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Enough about my stroke….how about I talk about my dog, Annabelle Blanche!

My dog, Annabelle Blanche, is such a joy to me! I got her when I was 23. There was a lot going on in my life. I was in my second year of graduate school, taking 18 hours of classes. I was not only taking courses for Social Work, but also I was doing a second master degree for Public Health.  On Monday and Friday I went to Tuscaloosa, an hour away from Birmingham, to take my classes for Social Work. I had a part time job, waiting tables at a BBQ joint. I also had a very active social life. (Side note: Okay, so I really went out to the bars to drink a lot.)  Having a dog on top of everything else was hard. I even asked the breeder if I could give her back…she said no! I can’t imagine my life without her now.

Annabelle Blanche is a Boston terrier, but she isn’t my first Boston terrier. My family has had various Boston terrier’s my whole life. My first Boston was Brutus. Actually, Brutus was my parent’s dog and he was around before I arrived. One of my first words was “sit” because I thought that was Brutus name. Our next dog was Bandit. Whenever the mail guy put the mail into the slot on the door, Bandit would tear the mail. One of my Father’s contracts for a job had Bandit’s bite marks on it. Next was Blossom, our first girl dog. She had a sire named Bama Braves Bobbin and the two gave birth to Brutus II and Buster. Of course, the two dogs went to people in my family. Later in life, my father had Beatrice. He called her Bea. Now the only other Boston terrier in the family is Babs, my aunt’s dog. She is a lot like Annabelle Blanche, just smaller.

I’ve always had a dog in my life, but Annabelle Blanche is the best dog! She sleeps under the covers, is always ready for you to throw the ball to her, and she likes for me to throw a Frisbee in the park. The best part is that whenever I am on the couch, she will snuggle up next to me, her face against my face. I really do love her. 



PS-because my Mama is going to ask: This post took 2 hours. It was an hour and half last night to compose, 15 minutes at speech therapy today, and then 15 minutes to edit based on what I wrote in speech therapy!



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I ran across this on the book of faces…thought it looked like an easy blog post to write!

1.  Put iTunes on shuffle  
2.  For each question, press the “next” button to get your answer 
3.  Write down the song name, no matter how silly it sounds 

1.) IF SOMEONE SAYS ‘ARE YOU OKAY,’ YOU SAY: “Sweet Afton” – Nickel Creek
Okay, so this doesn’t make much sense…but it does remind me of my friend Robin, who had a friend that used to call this song something along the lines of “Yo, River, shut up so my girlfriend can sleep”, only Kevin used much more colorful words. This is a family blog, so I shall not elaborate!

2.) HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOURSELF? “Hide and Seek” – Imogene Heap
Hmm….most of y’all will recognize this song because the chorus was sampled in Jason Derulo’s song “Watcha Say”.  I hate to get all teen angsty on y’all, but wouldn’t you say that most people play hide and seek when describing themselves? We describe ourselves by putthing out best attritbutes out there and hiding the other things that really make us who we are. If the person asking really cared, they would have to seek out those things that we hide.

 3.) WHAT DO YOU LIKE IN A GUY/GIRL?: “Strawberry Fields Forever” – Ben Harper
Ha, I do like the smell of Strawberries. 

4.) HOW DO YOU FEEL TODAY?: “Alpha Beta Parking Lot” – Cake 
Ha, well I am watching the sun go down right now…letting go of yet another dirty day.

5.) WHAT IS YOUR LIFE’S PURPOSE? “Grace is Gone” – Dave Matthews Band
A song about drinking to get over one’s ex…not exactly the best life purpose, but certainly in other times of my life this has felt like my purpose. Thank God those days are long gone…shout out to my 20’s.

6.) WHAT’S YOUR MOTTO?  “Love’s Recovery” – Indigo Girls
Well, this fits. Such a beautful song about viewing “love” from the vantage point of being older. Ever the optismist, I believe in the chance of love’s recovery.

7.) WHAT DO YOUR FRIENDS THINK OF YOU? “Simile Song” – Eddie From Ohio
Guess I’m kinda like all these things, but you don’t know what I am.

 8.) WHAT DO YOUR PARENTS THINK OF YOU? “Crazy Love” – Van Morrison
Isn’t all family love a touch crazy?

