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THE POLAR EXPRESS Delivers Big Holiday Fun for Colorado Families

For years, the Colorado Railroad Museum has been a popular destination for railway lovers of all ages. Fans of all things chugga-chugga and choo-choo always find something interesting to explore as the museum is constantly restoring and adding to their deep collection of railway cars, engines, and artifacts. They host many creative and innovative events throughout the year. Fittingly, they are capping off another fantastic year of fun with something extraordinary. For the first time, the Colorado Railroad Museum is hosting THE POLAR EXPRESS™ experience.

It is more than just a train ride. It’s a theatrical re-telling of the beloved modern holiday classic written by Chris Van Allsburg, which was adapted into a film in 2004. Elements of both are incorporated into every thoughtful detail, leaving riders young and old believing in the power of Christmas magic.

After arriving at the festively decorated museum depot, families are escorted to one of three performance areas, based on the ticket package chosen. Of course, all riders of a magical train require a special golden ticket to treasure. Keep it safe because you’re in for a treat. Right on cue, the experience comes to life. Music starts. Everyone is treated to hot chocolate and cookies served by dancing chefs. Don’t be surprised if your little ones want to dance too! Who can resist the Hot Chocolate song? Then, the tone changes as a giant picture book is brought out. As riders munch and sip, Liam Neeson narrates a recording of THE POLAR EXPRESS™ as the talented chefs turn pages. It serves as a great transition to the highlight of the night—a journey to the North Pole!

The groups are escorted into the dark night to a staging area. A whistle rings out and around the bend, an enormous engine rocks into view billowing white clouds of steam. It’s loud, dramatic, and an amazing sight. As it stops, a scene unfolds. A young boy, Will, is invited by a mysterious conductor to board the train. What will he do? As the scene ends, riders board several train cars for their own special trip. The train lurches into motion. Make sure to look out the windows. Familiar elements of the book and film unfold on each loop as memorable scenes from the film are acted out during the journey.

THE POLAR EXPRESS™ comes to a stop at the top of the world. Elves dance, illuminated by lights. But where is Santa? Maybe good boys and girls will spy the jolly man in red on the return trip to Golden, Colorado.

There are many fun family activities to do in Colorado during the holidays. THE POLAR EXPRESS™ at the Colorado Railroad Museum is one of the freshest choices for families along the front range and beyond. It truly captures the magic of the season, mixing in elements of whimsy and surprise. It’s dramatic, both in storytelling and in the setting. Being treated to an experience with a real steam engine and cool historic railcars is an experience you won’t forget.

To learn more information about THE POLAR EXPRESS™, visit The Colorado Railroad Museum. There, you can find information about different ticketing levels. They all include the show, hot chocolate and cookies, and a ride to the “North Pole.” Each ticketed child gets a bell. Was it cut from a reindeer’s harness? Probably. Every child will leave feeling special. There are other souvenirs based on the ticketing level, as well, including souvenir mugs and books.

THE POLAR EXPRESS™ runs every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night between now and December 28th, 2014. There are additional performances on November 26th, 2014 and December 22nd and 23rd, 2014. With three performances each night, you’ll be able to find one right for your family.

TIPS:

~ Leave the stroller at home. You will be climbing up and down into historic railcars on stairs.

~ We went on a night after snow melted, so the ground was a bit muddy. No need for fancy shoes. Wear something you don’t mind getting dirty. It adds to the adventure!

~ Dress your kids (and maybe even yourself) in pajamas. It’s fun and makes a more authentic experience.

~ You will be outside for some of the time, so layer.

~ If your child has sensory issues, be aware the arrival of the train is loud and dramatic.

~ Like all trains, everything runs on a precise schedule. Be on time to your designated performance.

~ Consider watching the film or reading the book to your kids before you come. It added to our experience as my kids recalled their favorite parts and anticipated what was coming.

No chimney full of toys? How to handle holiday disappointments

In a recent interview with Dr. Jeffrey I. Dolgan, PhD, Senior Psychologist at Children’s Hospital Colorado, we asked how to manage children’s expectations during the holidays. Here’s what Dr. Dolgan had to say about how to deal with holiday let-downs if Santa, Mom or Dad come up short.

What do kids expect at Christmastime or Hanukkah?

Kids are very precise about what they want. Their Santa list doesn’t include just a video game, it’s a particular video game, or a specific action figure. Children expect these precise things, especially if they wrote it down or visited Santa Claus. This is especially true if the ads on TV instruct kids to “tell Mom and Dad” or “whisper this in Santa’s ear.”

What should parents do when a child doesn’t get what he or she wanted?

This Holiday Season, Ho-Ho-Hold On and Think Before You Eat

One for you… one for me. One for you…two for me. One for you… three for me.  That’s my philosophy on Christmas cookies.  I’ve never met a Christmas cookie I didn’t like.  I actually celebrate Hanukah but cookies, I have found, are very inclusive.

It also seems to be my philosophy on (just kill me now) Thanksgiving pie—whether it’s apple, blueberry, pecan, or yummy pumpkin pie. Mm-mmm!

I confess, I always put on a few pounds in November and December, and it’s amazing how much harder it is to get those couple pounds off then it was to put them on. But this year has to be different. This year I am training for a spring marathon, and I don’t want any extra baggage weighing me down.  

