Monday, January 31, 2011

Treating and Preventing Eczema

Review of Eucerin and Aquaphor Products

Yesterday we started discussing eczema: the red, dry, itchy, scaly winter skin many of us get during the dry winter months.

Be the Best Nanny Newsletter's second favorite set of moisturizers for prevention and treatment of eczema are Aquaphor and Eucerin Original Moisturizing Creme. Eucerin Aquaphor Healing Ointment and Eucerin Original Lotion and Cremes are both excellent choices for routine infant skin care–for daily moisturizing all day long, especially after bathing and during diapering. Since Aquaphor and Eucerin Original Moisturizing Creme are both non-sensitizing and fragrance-free, they are an ideal choice for even the smallest infants’ fragile skin. There are a large line of Eucerin products, including body washes and lotions with SPF so shop around for the product that works best for you or your charges.

Eucerin Original Moisturizing Creme has been recommended for eczema patients for a long time. It moisturizes with petroleum and mineral oil. The The lotion version is not greasy at all. The manufacturer recommends using Eucerin on mildly flared to normal skin, as it has a thinner consistency than might be necessary for more severely inflamed skin. This also allows the product to be absorbed by the skin more easily.

Petroleum jelly acts as a barrier and will trap moisture in the skin. This is very important treatment for eczema sufferers. This is the main active ingredient in Eucerin Aquaphor Healing Ointment. Aquaphor is an is an ointment that contains 41% petroleum jelly -- more than it's thinner Eucerin counterpart.

The manufacturer recommends using Eucerin Aquaphor Healing Ointment for more severe cases of eczema, as skin may require the extra grease it provides to become adequately hydrated. I love it on my cracked, bleeding fingers. When skin is sore, red and irritated, Eucerin Aquaphor Healing Ointmentcan provide fast, soothing, healing help. Eucerin Aquaphor Healing Ointment is hypoallergenic and non-sensitizing–proven safe to use on even rashy or painful skin. And since it helps skin heal faster, it also helps prevent diaper rash pain fast!

Have you tried Eucerin and Aquaphor products? What are your thoughts?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Charged with Child Abuse After Appearing on "Dr. Phil" Show

"Hot Saucing is the new wash out your mouth with sauce."

This story that appeared on Good Morning America this morning is so disturbing I must interrupt the start of our eczema treatment series to discuss it.
Video from the "Dr. Phil" television show of an Alaska mother forcing her son to drink hot sauce and take cold showers prompted a police investigation that has led to charges of child abuse against the mother.

Jessica Beagley, a 36-year-old mother of six, was charged with misdemeanor child abuse in an Anchorage, Alaska courtroom today.

A police investigation began after Beagley appeared with "Dr. Phil" McGraw in November of last year, according to court documents. The segment of the show was called "Mommy Confessions."

The mom admits to spanking her child and forcing him to do jumping jacks until he's exhausted. During the show, the boy is being punished for getting "three cards pulled," three infractions at school.

On camera, Beagley is seen pouring hot sauce down the boy's throat as punishment for lying. Beagley, leaning over the boy as he sits on the bathroom counter, says, "don't spit it."

The boy can be heard screaming when Beagley forces him to take a cold shower.

Viewers flooded the Anchorage Police Department with calls after the show aired, police said. The Anchorage Municipal Prosecutor said in court documents that the behavior in the video violates the municipal code protecting against child abuse.

What do you think? Is washing a child's mouth out with soap child abuse? Is making them drink hot sauce child abuse?

Treating Infant and Child Eczema

Nannies Love CeraVe™ for Treatment of Eczema

In the winter it's essential to keep children's skin moisturized. Last week we explained the dangers of dry air and why using a cool-mist humidifier in the room where the child sleeps can help keep their nasal passages moist.

Another common problem caused by dry winter air is eczema. The skin of a child with eczema reacts abnormally and easily to irritants, food, and environmental allergens and becomes red, flaky and very itchy. It also becomes vulnerable to surface infections caused by bacteria. In infants, the condition causes red, scaly, oozy, and crusty cheeks and the symptoms commonly appear on their legs, neck, and arms.

To combat the severe dryness associated with eczema, a high-quality, dermatologist-approved moisturizer should be used daily. Moisturizers should not have any ingredients that may further aggravate the condition. Moisturizers are especially effective if applied five to ten minutes after bathing. As a rule of thumb the thicker the moisturizer the better it is at retaining moisture.

Petroleum jelly is considered one of the most effective moisturizers by reducing water loss by up to 98%.

Soap and water are drying to a baby's and child's skin, so be careful not to overdo the baths in the winter months. You can bathe babies only every two or three days and just wash hands, face, and diaper area most days. Try cool or room temperature water, it's less drying than hot water. And if the parents want you to bath the children daily just make sure all the kids in the household take quick baths and showers in the winter so their skin doesn't lose to much moisture.

Our next tip is to avoid any soap or lotion that contains perfume or dye. Use a mild soap, or non-soap cleanser, and warm, not hot, water. Sun also irritates sensitive skin so put on sunscreen if going outside, (yes, even in the winter).

Many lotions and creams are made especially for babies' sensitive skin. This upcoming week we will review the best lotions for children to prevent dry, chapped skin. You can even carry a moisturizing stick that tucks into your diaper bag.

It's very important to not allow little ones get chilled after a bath. So, don't forget to wrap babies in a hooded baby towel as soon as you take them out of the water and pat (don't rub) them dry him quickly. Put a mild baby lotion on their skin, and then bundle them up.

Our first product we love for treating eczema is CeraVe Moisturizing Cream. I first heard of it when my charge's dermatologist recommend it. This moisturizer is great for dry skin in generally, but it's perfect for sensitive skin, psoriasis, and many other skin conditions. CeraVe Moisturizing Cream is so gentle that pediatricians often recommend it for eczema in babies and children.

CeraVe™ Moisturizing Cream provides all-day moisture with a single application and is clinically proven to increase skin hydration. But, I still rub in a little whenever changing a diaper or whenever changing the older kids' clothing.

It contains ceramides, naturally occurring components of the skin that play a key role in enhancing and restoring the skin's protective function. Also included are vital humectants and emollients to replenish and retain needed moisture. The unique ingredients in CeraVe™ Moisturizing Cream help restore damaged skin and keep skin healthy.

