In one of my rare quiet moments that only a parent with two young children could know, I was thinking about some of the fun things that we have experienced as a family.
We recently visited George Ranch Historical Park in Richmond, Texas before Christmas. We were only able to tour a portion of the park so I was thinking I would just wait to start writing about our experience until I could give a full story. Then I realized that like many other adventures, we fell victim to the small, untrained bladder of a 2 year old. This is the reality of traveling with a potty training toddler so let’s make it real – George Ranch Historical Park Part 1…When looking at the map of the park, the historical family houses don’t seem that far away…however don’t be fooled – there is walking involved! (There is also a tractor pulling a trailer with hay bales that runs every 30 minutes, but we were using this as a nice excuse for exercise)It was an unusually warm day for mid December – even for Houston. But Houston wouldn’t let us off that easy – it was still muggy. So we started on the trail to the 1800s Jones Stock Farm house and we quickly ran into a detour in the road. It looked like a bridge was being repaired over a little waterway with signs “Beware of alligators and snakes”. No problem! We followed the detour and rounded the corner, were on the homestretch and could see that house at the finish line when just like that, we came screeching to a halt – “mommy, I need to pee!!!”
Our daughter, Addison, has been so stubborn with potty training so it seemed like she was rounding her own corner so now that she was actually telling us when she had to go, I didn’t want to dismiss it.
We were in the country, but we weren’t in the country. It wasn’t like we could send our little girl over to a bush to go pee. We snatched her up and hurried back toward the visitor center to the bathrooms.
We made it. Sigh of relief.
Then we ventured back out. This time as soon as we exited the restroom, the trailer was there and we rode comfortably to the farmhouse.A group of chickens and the smell of Mexican hot chocolate greeted us at our arrival. A woman dressed in time appropriate clothing gathered people around and kids sat on the floor of the dog run as she explained that she was acting as the mother-in-law of Nancy Stiles who had walked for months from Arkansas to Houston in order to claim a plot of land as one of the 300 families settling with Stephen F Austin on the Mexican frontier! Nancy had given birth along the trail and gotten up to walk again the next day. Pretty tough if you ask me – and that’s what it took to survive on the frontier! Kids were also asked not to touch anything sharp. You know – all of the knives, machetes, tools, etc. laying around the cabin. To think that kids today can’t even have sharp scissors…
Liam was sitting, listening intently about the life on the frontier and Addison was playing out front with a stick horse when she declared, “mommy, I need to pee again!”Really? I mean, really?? We had just gotten there! We hadn’t even finished the story or had our hot chocolate! Adam and I locked gazes and silently we knew what had to be done. Divide and conquer! Adam stayed with Liam and learned about spinning cotton while I took Addison to the bathroom. Did that trailer happen to come around when we needed it? Ha! No! I snatched her up and we double-timed it to the bathroom again.Adam and Liam met us back at the Visitor’s Center and we hung around the area waiting for the next cowboy exhibition. As soon as we exited, Addison spotted some horses in the corrals and she was off!! To say this girl loves horses is an understatement. When you arrive in the seating area, the cowboys (and girls!) come out to visit and get up close so the kids and see the horses eye-to-eye and pet them. The kids loved Doc, the palomino, and didn’t want to let him go. They chatted with his rider about his favorite snacks before he moved on to the next waiting child. They then describe branding on the frontier which I found very interesting! The brands could be interpreted into so much more than I imagined. I thought that brands indicated which ranch the animal belonged to…and they did…but they also tell you which year the animal was born and the sequence (among other things). After learning about the branding, they let the calves out and describe why they would want to separate them. For example, to give it a check up. Team ropers would work together to lasso the calf around the head first to control it, and then around the rear hooves to immobilize it. A cowboy would then dismount and lay the calf over to perform the exam. All of this is pretty familiar for most people that have seen a team roping competition in a rodeo. At the end of the exhibition, the unofficial symbol of Texas – the Texas Longhorn – makes an appearance. This guy was born and raised here on the ranch. After learning about horses, cattle and branding, Liam wanted to try his hand at bronc riding. He mounted the saddle and that barrel horse took off!! After watching Liam land in the sand, Addison wanted nothing to do with it. We moved over to the chutes and dipping areas where the kids looked around for a few minutes and then lost interest. Unfortunately, we missed the explanation on the area. Finally, we made it over to the tree house in front of the 1930’s house. At this time of year, Santa makes appearances to read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas to the children.He also handed out candy canes which really won Addison over…So, the moral of the story? Don’t let a little potty training slow you down! Get out there and explore. Was Addison right? Yes. I call that a success! Has she always been? No. For the most part, people understand. Shit happens. Stay tuned for Part II when we make it back to finish exploring.