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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

    computer crimeIf you have a child who has been begging to get a Facebook page, have you checked to see if they've done it already? A mom who forbade her 11-year-old daughter from signing up for the site just went through one heck of an ordeal because the girl did it anyway ... and ended up in the crosshairs of a 23-year-old sex offender! Thank goodness the little girl has a mom who isn't afraid to get her hands dirty when her child's safety is on the line.

    According to cops in St. Petersburg, Florida, the mom (whose name has been withheld to protect her child) found out about the pervert sniffing around her daughter online and decided to make sure he couldn't hurt her kid or anyone else's. She set up a trap that included using a photo taken from a Target ad of a model in a bra and pretending to be her daughter.

    It worked -- the sex offender sent photos of his erect penis to the mom, thinking she was an 11-year-old girl.

    Now cops have arrested a man named Michael Bradley who they say was the adult acting inappropriately with a minor online. He's been charged with eight counts of displaying obscene images to a minor and eight counts of unlawful use of a two-way communication device.

    Go Mom!

    Good for her for having the chutzpah to do something about this creep ... AND good for her for checking up on her kid. 

    I'm not one of those "go, read your kid's diary" kind of moms. Kids are empowered by trust to be better people.

    But -- and this is a BIG but -- trust is earned. If you think your kid might be lying to you about something, be it a Facebook page or brushing their teeth, it's worth following up to see what's really going on. Sometimes you'll be happy to find out they've listened. Other times you'll be stuck cleaning up their messes because that's part of what parents do.

    If this mom hadn't followed up, who knows what could have happened to this kid. A 23-year-old man going after an 11-year-old girl is obviously up to no good. Would this burgeoning relationship have stopped at just some explicit photos?

    Do you check up on your kids to make sure they're following your rules even after you've said no?

     

    Image via GoodNCrazy/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Catelynn Lowell Tyler Baltierra Couples TherapyVH1 brought back its Couples Therapy reality show with a whole new slate of troubled celebrities tonight. Dr. Jenn Berman and her team of therapists has the likes of Flavor Flav and Girls Gone Wild creator Joe Francis to turn into model partners. One of the most curious couples to make the slate is Catelynn Lowell and Tyler Baltierra, former stars of MTV's Teen Mom.

    And although they've jumped to another Viacom network, it's clear Catelynn and Tyler can't escape the teen pregnancy cloud that's hanging over them.

    In some ways, that's a good thing. Tyler admitted tonight that he didn't know what true love was until Catelynn got pregnant:

    Something like a teenage pregnancy is going to do one of two things. Either it's going to bring people really close or it's going to rip 'em apart. You think you know what love is when you're 16, but when I really felt it was watching give birth to our daughter. I was like holy crap, I'm going to marry this woman, she is like ... I'm so in love with her. 

    Kind of makes you wonder why these two are even on a show about troubled couples, doesn't it?

    Apparently that's coming. Episode one of Couples Therapy only touched briefly on what these two lovebirds are struggling with -- mostly in a preview of next week's show, when Catelynn throws Tyler out of her room.

    But we did get a look at how Catelynn's pregnancy and their decision to choose adoption for daughter Carly is something that never really leaves them in a run-in with Flavor Flav, who admit he's never watched Teen Mom, but is more than happy to pass judgment on the young couple. 

    Even after Catelynn explains that her mom was an alcoholic, after Tyler points out that they were young and had no money, that his father is a crack addict, Flav drops the hammer down on them:

    You took a gift away from your child. The best gift you can give a child is for that child to have both of his parents ... y'all took something away more precious than you gave.

    Granted this little lecture came from a guy who wears a giant clock around his neck and who was recently arrested for assault with a deadly weapon against the mother of his child, Elizabeth Trujillo (who is also on this season of Couples Therapy). It's more than a little hard to take the guy seriously. 

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

    Tyler, at least, seems to have taken Flav's criticism with a grain of salt. Sadly, it seems he and Catelynn have had to get used to people reacting like that to the news that they chose adoption for their daughter. They go right into defense mode, and they let a lot of it slide off their backs.

    I can't help wondering if Flav would have been singing a different tune if he'd actually watched Teen Mom and seen Cate and Ty struggle with their decision ... and watched them struggle at home. It was made clear on the MTV show that adoption wasn't something they chose on a whim. They did a service for themselves on Teen Mom and for who knows how many other bio moms and dads, and it's good to see that they're keeping themselves out there to keep talking about this.

    Because attitudes like Flav's are completely unfair to the biological parents out there who are just trying to do the best they can for their kids.

    Did you catch Tyler and Catelynn's premiere on Couples Therapy tonight? Did you think Flav should have kept his mouth shut or do you agree with him?

     

    Image via VH1


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Wiz Khalifa baby SebastianIt's almost Father's Day! Some 70 million guys will celebrate being proud papas this Sunday. But is there any Father's Day quite like the FIRST Father's Day?