With its patented Multivesicular Emulsion (MVE) formulation, CeraVe™ Moisturizing Cream helps restore and maintain the skin's natural protective function. MVE works by trapping ingredients within multi-layered vesicles that are slowly released, layer by layer throughout the day, penetrating deep into the skin to moisturize and nourish. CeraVe™ Moisturizing Cream spreads easily and absorbs quickly. It is non-greasy, non-comedogenic, and non-irritating.

Have you tried CeraVe? What do you think?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Wonderful Children's Book for Winter

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen

It's not surprising that John Schoenherr received the 1988 Caldecott Medal for his illustrations in Owl Moon. The watercolors in this book capture the wonder and beauty of the walk through the woods in the snow.

The main character's older brothers have been out "owling" with their father, but now it is finally the little girls turn.

The story by Jane Yolen and the artwork by Schoenherr shows a spectacular view from an owl's view from above of a small farm in the country. This great story beautifully captures a child's excitement at finally being old enough to go "owling" with her father. It shows a strong child and father bond.

The little girl eloquently describes their late night walk through the cold and snowy woods. She speaks of how, "the snow below it was whiter than the milk in a cereal bowl."

It's apparent that the walk itself is what's important and getting to actually see and hear an owl only secondary. Both the artwork and the text show the loving bond between father and child and the significance of their walk together.

We highly recommend borrowing this book from the library to share with young children.

Stop by next Saturday for another Weekly Trip to the Library for nannies and au pairs.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Giveaway Book by Tara McClintick: Enter by January 28 Midnight EST

Regarding Nannies Giveaway

Please enter this awesome book giveaway. Tara McClintick, a mother who has written books for kids with autism is donating one to nannies. She is offering any one of her books found at:

To enter, simply comment in response to this post by midnight Friday, January 28th, and a winner will be chosen by and announced on Saturday, January 29th. In your comment, share something you may have learned, ideas or concepts you may use in your role as a nanny, or simply thank Tara for what she shared!

If you have a child with autism or know of one, or if you would like to donate the book to the library or to someone you know please enter the giveaway.

Click here to enter how to enter the giveaway.

Could Your Charge Be a Bully?

Is your charge a bully, but you, the parents, and child don't know it? There are many reasons to kick the bully habit. Many bullies grow up into adults who bully their families, friends, and co-workers, causing all sorts of problems with relationships and careers.

To help determine if a child is a bully ask yourself these questions:
1. Does it make the child feel better to hurt other people or take their things?

2. Does the child feel bigger and stronger than other people their age? Do they sometimes use their size and strength to get their way?

3. Does the child seem to avoid thinking about how other people might feel? Do they ever say or do hurtful things to others?

How can you stop a child from being a bully?

1. Have the child apologize to people they have bullied, and follow it up by being friendly to them.

2. Help boost the child's self-esteem. Assist them with finding a new hobby, do volunteer work, or get involved with a sport.

3. If the child is having trouble controlling their feelings, especially anger, have them talk to a school counselor about it. Perhaps you can gently suggest to the parents the child go to therapy.

Click here to visit the No Name-Calling Week web site for more suggestions and resources.

Could your charge possibly be a bully?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

No Name-Calling Week

Have any of your charges been a victim of name-calling?

Far too many children experience some form of bullying and name-calling. According to the National Association of School Psychologists, between 15 and 30 percent of all students are either bullies or victims of bullying. It begins in the elementary school and peaks during middle school years. That’s why it is imperative to begin to address the problem of bullying and name calling while children are still in elementary school. No Name-Calling Week during the week of January 24-28.

No Name-Calling Week is a week of educational activities aimed at ending name-calling of all kinds and providing schools with the tools and inspiration to launch an on-going dialogue about ways to eliminate bullying in their communities.

No Name-Calling Week was inspired by The Misfits a young adult novel by James Howe. The book tells the story of a group of friends who struggle to survive the seventh grade due to their experiences of being harassed because of their weight, height, intelligence, sexual orientation, and gender expression. Motivated by the inequities they see around them, the protagonists - “the Gang of Five” - create a political party during student council elections with a platform aimed at wiping out all forms of name-calling.

In the process, they win the support of the school’s principal who helps them establish a “No Name Day” at school. Motivated by this simple yet powerful idea, a coalition of over forty education, youth advocacy, and mental health organizations have partnered to organize an annual No Name-Calling Week in schools across the country. The project seeks to build awareness of, dialogue for and action against name-calling in schools.

Have your charges been a victim of name-calling?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

How Important is it to for Au Pairs Working In America to Speak English?

According to Edina Stone of Au Pair ClearningHouse au pairs with good English skills are one of the “top” priorities for host parents. When she surveyed parents in their au pair polls, parents rate English as the most important childcare skill.

An overwhelming majority of host parents (93%) rate English skills as their Number One priority when choosing an au pair for their children.

There is no question that hosting an au pair is much more successful if the au pair can speak English and is serious about improving her language skills.

It becomes even more important for families with very young children. Why? Young children can become very impatient and frustrated with an au pair who cannot understand them and if they cannot make themselves easily understood. In addition, an au pair who cares for a very young child needs to understand your directions clearly in order to avoid catastrophes!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Bottled Water Scorecard - Only Filtered Water Gets an A

What Bottled Water Do You Drink? How Does Your Bottled Water Stack Up?

Labels on expensive bottled water may lead us to think the water inside comes from pristine springs or has amazing healing powers. But, bottled water companies don't have to tell us what is in those bottles.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) decided to look at what they do tell us. And the story can be summed up in a few words -- not much.

Among the ten best-selling brands, nine — Pepsi's Aquafina, Coca-Cola's Dasani, Crystal Geyser and six of seven NestlĂ© brands — don't answer at least one of those questions.

Only one — NestlĂ©'s Pure Life Purified Water — discloses its water source and treatment method on the label and offers an 800-number, website or mailing address where consumers can request a water quality test report.

EWG's just-released 2011 Bottled Water Scorecard grades more than 170 bottled waters on the information they do or do not disclose on their labels and websites.

