Archive for January, 2012

10 Reasons Your Baby’s Smile Might Be Gas

January 28th, 2012 by admin

There aren’t many things in life as heart-warming as a baby’s smile. It’s the picture of happiness and contentment. All is right with the world when baby’s smiling, right? Well, maybe. Of course she may just be enjoying a little pressure release. That’s right. Your baby could have gas for all you know. Here are 10 reasons why your baby’s smile might be gas:

  1. According to doctors, baby smiles up to the age of one month are just plain natural, and have no emotional cause or connection.
  2. Baby smiles are generally spontaneous, and frequently occur during REM sleep, which by the way is an active period for passing gas as well.
  3. Your baby is more apt to smile in response to auditory stimuli than anything visual, until about 6 to 8 weeks of age.
  4. If there is no external stimulus nearby, when your baby exhibits that smile, chances are it is what we sometimes refer to as a “gas smile”.
  5. If your baby is less than 4 weeks old, she is more likely not responding to anything external when she smiles.
  6. A social smile will usually include the baby lifting her cheeks, whereas the “gas smile” does not. That is, the cheeks on her face, just to be clear.
  7. A social smile is also open-mouthed most often, hat is not the case with the non-externally triggered “gassy smile”.
  8. A social smile will almost always be with the eyes open, as the baby will need to associate the source of her happiness – a familiar face or object. If the baby’s eyes are closed, it’s the ‘gas’ smile thing again.
  9. A more sustained smile is usually a social one, as the so-called gassy smiles tend to come and go quickly and with no regularity.
  10. Of course, gas isn’t really what’s behind a newborn baby’s smiles. That’s just an old wives tale. After all, do you smile when you have gas? But it’s true that babies need from 4 to eight weeks for their brains to develop sufficiently for them to respond emotionally to outside stimuli with those heart-warming smiles.

10 Interesting Facts About the Etymology of Babysitter

January 23rd, 2012 by admin

Merriam-Webster defines the word etymology as “the history of a linguistic form (as a word) shown by tracing its development since its earliest recorded occurrence in the language where it is found, by tracing its transmission from one language to another, by analyzing it into its component parts, by identifying its cognates in other languages, or by tracing it and its cognates to a common ancestral form in an ancestral language.” In layman’s terms, this means that the etymology of a word is the study of its origin. Here are some interesting facts about the word “babysitter,” and how it came to be a part of our everyday language.

  1. The Noun Predates the Verb Form – The noun, “babysitter” was first published in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1937, well before the verb “babysit” was first used in print. Most nouns are derived from the verb form, such as “to babysit.” This is called back-formation, and isn’t altogether common.
  2. The Verb “Babysit” Was Coined in 1947 – A full decade after the noun “babysitter” was accepted into common usage, the verb “babysit” is found. It’s difficult to imagine that a word we use so commonly is a relatively recent one!
  3. Babysitting Originated in the Suburbs – Part of the explanation for the youth of the term “babysitter” lies within the fact that babysitters were fairly uncommon before the mid-twentieth century. Babysitting became the main form of employment for teenage girls in the postwar surge of suburban living; before that time, most parents who were well-off enough to enjoy an evening on the town could afford to keep a live-in servant on the payroll. Parents without servants typically lived very close to extended family or even in the same household. As the American family structure changed and suburbia began to take hold, parents started to rely on the teenage daughters of their neighbors for occasional childcare.
  4. British English Usage is Slightly Different Than American English – Like many words, the definition across the pond varies slightly. In the UK, the word “babysitter” is solely used to describe an informal, occasional helper who works for a few hours at a time, in the evening. Americans use the term to describe both occasional workers and those who care for their children on a regular, full-time basis. The regular childcare provider that works a daytime schedule in the UK is referred to as a “childminder.”
  5. To “Sit” Other Things is Derived From the Word “Babysitter” – Words like “house-sitter” and “pet-sitter” came into common usage in the late twentieth century, and are derived from the original noun “babysitter.”
  6. The Shortened Form Predates the Verb – As previously mentioned, the back-formation of the word babysitter means that the noun was introduced into usage before the verb form. Even more unusual, the accepted shortened usage, “sitter,” was first introduced in 1943; it predates the verb usage by four years.
  7. The Term is Commonly Accepted in Reference to Inanimate Objects – Though its original and most common usage refers to a person who takes care of children, the word “babysit” is now used in a variety of contexts, even in reference to inanimate objects. For instance, a person who drinks slowly can be accused of “babysitting” a drink, or a writer with a long unfinished novel may say that he’s been “babysitting” his novel for years.
  8. Chickens May Be the Real Mothers of the Word – The settling upon the term “sit” to mean “caring for” is shrouded in mystery. Many etymologists theorize that the word  stems from laying animals, such as hens, who sit on their eggs to ensure their warmth and safety.
  9. Early Babysitters Weren’t So Polite – In the 1950′s, young girls who babysat for their neighbors often referred to babysitting as “bratting.”
  10. The “Petticoat Monopoly” Emerges – Because the pool of available babysitters in the early days of the word were predominantly white, teenage girls, the era has been called the “Petticoat Monopoly.” The emergence of teen culture as a commercially-targeted demographic is thought by many to be partially due to the burgeoning incomes of teenage suburbanite girls during this period.

