Thursday, June 30, 2011

Summer activities for toddlers

We desert dwellers are starting the long stretch of almost unbearable heat, and I've been racking my brain to think of activities for C that will take his mind off the torture of being kept inside and out of the heat.  Here's what I've come up with so far...

- build or buy a water table to play with in the garage in the relatively cool morning hours
- visit the Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay
- have "pool" parties in the tub with toys, bubbles, and bathtub paint
- blow bubbles
- make musical instruments
- color, scribble, and paint
- visit the lion habitat at MGM Grand
- story time at the library
- "paint" with water and old paint brushes and rollers on the garage floor
- make a fort out of the dining room table and chairs and a sheet or two
- make shadows with flashlights
- make a sensory box out of dry beans (anticipating a huge mess!)
- "hide" little objects amid rice in big Ziplock bags or plastic bottles for C to find
- make a quiet book
- collect leaves, etc, on a early-morning walk and help C glue them to paper later
- go for rides in the laundry basket or empty diaper boxes.  then help C give rides to his teddy bear
- practice sorting objects
- sing silly songs with C's name in them
- watch airplanes take off and land at the airport
- 1st baking lesson
- make homemade popsicles
- dance party
- visit the animals at the pet store
- read, read, read
- play dress up
- attend an equestrian show at South Point

Anyone have additional ideas??

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Las Vegas Zoo

You've heard of The Happiest Place on Earth, but perhaps you haven't heard of its antithesis, The Most Miserable Place in Town.  Okay, that might be an exaggeration, but the Southern Nevada Zoo is no place to go when you need the warm fuzzies.  C had never been to a zoo, so a few weeks ago we took him to the LV zoo, knowing it was small and probably well-suited to a first-timer, age 15 months.  Not so.  Not so.  This is one instance where you can accurately judge the book by the cover. 

On display, many birds you might otherwise see in a pet store, such as a cockatoo, etc., two ostriches, an emu, one sad and lonely lion, one sad and lonely chimpanzee in a tiny room, one seemingly depressed lynx, fossas, one alligator, a pair of otters, some goats, peacocks and peahens, a family of Barbary apes (the last in America per the sign), wallabies, etc.  The enclosures were for the most part extremely minimal and devoid of interest, entertainment, or natural-like surroundings for the animals.  Some birds were basically in a wire cage with a few bare branches. 

We exited through the building, which smelled of cigarette smoke.  That's no way to entice me to buy my kid a stuffed toy.  If I want a smokey stuffed toy, I can always get one from the crane machine at a bar or from a carnie. 

I've long felt that zoos can be horrible places for the animals, but can be done well and thoughtfully, too.  They can bring awareness to the plight of animals on the verge of extinction, be used as a platform for animal rights, and can be used for research and breeding.  This zoo did none of the above, and I was left wondering about their mission.  Perhaps in this situation, the humane choice would be to close the zoo and gift the animals to better equipped zoos.  It's not that we expected a world-class zoo here in the desert, but the facilities were inadequate, the enclosures were at times scrapped together (in one instance rocks were piled on the bottom of a fence to keep the turtles from escaping), and even desert-dwelling animals were underrepresented. 

the entrance, in all its glory

the poster monkey for depression

I'm torn between feeling the need to donate to the zoo to try to help them out and feeling that I shouldn't support a zoo in that condition, thus helping it hobble along longer than it should.  We shook off the experience the best we could and look forward to going to the San Diego Zoo or the Henry Doorly Zoo.

**UPDATE 07/09/2011**
I found out some additional information on the zoo from the Las Vegas Sun that fills in the gaps.... 

"Informally known as the Las Vegas Zoo, the 3-acre park and garden features more than 150 animals, including a variety of endangered cats as well as the last family of Barbary apes in the United States. Privately owned, the zoo started as a pet store more than 20 years ago by a retired North Las Vegas homicide detective, who has since turned it into a nonprofit corporation. Animals are lent from other zoos.
The park is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Tickets cost $9 for adults, $7 for children and seniors."

Monday, June 27, 2011

Bathroom Makeover

We did a little work on the powder room awhile back, and I forgot to post the pictures.  Basically, we installed beadboard, a chair rail, and new baseboard and painted.  The paint is Valspar Blue Lagoon (satin) and Behr White Fur (semi gloss).

