The Polar Express

Our holiday season started early this year with our epic ride on the Polar Express last Friday.  I normally don't like to do anything even remotely Christmas related before Thanksgiving, but I gladly made an exception to hop on the Texas State Rail Road's Polar Express and head to the North Pole to meet Santa Clause.  And after all, Thanksgiving was way late this year so the timing was close to when the Holiday Season normally kicks off (who are we kidding, I would've ridden the Polar Express in August).

We started our adventure the day before our trip to the North Pole.  My mom loves The Polar Express at least as much as I do, if not more, so since we were given 4 tickets, I couldn't not invite her along.  We live in Houston, and Mom lives in Shreveport, so we drove the almost 5 hours to her the night before our train ride. The next afternoon, we left Shreveport for the 2.5 hour drive to Palestine (Palestine is also about that far from Houston, Dallas, and Austin).  All that driving was definitely worth it, because the Polar Express was a-maz-ing!                                                                                                                                                     We arrived in Palestine at dusk which made things feel truly magical.  The weather was (finally!) cold and grey (my absolute favorite).  The sky was getting darker and the Christmas lights were just starting to really pop.  Lots of other people were arriving, too, and the parking lot was full of people in pajamas and overcoats with scarves and blankets.  And I was so excited!!!  I felt like a little kid; all smiles and excitement and giggles.  I could barely contain myself.

I did not take this photo, it's from the Texas State Rail Road Facebook Page
my picture of the depot was terrible
The depot was so welcoming and festive!  I loved the architecture and all the holiday decorations.  The ladies at the ticket window were super helpful, too.  There had been a little mix up with our tickets and they were able to get everything sorted out without any problems.  Dennis also decided to pay extra to upgrade our tickets (I was comped 4 Standard Class tickets), and they graciously let us upgrade to Lone Star Class.  He was planning on surprising me with tickets until this opportunity came up, and he really wanted us to have the collectible hot chocolate mug that comes with the Lone Star Class.

We had a little time to kill before boarding, so we had some burgers and fries from the concession stand.  Jack really likes fries.  By this time, the depot was filling up with excited families and it was almost time to go!  All the kids were in their pajamas, but I was really happy to see so many parents in jammies, too.  Of course Dennis and I wore pj's and so did Pigger and Butt-Naked.

Next thing we knew, it was time to go!  We found our train car where we were greeted by the dancing chefs who were so happy and friendly.  They seated us and we settled in for the trip.  Cookies were waiting for us on the tables, and soon the hot chocolate was making its rounds.  We were on our way to the North Pole!  I was excited, Dennis was excited, Jack was excited, Mom was excited!  As soon as the train left the station, the chefs started singing and dancing while serving the hot chocolate (let me tell you, this takes some skill to sing, dance, and still serve hot chocolate while on a moving train).  My mom kept clapping her hands saying, "I want this job.  I want this job.  I want this job."  Jack quickly made friends with all the chefs, and the little girls sitting behind us.  There was also a train conductor and his wife sitting across from us.

As soon as Dennis was served his hot chocolate, Jack immediately claimed it as his own and drank almost half of it, little bit by little bit, by dipping a straw into it then out of it and slurping the hot chocolate out/off of the straw.  It was hilarious.  It was his first hot chocolate and he loved it!!!  I will admit, it was some of the best hot chocolate I've ever had.  It was rich and creamy, and somehow the absolute perfect temperature.  The collectible mugs were definitely worth the upgrade, too.

I did not take this picture.  The conductor sitting across from us did.
Jack was loving the hot chocolate!

After singing a few songs from the Polar Express movie, the book was read (by Liam Neeson).  Everyone was so full of excitement and energy that it was a little hard to hear the story, but I think we were all pretty familiar with it.  When the story was over, we sang some Christmas carols and danced.  Then, all of a sudden, we were at the North Pole!!!!  Jack was glued to the window looking at the everything (I didn't get any pictures of the North Pole that weren't blurry, boo, but I can tell you it's a very festive place!)  All the kids were so excited!  People were cheering and clapping!  It was the best time!!!!

the conductor took this one, too

Santa Claus boarded the train and we headed back to the Palestine Depot.  More Christmas carols were sung as we waited for Santa to make his way to our car to pass out silver bells.  The excitement was palpable.  Then, the train car erupted in cheers and Santa Claus was on our car!  Jack was clapping and bouncing even though he really has no clue who Santa is, but that didn't matter.  He even let Santa hold him, which gives me hope when we go to the mall for pics, soon.

