Courtney S. Barr

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Join me, the Princess, on my Royal Adventures in the Land of Writing!

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008: Strength

New Years Eve.
Wow. 2008 is at its precipice. My 27th year around the sun is coming to a quick close. I normally don't do the resolution thing, at least not in writing (seems too binding :) )but this year I find myself being more retrospective than usual.
Back at Thanksgiving I created a blessings list. It had all the usual suspects: husband, dog, family, friends, health, technology (hey it gives me a blog), fashion, etc. These things are ever present each day. When I look back at that list & I think about how each of them was able to touch 2008 for me at least once and on most occasions at least twice; I find that this past year my theme was strength. Every year I notice a theme. One that rolls through my moods, my decisions, my ideas and this year was no exception.
So strength was my theme. At the beginning of last year I never would have imagined all the exciting & terrifying things that came my way.
I found a new obsession -Twilight - it gave me strength in that Stephenie inspired me to forget what others think of your work, just create for yourself, actually it inspired me to just: CREATE. No matter how, just do it. (thank you Nike for that inspiring slogan that will forever swoosh through time).
In March I found myself in my parents back yard lying on a hammock and just letting go of all the gloom. I had been so depressed, winter blues to the maximum, and so I took a trip to Camden. A familiar surrounding of memories enveloped me & I found strength. This instance taught me that going home again is sometimes all you need. It did not fix everything but it gave me the strength to say "Okay, Courtney, what is going on and how can we work on this?"
In June it seems that I was surrounded by the theme. All of the Twilight women I had 'talked' to online became faces I now know. Luncheons & giggling with other women over a common new love was a blast. Seeing these women of all colors, shapes, sizes, ages, and ideals come together as friends was beautiful. The word strength does not even begin to express what they all do for life in general. I am most lucky that Twilight also created a new bond with my sister & mother, it opened a door that any daughter/sister would love to explore. I am so very lucky.
June also provided me with the admiration of my sister. Nina worked hard to get her certification for Jazzercise. She pushed herself, she worked, she loved every moment that got her to be an instructor. It was a road well traveled and in it I watched strength grow in more ways than just upper & lower body. I saw a confidence that I had not seen in my sister for years.
July - wow - I cannot believe that July even occurred. Here is where God decided that my theme needed to be tested on the individual not on those around me for examples. I will never forget sitting on a makeshift hospital bed crying my eyes out because of pain, then because of fear. I looked at a woman who I truly thought could not be over 35 (who is in fact 40) as she held my hand and told me the scariest 5 scenarios I have ever heard. I watched my husband sit silently and shocked beside me not wanting to call anyone due to being scared he would not be able to tell them what she told us. Then a week later I found a whole new scenario. I was still scared but I will never forget the peace & strength I discovered sitting on another hospital gurney waiting for a surgeon and listening to an anesthesiologist tell me to be calm and he would be right there with me through it all. Strength helped me through 8 more weeks of recovery, pain, and self discovery.
Then at the end of my own personal crisis one of my best friends had to dig for her strength. From Alabama I could only read blogs, talk on the phone & pray as Tracy, Mike, & Isabel walked a path that no parent or sibling should ever have to travel. Yet Brooklyn brought a new kind of strength. I watched a friend, a sister, go through life's hardest trial and come out with a faith & strength unlike anything I have ever seen. Sitting on a bed listening to the story of those last moments with her daughter made my soul even stronger and listening to Brooklyn's sister matter of factly tell us that Brooklyn was in the box made my heart swell. Isabel can still see that beautiful sister of hers in the room, outside, everywhere and the faith that she is watching over us all gave me a new strength in a faith that I already believed.
The fall wore into winter and football season was a joy. Seeing those kids play with real heart was amazing. Then the holidays... oh the holidays. Family always gives me strength. The love of my siblings, my parents, my friends - they are wonderful.
Through this whole year from the beginning to this day my common thread of strength was possible thanks to God and his angels. My outstanding, wonderful, crazy, hilarious husband has been my pillar. He has shown strength when I found myself crumbling and I am happy to say that there have been days where my newfound strength has been able to help him, to ease some of his stress. So 2009 looms ahead of me... what theme will be found here on December 31, 2009? I don't know, I don't mind not knowing. the journey of a year is priceless. So to all of you I wish you a marvelous new year, may your theme be one that makes you think, makes you evaluate, makes you cry, terrifies you, enlightens you, but most of all may it make you laugh, make you appreciate, and make you realize that each year itself is a blessing beyond all others! Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmases 3, 4, & 5

