Wednesday, November 22, 2017

A Holiday Giveaway!!

Tickets, tickets please!! 

Our family had a blast at the Orange Empire Railway Museum for the A Day with Thomas event in Perris, and now that Christmas is just around the corner, they will be featuring their holiday event-- The Train to Santa's Workshop, which begins in December. 

Our family has yet to attend this event, but I would like to gift a family with 4 passes to check out this event for the holidays during the opening weekend (available dates: December 1, 2 or 3). All you need to do is leave a comment below, with your email and preferred date, so that I can contact you for more info. I will choose a winner at random on November 27th. Best wishes and Happy Thanksgiving!


A bit more info below:

Families embark on a magical train ride to visit with Santa Claus himself at his "North Pole Workshop". Select weekends in December, ride the train from the Orange Empire Railway Museum in Perris, where Santa's Elves will lead families in singing Christmas carols, play holiday trivia games and tell stories. 

Santa greets the guests as they arrive at the workshop.  At the workshop, children will be able to play in a play area and enjoy craft activities. Other activities include Thomas the Tank Engine play tables, a visit and photos with Santa, and cookies and hot chocolate. Before boarding the train guests can visit with Mrs. Claus and enjoy refreshments at Mrs. Claus’ Kitchen at Pinacate Station, see the model railroad layout, write a letter to Santa and shop at the vendor booths and the museum gift shop.

The event takes place on December 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 10, 15, 16, & 17 with train departure times: 11:001:003:005:30 & 7:00 on Saturday and Sunday and 5:30 & 7:00 on Friday. The most in-demand trains do fill up fast, so advance purchase is recommended for our guests. Prices are ages 12 and up, $20; ages 2-11, $15.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

All aboard!!

As far as I can remember, my oldest son has always been fascinated by trains - but once he discovered the train with a friendly face, he was over the moon. And then when Lucas was born, his peace offering to his big bro was an audible and mobile Percy the train (the "peace" didn't last quite as long as we had hoped). Fast forward a couple of years later, the younger one is now able to play with his brother, and things have been a bit more peaceful here in our household. 

So imagine our excitement when we found out it was that time of year when Thomas and his buddies make their grand appearance at the the Orange Empire Railway Museum?? We scored tickets the day prior, and changed our initial plans for celebrating Sophie's first birthday (sorry, your brothers got to decide how you were going to spend your birthday this year). 

It took us an hour in a half to arrive from our area to Perris (How many one-year olds can say they went to Perris for their birthday?? ;)), and we found the perfect parking spot out front (parking is free!). We decided to arrive in the afternoon, so that the kids could nap in the car, and we could avoid the early morning crowd. It worked out quite well for us, since a lot of families were leaving at the time. Our first choice was to wait for the next ride inside Thomas the train, which had a schedule by the hour or so. Once inside this vintage train, our oldest was in such a trance that he threw a fit when we took him away from the sites for a photo -__-. 

The museum itself was full of toy model trains, retired antique trains, all up close and personal. 
A real, live Sir Topham Hatt!
We rode on the classic trolley, complete with a bell located on the floor of the trolley - the conductor asked for volunteers to ring the bell, which was quite the hit for children and adults alike.
My favorite was looking at all the old vintage ads inside the trolley
Various interactive displays of antique railway signals
Hungry? There was a row of desserts, snacks and hand-held meals reminiscent of the LA County Fair.
My kids have a thing for tattoos (temporary, of course).
The imagination center was full of toy train tables for the kids to play with
A little petting zoo with animals from a local farm
The kids blew off all their energy running in and out of the haystack maze
The themed gift shop was probably the most popular with all the kids, featuring a "build-your-own" box set of mini train cars, and exclusive Thomas the Train toys. 
Parting is such sweet sorrow...

A Day Out with Thomas

This is a yearly event, so climb onboard before the last train leaves!

Event held from November 4, 5, 10, 11, and 12 2017

2201 S. "A" Street Perris, CA 92570 | 951.943.3020

Friday, September 1, 2017

We all scream for ice-cream!

 When a good friend scores tickets to the pop-up Museum of Ice Cream, you find a way to drop everything and go (including the Hubs, though it was probably for his benefit ^^). Regardless of how old you are, how can you say no to jumping into a pool of sprinkles?? Either way, I don't know what we were thinking, but we decided to shuttle five kids (all in carseats) to downtown LA between the both of us into our minivan. Our scheduled time slot was mid-morning, which actually worked out perfectly with 4/5 of the kiddies' nap times (the youngest napped on the way). 

We arrived early to avoid the long line, and to prepare the kids for what may have ended up being torture for us parents. After the museum curator gave us the ground rules (no touching the bananas and gummy bears...with kids? riightt), they released us into the mouth-watering world of ice-cream. 

