Courtney S. Barr

Welcome to My Kingdom!
Join me, the Princess, on my Royal Adventures in the Land of Writing!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Well, it is Halloween! I love this time of year, especially the candy! :) Plus who would not love a day where it is completely acceptable at any age to pretend to be someone else or to be your self only even better! I mean we all say we miss the days of pretend, play, naps; well Halloween offers a small touch back to those times. You get to dress up, eat candy, have friends over, & not feel guilty, like there are other things you should be doing. I have always been a big fan of Halloween. This year perhaps will be one of the slower years. Though this past weekend we did indulge in two parties that celebrated the season, but tonight will be fairly quiet. Hopefully we will have some trick or treaters, we plan on watching GHOST WHISPERER (we have been tivo-ing this season to save up to tonight in order to scare the begeezus out of Marcus), & just picking up around the house. Fairly calm this year. This is actually the first year in 7 years that we did not make it to a haunted house. We usually load up and head to Sloss or Atrox, but this year we found ourselves at a few parties & our weekends are slammed. We actually just realized the next open weekend we have is December 16. Crazy, I know. But if you know me well enough you know that being the hostess is something I revel in. So tonight my house will hopefully host a plethera of princesses, super heroes, or athletes who will come to the door & help deplete our candy stash before Marcus & I eat our weight in butterfingers & crunch bars :) Have a Happy All Hallows Eve, Sowen, Day of the Dead, & Halloween!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Wandering around on a nice afternoon....

Saturday afternoon was one of those great afternoons of fall. The weather was perfect, just enough chill in the air, but warm enough to not have to be bundled up. Marcus & I decided to go out for a nice drive around town. We stopped over at Midtown for Kirkland's grand opening, then wandered into Northport for some chocolate at our new Peterbrooke chocolatier. MMMMMMM it was so yummy! Then we hit a few furniture shops, Marcus wants a new bedside table for his birthday or Christmas. This is a decision we have to make together or at least I do get an opinion :). Furniture stores are so funny. The salespeople meet you at the door like they are waiting for a delivery then they follow you around as though any moment you might turned to them and say: "YES, sell me everything, we are rich, we have cash, & will buy it right now! This very instant!!!" I know they are merely working on commission & trying to make a living, but geez, furniture buying should not be something you rush through. With the cost of an ottoman being 799$ and a side table anywhere from 399$-899$, these are not spur of the moment spending choices; unless of course we could say the statement above. So answer my questions when I have them, let me show you the style I like, then direct me to a choice, and leave us by ourselves for a bit to hash out spending options!! Anyway, we did see a good many styles & designs for me to pick through to surprise Marcus (surprise in the sense he won't know exactly which one he is getting until the event, of course he would KNOW he is getting the side table:) ). After that we found ourselves at Sam's Club buying food for the upcoming weekend against LSU. It was nice, just wandering around town with not a large agenda just being able to relax. We know the holiday season is coming fast & town will be swamped over with people every Saturday so before all the rush, before all the bustle, make sure you get out & enjoy the changing weather; time flies by so quickly once Thanksgiving gets here...

Monday, October 22, 2007

Kerry's House

Hey Guys I wrote a blog about our friend Kerry's house in Calera, at the base of this page is a slideshow of his house. There are more pics of it, but this gives you a little glance of all the work he has done.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


OMG! Yesterday the Alabama Crimson Tide met the Tennessee Volunteers at Bryant Denny Stadium. This matchup has been going on since 1901 & is wrought with passion. the 2007 game was no exception. The Crimson Tide played with heart, with talent, with skill, & with passion. They stepped on the field ready to win. Boy did they ever win: 41 -17, Rammer Jammer never sounded so good!
Our house was full of screams, shouts, claps, & happy tears! Now this was only me, my mom, my sister & her kids at the house. Marcus, Dad, Keith, Eric & Mindy went to the game. They came back floating into the house cloud 9 does not even describe it! We had a great weekend, then this morning went over to the Kentuck Art Festival and enjoyed some original art.
Let me just tell you, it was all surreal, the whole weekend was... wow. Now we just wait until the 3rd & pray to watch the passion reign over LSU. ROLL TIDE!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Interesting bit of history....