Okay well we are finally back in Tuscaloosa. Yes. 5 Christmas celebrations later & we are home. Christmas #3 was spent on Christmas day with my parents. As usual this was wonderful. My brother Eric had his boys and after their morning of Santa gifts they swept by my parents to say good morning. Then after he dropped them off with their mom he came back to the house. We spent the morning watching the Disney Christmas Parade, eating breakfast casserole (the one you liked Tracy :) ), we opened presents and just relaxed. It was great. Marcus & I received some great gifts. My parents gave us both some money to spend on our upcoming trip, Marcus got some awesome Bama stuff, I got some great 'Courtney' stuff :)!! lol. It was great. Just being there at home on Christmas morning is worth the crazy hassles of holiday season any day! :) After the morning festivites were done we set to work on a wonderful steak & hashbrown lunch! YUMMY!!! It was so good! Eric had set the steaks to marinate for around 24 hours. Um, hello - can we say it tasted amazing! I made some "green fluffy snow" (a cold dessert that is both bizarre & delicious) and we just napped & watched movies.
Christmas #4 was spent on Friday night at MaryAnn's with first dinner with James Kelly, Lisa (his girlfriend) & her two boys, Billy & Brandon. After dinner Rob & his family arrived. We opened presents and visited for a while before heading back to my parents to spend the night. On Saturday morning I was up early to meet Mary Ann & Regina for pedicures in Camden. Then around 12:45 p.m. we headed over to Evelyn's for Christmas #5 with the Agees. Around 95 of us flitted in and out of her newly remodeled home. The gathering of people was fun. We saw some cousins that we had not seen in forever! For so long 80% of us were all in Alabama, now not so much. Mike & Sissy are in New Jersey/Pennsylvania; John Wayne & Katherine are in Florida... but this year we all managed to be there for Christmas. It was nice. :)
So 5 Christmases. Yeah. Honestly this season is so much about faith, hope, family, friends and love. In its cheesiest of forms the meaning of the season is around me. Christ's birth speaks in volumes in every warm breeze, every hug, every oddly wrapped gift, every weird looking casserole, every child that wants to play with their new toys. The season brings hope for families that see the coming of a promising new year, faith in the teachings of the gospel spreads as the miracles of kindness can still be found even in the craziness of the season, family gatherings are full of jabs about screwups from long ago to the cheerful laughter of kids waiting for Santa, friends get the opportunity to spend a few cherished hours in each others company knowing that it could be months or possibly a year before they get to do it again, and there is the love. Love that flows through every cookie, every cake, every car with its packed suitcases and tired families, the love for sharing a small collection of days with the people we hold dear. For those of you that I did not get to see this Christmas I hope it was a good one. I hope that the New Year approaching is one that grants you all the things in life that God can bless you with and that you find yourself not wishing days away but relishing each moment as it passes by.....

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas #2

Well here we are at Christmas #2 - December 23rd. This one is just for us. We made it special - Pizza & Juice. :) Oh & Hot Cocoa & Cookies for dessert - YUM! (as the lights dim, the Christmas sounds of Lena Horne & Johnny Mathis begin in the background, the trees are lit, the house is cozy and the presents are plenty...)
Last night was just for me, Marcus, & Peanut. We thought about taking our gifts for each other to Camden & opening them with everyone else but we like having a few hours just to us & getting to really concentrate on what we have done for one another.
So we decided to take one gift & open it when we get to Camden. So the rest of the presents were opened tonight!
Marcus got me two DVDs Mamma Mia (which I loved in theaters - even with the cheesy guys on the pier dancing :) ) & House Bunny with Ana Faris (HILARIOUS). He also went about trying to prove that he does listen to things I say I need: hence the fact I now own a car charger for my CrackBerry. Then he made me go get my stocking and look in it. There was a tiny red chest in the bottom & in the chest are the most beautiful earrings. You see I love diamonds, Marcus loves diamonds but also LOVES pearls. Due to the fact that normally I only like black Tahitians or some sort of diamond accompaniment to the pearls we never buy any. This time though he found some that are a beautiful compliment to both pieces. They are pearl studs - classy, but around the base is a ring of beautiful brilliant cut diamonds. You can see the sheen of the pearl & the bright lights of the diamonds no matter how you turn them. They are GORGEOUS!!! I love them.

