The Artist - Nathan Sawaya
When you arrive at The Art of the Brick Tampa, you are welcomed into a small area to watch a 3 minute video about the artist behind the exhibit, Nathan Sawaya. It was fascinating to learn all about his passion for LEGOs and the journey that led to creating the exhibit after being a corporate lawyer in NYC.
After the video, you have a self-directed walking tour of the gallery that houses the exhibit. Each area has a theme, such as the first room with famous art recreated by LEGOs. I loved checking out the title of each piece and the number of bricks that it took to assemble it. The Mona Lisa and Starry Night were my favorites in this gallery!
I will include some photos of the exhibit, but I don’t want to ruin it for you! My boys loved seeing how LEGOs can be assembled to create amazing things of all shapes and sizes. I was in awe of the artistic component. Sawaya truly found ways to take a novel medium to create pieces that were able to evoke emotion and feeling.
At the end of the tour, there is an interactive area with LEGO bricks for everyone to assemble their own creations. There is even a spot for the littlest ones to have fun with the Duplo larger blocks! Everyone will have the chance to be inspired and explore their creativity.
Know if you go - And you should go!
Designated parking is available, but it is a bit of a walk from the museum. There are plenty of lots downtown, just follow signage and pay as posted.
The exhibit is FREE to view, courtesy of the Vinik Foundation, through September 4 at 802 East Whiting Street in Downtown Tampa (District 3 Arts and Event Center). The exhibit is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 AM to 6 PM.
We can all thank Facebook memories for this post. It popped up at the top of my newsfeed on Sunday, and while I knew it was coming soon, I was surprised to see it. It has been exactly a year since we left Virginia to move to Tampa. It has been quite a year, and I’m grateful for a place to reflect.
Creating our Virginia Home
I grew up in the St. Pete/ Clearwater area, so this area is truly home, but Northern Virginia earned its place as home in our hearts. I moved to Woodbridge, Virginia as a college graduate, and I thought it would only be temporary. The short version is that I got a permanent job teaching elementary school, met my husband, and the rest was really history. The longer version is that my husband and I truly created a home together there. We got engaged overlooking the same bay where we would get married a year later. We had our first grown up jobs as teachers. We watched our careers grow. Most importantly, we started our family there. All three of our boys were born in the same hospital in Alexandria, Virginia. We made life-long friends there. We had routines, and overall, the comforts of a “home.”
Over the 11 years that both my husband and I lived in Virginia, we knew that we did not want to stay there permanently. We didn’t see Tampa as our next home until a couple of years ago when we had our routine Christmas time visit here in Tampa. We saw how people were able to spend so much time outdoors, how our boys loved it, how there was a bit of a slower pace, and how great it would be to live near family. We spent time at the beach, saw the joy in each other’s eyes, and decided that if we could make it all work, we would move to Florida.
It sounded so simple but daunting. Somehow everything fell into place, and we found ourselves packing up while I was at the end of my pregnancy. We pulled off the move from VA to FL and lived to tell the tale!
We arrived in Tampa with a set of goals and hopes for our future here. In a year’s time, we have met many of those goals, but not in the ways we expected to. My husband found a new job and starts next week. I never thought I’d be running a blog and organizing events, but here I am! But through it all, we still haven’t made enough memories here yet for it to feel like home.
What is Home?
I’ve lived in many places in my life. My dad is retired Air Force, and we also moved around when I was a kid because he was in the restaurant business. I’ve learned that it takes time to make a place feel like home, but above all, it takes people. When I visited Virginia, of course I had a few destinations that I needed to visit (Wegmans, I MISS YOU!), but I had a list of so many people who I needed to see. I spent time reconnecting, chatting, and just feeling like myself.
I consider myself lucky that I have found a few people here in Tampa who I know will remain life-long friends. It will continue to take time to make it feel like home though.
A Year From Now
I am excited to see what this next year brings. We have goals for our family, for our careers/businesses, and for our kids. They may not happen exactly how we plan, but we know that we will continue embracing Tampa as our home!
My first stop was for a donut and coffee of course! Have you ever had a donut from Duck Donuts? Ohhh emmm geeee. It’s a good thing for my health that they didn’t open the store next to my gym in Virginia until after we moved to Florida. Try the Cinnamon Sugar - it's amazing!
