Courtney S. Barr

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

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Whirlwind Weekend!

Well everyone I am back from the big ATL! It was soooo much fun!
Stacie met me at Nina's house around 7:30 p.m. on Friday night. It was so awesome to see her! Nina very graciously offered to keep all the kids & so we were able to go to La Parilla - a mexican restaurant for dinner. It was the LOUDEST restaurant either of us had every walked into. The atmosphere was more than festive - it was like mucho festive :) Live Mariachi band wandered around & played, seriously. The food was good, the company was sensational. It was so neat & odd at the same time to just be the two of us again heading to dinner, talking, laughing, as comfortable as if time had never passed. That to me was astounding & beautiful. We discussed everything from family to friends to home to drinks to whatever! It was great. I miss her so much, now that we have this "1/2" way point to converge at we will for sure be seeing each other again.


When we had gotten to the house, the kids had just come from their final swim meet, so they were loaded down with swim trophies! They all swim so well! I am proud of how strong they are becoming.













Saturday the kids were up pretty early I heard them moving all around the house, when I wandered upstairs to the girls room I found 6 adorable & rambunctious kids along with my sister & Stacie. They appeared to really be enjoying themselves. Nina had to head out to a class on her new career, so Stace & I took the kids to the pool for a few hours. It was slightly difficult though - there was only one family in the pool: US. So we really spent the time entertaining the kids. I was very grateful to our previous evening out & being able to just talk & visit. The pool was playtime so that is what we did. :) The lifeguard was so funny. Everytime that Gracie moved along the edge and we were in the water or even at the ready to grab her quick, he would stand up carefully watching. He was a young guy, I was glad to see that he takes his position seriously. I mean there was only the two of us & six kids in a big pool. After that we headed back to the house for a quick lunch & showers before Stacie headed to Alabama. The kids had gotten along so well. Anna Claire is a treasure - she says the most adorable things! Gracie is into everything! So funny to watch Anna Claire get excited when Gracie does something. Oh & Nina has the open banister style stairs - lets just say for a small child who loves to get into harmless mischief these stairs were quite the entertainment.







Saturday night brought on the birthday festivities. Me & the kids made a triple chocolate cake with 7 minute white frosting & coconut. We even cracked open a coconut shaved it & toasted the shavings. Yep - we wanted to make the birthday a really special occasion. Christian & Jessica had gone to the grocery store with me & chosen two balloons, some party hats, noisemakers, & some sparkler candles. Yes the kind that you are never sure if they can be blown out or have to have water poured on them!? lol. It was a blast. Keith made some amazing steaks & Nina fried up some onion rings! YUMMY!
Then it was gift time - the kids made some beautiful cards - Anna & Christian wrote Nina songs & the kids & Keith gave Nina watches: 2 watches (one everyday & one fashion) I hear that she is a bit rough on watches so they figured she needed two to swap in and out as it would suit whichever occasion. Mom & Dad gave her a monogrammed cutting board & I gave her "Fool's Gold" on DVD. It was a good night. We then shipped the kids to bed & the adults watched SPEAK. It is a movie with our beloved Kristen Stewart as the lead character & it is one of those dramatic - speaks - to - your - heart - and - mind movies. I was pleasantly surprised by the level of acting Kristen did at 14 years old. It was very good to say the least.

Sunday we cooked another yummy meal & then I headed home. It seems like I was there so much longer than just the 2.5 days. We did so much in a little time & every moment was a joy so the time was very well spent. I look forward to this Thursday when I see them all again for the Fourth!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

CONGRATULATIONS NINA!!!

Congratulations goes out to my big sister! She passed her certification to be a Jazzercise Instructor! She starts teaching on Monday!
I AM SO PROUD OF HER! She has put so much time & work into this opportunity. The most beautiful part of the whole process has been her enjoyment. Yes it has been hard work, but she has truly enjoyed the classes, the practices, but most of all the people. Isn't that what you are supposed to find in something fulfilling? Relationships with people. Friendships that may never have been found if it were not for the paths we choose. I know that her energy, her personality, her friendly demeanor will shine so brightly everytime she puts her mic on her head. It is more than just working out. The people in her class are there for the experience the end results are just that: end results. But the journey to get there, the process is what makes the whole experience worthwhile. So Nina - I love you & I admire this wonderful new journey you are embarking on!

Monday, June 23, 2008

The people I love - My Southern Family

Everyone comes from somewhere. There is some sort of an iconic recognition to every location that exists. Be it the snow birds of the North or the way that a Northerner carries himself as he walks down the street; the way a midwesterner has that monotone voice & every one of them seems to know about farming - even the city dwellers; on the West Coast how 'catching a wave' is an everyday occasion or how seeing a celebrity is normal. In the South we have a plethera of stereotypes, double entendres, icons, and just well symbols of our culture.

