Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Alaska Railroad offers a Holiday Train each December. I understand they've been doing this for years, though like most things of this sort, I had no idea until I was chasing around my own preschooler. I was told it's pricey, sells out quickly, and is a blast. All of that is completely correct.

Henry had been doing very well in school and there is no denying how bananas he is about trains, so this was an excellent event for us. Becky and Piper took a pass, but will certainly be around in the coming years.

They offered a morning train and an afternoon train. We chose the morning one as it didn't collide directly with nap time. The picture below was taken just before departure. Yes, 10 am in December is almost sunrise!

The train rumbled along Turnagain Arm, stopping to watch Dall Sheep along the way. We finally ground to a halt in the speck of a town called Indian.

Henry wanted to know what happened, so I gave him an answer. "The engine ran out of gas."

"Will a tanker be coming to fill it up?"

"Yep. Exactly."

We soon lurched back towards Anchorage and Henry resumed gazing intently towards the ocean, mountains, and highway.

Kids all over the train had shades of meltdowns at different times. Not Hank. He requested a snack now and again, but largely spent his time quietly absorbing it all. He didn't even touch the coloring book they handed out.

Full set of photos here.
St Nick's day seems to be a regional event, though one that was certainly strong in Chicago. I suspect attending St Nick's elementary school may have helped as well.

Everybody I knew left out their shoes in early December in order to receive a teaser gift if you will -- it was always something small but exciting. St. Nick visited Anchorage and left a small plastic ball for Piper and a Thomas Christmas train for Henry. He was also kind enough to leave a Christmas book for both kids. As you can see, it was very exciting.

Henry was more than happy to offer Piper some help in opening her gift. I'm sure his helpfulness will be utilized on the 25th.

Henry is getting exceptionally pumped for Christmas and Santa this year. He enjoyed it last year, and thankfully the anticipation has only grown. 

We'll turn on the Norad Santa tracker tonight and enjoy dinner with Grandpa Barnes. Henry should come shooting out of a cannon around 6 am on the 25th.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Henry's Christmas concert was earlier today and it went very well. He doesn't seem to care much for singing (even around the house when Mommy or Daddy sings), but he did an excellent job of standing politely with his classmates.

In the last video you get to see Henry showing off his tummy. Charming!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Thanksgiving was a bit warmer this year, and oddly without snow on the ground. Though I do usually enjoy being on my skis at this point in the season, I will confess that driving on dry, clear roads is very nice. We headed out to the Barnes' in Chugiak as happily and hungry as usual. Henry is pretty pumped for any visit out there these days, and I know the folks really wanted to see how much Piper had grown.

As we verified that the oil in the deep fryer was hot enough for the turkey, we immediately heard the sputter of a near empty tank of propane. After a quick check we confirmed that all of the cupboards were bare when it came to propane. Off to the gas station we went with three empty tanks and a very interested Henry.

We soon returned home and had the burner again heating up the oil. We walked back into the house and Hailey immediately asked Henry, "How was the trip to the gas station?"

Henry provided a wonderful, left field response. "It was lovely." There you have it.

Our snow finally came a few days later so onto the deck we went. Piper smiled at use through the window and Henry pushed around an excavator and dump truck. After the trucks ran their course, the ice skating helper was quickly turned into a snow plow. I happily fulfilled my job of shoveling some snow back into a pile in the middle of the deck, only to watch it plowed quickly away.

Happy kids.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

It's hard to keep up with December as Christmas rambles ever closer. After a few weeks of over time work passed by, I seized an empty Saturday and took Henry to the museum. They are currently in the middle of a Lego exhibit, which is pretty exciting for Dad and Henry.

Henry enjoyed the exhibit quite a bit on the weekday he first visited. Our Saturday trip found the expected larger crowds, and because Henry is his father's son, he wanted very little to do with the Lego crowds. However, that discomfort does not extend to the wooden train set. We'll politely wait for hours to get a crack at that sucker.

It's the same magnetic, wooden train on the same scale track we have at home, except it is securely screwed into a mountain landscape. As the other kids spiraled off to the dinosaurs, boats, and foam play sets, Henry patiently waited. He stepped up into his moment, flipped his Badger hat around, and dug in. I should have brought a book and a chair.

Legos, shmegos.

While Piper may have flirted with smiling in the past, she is how undeniably a smiley girl almost all of the time. She still loves to spit up on Mom and Dad more than we'd prefer, but she keeps gaining weight, laughing, and growing -- so there is nothing to complain about.

We'll just keep an eye out for stain stick coupons.