I’ve always been a little leary of those children’s play areas in shopping malls. They are always packed with boisterous children who are only being half-watched by distracted adults, and every time I see one, I find myself wondering how well and how often they are actually sanitized and disinfected. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a germophobe. In fact, my philosophy is that a few germs are good to help built up a healthy immune system. Even so, I think I’d like to do a play area blacklight test, just once, to satisfy my curiousity.

While Dad took Steven’s folks to the Ameristar Riverboat Casino to try their luck at the slots today, Mom, Cadence and I headed to the mall to see about getting me a haircut and to kill some time. After passing a play area, we couldn’t resist taking Cadence in for some play time. It’s been a long winter of being cooped up in the house, and Cadence is at that age where she is fascinated by other children. It just didn’t seem fair to deny her the chance to run and play and have some fun with the other kids. Plus, I figured after being sick for an entire month with this crazy coughing, sneezing, sniffling, congestion we’ve all had, we were probably immune to pretty much anything we were going to be exposed to in the mall.

It was fascinating to watch Cadence trying to figure it all out. For a moment, she stood and watched the other kids as they ran and jumped and climbed, laughing and screaming at the top of their lungs. Quietly, Cadence joined in the mayhem, testing her newfound freedom on a few of the smaller obstacles. Every so often, she would stop and her eyes would scan the crowd, and she would smile when she spied me watching her and snapping pictures.

It didn’t take my little daredevil long to get the hang of it all, and she played hard for nearly an hour–running, crawling, jumping, dancing, and climbing over everything she could. At one point, she spied something off in the distance that must have looked like it would be fun to try and conquer, and she stood for a moment as if trying to decide if she wanted to make a break for it.
Luckily, she turned back around so I didn’t have to drop the camera and chase her through the mall.
For tonight’s 365 Project, I give you scenes from Cadence’s first visit to the Salmonella Jungle. So far, we have survived with no ill effects, but we will certainly keep you posted.

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