dear santa

Dear Santa,

Wuz ^? N/M/H. Thank you for a very Merry Christmas! I appreciate you keeping up with us this holiday season, as we practically covered the entire state of Texas in a week. I bet you were busy in your little workshop on Christmas Eve, eating candy canes and making last minute presents while we were breathing in the bewitching scent of Amarillo that is cow pastures and braving the blustery panhandle wind. We enjoyed the Christmas Eve service at FBC Amarillo, singing Christmas songs and seeing all the kids dressed up in their Christmas outfits, which brings me to the question--Was that little girl on stage during Pastor's Pals on the naughty or nice list? I'm sure she is really sweet, but she seemed like a hilarious handful, climbing on the nativity scene (which I was informed was worth thousands of dollars per piece), sitting on the donkey, blowing out candles and lifting up her dress to pull up her panty hose. Were you graced with the same entertainment as you visited her house? I bet she was already asleep, her performance must have been exhausting!

Christmas morning I felt like a kid again, waking up at 7:00 to open presents. It's obvious times are achangin' as we read the Christmas story on the iPhone. It must have been from The Message, because Tate was thrown off as "there was no room in the...uh...hostel?" After we listened to the story of the most perfect gift ever, Jesus' birth, we opened our family presents. Santa, I hope you don't find it offensive I don't exude the same anticipation and excitement I once did in the wee hours of Christmas morn. It has nothing to do with you, I promise. These days it just seems I have more time to put on my house shoes and grab a cup of coffee before opening those presents that used to beg to be opened a day early.

This being my first Christmas in Amarillo, I am still learning the Barrett fam traditions. As you know, those do not include stockings (which was the biggest shock of my newly-wed life), so thanks for waiting a day to fill our stockings in Allen. I know it was your first day off and everything, so I really appreciate you and the reindeer making the extra trip.  Despite the stockings, our Amarillo Christmas was ideal. We took turn opening presents in the living room, going to youngest to oldest. For the second year in a row I had the most presents. LaVon and Aunt Roxi say they have been waiting for a long time to have a girl in the family and I certainly don't mind. After presents, we made the drive to Lubbock to spend time with LaVon's side of the family. We ate turkey, dressing and sweet potatoes on Christmas day, which was new to me. They were yummy! Also for the first time ever, I was away from my parents and sister on Christmas day, but there was more than enough family to go around. It was so much fun watching the kids play with their new toys, iPods glued to their ears and American girl dolls in hand. The big kids, including Tate and Tye, were in the backyard playing football while the adults were visiting inside. They kept offering their disclaimer by saying, "I hope you are not overwhelmed with all these people. Things can get crazy around here." Obviously, they haven't met my entire family yet.

Speaking of my family, we caught an early morning flight to Dallas the day after Christmas to spend time in Allen. Grandpa B Bunk and the Williams were already there, waiting for us to do our family traditions. These traditions include old and new. Old being: stockings, presents and a much anticipated meal of fried shrimp. New being: dirty santa exchange, board games and the passing of black hat, which Tate ended up with this year...welcome to the fam!  As soon as we arrived we did stockings. Thanks again! You really outdid yourself this year! It must have been hard reduplicating those Anthropolgie coffee mugs in your workshop and sneaking into Victoria's Secret for that gift card. You so sneaky! We must have been extra good in 2010 (I'm crediting it to all those newlywed classes we've taken) because I ended up with a new camera I like to call my "mom camera" and Tate finally got his FELT TRI BIKE! It's a Christmas miracle!!! Thanks mom, dad, Robby, LaVon, Aunt Roxi, Uncle Randy, Grandma, PaPa, Santa, Rudolph, Tooth Fairy, and anyone else who chipped in for this little treat on wheels. Our Ironman-to-be was really surprised and I think I saw something resembling a Christmas twinkle in his eye.

