Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Of the Father's love begotten
Ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega,
He the source, the ending He,
Of the things that are, that have been,
And that future years shall see,
Evermore and evermore!

At His Word the worlds were framèd;
He commanded; it was done:
Heaven and earth and depths of ocean
In their threefold order one;
All that grows beneath the shining
Of the moon and burning sun,
Evermore and evermore!

He is found in human fashion,
Death and sorrow here to know,
That the race of Adam’s children
Doomed by law to endless woe,
May not henceforth die and perish
In the dreadful gulf below,
Evermore and evermore!

Oh, that birth forever blessèd,
When the virgin, full of grace,
By the Holy Ghost conceiving,
Bore the Savior of our race,
And the babe, the world's Redeemer,
First revealed His sacred face
Evermore and evermore!

O ye heights of heaven, adore Him;
Angel hosts, His praises sing.
Powers, dominions, bow before Him
And extol our God and King.
Let no tongue on earth be silent,
Every voice in concert ring,
Evermore and evermore!

This is He whom seers in old time
Chanted of with one accord;
Whom the voices of the prophets
Promised in their faithful word.
Now He shines, the long-expected;
Let creation praise its Lord,
Evermore and evermore!

Thee let old men, thee let young men,
Thee let boys in chorus sing;
Matrons, virgins, little maidens,
With glad voices answering:
Let their guileless songs re-echo,
And the heart its music bring,
Evermore and evermore!

Christ, to Thee, with God the Father,
And, O Holy Ghost, to Thee
Hymn and chant and high thanksgiving
And unending praises be,
Honor, glory, and dominion,
And eternal victory
Evermore and evermore!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


I'm going to call it: Christmas cards just aren't going to happen this year. I was still holding out hope, but the time has passed. I had already decided not to do a letter, because Christmas letters should be uplifting and not dwell on problems. Yet, when I think about 2008, it's hard not to dwell on the negative. So today, on the eve of our Savior's birth, I present to you the letter that sums up our year, but which I would never actually put in the mail.

Dearest Friends and Family,

2008 and both sucked and blew, to paraphrase Bart Simpson. We experienced joys and sorrows and are setting our hopes on a better 2009.

In early January I found out I was pregnant! Erich and I were so excited and started making plans. I had an ultrasound and we saw our little 9-week baby and its little beating heart. In February, I went in for another ultrasound at what would have been 12 weeks gestation and discovered that our baby had passed away. After five days of bleeding, I had a painful D&C and learned that there was something wrong with my uterus that most likely caused my miscarriage. That SUCKED.

In late March, I got to travel with Erich to the Basque Country of Spain, where he had work and training at his company's headquarters. I enjoyed that trip immensely, and I learned so much about Basque culture and took many pictures. This was a HIGHLIGHT.

In April, I finally had two tests to follow-up with my abnormal uterus. They were both uncomfortable and wasted time and returned ultimately inaccurate diagnoses. That totally BLEW.

In May I finally visited with a specialist, but had to wait till June to accomplish anything. That kinda SUCKED. At the end of May a dear friend of mine got married and I was a bridesmaid. This was a HIGHLIGHT.

June was the best month of the year. Erich and I joined his family from Evansville in a trip to Galena, IL. Another set of good friends got married, our niece and goddaughter Emily was born, and I finally got a diagnosis: uterine septum. Not only was I thrilled to finally have a definitive diagnosis, but I also was able to have it surgically repaired that same week. That ROCKED.

July was uneventful, as was August, except when I remembered the date when my first baby should have been born. That SUCKED.

In September, Erich and I celebrated our first anniversary, though it feels like we've been married longer--in a good way.

In October, our beloved Cubbies completely screwed the pooch and instead of winning the World Series like they were supposed to, they were swept in the first round of the play-offs. That BLEW. On one of the nights they lost, my car wouldn't start while Erich was out of town, and I had to have it towed. That also BLEW. On the last day of October, Erich and I hosted a Halloween party. It was a great success! That was a HIGHLIGHT.

In early November, the election took place. Remember that? Yeah, I know a lot of people were happy, but in my book, that totally SUCKED. But November got better: on the 9-monthiversary of my miscarriage, I learned that I was pregnant again! That ROCKED. We also enjoyed Thanksgiving with Erich's extended family, which was a HIGHLIGHT.

