I uhm... feel kind of competitive too. (A dangerous thing to admit because two of the moms I hang out with the most hang out on MDC. ) It's actually been really awesome for me to hang out with other kids very close to my daughter's age. It has taught me to really appreciate all the different levels of development because the 2.5 year olds we hang out with are all SO different. The two boys are really far ahead of my daughter in physical development (one is amazing at fine motor skills and he can sit and do quiet activities for long stretches and the other is really talented at gross motor skills and he has ENERGY to burn). My daughter is the talker. The little guy who was the slowest talker is now starting to really blossom and it is so much fun to watch. I've grown really attached to all of their development and I feel really thrilled that I get to enjoy how different they are. Which is kind of surprising because normally I'm not real into other peoples kids. Seeing these ones once or twice a week for over six months has made a huge difference.
On the kid-proofing. Oh man is that an interesting one. I believe that even people who think they are fully kid-proofed... aren't. Because someone else's kid is into different stuff. I like hosting because my daughter is a tornado and I don't feel bad when she destroys my house. I always feel guilty about the wake of destruction at other peoples' houses.