    For thousands of fathers, this will be the big one ... and that includes some of Hollywood's sexiest men, made that much sexier by how proud they are of their new babies they've welcomed since June 2012!

    From Chris Pratt to Nick Lachey, here are some of the sweetest moments from our newest celebrity dads.

    Which of these dads is your favorite? Do you know a new dad celebrating his first Father's Day?

     

    Image via Instagram


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    dad blogs you should be readingIt's been a big year for dad bloggers. They got their own dad conference! They made The New York Times! And now they're celebrating Father's Day!

    If you don't regularly have at least a few dads on your blog roll, you're missing out big time. Their perspectives of kids aren't better than moms', but they're certainly different ... and men like Mike Adamick, Zach Rosenberg, and Tom Burns are putting it all out there for you to take in every day. Here are some of the best dad blogs on the Internet today -- give 'em a read and say Happy Father's Day to these great guys:

    1. Cry It Out/MikeAdamick.com -- For seven years now, San Francisco native (and buddy of mine) Mike Adamick has been a stay-at-home dad, and it's brought out the MacGyver in the former journalist. Whether he's whipping up an iPhone crab cam to capture the critters' undersea adventures or crafting a set of circus stilts to let daughter Emme see the world from on high, he's sharing it all online ... and now in the rad new Dad's Book of Awesome Projects, the one craft book that teaches you to make things your kids will actually USE (and think you're a superhero for crafting). 

    2. 8 Bit Dad -- It's a blog of all things fatherly and ferociously cool, especially in the video game genre (if you didn't guess that from the blog's title already), but the very best of 8 Bit Dad comes in the weekly vlogs from creators Zach Rosenberg and Bryan Ferguson, one of whom loves to rock it in a bright pink, fuzzy bathrobe. You'll have to watch to find out who. Trust me. It's worth the bottle of laptop screen cleaner you'll have to buy to make up for the spit-out-your-drink laughter that ensues.

    3. Sweet Juniper -- Jim Griffioen is a father of two, including sweet little Juniper who was born in 2005, and primary writer at this Motown-based blog about urban living ... with kids! He's crafty. He's quirky. And he really gets this childhood thing. Maybe because he's a giant kid?

    4. Honea Express -- When your last name is Honea, you spend a lot of time explaining how to pronounce it, but this blog title sums it up nicely. He's Whit Honea, rhymes with pony, and this father of two quickly growing little boys has got a way with words that will make you laugh and cry ... sometimes at the same time.

    5. Building a Library -- Tom Burns is a bit obsessive about books. He's been building his daughter's library since before she was born, and now that she's in elementary school, he's realized he was just getting started. His blog might be about finding the best book for your babe, but it's more than that: it's how the love of books and our kids intersect. Think of it this way: bedtime just got easier.

    6. How to Be a Dad -- If you have somehow missed the hilarity that is the infographic on the unvarnished truth about sleeping with kids, don't worry! Charlie Capen and Andy Herald have plenty more like it on their blog (not to mention an entire book!). You don't have to be a self-help type to get their brand of funny. You just have to (sort of) like your kids and love to laugh.

    7. Gay NYC Dad -- Ten years ago, Mitch and his husband adopted a baby boy, and the adventure began. The celebrity-obsessed stay-at-home dad isn't just a dad blogger. He's a voice for gay parents everywhere who shares it all on his blog, from adoption truths to answering the hard questions like "do I have a mom?"

    8. Bacon and Juice Boxes -- The name says it all, doesn't it? Who doesn't love bacon? Jerry Turning does, but he also loves his little boy ... so much that this cop by day has used the adventure of parenting a child on the autism spectrum to become a blogger by night, helping others to join the "accept camp" of autism parents.

    9. The Good Men Project -- More Internet 'zine than one dad's blog, the good men behind this project call it "a social movement from the front lines of modern manhood." That movement, started by dad Tom Matlack, has opened up a no-holds-barred discussion about what it means to be a father in 2013 ... and beyond.

    10. Ishq in a Backpack -- When Navdeep Singh Dhillon started writing about travel, he and wife Sona were on a honeymoon adventure. Then came baby, and their whole world up-ended. But the taste for adventure didn't go away, so these days they're a "travel mad mum and dad" who can't stop moving ... and are more than happy to take you along for the ride.

    What is your favorite dad blog on the Internet?

     

    Image by Jeanne Sager


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    missing girl Elaina SteinfurthThere's big news in the search for missing Ohio toddler Elaina Steinfurth today. The 18-month-old has been missing since June 2, and as of right now, she is still missing. But cops have hauled her mom, Angela Mories, off to jail.

    But don't close the book on the little girl yet. Mories (who has previously been identified in some reports as Angela Steinfurth) wasn't arrested for the girl's disappearance.

    Confused?

