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I have strung words together for The New York Times, Vice, and more. I write and shoot people (with a camera, you guys) from my home in upst...

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Terrible towelEver been to a baby shower where the mother opens up a little sleeper emblazoned with her favorite team? Indoctrination starts early in diehard households. But in Pittsburgh Steelers' country, they're taking "early" to a whole new level for the Super Bowl.

    Newborn babies at the St. Clair Hospital in Mt. Lebanon, a suburb of Pittsburgh, are being wrapped in the team's trademark "Terrible Towels," bright yellow towels swung by fans at Heinz Field. The part of me that's rooting for the Steelers (because any self-respecting Bills fan must support a team that decimated the Jets) can't help it. I know it's over the top ridiculous. But I think it's pretty darn cute too.

    Maybe I'm biased. One of the first Christmas gifts I purchased for my husband after finding out I was pregnant in the fall of 2004 was a teeny tiny maroon hat with the Virginia Tech logo. I slipped it under the tree, a promise that we would be raising a little Hokie. Then came the New York Yankees dress for a 3-month-old (which turned into a t-shirt for the 6-month-old because I recognized I spent way too much money on MLB gear that she'd just grow out of in three months).

    Before you roll your eyes, I'm willing to bet your baby's got something similar. In our family it was sports. In some families it's Classic Pooh or monkeys or frogs or whatever kooky thing the mom and dad are into. Babies don't get to choose their outfits and nursery themes. It's nearly impossible for parents to avoid a little "indoctrination."

    We don't have to make our kids little billboards for our causes, but it's easy to tell a Mom's favorite animal. Just look at the elephant hanging off the diaper bag. And the elephant on the stroller. And is that an elephant trunk peeking out of the back pocket of those little pants?

    If you're being raised in Pittsburgh, you're going to see Steelers stuff everywhere you go. You might as well get used to it. What better time to start than birth?

    What do you think -- too much or too cute?


    Image via Pittsburgh Steelers Online Store

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Dianna Agron GleeThe trailers for tonight's after the Super Bowl Glee episode have been depressingly lacking in one area. Where's Dianna Agron? Is our favorite Cheerio not cool enough to tease the Thriller and Katy Perry themed episode?

    To hear Agron tell it, that's the story of her life. In an interview with E!, the actress painted a confusing picture of her real high school years:

    I was never the cool kid. I had friends. I got by. I kind of explored different social areas of the school, [and] I had my girlfriends.

    Now wait a gosh darn minute. The hottest chick on the Cheerios was a loser in high school? We know looks can be deceiving, and we hate to buy into high school stereotypes, but there's one glaring problem with this.

    Just last week on GleeHab, I saw a picture of Agron in her high school yearbook that showed she was on her school's homecoming court, complete with pretty dress and special sash. It's been awhile since I was in high school, but generally it isn't the Glee club geeks who play prep princess. Sounds like somewhat of a "cool kid" to me.

    I'm sorry, Dianna. You remain my second favorite member of the Glee cast, not least because you admitted you felt a little squicked about showing off all that skin in that GQ shoot (gasp, a star who doesn't want to take her clothes off?) last year. But I can't tell if you're being self-deprecating or you think this will make you more marketable to teens as you talk up I Am Number Four, your new movie with, yes, a teen main character.

    It's true we don't need any more crazy young people who still manage to make insane gobs of money (ahem, Jersey Shore nutjobs) that make our kids think "yeah, I can do whatever I want, because it's all about the money!" We need nice, refreshing role models for our kids.

    In fact, I love to hear our stars come out with stories of honest struggles in their high school years. Programs like the "It Gets Better" videos for gay teens have done an immense service to a nation of youth trying to mount the every day hurdles of high school, puberty, cliques, college pressures. Not to mention society's ever-present mindset that teens are sullen, self-involved and difficult.

    But let's be real. Dianna, you play a cheerleader who got knocked up by her boyfriend's best friend, then lied about. You managed to have a teenage pregnancy and have almost none of the complications that go with it -- the baby, poof, disappeared, and your life came back. You're not someone we're parading out for our kids to watch right now, lest they think it's all that simple.

    Does being "unpopular" make Agron more relatable to today's teens?


    Image via vagueonthehow/Flickr

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Katie HolmesOnce upon a time, I loved Katie Holmes. Then she married her couching jumping post partum depression-denying husband, gave (silent) birth to his spawn and successfully forced me to deny all fond Dawson's Creek marathon memories (save for Joshua Jackson dreams, natch). But Katie, Katie, Katie! This takes the cake.

    Apparently Suri's mama was heard talking about trying for baby number two with crazy Tom Cruise. Said the actress (emphasis mine):

    Suri would love a brother or sister to play with. I think it would be good for her. It’s hard to say no to her.


    Oh Katie, thank you for that laugh. Because nothing screams "make another baby" like "I can't handle my first one!"

    This "my child wants a sibling, and I'm going to give him/her" approach rankles particularly because I hear it . . . constantly. My husband and I opted to stop after our daughter. The reasons vary -- he was a happy only child who desperately wanted a daughter, and we got her on our first try; I had a rough pregnancy; and frankly, we're financially comfortable with one but two would be stretching it. But when people hear we have an only, their first question is: when are you going to "give her a brother or sister?"

    Give her? Why should it be up to her? Or Suri for that matter?

    Our kids don't carry our babies. They don't breastfeed them. Or get up in the middle of the night with them, pay for their diapers and shoes and college. They don't bear the emotional burden of raising their siblings to adulthood. In short, they have nothing to do with the important issues upon which a decision to have a child are based.

    Although Katie and Tom have a little less to deal with -- they don't really worry about the cost of college -- they're still the adults in this situation who will have to bear the brunt of raising their little girl's newest desired object. And if their eldest is so spoiled that her parents will make a person for her, good luck introducing baby number two without a nasty onset of sibling rivalry.

    Can you top this silly reason for getting pregnant?