When we looked for answers to obvious questions -- Where does the water come from? Is it purified? How? Have tests found any contaminants? -- nine out of the ten best-selling brands didn't answer at least one of those questions.

How does your bottled water brand stack up?
Here's a look at the 10 top-selling* U.S. brands:

1. Pure Life Purified Water (Nestle), EWG grade = B
2. Arrowhead Mountain Spring Water (Nestle), EWG grade = C
3. Aquafina Purified Drinking Water (Pepsi), EWG grade = D
4. Dasani Purified Water (Coca-Cola), EWG grade = D
5. Deer Park Natural Spring Water (Nestle), EWG grade = D
6. Ice Mountain Natural Spring Water (Nestle), EWG grade = D
7. Ozarka Natural Spring Water (Nestle), EWG grade = D
8. Poland Spring Natural Spring Water (Nestle), EWG grade = D
9. Zephyrhills Natural Spring Water (Nestle), EWG grade = D
10. Crystal Geyser Natural Alpine Spring Water (CG Roxane), EWG grade = F

Filtered tap water received the best grade (an A) from EWG because if you change your filter regularly, EWG says it is purer than bottled water, plus it saves money (bottled water can cost up to 1,900 times more than what flows from your tap). Drinking tap water also takes less of a toll on the planet. EWG offers plenty of tips for filtering your tap water so that you can drink the healthiest water possible.

What bottled water do you drink?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

How to Use Cool Mist Humidifiers

Products Nannies Love: Crane Humidifiers

It's currently 13F degrees and it feels like minus -1F degrees where I live in New Jersey.

The children I care for and I have dry skin and patches of eczema and dry cracked lips due to the bitter cold and dry air. Plus, their little noses are dry (sometimes bloody) from the dry air. A dry environment makes it easier for viruses to invade the nasal lining to make children sick.

Cool-mist humidifiers to help clear their little one's stuffy nasal passages. Their mucous membranes work better in cool moist air.

Viruses can’t penetrate normal intact skin, and even moist surfaces like the lining of a mouth or nose does a pretty good job repelling viruses. But once the lining of a nose gets dried out and develops cracks and fissures, the viruses can grab hold and jump right in.

By preventing dry air with a humidifier, you’ll also keep whatever mucus is around nicely wet and runny — that’s good, because thin and runny mucus is less likely to plug up noses and sinuses and get infected with bacteria. Thick and sticky mucus just sits there, an inviting bacterial playground. Thin and runny mucus drains, carrying infection away.

If you do run a humidifier all winter, you’ve got to keep it clean. We prefer cool mist humidifiers because warm mist tend to have more germs and a warm, moist environment can also become a playground for mold. Once a week, take the humidifier apart, wipe it down with diluted bleach (one capful per gallon) and let the pieces dry before re-assembling.

While cool mist humidifiers do not boil water like the warm mist units, the ultrasonic humidifiers transmit energy to the water through high-frequency vibrations (well above human, and most animal, hearing) that can help break up any bacteria present. While in use the Ultrasonic Humidifier should be cleaned every day and before it is filled with water.

We recommend Crane humidifiers. These irresistibly cute Crane humidifiers make moisture fun! One of Crane's quirky animal pals can keep kids company on a sick day, help bring a smile to their faces, and help get them feeling a little better... stat!

Stop by next Sunday for another Product Review Sunday when we will review another product nannies love.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

How Do You Play With Kids in the Snow?

The Snowy Day By Ezra Jack Keats and Activities
Review by wannabwester

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats won the prestigious Caldecott Award in 1963. The book is not only a fine story, but also featured the first African American main character to be depicted in a children's picture book. This ground-breaking book was followed by several others written by Keats, including A Whistle for Willie, Peter's Chair, A Letter To Amy, and Goggles.

The story is of Peter, a boy who lives in an apartment in the city, and his adventures in the snow. The boy Peter is an appealing "every child" in this story, as the author leads us through Peter's journey of discovery while he plays.

Peter crunches the snow with his feet, makes footprints and tracks through the snow, and drags a stick in snow. Peter is momentarily disappointed when the big boys don't include him in their snowball fight, and so instead he builds a snowman, makes snow angels, and slides down a snow mountain. Peter ends his full day of snow play by taking a warm bath and thinking of his adventures.

Music Picks
Two songs to use to compliment this book are a verse from the song made popular by Barney the Dinosaur and a little tune called Once there Was a Snowman. Once there was a snowman is an action song. Pretend to stand "tall,tall, tall" and as the snowman shrinks in the sun, bend your knees and melt into the ground.

Here are the relevant words to the Barney song:
If All the Snowflakes were candy bars and milkshakes, Oh what a snow that would be! I'd stand outside with my mouth open wide (ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah) Oh what a snow that would be

Movement Ideas
Children love to follow the leader in a story that requires them to do the actions with you. So create your own action story based on the things that Peter does in the story The Snowy Day. You can use the following as a guideline or adapt to make your own Snowy Day action story.

Take a walk in the snow
It's time to wake up! (Yawn and stretch and rub your eyes)
Ohhh, snow! (Raise your arms in the air in big surprise)
Time to get our coat and hat (Pretend to put on your coat, followed by your hat)
Ooops! Don't forget your gloves! (Pretend to put on gloves)
Ooh it's cold! Let's stomp our feet in the snow (stomp, stomp, stomp)
I can take my stick and make a line in the snow (drag your pretend stick on the ground)
Time to make snowballs! (Pretend to scoop some snow from the ground and make the snowball in your hands.)
Wow it tastes cold (Stick out your tongue and taste your snowball.)
I hear Mom calling! Time to go inside and have a nice warm cup of chocolate! (Pretend to run to the door, and take a pretend glass.)
That was delicious! Mmm good! (pat or rub your tummy and shake your head up and down).

Activities and Explorations
Weather permitting, put on your coats and gloves, and play in the snow! Build a snowman, make a snow angel, and crunch the snow with your boots. Have fun!

Art exploration
Ezra Jack Keats loved to paint as a child. Give children black or dark blue paper and white tempera paint, and suggest they paint something that they liked about the book The Snowy Day.