The experience felt like one was on a Willy Wonka Factory tour, minus the oompa loompas and creepy Wonka factor. The kids went bananas (literally) after all the eye candy that surrounded them, and the cherry on top was the treat that greeted them in each room (which also doubled as a bribing tool for "good" behavior). Each room was filled with IG/photo opps, and I found myself taking several hundred photos on our camera. The grand finale was the sprinkle pool, which we had to pry each of the kids out, some kicking and screaming, after our few minutes were over. 

I wish I could say the kiddos all passed out on the car ride back, but it must've been the sugar high that kept 4/5 awake the entire trek back! However, everyone did knock out that evening, including Mama (and woke up completely sore). Unfortunately, the museum is leaving Los Angeles, and tickets for their next destination (SF!!), are also sold out...but would we go back? Most definitely, except this time I would probably bring the Hubs with me so that I can better enjoy my frozen treats ; ).                                                   
 ice-cream squad
Ice-scream Queen

Tips for having a sweet experience:

* Arrive early, factoring in traffic - about 30 minutes is a good amount of time to find parking (valet is a great choice if you have lots of little ones to unload) and get in line.

* Bring a camera. Yes, the iPhone has a great built-in camera, but should you want to print or blow-up some of these colorful moments (and believe me, there are endless opportunities), that's when quality makes a huge difference.

* For the littles: pack an extra set of clothing for those ice-cream dribbles, though they do make for better photos ^^. Strollers are also allowed, so pack it with your water bottles (to rinse down all that sugar!), spare clothing/diapers/wipes, sling and whatever else is needed for survival. And don't feel bad if you end up eating half of your child's ice cream in order to prevent a sugar high (guilty). What I SHOULD have packed was a leash for my second one (sounds wrong, but I did lose him for a good few minutes. Luckily his scream was loud enough to be heard from the next room...bad mama!).

* Take your time. I know you're given a time slot, and you may feel as though you're being herded like cattle, but no one's gonna tell you you're taking too long in each room. And if you've got the littles with you, everything takes double (or triple) the amount of time.

* Expect souvenir sprinkles for weeks to come. I found them in their diapers, pockets, unmentionables,'s the gift that just keeps on giving, and brings back fond memories each time : ).

* Most importantly, have fun! As much as we all wanted to capture all the eye-candy, be sure you have time to also enjoy the moment, cameras aside...for it all goes by much too quickly.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

A tour of Miss Sophie's bedroom.

Last summer, we were renovating our bathrooms (future post coming soon....hopefully!) and realized we also needed to turn our former guest room into our little girl's bedroom. As anyone who has gone through renovations can tell you, they can add up in cost, so we needed to decorate on a tight budget. This meant that we would be hitting up the major chain furniture/home decor stores- i.e. IKEA, Target, Amazon, etc.

But admittedly so, these are some of our favorite places to shop, so it wasn't a major issue. The only question that always drives me is, "how do you personalize what may appear generic or blah?"

I am no where near being an interior designer (I'm actually quite horrible in terms of spatial intelligence), and I don't tend to stick to "themes." But with Pinterest being a kick-starter to get the creative juices flowing, I decided on some focal color schemes to tie it all together, and added the pieces (many gifted!) to complete what is now Miss Sophie Grace's bedroom. 

In all honesty, it was her oldest brother's temporary bedroom for awhile (until he started complaining about the amount of girlyness around him), and she still hasn't really moved out of our bedroom ^^. It isn't quite "complete," and I've been swapping random knick-knacks on the shelves. However, it's functional and the room will continue to evolve and grow along with her!
All wall shelves, baby crib and mini table lamps are from IKEA
The midcentury-style dresser (replaced with raw brass knobs found on Etsy was on clearance (last I checked, it's still on sale!) from Threshold, Target
Stuffed unicorn head, pink penguin, pillows and wall clock, also from Target.
Amelia the bunny blankie from Elliefunday.
Little house-shaped shelves and Lightbox on clearance from Michaels.
All books (some second-hand) and stuffed cloud pillow from Amazon.
Gold polka dot wall decals from Polka dot wall stickers.
Glitter eyelashes wall decal, DIY.
Watercolor calligraphy art made by a dear friend.
Wallcolor from Benjamin Moore (I actually don't remember the color, will have to look it up if anyone is interested!).

Thursday, May 11, 2017

One, two, three.

Three kids. I still can't believe it. Six months later, I still pinch myself whenever I see three sets of eyes staring right back at me. So what is life like with three kids under five? Surprisingly enough, we're all still alive (can't say that all my houseplants are), and the transition from one to two was actually tougher than two to three. Many of the factors revolved around several transitions our family was going through during that time, and the most challenging part was our oldest child rebelling and scoffing at the idea of sharing his throne with his baby brother. There were many dark moments during that time when I felt so alone and completely incapable of raising my children.

