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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

    beachNeed a pick-me-up for your day? This ought to do the trick. A Marine has been nominated for a hero's award after saving a drowning child's life. But Sgt. Michael Austin Pickett doesn't talk about himself as a hero.

    When the father of a little boy told his own dad about his recent day at the beach, Pickett may have mentioned a kid splashing around in the water whom he had to help. But that's not even half the story!

    Pickett was apparently off-duty, hanging at Atlantic Beach in North Carolina, when he saw an 8-year-old boy struggling out in the water. The kid had already been dragged some 70 yards out to sea by a rip current, but that didn't stop this brave serviceman from running straight into the water, fighting the current, and saving his life.

    But just get what Pickett's dad had to say about his son's heroics in an interview with the Times Free Press:

    We really didn’t know the full extent until we read the Marines’ release later. He just said, "The kid was splashing around and I swam out there and dragged him in," instead of telling us he swam out in a rip current.

    A humble hero. Sigh. We don't have enough of those in this world.

    Heck, hero may be a word that's over-used in our society, in no small part because people are always looking for their moment in the spotlight. There's a lot of people grabbing for credit. 

    But I'd say it applies to a guy like Pickett, a Marine who does things not for the glory, but because they have to be done, who helps because he CAN and he knows he should. As Pickett said:

    Marines are trained more than the average person, and if we can use the skills we have been taught to help someone in need, I think we should do it, no questions asked.

    Oorah! We need more people who think that way!

    By the way, did I mention this kid was a stranger? He wasn't Pickett's son (who is 5) or even his nephew. He was just a kid in trouble. Lucky for him, Marine Sgt. Michael Pickett decided to go to the beach that day.

    What would you have done in this Marine's situation?

     

    Image via DeusXFlorida/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    hot temperatureHow many times have you read about babies dying in hot cars because they were forgotten by a parent, left in a parked vehicle? Well, that's not what you're about to read. Oh, a baby died -- tragically -- in a hot car. But Hannah Randolph, the 23-day-old daughter of Angela and Christopher Randolph, wasn't left behind. Her parents were there, the whole time. And the car? It was running.

    According to police, the Randolph family was on a road trip from Ohio to Oklahoma with their two children, ages 23 days and 15 months. They were out on the open road when Hannah, the younger of their two children, died in her car seat, likely from the heat.

    Don't think you'd be the parent who forgot their kid in a car? What about the parent whose kid wasn't forgotten?

    Police in Oklahoma have arrested Angela and Christopher Randolph in the death of little Hannah. They've charged them both with felony neglect.

    According to the cops, the Randolphs were driving their kids in a '90s Grand Am that had no air conditioning and only one window that opened. An autopsy is still pending, but the charges are based on the suspicion that the baby girl died of heat exhaustion because it was 100 degrees outside. The family says they pulled over at a convenience store and realized their daughter wasn't breathing. They called for help, but it was too late.

    Did they neglect her? That's for the cops to determine, but I can't help but note that this could happen to nearly anyone.

    How many parents have cars with no air conditioning because they just can't afford to get it fixed? I have no shame in saying I've been there. As for the windows, well, power windows are likewise expensive to fix.

    Should they have known the baby was in danger? That's hard to say. If you, the adult, are uncomfortable, but making it, do you automatically think that the kids won't?

    Maybe. Maybe not.

    If nothing else, the story of what happened to Hannah Randolph should be a warning for parents, a reminder that just because you are OK, your baby may NOT be. They are much more fragile than we are, and they need accommodations much more than us, especially in the heat.

    Does this story give you pause? Will you be changing anything?

     

    Image via couchlearner/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Jenelle EvansHold on to your hats, Teen Mom fans, because we've got some wild news for you. Jenelle Evans is making a change ... for the better! The often scandalous star of Teen Mom 2 is a college girl now!

    And by that I mean the kind of girl who goes to college classes, not just the one who goes to college parties!

    Jenelle signed herself up for classes at Miller Motte, a for-profit chain of technical schools based in the Southeast. The school offers short-term career training in everything from massage therapy to welding, but based on the surgical mask emoticon Jenelle added on Twitter, it's looking like she's eyeing their surgical technician program.

    That's what she said she was most interested in doing with her life when The Stir interviewed her back in November, and it's a career that could give her the stability she needs to become a full-time mom to Jace.

    More From The Stir: Kailyn Lowry's Wedding Registry Announcement Blows Up in Her Face

    Of course, she's been down the college route before and not made it. So what's to say it will work this time?

    Well, for starters, she's doing it for her, not because someone told her she has to. In fact, Jenelle says her mom, Barbara Evans, has told her to put off school ... and she's doing it anyway.

    In a strange way, that might be what really makes college stick this time. Some people tend to do better at things when they're doing them to prove someone wrong, and considering the tumultuous relationship Jenelle and Barbara have had, that could be a major motivating factor for the Teen Mom.

    Not to mention, she can't live off the MTV money forever!

    Congratulations to Jenelle for making a smart choice. We look forward to seeing her graduate.

    Do you think Jenelle will make a good surgical technician?

     

    Image by Jeanne Sager


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    little girlHow many times have you heard the saying "out of the mouths of babes?" Kids can always be counted on to say some -- usually unintentionally -- hilarious things. But if you think they're alone in that regard, you probably haven't been a parent for very long.

    Because parenthood is guaranteed to make you say things you never, in your craziest dreams, imagined you would say.