December has arrived in all its craziness. Erich traveled to Louisville for a friend's wedding. We both traveled to Michigan to spend time with my extended family for Christmas. Our drive home was treacherous with heavy snow and many accidents on the road. We eventually stopped in Valparaiso, IN for the night. We had to get up early to drive home to get to my first ultrasound in time. On the day I should have been just past nine weeks, we should have seen a little baby with a heartbeat. Instead, we saw an empty gestational sac measuring six weeks. Diagnosis: blighted ovum, most likely a chromosomal problem, an accident of nature, unlikely to happen again. Lightening has struck us twice in one year. This really, really, really, really SUCKS. Fortunately, my D&C was scheduled for the very next day (yesterday), it was very easy with almost no pain or bleeding, and the doctor said it was "textbook." At least my uterus is more or less normal!

Erich and I will travel down to Evansville after Christmas and come home for New Year's Eve, when we look forward to toasting the END of 2008, a generally SUCKY year.

We wish you all, our dear friends and family, all the blessings of our crucified and risen Savior, born on earth as a baby. Our strength is in Him, and despite the challenges we face, we take joy in the assurance of our salvation.

All our love,

Susan and Erich

Friday, December 12, 2008

All About Christmas

You're right, Cheryl, I can't resist!

Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? Impossible to choose. Egg nog is so artery-cloggingly horrible for humans, but it's delish. I have hot chocolate more often, though.

Does Santa wrap presents or set them under the tree? Um, both? I guess Santa doesn't really come to our house yet. I keep wrapped presents under the tiny tree until we give them away.

Colored lights on tree or white? I'd prefer white to the ugly colored ones we have right now--they're too blindingly LED-ish with ugly shades. I like traditional colored and white equally.

When do you put your decorations up? When I get around to it. This past Wednesday, to be exact.

What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? Too hard to choose. But with my dad's family, we always had green beans with Cracker Meal. Those stick out in my memory, so they must be a favorite!

Favorite holiday memory as a child: Eager anticipation: waiting for Santa to come, waiting for my aunts and uncles and cousins to arrive at my Grandma's house on Christmas day, the sooner to open presents. And it was especially exciting whenever there was snow on the ground. :)

When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? My mom and I have always been close. When I was seven, I was starting to suspect that the big guy wasn't real. Him never coming to our house on Christmas was part of it (we were always in Michigan for Christmas day). But anyway, my mom confirmed it that year when I was riding with her in our family van and she was going down the list of all the things she had to do, including wrapping the Santa presents. OOOPS! I assured her it was okay, I kinda knew.

Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? I've been adrift in the world of Christmas traditions for several years now. Short answer: no.

How do you decorate your Christmas tree? Right now we have a super small tree with one string of ugly lights and chrystal beaded garland on it. And I hung childhood ornaments of Erich's and mine on it this year. I hope we can have a big tree next year.

Snow! Love it or dread it? I oscillate between the two. Mostly love, but not in March and definitely not April (I'm looking at YOU, 2005 and 2008.)

Can you ice skate? Here's where I get to sound snobby: I've only been ice skating once, and it was a November evening in Budapest in an open air rink, surrounded by floodlit old buildings. Loved it. So, yes, I can skate.

What was your favorite gift? Tough question! Erich bought me perfume a few years ago, my first fancy perfume: Burberry Brit. I like it.

What’s the most important thing about the holidays for you? Church on Christmas Eve. To quote Linus: "That's what Christmas is all about." This was Cheryl's answer. I'm keeping it.

What is your favorite holiday dessert? My mom makes a wreath made of corn flakes and marshmallow dyed green. One of my clear faves, along with pumpkin pie.

What is your favorite tradition? Again, adrift in a sea of traditions until Erich and I can really start some of our own. No two Christmases have abeen alike for me in a while. I'll get back to you in a few years; I can't pick one now!

Which do you prefer, giving or receiving? Honestly, I'm enjoying the giving more now that I'm a grown-up. :)

What is your favorite secular Christmas song? Let's go with LEAST favorite: Rudolf, Frosty, Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree, Holly Jolly Christmas.

What is your favorite Advent hymn? Savior of the Nations, Come. It's just the best, period.