    Image via Splash News

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    glee super bowl thrillerFinally! The biggest TV watching night of the year gave us what we've been waiting for. Yes, sports fans, Glee is back. Wait, what did you think I was talking about?

    The Gleeked out Super Bowl -- from Lea Michele singing America the Beautiful to a Sue Sylvester prank in a Chevy ad -- made way for the real thing, and oh what a night. Sue tried to shoot Brittany out of a cannon! The homophobe Karofsky sang and danced! The football team got Slushied!

    But I'm getting ahead of myself. The real point of last night's Glee can be summed up with one old adage.

    Winners never quit. Quitters never win. But in a Glee world, winning still makes you a loser.

    Because when a glee club-esque Cheerios routine replete with BMXers, sparking cone bras, flaming hula hoops and Katy Perry's California Gurls doesn't get Sue Sylvester's rocks off, she tries to go big. Nuclear, or rather, "Sue-clear." She buys a cannon off some creepy dude (as she says, "I try to make a habit of not touching carny folk") and tries to convince the Cheerios they want to be risk life and limb for a national championship.

    And now for your moment of Brittany. "I don't want to die yet, At least not until One Tree Hill gets canceled."

    Which leads us to the guys. Coach Bieste has turned the football team into something, and McKinley High is facing its first chance to win a championship in forever. But offensive lineman Karofsky is so deep in the closet, he's afraid even being nice to the Glee guys will out him as a gay kid. So he's split the team, and Bieste has to turn to her best friend for help.

    That would be Mr. Schue, and of course he thinks throwing the rest of the football team into glee will solve that problem. Apparently Shue's vests aren't the only things from the '80s. He must have watched too much The Breakfast Club. Because the only thing worse than locking a bunch of kids who hate each other in one room is locking them in one room and then allowing Rachel and Puck to serenade them with a lackluster version of Lady Antebellum's Need You Now.

    This was the best they could do? Where are the firework? The cannons? Oh wait, wrong McKinley High extracurricular.

    Of course all these storylines had to come together for the big one: the championship football game is coming, and there has to be a halftime show. But since Sue is all cranky that she can't shoot kids out of cannons (Schue told Principal Figgins on her), she's scheduled her Cheerios big competition for that night. Which leaves the glee club -- the enlarged testosterone-plagued glee club -- to perform.

    And it turns out it wasn't John Hughes Schue was modeling his plans after but a Philippines prison, where inmates choreographed a complicated Thriller routine and became besties. It's for real, look:

    See this video on The Stir by CafeMom.

    Blah, blah, blah. It doesn't work, the football players back out, leaving the Glee girls to take to the field to ensure McKinley High can field a team. Then we cut to half-time, and Finn's managed to pull Quinn, Brittany and Santana out of the Cheerios competition with a reminder that Sue is going too far to win by trying to kill Brittany. Puck tells the rest of the football team to grow up, and this time they listen (hello, it's TV).

    And all is right as zombies take over the field, followed by a win for McKinley. So yay, right? Glee kids are cool, football players love them?

    Of course not. The winners -- the Glee kids -- never quit even when going got tough. It helped them win in the end. But as Karofsky tells Finn, "People's memory for good stuff lasts about as long as their Facebook status." Which means this was one small step for Glee-kind, one giant leap into the abyss that is high school.

    And that's what you missed . . . on Glee. Were you just waiting out the game until Glee began last night?


    Image via Fox

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    bird hatThe record cold snaps and snow piles have done a number on our spirits, but they've absolutely decimated our closets. All those hats and gloves we stocked up on in the fall for our toddlers seem to be missing. Or, if your house looks anything like mine, there's one glove per pair, and possibly a hat that does not match any of said gloves.

    The bad news is you've got two more months of winter, and no groundhog is going to make that go away. The good news? Bring on the sale prices to stock back up!

    How do you top the cuteness of your kid's face? With a crocheted animal hat from the San Diego Hat Company -- which happen to be $12.99 this week (originally $36) at Zulily. Sale good through Tuesday, Febuary 8, at 6 a.m. PST.

    alpine gloves

    Your little monkey will be ready for all kinds of weather with alpine gloves from Appaman, priced at a cool $16 (from $31).chapka hat

    Keep it all covered with a Chapka Hat from 7 a.m. Enfant, on sale for $22.40 at Black Wagon. Soft fleece lines the inside, and the flaps will keep the wind from whistling through those ears. Bonus: it's machine washable!

    patagonia hat

    What's the easiest way to keep track of your tot in a snowy backyard? Plop a bright colored hat on him like this pretty plaid pick from Patagonia -- on sale for $14.90 (55 percent off) at Nordstrom.

    polarn o pyret

    A lost mitten stands out in the snow when it's a flaming orange, and these check print mittens from Swedish clothier Polarn O. Pyret have an easy on/easy off zippered side that will make for a quick clothing change when they come inside from a busy snowball fight and have to hop on the potty! The pair's on sale for $24.50 (normally $35).

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Roger StaubachIs it possible the most touching part of the Super Bowl came after the game? Seeing Roger Staubach walk through the throng of Green Bay Packers with the Vince Lombardi Trophy cradled in his arms, as cheeseheads leaned in to give it a big ol' smackeroo, I saw a man on top of the world. It was just the scene the NFL needed.

    The legendary quarterback had to be feeling more than a wee bit nostalgic. There Staubach was in Cowboys Stadium, in the midst of the world where he once led his Texas team to two Super Bowls. This time, he was the man carrying the trophy, but it's possible he played a role in getting the Packers to the end zone too.

    Staubach was one of the most vocal fans saying Super Bowl XLV belonged to the Packers. Now an executive chairman at Jones Lang LaSalle, a company that touts itself as a "global real estate services firm specializing in commercial property management, leasing, and investment management," Staubach studied real estate trends vs. Super Bowl winners to come up with his prediction. Green Bay, he said, had more vacant office space in the city than Pittsburgh, so it was bound to win.

