Jenn Morgan
Jenn Morgan Danny Drake

What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment in life? For me, it is successfully guiding my daughter through her first year in life without any major mishaps. For my daughter, it is running in the Amazing Race ... through my house.

Isabella has made leaps and bounds in her efforts to walk and has learned to shuffle her chubby little Michelin legs quite proficiently in just three short weeks. Seasoned parents warned me that once she started walking, she would be running shortly thereafter. No kidding!

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One day I am texting friends and family that my daughter just took three or four steps by herself, and the next she is baiting me to chase her around the house for a game of hide and seek. Pretty soon Isabella is going to be jumping hurdles on the high school track. Maybe there is a little bit of time until then, but if I blink it will happen too soon.

Running the race is not without periodic pit stops. First we stop off at the refrigerator to grab the Elmo cooking pot and spoon. As you know, toys can be quite heavy and you must keep learn to save your energy, so the pot is usually dropped in transit on the way to the next pit stop, the water station. The water station, a.k.a our dogs' bowls, is where Isabella dips her spoon into the bowl, raises it to the heavens in a proud, defiant gesture, and tries to drink it - all while looking at me waiting for my reprimand. Upon my exclamation of "No!", she smiles, shakes her head no, and wags her finger to further convince me she knows exactly what I am saying. In addition to learning how to walk, she is trying to push her boundaries and see how much she can get away with. This is a critical time for me to reinforce the rules and keep a straight face, but I can't help but crumble under pressure and let out a bellowing laugh. She is just too damn cute!

As a consequence to my lenient parenting style, I am relegated to the role of good cop, while my husband assumes the role of bad cop. We join my daughter in her continued journey through our house to coach her to the finish line and correct any missteps. Which leads me to the next pit stop - the cabinet of pots and pans. Somehow the loud bangs and clangs of the metal pots and pans rejuvenate her spirit and she is off to the drying station. Isabella attacks the roll of paper towels with quick hands, and defeated, it is now just a large flattened streamer all over the kitchen floor. I could stop her in her tracks, but to me she is awfully adorable, so instead I snap pictures and upload them to Facebook for all to see.

Isabella, my husband and I, have gotten through the first part of the race. But there is another leg to this Tour de Bella. There are more rooms to explore, more trouble to get into. We are in training right now, but in the coming years the challenges of coaching and running alongside our daughter is going to get tougher. Hopefully we will be able to catch up with her during life's pit stops.


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