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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

    collapsed building PhiladelphiaThere's scary news out of Philadelphia today. The City of Brotherly Love has come to a halt today as rescue workers rush to a demolition site to rescue people trapped beneath a collapsed building in the Center City area of town. Reports vary from just 2 people trapped to as many as 10 or 12 underneath the rubble, but one thing is clear: it's a dire situation.

    Imagine, just going about your day, when suddenly a building collapses on you. It's unthinkable. And yet how many times do you walk by a construction site and not even think twice?

    We don't yet know how the demolition went wrong, but here's what we do know so far:

    1. The four-story building at 2136 Market Street that collapsed reportedly used to be an adult bookstore, but has been empty for quite some time. It was in the midst of demolition when it gave way.

    2. The collapse of that building also brought down an apartment building that shared a rear wall with the former bookstore building. Also damaged was a one-story building, 2140 Market Street, that housed a Salvation Army thrift shop next door.

    3. Some people have been rescued and they're alive! Although the numbers vary from report to report, people who have spoken with media reported seeing people actually leaving the buildings, some being carried and some moving on their own feet. The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and other area facilities have also filled with patients who came from the crash site.

    4. At least one person remains in the rubble, if not more.

    Here's a look at the rescue efforts:

    Are you following this story? Does it give you pause about walking or working near sites like this?

     

    Image via Philly.com


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    birthday presents every parent dreadsMy kid turns 8 this week, and like any normal kid in America, she is excited about the prospect of birthday presents. Like any normal parent in America, I'm absolutely dreading the birthday presents.

    Don't get me wrong, I am absolutely jazzed that people are kind enough and love my kid enough to want to make her day special with gifts. That means I must be doing something right here.

    I don't want to sound ungrateful (although I'm sure I will), but I've been here before. Year after year after year, the birthday parties happen, and year after year after year, my kid ends up with something that I would never in a million years have actually bought for her.

    Does that make me a bad person? Hating gifts someone went out of their way to buy my kid?

    Probably.

    But if I'm going to hell, you might as well jump in the handbasket with me (I promise, there's room ... and maybe some chocolate).

    Because I know I'm not alone. Every mother and father I know has had one of those "Oh God, who bought her THAT?" moments, when their eyes bug out and their mouth drops open. We're usually pretty good about it; we paste a huge smile on our faces and shout an overly effusive "thank you" to cover our horror.

    We aren't rude, for cripes' sakes, we're just ... real. And in real life, sometimes kids get things their parents don't want them to have ... like anything on this list!

    Fingers crossed we make it to 8 without them!

    What is the worst thing anyone has ever bought for your child? What did you end up doing with it?

     

    Image by Jeanne Sager


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    today show suicide attemptHundreds of thousands of people who tuned in to the Today Show this morning just missed seeing a desperate cry for help. A man took advantage of the morning show's open door policy to join the crowd in New York City's Rockefeller Plaza, then he pulled a knife and slashed his own wrists in an apparent suicide attempt.

    Photos tweeted out by bystanders who were also on hand to watch the popular morning show taping, hoping to get on air, show a man who appears to be middle-aged, wearing a ball cap, brandishing a knife.

    The images are scary.

    But more than that, they're sad. Warning -- the video ahead may be upsetting although it's not graphic in nature (and you can choose to not play it).

    See this video on The Stir by CafeMom.

    Heartbreaking.

    If a suicide attempt is a cry for help, slitting your wrists on national television -- or trying to get on national TV to do so, anyway -- is perhaps the loudest cry of them all.

    The man, as yet unidentified, reportedly was screaming about the IRS having ruined his life and trying to get bystanders to read documents in his hands. Today anchor Matt Lauer said the man made a point to say he was not there to harm anyone else; just himself. He did manage to do so, although security tackled him, and he was rushed to St. Luke's Hospital in Manhattan.

    Fortunately the incident did not happen on camera; little girls and boys watching the morning news while getting ready for school did not see what went down. 

    Even more fortunate: the mystery man is alive.

    Thank goodness.

    If any good can come of this morning's very public meltdown, it's that his family can't have missed it all. They can -- and should -- step in now. Now he has a chance to get the help he so obviously and desperately needs.

    Did you catch the kerfuffle on the plaza this morning? What do you hope will happen with this man?

     

     

    Image via lordviperscorpion69/YouTube


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Kailyn Lowry baby bumpWe've been hearing from "sources" for months now claiming that Teen Mom 2 star Kailyn Lowry is pregnant. Finally, we've heard it from the star herself. It's official! Kailyn Lowry IS pregnant!

    Awww! Good for her!

    So what is with all the mystery?