    So, it seems, are people in the Toledo area, where cops are alleging that little Elaina was hurt -- at some point in time -- and her mom failed to take her to the doctor. They've charged Angela Mories with child endangerment over that incident.

    It's sad news.

    And yet ... good news? People have been looking for this little girl for 11 days now, ever since dad Terry Steinfurth showed up at Mories' house to pick up his two daughters and was told that Elaina wasn't there.

    Hand-in-hand with the search, cops have been interviewing everyone in the child's life over and over and over again, and yet all they've come up with is a child endangerment charge.

    You know what that means?

    That means they HAVEN'T come up with evidence that little Elaina is dead. It means there are no murder charges on the table. It means there is still hope in all of this.

    We tend to jump to conclusions about these sort of missing child cases in America. How many times have you done it? You've watched an episode of Nancy Grace (who has sunk her claws into the Steinfurth story) and walked off thinking, "Oh, the mother did it!" or "Oooh, that grandfather, he looks like a killer."

    But if this arrest teaches us anything, it's that we can't make assumptions like that, that we shouldn't make those kind of snap judgments.

    Is a child endangerment arrest damning? Sure. But it's not a murder charge.

    Let's let the police do their jobs here ... and hold out hope that this little girl will come home.

    Have you been following the Elaina Steinfurth case? What are your thoughts on it?

     

    Image via National Center for Missing & Exploited Children


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    My one and onlyWhen we talk about only children in this country, we spend an awful lot of time talking about their happiness. Are they lonely without siblings? Are they miserable stuck at home with only adults to play with? The answer -- to both questions -- is maybe, maybe not. It all depends on the kid.

    But what about the people who create the only children? Doesn't our happiness matter? At least a little bit?

    I am the mother of an only child, a one and done, as we're called.

    My daughter just turned 8 years old, and after a whirlwind birthday weekend, we sat on the couch and I asked her how she was feeling.

    As she snuggled into me and launched into a litany of reasons her day was the "awesomest day ever," I felt ... content.

    I was happy.

    My girl was healthy. She was happy. And my husband and I had made that happen. 

    I don't often have time to look within. I may be a mom of "just one," but she still keeps me running, as does a fulfilling job, a spouse I love, friends ...

    It's at times like the quiet end to a loud weekend with her that I find what author Lauren Sandler calls "the freedom of having an only child." The author of the new book One and Only is both an only child and mother of one, and she's delved into a verboten topic: a parent's own joy at stopping at one.

    If you ask many folks out there -- I should point out that I don't, but they're more than happy to give their opinion anyway -- we're supposed to want more kids. Some do. Some parents stop at one because of fertility issues or finances, because of divorce or devastation.

    But for women like me, men like my husband, sometimes one is exactly what we wanted.

    Our children aren't accidents; we specifically tried to have kids. Or rather, kid.

    My husband and I tried for our daughter. She was born. And then, we stopped. We stopped for dozens of reasons, some I've blogged about, some I'd prefer not to share publicly.

    But one I share unabashedly is our contentment with our only child.

    She makes us happy, and we are happy to be able to do the same for her thanks to the finances of having just one, thanks to the patience of having just one.

    Getting pregnant again, we realized, would have put a strain on our finances that would have created a lot of stress, stress that I can't imagine we could have hidden from our kids. Parenting two would have created stress too. I'm not the most patient of people; I work hard to ensure that I "bear with" my little girl and accept that she's just a kid. I accept that my patience is limited and know that I'm a better mother to one than I would be to two.

    I accept that I can be a nice mom to one but might be a mean mom to two.

    I'm happy that I know my limits. She has a mother who is calmer than I would be with more than one. She has a mother who smiles and laughs.

    I'm happy ... because she can have a happy childhood.

    Do you feel like your happiness matters in choosing how many children to have?

     

    Image by Jeanne Sager


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    paralyzed Good Samaritan Mike PattersonDoctors in Georgia say a Good Samaritan will likely be paralyzed for the rest of his life after being seriously injured while trying to save a drowning child. Michael Patterson managed to save 4-year-old Jevaeh Jones' life, despite having hit the creekbed so hard that he broke his neck in three places and severed his spine.

    Now his own family is without their breadwinner. And to make matters worse, Patterson just started a new job a few weeks ago -- a job he can no longer work at -- so he is without health insurance.

    Why is it that bad things always seem to happen to good people?

    OK, maybe not ALWAYS.

    But don't you ever feel like it's the good guys out there who are always getting knocked down?

    According to the Fish Wrap, the Georgia paper that broke this hero's story, Patterson is one of those good guys. Just a few weeks ago, he saw an accident happen, and he ran immediately to help. Then came the drowning incident. He was fishing with his own kid when the little girl, the child of a stranger, went under, and he didn't think twice.

    He jumped in and saved a little girl's life. A little girl who wasn't even his own child.

