Monday, February 16, 2015

Things to Love About Las Vegas...#1

This is the first of what I hope will be a series. The mere fact that I think I will come up with more than one reason to like Las Vegas shows extreme optimism on my part. In the past I have written about how hard it has been for me to like living here. I miss rain and snow and seasons and trees and so many things about where I grew up in Indiana. Then last Spring, for the first time ever, I felt a tiny bit of sentimentality creep up in me, about seeing this place as my home. And while it is still difficult for me to truly love Las Vegas as a whole, I have found that there are individual things here that are worth loving. So, here is the beginning of what I hope will be a series.

Things to Love About Las Vegas: #1 - The Clark County Library District

What? In Las Vegas, the city of glitz and skin and casinos and showgirls and drinking and gambling and excess, the library is the first thing I came up with? Yes! And it’s not just because I’m a reader or a nerd. Let me explain.

The first time I entered one of the libraries in Las Vegas (there are eighteen in the urban district), was for rehearsals for a show. In fact, several of the branches have full theaters with fly systems and orchestra pits. Real theaters. In their many theaters I have seen dance performances, plays, and musicals.

On their stages I have also seen Hawaiian dance demonstrations, performances by the Las Vegas Contemporary Dance Theater, and even a Mexican mariachi band – all for free. I think the list of events offered in our libraries is amazing. Just now I looked on the website to search their events, and there are 977 upcoming events on their list. Wow.

Their events are not just performances. You can go watch a movie, listen to a lecture, view an art show, listen to poetry, take a computer class, learn to bellydance, get tax preparation help, and much much more.

Recently I signed up my son in a program called 500 Before Kindergarten. We write down every book we read together, and every time we read 100 we take in our list and he gets a sticker. When we reach 500 he’ll get a free book bag. I also want to take him for a free story time or author visit or art lesson.

Another perk of this library system is convenience. I can renew my books online with the click of a button. I search their library catalog online, and if my nearest branch doesn’t have the book I want, I click “Request It,” and they email me when it’s ready to pick up at my branch. Then I just walk across the parking lot from my workplace to the library that happens to be next door, and check it out. Sweet.

This reminds me, I need to head over to the library soon. I have two books waiting for me on hold, and I need to return our DVD of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, which we have renewed seven times already. And it’s time again to let my son run around the aisles and excitedly choose books to take home. “Trucks!” “Charlie Brown!” “Thomas the Train!” I hope he always finds excitement at the library!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Paintings as Valentines

I think if everyone always gave each other handmade gifts, the world would be a better place. Think about it...we wouldn't spend unnecessary money, actual thought would be put into each gift, and gifts would mean more than the mere obligation they sometimes are.

I have yet to come up with an idea for my son's daycare friends, but this weekend we did make a few Valentine paintings to send in the mail to faraway family members. These little canvases were bought on sale at Michael's, and I put tape-hearts on them before we painted. He loved peeling the tape off after the paintings dried and seeing the perfect hearts that appeared.

A few months ago I read about painting with kids on the blog Lil Blue Boo. She gave very helpful hints for making the whole process more enjoyable for everyone: I put him in clothes that could get dirty, I spread a huge plastic shower curtain on the table as a drop cloth, I gave him a pallet of colors that were complementary, and when he seemed to get stuck in a rut, I rotated the canvas to give him a new perspective. I love just letting him loose to paint however he wants!

I encourage you all to create something for someone this Valentine's Day. Write a poem, bake a cake, make dinner - anything to show you truly care. It just means so much more.