    Not sure what I mean? Think about it. Did you talk about poop nearly as much before you had kids? Ever give lectures on licking?

    We asked parents to 'fess up to some of the weirdest things they've found themselves saying since they became parents, and they did. Oh did they!

    Go ahead and laugh at their answers ... they'd laugh at you!

    What is the CRAZIEST thing you've found yourself saying since you became a parent?

     

    Image by Jeanne Sager


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Lea Michele Teen choice AwardsNo one would have blamed Lea Michele if she'd skipped out on the 2013 Teen Choice Awards tonight. It's been just a few weeks since boyfriend Cory Monteith was found dead, and Glee was already well represented with Darren Criss co-hosting (along with Lucy Hale), and most of the cast on hand to accept the show's award for Choice TV Comedy. But Michele showed ... and showed the world how she's handling a very personal tragedy turned very, very public. 

    She was noticably absent when a host of Glee stars took the stage to accept their giant surfboard, but when her name was called for best actress in a TV comedy, Michele appeared, suddenly smiling. It was a smile that wavered as she tried -- just thisclose to successfully -- to hold back her tears, as Michele dedicated her award to the love of her life.

    And then she did something really amazing.

    She opened up about her grief, and she agreed to share Cory with the world.

    You could say she didn't have a choice. The world has weighed in on his tragic death and the circumstances around it. He was a star, so his death is public. Period.

    But as his girlfriend, Michele very much could have decided to shut the world out and keep her grief private. She could have said, "thanks but no thanks" to the Teen Choice Awards invite. And she could have simply asked the fans to respect her privacy.

    There would be no shame in any of that.

    But tonight, Lea Michele decided to share her pain, and in doing that, she showed what a strong and gracious woman she is. As she said in her acceptance speech for her acting award:

    I just wanted to be here today to personally thank all of you and tell everyone out there how much all of your love and support has meant to me over these very past difficult few weeks. Not that I had any doubt before, but you guys are most certainly the greatest fans in the world. 

    It was enough to make Michele sound like a woman who really understands what it means to be a celebrity -- who understands why people really get so wrapped up in what happens to people they've never met. But she didn't stop there:

    I wanted to dedicate this award to Cory. For all of you out there who loved and admired Cory as much as I did, I promise that with your love we're going to get through this together.

    He was very special to me, and also to the world, and we were very lucky to witness his incredible talent, his handsome smile, and his beautiful, beautiful heart. Whether you knew him personally or just as Finn Hudson, Cory reached out and he became a part of all of our hearts, and that's where he'll stay forever.

    As a fan, I was stunned by Cory's death and saddened too, but I know I can't even begin to imagine what Lea has gone through. Her ability to see through her own grief, to recognize that the kid in audience, the kids who voted for her, could be hurting too, ironically only goes to show what incredible pain must lie beneath the surface of Lea's own beautiful smile.

    She's not just grieving the love of her life, she's having to do it with the whole world watching and weighing in, and she's still able to share ... to remember that Cory wasn't just hers, nor is the pain over his death.

    As co-star Jenna Ushkowitz said tonight:

    On behalf of our brother and our castmate, we know that Cory would have wanted to dedicate this award to you guys. So our condolences to all of you as well.

    Watch the tribute here:

    See this video on The Stir by CafeMom.

    What did you think of Lea's tribute to Cory?

     

    Image via Getty Images/Kevin Winter

     

     


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Isaiah PerezA nationwide Amber Alert has been called off. Two-year-old Isaiah Perez has been found, wandering the streets of Providence, Rhode Island. The missing toddler appears to be fine, at least health-wise. But the double homicide police found back at his home outside Providence shows this little guy's ordeal is far from over.

    Isaiah's mother is one of two women found dead in a home in Johnston, Rhode Island over the weekend. The cops responded to a domestic disturbance call only to find two children in the house along with the bodies of two adult women. Isaiah was missing, and finding him became priority number one.

    The discovery of the little guy on the streets by a police officer should be good news, right?

    Well yes, technically.

    The 2-year-old is OK, even though cops really don't know where he was for the 16 hours he was missing or how he got from Johnston to Providence. He wasn't with Malcolm Crowell and Daniel Rodriguez, the two men arrested by cops on suspicion of killing Isaiah's mom and the other as-yet-unidentified woman.

    He's OK.

    Hooray. It's always good news when an Amber Alert ends with a healthy kid. That's the whole point of having them -- to rescue kids before it's too late.

    And yet, even as I breathed a sigh of relief, I found myself feeling guilty. Two women are dead. Three children were hurt in some way -- even if it's "just" emotionally.

    Yes, the Amber Alert is over. Yes, we can stop looking little boys up and down in the supermarket, wondering if they're the missing child. Our part is done.

    But the fight isn't over.

    Cops haven't yet released the relationship of Crowell and Rodriguez to the deceased or to the kids, explained the story behind the double homicide, but we know something bad went down. And these kids -- including Isaiah -- will have to deal with the aftermath for the rest of their lives.

    The end of Amber Alerts may allow us all to breathe a sigh of relief and get back to our regularly scheduled lives, but this case is a reminder that things are far from over for the little kids involved.

    Do you stop paying attention after an Amber Alert is called off, or do you continue to follow the case?

     

    Image via police


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Ashton Kutcher Teen Choice AwardsThis year's Teen Choice Awards marked a major change in my household. Last year, I tuned in as a blogger only. This year, I tuned in as a mother with a daughter who was allowed to stay up to watch. I didn't know what to expect. Certainly, I did not expect Ashton Kutcher's speech.