Be the Best Nanny Newsletter suggests giving children a black piece of construction paper and a piece of white chalk to draw a snow scene. A little glue and glitter can make the snow sparkle on the drawing.

Stop by next week for another Weekly Trip to the Library.

What do you like to do with kids in the snow?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Nannies: 50 Years Ago JFK Asked What You Can Do For Your Country

Nannygate by Being Paid-Under-the-Table is Illegal

Fifty years ago today John F Kennedy delivered his infamous inauguration speech best-remembered line: "And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country will do for you – ask what you can do for your country."

Nannygate is the popular term for employers who don't pay their household employee's taxes. Nannygate is an epidemic in America. We won't pretend anyone likes to pay taxes. But, there are many great benefits to being paid legally.

American nannies that are paid-under-the-table do not live up to JFK's proclamation. It's illegal to not be paid-on-the-books. But, it is also embarrassing for an American citizen to allow themselves to not be treated better than an illegal alien. Below is a list of just some of the services your taxes help pay for.

If you don't pay taxes you don't deserve to:

- Drive on paved streets or highways.
- Call 911.
- Flush your toilet.
- Have your garbage picked-up and disposed of.
- Fly in an airplane that uses air-traffic controllers.
- Use the court system.
- Use the U.S. Post Office..
- Send your children to public schools.
- Use currency printed by the U.S. Treasury.
- Use a bank or credit union that insures your deposits through the FDIC.
- Use public transportation.
- Visit public museums.
- Cross a bridge.
- Use truck stops or public restrooms.
- Expect the government to protect the copyright for the works you create.
- Expect your tap water to be clean and germ free.
- Go to a beach kept clean by the state
- Attend a state university.
- Collect social security.
- Medicare pay your bills if you are over 65 or disabled.
- Don't climb to the top of the Washington Monument, which is maintained at taxpayer expense.
- Be rescued by fire department paramedic team.
- Don't expect federal assistance if a natural disaster destroys your home or business.
- Expect the military to defend you or your country.
- Visit national parks or hike in national forests.
- Eat USDA inspected meat, cheese, eggs or produce.
- Take any medications tested and approved by the FDA.
- Drink, bath or otherwise use the water from municipal water systems.
- Look at a NASA generated picture.
- Expect a unit of measure like a gallon of gas to be a full gallon.
- Expect a red light to work.
- Use the services of a doctor who is licensed through the state.
- Expect research into medical problems such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, aging, prostrate, menopause, and so on.
- Use the public library.
- Go to a state university affiliated hospital.
- Watch state college sports.
- Ask for FEC regulations that protect us from crooked financial planners.
- Get married, have children or die and expect the government to keep track of all the certificates.
- Eat any food transported on roads.
- Expect any workplace safety standards, labor laws, or minimum wage.
- Don't use any gasoline, oil, or natural gas that was discovered by the USGS.
- Rely on highway signs.
- Have any laws against murder, theft, since the government defines crime.
- Be able to own anything, like your house or car since the government keeps track
of titles.
- Have your roads plowed when it snows or sweeped clean when they're dirty.
- Expect convicted criminals to be in prison and off your street.

Click here for reference.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Would You Work in a Nanny Share?

Penny-Pinching Parents Share Nannies
By Vikki Ortiz Healy, Tribune reporter

They met through a mutual friend. Over Starbucks, brunch and other dates, they discovered they were both family-oriented, enjoyed similar hobbies and understood each other's career goals.

So after just a few months, Sarah Greenspan and Rachel Graupe, both of Buffalo Grove, agreed to take the next big step: They hired a nanny together.

"We were both nervous," said Greenspan, 36, who two years later feels grateful that she and Graupe and their husbands entered a "nanny share" arrangement for their sons. "We just really lucked out that we all kind of hit it off."

Nanny sharing, considered rare five years ago, has become a popular option for parents in the Chicago area.

To see the rest of the article please click here.

Have you worked in a nanny share? Would you do it?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Are You the Typical American Nanny?

What is the Typical Nanny Job in America?

We want to know what the typical American nanny job is like. Please click here to take our poll so we can add your statistics to our findings. We will publish the results in the next issue of Be the Best Nanny Newsletter.

Monday, January 17, 2011

What Are You Doing with Children for MLK Day?

How Nannies and Au Pairs Can Celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

To honor Martin Luther King, Jr. many schools have are in recess today. So, there is no better time then to engage the children in activities and age appropriate discussions about the civil rights movement in American history. These activities and discussions perfectly parallel the inauguration of the first African American president of the United States of America.

Here are our suggestions:

You will need: brown eggs, white eggs, and a bowl.

Hand each child a brown egg and a white egg. Have them observe the difference between the two eggs. Allow the children to crack the eggs into the bowl. Have the children observe the eggs after being cracked. While the eggs were different colors on the outside, they are the same on the inside, just like people. Then use the eggs in the cake or cupcakes for the birthday party described below.

You will need: red, white and blue colored balloons, streamers, party favors, a cake or cupcakes, and red, white and blue candles.
Have a Martin Luther King, Jr. birthday party to celebrate the works of this great man. Let the children hang balloons and streamers to decorate the house or playroom. Bake a cake and use inexpensive party favors to enjoy the party.

You will need: red, white and blue beads, construction paper, scissors, hole-punch, and yarn.
Cut out construction paper hearts and punch a hole in the center using a hole-punch. String the red, white and blue beads and construction paper hearts onto a piece of yarn that is about six-inches in length. Tie the ends of yarn together making a bracelet.

You will need: small white paper plates, scissors, pencil, glue or stapler.
Doves symbolize peace. Draw a line down the middle of small white paper plates. On one half draw a second perpendicular line to the first line. Cut along the lines. The small sections form the dove wings and tail. The larger section is the dove’s body. After the children cut and glue the dove, attach it to a headbands. If you do not have a headband you can make one with heavy weight paper. Simply measure the circumference of the child’s head with a tape measure and cut a two- to three-inch strip of heavy weight paper about an inch larger then the length of the child’s head. Staple the ends together to make a headband.


Dr King Had a Dream (Sung to: Old MacDonald)
Dr. King had a dream for p-e-a-c-e.
He wanted people to be friends and live in harmony.
He had lots of love to share.
He spread kindness everywhere!
Dr. King had a dream for p-e-a-c-e!

