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Liam’s Preschool {Little Gators} Graduation

I cannot believe that a whole school has flown by! It seemed like just yesterday I dropped my Little Lion Man off for his first day of preschool.  Liams Preschool {Little Gators} Graduation In the beginning, I had such guilt about my baby attending part-time preschool. Months later, now I have guilt about changing preschools in the fall for a center closer to home.

The mama guilt never ends.

2014051595094314 Liams Preschool {Little Gators} GraduationThe joyful mama tears never end either.

 Liams Preschool {Little Gators} Graduation

For the graduation ceremony, the high school students who operate the preschool made each child their caps and gowns.

 Liams Preschool {Little Gators} GraduationThe tops of the mortar boards named what each child wanted to be when they grew up. Titles like “mermaid”, “mom”, “teacher”, “spaceman”, graced the top of the caps, but Little Lion Man chose to “Firefighter”.

 Liams Preschool {Little Gators} Graduation

This small ceremony also honored the graduating high school seniors who spent several years devoting so much love and time into running the program.

 Liams Preschool {Little Gators} Graduation

During the reception, the teachers also handed out superlatives and named Liam “best dressed”, which made me giggle. It must be his surfer blonde locks that earned him that award.

IMAG5232 Liams Preschool {Little Gators} Graduation

As part of the ceremony, the children sang a song which has been sung at all three preschool graduations. Hearing this song again so many years after Emmalynn’s graduation gave me such a lump in my throat.

But it was the scrapbook full of Liam’s crafts and photos throughout the year that brought on the real waterworks.

IMAG5175 Liams Preschool {Little Gators} Graduation

We will truly miss Little Gators preschool, the many memories and the many blessings it brought us.

 Liams Preschool {Little Gators} Graduation

Our 2013 Christmas Portraits

I know what you’re thinking.  “It’s a bit late to be sharing Christmas photos.”

So it is!  But I’ll let you in on a little secret.

My tree is still up. Oh the horror!

How’s that for being a bit behind on things?

5Christmas2013 1024x832 Our 2013 Christmas Portraits

To save money this year, I decided not to hire a family photographer, but to try my own hand at our family Christmas portraits.  With the historic and beautiful Downtown Dunedin as our backdrop, I positioned my DSLR camera on a tripod and set the timer for 10 seconds, just enough time for me to run back, pop into the picture and fix my fly-away hair.

3Christmas2013 780x1024 Our 2013 Christmas Portraits

For the very first tripod attempt, my son demonstrated a bit of enthusiasm for the flashing light on the self-timer, but we had no idea about his facial expression until after the photos were downloaded.

Christmas2013 1024x752 Our 2013 Christmas Portraits

Of course, that was the one for the cover of our Shutterfly card.

ShutteryChristmasCard2013 Our 2013 Christmas Portraits

I was really pleased with how my children behaved (because I bribed them with Strachan’s ice cream) and how well my photos turned out.

6Christmas2013 682x1024 Our 2013 Christmas Portraits

Liam Emmalynn2013 682x1024 Our 2013 Christmas Portraits

Allana2013 1024x682 Our 2013 Christmas Portraits

2Emmalynn2013 682x1024 Our 2013 Christmas Portraits

Liam2013 682x1024 Our 2013 Christmas Portraits
Emmalynn2013 1024x682 Our 2013 Christmas Portraits

2Allana2013 682x1024 Our 2013 Christmas Portraits

2Christmas2013 682x1024 Our 2013 Christmas Portraits

Time Lord Fest

Prior to the Time Lord Fest, I had never been to a Comic Con or any type of cosplay event, therefore, I had no earthy idea as what to expect.  Now that I have been to one, I know that the costumes are as varied and endless as the universe.

This Tampa Time Lord Fest was organized to honor the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who and its soon World Premiere Global Simulcast episode, “The Day of the Doctor”, which will air on November 23 simultaneously all on BBC networks on 2:50 p.m.

For the Time Lord Fest, Allana wanted to wear the TARDIS dress and Emmalynn crafted a costume that resembled a small Amelia Pond, the 11th Doctor’s companion.  Since Amy is Scottish, a kilt seemed an appropriate choice.

 Time Lord Fest

The costumes truly went beyond our wildest Doctor Who imaginations, such as one lady dressed as a cat-nun.  Lots of ladies dressed as blue TARDIS, a few in human form and one that was even bigger on the inside.