    The 35-year-old actor won the Ultimate Choice Award and the award for parents' new favorite actor in one fell swoop when he stood up and told the kids in the audience and the kid in my living room (and kids in living rooms across the nation) the truth about being sexy.

    Are you ready for this one?

    The sexiest thing in the entire world is being really smart. And being thoughtful and being generous. Everything else is crap. I promise you. It's just crap that people try to sell to you to make you feel like less. So don't buy it. Be smart. Be thoughtful and be generous.

    Amen!!!

    I couldn't have said it better myself.

    Actually, come to think of it, I have said that or something like it more than a few times to my kid.

    Usually she nods along, but I never know how much is sinking in. Does she get it? Or is this another "yeah, Mom is talking, so I'm going to yes her to death so I can get back to playing Subway Surfer" moment?

    More From The Stir: Lea Michele Brings Grief for Cory Monteith Public With Incredible Teen Choice Awards Tribute (VIDEO)

    Ashton Kutcher took a chance when he got up onstage at the Teen Choice Awards and chose not to play the clown but the role model. Who knows why he did it. Clearly his role as Steve Jobs in the upcoming biopic has influenced him greatly -- he mentioned the Apple founder by name last night -- but still, he was in front of a bunch of teens and tweens. Teenagers don't take kindly to being lectured.

    Which is why we parents are so often ignored, why we need someone like the uber cool and super sexy Ashton Kutcher to throw caution to the wind and use his moment in front of our kids to actually do something worthwhile, to remind our kids what really matters.

    Being smart. Being kind. Being generous. Oh yeah, and these awesome quotes from Ashton last night:

    1. I believe that opportunity looks a lot like work.

    2. I never had a job in my life that I was better than. I was always just lucky to have a job. Every job I had was a stepping stone to my next job and I never quit my job before I had my next job.

    3. Steve Jobs said when you grow up, you tend to get told that the world is the way that it is, and that your life is to live your life inside the world and try not to get into too much trouble. But life can be a lot broader than that when you realize one simple thing, and that is that everything around us that we call life was made up by people that are no smarter than you. You can build your own life that other people can live in. So build a life. Don’t live one; build one.

    I hope my daughter was listening, how about your kids?

    What did you think of Ashton's speech during the Teen Choice Awards? What did your KIDS think of it?

     

    Image via Ray Mickshaw/FOX


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    classroomBack to school time. Also known as the time of year when parents absolutely FREAK OUT about their kids' new teachers.

    What do they freak out about? You name it, I've heard it -- and every year parents' hangups seem to get more ridiculous.

    OMG, can you believe someone's cousin's sister-in-law's best friend once saw the teacher smoking at a bar? OMG, can you believe that teacher's brother's girlfriend's cousin three times removed is a stripper?

    OMG, can you believe people care so much about the personal life of a person who only interacts with their child inside a classroom?

    It behooves us as parents to be aware of who it is our kids are spending their days with, who is standing in front of the class, making an impact on our kids. But parents are slowly but surely sticking their noses into teachers' private lives -- thanks in no small part to Facebook and cameraphones -- and it's quickly getting out of control.

    Teachers are people too!

    Outside the classroom, they need to be allowed to be human beings.

    So let's take a look at some of the more ridiculous parental hangups about teachers ... and bid them goodbye:

    1. Smoking -- I hate smoking. I think it's disgusting, and I've been known to report people to the state for violations of our state's public smoking law and confront parents who smoke in front of their kids. But I can admit that there's a big difference between smoking out at the bar one night and smoking in the classroom with my kid. If she's out of the classroom, she's only hurting herself. Which leads me to ...

    2. Drinking -- I have known teachers who were afraid to go out to the bar with friends for a night because one of their students' parents might see them. Now I would hope my kid's teacher wouldn't get sloppy drunk and get in a car because, really, I'd hope NO ONE would do that. But if you're over 21, and you want to go out and have a drink, by all means ... go ahead!

    3. Sexuality -- OK, is your kid's teacher having sex in the classroom? No? Then why do you care if they're straight or gay? And don't tell me that your kid finding out her teacher has a wife is going to raise tough questions about lesbian sex. Kids don't find out their female teacher has a husband and come home asking how he puts his penis inside of her ... they're not going to do the opposite with a lesbian teacher. The only people who equate homosexuality with sex are ... ADULTS!

    4. Tattoos -- You'd think by 2013 people would be hip to the fact that tattoos are no longer the denizen of bad biker dudes with murder on their mind. Moms are getting tattoos. Grandmas are getting tattoos! And yes, some teachers have ink. They say nothing more about the quality of the person than hair color or weight.

    5. Their Past -- I'll admit, there's a line here. I don't want a convicted murderer or a pedophile in a classroom with my child; there's reason to believe they represent a threat. But if a teacher put herself through college by working at the local strip club or shooting a porn flick, that's none of my -- or my child's -- business. What matters is what she does now, in the classroom. Before you flip out about a teacher's past indiscretions, stop and think. Were they any worse than anything you did as a young adult?

    6. Their Gender -- Teaching, especially on the elementary level, remains a female-dominated field. That said, there are many guys who choose to go into the profession who are marvelous at connecting with kids. Assuming a teacher is a pedophile simply because they're male isn't just sexist, it's shortsighted.

    What hangups about teachers do parents have that make you roll your eyes?

     

    Image via sambo854/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    strollersOMG. Parents! The world has ended! Armageddon is here! You better hide yo' kids, hide yo' wife because a restaurant has enacted, gasp ... a stroller ban!

