Sunday, December 14, 2008

To the North Pole We Went!

That's right, didn't you know you can get there from Calera, Alabama, on a train? Well Geez! Get with the program! And it is incredibly convenient, being just 20 minutes from our house to the station.
So, last night, the four of us met up with Jack's friend Payton and her mom and dad, Leslie and Chris and we boarded the William Penn dining car on the Polar Express for a trip to the North Pole to visit Santa Claus! (That's visit #4 this season for those of you that are counting :)) Payton had taken the trip last year and had a great time and since we are always looking for special things to do during the holdiays to start some traditions down here, this seemed like a perfect chance!

We were all decked out in our pj's (except Daddy Scrooge) and at 5pm the whistle blew and we were only takes 15 minutes from the Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum to get there! And that's just enough time for the conductor to read aloud the entire book, by Chris Van Allsburg.

Just as the conductor finished, we were pulling into the North Pole and Santa's toyshop, where Santa, Mrs. Claus and their elves were waiting outside waving to all of us among all the Christmas lights and trees and toys in front of the toy shop! In just minutes, two elves entered the William Penn and handed everyone a single silver sleigh bell (you'll need to read the story for the significance if you haven't already). And coincidently, one of the elves even looks very much like Mommy's friend Clydene who clowns at Children's Hospital - isn't that amazing!

Next, the big man himself, SANTA, came on board and greeted all the children, coming up the aisle and stopping at each table to take pictures and even sign your copy of The Polar Express, if you had it handy. It was VERY EXCITING for little boys and girls to see Santa again and we wondered (out loud) if he was going to give out candy!

Instead, it was even BETTER than candy - a chocolate chip cookie and chocolate milk (which Duke inhaled by the way). Jack gobbled up his cookie (and ate Daddy's), stopping in between bites to comment, "Grandma Grandpa's House? Cookie?" He apparently recalls one of the previous visits with Santa this season with happy memories.

Today's first words when Jack woke up were "train?, Santa?, cookie?"...yikes! Well worth it, but I hope holiday memories fade fast in January or it's going to be a long road to Christmas 2009!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Family Thanksgiving

I'm a few days late, but I had 224 pictures to edit so cut me some slack ok? We had a fantastic time this holiday at Grandma and Grandpa's in Tennessee. It was probably the most fun weekend we have all had together that I can remember.

Maybe it's because with us now having kids I really get what it's all about or maybe it's because there were 7 cousins that were more than happy to wear out my two children for the four days. Either way, this one goes in the memory books under Best Holidays!

The food was amazing as always, and extra special, Great Grandma Aurel was able to be there (and had baked plenty of cookies well in advance!) We celebrated Cory's (38), Kevin's (15) and Duke's (1st) birthdays and even Santa joined in the fun with a suprise visit on Friday night to hear what all the kids wanted for Christmas (even had an advance gift for everyone!)

For us, we started off a little leary about the 3 1/2 hour drive, but the boys pulled through great. (We even went the entire trip home without the DVD player on except for the last 30 minutes - shocking, I know!) I was not so sure how the sleeping arrangements would work out...figured we'd have Jack in our bed all weekend rather than on his mattress on the floor of our room, but was wrong on that one too...little guy slept on it on his own all weekend without a hitch and little brother had his cozy spot in the pack n play in the closet.

Of course, we weren't in a "routine" but I was glad for it. It was nice to have some fun and spoils, even if it means that now Jack associates "Maama and Paapa's House" with as many cookies and gumdrops he asks for and getting to stay up after bath and run around the living room like a crazy kid. But he also grasped the concept of "snuggle with Mommy?" and I love that!

We enjoyed spending time with everyone, just playing, eating, talking and being with one another. The only change for next year...Grandma has to sit and let us girls take over the kitchen! (Even if it means at the loss of some amazing food, I think we'll be able to manage!)

Enjoy a few pictures of our time together.