When Christmas {Train} Comes to Town

Like most toddler boys, Little Lion Man is obsessed with trains.  Although when my oldest daughter was his age, she loved trains too.  In fact, because she loved Thomas and trains so much, we saw The Polar Express in the cinema when she was close to his age, however, she was a timid toddler and a few of the scenes frightened her.

But it didn’t frighten my Little Lion Man.  He hollered out, “Whoa!” when he watched the Polar Express cascade down the mountainside like a roller coaster.

Since Little Lion Man loves locomotives, we boarded the 7 ½ gauge CP&G Railroad at Crews Lakes Wilderness Park for a ride on the Christmas Train to the “North Pole”.  When Little Lion Man spotted the little engine chugging down the track, he had a similar reaction to The Polar Express. “Whoa!  Mama, it’s a train!”

Winding along tracks through the woods, reminded me of a similar train in England years ago.  On that train ride long ago, Allana met my friend, Suzie, her mum and Father Christmas.

But I digress.

Over the track and through the woods to Santa Claus we go went, but Little Lion Man wanted nothing to do with the big man in red.  He preferred to watch the trains arriving at the station.

After a quick photo opportunity and an even quicker word with Santa to remind him of the toys to bring, we were back on our way home.

At the end of the day, that little train ride brought a great deal of joy to one little boy.

And the rest of us had fun too. 

Merry Christmas!

What Christmas music is moving you this season?

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

Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

Fishing and Catching Critters

My girls love fishing.

I love watching them.

It tickles me that they enjoy fishing in sun dresses.

Sometimes Dad and Little Lion Man will join them.

But LLM is better at collecting water than catching fish, which is very important…

…especially when the catch of the day becomes a temporary pet.

*No fish were harmed in the making of this Summer Daze post.  All fish were released back into the wild.*

Summer Daze Fun Photo Party
Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

Fireworks and Lights

Like everyone else in America on Independence Day (July 4th), I obsessively tried to capture photos of fireworks.  After reading Naptime Momtog’s tutorial, I set my camera appropriately…except I failed to use a tripod.

I was too busy taking photos of the kids and our street performance.

Every time a bomb burst in the air, I would quickly spin myself in the general direction, click and hope for the best, sometimes only catching the tail end of the fireworks.

As a result, my firework photos have a slight swirly burred effect to them.

At least the photos of the kids with their sparklers came out really cool…

…and I don’t fear photographing the lights anymore.


Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

Babes and Blossoms

While the weather is pleasant, Little Lion Man and I have been partaking in the preschool-appropriate fun at our neighborhood shopping center. With camera in tow, I try my best to snap photos of a rambunctious toddler who is more interested in shopping cart shaped like police cars, trains and fountains than lizards and hedgehogs.

So although I couldn’t capture a decent photo of Liam, I was able to snap some photos of the flowers cascaded through the plaza.

Spring is definitely in full bloom at our favorite stomping ground, The Shops at Wiregrass, which is perfect timing for the Leap into Spring! Photo Challenge.

For these photos, I decided to have fun with Field of Depth so you could truly experience the sights and smells of spring in my neighborhood.

Now, gather a whiff of the Jasmine bush growing wildly outside our front door.  With its twined vines and pungent fragrance, it welcomes you to our home.

Well, it would welcome you to our home if one particular little man would stop the picking the flowers.  Otherwise it will just be bush with a bunch a leaves waving hello.

spring photography challenge, kristi live and love out loud photo challenge, project alicia photo challenge, bumbles and light photo challenge,Mama's Losin' It


“Has Spring sprung? Post a photo journal of what Spring is looking like in your neck of the woods!”

*Also submitted at*

PhotoStory Fridaythe hollie rogue Look whooooo’s snapping Unknown Mami

Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

Leap Into Spring Photo Challenge: Eggs

This week’s Leap Into Spring Photo Challenge is Easter/Eggs.  Given that Easter was just a few weeks ago and I still haven’t shared those photos, I hopped on it.

Like most , our Easter our was full of eggs from decorating and dying…

…to four different egg hunts.  There was one egg hunt with Emmalynn’s class.  Chugging along with a train basket in tow, Little Lion Man tried to keep up with the big kids.