    What? You were expecting something ... devastating?

    Tell that to Jason Desroches and his wife. They're talking about suing a restaurant called Flips that dared turn them away for bringing their baby daughter to breakfast in her stroller.

    Because ya know, having a baby means you must have a stroller.

    Doesn't it?

    I said, doesn't it?

    Er. OK, I'll 'fess up. I think these parents are out of their gourds.

    Strollers are nice. But they're not a basic human right.

    They have heard of babywearing, right? Whereby mothers and fathers since time immemorial have actually carried babies on their backs and fronts, rather than putting them in a wheely cart? It's actually pretty handy; my kid even does it with her doll.

    Frankly, I never was very good at babywearing. I could never quite get the hang of it without feeling severe pain in my back, although I know plenty of moms and dads who have done it for years.

    So I did use a stroller. Sometimes. I'm not ashamed to admit it!

    It was great for long walks with a mom friend to lose my baby weight, and perfect for stowing packages when I went shopping. Yes, the stroller was mighty convenient.

    But it wasn't necessary.

    Heck, there were countless times when it was INCONVENIENT to lug that big thing along, so I left it at home, opting to carry my baby girl the other way parents have since the world began -- perched on my hip.

    You get where I'm going with this, right?

    For starters, the Desroches come off as a wee bit looney tunes, screaming about discrimination because a restaurant asked them to leave a non-essential item at home when dining with their baby. They're actually boycotting the place! And asking other parents to do the same.

    Over a stroller.

    But I do feel at least a little bad for them. Society has turned the stroller into a "must-have" item for parents, the kind of thing you feel you're supposed to have. Check out any how-to on registering for a baby shower or prepping for baby, and it's near the top of the list.

    To be a parent in 2013 is to have a stroller, or at least to be told you should.

    When did this happen? When did something that makes parents lives easier ... sometimes ... become a necessity? When did we become so dependent on these items of convenience that we actually throw a hissy when we're not allowed to use them?

    Because the Desroches aren't the first parents to get angry when someone dared deny them their stroller. Have you ever read a rant on a parenting message board about people who give moms the stink eye for toting a giant stroller on a public bus? You'd think these people were attacking her for breastfeeding or, well, something that kids actually need to survive.

    So let me just lay a little bit of knowledge on those kinds of parents -- the Desroches included -- your kid doesn't need a stroller, and neither do you.

    You just want one.

    And in the immortal words of one Mr. Mick Jagger, "you can't always get what you want."

    Would you boycott a restaurant that banned strollers?

     

    Image via Kevin Poh/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    shame shame shameWhat could possibly be worse for a 13-year-old girl than being molested by a sexual predator, a grown man? How about having her name dragged through the mud in open court ... by the prosecutor? And then having the judge letting her molester off with a slap on the wrist, not even sending him to jail?

    As if it isn't bad enough that people in regular society latch on to victim blaming and rape apologies? Now we have the people of the courts doing it too?

    The story goes that Neil Wilson was given an eight-month suspended sentence after admitting he had engaged in sexual activity with a 13-year-old girl and created "indecent" images.

    Eight months. SUSPENDED. That's like no punishment at all.

    And let's remember, this was for sexually molesting a mere child.

    Thanks to the public outcry over the lame lowball sentence, Judge Nigel Peters QC (this was in England) is now under investigation, as is Prosecutor Robert Colover, who apparently called the child "predatory" and brought up her "sexual experience" in court, blaming the victim for her own assault. Peters has adjusted Wilson's sentence overall to 12 months in prison, with two suspended, although that's for the other charges against him -- the eight months suspended remains in effect for hurting the girl.

    Geez, with "friends" like this working for her in the court system, who needs enemies?

    Kids don't cause their own sexual assault. Period. They can't consent; therefore, they can't cause a molestation.

    And if you believe differently, you need to remember what it was like to be a kid, to know that you were at the whims of an adult. And, quite frankly, you shouldn't be around kids!

    Wilson needs to spend a heckuva lot more time in jail, this girl deserves an apology for being re-victimized, and both Peters and Colover need to be taken off the job.

    If they can't recognize who a victim is in a case of molestation of a child, I can't imagine what kind of compassion they summon for adults!

    What do you make of this awful case?

     

    Image via rochelle hartman/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Jenelle Evans mugshotYou knew something had to be wrong when Jenelle Evans' Twitter account went silent for more than 20 hours, and now we know why. The Teen Mom 2 star has been sent to jail. Again!

    And showing just how seriously she takes it when the cops haul her off to jail, Jenelle had a big cheesy grin for her mugshot photo. Again!

    She better hope boyfriend Nathan Griffith doesn't see this one.

    'Memba when Griffith, a former Marine and total gym rat, said he'd leave Jenelle if she did drugs? Looks like his promise is being tested, like, right NOW.

    Turns out Jenelle was in court today to make a plea that would allow her to skate on the heroin charges lodged against her after an altercation with husband Courtland Rogers earlier this year. That was when the judge decided it would be a good time to call for Jenelle to take a random drug test.

    According to TMZ, the reality star's test came back positive for marijuana. So while the judge OK'd the plea that gave Jenelle just 18 months probation for heroin and illegal Percocet possession and a drug paraphernalia charge, he ordered she be hauled off to jail for 48 hours to pay for showing up to court with drugs in her system.