Camden is definitely a place full of each of these things. From the accents, to trade, to hobbies, to careers, even to education - "It is the war between the states, there was nothing civil about it!"
Well no family in Wilcox county doesn't have at least one if not all members that exude a stereotype recognized by geography. Mine is of course no different. Each of us displays a bit of Southern culture - Nina's is the transplant, the southerner who has been out of the true South for many years but still exudes the traits she was raised within. She teaches them to her children making them just as Southern as though they had been born in Lower Alabama.

Eric is like a walking southern Pine tree. His movements are slow and easy, his accent is thick and country, his demeanor & friendly manners ooze Southern gent without the white colonel Sanders suit. He is a southern man - contemporary only in certain circles - he prefers a cabin in the woods on some land he can hunt & a good woman at his side. Then there is me - the Southern Princess. I truly enjoy everything about the South. There are places I love and would love to see, to travel all around the world. But every place that I have been has never lived up to my view of the South. Sure I have enjoyed the visits, but my home is in the South. Now I include Florida in that statement - no matter how many snowbirds are found on its beaches. :) I know that my voice carries a soft enough accent to be useful on a phone conversation to a northerner, I know that hospitality is next to godliness, and that cooking good food is the epitome of the southern home. All these traits I work to put forth in my everyday life. Now we get to my parents: Bernard & Debbie - there are no other two people who represent Southern grace, kindness, hospitality & love like these two people. They were both raised to appreciate the land in a way that I may never understand. They see the Southern resourcefulness & embrace it everyday. They are so very happy with who they are, what they have, and where they are that contentment does not even begin to describe them. They are essential Southerners.

Then there is my oldest brother Jeremy. Jeremy left the south at a young age, but the south stayed with him. I always hoped he would return & he did not let me down. Not only did the Jeremy who left returned, but he returned even more Southern than when he left! Not possible you say, well it is. He is the stereotype Southern - leave - me - with - my - gun - my - dog - my - food - my - woman - and - my - porch - but - if - you - need - something - I - will - be - there. He is so Southern. Each one of us has our redneck moments, Jeremy's most recent one takes the cake. It was more comical to family than to anyone else - as it should be. I saw a picture of him in the Wilcox Progressive Era - a newspaper that comes out only once a week in Camden. Yes only once a week. :)

There was my brother on the back page in all his southern glory holding a gun, a snake, barefooted in the yard. Now this picture conjured up a memory: Jeremy holding a snake, a gun, barefooted, in my parents yard. He was probably 17 or 18 so proud to have gotten that snake. Here he is today 38 so proud to have gotten this snake. The only change in the two pics is the hair, the weight, & the age. Even the clothes are quite similar. In the young picture he has a tank top cut short, cutoff jeans, and sunglasses on his head. Here he lacks the sunglasses & the shirt is a t-shirt but the effect is the same. I smiled big and wide when I saw the paper at my parents - not mockingly mind you but because that is MY BIG BROTHER.

Each one of us has changed, grown, matured, but we have also all kept some trait that uniquely makes us who we are as individuals. Jeremy has always loved Camden - even when he gripes about it - he loves it. He has always loved hunting, always loved fishing, always loved just sittin on his big porch on his big southern home enjoying the evening. He is the type who will cut the grass of the older woman next door just because. He will show affection in his own way - nicknames & reminiscing. He will laugh outloud no matter who is around - truly enjoying a good joke, story, or moment. He is honest sometimes to a fault or at least to a blunt fault. He loves his parents with open kindness. He finds great comfort in the simplest things & is very much a country boy. Of all of us Jeremy exudes the best parts of redneck. Not the comical - mean spirited - picking on where you are from redneck. No, he is the good ole boy.

The guy who went to war for the country he loves. The guy that has the big truck to get you out when you are in a bind, the knowledge of a million different random car/motorcyle/boat randomness, the guy's guy in so many ways, but also the big softie. The guy who made his youngest sister feel like a princess everyday that he was home. The guy who gave her a nickname when she was little & to this day calls her by that nickname - making her smile every time. This guy is someone I am proud to call country/redneck/Southerner. I don't post about him often so this one is for Jeremy. I loved this picture in the paper & found myself thinking of how great you are...Thank you for being you. (I will have to find the picture from when you were a teen & put it up here sometime...for kicks :) )

Sunday, June 22, 2008

What a week!!!

OME!! This past week was a whirlwind of crazy work stuff, crazy personal stuff, and just all out crazy!

