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

Favorite Photo Friday – The Doodle


So up next in the J update is Jack. Clearly, I’m not going in any particular order here, I just happened to have this cute new pic from the day I shot the J’s for our Christmas card, which will be hitting mailboxes early next week.:) 

 Oh the Doodle…this kid really keeps us on our toes. He relishes his role as the baby of the family and pretty much rules this place. He’s got this wicked, dry sense of humor that really catches people off guard. He’s always been very shy, but once you actually get him to open up, you pretty much can’t turn him off. He’s very detailed oriented and never misses a thing, and it can sometimes be difficult to answer the philosophical questions that he comes up with on a regular basis. 

 He’s completely obsessed with Minecraft on his iPod right now and has asked for an X Box 360 for Christmas so he can play against his friends. We’re so 2009 with the Wii being the only game system in this house. He’s just started Upward Basketball and is super excited about it. It’s clear he’s going to be very tall, so his Daddy is hoping he’ll take after him and pursue hoops as a serious hobby. He’s played a couple of seasons of soccer, but that doesn’t seem to be where his particular talent lies (read: he really wasn’t very good, lol).

Though he can sometimes get on their last nerve, his siblings adore him and he and Jaden are especially close. I think it’s because they both have similar personalities, but of course, that also leads to conflict because neither of them likes to compromise. Jack definitely challenges all of us at times, but he is still very much his momma’s boy. He never misses an opportunity to tell me he loves me and that he thinks I’m the best mom is whole wide world. He is quite stingy with kisses, but gives hugs freely and still likes to snuggle up with me on the couch with a book or a friendly game of Angry Birds on our iToys. I sure hope that he doesn’t outgrow that any time soon. I can’t imagine our family without our 4th J and thank God every day that he decided that we needed just one more to complete us.
the long road

Happy Friday everyone and if you haven’t already, please pop over to the Savvy Blog and vote for Lisa to win a seat to a fabulous workshop with her adorable entry!

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Favorite Photo Friday – Jacey

It’s been a while since I did an update on the kids individually so I thought that might be fun. I’m starting with Jacey because I’ve been wanting to brag on her for some time now. In October, we celebrated 7 years with our gorgeous girl and in just 2 short weeks, she’ll be hitting a milestone birthday and joining Jakob in teenager-hood.

Jacey has truly transformed in these last few months and it’s been amazing to witness. Not only is she growing physically (where did this long, lean girl with feet almost as big as mine come from?!?!), she has reached a whole new level of maturity that just blows my mind. I was concerned about her transition into middle school this year. It’s a much larger school and a much more difficult schedule to manage, and honestly, I was worried that my least organized child would struggle to keep up with the demands of all of her classes. Well, my oh my, has she proved me wrong so far. Not only is she keeping up, she’s excelling and earning higher grades than she ever has before. I used to practically have to sit on her to get her to do homework in elementary school and this year I haven’t even so much as seen anything she’s working on, she just comes in, heads upstairs and gets it done. I check in from time to time about assignments and tests (our teachers are good about emailing what the kids are working on and what tests are coming up) and she simply says “Yep, I’m ready” or “Yes, it’s done” and goes right on about her business. I’m actually feeling a little left out, lol, but am SO proud that she has taken on the responsibility so beautifully.

She chose band for her elective, is really enjoying learning about music and practices her flute religiously. She LOVES volleyball (which of course, makes her momma very happy) and hopes to make the 7th grade team next year. I coach her rec league team and though I know she thinks sometimes I’m harder on her than anyone else (isn’t that the job of the mom/coach?!?), we are having a blast on the court together.

Jacey has always been a very thoughtful, caring child, but we are just amazed at the mature, responsible and helpful young lady that she is becoming. We couldn’t be more proud of our biggest girl and look forward to seeing what the coming months and years bring for her. I think the teenage chapter in her life is going to be an awesome one…and yes, I realize I may be back in a couple of years singing a different tune here, but I guess we’ll just have to wait and see!
the long road 
Hope you all have a wonderful weekend, TGIF!

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Sophi Belle - She is a gorgeous young lady. You are so very blessed. :)

jade - Beautiful girl indeed – and sounds like she’s as beautiful inside as out!

The UltraCentric Experience

“Experience” is definitely the right word to use for this race, and it was an EPIC one!  There are 5 choices of events at UltraCentric, 6, 12, 24, 48, or 72 hours and you go out there and repeat a 2 mile loop as many times as your legs can carry you for your chosen number of hours.  Derek, being the bad ass that he is, registered for the 48 and I, the newbie, signed up for 12.