    Well, for starters, that is how Kailyn rolls. She may be a reality star, but she tends to play things a little closer to the vest than some of her more, ahem, oversharing co-stars. She doesn't see the need to Tweet every time she breaks a nail.

    Let's not forget how long she managed to keep her marriage to Javi Marroquin under wraps. This girl knows how to keep a secret!

    More From The Stir: Suddenly Farrah Abraham Is Pleading Guilty to DUI?

    As it happens, Kailyn is not nearly as far along as the "sources" would indicate. As she said in what seems to be her first on-the-record acknowledgement that Isaac will have a brother or sister one of these days:

    Where did anyone ever reveal a gender? No where. Not far along enough to know.

    Got that? It's NOT necessarily a little girl, and Kailyn has not yet reached the point in her pregnancy when you get to find out your baby's sex ... generally around the four- or five-month mark.

    Aha!

    This is one secret most women do keep, at least for the first few months of pregnancy, when anything can happen. The studies show 10-25 percent of all pregnancies will end in miscarriage, and MOST of those miscarriages happen in the first 13 weeks of pregnancy. Telling people too early can just make things harder should that happen.

    Just look at how hard it was for Jenelle Evans and Leah Messer Calvert -- both of whom have gone through very public miscarriages. No doubt Kailyn wanted to avoid walking down that path.

    But it sounds like the coast is clear now, and we can celebrate along with her and Javi. Can't wait to find out just "who" they're welcoming into their little family!

    Have you been waiting for Kailyn's official announcement? Did you wonder why she was keeping it under wraps?

     

    Image via Instagram


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    school yearbookWhen the folks at Davidson Middle School removed the photo of Tyler Nichols, an eighth-grader who killed himself in March, from the school yearbook their intentions were good enough. Suicide is tough on kids. Why should they have to face evidence that it exists in their school?

    Why indeed?

    Because stopping suicide isn't as simple as erasing one of its victims from the yearbook. It isn't as easy as pretending it doesn't exist.

    One in 12 teens has tried to commit suicide. One in six has considered it. And the suicide rate for teenagers sits at around 7.8 percent.

    So what's the answer? Surely it isn't in erasing all evidence of the existence of kids who have committed suicide.

    Families in the Michigan school district are reportedly outraged, their kids heartbroken that Tyler was simply deleted from the yearbook even though he was alive when school photos were taken. As his mom, Ann Nichols, said:

    It's almost like they want to forget he existed, and that makes me sad.

    Sometimes I wonder if it wouldn't be easier if we could forget. It's been 11 years since a childhood friend threw himself off a bridge in our hometown. I still wake up some mornings having dreamed of him, feeling like maybe the dream is the reality and he is still alive.

    It would be easier not to have to remember all over again that he is gone.

    Easier.

    But not real.

    The reality of suicide is that the hurt never fully goes away. You never stop missing the person who is gone, never stop grieving.

    This is what kids need to know about suicide. They need to know that it isn't just about them, that it affects everyone they know. The more they're made to face that, the more ammunition we have in the war against kids taking their own lives.

    By taking a photo out of the yearbook, administrators may have meant to help kids with the grieving process. Instead they've taken away a powerful message in the fight against suicide. They've once again made a complicated but necessary discussion taboo.

    But it can't be taboo to talk about suicide, not if we want to prevent it. We need to talk about it, to show kids what, exactly, suicide does to a community.

    It hurts a community. It hurts kids. It hurts everyone.

    And pretending it doesn't is not going to help anyone.

    Would you prefer your kid's school keep the photos of kids who have committed suicide in the yearbook or remove them?

     

    Image via LibAmanda/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    kidnapped girl Jashayla HopsonThere's an old saying that's been bouncing around my head since I heard about the Alabama kidnapping case that's entangled promising young basketball star Devonta Pollard in its web. Being a mom, the saying goes, is like having your heart walking around outside of your body. When 6-year-old Jashayla Hopson was kidnapped earlier this spring, cops say the real target wasn't the kindergartner at all. The real target was Hopson's mom! You see where that saying fits, don't you?

    According to police, Jesse Mae Pollard, mother of University of Alabama sophomore basketball player Devonta, had a beef with little Jashayla's mother. So she allegedly picked the girl up from kindergarten and took off with her, texting the girl's mom with a threatening message, before dropping the child off on a random street in Scooba, Mississippi. Fortunately the little girl knocked on the door of a Good Samaritan. She's doing OK.

    Jesse Mae, Devonta, and five other people, on the other hand, have been indicted on various charges for the kidnapping. They all face prison time, including the young basketball player. He could face 20 years behind bars.

    For what?

