All Aboard the Polar Express...

We rounded out Thanksgiving weekend with a quick trip to Palestine for a special train ride north. Way North.
Super North.

All the way to see the big guy himself. 

My mom has been asking for the past few years when we were going to take Landry. "You took Radley and Emmy and it's just not fair..."

(She's such a great Gigi. Poor third kid.)

So this year she wasn't taking no for an answer and decided to gift it to this crew as the big gift from Gigi and Pops. And that put a smile on EVERYONE's face. (Because, yes it's fun, but also less "stuff" to stick places after Christmas.)

I went on the hunt for the perfect pjs and finally settled on these from Target.  We decided that each family would get their own design so we'd coordinate and not be matchy matchy. (And by "we", I clearly made that decision. Ordered the pajamas and told everyone to smile.) 

(The pjs were not optional - everyone had to agree prior to tickets being purchased.)

I was super bummed that Emmy and Landry's pattern was only for little kids because I loved it to so much but I also love the stripes. And can we discuss Radley's creepy smile here? It **could** have had something to do with my speech prior to arrival... 

"We WILL be taking pictures there. Lots of them. I will want one of each family. One of all of us. One of the kids. One of Gigi and Pops with the kids. One of Gigi and Pops alone. One of you eating a snowflake.... " 

Okay, so that last one wasn't real, but you get the point. The rule is the quicker you smile, the quicker we are done. He was ready to be done. HAHA

Kailyn was so excited she could hardly contain herself and Jeremy/Pete gets extra points for wearing pjs. He doesn't even really wear pjs at home - he is always in blue jeans so to be seen in PUBLIC, well... 

We decided to ride the last train of the night - we wanted to be able to take our time getting there and not be so rushed that day. Since it's a 2+ hour drive we decided to stay the night and make a trip out of it. We all went to dinner at a darling placed called Switch prior to departure and I couldn't recommend it more. Mom, Dad, Jeremy and Cristina had been there before when they went on a golf trip and raved on and on and they were right. It was AMAZING. 

We had plenty of time to change into pjs prior to heading to the station and made it in time to see the train before us leave. The kids were PUMPED. I wish I could have bottled up that joy because it was priceless. 

"Mommy! Mommy! They are going to see Santa RIGHT NOW! How long will it take? Is the train magic? When is our turn?"

Each train ride lasts about an hour, so that gave us PLENTY of time to snap a few more pics... 

Get the wiggles out...

hang around...

and snack. 

This picture - y'all it took 5 minutes for this to work. The girls couldn't decide where to sit, Gigi couldn't decide how she wanted her chin, Landry fell off, Emmy's head looked like it was floating and I couldn't stop laughing long enough to click. 

I will say that my selfie game is strong even with the giant Nikon.

FINALLY - we got to board (after one final snap). 

So wished Jody, Sonya and Owen could have been there...the picture is incomplete without them.

You get three options of seating:

Standard - Assigned seating, reading of the story, first view of the North Pole and a visit from Santa
Lone Star - Heated cars, assigned table seating, complimentary mug, chocolate chip cookie, visit from Santa
Diamond - Same as Lone Star but you ride in a double decker train car

We went with the Lone Star seating simply because the extra price to sit higher wasn't really worth it to us - BUT that doesn't mean it can't be worth it to you.

We just had so much fun over the next hour....

And finally we were close to the NORTH POLE!
(Y'all, they actually lower the temperature as you approach the site of the NP - a simple but impactful magical touch.)

They would have jumped through the window if they could. This moment right here is why I wanted to go at night - they have the trees leading up to the village all lit up and then you arrive and Santa, Mrs. Clause, and some elves are standing in front of lit shops and homes and the kids are just in awe. 

And then finally the big guy himself came by and handed them each a silver bell along with some hope and joy that can't be seen but is surely felt. 

Thank you so much Gigi and Pops - we had a blast and wouldn't be sad if we did something like this every year!! Oh yeah, the bell still rings for me.... 


  1. What a beautiful experience for your family and a lovely gift from the grandparents.

  2. What a FUN trip and memory. What a wonderful gift with wonderful memories. Have a great day!

  3. These are the cutest pictures ever!! Can you send me a copy of your smile speech so I can read it to my kid's before we board our train ride in Grapevine in a couple of weeks, please??
    Oh, and I am totally impressed with your Nikon selfie skills. I can barely selfie with an iPhone!! Is that one of the benefits of hanging out with college kids all day; they teach you their ways? ;)

  4. How do you get such great photos at night? Did you use a flash?