Our Trip on the Polar Express

The Polar Express is one of our very favorite Christmas stories, both in book and movie form. We were thrilled to be able to schedule a real life train ride on the Polar Express Train ( Texas State Railroad ) in Palestine Texas last weekend. It was quite a drive but certainly worth it for the wonderful memories and unforgettable experience!

Beautifully decorated Polar Express Train Depot in Palestine, TX.

Beautifully decorated Polar Express Train Depot in Palestine, TX.

We arrived early as we were told to give ourselves enough time to park, check in, and do any shopping in the git shop. We did have to park a little farther from the train depot but there were several carts offering rides to/from the depot.  We checked in by giving our reservation name and they presented us with admission tickets, hardback copy 25th anniversary edition of the Polar Express book and special memory tickets for the kids that the conductor would come along to stamp on the ride. You must have a ticket for the Polar Express you know.

Ticket to the Polar Express

Polar Express train ticket for the kids. The Conductor came along to stamp each child’s ticket along our ride.

PJ's

We didn’t have to wait too long before the Polar Express had arrived! The kids had dressed in their PJ’s & robes (this was encouraged) and were ready for a ride to the North Pole.  Our train car was a lot of fun. It looked like a vintage silver bullet train car. We were seated on the upper level and the whole train car was decorated with white, silver, and evergreen Christmas decor. Waiting for each of us at our seats was a delicious chocolate chip cookie. We waited to eat it though because soon after we started moving the attendants on our train started singing and delivering souvenir warm mugs of hot chocolate to accompany our cookie. They came around later and offered whipped cream for our hot chocolate too.

Souvenir Polar Express Mug of hot chocolate and cookies.

Souvenir Polar Express Mug of hot chocolate and cookies.

Chef on the Polar Express

The chef who delivered our hot hot hot chocolate to us. “Here we only have one rule: Never, never let it cool.”

After our hot chocolate had been delivered, a recording of the Polar Express played and we got to read along in our copy of the Polar Express. This made it great for kids of all reading levels.

reading along with the Polar Express

Sebastian reading along with the story.

Before we know it an announcement was being made that we were arriving at the North Pole! The lights in the train car dimmed and we all rushed to one side of the train car to get a glimpse. Sure enough, there were elves dancing and even Santa himself waving to all the passengers.

The North Pole!

The North Pole!

We got to spend several minutes of our trip “Oooohing” & “Ahhing” at the North Pole.  Soon we were ready to make the return trip back to the depot but not before we were told that Santa himself had gotten on the train! The kids were thrilled- they would get to meet Santa in person soon! Santa and his elves came by and gave every child a silver bell so they would always believe  in the magic of Christmas. Santa signed our copy of the Polar Express and he even took a picture with the kiddos too.

Santa signing our copy of the Polar Express

Santa signing our copy of the Polar Express

Santa & his elf

The kids were thrilled to get their picture with Santa and an elf as he presented them each with their very own silver bell. Never Stop Believing.

Santa had many more kids to visit before the train ride was finished. So after Santa left our train car staff really stepped it up. They had been leading us in songs and dancing the whole time but the energy after Santa’s visit was very high.  They would invite the kids to dance with them one at a time and we all sang along and clapped for each child dancing. Sebastian was shy but Kaitlyn loved being asked to dance and danced with several of the attendants.

Dancing on the Polar Express

Dancing on the Polar Express

Before we departed our souvenir mugs were washed, wrapped up, and returned for us to take home. The staff interaction was really so wonderful and made the experience unforgettable. Our whole family had a great time and the kids slept great the whole ride home.This would be wonderful holiday experience for any family to enjoy!

To make your own family reservations on the Polar Express go here or call 877-726-7245 to climb aboard.  You can follow them on Facebook & Twitter too!

*My family was provided tickets for our experience on the Polar Express to review. All opinions are 100% my own. 

Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes 2013

2013 has proven to look  A LOT different for the Chase’s than in years past. We have taken a great steps, literally with the #100milechallenge, to improve our health and set fitness goals ( and we’ve stuck with them!!). As the holidays roll in, I am determined that this season of indulging, festive eating, and lazy days by the fire not cause a setback in all that we have accomplished. I also don’t want to wait to New Years to set new goals.

The goals setting starts now with trying out a healthier Thanksgiving table for 2013.  Here are a few yummy things (with a lot fewer calories!) we’ll be serving this year.

Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes 2013

Quinoa-Stuffed Turkey with Roasted Autumn Vegetables (ordered from Plated.com)

Quinoa-Stuffed Turkey with Roasted Autumn Vegetables

Garlic Green Beans w/ toasted almonds – recipe from Bravo for Paleo

garlic-green-beans

Streuseled Sweet Potatoes- recipe from Preppy Paleo

the preppy paleo: Paleo Streuseled Sweet Potatoes

Maple Pumpkin Custard- recipe from Against all Grain

Maple Pumpkin Custard - Against All Grain

We will  still be enjoying a few of our traditional holiday favorites that would we would be sad to miss out on- it is just once a year, right?  – Grandmamma’s sausage stuffing/dressing for Sydney, traditional mashed potatoes & gravy for Jonathan, pumpkin pie for the littles, and I just created an awesome recipe for homemade pumpkin-cinnamon croissants. Luckily we have planned to run our very first Turkey Trot that  morning  to combat the few “extras” we will still be enjoying.