What is your favorite Christmas hymn? I've always loved O Come, All Ye Faithful, but there are just so many wonderful hymns and carols, so, again, hard to pick.

Candy Canes! Yuck or Yum? Whatever.

Ever recycled a Christmas present? No, not that I can remember.

Friday Five: 12/12

This week's Friday Five is a good opportunity to share what a typical week in the life of Susan is like. Keep in mind, however, that I'm not usually this lazy. The increasing darkness of winter and me feeling a bit under the weather makes for more naps and laziness than usual.

1. What did you do on Monday?

I got up late (a theme for the week). I'm on a bad sleep schedule. Anyway, I ate breakfast and read a zillion blogs in my jammies until about 1pm, when I showered and got ready for the day. At 3:00, I went to the first of two piano lessons taught in the students' homes. I was done around 4:20 or so and went on to church, where I used some free time to plan some music things and write my regular blurb on the Hymn of the Day for the church bulletin. Then I had two more piano students from 5:15-6:15 and then I directed the bell choir 6:45-8pm. I went home, and Erich and I made a quick stir-fry dinner, we did devotions with our new Treasury of Daily Prayer, watched a little tv, then went to bed too late (another theme for the week). I hate when we're not even leaving the dinner table until almost 10--that makes it hard for me to want to go to sleep before 1am.

2. What did you do on Tuesday?

Tuesday I had high hopes of finally Christmasizing the house, but it was not to be. The early part of my day went about the same as Monday, and I headed over to church around 3:15 to teach piano students from 3:30-8. I had one break from 4:00-4:30. Teaching for more than four hours straight always wipes me out, and it makes for more late dinner, late devotion, and late to bed. Yuck.

3. What did you do on Wednesday?

Wednesday was our own private Turkey Day. Erich had gotten this idea to roast a turkey. We've never roasted a bird or made gravy before, and this was a good chance to practice. And Erich really wanted some lunch meat. Why not get it from a bird we roasted ourselves? So in the afternoon, I prepped the turkey. I was kind of looking forward to it, and then I had to laugh at myself when I actually opened the package and thought, "Aaaaugh! A dead turkey!" I got over it, salted the inside, buttered the outside and filled it with chopped onion and celery. I finally got to use a really nice roasting pan I got from a bridal shower! And into the oven it went.

I was expecting one student at 4:00. The mom called at 3:56 to cancel. GRRRR. I had to forgive her though, since the student was actually in the hospital.... (Mysterious.) Since I was all dressed up with no place to go, I took a quick trip to the bank. Deposits are a big ordeal for me. I usually let my checks accumulate for the month and then go deposit them all with a live teller. It's just much simpler than the ATM since I have approximately 9,154 checks, including reimbursements for Christmas piano books. Anywho, making bank deposits is good for my brain since I add about 20 numbers by hand. And I'll have you know I didn't make any mistakes! After the bank, I stopped at my mom's to borrow a platter big enough for a turkey. Very important.

Erich got home around 5:30 and we pulled the bird out shortly after. It wasn't thoroughly done, but the breast was, so we sliced some of that. I mashed some potatoes (still getting good at that, which is hard without a potato masher), and we made some gravy, which was delicious but didn't look right--since the turkey wasn't done, it didn't drip enough gravy-goodness. Dinner was yummy but our work was not done. We popped in A Christmas Carol and finished roasting the turkey. When it was done, I made more gravy (practice) with the pool of juice--it had too much flour but it was still quite good. Erich sliced the breast for sandwiches and pulled apart all the extra little pieces and leftover parts of the turkey and got to work on making stock. AND I dragged up all the Christmas decorations from the basement and Christmasized the house! I'm getting way too used to having energy from 3pm-12midnight. Hmm.

4. What did you do on Thursday?

Sleep in, shower, nap. My life is hard. I think I did more than that but I can't remember. I had two out of a regular three piano students from 4-5. I looooove that my Wednesday and Thursday piano students come to my house. Erich accidentally came home an hour early because his computer clock changed when he connected to a substation in PA. But that was okay because it gave him plenty of time to get the turkey curry ready. YUM. And we were able to have a leisurely dinner and devotion before our very long choir rehearsal from 7-9. We couldn't watch our recorded TV until after the Bears threatened to lose but eventually won. So at least it was worth it. And Kath & Kim, The Office, and 30 Rock made it worth staying up way too late again.