Well my sister & I officially have tickets to the New York signing of Breaking Dawn. I got one ticket during the AMEX presale on Thursday- only one. They allotted 150 tickets for the presale & said they were gone in the first 15 minutes of being released online. How I got one I don't know. But that meant that on Saturday morning from 10:30 to 11:00 a.m. I had to be ready for the general release of the tickets so that I could score another one.
I called Ticketmaster at 10 til 11 and the guy said "oh you still have 10 minutes before they go on sale" (you cannot sit on hold - normally it takes 10 minutes to get an operator so when he answered after 3 I was a little caught off guard) While talking to him I of course had the internet up on the site to purchase & was steadily hitting refresh. Well as soon as I hung up with him the page opened after refreshing & boom I could buy. 10 Minutes my behind!!! I quickly selected 1 and watched as the little blue bar on the screen processed my request to see if it would give me a ticket - it did! I was ecstatic. Just like that with still 4 minutes until 11 a.m. on my clock I had the ticket.
They said that 2000 tickets sold out in 45 minutes. 2000 tickets - gone. I understand that LA, Seattle, & Chicago went to the same (although LA released some more later, as did Seattle, but they were moving quickly as well.) I saw that Chicago was a mess - they released tickets through their own site (the theater that was hosting the signing) and it could not hold the onslaught of web viewers & crashed. Therefore you had to call by phone. People posted that it was horrible! Poor Chicago. :(
Also this week, Eric, Mindy, Marcus & I went to see Montgomery Gentry & Toby Keith at the ampitheater! Great concert. Toby Keith is a riot! Absolutely hilarious. Below are some pics of the event.
We then went to Camden. Mom hosted a Pampered Chef party at her house. It went very well. We had some good snacks & some of the best punch you have ever drank! So yummy! I think she did well. Then Eric, Mindy & the kids came over. We of course stayed in the pool 75% of the time. I actually fried the very tops of my shoulders!!! Truly painful right now. Anyway, for a stressful, crazy week, I am all the better for it. Patience is never one of my strong suits & I have had to have it in droves lately. :)
Oh yeah - my sister is going out for certification to be a jazzercise instructor this week. Please pray for her. She truly enjoys this (I know working a sweat like 10 times a week, fun?!! yeah - she crazy :) )It is something she has worked so hard on & I am so proud of all that she has already accomplished. The certification would just be the icing on an already wonderful cake. I love to see Nina (pardon the pun) jazzed up about something and this has been her focus for quite some time now. It has not only given her a great 'mom day out' type of program but also a confidence and self awareness that is slightly enviable. (not so much that I am going to begin to work out like 2 hours a day to find it but enough that I really see something worthwhile in what she is doing). keep her in your thoughts this week & cheer her own in your way.






Friday, June 13, 2008

INCOMING: Southerners to the Big Apple!

WOOHOO! My sister Nina & I are headed to NEW YORK CITY!!! Stephenie Meyer happens to be doing a signing at the Nokia Theater in Times Square! Cross your fingers that we can get tix to the signing because as of right now we flight booked, hotel booked & headed to New York on July 31st for a girls weekend in the city!!! I am so excited. It makes it seem like Breaking Dawn will be here faster even though I know it won't! My wonderful brother in law is going to take care of their kids, so me & my sister are going to have a girls weekend!!!!Yippee!!!I love New York & have been itching to go back & thankfully things fell into place.
I have got a heck of a schedule coming up over the next months. This month I head to Camden next weekend; then Atlanta the 27-29th and then in July we go to Camden from the 3rd - 6th; then Houston, Texas from 25-27th; then July 31- August 3rd is New York; August 17-19th is Pittsburgh, PA; then August 23-September 1st is Disney World. WHEW!!! Crazy! And all the regular stuff in between!!!
My flight miles are about to really add up! It seems we do this every year at end of summer. Last year was no exception! I think we lived at the beach, this year I may only see it once :( but I get to see some other great locations :) (only the Pittsburgh trip is work so at least I can classify all the rest as leisure)
I promise to take as many pics of every place as often as possible - which reminds me I need a new battery & memory card.... hmmm... I may need to head out the door and run to town. Anyway, I was bursting with the news so I had to post!!!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

TWILIGHTERS TAKE OVER CALIFORNIA PIZZA KITCHEN - UP NEXT - THE WORLD!!!

Well it finally arrived. My lunch at California Pizza Kitched on Saturday with other TWILIGHTERS!!! I had the most fun. Lucy, the young woman who organized everything, made us all T-shirts of a favorite Twilight saying. Mine was: Take Care of My Heart, I've Left it With You. I LOVE when he leaves her that note!! Anyway, she even thought to bring a big beautiful bouquet of FREESIA! It smelled heavenly! I am not sure if CPK was ready for our rowdy group, but our waitress & the manager handled us with ease. They really were great to our group.