Again, taken by the conductor

We all got silver bells from Santa's sleigh to take home with us.  Jack was most excited by the bells, waving them around and clinking them together.  It might have had something to do with a sugar rush, because he was double fisting cookies, along with all that hot chocolate, but it was adorable nonetheless.

We sang some more, we danced some more, and before we knew it, we were back at the Palestine Depot.  We had such a magical time on our Polar Express trip.  Everything was perfect!  We are definitely true Believers and can't wait for next year!  Are you a Believer?  So what are you waiting for?  I cannot recommend The Polar Express enough.  Everything was perfection!  Start a new family tradition.  You can get your tickets here, or by calling 877-726-7245.

November 15-17, 22-24, 29-30
December 1, 4-8, 11-23, 26-29
3:45 pm, 5:15 pm, 6:45 pm, and 8:10 pm

Park Road 70, Palestine, TX

I received tickets in exchange for writing a review of our trip.  All opinions are my own!

Don't Poke The Baby

My son is adorable.  I'm not just saying this because he's my son.  I know he's adorable because even 20-something men coo and awww when they see him, and 20-something men aren't exactly drawn to coo at babies.  I mean, look at this:

costumed baby riding a wooden cage

We've been out at the Texas Renaissance Festival (TRF) for 4 weekends now, and everybody wants to Touch The Baby.  Friends, acquaintances, strangers.  Everybody wants to touch the baby, and more specifically, Make The Baby Laugh.  And it's starting to drive me a little crazy.  Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled that our friends and acquaintances love the baby.  I just want Jack's personal space to be a little more respected.  He's his own little person, after all, not a plaything for your amusements, even if well intentioned.

Jack had horrible separation anxiety as an infant.  He would cry inconsolably any time anyone would hold him, except for me.  He wouldn't even let Dennis hold him.  He's never been a huge fan of the game Pass The Baby, either (even when he finally got past the separation anxiety), despite the fact that everyone insisted on playing (even taking the baby straight out of my arms before I could protest).  Jack would scream his head off until he made his way back to me, often accompanied by comments about him being a momma's boy.  Needless to say, I'm carrying around some resentments about this happening.  Unless a baby reaches for you, don't try to hold them, they obviously don't want to be held by you (no offense).  It doesn't matter how much you want to hold the baby if they don't want to be held by you.

Jack is a very serious baby.  Sure, he smiles and laughs plenty, but when he comes across something new, he studies it very seriously.  People included.  And he's been meeting all sorts of new people out at TRF so he's been particularly serious lately.  He's adorable when he's serious, but he's blind-yourself-because-he's-too-cute-and-you-just-can't-take-it cute when he's laughing and smiling (and really, what baby isn't?!?).  This has led everyone to try to make him laugh by tickling him or poking him in the belly or making weird noises or whatever.  And once it works, they don't want to stop.  And Jack isn't enjoying it at all.  I can understand you poking the baby trying to make him laugh because it worked before, but if you don't get the reaction you expected, STOP!  Yeah, yeah, I get it, he's a cute baby and you want to make him laugh, but what if he doesn't feel like being tickled or laughing?!?  What then?

I know it sucks when you feel like the baby doesn't like you when you think you've finally won him over, but just because he doesn't feel like being tickled or held by you doesn't mean he doesn't like you!!!  Maybe he's tired.  Maybe he's distracted.  Maybe he's interested in something else.  Maybe he just doesn't feel like playing.  Maybe he just wants Momma.