Marcus received a wooden box puzzle (you know one of those puzzles that seems so easy yet drives you crazy until you figure it out), I got him an Alabama numbered Tradition print, house slippers, a book with Alabama trivia in it, and an AWESOME ALABAMA AUBURN photo from the game. Marcus had also gotten himself a present - he now owns a true, worn in a game, still has game scratches, still has the stickers they put on the back (American flag, etc), fully assembled with face mask, Alabama 2008 helmet. It fits his big ole head, but it falls forward on mine. It has the #8 on the side so of course come A-Day 2009 we will be heading to the Quad to see if Julio Jones will sign it :) He is so cute with it, like a little boy & a new toy!
Peanut had a good Christmas as well. He got two new toys & some treats. He happily sat along with us as we opened presents, then he played with the wrapping paper flying around the floor.
Anyway, even with all these wonderful things our biggest gift is one we are doing together. The week of January 3 through the 10th we will be in the Caribbean. This was our Christmas gift to one another. We are so excited! So for my Birthday week we will be getting a tan & drinking pina coladas! WooHOO!!!!! We are so excited to get going. So for a week you won't see an entry - but beware the one that will come after the trip!
Christmas #3 is tomorrow in Camden at my parents, I am so stoked. There is just something about being there for Christmas.... it makes everything fall into place. :)Merry Christmas EVE!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas #1

All the kids ready to open presents!
Well I mentioned at the end of this week that we had a bunch of Christmas celebrations to attend.
Today was Christmas #1.
We headed down to Camden yesterday morning. Once there I dropped Marcus off at his mothers for a visit then I drove over to my best friend Stacie's parents. She is visiting for the holidays & I have not seen her since June so a visit was definitely on the schedule! It was so good to see her. Her two daughters, Anna Claire & Gracie, are just absolutely beautiful. Anna Claire just lights up when you get her talking about Christmas & Gracie is just a joy to watch as she explores everything around her. Stacie & I had a nice visit for about 4 hours and then I went & picked Marcus up to head to my parents. My sister & her family arrived about 30 minutes after we got to my parents house. The twins were already there (my brothers eleven year old boys); meaning that the house was rocking when everyone arrived. After dinner we watched a Christmas movie together & just chilled. Thanks to my wonderful winter cold cough I could not sleep well so the internet & satellite television are like the best friends ever! :)
Today though was the big celebration. We had a delish breakfast: toast, eggs, cheese grits, 4 kinds of sausage...oh so good. Then after that we all went in our different directions. The rest of the family was scheduled to arrive around 3p.m. so we had a little while. Marcus, Jessica, Jon, Christian, Coy, Colton, & I decided that playing capture the flag in the front yard would be fun so we all bundled up (btw um it was like 75 degrees on Friday - what the..crap.. happened today???) and began the game. We ran, we chased, we fell, we laughed, we really had a great time. There is just something about getting out there with those kids & really getting into the games with them, it is exhilarating & familiar. Those reasons you loved games like that as a kid come crashing through your memory... as well as some why you don't do this stuff as often - um I landed on some pretty big rocks at one point & um, it hurt. :)
Then my mom got a terrible migraine. One of those day-controlling migraines that make curling into a ball the new downward dog. Anyway, so Nina & I took over the kitchen and set to cooking the dinner for everyone. Yep - it was fun, tiring, and so yummy. The house was soon full of smells & even more people. We were missing four though (John (Erica's husband), Stephen, Lindsey (Stephen's girlfriend) and Ryker (Diane's son) ) so there were some wonderful faces we did not get to see & were greatly missed. But once the presents were passed out - mad chaos! lol. I still get thrilled to open presents at Christmas. The gusto is there, but even with my exuberant personality & gifts, there is not quite a perfect word to describe the delight of a child. They are just amazing. It was just a lot of fun. So Christmas #1 is now a blog entry, something that has passed, but the pictures, the moments are so current so fresh I just had to share them!
Nina & the boys on one couch as we watched Christmsas movies!

Me & the girls on the other couch!

My Capture the Flag TEAM!!
Nina & Dad waiting patiently as the presents are about to be handed out!

Mom, Mindy & Eric being silly!

Hannah playin with her presents! Singing along to some Taylor Swift! :)

Our OH SO TIRED Uncle Peanut at the end of the festivities!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

SO many Christmases...

Another birthday week is gone. We are now focused on Christmas. We went and saw that movie 4 Christmases with Reese Witherspoon & Vince Vaughn (not a FAMILY movie by the way - but hilarious nonetheless). Granted I am not from a divorced family, Marcus is. Well this being said we have 5 Christmases of our own to attend. His family is not the sole reason for the many celebrations though. Here is the breakdown

Christmas #1 - this weekend we head to Camden so that we can see all my siblings & their children. We will exchange gifts with the kids.
Christmas #2 - Christmas Eve - (Camden)we spend this evening with MaryAnn, James, Rob & the girls. We exchange gifts and have dinner.
Christmas #3 - Christmas Day - (Camden)we spend the day with my parents, exchange gifts & lunch
Christmas #4 - the day after Christmas - (Tuscaloosa)this day is spent just for me & Marcus (usually) we exchange our gifts & just lounge around the house (unless of course we have to work and in that case we work then see each other after work - this year = we work)
Christmas #5 - December 27th - the Agee Christmas - (Camden) this is Christmas with all the Agee cousins

Note the back and forth between Tuscaloosa & Camden. Yeah. We ride a lot. :) Granted we are quite lucky to be able to just get in a car & drive 2 hours & see virtually almost all our family. This is a blessing in itself. I have lived far enough away to wear a plane trip is the quickest & most efficient transportation option - it is not fun. The visits are longer, but so much fewer.

