Today Bella turns 9. Instead of going on and on about how I can’t believe it has been 9 years since she was first born (b/c that is totally true) I decided I would share 9 things about my 9 year old.

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1. Bella loves school, unless you ask her. If you ask her she’ll say she hates it, however, when you observe her you can tell she really likes it. She has learned though that it is not cool to love school.

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2. Bella likes most any food….except stir-fry. I think its odd because individually she likes every ingredient in it. And she likes Asian food and flavors, but when you put them all together she just doesn’t like it. She’ll eat the chicken and the onions out of it, but hates when I force her to eat a few of the veggies.

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3. Bella’s dream is to go to New York. She’s had a shirt that says I ❤ NY since she was 3 and her dad visited there for a school competition, but about a year ago she started to talk about how much she wanted to go there. It isn’t Broadway aspirations or anything – its the shopping. I am not even sure how she knew about the shopping, but she knows and she’s dying to go.

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4. Bella is academically competitive. Bella is NOT competitive athletically. We tried soccer, she enjoyed being on a team to meet friends but she never really cared about winning. BUT, assign goals/points/levels to something at school and she’s all over it. She will push herself to get more points. There is a specific reading program that their her (and many around the country) does and she is well over 40 points ahead of the majority of her class and was invited just last week to lunch with the principal because leads her class in points. And, despite her “lead” she is still totally motivated to earn as many points as she can. She’s not ever really satisfied. I totally like this about her.

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5. Bella is a reader. This goes along with her being academically competitive, but one reason she is competitive is because she found something she is really good at. She’s a good reader. She wasn’t immediately a good reader but once she caught on she really caught on. Her favorite store is Barnes and Noble and when I asked her what she wanted for her birthday she had no real idea of what we could get her. So she told me, “there is always clothes and books. You can never go wrong with those things.”

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6. Bella’s favorite color is blue, and her favorite pattern is zebra print. For her birthday she received zebra print shoes, a zebra print coat, a shirt with a zebra on it, a zebra print apron and a zebra print body pillow cover. I think we now have that obsession covered.

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7. Bella loves to cook. I need to be better at letting her into the kitchen to do it, but she really does love to cook. Her favorite TV shows are Cake Boss and DC Cupcakes. She also likes to watch cooking competition shows when she can.

8. Bella loves movies. This also goes with her reading – she loves books that have movies too. I typically try to make sure she reads the books before seeing the movies when I can. But, even without a book she loves to see movies at home or in the theater, a movie night is one of her favorite ways to spend the evening.

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9. Bella is an excellent big sister. I think Anthony and I were so blessed not only to be her parents, but, to have her be our first child. She is such a great big sister. She’s very patient (most of the time) with her siblings, she is an excellent example to them of both hard work and obedience. She also takes a big interest in what they like and she tries to do those things with them. My favorite example of this is when she tried to write a song for Natalie to play on the piano. Bella knows nothing about music. The staff paper she made wasn’t even correct (far too many lines) and the notes she wrote made no sense (covering multiple lines) and she so sweetly gave it to Natalie and asked that she play it. Natalie didn’t want to hurt Bella’s feelings so she brought it to me to “help.” I had to talk to Bella about how music is something that you have to know a little something about in order to write a song, and that she could learn and then do it, but for now Natalie couldn’t play what she had written. I also told her how sweet it was for her to want to be apart of Natalie’s piano playing but we could find other ways for her to support her sister’s talent.

Happy Birthday to my sweet Bella!!!

(P.S. Note about the pictures. These are not her official 9 year portraits. I owe Natalie a 7 year portrait session so I told them both we’d do those over Christmas break. But, I wanted to get some on her birthday. We were under a tornado watch while I did these and the sky was very dark. But I hurried and did a few and then came inside and used my flash a bit. I also, had been wanting to try to duplicate a picture I saw on pinterest that used a fan to blow hair on a white background. I think I want to work on that a bit more when I have more time to devote to it, but we had fun trying.)


Marathon: Done.

