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“Choo choo!” My son said as he noticed the passenger cars parked on the tracks.

He perked up the moment we pulled into the Heber Valley Railroad train station.

North Pole Express Train Ride: How to Photograph Polar Express Memories

My daughter bounced in her seat, excited for impending Christmas carols and hot chocolate grandma promised would be on board.

I hardly shut the car door when Big T tried to take off across the street to the train. We went on a train ride over the summer, but he’d gladly ride one daily. In Texas, we get to see them, but in Utah, it’s becoming a tradition to ride one. That’s thanks to Grandma, who always gets us the hook-up.

North Pole Express Train Ride: How to Photograph Polar Express Memories

Before we got aboard I asked Big T if he had to go potty but it was no surprise he refused. He is doing fantastic with potty training. We can go out to play at the park, grocery shop, and take a long drive and he’ll tell me when he needs to go. We were out of town last week and I had a decision to make: Bring diapers, training pants, or underwear?

North Pole Express Train Ride: How to Photograph Polar Express Memories

I imagined potty nightmare after potty nightmare. Peeing on Santa’s lap, down the aisle of a train, pooping under three layers of snow protection. No thank you. Training pants for the win.

North Pole Express Train Ride: How to Photograph Polar Express Memories

Shortly after we found our seats the elves brought us cookies and hot coco. Big T loved the cookies, his sister declined. But Lil’ J gulped the hot chocolate he didn’t want to take part in. It was so amusing watching these two take in the same experience so differently. They’re becoming their own little people with big personalities so quickly.

North Pole Express Train Ride: How to Photograph Polar Express Memories

Lil’ J piped up for the songs, danced in the aisle, answered questions in the microphone and showed off her gymnastics talent.

Big T just sat back and soaked it all in. He took a prime spot by the window, practically glued his nose to it, and watched the scenery the whole time.

North Pole Express Train Ride: How to Photograph Polar Express Memories

About halfway through the trip we stopped to meet Santa and the engine moved to pull us back the other direction. In that 15-or-so minutes we were stopped he seemed to snap out of his trance and notice what was going on around him. Then he got impatient and asked me to make the train go again.

North Pole Express Train Ride: How to Photograph Polar Express Memories

North Pole Express Train Ride: How to Photograph Polar Express Memories

Before he lost his mind, I was able to try to snap a few pictures of his adorable face. Then once we started again he was back at the window.

North Pole Express Train Ride: How to Photograph Polar Express Memories

You’d think in an exciting situation like this a potty accident would be practically inevitable, but he did really well. I think we’re to the point where we can start to go with underwear during the day (aside from during naps). But man, Seventh Generation Free and Clear Training Pants sure come in handy for outings like these. They’re lighter than the average training pants, natural hypoallergenic, and have tear-away side panels. Great for this awkward but pleasant in-between stage where you don’t need diapers but aren’t brave enough to risk underwear.

North Pole Express Train Ride: How to Photograph Polar Express Memories

The kids walked off the train will warm bellies, donning their gifts from Santa–A beautiful bell just like the one in the book. I’m not sure if this is a tradition we’ll carry on every year (I hope it is!) but it’s a memory I’ll cherish forever.

North Pole Express Train Ride: How to Photograph Polar Express Memories

If you get a chance to take your little ones out for a North Pole Express experience I’d highly recommend it. Don’t forget your camera, a wide-angle lens (to capture more of the scene from up close), blankets in case there’s no heat, and good training pants for your excited little potty trainers!

North Pole Express Train Ride: How to Photograph Polar Express Memories

Have you ever been on a train ride? What fun Christmas traditions do you have?

A big thanks to Seventh Generation for sponsoring this story. I’m partnering with them as I share my imperfect life and ways I’m trying to improve it with you. If being more conscious of natural cleaning products, dish soap, and eco-friendly diapers are on your list of priorities, head here for more information. As always, all opinions are my own.

Making holiday memories last

At the time of this post Lil’ J is 5 years 5 months old. Big T is 2 years 8 months old.


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what a cute idea and fun experience Mykids love the movie and would love a train ride too.

Jennifer B says:

This train ride looks like so much fun and something that the kids will always remember! I would love to do this too!

We’re overdue for a train ride. Moo has been on a train, but she was just a baby at the time and like Big T, my little guy is obsessed with them. Glad you all had a blast!

Kerri says:

A few years ago I took my daughters on a Polar Express train ride. So much fun! Beautiful pics!

Kimberly Dickerson says:

Seventh Generation is one of my favorite brands. I love every product of theirs that I’ve tried.

Your kids are absolutely gorgeous. Kudos to grandma for arranging such a cool train ride. 🙂

I had a friend who just took their daughter on this train ride. They had so much fun. She was very excited about it. If one is close, you should go.

Athena says:

We went on a similar “Polar Express” train ride last year and the entire family had a blast. If we can get there before Christmas this year we may do it again but it is quite far away.

AmyRyb says:

I wanted to take my kids (mostly my youngest) on the Polar Express ride near us, but I couldn’t believe how expensive the tickets were! It would be about $140 for all four of us, including one kid who would be complaining the whole time. I suppose we could make that part of their Christmas present, but sheesh. So much for trying to make a memory! Glad you had fun, though! I’ll just have to live vicariously 🙂

WHOA! I usually love reading this blog, but I was so upset by the photo of the child playing on train tracks I couldn’t read a single word. When I worked as a media consultant for Amtrak, I discovered how much I LOVE trains! I’ve taken my own child on the train before she was even 3 months old. Believe me, I get it.

But what I also learned is that a train going just FIVE (5) miles per hour can DECAPITATE you. Every single week, someone is killed walking on tracks for a short cut, for play or some other reason. It’s really, really a serious thing.

I’m sooooo sorry if I’ve rained on the parade, but I couldn’t rest until I reminded parents to teach children the danger of dangerous things.

Having said that, the photos are otherwise beautiful.

Thanks for your comment mama! We love trains around these parts and you’re right, playing on the tracks isn’t safe. I will say here in the train yard there were employees all over watching for us. But you make a very good point in how dangerous the tracks are! Thanks for your comment, hopefully it helps spread awareness!

AprilD says:

They’re too cute. Love all the pics! Super random but grandma looks great!

I know right?? Haha, I’m going to tell her you said that!

This is totally on our someday list!! I love how adorable your kiddos are!

I am in love with this idea. this is on my list of things to do before i’m 50. So amazing.

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Hi! I’m Jennifer Borget

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I'm a part-time journalist, full-time wife and mother striving to make the world a better place and inspiring others to do the same. This is the space where I share my journey in making the most of every day.

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