    So his mom could get back at someone?

    At the risk of making common sense, wouldn't it have been easier to just have it out with Jashayla's mom? Leave the poor child out of the grown-up business?

    I can only imagine that the child was targeted because it would be the most impactful on the mother. Think about it: what's the easiest way to hurt you? Hurt your child. Your heart will break into a million pieces.

    Being a parent makes you vulnerable in a way nothing else does. It makes you an easy target.

    Fortunately, most people are sane enough, and humane enough that they know kids are off limits.

    Unfortunately, that doesn't apply to everyone. There are people like Jesse Mae Pollard and her son who come along, and well ... what they're accused of is dark and twisted and shameful for a woman who is a mother herself.

    Here's hoping they get what they deserve as this works its way through the courts. Little Jashayla deserves that much.

    Has someone ever hurt your child to get to you? What did you do?

     

    Image via Amber Alert


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    timeout clockWhen it comes to discipline techniques in America, timeout has become increasingly popular ... thanks, no doubt, to the increasing number of us who refuse to follow the spanking route of our parents' generation. Personally, I'm a hardcore fan. It's been my go-to for tantrums for years. So I'm always surprised when parents insist that timeout just doesn't work.

    I'd beg to differ. 

    Timeout does work! Even better ... if you're doing timeout right, you end up not needing timeout at all. But only if you're doing it right!

    Yes, as it turns out, there IS a right and a wrong way to do this.

    How do I know? Because for awhile there, I was doing it wrong. And it turns out, I'm not alone.

    The folks at Slate did a break-down of timeout no-nos this week, and one thing really jumped out at me:

    Another common misconception is that you have to physically isolate a child during a timeout. The important thing is not where your child is but that he doesn’t get to interact with anything interesting, including you. This means that you can initiate timeouts in strollers, cars, chairs, even on the changing table—the key is to withhold attention and eye contact for a certain period of time or as long as the bad behavior persists.

    Confession time: for awhile there, we couldn't help it. We interacted with our daughter during timeout.

    She'd be in her room, technically isolated from us physically, but when she'd yell down the stairs (her bedroom is on the second floor of our house), we'd answer back, if only to tell her to be quiet. When she'd angrily throw things out of her room, we'd pick them up, or tell her that she shouldn't be throwing things. We'd threaten to add to her time in her room for additional bad behavior.

    This went on, I'm ashamed to admit, for months.

    I was at my wits' end. My generally pretty good-hearted and fairly well-behaved (I say fairly ... she is still a kid, after all!) daughter was becoming increasingly difficult and at time downright bratty.

    And then I had a talk with our school psychologist, whose daughters happen to share a dance class with mine.

    Her advice?

    Ignore her.

    Completely.

    No matter what she does.

    I can't say that I was surprised to hear it. I'd been suspicious that we were just feeding her negativity. Negative attention is better than no attention, right?

    But it was so hard! She was naughty, how could we NOT do something about it? Wasn't that just rewarding her bad behavior?

    My heart told me one thing, but my head told me we just couldn't go on like this. And this woman -- who knows my child and likes her -- had to be on to something.

    And here's where the story gets really good. We started ignoring her.

    And slowly, the bad behavior disappeared. It wasn't instantaneous -- we had a pattern of behavior based on months of problems to undo here.

    But over time, she was better in timeout. Better than that, the need for timeouts decreased.

    We're now more than a year out from that harrowing time, and I can't remember the last time I actually used a timeout. Wait, I can. It was March. We're in June now. We've gone three whole months without a timeout in our house.

    It's not that she's never naughty, but it's almost never that bad. These days a talk is usually enough. Ironically, getting discipline right enabled us to make discipline almost completely unnecessary.

    I think it's hard for us as parents to go against the way we've always done things, to admit that maybe we're making mistakes with our kids. I know it was hard for me.

    But if you don't feel like timeouts are working, maybe it's not the timeout. Maybe it's you.

    Think about it.

    Do you use timeouts with your kids? Do they work?

     

     

    Image via Dave Stokes/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    tips for preventing SIDSOf all the things that scared me when my daughter was a baby -- and trust me, there were many -- SIDS was the one monster I just couldn't shake. I would find myself waking in the middle of the night with a start, unable to go back to sleep until I'd snuck into her nearby nursery and checked to make sure she was still breathing. Call me neurotic. Or just call me a parent.

    SIDS is called Sudden Infant Death Syndrome for a reason -- because we don't know when it's coming. Nothing could be more terrifying.

    But there is good news for parents. These days, we actually know how to prevent SIDS.

