Oh what fun it is!

Hello Monday!  I don’t know about you…but we couldn’t have fit more fun into our weekend.
We rode the North Pole Express Train.
We celebrated Manda with a Fun Run and 5K event.
We went to the McKinney Light Parade.
We hosted a party at our house for our entire Sunday School class.
We are pooped…but it was fun.
And then if you’re looking for me this morning, I’m on Good Morning Texas making mini versions of some favorite entree recipes.
If I’m not asleep tonight by 8:30, it will be a Christmas miracle.
First up, we went on the North Pole Express with the Slaughters.  We’ve never done this little train ride before (even though it’s right by my parents’ house)…we always just kind of forget about it.  Back in October, Erika suggested we go and so we asked some friends what they thought about it and got really mixed reviews.  Some people loved it and some friends didn’t like it at all…we took a gamble and bought our tickets (please note that 1 minute into the ride, Andrew and Tab declared we would never do it again and Erika and I pretty much completely agreed…sigh.).
The kids all wear their pjs on the Polar Express, so we dressed the five kiddos in matching pajamas.  We ate yummy BBQ at a nearby restaurant before boarding the train.  My big girl :).

The five kiddos enjoying their supper.  I don’t know what was in the water here but I’m pretty sure 4 out of the 5 kids got into trouble while eating…  
Erika and I kept laughing because we take the five of them everywhere all.the.time. and they’re super easy…but holy moly the combination of BBQ, pajamas, train rides and their fathers made them act like crazy fools!

 I just love these kids so much.  And yes, Ashby should be here too.  She really should be.  
We had to stand in line for 45 minutes before we boarded the train.  Let’s just say the phrases “get off the ground” and “keep your hands to yourself” were said a lot.  That’s a long time to wait in a line with five kids!  I love sharing this craziness with Erika though :).  

Getting ready to board!!

They’re so excited!!

Sweet girls on board πŸ™‚
Mrs. Claus came by for pictures and gave each child a bell.

After the train ride they shuffled us into a pavilion to see Santa and his elves.

And then when it was all over, we boarded the shuttle bus back to the parking lot.  We laughed and laughed about how this was our favorite part of the evening ;).  The kids loved everything!  Smith said it was the best day of his life.  The adults thought it was waaaaaaay over-priced for what you got.  I don’t think this is a tradition we’ll repeat next year, but I’m sure glad we did it at least once.
The next day (December 13), the city of McKinney declared it Manda Maxwell Day and we had a 5K and Fun Run to support our sweet friends.
Andrew and Kensington didn’t sign up to run, so they stayed behind and cheered for everyone…my boy said he wanted to run the 1 mile Fun Run, so we got all geared up!  Thankfully, it was unseasonably warm on this day, so there were hundreds of people and kids out supporting our friend and enjoying the gorgeous day!

I love my sweet friend so much!  Not only is she such a strong fighter (this is her 3rd time to fight cancer), she is the best wife and mama.  She is such an inspiration to me.
My friend Kassie took this as we crossed the finish line…I’m laughing because Smith sprinted the first 100 feet of the mile and then stopped and said his legs were just too exhausted that he didn’t think he could finish…so, I put him on my back and ran the mile (with my 5 year old on my back) and then he hopped off and finished the last 50 feet on his own.  Needless to say, I’m sore today.

He is so proud of his medal!   I didn’t want to point out to him that mommy actually deserved the medal.  And some Icy Hot.
 Later that night, we bundled up and headed to the McKinney Light Parade with my parents.  My kids found a spot on the curb and enjoyed peppermint bark while they waited.
10 years ago after we left Detroit, I wanted to move back to where I grew up because that’s what I knew in Texas, but Andrew said we needed to live in McKinney (a suburb about 20 minutes north of Dallas).  I DID NOT want to move to McKinney.  McKinney is also 45 minutes south of Oklahoma and as someone who grew up in the Irving/Dallas area, that sounded so far away.  He just kept insisting that McKinney is where we would want to start our little business and raise a family…but I was not a happy camper about it.  It was an hour from my family, it was a suburb and it was so far north.  Needless to say…10 years later…I am so glad that I stopped pouting and listened to him.  I cannot imagine raising my kids anywhere else.  I really, really, really love my town and it’s been an honor to call it home this last decade.  And yes, here in McKinney we are extremely proud that other people like it too…being named the #1 Best Place to Live in the US is kind of something we’re excited about :).
 Papa Jay bought them a light up sword and wand…and they’re still eating peppermint bark.

Woohoo!  The parade begins!

Lots of cheering!

See our banner…we’re proud people :).

Santa arrived with snow!

We had the BEST time at the parade!  Such a fun little family tradition!
I hope you had a great weekend too!  On the foodie blog today, the three recipes I’m sharing on Good Morning Texas today PLUS your Meal Planning Monday!
Click here to see all of the yumminess!

Happy Monday!

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  • Michele @ The Joyful Home December 15, 2014 at 11:30 am

    Thank you for the Polar Express review! We've gone back and forth on it, and now, I'm thinking my kiddos may be entirely past it. #whattheydontknowwonthurtthem Also, I'll have to tune in to GMT this morning–good luck!

  • Erika Slaughter December 15, 2014 at 11:39 am

    I think you forgot to mention the company on the Polar Express made the night fabulous?? Ha!! I didn't know you were carrying Smith!! I was doing the same thing with Bowen!!