For the last few weeks the owner's of my company have been touring Europe. On their travels they journeyed to the Czech Republic. John Hickman, knowing my heritage is Czech, took a whole bunch of photos for me. He came back with beautiful landscapes & buildings. But there was one Christian church that really takes the cake. I have attached the story & the pictures to explain them. It is an amazing & freaky building. But the cause & reason for it is more interesting, it will make you think about years before our time, the journey of those with faith, & the ingenuity of the human mind. Enjoy (also with it being Halloween-time, these sort of fit :) )
This Ossuary chapel is located in Kunta Hora. This chapel with its belonging graveyard had become a well-knownand attractive place to get ones relatives buried in a longtime ago. Why you may ask?.. The answer is to be found in the actions of a certain abbot Henry. In theyear of thy lord 1278 the Cistercian abbot Henry embarked on a pilgrimvoyage to the Holy Land (Palestine). This was more or less common practicefor people of the church at the time. What he couldn't have imagined is theeffect a little symbolic deed that he performed would have on the future ofthe little Sedlec church. While in Palestine abbot Henry visited the Golgotha and from there hebrought back to Sedlec a jar full of earth. He referred to this as 'Holy Soil'.When he got back he spread the earth over the Sedlec cemetery and thus thecemetery begun to be considered as a piece of sacred land. The burial groundrapidly became one of the most popular in central Europe and people from allover the country and Europe came to Sedlec to get buried when they felt thestrength of life diminishing. Many brought their dead relatives or friendsto be buried in the holy soil of the Sedlec cemetery believing that the holynessof the ground was a sure way to guarantee the buried a place in heaven.Many corpses and bones were accumulated this way and especially during thetimes of the plague (the black death) many who were about to die from thedisease came themselves to be buried in Sedlec. By 1318 over 30 000 bodieswere buried there and this gave rise to the creation of the ossuary. The ossuary is located in the All Saints' Chapel built around 1400.The chapel is still surrounded by a functioning graveyard and if youtake a careful look at the top of its towers you will see thatthat a "jolly roger", or a skull and crossbones, replace the usual Christiancross. The ossuary itself dates from 1511 when a half-blind monkwas given the task to gather the bones from the abolished graves andputting them in the crypt to make place for new "customers". The taskmay seem somewhat macabre and unenviable but it served a practicalpurpose. Anyhow - now the material was in store and waiting for anidea and someone to realize that idea. A more questionable task than the one of the half-blind monk was the one of the local woodcarver who as late as 1870 was hired to decorate the inside of the Chapel with the human material (an approximate of40 000 sets of human bones) at his disposal. The name of the artist was Frantisek Rindt and the employer was the Duke (Prince?) ofShwartzenberg. The coats of arms of the family Shwartzenberg was one of the creations evolved from the artists mind. Another one isthe chandelier which contains every human bone in the body, severaltimes over, of course. However questionable the Ossuary - it is real. The bones are real.The feeling of death is real. But also the feeling of peace.Most of the dead in the Ossuary died a "natural" i.e. non-violentdeath and the bones were removed from the ground to give moreChristians the possibility to be buried on holy ground.I'd like to stress the fact that the church is not made of bonesas so many seem to think! The interior is decorated with humanbones but it's a "normal" church made of stone and bricks. I'd also like to point out that it's a normal Christian church supporting and teaching the followings of Christ. It's not some weird cult or Satanist church or anything like that.

It is actually an amazing thing. These people came to this place to die believing it to be holy land. The Christian faith teaches you that your body may lay in the ground returning 'to dust' but the soul separates and journeys to its destination. The idea that they removed the bones from the ground in order to fulfill other's needs to be buried on this now holy land is remarkable. Many people would have removed the bones & just disposed of them, cremated or just 'dumped' them out in the country. But to me it appears that by keeping them on this land even when the graves were full by putting them in the church is very respectful. Eerie, but respectful. :) I thought it an interesting bit of history to share...

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The everlasting comfort of a kindred spirit...