    More from The Stir: Vibrating Baby Monitor Could Save Your Sleeping Baby's Life

    The more doctors look at SIDS cases, the more they know about risk factors. And the more they know about risk factors, the more power we have to NOT put our kids at risk.

    If you want any chance of getting a good night's sleep, you're going to want to check everything off this list to prevent SIDS.

    Go ahead, some of them might surprise you ...

    Have you done everything on the list? What were you missing?

     

    Image by Jeanne Sager


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Corey Simms Miranda Patterson weddingWe've seen Teen Mom 2 star Leah Messer Calvert get married twice on national television. This time it was her ex-husband's turn for a second wedding. Corey Simms got married to fiancee Miranda Patterson over the weekend!

    So what went down? With uncertainty over the future of the show, it doesn't look like the wedding will show up on television, but we've got details right here!

    1. It was a Friday wedding. Set for June 7, the newlyweds had a whole weekend to party after their big night.

    2. The bride opted for a traditional white wedding gown and cowboy boots with a bouquet of daisies and wildflowers, while the groom kept it casual in jeans.

    3. Corey's twin daughters (with Leah) were both in the wedding. Aleeah and Aliannah were flower girls in matching white eyelet dresses.

    4. Leah has given her blessing to the union -- she even sent Miranda a Mother's Day gift as the girls' future stepmom -- but she reportedly stayed away from the actual ceremony (as did Corey at her wedding to Jeremy).

    More From The Stir: Amanda Bynes Might Be Getting Sucked Into 'Teen Mom' Scandal Land

    5. The marriage got a big thumbs up from Corey's family. As his dad, Jeff Simms, tweeted:

    My new daughter in law is an absolute joy! We are blessed to have her in our family.

    6. This was no shotgun wedding. The couple has been engaged since late last year, and Jeff Simms made sure to point out Miranda is NOT pregnant

    7. Miranda is taking Corey's last name -- or she did on Twitter, anyway!

    Such great news for this little family. These little girls get to see BOTH of their parents happy.

    Did you know Corey was getting married? What do you think of this Teen Mom news?

     

    Image via Jeff Simms/Twitter


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    most inspiring speeches for graduatesIt isn't easy to give a good graduation speech. It's hot. The kids just want to get their diplomas. And you've got to keep a huge crowd of kids, parents, and grandparents from falling asleep on you. But if you don't believe it can be done, maybe it's just because you've never heard a REALLY good speaker take to the podium at commencement. Fortunately for the Class of 2013, there have been some good ones!

    From Avengers (and Buffy) director Joss Whedon telling Wesleyan grads like it is to a gay high schooler's heart-rending comments about equality, this has been the year for speeches that should be studied by future commencement speakers as a guide of what TO do in front of a class full of new grads.

    Behold the best of the best (well, so far):

    Joss Whedon at Wesleyan University -- the Class of '87 alum tells his soon-to-be fellow alumni that they're all going to die. But it works:

    See this video on The Stir by CafeMom.

    Stephen Colbert was predictably hilarious in schooling the University of Virginia on its prestigious Playboy ranking and their gift of independence:

    See this video on The Stir by CafeMom.

    He's not famous, but 18-year-old Theodore Chalfen's speech at Boulder, Colorado's Fairview High School was nonetheless inspiring. The openly gay student thanked his classmates for supporting him, sending a message to the world that acceptance for people who are "different" is gaining ground with today's young people:

    See this video on The Stir by CafeMom.

    Balaal Hollings almost didn't make it to his high school graduation. The honor student and senior class president was shot in the head while trying to break up a fight earlier this spring. He wasn't able to finish his senior year, but he managed to make it to graduation ... and walk onstage to give a speech:

    See this video on The Stir by CafeMom.

    TV writer Jon Lovett told Pitzer College grads the hard truth. They're smart, but they're also annoying:

    See this video on The Stir by CafeMom.

    Which is YOUR favorite speech this year? What's the most moving graduation speech you've ever heard?

     

    Image by Jeanne Sager


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    hotel corridorA young boy was found dead in a hotel room over the weekend, his mother unconscious beside him. Cops are investigating whether little Jeffrey Lee Williams could have died of carbon monoxide poisoning, and they say he's not the first to die in the room at the North Carolina Best Western: two adults died there in the last two months.

    And here you thought the scariest thing lurking in a hotel room were the germs on that comforter?

    According to police in Boone, North Carolina, the boy and his mother, Jeannie Williams, were found unresponsive in the room on the second floor on Saturday afternoon. The 11-year-old was dead, his mom rushed to a hospital in a coma. She came around on Sunday and is reportedly in stable condition.

    Cops don't suspect foul play in the child's death, but they do want to know if it can be linked to that of an elderly couple found dead in the same exact room back in April.