    Makes sense, actually, when you consider many people saw the Saints' win last year as some sort of karmic reward for all that New Orleans had been through in recent years. A struggling city begets a winning Super Bowl team. But that's certainly no passing fan's determination. This took some serious study, and it's a nice reminder of the man Staubach has always been.

    He made it to the Hall of Fame as a brilliant quarterback, not simply talented but intelligent and able to read the game. He maintained the best passer rating in the NFL at the time of his retirement for that very reason.

    In an era when aging football players have been focus of major concern -- in no small part because of the concussion findings of the NFL and the new hitting rules put in place this season to minimize player injury -- it's nice to hear from Staubach, a player of the old school who is still atop his game in his old age (he turned 69 on Saturday). Highlighting the Hall of Famers carrying the trophy is a relatively recent addition to the Super Bowl, but it's one of the best decisions the NFL has made. Kudos to the Packers and Steelers for a great game, but Staubach put the icing on the cake.

    Were you a Staubach fan?


    Image via Getty Images/Elsa/Staff

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    teens onlineIt reads like a horror movie for parents. Fourteen-year-old girls posting sexy pictures of themselves on Facebook to see how their boyfriends will respond. Warnings that teens Googling "sex ed" are finding pictures of naked women covered in candy.

    And then the story in New York Magazine meant to make all parents dive for the baseball bat to smash their teen's laptop flat offers up the money shot, so to speak. It's a warning from a teen's own mouth that they're not sitting down for the birds and bees talk with mom and dad anymore:

    You can learn a lot of things about sex. You don’t have to use, like, your parents sitting down with you and telling you. The Internet’s where kids learn it from, most of the time.

    The way it's written, being born before the dawn of the Internet is the modern day equivalent of being born yesterday. Fortunately, my birth certificate still reflects I'm old enough to be a parent. I'm not buying it. Sex on the Internet has its drawbacks, but it's got a whole lot of good for our kids.

    Horrified? Think for a moment where you learned about sex. Was it from your parents "sitting down with you and telling you," the eye-roll inducing old fogey way the 16-year-old in NY Mag refers to? Maybe, but more likely it was on the playground. Or on the school bus. Or behind the bleachers in the high school gym.

    Long before the Internet, teens were ignoring their parents. Long before the Internet, kids were picking up sex tips from people who knew absolutely nothing about it. And in those days, there was no way to confirm or deny the reports. Of course you could get pregnant by french-kissing, Susie Q down the block knows a girl it happened to, and she wouldn't lie, would she? And everyone knows that if you pee RIGHT after you have sex, you can't get pregnant. At least that's what Janie's boyfriend said, and he hasn't knocked up a girl yet, right?

    Before the Internet, we took as fact all that high school gossip. What were we supposed to do, ask our parents? And then came Google. And the ability to find naked women covered in Skittles, yes, but also to find out real answers about real problems. Want to know about sex? Check out Want to know about birth control? Try Planned Parenthood online. Kids are arming themselves with information in a way that our generation couldn't because we were hampered by a lack of access and a fear of the divulging information to the one person with that information.

    In fact, investigative journalists have found little evidence to support the notion that kids are using the Internet to support a growing porn habit. On the other hand, recent surveys show some 75 percent of teens use the Internet to search for health information. They can disprove the theory that peeing gets rid of pregnancy with the stroke of a few keys. They can protect themselves from HIV and herpes, or they can find other teens who are happy being abstinent and willing to provide a support network that shelters them from the pain of being the only virgin in high school.

    Teens today are no different from teens of 20, 30, even 40 years ago. They have burgeoning sexualities, and their comfort levels with their parents are changing as they charge toward the age of independence. But unlike the teens of yesteryear, today's kids have sex on the Internet. Thank goodness for that.

    Do you wish you'd had this option when you were a kid?


    Image via kodomut/Flickr

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Eminem Chrysler 200 Super BowlDid you catch that Chrysler 200 Super Bowl commercial featuring Detroit's own Eminem? Did it fill you up with American pride to see the Motor City celebrating its own? What if we told you it was a whole lot of bull-pucky?

    The second of two Eminem appearances in Super Bowl ads, it was the only one that seemed to make any sense (really, Lipton, what does a Slim Shady puppet have to do with iced tea?). Marshall Mathers' story and that of his hometown have a lot in common: hard times begets something good. In this case it's the sleek Chrysler 200, which we're supposed to buy because it will make up for all the crappy scenes of the Motor City we just saw on TV.

    “When it comes to luxury, it’s as much about where it’s from as who it’s for. Now we’re from America, but this isn’t New York City, or the Windy City…and we’re certainly no one’s Emerald City," says the narrator (before Eminem breaks in). Oh, they're good. You can buy a car, and it will make you a better American.

    Only problem? It's not exactly an American car company anymore. Buy Chrysler 200, and you might as well send your money to Italy. Just last month, Fiat’s Sergio Marchionne announced he's angling for a majority share in Chrysler. The Italian company already owns a controlling 20 percent share of the "American" automaker, and Marchionne told reporters:

    I think it is possible, I don't know whether it is likely, but it is possible that we go over the 50 percent if Chrysler decides to go to the market in 2011.

    But, but, I thought Chrysler was all about Detroit? Just watch the ad:

    See this video on The Stir by CafeMom.

    I'll admit it was a good bit of PR for the city as a whole. The Super Bowl is the biggest TV spectacle of the year with the most viewers. Half of us watch it for the commercials. And after the recent rating by Forbes as one of the 20 most miserable cities in America, the downtrodden city got some much-needed national attention. As Eminem said, “This is the Motor City, and this is what we do." It's no wonder some of my Detroit-based buddies immediately shared it on their Facebook walls.

    But this wasn't an ad by the Detroit tourism board or the chamber of commerce. It was an ad made by Chrysler with one goal in mind: to sell you a car. And while that car is technically made in Detroit -- they injected just enough truth to skirt the line of false advertising -- it's not the happy story I've been reading from Detroit celebrants today. This is an American company that, if it's turned around, will benefit rich men in Italy.