A Song About Martin Luther King (Sung to: Yankee Doodle)
Dr. King was a man
Who came from Atlanta Georgia.
Had a dream that he preached
For all men to be equal.
Dr King was so brave
Martin was a hero.
Won the fight for everyone
To end discrimination.

MLK Jacqueline Woodson (Sung to: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star)
Freedom, freedom, let it ring.
Let it ring said Dr King
Let us live in harmony.
Peace and love for you and me.
Freedom, freedom let it ring.
Let it ring said

Click here to see our recommendations for children's books about Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Prince Lionheart Potty Pod

Products Nannies Love
Review by Jenae

If you think that all toilet training potties are created equal, you are so very wrong. Let me just tell you all of the wonderful things about this snazzy potty.

Awesome built-in deflector shield. If you are the mother [or caregiver] of a little boy, you know how important this is. No more accidental sprays all over the bathroom tile! Our old potty had a removable deflector shield, which meant there was a little slot where "stuff" could collect.

One-piece removable bowl that can be lifted straight off. You don't have to remove the seat first to dump the contents. In fact, it is so easy that Big Brother now lifts it off, dumps his potty, and rinses it all by himself. Woo-hoo for independence!

Made with Anti-microbial material: From the Prince Lionheart web site, "The ONLY Anti-Microbial pottyPOD™ on the market! The soft, cushion surface of the pottyPOD™ is treated with an EPA approved additive to inhibit the growth of microorganisms that may cause spoilage, odors and mildew." Genius!

Height Adjustable: When we work up the courage in about a year or so to attempt to potty train Little Brother, this potty chair will fit him like a glove and still meet the needs of our first in-house "expert."

Soft and cushy seat: Big Brother commented on how soft and squishy it was the first time he sat on it! Why don't they make adult toilet seats out of this super-soft material?

Lovely colors and sleek design: Take your, pink, or blue! We chose the green to go with the decor in the boy's bathroom.

Be sure to check out our great series about potty training:

Click here for our top ten lists about potty training. Don't forget to print out our typical potty training developmental chart.

Be sure to check out the controversial Elimination Communication diaper-free method of toileting infants by clicking here.

Click here to learn about T. Berry Brazelton's Child-Centered Potty Training Method and click here to see why he says reprimands and punishments don't work.

Check out Dr. Sears Child-Oriented Potty Training Method by
clicking here and Dr. Spock's method of potty training by clicking here.

To find out more about the Timer Method of toilet training
click here.

To learn about Dr. Phil's Potty Train in One Day click here. Dr. Phil's method of toilet training is influenced by the Azrin and Foxx One Day Toilet Training Method.

Click here to see our review of the Naked and $75 Toilet Training Method by Dr. Rosemond and
click here for a similar method called Potty Training Boot Camp by Suzanne Riffel.

To see our review of books about potty training for caregivers
click here.
Click here for a list of children's books about potty training.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Nannies and Au Pairs: Do You Go on Facebook While Working?

Mother Admits to Playing Facebook Game as Son Drowned

According to Denver's ABC 7 News, the mother of a one-year-old boy confessed she had been busy on Facebook when her son, who had been left unattended, drowned in the tub.

Citing an arrest affidavit, ABC 7 News reports, "Shannon Johnson, 34, admitted to police that she was on Facebook playing Cafe World, checking on a friend's status and sharing videos in the living room, while her son was in the bathtub."

Click here to see entire article.

Nannies and au pairs, be honest, do you visit Facebook while at work?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Nanny Tax Deductions

Don't Overlook Tax Deductions

Take your time when preparing your taxes. Don't miss simple tax deductions. Here are some. If we forgot some, please let us know what we have missed in comments below.

Student Loan Interest Paid by Your Parents
Generally, you can only deduct mortgage or student-loan interest if you are legally required to repay the debt. But if parents pay back a child’s student loans, the IRS treats the money as if it was given to the child, who then paid the debt.

American Opportunity Credit
This tax credit, which has been extended through 2012, is available for up to $2,500 of college tuition and related expenses paid during the year. The full credit is available to individuals whose modified adjusted gross income is $80,000 or less ($160,000 or less for married couples filing a joint return).

Moving Expenses for Your First Job
To qualify for this deduction, your first job must be at least 50-miles away from your old home. If you qualify, you can deduct the cost of getting yourself and your household goods to the new area, including 16 ½ cents per mile for driving your own vehicle for a 2010 move, plus parking fees and tolls.

Medical Bills, Prescription Costs, and Dental Expenses
If you've paid for qualifying medical and dental expenses that are in excess of 7.5% of you Adjusted Gross Income, then you can deduct the amount in excess of that 7.5%. Please refer to IRS Publication 502: Medical Expenses.

Any Health Insurance Premiums You Pay,
including some long-term-care premiums based on your age, are potentially deductible. But you have to add these to your medical expense pot. Medical expenses have to exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income (AGI) before they give you any tax benefit.

Out-of-Pocket Charitable Contributions
Read the directions carefully about what you can deduct and the proof you will need when donating to charity. If you've made gifts by check then you have an automatic paper trail. If you're going to deduct that truck full of clothes you've donated, then make sure you get a receipt and an estimated value from the organization to which you donated the clothing.

Work Uniforms
You don't often see nannies wearing uniforms these days in America, but some nannies do. If the parents have you purchase the uniform or clothing you are required to wear to work, you may be able to deduct those costs from your income.

Costs Associated with Preparing Your Income Taxes
This includes: software, professional advice, and filing fees. If you hire a legal professional to help prepare your taxes you can deduct those costs.

Casualty and Theft Losses
You can deduct the amount not covered by auto or homeowner's insurance.

What have we forgotten? What expenses have you been able to deduct from your taxes?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Are You a Nannygate Statistic?

Nannies, Do You Pay Your Taxes?

Nannygate has become the popular term for employers who don't pay their household employee's taxes. Nannygate is an epidemic in America. We won't pretend anyone likes to pay taxes. But, there are many great benefits to being paid legally.

1. History of Legitimate Employment

2. Unemployment Benefits

3. Disability Benefits

4. Workers Compensation

5. Social Security & Medicare

If you don't pay taxes, why aren't you tax compliant?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Where Do You Get Your Taxes Done?