    If it can be, you know what that means.

    This hotel could be in a heap of trouble. Or maybe it's "should" be?

    A ton of signs are pointing to carbon monoxide here. The scary thing about this deadly gas is that it's colorless and odorless. It can be lingering in a room, and you'd never know it.

    I know this all too well. It was in my house, and the levels were low enough that my detector never sounded ... but high enough that blood tests showed I was moderately poisoned.

    But as the old saying goes, fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

    This hotel saw two people die in a room. It was up to them to investigate the occurrence to the fullest extent and ensure they weren't putting guests in danger. That means addressing everything -- whether it was related to the couple's deaths or not.

    In a way, their deaths offered a tragic but unique opportunity to double and triple check everything in that room to make sure the hotel was doing things right.

    Fast forward two months, and that should have been the safest room in the entire hotel.

    But evidently it wasn't.

    A child died in that room, somehow. And someone will have to answer for it.

    With the history of the room, it's not hard to say who will be the first target.

    Do you think the hotel has some culpability here?


    Image via vauvau/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    duct tapeWhen mom Natasha Crutchfield sent her 8-year-old son to school, she thought he'd be safe. He was going to SCHOOL. But then her son came home from his San Antonio, Texas school and told her he'd been duct-taped to a chair for three hours by a teacher who said he was too "rowdy."

    Appropriate discipline? Not on your life. But what's a mom to do?

    She wasn't there. She had to send her kid to school. And instead of being able to choose an appropriate course of action to correct her son's behavior, she had to rely on the school staff to do it.

    It's what parents across the United States do every day. We pack our kids lunches, fill up their backpacks, and we load them on school buses, off to spend a day with other adults who we hope will treat them as we would.

    Usually they do. Usually I agree if a teacher decides my kid should sit out five minutes of recess for forgetting to bring her homework home for the third time in a row or spend a few minutes with her head on her desk for talking too much in class.

    But when the school does something I don't agree with wholeheartedly, it's hard to know just what to do. If I don't stick up for her, then I've failed her. But if I raise a ruckus, what message am I sending her about respect for authority, for other adults who DO have to discipline her when I'm not around?

    Take what happened to Natasha Crutchfield's son.

    Clearly, a child should not be duct taped to a chair for any amount of time. That little boy should have felt it was OK to pull the tape off, get up, and walk to an administrator's office to report her for doing something wrong.

    It's not his fault that he didn't, nor is it his mom's. It's impossible to prepare our kids for every eventuality.

    We try to teach our kids that they need to respect their elders, but we also have to teach them that their elders aren't always right, that sometimes it's OK to disobey their elders.

    This is the fine line you walk both before and after a situation akin to the Crutchfields. Because now this mom has to raise a stink, has to get the Judson Independent School District to do something about a teacher who duct tapes kids to chairs so that her kid knows she's got his back, while still teaching her son to respect OTHER teachers.

    It's not for the faint of heart. But good for her for sticking up for her kid. He's just a little boy ... and he needs her help.

    Have you ever had to complain when a school staffer disciplined your child too harshly? What did you do about it?

     

    Image by Jeanne Sager


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Hillary Clinton TwitterHillary Clinton has joined Twitter. The former Secretary of State and one-time Senator from New York showed off her wry sense of humor with her very first tweet that pays tribute to the #tweetsfromhillary meme that went viral awhile back and a nod to the fame of both her hair and pantsuits in her bio on the social media site. The bio is largely being regarded hilarious ... by most.

    Then there are the Americans horrified today that Madame Secretary is quite content to dub herself a "wife" and "mom" first and foremost ... well before her descriptor of herself as a "glass ceiling cracker" and "TBD" (that's to be determined for you Twitter virgins).

    Paired with the iconic photo of Clinton tweeting, the bio reads:

    Wife, mom, lawyer, women & kids advocate, FLOAR, FLOTUS, US Senator, SecState, author, dog owner, hair icon, pantsuit aficionado, glass ceiling cracker, TBD...

    The criticisms from the right are to be expected. What's shocking today is the backlash I've noticed from some Democrats.

    I saw one complain that the bio reads like a New York Times obit, referencing, of course, the Grey Lady's recent tribute to rocket scientist Yvonne Brill that made much of her ability to make a "mean beef stroganoff" rather than her accomplishments in the scientific field.

    More from The Stir: 'Texts From Hillary' Proves Nobody's Cooler Than Mrs. Clinton (PHOTOS)

    Another criticized her for allowing herself to be defined by her husband.

    I get it. She's Hillary Clinton! She had one of the most powerful jobs in the free world, and it doesn't make top billing.