    It's enough to give me pause before I share this one on Facebook. . . or run out to buy a car. How about you? Does this change your opinion of the Eminem ad?


    Image via YouTube

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    File this one under syringeyou don't necessarily learn something new every day. Because I avoided the stinky cheeses. I cut out the caffeine. I bid adieu to alcohol. But today I was told it's a good thing I never freebased while pregnant

    Scientists have come out with a shocking new study on the subject. They say cocaine use during pregnancy is bad for baby. And to think, all this time I thought "crack baby" meant newborn with a cleft between its butt cheeks. Huh.

    You too? Well here's a doozy for you then. According to a new study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, women who used cocaine while pregnant had about a one in three chance of having an underweight baby. Comparatively, women who said no to crack had just a one in 10 chance.

    Low birth weight (anything 5 pounds, 8 ounces or smaller) puts a baby at higher risk death, mental retardation, learning problems, cerebral palsy and vision and hearing loss. Thank goodness they warned us. Now we can add this to our list of "completely preventable" birth complications.

    OK. Joking over. The authors of the study know most of us are taking a "no s--t Sherlock" approach to their "findings," so they're doing damage control. This is good news, they say, because they can now quantify what a colossal screw up you are if you use cocaine during your pregnancy. 

    OK, fair enough, but we've already got estimates that as much as 50,000 babies are born annually to women who used crack at some stage in their pregnancies. Many are born WITH cocaine in their systems. We've seen it cause stillbirth and spontaneous abortions. We've seen women arrested for child abuse for it. Did we really need to spend valuable research dollars to tell us something we already knew?


    Image via Andres Rueda/Flickr

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    pillsIt goes without saying that there's never a good time to have a pharmacy screw up your medication. But a pregnant woman just became the victim of a colossal error. She went into her Colorado pharmacy for an antibiotic and ended up with an abortion drug instead.

    Did you just cringe a little? OK, a lot? The story of Mareena Silva has been haunting me since I read about the Colorado mom-to-be who unwittingly took a medicine that could spell the end to her dream of being a mom. Taking medicine -- any medicine -- when you're pregnant is scary enough. Now we have to add this fear?

    Methotrexate, the drug accidentally prescribed to Silva, can be used to end pregnancies. But by and large it's used for cancer patients. It's like a bazillion other drugs -- ever listen to the TV ads where they say "consult your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding"? -- not recommended for pregnant women but entirely useful for women who aren't pregnant. So let's throw the abortion issue out here.

    This isn't about abortion drugs. It's about pharmacies and the need to be that much more careful than your average business to get things right. Because pharmacists are the front lines of health care. A doctor writes a prescription, but a pharmacist actually puts a drug in a patient's hands.

    And like Mareena Silva, most of us just open the bottle and chuck it back. We have no way of knowing whether that little pill in there is the right one for us. How would we? We're good at what we do in our jobs. We expect a pharmacist to be good at what he or she does.

    But it's hard not to feel a little bit of extra sympathy for Silva. Because she's pregnant! And I remember being extra dubious about taking in anything extra when I was pregnant. But I took antibiotics too. I had a sinus infection, and with all those swollen membranes (hello pregnancy!), I was a miserable wreck. Finally my OB/GYN convinced me I wasn't doing anyone any favors -- least of all my fetus. So I bit the bullet, hating myself the whole time.

    The fact is, most medicines and their effect on pregnant women remain largely untested. Because what pregnant woman in her right mind is going to sign herself up for a clinical trial? No one wants to make their fetus into the guinea pig -- and rightfully so. But that leaves pregnant women wary of medicines that could (or could not) be good for their bodies in the long run.

    Now add this fear -- that the pharmacist will screw up royally -- and you could be sitting like Silva wondering whether you'll have a healthy normal baby (still a possibility), whether you'll have a miscarriage (again, a possibility for her), or someone's mistake will cause severe fetal defects.

    Do you worry about taking doctor-approved medicines while pregnant?


    Image via Farm_Studio_Field/Flickr

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    teen babysitterThere comes a time in every mother of two or more's life, when she heaves a huge sigh of relief. The older one has finally reached an age where he or she can hold down the fort while you run into the grocery store. No more paying babysitters

    Well, maybe not. A mom of two got smacked in Britain recently for leaving her 3-year-old alone with his big brother. So how old was the big kid? Five? Ten?

    How about 14 years old! Old enough to get his working papers here in the states! Old enough to be left home alone.

    The bizarre story in which the unidentified mom was charged with "cruelty" and now finds herself marked by the law so she's unemployable gets even stranger when you consider the boys were left alone for -- get this -- 30 minutes! And there was no weird incident here. Big bro didn't beat little bro or sexually abuse him.

    There's no law about this in Britain, but officials are advising:

    No child under 14 should be left home alone and no child under 16 should care for someone younger than themselves.

    Really? Sixteen? Are we ever going to let kids grow up? They are both crippling parents' finances and denying kids the beautiful relationship that exists between a teenager and his or her charge.

    I've had teenagers watching my daughter since shortly after she was born. First it was my then-18-year-old brother, and then last year I hired a then-13-year-old to serve as my mother's helper for the summer. She turned 14 about a month into the job, and she was a lifesaver. Responsible, smart, well-rounded, a perfect playmate.

    She and her older sister have become like second and third daughters to my husband and me, like big sisters to our daughter. And part of it is their age. At 14, M is more than willing to get down on the ground and play with my 5-year-old, where a 30-something sitter is more likely to set her up at a table with crafts and walk away.

    Teens have so much to give as caregivers, and in turn they learn to be responsible, to have empathy, to use birth control! I wouldn't give the job to a tween, but a responsible 14-year-old sounds just right to me.

    Do you leave your kids with teenagers? Is this cruelty?


