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Surviving a Cookout with a Toddler in the Country

Tomorrow is Memorial Day. That means, 'tis the season for cookouts. That brings up an interesting problem. What do you do with a toddler at a cookout?!

Our daughter is twenty months now. We have learned that twenty months is very different from ten months.

When she was ten months old cookouts were easy. We dressed her in a cute outfit and attended the event, kind of like celebrities. People would fawn over her and she let them. She enjoyed the festivities peacefully by smiling, eating and napping. And we would enjoy our meals.

Those peaceful cookouts were a lifetime ago. Now things are different. Now the toddler has a mind of her own. She is no longer content to be quiet and adored. She wants to run and explore.

Today, we attended a cookout at Andre's grandparents house in Somerset. For those of you outside of Pittsburgh, as we would say growing up, "Somerset is straight up country for real!" Once you get off the Turnpike exit you smell the familiar scent of manure and hay baked by the sun.

I felt like I had left Pittsburgh and landed in Green Acres! :-)

His grandparents had a working farm before they retired. They live on about twelve acres and there is lots of grass around. And there are all kinds of potential hazards for toddlers. Like most country properties there are hills. And those hills made mommy nervous. However, true to form, the toddler conquered the hills like a champ. She ran up those those hills, teetered a bit and regained her balance each and every time. It was fascinating to watch. The astronauts have nothing on her!

There was also this huge hole in the ground with a grate over it and there was a dog. You'll be proud of me. I didn't freak out about the huge hole or the dog. However, I was hypervigilant.

The toddler is VERY active. I don't think that she explored every inch of the twelve acres, but she came close. She kept running around, chasing the dog and playing with frogs. Yes I wrote frogs. Her father saw one hopping around and thought it would be great for her to hold the frog. She was quite amused. I was not. However, I held it together. I just pray that the "touching toads causing warts thing" is just an urban legend... Frogs, toads, for this city girl, there's no difference.

We went to a "sugar camp" where they process molasses and make syrup. It was an adventure. You haven't truly lived until you have a rambunctious toddler in close proximity to a hot caste iron kettle full of boiling molasses!

Surrounding the camp was a creek with a wooden plank across it. Of course daddy allowed her to walk the plank and hang out in the teepee in the woods. She climbed hills in her white and grey pants and stomped in the muddy creek in her white sneakers. Then daddy gave her to me to hold in my white dress with her muddy feet. I promptly gave her back. By the Grace of God I managed to avoid having two muddy shoes prints on my dress. Andre must have God on speed dial because I would have been hopping mad had I gotten mud on my dress. So much for relaxing, huh?!

I learned some lessons from our time in the country. I'll post those soon!
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