    And yet, who are we to care how Hillary Clinton defines herself? Is it really wrong that she's most proud of being a wife and a mom? Isn't that what the feminist movement is about -- giving women the power to make choices in their lives, even if that choice is to embrace domestic pursuits?

    We as women are more than just wives and mothers, but that hardly means that these are parts of ourselves we need to shy away from. What we need to find is a balance between these parts of our lives rather than to swing wildly to one side or the other.

    We can be wives and workers both, moms and world changers.

    Hillary Clinton is a wife. She is a mother. You need look no further than some of her first Twitter responses today -- both daughter Chelsea (@ChelseaClinton) and the president (@BillClinton) welcomed her to Twitter (and they're among the four people she's following at the moment).

    It's thanks to all the other things she's done -- as a glass ceiling cracker, FLOTUS, SecState, and more -- that have paved the way for more women to embrace what it is about themselves they are  most proud to celebrate. Shouldn't Hillary Clinton enjoy that same right?

    What do you think of her Twitter bio? Is it hilarious or do you think she needs to flip the order?

     

    Image via Twitter


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    First 5 California childhood obesity adAnother ad campaign against childhood obesity has landed the creators in hot water. This time the folks at First 5 California have taken an image of a child model drinking milk and enhanced it to make the child appear overweight. The milk, of course, has been traded out for a big cup labeled "sugar."

    Seeing the problem here? Me neither.

    It's not that I'm a huge fan of Photoshopping kids, folks. I just blew up a photo of my daughter with dirt on her cheeks, and I very purposely left it there because that's what she really looked like after digging around in our garden.

    More From The Stir: Telling Women They Don't Need to Lose Weight Doesn't Do Them Any Favors

    But taking a thin child model and adding weight to her face to represent child obesity is far better than taking a photo of a chubby child and using her (or him) to do the same. The latter is dangerous fat-shaming. Even a child who is in the modeling business, who should be better armed for the likelihood of their photos being used in a variety of mediums, can bear some pretty deep emotional scars from that treatment. Chunky kids have a hard enough time without having their bodies being criticized on billboards and in magazines.

    Those kids need help developing a healthier lifestyle, not someone making them feel more unhappy with who they are.

    What's been done with the ads from First 5, on the other hand, that's something you can explain to a child model pretty easily. You can tell a child you know that doesn't look like them, and then explain why the image was changed.

    And why it was changed is important here. Child obesity IS a problem.

    It's not cute. It's not something we should teach our kids to accept. Teaching kids to love their bodies does not mean teaching them it's OK to be unhealthy.

    One of the ad's chief critics is Marilyan Wann, a proponent of the body acceptance movement who calls the digital manipulation of the image "creepy."

    I might be inclined to agree with her if it wasn't so obvious that the image had been adjusted. There's a clear correlation being made here between unhealthy foods (sugary drinks) and obesity. There's a clear link being made between healthy eats (milk) and a healthy kid. 

    And when you consider the CDC estimates childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years, those correlations need to be made. Parents need to have in-your-face, visceral warnings that if they don't start their kids off eating right in the toddler years, they are setting them up for a lifetime of being unhealthy.

    Do you feel the images go too far or just far enough?

     

    Image via First 5 California


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Justo Santos
    Joselyn Martinez' father was murdered when she was just a kid. Fast forward 26 years, and the now grown up Martinez is getting slapped on the back by NYPD for tracking down the man suspected of shooting her dad in cold blood. And all it took was an Internet browser and $280.

    It's a story that seems ripe for a TV movie, isn't it? Good thing Joselyn, named for her father Jose, is an actress.

    An actress who studied political science at NYU and once dreamed of being a prosecutor, but still, she's "just" an actress who managed to do what the cops couldn't: snag a guy who has been on the run for 26 years, running from a murder charge.

    Some are using this story to bash the police today.

    If only it were that simple.

    The cops did do their jobs here. Way back in November of 1986, they investigated the shooting of Jose Martinez at his restaurant and identified a then 16-year-old named Justo Santos as their suspect. Unfortunately, Santos fled for the Dominican Republic, and well, if you've read much about criminal justice in this country, you know that law enforcement is often overwhelmed with cases and understaffed. Just Google "rape kit backlog" if you really want to have your eyes opened.

    This could be a story about what the police did wrong.

    I tend to think it's more a story of what Joselyn Martinez did right.

    She loved her dad, was daddy's little girl. She wanted justice for him. So she got online. She spent some money on background websites. She tracked down the man cops think shot her dad. Santos has been arrested in Florida, and he's expected to be sent back to New York soon.