    Sadly from the looks of her mugshot, the move hasn't scared Jenelle in the least. The grin she greeted jail with is what my grandparents would have called the shit-eating kind. She's amused by this! Clearly!

    More From The Stir: Jenelle Evans Goes Where We Never Thought She’d Go

    So if jail doesn't scare her, what will? Anything?

    Maybe Nathan actually putting his money where his mouth is and walking away? After all, Jenelle does not do well when she's single -- the fact that she's dating him while still technically married shows that.

    Nathan hasn't yet commented on his girlfriend's arrest other than to tell his ex-wife (and mother of his child) to "shut the f--k up" for breaking the news of Jenelle's failed drug test on Twitter. But if he really loves the Teen Mom 2 star, he'll step up and do SOMETHING about her return to jail. He has until Wednesday morning when she gets out to think about it ...

    Can Nathan turn Jenelle around? Can anything?

     

    Image via Brunswick County District Court


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    babyMoms, how many kids would you be willing to breastfeed at once? One? Two? How about breastfeedingthree children? That's what mom Samantha Williams proudly announced to the world the other day. Now for the really big news: only one of those kids is a baby.

    That's right. Samantha is nursing her 7-month-old. Her 3-year-old. AND her 5-year-old.

    At once. Well, sort of.

    Despite her unusual breastfeeding routine, Samantha is just like regular gals: she only has two breasts. So while she is doing what's called "tandem nursing" of her baby and two older kids, only two can latch on at any one time. Still, she's trading off two boobs among three children, and they're not triplets.

    Is this woman a saint? Or is she nuts? Maybe a little bit of both?

    I'm not here to piss in the cornflakes of breastfeeding moms. This is NOT about breastfeeding. At least not about why women choose to nurse at the outset.

    But Samantha has put herself out there as an example of what a woman can do with her kids, and I can't help but be a little horrified. Women who extended nurse say they do so for the best of their kids, but her 3- and 5-year-olds aren't the only kids this mom has to consider.

    What about her baby? What about what's best for 7-month-old Ethan?

    Is it really to have a mother whose body is working overtime for three kids in every way -- not just running after them, but in producing milk? Is it really to have to share this special mom to baby bonding time that the breastfeeding proponents crow about with his siblings? Is it really to have a mom who never gets to just shut off?

    That's the part that really gets me. What about her?

    Because breastfeeding one kid takes a lot out of you. Breastfeeding three? That's ... a lot of pressure, especially for the mother of an infant.

    I'm sure Samantha Williams is a good mom. She's obviously trying. And the photos show happy, healthy kids. But my response to her story wasn't "oh, how cool." It was, good God, that poor woman.

    She's breastfeeding three children. THREE! That's a lot of work for a mom, a mom who has an infant at home who needs his mother to have as much energy for him as she can muster.

    Adding more kids to your family can be a wonderful thing, but you need to remember not to spread yourself too thin -- because that's not good for anyone, and it's not fair to your new baby.

    Have you tried tandem nursing? How did it work for your family?

     

    Image via jared/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Barney FowlerMore heartwrenching news from the home of Leila Fowler, the 8-year-old California girl murdered in her own bedroom. Her 12-year-old brother is already in jail, charged with killing his little sister. Now, Leila's dad says his family is receiving threats. He's come out to say they're afraid in their own home.

    Come on, really? A family has lost their child, they've got another child facing serious charges, and this is how people respond? With anger and recrimination?

    Leila's father and his fiancee have come out of hiding to say the town that once held vigils for their little girl has turned on them, that they've had people bang on their doors, cyberbully them, and make their other kids terrified to be left alone.

    Here, take a listen:

    See this video on The Stir by CafeMom.

    Standing on the outside of the community, the Fowlers' confessions are heartbreaking. Don't these people have any compassion?

    But a part of me does understand how a community could turn so quickly on this family. Their 12-year-old son, who Barney Fowler, like any good dad, says is innocent, was one of them. They trusted this boy.

    Now he's charged with the heinous murder of his little sister.

    For people who comforted that little boy, his arrest likely feels like a violation of their trust. It's not hard to imagine that they feel betrayed and confused. Now it seems as if they had a murderer in their midst ... and that murderer is someone they trusted with their kids because he WAS a kid. 

    Still, these people didn't ask for this. They didn't ask for their son to be charged with murder. They didn't ask for their daughter to be murdered.

    They aren't perfect, but they are in pain. They are grieving.

    Isn't that enough of a reason to leave them alone?

    Do you have compassion for this family or has their son's arrest obliterated that?

     

    Image via KCRATV


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    needleHere's a nightmare story for parents. A teacher took a teenage student to have his genitals pierced. Talk about crossing a major line, y'all.

    And I'm not just talking about the rather, ahem, personal nature of this teen's new jewelry. I don't care where my kid is getting a new hole in her body; I want to be there!

    The parents in this case out of South Africa are almost lucky it was a teacher. The school is taking care of disciplining the educator for crossing the line, and there are possible criminal charges pending.

    But what if it isn't a teacher? What if it's a relative? Or a friend? What do you do if another adult takes your kid to get pierced -- be it in the penis or just in the ears?

    Here in the states, it's illegal in many states to pierce someone without their parent or legal guardian present, so you do have legal recourse ... if you want to go that route. Or you can simply cut the person out of your life and your kid's life.

    But you have to do something, right?

    Because piercing isn't a decision a kid should make without a parent weighing in. It's not a decision kids should take lightly. It can be dangerous (God forbid the piercer's equipment isn't very clean or they aren't adept at piercing), and depending on the placement of the piercing or the quality of the piercing, it can be permanent.

