Last night, the family headed over to New Hope and we were able to ride on the North Pole Express! With this being our first winter out on the East Coast again, I knew that I wanted to ride the North Pole Express out of New Hope! When we lived in Princeton 7+ years ago, we had been on the New Hope Ivyland Railroad once. We had a friend visiting and we headed over there and took a ride on the rail. The movie Polar Express had come out a couple of years before and so the whole "Polar Express"-type train ride was a big deal around the holidays. And I had always wanted to take the North Pole Express but with no kids, I knew that I would NEVER be able to get E on that train. But I had envisioned my kids riding it, never realizing that it would actually come to fruition years later.
Fish is big into big trucks and such. He doesn't watch train videos as much, probably because we don't have a railroad that goes near our house, like we did on Lloyd. Finn was a huge train fan in her younger days because we would wait on so many trains. In fact, before Fish was born and when I was still working, she was in daycare and we had to wait for a train daily after picking her up. On the days where we missed the train, she would be inconsolable and when I knew that we weren't at our regular pick up time, I would drive super duper slow to see if I could catch a train for her.
So I knew that Finn would be really excited about the train. With Fish, I was hoping that the obsessions with big trucks was with big moving things -- not necessarily things with four rubber wheels. I was right! I tried to talk up the train ride for a couple of days before and we watched some train videos. He was definitely excited about going on a train while we were driving there. And when we arrived, his excitement couldn't be contained and E couldn't get him out of his carseat fast enough. The train conductor was standing outside the front of the train and we talked to him for a moment. I was pleasantly surprised that both kids went with him for a photo. I thought that our Santa experience was going to be amazing this year. I mean, if the kids will go to a complete stranger in a train conductor's uniform, surely they will go to Santa, right?
Upon sitting down on the train, Fish found a candy cane. I figured it was left over from the previous train ride as they go every hour & fifteen minutes. So E opened up the candy cane and the kids were munching away. The Christmas music was playing through the speakers above us. Felix the Cookie Man came around the minute the train pulled out of the station and started passing out cookies & hot cocoa. I was immediately in Christmas heaven. When they give you your tickets, they also pass out a piece of paper that contains a Christmas I-Spy list. I thought that it was things outside the train car to keep the kids occupied on enjoying the scenery. But when I read up on the list, one item was "5 candy canes". E & I looked around and realized that all the I-Spy items were hanging from the lighted garland that was above our head. We started laughing and we quickly tried to hide the evidence and for the rest of the ride, our car only contained five candy canes.
Santa came to our car first since we were the furthest back, we were the second ones that he and Mrs. Claus spoke to. As you see above, Fish was quiet, curious, but not overly frightened. Finn, on the other hand, was beside herself with fear. I tried to get her to sit on the outside of the seat so I could get a photo with her and Santa. She refused. I tried to tell her that I could even hold her hand the entire time. She refused. So in the chaos of Santa and Mrs. Claus turning our way, I hoisted her over my head and plopped her down on the aisle seat. She was amazingly funny. She refused to look anywhere but my eyes. And she didn't blink the ENTIRE TIME that Santa was standing there (which was at least 2-3 minutes). She had her "deer-in-headlights" face going on. It was quite comical. I've never seen her not blink for that long -- I think she was trying to super-mind-trick Santa into going away. But Santa gave each of the kids a bell (i.e. the Polar Express book) -- it was cute.
So we got a family photo with Santa & Mrs. Claus and we had to pay up the wazoo for it (of course). When I got it home to look at it, I started laughing hysterically. Santa & Mrs. look like they have spent some time in Florida. E looks like he has a sunburn on his face, but his hands look like they have no blood in them. And me & the kids look like we are on our last legs out in an ice storm. I immediately started singing "I'm Mr.White Christmas, I'm Mr. Snow. I'm Mr. Icicle, I'm Mr. Ten Below!". Their camera settings weren't quite right.
Once Santa & Mrs. Claus left our car, the Christmas caroler came in. He was a hit with the kids. Fish was quite enamored with him. But while on the last part of our train ride, I started discussing with Finn that we might have to see if Santa is going to be coming to our town before Christmas. I explained to her that she didn't talk to Santa, so how was he supposed to know what she wanted for Christmas. Her response and I quote "He can just get me whatever he wants." Belly laughs all around. Later in the evening, we were walking around New Hope and she began to complain to E about Santa's choice of gifts for her. "Now he is going to get me a big truck." So we will see if we can get her on Santa's lap for a semi-decent photo this year. We'll just see...