    Should we have to solve crimes for the cops? No, we shouldn't. 

    But then, we shouldn't have 20-year-old men who walk into school buildings and murder innocent children or nannies killing their charges or 16-year-olds who shoot fathers at their restaurants.

    We could all sit around and complain about our lot in life. Plenty of people do it on social media every day.

    Or we could get off our butts and try to do something about it. That's what Joselyn Martinez did. She turned on her computer and got to work. And this actress, this civilian with none of the police tools, got her mission accomplished.

    She got justice for her dad.

    Hers is the story we need to tell today, the story of someone who didn't just sit around waiting for things to happen for her but someone who made them happen.

    If only more Americans had the same drive, what amazing things we could do ...

    What would you have done in Joselyn's place?

     

    Image via police


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    Chelsea Houska filming Teen  Mom 2It's happening! It's happening! Teen Mom 2 is coming back! At least it sure as heck looks that way.

    I know, I know, we've said it before. The rumors have been swirling, helped along by some rather cagey comments from Jenelle Evans. So what makes it different this time? We've got hardcore evidence that MTV is indeed filming the show's stars.

    See that picture at right of Chelsea Houska with one of her adorable doggies? It was tweeted recently by a fan who tagged it #womancrushwednesday. The giant videographer in the background is hard to miss, but Jenelle made sure NO ONE missed it when she responded with an emoticon of a video camera.

    OK, but one star with a video camera does not another season make?

    We're not done, folks. Not even close!

    Sick Ink Studios, favored tattoo artists of Kailyn Lowry and husband Javi Marroquin, also tweeted a photo of cameramen this week, and they specifically name-dropped MTV. That tweet went live on Monday, one day after Kail tweeted that she'd be spending the evening at Sick Ink, and Javi tweeted a photo of his newest piece from ... you guessed it ... the Whitehall, Pennsylvania tattoo parlor.

    More From The Stir: 'Teen Mom' Star Gets Married & We've Got the Details!

    Coincidence? We think not.

    Now. Add that on top of Jenelle's hints AND Leah's husband Jeremy's cryptic tweet about a film crew at a furniture store AND the reports that Jenelle's new boyfriend, Nathan Griffiths, has been spotted with film crews following him, and, well ... MTV is up to SOMETHING and that something involves the Teen Mom 2 cast and video.

    So you do the math, y'all ...

    Are you thinking what we're thinking?

     

    Image via Twitter


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    Marine Dad surprises daughterThere's a big debate going on in my hometown right now over the "right" parents have to see their kids graduate. With limited space in our high school gymnasium, some parents are being moved to the auditorium where they'll have to watch a live stream of the commencement. They're not happy, but after watching a Marine dad's surprise homecoming at his daughter's graduation, I can't help thinking they're so much luckier than they realize.

    At least they get to be there for their kids.

    Staff Sergeant Luis Del Valle missed his little girl's eighth grade graduation because he was in Afghanistan. And he had to fight tooth and nail to make it to the big day. But as video of the surprise shows, the fight was worth it:

    Suddenly having to watch your kid's graduation from another room seems less like an injustice and more like an inconvenience, doesn't it? Here this man was unable to even be in the same country as his child for her first big day, and then he had to fight for the right to make it to her biggest moment of all? 

    This is something we tend to forget about our military. While they're off protecting us, they're also missing the moments most of us take for granted: the dance recitals, the graduations ...

    Did this reunion make you tear up?

     

    Image via WGNTV


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    baby dollOf all the weird debates parents get into, the one over little girls breastfeeding their baby dollsis always sure to get heated. AND always sure to leave me wringing my hands. Alert the media! Call out the National Guard! You guuuuuuys, it's time to freak out!

    Or not. You know, we could just be rational about this.

    Little girls -- and little boys for that matter -- tend to have two main role models in life. Their mothers and their fathers.

    This -- not some push toward gender-specific play -- is why kids play mom and dad on the playground. It's why you don't need to buy your kid a specific "breastfeeding baby doll" for her (or him) to experiment with breastfeeding their little toy.

    Moms. Dads. Puritans.

    Kids the world over sometimes "breastfeed" their dolls.

    And I'm here to tell you it is absolutely normal. It's a sign that they pay attention to the world around them and they're trying to imitate what they see. Mothers in particular should be proud of their little nursers. As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

    A kid who puts baby doll to breast is really trying to say, "Hey, I want to be just like Mom!"

    Here's what they're not trying to say: I think breastfeeding is sexy. I think I'm sexy. I want you to pay extra attention to the fact that I have nipples. I am emotionally unbalanced and in need of therapy.

    You wouldn't think any of the above if a child was, say, putting a diaper on their baby doll, would you? Feeding the doll a bottle?