Fast forward to the transition of having three kiddos, and I still feel incapable of most days. Often times, us Mamas are guilty of portraying parenthood on social media as being a walk in the park (literally, figuratively), filled with eventful, craft-filled days and excursions. And yes, there are wonderful moments that we don't want to forget, and use it as a bragging tool to pat ourselves on the back, but it is merely 10% of our days. Don't get me wrong, being a Mama to the littles is too indescribable for words, and I would never trade it for my life pre-children (I still have my moments). However, it is the hardest job I have ever had to take on, and there are no real "lunch or potty breaks" involved.  When you think you've got it down, an event seems to knock you back down on your feet-- take last week for example, when I silently cheered myself on for getting all three kids out the door and into the van somewhat on time, and then realized when I heard a loud scrape, that I had left the trunk door open as I was exiting the garage...ouch.

On the other hand, having three littles definitely hasn't been easier physically-- in fact, it can be extremely physically taxing. Emotionally, I haven't been as much of a train wreck, but I do have my moments, especially when the Husband is out of town. Never have I whined and complained as much as I do now (probably explains the Hub's extensive wine collection, heh heh ^^), and clearly it is something I need to work on. And just when I am filled with Mama-guilt, thinking I'm the only one feeling these awful feelings, I connect with other Mamas and realize this "thankless slavery" (as one Mama terms it) truly is the ultimate form of sanctification. It is a glimpse of what it means to "lose your life" for the sake of little beings that sometimes seem ungrateful and more devilish than angelic. I find myself fighting against my nature of wanting to hold onto myself pre-kids for selfish reasons, and it is a constant battle. It makes marriage feel like riding with the training wheels still attached.

So how is a Mama to survive? Some things that have helped me get through the transition...


Reach out 
Again, no Mama can live on an island, and it truly does take a village to raise a child or children. We've been extremely thankful for our church community and friends who have brought us meals during the early months of transition! There were a couple weeks when I was battling major pinkeye (thanks, Lukey!) and feeling miserable, and it was such a blessing to have meals lovingly delivered when we needed it most. I am also thankful for my fellow Mama friends out there, who lend an ear or time out of their busy schedules to empathize/sympathize/rant/pray with me. I honestly don't know where I would be without their support.

Let go 
There isn't enough time in the day for all your checklists to be completed, and curveballs will always throw you off schedule. I've learned that I need to be okay with not getting everything done, and I'm also learning to stop being so darn hard on myself when things aren't completed (hello, laundry!) by the end of the week. And who's going to tell if the kids haven't bathed in a couple of days? ; ) I'm not SuperMom, nor will I ever be, and I have to be okay with that. My priority needs to be making sure the kids are alright, alive and fed. Sure, we are also responsible for teaching and guiding our children, but we cannot control every situation and how these little people may respond with their big personalities. Control shouldn't be our motive, but so much of our energy is put into "controlling" our children, especially in a public setting. The Hubs sent me a link to this podcast  on disciplining with love, and I found it to be most encouraging and relieving.

We are flooded with a plethora of information in this day and age. And all of a sudden, everyone is telling you how you should or shouldn't raise your child. I've let the criticisms and opinions of others get to me (some with well intentions), and I find that it has been mostly unproductive and discouraging in bringing up a child. The controversies and biases with discipline, diet, sleep, emotional, spiritual and physical upbringing of children are enough to drive you mad. Yes, there are great nuggets of information that ARE helpful, and I think it's always good to read and do your own research when it comes to parenting. However, there isn't a cure-all, one-size-fits-all solution for every child. I still find myself experimenting and seeing what works best with each child, and I still don't have answers to many things...but the more I let the outside noises affect how I raise my kids, the less empowered I feel as a Mama.

Heart Matters
On the contrary, one of the best advice I've received was from a more seasoned Mama, who told me she was praying for the Lord to change her son, only to realize the Lord was telling her that she was the one that needed to change. For some reason, that really resonated with me, as I have been struggling in guiding my oldest child. It caused me to pause and wonder, "is most of my angst coming from whether or not my child's behavior is a reflection of my parenting and self-worth?" If so, that is a huge amount of pressure for a child, and they can sense it. How my child behaves does not define who I am as a person. A bigger question I've been trying to ask myself is, "what is going on within their hearts that is causing the actions that follow?"

Look up
This has been the most important realization for me -- I used to think I had my life somewhat in control, until the littles came along. I've noticed that when I don't begin my day with prayer, I'm a hot mess. I cannot do this mammoth-sized task of raising children on my own, and it takes a super-natural being to help me fight my daily battles. Oh, and grace! I am constantly in need of His amazing grace for me, especially when I fail and lose my cookies, which happens more often than I'd like.

Tri-pod photo of the fam (best way to get family photos without anyone missing, even if it is a little blurry ^^)