    Some would say there aren't enough good guys like Michael Patterson out there.

    Maybe they're right.

    However, maybe the answer isn't in bemoaning the lack of good guys out there but in doing something FOR those good guys ... becoming one yourself.

    There's now a Friends of Mike Patterson Facebook page and efforts to raise money for a trust to cover what will likely be extensive medical bills, plus help support a family that no longer has a working dad.

    Because bad things do happen to good people, but good things happen too. We just have to work to make them happen.

    Does this story move you to become one of the good guys? What would you have done if you were Michael Patterson?

     

    Image via Friends of Mike Patterson


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    anti-slut shaming messageThe older my daughter gets, the more uncomfortable I become with the temperature of the conversation over what teenage girls are wearing. Yes, I want my daughter to show a little class with the clothes she chooses. No, I don't want her to feel that it's OK for men to leer at her ... no matter what she's wearing.

    Recently I've come to realize that a part of raising a girl in America is teaching her that she doesn't have to take inappropriate overtures from men. And the only way to do that is to tell the men to take a hike.

    This isn't easy for parents to face.

    When a man is staring at your daughter in the supermarket, the last thing you want to do is march over to the lech and tell him to put his jaw back on his face where it belongs.

    Guys like that make us uncomfortable for a reason.

    But Moms, Dads, please, do your daughter a favor! Don't tell her to put on a sweater. Don't even hustle her out of there. Walk over there and give that man a piece of your mind.

    Don't do it because I told you to. Do it because your daughter needs to know that 1) you have her back, 2) it isn't her fault, and 3) something CAN be done about a man making her feel uncomfortable. 

    We are their first role models and the first line of defense against slut-shaming. Let the lecherous old man in the grocery store continue to ogle her like a piece of meat, and you're sending the not-so-subtle message that his inappropriate behavior is OK, and that she's wrong for feeling uncomfortable. Scurry her out of there or make her cover up, and you're telling her that she is the problem, not him.

    Walk up there and set him straight, and you empower her.

    It's an uncomfortable truth for parents to admit, but even as we love to admire our girls' beauty, we have to protect it too ... and protect them.

    Have you ever encountered someone looking inappropriately at your daughter? What did you do about it?

     

    Image via david_shankbone/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    missing toddler elaina steinfurthIf there is such a thing as good news in the case of a missing child, here it is: the disappearance of Elaina Steinfurth is still officially a missing persons case. Police in Toledo, Ohio say they haven't reclassified it as a homicide investigation. Now for the bad news: the missing toddler's own grandfather has said publicly that he thinks his granddaughter is dead.

    Is there anything quite as hopeless as a family that's given up hope?

    It's hardly surprising that it happens ... there are few situations as desperate. Most parents live in fear of ever being in that position, and our insides curdle at the very thought.

    Still, there's something particularly unsettling when it happens. We expect to see the families on the news begging for the return of their little one. We don't expect to hear the worst out of their mouths.

    Because if they don't think a child will come home alive ... who does?

    Richard Schiewe is technically the step-grandfather of little Elaina. Angela Mories, the girl's mom, who was arrested earlier this week on child endangerment charges, is his step-daughter.

    He's supporting her, even showed up in court and told her he loved her, but his candid interviews about his missing granddaughter are chilling. He says his step-daughter IS guilty of not taking care of the little girl. What's more, Schiewe told the Toledo Blade he's thought Elaina was dead since June 6 -- four days after the little girl was reported missing by her dad, Terry Steinfurth. That's when a diaper was found on the riverbank, the same size and brand as Elaina's.

    Terry Steinfurth, for what it's worth, is still holding out hope that his daughter will be found. He refused to point fingers at his ex or her boyfriend, although the girl was in their care when she disappeared. He only said in interviews that Mories' arrest is "justice" being done.

    You've got to respect the guy for not starting a family war in the press. Mories is still the mother of his two kids (Elaina's older sister is safe and well).

    But his "justice" comment doesn't exactly sound like he's got much faith in the last adult to see his little girl alive.

    Which leaves us with two people who love Elaina and who sound like their faith is pretty much shot.

    I think we all want to hold out hope that a little girl will be returned safe and sound. To think otherwise is too painful -- even for those of us who have never met this child. But if her own family's hope is dying, what else is there to think?

    I just hope he's wrong ...

    Do you watch missing child cases? When do you start to feel like it's hopeless?



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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    taking photo Imagine logging online one day to find pictures of your child being used in an elaborate hoax by someone claiming your son is their child who died from cancer. Welcome to 2013. The "Remembering Reilly" hoax that entangled Tennessee mom blogger and photographer Sarah Gilliam and stolen photos of her (very healthy) 5-year-old son, Jack, is now just part of being a parent in a digital world.

    Gilliam's story is scary and infuriating. Her personal work was stolen, and her child used in a scam.

