Marla Westbrook » Mom, Runner, Burleson/Fort Worth, Texas Photographer

A letter to my mom on her birthday


Hi Mom,
Happy birthday in Heaven.  It’s hard to believe that it’s been 6 months already since you left.  I still think of you every single day and miss you more than I thought possible.  Everyone is doing well, you’d be so proud of the kids grades this year, they’re all doing a great job in school.  Doodle has his first Upward basketball game today (he looks so cute in his uniform) and the girls start volleyball in just a few weeks.  I am moving Jacey’s team up to the competitive league so she’s really excited (and a little nervous) about that.  Jakob just keeps getting taller and taller, I have a feeling you two would be about eye to eye about now.  Hard to believe he only has a few months left in middle school.

Daddy is doing really well, you’d be proud of him too.  He learned how to take care of things really quickly, I’ve hardly helped at all.  He got the foundation of the house fixed (the garage door doesn’t do that crazy shimmy thing that is used to do any more, lol) and he’s working on fixing all kinds of other things.  Work keeps him busy and his boss has been so awesome, I know you’re thankful for that and I am, too.

The holidays were hard, I tried to be upbeat and stay positive, but am not sure I always succeeded.  It just wasn’t the same without you.  We didn’t have gravy on Thanksgiving, lol, you know how much I suck at making it, so I didn’t even attempt it.  Christmas was quiet, but fun.  The kids got a new XBox 360 and Derek set it up in the media room for them (which was a treat in itself given that they were previously forbidden from being in the man cave without supervision).  Jacey got a laptop too, you wouldn’t believe how much school work she has to do on the computer.  Derek got me a pretty necklace with the kids’ names on it and a new pink running jacket, which I’m probably going to need in a couple of hours, it looks like it’s going to rain on my 5K today.

Later after my race and Jack’s basketball game, Dad, Aunt Jean and all of us are going to go out to eat for your birthday.  Daddy and I decided you’d approve of Mexican Inn, actually, I suppose you’d have probably approved of ANY Mexican restaurant, so we couldn’t really go wrong there.  It was strange not shopping for you a gift this year, I’m going to wear the butterfly necklace I got you last year today.

I sure do miss you, Mom, and just wanted you to know that I was thinking of you today.  I hope you hear the kids singing to you later, because I know they will.  Happy birthday and we love you tons.


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Half Gaelic, Half Garlic! - Thinking of you today my friend!!!
I was reminded it was your sweet Momma’s birthday the minute I woke up this morning. I came down the steps and opened facebook to see her bday notification. My heart skipped a beat…..

I know you Miss her, but I also know that she would be so proud of you and your Daddy, for your strength and perseverance through all that has transpired….. and I am so glad that you will all be together today to celebrate her life!

Wish I could be there with you, but I guess I will just have to wait until February!

Luv Ya~


Macladie - What a nice letter to write on your Mother’s Birthday. Makes me miss my mother so much also.
Eat a taco for me!

Favorite Photo Friday – Holidays, IG Style

So I kind of skipped right over the holidays there, didn’t I?  Oops.  Let me backtrack just a bit here.  We had a very nice laid back Christmas break.  We hung out, decorated cookies, visited with family that came in town, ate a lot of yummy food and just enjoyed being together.  It was the first Christmas without my mom, and I missed her like crazy.  We always spent a lot of time on our holiday menu and she loved seeing the kids with all their Christmas morning goodies, so it definitely wasn’t the same without her.  I guess all these “firsts” are just going to take some getting used to.  Maybe next year, I’ll actually be able to bring myself to listen to the book she recorded for the kids (‘Twas the Night Before Christmas), I just couldn’t do it this year.

I concentrated this year on really being in the moment with the kids and only snapped a few pics with my iPhone.  Christmas morning we woke up to thunderstorms and lots of dark clouds, so conditions weren’t exactly ideal for the big camera anyway.  Christmas Eve, the kids decorated gingerbread men (we gave up on building houses, we can never get them to stay together!), but I think next year, we’ll make our own homemade cookies.  The cookies that come in those kits are so hard they’re inedible, and what fun is that?!?!


I think for the first time ever, Derek and I were actually up before the kids Christmas morning. It didn’t take long to get them downstairs though, and everyone was very happy with what Santa left them. I have to say that as hesitant as Santa was about getting an XBox 360, we’ve already all enjoyed it and I think it’s going to be a fun family activity. 


While Uncle Lynn was here visiting from Utah, we took the train to Dallas and went to the 6th Floor Museum (the site where President Kennedy was assassinated), as he’d never been there before. The J’s enjoyed the train and the history lesson, too (of course, we had to teach them proper conspiracy theory, as we are not believers that there was only one shooter or a ridiculous “magic” bullet).:) 


We spent New Year’s Eve at home with some of our neighbors and had a really nice night. I used to love to get dressed up and head out on the town, but now we prefer staying safe at home and ringing in the new year with the kids. A sign that we’re getting old, perhaps?

the long road
Happy Friday everyone! Hope you all have a fabulous weekend!

