Season’s Heatings! {Holiday Halfathon Recap}

When I registered for the Holiday Halfathon earlier in the year, I had no intention to aim for a PR.  With these plantar fasciitis feet, my PR days are gone, however, I expected to beat my time from three years ago.  Since I was pregnant, I could totally redeem that time even with bad heels.

Being a stunner runner, my attire is crucial next to the training.  Chrissy, Maribel and I wanted to match, so we decided on homemade tutus with striped furry stockings and a red wicking running shirt.  I added a little sequined clip-on Santa hat to my ensemble to finish my sporty Santa Baby look.

Lots of our Strider friends were also at this race as well as many of my runner blogger friends, Katrina of Sneakers and Fingerpaints and Beth of Discom-BOB-ulated Running.  Everybody looked so festive in their holiday attire.

About 4 miles into the race, I was dying from a heat stroke.  Usually, December races are cooler, but with the warmer weather, overcast and humidity, it felt like we were running in a Santa sauna.  I haven’t exposed my post-pregnancy belly in a sports bra in public, but I didn’t care.  I stripped off that shirt faster than a Catholic school girl at a frat party and then, I rolled down my cute striped socks.

Although Chrissy had been suffering from a sinus infection, she looked like a rock star out there.  She showed those bridges that she was the boss and she smiled the whole time.

The bridges were another reason I didn’t anticipate a PR.  I didn’t even want to push myself on that course.  I just wanted to finish better than I did three years ago.

Between the bridges and the heat, I needed to walk a large portion of the course.  Another runner on the course ridiculed Chrissy and I every time we walked the course.  John teased us about our tutus and socks having superpowers, but I don’t think so.  Those furry striped socks were my kryptonite!

Eventually, Chrissy and I caught up to Marie who was struggling due to a nasty bronchial infection.  Poor thing!  You know speedy little Marie is not up to par if she’s pacing with me.

Even with all the bridges, that last mile had to be the toughest for me.  We ran for a short distance on a sidewalk and then final half mile led us along a sandy, soft uneven trail covered with pine needles.  It was difficult to judge my footing and I stumbled a few times.  I decided to walk the trail and then I ran the last stretch to the finish line.  I suppose my tutu did give me some superpowers because I saved a sprint just for John.  I finished a few seconds before him and I beat my time from three years ago by nearly 30 minutes!

13.1 miles
Gun Time 2:26:55 
Chip Time 2:26:36
Ave Pace 11:13

We lost Maribel early in the race, but after we crossed the finish line, we all ran back to meet her.  The week prior to the race, her knee had been giving her a lot of grief and now, Maribel was really hurting.  When she spotted us, her spirits lifted and she sprinted the final stretch of her first half marathon.  Once past the finish line, we all cried in a huddled, blubbering mess for Maribel and everyone’s accomplishments and then we helped poor Maribel hobble over to the picnic tables to ice her knee.

Poor sick speedy Marie could barely talk.

I just wanted JM’s cookie cake beer.

At the post-race party, I found Jina of Behold the Turtle and we posed for a quick photo.  I loved her reindeer shirt!  As you can see, I was still so hot after the race and I was looking real hot in my white, very see through sports bra.  Yep, I’m a classy act.  Thank goodness for Cliff Shots covering my ta-tas like pasties!

I am so making Santa’s naughty list this year.

Denise Mestanza-Taylor+


Music Monday: It Feels Like Christmas

Even before the calendar flipped to December, my family and I were already all sparklejollytwinklejingley for Christmas during Thanksgiving.  Thanks to the Straz Center, my family and I experienced the joy and magic of Christmas a little early with the help of our favorite elf and star of Elf The Musical, Buddy.

And speaking of elves, a funny little Elf on the Shelf found a home in our tree on the first day of December.

I know what you’re thinking. I swore I would never buy one because I said these elves symbolize everything that is wrong with Christmas, not to mention how incredible creepy, clown-like, Chuckie-wannabe these elves are.   Therefore, this holiday I’ll be eating humble pie instead of Christmas pie which is best served cold because this little North Pole transplant likes the cold.  Don’t judge me because there will be more photos like these.

Giggles went for a joyride.

The next he snapped some photos of the tree.

On Friday evening, we visited Christmas Town more than once.  My family and I once again experienced the wonder of Christmas with the help of Busch Garden’s Christmas Town.  The wondrous icy sensation of Snow World melted our hearts, but the truly heart-stopping, good cheer happened for me at Cheetah Hunt.  Nothing beats humming and singing a happy Christmas tune just before you’re catapulted into the atmosphere at high speed.

Santa baby, slip a sable under the tree, for me
I’ve been an awful good girl
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney to…..NIGHAAAAAAAAAA!  OH MY GOD!

However, while stopping Snow World at Busch Garden’s Christmas Town, we witnessed a travesty.  As my girls and I waited patiently in line to play in the snow, we watched two pre-teen boys beat the living ice cubes out of Frosty the Snowman.  The bad boys ripped off Frosty’s broomstick arms and beat him repeatedly until his head broke off.  As Frosty’s poor decapitated head lay helplessly on the ground, his attackers ripped off his carrot nose and violently stabbed him in the neck with his own nose.

I couldn’t believe the horrible scene unfolding in front of us.  “For love of God!  Stop beating Frosty!  All he ever wanted to do was wish everyone a ‘Happy Birthday’.”  Then, my girls chimed in to shout at the cruel children.  “Leave Frosty alone!”

Good Lord.  I can never look at a snowman the same way.  It will take years to heal from this and just when I finally could look at clowns and dolls without cringing.  And while we’re compiling a list of creepy creature, add living statue angels to the list.

