If you’re looking for an awesome gift for a favorite child, consider one of these rugs. I’d seen them in stores before but never really thought about them until Older Daughter and her husband brought one home from an Ikea trip — and 2-year-old grandson Capt. Adorable thinks it’s the best thing ever. He’ll run his toy cars and trains along the roads and is learning to point out such things as “cactus,” “whale,” “tent” and “soccer field.” And you have to love the rug’s global view. I mean, you’ve got a desert next to snow-covered volcanoes, with a high-rise city across the way flanked by a circus tent and an igloo being neighborly with an old-school hotel. And don’t forget the castle, the beach and the cozy little New England village — all accessible by your wheeled vehicle of choice, which in the Captain’s case usually is a John Deere tractor, Digger from Bob the Builder or either a Percy or Thomas train engine. The Captain’s parents got it for $14 and he’s already gotten like 500 times that in play value. Plus, you’ve got instant room decor! It’s win-win-win. My favorite route is to start at the igloo, take a run straight up to the greenhouse, peek in at the castle, tour around the village square and then park at the soccer field. But your mileage may vary.
I am not a fan of Spring-Forward Sunday. For one thing, I’m pretty much a lazy person and when we’re off Daylight Saving Time and it starts to get dark at 5 or 6 at night, it’s quite easy to put the ol’ pajamas on and call it a day — literally — by 8 p.m. But in Daylight Saving Time, you’re sort of compelled to keep going until 10 p.m. or so. I mean, isn’t that why Daylight Saving Time was invented — so we’d have more time to do work? Whose bright idea was that???!!! And when I was a young mom, I dreaded the spring-forward time change that wreaked havoc with those lovely early bedtimes. However, now that I’m Grandma Ka-kee and treasure every moment I can spend with my almost-2-year-old grandson, Capt. Adorable, I say the more daylight, the better. That just gives me more playtime to hang out with the Captain in his backyard and his ultra-cool new playground equipment his mom and dad got him for an early birthday present. It’s got slides and a climbing wall and a fun underneath space for hiding. Plus, it offers the chance for scientific exploration, such as “Why has rainwater gathered in this little hole and I wonder what would happen if I put my finger in it?” And when it’s spring and nice weather, you can also have your snack of yogurt-covered blueberries outside — definitely worth giving up an hour or two of sleep!
The thing about hanging out with other people is that you can learn from them. And learning is good — something about keeping your brain cells strong, I think. Take, for instance, this arrangement of seashells and dried grasses. A friend of mine who loves to collect shells at the beach put some of her best ones in this clear large-mouthed glass vase and used the shells to anchor a couple of bunches of grass she bought at a craft store. Result? Simple, easy and inexpensive with a definite wow factor. She just sort of threw this together while I sat and watched, amazed. The main requirement is a clear vase or container that’s wide enough for your shells. And if you don’t have any shells, you can buy them in bulk at most craft stores — although I bet you’ve got a forgotten box of them tucked away in the garage from your most recent vacation when you found these lovely shells on the beach and dragged them home because you knew you could do something with them. Well, you were right! See, you can learn tons of things from your favorite people. Such as my 23-month-old grandson, Capt. Adorable. Every day I spend with him is a learning experience — from repurposing toy boxes into comfy reading chairs to innovative uses for mashed potatoes (clay, glue, finger paint, hair gel). Read more lessons the Captain has taught me in my weekly newspaper column at http://www.timesdaily.com/article/20100305/ARTICLES/3055005.