You Must Have Your W-2 by January 31st

By law, your employer must give you your W-2 form by January 31, 2011. You need the W-2 to fill out your 2010 taxes. Your employer will save a copy, you need to save a copy, and you will need to include copies with both your state and federal taxes.

The W-2 is a tax form prepared by your employer and given to you, (the employee) to be filed with your IRS 1040 form. The W-2 from lists your wages earned during that year, the federal and state taxes that were withheld, and and your Social Security information.

Some nannies prepare their taxes themselves. But, they may be missing beneficial deductions if they don't hire professional help.

Who helps you prepare your taxes? Do you hire an accountant, pay a tax company, or do it yourself?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Payroll Tax Changes for 2011

Nanny Payroll Tax Changes for 2011 By Kathy Webb

It's the start of a new year and time to do your taxes! First let your employers know immediately that there has been changes to payroll deductions.

Employers, please make sure to recalculate your nanny's payroll deductions prior to issuing the first 2011 payroll. There have been changes to the Social Security tax rate, the Federal income tax rates, and many state income tax rates.

1. The Making Work Pay temporary tax credit, enacted in March 2010 expired December 31, 2010. This means that even though Congress and President Obama extended the Bush era income tax rates, most nannies will see an increase in their withhold tax due to the credit expiration.

2. The Employee Social Security Tax contribution rate is reduced for 2011 only to 4.2%. The nanny employer rate remains at 6.2%.

HomeWork Solutions' popular Nanny Tax Calculator has been updated to include the 2011 employment tax changes. Please be sure to select 2011 from the tax year drop down. Click here to see the entire article and to visit the blog.

Are you tax compliant? Do you and your employers pay your payroll taxes?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Toys and Games to Supplement The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

Products Nannies and Au Pairs Like for Product Review Sunday

Eric Carle is the most celebrated children’s author and illustrator of all time. His books are sold every 30-seconds and 88-million books sold worldwide. Many of Eric Carle’s beloved book characters leap from the pages into the arms of children, nannies, parents, grandparents, and teachers.

Each huggable creature brings Eric Carle’s vision of books to play with, toys to read to life for children of all ages. All Eric Carle toys include The World of Eric Carle sewn-on logo label and a hangtag featuring the original book cover art on the front. There are teether rattles, puppets, toys, and games to supplement his classic book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Book and Memory Game (The World of Eric Carle)

Read and play with Eric Carle’s most beloved creation, the very hungry caterpillar! In this interactive format, the classic book is paired with a pop-up memory game. Flip and reflip the tiles to find a matching pair of images from the book, until all the pairs are found! Great for toddlers up to four-years old.

My Own Very Hungry Caterpillar Coloring Book

This coloring book includes 32-pages in which Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar will delight children as they bring their own imagination to this classic story. Including a new introduction by Eric Carle, as well as blank pages at the end of the book for your own pictures, this is the perfect way to turn story time into coloring time. At the same time interactive and timeless, this is one coloring book you'll want to save as a keepsake! There is a page in the back with a picture of Eric Carle, and a place for the child to put their picture. This type of book is a great idea and really involves the children in the story.

Colorfelts Play Boards - The Very Hungry Caterpillar

It's Colorforms play with a soft touch. Come feed The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle on your Colorfelts play board. Includes 31 Colorfelt pieces that stick like magic. Comes with its own easy-carry storage bag. It's fun to watch preschoolers use their imagination and make up their own stories while using this product.Chocking hazard, not for children under three-years old.

Stop by next Sunday for More Products Nannies and Au Pairs Like for Product Review Sunday.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Babies First Board Book: The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

Weekly Trip to the Library

Be the Best Nanny Newsletter asks nannies and au pairs to read more to their charges as their new year's resolution. Click here to see why. Babies, toddlers, and preschoolers learn to love reading when they equate it with loving attention and a happy time of sharing. The best place to start with young children is with board books since they enjoy being able to handle books themselves.

The best place to start with young children is with board books since they enjoy being able to handle books themselves.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric CarleBy Elizabeth Kennedy, Guide

What makes a children's book so popular that by 2009, the 40th anniversary of its publication, more than 29 million copies have been sold and it's been translated into more than 47 languages? In the case of Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar, it's the combination of wonderful illustrations, an entertaining story, and a unique book design. Carle's illustrations are created with collage techniques. He uses hand-painted papers, which he cuts, layers, and shapes to create his colorful artwork. The pages of the book vary in size, which is part of the fun.

The story of The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a simple one that emphasizes numbers and days of the week. The kids can touch and fell this book while learning how to count. The caterpillar is not only very hungry, but he also has unusual tastes in food, ones that delight children. After popping out of an egg on Sunday, the very hungry caterpillar eats holes through the book's pages as he eats his way through a variety of foods, beginning with one apple on Monday and two pears on Tuesday and ending with five oranges on Friday and 10 different foods on Saturday (chocolate cake, ice cream, a pickle, Swiss cheese, salami, a lollipop, cherry pie, sausage, a cupcake, and watermelon).

Not surprisingly, the very hungry caterpillar ends up with a stomach ache. Fortunately, a serving of one green leaf helps. The now very fat caterpillar builds a cocoon. After staying in it for two weeks, he nibbles a hole in the cocoon and emerges a beautiful butterfly. For an entertaining explanation of why his caterpillar comes out of a cocoon rather than a chrysalis, see Eric Carle's Web site.

Eric Carle's colorful collage illustrations and the book's design add immensely to the book's appeal. Every page has a hole in it where the caterpillar eats through the food. The pages for the first five days are different sizes, corresponding with the number of pieces of food the caterpillar eats. The page for the day the caterpillar eats one apple is very small, a little bigger for the day it eats two pears, and full size for the day it eats five oranges.

Stop by tomorrow for more The Very Hungry Caterpillar products.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Too Much of a Good Thing

Fluoride cuts cavities and tooth decay, but health officials worry that it's damaging kids' teeth in other ways.
By Amy Capetta

Excessive fluoride in U.S. drinking water is causing an irreversible condition known as dental fluorosis to affect children's teeth. In response, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is proposing a limitation on the amount of fluoride, which is added to water to prevent cavities and tooth decay, to 0.7 milligrams per liter of water. Since 1962, the recommended fluoride levels have been between 0.7 and 1.2 milligrams.