Our little campsite, right next to Lake Grapevine

Derek left early Friday to begin his adventure and I joined him around 8pm Friday evening, after he had already completed 40 miles.  We grabbed a bit of dinner (they serve hot meals around the clock at this race, which completely ROCKS) and then I added an extra layer of clothes, changed shoes and joined him for a few loops.  He was starting to have some pain in his right knee, so we took it nice and slow and chatted our way through 4 miles or so (I say “or so” because we lost each other after a potty stop, I misunderstood where I was supposed to wait, and we had to walk back and forth a bit to catch up with each other).


They posted the menu for each meal so you could run by it and then countdown the minutes until it was served.

We decided after our 10pm snack of piping hot soup, that it was probably about time to get ourselves settled into the tent so we could rest up and get ready for the long Saturday we had ahead of us. Now, mind you, we are NOT campers, but here we were, getting ready to sleep next to a lake…in the cold…in a tent. We had borrowed an air mattress and extra sleeping bag from a neighbor, and thought we had brought along enough blankets and clothing to keep us toasty for the evening, but we didn’t. We froze. all. freaking. night. long. Yes, our cars were there and we could have easily bailed on the tent and jumped into one of them, but I guess we both kept thinking that eventually we’d build up enough body heat in our sleeping bags and fall asleep. Nope, didn’t happen. We just laid there and listened as runners cruised past all night and all I could think was “when is the freaking sun going to come up and put me out of this misery?” I kept pushing the buttons on my watch to check the time and got it so jacked up that not only could I not tell what time it was, I somehow managed to turn on that annoying little chime that goes off every hour on the hour. Stupid watch!  (I guess stupid user of said watch would be more accurate.) Anyhoo, we started chatting around 5:30am, and decided that we both had to pee bad enough that we were going to have to make our cold asses get even colder by getting up and getting out of that tent. There was frost all over everything (we had expected the low to only get down to around 40, but our cars showed the actual temp to be 32 by the lake), but once we were up and moving, we both felt better and were oh so happy to see the sun coming up.


Good morning sun! 



Derek headed out early to get a few more loops in before my race started and I went about the business of peeling off the many layers of clothing that I was wearing to get into my running gear.  I really had no idea about what to expect the day to be like.  I wasn’t sure how many more miles Derek was going to be able to get in, because I could tell he was already hurting pretty good, and I definitely had no idea how far my legs would carry me before they decided we were done.  My goal was to get in a 50K, but since that was double my previous longest distance (25K at El Scorcho in July), I decided I’d just take it nice and slow (which is pretty much my normal speed for any race, lol) and see how it went.

The 6, 12 and 24 hour runners gathered together just before 9am and after a few instructions and a very anti-climactic “Go” from the timing dude (not sure what his official title is), we were off.  I thought I’d spend a lot of the day with Derek, pushing him to get more miles in, but since I was fresh and ready to roll and he’d already put 50 miles in when I started, I ended up on my own for most of the day.  The way the course is set up though, you’re never really by yourself.  You’re passing people of all ages, coming and going, at all speeds, the entire time you’re there.  I have to say that ultra peeps are SUCH a different crowd than what I’ve encountered in “regular” races.  Everyone, and I mean everyone, is supportive and encouraging, even the elite runners.  No one cares how fast or how slow you’re going, how old you are, or what brand of shoes and running gear you’re wearing.  All I heard were phrases like looking good, keep it up, great job, and looking strong, all day long.  And the volunteers at this race?  Awesome.  Like I said earlier, there were hot meals at regular intervals and there was a table chock full of snacks that was kept well-stocked, too.  You’d be amazed what a strategically placed Oreo can do for your spirits during a race.  😉

I won’t go through the whole race mile by mile (I know you’re relieved), but I cruised along, ticking away the miles, with lots of stops along the way for things like, peeling off my outer layer of clothes, applying sunscreen, refilling my Nuun, grabbing a Gu, chatting with the people who were set up next to us (who were crewing for the super-speedy 24 hour race winners), and talking to Derek when we passed each other to check on his progress and update him on mine.  After mile 16, I realized that I needed some real calories, so we met up on that loop and sat down to eat lunch together.  Yes, in the middle of a race, we sat down, ate cheeseburgers and drank coke.  HA!  Anyone who knows me knows that I am not much of a burger eater or coke drinker, but I tell ya, that cheeseburger rocked.  It took me a few steps to get rolling again after sitting down, but the lunch calories really hit the spot and I was off and going again.  I was definitely in power walking mode at that point (remember that by then I was in uncharted territory mileage-wise), but I would jog the downhill sections and some of the flat spots too, just to change up the rhythm.