After gifts, everyone manned their stations, doing their part to contribute to our traditional Christmas meal. Jayma and I sliced potatoes, Aunt Kelly operated the fry daddy, mom breaded shrimp, Jor made mac, the dads fried shrimp, Grandpa supervised and JaCoby and Tate watched football. We have been doing this exact meal about 30 years before my parents were married or any of the grandkids were born. Probably our longest-running King tradition!

Our second Christmas together was really special. We missed you, Lynley and Shawn! Poor things were still on their honeymoon in Hawaii. Oh, before I forget, Santa, can you remember to bring Shawn's presents to the Nicholsons and Katie's presents to the Barretts next Christmas? We'll be adding two more to the Christmas festivities from here on out. The more the merrier!

Again, thanks for everything! Enjoy your time off.

T + D


best birthday party ever

Saturday was a special day. It was my 25th birthday, but more importantly (despite what you might think), it was my sister's wedding day. Growing up we shared everything- a room in our little house on Highland Park Drive, a bed (even though we had our own), friends, clothes, starring roles in numerous music videos and a co-ownership of Lynelle's Restaurant. We've shared everything else, so it seemed only appropriate to share my day with my other half.

The morning started off in her new apartment. I spent the night before the wedding in her new place, once again sharing a bed. We woke up and began getting ready for our big day. We showered, got dressed, threw on our boots and made a quick stop by Starbucks before heading to the church to put the final touches on the ceremony site. As we rounded the corner to the drive thru I said, "I'm getting your coffee." She insisted, "no, I'm getting it." I said, "absolutely not, it's your wedding day." She replied with, "yeah, but it's your birthday." I said, "ok." I think this is the only time we have argued about paying for anything.

After the church passed our inspection, we headed back to the house for the most relaxing bridal brunch in the history of weddings. Family friends made soups, salad and bread. The bridesmaids and cousins visited around the dining room table, talking about old stories, new stories and everything in between. After the lunch, we began the 3 hour feat of getting ready. It was nowhere near an "every man for himself" kind of moment. Everyone took responsibility for each other. I was doing a girl's make-up while she was cutting my dress straps, another girl was tying someone else's bow while Lynley was curling her hair. It was very much a group effort, and a job well done.

After we everyone but me got ready, we they headed to the Cotton Mill. I was the last one to get my hair curled, and was running a bit behind, so I met everyone else there. Cue the tears. The crying came in waves, on and off for another 2 hours until they were pronounced "Mr. and Mrs. Shawn Tolleson." That's ok, it was a pretty big day with my little sis getting married AND me coming into my late twenties. Lots to cry about.

After our photo sesh, we went to the church. We got there 30 minutes before the ceremony stated, cutting it 30 minutes too close for my poor dad. He's used to keeping us 3 Nicholson girls in check, but I think 14 girls was out of any man's league. After touching up our make-up, curling the strays and running through the single ladies dance thrice, we were ready to get the show on the road!

We got a group "TOLLESON" on three, I gave Lynley one last hug as a Nicholson and choked back tears as I walked down the aisle to the second (tied with mine of course) most beautiful wedding my eyes have ever seen. If fact, words can't describe the perfection that was Lynley and Shawn's wedding, so I will let you see for yourself in pictures. We don't have the professional pics back yet, so here are some from our family camera...

bridesmaids and groom

baby Andi

don't peek, Lynley is walking by

some of the bridesmaids and b-e-a-utiful bride



oh hello there

girls wedding party

reception set up at the Cotton Mill

table 

good family friends from the ATL

escort cards 

center pieces 

birthday party

Congrats, Mr. and Mrs. Tolleson! Thanks for letting us be so involved in our very special day. I couldn't imagine a more perfect wedding for a more perfect couple. I love you both! 


tis the season

Tis the season to be jolly, fa ra ra ra ra, ra ra, ra ra...
(name that movie)

With two Christmas parties, our first Barrett Christmas card in the mail, presents wrapped and the tree lit, the Barretts are ready for Christmas!

I am a little embarrassed to admit we put the Christmas tree up 4 days before Thanksgiving...so we've been ready for a while. Our tree looks a little like the Charlie Brown Christmas tree, so it took all of 15 minutes to carry it from the storage closet, throw a few ornaments on and plug it in. Ta da! If that didn't help put us in the Christmas spirit, this past weekend sure did.