The lacy white spotting and streaking indicative of dental fluorosis develop when children's teeth are forming.

"It can result when children regularly consume higher-than-recommended amounts of fluoride during the teeth forming years, age 8 and younger," Dr. Scott M. Presson, Dental Public Health Consultant and past chair of the American Public Health Association, told AOL Health.

Aside from having a cosmetic impact on teeth, dental fluorosis can disturb cells that affect maturation of the enamel, causing increased porosity and resulting in the pitting, chipping, fracturing and decaying of teeth. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, two out of five adolescents suffer from the condition due to excessive fluoride from drinking artificially fluoridated water or water that is naturally high in fluoride.

Click here to see entire article.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

How to Pick Out Picture Books for Nannies and Au Pairs

Make Reading to Children Your New Year's Resolution

Children can fall in love with books long before they can read the words. Good picture books are an important part of your child's development, but how do you choose from the thousands of titles available?

1. Try to find books that will hold the child's interest. If the child loves trucks, find a book about a construction site. If the child loves horses, hundreds of horse books are available.

2. Look at the quality of the illustrations. A picture book is primarily a visual experience for children, especially pre-readers.

3. Read the text. Is it a good story? Is the topic appropriate? Will it hold the child's interest? Is the content consistent with your employer's parenting style?

4. Decide how much text is right for the child ' how many words per page should there be? This will depend on your child's age, comprehension level, and attention span.

5. Think about how many times you will probably have to read any given book. Will the story still be interesting to the child after you have read it at least thirty or forty times in one week?

6. Talk to a children's librarian. He or she will be able to point you toward the most popular and highest quality children's picture books, and can help you choose something that is just right for the child's age group.

7. Search for award-winning books. There are many organizations ' most notably the Newbery and Caldecott awards ' that reward excellence in children's books and illustrations.

Read more: How to Choose Picture Books for Your Kids

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

What Are Your Favorite Picture Books?

How to Use Picture Books

It's the start of a new year and Be the Best Nanny Newsletter suggests nannies and au pairs make a New Year's Resolution to read more to their charges.

According to Bank Street College's Guide to Literacy, young children can greatly benefit from reading experiences that use picture books with an easy-to-follow narrative sequence or storyline.

Use quality picture books to encourage budding language arts skills in the young child. Encourage discussion about the pictures and story. Remember that pictures, like letters, are symbols.

Reading Strategies for Picture Books:

1. Hold the book facing out so that the child (or children) can see both the words and the pictures clearly.

2. Start at the title page and read each passage. Stay on each page long enough for the child to adequately look at and process the information.

3. Use an interactive approach at each page. Instead of simply allowing the child to look at the picture and move on, ask questions and encourage a variety of responses. These may include questions about the character, setting, or sequence of events. Some questions can refer to what is happening on the current page and others can be predictive questions.

4. Point out the print words that accompany the pictures. Correlate specific words or vocabulary with the picture. For example, show the child to word "dog" and ask him to read the letters, say the word, and point out the matching picture.

5. Follow the picture book reading session with a discussion. Ask the child to recall specific narrative elements. This may include the story sequence, pictures viewed, or both.

What are your favorite picture books to read to children?

Monday, January 3, 2011

January To-Do List: Keeping New Year's Resolutions

Dr. Phil's Seven Steps to Reaching Your Goals

1. Set a realistic, measurable goal.
2. Identify the small but necessary steps you must take to reach that goal.
3. Set up an environment that supports your new lifestyle, rather than relying on some vague emotional “will power.”
4. Commit to a timeline, with specific deadlines, that pushes you to achieve your goal.
5. Find a “resolution buddy” — someone you trust and can count on — who will definitely help hold you accountable in obtaining your goal.

Successfully executing any personal strategic plan for change requires that as you develop your plan, you effectively incorporate these seven steps for attaining each and every goal.

1. Express your goal in terms of specific events or behaviors.
For a dream to become a goal, it has to be specifically defined in terms of operations, meaning what will be done. When a goal is broken down into steps, it can be managed and pursued much more directly. "Being happy," for example, is neither an event nor a behavior. When you set out to identify a goal, define what you want in clear and specific terms.

2. Express your goal in terms that can be measured.
How else will you be able to determine your level of progress, or even know when you have successfully arrived where you wanted to be? For instance, how much money do you aspire to make?

3. Assign a timeline to your goal.
Once you have determined precisely what it is you want, you must decide on a time frame for having it. The deadline you've created fosters a sense of urgency or purpose, which in turn will serve as an important motivator, and prevent inertia or procrastination.

4. Choose a goal you can control.
Unlike dreams, which allow you to fantasize about events over which you have no control, goals have to do with aspects of your existence that you control and can therefore manipulate. In identifying your goal, strive for what you can create, not for what you can't.

5. Plan and program a strategy that will get you to your goal.
Pursuing a goal seriously requires that you realistically assess the obstacles and resources involved, and that you create a strategy for navigating that reality. Willpower is unreliable, fickle fuel because it is based on your emotions. Your environment, your schedule and your accountability must be programmed in such a way that all three support you — long after an emotional high is gone. Life is full of temptations and opportunities to fail. Those temptations and opportunities compete with your more constructive and task-oriented behavior. Without programming, you will find it much harder to stay the course.

6. Define your goal in terms of steps.
Major life changes don't just happen; they happen one step at a time. Steady progress, through well-chosen, realistic, interval steps, produces results in the end. Know what those steps are before you set out.

7. Create accountability for your progress toward your goal.
Without accountability, people are apt to con themselves. If you know precisely what you want, when you want it — and there are real consequences for not doing the assigned work — you are much more likely to continue in your pursuit of your goal. Find someone in your circle of family or friends to whom you can be accountable. Make periodic reports on your progress.