    Image via Tasslehoff Burrfoot/Flickr

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    school busPicture this. You're waiting at the bus stop where you pick up your 5- and 7-year-old daughters every day at the exact same time. Except your babies never show. So you wait around for awhile, then you hop in your car and drive up to school to find out what the heck happened to your precious little darlings.

    And the school threatens to have you arrested. Whoa. Ho. Are you feeling ranty yet?

    That's allegedly what happened to C.J. Blair, a father of two little girls in Maryland. When his girls didn't come home as usual, he went to the school, then learned his 5- and 7-year-olds had been placed on the wrong bus. And it gets worse. Because dad had left the bus stop to try to find out what had happened to his daughters, the new bus dropped them off across the street from their regular stop with no one there to care for them.

    Blair says police were called to handle him as though he were causing a ruckus. The school is trying to claim it was just to have their help in finding the kids, but the 911 records show it was a call about a "disorderly male." And as one school official told the Washington Post, "He acts in such a way that the staff are fearful."

    Gee. You think? You tell any parent in America that the school has lost their child, and you better believe they're going to get disorderly. We're talking about a displaced human being here! I'd be making the staff pretty fearful if they couldn't tell me what happened to my 5-year-old too. I wouldn't get physically violent -- and there's no sign Blair did either -- but some heads would certainly roll. Which is why I find this whole story so troubling.

    The school district made a major no no. They literally put two little girls who are unable to fend for themselves in physical danger. If I, as a parent, left my 5-year-old alone on a street, I would be arrested for child neglect. Why isn't the shoe on the other foot?

    It's true that everyone makes mistakes, and school districts deal with so many kids on a day-to-day basis that we're fortunate they don't make more. You can call it live and let live, but that means there has to be some leeway for parents like CJ Blair too. Because while our kids are "just one kid" to a large school district, they are still a kid, still a human being. And as parents it's our job to expect that our kid is a priority -- even among thousands of other kids.

    The district got very lucky -- unable to get into their locked house, the girls fortunately walked to the home of an acquaintance, who cared for them until Blair was able to go get them. But if this went another way, you'd be looking at some charges ... and not for Mr. Blair.

    Do you think parents have a right to get "disorderly" when the foul against their kids is this egregious?

    Image via basheertome/Flickr

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Michael VickDallas is such a confused city. The Super Bowl is in town, and you have the opportunity to hand over a key to the city to make a big splash on the national scene. So you pick Michael Vick. And now you don't have the wherewithal to back it up.

    When Councilman and Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway rolled out the red carpet and handed over the key to the Eagles quarterback on Saturday, he officially offered up the most ridiculous thing to come out of the whole Super Bowl XLV weekend extravaganza. And here we thought it was impossible to top Christina Aguilera's national anthem flub, the farce that was people fawning over the Eminem Chrysler ad, the $450,000 in taxpayer dollars spent on Navy F-18s flying over the closed roof of Cowboys Stadium ... need we go on?

    Among other things, Vick is a guy who has never played for a Dallas team. He's a guy who is actually a Cowboys rival. A guy who has nothing to do with the biggest game of the year. Oh yeah, and Vick was the guy who just happened to be in town because he was a major screw-up a few years back and is now trying to make good by giving talks to kids around the country about dog fighting. Just off the top of my head I can think of a host of better candidates for the key: Game MVP Aaron Rodgers maybe? Hall of Famer and Lombardi Trophy presenter Roger Staubach, who actually played in Dallas?

    It's a no brainer that animal rights advocates and just about anyone with a brain is asking: what were Dallas officials smoking this weekend?

    But here's where it gets really weird. Mayor Tom Leppert now says he knew nothing of the key ceremony, and since he didn't hand it over, it never really happened. Well, not officially, because everyone knows it's the mayor who hands over big keys that don't actually fit any doors in a city. Der!

    OK, maybe it's possible the mayor was so busy this weekend (can't imagine what he was doing ...?) that he missed this. But the media knew enough to show up. There's even a member of the Dallas press who got a viral video out of it. Richard Hunter adopted one of Vick's dogs, and he made a point to show up at the key ceremony to see if he could confront Vick about the pup. So how does the mayor of a city not know what's going on when the rest of the country does?

    And how is it that the councilman has given out "official keys" before, and Leppert hasn't said anything? Gene Simmons got one from Caraway a few weeks ago, even making the long tongued one a "citizen of Dallas," and Leppert didn't say a word.

    Michael Vick has made his mistakes -- as a Virginia Tech fan, I have my own issues with him. But Dallas officials pulled him into this mess. The least they can do is take the brunt of it.

    Dallas made a big boo boo this weekend. But why can't they just suck it up and take the blame?


    Image via Mike Licht,

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Tea Party Review coverSomebody seems to be playing an elaborate hoax on the Tea Party and the media alike today. At least I hope they are. Press releases sent to liberal blogs today made it seem like the Tea Party is completely unaware print is dead with the upcoming Tea Party Review Magazine to drop on Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). And true to their grassroots folksiness, it's supposed to be printed on actual paper.

    Yes, in 2011. And yes, the Tea Party Review site makes it seem like they even expect (excuse me while I giggle) to have subscribers pay $34.95 a year to get the physical magazine delivered to their doors by none other than postal employees. Nothing says American spirit like killing some trees and wasting extra money on postage!

    It sounds like something that would be age-appropriate for my grandpa when he turns 91 this summer. It would look just right on his coffee table next to the remote control he uses to turn up the volume on Fox News so he can finally hear it (and drown me out, I expect). Heck, if I bought what they were selling, I could see a subscription for everyone on my Christmas list. Imagine the drinking games that could result from taking a shot of tequila every time we read the words "death panel" or a shot of vodka for every comparison of Obama to Hitler. I'd be drunk by page 2, and a good time would be had by all.

    So why am I not making the call to buy my gramps a subscription? I smell a hoax.

