The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me. ~ Psalm 16:6 nasb

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Folksy Christmas

December 18.

My dad's folk music club put on a concert at the clubhouse at my parents' housing community last week!  It was a very special time for everyone--Fernando, Jacob, Danny and I went to enjoy it, and we surprised Dad with the guys' friends Caleb and Andy (brothers) who also love music.

My dad plays the harmonica.

When he introduces himself, he says he's the group's best harmonica player.  (Ahem--he's their only harmonica player!)

Singing and guitar playing, familiar Christmas songs, and some new to the ear.

Clapping along to the music.

This was a really fun evening out, especially to see my dad play and hear Christmas music!

Back to life,

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

UIC Christmas concert

December 6.

In his semester singing with the UIC University Choir, Danny sang in three concerts.  This was the last of those three--a Christmas concert (although they called it a "holiday" concert...)!  This was also held at a beautiful church, inside a regular-looking office-type building/skyscraper in downtown Chicago.

The UIC Jazz Ensemble played in the foyer before the concert began; they were really, really good!

Just as the University Choir was about to enter the sanctuary, I spotted Danny through the glass of the door.

After all the different choirs, ensembles, bands, and orchestras played, it was time for the sing-along!  Various instrumentalists were stationed throughout the sanctuary, since there was minimal room at the front to hold all the performers.

You better believe I was getting my picture taken with my amazing son!

When we left the building, I realized that we were directly across the street from Daley Plaza, and the huge Christmas tree lit up there!  What a perfect place to wait while Fernando and Danny walked to the parking garage and got the car for the rest of us.

I'm filled with thankfulness for having the opportunity to see and hear Danny singing in the choir.  The extra-special night was added to my treasure chest of cherished memories.

Back to life,

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Search for a Tree

November 29.

This year, I was determined to get a tree.  I knew it would be about $60 or so, but since we didn't have a tree last year, I was more determined than ever.  It would be a splurge!

I had a coupon to The Growing Place for 10% off, and my brother Jeff thought it would be a great idea to go to this nursery with me, and share in the coupon and the fun of getting a tree.  Mom decided she wanted a live tree this year, too, so she and Dad came with us.

I wanted a tree no taller than six feet, small enough that it would cost too much, plus hold all my lights and ornaments.  Our front living room space is not, well, spacious, so this size would be perfect!

An employee pulls out my tree to prepare it for the roof of our car.

Dad and Jeff sized up a large tree for Jeff's living room--which is small but he loves the biggest tree possible.

We helped Jeff pick out a monster!  Here's Dad holding it out for Jeff to inspect.

Dad doesn't seem to realize that 82-year-olds shouldn't be carrying Christmas trees to their cars.  :)

Jacob having a little fun getting the tree into the back of our car.

Back at our house, Jacob hauled the tree right out of the car and carried it into our living room.

Jacob and Joseph were standing there, holding the tree, and I asked, "So, where's the tree stand I asked you to pull out a week ago??"  The hunt was on!  Joseph stood there holding the tree for a while, until I helped him get it over to a wall so we could lean it.  It took us 20 minutes to find the tree stand, nice and organized on the garden shelf in the garage where I figured we'd totally remember, but it was hiding behind something else that got shoved up there...

I wanted one shot of the tree--and Thomas photobombed it.

After getting the tree in its stand, we picked up pizza--I "oops" ordered the ultra-huge sizes instead of the extra large ones--we drove over to Jeff's townhome to help him get his tree up.

After pizza, we relaxed for a bit, watched Dad and Jeff get the tree up, then relaxed some more before going home.

Again, Fernando was working, but we were getting used to it.  Work is good, and his weekends end up falling on Monday, Tuesday, and/or Wednesday, so it's nice to spend weekdays with him.  We end up spending more time together than if it were really the weekend!

A few weeks later, I realized I hadn't taken a picture of our finished tree.  Here it is!

Back to life,

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Monday, December 8, 2014

A Week of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving week.

A few days before Thanksgiving, this scene greeted me at our front door:

November 24.

It looks like it's a few days before Christmas!!  Fernando had a job and was gone just before Thanksgiving, and it worked out that he was able to drive the SAT truck home, and leave the Suburban at PSSI home base (Deerfield).  I waited up for him, and around midnight I heard a very distinct diesel engine on a very distinct vehicle as Fernando pulled into our driveway.

'Twas the night before Thanksgiving...

This Thanksgiving was extra special, since I was hosting the holiday for the very first time.  I had made a turkey once in my life, a few years back when we had the M. family over for a holiday season meal together.  That turkey took longer than expected, and this turkey did as well.  But it was worth the wait.  And it was okay, too, since Jacob had to work until 2:00pm and came home to the wonderful aroma of Thanksgiving food on the table.

My brother Jeff snagged my camera and took a shot of me opening the wine.  That's sort of a goofy face.  Really.  :)

Finally, dinner was ready and we crammed into the dining room, sans Matt and Char (who were with Char's relatives for the day), for our traditional family photo at the table.  It's a one-shot deal--take the picture, double-check it, put the camera away, and start the feast!

Thank You, Lord, that we're still in Illinois, that we didn't have to leave our sons behind, that work came to us.  Thank You for PSSI, for them wanting Fernando to work here.  Bless their company, and may Your gospel shine on Rick's heart as he trains Fernando, even though Rick is a very difficult person.

Thank You for our lovely home, the perfect size, the one we knew You chose for us, where our boys have grown up, where so many goofy and fun memories were made.  We continue to trust You for providing the ability for us to continue to live here.  Work, in Your timing, through the employees of Wells Fargo, as they consider our mortgage modification request so that we may be able to stay here.

Thank You for everything, for everything has come from You.  You are so good to us; no matter what You've allowed into our lives, it is for our good, and for Your glory.  Thank You.

Back to life,

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UIC Thanksgiving Concert

November 21.

Danny's first concert!  I was so excited!  He had joined the UIC University Choir, becoming well-known almost instantly for his booming tenor voice.  We couldn't wait to hear him sing as part of a choir; it was sure to be beautiful.  And it was!

They sang on a Friday evening, at the Notre Dame Church in Chicago just a few blocks from campus.  It was an absolutely beautiful building and sanctuary.

The program indicated that photography/videography of any kind was strictly prohibited.  So I had to sneak the few shots I took during the program.

The choir lined up along the sides of the sanctuary, and we joined with them in singing America the Beautiful.  Ringed by beautiful voices singing out this wonderful song--amazing!

Various choirs sang--the University Choir, the Women's Choral Ensemble, and the Chamber Choir.

After the concert, and after the kids cleaned up everything, we had just a few minutes to take a few pictures.

Danny with his Grandma and Grandpa.

Back to life,

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