Friday we were in attendance at the 1st Annual Thomas Christmas party. Like any legit Christmas party, this one was themed tacky sweater/white elephant gift exchange. Now-a-days, I wonder, what did people do at Christmas parties in the olden days when white elephant gifts were merely "junk" and tacky sweaters were actually "cute?" I guess they just stood around, sipping eggnog and talking...borrring.  In this case, change is a good thing. Guess who dominated our party by taking home the honor of best Christmas sweater AND the coveted white elephant gift?


No, not me, but good guess. I'm proud to say, my roommate, Mr. Tate Barrett was awarded "Best Christmas Sweater 2010" and took home the shake weight. He has come such a long way. A year ago he wouldn't pose for the fast-face pictures and now he's wearing shoulder pads and Santa pins! You may be wondering, what kind of man wears shoulder pads anyway? Well I'll tell you, an IRONMAN. What's even better is that we had to run into Whole Foods before going to the party. While the River Oaks elitists were in the express line purchasing escargot and Merlot to take to their elegant Christmas soiree, we were parading around aisle 4 in our shoulder pads and Christmas bling on a hunt for the cheapest bottle of wine. 

Kind of random, but the next day we went to the Houston zoo, which I will be crossing off my Houston Bucket List! Although it was a great day for the zoo, 70 degree, flip-flop weather in December just doesn't ring 'Christmas time'. However, we did see a chimp wearing a jacket and some sea lions giving piggy-back rides (if you know what I mean...wink). We spent the rest of the day finishing up our Christmas shopping and dodging crazy Houston drivers. I am proud to say I have all our gifts wrapped and waiting under the tree. I am also proud to say there is a bow on EVERY gift this year, thanks to my second job. Later that night we (literally) scooted over to Lupe Tortilla to meet friends for a birthday/going away dinner.

Whoever said, "being popular, although fun, is exhausting" was right. We attended the second of our two Christmas parties on Sunday night. Our small group, Happily Ever After, met at our mentor couple's home for a delicious dinner followed by another fun white elephant gift exchange. This time the rule was that you couldn't buy anything, and you must bring something from your house. Considering we have a storage closet filled with things we have barely looked at in a year, I knew this would not be problem. We gave a 3rd place skeet shooting plaque and some scary Halloween decorations of little kids dressed in costumes, (oh, and by "scary" I don't mean it in the spooky/Halloween way, but more in the creepy/freaky way), and we came home with some old books and a Dwight bobble head. Success! It was so much fun spending the weekend with good friends, celebrating before everyone leaves for Christmas. 

 10 Days and counting...
Merry Christmas!


santa is a _______

So, I don't know about you, but it seems like when I am having one of those down-in-the-dumps kinda days God throws me a little BONUS. He sets something so unordinary in my path, I have no choice but to laugh. For example, on one of these days years ago, I was driving down Highway 75 in my Explorer, Eddie, tears streaming down my face. I was probably upset about my mom making me come home from a friend's house to clean my room or something, who knows, 16 is stressful. Anyway, as I was driving, content in my anger, BONUS! A Ford Ranger passed me in the slow lane. As if this wasn't enough, because who doesn't think Ford Rangers are hilarious, I noticed this particular Ranger hauling a llama. tied to a rope. held by a man wearing a safari hat.  

Well, today was no different. Ok, well I guess it was a little different considering my mom didn't call me to clean my room. However, other than that, it was another down-in-the-dumps day with tears. After my second to last therapy session, I was walking down the hall to take one of my kindergardeners back to class. BONUS! I turned the corner and ran across this little gem. Santa is a _________. Apparently, the kids drew their best picture of Santa and wrote a little description. (Chimney downer is my personal fave). So stinkin' cute, how could this not make your day?! 