What traditional recipes have you transformed or added to your holiday menu ?

 

 

Panther Island Ice & Ticket Giveaway

Panther Island Ice

 

Looking for something exciting to do with your holiday guests? Need to find something new to do with your kids over the holiday break? Or Guys, how about surprising her with a romantic date night idea?

Why not try Fort Worth’s FIRST outdoor ice skating rink, Panther Island Ice. Complete with real ice, Panther Island Ice will offer public skating, Santa Claus appearances, seasonal music and fun for all ages. Come out this season and make ice skating a new holiday tradition!

My family is so excited to check out this new attraction. We know your’s will be too so we wanted to give you a chance to win 2 Tickets! Enter the Giveaway below for your chance to win! Ends 11/25 11:59 CST

hours
Hours are subject to change.
Regular Hours:
Monday – Thursday
Monday – Thursday (FWISD Winter Break)
Friday
Saturday – Sunday
4:00pm – 10:00pm
11:00am – 11:00pm
4:00pm – 11:00pm
11:00am – 11:00pm
Holidays:
Thanksgiving Day
Christmas Eve
Christmas Day
New Year’s Eve
New Year’s Day
11:00am – 11:00pm
11:00am – 6:00pm
2:00pm – 11:00pm
11:00am – 6:00pm
11:00am – 11:00pm

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

*Tickets for Panther Island Ice were provided by Trinity River Vision Authority. All opinions are my own.

5 Reasons to be Thankful Everyday

Leave it to the 15-year-old to give me great blog material. (Teenagers are good for that. Hangout with some from time to time, you’ll see.) Last night we were prepping a family dinner buffet in the kitchen, (Leftover Island as we sometimes call it – every man for himself, you know the drill), and discussing the upcoming holidays. The 15 yr old pipes up ” I hate Thanksgiving. Why do we even have celebrate it? It’s not like the pilgrims were the wise men.”

We were puzzled because he usually loves the holidays but figured it was just typical teen angst, right? All the world is dark and life as we know it has no value, blah, blah, blah…..right? That was the path I was expecting the conversation to take.

Instead he explained his statement , through a bite of mashed potatoes and a bread roll torn into pieces: “Shouldn’t we just  be thankful everyday and live a thankful life all the time? I am.”  (All of a sudden I was BEAMING!! On the inside of course, Moms of teens have to play it cool. ) 

Picture of kids smiling

I’m pretty thankful for each of these people in my life everyday. We are blessed with 4 amazing kids and 2 handsome nephews.

That comment while  unexpected from my sometimes cranky teen, got me to thinking about how we live and what teach our children about being thankful everyday. There are some pretty great everyday benefits to living a thankful life that have nothing to do with turkey, stuffing, or pilgrims.  Here are 5 of my favorites.

1 You will sleep better.  Psychology Today reported that people who spent 15 minutes writing down what they were thankful for they fell asleep faster and slept longer.

2 Your marriage will be stronger. Spending time thinking on the good things your partner does greatly impacts how you feel about them overall and reduces the stress of minor irritations. A simple “Thank You for…” also lets them know how much you appreciate them.

3 You wont get sick as often.  Studies have shown those who practice daily gratitude go to the doctor less often,  show signs of feeling less pain, have lower blood pressure and are less likely to develop mental disorder.

4 You will be happier.  When I was behaving ungratefully as a child, my dad always referred to it as needing an “attitude adjustment”.  It has been said that ‘bad is stronger than good’. Have you ever noticed how 1 negative thought can turn your day upside down? By thinking about all the things you have to be thankful for, even for just a few minutes, you will have reset your mental attitude balance to more good thoughts than bad.

5 You will be more attractive.  People who are thankful smile more. Studies have shown that people who smile more are judged as more attractive by the majority. People who smile are often friendlier, have a better sense of humor and are more socially engaging.

 
BONUS: 6 You will have better friends. True story. Just ask the Golden Girls. “Thank you for being a friend….” 

Gift of Lights and Snow at Texas Motor Speedway


Disclosure: This is a sponsored post by the Gift of Lights and Snow at Texas Motor Speedway. All opinions are my own.

One of the things I love most about the holiday season is all the fun activities and traditions surrounding this time of year. Bundling up, piling in the car, to go look at lights is one of my all-time favorite traditions. Texas Motor speedway has put together one light show spectacular you will not want to miss. They have even paired it with providing SNOW, right here in Texas. As a bonus for my readers, you can even receive discounted admission!

The Gift of Lights & Snow at TMS is one of the most visited holiday parks in North Texas, featuring a drive-thru holiday spectacular light show with over two million LED lights and 600 unique holiday displays across 1.7 miles at Texas Motor Speedway. Your family will love the lights AND the newest addition -SNOW! The Snow Village at TMS features a tubing hill, snow ball gallery, and a snow play area. Kids can also visit Santa and make s’mores. Visit giftoflightstms.com for event hours, Santa’s schedule, and pricing.