Whether you use the word “babysitter” in it’s strict British English definition or take a more Americanized approach, the fascinating history of this industry has been an indisputable part of our cultural fabric for generations.

10 Substitutes for a Toilet in a Pinch

January 22nd, 2012 by admin

At certain times and places, it just isn’t convenient to take a call. When it comes to nature calls especially, it isn’t always feasible to be selective about the venue. As the saying goes, When ya gotta go, ya gotta go.

So maybe now’s a good time to contemplate a Plan B for when you’re traveling this holiday season. And while you’re at it, Plans C through K as well. In other words, 10 substitutes for a toilet in a pinch:

  1. The woods – Always a good alternative to indoor plumbing. Just ask the proverbial bear. Stop your car roadside, head into the brush just enough for some cover, and go to work. If no TP is available, the foliage is lovely this time of year.
  2. Plastic Shopping Bag – Careful positioning and manual dexterity are paramount here – as is some hand sanitizer just in case. The bonus of this method is the ease with which your makeshift commode can be tied up and flung at passing gawkers.
  3. Paint Bucket – This option offers the benefit of a more natural seating arrangement, but presents a logistical dilemma, namely how to discard the contents upon completion. We suggest lining it first with a kitchen trash bag.
  4. Gatorade Bottle – Recommended for Number One use only, unless your aim and balance are impeccable. Just remember to separate this container from your Lemon-Lime thirst quenchers.
  5. Litter Box – Kitty litter is such a versatile product. You can clean up spills with it, use it for traction on ice or snow, or for added weight on your rear tires. So why not use it for its main purpose too? Throw a plastic tray in your trunk along with it, and take to the road with confidence.
  6. GoGirl – For the lady on the go – and who really, really has to go – we recommend trying this. It’s a complete field kit in a can. You can’t miss! Thanks to that pretty lavender funnel.
  7. Depends – Don’t laugh. These adult diapers have been sparing incontinence sufferers for many years. They can help you out in a pinch too, as long as you’ve got the time and the privacy to put one on ahead of time.
  8. Travel John – This line of products is specifically designed for just such an occasion. Absorbent materials, well-designed and even reusable.
  9. Camping Toilet – These devices are pretty handy road companions as well as camping accessories. They come in styles ranging from basic to high tech, and can be a real blessing in a pinch.
  10. Pick Your Poison, Sports Fan – And finally, we humbly submit the following option: take along a football helmet and jersey of your favorite team’s rival. Relieving yourself never felt this good.

10 Challenges for Parents Dealing with Materialistic Kids

January 21st, 2012 by admin

I would like to say that kids these days are far more materialistic than we were, but I grew up in the “me” generation.  Before that we had the slogan, ‘Whoever dies with the most toys, wins’.  While I think there have always been kids who want, want, want, we are in a generation now where the parents want to give their kids what they want.  When I grew up kids were seen and not heard and teachers were allowed to spank you if you got out of line.  Nowadays kids seem to rule the roost.  In an effort to make their kids happy parents have created materialistic kids.  Check out 10 challenges for parents dealing with materialistic kids.