    A few things stand out. The Tea site has this big picture on the edge, a logo if you will, that we screenshot for you:

    Tea Party Review Logo

    See that Tea Bag? The Tea Party is full of people who walked around calling themselves teabaggers a few years ago ... only to freak out when the media kindly pointed out exactly what "teabagging" was. Moron members they have many, but there are enough people IN the party now who have distanced themselves from the reference that this should be your first clue.

    Now moving on. Let's take a gander at the Facebook page, which is fanned by only 184 people, none of them among the Tea Party elite. Where is Sarah Palin? Michelle Malkin?

    Not to mention, the page promises a host of fun articles that seem to fit. Stuff like: 

    Complete coverage of the 2012 presidential campaign. How are leading candidates reaching out to Tea Partiers? Who deserves Tea Party support? The ultimate rundown on political corruption in America. If you didn’t see it all in one place, you’d never believe it!  Washington’s War on the American Family.

    But methinks someone's counting on us not reading down to other proposed titles like this one:

    How the Top Colleges Turn Kids Into Stupid Leftists

    They might think it, but come on, would they really say it? Really? The fact is, everything about this "magazine" is just a tad too close to what a liberal wants to read in a Tea Party magazine. The cover lines on the inaugural issue (top photo) promise -- among other gems -- to tell us "What the Left Will Never Understand About the Tea Party." Sounds like a manifesto to us! Just the sort of thing that will make those folks with the rifle peeking out the blinds at the mailbox go "squeeee." And just the sort of thing that will make a liberal poke fun at the Tea Party. Don't believe me? I just did.

    Then again, if it's real, sign me up and pass the bottle of tequila. This could be fun!

    So far big sites like Wonkette and the Huffington Post seem to think it's real. What do you think?


    Images via Tea Party Review

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    wine corkThis just in. Parents don't want human teachers anymore. The ideal teachers are not human. Oh, they put their pants on just like you do. They eat. They sleep. But they never drink. Oh no, never. Uh uh.

    OK. OK. That's a lie. We all know teachers love their wine as much as the rest of us. They put up with our kids all day. They deserve it. But there's a disturbing trend afoot, and the story of 24-year-old high school English teacher Ashley Payne should be a warning sign for parents.

    See, Payne was fired by her school district for being a bad influence to kids. Her big mistake was posting a photo of herself from her summer vacation (read: not during school time) on her Facebook page. In it, she's smiling and holding aloft a glass of wine in one hand, a Pilsner glass of beer in the other.

    Although the page was marked private, somehow it got leaked anyway, and a parent lodged a complaint. Payne is currently fighting with her Georgia school district over what was, in effect, her firing for this "egregious" act.

    Her story is being cast as a problem with Internet privacy. I see something more. Parents are terrified of alcohol. But instead of talking to their teens about it, they're passing the buck. And so teachers are being penalized for being, well, human beings.

    In Payne's case, it was a ridiculously innocuous photo on her private Facebook wall (where students were not allowed, by the way). But the next step is to keep teachers locked away inside their own homes. They can't go out to eat like the rest of humanity because what if a teen is out to dinner with Mom and Dad and sees Mrs. Jones across the way, enjoying a gay old Valentine's Day with her husband with a very responsible single glass of pinot noir? And forget a run to the supermarket to stock up on beer for the neighborhood barbecue. My child might be the checkout boy that day. You can't possibly expect me to teach him that purchasing massive quantities of alcohol does not necessarily mean you are going to single-handledly drink said massive quantity.

    Teachers have some of the most constant contact with our teens on a day-to-day basis. They have a real opportunity to impact our teens positively, especially at an age when kids are moving farther from mom and dad and are more willing to take another adult's viewpoint. But what makes them so good with our kids is the breadth of experience they bring to the job. They're not automatons but human beings, who have real lives outside the walls of a high school.

    At some point, parents need to realize that teachers can only do so much for kids. We need to pick up the slack too. And if that means teaching our kids that Ms. Payne is a responsible 24-year-old legally having a drink on her summer vacation, that's a parent's responsibility.

    What would you have done if this was your child's teacher?

    Image via Derek Gavey/Flickr

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Glee Chris ColferAfter more than a month off, it was about time Glee showed us a little bit of love. Two episodes in one week did a lot to thaw this cranky Gleek's heart. But would it have hurt for them throw in a little tender love and care?

    For an episode named for Paul McCartney and Wings' "Silly Love Songs" (looks like Sir Paul finally got his Gleek on after begging the producers for an in last summer!), tonight's was the most depressing ep. in Glee history. Worse than Mr. Schue and his wife breaking up. Worse than Quinn getting kicked out of her parents' house for being preggers. Leave it to Glee to make Valentine's Day kind of ... creepy?

    First, my big beef with the episode. No Sue Sylvester. I kept watching and hoping, and my heart was shattered into a million little pieces. Also missing: my moment of zen, or as I like to call it, my moment of Brittany. Ms. Pierce was entirely too normal tonight.

    But setting aside my two favorite second bananas for the evening, we finally got a look at Lauren Zizes, newest Glee Club member, Greco Roman wrestler, and Puck's new crush? Yes, McKinley High's sexiest man with a mohawk (OK, only man with a mohawk) has met the one girl who cut their Seven Minutes in Heaven date to three because she didn't think he had the right stuff. And he wants her.

    So when Schue's Glee Club assignment is for the kids to break out into couples and sing love songs, Puck grabs his guitar and sings the zaftig Zizes a song that's supposed to make her run off to Breadsticks with him. Cue creepy love song #1: Queen's "Fat-Bottomed Girls." Sung to the token fat chick. Um. Ouch?

    Says Zizes,"That was the first time anyone sang me a love song. And it made me feel like crap."

    Which just gives Zizes another thing in common with Kurt, who she replaced on the Glee Club. His first gay friend Blaine is looking for advice on how to confess a crush to a guy he hasn't known very long, but who he really likes. Hmm, who could it be? I mean, he does know Kurt's coffee order without asking. And he does pay. I love a guy who pulls out his wallet.

