Quick hits of news and fresh ideas for busy parents.


Pretend Hospital
From the outside, it's just an old supermarket, overshadowed by the construction projects going on all around it. On the inside, though, it's a design laboratory for Nationwide Children's Hospital's ambitious expansion project, set to open in June 2012.

Last month, NCH invited visitors to tour this "pretend hospital" inside the former Kroger store at the corner of Parsons and Livingston Avenues where they have been testing and tweaking all kinds of design innovations.

The "mock rooms," as they're known, include an acute-care inpatient room, an operating suite, nurses' station, medication room and other prototypes, which prefigure the rooms that will be part of the one million-square-foot expansion of NCH's existing two-million-square-foot campus. The faucets don't work in this pretend hospital, but the rest of it looks quite real.

Thanks to suggestions from patients and parents, the sleeper/sofa and glider/recliner in the patient rooms are wider, softer and more comfortable than ever before. The walls have magnetic paint, allowing for the easy display of artwork and get-well cards.

Thanks to input from nurses, used to years of maneuvering around each other, the layout of the nurses' station has been redesigned to put the most-used medicines at eye level, and acoustic tiles have been installed overheard to reduce noise.

"The staff and patients have been given a real voice in all this," said Scott McClure, an engineering project manager who was showing visitors a new foyer with swipe-card security cards.
Donna Teach, NCH's vice president of marketing, said the architects involved with the $840 million expansion project have indicated they've neither seen nor heard of such a large-scale hospital construction project that tested out its design innovations in such a real way.

"In the long run, it's saving us a lot of money because we're figuring it all out here first," Teach said.
-- Jane Hawes


Goodbye to Drop-Side Cribs
A year from now, drop-side cribs will be no more. On Dec. 15, the Consumer Product Safety Commission outlawed the cribs, which have been implicated in more than 30 infant deaths in the last decade.

The cribs, which have been in use for decades, have a sliding side rail, designed to make it easier to reach in and lift a child out. But the rail can malfunction and detach, trapping a child between the rail and mattress, and sometimes resulting in death by suffocation.

According to the new CPSC regulation, childcare providers and hotels will have up to one year - until Dec. 15, 2011 - to replace any drop-side cribs they are using. But after June 2011, the cribs can no longer be manufactured, sold or resold.

In the past five years, more than 9 million drop-side cribs have been recalled, including cribs from well-known manufacturers like Evenflo, Delta Enterprise and Pottery Barn Kids. Many of these companies have been offering free repair kits that will convert a drop-side crib to a fixed-side crib. To find out if you can obtain one, contact your crib's manufacturer.
-- Jane Hawes



Creativity Central
The renovation at the Columbus Museum of Art has hit its first big milestone, reopening much of its existing space on Jan. 1. Columbus Parent got a sneak preview a couple weeks earlier and all we can say is - Wow!

You can feel a seismic shift going on with CMA's approach to art and the community. This is not going to be a space where children will feel unwelcome or unengaged. Case in point: The Wonder Room (see photo). It's a space filled with all kinds of hands-on, highly tactile materials that kids (of all ages) can play with, clamber on, and just plain experience.

The room is part of the new, 18,000-square-foot Center for Creativity, which will feature even more art classes and workshops than ever before. An Innovation Lab has computers and editing bays, and they've already had high-school kids Skyping with peers in California as they collaborate on creative and critical-thinking projects.

The Center for Creativity's first big exhibition, entitled "Don't Eat the Art," is a fantastic start to CMA's mission to stimulate creativity for the whole family. You and your kids will love it all.

For more information, go to columbusmuseum.org.
-Jane Hawes


Get up and Go
Walking! One of my favorite activities! Walking with children - multiple the joy!

Walking can happen anytime, anywhere, any season for no or every reason. Dress according to the weather. Dress comfortably. Grab your stroller, carriage or nearest hand, and close the door behind you.
Columbus and the Central Ohio area abound with outstanding Metro and State Parks. All feature nature centers, winding paths through fields, hills, farms and forests. Beautiful landscapes, dazzling colors, birds and animals are yours to discover for the walking.

Walking gives us a chance to stop, look, smell, touch and listen. Tom Paxton's terrific song, "The Things I Notice Now" is a great title for walking. What do we notice?

The sudden appearance of a doe and her fawn (we must be very quiet and still so we don't frighten our deer friends)

The black, white and red woodpecker hammering for a snack in a nearby tree

I like to give my classes in Creative Writing the assignment to write about something ordinary. When the students return, they are unanimous in their observations: "There is no such thing as 'ordinary!' "
The simplest things we so often overlook are fascinating and wondrous. We must help our children keep the wonder.
-Mimi Brodsky Chenfeld, arts educator