  1. Value of a dollar: Kids don’t know the value of a dollar when they are given everything they want.  I’ve actually seen parents and grandparents get up and go buy their kids something just because they mentioned once that they wanted it.  Do you think those kids are going to be better off because they got everything they wanted?  Or when they get out on their own will they have to face a harsh reality.  Parents need to teach the value of money by giving their children an allowance that they have to work for.
  2. Work ethic: In the work place today kids fresh out of college think that they are ‘owed’ a job.  They went through college and everything was handed to them and now they want a job making $60K a year.  They don’t seem to understand that they have to work their way up the ladder.  They have to put their time in and work hard in order to make that kind of money and keep their job.  They’ve never had to work for things.  Parents need to make sure their kids have chores and part-time jobs as they grow up.
  3. Handle their money: Once our materialistic kids are on their own they won’t know how to handle their money.  If they’ve always been given everything they want then they don’t know how to set a budget and live within their means and save for things.  Especially if Mom and Dad pay for college, their car, their insurance and give them an allowance.  Mom and Dad may be supporting them for longer than they think at this rate.
  4. Self-esteem issues: When kids are so into material things they begin to identify themselves by what they have.  What do other kids have and how do they get it too.  That girl at school is so popular and she has XYZ jeans.  They equate having and wearing XYZ jeans to being popular and when they get those jeans and still aren’t popular it will always be something else.  Teaching our kids that they are not made up of what they wear and what they have, but who they are inside.
  5. Out of balance: Parents have a real challenge to make sure materialistic kids stay balanced.  If kids get to the point where getting things and having things is their main focus, there is a problem.  Parents need to educate kids and make sure that their values are balanced and that they understand the value of charity, family, friendships and their health.
  6. Not too much shopping: Make sure that family time isn’t only used to go shopping at the mall and the grocery store.  Spending time outdoors doing fun things as a family will help a materialist kid not get too focused on stuff.  Have a weekly game night where everyone just has fun playing and enjoying spending time together.
  7. Drug abuse: Materialistic kids tend to have more money to spend and they come from parents with money and often power.  Growing up with money often makes kids feel like they are above the law and their parents can buy their way out of trouble if they were to get into any.  Having extra money, combined with extra time because they don’t have to have a job, added to boredom leads to trouble.  What do wealthy kids do when they are bored?  Sometimes they get into trouble with drugs.
  8. Looking for attention: Parents of materialistic kids tend to spend a great deal of time working to make the money that created the materialistic kids in the first place.  When parents are gone and working so much of the time kids feel like they don’t get enough attention. They may get into trouble at school just to get attention from their parents. Attention is attention even if it’s negative.
  9. Suicide: This won’t come into play with all materialistic kids, but sometimes parents put undue pressure on their kids to succeed because they did.  There seems to be two sides to the materialistic coin I guess.  You get kids that are lazy and feel entitled and you get kids that are driven to be the best.  Those driven ones are the ones that you have to watch out for.  They are so hard on themselves that they can actually think their life is over if they make a big mistake.
  10. Cutting: Make sure that your child isn’t harming themselves.  From my research I found that 30-40 percent of young adults that come from an affluent family are clinically depressed.  They feel empty inside.  There are many reasons, but some because they don’t have strong family ties and some because their parents expect so much from them.  Some teens cut themselves so that they can “feel” something other than emptiness.

How to Know When to Stop Wiping Your Child’s Butt

January 19th, 2012 by admin

We’ve heard it our whole lives. Moms everywhere will tell us, mothers never stop being mothers. Long after their children have all grown up, their mission remains. For these steadfastly eternal maternal guardians, we endeavor to share the secret to knowing when their job is done. One job in particular, actually. Here we shall explain how to know when it’s time to stop wiping your child’s butt:

  1. Cling-ons – No, we don’t mean the Star Trek warrior race, the Klingons. We’re talking about the effects upon a hairy butt from, shall we say, an especially productive visit to le toilette. Don’t make us resort to photos or YouTube here, OK? Just trust us that this phenomenon is peculiar only to certain behinds which, you may rest assured, you can leave behind.
  2. High Tech Clues – If his iPhone or Android falls out of his pants pocket during your wiping attempt, chances are better than 50 / 50 that he can finish the job solo. Incoming text message: To: Mom From: Us Subject: Time to put away the Baby Wipes and let Junior try his hand at it.
  3. Audible Clues – If your child insists that he can do it himself, it may be a sign that he’s ready to take on more responsibility. Give him room to grow and express his independence. Even if his wife shares some doubts about his ability to find it with both hands, let him work through this.
  4. Visual Clues – Tattoos, hickeys, pubes, body piercings, or the presence of a scantily-clad female companion named Roxanne who assures you that she’s been well-paid to do the job herself – all are potential red flags that your services are no longer required.
  5. Third Party Clues – Orders of Protection, Cease and Desist Letters, phone calls from psychiatrists, desperate pleas from his children to leave Daddy alone.
  6. Commercial Clues – If the labels on your son’s diaper read XXL, and The Naughty Boy Fantasy Collection, we’ll hazard a guess and say Mission Accomplished,Mom.
  7. Personal Clues – When you need to have Thelma, your hospice caregiver, wipe yours before those weekly visits from your kids, then you have once and for all washed your hands of this dirty business.

10 Famous Games Babysitters Should Not Play With Kids

January 9th, 2012 by admin

Most kids grow up playing these classic games; in a group where all participants are of roughly the same age and size, they’re great fun. However, babysitters should never join in these games with their charges due to the possible risks involved.