Anyway, the week has been full of gift shopping, trying to finish everything up & just getting ready for the weekend. Friday night we have a party to attend & I am helping out with the food. So I have been busy with that most of this evening. Though I did take a moment to make some cookies just for us!

Below are also the pics from Marcus' "BIRTHDAY CAKE" yes those are double doozie cookies from the American Cookie Company in the mall. He normally gets just a regular size cookie cake, but this year he wanted this. Hilarious! So we had to put the candles in the cookies - plus he said if we had used 29 candles we would have messed up the cookies - so this yielded less candles. :)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Birthday WEEK!!!

YIPPEE! Anyone who knows me & Marcus knows we celebrate Birthday WEEK. This tradition is one of our personal favorites. When you are born in the months of December or January Christmas tends to inch its way into your birthday gifts or activities.
Marcus was born on December 8, 1979. He turned 29 this year. Ever since we began dating we began this celebration. It means that for 7 full days your birthday is celebrated. At what point before or at your birthday it starts is at the discretion of the BIRTHDAY-EE. Marcus chose to begin on December 7, thus his week ran from 7th - 13th (now we had a Christmas party for his work on his actual birthday so we made the end date the 14th so he would have full days). Anyway, the activities that you provide for the Birthday-ee can range from a simple movie night in to a movie night out. You can choose to give a gift a day or only gifts on their birthday, for the week the birthday-ee does not have to participate in ANY household regulars, i.e. laundry, cooking, cleaning, dog stuff. For one week you are basically free of the responsibilities that are normally split. You also get to choose your favorite meals, get to control the remote control, or wander around in your underwear if you want to. It is a free for all. Now after 11 years of these weeks they have evolved into different requests & such for both of us. I find myself each year wanting specific dinners & desserts, Marcus has a set few things that I make special just for him once a year. Now a lot of you are like: um - that is a lot of work for one half of this equation. Yes it is. But its only 7 days & its for the most important person in your life. We both look forward to it every year - even for the other person.
So Marcus' week has been FULL of activities & prizes. We have really had a blast this year. Movies, dinners, shopping for Christmas presents, laying around & being lazy... just being together.
We went up to Hoover Saturday morning to do some more shopping and let me tell you the economy might be in a recession, but someone might want to let consumers know. That mall was insane! Not only in the mall but the majority of Hoover's police force was on the perimeter having to direct traffic - the PERIMETER. I mean come on people can't we all figure out how to stop at a stop sign without running someone over? Anyway, we found a few items - hit Macy's up for their big sale. We then met MaryAnn & James for lunch at J Alexanders. GOSH I love that restaurant! :)
Saturday night we went to the second Christmas party of this holiday season. We have 3 more so far. Saturday was so much fun! The group that was together is a good group. A good many are musically inclined so a guitar, amp & Christmas carols were the end of the evening. It was a blast. Good food, good friends.
Sunday was the laziest we have been in a while. I did not exactly feel up to par and so we were curled up with hot cocoa & Christmas movies for 90% of the day - then I just fell asleep at like 5 and dozed off and on. I NEVER sleep during the day! I did get up and cook supper but then conked back out again. It felt great - until I was awake at Midnight & could not sleep...yeah...

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Still going and going and going....