 Time Lord Fest

We also spotted a few scary characters such as the Silence, a Weeping Angel…

 Time Lord Fest

…and a Dalek.  Time Lord Fest

There were many companions including River Song, Rose and many Amy Ponds and all varieties of Doctors.  The grounds were crowded with 10th Doctors (my favorite) and 11th Doctors, because bow ties are cool and a few 4th Doctors with his trademark scarf but only one with a K-9.

 Time Lord Fest

No matter which Doctor they portrayed, they all carried sonic screwdrivers.

 Time Lord Fest

Emmalynn’s kilt caught lots of attention.  Many people recognized her to be little Amelia Pond.  She beamed with pride over the popularity of her costume.

 Time Lord Fest

Then, a little Roman Rory spotted our Amelia.  “Hey!  You’re my girlfriend!”  He hollered at her.  She smiled wide and blushed over little Rory’s affection.

 Time Lord Fest

 Time Lord Fest

Although the girls and I loved looking at all the costumes, Liam liked the games more.

 Time Lord Fest

 Time Lord Fest

As the main attraction, a life-size TARDIS stood inside waiting for guests.  We couldn’t leave without a photo with Sexy, of course.

 Time Lord Fest

Oldsmar 5K

174703 258907697527379 1785422675 n Oldsmar 5K At 5:00 p.m. two hours before the start of the Oldsmar 5K, terrible thunderstorms began rolling into the Tampa Bay area.  It was ugly.  Sporadic flashes of lightning lit up the gray skies and rain drops like Christmas lights.

As much as I don’t like running in the rain, I’ll suck it up for a race, but lightning is a whole other story.  Then, I heard word about a flooding watch in the area and I began to worry about soggy shoes.  “I have another race in the morning.  What if my shoes don’t dry out and I have to put them in the dryer.  What if they shrink?”

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I must have looked so worried because my friend Mike asked what was wrong with me.  I believe his exact words were, “D, what’s your deal?”  Later I learned Mike was already three beers into the drinking portion of the evening.  I should have started drinking when I saw the lightning to help calm my nerves.

I decided to distract myself by reading the quotes on the back of the t-shirts included in the race bags.

“Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder.”

“I drink to make people interesting”

“I’d tap that.”

“You can never buy beer, you just rent it.”

Then ten minutes before the start, the race officials canceled the race due to inclement weather. Oh thank God!

Given that news, we found a dry spot inside the House of Brews and officially began the beer run part of the program by running back outside, dodging through drops of rain and jumping over puddles to wait in lines for beer and food.  We ate and drank as if we ran a race and worked up an appetite.  Well, we were really thirsty and hungry.

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Rumor has it that a group of runners ran the race despite being canceled.  It must be true because results and photos have been posted online.  The rebellious runners all finished under 20 minutes.  I wonder if the lightning made them run faster?

However, yours truly was not one of them.  I was too busy stuffing my face with beer mug-shaped sugar cookies, which I enjoyed more than the free beer.

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It just goes to show you.  Race or no race, my friends and I always have a great time. Have party.  Will travel.  Rain or shine.

 Oldsmar 5K

Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

Teacher Gifts

I totally flaked for Teacher Appreciation Day, which is just a sin having been a teacher once.  Hopefully I redeemed myself on the last day of school with these creative gift ideas and small tokens of our appreciation.

My oldest daughter’s teachers love Dunkin’ Donuts.  Gift cards seemed the easiest route.  Allana made them doughnut shaped cards that read, “Donut forget about me.”

 Teacher Gifts

Potted plants are one of favorite gifts to give because they are beauitful, green, affordable gifts.  They never break the bank even when gift cards eat up most of your gift budget.

Emmalynn made flower cards for each teacher and then taped the cards to bamboo skewers to stick in the soil.  The cards read, “Thank you for helping me bloom and grow this year.”

 Teacher Gifts

 Teacher Gifts

Then I thought it would be a nice gesture for the girls’ to give their classmates inexpensive gifts and I had a lightbulb moment when I spotted these in Wal-Mart.  Now, I know these Little Hugs aren’t the healthiest drinks for kids (actually they’re probably the worst), but there’s no disputing the sheer, creative genius of them and all for under $3.00!  I printed labels and taped one to each little juice barrel which read, “Here’s one last hug until I see you in August.  Have a great summer!”

 Teacher Gifts

Did I redeem myself or what?  What gifts did you give your child’s teacher?

Denise Mestanza-Taylor+



It has a nice ring to it.




Daisy, Daisy give me your answer do.
I’m half crazy all for the love of you.
It won’t be a stylish marriage,
I can’t afford a carriage.
But you’ll look sweet,
Upon the seat,
Of a bicycle made for two.




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