  1. Red Rover – Some organizations have banned this game altogether, but it can be fun if played carefully. A babysitter with two to three times the physical strength and size of their charges can  inadvertently cause serious injury by crashing into more fragile arms too roughly.
  2. Hide and Seek – With older children that have a clear understanding of dangerous hiding places, this game is harmless fun. Babysitters of younger charges shouldn’t participate in the game; they should set clear boundaries for play and watch carefully as children select their hiding places. When the searcher begins looking for their playmates, a good babysitter should already know exactly where each child is; taking part in the game would make this nearly impossible.
  3. Tug of War – Once again, the more powerful musculature of teenage or adult babysitters can pose a significant risk when playing this game. Leave it to the children while you keep an eye out for injuries, being sure to monitor the amount of strain that little arms and wrists are under.
  4. Wrestling – For toddlers, this game can quickly become too dangerous with a grown-up opponent. Explaining to parents that their child is hurt because you wrestled with them too hard is difficult, and sure to make them think twice about calling you the next time they need a sitter.
  5. Football – The slightest miscalculation in force when tackling a little one can result in very grave injuries. If your charges insist on playing football, opt for the touch variety or sit out while they play tackle.
  6. Dodgeball – In the heat of competition, it’s easy for a sitter to throw a ball too hard. Face and head injuries are a very real possibility when kids of comparable size play dodgeball; adding a larger person to the equation is just asking for trouble.
  7. Soccer – Unless you’re very sure that you can control the force and speed with which you kick a soccer ball, leave the soccer games to the kids while you cheer them on from the sidelines.
  8. Bloody Mary – While it’s certainly not physically dangerous, parents will not appreciate a frightened child that keeps them up all night after a sitter introduced them to the classic Bloody Mary. The grisly legend and morbid accompanying game are the quickest way to never be hired by a family again.
  9. Truth or Dare – Truth or Dare is a game that explores boundaries and pushes the limits of acceptable behavior. The very nature of the game makes it inappropriate for sitters to play with their charges; even with innocent dares and questions that don’t explore touchy subjects, maintaining authority after these boundaries have been blurred may be difficult.
  10. Blind Man’s Bluff – Sending a child careening around the backyard while blindfolded is a recipe for disaster. If children insist on playing, you should supervise them very closely and never join in.

Remember that babysitting is different from playing with younger siblings, and that parents will hold a babysitter accountable for any injuries sustained because of irresponsible behavior. Use your best judgment when you suggest pastimes and games while you’re responsible for children, and always make sure that safety is your first concern.

What Makes a Babysitter a Rockstar?

January 3rd, 2012 by admin

Good sitters are hard to find, so when the kids look forward to having their favorite babysitter, parents know they’ve discovered a real gem. While most parents and their children are perfectly content with mediocre sitters who do a competent job, there are some who reach real rockstar status. What makes the difference between adequate and awesome? Here are a few things that make an ordinary babysitter a rockstar.

Kids love to have a good time, so a sitter who knows how to have fun with the children is going to be a big hit. Babysitters who bring new games and will play with the kids are going to be greeted with excitement. They’ll play the children’s favorite video games with them and help them reach new levels. Of course, they also need to know when to let the kids win. Smart sitters who incorporate fun with learning will gain rockstar status with the parents as well.

Babysitters should show up cheerful, energetic and ready to keep up with young rambunctious children. They also need to have a good sense of humor. Kids love to play pranks on babysitters, so they must be able to take a joke and laugh at themselves. Sitters who can take practical jokes in stride will gain the respect of the kids and have rockstar potential.

Kids are not going to like a sitter who plays favorites, so rockstar babysitters will always be fair with all the children. These sitters take the time to find out what’s unique about each child they care for and give individual attention to each one. This is a way sitters can make each kid feel like they’re really special without alienating the rest.

Children want to believe that their babysitter is there because they really care about them and not just to make some money. Rockstar sitters are loving and caring with lots of hugs and kisses for boo-boos. They don’t let on that they’re being paid or that they sit for other families. This illusion can be shattered if kids see their parents paying the babysitter.

Don’t think for a minute that sitters can reach rockstar status by just being nice to the kids and letting them get away with anything. Children will push the limits of every babysitter to see what they can get by with. Sitters who are too lenient may be popular with the kids, but they won’t get their respect. Potential rockstars will know how to be firm and fair while enforcing the rules. This will be appreciated by both the kids and their parents.

The best sitters know that they can’t just be popular with the kids, and that it’s the parents they really need to please. It’s the parents, after all, who hire them and pay them at the end of the day. The babysitters who do a little extra plus go above and beyond the call of duty are going to earn their rockstar award from the parents. They’ll bring over books or videos for the kids to enjoy and not just show up to collect a check. These babysitters will not only clean up after themselves and the kids, but wash up the few dishes left in the sink. When parents come home to a house that’s cleaner than when they left with happy children begging the sitter to stay, they know they’ve found a real prize.

Rockstar sitters will be in demand and also get the best pay. Once they earn that reputation, they’ll have parents and kids eating out of their hand. Pretty soon the parents are rearranging their schedule to fit the sitter’s calendar and the kids are demanding that the parents go out so they can see their favorite sitter again. Life is good for rockstar babysitters.