    But Blaine's called on the Warblers to help him sing a song off-campus and out of competition. Shock, awe, the chi chi boys choir hasn't done such a thing since they sang for Lucky Lindy back in the '20s, but of course they'll do it for Blaine. They'll even join him at The Gap where his crush Jeremiah (ooh, sorry Kurt) folds shirts! Cue creepy love song #2: "When I Get You Alone" by Robin Thicke. Funny, singing songs about taking someone off to ravage them doesn't go over well when sung to someone at work. Jeremiah gets canned, Blaine doesn't get his man.

    But no worries, because Artie and Mike Chang are happy to report they represent two fringe sectors of high school -- the kid in the wheelchair and the tall, gangly Asian -- but they have hot girlfriends and solid relationships. And of course, they come together for creepy love song #3: "PYT (Pretty Young Thing)" by Michael Jackson. Sung to Tina and Brittany by Artie while Mike dances around him. I love the MJ -- it gives us a chance to see Mike's sick moves -- but this happens to be my least favorite Michael song ever. And when you take the history of Artie treating these two girls like crap, then have him sing that they're just "pretty young things," you officially hit my gag reflex. We get it, the kid in the wheelchair is trying to be more macho. But he doesn't have to be such an ass to the ladies. 

    Which, by the way, cues creepy love song #4: "My Funny Valentine." Going out from Tina Cohen-Chang to Mike, it's not such a bad choice, until Tina crumples in a heap mid-ballad, proclaiming her undying love for her boyfriend. Co-dependent much? It's high school, girl! Buck up!

    Heck, be like Rachel who is still in love with Finn, while ... and please try to keep up here, you may need to draw a love quadrilateral ... Finn has fallen back in love with Quinn, who is still not sure if she loves her boyfriend Sam. When Finn lands in the nurse's office after a prank pulled by Santana gives both him and Quinn mono (the kissing disease), Rachel has the sense of self to ask him point blank what he feels when he's with Quinn. And let's just cue creepy love song #5: "Firework" by Katy Perry. This wouldn't be such a bad choice either, really. If it weren't for the fact that Rachel is singing it to herself. Yes, Glee writers, we know she's self absorbed. But we don't always need it rubbed in our faces.

    The whole thing ended with the sad sacks and the happy lovebirds alike singing Sir Paul's "Silly Love Songs" and making all nicey nice after depressing the hell out of us.

    Not a bad episode, but I'm going to take my parting words from Lauren Zizes: "I look like America looks, and like America I need more than just a song to get my juices flowing."

    What did you think, did Glee try too hard to win us back this week?


    Image via Fox

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Justin BieberThis week has just gone from bad to worse. As if the buildup to the Justin Bieber movie Never Say Never opening this weekend wasn't depressing enough. Then came news that Bristol Palin has gotten the green light from William Morrow & Co. for a memoir.

    In case you hadn't noticed, the Biebs is only 16. The 20-year-old Palin just escaped her teens this past fall. Neither of the subjects of a major motion picture and a memoir from one of the nation's preeminent publishing houses are old enough to drink. Or rent a car. If their lives are interesting enough to make millions, what the heck does that say about America?

    I'll grant you both Bieber and Bristol have had some pretty big moments. Major recording contract. Daughter of a vice presidential candidate. In today's America, the sky is the limit for teenagers, and they've both catapulted themselves above the clouds.

    But if they've already reached so high they're biography-worthy, what does that say for their futures? For the future of America's kids? That the pinnacle is already reached? If you haven't reached the Biebs' status at 16, you've already failed?

    He's a kid. A successful kid. But a kid worth a feature length film in 3D? I'd prefer to think you have to do something slightly bigger than that for the world. Think Gandhi. Margaret Thatcher. James Braddock even. Not a starring role on Dancing With the Stars or a song with Sean Paul.

    Might I remind you of what happened to LeAnn Rimes? She reached the tippy top of stardom at 13 with the release of Blue and its skyrocket to the top of the Country Charts. Not that much younger than me, I remember staring at her on the cover of some magazine as a teenager while my own mother prattled on behind me about my -- by comparison -- lackluster ambitions. Younger than me, she was already eminently more successful, and the idea was that I should somehow aspire to be more like Rimes as I matured. And we all see how well that worked out. We gave her way too much credit for something that meant nil in the long run.

    It's with the benefit of that hindsight that I look at the Biebs and Bristol's good news this week. They're accomplished, yes, but they're both so young that they do not yet have the experience to put their "life's work" in true perspective. They're young enough that there's plenty of time to give them major credit. But let's give them a chance to make something of their good start first.

    Do you see this as too much too soon, or will you be checking out Never Say Never and buying Bristol's book?


    Image via jake.auzzie/Flickr

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Michelle ObamaMichelle Obama showed once again this morning on the Today Show that she's got her husband's back. President Barack Obama, she says, does not dye his hair. Hear that? No salon treatments for POTUS.

    Mrs. Obama? A word? Why the heck not? Doesn't the president deserve a little pampering at the hands of a kindly cosmetologist?

    After all, Mrs. O. was supposed to be celebrating the year anniversary of her Let's Move initiative to fight childhood obesity. Instead she had quite a lengthy conversation with Matt Lauer this morning laying out just how tough it is to be Mr. Obama. She faced down questions about Egypt, about raising kids in the public eye, about Bill O'Reilly and the Fox nation "hating" her husband. He's got a tough gig, no doubt about it. As the First Lady said:

    I don't think there's an issue my husband deals with that isn't tough. It's hard being the president of the United States.

    Then she confirmed that the president has been off the cigarettes for an entire year. He doesn't even have nicotine to give him a little break. She says he doesn't care about his appearance, but this man could actually USE the makeover.

