Life Update

- I left Brandi and the kiddos in Houston. I'm in Waco now and I'll rejoin them on New Year's Eve.

- All 13 of our birds were fine. They were all hungry because they exhausted their food supply, but they were fine.

- I have never in my life seen a woodpecker in person, until this morning. He was on a pole adjacent to my house, pecking away on the wood. I was impressed.

- We had a great time in Houston: Christmas, family time, Entmoot, a brand new Wii, new books, et cetera.

- We have wood-burning fire place insert. A wood-burning fireplace insert is essentially a wood-burning stove designed to fit inside a typical fireplace cavity. Like traditional wood-burning stoves, inserts have doors that close and vents to control how fast (or slow) the fire burns. Supposedly traditional fireplaces are not efficient home-heating devices, but wood-burning stoves are fantastic for that purpose. It seems that most bumpkins use either a free-standing wood-burning stove or a wood-burning fireplace insert to heat their homes. Our insert will heat our home just fine, with the exception of our bedroom and the kids' bedrooms upstairs (for those rooms we have small oil-filled radiator heaters that work great). We do have central heat and air, but I only turn it on if we need to take the chill off while we're getting a fire going in the morning. Since I work for a company that uses tons of saplings and lumber, I've been able to get all of our wood for burning for free from a stash of wood that was going to be recycled or burned. It's a pretty sweet deal. Last night it got down to 27 degrees and, since I'm alone and my family is not with me, I decided to sleep on a sofa by the fire. I read a little U2 by U2 and drifted off to sleep for 11 hours (I was catching up on sleep). So my total heating bill during last night's freeze was zero dollars. I like that!

Christmas Eve Snow!

We had some snowfall in Waco on Christmas Eve. Unfortunately, Nathan and Abigail had already left for Houston (with their grandma), so they couldn't enjoy the snow, but Daniel had a good time!

Daniel and Brandi brave the high winds:
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Daniel trying to catch a snowflake on his tongue:
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A bonus shot of Daniel with one of his Christmas presents (every country boy needs a BB gun, so we bought one for our boys to share):
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Gummy

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Local Eats

We've got two restaurants in our neighborhood. Thankfully, they're both decent.

One of them is a small BBQ joint that's only about two or three minutes from our house. The downside of that place is you never know when they're going to close for the day. Ostensibly, they're open until 8 p.m., but most of the time I think they start thinking about shutting down anytime after 6:30 p.m. So if we're really banking on getting some food from them (which we do every couple of weeks), we usually have to call ahead to make sure they're not going to close on us before we can get there.

Besides the BBQ restaurant, the closest eatery to us is the Aquila Creek Country Cafe. It's about five miles from our house, so it feels like it's in the neighborhood. We stopped by there after church this morning and we were all able to eat dollar burgers (the best dollar burgers in town!) and fresh fries for only $11. After the tip we only spent $14. Not bad to feed a family of six on a Sunday afternoon.

Farm Girls

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A Few Shots From The Christmas Card Shoot

We shot these photos in the field behind our house on Sunday afternoon.

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Minor Life Update

- Daniel and I are home sick. Brandi, Nathan, Abigial, and Eve went to church this morning where Abby sang in a little kid Christmas deal.

- Our cat Milo left a half-devoured gopher on our doorstep this morning.

- We should be getting our meat-chickens here within a week or so. They're the super growing variety so they'll be ready to harvest in early February.

- Daniel and I just clipped the wings of about 3/4 of our laying flock.

- Brandi has been talking about a spring garden for a few weeks now. We've never had a ton of success with gardening, but things will surely be different here. First of all we have a ton of space. More space than we need, really. Secondly, people who apparently know gardening keep telling us that our soil is unbelievable, and that we can grow anything in our type of soil. That's encouraging. (On a related note, while it's nice to see so many deer in our back field all the time, when it comes to gardens they're a nuisance. We're going to have to find a surefire way to keep deer out of our garden. Brandi found one source that said to contact your local zoo to acquire some, um, lion dung. Apparently deer will not come anywhere near lion poop. As crazy as it sounds, we'll probably call our zoo to see if it's possible to take some of that product off of their hands.)

- We want to have a small orchard. We haven't decided how many trees we want, but we've got a master gardener friend who said he's more than willing to help us pick out good fruit trees and decide where to plant them. We might end up doing something like that here in the next few months.

- While Christmas is a joyous time, it can be stressful with so much emphasis on cupidity. While I enjoy family time over the holidays, I must admit that the moment where all hell breaks loose, and everyone and their dog is opening a present, can be a tad unnerving, especially with young children. I wish there wasn't such an emphasis on materialism with this holiday. As my eight-year-old so wisely said the other day, "What does Santa have to do with JESUS?"

- I need to go blow my nose.

Quite Possibly The Best Love Song Ever

I don't listen to a lot of different music. I can't remember the last time I tuned in to FM radio, and the last time I watched MTV or VH1 was probably 1996. Most of the music I've been turned on to the past ten years has been handed down from my brother via copied CDs and, more recently, MP3s.

About a year ago or so my brother hooked me up with Coldplay, and I've been salivating over U2's heir apparent ever since. Right now I'm completely mesmerized with Coldplay's contemplative love song from A Rush of Blood to the Head, "The Scientist." I. Can't. Get. Enough.

The song is multilayered, poetic, profound, and mysterious -- from the get-go:

Come up to meet you, tell you I'm sorry
You don't know how lovely you are.
I had to find you, tell you I need you,
Tell you I set you apart.


On that foundation the lyrics, music, and aura of the song build skyward, second by second. And what an incredible apex:

I was just guessin' at numbers and figures,
Pulling the puzzles apart.
Questions of science, science and progress
Do not speak as loud as my heart.


I'm thinking "The Scientist" has got to be one of the best love songs ever written. To borrow a phrase from U2, the song masterfully dissects "the mysterious distance, between a man and a woman," while circumspectly steering clear of the inherent codependency that manifests itself in so many modern love songs.

Thank you, Coldplay.

I'm goin' back to the start.