When I took the train downtown to meet a dear friend from college, I knew my boys would be fascinated and possibly jealous–but I didn’t realize they would brand me a traitor. For a week, C appeared at my elbow every few hours and asked mournfully, “Sometime can ride on your train, Mama?” Both boys pored over pictures of Metra trains we found online, and C stopped drawing steam engines and started drawing the Metra version several times a day. “How many sleeps till we get to ride on your train, Mama?”

The following Saturday morning we were buying our tickets at the booth in the high-ceilinged, echoing station and climbing the steps to board the train. Wide eyes gazed around us, enthralled, and boisterous voices exclaimed about everything in sight.

Little Miss Independent wanted to sit on the bench across from us. She was studying a map of IKEA which she had insisted on bringing along.

We rode for about half an hour and then got off at a suburb with a bustling, walking-friendly downtown. We disembarked right into a farmer’s market overflowing with fresh fruits and vegetables and bundles of flowers. I wanted to take pictures of everything, but we were herding children, so I just enjoyed walking among the stalls and recalling many German markets in cobblestone squares.

We stopped to watch some freight trains pass, and C decided that the crossing gates were much too loud.

But when the trains themselves rattled by, everyone was thrilled.

We found a park perfect for running…

And photo-snapping:

We explored the downtown, drank lemonade, toured a bookstore (with a toy train set: oh, happy day!), and found a restaurant with outdoor seating where Mama and Daddy could order food while unpacking the allergy-free lunches I’d brought for the kids.

Waiting for our train home, we enjoyed all the entertainment that rumbled past.

There it goes!

He is protective of his sister:

(Note: they were quite far back from the edge, the train was on the far track, and we were close at hand.)

What are we looking at, big brother?

There comes the end of the train, little sister!

It’s GONE!

Back on the train, they absorbed all the details.

Those eyes are filing images to be drawn later.

I love this picture of C. He’s lean and he’s growing taller, but here I can still glimpse his babyhood in the rounded cheeks and large eyes.

Two brothers on a train.

They love their sister, too. And she also happens to think trains are marvelous.

It was a special family excursion. Last night I was worrying about fitting field trips into our schedule this year, and J pointed out that we’ve already had a couple. Phew. Mommy guilt assuaged. (For now!)

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They are all asking when we can ride the train again. Maybe next time we’ll be brave enough to head all the way into the city!

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