    Look at any picture of a president at the time of their inauguration and another at the time of their departure from the White House, and you see a man who has aged drastically. In a gallery of "extreme aging" among presidents a year ago, the Daily Beast came up with photos that made one year in Obama's life look like 10 in the average American's. And no wonder: he's had the worst economy in decades to deal with, health care, the Tea Party. This man, any man in his position, deserves some R&R, but there's very little time to take it.

    So what's the big deal Obama fam? Sure, there's the history. During the campaign, people were accusing the then-Senator of faking the grays to look like a more experienced silver fox. Then he got into office, and they swung back the other way. And now it's back on the table. Ever since photogs snapped the president looking even more dapper than usual at a state dinner in January with Chinese president Hu Jintao, his coif notably darker, the rumors have been full force: our president is a faker, faker, belly-acher!

    But Mrs. O, I've got to tell you what my parents said when I was a teenager and shaved my head in a fit of rebellion: "It's just hair."

    I'd rather have a president who admits he gets his moment of zen at the hands of a colorist than a president who is getting BJs under the desk in the Oval Office to cool off. Some call it vanity; I call it a nice, legal, healthy way of letting off steam that doesn't take him off the job for more than a few hours.

    He's got it tough, but he'll be a better president if he takes time for himself to recoup his wits. So why not? Heck, if he's nervous, I'll volunteer to do some spa time with the pres.

    What do you think? If he was open about dyeing his hair, would you really care?


    Image via DVIDSHUB/Flickr

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    tvConfession time. Sometimes I ignore the news. I turned off the Egyptian crisis coverage about two or three days in. I just couldn't take it anymore.

    Not the oppression and scandal. The shooing my daughter out of the room every time the news came on. The questions. The balance between making a 5-year-old understand there's bad in the world out there that needs to be recognized and allowing her to retain an age-appropriate innocence.

    Frankly? I feel like crap saying I've ignored it. I'm an adult and current events junkie, and I want my kid to be aware too.

    But my venture into ignoramus-dom is going to work for you. Because I was embarrassed, I've turned to Josh Klapow, a clinical psychologist and associate professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, to tell us how to talk to our kids about the bad, bad world out there without screwing them up.

    First up? A bit of humble pie for me -- ignoring it is not going to make it go away (duh), so it's time to tackle the issue. We've made it easier with some simple "what NOT to do" hints and input from Dr. Kaplow:

    Don't Ignore It:

    It's important to use the events to help elementary schoolers begin to understand their place in the world. By showing them the events in Egypt, by discussing issues like freedom of speech and democracy, elementary schoolers will start to get a sense of the larger world. Specifically, how their day to day lives are shaped by the policies and laws of our country and how our policies and laws differ from others around the world.

    Meet your children where they are at developmentally. Don’t worry if they don’t “get it.” Simple, age appropriate lessons are more than enough.

    Don't Talk Too Much:

    For elementary schoolers, it’s important to not over-inform. The events here have relevance to topics they may be studying in school. Things like freedom of speech, democracy, governmental structure. These are all ways to take what is happening “over there” and bring relevance to it.

    Don't Expect Them to Think Big:

    Elementary schoolers are for the most part still ego-centric. They will focus on their lives and the meaning of events as it relates directly to them. The more you can tie the events back to how it impacts their lives or how the lives of individuals in Egypt are different from theirs, the more relevance it will have.

    Don't Assume Your Kids Are Too Young:

    A child who shows interest in what is going on, that is, who asks questions about the events, is old enough to begin to learn. Basically the best way to tell if a child is old enough is if they express curiosity or interest. If they don’t, then chances are they are too young to fully comprehend. With the uncertainty of the events going on and the violence, it's neither necessary nor helpful to try and “make” a child understand.

    Don't Let the TV Do Your Job:

    Given the uncertainty of what images will be displayed, and the overall uncertainty of the events unfolding, it's extremely important that you don't let younger children watch unsupervised. As a general rule, ask yourself, as a parent, “does this feel appropriate for my child?"

    Older children can, however, benefit from watching with a parent and use the events on the news to serve for a larger discussion.

    Do you have a tough time tackling these big topics with your kids? What works for you?


    Image via Marcin Wichary/Flickr

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    baseballThe impossible has happened. Someone took the giddy high of knowing pitchers and catchers report to spring training this weekend (squee!) and amped up my baseball love. His name is Tom Walter, and he's the coolest coach in the NCAA right now. And this week he happens to be recovering from surgery at an Atlanta hospital.

    His player, Kevin Jordan, is in that same hospital. And thanks to Walter, the kid who represents the Wake Forest Demon Deacons' best hopes for diamond dreams has a brand new kidney. Oh come on, let the sniffles out. I know I did.

    But save some tissues, because the story gets better. Jordan was drafted by the New York Yankees last summer, and this was his first year at Wake Forest. He hadn't even stepped up to the plate for the Demon Deacons when he was diagnosed last year with ANCA vasculitis and told his kidneys were slowly shutting down. But when Walter found out the kid couldn't find a matching donor, he didn't hesitate, nor did his bosses, in backing the donation.

    I'm in love with this story for a few reasons. Not the least of which is the need for a little good news related to the Yankees after Andy Pettite's retirement announcement last week (sniff, sniff). But the real driving force here is a college sports program giving something back to one of its athletes in a world where colleges tend to take, take, take and then take some more from their kids.

    The NCAA rules prohibit kids from getting any swag (legally anyway) while playing for a university, but colleges rake in millions on their backs. And while coaches remain in the system long after making some pretty big mistakes, most of the kids are thrown out on their ears after a single offense. At the risk of starting up the age-old "should collegiate athletes be paid" argument, it has to be said, the kids are the point of college sports, but they're woefully undervalued.

    Walter giving his kidney to Jordan is heartwarming, yes, but it should be a reminder to the sports world that without student athletes, there are no college sports. Sure, the kid hadn't stepped on the diamond in North Carolina yet, but thanks to his coach, he plans to do so later this month.

    I'm now officially ready for baseball season; how about you?

    Image via mistycabal/Flickr

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