Santa is a: 

fast flier 
elf helper
cookie eater
chimney downer
red clothes wearer 
present wrapper 
ho ho ho laugher
reindeer driver
sleigh rider 
kid lover

Merry Christmas, everyone! Hide yo kids. The fast-flier, chimney-downer, kid-lover is on the prowl! He sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake... 


giving thanks

Stuff we are thankful for in 2010:

new friends
old friends
getting involved in a new church
salsa at Cyclone
queso blanco at Escalantes
Mexican food in general
crossing the finish line at the half ironman
getting CCC's and becoming a certified SLP
Friday lunch dates at Demeris
great family, including in-laws we love
Catchphrase (aka Outbreak) with PaPa
surviving white water rafting
Keurig one cup coffee maker
successful kickball season
1year anniversary in San Antonio
weekend lake trips
baylor bears bowl eligibility
our little home in b306
new opportunities on the horizon

We spent Thanksgiving this year in Allen. It was Tate's first Nicholson Thanksgiving...lucky. Both of us had Thanksgiving Break with Wednesday-Friday off, so we drove to Allen Tuesday night. We've come to the conclusion that when working for the great state of Texas and being self-employed, the only real "perk of job" is the vacation. No holiday parties or concert tickes, no paid lunches or Reliant boxes. But we'll gladly take our time off and enjoy it. And that we did!

Wednesday consisted of a morning of swimming for the triathletes and sleeping-in for the other people. We met up for casual lunch at a new restaurant in Village of Fairview and gave it the full "Nicholson Restaurant Review." You see, most families would go out to eat at a new place and either say, "it was good" or "it wasn't", but no, no no, not my family. We go through a mental checklist, a full evaluation, analyzing everything starting with the wait time, followed by the service, the food, and then its a free-for-all, evaluating everything from the loudness of the speaker used to announce your order to the presentation of the mayonnaise packets (which were both mentioned in this particular review).   It's one of those things that's never really been talked about, but we all four unconsciously partake in, throwing in our two cents (which is probably worth more). I never realized it until an "outsider", we'll call him John Dolleson, brought it to our attention. Now it's just funny. Say what you want, but it's become an unofficial tradition, a ridiculous bonding experience. It serves as a prelude to meals at almost every restaurant we go to, and this one was no different.

Moving on, after lunch the guys went to do other manly/athletic activities like going to the bike store and watching football, while Mom and I ran wedding/shopping errands and Lynley went home to do some chores? On Thanksgiving Eve, Tate and I met up with the besties (minus a few: Lynley, Nikki, Lindsey) for dinner at Mi Cocina, or Mi Co as it is called by the natives. It was so much fun catching up over dinner (and the queso and brisket tacos weren't bad either)! Growing up, my favorite thing about Thanksgiving was the food. Now that we are grown and not in the same town, it is a tie between catching up with friends and the food. After dinner, we went home and helped mom get ready for the next day's big meal. I made my usual, which used to be pumpkin pie, but now also includes chocolate chip pie because I heart my picky selective husband!

Thursday was Thanksgiving! At our house, both sides of our family get together for the big day. So we got to celebrate with my dad's family and mom's family-- all 25 of them!  Grandpa Lyn gives the practical life advice: don't get in a white van, if someone attacks you stab them in the armpit with your car key, scratch out your security code on the back of your credit card, etc., while Grandpa Billy Bunk provides the comic relief. Grandma Flo brings the pea salad with a helping of sassy charm. Grandma Jackie was our question-asker, but luckily she instilled that trait in her eldest daughter, Jan. Everyone knows their role and plays their part quite well!

This year, I am proud to say, I took a more active role in the Thanksgiving meal. I learned how to make dressing and sweet potatoes, thanks to Aunt Jo's supervision. I figured at some point I am going to need to know how to make this stuff anyway, and was reminded that " in a few years" I will be the "family matriarch"...does someone knows something that I don't? Anyway, the meal turned out great! As always, we had too much food, but isn't that what Thanksgiving is about anyway? After we ate, we ate some more, played Catchphrase, watched football and looked through sale ads. It was a great Thanksgiving!


hibernation mode

[Virtual Hibernation is a state of inactivity and social-networking depression in animals, mostly bears, characterized by lower internet usage (with the exception of g-mail and daily facebook browsing), diminishing  typing skills, and reduced uploads. Hibernating animals conserve food, Ellen episodes, and naps, especially during winter when energy is limited. It is the animal's slowed metabolic rate which leads to a reduction in body temperature and a temporary disconnection from the virtual world. Hibernation may last several weeks or months depending on species and time of year. This has been supported by some evidence in the baylorbarrett, native to Texas.]