    Permanent is not something we want to attribute with teenage choices. These are the kids who thought Justin Bieber was cool last week. This week it's Twerking. Next week, who knows ... but it will most certainly be something completely different.

    Teenagehood is all about impermanence.

    It's about impulsivity.

    It's about making choices ... and then changing your mind five minutes later.

    It's about being dumb enough to think getting your penis pierced is a good idea.

    Which is why teenagers still have parents. And why we get to make the decisions about what they pierce -- not other random adults ... not even teachers.

    What would you do if someone took your kid to get a piercing?

     

    Image via acidpix/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    girl eatingI'd just put a pint of fresh berries in my grocery cart when my daughter started on one of her tears. "I don't LIKE blueberries," she informed me. This is new. Last summer, I couldn't keep them in the fridge. Now she's turning up her nose at them. Welcome to life with a picky eater.

    I never set out to raise a picky eater. Back when I knew everything -- you know, before I actually had a kid -- I thought that all you had to do was give your child tons of options from day one, and magically they would prefer Chilean sea bass to chicken nuggets.

    Right? That's how it's supposed to work?

    So little old vegetarian me didn't even suggest to my husband that we might try raising a little vegetarian. We dove right into veggies, and fruits, and meats, and this, that, and the other thing.

    Name it, and she's tried it. At least a few times, because, of course, all the books tell you that it takes several attempts for a child to actually "like" a food.

    And at 8 years old, she is picky.

    Picky.

    Picky.

    Picky.

    She eats broccoli but not green beans. She'll eat tomatoes but not tomato sauce (except on pizza, of course). She loves salt, but she better not find one single fleck of pepper on her food.

    I have only one thing to say about it: I'm fine with it.

    OK, maybe I have a few more things to say.

    I'm not buying one of the gazillion books out there on how to "fix" my picky eater. I'm not on the phone with my pediatrician, desperate to find a nutritionist. And I'm certainly not going to go back over my parenting "mistakes" with a fine tooth comb to figure out what I did wrong to end up in this state.

    I'm fine with my daughter being a picky eater because I am a picky eater. I am a vegetarian for crying out loud!

    A vegetarian who doesn't like broccoli.

    Although there are myriad reasons why I have remained a vegetarian for 16 years, one of the biggest is that I never liked the taste or texture of meat. Nor do I like the taste and texture of nuts (not even peanut butter). Or red peppers. Or coffee.

    You get my point. She comes by her pickiness naturally, genetically.

    And my parents tried hard to undo it. I remember sitting at the dining room table for hours after everyone else in the family had finished their meals, a plate of sausage in front of me. All I had to do was eat some, and I could get up.

    I waited.

    The hours passed.

    Still, I waited.

    Finally, desperate to get out of that chair, I took a few bites. And my stomach started roiling. I didn't even make it to the bathroom before the sausage was on the floor.

    It's memories like those that keep me from pushing my kid too hard.

    It's the knowledge that -- while my tastes today are considered "likes" and "dislikes" because I'm an adult -- if you boil it down, I'm really just a picky eater that makes me sympathetic to her requests that I dish up the macaroni and cheese before I add the breadcrumbs and bake it or that I leave out the "black stuff" (pepper) on her noodles.

    It's not that I don't stress nutrition. She is required to eat a green vegetable with dinner, to get her calcium, her protein. In my fridge right now are no less than four different fresh fruits she can choose from for snacktime, and for lunch these past few days, she's requested farm fresh eggs with whole wheat toast.

    Maybe if she refused ALL fruits and vegetables, I'd be more upset about her pickiness. But I'd rather make broccoli every single night because she likes it than throw out perfectly good lima beans, spinach, and zucchini over and over again because they remained untouched.

    Her palate will expand eventually. Mine did.

    But for now, I don't care if she eats the same 10 foods all day every day. She's healthy. Isn't that enough?

    Do you have a picky eater? Do you stress out about it?

     

    Image by Jeanne Sager


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Being Maci BookoutCan you believe it has been almost a year since Teen Mom was on the air? MTV cancelled the show that made Maci Bookout, Farrah Abraham, Catelynn Lowell, and Amber Portwood household names after four seasons, but the network is far from done with Maci. The mom from Tennessee has gotten her own official TV special!

    Being Maci: A Teen Mom Special airs this Sunday night on MTV after a marathon of 16 & Pregnant episodes. Can't wait? Good news! The Stir got a sneak peek at the episode shot last December, and we've got the skinny on everything Maci. 

    First, let's clear up the big question: yes, Ryan Edwards, Maci's one-time fiance and father of her little boy, Bentley, makes an appearance. Well, more than an appearance. We get to see quite a bit of Ryan, his girlfriend (at the time) Dalis Connell, and his parents, Jen and Larry.

    Maci and Ryan are no longer a couple (as we saw on Teen Mom), but let's just say the sparks are still there! Expect complications ... seeing as I did just mention Dalis is still in the picture!

    The chance to see the Ryan and Maci game is reason enough to tune in, right?

    But there's more! 

    Ryan has grown up! He's 25, and he's a real dad these days, and he's got some strong opinions about what Maci should (and shouldn't) be doing around Bentley and who should be around his son.

    At least one biiiiiig source of contention is gone, but new ones have popped up in, well, let's just say his place.

