"Down the hills and 'round the bend, Thomas and his friends!"

I am one beat mama, but oh, the day was worth it!

PJ doesn't quite get future plans yet, so even though I have talked about meeting Thomas all week, he really didn't understand what was coming. It was just this mama who was too excited to sleep last night, and who woke long before her boys to excitedly pack a bag for our day trip while she sipped her coffee. Potty seat? Check. Change of clothes in case of an accident? Check. Wallet? Snack? Camcorder? Check. Check. Check. And most importantly, the tickets for our date with Thomas? Double check, and checked again!

It was a slightly subdued toddler that we loaded into the car (thanks for nothing, you wretched cold!) and with a turn of the key we headed towards Lancaster County and the East Strasburg Railroad. While PJ snoozed, the scene before us went from suburban (our neighborhood) to urban (Philadelphia), and after a long stretch of highway, we were surrounded by farms, deep in Amish country. We passed a tiny school house, where young Amish children were playing volleyball. A few minutes further up the road and we had arrived.

PJ had fallen asleep about half way there, so Pete and I gently woke him, and his eyes blinked open just in time to see his beloved Thomas pull into the station. He blinked, looked again, and then a smile spread across his still-sleepy face.

"Thomas..." he said, with a smile. And he kept smiling.

We parked the car and walked to the station, giving PJ some time to wake up and take in his surroundings. His head swiveled as he took in the trains and cars, railroad staff, and the steam rising from Thomas's funnel. He got his hero in his sights and, now awake, gleefully cried "THOMAS!!!!" And there he was!

There was some time before we needed to board, so we walked about, checking out the sights. We had time to take family pictures with both Thomas and the head of the operation, Sir Toppem Hatt. The picture with Thomas went beautifully! Sir Toppem, unfortunately, freaked PJ out a little, resulting in a picture of a slightly stressed toddler.

I can't lie. That dude freaked me the hell out, too!! Not to mention that Thomas's eyes moved. EWWW!!!

After pictures, and a quick trip to the bathroom, it was time to board! We selected a heated car to take some of the chill off the day, and settled into the plush, green seats. PJ snuggled into his seat with some goldfish crackers and a drink, handed our tickets to the attendant, and then we were off! Thomas pulled us through the lovely farmscapes, the sun shining through the windows. The car rocked gently and we could hear the clack-clack-clack of the wheels rolling on the train tracks. There was a buzz as families chattered, the conductor commented, and the Thomas theme song played in the background (Ew, again.). We waved to the cows and horses, took pictures, and after a while, our ride was done.

We got off the train and were back at the station. There was a number of tents set up with activities for young Thomas-lovers, so off we went in search of more fun. A stop inside a yellow and white striped tent yielded a veritable jackpot of train  and Lego tables, motorized trains racing around on tracks, and chairs to sit in and get a (temporary) Thomas tattoo. PJ declined the tattoo but said yes to getting elbow-deep in large train tables adorned with every character he could think of. He raced the trains along the tracks with glee, and only became upset when it was time to leave the tent. There was a Toddler Meltdown, but he certainly wasn't the only one! There is something about trains that seems to be like crack to little boys!

After a stop at the souvenir tent ($25 in damage there, not too bad!), it was time to head home. PJ has been battling a lingering virus, and his appetite has only been so-so, so we decided to stop at a McDonald's we had passed to entice him into eating! We headed back to the car, crossing the tracks on our way. As we stepped across the tracks, we heard a now-familiar "toot-toot!" The attendant called for everyone to step off the track, and we looked up to see Thomas heading back into the station. We were as close to him as we had been able to get, and PJ watched excitedly as he got closer and closer. The excited, almost reverent smile on his face as his favorite rolled by nearly made me cry. It was so sweet and honest and excited and happy, and even though it will be in my heart forever, I am so thankful to have captured it:

And with that final wave at Thomas, it was time to head home. PJ was tired but had such a good time. I had hesitated going since he had been sick earlier in the week, but even though he wasn't 100%, I am so glad that we went! It was a beautiful day with my little family that I will remember forever!

A few more pictures from the day:

How cute are they?

PJ was annoyed because we took his snack away to take the picture, LOL!