It just so happened that we were able to visit with a wonderful person on Saturday night. Kerry is one of those people that when you are in his presence you just smile. No matter your mood, it seems he illicits laughter & smiles. I have known Kerry for about 7 years now. Marcus has known him for 27, they were born 7 days apart. It was basically kismet the way their families have lived in the same cities over a course of many years. His parents are two of the kindest people you will ever meet & his father has the same 'smile in his presence' character. My first meeting of Kerry was when I lived in Orlando & worked for Disney. He came to visit with Marcus over Spring Break. I immediately liked him. There was something in the way he & Marcus clicked. A bond that even with different cities, different schools, different lifestyles, friendship & kindred feelings prevailed. He helped me see Marcus differently, he believed in our relationship, never once giving us a hard time for being together so long. Some people continually told us to breakup & date other people; "sow your oats", "experiment" things like that. Kerry didn't. He accepted me with open arms, I am sure he watched how Marcus & I got along before he made any decisions as to my presence. Then time went on, I moved back to Ttown, we visited him for his college graduation, he came to Marcus's. Birthdays, holidays, football games,girlfriends, and then Marcus & I got engaged. The first name on Marcus's tongue for a groomsman was Kerry. I embraced the choice with all my heart. On our wedding night he spoke to me with words so sweet & loving of how he had always known Marcus & I were meant for one another, ever since that first meeting in Orlando, he loved us both and wished us such happiness. Those words still bring tears to my eyes...Now here we are over a year later and he still is one of my favorite people in the world.
He has been working on this house in Calera, AL. It is this old farm style house he was able to get for around $50,000. Now this 50 grand bought about a good many acres and then the house. We saw the house at the first of last year, it was a true fixer upper with so much potential that we were envious of his find. He saw the heart of the house and has worked diligently to restore it & bring it back to life. The rooms are so beautiful now, the floors are gorgeous. Rather than tear it down or completely restructure the whole house he merely made it a home. The white of the outside with its hunter green trim welcomes you with a southern warmth that is a mirror of the way Kerry's smile beckons you to be comfortable. The first room off the big porch is a living room with a cozy fireplace. I was intrigued when I saw the wooden antique mantle with fleur de lis accents, his mother told me he searched and searched for a mantle wanting antique over new & boisterous. He found it. The journey for that piece is so Kerry. He took time, patience, probably saw a dozen styles & designs but waited then found the perfect piece. The warm camelback colored walls lead into a hallway; to your left is the dining room. RICH deep crimson with a craft white style trim beckons you to place a serving buffet full of food & a table to welcome you home. The lighting is definitely his creme de la creme. A chandelier with a rustic finish & wheat running up the chain evokes a sophisticated country atmosphere. The hallway light piece reflects the same accents as the dining room only continuing the warmth of the camelback color. 2 side bedrooms have been re-done with paint & doors, there is a new side entrance that leads out to a wooden deck. Then the hall parts to the left for the kitchen. What a kitchen. The warmth almost envelopes you in this room, he has beautiful custom cabinets with rope trim that allow the tall ceilings to flow upward. A center island is home to the sink and there is enough counter space for about 10 stools, but for me the epicenter of the room is really at the edge of the building. A bay window nook looks out into the back yard & yearns to enjoy breakfast activities on a spring day. It almost makes you vision Kerry and his dog Molly sitting on a Saturday morning at the window just relaxing & enjoying the day. To the left is a large wash room that I definitely envy. :) But where the hall parted to the kitchen it leads you to the guest bath & master suite. Here, Kerry truly made his mark. The crimson of the dining room lends itself to the guest bathroom. A stand alone antique-style sink sits below an elegant mirror. The bath/shower combo is large enough to be quite comfortable and the tile around it again echos the sophisticated rustic tones he was going for. The master bath is a treasure as well. New ceramic tile feels cool to the touch as you enter the bathroom thinking of sinking into a large whirlpool tub. The bedroom is a deep hunter green with a large ceiling fan, big windows and french doors leading to the back yard. He truly has put so much of himself in the house. You can see his excitement in his eyes as he talks about the last finishing touches. His charisma has seeped into the old walls, the newly laid hardwoods floors are like old friends begging to be enjoyed. He found a house, but even before it is complete, he has made it a home. I guess I should not have been surprised at all. Kerry has always been able to see light in everything. No matter what comes his way he will find the lining that is not just silver but glows! I admire him for all he does. I only hope that I can make people so comfortable in my presence or surroundings. It seems that a lot of us have those friends that would have just lost touch, chosen not to stay connected. Marcus & I are so blessed to have one of those special friends, those kindred spirits who time cannot touch the friendship...
*I hope to take some pics on our next tour & place them up here for viewing.

Instant Replay...

If you weren't glued to your television or in Oxford, Mississippi this weekend then I pity you. Alabama played Ole Miss in another heart wrenching, last second, to the wire football game. We always play each other hard, but this weekend took the cake. It was like watching two teams trying to one up one another; mistakes were mimicked, good plays were mimicked... it was crazy. Marcus & I decided it would come down to either who had the ball at the end of the game or who made the last mistake. We were right, too. The last mistake a receiver stepping out of bounds coming back in and becoming ineligible... a costly error for Ole Miss. The receiver had managed to pull the ball out of ALabama's player Lionel Mitchell's hands on about the Al 5 yard line. Thank goodness for Instant Replay. I have always been a bit wishy washy on the constant time outs & play reviews but this time it was a saving grace. At home it was easy to see the error, but as a line judge on the field, wow would it have been hard to call that one. 7 seconds on the clock with an AL 27 Miss 24 score an ending was decided by Instant Replay. What a game! What an entertaining way to spend a Saturday. Even if it had not turned it around, the game was so exciting, so heart stopping that it would have been looked at as a hard earned loss had it went the other way. Never leave early when Alabama takes the field....ROLL TIDE!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Mounds of fun...

Well this past Friday I was off from work. They are replacing the carpet in the whole office & the second level (my area) was the first to be replaced. So thank you carpet people you gave me a day off without touching my vacation days!!