    How about if a child was swaddling a doll or burping a doll? Singing a lullaby to their doll or trying to put a onesie on the doll?

    Those are all things we do with babies, all things kids do with dolls because they've seen them done with babies. And so it is with breastfeeding a baby doll.

    The only one who's sexualizing the act ... is you.

    Think about it.

    What would you do if your daughter was breastfeeding a baby doll? Would you care?

     

    Image via jansos/Flickr


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    breastfeeding rightsIt may not always feel like it, but there are laws in the United States designed to protect breastfeeding moms from being shamed for nursing in public. Unfortunately, when you step inside a private home and want to breastfeed, all bets are off. Your dingbat mother-in-law, cranky neighbor, or puritanical PTO mom has the right to tell you to head into the bathroom if your baby wants to get his eat on.

    So moms, what are you going to do about it?

    Out at a shopping mall or on a park bench, we can talk a big game about the law. Inside a private home, we just don't have the ammunition. The owner of a house gets to choose what happens inside it, and fighting it can cost you a friend or at least get you left off the guest list of future parties.

    But that doesn't mean it isn't worth fighting her or him on the issue.

    I didn't last very long as a breastfeeding mom -- for a million reasons. But I remember having to go hide in my daughter's nursery or my bedroom because my father-in-law was visiting, and I wasn't comfortable with him seeing my breasts.

    No one specifically told me to leave, and yet I remember the feeling of being isolated from everyone else. Yes, it was a nice time to cuddle with my daughter, but it also made me feel bad about myself and about what I was doing even though I was doing something GOOD for me and for her. 

    More From The Stir: Letting Your Daughter Breastfeed Her Baby Doll Isn't Gross!

    There might be more comfortable places to go in a private home than out at a mall, where a breastfeeding mom is stuck in a public bathroom, but that doesn't mean the feelings of isolation and shame are any less. 

    Private home or not, asking a woman to hide in your house while she breastfeeds is rude. You wouldn't accept being told to take your paper plate of barbecue fixin's into the bathroom or spare bedroom to eat, would you? So why should someone do that to your baby?

    Would you breastfeed in someone else's house if they were uncomfortable with it?

     

    Image via _shward_/Flickr


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    Jeremy Calvert Ali SimmsSome of the stars of Teen Mom 2 have such explosive personalities, it's almost expected that they'll blow up at fans once in awhile. But the latest freak-out comes from some place entirely unexpected: Leah Messer Calvert's husband Jeremy Calvert! The easy-going new dad might have quietly waited for Leah to figure out whether she wanted to be with him or ex-husband Corey Simms on-screen, but off-screen he's not afraid to go after the show's critics with both barrels.

    In a recent Twitter rant, Jeremy had some pretty nasty things to say about people who don't like him ... and about people who watch the show!

    The rant started last week after fans piled on Jeremy for tweeting about the possibility of MTV filming at a furniture store where he and Leah were buying a bed:

    Too all u haters and dumb fucks out there go fuck off no one cares about you do all of us a favor and go play in traffic!

    Not surprisingly, the comments didn't sit well with Teen Mom 2 watchers, one of whom reminded Jeremy that the people he refers to as "haters" are the reason the show exists, and the reason his family gets money from MTV.

    Jeremy's response?

    could careless

    Well, well, well!

    It's not that I'm exactly surprised. Jeremy was very vocal about Leah checking Twitter and getting upset over fans' criticisms during a recent finale special with Dr. Drew. He seemed -- at that point anyway -- to have a healthy sense of self and a decent understanding that there are some people who are going to hate you no matter what you do, and those people abound online. As someone who has worked in the public eye for well over a decade, the past five years of which were spent on the Internet, I can tell you that building a thick skin is the only way to survive.

    More From The Stir: 'Teen Mom 2' Stars Caught Filming & It Can Only Mean One Thing

    Still, there's a fine line between insulating yourself from critics and biting the hand that feeds you.

    Although Jeremy is said to make a pretty good living as a pipeliner, enough to enable Leah to be a stay-at-home mom to their daughter Adalynn as well as her two daughters from her previous relationship, this small family has gotten a lot from being on MTV. They've been able to sell photos of their daughter to a big magazine, received paychecks that no doubt helped them pay their bills when Jeremy was laid off, and the network has reportedly set up accounts for his stepdaughters to tap into come college time. Not to mention Jeremy himself is likely bringing in an MTV paycheck.

    He can hate the haters all he wants, but he may want to "care" at least a little bit about the people who help support his lifestyle.

    What do you think of Jeremy's comments?

     

    Image via MTV


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