With that being said, I would like to take this moment to apologize to my avid blog followers, both of you, for neglecting this site for the past few months. It is safe to say I have been in virtual hibernation mode. I am not making excuses, for I know there is no excuse that could make up for the disappointment I have brought to those of you "working" with nothing to read and "studying" with nothing to fuel your procrastination. You have the right to the truth, and although I came up with some pretty good excuses, only one is true:

1. As matron of honor, I have been overcome by important wedding duties. 
2. Lent. 
3. Addressing our newly-wed Christmas cards including a picture of us in matching Baylor sweatshirts. 
5. I recently adopted a dozen Compassion International children and have been writing all of them letters. 
6. Hand-making personalized stationary.
7. Nothing exciting going on in our life.......psshhh please!
8. I am lazy.

Let's just say I have been going through a "bloggers rut." I am pretty sure this is real, and if not, this term will catch on...just wait. In all honesty, it's not just a bloggers rut, but a social networking rut in general. You name it- Fbook, Blog, Flicker (don't even get my mom started on Project 365), if it has to do with informing the world of the Barretts' exciting life in Houston, I have failed. But be discouraged no more! I have caught my second wind and will press onward.

That's right you baylorbarrett follower(s)- be ready to catch up on the life of the Barretts! From Thanksgiving, to wedding showers and a bachelorette party (even though I am pretty sure you were there for most of these events), you will be informed and up-to-date. Get ready to increase your procrastination and decrease productivity because the baylorbarretts are back!


coming home

Last weekend was Baylor Homecoming, SickUm! This was the first Homecoming we have gone together as married alumi peeps, and we were looking forward to it!

We got there late Friday to meet Tye, Katie and Lynley at the bonfire. We saw fireworks and almost rode on a carnival ride...dun, dun duuuun. However, the line was too long so we opted out and probably spared our lives in doing so.

Saturday morning we went to my favorite Baylor Homecoming event, the parade. I should probably mention, this isn't just any parade. It's the 2nd largest collegiate parade in the nation (thank you StuFu tour training). This is where I sadly realized I am getting old. 1st piece of evidence: I used to think getting up for the parade meant waking up ridiculously early; however, this year, I was excited to sleep in a whole hour.  2nd piece of evidence: I didn't know anyone on campus compared to previous years. Actually, only 2 people stopped to tell me hi at the parade- a teacher and an advisor...a.k.a other old people. Great, that confirms it.

After the parade, I stopped by the Chi Gam Alumni Luncheon. It was so great to see my sweet sisters!  Following lunch at Schmaltz's we very unexpectedly passed the candle!! What a surprise.  My little, Anna Ligon, is engaged! I felt so blessed to be there with my girls in that nail salon. Chi Gams fo life!

Later, we hit up Tye's tailgate and went to Tate's favorite Homecoming event- the Baylor football game. Rise up! It rained through the in-tye-er game. No joke. I told Tate that I was going, unless it rained. Welp, joke was on me because it started raining merely three plays into the game.  We were warned a storm was a-rollin' through and that we needed to take cover. However, we didn't take it seriously until it was announced that pea-sized hail was also on its way. Yikes! On that note, we took cover with the other thousands of people under the stands. Luckily, we got a prime spot in front of the napping man and beside the gate blocking off the Kansas State locker room. Literally five hours later, the bears won!! Some of us charged the field while some of us took pictures. It is the first time we've been bowl eligible since 1994! In another fans' words, "I love that the bar is low enough that just being eligible is HUGE deal." Me too, sir, me too.

