Meet the Newest Engine on Sodor

We are big fans of Thomas the Train in our house. We love each and every character and the amazing and affirming life lessons the program teaches. My kids have learned a lot from Thomas and his friends about friendship, persistence, forgiveness and hard work.

In the newest movie featuring the Really Useful Crew, Sodor’s Legend of the Lost Treasure (scheduled for release September 8, 2015), we get to meet Ryan, Sodor’s newest engine! Ryan is now available in the classic wooden railway model and the smaller Take-n-Play version.

Wooden train set model:


Take-n-Play model:


I have a feeling Ryan will be showing up fast in the toy boxes of Thomas fans worldwide!

The movie is now available for pre-order on Amazon.

Thomas & Friends: Sodor’s Legend of the Lost Treasure – The Movie

Do you have a Thomas fan in your home? I’d love to hear who your favorites are. Cranky, Flynn and Rocky are all the rage in my house!


Mission Trails Regional Center

The kids were getting a little restless today, so I threw them in the car and we headed off to Mission Trails Regional Park in San Diego.

Mission Trails is one of the largest urban parks in the United States, encompassing nearly 5,800 acres of terrain. With relatively easy trails, this is a great spot for a hike with kids.

Even if hiking isn’t your thing, the visitor center has great interactive exhibits for guests of all ages. The visitor’s center is really lovely and features an elaborate rock wall the kids have fun trying to scale, a permanent museum, an outdoor amphitheater and spectacular views of the park.


Today’s activities consisted making a rubbing of indigenous animal tracks and creating handprints to hang on the “humanitree” to demonstrate our commitment to environmental conservation.

Displays include local wildlife (and appropriate precautions when living and hiking in their habitat); native Kumeyaay history, culture and artifacts; and regional geology. Activity packets are available for kids on a couple of topics, including the water cycle, and you can even pick up a scavenger hunt form at the Visitor’s Center desk to complete during your visit. There are great opportunities here to learn about the area.

Free walking tours are available throughout the week, and regular kids and family events are hosted throughout the year. Check out their online calendar here to plan your visit.

Water fountains (and water bowls for dogs) are available around the center, but no food is available for purchase. Bring snacks and drinks – especially if you’ll be hiking the trails. There is very little shade on the hiking routes, so plan accordingly, especially if you have kids with you.

Enjoy the adventure!

Linked with:

Summer Days

What Every New Working Mom Should Know



I just went back to work after baby number three. You would think it would get easier by the third time, but it doesn’t. I’ve spent most of each of my maternity leaves trying to cobble together a plan that would allow me to stay at home for at least the first year, but no such opportunities ever presented themselves (and I do have a really nice career), so I went back to work at twelve weeks post-baby each time.

Being a three-time veteran of the working mom return to work has given me a little perspective, and I wanted to share some of the insights I’ve managed to glean over the years for any new moms who find themselves emotional and feeling overwhelmed in this position for the first time.

Being emotional is okay. 

In fact, it’s more than okay, it’s normal.  When I went back to work after my first son was born, I spent the majority of the first week sobbing at my desk with my phone set to “do not disturb.” It was rough. You’re full of wildly fluctuating hormones, exhausted to the point of near-delirium, and are most likely still months away from fitting back into your pre-pregnancy work-wear (which, let’s be honest, isn’t exactly a mood-booster). Allow yourself to process whatever emotions you’re feeling. Give yourself the space and the freedom to be human. Be honest with how you’re feeling. Putting up walls will just take up more energy, and you don’t have any of that to spare.

Other moms can relate.

Hopefully you have some other working moms in your life you can talk to and bond with. I’ve often been surprised at how eager other working moms are to encourage and support one another. So reach out to other moms you work with and network with. If you don’t have support around you, check out online groups and forums for working moms.  A little encouragement goes a long way, and knowing you’re not the only one struggling with that heart-ripped-out-of-your-chest feeling when you miss your baby is wonderfully comforting.

Your relationship with your baby won’t suffer. 

Really. Believe me on this one. It’s true. Despite the fact you may be gone more than 8 hours a day, you’ll still have so many precious moments with your baby. You’ll always be mom. You’ll always be a valuable, necessary and cherished source of comfort and love. You’ll be able to carve out a lot of time together and those moments with be incredibly rich with purpose and intentionality.

Your sleep cycle will adjust. 

Somewhat. You’ll never again sleep like you did before having kids. But the exhaustion dissipates eventually and your routine falls into a new pattern. You’ll get by – even if there are days you just don’t know how you’ll keep awake. Rest while you can and be gracious to yourself when you go back to work.

Ease into the transition if you can. 

This isn’t always possible, and that’s okay. But if you’re able to, try negotiating with your employer to work reduced hours, temporarily move to part-time, or explore work-from-home options while you ease back into your work schedule. When you present it as a temporary arrangement your boss is more likely to agree. If you feel like you’re doing too much too fast, it’s absolutely worth it to explore options for additional flexibility in your work schedule.

