army Band... a man riding around town in dog sled...

...oh yes... and fireworks! Winston was mesmerized!

The lady coordinating everything handed Josh this coat to wear for the evening, and gave Abbey a lovely fur shawl to wear over her dress - but it smelled pretty bad! :-) Oh, and I nearly forgot the parade! About a dozen horse drawn carriages all decked out with greens and bells paraded down the center of town - twice. First time all was very stately, the second time was in double time! All in all, it was a fun, cold, evening, in a delightful celebratory atmosphere - all within a block or two of N&J's home, so we could drop in and thaw our toes when needed!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Monday, December 03, 2007

December is Here!

Ah, yes! The joys of December... lots of ice... lots of warm fires...

lots of lovely decorations... lots of music...

lots of cookies... lots of fun!

She's 3!

Last Friday we spent some time over at Jeremy and Sara's house celebrating the third birthday of the oldest grandchild - Caroline Joy!

She is truly a joy to us all!