I fit in some wonderful time with my matron of honor from my wedding and another close friend of mine. They were my first friends in Virginia when I started teaching, and we share many memories together.
I next spent the afternoon getting my car serviced. This may sound like a terrible way to spend my first afternoon of freedom, but I didn’t have any kids with me, I had free wifi, and they included a complimentary car wash!
Next, I made sure to include a stop at my favorite nail salon for a little pampering before an evening catching up with a great friend.
Well, Day 2 was a little less about me than Day 1. I did a lot of work and emails for Housewives, had lunch at the AMAZING Warehouse in Alexandria with a contact for a Girls Night Out here in Tampa, and had some work done on my computer. It was a little about me when I was working because I used workspace at Wegmans, the best grocery store ever. I’m happy to debate about how it stacks up against Publix. I made sure to fit in another meal and wine time with my awesome, hospitable friend who hosted me at her home in the evening.
Wednesday morning started with an amazing cycle class with one of my favorite instructors in Virginia. I have a couple great classes in Tampa, but this one felt like home.
I spent the afternoon with my friend (and sort of boss!) from the school system I do some work for. It was great to catch up and connect!
That evening, I was so excited to pick up my husband at the airport! A few days apart and time spent on our own left us refreshed and ready for a couple of days in Virginia without our kiddos.
What I Learned
Of course, time away from my family left me with some pretty intense mommy/wife guilt, but I struggle to explain how important this time was for me. I didn’t go on an exotic vacation. I simply spent a few days being me. Just me, not a wife, not a mom, just me. I know those roles of mom and wife are an important part of who I really am, but I want to know that I can fill my days without that too.
Would you ever take a little vacay for yourself? What would it look like?
Today is my birthday. It’s my 35th birthday to be exact. I’m not one of those people who dreads getting older. As my dad loves to say, it’s better than the alternative! Yeah, it’s a dad joke. Anyway, I have always made a point to enjoy my stage of life and not dwell too much on the past.
However, something about 35 is hitting me hard. I have been reflecting on why, and I think I finally figured it out. I am an adult. There is no escaping it. I don’t really think I could’ve escaped it when I had my third child, or even when I became a teacher (can you be any more “adult” than when you’re teaching a room full of children?), but now, at 35, I’m pretty much full-blown “ma’am,” “lady,” and “woman.”
So, what does this mean? There are some completely unglamorous and downright unpleasant parts of being an adult, and some others that bring a certain freedom and peace that cannot be found without years of experience. I cannot even imagine how I will feel looking back on this post after another 35 years of living!
So for the unglamorous, I am now expected to manage and follow a budget, keep my home clean (ha, as if that ever really happens though!), and cook at least one dish that will result in people asking for the recipe. I also feel the pressure to know what to wear for every occasion, including not only the clothes, but the accessories, shoes, and jewelry. Oof.
There are a number of things that I LOVE about being an adult. I love knowing that I have the responsibility and pleasure of taking care of three children every day. I made them and they drive me a little crazy, especially during the summer, but I am their mom, and it doesn’t get more adult than that. I love that I have a husband who works hard for his family, and who I get to daydream with about our future. I love the certain peace I have about who I am and how at this point, I know I can’t expect everyone to like me. Just gotta do you, right?
Overall, being 35 is going to be great, and I know it’s just a number. Somehow though, it feels heavier and more grown-up than 34.
What do you think? Is 35 a milestone year? Or is it just another on the road to 40??
Our charity spotlight for July is for a cause close to my heart. Supporting Troops Area wide Nationally and Overseas (S.T.A.N.O.) Foundation is built on a foundation of volunteers whose motto is to serve those who serve with a focus of enhancing the lives of our U.S. Armed Forces and their families. They are committed to provisioning support to these selfless individuals who sacrifice so much for us. S.T.A.N.O. Foundation is a non-profit organization also dedicated to being a resource to military families stationed in the Tampa Bay area looking for places to spend holidays or join military related events.