9 women arrived at 11 a.m. to meet up for our lunch. (the doors were not yet open to CPK when we first walked up so outside chatting began) Most of us had never met, there were a few that knew one another & were part of creating their own "how I found Twilight" stories. All of us from around Alabama, all of us lovers of Stephenie Meyer. I found myself more at ease than I expected to be. It is one thing to badger your mother, best friend, husband, roommate, or boyfriend about a book series. It is an entirely other experience to throw that passion for a fictional story out to the world without the comfort & protection of a computer screen or bloodties. As soon as the t-shirts were handed out & we all fawned over our quotes the talking began. It seemed like the wind being let out of a balloon. We all found that once you are with a group that truly has a passion for the same thing that subject matter is never at a loss. The doors to CPK opened and we wandered in to be grouped at a large table in the corner. Our poor waitress - we were not exactly focused on the menu - as you can imagine :) Stories of who we are, how we found the Cullens, the men in our lives & their reactions to our obsession and our view of everything Twilight tumbled across the table. Laughter rang out so loud that the Manager checked on us & due to the Twilight tees well, we were noticeable. (we may have gotten at least 3 young girls to go read the books - cross your fingers - and the manager was kind enough to take our pictures) lol. Once the orders were placed & food had arrived you would think we slowed down - only minutely & to an outside observer one would have wondered how we were talking & eating at the same time. (don't worry - no icky talking & eating :) )

Stories of followed Silver Volvos, only buying Sunny Meadow eggs, Eclipse breath mints, real life Edwards in Volvos telling us "no my name is not Edward", and russet toned men who can't keep their shirts on were passed around like tic tacs. It was a day of fun, frivolity, and vampires - who could ask for more on a hot Alabama Saturday??

Meet some other TWILIGHTERS (I apologize for any misspellings or incorrect names - boy I hope I don't do that :) )

Kirsten,Rachel,Danielle,Yvvonne,me,Lucy,Darlene, Sandy, Lori
After my afternoon of Twilight fanaticism, I attended the Miss Alabama pageant with my sister. Her cousin (on her husband's side) Rachel was competing for the very first time. She won Miss Phenix City & discovered this pageant was the next level. She is 17, beautiful, and well found a bit of culture shock in the pageant circuit! If you have never been a pageant girl being thrust into the wolves (no pun meant for my Twilight readers) it is not a piece of cake. She did not place but did win some scholarship money. Nina & I had a blast watching these beautiful, accomplished young women speak on their platforms, perform amazing talents, and showcase some beautiful dresses. I don't know about other states, but I was impressed with Alabama's group of MENSA members, White House representatives, and Non-Profit charitable group creators that were in this collection of women. These women are beautiful, but trust me the outer layer is truly only layer 1, beneath that are strong, independent, smart, ambitious citizens. The young woman who won played the piano so beautifully and handled her questions eloquently. It has to be nerve racking being up there and talking about these close to your heart topics. It was enlightening to say the least, as for the performances in between the girls - well lets just say they chose the 80's for the theme & there were some lyrical dances. ENOUGHT SAID! lol.
(my sister Nina & Rachel)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Summer Begins - Concerts - Halfway to Hazard, Jason Aldean & Tim McGraw













Well Summer is definitely here. Our concert going has begun!! We saw Halfway to Hazard, Jason Aldean & Tim McGraw @the Verizon Ampitheater in Pelham tonight.
I have to say Halfway to Hazard is a good little group. Lots of charm! Jason Aldean of course did not disappoint. I love his songs!!! He is such a cutie!!!The crowd was great! Lots of energy. Now when it got to Tim the crowd was insane!!! I have to say going into this concert I was more excited about Jason Aldean than Tim McGraw, but Tim puts on a great concert. He did all of his classic songs & intermixed some that are not even out yet. He has one called Southern Voice & it is a great song about those things & people who are the makeup of our southern culture. He allowed two SMALL children (one was maybe 24 months & one was about 3) onto the stage from the front row during the concert. I mean ONTO the stage as in at one point the fiddle player let the child play at the mic & it was adorable!!! We of course had a good time. Since we bought the VIP Summer Package they fed us before hand & let us wander around. It was cool. Now we will know what to do for the next 5 concerts in the series. Well, I am beyond tired but I wanted to post the photos & such before I forgot! Enjoy! REMEMBER TO PAUSE MY MUSIC PLAYER AT THE BOTTOM OF MY BLOG BEFORE HITTING PLAY ON THE VIDEO BELOW! :)

video