8 Germiest Places

So many things change when you become a parent. I don't think anything I heard from wizened parents before me could have quite prepared me for that. I mean, what can prepare you for the effects of sleepless nights for years and years, sassy toddlers that push buttons you didn't even know you had, or all the nasty things children touch and put in their mouths! So, here I am. My name is Aimee Carter, and I am a germaphobe. There! I freely admitted it.

So, if you join me in my germ revulsion, you might want to check out the 8 germiest places as posted earlier this week on USA Today. I'll list them here from least to most germiest spot. Then I'm going to wash my hands. Ewwwww!
  1. Vending machines -35%
  2. Crosswalk buttons -35%
  3. Parking meters -40%
  4. Kiosks -40%
  5. ATM buttons -41%
  6. Escalator rails -43%
  7. Mail box handles -68%
  8. Gas pump handles -71%

What's your potential?

We were recently discussing in one of our Kindermusik classes that a two year old child has twice as many neural connections as an adult. They are so busy learning everything about the world around them, that they are constantly forming connections in the brain. Later they will go through a pruning process where the more useful connections will be strengthened for continued use. Let's put this in perspective. Our brains contain one hundred billion neurons. "Suppose each neuron was one dollar, and you stood on a street corner trying to give dollars away to people as they passed by, as fast as you could hand them out- let's say one dollar per second. If you did this twenty four hours a day, 365 days a year, without stopping, and if you had started on the day that Jesus was born, you would by the present day only have gone through about two thirds of your money."

That's an impressive amount of potential. That's why it is so important to give your children a sensory rich experience when they are young. Interact and play along with your child to help them understand the world around them or answer their questions during the creative process. Who knows, you might make a few new neural connections of your own! ;)

Excerpt from This is Your Brain on Music by Daniel J. Levitin

How Music Can Protect Against Hearing Loss

This post originally appeared on the Minds on Music blog for Kindermusik International and was written by Jamie Sterling.
My husband is a professional musician. He’s spent the majority of his life playing loud music through loud amplifiers (and in booming tones). Did I mention he’s a bassist? Not only that, but he likes to listen to pretty loud music – and he wears headphones to do his recording and other loud, musical work every day. I’ve expressed my concern for his ears and the potential hearing loss I was sure he was doomed to deal with. But, despite my nagging…I mean, despite my expressions of concern… he has always insisted that he has “tough ears.”

One time, he was having a hard time hearing – to the point that he decided to go to the doctor. This is something, because he is one of those guys who likes to avoid the doctor, unless it is very serious. I was sure I was going to have my ‘told you so’ moment on his hearing. Turns out, it was a massive amount of earwax! And, after taking a requisite hearing test at the ear, nose & throat specialist, he was deemed to have “exceptional hearing.”

Now, this just didn’t compute for me. Didn’t my Dad tell me he lost a little bit of his hearing at an early age from standing too close to the amps at big concerts in the 70s? How does exposing yourself to music constantly, as a part of your profession, allow anybody to have better hearing? Perhaps it’s just my husband. He really is a ninja (black belt in Isshinryu karate), so maybe this is just another way his ‘ninja-ness’ manifests itself?

Turns out recent research actually suggests that musicians’ ears ARE tougher. NPR published that embracing music early in life can actually stave off age-related hearing loss!

The article states:

“If you spend a lot of your life interacting with sound in an active manner, then your nervous system has made lots of sound-to-meaning connections” that can strengthen your auditory system, says Nina Kraus, director of the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University. Musicians focus extraordinary attention on deciphering low notes from high notes and detecting different tonal qualities. Kraus has studied younger musicians and found that their hearing is far superior to that of their non-musician counterparts.

Knowing that younger musicians seemed to have a distinct hearing advantage made Kraus curious about what happened to those same musicians later in life.

To find out, she assembled a small group of middle-aged musicians and non musicians, aged 45-65. She put both groups through a series of tests measuring their ability to make out and repeat a variety of sentences spoken in noisy background environments. Turns out, the musicians were 40 percent better than non-musicians at tuning out background noise and hearing the sentences, as Kraus reported in PloS ONE. The musicians were also better able to remember the sentences than the non-musicians — and that made it easier for them to follow a line of conversation.

So, my husband will likely be a really sharp older man because he will have less hearing loss, be able to carry conversations better, and have an enhanced IQ. I’ll be the crazy old lady sitting next to him, responding only with “Huh?” and wondering who the President is… unless I pick up my viola – or maybe take up those guitar lessons again!

Listen to the full story on NPR.com.

(Also, as a disclaimer, I highly encourage everyone to wear earplugs and listen to music at a normal decibel level, as the safest precaution against early hearing loss).