Today’s feature is brought to your by Sarah Rosemary, who blogs at Sunny Side Up, and lives in Northern VA with her husband, toddler, and coonhound. She recently learned how to cook, balances a career while holding together her family, loves a full to-do list, and dreams of writing her own book.  It’s a challenge, but she chooses to look at life, sunny side up.

My toddler is non-stop action.


It’s enough to wear this mama out.

So I’m forever searching for someplace I can take her that 1) won’t cost anything (or only a couple dollars), 2) will allow her to run free without fear of breaking something, and 3) offers tons of entertainment.

That’s a tall order.  Usually I just give up and take her to our local park for the millionth time in the same week.  But even she’s getting bored of the same-old, same-old.

Last week I decided to switch it up and head over to Frying Pan Farm Park in Herndon, about 15 minutes from our house in Vienna.  I knew many of the farm animals just had babies, so I hoped we’d see a few piglets and maybe a calf or two.

Frying Pan Farm Park seeks to preserve the concept of a working farm between the years 1920 and 1950.  The farm offers cow milking demonstrations, tours, wagon rides, and many other hands-on educational opportunities for the elementary-age set.  While Kate and I were there, we saw bunches of local school groups learning about the farm and participating in potato sack races.

While the farm offers programming for older children, it also provides plenty of stuff for the younger kids.  Since the farm is set back from the road and fenced in, toddlers and preschoolers can run free, which, if you’re a toddler, is pretty much the best thing ever.

As soon as we pulled into the gravel parking lot and Kate saw the cows and sheep roaming about, I knew I hit toddler jackpot.  I got her out of the car and let her lead the way.

We started off in the cow pasture.  Kate loved running up and down the gravel road in between the pastures.  Every so often she’d stop and climb half way up the fence to chat with one of the cows.  If I’d let her she would have climbed on over the fence and tried to hug that cow, so mamas with climbers, beware.

After the cows, we stopped by a couple different pens to check out some ducks, a turkey, a peacock, and a bunch of chickens and roosters.  Kate wasn’t too sure about the turkey.  And, honestly, he kind of freaked me out, too.  But those chickens couldn’t have been more friendly.  Almost too friendly.  So friendly Kate kept asking if she could touch those chickens but I dissuaded her by suggesting we touch baby goats instead.

Oh, the baby goats.  Those things could not be any sweeter.  They were so docile and happy to have tons of little hands pet them.  I thought about stealing one away into my diaper bag.

But I think the piglets were Kate’s favorite.  There were two sets of piglets – one set born in early March and one set born in early April.  The youngest babies were a feisty bunch.  If I thought a single toddler was a lot of work, well, I felt bad for that mama pig.  The older set of babies seemed a little more well-behaved, so Kate got to give them a pat.

We ended the day with a ride on the carousel.  Last year Kate cried on every single carousel ride.  But this time she assured me she wanted to do it.  So for $1.75 I consented.

Amazingly, she loved it, although her face indicates otherwise.

While the farm is geared towards tots and school-aged children, it would be just as fun for adults and even the senior citizen crowd.  I mean, who doesn’t love baby animals?  Besides the sweet animals, it felt nice to get away from our usual park and the busyness of downtown Vienna and Tysons Corner and take in the country-like feel.

Our day at Frying Pan Park was the best day we had that week.  We both had such a blast, I’m considering a trip there each week this summer.  Better save up my quarters for the carousel.

Sarah Rosemary @ Sunny Side Up