Saturday, December 29, 2007

Kathryn and Her Grandmother:

Their First Day Together

Looks like mom loves being a grandma!

Isn't she precious?

Rocking together in the nursery.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Look Who Arrived:

Kathryn Louise Starnes was born this morning around 6:30 am. She weighs 7 lbs, 13 oz. and is 19 3/4" long.

She has dark hair, blonde eyebrows, beautiful skin and a very sweet disposition. We spent as much time as possible with her today and expect to be with her again tomorrow, holding her, making over her, and running to her side every time she so much as whimpers. She started to cry a little today while her grandma was holding her and suddenly the room was full of her aunts and uncles demanding: "What are doing to my niece?!" Yeah, she's got us wrapped around her little finger... already.

You can see why. Need a proud aunt say more? ;-)

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Friday, December 14, 2007

Christmas Music: Noel

Josh Groban's Noel is the perfect background music to the Christmas season. Suffice it to say, it is a favorite already and I look forward to playing it all the way through Christmas.

You gotta hear: Little Drummer Boy and It Came Upon A Midnight Clear

Not on this cd, but Josh Groban sings what has become my favorite rendition of O Holy Night here.

Buy it here.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Saint Nicholas

George Grant writes about the life and legend of an extraordinary man: Saint Nicholas, whom our modern-day Santa is based on, but in few ways resembles.

"The fourth century pastor who inspired the tradition of Santa Claus, may not have lived at the North Pole or traveled by reindeer and sleigh but he certainly was a paradigm of graciousness, generosity, and Christian charity. " Read on.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Christmas Movies: We're No Angels

Last night I was at the Starbucks downtown behind a CBS tv reporter. I had no idea who she was, I gathered my info while standing in line behind her after her camera-woman found her and was discussing location footage they were going to do down there. The reporter didn't seem like a very nice person to me, but then, it's hard to judge someone's personality when you are in line behind them. After we had both ordered our drinks and were waiting at the bar, we struck up conversation. Remember, I had never seen her before as I don't watch the news (I prefer to read it) and I think my ignorance was showing, because she became more friendly and at ease the more we talked. Everyone else in Starbucks was gaping at her, obviously they had seen her before. I reveled in the fact that I was possibly the only one there who hadn't. It's good, because it keeps people like that who are used to being watched, at ease when they get over the fact that you did not know who she was. (gasp!)

Anyway, her camera-woman had been discussing things like "okay, we'll put you on the corner here, that will look really good" and was also trying to find people in Starbucks who would oblige her by standing outside for the newscast. It was funny to think about the way that this reporter would be standing on a particular corner where the wind is channeled between the skyscrapers, and only that corner, because they had to show how cold it was down there. And the camera shot of a little girl they finally found, bundled head-to-toe for dramatic, sympathetic effect. Oh, the drama of news reports, the "news" they present to us on screen is usually anything but the entire truth, or is at best exaggerated truth.

So, what does this have to do with the movie above? Because I came home last night and was laughing my way through it, when we came to the scene where Humphrey Bogart, who was "fixing the books" in an effort to get a business man out of trouble, quipped in response to said business man's objections: "In business, as in all things, there is appearance and then there is reality." I had to laugh, thinking about the way that the news report last night probably showed the reporter on the windiest corner downtown, wind-blown and shivering, the little girl from Starbucks standing all bundled head-to-toe, and whoever else they found to help them embellish their story, and all for on-location reporting to make a really otherwise dull report ("um, it's cold down here tonight") suddenly interesting.

Rent this Christmas comedy here or buy it here.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Christmas Music: Angel's Glory

I could never tire of hearing this holiday recording featuring Kathleen Battle's angelic voice coupled with Christopher Parkening's classical guitar playing. Both are magnificent artists in their own right; together they make a team that lifts and transports you into a world of peace, harmony and beauty. This is a great introduction to both artists if you have never heard either of them perform before.

Listen to their rendition of Mary Did You Know? for free here.
(Be sure you click to launch the free web-player if your browser blocks pop-ups)

Purchase the cd here.