It was a great ending to the baylorbarretts first Homecoming weekend! 


the REAL project 365

Our Flicker Project 365 is still in the works; however, the REAL Project 365, being married for one whole year and liking it, is complete. Success! 

In a matter of 1 day we have gone from newlyweds to merely weds, instantly growing in wisdom and experience. Ok maybe not wisdom as of yet, but we were blessed with many interesting experiences this anniversary weekend. Let us share with you some of the things we learned:

* The world's creamiest Rootbeer can be found at Buc-ees...and it.is.rich, deliciously rich.
* The Yellow Rose of Texas was actually a working woman, if you know what I mean.
* If you claim to be on your honeymoon or 1st anniversary, you are instantly awarded free drinks and/or dessert...no proof necessary.
* The Jersey Shore is quite entertaining if you can restrain your pride long enough to give it a chance.
* Four ghosts currently reside at the Alamo, Antonio being one.

In celebration of the big 1 year anny, we decided to get away for the weekend. For months we researched (and by researched, I mean looked at prices and golf courses) places to stay.  Hotel requirements for the Barretts consist of mostly the basics...

Danielle: must be categorized with a 'H' as in Hotel and not an 'M' as in Motel, spa, good restaurant, hotel rooms opening into the hallway not the parking lot (I would like to thank my 'travel-industry-vet' father for most of this)

Tate: golf course

Tate did a great job, booking 3 nights at La Cantera Resort in San Antonio. It was wonderful!!! It had all the "basics" plus more. One of us took Friday off and fortunately the other got "sick" so we left for SA Thursday night. As we checked in, we were upgraded to a Deluxe Room, given 2 breakfast vouchers and 1 drink voucher! There is nothing better than being on a sophisticated weekend getaway hoarding free stuff. Classic.

The weekend was a perfect balance of activity and relaxation. We remembered the Alamo, ate lunch at the Mexican Market (which is its official name by the way), napped, river walked, and went on a walking ghost hunt....vewy scawy. One afternoon Tate played 9 holes while I got a massage. I feel some couples, the really married ones, would be offended by this. It's probably a rule somewhere you aren't supposed to split up on your first anniversary. Ah well, everyone was happy and well taken care of, plus we didn't have much left to talk about anyway after one whole year.  Just kidding...but seriously...

Besides activities, we also ate really, really (note the repeat and italics for emphasis) well, which as some of you know is an important part of my overall satisfaction in life. I was practically full the entire weekend. To top it all off, we had an anniversary cake too! Panini Bakery made our wedding cakes and also makes a new cake for your 1st anniversary. My mom picked it up from the big-D, put it in a cooler and drove it 4 hours to H-town, what a doll- that's why we call her Jan tha Man. So, post Ruth's Chris bread, salad, petite filet (with extra butter), garlic mashed potatoes and free cheesecake, us gluttons force fed ourselves each other a few bites of wedding cake as well. I'm still full.

Apparently, 1 year is the paper anniversary. I feel like after sharing our closet for 12 months we deserved something a little more than paper, but ah well. So with keeping tradition, I gave T a giant commemorative map of the Republic of Texas. On the other hand, T decided to deviate from tradition (which I am not complaining about) and gave me a beautiful diamond, eternity band. It is a replica of my mom's original wedding band. So special, and I could not have been more surprised!

This weekend was a perfect ending to the year one as well as a wonderful beginning to many, many more to come!  Now that we are merely 'weds' we may not be instantly wiser, but we are getting there with time. We've seen patience, acceptance and concession first hand and been graced with love, loyalty and forgiveness when more often times than not it was undeserved. We've learned more about ourselves by depending on each other. Whhhow, we've learned so much in the first year, just think how enlightened we'll be in 50!

