Guavaween Then and Now

On the last Saturday in October, we celebrate Guavaween which is Tampa’s (actually Ybor City’s) Latin version of a Halloween Mardi Gras.  Throughout the night, young and old parade the streets in slutty creepy outlandish costumes. 


Year after year (many moons ago before marriage and children), I found myself dressed in costume and beer crawling through the crowded streets of Ybor City with thirty thousand of my closest friends.


As crazy as it sounds, Guavaween will always have a special spot in my heart.  


Dressed as a Brownie on a cold Guavaween night fourteen years ago, I traded Girl Scout cookies for beer.  Then, at some point during that crazy chilly night, my girlfriend and I found our way into the Green Iguana to escape the crowd and warm my cookies.


While warming up in the bar with a cold beer, I smiled at a young lad standing across the smoky room.  He smiled back and proceeded to walk over to introduce himself.  As he gazed upon me, my knees went weak and I knew I was looking into the eyes of my future husband. 


It was truly love at first sight.  He says my smile entranced him, but more than likely it was the cookies hanging out my shorts and my belted fishnets that caught his attention.  


Since there were so many great costumes at Gauavaween, I always traveled with a camera to capture some of my favorite ones on film.  I also happened to capture the moment I met Allan.




Although it was all too cliché and too surreal for me to process, we chatted for a while and before we parted our ways, he asked me for my phone number.  Since it seemed silly to meet a decent fellow in a bar, the rational side of my brain instructed me to not wait by the phone especially for a guy who hits on your in a bar on Guavaween.


However, he did call a few days later and we arranged for our first date on November 1, which years later would be recognized as another noteworthy celebration when our first daughter was born on that same date.


Since becoming a grown-up and a mom, I’ve gotten away from Guavaween, but I still celebrate the event every year in my heart as the night I met my true love.  And of course, we I still celebrate it by parading around in costumes.





A Place to Call Home

DSCN4230When Allan and I thought about selling our first home, I felt a small pang in my heart.  Allan proposed to me in that cozy little home in sleepy Spring Hill.  He carried me over the threshold after we were married.  Years later, I carried two little infants through that very same door.


My oldest daughter, Allana, still speaks highly of that little home.  She fondly remembers her old bedroom walls covered with playful bunnies hiding in garden print paper.  She also recalls a huge lantana bush and several old shady oaks trees in the backyard. 


Eventually, our small family of four outgrew and overpowered our quaint little home.  The coziness was no longer cute, but rather cramped our style.


While we lived in Spring Hill, my DH’s commute to Clearwater took over 3 hours round trip.  Allan wanted to invest in more quality family time rather commute time.  With that, we sold our home and purchased a home a bit further south. 


Within a month, we sold our old home, but we sat in limbo for a few weeks until our new home was ready.  We turned to family members for a place to stay, but no one had room for our small family.


Then, a dear friend offered her vacant home hidden in the woods of Brooksville for us to stay rent free until our new home was completed.  Although we had all the comforts of home, I felt very isolated and alone due to the distance from my old friends in Spring Hill.  Those few weeks in Brooksville were the hardest for me.  


IMG_9750Once we settled into our new home in a new town, I started a moms group.  With the aid of an amazing moms group, I slowly began to build new friendships, but still kept ties to all my old friends in Spring Hill.  However, as my family and I began spending more and more time with our new friends, they quickly became our extended family and their smiling faces felt like home.  


Home is more than a shelter or a place to hang your hat or a step with a welcome to wipe your feet.  A true home transforms into a warm place when you are surrounded by people who love you and with those precious people, you create many cherished memories.


With my friend, Lori, moving away, I know that where ever she settles will be another home for me because a loving, warm home awaits me there.  The same will be true if and when our other friends decide to choose uproot and move away.


If my husband lost his job tomorrow and we became homeless overnight, I know I would still have a home in my heart because of the foundation my friends and family laid there.



What does home mean to you?  Tell your story to TwitterMoms

 Focus Features and TwitterMoms have teamed up to create a fun contest around their new movie premiering this month called “Away We Go.” A heartfelt comedy directed by Sam Mendes and written by Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida, Away We Go follows one couple’s quest to find a place they can call home 

To participate, simply write a post on your own blog sharing what “home” means to you!  For more information, click here.


So Long Lori

IMG_9701“Do you need anything?” I asked Lori when I called to check on her.


“Nah, I’m all right.  Wait a minute.  I need paper towels.  I don’t have any left.”


The movers had packed away the entire contents of her house and now brimful boxes awaited the moving truck in the morning.


When I delivered the roll of towels, I noticed Lori’s children, Shelby and Jake, chasing their friends down the block.  That would be the last time I saw their little smiling faces.


Tiffany, our running partner, and her children were part of the herd of children playing in the street.   Tiffany and I chatted about our Saturday morning run and coordinated the details of where to meet.  Lori listened in as we spoke.  A small lump in my throat formed as I held back the tears and the thought of Lori not running with us anymore.


Being a military family, Lori has become accustomed to the quickly formed friendships and short residencies where her husband, Larry, is stationed.  With each three-year placement, she learned to adapt over the years and each new city becomes her Home Sweet Home For Now.  But for the friends she leaves behind, we can’t adjust to thought of her leaving nor can we bear to lose the sweetness she and her family have added to our lives.


Lori is the sole reason I started running.  For years, my DH tried to encourage me to run, but I only laughed at the idea.  But when Lori coaxed me into running, she taught me how to start small with short runs and distances.  Thanks to her constant support, I eventually ran many miles.


For our first race (Turkey Trot in 2007), I only intended to run 1 mile.  Lori pushed me and convinced me that I could take on 3 miles.  Lori believed I could do it and with her assistance, I soon believed I could do it too.  Thanks to Coach Lori, I eventually ran faster and further.  Then almost a year later, the tables turned and I convinced her into running a half marathon. 


Turkey Trot 2007


Disney Half Marathon 2009

Disney Half Marathon 2009


Last night, several friends and I said our final good-byes to Lori at our local beer garden.  I heard this has been the hardest move for her so far.



As I train and register for upcoming races, it’s hard to fathom Lori not being at my side.  I am really going to miss my coach, my running partner and my friend.