Ha….I think about the color of my hair at least once a day….right now I’m trying to decide between Sunflower or Sahara.

10.) WHAT IS 2+2? “Come Pick Me Up” – Ryan Adams
I’m etenrally grateful for my good friend Kate for introducing me to Ryan Adams. 

11.) WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT YOUR BEST FRIEND? “Hand in my Pocket” – Alanis Morissette 
As a 31 year old woman, I no longer have just one BEST friend. I’m grateful to have a whole cadre of delightful people in my life.  That said, this song will always remind me of my dearest friend from middle school, Nikki, who told me in high school that this song described her to a tee. She was right…Nikki loved to flash peace signs in high school…which was totally random in 1996.

12.) WHAT IS YOUR LIFE STORY? “While my Guitar Gently Weeps” – Phish 

13.) WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP? A lecture from Oregon Health and Sciene Univesity class I took online about Health Information Technology.
Ugh…I spent the last 1.5 years trying to make sense of genetics, newborn screening, and HIT. Thankfully, I’ve been saved by moving to a new postion in education and training. Neither one of these is what I wanted to be when I was a youth. But yeah, I’m doing more than what I ever thought possible for me to do when I was in grad school.

“When you give me k-kisses, that’s money, honey”…such a true line when it comes to crushes.

15.) WHAT WILL YOU DANCE TO AT YOUR WEDDING? “Feels like Today” – Rascal Flatts Pretty much any song by Rascal Flatts could be a wedding song…this one is no exception.

16.) WHAT WILL THEY PLAY AT YOUR FUNERAL?  “Sweet Home Alabama” – Lynyrd Skynyrd

17.) WHAT IS YOUR HOBBY?  “Let me go” – Cake
A song about dating…how appropriate!

18.) WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST FEAR? “Monster” – Lady Gaga
“He ate my heart and then he ate my brain”…yep, that sums up some of my biggest fears!

19.) WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST SECRET?  “Praying for Daylight” – Rascal Flatts
Hmm…I promise y’all that I’m not spending my night pining over my ex.

20.) WHAT DO YOU WANT RIGHT NOW?  “Please come to Boston”  – Jacko Pierce
Well, lookie here…a song that has the potiential to be a great fit if it were true…there is a ramblin southern man in Boston that needs to get his rear in gear and come home to me….but then again, both of us could have over-idealized the relationship and we’d be better off if he went right on over to Denver or LA.

21.) WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR FRIENDS?  “Champagne Supernova” – Oasis
You and I will never die….true story my friends.

22.) WHAT WILL YOU NAME THIS NOTE?  “Honesty” – Billy Joel
Well, this fits.

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The 2009 Tally

I am 30 years old and live with one girl roommate and my dog in the Nation’s capital. I’m wearing my blonde hair long, no bangs, but I do have layers around the face. I lost and gained weight this year, leaving me 40 pounds below where I started. I had the same job all year. I am single and have been for the year. I completed one marathon relay, one half marathon, two 5Ks, one swim meet, two sprint distance tris, and one international distance tri. I had my first “Did Not Finish” during an Olympic distance tri.

My greatest wants for 2009 were to be lighter in weight (I’m down 17%), debt (I’m down 8%), and fears (how does one measure this?)

My best moments this year: Being with Nikki at President Obama’s Inauguration, winning the first FIST match with “Fetch Rufus”, coming off the stage after an amazing DMG show at the DCAC where everything clicked and we were all in sync with each other.
My worst moment this year: Being so overwhelmed and stressed at work that I cried very ugly tears in front of my boss and her deputy. It wins the worst moment because I felt so powerless.
My proudest moment this year: Finishing Bassman Sprint under two hours and with a smile on my face. In fact, the whole blasted day was great! I bonded with my Z-mates, had enough energy after my race to offer course support, and I repaid the favor of countless others that have helped me finish a race when I thought I couldn’t take one more step forward by spending quality time with my friend Jacquie.
My happiest moment this year: Blowing out the candles on mine and Archie’s 30th Birthday cake. It was so wonderful to be surrounded by so many people that I love, including my friend Amber that came up from Louisiana.
My hardest moment this year: Learning that Charles had a stroke and then figuring out that I was the first person in my church family to understand how serious the situation had become. This is the closest I have been to death and it was beyond emotionally draining to help coordinate his care, put his household in order, and contact family members that he had not spoke to in over 15 years. It was also a life altering moment in time that has affected me in ways that are still to tender and vulnerable for me to blog about. I pray that the decisions I make today do not leave me alone at my death.
My worst decision this year: Falling back into bad habits due to the stress of my job.
My best decision this year: Moving in with Tara. She is an awesome and incredible friend and roommate.
My best purchase this year: My shiny red Dell computer
My biggest project this year: Losing weight

My greatest want for 2010: To let my light shine instead of letting my fear keep me in my current place. 