Til death shall SHeperate us...


half iron, full man


Tate Barrett and Joseph "Bill" Nicholson team up for an inspirational performance in the 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile run. Some critics say it is "so exciting!" (Meredith Hall), while others claim it is "just nuts" (Megan Maxwell). Some viewers say "shoot me in the face, I am sore and sweaty just reading about it (Kelsey Carpenter), it "makes me tired" (Kelly Williams), while others are just "proud to say they know an Ironman (Matt&Elyse Derian). It's obvious "those boys are insane" (Shawn Boyd); however, it makes you yell, "kick [aspirin]" (Jimmy Smith). Church-goers everywhere rave "that was one long bike ride, I went to church and Sunday School before they were done" (Justin Stonher). In the end, one expert even said "the definition of 'Tateness' is what one reaches when he surpasses greatness" (Colby Thomas). Critics everywhere agree Ironman Branson is an 8 hour roller coaster; it will have you laughing and tearing up all at the same time. Here, see for yourself...


3:45 AM
Tate and Dad wake up to get ready for the big day. Eat a banana, pack up their gear, buckle the fanny pack and grab a Gatorade. Out the door to the transition area. 

5:50 AM
The support crew: Robby, LaVon, Lynley, Jan the Man, and me leave in time to see our triathletes before the race starts. It's a game of "Where's Waldo" out there. Everyone is barefoot, wearing a black wetsuit, swim cap and goggles. We finally find our Waldos and head over to wish them a quick, "good luck" before they're off. I don't know if they're nervous, but I am...and we all know LaVon is. As I glance over the sea of black wetsuits, I wonder how long these people have been training for this. Tate and Dad, 9 months, while I am sure others have been training most of their lives. Each racer has their age stamped on the back of their leg in black, permanent marker. Scanning the crowd, I spy a: 24, 57, 18, 72. There are people literally three times my age.

6:45 AM
Snap a few pics, and wish our boys a whole-hearted good luck. I give Tate a quick kiss and recite his motto with a little help: "swim smart, bike hard, run tough." We have recited this motto for the past few races, but I know it will never be needed more than in the next 7 hours. 

7:00 AM 
And they're off! The first wave is running bare-foot on the sand into the water. This wave consists of professional triathletes...the real crazies. They have a "P" on the back of their legs and will most likely finish the swim within 25 minutes or so. Although they are well-trained, they look like drunken ants in their black wetsuits climbing over each other. It is so exciting!  

7:15 AM
Five waves later, Dad's group is off and into the water! I watch the swimmers in a massive cluster take their first few strokes, knowing not everyone will finish. The swim is 1.2 miles, and someone has already grabbed onto the lifeguard's kayak merely 100 yards into the swim. This was the first athlete I saw stop the race due to physical limitations, but there would be many, many more throughout the day. I watch as Dad swims calmly, in the middle of the pack. Looking out, I strain to see the last buoy, a tiny green dot, marking the turn around point for the swim. It was a heckofaway out there to say the very least.

7:25 AM
It's my boo's turn. As the red swim caps are corralled through the "swim start" chute, the music starts:
"His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy...
You better lose yourself in the music, the moment
You own it, you better never let it go
You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow
This opportunity comes one in a lifetime"

Now I am not usually a fan, but I would like to say, "thank you" to Eminem for capturing the moment perfectly.  The second to last wave lines up on the beach, pulling their goggles tight and listening for their cue. As they wait, they can see the P's finishing the swim and climbing out of the water. 

7:27 AM
And they're off! At this point Tate is waist-deep in the water and Dad is 1/3 of the way through is swim, both relying on their training and trusting their endurance. The support crew is busy snapping pictures and sending up prayers. 

7:39 AM
Dad is out of the water, peeling off his wetsuit as he jogs to the transition area. He slides in his shoes, tightens his helmet, clicks in his pedals and he's off to conquer the dreadful 56 miles of "small mountains." After the race, many triathletes said this was the hardest bike course they have ever experienced in their tri lives and that it should be the World Championship Half Iron. Yikes! He has no idea what he's in for...