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Tamar SB - Looks like a fun holiday! Enjoy the 360! I have a wii which I never use and I sort of have 360 envy (-:

likeschocolate - So happy you guys had a great holiday! Cheers to 2013!

Half Gaelic, Half Garlic! - So happy to see all of these happy smiling faces!!!
Looks like Santa was good to everyone and a lot of fun memories were made this year!!!



9 Years with our Peanut

Yesterday we celebrated the 9th anniversary of the day we met Jaden in China, which you can read about here.  She was such a tiny little thing, easily fitting into 6 month size clothing at 10 months, but even on that day, we could see just how feisty our spicy little one would be.  Since day one with us, she’s never hesitated to let us (and everyone else) know exactly how she feels and what she’s thinking.  She’s fun-loving, smart, energetic, cheerful and makes us laugh every day.  Jaden is one of those kids who just loves life.  She bounces out of bed every day at the crack of dawn with a big smile on her face and is always up for anything.  We are so blessed that God chose us to be her parents and look forward to seeing what adventures lie ahead for her. 

Before our traditional Family Day dinner at PF Chang’s, we went out for quick shoot and I’m so glad we did. I just love the winter sun and am going to endeavor to get out with my camera more this year. I really miss shooting, especially my J’s, and hope to have lots of new pics of them to post soon.


Happy Family Day to all of our Hunan 1 and 2 travelmates and Jaden’s ZZ sisters!

I’m participating in Stef’s Sunday Snapshot for the first time today, be sure and pop over to her blog to see this week’s shots! 

Ni Hao Yall

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shirley - The winter sun agrees with her! So beautiful!

Teri - Beautiful photos! Happy Family day!

Good Bye 2012

My first year of running was a pretty good one. I learned a lot, make tons of new friends and proved to myself that I could go further than I ever thought possible.  This was not an easy year for me, especially this summer when I lost my mom, and running really provided me with an outlet for all that negative emotion.  I’ll admit I used to think wanting to run marathons (or any distance really) was ridiculous and could never understand why my crazy husband and runner friends would put themselves through it.  But now I get it.  I really do.  Running has been as good for me mentally as it has physically.  And honestly, physically, I feel amazing.  I’m 41 years old and for the first time in many, many years, I’m starting a new year without “lose weight” on the list of goals.  THAT feels good, I tell ya.

It’s not always easy balancing life with a hobby that is as time consuming as running can be, but fortunately, I’m married to a man who’s been a runner long enough to know what kind of commitment it is.  Derek has been nothing but supportive and I definitely wouldn’t be doing this if it weren’t for his encouragement (literally) every step of the way.  He loves that I finally share this passion with him and I think it’s made us a stronger couple than we’ve ever been.

I ran a variety of race distances in 2012, three 5K’s, five half marathons, one 25K, one full marathon and one ultra.  I ran/walked a total of 557 miles, 152.5 of that in races.  In 2013, I’d like to see both of those numbers increase, and need to be more consistent with training, especially in the summer months. I also need to make some good training plans and stick to them.  Derek’s fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants training method works well for him because he’s a naturally-gifted runner, but I am not, so I need to find my own way this year.    

We have our medals displayed on small rods on a curved wall in Derek’s office and here is my 2012 collection.  Not a bad bit of bling for a newbie, huh?  I look forward to seeing my rod fill up in 2013, heck, maybe I’ll even have to add a 2nd one by the end of the year.  :)

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Lea@RunningForDummies - we ran some of the same races this year! Maybe we will bump into each other in the future! AWESOME BLING! I too, run for beer and bling. ha ha! :)

The Full Mary

So I did it. My first full is in the books. Was it pretty? Nope. Was it fast? HA! You know whose blog this is, right?!?! Nothing I do is fast. But this race was particularly slow and painful. I don’t think mid-December races are really going to be a good idea for me, especially marathons. Life gets busy around here and hosting 3 events at your home in the six days prior to attempting a marathon is just not really that great of a plan. Add to that the fact that this one started at 5am (which meant a 3am wake up call) and what you’ve got is 26.2 exhausted miles when your body would rather be warm, horizontal and unconscious. 

 You know what though? I finished. Yes, there was much bitching and moaning by both parties that day (Derek agrees that perhaps we should have thought the timing through a bit better), but at the end of day, I got a medal and the satisfaction that comes with finishing a long, hard race. I even had a special “1” balloon presented to me at the finish by a very sweet runner who was himself running his 2nd marathon of the weekend that day. These ultra runners, I tell ya, they’re kinda nuts, but they’re a fun group to hang with and are SO supportive of newbies like me. This was a really small race, but everyone there knew it was my first and they made lots of noise and were ready with hugs and high fives at the finish.



Not sure what’s next on the books, but stay tuned, I’m hoping 2013 is going to be a busy year around the Beer and Bling Blog!  Happy Holidays!

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