We always love our annual egg hunt with our Moms on the Go friends.

On Easter morning, the Easter bunny left some jellybean-filled eggs in the yard.  Did you know that dump trucks make better Easter baskets?

Then later that day, Grandma hid some eggs in her gorgeous garden, which is perfect for eggs hunts and wanna-be photographers.

After a long, “eggs”hausting hunt run in Grandma’s huge yard, we rewarded ourselves with the Cadbury Creme Egg Cupcakes I baked for dessert.

Yep, it was a truly “eggs”elent Easter.

spring photography challenge, kristi live and love out loud photo challenge, project alicia photo challenge, bumbles and light photo challenge,

PhotoStory Fridaythe hollie rogue Look whooooo’s snapping Unknown Mami

Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

An Encounter with the Penguin

An encounter with the Penguin may sound like a bad Batman episode, but it is no exaggeration to how I briefly met John Bingham, the well-known slow-runner and author nicknamed The Penguin for his “waddling pace”.

As stealth-like as I could with a screaming toddler strapped in a stroller in tow, I discreetly tried to snap photos of The Penguin during his lecture on flexibility vs. stretching at the St. Pete Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon expo.

Unfortunately, the rude repeated clicking broke his speaking stride and then he snapped. “Why are you taking photos?”

“Um…because you’re The Penguin and I’ve quoted you on my blog,” I sheepishly replied.

“You blog?  What’s your blog?  Will you blog this?”

“Of course!”

“Well, then let’s get a photo together!”

With that invitation, I tossed my camera to my friend, Chrissy, to capture this beautiful blogoturnity.

Thank you, Mr. Penguin, sir.

“The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.” – John “The Penguin” Bingham

PhotoStory Fridaythe hollie rogue Look whooooo’s snapping

I’m a Sucker for Pinterest

Pinned ImageAs you know, Pinterest is my guilty pleasure. It truly is like getting a new magazine in the mail every day.  Not that kind of magazine, silly!  Sheesh.  Get your mind out of the gutter!

For me, it’s like Shape, Runner’s World, Better Homes and Gardens, Food Network Magazine and Family Fun all rolled into one happy space.  But I didn’t realize how literal that was until I stumbled upon this awesome Valentine’s Day idea. 

How adorable and creative are these Valentine’s Day cards?  It sure beats the perforated, punch out Sponge Bob stupid pun cards my kids would beg me to buy.

And it’s no wonder because the blogger behind this idea, Design Mom, was featured in the February issue of Family Fun magazine.

So when you’re flipping through Family Fun and you wonder, “Who are all these amazing moms?” All those amazing, creative moms, dads, grandparents and teachers do indeed exist and can be found on Pinterest.  So go follow them (and me too)!

And then you can try to replicate their ingeniousness like I did.

I started with a photo shoot…

…and a tiny bit of tweaking and editing in Picnik (which I will not be happy to lose on April 19) to add the text “Valentine, I’m a sucker for you.”

Then, a few small cuts for a heart-shaped lollipop and voila!

Our classmates’ cards are complete.

Thank you Family Fun Magazine Design Mom Pinterest!

PhotoStory Fridaythe hollie rogue

Gasparilla and The Great Bead Booty

There be a pirate invasion once again in Tampa.

Aye, wearing snarls and yielding swords, me krewe set sail upon the Black Pearl in search of treasure known as The Great Bead Booty.

The Great Bead Booty be the gem of all the scurvy pirates at the Gasparilla Children’s Parade.  The secret, me hearties, is to keep ye good eye on all that is casted from the krewes that sail along Bayshore as ye never know what treasures lie in front of ye.

Be it beads or candy, scurvy pirates need to be ready. Aye, that be the story of how Captain Madre got hit in the head with a Tootsie Roll  some pirates lose an eye and are forever cursed to wear a patch.

Even me youngest scallywag found treasure…


…and tried to steal some more.

Legend tells, some pirates hunt for treasures of giant burritos.

But one scallywag set her sights on cotton candy only to have her plan foiled when Mean Captain Madre grunted, “No” and threatened a long walk off a short plank if she didn’t become a jolly pirate.