    But he wasn't physically hurt. No one actually touched Jack himself. He didn't even know what was going on ... which only makes the new trend of Internet thievery that much more frustrating for parents.

    The perpetrator of the Remembering Reilly scam turned out to be a teenager who told Gilliam she just thought she'd "make a difference" in the childhood cancer world. 

    That she would be hurting another family by stealing their photos didn't seem to register.

    As the number of stolen photo issues crop up -- and as a photographer who tends to follow these kinds of issues, I seem to read about them at least monthly these days -- I've noticed this pervasive "no one will get hurt" attitude.

    Nine times out of 10, the child in the photos IS completely unaffected. They don't know their image is being used. They aren't hurt in any physical way.

    Unfortunately, that doesn't mean they can't be.

    Today's kids are online. The chances they will run into a stolen photo of themselves is almost as high as their mom or dad doing the same.

    What's more, the hurt of a child isn't the only thing to consider here. The emotions of a parent are just as valid.

    A photo of me with my daughter was stolen a few years ago, and the best word to describe my emotions at the time: violated.

    I felt like someone HAD physically walked into my house and hurt my daughter. Her image was being used on a site that was defaming her mother. It was not something I would have allowed, and the thought of her one day finding that made me physically ill.

    I fought tooth and nail to have the photo removed, and eventually it was replaced by another picture of just me. Although the latter was also stolen, just having my child removed made me feel much better. As an adult who writes online, I could handle the insult ... but I didn't feel my child should have to.

    No child should have to have their image used in ways their parents don't intend.

    But this is parenting in 2013.

    No matter how hard parents work to lock down their lives, no matter how many times you watermark an image, the minute you put a photo of your child on the Internet, you run the risk of some jerk with a shady sense of ethics stealing it to do God knows what.

    Keeping the photos offline may be an option, and it could slow them down, but it's just as easy for someone with a camera to stop by your local park, take some shots of kids on the playground, and use those. There really IS no way to keep our kids' images safe short of locking them in the house until college.

    But that doesn't mean it's a victimless crime.

    Have your photos ever been stolen and used elsewhere online? How did it feel?

     

    Image via BigTallGuy/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    quotes about fathers for father's dayIs it just me or did Father's Day sneak up on us this year? It's always the third Sunday in June, but the big day for dad arrived so quickly ... I'm just getting over Memorial Day! But here we are, and it's time to pay tribute to dad.

    What better way than with quotes about fatherhood? I'm talking the sayings that really sum up just what he means to us ... and more importantly to the kids! From the sweet to the funny, these are the quotes that really drive home why we love dad.

    Feel free to share them or pin them on Pinterest ... just let Dad know how much he rocks!

    Which is your favorite saying about fatherhood?

     

    Image by Jeanne Sager


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    helicopter parentingI never really thought of myself as a "free range" mom until I started paying attention to the way some other parents, well, parent. That's when I started encountering all these crazy helicopter moves!

    When did we become a nation of such hoverers? Was it because we're the first generation of parents raised on a steady diet of after-school specials designed to scare the ever-living bejeezus out of us? Because we've had it drilled into our heads what happens if you open the door to a stranger, do drugs, or eat something with raw eggs in it?

    Whatever is causing it, helicopter parenting has taken over America. And it could be in your house! Don't believe me?

    Just take a gander at the signs of a helicopter parent:

    1. Your kids' teachers see you coming and instead of greeting you with "Hi, Mrs. Jones!" they groan and whisper, "It's her again. Runnnnn!"

    2. You still cut your son's meat. He's 12.

    3. You have the principal on speed dial and keep a list of things to tell her "next time."

    4. You're the mom who reported the mom at the playground to CPS. For feeding her son Goldfish.

    5. You've priced a kiddie lo-jack system, and you're seriously considering the purchase.

    20 Signs You're a Helicopter Parent6. You have a voodoo doll that looks suspiciously like Lenore Skenazy.

    7. When your daughter got her "pen permit" from the school for learning cursive, you took it away because someone might lose an eye with that thing!

    8. You've completed one of your kids' school projects. COMPLETED, not helped (yes, there is a difference). 

    9. Your won't let your son ride the school bus because the driver won't let you get on to check that his seatbelt is securely fastened.

    10. You bought your 5-year-old a smartphone so she can text you when the bus gets to kindergarten to let you know they made it OK.

    11. Your daughter wears a helmet to bed in case she falls out (and by bed I mean mattress on the floor, around which is a sea of pillows).

    12. You are horrified when your parents suggest your 10-year-old throw out his own napkin and put his own plate in the sink.