The Colorado Ballet’s The Nutcracker Enchants All

A holiday season without The Nutcracker is a few twirls short of magical. Generations have made listening to Tchaikovsky’s familiar suite part of their celebrations. I love how here in Colorado, we have the world-class Colorado Ballet dedicated to performing The Nutcracker for families. Not only can we hear the lovely, poignant, energetic score, we can see it how it was meant to be seen: With wonder, with skill, with love, though dance.

I was excited to take my ten-year-old son, Joel, to a recent performance at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. The Nutcracker has a reputation for being a great mommy-daughter date. Of course, ladies of all ages filled the expansive theater dressed in their holiday best, but there were plenty of guys on hand experience the fun. I think it’s really important to share the arts with our boys. Don’t assume that just because you can’t pincurl their hair they won’t like ballet. Appreciating the art—and athleticism— of ballet can come easily for girls and boys, especially when their first introduction happens to be The Nutcracker.

12 Days of Toddler Christmas

As Christmas rounds the corner, I find myself officially on the other side of the Christmas magic. That doesn’t mean Christmas has no magic left. It simply means that after the Christmas magic dust has settled to the floor, I have to clean it up. With a broom. Because my three-year old shows the same amount of fear towards the vacuum as I would, if I opened my pantry and found an actual shark inside.

The side of Christmas I’m talking about  is the day-to-day side: Hey, hey! It’s Christmas! Also, it’s Tuesday! Did you pay the utility bill?

I don’t know who wrote the Christmas carol: “Twelve Days of Christmas.” But, I’d be willing to bet both the giver and recipient were adults. Not just because a verse from Twinkle Twinkle Little Star doesn’t make a cameo, but because the gifts are actual gifts. Weird gifts, but gifts nonetheless. If the writer had been singing about gift giving from toddlers, then it’s easy to understand how day-to-day life ties into an adult’s Christmas.

Scandalous Holiday Season Confessions

You know it’s the holiday season when a certain local radio station—the call letters rhyme with NOSI—busts out sleighbell-laden songs. ‘Tis the season to deck the rooftops with partridges. I love Thanksgiving, Christmas, and any holiday that falls during this time of year. If Administrative Assistants Day fell during November and December, I’d totally get an Administrative Assistants Coffee Mug Tree and string it with paper clips. I’d sing carols like, “Carol of the Tasteful Ringtones.” I guess I’m in a partying mood at the end of each year.

However, there are certain norms and rules regarding this time of year. Sometimes, I fear I’m doing the holidays wrong. Or, I get irritated by some of the traditions and only begrudgingly celebrate. Here are my holiday confessions:

1. I love getting adorable family photo greeting cards, but what do I do with them? It’s no longer

Delicious Cranberry Salsa Served Over Cream Cheese

Disclaimer: I’m not a fan of cranberries but I can’t get enough of this delicious cranberry salsa served over cream cheese. My friend Eva regularly brings this dish to our Christmas potlucks and I love it. It’s perfect for Christmas but gosh darn it if I’m not adding it to our Thanksgiving line-up. You can either serve it with your turkey or as a side or appetizer while people are waiting for your turkey to cook. As as bonus, it’s totally easy.

Every year, my family participates in Volunteers of America’s service project to serve Thanksgiving dinner to low-income seniors. This year, I brought our cranberry salsa and it was a hit! Talk about the perfect way to spend this holiday–in service and sharing a delicious meal. Enjoy!

42 Ways to Recapture Childhood Holiday Wonder

1. Save the wishbone.

2. Eat the dark meat.

3. Get dirty, wet, and cold on purpose, leaving a flock of snow angels behind.

4. Appreciate your cousins. Play with them.

5. Celebrate Snoopy Thanksgiving.

6. Watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Make sure to high-kick with the Rockettes. Or low-kick. Or flick your toes.

7. Truly enjoy the sight and sound of coagulated cranberry oozing out of a can in one gelatinous cylinder.

8. Make a turkey with your handprints.

9. Wear mittens instead of gloves.

10. Make candy cane fangs.

11. Snoop

How a Teenaged Girl Grew a Beard and Liked It

Most 13-year-old girls do not have a beard.

But I did.

My junior high drama club held auditions for the Christmas play, called “Skullduggery At Santa’s Place.” I had to look up skullduggery in the dictionary when the play’s title was announced. The definition pleased me enough to sign up for the after-school audition.

I wanted the part of Cookie Claus, Santa’s beautiful daughter of marrying/kissing age. I poured all my energy into becoming Cookie, believing the part would launch me into a Love’s Baby Soft scented stratosphere of Junior High fame. I read my lines with delicate but passionate intensity, with a tinge of sweet spunk and the ability to swoon at the sight of the nearest imaginary but C. Thomas Howell-handsome Canadian Mountie.

Where to cut your own Colorado Christmas tree

Many Coloradans want a more hands-on experience when it comes to selecting their Christmas tree than just visiting an urban tree lot.

The U.S. Forest Service annually issues $10 permits for those who want to cut their own trees in designated areas. The South Platte Ranger District office began selling permits Nov. 1 at its Morrison office (19316 Goddard Ranch Court), and an order form can also be downloaded online for those who want to mail in their permit request. Get full information at http://1.usa.gov/SoAiPR or by calling 303-275-5610. Don’t delay — the permits sell out quickly

For details on the other sites in Colorado where tree cutting is allowed,