7:56 AM
Tate is out of the water! As he passes Lynley, he strikes up a little convo asking how my dad is doing. So nonchalant. This is no time for politeness, boo, just keep running! He is out of the transition area and passes us on the bike. See you in 4 hours! Little did he know, as he was riding  the treacherous course, he would see triathletes laid out every 100 yards or so, giving up due to exhaustion. I can't imagine pushing yourself to a place where your body literally says "no more, I'm done." I mean my mind says that all the time, especially when washing dishes or walking around the block, but this is something completely different, a place only a very few have been.  

9:37 AM
To the race area...As we, support crew, are busy claiming our spectating/cheering spot along the run course, laying out our blankets setting up chairs and grabbing some breakfast, the first place runner comes through. You may not fully understand how crazy this is, but just know Tate, Dad and the other normal people are only halfway through the bike course! 

11:31 AM  
Dad finishes the "biotch" of a bike course. We found out later that his bike chain broke twice and he rode the last 6 miles with a faulty spoke. Now if that isn't hardcore determination, I don't know what is. At one point his legs were so tired/cramped he literally pumped his legs with his hands, pushing down on his thighs to pedal the bike. When he told me this I literally laughed out loud (lol, if you will) not because it was funny, but because I was so uncomfortable with how terribly difficult that sounds...kinda like when you laugh at a funeral. Just ridiculous. We try to high five him on his way out for the run, but he's too focused or something to reciprocate the high-fiveness. I guess that's a good sign.

11:59 AM
Tate enters the transition area, walking his bike to his #1185 designated spot. He exchanges his helmet for a hat and his bike shoes for his tennis shoes that from this point on will forever reek of sweat  determination. At this point it is miserably hot. Lynley and I are seeking shade under any tree that is relatively close by. I can't imagine running in this, but they can, because they are about to experience it first hand. Tate is off! I run beside him for a few steps and then he is on his own for the next 13 miles. They run 3 very long laps, which gives us 3 times the opportunities to cheer and high-five our ironmen-in-the-making. 

2:06 PM
7 hours 6 minutes later, Dad, #517 crosses the finish line!  It's hard to believe it was a little over a year ago he beat cancer, and now he's added Ironman Branson 70.3 to his list. He is awarded a finisher medal, making him an official Ironman.

2:54 PM
7 hours 39 minutes later, Tate, #1185, takes his first step as an Ironman! He is also awarded his coveted finisher medal. As he crossed the finish line we all became a little emotional. I thought about his training, about the discipline and heart it took to get to this point and the numerous people that were not able to cross that white line today. With that being said, success must make you thirsty because they both went straight for the chocolate milk and stood in the fountain. 

I got a hug from both of my Ironmen, drenching the side of my face with sweat, and had never been more proud (however, if I had to pick, a close second would be winning the national clogging championship in 2nd grade). I carried those nasty, sweaty shoes back to the car with smile on my face and my Ironman by my side.

MAY . 21 . 2011


pittman lake trip

The Barretts love us some lake! We've been a lot this summer, and this weekend was no different.  Luckily for us, our friends and fellow newly-weders, Brittan & Emily have a lake house a few hours from Houston. They were so gracious to invite 3 couples, including us, to their place for a weekend get-away. We had a blast! Saturday and Sunday were filled with boat rides, jet skis, games, an inflatable row boat, football, wake boarding and tubing.  I took a few impressive face plants on the wake board and got a nice chin strawberry from tubing. It was hardcore. But as Dewey Finn sings in School of Rock, "you're not hardcore, unless you live hardcore" and that we did. 


The boys attempted to fish for Gar, but in the end, the Gar won. That wasn't the only time they tasted defeat. I feel I should mention the girls beat the boys in Catchphrase thrice (that's right I just said thrice, it isn't used enough). After the second loss, the boys thought they would have better luck by changing the category to: Sports/Games. We not only won, but followed it up with a victory dance (seen below). Speaking of games, I learned how to play ladder golf and gave a lesson on how to play the best board game ever- Balderdash. Both were hits!

At the end of the weekend, Andrew made some new canine friends, and we all had a few too many of Brittan's choc chip cookies. I probably shouldn't admit I put a few in a baggy to take home for later. All in all, it was a great weekend!  Thanks Pittmans!