Then, a loud thunderous boom shook the land as Jose Gaspar’s ship invaded and began firing cannons.  But we did not withdraw, me hearties!  Aye, the Great Bead Booty was still ours for the taking!

After hours upon the bay, our voyage had ended and the time had come to find a new destination to feed me hungry krewe. Aye and motley krewe we be.

Until next year, Gaspar!  ARRRRRRGGH!

PhotoStory Fridaythe hollie rogueUnknown Mami

A Run DMT Year in Review

January – The F Word

In 2011, the number 40 was more than milestone.   At the beginning of year, I proclaimed a goal to run 40 miles before my 40th birthday and my desire to be fit at forty all with the emphasis of the f-bomb.

During the winter break, we built Florida Snowmen with Auntie Kirsten and Meghan which produced some fabulous photos.

February – My Air and Water Diet…Not so Much

Although there was enough love in February to sustain a city, it would take more than heartslove notes and valentines to keep this mama going.

In a funny vlog, I share a pile food I ate and still lost 18 pounds, ‘cause mama loves to eat which is why I run.  When you watch this crazy long vlog, count how many times I drop another f-word. Fantastic.


March was a time of reflection and education.  It started with a random act of kindness and which led to Lucy joining our family.  Then, a Gallery phototheme had me hunt down an old photo from my teaching days.  Those students taught me more than I ever taught them.

Also, spending more time with my niece, Meghan has educated me and made me more sensitive to epilepsy.  Since March is Epilepsy Awareness month, we recognized it with a spontaneous purple picnic.

AprilWhat Tomorrow Will Bring

In 2011, Liam and I showed our determination and fortitude to reach the finish line.

In April, I waited with bated breath for the NYC marathon lottery selection, which didn’t happen for me.  Watch the NYC Marathon video and you’ll understand why I’m applying again this year.  Applications for 2012 NYC Marathon lottery open at noon on January 2, 2012. God, I hope I get it. Keep my fingers, toes and shoelaces crossed again.

MayRun DMT’s Top 10 of Summer Don’ts

With May, came lots of  sunsets and summer, my favorite season.  I heart summer almost as much as I love writing lists.


Sometimes my youngest daughter, Emmalynn, has her head in the clouds sometimes and I love her for it.  I can totally relate.  During the summer months, my head is usually there too.

JulyLoving You for Your First Birthday

Although we have three birthdays in July in this family, two of those birthdays were milestones this year.  First, our little Tiny Cool, Emmalynn, turned six.  Then Little Lion Man turned one and I hit 40.  In our first Music Monday vlog duet debut, Little Lion Man and I share our best Minnie Riperton impersonations to recognize his first birthday.

AugustGet the Party Started

In August, I blogged a lot of back to school posts and summer coming to end stuff.

But we ended the summer on a high note when we celebrated my 40th birthday in August and it ROCKED!  Plus, I met my goal of losing 40 lbs and 40 miles before my 40th birthday.

I also organized a Tampa Bay Blogher Meetup.  (Another one is in the works for March 2012.)

SeptemberThings Heard at Our Girlfriend Getaway

Summer heat and celebrations were still in full swing in September as well as our annual girlfriend getaway.  You may need to take a few shots of Whipped Pinnacle vodka to understand most of this post, but it still makes me chuckle four months later.

OctoberRandom Thoughts about Tigers, Honey Badgers and Bunnies

In October, I transformed into a bad ass honey badger and Amy Whinehouse and transposed my likeness onto some photos for a funny list of 22 Things I’ve Never Done.

NovemberTen Years with Our Soul Sister

When November came, my family and I gave 30 gifts in 30 days and counted our blessings.  My oldest daughter, Allana turned ten and requested her ears to be pierced. Her milestone birthday hit me harder than my own.  Where did a decade go? 

December – A Serendipity Style Date

I’m not sure if blogging and Pinterest is making me a better mom/wife/friend or a worse one.  How can anything that helps plan dates like this be bad?

Of course, there was some of running happening throughout the year too.  After all, I am a Mom on the Run.  All my race recaps from this year and previous years can be found here.

Naptime MomtogMama's Losin' It

PhotoStory Fridayand then, she {snapped}the hollie rogue