I had the pleasure of speaking with the founder, Paula Stano. She is a single mom of a US Marine who is the inspiration behind this organization. After his enlistment, she quickly learned of how many of our military troops didn’t have any or much support from back home. With her son being stationed overseas, it became painstakingly apparent during the holiday season that these men and women would have to celebrate in either their barracks or maybe a local USO and not with their families. Paula would like to incorporate a program here in the Tampa Bay area where anyone stationed here without family would be able to sign up for a program where they could spend holidays with host families so they didn’t feel so alone. Paula has a great passion of helping others and wants to help our soldiers feel closer to home even when stationed far from their families.
The STANO Foundation is best known for their personalized care packages that they send overseas. They focus on providing a personal, heart felt touch into every package. This is done by asking “what can we do better?” And “what would you like in your care package?” They send out these packages throughout the year, with particularly large shipments during July and before Christmas time. The packages are made possible by item and shipping cost donations from the community. You can view the entire list of requested donation items on their website.
Paula will be attending our Girls Night Out at Primebar on July 19th and is looking forward to meeting you all! We are requesting donations of beef jerky and/or black crew socks to help fill their care packages. Please bring your donations to Primebar for Paula to collect.
Below you will find an index of the amazing businesses with a spotlight at our June Girls Night Out; including their information to connect. This is a great opportunity to connect with those vendors that you might have missed networking with at the event. I also encourage you all to like each other's pages to keep the love going; as we all grow together! Oh, and don't forget to keep them in mind for your shopping and event needs.
PHOTOGRAPHER: Timeless Photography
It was such a job to have Edna, or Lola as she is also known, capture this event for us! Please view our photos here, and contact Timeless Photography for engagements, weddings, birthdays, everyday moments and any other photography needs! She covers Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco and Hernando counties.
LuLaRoe with Pam Beam
Pam offers fashionable, unique, affordable, and incredibly comfortable LuLaRoe clothing. Her inventory includes shirts, dresses, skirts, kid’s clothing, and of course, LEGGINGS! You can order online or visit her in-home boutique.
LipSense with Amber
Amber shared her inventory of colors from LipSense. LipSense is the premier product of SeneGence and is unlike any lipstick, stain or color. LipSense is a long-lasting (4-18 hours!) liquid lip color that is formulated to molecularly bond to your lips. LipSense is Waterproof, Kiss-proof, Kid-proof, Vegan and Cruelty-free. In addition to LipSense, SeneGence has a complete long-lasting cosmetic and skin care line.
Yoli with Valerie
Website | Email Valerie
Did you have a chance to learn about the Better Body System? It's not magic, it is a foundational, holistic system of synergistic all natural products that support and optimize the bodies physiological systems and processes. What sets the program apart is the patented product called Alkalete. Valerie shared her own mother's health story and how these products have impacted their family.
Premier Jewelry with Elizabeth
Premier Jewelry features the latest trends, to help you maximize your wardrobe and elevate your style. Premier jewelry is high in fashion, packed with versatility and easy on your budget. With almost 500 pieces in the collection, there’s something for everyone, every day! Contact Elizabeth to purchase your favorites for yourself or as gifts!
Bella Mia Medical Aesthetics and Laser Institute of Tampa
Dr. Linette Rivera and Dr. Pina Panchal provide medical aesthetics and medical services, executed or directly supervised by the physicians, ensuring the best care in a safe environment. In addition to skin services, you can visit them for weight loss goals as well! You can learn more about these impressive doctors from our blog feature!
Isagenix with Lili and Cristina
Call Lili | JOIN Group
No matter what your health goals are, Lili and Cristina can help you with their Isagenix product lines.Isagenix is protein based, mineral rich, nutrient dense, super food that combines nutritional cleansing with targeted essential nutrition that feeds the body on a cellular level.
Young Living with Kelly
As the world leader in essential oils, Young Living believes that everyone deserves a life full of abundance and wellness. Their vision is to bring the life-changing benefits of essential oils to every home, family, and lifestyle. Contact Kelly to learn how oils can help you in your wellness journey.
Nspire Network with Greg and Jacqueline
Now We No is the campaign that is informing men and women all over the world about the harmful effects that today’s sanitary napkins and tampons may have on women’s bodies. Visit the websites to learn more about the movement and view the innovative products that Nspire Network offers.
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Hi! I'm Diana. I love the beach, my family, chocolate, coffee, and meeting new people. I host monthly events in the Tampa area and cannot wait to meet all of you!