Also recommended: Grace Like a River: An Autobiography by Christopher Parkening with accompanying cd.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Christmas Movies: Miracle on 34th Street

We always start the holiday-movie-watching-season in November with this classic since it starts with Thanksgiving and ends with Christmas. In case of some very rare circumstance (like you have been locked up in a tv-less home for your entire life) that has prevented you from viewing this classic Christmas movie long revered by tv networks and movie-rental stores alike, you can view the trailer here, rent it here, or just visit it's imdb page for more info.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Christmas Music: Handel's Messiah

The greatest listening experience ever, in person or on cd. This version by the London Philharmonic Orchestra and choir, conducted by John Alldis, is my personal favorite out of the three versions that we own.

To learn more about Handel, visit this site or his wikipedia page.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Christmas Music & Movies

Although I have been listening to Christmas music for a couple of weeks already, I feel that now we are past Thanksgiving it's officially time to start listing some of my favorite holiday music for those of you who may be interested in what I and my family listen to and enjoy during the holiday season. I also plan on profiling our favorite holiday movies (warning: they are mostly classic films!). I am always looking at what other people are watching and listening to, so feel free to leave in the comments your favorite holiday movies and/or cd's you watch/listen to every year, old faves as well as new.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Monday, November 19, 2007

Food At the Fair: A Critic's Review

Some people go to the fair for the Midway. Some go for the autos. Some might have been there to see a football game. We go for the food. Seriously. We open up the fair program and begin mapping out where the food vendors are. We think that we are foodies enough to be self-appointed critics of the various edible offerings at the State Fair, therefore we formed a panel of judges consisting of ourselves and the taste results are below. We have rated the various foods on a scale of 1 - 5 corny dogs, with 1 being not worth the bite and 5 a mouth watering experience.

Fried Banana Pudding:
4 Corny Dogs

Fried Oreos:
4 Corny Dogs

(One of our judges taste-testing)

Fried Latte:
5 Corny Dogs

Fried Frito Pie:
5 Corny Dogs

(Another judge taste-testing)

3 Corny Dogs

Fried Cheesecake:
4 Corny Dogs

Not Pictured:
A Texas sized drumstick
4 Corny Dogs

Fletcher's Corn Dogs
5 Corny Dogs (of course)

Plate of German food prepared by a local chef
5 Corny Dogs

And thus we conclude the review. We hope that this enables you to consume and enjoy as many fried products as are offered at the fair, and to avoid the icky fair-healthy stuff like corn-on-the-cob slathered with butter.

After all, the fair - like Christmas - only comes once a year.

And please don't be surprised if we have put on a few pounds since the last time you saw us...

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Reformation Day

Today might have been known as Halloween for most people, but for Christians this is the day that we remember and acknowledge a great moment in Christian - and world - history.

"I would never have thought that such a storm would rise from Rome over one simple scrap of paper..." (Martin Luther)

It was on this day, 1517, that Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Wittenberg Cathedral, thus igniting the Reformation in Europe and calling into question the accepted and previously undisputed practices of the Roman Catholic Church.

"Hier stehe ich. Ich kann nicht anders. Gott helfe mir. Amen." ("Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen.")

Many resources are available all over the web, but here are the best I found:

Martin Luther: Lessons from His Life and Labor, a biographical sermon delivered at a conference by John Piper. Read or listen to it here.

A PBS page on the famous monk. You can learn about his life and teachings in a nutshell, as well as watch a few interviews, two of which feature Alister McGrath.

The nearly inexhaustible Wikipedia page. With a complete timeline of his life and teachings, as well as external links, you could spend a lot of time there.

And then, you can always pick up one of his books, or sing the hymn he is most famous for:
A Mighty Fortress is Our God.
(Here you can listen to the American Boy Choir's beautiful rendition for free.)

Around the Fair

Big Tex

Ferris wheel.

Where all your money goes.

I love the guy standing there in overalls and hat, holding his prize stuffed animals and watching the carousel.

Lovely water pictures.

The Midway!!

The fair's main street.

Food vendors line it all the way down. You could hear the foods sizzling and smell their grease wherever you walked.

Landon sips fresh lemonade.

The boys take a break from the auto show.

Autos at the State Fair

These pictures were snapped close to the fair entrance.
Mom tries out new car possibilities (okay, okay: Dreams of new possibilities)

Like this one. (Dad, are you reading this?)

Mom having fun. We can all pretend, right? ;)

Later on, the boys visited the Auto Show where they saw such strange sights as this:
umm, what is it, exactly?

Hunter is wondering, too.

Texas State Fair 2007

The State Fair has long since ended for another year, but in October we took an opportunity to head to Dallas for the annual event.

Saturday, October 20, 2007