Before, a beautiful shade of builder's white
Add caption
Installing beadboard with the air nailer
The board, rail, and baseboard all came in a trim to fit kit from Lowe's
A casualty of removing the old baseboard. 

Blue Lagoon

All done except for adding a print or something.  The color is a bit lighter in real life.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

When you say it couldn't get gets worse

In the past couple of weeks...
...I got the dreaded blue screen of death on my work computer, where I had foolishly saved a large project with a looming deadline on the desktop. 
...I spent $100 to overnight the computer to my home office. kid came down with the flu (we're on day 3 now).
...I came down with the flu. computer came back, repaired, then promptly died via virus.
...I spent another $100 to overnight the computer back to the office.
...I neglected to get Father's Day gifts.
...yet another warning light appeared in my newish car (that makes two, plus a malfunctioning horn).
...I snapped at my poor sick kid. 
...I snapped at my husband.
...I received a rejection email, which is sort of worse than a letter.
It's not been a banner month, June.    It's time to say the Serenity Prayer. 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Cups for Kids

When C was about 11 months old I started trying to transition him to a sippy cup.  He's 15 months old now, and uses a sippy cup for water and can drink out of a water bottle or open-topped cup if he needs to, but he refuses to drink milk out of anything but a bottle.  I'm thinking I need to get a special new cup to pique his interest.  Maybe one of these, all of which are bpa free....

lollacup, which has a weighted straw, $18

Klean Kanteen with sport cap, sippy top also available, $14.95 

Kid Basix safe sippy 2, sippy to straw bottle, $14.95

EIO kids cup, approximately $14.95.  See list of retailers

Does anyone know anything about these products or have a recommendation?

Dr. Nalbone

On Tuesday C underwent a double myringotomy (ear tubes) to hopefully remedy his incessant ear infections.  His doctor, Dr. Nalbone, was pretty great, with the exception of one time when I asked a question about possible negative outcomes we should be concerned about and he responded "well, how much do you worry about an accident when you get in a car?"  Annoying.  Just answer my question, please.  Otherwise, he was great.  Anyway, C had to fast from food AND liquid for 8 hours prior to the surgery.  We went in at 6 am and the surgery was scheduled for 7.  Dr. Nalbone checked in with us around 6:50 and everyone kept asking if the anesthesiologist had stopped in yet, which she had not.  As time passed my gentle, calm little boy became increasingly annoyed that we wouldn't give him a drink.  At last a different anesthesiologist was put on his surgery, and he went in at 7:20.  We barely had time to grab some coffee and sit down before Dr. Nalbone came out and said it went well, and if we had any doubts about having had the surgery, both of C's ears (which were totally clear a week prior) were full of fluid.  About 5 minutes later we were allowed to go to C, who was angry and thrashing and thirsty.  After 7 ounces of milk he finally opened his eyes, but he cried and thrashed and drank off and on for 30 minutes or so before calming down.  Sounds like that's fairly common when coming out of anesthesia.   Another 15 minutes, and we were on our way home.  C took a 2 1/2 hour nap and woke up feeling right as rain.  He was cheerful and playful the rest of the day and had only minor drainage from his ears.  He went back to daycare the next morning and is going to Dr. Nalbone for a follow-up later today.  It remains to be seen how well this will work, but BB insists that C is already more talkative.  Maybe.

**UPDATE** 09/29/11
It's been a few months and we couldn't be happier with the outcome of C's surgery.  He's had NO trouble with his ears, recovery time was almost nonexistant, and the tubes have performed just as Dr. Nalbone anticipated.  Plus, C sleeps well now.  I wouldn't say his lexicon has grown as much as I'd hoped, but he's making progress.  We recently went in for a follow-up with Dr. Nalbone, which took only a few minutes and went well. 

I understand why some people think myringotomy is unnecessary, but in our case it really has made a big difference.  Overall, Dr. Nalbone was great.  Aside from the one comment I mentioned above and that his exam rooms are not the best for little kids that like opening and touching everything, he couldn't have been much better.