  • K December 15, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    That's too bad about the Polar Express. I just took my 2 yr old son to the one in Arizona, close to the Grand Canyon, and it was fantastic. It looks like a completely different experience from the one you went to – a chef read the Polar Express book, kids sang Christmas carols, they handed out cookies and hot chocolate, we went to "the North Pole" , and then Santa handed out bells to the kids ( and adults, too).

    All the lights in your town look beautiful!

  • Sheaffer {Pinterest Told Me To} December 15, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    Love all the pics, but my favorite is of all the kids in their matching pajamas! So cute!!!!!!! So excited to watch you this morning!

  • kimm atwood December 15, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    What a fun weekend!!!!

  • Aubrey December 15, 2014 at 1:04 pm

    Woohoo! Great weekend! And I saw the list of best places in the US to live and thought of you immediately. That Andrew Shull. He's got good ideas. πŸ™‚

  • The Cantelmo Family December 15, 2014 at 1:08 pm

    We did the polar express last year and so not worth the money. But the kiddos still talk about how much fun they had on it? Oh well. Once is enough.

  • Elizabeth December 15, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    Thank you for the Polar Express review! My husband and I have been talking about doing that- maybe now we won't πŸ˜‰
    I am looking forward to watching you on GMT!!

  • Tina December 15, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    Hard Eight BBQ pics make me super jealous. We've driven from Austin just to have their wonderful food!

  • Sally December 15, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    We have family that live in McKinney, they love it! hope to visit them soon and see your sweet town!

  • Natalie Zambreski December 15, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    This seriously looks like SUCH a fun weekend! I'm taking notes of all your fun traditions and saving them for my future little family!

  • Rebecca Jo December 15, 2014 at 1:58 pm

    Looks like a Christmas celebration weekend!

    I'm sure kids in pj's just makes their minds feel like anything goes πŸ™‚ Glad you all survived.. & now know better not to do it again next year πŸ™‚

  • JJaz December 15, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    In the pic with the McKinney banner, the store sign in the back to the left has your son's name πŸ™‚

  • Kari Maddox December 15, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    I was wondering about the train ride. I have 5 kids and knew the price was high and worried that they were missing out on something that other families could do with less kids….glad I am not missing out

  • Tracy December 15, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    What a fun weekend! Is there a video online of your t.v appearance? Would love to see!

  • Linda December 15, 2014 at 4:55 pm

    I have laughed and laughed at this! Especially the, "Get off the ground," and "Keep your hands to yourself," part! I just don't know what you're going to do next year when Smith wants to revisit "the best day of his life!" And…that picture of the five of them is beyond precious!

  • Jenn December 15, 2014 at 5:40 pm

    I wish I would've known about the 5k/fun run! I live right here and didn't hear anything about it until it popped up on IG πŸ™ Good luck to Manda though! Much love!

  • Tanya December 15, 2014 at 6:48 pm

    Very festive post, Shay—loved it! Do you have a link to your tv spot from this morning? Would love to see your mini entrees ideas.

  • Whitney Swanson December 15, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    Such a fun weekend & wonderful memories for your family! I love following your blog, so encouraging and great ideas. I love Erika's leopard booties! You gals are so cute! Happy Holidays! πŸ™‚

  • Anonymous December 15, 2014 at 8:12 pm

    I agree with "K". Our Polar Express on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad (CVSR) is much like the one in Arizona. It takes hundreds of volunteers nightly for over 30 days to reenact this adventure for the children. We also have a "North Pole" that the train visits and a real sleigh pulled by a horse (reindeer are resting for the big day) carrying Mr and Mrs Claus appears. Because there are many cars, when Santa boards there are other Santas ready to appear in all cars! It is truly magical….and we usually have snow!!!! Look up CVSR

  • Jen R December 16, 2014 at 12:08 am

    how fun! i love the matching Pjs!

  • Janet December 16, 2014 at 1:31 am

    Friends have done the one in North Carolina, Smokey Mountain area. They loved it. I think you all got the not so great version. The kids all looked cute in their pj's though. Usually if the kids love it the adults dislike it. But what matters is the kids made memories with their families that they will talk about for life.

  • amoveableme.com December 16, 2014 at 2:13 am

    What a fun-packed weekend! Thanks for the Polar Express review, I was just talking to my hubby about wanting to do one where we live next year… maybe we will think about it harder πŸ™‚

    Can't wait for your sweet Ashby to be home with you!

  • Rachel December 16, 2014 at 3:51 am

    We have a similar polar express by us that I hear isn't worth the money either. At least the kids love it! My town is #3 on the list, and I love it here too in Carmel, Indiana.

  • Rebekah @ Living && Learning December 16, 2014 at 5:14 am

    My husband grew up in Anna and my Dad's family is from Whitewright so we're in Mckinney fairly often & always enjoy our time there! It's such a nice town! I love listening to my hubby reminisce about the "old days" of what was here or there when mckinney was his high school stomping grounds. Seems like so much has changed but so much is also still the same!
    Thanks for the review of polar express. My MIL lives in grapevine & we have been going back and forth trying to decide if that will be a tradition we start as something fun in her town. I'm really leaning towards no now, I hadn't loved the idea before either in all honesty lol.

  • Jaren December 16, 2014 at 8:12 pm

    McKinney sounds really awesome every time you talk about all the fun things y'all do. You did great on GMT!! I love watching you!

  • Mitzi December 19, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    Can I ask about the leopard shoes/booties that Erika Slaughter is wearing in the photo of y'all after the Polar Express night?? Adorbs!