Okay, um the energizer bunny is definitely my new idol. I mean even though you do have to like shove batteries up its rear to get it to go - still the fact that the bunny keeps going and going without hesitation and even does that swivel thing without falling over.. you got to admit - impressive. Robert & Ramona made it back to Houston. They spent the weekend in Memphis after leaving Tuscaloosa and having a great dinner with us & Rob's family at Carino's in Hoover.
SO this past weekend we headed over to HOTLANTA! WOOHOO!! (why is it that I have to say WOOHOO! after the word HOTLANTA- I will ponder that one later) So we arrived at the Watson home around 10:30 Eastern. Nina & Keith had JUST put the kids down so we sat in the kitchen ate some great biscuits (Marcus had soup too) and just talked for awhile. The next morning we were all up and ready to start the day! Nina, Jessica, Anna,Christian & I headed to the mall. Marcus & Keith headed to the Georgia Dome & Jon stayed at the house with Peanut.
Nina recently got a seasonal job at Macy's so I took the three kids shopping.
IT WAS SO MUCH FUN!!!! They were a blast! We saw Santa (just saw him no pictures), they each got a prize for being so good, we got cookies, we wandered through clothing stores, jewelry stores, game shops, everything was just fun. I really found myself relaxed. They are just the most precious kids. The girls went all excited on me about clothes & jewelry & stuffed animals. Every store had something that they thought was so cool. The girls were so giddy as they found some High School Musical stuff in the Disney store and also some stuffed animals. Anna got a precious DUMBO stuffed animal. Jessica found a red HSM3 canvas bag that is just too cute. We also stopped by Gamestop to grab a giftcard for Jon. He babysat my child - Peanut. Once we met back up with Nina (about 3 hours of shopping later) we were all starving! So we headed to Zucca (Italian) then back to the house for the SEC Championship.
Yeah - we did not win (Florida 31 - Alabama 20) But it was awesome! Atlanta was a great area for this game - the fans were great, Alabama people milled about everywhere. Keith & Marcus had great seats! The Bama boys played with heart, what else could you ask for? (a win, but hey whose being picky LOL) Anyway we still have some football left on January 2nd - All STATE SUGAR BOWL in New Orleans. Then on SUNDAY we were up, watching some TV, then we had some awesome hamburgers & home fries. Nina also made Marcus & Brownie Spot - oh yeah gotta tell you about Brownie Spot - a birthday cake. The crew began to decorate for Christmas and Marcus and I had to head home around 5 p.m. Okay - Brownie Spot is a stuffed dog. Yeah. While shopping with the kids and allowing them to get a prize Christian fell in love with a dog at Build A Bear. Now I have been in these stores before but never really known the process. The child picks out the stuffing-less toy. He/She names the animal then stands in a LONG line to wait for the stuffing. Once you reach the stuffing they ask you the name of the animal, Christian named his Brownie Spot. Then they tell you to grab a small fabric heart out of a bin, you then rub the heart to get it warm, then they tell you to rub it on a part of your body (for Brownie Spot the dog it was the Leg to Run Real Fast) then you kiss the heart and make a wish for your new best friend. THERE IS NOTHING CUTER than watching these kids do this. Then they clean off the animal, go to a computer & put all the information in.
I LOVED the experience. The whole weekend was such a blast!!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


See I do eventually post the pics I promised :)
The Pulleys in Bama - Tennessee Trip - Christmas Decor!
(there are about 29 pics so be patient)....

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

We can't help it, we are either hosting or traveling...

Roll Tide!
Well this week is going pleasantly. Robert & Ramona are still in town, their visit is going well. We had a great time watching the game on Saturday - what a game! Then Sunday I put all my Christmas decor up - I will be sure to post the gazillion pictures I need to post as soon as I can including my decoration pics!!! :) we watched Christmas movies all day long and went to MugShots for a great lunch. Monday night Robert & Ramona cooked us a hearty dinner of meatloaf, mashed potatoes, & green beans. SO YUMMY! Then we watched some TV and just chilled out. It has been a blast visiting with them! We so hope that they have enjoyed Tuscaloosa & of course the Barr Bed & Breakfast!
Last night we celebrated in Birmingham with Kerry for his birthday. Robert & Ramona went up to visit Rob, Regina & the girls. We headed to the StarDome and saw two great comics! We love stand up comedy & last night was superb.
There is one new development: WE GOT TICKETS TO THE SEC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME IN ATLANTA!!! BOOYAH!!! yep - Happy Early Birthday Marcus!! Wowsers!
He is beyond excited. So this weekend we will be heading over to HOTLANTA! We found two tickets at a great price and offered one to my sister to give to her husband. So it will be Marcus & Keith going while Nina & I spend the day with the kids. I am so excited too, we barely got to visit during Thanksgiving and this way we will get to see the kids. Marcus had already been upset that we would not be able to have them down to our house just to watch the game. He had really been hoping to try to, but then we had company so we did not want to overwhelm anyone. So this answered everything! Again we will be traveling during the weekend, we seem to be traveling or hosting all the time. I thought maybe with the holidays I would get a bit tired of it, but nope. It is good to be able to travel, to see people, to spend time with family during the holiday season!
Robert & Ramona are going to head over to Memphis to see her sister on Friday then head back to Texas on Sunday. So it all worked out well. I was beyond giddy when we got the tickets today!