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” — Marianne Williamson

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Overall Race Results from 2009

02/15/09 – GW Marathon Relay (7 miles) – 1:55:00 (Pace – 16:25)
03/08/09 – Disney Princess Half Marathon – 3:36:45 (Pace – 16:32)
03/29/09 – Scope it Out 5k – 48:11 (Pace – 15:32)
05/02/09 – Arlington Science Focus 5K – 46:00 (Pace – 14:50)

04/24/09 – Colony Zones Swim Meet – 1000 yards freestyle – 23:13

05/10/09 – Kinetic Sprint – Overall: 2:45:01 – Swim Pace: 2:24 per 100 yards; Bike Pace: 12 miles per hour; Run Pace: 15:39 per mile

06/06/09 – Mooseman International Distance Tri – Overall: 5:09:11 – Swim Pace: 2:38 per 100 yards(.93 mile); Bike Pace: 11 miles per hour(27.25 miles); Run Pace: 17:14 per mile (6.2 miles)

08/15//09 – Luray Tri-Oly – DNF – Swim Pace: 02:48 per 100 yards(1500 Meters);

10/04/09 – Bassman Sprint– Overall: 1:57:22 – Swim Pace: 2:24 per 100 yards; Bike Pace: 15 miles per hour; Run Pace: 14:44 per mile

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Happy 7th Birthday: Annabelle Blanche


Seven years ago,  Annabelle Blanche was born in Piedmont, Alabama.  It seems like just yesterday that I brought her home.  She was about 6 weeks old and could fit in the palm of a grown man’s hand.   I was so overwhelmed that first week I actually tried to give her back to the family from which I bought her.  Luckily for me, they offered only to tell people that called them from the posted ad in the newspaper to call me instead.  I never heard from any of those people!

Annabelle has been a constant in my life over these tumultuous seven years.  She’s made every move with me.  She’s adapted herself to being a city dog even though she spent her puppy years in a house with a yard.  She’s met all my friends and boyfriends.  She’s licked my tears and been a reason for me to get out of the house during tough times.  She’s been my lazy day companion.  She’s been my running buddy. 

I’m blessed to have such a fun companion in all my adventures!

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Typical…Part of my 15 minutes of fame are because of my diet!

I was interviewed for a health segment that was aired on CNN this past April 2, 2009. I was hoping that they would post it to their website, but alas, they did not. I know that many of my friends didn’t get a chance to see the piece. Because I love y’all (and because I adore the spotlight) I made a recording with my camera of the DVRed version. This was the night before I moved out of the Bethesda house…priorities y’all…I’ve got them!

I’m sorry this isn’t the best quality. In fact, I could only save about 1.5 minutes worth of footage on my camera….so what you see below is just the portions with me in them…again…my feelings about the spotlight! The audio can be a bit hard to hear, so I included the transcription below each video.


JUDY FORTIN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If laughter is the best medicine, then Alaina Harris is pretty healthy. A member of an improv troop and a public health analyst, Harris knows what’s good for her.

ALAINA HARRIS, DIETER: As I’m getting older, it’s become more about long term, my health, what my long-term goals are.

FORTIN: So when her weight began to creep up, she decided to take action and began training for a triathlon. She’s lost 30 pounds and hopes to lose more.

HARRIS: So my goal is to drop some pounds, to make that triathlon an easier experience.

FORTIN: And share your plans. Alaina has a buddy system, where friends keep her on the right track.

HARRIS: It helps for me just having other people to help me validate what I’ve done.

FORTIN: Follow these tips and you could be carrying fewer pounds by the summer. Something that Alaina Harris hopes to do.


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