    13. Your child has NEVER lost a game. Not even Go Fish.

    14. Your son's friends don't like to come over for playdates because they don't want to have to play with YOU.

    15. You hired a Mandarin tutor. For your preschooler. In the United States.

    16. You have "mommy" business cards that list you as "Acai's Mommy" and list her many talents.

    17. You have never left your 10-year-old home alone with ANYONE (not even his father).

    18. Your kids don't go to birthday parties because there are GERMS there.

    19. There's a nanny cam in your daughter's bedroom. You don't have a nanny.

    20. You say your kid has never eaten dirt (and you actually believe yourself).

    Sooooo ... are you a helicopter parent? What other signs should make the list?

     

    Image via kennymatic/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Yarnell Arizona wildfireThe names of the 19 firefighters killed while battling a wildfire in Yarnell, Arizona, have all been released. They are the names of fathers, brothers, sons, uncles. And with them is another name. Brendan McDonough.

    He was the last man of the Granite Mountain Hotshots crew from Prescott, Arizona, the group of firefighters who trained together to fight wildfires, the group who died together ... save for one. McDonough survived the worst tragedy to befall the firefighting industry since 9/11 not because he wasn't as dedicated as his firefight brothers but because of luck.

    The 21-year-old was reportedly moving the crew's truck when the fire trapped the other firefighters.

    He survived.

    But his battle is hardly over. Units like the Granite Mountain crew are typically close-knit. They have to be to go into conditions as dangerous as those of a wildfire. They have to know that they have each other's backs, that they can depend on one another.

    McDonough has to learn to live with the loss of men he cared about and deal with the emotional aftermath of surviving a tragedy like the one that claimed these heroes over the weekend. He has to decide if he wants to get back out there and once again do the job he loves.

    He will need time. And help.

    Help from a country that is honoring fallen heroes right now. We can't forget him. He was there too. He was putting his life on the line too. He needs us.

    In fact, a lot of help could be used in Prescott, where the families have to bury men who ranged in ages from just 21 to 43. Fourteen of the dead were in their 20s, just starting their lives. Some leave behind children, others pregnant spouses.

    They died fighting FOR something. Now we can do something for them. Here are some easy ways to help:

    1. The United Phoenix Fire Fighters Association and the Prescott Fire Fighters Charities have established a 501(c)3 relief fund called the United Phoenix Fire Fighters Association Account. Donations can be made via PayPal or mailed to UPFFA, 61 E. Columbus, Phoenix AZ 85012.

    2. The 100 Club of Arizona has set up a memorial fund in Memory of the Granite Mountain Hotshots. Funds collected will be used for "assisting survivors, covering costs for flights of family members of the victims, helping the injured, and purchasing replacement equipment for the Prescott Fire Department." Donations can be made via PayPal or mailed to 100 Club of Arizona, 5033 North 19th Avenue, Suite 123, Phoenix, AZ 85015.

    3. The Wildland Firefighter Foundation, a non-profit that helps families of firefighters killed in the line of duty and assists injured firefighters and their families, is currently raising money specifically for the Prescott firefighters. Donations are accepted on their website.

    Have you been moved to help these heroes' families?

     

    Image via USDAGov/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    kitchenI used to think I was pretty handy in the kitchen. No Martha Stewart, mind you, but I could handle your average kitchen tools pretty well. Then came motherhood, and I had to learn to do much of my cooking one-handed or to the exacting demands of said toddler.

    It's been a test of my willpower at times, my creativity at others. But I have learned that knowing how to use all the kitchen tools correctly isn't the real trick. It's knowing how to hack them to make them work for you that makes you the master of your domain!

    Spend enough time in a kitchen and you develop your own kitchen shortcuts, but here are some of my favorites that were dreamed up specifically by moms FOR moms.

    More from The Stir: 9 Strange Things You Can Do With a Strainer Besides Drain Food

    These will make your lives easier ... if you haven't already hacked them!

    Moms, what are your favorite kitchen hacks?

     

    Image via mafflong/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Detroit PoliceImagine knowing the names of the men who killed your son and not being able to do anything about it. This is life for the parents of Jacob Kudla, a teenager shot to death in Detroit, Michigan, last year. The Kudlas say they know who killed their son and his friend. They know who beat him up, put him in the trunk of a car, took him out to a field, and shot their child. But there's nothing they can do about it.

    Because Detroit police and prosecutors have told them they won't be prosecuting! Apparently Bernie and Vergie Kudla are supposed to be happy that the men who killed their son are behind bars, awaiting trial on other crimes.

    But is that really enough?

    The cops and prosecutors say it comes down to not enough evidence to build a good case.

    The Kudlas claim this comes down to money -- it's known across the country that Detroit is broke, and these parents think their son's case is getting the shaft because it would cost money to bring the criminals to justice. They say there is plenty of evidence.

    It's a whole lot of he said-she said at the moment.

    But the question of whether it's enough to catch a criminal on another case remains.

    Sure, it's comforting to know killers are behind bars, so they can't kill again.

    But Jacob Kudla is still dead, as is his 17-year-old friend Jourdan Bobbish, who was also murdered that night. Parents lost sons. Parents want the people who made their worst nightmares come true to pay for that, not for other crimes, but specifically for that.