Then, my girls and I enjoyed one more Christmas moment when we visited the Tampa Theater for The Muppet Christmas Carol.  I had never seen the movie before so the film was a first for all of us.  Michael Caine played the perfect Scrooge.

Stay tuned for more posts to follow about each of these wonderful Christmas events!

Does it feels like Christmas or does the thought of Christmas having you cringing?  Are you in the Christmas mood yet or are you a Scrooge? 

What Christmas music is moving you this season?

Visit Xmas Dolly and Jade Louise Designs for more Music Monday.

Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

After 9-11, We Rise Above

There are a few historical moments when you remember where you were on that fateful day.  On September 11, I was seven months pregnant standing in my classroom preparing my lessons for the day while I watched the news to understand why a plane flew into the North Tower.

The rest of the day is a blur.  I couldn’t tell you what I taught that day, however, I remember coming home and being glued to CNN to learn more of what had happened.  That evening, I watched the replay of the towers collapsing and footage of dust-covered people fleeing the city.

Eleven years later, I visited the 9/11 Memorial with my family this summer.  As we walked through the hallowed grounds, the horrific images from that fateful day flashed through my mind.

Yet, a sense of pride overcame me.  The terrorists tried to tear us down, but through the rubble, the dust and the tears, we became stronger.  The lives crushed and the emptiness created from a collapsing financial institution has been restored and rebuilt into a place of honor.

We lost so much that day, loved ones and heroes, but we rose above the destruction and the pain. Tomorrow, as the Tribute in Lights illuminate into heaven, it is another demonstration of how we still rise above and shine on with vigor.

But we will never forget.

Visit Xmas Dolly and Jade Louise Designs for more Music Monday.

Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

Pinning and Planning – September 2

Meat, meat and more meat is what’s on sale this week at our local supermarket.  With a holiday weekend known for cook-outs to celebrate the unions’ fight for the working man’s rights, why not sear a steak and kick back with beer?  Nothing says union labor better than a blood rare piece of meat with oozing juices and charred grill marks.  *Insert Tim Allen caveman chortle.*

After attending two cookouts this weekend, I will be craving a menu with a vegetarian flare.

Here’s my menu for the week:

Sunday – Cookout with family – My contribution, Avocado Feta Salsa

Monday – Cookout with friends

Tuesday –Saag Aloo served with Kachumber Salad

Wednesday – Wholly Diablo Shrimp served with Black Beans and Rice

Thursday – Spinach Lasagna Rolls

Friday – Pizza

So, what good things do you have grilling this week?  What recipes are you pinning and planning to serve? 

Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

Shot Heard ‘Round the World and Fireworks

I loved all the Schoolhouse Rock! programs when I was a kid.  I remember looking forward to commercials between Saturday morning cartoons just to see what Schoolhouse Rock! short would air.  I enjoyed Schoolhouse Rock! programs so much that when I became a teacher, I incorporated them into my lessons.

With Wednesday being Fourth of July, the teacher in me thought a few Schoolhouse Rock! history lessons would be fun for Music Monday.


Enjoy the fireworks!

Have a happy and safe Fourth of July!

Visit Xmas Dolly and Jade Louise Designs for more Music Monday fun.
Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

They Have a Dream

The girls had Monday off from school, but I wanted it to be more than a long weekend.  I feel it’s important to understand why we honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Every year, we observe the holiday by watching Dr. King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech.  Then, we discuss it and follow it up with a writing activity.  When I saw this MLK writing activity floating around Pinterest, I thought it would be a great extension to our usual MLK activities.

After we watched the speech, we discussed what Dr. King’s dream was for our country.  Did Dr.King’s dream become a reality?  Are all people treated equally today?  What’s your dream? 

When Emmalynn said her dream was to be a pony, I realized I needed to clarify the question, “What’s your dream?”  I explained to Emmalynn, “It’s not a dream that you have when you sleep.  It’s a hope for the future of the world or for others.”

What’s your dream for the community or the world?  

She understood the difference and wrote a wonderful response.

“My dream is to help the world.  I would help people by making sure that they have homes, families and don’t get separated.”

I love Allana’s dream too.


Aren’t they beautiful girls with big, beautiful dreams for the world?  And speaking of beautiful girls, my niece, Meghan, joined us for our MLK fun.  You can read about Meghan’s dream here.

The Ultimate Virtual Christmas Cookie Recipe Swap

(Cue music.)

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

When flour needs some sifting

And batter mixed with an ingredient of good cheer

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

It’s yum, yummiest season of all!

Oven timers will be dinging and mom will be singing

As she samples them all!

It’s yum, yummiest season of all!


There’ll be cookies with chips

And some will call to be dipped

And some are powdered with snow.

Sometimes you feel like nut

But sometimes you don’t but you choose

To present them with a bow.


It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Oh the most wonderful time of the year!


Help make this wonderful time even better by adding your cookie recipe to The Ultimate Virtual Christmas Cookie Recipe Swap linky party. I know that the title of the linky party is a bit of a mouthful, but then so are the cookies I will be stuffing in my face all month long.

To join the recipe swap, simply post a cookie recipe or any sweet treat on your blog.  Photos with your recipe are an added treat.  Be sure to included add The Ultimate Virtual Christmas Cookie Recipe Swap button to your post and link back to this post.  Then, come back to Run DMT to add your link to this blog hop.  You can share as many treats as you like, but please include the cookie swap button in your post and link back here. Then, sample some of the treats by visiting the links listed. Add a comment to tell us which cookies are your favorites!

It’s so simple!  Can’t you just taste the fun already?! Now let’s toss share those cookies!