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One of the most amazing aspects of raising a child is having a front-row seat to a baby’s rapid development. It’s incredible to watch Charlie take in his surrounds and assimilate knowledge as he acquires new skills. Seeing the expansion of his little mind is a visible reminder of the power of the human brain, and of what an amazing gift we have in our capacity for learning new things.

Observing Charlie’s learning process has given me a greater appreciation for my own ability to acquire new knowledge. And of course, I love sharing some of those new things with all of you! Here are a few fun things I learned in the month of August.

What I Learned in August 2015

Miscellaneous Trivia

  • I recently read The View from Saturday, in which a character wins a quiz contest for asserting that the words poshradar, and tip are all acronyms. Some fact-checking revealed that radar is indeed an acronym (for RAdio Detecting And Ranging), but that posh and tip are not. However, my research led me to find several other surprising words that are acronyms, including scuba (“Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus”) and care package (assembled during WWII by a humanitarian agency known as the Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere).
  • A study found that people who consumed spicy foods six or seven days per week had a 14% risk reduction in total mortality compared to those who ate spicy foods less than once per week. Bring on the Sriracha!
  • In Minnesota, it’s a state law that school cannot start before Labor Day. I kind of wish California would adopt this one! It’s weird to me that so many schools are now starting back up in early August; when I was growing up, we never started school before September.
  • The four-way, three color traffic signal was invented in 1920 by a Detroit policeman. The green, yellow, and red color scheme was derived from a system used by railroads since the 1830s. When developing a color system to tell train engineers when to stop and go, railroad companies initially chose red as the color for stop (since red had long been associated with danger), white as the color for go, and green as the color for caution. However, the choice of white to represent go led to problems: in 1914, a red lens fell out of its holder leaving the white light exposed. The train conductor ended up running a stop signal, resulting in an accident. Eventually the railroads began using green to mean go, and yellow was selected to represent caution since it was very distinct from the other two colors.

Traffic Signal

  • A recent Bloomberg Politics poll found that 50% of Americans say they wouldn’t want their son playing football. Most parents cited fear of injury as their reasoning. I would prefer that Charlie didn’t play football, not because I’m scared he’ll get hurt (there is risk involved in any sport) but because I don’t enjoy watching football and would rather not sit through his games! (I hope that doesn’t make me a horrible mom.)
  • My status as a baby name enthusiast is well documented around here, and I enjoyed reading about some of last year’s more unusual name choices: in 2014, eight boys were given the name Awesome, nine were named Chaos, and five boys were christened Furious. As for girls, eight were named Couture, 24 were named Goddess, and 25 were given the name Majestic. My personal taste in names tends to favor the eccentric, but even I was surprised by some of these choices.
  • Despite doomsday predictions that blogging is dying, the traditional blog doesn’t seem to be disappearing any time soon. As of 2013 there were more than 152 million blogs on the internet. Half of bloggers are between the ages of 18 and 34 and 70% have attended college. A majority of bloggers are women, a third of whom are also mothers. In other words, I am a very stereotypical blogger.

The Evolution of Blogging

Averaging it Out

I’m always fascinated to read “average” statistics. (Apparently I’m not alone, since this type of trivia pops up everywhere!) Here are a few interesting averages that I came across this month:

  • The national average hourly rate for babysitting is $13.44. (Holy, cow, that’s a lot!) Babysitters are most expensive in San Francisco, where the average hourly rate is $16.65. Grand Rapids, Michigan, is the least expensive city to hire a babysitter: the going rate there is $11.31 per hour (even that seems really high to me).
  • The average American eats 60 pounds of chicken per year. That sounds like a big number, but it averages out to about 2.6 ounces per day, so really it’s lower than I might have expected.
  • The average family does 300 loads of laundry per year. BC (Before Charlie), we were nowhere near that mark, but between cloth diapering and spit-up rags, I now do at least one load each day. I am SO thankful that we have our own washing machine! (It was my #1 housing requirement when we made our last move.)
Charlie is my little laundry helper! He makes folding laundry a whole lot more fun!
Charlie is my little laundry helper! He makes folding laundry a whole lot more fun!

Notes from the Field

  • We’ve been watching Friends on Netflix, and though the outfits look dated, the shows still feel pretty current to me. However, I recently realized that Friends (which first aired 21 years ago) is as old to Charlie as Petticoat Junction and Bewitched are to me. It’s funny to think that for kids born today, Friends will fall under the category of “classic television.”
  • I’ve been learning a lot lately about the mind and how it works. (I have a post in the works that will dive further into this topic.) As part of my personal “mind-improvement” I’ve been playing a number of brain training games on my phone. My brain training has revealed that I have very specific strengths and weaknesses. More specifically, I’m pretty strong in any area that involves language, and horrible with activities that require any sort of spatial awareness.
Those low scores are all on games that require some sort of visual/spatial awareness. Definitely room for improvement on that front!
These are the results for my games on Peak. Those low scores are all on games that require some sort of visual/spatial awareness. It’s no wonder I’m always running into things.
  • A few weeks ago I was outside sweeping our porch while Charlie napped in our bedroom. When I went to open the screen door to get back inside, I discovered that it had locked me out. I immediately panicked: the rest of our doors and windows were also locked, and not only did I not have my key on me, I had also left my phone inside, so I could not call Luke or our landlord to have one of them let me back inside the house. Fortunately I was able to take the screen door off its hinges, but the experience made for a practical lesson in the importance of ALWAYS having my key on hand when I step outside, especially if Charlie isn’t with me!
  • Our first foray into feeding Charlie solids revealed something I’ve suspected: baby led weaning is going to be VERY messy! I see a whole lot of high chair-cleaning and baby-bathing in my future!

Charlie's First Taste of Avocado

As always, I’m linking up with Emily over at Chatting at the Sky to share what we learned in August. Head over there to see what others have been learning this month!

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