    They want justice for THEIR loved ones.

    Is that really too much to ask?

    Is it really wrong that they're pushing these police and prosecutors on this?

    This isn't to say that there is any malfeasance in the Detroit legal system. I'm well aware that it is often up to prosecutors to do the best they can to get criminals behind bars, and because they're bound by the law on how to procure evidence, that sometimes means indicting on counts other than what they'd really like to, at least in their hearts.

    But where the cops and DAs have hundreds of cases that they need to focus on, parents like Bernie and Vergia Kudla have just one. They can ... and should ... keep on fighting. Because who else will?

    Do you think it's fair to make these parents accept that their sons' killers are behind bars on other charges? What would you do in their shoes?

     

    Image via Patricia Drury/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Beyonce's daughter's heelsWhen you have just one kid, it is hard to resist buying them everything. Trust me, been there, have the dent in the wallet to show for it. But someone needs to tell Beyonce and Jay-Z there's a line in the sand you just do not cross. Kitten heels for toddlers? Those are on the WRONG side of that line.

    Yes, it seems 17-month-old Blue Ivy has herself a pair of itty bitty kitten heels. And not just any kitten heels. Kitten heels from Tom Ford, of course, because she is the princess, and we all must bow down (insert eye-roll here). 

    Need I remind you that Beyonce's daughter is just a toddler?

    A photo of Blue Ivy's pink heels posted on Beyonce's Tumblr -- where she's also been showing off some of her daughter's other duds -- proves they are adorable. But that doesn't mean they aren't patently ridiculous. And not just because designer labels are a waste for kids who think dress is synonymous with napkin.

    Putting a toddler in heels is practically begging for podiatry problems down the road!

    This isn't me, the judgy mom, talking. It's science. Consider this warning about ill-fitting shoes on kids straight from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP):

    The foot takes the shape of the shoe, not vice versa. Improperly fitted or manufactured shoes may be the primary cause of acquired foot deformities and problems. Shoes that do not fit properly can deform an otherwise-normal foot, resulting in hammertoes, hallux valgus, bunionettes, corns, and, ultimately, the need for surgery.

    Got that? Put a toddler in kitten heels, and you're risking her (or his) foot actually taking that painful shape ... and worse!

    As much as we, the moms who drool over those darling shoes in the store's baby section, hate to admit it, the truth is early walkers don't really need shoes for much more than protection from dangers on the ground (stones, broken glass, whatever). Looking like a fashion model is not important; function is.

    That means heels are out. So what kind of shoes SHOULD a kid like Blue Ivy be wearing? Here's what the pediatricians recommend parents put on the feet of toddlers:

    1. Flexible shoes that allow the foot some freedom inside the shoe rather than forming the foot.

    2. Something with a non-skid sole to keep early walkers from slipping.

    3. Shoes that fit well. Because kids' feet grow at different rates, you need to check them pretty regularly to make sure their little toes aren't cramped in there!

    4. Simple shoes! According to the AAP, "Your child does not need wedges, inserts, high backs, reinforced heels, special arches, and other features designed to shape and support the feet as they have no proven benefit for the average child."

    Got that? See kitten heels anywhere on that list? 

    Didn't think so.

    Do you think Beyonce is crazy for letting Blue Ivy have these shoes? Would you let your daughter wear them?

     

    Image via Iam.Beyonce


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  • 07/03/13--15:00: 12 Reasons America Rocks
  • Post by Jeanne Sager

    American flag on July 4I always cry on the Fourth of July. It usually happens while we're watching the fireworks, listening to some patriotic song. It's not a sad sob; they're tears of joy that leak out of the corners of my eyes as my chest gets tight. This is the kind of American I am; one who gets sentimental about what it means to BE an American.

    I love our country. I love its purple mountains' majesties and those amber waves of grain. I love the Grand Canyon and the Statue of Liberty.

    But even more than that, I love that we're a country of people who don't take ourselves too seriously. Honestly? The good old US of A rocks because we're a pretty cool place to live. Just look at the evidence:

    Why do YOU think America rocks?

     

     

    Image via Jeanne Sager


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    American flag on July 4On July 4th, Americans celebrate so much more than a good day off from work to eat hot dogs and watch some fireworks. We are celebrating the birth of a nation, our people's Independence Day. So what better way to mark the Fourth of July than with quotes that speak to our independence?

    An independence of spirit common among Americans, an independence from foreign rule hard won (and hard fought for today) by our military, an independence of thought that we are so fiercely proud to call our own?

    More From The Stir: 12 Reasons America Rocks

    Because July 4th is a day when we all, as American, stand together and celebrate how lucky we are to live in a land of the FREE ... because of the brave.

    What is your favorite quote about independence?