    It's been a year since the last show aired, but even longer since MTV was taping Teen Mom, and Maci's entire network of friends has changed big time. So we get to meet her three new housemates (besides Bentley, of course) and find out what it's like to make real friends when you're famous.

    Basically, the show gives us a good update on what Maci has been up to, although it's just one hour ... and I'd love to see more. There's clearly enough to make a show, just with Ryan and Maci. Maybe Teen Mom: Custody Battles?

    Come on, MTV, we want a full spin-off!!

    Being Maci airs at 10 pm. ET/ 9 CT on MTV on Sunday, August 18.

    Have you been keeping up with Maci since her show went off the air? What are you hoping to see?

     

    Image via Instagram


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Catelynn Lowell April BaltierraTonight's Couples Therapy episodes was the second to last of the season -- next week we'll see the finale of the VH1 show. It was a big one for a lot of folks. Model Abbey Wilson made major headway on her battle with an eating disorder, and Real World stars Heather Marter and Dustin Zito stood up for one another in a battle with Girls Gone Wild creator (and Wilson's boyfriend) Joe Francis. But no story is really bigger than that of Teen Mom star Catelynn Lowell.

    April Baltierra -- aka Catelynn's mom and boyfriend Tyler Baltierra's stepmom -- showed up at the therapy house!

    Fans who have followed Catelynn from 16 & Pregnant to Teen Mom and now to Couples Therapy, watched her struggle through pregnancy, adoption, and the aftermath of adoption, culminating in the painful cancellation of her wedding, know who April is. And they know that despite being just a kid through most of it -- she's still just 21 -- Catelynn has had to struggle alone with no one but Tyler at her side because April was not there for her kid.

    Either she was too drunk to be there, or she was being emotionally and verbally abusive.

    But tonight we saw the other side of April. With celebrity therapist Dr. Jenn Berman's gentle pushing, Catelynn's mother opened up about her own past -- before she became Catelynn's mom -- and what took her down the road of addition. Like many addicts, April is not a happy person. She's unhappy with herself, and she turns to alcohol because it's an escape.

    More From The Stir: Catelynn Lowell & Tyler Baltierra Have a New Kid

    But she can't escape what she's done to Catelynn and how it continues to shape her today, even how it's landed her on Couples Therapy and brought her wedding plans to a screeching halt.

    Even grown up kids could use good parents in their lives, but Catelynn is too busy dealing with April's constant troubles to really get on with her own life, to really grow UP. As she admitted tonight to her mom:

    One of my biggest fears is just either A. you dying and B. me having to cut all ties with you because it's not healthy for me to deal with this.

    When you drink and you do things it affects me. It affects my daily life.

    Heartbreaking.

    But this is what's good about this reality show. Berman and her crew really know their stuff, and bringing April in to talk to her daughter couldn't have come at a better time. It gave April the chance to finally say to Catelynn the thing this girl has so deserved to hear ... a real apology for what she's been through:

    I shoulda stood by her side and not given her such a hard time and I shoulda just not be so mean to her.

    There's things I said to her I wish I could take back.

    I really wish we could go back and do it all over again. I would stay at that hospital with you 24 hours and I would have held your hand when you had to do that. I know that was the hardest thing in the world that you would ever had to have done. I can't even imagine.

    I am so deeply sorry, Catelynn. I really love you. You turned out to be so awesome.

    She's right. Catelynn DID turn out to be awesome.

    And hopefully April can get herself straightened out and get sober so she can be around for a long time to see that awesome ... and maybe one day see a healthier, happier Catelynn. Not having those awful fears hanging over her head would be a major boost to her well-being ... maybe enough to allow her to actually be ready to get married and start having kids some day.

    What did you think of April's apology? Did it seem sincere?

     

    Image via VH1


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Dylan RedwineThe family of Dylan Redwine has been in a holding pattern since their missing 13-year-old son was found, dead, not far from his father's house in June. But suddenly cops descended on the house of Dylan's dad, Mark Redwine, this week. They tore the place apart. How do we know?

    Mark Redwine. He's telling the press everything. Every. Dirty. Detail.

    According to Mark himself, the cops removed sections of carpet and wood flooring in his house, the last place Dylan was seen alive last November, when he was visiting his father (Mark and Dylan's mother, Elaine Redwine, are separated and shared custody of their 13-year-old). 

    They didn't stop there. Mark told a Colorado news station that the police took a fireplace poker, clothing, and a cellphone from his home. They also dug a hole in his yard, underneath an outdoor staircase. 

    What were they looking for?

    Isn't it obvious?

    Mark Redwine's house is the scene of the crime. They're looking for evidence.

    Which leads us to the real question: why is Mark telling everyone? And in such detail?

    Isn't he afraid? The cops haven't officially named him as a suspect in his child's murder, but they are SEARCHING HIS HOUSE.

    It's not looking good for dad. And his big mouth is a strange response. Don't lawyers usually tell you to shut up at this point? Doesn't he have one?

    Perhaps Mark Redwine thinks the best defense is a good offense? Word got out pretty darn quickly that there were cops at his house, thanks to the Justice for Dylan Redwine Facebook page, which had this snarky gem up on yesterday:

    I know that many of you in the Community saw Law Enforcement at Mark's house this afternoon. Most definitely 10 SUV's are noticeable and I know there are a lot of questions. I just wanted to confirm this information is true. But that's about all I can tell you for now. Justice is coming, I can promise you that. I would also like to add that I hope Mark is enjoying this beautiful summer evening, because I am. Love and Light

    He had to know people were wondering what was going on.