5. What are you going to did you do today?

Erich took the day off to travel down to Louisville for a college friend's wedding. He left around 10:15, and I left around 11:00 to meet up with my mom. I had an EPIC DAY with my mom.

First stop, eye doctor so my mom could correct her contact lens order and get her new glasses adjusted. She dropped me off at a store downtown N-ville, where I scored an awesome gift. I walked to the eye doc to meet her in time for the the receptionist lady to break her glasses! And she didn't have her new contact lenses yet! So I drove my blind mother back to her house so she could put in her old contacts. Then we were finally on our way! Destination: new strip mall in Naperville. Nordstrom Rack, Loehmann's, World Market, and Home Goods. Boom, boom, boom, boom, awesome shopping. We also stopped at the new Whole Foods (Whole Paycheck), took in samples, looked at all the beautiful food, and ate from their awesome and extensive deli/salad bar. Yum! From that strip mall we went on to Border's and Linens 'n' Things. I'm now at their house eating Chinese food.

Good day. This post is really long now, isn't it? Okay, bye!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Belated Friday Five: 12/5

1. Do you like the look of your country's currency (bills and coins)?

I don't dislike the look. But compared to other countries, they're pretty boring. On the other hand, currencies from other countries always seem more exciting because they're different.... In conclusion, I was happy to come home to regular old dollars after 4 months in Europe five years ago. They're a part of home. :)

2. Regardless of their actual value, do you like bills or coins better?

No matter what currency I'm working with, I enjoy trying to keep as few coins as possible. Europe uses many more coins than we do: their smallest bill is €5. Then they have coins for €2, €1, .50, .20, .10, .05, .02, and .01. I like the 1- and 2- Euro coins, and I feel it's kind of a shame that bigger coins like that haven't taken hold stateside. Kind of. Anywho, usually prices in Europe end with a nice round 0. Except in the grocery stores, when it's normal to end with a random number of cents. Therefore, in my months studying abroad, I got very adept at having my change out in my hand, ready to get rid of as many super-annoying .05, .02, and .01 coins (the copper ones) as possible. It was a triumph whenever I had none in my possession. No matter what country I was in and whose language I couldn't understand, I could give exact change at a grocery store. It was so fun to go to Spain this year and get rid of Euro coins again. It's the simple pleasures, folks.

What was the question? Oh yeah. I like coins because it's more of a game and a fun exercise in getting rid of pennies. :)

3. What is your favorite foreign currency? And why?

Think I'm going to say Euros? Well, I do like them because I enjoy that I know the currency, and the bills and coins are kind of pretty. And it's fun to look at the coins and figure out which country they were minted in as they all have different designs. So I guess you're right, I'm going with Euros. Borrring!

4. Do you collect coins or bills? Elaborate.

I have a small collection of coins, but they're more leftovers from countries I've visited. I'm sure if I dug through all my stuff I could find a bicentennial quarter or two, and I know somewhere I have a Columbus 500th Anniversary half dollar. But, I can't say I collect coins, and certainly not bills.

5. Do you think human society could make do completely without money? Explain.

Absolutely not. A group of 20 people living self-sufficiently on a farm? Maybe. But money is just something we need to make society work.

Obligatory link.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Wish List

Greetings! After a week-and-a-half hiatus, I'm back to blogging. Thanksgiving was delightful, but no time for that now: Advent is upon us, and my family is asking for gift ideas.

  • I like to watch DVDs of TV shows. One show I don't own but would like is 30Rock, seasons 1 and/or 2.
  • Brain Age 2 for my DS. This looks soooo fun.
  • Sing the Faith songbook and CD--a fantastic way to better learn the Small Catechism.
  • A new winter hat with a design similar to this. Keep in mind, I have a large head. Also, I have a black wool coat and a new brown down coat, so a color that would match both is preferred.
  • Kitchen implements: I'm in need of a potato masher, measuring cups, measuring spoons, and mixing bowls--non-metal and with pouring spouts for batter.
  • A Nintendo Wii. A girl can dream, right?
  • I also wouldn't say no to a new scarf.
  • I love purses. I'm always in search of a new perfect purse, and I've been as yet unsuccessful, so maybe someone else can do the work for me. :)

That's all I can think of for now. Good enough, Mom? ;)