Working moms are valuable.

Hopefully you work in an office where women are championed and encouraged, and not some backwards bastion of sexism. Women have valuable contributions to make to the workforce and working moms are no exception. My philosophy has always been that although I might need days off for sick kids and doctors appointments and extra breaks to pump breastmilk, being a working mom makes me more committed to my work. I’m not going  to leave my precious babies all day to show up and do a half-assed job; I’m going to contribute something valuable so that I can show my kids that my work was truly significant in addition to enabling me to bring home a paycheck.

You can do it!

There will be obstacles to overcome: exhaustion, showing up late because baby had meltdown, breastmilk soaking your shirt in an important meeting….Know you can do it. Working moms are strong! YOU are strong!!!

So, stay strong, mama! You’ve got this. All us working moms are cheering you on. It doesn’t get easier – but you’ll make it good.

What’s your best advice for a new mom heading back to work?
Linked with:

Best of Worst
Modern Dad Pages
You Baby Me Mummy

The High Walled Garden

There was a high-walled garden where I often sat

Twirling leaves and unfurling blooms draped and winding over stones

Where I reclined with the sun on my legs

With breeze stroked hair


There was a high-walled garden where I often sat

Keeping out the noise of the world

Locking danger away

Safe and secure with beauty and rest


There was a high-walled garden where I often sat

With giggles and roses

Laughter and mint

Delight and doves





I think often of that garden now

The creaking swing, the cobbled stones

The fragrance of sweetness and the softness of life

Since the day I let out a mighty yell and burst down its walls.

The Perfect Simple Summer Maitai

Hot summer days require chips, spicy salsa and tangy maitais. It’s just not the same without them. 

Here’s my favorite simple recipe for the perfect refreshing poolside maitai. I suggest making them by the pitcher because they’re absolutely delicious:


  • 2 parts dark rum
  • 2 parts light rum
  • 1 part triple sec
  • 1 part pineapple juice
  • 1 splash of pulp-free orange juice


Mix and pour over ice or store in refrigerator to serve chilled. 

These are a win anytime and only take a minute to throw together. Enjoy! 


Linked with:

Domestic Momster

Review: Banzai Motorized Speedboat

What better fun is there on a summer day than splashing in a pool?  My kids love to swim – and they love inflatable pool rafts, inner tubes and ride-along toys. 

My 6 year old had been asking for a Banzai motorized speedboat since last summer, so we bought him and his brother each one for end-of-school year presents. 

They absolutely loved them! 

Thankfully we had an air pump and didn’t have to blow them up on lung-capacity alone! 

They take a LOT of batteries (EIGHT D batteries each), but they do a great job of zooming around the pool and turn really well too. Best of all, they come with a built-in water sprayer that has almost too far range, given the fact I was repeatedly targeted for getting soaked even though I tried to stay a safe distance from the pool!


We had great fun with these and would highly recommend them for tons of pool-time fun this summer!

We bought ours at Costco for $34.99 each, but you can also find them on Amazon.

What are some of your favorite pool toys that should be next on our list to try?

Linked with:

Summer Days

The Gift in the Wait

While I wouldn’t say I’m an incredibly patient person, there’s something that really doesn’t bother me: waiting. 
I don’t mind waiting at all. There are certain things absolutely worth waiting for:

Waiting for a plane to be inspected or repaired on the runway? Take your time. Take all the time you need. I’ll sit on board contentedly, amid the recycled air and frustrated passengers as long as this bird is going to be in tip top shape by the time we’re in the air. Please don’t cut any corners. 

Waiting for a traffic accident to clear? Thank goodness I’m in a car stuck in the traffic jam and not in the car that caused it. 

Waiting for minor inconveniences? A doctor’s appointment running late? My cup of coffee taking a dang eternity to brew? These pauses I’ve learned to enjoy. 

I showed up for a haircut recently only to be told my stylist was running late and I should come back in an hour. At first I was frustrated. I admit I was annoyed. I had places to go and things to do and how dare they not call me in advance to reschedule? But I realized this setback in my schedule forced me to stop. I now had an hour to burn. No kids. Just me. No work distractions. Just me. No other demands on my time – at least none I was really able to attend to right then and there. Just me. 

So I grabbed a cup of coffee and I sat. I could think. I could read. I could experience the warmth of the sun. I could listen to the birds. I could stare at the sky. I could enjoy that time I would have never intentionally taken for myself. 

I realized I have to make a choice in these moments: I can be frustrated or I can find enjoyment in the experience of the time for which nothing else had been planned.

Rather than an inconvenience, I had been given a gift. A gift of moments. A gift of quiet. A gift of time.