10 Things I Now Love that would Make a Younger Me Laugh

I have overheard heard myself saying things to friends that show my age and stage in life as a mom, wife, part-time employee, and homemaker. Ten years ago I would have laughed at the idea of loving some of these things, but I guess it’s part of growing up and slowly becoming more like your own mom.

Here are a few little things I now love as a 30-something:

  1. A clean & clutter-free kitchen island / countertop
  2. Freshly cleaned carpets
  3. Any uniterrupted time in the bathroom
  4. Quiet time in the kitchen to have a cup of coffee and/or make dinner
  5. An awesome programmable crockpot with a temperature gauge (life changing!!)
  6. Getting a night off from dish duty
  7. Freshly laundered sheets / clothes, dried in the sunshine
  8. Gardening
  9. Going power shopping alone (though it IS fun shopping with big sister)
  10. Enjoying a simple walk on a nature trail with my family

Do you ever catch yourself saying something that makes you feel old?! What would you add to this list?

Illinois Railroad Museum – A Train Lover’s Paradise

You could say the love of trains in our family has skipped a generation.  Saying my dad is an avid railfan could be the biggest understatement of the century!  He has LOVED trains from little on – watching them, riding them, and building and re-building his elaborate HO scale train layout in his home.  Needless to say when he & my mom had my sister and me, he tried to pass along that same love of trains. You could say the hobby just didn’t “take” for us girls. I enjoy riding trains – especially during my time in Japan, Austria, and traveling throughout Europe, but I am not much of a train lover compared to my dad.

Fortunately, my kids and nephews are big train fans! They enjoy the trains that my dad bought for me & my sister as kids. We put them up, especially around Christmas time, and have fun running them as a family.  They also like checking out Grandpa’s model train at his house.

A recent picture of Daddy O., Grandpa, and little brother checking out the train layout.

A recent picture of Daddy O., Grandpa, and little brother checking out the train layout.

It’s no surprise that we also seek out train-related sights to explore with my dad and the kids. We’ve done Day out with Thomas at local railroad museums when the kids were younger. Those were nice events, a bit overcrowded and commercialized, but we all agreed that the Illinois Railroad Museum is MUCH better than the Thomas the Tank Engine themed day.

In a brief, one-phrase review, I’d call the Illinois Railroad Museum a Train Lover’s Paradise! According to its website, it is America’s LARGEST Railroad Museum. Since I have friends with kids age three and under (this is prime train / Thomas the Tank Engine-loving age), I thought I’d share some pictures and details of our visit to the train museum.

The museum is sort of in the middle of a rural area, but it was easy to find.  You certainly can’t miss it – the grounds are quite expansive with numerous buildings and rail lines. Here were a few shots that I took with my phone:

From top left - the old steamie, vintage Coca Cola signs hand from the diner. Bottom: Two cuties waiting for the streetcar, another vintage sign.

From top left – the old steam engine, vintage Coca Cola signs hand from the diner. Bottom: Two cuties waiting for the streetcar, another vintage sign.

As you can see above, with the picture of the boys, there are a lot of great backdrops for pictures. We saw some teens getting pictures taken (perhaps senior pictures?) that day, though it was a bit overcast.

I liked the vintage signs and diner that they were in the process of restoring. They do have a food court in the diner, but we opted to pack a lunch instead.

There is a lot of history here as the museum “rescues” trains and cars that are out of service, so they aren’t scrapped. If I remember correctly, we rode on a streetcar from the 1920’s (see picture of big sister “hugging” little brother on the street car), a retired CTA train, and the Nebraska Zephyr built in the 1930’s and retired in the 60’s.  (Dad, if you’re reading this, please correct me if I’m wrong!)

IL Railroad Museum pics

View of Daddy O. and little brother by the streetcar, Riding the streetcar (not so excited to be hugged by his sister), Riding in the posh, luxury car of the Zephyr.

Here’s my dad, excited to watch them get the Nebraska Zephyr from the shed. Isn’t it a pretty looking diesel train?!

Two train lovers by the Zephyr and Steam Engine

Top: My dad watching the Nebraska Zephyr get ready to take us for a ride. Bottom: The old Steam Engine, warming up. Little brother, looking on.

We rode on the Nebraska Zephyr for about a 30 minute ride. It was so comfortable sitting in the cushy, Lazy Boy-like seats in the first class car that I fell asleep! With each train we rode, we learned a bit about the history of the train and the time in which it was used. I think the 1920’s streetcar was my favorite!  The old steam locomotive (the black train above) was a fan favorite, as you can see all the guys checking it out. My son watched it from afar near some switching tracks.  I attempted some sort of artsy picture of him by the tracks, but didn’t really succeed!

Everyone who went to the Illinois Railroad Museum seemed to find something they enjoyed seeing or doing.  There was even a playgroud for the kids too! It’s very family friendly and a perfect destination for train lovers!

Spring Break from my Daughter’s Eyes

The sheer volume of paper, pictures, and crafts that my daughter brings home each week from school can be a bit staggering at times! While sorting through this pile of stuff recently, I came across this picture that she drew.

Kid's depiction of Spring Break

Simple fun – my daughter playing outside with Daddy O.

I love this picture for several reasons:

  • Daddy’s Girl – Big sister is a Daddy’s girl through and through, so of course she draws a picture of herself and Daddy together. (Hey, Mom was around during Spring Break too!!)
  • Forever Sunshine (in pictures) – The weather during our Spring Break was not all that nice. Kids always seem to draw the sunshine, flowers & rainbows (not pictured here), and why not?! At least it wasn’t snowing then!
  • Forget the Big Attraction – We had gone to the Shedd Aquarium over Spring Break, but that’s not what stood out in her mind when it came time to draw this picture.
  • Keep it Simple – This is my favorite reason for loving this picture. As parents we try to do all the big, fancy things with our kids. Sign them up for all sorts of classes and activities, take them to children’s museums, zoos, aquariums, etc, and what they remember most is playing outside with us in our very own backyard.

It’s amazing how one little picture can remind me that fun and memorable time with our kids doesn’t have to be this perfectly planned day to a major tourist destination. It’s as simple as dance parties, game nights and story time at home, or going for a walk to the park and just playing outside in the yard. What makes these everyday things memorable is sharing them with those we love.

Here’s to more “spring break” fun and reminders of life lessons from my kids!