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!