    And he has to know people have been wondering if he had something to do with his son's murder (yes, cops say it was a murder). His ex-wife has been intimating in the press that Dylan's dad is a bad, bad dude -- it's why she divorced him. 

    If he just wanted to comfort the neighbors about the hubbub, he did a poor job. No one wants to hear that the cops were at the house down the street cutting out bits of carpet in case someone was murdered on it.

    As for casting suspicion off of himself, Mark Redwine's openness could be seen as the act of a guy who has absolutely nothing to hide. But it's so odd, so out of the ordinary, that it may well do the opposite for most people.

    Whatever comes of it, let's hope the cops can find the answer to this tragedy. Dylan Redwine deserves justice.

    What do you think of Mark Redwine spilling the beans ... on himself?

     

    Image via National Center for Missing and Exploited Children


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Alex Sekella Briana DeJesus Katie Yeager

    Are you ready for Teen Mom 3? The third spin-off from MTV's wildly popular 16 & Pregnant hits the airwaves on August 26, and it's creating four new stars for MTV. Katie Yeager, Briana DeJesus, Alex Sekella, and Mackenzie Douthit aren't just starring on the same show together, however. They're fast friends ... and they've got the friendship jewelry to prove it.

    Have you noticed the girls are sporting the same necklaces? Katie let The Stir in on the story behind them and where you can get them!

    They come from crafter Jennifer Sanchez, a friend of Katie's, who sells her chunky (and funky) clay jewelry online at GiNi's Clay Creations.

    "I kind of just said, can I get some Teen Mom 3 necklaces," Katie explained. "I wanted to have hearts, and I wanted them each different colors, and I wanted them to have Teen Mom 3 on them or something ... maybe our initials."

    More From The Stir: Sneak Peek at Maci Bookout’s Upcoming Special: Sparks Are Gonna Fly!

    Sanchez presented Katie with a prototype, and the Teen Mom made a few adjustments, but the result is pretty much what you see here, in this close-up of Briana's necklace:

    Teen Mom 3 jewelry

    "I love the way it turned out!" Katie said. The other girls seemed to agree -- they couldn't stop raving about their new jewelry.

    What do you think of this Teen Mom 3 spin on friendship jewelry? Do you and your friends have matching jewelry?

     

    Images by Jeanne Sager


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    JC Penney back to school adHave you seen the new back-to-school ad from JCPenney? It's all about a mom concerned that she needs to get her kid some stylin' clothes. But a certain set of parents are flipping out at the retail chain. They say the ad promotes bullying.

    Are they serious? Have they been to a high school lately? This isn't promoting bullying! It's stating a simple fact.

    Clothes matter when you're in high school. Accessories too.

    I don't like it. But I'm not going to pretend it doesn't happen. And I don't blame JCPenney for admitting it.

    The ad features the voice of a mom talking about back-to-school shopping. In it she says, "I’ve been told that this stuff can make or break an entire year."

    Cue a shot of a kid sitting all alone in the cafeteria, then suddenly, he gets some fancy new duds, and he's outside with a bunch of pals around.

    Parents have been sounding off on the retailer's Facebook page since it began airing. Terri Lewin Gilbert's comment is typical of the complaints so far:

    Your Back to School ad is a complete fail. Playing to parent's fears that their kids won't fit in at school because they don't wear the right clothes? Kids' fears about being bullied? Kids today are too materialistic as is-- peddle your wares, but don't do it at the expense of people's feelings about "fitting in".

    Gilbert is absolutely right. Kids ARE materialistic today.

    Which is why the ad doesn't bother me. What does bother me are parents who want to act like kids aren't bullied over having "the right stuff."

    I know parents who turn up their nose at that notion. They say they're not bowing to the trends, they're not letting their kids get caught up in high school politics. So they send their kids off to school in whatever they could find at the local thrift shop, force them to re-use the same tired old backpack with a cartoon character that hasn't been popular in five years, and they consider themselves above the fray.

    And maybe they are.

    But their kids aren't.

    Kids are cruel. Kids find any excuse to pull down other kids.

    I remember. I was that kid who was still carrying her backpack from fifth grade during senior year, with the big reflective stripe across the back that was supposed to "protect" me (because a Mack truck's headlights were going to hit that patch and notice me on the walk from study hall to business law?).

    JCPenney isn't promoting that sort of activity by admitting that it exists. They're reminding parents that sometimes you need to look at things from your kids' perspective. There's what you want to do when it comes to back-to-school shopping (save money, reuse perfectly good items from last year, etc.). Then there's what you need to do for your child's sake.

    I'm not saying you can't find some balance.

    I will readily admit that as a bullied kid I have the need to protect my daughter from bullies in mind when I shop for her, but I'm not made of money. My daughter is reusing her lunchbag from last year -- after we talked about it -- and a good portion of her back-to-school clothes WERE purchased at a used clothing store ... which happens to sell great brand name items for a lot less than the new stuff. Other items will be brand new, and I let her weigh in heavily on just which backpack I purchased (we found a great deal on one that came with headphones ... which she needed anyway).

    That's what worked for me. Every parent has to find their own way of stretching their dollars and protecting their kid.

    But if you think you can completely ignore the chance that your kid will be picked on over their clothes and it will go away, you're only kidding yourself.

    It doesn't "promote" bullying to admit that it exists, folks.

    Check out the JCPenney ad and tell us: are you offended?

    See this video on The Stir by CafeMom.


    Image via MrCommercialLand/YouTube


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