Before I knew it, I was approaching the marathon mark so Derek joined me on that loop so he could high five me when I hit 26.2 (he was at mile 72 by then).  I was still feeling really good and knew that I would have no problem getting to my goal of 50K.  Don’t get me wrong, my body was starting to send the “Hey, what the heck are we doing?” signals, but all things considered, I felt much better than I expected to at that point.  I knew Derek was wearing down and that he was ready to start thinking about packing the tent and gear so that we’d be ready to roll when I decided I was done (he never intended to do the full 48 hours), but he kept telling me to “just keep going” so I did.  And then the sun began to set, it started to get chilly and I knew my legs and feet were about ready to raise the white flag.  I put on a jacket and gloves for my 17th loop, and that helped, but I was really starting to hit the wall.  When I came back around after mile 34, I told Derek I would keep going, but only if we went together.  He said OK, and we did another slow loop together.  We passed the timing mat, and as we made our way back to our little camp, we knew we were done.  We pulled off our chips and declared our UltraCentric weekend complete at miles 78 and 36, respectively.


Tired and happy to be headed toward hot showers and a warm bed.


The recreated bling shots, it was too dark when we got home to take them then. Don’t worry, we washed our socks before we put them back on.:) 


So, there ya have it. My first “ultra” anything and a couple of rocking distance PR’s for the both of us. We’ve jokingly tossed around the word “epic” since Friday, but really that’s what this experience was from start to finish.

To our fellow UltraCentric peeps, some of whom I had met before and many I had not, thank you all for your support and for welcoming me into the ultra world in such grand fashion. I am in absolute AWE of all of you and so enjoyed witnessing your greatness in person.

And to my partner in epicness, you continue to amaze and inspire me. Thank you for challenging me and for giving me the confidence to achieve things that I never thought were possible. As long as you promise not to EVER make me sleep in a freezing cold tent again, I’ll do any race, any time, any place with you. xoxo

share post: - AWESOME!!! Congratulations!!! So cool that you guys do it together! I keep trying to convince my husband it’s fun – he just looks at me like I’m crazy! Love the socks by the way!!!

Stacey UltraPrincess - Congratulations on your ultra experience Marla! It’s so awesome that you got to run with Derek.

I hope you and your family have a very merry Christmas and happy New Year!!

Favorite Photo Friday – Halloween 2012

Hi! Remember me? Marla, mom of 4 kids, all their names start with J…ring a bell? Yeah, we’re still here, though you wouldn’t know it based it on how loudly the crickets are chirping on this blog, huh? Well, it’s high time I catch up, so I figured I’d start today by getting a few Halloween pics posted.

Halloween is a really big deal in our neighborhood, we all gather outside to see the kiddos in their costumes and hand out our candy. It’s definitely one of the most fun nights of the year, and my kids love it.

This year, we had a viking, Cleopatra, Kit the Skeleton Kat and a ninja. Derek and I had to get in on the action, too. My dad and aunt came by to see the kids all dressed up too, so it was definitely a family affair. I sure was missing my mom that day, she always came over to help me hand out candy and loved seeing the kids in their costumes.


{Note Poppy the photo bomber in the background, smiling at the kids, heh!}



I hope all of our bloggy friends are doing well, I desperately need to make the rounds and catch up with all of you. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your families!
the long road

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likeschocolate - Great costumes! I just want to tell you that your story along with Lisa’s made a huge impact on my family. I have all ready told Lisa , but we are adopting from China this coming year . Thank you for sharing your story.

jade - Hi Marla, welcome back to your own blog! So glad to see you’re all still alive and kicking!
Very impressive Ninja you have there…

Half Gaelic, Half Garlic! - Love all of the J’s sporting their halloween finest!!!

And welcome back to blogging my friend!!!

We have certainly missed you around here:)



Faith Hope Love Photography - Yes, we have definately been missing you…although I know just how you feel with being busy! Happy Holidays!

DRC Half

My best running pal, Heather, and I ran the Dallas Running Club Half Marathon a couple of weeks ago. I had been fighting a cold for the last half of the week before the race, so I was a little worried about how I would hold up for 13 miles. Heather normally runs at a much faster pace than me, but is nursing a sore hammy so she decided to take it easy and hang with me for most of the race. I did my best to keep up with her, and was a little concerned when we finished the first 5K in roughly my normal 5K finish time. Heh. I figured that would come back to bite me in the butt later on, but I felt pretty decent, even considering the cold, so I kept plugging along. Thanks to Heather pushing me just past my comfort zone, I ended up shaving a full 10 minutes off my previous half finish time and was thrilled. I did die a bit in the last 5K, but was still proud of the overall effort. I’ll never be a super speedy runner, and I’m totally cool with that, but I am hopeful that I can keep seeing my times go down and my distances increase.

Da Beer (which was good stuff from Lakewood Brewing Company)

Thanks, MK, for snapping this pic for us


Da Bling with my trusty Hokas


This weekend, I’ll be participating in my first UltraCentric Experience and am looking forward to seeing how far these legs can go in 12 hours. I’ll be heading out tomorrow night to crew for Derek, as he is doing the 48. Hopefully, it’ll be an epic weekend for both of us.

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Elaine Hillis - Awesome! So glad to see u too!

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