Click here for reference and original article. What are your New Year's Resolutions?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Helpful Products If Your New Year's Resolution is to Be More Organized

Products Nannies Like Sunday

Who hasn't made a New Year's Resolution to be more organized? Nannies wear many hats, essentially responsible for running a household, scheduling playdates, taking kids to activities. So for those of you who are determined to get more organized we have some products to use to help you succeed at organizing your nanny life.

Google Calendar
The first product we recommend is Google Calendar. Although you cannot go to a store to purchase Google Calendar, it's available for free online. We use Google Calender at my nanny job.
Google Calendar allows the parents, nanny, and kids to access the family calendar from any computer. My Mom Boss and Dad Boss can check the schedule from work.

I type in activities, times, and dates then Google Calendar allows me to send the parents an invitation, which is an email, to update them on activities I feel they need to know about. For example, I can easily send an invitation (email) to the parents about an upcoming band concert, sports game, or teacher's conference. But, for everyday activities that they don't need to know about, like who we are having a playdate with on Monday, I add to the calendar but don't need to send an invitation to the parents.

But, the beauty of Google Calendar is if the parents make playdates or appointments too, they just open Google Calendar from their i-phone or computer at work and we don't double schedule playdates or activities. Plus, if the nanny is sick and must miss a day of work, all the parents need to do is look at Google Calendar and all the plans for the day are easily accessible.

There are several other features you might like such as, the pop-up feature that reminds you of what is scheduled on your calendar, email reminders to send to yourself or others at a time you determine, tracking RSVP's online, and you can access your calendar however and whenever you want by syncing events with Microsoft Outlook, Apple iCal, and Mozilla Sunbird.

Plus, you can know where you're supposed to be even when you don't have Internet access. With offline access, you can view a read-only version of your calendar no matter where you are.

And again, this is all free!

Mead OrganizHER

Mead, the stationary company that is known for their notebooks, has come out with a whole new line of products for the OrganizHER of the house, including the following:
* Month-to-Month Family Wall Calendar
* On-the-Go Memo Book
* Family Organizer
* Expense Tracker
* Write-n-Wipe Meal Center
* Shopping Companion

These products are extremely flexible, so you can use them in the best way possible for your job, and make running and organizing a household so much easier. The prices are also unbeatable (products are available at Target), and they are fun and stylish. I think it’s important to have products that you love looking at, because you are more likely to use them.

The Mead web site also offers some tips and videos on how to best use the products and keep organized. To learn more, visit Mead Online. Click here for a list of products. You can also easily purchase a product from Amazon below.

Stop by next Sunday for another Products Nannies Like Sunday.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Why You Should Read to Children

Make Reading Books with Children a New Year's Resolution

Welcome to 1/1/11. Be the Best Nanny Newsletter recommends nannies and au pairs read more with children. This is a new year resolution that any parent and child would love for you to do.

Studies prove that the most important thing adults can do in preparing young children for success in school and reading is to read aloud with them.

Many doctors believe that a child that has never had the experience of being read to is not a fully healthy child. The American Medical Association has suggested that all doctors prescribe reading to children.

Reading aloud with children regularly is an extremely effective medium to build relationships and communicate with children.

The Some of the Many Benefits of Reading Aloud with Children:

• Children's self-esteem grows as they experience the security of having a parent or other caring person read aloud with them.
• Children are introduced to new concepts such as colors, shapes, numbers, and alphabet, in a fun, age-appropriate way.
• Children build listening skills, vocabulary, memory and language skills.
• Children develop imagination and creativity.
• Children learn positive behavior patterns and social values.
• Children learn the love of reading that helps them succeed in school.

Since it is the first day of the new year first we recommend two books for children about New Year's Resolutions. Then we recommend two books on the topic for adults.

Children's Books about New Year's Resolutions:

Squirrel's New Year's Resolution by Pat Miller

Most holiday books are centered around Halloween, Thanksgiving, or Christmas but here’s one that takes kids into the New Year. Squirrel doesn’t know what a resolution is — happily, Bear the librarian explains it quite well, both to her and to the book’s audience.

Squirrel then visits her forest friends to see what resolutions they have planned and hopes she’ll be able to think of one for herself. Skunk, Turtle, and Mole all have ideas, but they can’t seem to get started until Squirrel gives them a push. She comes away disappointed that nothing’s come to her, but when she meets her friends later at the diner, they point out that her involvement has led to a resolution “to help someone every day.”

The happy pictures and the new knowledge that a resolution is an important, attainable goal carry the day. Ages 4 to 8. Review by Ilene Cooper

Amelia's Must-Keep Resolutions for the Best Year Ever! by Marissa Moss

This book is the format of a journal or diary and is penned in a black and white composition notebook. The author, Marissa Moss, says that she loves this format that she stumbled upon because it allows her to explore the world through a child's eyes. The notebook is full of New Year ideas and ways to make resolutions that will really stick. The book is only 40 pages so it's a quick read. Ages 9 to 12.

Books for Adults About Making New Year's Resolutions:

The Art of The Fresh Start: How to Keep Your New Year's Resolutions for a lifetime by Glenna Salsbury

Most New Year's resolutions, no matter how well-intented, are doomed to fail for one often overlooked reason: they are incongruent with our dreams and values. In The Art of the Fresh Start, Glenna Salsbury provides you with the tools to uncover the values that guide you, leading you to discover what you want to achieve and how to get there through internal motivation. This includes Book One: The Foundation for Your Fresh Start and Book Two: The "How" of Maintaining Your Fresh Start.

This Year I Will...: How to Finally Change a Habit, Keep a Resolution, or Make a Dream Come True by M.J. Ryan

This book takes you through the adventure of living your dreams by first showing you how to prepare for change, then by showing you how to get into action, how to keep going and also includes twelve tips for keeping your promise to yourself about your intentions.

Ryan tackles the obstacles that keep readers from their goals and provides helpful tools and language to quell negative, self-defeating thoughts. Championing affirmation and cognitive therapy strategies, Ryan urges readers to switch from "why" thinking to "what could be possible" thinking, using "right brain" skills to achieve success: "The right brain is future oriented. It's where our aspirations, our dreams, our longings reside." Ryan's handy self-help will prove welcome for anyone seeking gentle but solid help in achieving personal change.

Stop by tomorrow for our Sunday Product Review for nannies and au pairs.

What are your favorite books to read to children?