So what to do on a day off??? hmmmm??? what to do? Oh! I know, lets go on a field trip with 3000 5th graders!!!! lol. Actually it was 3rd, 4th, & 5th graders. My nephews happened to have a field trip to the Moundville Archaeological park on Friday. They asked if I could go with them. Well, of course. It has been a few years since I have attended the Native American Festival held there, plus I get to be the adult on a field trip! How different this would be. Boy was it, where when you are a kid, you stay with the group at all times, don't touch, blah blah blah, being the adult I got to wander to parts that interested me most & was allowed to touch some things. While the inquisitive kid in me loved seeing the Living History & stage re-enactments. It really was a good day, plus I got to see 2 of my favorite children: Coy & Colton. They are growing up SO fast it is crazy... I remember our class trip to Moundville 4th Grade, even minute details of what people wore & things we did. Those were the days...

Mom came up with the boys & spent the night. After the field trip me & her wandered around town, had dinner with Marcus & just had a great day. Dad came up on Saturday & we all (with Rob too) watch the game & cooked out. It was a really nice day. (I will post pics of our group from the field trip)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Two Glasses of Wine..

I would love to claim this story as my own,but it is not. Many of you have probably received it in email form or heard it. I received it again this morning & thought that maybe we all don't receive & read it enough. I tend to really bog down on some of the small things sometimes and I have to work on that. Life has blessed me with so many of the 'golfballs' in the story, but I am thankful for every element that fills my jar. .. :)

TWO GLASSES OF WINE...When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 glasses of wine...

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with an unanimous "yes." The professor then produced two glasses of wine from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

"Now," said the professor, as the laughter subsided, "I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things; your family, your children, your health, your friends, and your favorite passions; things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full." The pebbles are the other things that matter; like your job, your house, and your car. The sand is everything else; the small stuff. "If you put the sand into the jar first," he continued, "there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls.

The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you." "Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your partner out to dinner. Play another 18. Do one more run down the ski slope. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first; the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand."

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the wine represented. The professor smiled. "I'm glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of glasses of wine with a friend."

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Big Screen

Sunday was an amazing day; granted it was the day after a miserable loss to Florida State, we found a way to really brighten up the weekend.
Around 11:30 a.m. we headed up to Hoover. DSW was our first stop & I successfully found 3 pair of fall shoes (2 on clearance) that I just love! We then scooted across to our favorite guilty pleasure: World Market. We cannot go into that store without hitting the food aisles, home aisles, pet aisles... EVERY AISLE!!! :) I found these beautiful crystal & iron stars to hang in our bedroom window, a toy for Peanut, & then we hit the imported food aisle. Marcus loves the candy aisle. It is so much fun to see the candy bars made by Nestle or Hershey marketed for their European Customers. We tried an Aero bar (UK) it is a big Mint candy bar with these little bubble holes all the way through. Really good if you like mint & chocolate. Of course I hit the Italian sodas up :), then over to the cookies, baking, & pastas. I LOVE this store! After that we grabbed two cold pure cane sugar sodas for the ride and headed to downtown Birmingham.

We had purchased earlier in the week tickets to see Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix in IMAX at the McWane Science Center. Let me tell you, both of us have seen a few educational flicks on IMAX or done the 360 rides at Disney, but a true full length film on IMAX... WOW! It was so awesome. We saw the traditional version on opening night, so it was a bit easier to follow (plus we have of course read the books). The screen really made you feel like a fly on the wall, like you were right there in every scene, being spoken to or flying with, or discovering with. I have to say that I would love to see the whole series on IMAX. The room though, was FREEZING; thankfully I wore a cardigan.
After the movie we explored the McWane Center. If you have never done this, you should plan a trip as soon as possible. With or without kids :) We had a ball. The brain activity challenge was the funniest: you put a canvas headband with 3 small metal pieces on your forehead. Sit across from one another & in the middle of you both is a ball and two circular 'endzones' on each end of a space about 6" x 42" the object is to relax your brain enough to push the ball into the opposite endzone. The brain waves & electrodes move the ball. Marcus could not relax for the life of him at first, I could almost make the ball fly into his circle (obviously I have no problem just chilling out), after reading a tip that mathematical equations (simple ones) done in the mind can relaz you Marcus finally scored. We thought it a riot that he had to do math in his head to relax, boy are we different! :) There is so much to explore at that place, we even did not make it through the entire center! You should really check it out.

Beyond that I have had a terrible case of Laryngitis for the past 4 days. Mostly only speaking in whisper form :) Makes for interesting conversations, though I must say not talking has been great, just being able to listen or flake out when I need to without speaking is quite relaxing in itself :) Marcus just woke up yesterday with a terrible cold, so weird since it is only October & we have little sicknesses already, hopefully this will take the place of something later... maybe... we hope. :)