August 18, 2010

Spending the Day with Thomas, Year Three

Soon I will write a serious post with a no-holds-barred look at our summer.  They can't all be travelogues and scrapbook pages.  I decided a long time ago that I wanted to be upfront and honest  in the portrayal of our family life.  There's tons of good but we have our share of bad and ugly, too.  Yet all that truthfulness can wait a few more days so I can show you the wonderful time the children had at our annual visit to see Thomas the Tank Engine.

The official name of this extravaganza is Day Out With Thomas.  I first brought Henry when he was seventeen months old.  He had been Thomas-obsessed for at least two months when I saw a tiny ad for this event.  Still, I didn't know what to expect and was greatly surprised by the crowds when we got to this rural town.  Apparently this sleepy railroad museum came to life two weekends each summer.  It was packed with  families for as far as the eye could see.  I cherish that first visit because Henry and I discovered it together.  I remember how he was in awe of the Island of Sodor built entirely with Lego-like blocks.  On our second visit (last year), I brought a four month old baby and a two year old.  On my own.  On a sweltering August day.  That's all I'm going to say about Year Two.
This year, Henry loved seeing the restored train cars in the museum garages (sheds?).  He walked through every open exhibit.  There was a very long train with car after car of sleepers and dining sections.  Henry walked through it with Grandpa while I watched a sleeping Liam in the stroller.  An hour later, Henry begged to go again.  He took my hand, walked and talked me through the entire train.  Just like a little tour guide.  It was priceless!  The entire day was wonderful, but this is the memory I will cherish the most.
Henry has passed the Thomas torch to Liam.  My little guy adores the little blue engine and all his train friends.  His face lights up and he gives off a little scream of delight whenever he catches a glimpse of the steamie.  Nothing brings me more joy than to see my son so excited.  Although I have lots of Henry's Thomas toys, I bought Liam his very own engine and a new dvd.  (At this point, there's no hope in trying to balance my budget, so why not make the little guy happy?)
This year, for the first time, we rode the restored streetcars around the fairgrounds.   This was in addition to a twenty minute ride on the real Thomas the Tank Engine.  Henry enjoyed that but was a little nonplussed.  Unlike the adults around him, he was probably thinking, of course Thomas is a train that takes people for rides--everyone knows that, now where's the cotton candy?   There is another large train that travels about four miles through the surrounding rural landscape.  The round trip is 45 minutes and I wasn't sure Liam was up for it.  We will plan on adding that ride to our day's activities next time.

We were also fortunate to meet up with friends while at the event.  Henry loved hanging out with this family's two great children.  They had a natural way of being with each other.  I had to resist the urge to hover and make sure everyone was having fun together.  They didn't need an adult to set up their interactions--they just were.  It was wonderful to watch.

One of the nicest things for families with toddlers was the large tent that housed wooden train sets, blocks and coloring tables. This gave little ones a chance to get out of their strollers and do what they do best---PLAY! Grown-ups could take a break by sitting at the Stamping Up! table and making a free Thomas photo card. There really was something for everyone.  I can't wait for Year Four!


  1. I have taken my nephews to 2 Day Out with Thomas events in my area & was always impressed with how kid friendly & oriented it was. The 1st year, my oldest nephew had a breakdown when Thomas didn't say anything when he tried to speak to him (he was 2 at the time) & thought Thomas was ignoring him because he'd been bad. The next year my younger nephew had a breakdown when Thomas pulled out for another ride & he screamed, "No Thomas, don't leave me!!!" (he was 1.5) I just loved how passionate the boys were about it all!

  2. What a great recap, Lara. We had so much fun,and the kids truly got along so well. As always, you've captured the adventure with pictures that speak, and words that bring us into the moment. Here's to more adventures with Thomas and friends!!

  3. We did this 2 years ago right before I got pregnant with my boy's sister. He was SUCH a Thomas fan at the time and he LOVED it. Fortunately, or unfortunately, he has outgrown his Thomas phase and wasn't interested in going back. That is one nice thing for you having two little boys...they will get into each other's old stuff. I have thousands (seriously!) of dollars worth of Thomas stuff in my garage that I refuse to donate because, seriously, I might have to sell it someday to put him through college!

    Glad you guys had such a good day.