1. I share my name with my mother (I am Isabel Maria and she is Maria Isabel). My nickname was - and still is to all my family and friends in Portugal - Bébé.
2. I am 4th out of 6 children (3 boys, 3 girls). It so happens that my husband is 3rd out of 6 children, too (3 boys, 3 girls)3. My mom is an identical twin. It so happens that my husband’s mom is an identical twin, too.
4. My mom and dad met at the French School in Lisbon.5. The French School became a family tradition, with three generations of our family passing by.
6. My dad was a professional handball player for years.7. I was always taller than the kids my age.
8. I was awarded a “Prix d’Excellence” in my first year of preschool.9. In my first report card ever my teacher wrote “Loves to play with her friends but knows how to defend herself”.
10. I got in trouble at school often for being too chatty.11. I started doing ballet when I was 4. A few months later, the ballet teacher told my mom I wasn’t gracious enough for dancing.
12. Subsequently, I thrived in gymnastics.13. I was forced to quit gymnastics at 10, when we moved to the suburbs and mom was expecting baby # 6. I was crushed.
14. I have always wanted to learn to play the piano.15. I have not lost hope that I will learn to play a musical instrument one day.
16. My first boyfriend was my next door neighbor. Our families still live next door to each other.17. I shared a room with my two older brothers until I was 10.
18. I didn’t own a car until I was 25 (until then, I drove my family’s beat up hand-me-down Peugeot and after that a motor scooter).19. I didn’t buckle up until I met my husband. He would always ask me to, “because I love you”.
20. I saw Pope John Paul II twice.21. I have crossed the Equator twice.
22. I have visited over 35 countries, and have many more on my wish list.23. I was named “Best Dressed” in college.
24. My college graduation ceremony took place in one of the oldest monasteries in Lisbon.25. The first time I saw snow was in my early twenties.
26. My first job was wrapping gifts at one of my dad’s retail toy stores at Christmas time.27. I did photography modeling and was casted in a handful of TV commercials when I was in college.
28. I was paid $20 a day for modeling.29. I met my prince charming on a blind date.
30. My son Alex is named after our friend who set us up on a blind date.
31. I love pink.32. I love pink so much that I chose to wear a pink dress on my wedding day.
33. I had my first child when I was 32.34. I dreamed of being a mom ever since I was a child.
35. Only one out of my four children has brown eyes like me.36. In 19 years of marriage I have lived in 11 different homes.
37. One of the favorite places I have ever called home was Rabat, Morocco.38. I am still bitter about the fact that I can’t have a maid (and a gardener and a driver…) like I had in Morocco.
39. I taught quilting classes for 10 years.40. I still have an obscenely large amount of fabric.
41. After my husband retired from the Marine Corps in 2000 we spent one month traveling across the US with three children under the age of 5. He had no job and we had no place to live.42. I love living in a small town.
43. I am a soccer lover through and through. Sorry, but nothing compares… (Okay, gymnastics is up there, too!)44. I am addicted to chocolate.
45. I inherited my sweet tooth from my mom. Thanks, mom…! I believe that’s why I love baking so much!46. I do not like cheese and I do not like wine… What kind of European am I?!!
47. Language barriers will always be present. Even after all these years, I still get confused about the words “push” and “pull”, as “push” sounds exactly like the Portuguese word “puxe”, which means pull!48. When I am here I feel European. When I am in Portugal I feel American. I am both yet I am neither… One foot on each yet never fully present…
49. The hardest part about being an ex-pat is not having my mom closer… Moms are everything, aren’t they?
I chose to share 49 things about me, because I turn 49 today… Forty nine reasons to celebrate! As my kids were counting down to my birthday, I kept saying I really wasn’t that excited… But, why not? This time I choose not to ignore it, there is so much to appreciate, so much to celebrate! I do love my life! I hope you have enjoyed getting to know me a little better… I know I have enjoyed sharing myself with you!