     

    Image by Jeanne Sager

     


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Jenelle EvansLooks like it's time to add another addiction to Teen Mom 2 star Jenelle Evans' roster. She's been hooked on pot. Heroin. Drama. Twitter. And now it looks like we can add ... marriage?

    Don't worry, Jenelle has not married boyfriend Nathan Griffith. Yet.

    But when asked by a fan if Jenelle would be marrying Nathan, she quickly responded that it's definitely a possibility. Specifically she said, "Maybe one day."

    Um, Jenelle, honey! How about getting divorced from your current husband before you even THINK about getting married again?

    Jenelle and Courtland Rogers are still technically married. Until their divorce is finalized, she won't legally be allowed to marry Nathan.

    Nor should she want to. One of the reasons her first marriage was such an utter failure is the speed with which she entangled herself with Courtland. They'd just gotten together when suddenly they were married. Fast forward another few weeks and they were expecting a baby. Jump ahead another few, and she had miscarried ... and blamed him for hurting her during her pregnancy.

    Maybe if she'd taken it a wee bit slower, she wouldn't be getting divorced.

    Heck, maybe if she took it a wee bit slower, she'd never have married him in the first place.

    To say Jenelle doesn't have a great track record when it comes to picking guys is a bit of an understatement. She has Andrew, the baby daddy who ran off on her; Kieffer the felon who broke into a house and got her arrested; and of course, Gary, her fiance who she had brought up on domestic violence charges.

    And with all of them, she's rushed right into things, only to have it all blow up in her face.

    More From The Stir: 7 Signs 'Teen Mom 2' Season 5 Is Coming Soon

    Now here's Nathan, who so far doesn't seem half bad. But if she wants it to work out, she needs to remember what she's done wrong with every other guy and not do it again. Jenelle needs to take the time to really get to know this guy and make sure what's on the surface runs deep. 

    If it is, then and ONLY then should she even THINK about the POSSIBILITY of marrying him.

    But hey, this is Jenelle we're talking about. The chances of that are ... slim, at best.

    Do you see Jenelle and Nathan making it if they get married?

     

    Image via Instagram


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Trayvon Martin's mother Sybrina FultonTrayvon Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton, finally got her day in court. The mother of the dead teen was called by the prosecution Friday morning to testify in the trial against George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch commander accused of murdering Fulton's 17-year-old son. Video of her testimony shows a poised woman, a strong woman, a mom intent on doing what she can to get justice for her child. She managed to sit in open court and listen to her son dying on a 911 call crucial to the prosecution's case against Zimmerman.

    How did she do it? I can only guess it's a testament of a mother's love for her son.

    The call made by a resident of Sanford, Florida is chilling to hear as a complete outsider. Screams of "help" are so loud, they can be heard on the 911 call even though the caller says she's inside her home and refuses to go outside (for fear of her own safety).

    Under oath, Fulton identified the screams as coming from her son, not shaking as a defense attorney pushes her, obviously trying to make her admit that she'd been coached, been told by someone else that it was her youngest child calling for help.

    A mother knows her own child's voice.

    There's been a lot of debate about this trial, about whether Zimmerman is innocent and Trayvon is somehow the guilty party or if the neighborhood watch commander pursued the kid in the hoodie carrying the bag of Skittles.

    Who is to blame is up to a jury.

    But the outcome shouldn't change your opinion of Sybrina Fulton, of her pain and of her strength. We should all feel for her as a mother who lost her child, a mother forced to do the unthinkable ... listen to her child dying and not be able to go to him.

    How many times have you been sitting at a family function only to hear your child shriek from the backyard? You know, in an instant, that it's your child, and just as quickly you are up, running to help your child. 

    Only Sybrina Fulton couldn't help her child, at least not in the way a mother wants to. Her only option was to fight for him after his death. As she said on Twitter before being called to testify:

    Day 19 - I pray that God gives me strength to properly represent my Angel Trayvon. He may not be perfect but he's mine. I plead the blood of Jesus for healing.

    She had to sit in open court today knowing that it's too late. Those screams were Trayvon's last. She listened to her son dying.

    And she kept it together. She was poised. Strong.

    I don't know that I could have done it. Even knowing that this was not the first time Trayvon's mom was forced to listen to the 911 call, I put myself in her shoes, and I'm a puddle on the floor. I am a mom who cried when her daughter was being stuck with a needle for the state-required iron blood test. I am a wuss.

    Sybrina Fulton is anything but.

    She was a rock for her child because that is what she could do now for her son, her child, her son taken from her at just 17. 

    Watch her under pressure (in the first video, jump to minute marker 4:50 to hear her testimony begin):

    See this video on The Stir by CafeMom.

    And part two:

    See this video on The Stir by CafeMom.

    Put yourself in Fulton's shoes. What would you have done listening to that tape? What do you think of how she did on the stand?

     

    Image via TheCount/YouTube


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