We all need to realize that babies are little people. They are individuals, separate from Mommy and Daddy, and just like anyone else, they deserve to be respected.  They may start out helpless and need pretty much constant care, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't honor their personal space, and yes, I think babies deserve to have their own personal space, however small that may be.  How would you feel if you were minding your own business when out of nowhere someone you may or may not even remember or know, rushes up to you and tries to tickle you without your permission?  You wouldn't like that very much, would you?  And just because a baby looks at you doesn't mean they want to be tickled.  Babies have likes and dislikes just like adults.  They have good mood and bad moods, too, and just because you poke them in the belly doesn't mean they will magically light up and giggle for you.  So if it doesn't work the first time, please, please, please, don't poke the baby.

Day in the Life, November 1, 2013

I'm a little late getting this Day in the Life post up, but things have been crazy busy around here. I just got back from visiting my mom and have been trying to put things back together after the trip, and it's Renaissance Festival season.  And nothing seems to get done around here during Renaissance Festival season (Den owns a booth there and we spend all 8 weekends there).  This month the first fell on a Friday, and we spend all day Friday getting ready to go out to TRF, so it wasn't the most exciting day ever.  Next month, the first falls on a Faire day, so that's going to be pretty awesome.  As always, I take my pictures using Instagram, and yes, my profile is still private.  All you have to do is ask nicely and you can follow along if you want to.

I woke up at 5 am on the first, but I completely forgot to start taking pictures.  But that's okay; I wasn't doing anything interesting then (maybe laundry? trying to find the end of the Internet?)  Jack got up at 8, and that's when I started taking pictures.

8 am
up and at 'em
9 am
empty coffee, spilled baby food, and Mardi Gras beads
this is shaping up to be an interesting day
10 am
nap time
11 am
dishes; I hate dishes
12 pm
take that, dirty dishes
1 pm
I'm fostering kittens!
2 pm
3 pm
packing for the weekend
4 pm
feeding the beast
5 pm
ready to load up
6 pm
on the road
7 pm
dinner break
8 pm
finally at Faire
9 pm

I didn't take a 10 pm picture because it would've been exactly like this; Jack was having a hard time getting to sleep.

11 pm
Halloween candy and bedtime

Although Jack had trouble going to sleep, he slept pretty well, only waking once to nurse.  The room was dark, so no middle of the night picture.

8 am
still asleep!

So that was my crazy day this month.  I was really hoping to make it out to Faire earlier in the day, but it seemed like we were spinning our wheels all afternoon.  Oh well, there's always next weekend!  And I can't wait for next month's Day in the Life post since it will be the closing day of the festival.  Good times!

The Polar Express

All aboard the Polar Express!  The Texas State Railroad is bringing the Polar Express to life this holiday season and I couldn't be more excited!!  The Polar Express has always been one of my favorite Christmas stories and now we get to take Jack to the North Pole on the Polar Express!!! (as possibly the first thing to be crossed off my 101 list)  Hot chocolate and cookies are served by dancing chefs (dancing chefs!) while music from the Polar Express movie plays as we go from East Texas to Santa's North Pole Village.  Each child's ticket will personally be punched by the train conductor (super cool), then the book is read (by Liam Neeson, no less) while the chefs turn the pages in the original book.  When the Polar Express arrives at the North Pole, Santa Claus boards the train to personally give each kiddo a silver bell cut from his sleigh (OMG, seriously, a silver bell from Santa's sleigh?!? - I might just die - I've always wanted a silver bell from Santa)!!!  You know, only kids and true believers can hear the bell ring, and my bell would totally ring.  Can you tell how excited I am about this?  Maybe just a little....but wait, there's more!  All kids are encouraged to wear their pajamas on the train, and who are we kidding, you know I'll be in pj's, too (footie ones if I can find them).  Who's with me???  Get your tickets here, or by calling 877-726-7245.

Dates and Times:
November 15-17, 22-24, 29-30
December 1, 4-8, 11-23, 26-29
3:45pm, 5:15pm, 6:45pm, 8:10pm

Park Road 70, Palestine, TX

This is a sponsored post.  In exchange for passing along this information, I am getting tickets on the train.  All opinions expressed are my own!

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