Months ago I posted THIS blog. In it I openly shared my goal to run a marathon. Soon after I posted it I wished I hadn’t. If I hadn’t then I wouldn’t have felt obligated not to give up. So thankfully I did post it. Although, it wasn’t the only reason I kept going, if it had been I certainly would never have finished. And yes, one week ago today I did finish. I completed a full marathon and have now spent past week recovering and thinking over my experience. It dawned on me today that I hadn’t blogged about it, and that I should, so I am.

In my opinion the accomplishment of a marathon is much more than the day of the event. It is not just the 26.2 miles you set out to conquer but the accomplishment is found in the training you complete which brings you to the start line. It is in the miles and miles you spend your weeks running. It is in the dedication you put in to give up your lazy Saturday mornings in exchange for 3 hours of endless running. It is learning that your mind is stronger than your muscles. It is the realization of who is there to help you, to encourage you, to teach you, to believe in you, to run with you, to cheer you on, to love you and to rub your sore feet or legs when they ache. All of this will cross your mind as you run the race. All of it matters. Without any part of it the 26.2 miles would be unattainable, but when all the elements combine the impossible becomes possible.

On the morning of the race I was nervously excited. But, I felt like I had put in the time for training and I kept repeating in my mind, “I’ve got this.” The first 11 or 12 miles of the race I would call “fun.” I was running with a pacing group and easily keeping up. There were conversations, laughter, even singing. Around mile 12 I felt the pacing group slipping further and further ahead of me, even though I didn’t feel as though I was slowing down. But, obviously I was. But, I was still feeling good so I was in good spirits and I would just keep moving.

Around mile 14 I received a text from Anthony saying they were at the first part of the second turn around point. (we ran about 6.5 miles north along the St. John’s river and back,another  approx. 6.5 to the start line – which became the halfway point, then 6.5 miles south along the river and back, the same 6.5, to the finish line. I figured I would see them somewhere in mile 18 or 19. Just 4 more miles. Around mile 17 those miles started seemingly really long and I started to feel pains I had never felt in my training. But, I kept pushing because I wanted to see my kids and I wanted them to see me running, to see me doing it – confidently accomplishing my goal.

After I saw them they boosted my spirits for about a mile. But mile 20 I was hurting so badly and it was really getting to me. I was now run/walking. I would choose a point of reference on the course and say okay I am going to walk to that point and then run twice that distance just to give my legs some relief, but I was always moving. At mile 22 I saw a friend who has run marathons. As soon as she saw me she walked onto the course towards me and said, “What is hurting?” I told her my thighs were in so much pain and she insisted I come to the side and she would help stretch me out. It was the most painful thing ever, but she and another sweet lady rubbed down my legs and then I could run again.

Then, there was mile 23. As the miles went on I SWEAR they became longer and longer. At this point 1 mile might as well have been 5. I received a text at that moment. It was from my sister. “You looked good at mile 19 (Anthony took a picture and posted it to FB), you must just have a few left. Keep going! You can do it!” I literally burst into tears. Yes, a few miles left, but it felt so far. It felt impossible. I honestly felt like I could die right there, and like maybe I’d rather do that than keep on moving. But as quickly as the tears came so did the resolve to suck it up and finish. After all, it was just a 5k in front of me and “I’ve got this.”

Coming into the final turns that were lined with friends and families cheering on their runner was a complete relief to me. And making the final turn and seeing Anthony and the kids cheering and giving me high fives was a sweet reward for a long and hard race. All along in my training I imagined me crying at the finish. But, in the end I didn’t. I left my tears at mile 23. The finish line was for smiles, hugs and relief. I had done it. I didn’t have to do it again.

So, in the past week when I have been asked, “How was your race?” I have answered truthfully, “It was horrible.” Because, it was! Those specific 26.2 miles took me through almost every emotion imaginable and, in the later miles was one of the most painful experiences of my life. However, in many years when I look back at this experience I will remember it as the entire journey. The friendships that were made and bettered as I trained, the way my body amazed me at its physical strength, the realization and understanding of my inner thoughts and how they affect my outward abilities, the consistent love and support from my husband who I think might be the only person who never doubted I could do it (I certainly doubted myself), and that horrible mile 23 – I will think of that anytime I am faced with some future trial in my life and remember, “I’ve got this.”