It's naptime here, and I use that term loosely. While N. continues to be a champ daysleeper (nighttime, not so much, but I'll take what I can get), O. has decided that "big boys don't take naps" and isn't even willing to be talked into "quiet time" very often anymore. Today, I got him to stay in his room for a little while at least, by letting him take his animals to bed with him.
What this means is for the next week, until I have to change the bed again, we will be unearthing tiny plastic critters from the depths of his dinosaur sheets. My son is an animal nut. We have dozens of the little toy animals that are sold by the tube/sleeve/baggie in all kinds of categories littering our house. For a while, I tried to keep them all organized and separated: farm animals, jungle animals, "Avrica" animals, dinosaurs, bugs, frogs, etc. I had a little bin from Ikea for each group, and a bigger bin with dividers for the ones too tiny for N, so he could play with them up on a table away from her.
But the system has deteriorated, and lately, they all live jumbled together in a Dinotopia lunchbox. I know we've lost lots along the way, but for O, that just means we can buy more on the next trip to Target.
I don't mind much, because his animals are among the few toys that he actually entertains himself at length with , lining them up into families, inventing rescue missions, and conversing with his imaginary friend "Daynan" about them. He uses the windmill from his Geotrax railroad set as a slide/machine of sorts to send them through as well.
For Christmas, O. wants "two animal fings and Diego Saves the Dinosaurs" The animal things are any of the many in the educational toy catalog we got early in the deluge. I don't think he's picky about which ones, just that there are more to expand our menagerie. He also rabidly covets the Schleich figurines, spending long minutes organizing them and naming off all the ones he wants when we are in Target.
I don't think the animal obsession will end with my firstborn. While N. has a great fondness for babydolls and any thing she can find in my purse and drag around, it appears that she also has an emerging interest in things furred and feathered. I have read our Old MacDonald book to her probably fifteen times a day for the last week. I'm not complaining, as it is the first book she has actually sat still long enough to listen to in her life. While she has no real discernible words quite yet ("Doo" for both shoe and juice a possible exception), she will make appropriate noises for animals when she sees them, either in print or real life.
So, if you have small animal lovers at your house, I'd like to recommend a free outing/destination. If you have a Cabela's store near you, or en route to somewhere you are traveling, I would highly encourage a stop to check it out. We visited the one in Wheeling, West Virginia (you can look at a photo gallery here) on our recent trip to visit my grandmother, and it was a great alternative to our usual "run around the Wendy's parking lot" pit stop. Each store has an impressive display of animals a hunter may find in a variety of environments, from forest to desert to the arctic. There is an aquarium area filled with bass, catfish, pickerel and the like. There is also a large walkthrough area devoted to deer in lots of "natural" poses.
This is probably not the kind of place you want to go if you are uncomfortable with hunting, or with a discussion about the origin of meat and the whole "circle of life" that is predator vs. prey. There are plenty of animals with other animals in their mouths/claws. There are mounted heads on the walls. And of course in order to see these stuffed animals you have to also pass by the aisles of hunting and fishing gear.
Since our playgroup is regularly held in the home of a hunting family, with literal stuffed animals in all the corners -- bear, turkey, wild boar and several deer -- this is not a new experience for us. And, this store was every bit as impressive as a museum of natural history.
They also have a cafe and a shop that sells fudge, so it is sure to become a regular stop on our trips to visit my family. On our way home, our second stop at the "place with the amimals", we discovered a display we hadn't perused on our first visit. O, eyes big as saucers proclaimed loudly to my mother "Grandma!!! We haven't even seen this part yet! It's all the amimals of Avrica! They have the whole world here!"